Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Still Life Practice.....Again and again and....

"Pick a Pepper"  Pastel 6 x 9 © Donna Gross
Wanting to improve at an endeavor....that's what this is all about for me.  Not getting attached to the outcome, the potential, anything .... Strife for progress...throw away perfection...Don't compare myself with other artists..(that's a tall order!)
I try to paint everyday...I also play piano and try to practice everyday as well! Life isn't over because you "retire" fact it seems like it is just beginning without the expectations...
Sounds good to me.

My inspiration, preliminary sketch, and yummy pastels!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Still Life Practice

" La Grenade"  pastel  9 x 12 © Donna Gross

My preliminary sketch and the pomegranate

This was yesterday's still life practice.  A little trivia for you, my friends....
The word grenade referring to the explosive used in war came from the french word for pomegranate...because the shape of the pomegranate resembled the little bomb and also when thrown on the ground the juicy seeds scatter .... like it's unfortunate namesake.
Thanksgiving came and went with a lovely quiet time spent with my family.  Children home from college, lots of games of scrabble, a movie night, and for the feast we all went out for Thai food.
My kind of holiday...hope yours was wonderful as well.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Feathered Friends ...

"Redpoll in Winter"  Pastel 5 x 7 © Donna Gross
Look at this cutie! I just love birds and painting them....birds are the indicator species for our environment.  Where there is an abundance of birds, the environment is healthy. So true for the opposite...
I became interested in birds when my husband of 23 years and I began dating...In fact our first date was to go birdwatching! Not your usual first date, but I was curious...Early in our marriage we went on a "birding" trip with overly enthusiastic birdwatchers to Costa Rica....They proved a bit extreme for our liking.  Didn't do that again! 
My husband feeds the neighborhood there are lots of little lovelies to look at all day.  There are wetlands near our home here in Santa Cruz, Ca. where we can look at ducks to our hearts content...just couldn't ever imagine harming one let alone hunt one....I prefer to paint them and appreciate the joy they bring to my everyday.....
The piece above is available for purchase as are all the paintings you view here on my blog. 
For now, if you are interested, please contact me via email and we can work something out!
In the meantime, go out and look and listen to your feathered friends.....

My inspiration

Monday, November 20, 2017

Paper is so important!!

"Bears Ears National Monument"  Pastel  11 x 6 © Donna Gross
Available contact artist
I just love these mountains . This is my second rendering of this image. The current administration wants to decrease the size of this beloved National Monument.....ugh.
Today , I needed to paint in the most desperate way...It is where I can forget my worries and obsessions and get lost in the world of color and texture and NPR...or sometimes KBACH classical music station.
Today's palette was in keeping with the local color of the photo reference. Yet, I was disciplined and PLANNED!!
I chose my limited palette before I began using three little dishes from my mother's china collection to separate darks, middle values, and lights.
With fewer pieces of chalk in front of me, I was able to keep my focus on the values and KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Color Series #2

  " Triad Color Study" Pastel 11x13 © Donna Gross

It's been a frustrating week for me in the studio and beyond.....sometimes my negative inner voice (whom I call "Ramona")
gives me all kinds of grief... "Push through " , I tell my college age son who is sometimes challenged with an intense workload....."Push through".... why?
Because resilience is a life saving skill.  Because life is rough sometimes and the world is sometimes unkind.....
"Comparison is the thief of joy"
Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, November 13, 2017

Color Study Series #1

"Birdwatching on the Marsh"  Pastel  8 x 10 © Donna Gross
I have decided to begin a color study and exploration to further my knowledge of the color wheel and creating color harmony.  Today's piece was accomplished with a split complimentary scheme using hues of blue, red-orange, and yellow- orange. I found using a prepared canvas board challenging.  I have used these canvas boards before and each time I feel like they eat up my pastels!! Mounds of dust.
I prefer sanded paper grit 400-600 which feels like a fine emory board when I brush it with the pad of my finger.  
The irony of me using pastels as my medium of choice is that I persevere despite the enormous amount of dust that it generates.  For those who know me best...dust is my enemy!
But colorful pastel dust....not so....

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Finding Harmony

"Standing Proud"  Pastel  5 x 7 © Donna Gross
Available contact artist
I am still learning and sometimes struggling with creating harmony in color.
As I break out and begin to choose my own color palette instead of following the local color of the reference that I am painting, I forget to call on my trusting friend the color wheel.  
I open my box of yummy  pastels with so many different hues and values and dive right in ..choosing any color that strikes my fancy in that moment...and lately that has led to frustration and a feeling of incompetence....what to do?
Get back to basics. Have a plan...use the color wheel! The painting above started with no plan really. I just loved the color of the sky and built around that...this painting came from my imagination...not something I do often at all...but I became too attached to the turquoise of the sky without planning what to do with the tree or the water or the land!

My first unsatisfactory attempt at completion.  Not doing it for me.
I still didn't want to surrender my turquoise sky...To the color wheel I went and found a tertiary triad with turquoise in it and used the other colors in that triad. I finally settled on the finished piece at the beginning of this post above.  It feels more harmonious to me.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Painting Transparency

" Roses and Glass"  Pastel  8 x 10 © Donna Gross
While the composition is not my best work, I did feel somewhat satisfied with rendering transparency in the glass pitcher... 
This piece was done on a canvas board prepared with an acrylic ink underpainting followed by a layer of gesso.. The texture of the canvas board was challenging to achieve the soft edges of the plant material inside the glassware... I may try this subject again on smoother paper... but for today I am done with this effort!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Overworking a Painting

"Floral Study"  Pastel  5 x 7  © Donna Gross
Available contact artist
Some painting sessions go on toooooo long.  I just don't know when to quit!! I hear this from many artists and I am subject to the same pitfall.  
Today I prepared an 8 x 10 canvas board first with acrylic ink...


Then I added a layer of gesso...

While my underpainting was drying I decided to do a small study of the idea I wanted to paint today based on this reference still life.  I went grocery shopping today and saw these stock flowers .... I had the vase in mind and my goal was to paint the vase transparent with directional light , highlighting the stems......
My reference still life

And so while I waited, I pulled out one a olive green toned 5 x 7 Ampersand pastel board.
Many hours later....many layers later....I did not achieve transparency...I settled with the piece pictured at the top of this post.  Tomorrow, I will try again to achieve my original goal using my prepared 8 x 10 canvas board.  The lesson?  simple....
Less is always more.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Meet Francine

"Pink Flamingo"   Pastel   9 x 11  © Donna Gross
Today's work had me mesmerized for the better part of three hours...Actually that is the average daily sitting for me to paint.  When doing a figure, I want to paint the eye(s) early on in the painting.  By doing this, I seem to develop a relationship with the figure I am looking at....for three plus hours!
"Francine" blossomed into a good companion this afternoon.  

My reference photo courtesy of @amelia321

The Daily James

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