Sunday, December 31, 2017

Out of my Comfort Zone

"Helpers"  Pastel 9 x 11  © Donna Gross
This piece is rendered from a photo I took while exploring Wilder Ranch here in Santa Cruz on Christmas Day.  I was struck by the composition of the broom with the large shovel and the wheelbarrow peeking around the corner.  The photo was grainy and dark and provided the mood I was going for.  The painting is rendered much lighter with color I added for interest.
This piece was a challenge to accomplish the subtle colors found in the wood and making that broom stick straight! I enjoy mixing it up....moving in and out of genre....landscape to still figure and back again.  While I may not have an established genre of mastery, I am practicing with whatever interests me.  Writers write what they know about...Dancers dance to their abilities and physical faculties...Painters paint what they want to spend time looking at!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Finding Inspiration Everyday and Mixing It Up

"Tomato and Two Persimmons"  Pastel 6 x 11 ©Donna Gross
What am I going to paint today?  
It is unusual for me to be stumped by this question.  I usually have inspiration... I am always on the lookout for compositions that catch my eye.  
Lately, I have done a series of landscapes... today, still life....
I very much enjoy still life... it is a more refined rendering... detail oriented... and I usually do a smaller canvas when I paint still life... so I bring my supplies into the kitchen and sit at the table and hang out with my family and listen to NPR .... the convenience of having a sink right there to wash my hands periodically is really nice... having the refrigerator and the Keurig coffee machine close by is also a plus!  Cozy winter day painting in the kitchen with my  kids nearby and coffee... and my cats...and NPR...or classical music....

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Merry Christmas

"Christmas Magic"  Pastel  13 x 19

Season's Greetings fellow artists, friends, bloggers everywhere....
This piece was a lesson with master Marla Baggetta that I painted along with via video live stream.
I think my mom would have liked this piece.  Maybe a reminder of her youth in Rhode Island?
Seventeen years ago today, my mom passed away... so today I am thinking about her and her life.
I know that I inherited a good many traits from her.  Her love of good fashion. Her appreciation of a dust free environment!  Quite ironic that I work in soft pastel which generates a boat load of dust!
Her industrious nature... she worked hard...sometimes too hard to the exclusion of rest a relaxation... I think Mom would have enjoyed my children had she known them...and they her. I inherited her tenacity to see through a tough situation... her loyalty to her children... she always said " I love you".
I am blessed with wonderful kids who are now college age and independent.  My son is a student pilot and now flies in the sky in a small airplane ! I kiss him every time he leaves to go up.... he is pursuing his dream....
My daughter loves to learn and is thriving at her university...
My children and my husband have re-defined my idea of family... they have given me the gift of belonging...
To my mom and my family... a peaceful season of magic.

Friday, December 22, 2017

A Year in Pastels

"Kissing Cousins"  Pastel 6 x 11 © Donna Gross
It was a year ago that I was bit by the "Pastel Bug"... 
I was enrolled in a drawing class at the local community college.  The last several weeks the instructor introduced color using pastel medium.  I will never forget my first few strokes of the dusty sticks.... Oooooo! What fun.  I went home and started practicing on my own.  I haven't stopped since.
Yesterday, I did a still life of the iconic pear that most every artist attempts sometime in their art journey.  I also did a trio of pears early in my year of pastel work...about a year ago. 
See for yourself... progress? I'd like to say yes!

"Red Pears" Pastel 8 x 10 © Donna Gross
Available contact artist

Progress not perfection....there is no perfection...
It is a relief to live a life of progress..not perfection..
A lesson I have to relearn daily.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Gaining Confidence and Experience with a Lesson

"Red Grove"  Pastel  13 x 18

Another session of online tuition with Marla Bagetta. This was a very enjoyable piece to complete. My goal is with guided practice, I can "see" potential from a photo reference, choose colors that are not always depicted in the reference photo, alter composition from the reference, refine use of materials....make the piece my own.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Shorter days.... longer nights...

"Winter Solstice"  Pastel  6 x 6 © Donna Gross

We are almost there...the day when the earth returns to the light...just about the time I am adjusted to the early sunsets and early dinners, the light slowly begins it's return..
I enjoy winter... I don't live in the snow!  That's probably why! I love to visit snow ladened lands like Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada ... but to live there? Naw... no thanks. Besides I live in paradise now... but there was a time I lived in an ice cube.
During my traveling nursing days where I would live and work at an out of state hospital of my choice, I experienced enough bitterly cold winter days to remember that I was born and raised in Southern California!
I was working in St. Paul, Minnesota. Arriving in September, the weather was downright balmy. But come Halloween, the frigid air from the Great Lakes descended upon our brownstone and one morning I awoke seeing my breath!
Quick call the fire department! The boiler is on the brink... I mean Who Lives Like This!! Such a histrionic I was in my youth....
Off to work in my 1970 VW bus with NO HEAT.... the other nurses would just look at me and laugh as I bundled up for the drive home after my 3-11 pm shift donning parka with hood, snow boots ( how I drove in those I don't know...) and gloves, while those Minnesotan nurses trotted out to their Volvos, that featured  heated seats, in their slip on shoes without socks!!
I needed a different vehicle.  I needed to high tail it south... Got on the phone to my headhunter and booked an assignment to sunny San Diego where I lived and worked for 5 years.... met the hubby...and the rest is history.
Wherever you are in the world tonight, I hope you are warm and toasty!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Painting BIG

"From the Bank of the River"  Pastel 19 x 27 © Donna Gross
Available contact artist

This is the first time I painted this large of a canvas.  I dedicated an afternoon to this endeavor....created loads of dust....and burned through several sticks of pastel....
While I enjoyed using large, loose strokes... it was a bit overwhelming. I prefer working a bit smaller... 12 x 16 or smaller.
This is a painting created from a photo reference from one of our many family vacations to Yosemite.
We go to Yosemite annually
 and sometimes more than that, and usually during the winter months. 
Winter in Yosemite is a magical experience.  Snow on the ground is not always a guarantee, but when there is a blanket of the white stuff and the sun is shining .... just a stunning spectacle to behold.
This year, we decided to mix it up a little.  This year we are heading to Mt. Shasta, about 5 hours north of Santa Cruz. This gorgeous area of California boasts a landscape born of volcanic activity.  The town is small and quaint... just right for our family.  As the holidays approach, I am pleased to maintain my perspective.... enjoy the natural beauty...drink in the evenings spent with my kids home from college...Another year gone by...another year older...

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Keeping it Loose

"Stillness"  Pastel 9 x 11  ©Donna Gross   

I am feeling liberated! For the first time this year, I am NOT dragging a dead fir tree into my home and putting breakable items on it....lovely shiny objects that my four felines find so more cat 🐱 messes in the morning because they ate some pine needles.... nope not this year...
Why not a fake tree? No room to store the thing....looks incredibly fake...
The kids are all grown to college and into their own lives...trimming a tree has taken a very low rung on the ladder of life... So I've decorated the mantle with memorable ornaments... called it a me plenty of time to play with my pastels...keeping life loose...not trying so too with my painting today....keeping it loose ... playing with colors...using big bold strokes..not fussing too much....calling it a day..
A really good day

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Classic Red

"Keeping Warm"  Pastel  5 x 6 © Donna Gross
Available contact artist
Look at this eye candy! A little spice in the muted winter landscape. 
Northern Cardinals inhabit most of the U.S.  For me and many others, this lovely little flash of red is often associated with the holiday season.  Christmas cards are adorned with these rosy feathered friends as are the tops of America's Christmas trees ..... 
Red is the color of the season...
So put on some flashy, classy red and paint the town....

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The many colors of Snow!

"The Colors of Snow"  Pastel  9 x 12

Todays work was a paint along with pastelist Karen Margulis.  Karen is a generous artist who posts many lessons on YouTube and lately on her Patreon page for us patrons.
Since winter is upon us...although here in balmy Santa Cruz, California today's temperature reached 70 degrees!....
it is time to study the nuances of snow.
I love painting winter landscape!  I love the muted colors and the stillness that the landscape portrays.  Todays piece told me that it was in the late afternoon...maybe 4 o'clock or so....the sun is slowly setting....the birds are ready to bed down for the night....all is quiet and still.
Follow me through this wondrous season as I explore the many colors of snow....

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Daily Practice with a Good Demo

"Blue Evening" Pastel 14 x 11   Lesson courtesy of Marla Bagetta

This was a lesson in keeping it loose...big bold strokes on a bigger piece of paper! Loads of fun and in the direction that I would like to go with my pastel painting.  Learning through online tuition has its benefits and challenges....following along with a video demo allows one to pause the streaming and catch up or rewind and review a particular section....the lesson is mine forever...I can view it and repeat it or build another piece around's a worthy investment...there is a community forum page where students share their work and get's important to connect through art...being an artist is a solitary it's important to connect.
That being said, there is nothing that can replace a living breathing teacher right there with you, guiding you, giving corrections and encouragement....tomorrow I get to indulge in such an activity with my favorite art teacher, Susie Wilson who is a master at figure drawing and most everything else.
Until tomorrow......have a lovely day.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Let It Snow!

"Winter Wanderings" Pastel 12 x 12 © Donna Gross
contact artist

Let the snow painting season begin! Artists, art blogs, holidays art shows....let's paint the white stuff!
Remembering that snow is rarely white is the key to making snow convincing.
Today's practice came from a photo inspiration courtesy of the website
I am excited to change seasons and begin my practice of wintery landscapes and friendly critters that live in the snow!  Follow along ...but first grab a warm cup of hot chocolate !❄️

My photo reference 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

A really good lesson...

Pastel 12 x 12

I have invested in a series of online pastel painting lessons by Marla Bagetta.  I have admired Marla's work for some time now and decided to take the financial plunge and invest in some art tuition.
Marla produces a series of video taped live lessons where she takes the student through a piece from beginning to finish.  Included is commentary on planning stages, preliminary sketches, color theory and choice and reference photo accessibility.  I completed this piece in a
little over 2 hours...longer than recommended...but that's the stage I'm at I guess....The never-ending stage of learning.
Marla talks about the 4 stages of learning.....
The unconscious incompetent stage
The conscious incompetent stage
The conscious competent stage  and finally
The unconscious competent stage.

Today I felt like I was maybe moving out of conscious incompetence and tasting a little bit of conscious competency....
I look forward to the unconscious competent stage someday...the fleeting moments of watching the painting paint itself while you watch your hand move about making luscious marks on the paper and then you realize it's time to make dinner and ..... voilà
Practice, practice, and more practice.....
Keeping the beginners mind alive.

The Daily James

  "James" "Partners For Life" A bird can't preen its own head with its bill, so they use their feet to clean head fe...