Saturday, January 31, 2015

30 Day Challenge Complete!

Paintings and drawings by Nancy Roberts, created for the "30 Paintings in 30 Days" challenge

Finished the "30 Paintings in 30 Days" yesterday.  Whew!  It was fun, difficult, stressful, and a great experience.  Got me off my duff and painting on a regular schedule, and I can already feel my skills improving.  Now that I have this momentum going I plan to keep it up (although maybe not a painting a day!)  Many thanks to artist Leslie Saeta for creating and hosting this wonderful challenge. I chose my 25 favorites from the month to include in this collage.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Day 30: North Peak in Progress

"North Peak" in progress, acrylic on canvas 12" x 16"
Started this painting today at a beautiful trailhead park in Clayton with stunning views up the northern slopes of Mt. Diablo.  It was a perfect afternoon, painting with friends on a warm, sunny January day.  I love California!

My view looking toward Mt. Diablo's North Peak

My drawing, reinforced with paint

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Day 29: Growth Spurt

"Growth Spurt", watercolor on wood, 7" x 5"
My Mom was an artist and my Dad was a cabinetmaker, so painting on wood feels like coming home to me.  I love how watercolor acts like a glowing stain that lets the grain show through.  I even like the way it insists on creeping into the grain to create some unpredictable feathery edges.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Day 28: Chem 101

"Chem 101", watercolor 6" x 4"
Here's another in my series of little color studies, this time playing with an old chemistry template. The interesting flask shapes made for fun design elements. My palette was Phthalo Green, Arylide Yellow and Cobalt Violet.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Day 27: Lavish Lace

"Lacey, Reclining Pose", charcoal and pastel
"Lacey, Standing Pose", Charcoal and pastel
"Lacey with a Compact", charcoal and pastel

This lovely model is Lacey, also known as Lavish Lace.  She has a calm, centered quality and quiet elegance that I really enjoyed trying to capture.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Day 26: Sunburst

"Sunburst", acrylic on canvas, 14" x 11"
When I give my young students a landscape project they almost always want to include the sun.  Guess I can't resist including it once in a while myself.  This painting is inspired by one of my all-time favorite artists, American painter Charles Burchfield.  Burchfield loved nature and wanted to convey not only the look of it but also the sounds, smells, wind, rain, heat, cold, growth, decay, fleeting moments.  His work is wild and strong, and truly amazing.

Day 25: Carquinez Vista

"Carquinez Vista", pastel 12" x 9"

Painted this at Carquinez Regional Shoreline Park near the ruins of an old brickmaking plant.  The little beach along the shoreline is still littered with old bricks, like gigantic grains of sand.  The park straddles an active train route, so huge freight trains come rumbling by and you can hear the sound of their horns echoing around the strait.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Day 24: Okapis

"Okapis", watercolor

Here are a couple of little Okapis from my toy collection.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Day 23: Moonlight Sonata

"Moonlight Sonata", acrylic on canvas, 12" x 12"
Here's a variation on a theme I've been exploring, delta trees and reflections.  It's a companion to "Ode to Joy", this time in cool colors.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Day 22: Sarge's Red Shoes

"Sarge's Red Shoes", charcoal and pastel
Here's another drawing of the lovely Sgt. Die Wies as an art deco Aztec warrior princess.  She was wearing big, sparkly red high-heels and matching wig. Glad I had my bright red pastel handy!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Day 21: Ode to Joy

"Ode to Joy", acrylic on canvas 12" x 12"

I was listening to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony as I painted this. So inspiring! I felt the spirit of joy flowing through my brush and filling my heart with glorious color.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Day 20: Sarge's Amazing Headdress

"Sarge's Amazing Headdress", charcoal and pastel
Our model at the figure group last night was the stunningly beautiful burlesque artist Sgt. Die Wies (pronounced Sargent Device and known to her friends as Sarge.)  Here she is as an art deco Aztec warrior princess, maybe relaxing between battles.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Day 19: Sky Boulders

"Sky Boulders", acrylic on canvas 10" x 8"
Out in the Los Vaqueros watershed area there are a bunch of big, round boulders dotting the landscape.  I started wondering what it would look like if the boulders could float like clouds. Good thing artists are allowed to be silly once in a while!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Day 19: Polka Dot Airplane

"Polka Dot Airplane", watercolor 5.5" x 7.5"

This toy airplane has encountered a polka dot storm.  Yikes!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Day 17: Cheeky Monkey

"Cheeky Monkey", watercolor 5.5" x 4"
My brother gave me this vintage "Danish Modern" monkey for Christmas.  Couldn't resist painting him!  He's currently missing his legs but I plan to make him some new ones.

My model (he works for peanuts)

Friday, January 16, 2015

Day 16: Peeper

"Peeper", watercolor 12" x 8"
This is Peeper the Frog, a cute rubber squeak toy from the 1950's.  I have a whole collection of these cool vintage toys made by the Rempel company.  It sure was fun doing his portrait!  Here's a peek into my process:

My model.
I started with a pencil drawing on 140lb CP Arches paper.

Step two was an underpainting done as a wet-in-wet wash with soft patterns.

When that was dry I glazed in my light and middle values and modeled the form shadows.

My last step was to add the cast shadows, pop in a couple of dark accents and lift out the highlights.  Voila!  Here's looking at you, Peeper.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Day 15: Hill Country Improv

"Hill Country Improv", watercolor, 10" x 14"
I created this painting today as an example for a watercolor group I teach in Brentwood.  It's an imagined scene inspired by Northern California backcountry.  Here's a visual diary of my process:

Thumbnail sketches:  Designing the structure, playing with options

Here's the composition I chose, enlarged as a charcoal sketch.  I decided to crop it a little when I sketched it in pencil on my watercolor paper. 

First pass:  I started with an overall wet-in-wet wash, all light values and soft edges.  To get the look of grassy textures I spattered paint and clear water in the foreground areas.  As this stage started to dry I was able to add some middle-value elements with firmer edges and scrape in some branches.

Second pass:  While the paper was still slightly damp I layered in the darker tree shapes, looking for an interesting balance of positive and negative shapes.
Final pass:  After the first layer was completely dry I came in with my darkest accents and lifted out the lightest lights.  Lifting worked well with this palette of earth colors (Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Day 14: Delta Trees in Progress

"Delta Trees" demo painting in progress, acrylic on canvas 12" x 12"

I started this painting to use in an acrylic demonstration for the Rossmoor Art Association in Walnut Creek.  I've been playing with this theme a lot lately and really enjoying it.  In this one I decided to limit my palette to three colors -- Quinacridone Crimson, Dioxizine Purple and Raw Sienna -- to try for a glowing, warm color harmony and some rich semi-neutrals.  Below is how it looked before I added the washes of color.  I like to think of this stage as the bones of the painting.  Will post the final version as soon as I complete it.

"Delta Trees" demo painting, stage one, acrylic on canvas 12" x 12"

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Day 13: Janet Resting

"Janet Resting", charcoal and pastel
Our model last night at the figure group was the beautiful Janet Azehko.  Janet, who is an artist herself and an amazingly creative model, wore a beautiful Lolita-style dress and top hat.  Here are a few more of my sketches from the evening.
"Janet Walks In", charcoal
"Janet Rocks the Top Hat", charcoal
"Janet in a Top Hat", charcoal and pastel
"Janet as Lolita, Seated", charcoal and pastel

"Janet's Lolita Dress", charcoal and pastel

Monday, January 12, 2015

Day 12: Yellow Truck at the Stables

"Yellow Truck at the Stables", oil on canvas

Yesterday I painted with friends at Kutchera Ranch, a horse stables facility near Brentwood.  Beautiful country!  Did this oil sketch of a neat old truck backlit by late afternoon sun.  Note to self:  next time don't set up next to the manure pile...

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Day 11: Cobalt Reflections

"Cobalt Reflections", watercolor and acrylic ink, 6" x 4"
I live near the California Delta where lovely, lacy trees dance with their reflections along the shore. Here's a little improvisation in cobalt blue and cobalt violet.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Day 10: Heartland

"Heartland", watercolor 4" x 6"
I love the beautiful farms, orchards and Diablo views we have here in East Contra Costa County.  I tried to capture the spirit of the land in this little improvisation.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Day 9: Orchard Moon

"Orchard Moon", watercolor on 300lb Arches paper, 6" x 4"
In this little study I played with a simple orange/blue color scheme.  I used each color in its pure form and created the value changes and color mixes with a series of glazes.  I love the beautiful, rich grays and browns these two colors made.  Now I'm inspired to use this lovely palette in a larger painting.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Day 8: New Year Piggy

"New Year Piggy", pencil sketch

Piggy poses with his portrait

Piggy contemplates his New Year's resolutions.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Day 7: Magnoliah

"Magnoliah with Chair", charcoal and pastel 24" x 18"
Here is the beautiful Magnoliah Black, looking saucy as a pirate queen.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Day 6: Sydney

"Sydney with Tiara", charcoal 20" x 16"
Here is the lovely Sydney Alyson, looking elegant in a tiara. Sydney models often for our figure group in Brentwood and she's a joy to draw.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Day 5: Turnstone

"Turnstone", watercolor 16" x 10"
Thought I'd try a simple still life in a warm color scheme.  The bird sculpture is a Black Turnstone.