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Monday, February 25, 2013

Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra (DSSO) Celebration Project

The DSSO is not just for listening to any more! Now you will be able to see the music!

The DSSO has launched the Music Conductor Artistic Expression Celebration Project.  Visual artists and poets have been asked to create work interpreting conductors Mr. Thakar or Mr. Meyer at work. The finished work will benefit the DSSO on various levels. I am happy to announce that I am a part of it.

The first concert I attended with the project in mind was the spectacular Earth Harp performance with William Close and MASS Ensemble. Immediately, images flashed though my mind! There was the conductor, the lights, the graceful strength of the harp, and the sound all around. The challenge was set.

 One of the first songs had a refrain "over the lake." That's what I decided was my inspiration.  In the studio I began by working my ideas in a sketch book. An image of the sun through the clouds seemed to express the feeling of the music during the concert.

It was planned to be an oil painting, so I selected a painting panel and laid out my oil paints. I don't paint with brushes, but with painting knives.  Laying on the paint with a knife is like putting the frosting on a cake!

                                                       "Over the Lake"  oil
                                                                    6 x 8 in.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Birch Tree Sketch

My first day dawned very cold and overcast at the yearly artists' retreat at the Grand Marais Art Colony. It seemed best to let it get a little "warmer" (I was hoping for it to get to zero) before donning all my gear to venture out. Luckily the views out the windows at the lodge all presented inspiring subjects.

How best to use this block of time? There was a little sketch pad with gray paper in it that I had just gotten and hadn't used yet. Birch tree with snow against a gray sky...looked like the possibility of an exercise in grays! Birch tree trunks are filled with color, and that is what I usually paint - color. Expressing the grace and beauty of the subject in shades of gray seemed like a good way to start the day.

I chose part of a tree that had attractive brand structure and a little snow snuggled in one of the crotches. The drawing was lightly sketched in with graphite pencil, then the darks were added with a black pastel pencil. The lightest parts were added with a white pastel pencil. I also had two shades of gray pastel pencils, and I worked back and forth between light and dark until the tree took form. It turned out surprisingly well, but there was something not quite right about it at first. By then it was time to go outside and paint, so I put the little sketch aside until later.

That evening I looked at it again, changed a few areas, and just like that, it went from an experiment to a lovely little jewel! I was tempted to keep it for myself, but I framed it up and exhibited it in the show at the end of the retreat. It was one of the first pieces to be purchased, and I had the pleasure of meeting its new owners. Thank you, and enjoy!

Birch Tree
4 x 6