I thoroughly enjoyed the demonstration I gave at the Napa Valley Art Association on Monday. And I had no idea that Bette Maron was sketching me on her iPhone - I love the results (thank you, Bette!). I'll post photos of the painting in process as soon as I get some taken.
So, how do you get a painting started? How do you create a strong composition? How do you come up with a design on the canvas that will make a painting that works?
They've given it the title, "'Set-Up Success in Acrylics' – getting the composition in focus, finding the big forms, building layers, approaching a finished painting with confidence.'
If you get started on the right foot, it makes all the difference. I'll cover some very simple, but absolutely basic, ways that help create a composition that works. I'm looking forward to it!
Couldn't make it to my open studio this year? Here's a pretty thorough photo gallery of what you missed....
Gail Gum took most of these photos during our second weekend of Open Studios, during a quiet moment (we didn't have many of those!). My work lined the sidewalk and the driveway leading to the backyard, where my studio-mates Carolynne and Davina presented their work. That's me on the left, and painter Ann Renard on the right, who helped me during the weekend.
Here's a closeup of the paintings lining the sidewalk to the left.
I think I probably had more work assembled here, in one place, for this Open Studios than I have shown anywhere all together....
And the wall of paintings lining the driveway on the left. Although I generally paint from my own photographs, two of these were painted en plein air (on location) – the second from the left on the top, which is the view from my studio; and the one on the far top right of Mt. St. Helena at sunset. That one was painted in rapidly changing light, on two successive evenings, and then turned in as part of the Calistoga Art Center's first PaintOut last year.
The wall of paintings continued up the driveway to a small table with my greeting cards. I had to put everything up and then take it down each day (except for the grids and canopies) – it was a lot of work! I couldn't have managed without Lee's help the first weekend, and Ann's the second.
My cards represent the full gamut of my work, for the most part – from my landscapes of rural northern California; to some more of the still life drawings with acrylic wash; to relief-print-and-stencil flowers and butterflies; to drawings with color I did of my nieces when they were young of a tea (well, Kool-aid) party we had.
More paintings lined the driveway on the right side, too – beginning with a couple of vineyard scenes and "Breakfast al Fresco #2."
The painting on the far upper left is the third painting I brought for open studios this year that I painted en plein air. I have fond memories of painting it side-by-side with my buddy Susan Poor, who has been my friend since elementary school, on her family's ranch east of Hopland.
For the first time, I had ceramic tiles made of some of my paintings. I thought they turned out beautifully. I had to order more for the second weekend, and nearly sold out.
These were some of my mixed media pieces - in front mostly paintings from my "Quotations" series. These are very layered – and a lot of thought goes into finding and putting together all the elements, incorporating texts and images.
Several years ago I began a series of collage paintings with cows, and have recently taken them in a slightly different direction (incorporating the original punny titles into the paintings themselves). Working on these is fun for me – they let me exercise my zany, punny imagination – and are a nice creative switch from the landscape work. It's good to push yourself in new directions – it keeps your work and your creative process fresh. And I really do need to paint the red edge of "A Bird on the Cow," don't I?
Some of my paintings lent themselves nicely to a green-and-purple grouping. The two paintings of lavender gardens are of the view at Matanzas Creek Winery in Bennett Valley, in Santa Rosa. The upper left vineyard is my neighbor's (Diamond Mountain AVA).
Perhaps because people associate my work with strong color, they are sometimes surprised to see work more specifically involving drawing. But I was first and foremost a drawer, from the time I was tiny. I love working in graphite.
These still life drawings, the large ones with acrylic paints used in a watercolor wash method, really represent going back to my drawing roots. They are part of a series that evolved from my teaching; I was demonstrating how to use acrylics in a watercolor manner, and showing and telling my students that simple still life paintings are a good way to focus and simplify your work. I thought, heck – I should put up or shut up. When the Arts Council asked me to put up a show at the Napa Senior Center, I decided it would be a good opportunity for me to show work very different from what most people expect from me. I call the whole series "Simple Pleasures."
I appreciate that Napa Valley Open Studios allows us to share studio space with other artists, if our own studios are inaccessible for some reason – and that Carolynne Gamble invited both me and Napa artist Davina Rubin to join her at Studio #8 in St. Helena. After working so hard all year to prepare for it (as a member of the steering committee for Open Studios, it's been a year-round job), it's hard to believe that it's over!
My thanks to all the friends, supporters, and interested folks who visited us this year!
Karen Lynn Ingalls
I am an artist in Napa and Sonoma Counties, in California. I paint colorist landscapes of rural California, teach art classes and lessons, and live in Calistoga, California. I also teach private, group, and corporate art workshops in Napa Valley, Sonoma County, and other parts of Northern California.