Fall Blooms at the Belmont Mansion

Purple pansies, watercolor over pencil

We will be painting pansies and other fall blooming flowers at the Belmont Mansion of Belmont University, in Nashville, TN on Saturday and Sunday, September 26th and 27th. For registration, follow the link here. Community Education at Watkins College of Art is now part of Belmont’s Leu College of Art. We will spend day one out in the gardens of the mansion and day 2 will be in the studio to complete paintings. All the steps from preliminary sketches to the under drawing to the final painting will be covered. Please join us!

Pansy, Stage one 2 drawing

In the beginning, we might start with preliminary sketches until we find a layout that is pleasing to the eye. From there it can either be redrawn on watercolor paper or transferred using tracing paper. Appropriate tools for transferring will be covered and demonstrated. I like the transfer method because I can keep the tracing for future paintings, using all or parts of the original drawing in new works. A tracing can be the gift that keeps on giving!

Stage One paint

After the lay out is complete and the under drawing is finished, we begin choosing the paints we will need and start the glazing process. Glazing layers of washes is crucial to the development of deep velvety textures, in my opinion. I have long preferred this as a way to get richness. However I have seen the work of many fantastic artists who do not use this technique. It becomes a matter of preference. Try it and see how you like it. You may prefer layering too!

Layering continues as we methodically glaze sometimes adding new colors to the washes as we go. Patience is required in letting each wash dry before applying the next glaze. Breathing in patience adds a peaceful feeling to the process. The beauty of the garden can’t be rushed.

Pansy, stage 5

Following our laying method, we carry on. Sometimes it becomes difficult to remain patient and methodical. Rushing the process can make Boo-boo’s happen. We will even go into repairing those little mishaps.

I invite you to join us in September for the first time our workshop will be held on the grounds of the beautiful Belmont Mansion. We will paint pansies and other beautiful fall blooms. Day two in the studio we’ll complete the paintings started in the garden on Saturday. In case of in climate weather, we’ll do both days in the studio but still have the opportunity to paint from the what’s growing in the gardens.

Here is the link again to sign up. Hope to see you there!

PS. The first person to spot the Boo-boo and its repair in the final painting photo at the top of the post, will receive a special Musgraves Unigraph Drawing Pencil in 5H. Let me know and I’ll mail it to you!

Monday Morning Birds-Egrets

Afternoon Fishing

Lately, Great White Egrets are showing up in my favorite bird watching bodies of water, Reelfoot Lake and Kentucky Lake.  They seem to be adding to their numbers daily, so they must either be migrating through or planning a winter home.  At any rate, I’m enjoying following them around with my camera, planning more paintings. 

Great White Egret stalking his dinner

The long-legged elegance of Great Whites is a big part of their fascination.  They wade through shallow water lifting each leg all the way out of the water before taking the next step.  Perhaps that is for minimum disturbance of the water for clear vision. These egrets stalk their fish prey by remaining very still until they start to slowly lower their beak and extend their neck. They remain in the neck down and extended position until suddenly pouncing on the hapless fish swimming by.

Egret with catch

Two years ago I had an RV in North Florida on a spot with a small shallow pond just a few feet away. My little dog and I would sit every afternoon on a swing watching the sunset on the pond.  A Great White Egret showed up one day and fished in the tall grass on the edge of the pond.  With my camera on my lap, I’d wait until he looked like he had spotted his dinner.  I’d set the camera for rapid speed and catch the whole process.  How his throat would stretch while swallowing a whole fish was truly amazing. He came back every afternoon for 2 weeks.

Egret swallows fish whole

One day the idiot RV park owner cut down all the tall grass around the pond because too many of his golf buddies were losing their golf balls in the grass.  I rarely saw the egret back after that or any other wading birds. Occasionally, a lonely cormorant would stop by for a little swim fishing but no more wading birds. That’s when I knew it was time to get out of the RV Park.  I hate golf and love wading birds.  The two apparently don’t mix.

Great White Egret flying over Kentucky Lake

At any rate, seeing all these beauties coming in to my favorite spots, means more paintings coming up.  Time for me to get on it!

For more on Reelfoot Lake go here and here.

For more on Kentucky Lake go here and here.

Maybe I’ll see you out there!!

Growing up with Magic

Reelfoot August Sunset

Everyone thinks they grew up in a magical place. In my case, that was actually true. The very creation of Reelfoot Lake was magic. As a child, Reelfoot was “the lake” because to my family, there was no other. Having traveled far and wide in my life, to me, Reelfoot is still, “the lake.”

The New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812, created Reelfoot. From a truly horrible event came a place of exquisite beauty, of refuge for so many of God’s creatures, of peaceful escape for humans and of magic in a child’s eyes. Since its creation, Reelfoot has been carefully watched over and guarded in a way that also seems magical. From sediment run off, algae growth, to Hollywood movie makers, evil land developers and more, each close call for Reelfoot resulted in greater protections. If the people and caretakers of Reelfoot appear a bit reserved, it is because they are. Had they not loved Reelfoot so deeply and watched over it so closely, it very well might not be here for us to marvel at today.

Yonkapin (Reelfoot Lotus Flower)

Blooming Lotus flowers on Reelfoot are an anticipated event every year. Yonkapins is what we always called them. I didn’t know they were a type of Lotus flower until adulthood. These beauties grace the inlets and shoreline of parts of Reelfoot ever year. I haven’t painted them yet but will soon!

Great White Egret in the Yonkapins
Lily pads with rain drops

Reelfoot is home to many species of birds. Bald eagles survived at Reelfoot when they were nearly wiped out in other parts of the country. They nest at Reelfoot in the winter. Reelfoot was once a habitat for whooping cranes, as well, until Hollywood came calling and dynamited their nests to get “the perfect shot” for a scene in the movie, “Raintree County” in the 1950’s. No movies were allowed to film for decades after that at Reelfoot. Not until “US Marshalls” as far as I know. No dynamiting was done for that film! Unfortunately, few if any whooping cranes have returned. Whooping crane populations everywhere are still very endangered.

Growing up at “the lake” taught me that there is magic in nature. It also taught me respect for the fragility of the beauty we see in nature. A visit to Reelfoot should be on every one’s bucket list. Please come with a reverence and respect for the local people, without whom Reelfoot would have been lost forever a long time ago. We owe them, and the generations before them, so much.

I’ll be teaching a Botanical Painting Workshop at Reelfoot in November at the beautiful Bluebank Resort. More details will be upcoming!

Find more info on Reelfoot here, here, and here .

Find more on the Legend of Reelfoot here.

Find more on the New Madrid Earthquakes here and here.

Find more on the Bald Eagles and other birds of Reelfoot here.

Learn about the Night Riders of Reelfoot here here and author, Paul J. Vanderwood here.

Colorful Fridays-Mossy, Knife Sharpening Green

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“All theory, Dear Friend, is gray.  But the Golden Tree of Life springs ever green.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (from Brainyquote.com)

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Landscape painters, ceramists, make-up artists, soap makers and more love this mossy green pigment.  Chromium Green has been available for two centuries and has recently been discovered in the paintings of J. M. W. Turner dating to around 1812.  Few warnings accompany this lovely green paint reputed to cause only some minor skin irritation in a few people.  Those who eat it could have mild stomach upset so it is probably best not to ingest it.  Otherwise Chromium Green has a wealth of uses.

Brittanica reports Chromium Green as having been discovered by French chemist Nicolas-Louis Vauquelin in 1797.    The name derives from its multi-colored compounds.  Merriam-Webster says “Chromium Green is a moderate yellow green that is greener and deeper than the average moss green, yellower and duller than the average pea green or apple green.“ “This natural green provides landscape artists rest in a summer painting saturated with vibrant greens,“ according to Daniel Smith.comNatural Pigments.com has the scoop on the Turner discovery and is also a great source for purchasing the pigment.

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While you are obtaining the pigment for mixing paint, you can also grab a bar of Chromium Green for sharpening your knives and sculpting tools.  A bit of Chromium Green in your roofing tiles will add some UV protection.  If you happen to be considering building a spaceship, Chromium Green can be mixed with other metals for “super high performing aerospace products.”  Or just add it to your camouflage for high infrared reflectance, whatever that might be.

For many artists, Chromium Green is a must have for the paint box.  Mossy greens add a wonderful richness in any painting.  Chromium Green is beautiful in ceramics, as well.  Other non-artist fans of Chromium Green may be found on the rooftops fitting the tiles.  Or that spaceship your neighbor is building could feature some bits of Chromium Green in the materials but I wouldn’t get too close.  He may be guarding his spaceship in his infrared reflectant camouflage with the knives he recently sharpened on the leftover Chromium Green.  It’s probably best to stick with the people who only use Chromium Green in artist materials.  Steer clear of the ones with the spaceships and the knives.

Coloring a Gray Day

Morning glories on a cloudy day

Cloudy days can make it so hard to look for some beauty to paint. Wandering around in my august garden, it dawned on my that the flowers don’t seem to know or care that the sun is not shining today. They are blooming away as usual. I tend to associate morning glories with the bright sunshine of the early morning. But here they are showing off their bright faces on a gloomy, gray day.

If the lack of sunshine doesn’t bother the flowers, why should it bother me? When my day seems cloudy and gray inside and out, a look toward the flowers changes all that. How can I see gloom when these bright blooms are valiantly waving their little faces? The flowers have a message. It is up to me to hear. When all seems doom and gloom, lift up your head any way and pay no mind to the the gray, for the sun is still shining in the colorful faces all around.

Time to take up the paper, pencil and brush and bring some color to the gray day. Who can be downcast with a bright happy face to bring to life on the paper.

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