Artwork – 1, Silverfish – 0

Today, a friend and I took a trip over to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see American Watercolor in the Age of Homer and Sargent.  This exhibition was incredible – I’ve not seen this many historic watercolor paintings in one setting, to this degree of mastery.  There was a great amount of care and thought put into the displays and I loved the videos where they described and demonstrated the specific techniques that were used by the artists.  As we progressed through the exhibit, I came upon “A Flower for the Teacher“.  As I studied the piece, I saw a real silverfish sitting between the painting and the protective glass, on top of the boy’s vest (viewer’s left).  My heart sank when I saw it, knowing how destructive these creatures are to paper.  When we left the exhibit, I mentioned the insect to a woman handing out surveys for the museum.  Her eyes widened in understanding the danger to this piece, and directed me to the front desk.  Once at the front desk, I passed the information on to the staff, who brought over a woman wearing a tour guide sticker.  We brought her back upstairs, through the exhibit, to the painting.  The tiny silverfish was still on the boy’s vest, but fortunately, not actively munching.  Then, we went back downstairs and I filled out a comment card on the incident while the tour guide immediately contacted the conservationist.  I was impressed by the concern and immediacy that the staff showed – these works of art are in great hands.

I loved this exhibition and highly recommend it.  The effects that the artists made using watercolor were incredible and just not done in oil paintings.  Plus, I love how the curator placed this particular art movement in a regional context.

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Blue Glass Perfume Bottle – Watercolor Illustration


This illustration was an interesting challenge.  The metalwork made me really think about what colors really represent gold in light, reflected light and shadows.

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Raspberry Lemon Cupcake – Watercolor and Watercolor pencil

This past Christmas, I received a set of watercolor pencils, which I’ve started playing with recently.  I’ve found that I prefer applying these pencils after I’ve laid down layers of watercolor paint.  Building up these layers adds richness and texture and helps me to better describe the light that has hit the subject and the shadows that are created.  For my subject, I used three different source photos, and I changed the color of the wrapper to blue.


Raspberry Lemon Cupcake – watercolor and watercolor pencil.

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Four Seashells

About a week ago I sifted through the paintings I made this past year, and I realized that I had already forgotten about some of the work I had done.  Usually, when I finish a series, I will scan the images and then toss them into a large plastic bin that I keep under a table.  When I was in college, I took a non-credit wheel thrown pottery class that was being given by a fellow student at the university craft center.  She told me that when she was taught to wheel throw in high school, she was instructed not to keep any of her work until she had been creating steadily for at least a year.  Her teacher told her that often students will become very attached to their first pieces, which are always terrible, and not focus on improving their technique.  He wanted them to be always in the moment of current creations, at least in the beginning of their journey.  This way, even if they really liked a piece they made, they would develop a faith in their ability to produce even better work in the future.  This probably also saved the school a lot of money, since dried clay can be reconstituted for future learning.  So my plastic bin is an off-shoot of this technique, except that I don’t want to throw out my paintings, but be able to let them go and look at them objectively months later.  Below, I’ve posted a series of seashells I painted in the beginning of November.


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Abstract patterns – Ink and Watercolor

I’ve been spending time thinking about patterns – how can we form good habits, why is the world the way it is and are recent events a repetition of past events?  The world around us is built on patterns and we look for them in all branches of science.  Our bodies respond to this arrangement; they adapt and become calmer when a pattern is recognized, even if it is subconscious.  Some patterns are so large that when we observe a small portion of the pattern, it seems chaotic instead of controlled.  The work below is my response to the patterns I’ve been observing.  This is the entire piece; I intentionally worked to the edges of the paper to give the impression of obscured sections.  This way the viewer is aware that they do not have a clear view of the array and to add an additional scale.  I began this work around the middle of December and it took me approximately fifteen hours to complete.


Large and Small Patterns - ink and watercolor, 9" x 12"

Large and Small Patterns – ink and watercolor, 9″ x 12″

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Update on Current Work

I’ve been working hard on some personal projects and I wanted to share some of them here.  The most recent piece, which I just finished today, is shown below.  It can be easy to focus a lot of time and energy into something that doesn’t help you achieve your goals.  I personally find that mindless internet surfing often feels relaxing, especially after a long day at work.  However, I don’t feel recharged or satisfied afterwards.  Usually, I feel drained, or wanting even more.  Then, I feel that I spent so much time on that wasteful activity that I’m even more behind on my responsibilities and that there isn’t time for the activities that make me feel whole.  We can’t do everything, and we only have so much time available to us.  So, I decided to create this painting as reminder of where I should direct my time and energy.

Watercolor, watercolor pencils, Strathmore 400 series coldpress watercolor paper

Watercolor, watercolor pencils, Strathmore 400 series coldpress watercolor paper

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Lancaster Museum of Art: Elizabeth Osborne – Veils of Color

I started this morning feeling distracted.  It was difficult to bring myself to the present as I drove down 501 towards Lancaster.  The day was cool; a fall cold front approached the clear atmosphere.  Going into any city on a week day is different from a weekend.  On a Wednesday, you see the real, working face of the neighborhood.  The weekend pretends to be something else, it caters to tourists and is full of one-time events.  I admired the architecture of downtown Lancaster as I made my way through the city.  When I passed locals on the street, I thought about how they get to see this beauty everyday.  On the edge of Musser Park is the Lancaster Museum of Art.  The museum is in a mansion surrounded by open space, set apart from the clusters of 1800’s brick businesses and homes.  The inside is intimate – the reception desk is in the hallway that runs to the back of the house and there are fireplaces in the two high ceiling galleries. The curator has chosen to arrange complimentary pairs of Elizabeth Osborne‘s paintings on opposite walls.  This creates a dynamic viewing experience as I find myself turning and walking around the room.  Her grand, bright paintings are reminiscent of color fields, but we can see she is expressing specific objects and landscapes.   In one of the pairings, the paintings are in separate galleries, so the viewer must gaze across the hallway.  The size and boldness of the paintings command the rooms, so you can feel that they are meant to be viewed from a distance.  Her imagery has a softness, like wet on wet watercolor, though the medium is oil.  Where humans appear, there are sharp details to the faces, especially the eyes and nose.  These become focal points as the details of the rest of the body and surroundings fade into impressions.  While I am not usually drawn to pure landscapes, Icarus, one of her “floating landscapes” was mesmerizing.   What I love about going to see art is the clarity that my mind feels afterwards.  Focusing on the experience that has been created helps me to redirect my thoughts to the present.  Osborne’s vibrant work will be on display until November 13th.

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