Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Barn Studio Of Art Outdoor Festival 2011.

Two Sundays ago I joined South Jersey "Art Lovers", and the proud parents of young artists, at Pat Witt's
annual event at her "Barn Studio of Art" in Millville, N.J.

More than twenty years ago I had done a mural project with students painting on the side of one of Pat's
outbuildings. This horsey looks you in the eye from every vantage point.

The setting for this festival of art is lush and inviting.

  Pat has been teaching more than three generations of children and adult artists since opening
"The Barn" in 1962.

 On this day young budding artists were painting bunnies.

 And flowers.

Throughout the day there was entertainment from a local high school choral group.

And lush color everywhere.

There were also tours of the Barn studios, and Pats home. 

Here's a mini version of just a part of the tour, for those of you who couldn't be with me that day.

A day spent at my dear friend and mentor Pat's "Barn Studio of Art" is sure to bring out the child in each of us. Which reminds me of the following:

In just a few weeks I will be one of four instructors in the Barn Studio of Art's third annual "Maurice River
Landscape Painting Workshop."
Dates are July 10 thru 16 for an intense week of Pleine Air painting in the environs of the beautiful Maurice River, and surrounding wetlands. Stan Sperlak focuses on Pastel, Patrick Conner on traditional Oil techniques,  Jill Rapinski on Pastel and color theory, and I will be teaching a day of Water Color and a day of Oil painting, in the great South Jersey outdoors. For particulars go to:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pleine Air on The Banks Of The Schuylkill.

I love the Schuylkill River. Rowers, bridges, changing seasons. Always evolving, yet the constant is beauty,
no matter what the time of year.

Here is an oil done in early spring, about a year ago, just off Montgomery Drive.

But I've never done any paintings of the river from Bartram Gardens, on a bend in the river in southwest Philly. It is the 18th century homestead of America's very first botanist, John Bartram, friend of Benjamin Franklin. The farm and buildings sit on a hill overlooking gardens woods and meadows, with paths leading down to the river below.

 On the opposite shore a pristine swan glided past oil refineries. I visited the gardens to check out the lay of the land, and hopefully encounter artists who were participating in Philly's second annual "Art In The Open" event, all along the banks of the Schuylkill river.

The first artists I found were in the cool interior of the barn. They were participating in a Botanical Painting class. It was very quiet there, and I felt a bit like an intruder.

Outside  was another artist; Carol Philips.   (

 Carol was using actual flower petals, mixed with acrylic medium, to create elegant little paintings reflecting
the beauty found in the gardens.

Beyond a meadow where a brick factory once stood is the skyline of center city Philly, just a bit more than a mile away from the lush natural landscape.

In the middle of the meadow were these two artists, Rebecca Keller and Amber Ginsburg. They'd traveled from  Chicago to participate in the four day event. They asked if I would like to draw, on objects of all kinds that they had dipped into wet plaster, then let dry.

I had fun letting my pencil line take me for a little walk over and around all the bumps and nooks and depressions of the object I'd chosen.

I then added it to the growing pile of  white shapes, each looking like an ancient Pompeian artifact,
on the table-top tableau. What fun!

On the other side of the meadow, in a parking lot at the river's edge, I found Karen Stone, creating a GIANT pleine air painting of what she saw on the river, and the industrial landscape beyond.

Karen's medium was very wide white tape describing in very graphic and simplistic images boats, fish, dock,
and industrial structures. She was delighted to hear from fishermen that her images also glowed in the dark at night. Next time I go to Bartram Gardens, I'll be loaded with gear, and ready to do some Art of my own.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Drawing Lesson In Ink Line.

The teacher in me has decided to share my ink line techniques and thought processes when drawing in my sketchbooks. I have been drawing and journaling in these books since I left KYW-TV 3, in 1974.

Here are about one-third of my sketchbooks. I recently started number fifty-two.

Artists use sketchbooks for many different reasons. For some, like Claes Oldenburg, they are a place to explore new ideas.

I use mine primarily to capture my fellow humans, and their relationship to their environment. First of all it is about the SHAPES of the "things." Those things in this case are the people, the counter, the patterns in the floor, the upright oxygen tank, the bulletin board and the different angled papers pinned to it, and the implied door and space beyond, behind the man facing us.

All of the things I enumerated above are the POSITIVE SHAPES. Equally important to an artist, when drawing or painting, are the spaces in BETWEEN all those POSITIVE shapes. These we refer to as (you guessed it!) the NEGATIVE SHAPES. These can change as the drawing evolves.

Picture a donut. The donut is the POSITIVE SHAPE, the hole in the middle, and all the air around it, are the NEGATIVE shapes. There is a saying: "If you get all the SHAPES right, then you've gotten all the THINGS right."  

If I decide to go to the next level and add TEXTURE  and WEIGHT to the drawing but still just use ink line,
then I must make decisions about the resulting VALUES, and how their distribution throughout the drawing changes the over all feeling. Here I've started to add more line, which creates TEXTURE and VALUES.
(Degrees of LIGHT and DARK.)
In this graphic VALUE SCALE you can see most of my options. By changing the angle of my pen or brush,
and the continued build up of a variety of ever darker textures, I can go from the pure white of the page to
areas of pure black. 
Here is the final full-value and textured drawing. Not necessarily BETTER, just DIFFERENT, than the
initial more airy drawing in line.A definite overall PATTERN. The female doctor's "whites" are now even whiter because of the contrasting mid-values around her. The darks in the doorway imply the depth of the darkened room, while framing the man's head.
It's all part of the fun of having my pen take me for a walk across the page.