My second week at Chalk Hill Residency starts with a whipping wind, but I am not going to let that get me down. On Monday morning, I set up outside, close to the house, to stay out of the elements. I paint the shed attached to the farmhouse. (The color is a nice switch from all the green.) I sketch from inside the farmhouse and from inside the car at various locations on the property.
When it’s too windy to be outside any longer, I head inside and make color charts to help me keep my greens straight.
In the evenings, I paint small still life paintings of the very interesting and colorful objects around the house.
The “field study” is emerging – my pencil thumbnail drawings have made way for small color sketches. The first painting was done at 10 a.m. on Monday. By Wednesday, the weather has improved, and over the course of the week, if I happen to be near the field, I begin each painting on the hour, working quickly to capture the light and shadows.
On Saturday, the field looked entirely different because red clover was opening all over! If my suspicions are correct, my muse could be glowing magenta in a few days – won’t that be fun to paint!
We had visitors this week. On Thursday a group of watercolor artists from a Sonoma mental health program came to paint, and we talked about how to use color to paint a landscape, with cool colors in the background and warm colors in the foreground to create depth. It was great to be able to share art with this delightful group which comes to visit once during each artist's stay.
On Friday, Klea and Nikki, the creators of the San Francisco-based art blog, “In the Make,” came for a studio and site visit. We had dinner at Alice's house, shared a bottle of local wine and they spent the night in the residency house before heading out on the road for a series of more studio visits from here to Vancouver, British Columbia.
An observation. The field study, laid out on the table in front of the window facing the field captures the attention of each person who comes into the farmhouse. And every one has a definite opinion on which “o’clock” is their favorite.
If the point of an artist residency is to devote time to a practice, and to explore and experiment - it is working. I may or may not come away with great paintings, but I realize now that may not be relevant. In just two weeks I have learned that I can spend hours, days, weeks focused on making art without major distraction. I begin to understand that I have a process, and am evolving a practice that is a great learning experience.
Oh, and I am finally figuring out "green."
On chilly winter days, I'm not always excited to stand outside painting landscapes for hours on end. It is a great time to head back into the studio and the classroom and work on the basics of drawing.
Somedays I set up a still life, and other days I work on portraits and figures, from a combination of live models (or in this case, a used-to-be-alive model) and photographs.
I call this 24 x 18 charcoal drawing "Anatomy Class."
It is very helpful to understand the underlying structure of a form in order to draw or paint it. I'm working on observing what I see and figuring out how to make a three dimensional object appear realistic on flat paper. I'm happy with the way the upper ribcage curves and appears to bend around. The next time I am working from a live model, this will help me remember to visualize the part of their body that is "behind" what I see and figure out ways to create the round dimension with value (dark and light) and color (warm and cool).
About the artist
Linda Rosso is a California artist who delights in the colors she sees out of the corners of her eyes. Read more...
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