This week was my first watercolor class. Watercolor requires a whole different method and mindset than what I'm used to. So much fumbling around with a new medium made me want to do a quick sketch in something I had more control over. Just to balance things out.
Here in New York City we had a strangely balmy February, with temperatures occasionally rising into the 70s. So it's a good bet that March will bring an early spring ... along with the official ending of the 2017 Mallomar Season.
Mallomars are only sold from October to March, primarily in the New York State region. So you may not know about these beloved, gooey, s'more-like cookies. They've got a marshmallow center, a graham cracker crust, and a crispy dark chocolate coating. Way back in 1913, when Nabisco first began making them in New Jersey, they were delivered without benefit of refrigeration. So during the warmer months the chocolate would turn into a melted mess.
But nowadays don't they keep their trucks adequately chilled? Why do devoted fans have to yearn for their return in October? Who knows. It certainly adds to their mystique. Perhaps Mallomars just like to play hard to get.
Greetings, art lovers! Here's wishing you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, and a wonderful holiday season, whatever you're celebrating. May the universe bring us all generous helpings of peace and love and things to smile about. And perhaps one or two small luxuries. And throw in a little comic relief once in a while. It couldn't hurt.
Okay. So it's not The Godfather or Lord of the Rings. And it's only a minute and a half. But ta-da! It's my directorial debut, lol. Anyway, I'm so pleased that I finally figured out how to make a video slideshow of my latest gouache still life paintings. And ... it's uploaded onto my Youtube channel. For all the world to see.
I do hope you'll visit Youtube and click the thumbs up button ... you'll find it below the video on the right. It'll be a hu-u-uge help for an artist, and you'll be doing your good deed for the day. Enjoy!
Okay, so maybe they're not the sexiest vegetables on the dinner plate. But fresh raw turnips sure are pretty, with their lavenders and pinks, and their delicate, serpentine roots. So when I saw them at the Union Square Farmer's Market I decided they were coming home with me. Along with a ginormous bunch of eucalyptus leaves that perfumed the air as I set up my still life.
Thanks Mom, I'm Sold!
Jean Kessler, my mother, has been painting with watercolors for as long as I can remember. Recently she introduced me to Cartiera Magnani Portofino, a high-quality watercolor paper. It's hot press, and all that means is that the paper's surface is smooth. (Cartiera Magnani Aquarello is cold press, and that's the bumpy kind.)
Verdict: I absolutely love it. This paper greeted my gouache paint like a dear old friend. It wasn't too absorbent for washes, which went on nice and smooth. And I didn't mangle the surface while making the inevitable corrections and changes. Fantastic! Cartiera Magnani has been making paper in Tuscany since 1404, so by now they must know a thing or two. The only downside is that I couldn't find their paper at my local art supply store, so I had to buy it online. But that seems to be the new world order.
So, what about you? Have you tried the Cartiera Magnani Portofino? Do you have a favorite watercolor paper? Do tell all about it in the comments.
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Inspired by the dog days of summer. Gouache on paper. Just because it's scorching out there doesn't mean I can't have fun painting. Indoors.
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Summer is one of my favorite seasons, because it's great fun to draw and paint outdoors. But there's hot weather, and then there's HOT weather. And last week New York City was so hot and sticky that I decided to paint indoors. Fortunately I keep a bag of penny candy around for still life emergencies.
I love painting shiny, transparent wrappers, and penny candies are perfect for that. But they can also present problems. Because candy colors are quite intense, and if you're not careful the painting can become loud and garish. So I decided to stay mainly with yellows and oranges. And I threw in a few soft brown caramels to tone them down a bit.
I must be a sucker for a challenge. Of all the colors to see and mix properly, green is probably the hardest. So what did I do? I went and choose a subject with limes and green hot sauce. The letters on the bottle were a bit intimidating too. Sure, I wanted it to look like lettering. But I didn't want it to look mechanical and dry. After all, this is a painting, not a photograph. Too much fussy detail could suck the life right out of it. So I did the only thing any self-respecting artist would do. I let the painting just sit there, unfinished, for a long, long time. What painting?
But an unfinished painting is a low-grade irritant, like a pebble in my shoe. Sooner or later I had to face it. Preferably before the limes shriveled up. So I thought about what my teacher once told me. Don't be afraid to paint something difficult. Just go ahead and try it, and do your best to solve any problems that come up. Otherwise you'll be hiding out in The Safe Zone. And then your work won't be dynamic. And then you won't grow as an artist. And then ... Ay, carumba!
Okay then, so it was finally time to get on with it. But first I watched this cool watercolor demo by James Gurney for encouragement and inspiration. In the video Gurney painted a theater marquee. Lettering and all. He was careful, but he didn't worry about making his letters stand perfect and straight, like soldiers in formation. I decided to give his method a try. And you know what? Hello muddah, hello faddah. It wasn't all that difficult. Actually, it was kinda fun!
Spring is a busy time for me at my day job. I wanted a still life set up that would wait patiently until I got to it. And wouldn't wilt, fade, droop or rot. More traditional still-life subjects, such as fruits and flowers are wonderful to paint, because they're beautiful, colorful, living things, and you can feel the "chi" energy running right through them. But if I don't paint them quickly enough the studio can get a little ripe, if you know what I mean. So this time I chose one of my other favorite subjects, translucent cellophane candy wrappers. I shudder to think that these wrappers, unlike fruits and flowers, will never biodegrade. But what can you do. They're ubiquitous in the modern world. And they're really really fun to paint.
My name is Julie Kessler and I'm a representational artist. I love painting in oils with their vibrant, juicy colors. Lately I've been exploring the unique qualities of gouache, watercolors, colored pencils and other media. I started this blog to share my work and thoughts about making art. I toss other things into the mix too, such as painters that I love, and art books and exhibits that inspire me. Your comments are welcome. I'd love to hear from you!