Fall Still Life: adding details and finishing: art lessons during a pandemic

Looking back on my painting progress and process, by early December, the pumpkin had rotted and was put out for the squirrels. The flowers were dead and brittle. The gourd was hanging in there pretty well, but I was frustrated. And cold. Very cold.

I was now working from a combination of a large printout of an old photograph, an iPad on a stand displaying the photograph of the still life as it originally was, and the sad remnants of the still life on the table. I was also a little tired of the whole thing after two months. Plus, with the Pandemic raging around us, I was masked, glasses fogging up, bundled up in layers, and leaving the studio doors open because three of us were working in the shared studio. We kept our distance, trying to converse through muffling masks across the space and hands frozen in medical gloves because we shared some brushes and paints. Well, this was an art class unlike any other in the past and I’m sure we will look back on it and be amazed.

Fall still life in progress, acrylics
Fall Still life in progress, acrylics

This was my first acrylic painting aside from a couple quick studies last fall. I plan to keep going with this medium in 2021.

Fall still life in progress, acrylics
Fall Still life in progress, acrylics, week after week progress

When I finished the painting, I disassembled the still life I had been studying for weeks. The gourd went out for the squirrels. The dead flowers were thrown out. The vase washed and put away. The battered silver tray returned to my kitchen to hold a bottle of hand soap and sanitizer. I folded the red flannel drape for future use in my studio. I’m ready to gaze at a new still life.

I finally finished my painting in the week before the Christmas break in our classes. I learned a lot. I could not have done this without the excellent and patient instruction from my wonderful teacher. Teachers rock! Happy New Year!

Fall still life
Fall Still Life, acrylics…finished!
Artist masked for pandemic
Artist at work during pandemic

Merry Christmas!

Chickadee , watercolor
Chickadee, watercolor

This year’s Christmas card is a watercolor painting of a chickadee. The birds in my yard rarely pose long enough for their portrait (ha ha) so my source photograph was taken by my art teacher and used, with her permission, as the model for my 2020 card. I finished the painting in the Fall of 2019 and I sent it to the printers this Fall in time to mail out my cards. However, the mail system is so overwhelmed during the Pandemic, that I am sending more digital copies than usual. Merry Christmas!

Finishing Volume 1 of my Pandemic Sketchbook

When I started drawing and writing in my ‘Pandemic sketchbook’ in early Spring at the beginning of the stay-at-home advisory, I might have thought that the pandemic would end before I ran out of blank pages. Sadly, that is not the case. The virus continues to burn through all the dry tinder of non-immune populations worldwide.

I have three pages to go in my sketchbook and a new, blank one waiting to be filled. The latest page is of tumbling leaves falling downward. I wet the paper with a natural sponge, then painted and splattered fall colors onto the damp page. When dry, I drew the leaves. Using dried leaves I had pressed in a book as templates, I traced around them, adding the veins and details later. I’m hoping that by next Spring, when I have filled up Volume 2 of my Pandemic Sketchbook, we have an effective, widely distributed vaccine and the Pandemic is subsiding.

Watercolor of falling autumn leaves
Autumn leaves, watercolor and pen and ink

USA Votes…and waits

Election Day collage
Election Day USA, collage

Yesterday, November 3, 2020, was Election Day in the USA, but counting the ballots will take days or even weeks, so as of right now, we don’t know who won the U.S. presidency. I made a collage from newspaper clippings in my Pandemic Sketchbook to distract myself and to reflect on this historic moment. I only have a few pages left in my sketchbook, but the pandemic is far from over…stay well everyone.

Pandemic Sketchbook: October, month 8

Oil pastels are perfect for catching the brilliant colors of autumn foliage. In the landscape below, I applied the color as thickly as I could, using quite a lot of pressure and building up layers, then blending with a paper towel and scratching and scraping with a palette knife. The sketchbook paper held up surprisingly well to all that energetic scribbling and scratching!

Landscape of fall foliage
Autumn foliage, oil pastels

In the sketchbook page shown below, the oil pastel drawing of a grey sky contrasts with the red and yellow colors of the leaves. Below the drawing I wrote about the onset of ‘Pandemic Fatigue,’ just as Covid cases begin to surge in my town and almost everywhere else in the world.

Sketchbook page of fall foliage
My sketchbook at week 33, oil pastels and comments

Painting rocks and putting them out for neighborhood children is completely different from drawing in my sketchbook. The craft is creative, but does not require as much close observation or concentration as a realistic sketch does. I did not put polyurethane on most of the rocks, because if the weather fades them, they will just go back to their original state eventually which is fine by me. Smooth rocks hold the paint pretty well, but porous rocks do not. By spring, I wonder what will be left? And will my Pandemic Sketchbook turn back into a regular old sketchbook in a normal world?

Painted rock house
Fairy Village in the Fall