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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Three to Get Ready

Deukmajian Wilderness Trail Sketch Katherine Kean
graphite on paper 8 x 10 inches
 I read somewhere that just thinking about the future—not even the rewards, per se—can strengthen willpower.

During the last few days of 2015 an artist friend had a great idea to sit down on an evening with calendars ready and pencils in hand and create a plan for the coming year. We mapped out how many paintings we would paint, what sizes they will be. We decided which new skills and levels of accomplishment we will reach and what kind of study, classes, or workshops might be required to reach these improvements. We also counted in time for travel, family, friends, and fun, time to experiment and time to take risks. When we were finished we marveled and laughed at our ambitions and wondered if the year would be big enough to hold all that we planned to put into it.

Foothill Storm Clouds Sketch Katherine Kean
graphite on paper 8 x 10 inches
“Time is short, my strength is limited, the office is a horror, the apartment is noisy, and if a pleasant, straightforward life is not possible then one must try to wriggle through by subtle maneuvers.” – Kafka

I’ve always been curious about how other artists structure their days. I know what works for me, the hours that are the most productive, how to get started, and how to avoid distractions - that is, as long as I'm choosing to be productive. Mason Currey has put together a book that gives a glimpse into the routines and work habits of well known artists, composers, and writers in Daily Rituals: How Artists Work.

Liquid Sun Splash Sketch Katherine Kean
graphite on paper 8 x 10 inches
“I calculate that I must have spent nearly 20,000 hours in writing Ulysses.” – James Joyce

“Sooner or later, the great men turn out to be all alike. They never stop working. They never lose a minute. It is very depressing.” – V.S. Pritchett

So, with calendar, list of goals, and a calculator I added up my plan of paintings and divided by available studio hours to see if there is a possibility to make these studio dreams come true. Mathmatically at least, yes, seems that there is. Let's see how it goes...

Monday, January 18, 2016

Winter Wet Paint

The winter months, such as they are in Southern California, should be a perfect time for accomplishing some studio painting. Once the holidays are over, there are fewer distractions and the garden is less demanding. The number of daylight hours is growing again, but it's still cool enough to work through the day. The catch is this - drying time slows down - a lot. A small study or painted edge that might dry overnight at other times of year might take a week - or more. I've taken to placing smaller work in front of the fireplace to try to speed the drying up.

Storm and Eucalyptus Tree wip Katherine Kean
oil on linen 30 x 40 inches
When I can, I paint working wet into wet. I find it more challenging than working in layers, allowing each to dry completely. Yet, working directly has certain advantages. The rules of fat over lean are less consequential in direct painting. 

Detail-Storm and Eucalyptus Tree wip Katherine Kean
oil on linen 30 x 40 inches
 Except for the underpainting layer, the painting above has been proceeding entirely with wet into wet technique, although I haven't decided yet whether to paint the tree into the wet paint, or allow it to dry first.

Underpainting - Storm and Eucalyptus Tree wip Katherine Kean
oil on linen 30 x 40 inches
In the meantime I've been keeping a drop of clove oil on the palette to keep the paint fresh overnight. The cool weather and the clove oil fumes are all it takes to keep the paint from drying, and it makes the studio smell amazing.

Monday, December 28, 2015

A busy year

Volcano Night Katherine Kean
oil on linen 8 x 16 inches
Some years seem to go by with nary a milestone. That doesn't mean that nothing is happening, just that much of it might be confined to the studio, or even residing quietly in the imagination waiting to be born. For me, 2015 was not one of those years. How or why, I can't say. It has been a year of exhibitions and journeys.

Here are some highlights. 

TRAC 2015 (Thank you, Shanna)

Hawaii - Magic Island  

Exhibitions, group, local, pop up, and open studio...
click on the image for a corresponding post.

Here's to 2015 and looking forward to a wonderful 2016. Wishing you all the best. 
Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Happy Holidays and a Cumulus Christmas

Billowing Katherine Kean 2015
oil on linen 30 x 30 inches

Warm wishes to all for a beautiful holiday season!

Monday, December 07, 2015

A Collection of Clouds for Holiday Cards and Gifts

Billowing Clouds Go by and By Holiday Greeting Card
I've added Billowing Clouds to a Zazzle line of Holiday Greeting Cards. The inside message is "Happy Holidays". This card is fully customizable, allowing you to make the message your own and comes in three sizes, including a jumbo size. This link will take you straight to the card: Billowing Clouds Go By and By Greeting Card.

Cloud Chasing Katherine Kean
oil on linen 30 x 40 inches
Cloud Chasing is now available from Saatchi Art as a 12 x 16 inch gallery wrapped reproduction, printed on a UV protected, museum grade, poly/cotton blend. You can choose either black or white for the 1 1/4 inch gallery wrapped sides. Here is the link to take you there: Cloud Chasing reproduction.

Gathering Point Katherine Kean oil on linen 24 x 30 inches
Gathering Point Katherine Kean
oil on linen 24 x 30 inches
Gathering Point is available in an 8 x 10 or 11 x 14 inch reproduction on fine art paper. Framing is also available in either black or white. Here's the link: Gathering Point reproduction.

Billowing Clouds Go By and By Katherine Kean
oil on linen 16 x 20 inches
Billowing Clouds Go By and By as also now available as an 8 x 10 or 11 x 14 inch reproduction on fine art paper. Available at Saatchi Art: Billowing Clouds Go By and By reproduction.

Monday, November 30, 2015

PSA 90th Annual at Whites Gallery

Sheltering Cloud, Restless Land, Desolate Tree Katherine Kean
oil on linen 16 x 16 inches
I am honored and pleased to have two paintings accepted into Pasadena Society of Artists' 90th Annual Exhibition, juried by Scott Ward, Executive Director of the Armory Center for the Arts. The exhibition opens to the public this weekend at Whites Gallery in Montrose.

PSA 90th Annual Juried Exhibition 
Wednesday, December 2, 2015 - Wednesday, December 30, 2015 

Opening Reception: 
 Saturday, December 5, 2015 2pm to 5pm 

Whites Art, Framing & Restoration 
2414 Honolulu Avenue
Montrose, CA 91020 

Juror: Scott Ward, Executive Director Armory Center for the Arts 

Scott Ward has been the executive director of the Armory Center for the Arts since 2001. Prior to coming to the Armory, he was the executive director of the Palos Verdes Art Center from 1997 to 2001, and executive director of the Downey Museum of Art from 1987-1996. He has spearheaded a dramatic expansion of the Armory’s exhibition and education programs in the underserved neighborhoods of Northwest Pasadena. Ward also has extensive experience as an administrator, educator, curator, lecturer, panelist, executive coach, and artist. He has served as a speaker and panelist for National Guild of Community Schools of Art, The Wallace Foundation, and the City of Denver. As a grants panelist, he has served multiple times for the National Endowment for the Arts, The California Arts Council, and Los Angeles Metro. He taught Fine Art Photography at Loyola Marymount and was the University Art Gallery Director at CSUSB. He received his B.A. from the University of California in aesthetic studies, and earned his M.F.A. in photography from California Institute of the Arts.

Whites Art, Framing & Restoration
2414 Honolulu Montrose, CA 91020
Gallery Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 9am to 5pm
(818) 957-4071

Monday, November 23, 2015

Training and Use of Visual Memory, Deborah Paris TRAC 2015

Morning Light Deborah Paris
24 x 30 inches
As mentioned, I learned much from Deborah Paris's presentation at TRAC earlier this month:
In her presentation, Paris reminded us of how memory works and how memory training was once considered a significant part of training for artists. Her presentation reinforced the importance of memory in loosening the contemporary reliance on photography as a reference tool and showed how memory provides a bridge to working from imagination.

The memory training method described by Paris is a logical extension of training made known by Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran along with new, contemporary techniques developed by Paris.

In a nutshell (and as I remember it), the basic steps in this training, when working from a master drawing for example, are as follows:

   The big stare - at least 10 minutes of focused observation

   Describe what is observed to another person (or yourself) and/or write about the observation

   Make an air drawing - trace the contours of the subject in the air with your pencil, brush, or finger. 

   Make a drawing based on the memory and compare it to the original. 

   Repeat the process to strengthen and develop observation and memory skills.

It may seem odd that writing about an observation or verbally describing it to someone would help, until you remember that memory works by association. The stronger the associations the more quickly and fully a memory can be retrieved. Associations can be formed from a variety of sensory and cerebral input. In training for a massage therapy license, a group of us had heard that scent aids recall. We agreed together to use peppermint, and so studied and memorized with peppermint oil and we all wore peppermint oil to our final exam.

George Innes
Other training methods include removing oneself further and further from the subject, in both time and space. A friend who long ago attended the School of Visual Arts recalls drawing classes where the model would be on one floor and the easels on another. One either sharpened memory skills or got more of a workout than bargained for.

Nocturne James Abbott McNeill Whistler
You can see how useful this training can be when you want to work from imagination, or consider the many subjects that do not easily lend themselves to a photographic reference, such as the magical hours of dawn and dusk or the constantly changing clouds and ocean, or the night sky, or stars, comets, lightning, and volcanoes.

I've just touched the surface of Deborah Paris's presentation, and the subject of memory training in general. Fortunately, I understand that her paper will be published at some point.

UPDATE: Deborah Paris's paper is now online. Here's the link: http://www.deborahparis.com/Asset.asp?AssetID=42291&AKey=LCEK6WCL

Keep your eye on Field Notes  - Paris's teaching blog.

A few more resources:

Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran's book is available online here:
The Training of the Memory in Art and the Education of the Artist

Memory Drawing 2 Stapleton Kearns

Memory Drawing Techniques  Carol Allison

Deborah Paris's offering of online classes and field and studio workshops can be found here:
Deborah Paris, The Landscape Atelier classes and workshops.