Friday, August 28, 2009

Cold Spring East Fork Trail in Santa Barbara

Boulder Walk 72 x 42" oil on canvas
© 1995 Katherine Kean

If you’re looking for a cool place to paint outdoors in Southern California try this location in the Los Padres Forest near Santa Barbara. Just a few feet from the road at the beginning of the trail you’ll find the creek, rock pools and plenty of shade. This is good news for those carrying the extra weight of painting supplies and the surfaces to paint on. I’ve heard wonderful things about the trail as it continues further on, but I’ve never taken it any farther than the first set of waterfalls. In the spring there is plenty of water, but it is beautiful all the time. I like the large boulders.

To get there from Los Angeles: travel north on the 101 and take the Olive Mill exit turning right and veer right onto Hot Springs Road then left on 192 and right on Cold Spring road/Mountain Drive until you arrive at the trail head.

Santa Barbara Independent: Ray Ford article about the trail Click on the photo gallery link for some wonderful photographs.

Santa Barbara Hikes page on the Cold Spring Trail This page has comments and updates from hikers.

A website to learn about closures and detours. Unfortunately we are in fire season again. Sometimes it's a good idea to check on conditions before heading out.

Monday, August 24, 2009

When Do Artists Retire?

An Old Woman 

Or do they?

Henry Moore is quoted as saying "There's no retirement for an artist, it's your way of living so there's no end to it."

I’ve never personally heard an artist say they were looking forward to permanently laying aside the brushes to take up golf or go fishing. Although I can imagine having to slow down or make some changes due to health issues, for some artists this kind of problem leads to a creative solution. In Creativity and the Exceptional Aging Artist, August L Freundlich and John A Shively give the example of Matisse tying a brush to his hands to work when he was troubled with arthritis. Matisse called his last fourteen years his second life.

Some studies suggest that there is a benefit to aging for some artists; that although output may slow the quality remains or even accelerates. Art historians even have a term for this: “alterstiehl” and note it in the works of Titian, and Rembrandt, among others.

In Aging Well an article by Juliann Schaeffer, Retirement Redefined: Lessons From Aging Artists talks about how older artists have something to teach other seniors about how to age successfully and thrive in later life.

So let's hear it for alterstiehl - they say that Georgia O’Keeffe painted into her nineties.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Storm Clouds Over Lava Field

storm clouds, lava field. drawing. atmospheric, Hawaii, awe
Storm Over Lava Field sketch © 2009 Katherine Kean

I'm just starting on the last large work. The sketch for it is above. This one will be 48 x 60" - a bit larger than the previous painting, but for some reason the dimensions make it look smaller to me.

I'd like to have all of these larger works finished by the end of the summer, or at least well before the days become much shorter. I like working in natural light best, especially on bigger canvases.

The weather has been so beautiful over the past few weeks - I have to keep reminding myself that it is August.

Related Post:

Ash Plume and Lava Field Sketches

Monday, August 17, 2009

Some Guidelines For Hanging an Exhibit

Recently a friend emailed to ask for any tips I might have on hanging a group exhibit and as I spent a part of this weekend unpacking boxes of artwork for TAG's California Open Exhibit (which starts this week), I got to thinking of some of the hanging methods I use. I've hung dozens of exhibits over the years, my own as well as group shows. What follows covers only some of the basic technical aspects rather than the aesthetics of layout.

You will need:


A hammer

Picture hanging hooks of various sizes for different weights. A very large, heavy painting may use two hooks for extra support.

Wall putty, or earthquake putty.

Extra picture wire just in case.

Measuring tape, measuring stick.


A big eraser.

Plexi cleaner or Windex.

A bit of white paint acrylic might be good to have on hand, assuming the walls are white. Many galleries keep some of whatever they use on hand for wall prep.

Wall spackle to fill any hole mistakes. I use the pre mixed quick dry kind.

Make sure that the artwork is wired to hang - no glass, just plexi on framed work.

Make sure that the artwork is labeled on the back. If it is a group show - or for any reason you are not familiar with the work it also helps if there is an index card on the front with name, title, medium and price. If you are using wall labels you can speed up the process for a group show by having the artists submit the info in advance so it can be typed into the label format so it's all ready to print out and stick on the wall. I use Avery 8663 Easy Peel. If you use wall labels than you don't have to fuss with numbers.

Arrange the work around the space, I usually lean the work against the wall about where I'll want it to be. I measure the linear wall space and add up the artwork width and subtract that from the linear space. I then divide that number by how many pieces there are to know the spacing between.

There are several methods of aligning the work on the wall. When I'm hanging mid to large scale work in a home I like to align the top edge with the top edges of windows and doorways. Another way to have a uniform look is to center each painting on the wall at eye level (eye level may be from 60 to 65 inches - but pick a number and stick with it).

The formula is eye level measurement + half the painting height minus the space from wire to top edge = place for nail or support placement.

I usually do all my planning and calculations in advance so that I don't have to spend a lot of time futzing around on hanging day. So going by the formula if a painting is 18 x 24" then 18 inches is the height. That means the center is at 9". All you have to do to find the place for the nail is to add the 9 inches (or one half of whatever the painting's height) to your eye level number - let's say you decide that eye level is 60", then add 9". Then subtract the distance from the center of the hanging wire to the top of the painting and that's the measurement for placement of the nail (or hanging support). So if the painting is wired three inches from the top the nail or support is at 66". In other words the formula is: eye level (60") plus half the height (9") less wire to top edge (3") = nail or support placement (66"). When I am hanging my shows I do all the math beforehand and put that number on masking tape and stick it on the painting.

After nailing the supports in the wall, hang and check the work with the level, then put a dab of wall putty on the bottom corner between the artwork and the wall.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ash and Steam Plume in Progress

Ash and Steam Plume in progress 40 x 60" oil
© 2009 Katherine Kean

This is the beginning of the over painting on a large canvas. The color differences between the underpainting and the over painting are not as extreme as they are in the Lava Field painting and the values are much lighter overall so it's been progressing at a good pace even though it is much larger. I'm also dealing with some scale concerns. When I first painted the horizon line I used a ruler to make sure it was level (from the center to the left edge - not including the hill on the right that clearly slopes upward - which by the way, doesn't help either). It doesn't show up as much on this reduced image, but in person the line appeared to droop on the left. I have lifted the line on the left to allow it appear more level in person. I may lift it even more as the work progresses.

Related Post:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lava Field Painting in Progress

Lava Field in progress 30 x 40" oil
© 2009 Katherine Kean
Here is the Lava Field painting, as I've been calling it, with the first layers of color over the warm underpainting. There is still plenty of red showing through. I'll leave as much as I can as I start working out the nuances. I don't imagine that "Lava Field" will be the final title. I've been calling it that as a working title because the foreground on the painting is showing a large area comprised of hardened lava that flows all the way to the beach from the eruption in the center of the island. The plume rising on the left side of the painting is made of steam coming from where the lava still flows into the sea. The clouds are made of steam colliding with an incoming storm.

I've barely started thinking about what the titles of this series might be. Any suggestions?

Related Post:

Warm Underpainting

Friday, August 07, 2009

Fudd Rest in Peace 1992 - 2009

Fudd passed away unexpectedly yesterday in the waiting room at the vet's office. He had just had an exam a week ago and seemed to be in wonderful shape, especially considering his age. He did show some hyperthyroidsim in the test results that came back this week and had just begun medication for it. However it takes some time for the medication to really have an effect and before it could he began going downhill very fast - over the past 24 hours or so, becoming lethargic and losing his famous appetite. We're not sure of the exact cause.

Fudd was adopted as an adult cat and was always affectionate, unassuming, gentle, and just a tad mischievous. He was a great friend to Bear and Cole, and especially to Cole during his illness. He will be hugely missed.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Seven and Seven: Two Lists

I was given this blog award by Kim Bennett, of Kim Bennett's Studio, a wonderful artist, a teacher and a blogger...Many thanks Kim!

The award comes with two duties: share seven things my fellow bloggers don't know about me; pass the award to seven worthy artists. So here goes.

Seven things about me you might not know:

1. I was a vegetarian in my teens. This prompted my mother to research and cook strange (at the time) alternative recipes, things like Lentil Loaf, in order to keep me healthy.

2. I have some fused vertebrae in my neck - you'd never know, except that I can't do headstands in yoga.

3. I discovered my artistic abilities because as a kid I was nuts about horses and started drawing them to compensate for not having one.

4. As a child I broke my back (just a little) falling off a horse - still love them anyway! Oh and it healed quickly with no fuss - one of the the wonders of youth.

5. I lived in South Korea for 6 weeks as an animator back in the day.

6. I was an animator back in the day.

7. My great, great, grandfather's name was Oonomoo. I don't know why.

Seven artists:

1. Melissa Reischman - Art and Other Creative Endeavors. Melissa's a fantastic artist and a graphic designer, an amazing cook, and a wonderful neighbor.

2. Anne M. Bray - Sketches and Impressions. I've had the pleasure of exhibiting alongside Anne twice and I love her work.

3. Dianne Hoeptner - I've never met Dianne in person, but I feel like I have! Dianne can paint anything, but I know her flowers best, and she paints prolifically.

4. Jean Spitzer - Jean's Paintings. Jean amazes me with her work - powerful figures and landscapes.

5. Laurelines - Laura's blog has been one of my favorites and an inspiration for quite a while. It's like a beautifully illustrated travel log/diary.

6. Lynne E. Windsor Fine Art - I've been an admirer of Lynne Windsor's painting for some time and I was happy to see she's recently started a blog!

7. Gary Keimig - Another wonderful painter. Gary does amazing work out in nature under the big skies.

It was hard to keep this list to just seven blog artists. I feel priveleged to connect to so many talented and accomplshed artists in the blog world and I may have to come back and add to this list in the near future.

Monday, August 03, 2009

More Underpainting

Ash Plume Underpainting work in progress 40 x 60"
© 2009 Katherine Kean

Here's the underpainting for another large painting - one of the ones I'd like to have complete at the end of the month. I started by toning the entire surface a pale yellow/gold and then painting over that mostly with violets, orange, and brown.

It's been fun working larger and mixing up the paint in recycled cups instead of on a palette while using a bigger brush overall. After working on this size going back to make some revisions on a 30 x 40" painting felt like I was working really small!

Besides mixing larger quantities of paint and using larger brushes another way to make working larger easier is by using a Reducing Glass - also known as a Lover's Glass. A Reducing Glass gives you a viewpoint as if from a distance.

Bolton Hall Museum Gift Shop

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