Thursday, January 31, 2013

And the winner is...

We have a tie!

Progress Report:
The colors have been chosen. - Painting the accent wall.

I decided to choose 2 paint colors for the walls of the studio. Why just choose one, when I could have 2?! (Remember, I also have 2 kids. Maybe there's a personality quirk in there I need to get over?) Anyway....

For most of the walls I chose a very neutral 'tan-ish grey-ish' - that's an artist's technical color term :) In my last blog - see the sample colors image - it's the color on the left with the painting leaning against it. If you want the real name and all the info, comment below and let me know -  I'm happy to share.

But for one wall, I went for the accent. I really do love paintings hung on dark walls. We have one in the gallery that I really like. Our dark wall in the gallery, has some purple undertones, where this one.... pure espresso / dark chocolate.

BTW - In Southwest Art Magazine's February issue, I just saw an article on Scott Burdick and Susan Lyon's studio . Both are using that 'grey green' wall color I mentioned in my last blog, that is popular for many artist studios. If you want to see a couple photos (and the article), click on the link from their names above.

Our Yellowstone Zoo
- photos from our windows -

An elk herd has been across the river for a few days now. Bedding down there for the night too. I always enjoy watching the herd slowly waking in the morning and all returning to grazing. Been a treat to watch them out the studio windows, while we're working away.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Artist studios

I've been thinking a lot about artist studios lately, since we're in the process of building 'our dream studio'.

Progress Report:
Ceiling and log work is done - on to the floor.
AND, I've had some extra time to think in the last several days... We've been passing around winter germs here and I was hit HARD this week. So I did more 'laying low' than usual....and what better to think about than artist studios when you can't get your head off the pillow? Luckily, victory is now mine.... I'm able to sit upright to type this blog!

Fortunately, I've had the opportunity to be in some great artist studios over the years - some of the artists whose workshops I've attended, some college instructors to artist friends. It's an eclectic mix out there - many full of style and personality. Some much more utilitarian - others more chaos than calm. Sprawling to compact. Neat to piled high. Sara Genn has an interesting collection of artist spaces to illustrate the point. Lots of historic ones too. Click here to see her photos.

I like a good mix of form and function. I want my studio space to be inviting. Somewhere I find both attractive and functional. A pleasure to be in and work in. Like a favorite room of the house or your favorite book - inviting and comfortable.

Over the years, I've certainly had many different spaces I called "my studio"....a drawing table in my college room, a corner in the basement, a converted extra bedroom in a Victorian house, the studio we designed and built in the Adirondack Mountains...and of course many kitchen tables along the way!

Our studio in the Adirondack Mountains

I used the 'silo' in our home as an adjunct studio, when the kids were just born.
The top floor was the 'nursery'.
(For this home, we designed and built it using a reclaimed antique hand hewn barn - a mortise and tenon timberframe - as the main structure. That's why - the 'silo'.)

So really, I've been thinking about what makes a great artist studio for most of my life. And, as you can see, I've already tried some designs out too.

Now, the excitement for this 'dream studio' overlooking Yellowstone National Park is building. (pun intended).... We're getting close....

The north windows for the most consistent natural light are in place. The casement and awning windows are installed to provide good ventilation. The wiring is in for fluorescent lighting to provide a good balance of artificial light (5000-5500 Kelvin is generally considered "best" for painting purposes). The black walnut flooring John is now installing to provide an attractive and comfortable surface for long periods of standing. It's installed over a layer of thin cement that holds the tubing for the radiant heat, which is heated by our solar hot water and masonry heater. Check, check, check.
Next step?....the paint color for the walls. Oh, this is one of my favorites!
Some sample color swatches on the wall.
I like to see how a painting looks against the wall colors in the space. Trying many different paintings is important, since I want a color that will go well with A LOT of colors and frames - not just look great with one particular piece.  I'll look at them in day and night lighting too.
In a past studio, I used the 'typical' Benjamin Moore #1490. It's a grey-green neutral used often in artist circles. But I didn't want to go there this time. It didn't seem to fit this space or my tastes these days. So I'm experimenting a bit...testing my colors on the walls, instead of canvas.

I'll be back with the 'winning color' very soon! Watch for the progress report.

A photo from our windows....
A glorious sunset from earlier this week.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Scouting the Valley

New bronze wolves by John
Number 3 in the edition of 27 is now at our gallery.
This pair has a new black patina in honor of the black wolves in Yellowstone.

Scouting The Valley - wolf pair    bronze    by John Stacy
Scouting The Valley - detail
The black patina fits the wolves well, since many Yellowstone wolves are known for their black coloration.
  For a lot more information on the wolves of Yellowstone, click here.
Photo from our window... 
This mornings sunrise on the Yellowstone River was glorious....
Like I've said many times...who says water is blue?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Eagle antics

Our Yellowstone Zoo...
photos from our windows

Going with my ‘web cam ‘ theme from  the last blog -

We were just eating lunch looking out the windows and....SPLASH!! An eagle was also getting lunch… a fish out of the Yellowstone River just moments ago!

Look close and you can see the fish in the eagles talons.

Here, the eagle is looking down at the fish, while flying.
I liked this eagle shot - but the fish is mostly hidden...just a bit of the tail is visible.
You’d think all I’ve been doing is watching eagles lately, but really I’ve been painting a lot too. I’ll get some photos up soon of my progress.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Progress is being made

Someone recently described us as" a pair of busy beavers". That might be pretty close. I know it's winter, but there's no grass growing under our feet here!
An update on the studio progress....

John working on the new studio space.
Great high ceilings! That's John on the ladder in the back - (for scale).
The logs are going up...with some encouragement from John.

Our Yellowstone Zoo...
photos from the windows

This time of year we see bald eagles often here. I've been 'chasing them'...with my camera. I liked these 'abstract' shots....

Eagles often settle in the trees on the other side of the Yellowstone River to look for fish.... 

So I thought that would do it for today, but just as I was about to post this blog I glanced out the window over my computer...
And there was more to add to our Yellowstone Zoo!
this is as close to a web cam as I can get.

These photos were taken just moments ago - shot right out the windows of my office.
First I saw a herd of pronghorn - about 25 wandering through.....

Then, this elk on the ridge, followed by about 9 more behind her....

And as I had my camera out taking the above photos, here comes the eagle again over the Yellowstone River.
We'll call that a 'Trifecta" and THAT should do it for today.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A BIG part of being an artist....

Observing and thinking.
You may have been hoping for something much more ‘flashy’. But to truly observe and think, it takes work - a conscious effort. 
Try to be more observant this year.... That doesn’t sound too difficult does it?

The easy part is that it can be done anytime and anywhere. The hard part is that it takes a concerted effort to do it well enough to reap the benefits.

If you’re a painter, the benefits will be seen in your painting. If you’re not in the habit of putting paint on canvas, you will feel the benefits by appreciating the beauty around you and the natural world, in a deeper way…."seeing the world through an artist’s eyes".

Plein air painting could be considered an extreme form of observing. While you are observing as intently as you possibly can, you are also trying to mix paint and get it on the canvas in the right spot.
So... some very intent, focused observing, WITHOUT the added ‘distraction’ of mixing paint, can be very beneficial.

You see painting the sunrise is tricky. Changes occur FAST at that time of the day. With the light moving SO quickly and the color temperatures changing RAPIDLY, getting the right colors mixed and on the canvas, can feel mind boggling at times!
It can be a welcome opportunity to separate the observing from the painting now and then. Give the observing ‘front stage’. Observe and think without painting. But keep up the intensity and focus. Don’t treat it like a spectator sport – become fully involved and absorbed in the moment.

Compare the colors and tones, note the different shapes, the way the light strikes the ground or object, the angle of the light, the colors in the area of where the light meets the dark, where the colors transition... is it an abrupt change or a soft blending, do you see reflected light anywhere, where’s the darkest dark, the lightest light, the most intense color? Etc. etc.
Make yourself REALLY LOOK. See it like you’ve never seen before.

By being able to observe at a less ‘frenzied’ pace than when I need to mix the paint and get it on the canvas too, it feels like there’s more time to let the information sink deeper into the brain. Hopefully, that stored information will be in the memory bank for when I do get out there. And a nice bonus, the acquired information and my improved observation skills cross over….coming in handy when studio and still life painting, too. 

Since you’re always equipped with all the tools you need – it fits into busy schedules nicely. There’s certainly not much ‘down time’ in my life at this stage, so fitting it in with my exercise time works well for me.
We have a treadmill with a great view of Yellowstone National Park, the Yellowstone River and Electric Peak. PERFECT to observe the sun rise on Electric Peak. This morning there was a lot of information to be had!

It’s hard to translate that firsthand information into photos on a computer screen – (remember for a landscape painter there’s a reason for plein air painting rather than just painting from photos. It’s NOT the same). But I'll give it my best shot.

When the sun first hit Electric Peak this morning the color on the mountain had a very 'pink' quality to the sun lit snow. The snow shadows  on the peak were quite blue. Compare the blue of the snow shadow to the blue sky....
The 'pinkness' quickly subsided. And the blue shadows also lost some intensity....
When the sun hit the front cliffs, look at the warm color compared to the back trees in shadow. The cliffs are much lighter in value and warmer in color than those trees. Also, observe the different value of the foreground trees compared to those background trees. What's the color difference?...
Look at the values - lights to darks. Compare the sunlit snow to the snow in shadow. A "general rule" is the sky is usually the lightest value - but snow throws 'the rules' off. Here, you can see the snow in the sunlight is a lighter value than even the sky.... You need the power of observation to see what's really happening, you can't just go by 'the rules'.
Added bonus....
An eagle stopped by during my workout. While we're observing like an artist - you can see that both the body of the eagle and the juniper trees in the background are a dark value, but what is the color difference? They are NOT the same.
That was my entertainment during my workout - observation practice.

For this discussion, I referred more to the natural world with the changing light, but the concept applies to anything– inside, outside, still objects, moving, anything will do. Whatever grabs your interest.

For pure observation skills, you can practice anywhere, anytime – from waiting rooms to road trips. Hope you manage to fit some 'intense observing' into your daily routines this year.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Hoppin' down the bunny trail...

Our smallest bronze....John sculpted a 'mini' bronze bunny. He recently picked up a 'litter' from the foundry. John makes the stands out of walnut - not all are alike. The entire piece, (this one anyway) including stand, is about 2 1/2" wide x 2 3/4" high. It's our lowest priced bronze at $45, including stand.
Wildlife tidbit of the day....  Bunny is a nickname for rabbit. Baby rabbits are called "kittens" or "kits".

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A New Year and a NEW STUDIO!

Woo Hoo!!

Our beautiful "dream studio" is coming in 2013....
With fabulous views of Yellowstone National Park
over the Yellowstone River.
VERY exciting for two artists!

But first the work...
Design and construction, we do it all ourselves.
Can't let anybody else have all that fun! :)
The newly completed wood ceiling.

Next stage - logs go up. I let John be in charge of THAT stage!
I'll keep you posted with construction photos so you can follow along with our progress....and celebrate the completion with us!
Photos from our property.....
This mornings sunrise was glorious on Electric Peak.
(Photos just don't do the colors justice. In person, they are just spectacular, amazing, breathtaking, etc.etc. I guess I'll have to paint it.)
A close up of Electric Peak with the morning sunrise colors and shadows in the snow.