Category Archives: Art

Atmospheric Landscapes

I have been enjoying my second go-round in Birgit O’Connor’s online course, Atmospheric Landscapes.  I’m grateful that Birgit is one of the many successful artists and instructors who has also mastered the technology of online teaching.

If you haven’t seen her website, I encourage you to visit.  She offers many different ways for students of watercolor to study at their own pace.  You can purchase a course for a very reasonable fee and not have any fear of using it because you are guaranteed lifetime access.  If you sign up for her newsletter, you will receive periodic offers to sign up at a discount.

With my busy schedule, I originally opted for working completely on my own.  However, I found that I tended not to do it until I signed up for one of the courses where we actually all meet online every few weeks for live discussion and feedback. I found that having that deadline to submit paintings in time for the bi-weekly review finally got me painting more regularly.

I’ve even been able to finish the Landscapes class while on vacation.  I’ll post some of my paintings completed for the course so you can see what is involved.

Happy painting!
Ann

Not one of my successful lessons since I let the purple color get “stuck” with not enough water to float in the sky.  A useful exercise in the proper amount of water plus a meadow foreground where one tried not to paint every single blade of grass.

An Apple iCloud Notes Solution

I have embraced Apple notes as my go to app for capturing ideas when I’m on the road, but I ran into a problem this week. I thought I would write this up because it was a problem that even Apple Support did not understand. (I have not included an exact step-by-step of the Apple device settings, so if you want to know more information, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments.)

I’m not a big fan of the cloud because I’m often out of WIFI reach. The remote coves we enjoy on our boat have no internet service, and the advertised WIFI at marinas is usually woefully lacking. (I’m writing this in the Anacortes Starbucks.). However, I have found putting certain items in the cloud useful.

One of these is my ongoing Notes. I have several folders of notes for my art endeavors that I like to share between my desktop iMac, iPhone and iPad. These include Admired Artists, Art Materials, and Art Techniques. I recently wanted to add a scan from a magazine to one of my existing Art Techniques notes on Color Mixing.

It’s easy enough to take a scan or photo with the iPhone. You can save the scan to Photos, but you can also directly Share the scan or photo to Notes. The problem was that I could not select my iCloud based Color Mixing note after I chose Share.

I knew my iCloud notes were there because I could see them if I looked for them in the Notes app. So why couldn’t I Share to them?

I discovered there is now an app for Apple Support and downloaded it (so my WIFI was obviously strong enough), but could find no reference to sharing to iCloud Notes in the Knowledge Base. The app suggested the best way to get support was to telephone, and as usual, I am amazed at the quick response one gets when calling Apple. They do ask for your Apple ID, and I’ve paid for the extended Apple warranty for my mobile devices, so I guess I’ve paid for it, but it still amazes me how quickly you can reach a real person at Apple.

Unfortunately, it was difficult to describe my problem over the phone. Taisha did her best and rounded up all the mobile Notes support articles for me to read later, but none of them referred to this problem. She had some odd idea that you needed to do iCloud backups of your device to get to your notes. I happen to only trust iTunes for backup and didn’t think that was the problem. I’m sure I’d been able to save from my iPad to a note originally created on my iMac, so what was wrong now?

I guess it’s my engineering background, but I couldn’t rest until I solved this problem. Artists would do well to adapt the engineering approach. All it requires is asking yourself a question and testing to find the answer. So, my first question was, could I do this on my iPad? Yes, it turned out! I could select a photo from Photos and then Share that photo to a Note from the iCloud Notes folder. This was a clue! Could there be a setting on my iPad that i did not have enabled on my iPhone?

There were two places in the Settings to look- one in the iCloud section and one in the Notes Settings area. The iCloud settings are oddly located at the top of Settings under your name. Here I noticed all the iCloud settings were the same except iPhone iCloud Drive was off. Could that be it? I enabled iCloud Drive on the iPhone, but nothing changed.

Then I looked at Settings/Notes. Here I noticed that the very top option, Default Account was On My Phone. For my iPad, it said simply iCloud. I switched the option to iCloud on my iPhone as well. I wasn’t hopeful this would do anything because the description was “Choose a default account for Siri and the Notes widget in Today View.”

However, this did seem to be the solution! Now, when I went to Share to the Notes app, I could only see my iCloud notes. So I guess you only get one or the other.

It’s tempting once you fix something to leave it be or it might “break” again. However, the final engineering verification was to switch it back to Settings/Notes/Default Account=on my iPhone. Sure enough, I could now only share to notes on my iPhone. Switching it to Default Account=iCloud allowed me to share to my iCloud notes. So, Solution Found!

Art materials snipped

A tidbit of captured info, this time for my Art Materials folder

Camel Hair Brushes

I recently was given some very old brushes.  I thought it would be no problem looking up the manufacturer’s series number since they were still clearly visible on the handles.  However, I quickly found that a Google search yielded very little information

My husband pointed out that these brushes were probably made and discontinued before the internet even existed.  This is the case for the Murillo company where I found business records from New York indicating closure in 1982. 

I was especially curious about a brush marked 1” M. Grumbacher N.Y. Meissonier ® U.S.A.  After some research I determined that this is a “Camel Hair Mop”.  But even more interesting, even though you can find many “Camel Hair” brushes for sale today, very few vendors indicate the real hair used for this brush.  

Finally, I found a good description for all brush hairs at www.dickblick.com/info/brushhair/

It turns out, Camel Hair is certainly not from a camel.  As they describe:

Camel Hair does not come from camels at all. It is found in watercolor and lettering brushes and usually is made of squirrel, goat, ox, pony or a blend of several hairs, depending on the desired softness and intended cost of the brush.

Grumbacher appears to be owned by Chartpack now. (grumbacher.chartpak.com/categories/brushes/#)  The closes brush I could find on their website is the Academy Natural.  The info box says their natural hair is a combination of goat and pony hair.  It does look like it would carry a lot of water and color, so I will try it in my watercolor work.

Grumbacher Academy Natural

Calistoga Paint Out

plainAir-back-IMG_9671-4webLast month I participated in the Calistoga Paint Out held by the Calistoga Art Center.  As a watercolor painter, I faced some interesting challenges that artists in other mediums may not encounter.

The essential elements of a plein air festival include a check in period, a painting period and then a public show of the resulting paintings.  During check-in, the artwork supports, typically canvas, panels or paper are stamped on the back with an identifying mark and date.  This step ensures that the painting actually takes place during the painting period.

What I did not anticipate was that the stamp needs to be visible when the final artworks are displayed.  This is usually not an issue for canvas or a panel, but display of a watercolor sandwiched between a mat and backing board then inserted in a frame is a problem.  The stamp would be covered up.  

Fortunately, a more experienced artist suggested I solve this problem by cutting a hole in the backing board.  This required that I get my paper re-stamped near the center so that the stamp would not be covered by the frame moulding.  Then I had to measure the location of the stamp carefully to make sure I cut a hole in the same place on the backing board.

For future paint outs, it would be easier to have the watercolor paper permanently mounted on the backing board ahead of time so that I could simply have the backing board stamped.  I haven’t yet found a pre-made watercolor board that I like, so I intend to glue my favorite watercolor paper to foam core board or a flat panel.  

My paintings were not my best work, but I have to remind myself I did these in about an hour each battling wind and even rain showers.  I plan to repaint them in my studio.

HydroGrill-4web

Downtown Calistoga

CalistogaEast-4webd

Calistoga East

Mustard Madness

Mustard-On-Ham-tileArt Gallery Napa Valley Reception

  • March 21, 6 to 8pm
  • 1307 First Street, Downtown Napa

Our artists in the gallery  have stepped up their marketing game.  They did some research into our Mustard theme and came up with some interesting info.

Mustard is known as a spice, a condiment (What’s a hotdog without mustard?) and was even used as a “plaster” to promote healing.  Historically, French monks who mixed the ground seeds with “must” or unfermented wine, inspired the word “mustard,” which stems from the Latin Museum ardens -roughly meaning “burning wine.”

In Napa Valley during February and March, the mustard you see is a breathtaking display of masses of delicate flowers used as a cover crop between the rows of pruned vines.

For my part, mustard brings to mind culinary pursuits. The the famous Mustards restaurant in Yountville is one of my favorites.  At the same time, this is Year of the Pig, so I couldn’t resist this whimsical addition to my display in the gallery.