I feel like a kid at Christmas today! I got a new toy and it is hard to focus on anything else! I treated myself to a GoPro video camera. If you aren’t familiar with these fun little cameras here is a bit from the GoPro website
but basically it is a very small waterproof camera that shoots wide angle videos and photos. It can be mounted on just about anything to get great action shots.
“The camera that started a revolution.
Impossibly small. Impressively high performance. Incredibly versatile. It all adds up to a camera that makes it easy for anyone, anywhere, to capture stunning photos and video of their life’s most meaningful experiences.”
I may not be into any extreme action sports but I can see the possibilities for filming my painting adventures. I will be putting it to the test in a couple of weeks in the Caribbean! And I have some really exciting adventures planned for 2014 so this little camera will get a workout!
What about using it closer to home? I thought I would try it out while I painted yesterday and made my very first video demo which I have added to my Youtube channel. Read on about how I did it.
|My Set up …I mounted the camera on the box top which I stuck on a tripod
I am definitely a novice when it comes to video and editing. But the GoPro made it easy (along with the many tutorials you can find on Youtube. After I got the camera out of the box (I did need to watch a tutorial on that!) I set up the camera and the GoPro app for my iphone. You can control the camera via the app using wifi….very cool. I took a quick video of the dog and managed to get it on the computer and do some basic editing. I was excited.
Next I decided to do a quick painting.The camera does Time lapse which I think will be great for a bigger more involved painting. This demo took me 7 minutes so I filmed it straight through. I didn’t cut much out at all. I figured out how to add titles and music too. I have some great ideas for my Youtube channel so I hope you will subscribe and check out my first demo.
Here is the link to the demo. Let me know what you think! http://youtu.be/HJwX_3-Qg7o
The camera is a GoPro Hero3 Silver (not the latest model but a great bundle price at Costco)
The painting is on Canson MiTeintes paper with Terry Ludwig pastels.
I have been meaning to do this. Ever since Richard McKinley suggested I use my plein air studies for studio paintings. That was a few years ago during his Lake Tahoe workshop. I really haven’t done much with that idea though. I usually come home from a trip or plein air outing and throw my paintings in a box. Once I am home and wrapped up in everyday life I don’t take time to revisit these little studies.
I am missing out on one of the benefits of Plein air painting. Making use of the studies. These studies may not always be great or frame-able but they do give you better information than a photo.
I discovered that my plein air studies shows the emotional response I had while studying the scene on location. Compare the photo of the scene and my plein air study below. Can you see the drama and feel the wind in the painting? You can’t see that in the photo. When I look at the study I am reminded of the wind and the ever-changing drama in the sky. Now to recapture that drama in a studio painting!
|Reference and Plein Air Study
I decided to use the plein air study for the demo painting I did last week for the Atlanta Artist’s Center. The demo painting is 18×24. I chose it for the demo because I am familiar with this place. I wouldn’t want to paint something totally new to me in front of a big group! Also the study made it simple to choose my palette.
The demo was a success. I got a lot of positive feedback and had a lot of fun with it. I don’t think I captured the wind in the big painting and I think it is partly because I was talking and painting at the same time so I wasn’t in the ‘wind zone’. Also it is different paper. I used wallis Belgian Mist for the study and Uart for the demo….so it seems much smoother.
I am not finished with this motif so I will try it again to see if I can capture the energy of the study. I am encouraged to work from my plein air studies more often. I just needed a reminder!
If you didn’t get to see my new YouTube video demo because the link wasn’t in the daily email here is the link http://youtu.be/HJwX_3-Qg7o I apologize for that. It seems the email subscriptions don’t pick up embedded links.
|‘Marsh Walk’ 6×6 pastel ©Karen Margulis sold
It’s the number one question I am asked. ”How can I loosen up?” or ” I am too tight, get too detailed and then end up overworking the painting. What can I do to keep my paintings fresh and loose?”
So I have given the question much thought and read what others have to say about it. (Jackie Simmonds has an excellent blog post about painting loose here) I have come up with five things we can do to help us achieve looseness. I will be sharing them in my classes and workshops but I thought it would be fun to give my blog readers a peek into my weekly pastel class and see how we will apply these 5 things.
First I would rather use the word ‘expressive’ rather than use the term loose. I think expressive is a better way to describe what I try to do and that is express my feelings about the subject, suggesting a lot of the detail and interpreting my subject rather than copying it. Loose can be interpreted as being sloppy, all soft and painted fast which isn’t always the case.
Here is what we are doing in class this week. Feel free to follow along and comment below on your experiences!
|My demos of 7 minute paintings
We began class with a discussion about the importance of study and painting practice. We talked about Robert Genn’s term for artists who are blocked or frustrated with their work because they have a lot of knowledge about painting but not enough time at the easel for this knowledge to become intuitive. It is called ‘Educosis’ Read more about it here
. Don’t you love it?
How can we make time to paint more often in our busy lives? One way is to do smaller timed paintings. We started class by doing 10 minute paintings. We then did a 7 minute painting. We did 3 of them. It is amazing what everyone did with just 7 minutes to paint. There is no chance to get bogged down with copying details in this short time. The paintings were fresh and spontaneous.
It was also an excellent way for us to warm of after a class-free summer! I am encouraging my students to fit in more of these timed paintings in between classes. (more on my incentive plan in a later post)
|students painting fast and furiously!
”Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” Seneca
I am in trip planning mode. In another life I must have been a travel agent. I love planning trips as much as taking them. Usually I start planning my next trip on my way home from the current trip. I have always loved to travel. When our kids were younger we would take three weeks each summer to explore the National Parks. That was wonderful.
But now that I paint Travel takes on a new dimension. I am not just a tourist seeing the ‘must see’ sights. I see every place with fresh eyes. Even the ordinary sights become extraordinary when discovered on a trip. Traveling makes you more aware of your surroundings. All of your senses become more acute. You notice more. Even if you choose not to paint on a trip you are absorbing it all. It enriches you. Let me give you an example: Today’s painting is from a photo I took on a road trip to Wyoming. We took the backroad one morning and came across this pasture.
|reference photo…somewhere in Kansas
We pulled over to take photos. It was peaceful and the morning light was so soft and beautiful. If we were at home we might have zipped pass this place, too busy with life to notice. But on a trip we were relaxed and in tune. Our cameras ever ready for the next best shot. We noticed the ordinary.
And even now, three years later I can look at the photo and recall how I felt at our discovery. The sights, sounds and smells. Those heightened senses stayed with me.
Yes I can certainly be more aware of my surroundings at home but there is something about travel that sends a signal to my brain that it is time to wake up and soak it all in.
What’s in the works for the coming year? NJ, Pawleys Island, Caribbean cruise, and in 2014 possibly Nantucket, Monhegan Island and a Fall trip somewhere to see Aspens. And of course several trips to Chicago to see my kids!
What’s your next trip?
Today’s painting: Uart 600 paper with an alcohol wash with Terry Ludwig pastels, the Marsh Savage Southeast Landscape set.
I finally did it! I have put together a complete pastel lesson and demo in booklet form. I do post mini demos on the blog but I have been wanting to find a way to share a more in depth lesson. When I saw that Etsy had a category to share Digital Downloads I thought it would be a perfect way to share my lessons. It was just a matter of finding the time to put the lesson together. Here it is!
I chose ‘Painting Animals’ as my first lesson. It is based on a class I teach on my approach to painting animals with pastels. I posted an abbreviated version of the demo on the blog but I have expanded my descriptions and added some extra thoughts and details. The demo photos are in full color. The lesson is available in PDF format in my Etsy shop for $6. You can download the file and view it on your computer or print it out and staple it to make a booklet.
The subject of the demo is my Siamese Cat Toblerone. Tobi makes a great subject to illustrate my approach. I use the same approach for any animal I paint. I even use the same steps when painting an animal in oil or acrylic. So you don’t have to be a pastelist to follow along.
If you aren’t familiar with Etsy….it is a wonderful online venue for fine art and crafts as well as vintage items. It is clean and easy to navigate and is a wonderful place to browse for unique items. I have been selling some of my small paintings on Etsy . A couple of weeks ago I came across a digital download of knitting patterns and I thought hmmmmm now this is how I can share my lessons!
If you enjoy my blog demos think of this booklet as an expanded blog post that you can print out and save. If you know of anyone that might be interested please share this post. AND I welcome your suggestions for future lessons!
‘Desert Oasis’. 5×7. Pastel
We have to say goodbye to Sedona and make our way back home to Georgia. But we made it a great day. Holly and I started the day by hiking t o the top of the Airport Vortex. Well she went to the top. I stopped a bit shy. I’ll blame it on on my shoes but I am not a big fan of sheer cliffs an steep drop offs.
Next we went to a wonderful little spot in Sedona recommended by the lady in the bird store. It is called the Sedona Wetlands and is a series of ponds created from reclaimed waste water . It is still a work in progress but it is a beautiful spot of green and blue among all of the red rocks. I did three daily paintings based on the Sedona Wetlands.
‘Wetland Trails’. 5×7. Pastel
‘Summer Sunshine’. 5×7. Pastel
I admit that I didn’t paint these on location. It was getting very hot and there was no shade. Instead I came back to the cottage and sat on the patio to paint. I looked at my camera display. It really isn’t a bad way to simplify a painting because you sure can’t see much detail on a camera display!
Here are some photos of the wetlands. I was happy to spot three Black Crowned Night Herons!
And lots of happy little sunflowers.
‘Path to Bell Rock’. 5×7. Pastel
We have fallen into a rhythm in Sedona. I planned the trip with this in mind. Five days to relax and let the beauty of the trip sink in before going back to our routines. We rise early and take our coffee out onto the deck. This morning we had another visit from the quail family! We do a morning excursion and come back to cool off in the heat of the day.
‘Morning in Sedona’. 5×7. Pastel
And then I paint. Today I painted three daily paintings. I would have painted all afternoon but the sun encroached upon my shade!
‘A Promising Day’. 5×7. Pastel
I decided to take out some of the new pastels I bought at IAPS. They were tucked away in the car. I had put together a set of 30 Terry Ludwig pastels of colors that I thought might be useful for the Southwest. Oh did I have fun with them! I have his SW and Arid Landscape sets at home and they are wonderful too. I think I am now set when I get home to paint from my reference photos!
Painting on the patio with my road kit an new TL pastels
We end the day with a glass of wine as we watch the light change our view. We discuss how we would paint it. Then we’ll walk the grounds looking for birds and other treasures before the official sunset. It’s a great way to spend a day.
‘The Morning Visitor’. 5×7. Pastel
Today was for the birds. That’s a good thing for us! we love the birds and so we were pleasantly surprised by the Gambel Quail family that show up while we had our morning coffee. First daddy quail came into view to check it out. We had out down some seed. Then he called for mommy and over she scooted with about 15 babies in tow.
Are they rocks or baby quail?
Close up of baby quail
We spent the morning visiting some of Sedona’s birding hotspots. We loved the Page Springs fish hatchery. We saw some birds but I loved the landscape…..meadows, ponds, pathways,great trees! This place has it all and if it hadn’t been so hot I would have loved to paint there.
We got back to the cottage to an amazing blue sky with the most interesting swirling clouds. Could they be the result of the famous Sedona vortexes? I decided to paint the clouds and I did portrait of Daddy Quail too. Later today we will go visit one of the vortexes. I’ll keep you posted!
‘Swirling Skies’. 5×7. Pastel
‘Mountain View’. 5×7. Pastel over watercolor
It was a long leisurely day of soaking it all in. We were up at dawn and had an early morning walk up on airport Mesa . The grounds of our hotel are beautifully landscaped and we had great photo opportunities. We spent the morning visiting Crescent Moon Park and doing some errands. Back at our cottage I decided to take out my watercolors.
For my daily painting I decided to focus on the blues of the distant mountains instead of the red rocks. I did a watercolor under painting first. The painting took on a life of it’s own as I reset the pastel and added some shaved yellow flowers inspired by the gardens here at the hotel.
Here is a photo of our view to the left
The wonderful variations of blues in the cliffs and mountains
This evening we sat on the patio and watched the sunset while we ate our dinner. As the colors in the sky faded the twinkling light of Sedona began to come on in the valley below. We discussed how we would paint it….what colors to use, how to make the lights glow, where to put the harder edges. It was very satisfying to watch it all unfold and let it soak in. Tomorrow night we will paint it!
I’ll be posting more photos from our day on facebook so check them out if you’d like to see our encounters with the birds and the bees!
‘On Boulder Mountain’. 5×7. Pastel
We did it again. We turned a 3 hour drive into an all day trip. But oh what a trip it was! We left Capitol Reef early this morning after a must stop or coffee at the Castlerock Coffee and Candy shop in Torrey Utah. Their candy is a must. We didn’t get too far before we started up over Boulder Mountain. As soon as we hit the aspen groves we felt like singing John Denver. And we stopped so I could paint.
Back on the road with many more stops to go. We loved our time on the mountain in the cool fresh air bit we also loved descending back into the more arid country. This drive has it all…..aspens, wildflowers,red rocks,blue skies, animals. My head is swimming with painting ideas.
Kodachrome Basin State Park
We made a short detour into Kodachrome Basin State Park for a picnic lunch. After a recharge of ourselves and our camera batteries at our Bryce Canyon hotel, we are ready to see the sunset and the hoodoos. Stay tuned!
Greeted by the pronghorns at Bryce Canyon