Sunday, November 15, 2009

Impressionists - How light got onto the canvas

That is the title of one of the current exhibitions in Albertina, a major museum in Vienna, which also houses a huge collection of graphic works - one of them is Albrecht Duerers Rabit.

I attended a workshop there today where we were first aquainted with early photography and it's influence on painting.

To learn about photography and developing pictures we first cut out some forms from paper and cardboard, turned off the light an using just red light, arranged the forms on photographic paper, put glass over it to keep the forms steady, turned on the light for a second or two, turned it off again and developed the photos:
After seeing these effects we got our one hole cameras, black cardboard boxes with a hole cut in the bottom. On the inside was a strip of paper, which guided another thin cardboard strip with little holes in different sizes (as it was a sunny day, we used the smallest hole - like a needle). On the outside was a black cardboard flap which could be put over the hole or opened up. The cover of the box had a sticky tape on the inside, onto which we stuck the photographic paper. Closing everything up, we left the museeum to take landscape photos.

I put my "camera" underneath a tree, pointing up to the sky, opened the flap for a minute and - magic! If you look closely you can even see next year's buds!

After a guided tour through the exhibit we went back to the studio to paint our photos. I decided to keep the negative effect as I think the photo turned out very dramatic.

After the workshop I got the chance to go on another guided tour and look at more stuff, but with 180 paitings and loads of other stuff to look at, I will have to return on another day, to take it all in.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Austria's State Holiday fell on a Monday this year, the perfect opportunity for a long weekend and a watercolor class with Albert Hoffmann in Gamlitz, southern Styria, right at the border to Slovenia. A cold, wet, foggy weekend, which still gave a lot of time for painting in the winegardens of Styria.We spent the first morning near our quarters in case of rain coming and started out with painting an old farmbuilding.

The second try of painting the view from the garden of a very rustic "Buschenschank" owned by a mother and her daughters, the three "Winzerköniginnen" - young beautifull girls, knowledgable about wine, elected to represent wine made in their area for a year.

Landscapes, hills - oh my!

A LOT of help from Albert!

Basically Albert overpainted the whole picture. Do I have a problem with hills!

More of my fumblings at my flickr site.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mystical Waldviertel

At the end of September I took a weekend class of Albert Hoffmann, an Austrian watercolor artist. You can see his watercolor work if you click on the topmost button on the left "Aquarell". He has a completely different approach than all the other teachers I have studied with. His work is very expressive and free. First he paints the motive and then everybody in class works on their own painting, while he aids, corrects, paints over.....
Waldviertel is the most northern part of Austria, and we were quite near where I spent a weekend in August. The climate is cool, there is a lot of fog and with the woods and hills a really magical landscape. There are a lot of small villages with old farmbuildings, tiny churches and of course a number of legends. In the above painting we started out with the trees in negative space and then added the village. Even with Albert's help I feel as if the painting falls into two parts.
The next morning we went to a little village with a pond for the fire brigade. The church, which Albert wanted us to paint was covered by trees, so we did not get a good reflection. Instead we painted old barns.
In the afternoon we painted a village, ducking down between the hills.
Sunday morning we spent at Schloss Greilenstein. One of the many old castles in that area. Sitting in the park we tried to capture just the most essential parts. "You're getting there." High praise indeed.
After lunch on our way back home we stopped at the side of a small road to try to capture the rolling hills of Waldviertel. I tried, I really did. In the end Albert just painted all over my painting, with me sitting in the grass beside him, laughing tears. Had I known then, what troubles hills would give me in my next class with him, I probably would have cancled :-)

If you are interested you can see more of my paintings at my flickr site.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Weekend with Storks

In September I spent a weekend in Rust, which is a small village in the southeast of Austria. Burgenland, the youngest county of Austria has a variety of landscapes, from wooded hills in the north to the wide flat salty area next to hungary. Rust is nearly at the border to hungary at Neusiedler See, the largest body of water in Austria, which is also a nature reserve for migrating birds. There is a lot of wine grown in Burgenland as the climate is ideal for it.As usual we started out with a warm up, drawing (one of) the church(es) and part of town square.

On Saturday we painted one of the quaint village roads. I chose to work on ingress paper glued to a board, which I had still left from a (very unsuccessfull) stil life course. This was a complete disaster, as the colors just sat on the paper, I had to make a lake of water, put a little bit of color in to get any movement at all. Even our teacher could not save that painting - lesson learned.
We spent the afternoon near the shore, painting the reeds, some of us painted the storks, which Rust is famous for. They return every year and are a big tourist attraction.
I picked out some reeds to try getting the movement from the wind. I did this a number of times, this one was the most successfull. We had to flee rather suddenly, as once the sun got low very very tiny flys tried to eat us up. My legs itched for two weeks.

Frustrated by a rather unsucessfull painting weekend I returned to my sketchbook style of drawing, only this time added watercolor. This time I even drew the storks :-).


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Remembering Summer

I seem to have lost the last couple of months somewhere! This is the first weekend for months with nothing to do but rest and catch up with life. Just looking at all the painting I have done this summer makes me realise, how busy I have been.
At the end of AugustI spent four days in Bad Waltersdorf and attended a watercolor class two mornings. It was supposed to be Watercolor Sketching in travel journals and at the last moment they combined the class with a Watercolor Beginners class. In the end we only were three attendants and a great teacher. It was the first time I experienced what a teacher means when he says: I'll pick everybody up where he/she is at the moment and we will go on from there.

Three attendants - three interests - three completely different lessons. I learned so much in these 8 hours of class. I really worked on stuff I learned in my watercolor class in July and did it again and again, taking our teachers advice and immediately tried to put it into practice.
This kind of one on one teaching opend the door for discussions, to try out stuff to prove a point and to grow. I just love how my rocks turned out. I love how I managed to get the reflections and I love the colors.

Our teacher mostly works with a flat 2,5 inch flat brush and at the end of the course lent it to me, showed me a watercolor painting in a book and said: do your best to copy that:I still can not believe that I painted Venice.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Weekend in the Blockheide

Last Saturday was a holiday in Austria and the weather forecast predicted wonderfull summer weather. Friday morning I decided that I just had to leave the city and spend time somewhere else, drawing and painting. I've long wanted to got to the northern parts of Waldviertel, and so I booked a room in Gmünd, an old town at the border to the Tschechien republic, and spent Saturday in Blockheide.

Blockheide is a nature reserve where one can still see the huge blocks of granit, which were left by the erosion of the ground. There used to be just grass, heather and blueberries growing there, but with time trees grew and most of the area is now coverd with woods.
As the climate is rather cold and wet, there is a lot of moss growing on the rocks. Not one of my three greens could give me the right color.

Sunday I drove back towards Vienna, stopping in Stift Altenburg, a barock Monastery with wonderfull gardens and then in the afternoon I went to Rosenburg, a renaissance castle whith wonderfull rosegardens and one can watch falconers at work.

It was a very relaxing weekend and I finally had the chance to do some drawing again. Next weekend I'll go to Bad Waltersdorf in styria and attend a two day workshop in watercolor and travel scetches.


Monday, August 3, 2009

EDM 234

The first week after my vaccation was rather busy in the office, evenings were spent in front of the TV mostly asleep, I hade no energy left for drawing.

I spent sunday in my sister's garden, my brother in law barbecued, the weather was wonderfull and I finally knew what to draw for the EDM theme 234. Some time ago my BIL found this wonderfull old rusty piece of metal, which now sits in a corner of their patio, giving off lots of heat on cold evenings. The horrendous rains in alternation with the hot, hot, hot summer days we have this year added even more rust, making it interesting to draw with WC pencils.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Lesson 5 - Flowers

The last class was all about flowers, how to arrange a still life, where to put shadows and what not to do. I loved my first try, but had stayed to concrete up to the tips and have to admit that after having washed out the upper part of the gladiolas, the painting looks much better: ("more loosely, loosely" was my teachers "war cry" whenever she looked at one of my paintings).

OK, I can do "loosely" and splish, splash painted two more gladiolas (both go in the same direction, the right one 'leaves the building' - both no no's in a still life). My teacher loved them and after they were dry we decided that I shoud make a mixed media painting out of it and use pencils to work on some of the lower flowers. I used watercolor pencils and did disolve them carefully with a very thin wet brush (which - according to my teacher - turned the whole thing into pure water color and no longer mixed media - I don't care, I love the result).

During the last hour of class I tried painting one of the sunflowers we had. They were turned to the other side of the class and as they were painted from there, I decided to try the back. Getting the area, where the stem turns towards the flowerhead right, is really difficult. The stem turned out too thick. I will probably leave this painting as it is, as a record of what I learned this week.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Lesson 4 - Winter

Today started out with a lesson on perspective, which got rather involved but was very interresting. Then we were supposed to paint a winter landscape. Mine turned out more like late autumn. As we spent so much time on perspective, there was no more time for "rain in the city".

This must have upset someone as - after the hottest day we had this year - we had also massive rain and hail storms over most of Austria. I spent half the night mopping up rainwater which was pressed in through the closed windows by the storm.

This is the painting from day two, using all three kinds of trees we had learned. I was not too happy with it, as I painted in the lake as an afterthought, not knowing how else to fill the space. I tried to break up the area in the front with salt but it did not really satisfy me. So I added a bush in the right corner and grass at home. I'll show it to our teacher again for more advice on it.

Friday is the last lesson and we will paint flowers.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lesson 3 - Tricks of the Trade

Today we learned some tricks to get certain effects. We worked with a white candle on paper, with a candle over color to see how it kept the covered area permanently in the color it was. Then we painted rather wet on a piece of paper, put it down on our painting and pulled it off to the side. This is a great way to make a basis layer for backgrounds.

The second row is showing how gummi arabicum lets a color appear lighter and adds a shine to it. Then we used a wetting agent to drive away color (alkohol like gin or wodka works too :-) - nothing with sugar added like cognac, but you can use any "schnaps"), painted on glass and pressed the wet painting to the papier, scratched through the wet paint with a spatula and painted over masking fluid.
Here we scratched through the wet paint with a comb, used soap to wash out the color and blew the very wet color out of the painted square with a drinking straw. We also tried out printing with a sponge.
Removing the paint with a rubber was not very successful for me, maybe I was not aggressive enough. Then we used a gelatine leave to "print" as well as a plastic bag. I removed the plastic too soon, so I got rather rough structures. We also got to try out scratching through the paint with a knife and dropping seasalt and fine salt into the wet paint.
Then we used an old toothbrush to create splashes.
Finally we tried out certain colors which, when used together, seperate. This is an effect best seen on rough paper - mine was not rough enough, but it can be seen some.

This class was hilarious, we had tons of fun trying out the different things and comparing our results.

Tomorrow we'll get a lesson on perspective and then will paint a winter landscape and - if there is time - rain in the city (it is the hottest day of this year here in Austria. We have tempteratures up to 36° C in Vienna - so maybe painting snow and rain will cool us off).


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lesson 2 - Trees

We continued our class with trees as seen in a medium distance and

trees nearest to us, I decided to let one grow into the picture.

I did try a whole tree as well. I could have gone darker with the shadow side and the first limbs are a bit thin. That near to the trunk, I think they could be thicker.

We also started a landscape using all three kinds of trees, but that is not finished yet. I have all three kinds of trees but no idea of how to connect them. I'll probably try some kind of water situation - lake, river?

Today we will try out different effects and got a whole list of things we need for that. Good thing I am on vaccation and could go shoping to my favourite art supply store - what hardship....

Till tomorrow!


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Lesson 1

Yesterday I had my first class of the watercolor course I am attending this week. We started out with getting to know the material, "splishing and splashing and generally making a mess" as the instructor told us. We were told how to recognise the different levels of wet, how to recognise when the paper/color is still too wet or too dry. She recomended to get to know one kind of paper first and stay with it for a bit.
Then we did a little exercise with the colors, talked about the color wheel and shadows. The above "ball" was the first real "painting".

Afterwards we turned towards woods. Far away and misty woods, playing with water droplets and make the resulting "flowers" look like snow.

I ended up with a spring wood, fitting for a middle distance. In the end I did manage to get "far away woods" but could not work out how to use the water drops for giving the image of snow. The teacher promised to show us at the beginning of todays class.

In the evening I felt I had earned my "favourite drink" and as I read that that was the EMD challenge of the week, I decided to jump right in and give it a try. Aperol Spritz, a not to sweet, fizzy, cold drink - ideal for a hot summer evening.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Joining the fun

Painting and drawing, cooking and quilting - my favourite ways to spend my time! Having thought about sharing my journey in these areas for quite some time, I've decided to jump right in and just do it.

I'll start a watercolor class tomorrow, so that will be the first journey I'll share.

This quilt was a gift for a friend. It is machine pieced and hand quilted.

One of my original designs, made for the Exhibition of the Austrian Quilters Guild, the title "Heimat großer Töchter" (Home to great daughters - a variation of a line of Austrias National Anthem - Heimat bist Du großer Söhne - You are home to great /important Sons) made me think of all the work women do to build our lifes. I remembered especially what my mother told me about the time after the second world war and how her brother and his wife built their house out of bricks, wood and nails found in the ruins of buildings destroyed during the war.

I originally started drawing as I had troubles with designing my quilts. Soon I discovered Danny Gregory's 'Every Day Matters' group which equaly inspires and discourages me. Since I have started drawing and painting I have joined a watercolor class on a trip to Mallorca last September

and a trip with the same group to Cormons, Italy, in the middle of June.

Tomorrow I will start a one week watercolor class which I plan to report on regularely.