What pigments are you using?

I was taking inventory of my paints in my studio recently and it dawned on me that I have a LOT of paint.  As I was sorting my paints into categories by color, I realized that I didn’t really know all of the various nuances of the paints I was using.  Yes, of course, I often to return to favorites and use them  frequently.  But I decided it would be helpful to have a chart of samples of each hue.

As you can see by the charts below, there can be many slight variances by manufacturer.  Some qualities you cannot actually see but you know in the “feel” of the paint, i.e., creamier, richer, stiffer, etc. Although I generally use Artist grade paints, I had accidentally ordered some Student grade paint.  You can see by the sample comparing the various Raw Sienna varieties that one is much thinner, meaning there are more fillers and less actual pigments.  It always pays to buy the best you can afford. Oh, and I had 58 different colors or brands of oil paints.

Color sample chart #1

Color sample chart #2

Other variations include how the pigments behave over time.  Some yellow or change color. Others thin, particularly something like Titanium White, which means if they are applied over a darker ground, you may find the background bleeding through over time.

While I had all my paints out, I also decided to create a few charts of the pigments that I use most frequently.  My top ten oil paints are:

  • Titanium White
  • Cadmium Lemon
  • Raw Sienna
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Sap Green
  • Winsor Green
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Cerulean Blue
  • French Ultramarine
  • Prussian Blue
  • Cadmium Red
  • Alizarin Crimson
  • Cobalt Violet
  • Ivory Black

Although it is rare that I would incorporate all of these colors into the same painting, I often try to have a cool red and a hot red, a cool blue and a hot blue, etc. Usually just one green and no black.  My favorite brand is Winsor Newton but I try some others, too.  For instance, I love Richeson’s Hansa Yellow Medium because it’s so creamy.  There are no hard and fast rules about how many paints you need, except that generally fewer colors will result in the artist creating more colors by mixing, resulting in greater harmony in the long run.

Color samples made with Cadmium Lemon

Color samples made with Titanium White

DeLallo’s Italian Market

DeLallo’s famous Italian Market

Life is not all about art and gardening and books.  Last week we went back to Pennsylvania to visit relatives and I was fortunate enough to stop in DeLallo’s Italian Market in Jeannette, PA near New Stanton.  Wow!  The place is amazing.  Best I’ve seen outside The Strip in downtown Pittsburgh.

DeLallo’s vegetable display. They tear this down every night, edit it and create the display anew.

The fruits and veggies are displayed so beautifully.  We were told that the staff takes each display apart every night, tosses any less than fresh items, and restocks the display.

The olive bar at DeLallo’s

And the olives!  I love olives.  I’ve never seen any olive bar this long and well-stocked.  Needless to say, I purchased enough to keep me happy for a long time.

The cheese display was three times this large.

Then a quick stop by the extra large cheese display. Fresh or aged, they have everything you could imagine.

My granddaughter was fascinated with the colorful and glorious bakery display.

Olive oil, anyone?

And who could decide on which olive oil to buy?  We buy by the gallon.

Yummmm. Bread!

Finally, the bread display.  The aroma carried throughout the store.

So, imagine me on my patio, glass of wine, cheese and olives, and a good book in the sunshine.  Ah, life is good.

Something Different

Times Square at Night, watercolor, India ink, Kit Miracle

The first month of retirement has been interesting.  Everyone keeps asking me, “How’s retirement?”  “I just feel like I’m on a long vacation,” I reply. And mostly that is true.  I’m starting to feel very relaxed.  Sleep better.  Crossing some things off the inevitable list.  This time of year there is so much to do in the country: finish the garden, planting, cleaning, etc.

However, I am still finding time to paint and spend in my studio.  I’ve been working on some larger figures in landscapes and have two drawn out.  I decided to take a break and work on this watercolor of Times Square at Night this week.  If you have ever been there, then you can appreciate how bright the lights are, no matter the time of day. Times Square is always awake, always exciting.  That is what I was trying to capture in this watercolor with India ink overlay.  Somewhat abstract for me but more detail would not have been beneficial.

Quick Draw and Plein Air Painting Event at Jasper, Indiana

I have only been into retirement about three weeks but, frankly, I have been sooooo busy!  I know, all retirees say that.  But it’s true.  It rained nearly the entire first week with some epic flooding in this area.  I spent much of that week just organizing the stuff I brought home from my office (too much after 17 years).  And making lists.  I’m a list maker and have always been one.  Just love checking off those items.

After awhile, however, I reminded myself that I didn’t want my entire retirement to be one big To Do list.  I want to have some fun!

So I signed up for the Quick Draw and Plein Air Painting event sponsored by Jasper Community Arts.  I have never been able to participate before since I am an employee so I was grateful for the opportunity this year.  It is also co-sponsored by another organization I belong to, RunawayArtists.com.

This two-day event was on the Friday and Saturday before Mother’s Day.  Friday predictions were for more rain so I tried to think of somewhere sheltered to paint.  I asked my friends at Green Thumb Nursery if they would mind if I painted there and they were delighted so that is where I began.  It was a very pleasant morning with the rain pattering on the roof and painting among all the flowers.  The most difficult part was to find the right corner where I wouldn’t be in the way of all the Mother’s Day shoppers. The angle wasn’t the most desirable as I couldn’t back up enough to gauge the proper perspective, but a lovely morning, all in all.

Plein Air Painting at Green Thumb on a rainy day. Kit Miracle

Plein Air Painting at the garden center. Oil on canvas, 12 x 16. Kit Miracle

Watching all the shoppers come in for holiday, I thought that I might stick with the flowers theme and went to the other side of town to paint in the Walmart garden center.  It was an awesome display of flowers!  Again, I found an out of the way spot to paint.  I was particularly enamored with the bright colors of the kayaks propped against the building contrasting with all the flowers.  You have to develop a pretty thick skin to paint in such a public and well-trafficked space but it didn’t bother me at all.  No one from the store came up and asked what I was doing but I did have a few customers asked if I worked there.  It must have been my painting apron.  Ha ha.

Painting at the garden center at Walmart on the day before Mother’s Day. Kit Miracle

The Garden Center at Walmart. Oil on canvas, 12 x 12, Kit Miracle

Finally, at the end of the afternoon, I participated in the Quick  Draw event at the Schaeffer Barn in downtown Jasper.  This old log barn was moved here and restored and has a beautiful garden space.  Always something interesting to paint.  This is a timed event and the artists only have two hours to complete a painting.  I came in third.  Yay!

Painting at the Schaeffer Barn, Quick Draw event.

Schaeffer Barn Quick Draw event. Oil on canvas, 12 x 12. Kit Miracle Third place winner!

The second day of the event I worked in the morning as a volunteer.  Later in the day I did some more plein air painting at a different garden center but nothing came of it.  Sometimes it works that way. I must have used all my creative juices the day before.  But that is alright.  I met some very nice artists and had a good time in the fresh air.

Lifetime paid vacation

Leaving the office on the last day. Walls empty. Bulletin board empty. Most of the paperwork gone. Lots of memories.

Finally.  After years of working, I retired this week from my job as Director of a performing and fine arts center.  I can’t believe the time is finally here.  It seems as if I’ve been traveling towards this day since my first paid real job when I was sixteen.  At first it seemed it would never arrive, and then the past few months, time kept speeding up.  I did what I could to clean out and organize.  Trained my replacement as best one can in only a week.  We’ll see how he does.

But for now.  What to do?  Paid vacation for a lifetime.  My list is long but I think it’s important to have a life, not just a To Do list.  There is always something to do on the farm.

Cleaning out my studio. Painting.  Getting back into the exhibition thing.  Traveling for plein air painting events or just to travel.  Gardening. Reading.  Just kicking back.

Hopefully, you’ll see lots more work on here.

More paintings Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are the kind of place which could supply years’ worth of painting inspiration.  Here are a few more paintings of my recent trip to the Keys, based on sketches and photos.  They just have a totally different feel from the other landscapes that I work with.

 

Sunrise Florida Keys

Isabelle’s Place, oil on canvas board

Among the mangroves, Florida Keys

Yay! Spring is here!

Blue Bells and Narcissus

I think that people who live close to nature are generally more attuned to the seasons.  Every little bulb that pokes its nose up, the buds on the trees and bushes, and even the wrens making their nest on my front porch.

Hostas and bluebells in early spring

Here are just a few of this spring’s observations on My 90 Acres.  Missed posting the daffodils and forsythias but that is what happens.  Time and nature keep moving on.

A yard full of spring beauties

Close up of spring beauties and violets

Probably won’t be burning too much more wood in the wood stove.  It’s been a mild winter but we always feel like squirrels hoarding nuts when we have big piles of firewood.  It will keep until next winter.

End of winter firewood pile

Spring planting

One of the nicest things about living in the country is being able to grow our own food.  We like the fresh from garden to table taste as well as knowing what is (and isn’t) in our produce.  We’re not fanatics about it (at least I don’t think we are) as there are many things we’ve tried over the years but which just aren’t worth the trouble.  For instance, carrots and potatoes are cheaper to buy in the store or farmer’s market than grow ourselves.  Too labor intensive.

But one of the things we enjoy doing most is pushing the seasons.  We have a spring/fall garden area, separate from the main garden, with a cold frame and some area to plant cooler weather crops.  Here we grow kale, lettuce, asparagus, snow peas and onions.

Lettuce in cold frame – black seeded simpson, bibb, siberian kale, and mixed kale. Planted mid February.

What you see here are two kinds of lettuce and Siberian kale that we planted back in mid-February.  We should be eating this next week.  The cold frame is covered with screen, and in colder weather, a top with plastic, and sometime if we get a late snow or freeze, a blanket.  The lettuce and kale will keep coming until June.  Then we replant it in September to eat in November and early December.  No pesticides or sprays at all.

Sweet onions, planted early March

We’ve planted onions sporadically over the years but always had trouble keeping them.  We dried them on screens or put them in the shop refrigerator, but they still spoiled.  So last year I pointed out to my husband that since we mostly cook with them, why not just chop them all up and freeze them.  So that is what we did.  With the aid of the food processor, it didn’t take any time at all process them all.  It was so easy to just grab a few handfuls whenever we were making soups, stews, or other recipes which called for chopped onion.  This year we’re experimenting with several varieties but we really like the large sweet onions.

Starting seeds in greenhouse. The mousetraps are because the mice kept digging up the seeds!

The garlic has been another challenge.  We planted two kinds last fall.  One made it and one totally died.  My husband did the planting and didn’t mark which was which, pointing out the necessity of keeping good records.  We all have faulty memories and it’s often difficult to recall when and what we planted after the passage of several months.

Sure am looking forward to that lettuce, though!

Winter vacation in the Florida Keys

My husband and I were able to take our first winter vacation in a very long time.  We chose the Florida Keys which we hadn’t visited for over 30 years.  Oh, it was so nice to bask in the warmth of the sun.

Plein air painting of Among the Mangroves, Florida Keys 2017

Plein air painting of Among the Mangroves, Florida Keys 2017

Among the mangroves, Florida Keys 2017

Among the mangroves, Florida Keys 2017

One of the nicest parts about the Keys is that there are so many places that visitors can pull over to fish…or in my case…paint.  The Pentalic Aqua Journal (5 x 8) is perfect for painting broad landscapes. In the first painting, I was sitting in the shade while trying to capture the feel of being tucked away in the mangroves.  The photos don’t do justice to the amazing aqua waters but it’s a nice memory.

Plien Air Painting from the park in the middle of Marathon, Florida Keys

Plien Air Painting from the park in the middle of Marathon, Florida Keys

Photo from the location I painted from the Marathon park.

Photo from the location I painted from the Marathon park.

The second painting was from a small park in the heart of Marathon.  I liked the way the house across the inlet was framed by the pine tree.  I took liberties to emphasize the house, actually more than I could really see it.  Oh, well, that’s what artists do.  Enjoy

Studio Work

Like many artists in winter, I don’t have much time to get outdoors to paint. By the time I get home from work, it’s usually dark. However, I paint every week, often several evenings. These are some recent paintings from photos that I took this autumn.  One is from a trip to the Indiana Dunes in 2015.

As a contemporary impressionist, I try to capture the “feel” of the scene rather than every little detail.  It is often difficult to restrain myself.  I think in this day and age, with the benefit of photos, many artists often fall prey to the tendency of painting every detail which has been captured by the camera.  But that is not actually the way we see.  We see what is directly in front of us but the peripheral edges are often lost. The advent of modern photography continues to tempt us.  But that is not why we are artists. Anyone can take a photo but only the few can interpret their feelings in an artistic medium.

Indiana Dunes, 2015, oil on canvas board, 12 x 16, Kit Miracle

Indiana Dunes, 2015, oil on canvas board, 12 x 16, Kit Miracle

This first painting is from a trip that we made to the Indiana Dunes in 2015.  Surprising enough, this national park is set on the shore of Lake Michigan in northern Indiana.  It seems to have been carved from an industrial landscape but if you spend some quiet time here, you can imagine what the shore was like 100 years ago.  I wish I had painted this with a little warmer tones but that is in hindsight.  Love the sketchiness of the trees and the ever-moving sand.

Fall Walk, 16 x 20, oil on canvas, Kit Miracle

Fall Walk, 16 x 20, oil on canvas, Kit Miracle

This next painting is from a photo I took on a walk along my country road this autumn.  It is difficult to not go overboard with the bright colors which could lean to garishness.  I had to make a great effort to push back the far trees to add some atmosphere which enhanced the foreground trees and the lovely green of the cattle pasture to the right.

Frosty Field in Autumn, 12 x 16, oil on canvas, Kit Miracle

Frosty Field in Autumn, 12 x 16, oil on canvas, Kit Miracle

The final painting is just a glance out my bathroom window one frosty morning.  Love the early morning light catching the pine tree with the colorful woods behind.  Not so successful capturing the feeling of frost.  It looks more like a river or lake but there you have it.  As any experienced artist knows, not every painting turns out as we wish.  But we always learn something, even from our failures.