Archive for May, 2009

Sketchbook Thursday No.2

May 28, 2009

This past weekend
I had the opportunity to camp in the Sierra foothills. The campground was packed to capacity, but surprisingly very quiet. The weather was perfect, the days warm and the nights cool. On Monday I went for a short 5 mile hike to Deer Lake. I was surprised at how many times I had to cross Deer Creek which was flowing deep and rapid.



I never made it to the lake. The ground was covered with enough snow that made the  fourth and final crossing of Deer Creek a bit too treacherous for me to attempt. None the less the views were stellar, the Sierra Buttes majestic. And it was fun to see them from this vantage point. About 4 years ago I had hiked to the fire lookout at the top of the Buttes. Seeing the lookout from this angle gave me pause.


So I had some time to sketch the mountains and take in the grandeur.



If I Had Harold’s Time…

May 26, 2009


Coastal Trail, 12″ x 9″
© 2008 Marianne Post

It was over 25 years ago. I heard speaker, Jim Rohn talk about his “friend,” Harold.  I never forgot his story. He was in awe of Harold’s ability to travel, and paint, while continuing his education. Harold was a fisherman, a volunteer. He was also a full time employee. Harold had the time to do it all. If only Jim had Harold’s time, he could do it all, too.

Mr. Rohn went on to point out that Harold’s day was comprised of 24 hours. Just like his, yours and mine. So what was Harold’s secret.

Simple, really. Harold used his time wisely. Harold seized the moment. He looked for opportunities to explore new territory, even in all the old places. He faced his everyday activities with a creative spirit, an open heart as well as an open mind.

Recently, I can across a blog post scripted by artist, Katherine Kean,  Honoring Studio Time. She dealt with the dilemma many artists face, including myself, dedicating time to be in the studio. Notice I didn’t say setting aside studio time. Studio time for an artist is priority number one. It is paramount. It is our work time, it is our livelihood. It is so easy to cave into the demands of everyday life. Friends and family, though well meaning, see studio time as being flexible. We can run the errands or take off on a moment’s notice. But unless we take our time in the studio seriously, no one else will.

So I am becoming like Harold. Not overnight mind you. Remember, I heard about Harold over 25 years ago in a large auditorium. I have calendared in my studio time. It is my time to be creative, time to explore something old in a new way, or just take a creative leap and try something new altogether. It is my time to paint. I also have found that ending my studio time with a “bridge” to the next day is extraordinarily motivating. I leave off, knowing what my next move will be. The next day I have a built in agenda right from the start. I am excited with anticipation. The plan may change once I get going, but the momentum is already in place to get the ball rolling.

I am finally figuring out, it’s not the amount of time I have, it is just how well I use it.

Sketchbook Thursday

May 21, 2009

I just finished reading Twyla Tharp’s book, The Creative Habit, Learn It and Use It for Life. I plan to reread it. I love her style of writing, her message and how she integrates exercises to promote a creative lifestyle.

Early on in the book she describes a lost opportunity by novelist Paul Auster who misses out on getting an autograph from his childhood hero, Willie Mays, all because he didn’t have a pencil handy. From then on, Mr. Auster never was caught empty handed. He always had a pencil. He was from then on forever ready to cease the moment. And the question Miss Tharp poses to her readers is “Where’s your pencil”?

For me the answer was easy. I never leave home without one of two things, my camera or my sketckbook. So every Thursday I invite you to follow my casual art adventures. I will be posting some drawings, doodles, or art notes taken from my sketchbook with a story or two about what caught my eye, my inspiration, and what they are all about. Maybe a snapshot or two will accompany them to embellish my story. These are my behind the scenes artistic notes that are probably not great creative endeavors, but for me a passion. I hope they encourage you to find the tool that feeds your creativity.

Getting in a Groove

May 20, 2009


Not Quite Over, 8″ x 10″
© 2009 Marianne Post 

There is nothing like teaching a class to get one motivated to be confident in knowing why you paint the way you do. Most of the time I find that easel time is the best educator, and lately I have been painting up a storm.  I am constantly asking myself questions, probably in preparation for the inevitable questions that will come up in class. Why did I pick up that color, why did I move this or that around, how did I know this would work, why did I choose to start with an underpainting, why did I pick that surface for that painting?

The latest session of classes have dealt with various elements of the landscape. This approach can be a bit tricky. The class structure suggests that I teach my techniques for painting skies, clouds, trees, water, etc. as if they are independent features. We all know they are part of the big picture and relate to one another.

So for the past month I have concentrated on selecting reference photos and painting demos that would build upon previous class sessions. We started with sunny skies, we then added clouds. We explored the effects of the atmosphere and painting misty, gray days. Then came the trees, water, reflections of the sky, clouds and trees and finally moving water in the form of streams, waterfalls and the sea.

Teaching makes painting a priority for me. It is a great motivator. Funny how we all need some form of accountability to keep us honest. It has been a great experience to spend daily time at the easel without fail. I hate to see the class end. It got me in a groove.

Are You A Tree Hugger, Too?

May 6, 2009



Looking Towards Home 9” x 12″
© 2009 Marianne  Post

A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease. 

–John Muir



I’ll admit it. I’m in a love affair with trees. And that’s the reason I paint them. They can be majestic, deep rooted, or vunerable and hedging their bet against the wind and the blistering heat. They can provide us with shelter, they open their limbs so that others take refuge, and they can collapse and take the less sturdy with them. For me, they are a metaphor of life. In my upcoming “Painting the Elements” pastel class we have a whole session devoted to painting the character of trees throughout the seasons.

I know one of the more difficult things for myself as a landscape painter has been how to capture the nature of trees without getting caught up in every limb and leaf. Their mass can almost seem impenetrable, but to render their form while creating a sense of space is a challenge. The best way I know to paint trees is to study them. I mean really study them. Take a walk with a camera, or better yet a sketchbook and notice their structure first and then their shape. A California Black Oak  with its gnarly branches and multiple trunks oozes with character. The elegance of a birch reminds me of the limberness of a dancer as its leaves and boughs gently bow to the wind. For the serious student, the best book I have ever found on the subject is Drawing Trees by Stanley Malzman. 

Trees can suggest emotions as well as design. Leave it to the great French impressionists, Monet, Renoir, and Cezanne to name just a few, to capture the emotional side of trees. They had a knack for humanizing them. Artists like Caspar David Friedrich and Hiroshige could make a painting alive with their designs of trunks and limbs.

So go out and hug a tree. They are the oldest of living things. Open you eyes to their beauty. Take a deep breath and thank a tree, for they replenish the air we breathe. Listen to their song, they could be playing your tune.