Archive for September, 2009

Freedom in Letting Go

September 28, 2009

passage_finalPassages, 12 x 6″, soft pastel on Ampersand Panel
© 2009 Marianne Post


watercolor underpainting

About three weeks ago I blogged about loosing my reference photo materials for an interrupted plein air session. After  a family vacation I have finally been able to get back to the painting I attempted to start while on location in Skagit Valley, Washington. Back in my studio, I had my sketchbook notes, but I admit my memory was beginning to fade. After all, it has been over eight weeks that I envisioned capturing the scene. But to my surprise I found it very liberating not to have a “kodachrome” (does anyone even know that what that is any more?) image influencing me one way or the other. Mood, color and composition were all up for grabs. I had little to direct the painting, just lots of options to explore. I started with a watercolor underpainting on an Ampersand Pastelbord panel. I found that this approach loosens things up and since I wasn’t too sure where I was headed anyways, I had nothing to lose. Responding to how the underpanting dried I applied pastel. In less than an hour I was ready to say “done.” Passages is the result that came with the freedom of letting go and letting the painting lead the way. I think a part of my “control freak” nature is beginning to crack.


Make a Mark

September 24, 2009


We all love to make a mark. Last week while walking along the Oregon coast I couldn’t help but respond to my desire to make footprints in the clean slate of sand that lay at my feet. Do you know the feeling?

And for some us the making a mark becomes an even bigger obsession. Whether we are visual artists, writers, or dancers there is something inside each and everyone of us that needs to be expressed.

I recently thought about why my sketchbook has become a constant companion over the years. Drawing is such a universal language, it speaks to all of us. Anyone can do it. Some better than others, but like with any endeavor, practice leads to mastery. So I started a list (in my sketchbook, of course) of why I love to sketch:

  • Improve drawing skills
  • Improve observation skills
  • Learn about nature
  • Watch less TV
  • Make use of TV viewing time by sketching actors
  • Appreciate nature
  • Become more sensitive to changes of the seasons
  • Learn about things
  • Helps me remember where I’ve been, what I have seen and experienced
  • Increase my awareness of my surroundings
  • Become a better artist
  • Create a connection with my subject
  • Record an event in a personable way
  • Becomes an investigative tool, learn about how things relate to other things
  • Helps me understand the world I live in
  • Define how I think of and see things
  • Work out an idea for a painting
  • Express beauty of the moment
  • Illustrate a dream
  • Diary of observations, everyday life

Oh, one more, eat less!

What keeps you making your mark?  I would love to hear from you.


September 21, 2009

river_rushRiver Rush 11 x 14″, soft pastel on Ampersand Panel
© 2009 Marianne Post

The plein air piece I started last week while vacationing along the Oregon coast has been burning a hole in my suitcase. As soon as I arrived home it was the first thing unpacked. Come to think of it, the only thing unpacked for an entire day. I propped it up on my studio and went to work. It only took a couple of hours to put the finishing touches on this. But I still feel guilty about the laundry that needs to be done, the groceries that need to be bought and the mail that needs my attention. Well, sort of guilty.

A Sketchbook Dilemma

September 17, 2009

Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.
— Picasso


I wonder if fellow sketchers face the same dilemma I do. When on a family vacation I always feel like I need to temper my addiction to sketching. Most of the time everyone indulges me with a morning or afternoon of painting on location. But when it comes to opening up my sketchbook at points of interest along the way I sense a look of “not again” on many faces.

So this week on a trip along the Oregon coast my camera was ready to capture the sights. Mind you, a day didn’t go by that my sketchbook wasn’t along for the ride. I can’t seem to leave home without it. I just refrained from opening it up to sketch. I feel like I want to escape for an hour or two and feed my addiction. Am I a sketchbook junkie?

A Return Trip

September 14, 2009
River Rush, day one, wip

River Rush, on location, wip

Less than six weeks ago I was painting along the rivers and roads of Central Oregon. This week I am back in Oregon, this time along the coast. The weather is typical coastal fare, gray in the mornings and sun breaks in the afternoon. I had all intentions of painting along the coast but in search of a store or deli to gather rations for the day I found myself inland a few miles. Serendipity came into play and enroute I found a lovely scene with the sun breaking through the forest and playing off fallen logs. Absolutely breathtaking! So I ceased the moment and “set up shop.” After a morning on location I have a good start. I used a watercolor underpainting which took what seemed like an endless time to dry due to the dampness. I was able to get some pastel down but will resolve this in the studio. In the meantime, I am headed back to the shore. Looks like the sun is breaking through!

Sketchbook Thursday No.15

September 10, 2009

sketch15My sketchbook is a depository for all sorts of things. There are of course sketches of everyday matters. But pages are also covered with notes, to do lists, quotes, challenges, solutions, pastel marks, doodles. The list goes on.

I was scanning through my current “Canson Classic” and came across this page. It immediately took me back in time about six weeks. According to the notation, it was July 21st at 5:30pm to be exact. I planned to paint the scene in front of me. The sky was just beginning to get a warm late afternoon glow. The Puget Sound tide was making its journey inland. I had plenty of time and decided to explore some compositional schemes before setting up my easel.

Just as I settled on a format my cell phone went off and a California client was calling about a design problem that needed my immediate attention. So I hastily took a few snapshots, packed up my gear and made a trip back to the cottage to attend to the matter via the internet.

I didn’t make it back to Rawlins Road on that trip but I felt like I had enough material to approach a studio panting. But as many of you know my computer was stolen earlier this month and I lost all the photos from that trip. I am so happy that I had taken the time to not only sketch out format options, but to make color and value notes. This sketchbook page holds the seed for my next painting. I’m headed to the studio with a smile. I have the inspiration, along with a challenge, but lots of options and possibilities excite me.

Silver Linings

September 7, 2009

slipping_awaySlipping Away, 12 x 16″ pastel on Uart
© 2009  Marianne Post

It shouldn’t surprise me that when one doesn’t have access to a computer you end up with a whole lot of time to do other things. So for the past week while I have been waiting for my new computer to arrive I have had plenty of studio time. A  true silver lining.

I decided to take some of my plein air studies and resolve them in the studio. This past July I attended Richard McKinley’s Extreme Pastel Workshop. And while the class was jammed packed with tons of information and days of painting, one of the key points was just this: resolve. Study plein air studies, so to speak, and decide how to finish them in the studio.

While painting outside we feel controlled by the landscape. The light changes, reflections move or even disappear, the shadows don’t stay put. It takes a lot of experience to finish en plein air. While on location, my goal became to capture what was precious. I found that writing down the concept, the “why” part of painting the scene, helped me to hold onto the spirit of the work. So in the studio, with some music playing to match the mood, I could go back in time. I could look objectively at what I had done.

In the course of the workshop we learned to consider various options as we critiqued our plein air work, including:

  • composition: Is it working? How’s the balance, the format, the placement of the masses? How does the eye move through the painting?
  • values: Is there a varied distribution of lights, darks and middle tones. Are they linked together to create bigger masses?
  • color: Is there a sense of harmony? Is there a sense of light? Is the color of light evident? Is there a “threading” of a dominant color throughout the painting?
  • or except it as is and frame it!

fall_river_studyPictured, at left, is a study done at the end of day, along the Fall River near Sunriver, Oregon. It is about 6″ x 6″. I was pleased with this quick study but decided to work larger and change the format in the studio. The study was done on white Wallis mounted paper and the studio piece, Slipping Away, was done on a cream colored Uart board. I think the surface made a huge impact in the luminosity of the studio work. But this is what experimenting and exploring options affords one to learn. I like the sense of time and place in both, and working from a study instead of a photograph is definitely more rewarding.