Thursday, November 15, 2018

A Lifetime of Observation

To understand the effects of light you'll need a lifetime of observation. Don't be daunted by the last sentence. Be excited that you have discovery ahead of you! 

Look for the presence of light and how it affects a subject. What most people don’t know…Shadows are where the most exciting color possibilities can be found...not gray! Light is what reveals form, color and texture. It can transform ordinary into something exciting! 
Look at the shadows. What color do you see? I see green, red and blue. NO GREY!
Do the shadows have hard or soft edges? Where?
(1) Cast shadows
Cast shadows have a distinct hard edge. Cast shadows will suggest the shape of the object that cast it. The further a cast shadow is from the source, the more it is effected by light. As a result a cast shadow will become warmer, and the edges softer and paler.

What COLOR do you see in the shadow?
(2) Form shadows
Form shadows have a softer, less defined edge. Because a form shadow is turning from the light source. Form shadows are delicate in appearance and important in making a subject appear three dimensional. The form shadow is lighter in value than the cast shadow.

(3) Reflective color in shadows.
The illuminated area near an object reflects (bounces) light into the shadows which carries color with it. This is called reflected light.

You’ll often hear the term Light Theory when talking about light. It simply means supposed to happen or possible…it’s not an exact science. It’s helpful to actually see the effects of light happening. Let me show you what I saw while painting outdoors recently.

Working en plein air (outdoors) has taught me a lot about light, color, edges...and working quickly to get the essence. I don't record every detail and leave a lot out. The large shadow across the pumpkin was edited out (yes, I can do that).
Would you like to paint with me in 2019? I have lots of workshops across the US and abroad. Be sure to check my workshop schedule for a complete listing: WORKSHOPS

Happy Thanksgiving!

Brenda

Monday, October 15, 2018

Sketchbook Tour of Tuscany



I arrived in Florence four days before my workshop. I used the time to get over jet lag, explore, sketch, sightsee and shop. My favorite way to discover a city is on foot....walking. I like to sketch, sit in cafe with a cappuccino, shop in enjoy gelato. It's easy for me to walk all day and not feel tired. I'm often surprised to see how far I've walked by the end of the day. Six to eight miles is the average.  I enjoy finding unexpected views when I wander.  I want to FEEL the city...to smell, hear, see and absorb everything. 

I left my sketchbag in the hotel room to travel lighter. It's easy to tuck in small spaces and go unnoticed when only sketching with a pen and the sketchbook. Florence was surprisingly hot and humid. The idea of sketching inside a church or museum was appealing.  Especially during the hottest time of the day. Inside was cool with lots of places to sit.
The amazing French Escapade 
Guides and Owners
Three days later I met up with the people in my first workshop and my tour guides. The workshop was hosted by French Escapade. We traveled by van to our home location. We drove in a long road with the vineyard on one side and an olive grove on the other. The air was filled with fresh smells and it was beautiful! Gone was the hustle and bustle of the city.
We sketched hill towns, small villages,  Tuscan countryside and historic cities. Each day was rich with history, beauty and culture. The evenings were filled with good food, lively conversations, shared stories and lots of laughter. It was fun to watch friendships develop.  I had an interesting mix of women from different countries: Norway, England, Australia, Guatemala, Canada and the US.

To see my finished sketches and hear my thoughts behind the images click on the video here.

There's nothing like an extended time to focus on nothing but creativity! No house cleaning, grocery shopping, appointments, yard work, bills to pay, errands or cooking. When my only concern is sketching and teaching my mind is free to reach deeper areas of creativity.

The first time I visited Italy I didn't sketch at all. I know that's hard to believe! But that was many years ago. I was traveling with 5 family members. No matter how well intending people are, it's no fun to sketch when people are waiting for you to get done. Since that first trip I have taught eight workshops in Tuscany, three in France, one in Spain and next year Belgium. Not bad for bad for a small-town girl!

Next year I have workshops all across the US and two in Belgium. To see my schedule and workshop locations please visit: Workshops 2019

Happy Sketching! Brenda


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Fountain Pens: The Beginning

I have been sketching for 20+ years. Drawing with pen requires I spend more time looking and observing. When I put the pen to paper I do it with a greater sense of awareness. I spend more time looking at my subject. Since I can’t erase I slow down and pay more attention to how I’m holding the pen, the pressure, the speed, the ink flow… All of these things mean I’m more involved with the experience. I draw slower and with a greater awareness. 

About 7 years ago I wanted a pen that would do more than simply get the job done. I’d grown tired of cheap pens and wanted something that was enjoyable to hold, look at and responsive to my touch when sketching. I started exploring fountain pens. Little did I know how big the fountain pen world was...I was lost! So many new terms, filling mechanisms, ink, nibs… That's when I stumbled upon Goulet Pens. At last I was able to make sense of all the terms, option, nibs, inks... The company is amazing, website is great, technical support, videos, how to, tips and great prices!

At his point I’ve got to say, I love sketching with fountain pens BUT I'm hesitant to recommend specific brands when asked. It's difficult to know a person's skill level, if they’re hard on things, personal style, price range…and nib size. Goulet Pens are some of the best folks I know for: information, tutorials, videos...and purchasing pens.

If you're new to the pen world or even if you've been around for a while I think you'll find this video very helpful, I did! Fountain Pen Nib Size Overview 

My first fountain pen was a LAMY Safari. At $30.00 these pens are great starter pens and won’t break the bank. You can even buy replaceable nibs. Last time I looked LAMY replaceable nibs were $15.00. You use ink cartridges or bottled ink. You’ll need the cartridge adapter for bottled ink. It's a good pen to learn with and you’ll also learn how to care for a fountain pen. Yes…fountain pens require care. 
My next fountain pen was a step up. The Pilot Falcon (previously known as the Namiki Falcon) is an iconic pen. It’s most famous for its 14k gold soft nib, which provides line variation with your writing/sketching pressure. The pen is wonderfully responsive and gives line width variation. 


Sketch of my LAMY Safari and Pilot Falcon
When (and if) you decide to move up in the fountain pen world you’ll want to view this video. Top 5 Entry-Level Gold Nib Pens

And then I was in Italy…Florence to be exact.
I was scheduled to teach two workshops in Lucca. Before the workshop I spent a fews days in Florence sketching and painting. I was staying at a hotel just walk across the Ponti Vecchio on the right hand side at the first street. My room over looked a sign that said, PINART. Now 
seriously, did you think I would pass without going in? Once inside, I met Federico Pineder, the shopkeeper. He was friendly, knowledgeable and let me try a few many pens. If you’re ever in Florence be sure to visit PINART


Did I buy a pen that day? Of course...a beautiful Visconti, Rembrandt, pearl white. And that's the beginning of another story...

Happy Sketching!
Brenda

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Art Theft


I feel an apology coming on… but I didn't do anything wrong. 


The last two weeks have been miserable. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to reclaim my artwork. Most people know better than download or print images off websites, blogs, Facebook… But some people do it knowing they’ll never get caught and others do it for personal gain. Whatever the reasons are and whether or not someone gets caught…wrong is wrong! 
In the last two weeks I've had 9 images stolen off my blog. And these are the ones I know about! 

A website stole 7 images from my blog. The website said: “Elegant Negative Paintings by Brenda Swenson”. They offered free downloads of my art. What people didn’t know is this..they would be downloading more than a free painting. They would be downloading a virus! I was horrified! After a lot of work and filing countless reports for copyright violations the 7 paintings were removed.

Two weeks ago I was emailed by a so called teacher in Long Beach, CA named Moira. She was going to teach her students my approach to negative painting… She thought I'd be flattered she had printed my artwork to share with her students. What? I asked, why she printed my artwork? She has a copyright posted on her website. She obviously doesn’t want people taking her artwork. Why is it okay for her to download and print mine? She was pissed off that I questioned her. The conversation went downhill after that.

She had never met me in person, attended a demo, a workshop, watched my DVD, read one of my books. And she was going to teach my technique? Really?????  She attached a photo of her prep-demo. She was using Cadmium Red Light, Sap Green, Lamp Black, Raw Sienna and Ultramarine. She had no idea what she was doing. Why would I want her to associate my name with something that she was doing all wrong?

My blog has always been a teaching tool. A way to share knowledge, experience, tools, techniques…and life experiences.  It’s my connection to a bigger community of artists’, students and friends. I love the conversations I have with you and the opportunity to share the gift of creativity. Just because I shared this information “FREELY” doesn't mean anybody has the right to take it from the site! My lessons and my artwork are to remain on my blog. Not to be downloaded and/or printed. I thought having my signature on my artwork and/or having my copyright posted at the top of my blog would deter people. I was wrong….

I have never wanted to put a watermark over my artwork. (1) a watermark looked like I was paranoid and (2) I don't like the look of a watermark over art. Unfortunately this will change.

It’s NOT OK to download images or print images from my blog, website, Facebook, Instagram…period. If I have offended any of my followers I am sorry. If the tone of my post or my language seems harsh please know I’ve been through a lot of angst in the last couple weeks. It makes me very sad…


Brenda

Friday, July 20, 2018

Rewards of Curiosity

Mi-Teintes paper. Gouache in sky.
Pitt White Marker on building.
I like to sketch and paint on all kinds of paper surfaces. From the very slick to rough, from light to dark, cheap to expensive. Some of the papers are NOT intended for watercolor. So why do I do it?  I love responding to what’s happening on the surface. I don’t like doing the same thing again and again… I’m very curious.

Most tinted/toned surfaces are not intended for watercolor. But I discovered amazing results with pastel paper. For example, I’ve found that the Canson Mi-Teintes pastel paper handles watercolor beautifully. The paper has a 65% rag content, 98 lb. weight and is gelatine sized making it sturdy. The paper has two distinct surface textures, one side smooth and the other grainy. I like the grainy side. The paper is highly receptive and easy to work on with a little warping.

Canal Montreal paper, Gouache and ink
Some papers are VERY absorbent and harder to work on. I came across a paper that had a nice texture and a wonderful color. So I bought a pad to try. The paper is made by St Armand and called the CANAL Montreal. My first attempt with the paper wasn’t impressive. It was VERY absorbent. But since I’m stubborn I didn’t give up. My persistence paid off. I had to dig deep and discover what the paper liked. I ended up loving the creative stimulation and a new approach. I’m curious and stubborn. 

A few things to keep in mind when working on a tinted surface…your colors will look different, especially if you are using transparent watercolor. The paint will be influenced by the tint/tone of the paper. 

Mi-Teintes, Sharpie Extra Fine
Since the paper is tinted/toned you won’t have any whites. White isn’t always necessary. But when I want to add a highlight or sparkle I have two techniques. White gouache-I keep gouache a small lip gloss container (screw on lid) in my sketch bag. I don’t keep it on my palette as it dries quickly and becomes useless. White marker/pen. Recently I found the White Pitt by Faber-Castell. It’s a water base marker you don’t have to shake. The tip is chunky and the white really covers well. https://www.cheapjoes.com/faber-castell-pitt-big-artist-pen.html For fine lines I use the Sharpie, Water Based, Extra Fine.

Canal Montreal Paper
 Pitt Marker in sky and road
 Sharpie Extra Fine for 
text
I imagine a few folks are raising their brows when they read, white paint! I’ve heard people say,“white is cheating”. If you are entering a transparent watercolor show…it’s cheating. There’s only two transparent societies in America today, Watercolor West and Transparent Watercolor Society of America. All other watercolor shows allow white (along with pastel, acrylic, collage, ink…). Purely transparent painters have a unique skill and their paintings deserve a show of their own. I am a signature member of Watercolor West. I’d say 90% of my paintings and sketches are transparent watercolor. The other 10% I break the rules. If white was good enough for Sargent, Homer, Turner…it’s good enough for me.

I’ve included links to the supplies if I know them. If you don’t see a link you’ll have to do a little research on your own. It's worth noting I take the tinted papers and use them in the sketchbooks I make. Details here

Mi-Teintes, Pitt White Marker

Canson Mi-Teintes Pad with a nice assortment of colors: Buff, Champagne, Light Blue, Moonstone, Steel Grey and white. 

St Armand, CANAL Montreal: I found this paper at the Artisian Art Supply in Santa Fe.


Sharpie, Water Based, Extra Fine



Hope you have a great day...now get out and do something creative!
Brenda

Friday, July 13, 2018

Part 5 A Friend for Boone

Handsome Boy
I left off at...Come out, come out wherever you are!
I was in Santa Fe teaching a workshop. Everyday I called home. This time I could tell something was going on. Mike said, he was worried about Boone being lonely. So what did he do? He went to our veterinary office (TLC Animal Clinic) and asked if they had a kitten that needed a home. As it turned out they had a young male kitten the same age as Boone. The clinic received this kitten three months ago and…he was feral! While living at the at the clinic he became acquainted with people and being touched. He spent 3 months in a cage. I know that sounds sad but before the clinic stepped in he has going to be euthanized. Now they felt he was tame enough to be placed in a home. 

Mike brought him home. I asked him how it went? Mike said, he cried the entire way and darted under the bed. He hasn’t come out yet. 

Best of Friends!
When I returned home from Santa Fe my first impression of him wasn't the best. I'm accustom to picking up our cats but every time I picked him up I was left with scratches down my arms. He was very skittish and had a wild streak. I had to change my approach with this kitten or I was going to have a problem. I had to remember how far he had come from being feral and give him enough space to feel safe. I spent a lot of time coaxing him with toys and treats…he began to settle in. After a few days I decided to name him. I called him, Lync. Why you ask? The little guy is taunt like in wild lynx cat. And he is part of a bigger chain of cats that have come through our home. So far we have rescued 16.

Watching Boone inner act with Lync was…surprising. At first I thought he was just being a spoiled brat. He wouldn’t share toys, pounced on Lync constantly and even attacked! Poor Lync had no clue what was going on. I was getting worried about leaving them alone…not good. As it turned out, our spending extra time with Lync, to help him adjust had made Boone jealous.  Once we figured it out, peace was restored in our house.

The good news…In time Lync settled down. He fills safe, happy, playful...He still doesn’t like to be picked up. I’m okay with that. Lync has an athletic streak and loves to jump and twist in the air, a sweet personality, like to chase toys, back rubs, play in the sink…and eats like a horse! Boone loves his friend, too! 
A short video of the boys at play. Boone is a couple months older now and less bossy. You can see how he wanted to be the center of attention! Today they are the best of friends!

If you’ve missed earlier parts of this story please read:

Next week I'll be sharing a fun and creative post on sketching!

Happy Sketching!
Brenda

Monday, June 18, 2018

Watercolor Artist Magazine

Double Page Opener

Cover
Forgive me for a shameless plug BUT I'm so excited I have to share. I'm featured in the current issue of Watercolor Artist magazine! A full 8 pages!!! Can you feel the ground shake? No, it's not a earthquake. It's me jumping up and down with joy!

Not only is the artwork mine but I also wrote the article. So it's a double winner. Most of my life I've felt very inadequate when it came to writing. Since I've begun to share my artwork and writing with you (my blog followers) it has helped me to build confidence. I'm far from a fast writer (probably takes me twice as long) but now I can get my thoughts into words. Thank you for being encouraging followers and cheerleaders along the way.

Would you like a copy of  Watercolor Artist magazine August issue? Here's a link: Watercolor Artist

Happy Sketching!
Brenda