Friday, April 26, 2013

Refining Acrylic Paintings

Following a 'friends' art day' I have been refining acrylic paintings straight from my walls.

The piece that got the bulk of the refinement was this one which has been re-named Big Dream, Big City. Do you see a cityscape in it too? I always loved the colors in the original, but felt it was too flat. It now has depth and is much more exciting.



Here is City Night before and after. Not as much refinement on this one, but I think it is a little spiced up from the original. I also added some foil gold to the yellow rectangle, something I always thought it needed. Along with that I streaked some gold lines into it and some small gold dots in the yellow spatters. The top photo of City Night is the 'before'. The three lower images of it depict its colors in the sunlight, on my wall, and a more detailed view of it. (Click on images to see slightly larger.)

The lighter version was photographed in sunlight. The darker version is how it appears on my wall.

This post really began on April 12th with Voulez-vous. Here is the completed painting from my April 12th post.

I'm not sure that it's complete yet. My original intention had been to cover up the lettering and have it as a peek-a-boo element of the background, but instead I enhanced the lettering making it darker and sharper. I may add some jazzed writing in a light color under the navy lettering to make it a more calligraphic piece.

All of the 'afters' have received many coats of gloss varnish. This makes photographing them more difficult...lots of sheen.

A future post will take a painting from start to finish and includes the refinements I made last week.

by Jan Hurst

Friday, April 19, 2013

Glen Epstein's Gift

Today I want to show you Glen Epstein's gift to me and tell you a story about it.

(If anyone knows how I can get my images to show up larger here, please let me know. In the meantime, clicking on them will make them slightly larger.)

Several years ago I assisted Diana Hutchison in planning a calligraphy retreat at Stone Rest Retreat Center in southern Indiana. The site, owned by one of Diana's long time friends, is fantastic - a huge rustic looking residence with all modern amenities. The surroundings are very much conducive to great work and great fun. The instructors were Steve Skaggs and Eliza Holliday, and the invited participants included the inimitable calligrapher Glen Epstein of Iowa.

I was looking through my notebook from that retreat last week and was surprised at the depth of the instruction - and the quality of work I had done, including writing exercises that brought out our thoughts and feelings about our surroundings. One of the exercises in this well-rounded experience was to paint strokes of acrylics onto a piece of canvas. Glen gave his to me. I had forgotten all about it. It was in that notebook and I decided to frame it to hang on my studio wall. And therein lies the rest of the story.

I took last week's unfinished painting and the gift from Glen with me when I met Diana one day last week, but when I brought them out of my car to show her, Glen's piece was missing. I searched the car over, and carefully thought of every move I'd made between leaving my house and opening that car door. When I got home I hoped to find it on the garage floor, and further hoped that I hadn't backed out over it and that it would be found unharmed. Glen is deceased, was a sweet friend to me, and I really wanted that remembrance of him. Unfortunately, the garage floor was bare. My husband's car was gone, so I hoped he'd found it and had taken it into the house. Not there.

I had placed my painting with Glen's canvas nestled in the frame of it on the trunk of my car when I'd unlocked the door. Could the canvas have remained on the trunk when I picked up my painting? If so, perhaps it had blown off as I backed out of my driveway. I got into the car to retrace my path. Not at the driveway. Not at the mailbox. Not along the street to the stop sign. I made the left turn to the main street nearby thinking I'd have picked up speed then and perhaps it had blown off then. Alas, I didn't see it there either. I drove to another street on my path before giving up the search and turning my car around. I did keep my eyes peeled for any sign of it on my way back home. Near the stop sign at my street I spotted a piece of paper in a yard. Could that be it? I backed up for a closer look. 'It COULD be,' I thought. I pulled into a stranger's driveway, ran to the yard and retrieved the scrap 'paper'. It was Glen's gift, unscathed in the damp grass. Persistence and sleuthing paid off. I'm glad I found it. I have to think Glen would get a giggle out of it.

Diana is coming over to paint with me this weekend, and I will be finishing last week's painting.

by Jan Hurst

Friday, April 12, 2013

I'm Painting Again! Acrylic on Canvas

Two days ago I could say, "I'm painting again!", but this acrylic on canvas piece has had to take a backseat so I can only post images of an unfinished piece today. Hopefully by next week I will be able to complete it.

I pulled out a canvas and some paints the other day and brushed up on my French. I wanted to have some letters on it, but the intent was to cover them up so the words didn't really matter - I mainly wanted the letters as a design element. Still, the phrases that came readily to mind didn't fit somehow, so I invented a phrase. Voulez vous jouer avec moi. (Do you want to play with me?) My idea was that it would hang in my dining room and since we sometimes play cards and Yahtzee and board games there, 'play'/jouer seemed to work. The 'play' reference also pertains to the process of painting. It's add a little, subtract a little, cover up, reveal - playing with what happens on the canvas.
I didn't worry that the entire phrase wouldn't fit.

Even though the letters were to be covered up, my misspelling had to be fixed.

Hmmm - if I'd thought that I might NOT cover up the letters, I may have used a better brush and tried harder on the letters themselves. Because now I'm thinking to leave the lettering legible. Also, I might have done better had I painted the blue layer before I did the freehand lettering across the canvas...a straightedge would have then been 'built in'. But, I didn't, and they did come out pretty straight.

We'll see where this one ends up. I started with a gesso background covered with a blend of off white and gold. I made marks in that layer and liked them so much I didn't want to go to the next step - dividing the canvas into two parts. I had envisioned it in different colors, and was mad at myself when I slathered the blue on it, but I am pleased with the colors now.

The painting will evolve, and hopefully next week I'll have a finished photo to post...but only if I get busy with the other job at hand - fun lettering on some silver-lined envelopes.

Don't forget to check out my new website here and tell me what you think!

by Jan Hurst

Thursday, April 4, 2013

I have a new website!

I have a new website! The old PictureTrail site here is still active. It was never an interactive website, but a hosted photo storage site for the most part. Now I have a true website. Ta da! Please view here and tell me what you think.

Here's a preview:

Here's a nearly upside down photo of me that Jace took last December from my website's contact page. The French postal box in the header is from a photo I took in Gargas, France.

I'm looking forward to seeing if life (business) changes for the better now that I have a real, honest-to-goodness website! I'll keep you posted!

By Jan Hurst