Monday, April 30, 2012

The Tale of Painting My Cat
When I saw all those creatively designed fiberglass cats at last year’s “Tail of the Painted Cats” fundraiser, I knew I wanted to be involved this year, not only to have fun painting a four foot high cat, but to help raise funds for this worthy cause.  So when I heard the Cat Care Society was accepting entries, I submitted my design for “Soleil”.

My two rescue cats love to bask in the sun and will follow a little patch of sunshine as it moves up the stairs.  Like my cats, sunflowers also follow the sun, turning their cheery countenances to the warm rays.  This was the inspiration for my design for “Soleil”, the French word for sun.  My submission showed a swirled background of blues and purples, like a rich summer sky, with complimentary colors of orange and yellow sunflowers embellishing my cat’s coat.

Luckily my entry was one of the 18 selected for 2012.  The next step was to attend a meet and greet party at the Cat Care Society for the artists to meet their sponsors, as each fiberglass cat is quite expensive even without artist enhancement!  Gail Tinianow, one of “Soleil’s” sponsors and I enjoyed our chat, and expressed our excitement to see the finished product.  Unfortunately Ann Waite, my other sponsor, was unable to attend.  Given the opportunity to interact with the live cats and kittens at the shelter gave added emphasis to the importance of raising funds to help with the good works that the Cat Care Society performs.  Rescue cats wandered about, as artists, sponsors and staff enjoyed the champagne and desserts and viewed all the submitted designs.

After attending an informational meeting with Jane Dorsey, who organizes this event, I was able to pick up my pure white standing cat and a generous gift card donation from Guiry’s  to help pay for painting supplies.  

 A blank canvas is always a little daunting, but after a coat of gesso, I began slathering on my background colors.  Sponges, brushes, fingers were awash in hues of cerulean, blue-violet, purple and deep red.  Good thing Jane provided us with a drop-cloth!  In fact, the drop cloth will be displayed with the cats, so it can become a work of art too!  And don’t forget the bottom of the feet, they need to be painted too, Jane advised.

Using a close-up photo I took of a neighbor’s cat (sorry Licorice and Cassidy, my two rescue cats), I decided to give “Soleil” a detailed face.  Hoping Jane wouldn’t mind the discrepancy from my original design, I painstakingly rendered the stripes in the fur, the nose, ears, the forehead “M” that all tabbies seem to sport, and after a couple of different eye colors, brought her alive with a little white sparkle in both eyes.  Her personality emerged – she’s a happy cat!

Painting the sunflowers, leaves and stems with a little added gel medium for texture came next, and once dry, a few coatings of UV protectant varnish. 
 “Soleil” was finally finished and ready to be returned to the Cat Care Society, where all 18 cats gathered and were readied for transport to the Lakewood Arts Council’s Community Center and Gallery, where they currently reside in conjunction with the “Cats & Dogs” exhibit of paintings.  Stop by and see them, and go to the website  to participate in the online bidding and follow their travels to various galleries around town.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Earth Day Luncheon at the LAC 2012
 submitted by Ann Quinn
The Earth Day celebration at the gallery was perfect!  Our beautiful Earth cooperated with a near-perfect Sunday afternoon, and the attending crowd was in high spirits at the prospect of good food, camaraderie, and talk of growing things!  Master Gardener Laura Stevens was on hand with a wonderful display of resources, a tremendous variety of seeds to give away, and questions of all kinds were answered. 
 Laura instructing Liesa and Lynnette
  I took the opportunity to discuss companion planting, using disease resistant plants for protection of other plants rather than pesticides. She said she would look into what might be eating my marigolds!
 Laura with Melinda
Laura, who works with the Ute Trail Community Garden in Lakewood,  also taught us how to create our own seed pots using recycled newspaper rolled and pressed into shape…when the seedlings are large enough the entire ‘pot’ could be placed in the garden. 
  Laura and Barb talking plants
The food was healthy (we have wonderful cooks at the LAC!) and so delicious, and as usual the desserts were so-o-o-o tempting.  Whole Foods gave us a large gift certificate for the occasion, too!
 Wonderful food and Whole Foods Donation
            Everyone left with a renewed interest in growing and recycling and also with an herb plant of their choice to begin their spring garden. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Pastel Workshop            
Back by popular demand, Cindy Haase led a pastel workshop for twelve participants on Friday, April 20 at the LAC gallery. She started out by explaining her classic technique.  Originally studying with Deborah Bays, a set designer in the theater, Cindy learned to employ drama in her work.  She showed the group examples of her pastel still lifes that use this effect of atmospheric realism or “chiaroscuro”.
                                           Cindy shows us an example of her work.
The setting up of a still life is important to an effective dramatic painting.  Cindy uses a cardboard box with a black interior, lit from the left with a warm bulb which produces the classic effect of strong light and cool shadows.  The center of focus is usually placed in the lower right.  “Think of the light as wrapping around and caressing the objects”, she states.  “It should be sensuous.  The light reveals the objects.”   Also, in planning the composition, be sure to connect the dark shadow areas, so the eye flows through the painting.
                                  Blocking in the shapes of the object and shadows.
The pastel demo began with Cindy blocking in the shapes of the object, in this case an orange, on sanded pastel paper with vine charcoal or pastel pencil.  She then started filling in the dark background with black pastel.  Determining proper values is aided by a grayscale or “posterized” copy of the reference photo.
                                              Laying in color.
As we all got out our supplies to get started, Cindy continued laying in color, first using hard NuPastels, then proceeding to softer pastels to layer and blend. 
                                      Susan Hoffman working on her orange.
 The vivid pink foreground is added and blends with the same value of the front of the orange.  Lost edges of the orange also fade into the dark background, helping to make the far edge recede.  An atmospheric effect is created by scumbling color into the shadow areas, and final details “finesse” the finished product.
                                 Students working on their pastels.
Cindy offered constructive criticism of our efforts at the end of class.  Helpful hints were valuable to all the students, as we readied for more practice at home with additional photos she provided.  Thanks for another fun and educational workshop, Cindy!
                                         Thanks Cindy!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Ken Caryl Art Guild exhibit at LAC
For the month of April, the Ken Caryl Art Guild’s open-themed exhibit will occupy the loft gallery at the Lakewood Arts Council’s Community Center and Gallery.  Attending the recent opening reception were many of the artists and members of the Guild.
                                                 Ken Caryl Art Guild artists and members
The Ken Caryl Art Guild (KCAG) formed in 2004 for the education and development of artists of all levels and support of the arts in the Ken Caryl and surrounding communities.  It offers its members the opportunity to exhibit their artwork year-round in various venues such as local businesses, and once-a-year shows in galleries in the Santa Fe Dr. and Tennyson art districts.
One of the biggest draws is the presentations at the monthly business meetings.  They range from gallery owner talks to oil painting demos.  Workshops are also offered to the public which are fun, educational and a valuable community service.
For Paul Gesso, co-director of exhibits for the Guild, socializing with and learning from other artists are the main benefits he gains from being a member and, of course, exhibiting and selling his work.
                                                    Paul Gesso with his paintings.
Barbara Williams, active member of the Guild and Lakewood Arts Council (LAC), was very happy to join the Guild in its early years, and is “impressed with the scope of growth offering enrichment of information for the many ranges of artistic talents”.
                                                      “First Snow” by Barbara Williams
Caroline Bakken, director of programs for the KCAG, states that being a member “helps keep me focused on my goal of discovering my possibilities and limitations as an artist.  The meetings, discussions, presentations and emails inspire me to push myself to make art a larger part of my life.  Dealing with the demands of life can really distract me from my creative process, and belonging to the guild draws me back in.”
For me, Gail Firmin, KCAG and LAC member, being part of both of these art communities has been so gratifying.  The LAC promotes the arts in so many ways, recognizing not only the visual arts, but literature, poetry, music, and theater and is involved with a diverse array of activities in the area.  Having the KCAG exhibit in the LAC’s gallery has combined the best of both worlds.  Come on out to enjoy the exhibits and find out what’s new at the LAC.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Glue, Paper, Scissors Equals Decoupage Fun

On a recent Tuesday morning a number of ‘adult kindergarten’ enthusiasts gathered for the latest in a series of craft workshops to hone their skills in decoupage.  Ann Quinn led the fun, and after learning that no one had ever done decoupage, she began with a short explanation of the craft of cutting paper apart and gluing to another  surface (decoupage comes from the French word meaning ‘to cut). 

 Several books from the library provided inspiration for some impressive projects (why not copy color photocopies from large art books and decoupage the Sistine Chapel on your kitchen ceiling?).   
 A short demo by Ann revealed a simple process of cutting objects from papers such as wallpaper, photos, greeting cards, calendars, and magazines followed by gluing and sealing the papers to items such as boxes, frames, wooden bowls, trays, or plastic Easter eggs.   

Most of those attending brought an object to complete, and others chose potential treasures that Kathy Berls had gathered from the local thrift stores.  It’s always fun to take a ‘past its prime’ object and turn it into a masterpiece!  And we all can use another excuse to go trolling at the thrift stores!

Over the two hours of cutting and pasting everyone talked and shared ideas, creating much needed stress relief for some and a great time for everyone.   All of us left with at least one completed project, and lots of motivation to try more projects at home.  

Keep checking the LAC schedule for another upcoming workshop and join us next time!

Our thanks to Ann Quinn for authoring this post!