Painting 341

New Concerns About Plastic Pollution in Great Lakes ‘Garbage Patch’ – News Watch


Turtles and Ocean Trash


“Widget was like a piñata when she first came to the Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys. But instead of pieces of candy, the loggerhead sea turtle was filled with garbage. Inside her were three shredded balloons —red, green and black. One plastic glove — the kind sandwich makers wear in fast-food joints. A black cap that looked like it belonged on a tire stem, and some duct tape. Widget ate the items, mistaking them for food. The pieces of garbage are now in a glass jar that sits on a counter in the hospital, where only sick turtles are examined. As Widget rested in her own tank, volunteers waited for more junk to flow out of her. Once her system was clean, volunteers would take the jar with them when they talked about pollution in the Gulf of Mexico. Debris in the Gulf is only one type of pollution that harms sea turtles and other species. For many humans, the Gulf serves as a gigantic garbage can. For marine species, like Widget, it’s their home, which she returned to in July.”

Written by Dianna Smith for the Naples Daily News (FLA) 10.03.2003 as part of a 15 part series and reposted at

Oh Blessed Process

Before this class I had long ago abandoned watercolors in favor of acrylics. I remember an instructor at William Carey denigrating them as “old lady paint”. Well, nobody wants to be associated with old lady paint! I did not have a very good formal education, as far as art is concerned, before Agnes. I see that now.  Had I looked around further out from my little world I would have found so much information to use in developing an artistic voice. Oh well, that is water under the bridge. It is never too late, as they say. This semester has both challenged and frustrated me from all different angles. But I have grown. For that, I am truly grateful.

As for watercolors, I see the value in them, both literally and figuratively. Learning to go slow, a built-in characteristic of the medium, and allow the time to really study my subject is producing some pretty exciting results. Deeply gazing at each nuanced shade of color, shape of form and angle of line at the edges where they meet, I let my eyes flow along and work in concert with my hand. All the while leaving my meddling brain to sleep on the sidelines. A side benefit has been the meditative manner I have begun to approach each session with fluid media, basking in the process while letting my mind drift quietly along the edge of awareness, only to “come to” and find a beautiful interpretation of a fall leaf at my fingertips. The pleasant wisps of thought that remains, each time leaving me calmer and more healed than the last. I still need balance and this helps.

Direct Observation

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Risky Business

The third painting for this semester involved beginning with a subject taken from a still life and executed on paper using direct observation with attention to form.

After all of us worked carefully on drawing out a form or forms from our still life that was rendered carefully, we were instructed to take some risks with the assigned media. Ink in bold colors, water-soluble crayons, and white acrylic gesso was provided.

Wait a minute… take risks did you mean do something we had never tried before?

On our careful, precise drawings???

well ok………………..

So a good start, but all the lines are running off the page. And that diagonal line at the bottom does not help.

Okay…now the eye follows the page better…

NO! NO! NO! This is about the legs from the still life! NOT what’s in your head!

More legs?

Yeah…. better. Now can we resolve the background so this becomes about the still life?

Much better for the critique! The corners need to be painted in and there is still a washed out feel…

I like!

Taking the risk of letting go of what’s in my head and what I ‘think’ I know seems to be right for me. I am learning more about the media, technique, and rules of design (and how to use them) than in the years before. What I made for art in the past was ok….but I want my art to be awesome! If I can quiet my ego and open my mind to new ideas and directions I believe I can take off and fly one day…..

Fruitful Efforts

Our first critique this past Wednesday was a very satisfying time of sharing our thoughts and insights on the results of the first class assignment. Everyone’s effort was appreciated and I especially enjoyed how each person prefaced their comments with “What I like about this painting is…”

To begin we observed all the paintings, choosing the three we felt strongest about, and wrote down what we liked the most about how the artist used her materials to interpret her subject.

Victoria’s playful use of layering creates both a sense of space and movement as the red and ochre markings appear to lift up off the surface of the apple in stripes, triangles, and dots. Even as the apple’s color floats apart the basic roundness of its form is firmly rooted to the surface it sits on by the use of two realistic ‘shadows’ underneath. She then repeats the green shape around the stem of the fruit and transforms it into an abstract that stands well alone.

I am in love with the way Devin created a story by using position, size, and repetition. She applies watercolor with skillful washes and use of ‘dry-brush’ to render very believable turnips. Turning them to look at each other gives them tons of fun personality that I never knew turnips had!   The position of each ‘actor’ in the second piece makes me think of all kinds of interesting possible story lines. Good use of the white space really supports both of these paintings. Both warm and cool colors make my eyes happy….

Seung-Yoon made a careful study of this little shallot and revealed many of its layers to us. I liked the way she created a palette with a broad range of colors from what at first glance seems to be only purple and brown, proving that she looked very closely…. reminds me of the ‘deep looking’ we did this past spring in three-dimensional thinking. I am adopting her practice of writing in her observations on the page. I can see from her example how it is beneficial. The onion is rendered very well, it looks to sit right on the paper, and has beautiful ‘realistic qualities’. My favorite part is the little roots on the end that are so delicate. Nice technique!

Some feedback from the Professor included observations on how to suggest the subject without overly describing it and using direct observation of a form in its space. We discussed realism vs. non-realism, “cared for” work, and using materials in a manner that is informative and plays with the realism.

This was a great class and I get a “fireworks-juicy-apple feeling” when I think about the morning! Thank you, Suzy!

Quote of the Day

“this is not an apple, but it is, but no this is just paint but it’s not….really”



That was the theme for the first painting day in Painting 341.

New paint! New paper! New brushes! OH MY!

And here are some of the results….

I have not played with watercolor for a loooooong time! How wonderful to be reminded of the soothing and meditative qualities it possesses. Watercolor teaches patience. Also how to look for light within your subject. AND it does so many fun and funky things if I don’t get too OCD about the process.