Two young chicken portraits

Cockerel and Pullet, each 9×12 in. on panel, acrylic, © 2017 Cindy Schnackel

Finished two chicken portraits this week! They’re on my Current Inventory Page

Did a few finishing touches to some other pieces. Sorted through a stack of little drawings to see which I might put in tiny frames and which might go in the collage drawer. Next, will tackle cleaning and organizing because things are creeping outwards again and it gets hard to work. Once my space is all neat again, I’ll get back to a large political themed piece, at least for a few minutes a day. It is hard to find that sweet spot where the ‘joy’ of painting overlaps with the feelings of horror about our current administration. Then, (or maybe instead of!), some more thrift store makeovers. Also wanting to draw more again and eyeing a birch panel we got at a lumber yard, to maybe gesso and do some large scale drawing or mixed media on. I dunno. So many ideas, there is a log jam. Usually, cleaning the studio helps un-jam things.

Studio table overflowing with doodles and works near completion earlier in April 2017. © Cindy Schnackel

Inktense colored pencil (sepia?) and wet brush. © Cindy Schnackel 2017

It’s getting to be in the 90s every day now, a bit hot IMO to paint outdoors, but I’ll watch for occasional breaks and do some more plein air so I don’t get out of practice before fall. Maybe just go sketch the nearby canal as water can be a challenging subject. Even though the canal isn’t very pretty, I’ll be happy to represent it fairly accurately, or put some weird spin on it, either one.

For April I’m seeing quite a few of other people’s shows. I hit several galleries on First Friday and will see a few more yet before the end of the month. Other than the miniatures in the gift shop at {9} The Gallery I have plans to show with a women’s painting group at The Artery (Studio 6) again this summer and then in November. Details TBA when I know more! Things are a bit slower here in summer, and I try not to commit to too much that would require riding the city bus in the heat. Summer is a good time to stay in the air conditioning and work on new miniatures!

Plein Air at Papago Park

Mixed media plein air study, Papago Park, March 2017

Much better experience with plein air the second time out! A friend and I went to Papago Park in Phoenix in March, and fought high winds to paint the rounded red rocks and desert scenery that is next to the Phoenix Zoo, as well as the Botanical Gardens. At some point it just got too windy, our stuff was flying all over, but we each did some work. I did two and this was the better of them. Here’s some of the scenery:

“Hole in the rock” is a popular urban hiking trail.

We may revisit this spot another time, where we can see the hole from our painting vantage point. We were off to the side of it this time. I haven’t climbed up to the hole since I was in my teens or maybe early 20’s, but want to check it out again next time.

Panoramic shot of Papago Park.

The little painting was done on a SOHO cardboard painting panel (8×10 in.) that I had coated with thinned down white gesso days before. I wanted the surface to have a little “tooth” because I wasn’t sure in advance if I’d just draw, or mix painting and drawing. This ended up being done with acrylic paint watered down a bit to be more like a watercolor wash, (leaves the surface’s tooth intact), and Inktense colored pencil, (any dark shade should do; I used “bark”). This was a very limited palette of SOHO alizarin crimson, and one of SOHO’s light yellows comparable to cad yellow light, and Golden ultramarine blue, and some kind of sap green I think but didn’t really need it. I also didn’t end up using much of the manganese blue I’d taken.

I painted very quickly and loosely, going for big general shapes and blocks of light and shadow. After the last time at Brown’s Ranch, where I had “information overload” from all the details to see, I had vowed to take off my glasses if necessary, to filter out the noise and just go for the basics!

The Inktense pencil was great for roughly sketching in some of the branchy marks where there were trees and bushes, and I just blobbed some mixed greens where the bulk of the tree forms were in the foreground. Inktense is a richly pigmented water soluble colored pencil brand. With a wet brush you can get ink and wash like effects or tone underpainted washes, besides doing line work.

The sky changed so fast that I didn’t focus on any particular clouds but just put grayish, blue, or white, where I wanted it and didn’t worry about it. Using the paint both transparently, and opaquely, I was able to alter things a bit if I didn’t like it as it went along.

By the end, the whole surface was still pretty toothy and I could’ve continued working on it at home, even with pencils, but decided to just keep it as is and move on. It’s the first plein air study I’m satisfied with, so far.

Because I wasn’t sure if the Inktense would smear, I didn’t seal this with brushed on acrylic like GAC 100 like I normally do with paintings. A spray was called for so I used an archival aerosol satin varnish. I don’t like using that kind of product because of the chemical solvents etc, so a can of it lasts me a LONG time. Now it’s almost gone, so I’ll seek out a more environmentally friendly version soon.

Anyone have any favorite less-toxic spray finishes?

Papago isn’t far from where I live so future trips are pretty likely.

Sold 3 thrift store makeovers! Plus, Handy Art Walk Links

Windsor Castle Surprise, thrift store makeover, SOLD

When in doubt, you can hardly go wrong by adding a monster or a bird, (or whatever is near and dear to your heart).

During Art Detour weekend, numerous artists showed and sold at the Icehouse gallery. It was a fantastic, fun event, and so great to see so many people and get a chance to chat. I was there mostly on Saturday, and stopped by for just a little while Sunday, and am happy to say I sold three pieces, two of them pretty large ones, (large for me!).

Decapitated, thrift store makeover, SOLD

“Decapitated” was the smaller of the three that sold, about 14 x 16 in. or thereabouts. It seemed to be part of an old sign or ad that was cut out to fit the little frame it was in. A magnificent bird was in it, but whoever had cut it out had lopped off the head, so I made it really lopped off, and the head is walking around lower right. I also added numerous faces, mouths, etc, to the fruit.

Pink Kite Eating Monster, thrift store makeover, SOLD

This, (along with “Windsor”), were the larger ones. The Kite Eating Monster was added to what may have been a kit painting, I could  not tell. It seemed to be a reprint but with little tentative dabs of what may have been added paint here and there, like a paint by number with no numbers, I dunno. I can’t remember now what was there, where the monster is, maybe a mountain or tree, maybe nothing.

At this point I have only a few thrift store makeovers left in inventory! That’s why I went thrifting about a week ago and picked up three reprints on rigid board of some kind. One is pretty big, about one by three feet, the others maybe 9 x 11. All are of forest scenes. I’ve cleaned them up and sealed them with GAC 100, and adhesion is good, so now I’ll think on them, and alter them as ideas come.

APRIL PLANS

I have nothing new planned for April, so far! However, I still have some miniatures in the gift shop at {9} The Gallery on Grand Ave. in Phoenix, an ongoing thing. This month, I hope to get around to a lot of other people’s shows on both First and Third Friday’s artwalk nights. A good site to see what all is going on in the arts here is The Arts Beacon .

If you’re not familiar with our artwalks:

The main artwalk areas are Roosevelt between Central and about 7th St, and Grand starting on Roosevelt and going South. But, by going a bit farther you can see other galleries on Central, Indian School, Jackson, and more. Planning your art walk usually involves driving since the Artlink Trolley doesn’t go to all venues. Artlink often has a map of galleries and shows, however, so take a look at their site to plan your trip.  We (that is, my husband, because I do not drive) usually drive because it’s worth going off the path to see Icehouse, Coe House, The Artery, Practical Art, FoundRE Phoenix, New City Studio, and more. Also, First Studio on 1st Ave just south of Roosevelt, and Olney on Roosevelt and 1st Ave.

We never get to them all! Even during the 3 day Art Detour weekend our record is still in the teens. We kind of lost count this year but it was over 14, our old record. For a single night we rarely do more than a handful as we don’t wish to rush thru good shows, nor pass up the chance to visit with people we don’t usually see except at shows. And, we turn into pumpkins at 9 or 10 pm, so we try to get home before the transformation.