Friday, June 26, 2009

New Canvas

I have been house shopping the past couple of months.

We came across a small, rather new home on a half acre which has all the qualities I want in a house. I mentioned to my good friend and real estate guru, Elaine, that the only draw back was that it was very plain having white walls and beige carpet. Elaine looked at me in disbelief.

"Joanne, it is a new canvas!" She exclaimed.

I guess I missed the big picture the universe was sending me. Thanks, Elaine for pointing it out. Tomorrow is moving day :)

I have begun painting on the new canvas!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Top Art Destinations

Wondering where the favorite places are to view art?

According to AmericanStyle's poll the big city favorites are 1) New York, New York 2) Chicago, Illinois 3) Washington, D.C. All three destinations ranked the same last year in the poll. Interesting to note for us who live on the West Coast, San Francisco, California placed 4th; Seattle, Washington placed 7th, Los Angeles, California placed 10th, Portland, Oregon placed 11th, and San Diego, California placed 19th.

The top ranking mid-size cities were 1) Buffalo, New York 2) Chattanooga, Tennessee 3) Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Apparently Chattanooga, Tennessee had never placed before in the top 25. Makes you wonder what is happening in the art scene there? West Coast cities placing were Scottsdale, Arizona in 4th and Tacoma, Washington in 13th.......WOW!

For the small cities category all three cities held on to their top rankings again this year. 1) Santa Fe, New Mexico 2) Asheville, North Carolina 3) Sedona, Arizona. Laguna Beach, California rose two positions to rank in 17th place.

Full results of AmericanStyle's 2009 Top 25 Arts Destinations

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Most-Visited Art Museums

The top five most-visited museums in 2008 were:

1. Louvre, Paris
2. British Museum, London
3. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
4. Tate Modern, London
5. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The most-visited museum:

The Musée du Louvre or officially the Grand Louvre — in English, the Louvre Museum or Great Louvre, or simply the Louvre — is the national museum of France, the most visited museum in the world, and a historic monument.

It is a central landmark of Paris, located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement (neighbourhood). Nearly 35,000 objects from the 6th century BC to the 19th century are exhibited over an area of 60,600 square metres (652,300 square feet).

Historical facts:

The museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being confiscated church and royal property. Because of structural problems with the building, the museum was closed in 1796 until 1801.

The size of the collection increased under Napoleon when the museum was renamed the Musée Napoléon. After his defeat at Waterloo, many works seized by Napoleon's armies were returned to their original owners.

The collection was further increased during the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X, and during the Second Empire the museum gained 20,000 pieces. Holdings have grown steadily through donations and gifts since the Third Republic, except during the two World Wars.

As of 2008, the collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; and Prints and Drawings.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Part 5: Watercolor VS Abstract Expressionism

During the 1940's, artistic experimentation became a major focus in the New York art scene resulting in the development of Abstract Expressionism.

Watercolor began to lose a certain amount of its popularity. It was not a medium which played a role in the evolution of the new movement in abstraction. Watercolors were small and intimate in scale and were subordinate to the huge canvases of the Abstract Expressionists.

However, one such artist, Mark Rothko (1903-1970) utilized large areas of transparent washes and color staining on his canvases to create large scale works which were atmospheric, contemplative and reminiscent of the watercolor tradition.

Later, a second generation of Abstract Expressionist including Sam Francis (1923-1994) and Paul Jenkins (b. 1923) also employed similar wash methods to produce transparent color fields on large canvases. By incorporating watercolor techniques into canvas painting, American artists not only re-popularized the medium but continued a long tradition of innovative experimentation.

Blue Orange Red
Mark Rothko
Oil on canvas

Sam Francis
Acrylic on paper

Phenomena Lasting Dawn
Paul Jenkins
Acrylic on canvas

Part 4: Early American Watercolor Artists

American artists worked in the shadow of European masters until the late nineteenth century.

Gradually, skilled and talented artists like Thomas Eakins (1844-1916), Winslow Homer (1836-1910) and James A. M. Whistler (1834-1903) began to develop artworks which challenged European artists. The rise of American watercolor coincides with international rise and recognition of American painting.

American artists embraced watercolor as a primary medium equal to oil painting. This was not common in nineteenth century Europe except in England. Both American and English artists utilized watercolor for important paintings. By 1866, the interest in the medium was so pronounced that the American Society of Painters in Water Color was founded and for the first time watercolors were shown in galleries among oil paintings.

Although Americans inherited a technique developed by the British, they were more interested in experimenting with watercolor in their own way. American artists, therefore, created works which were uniquely individual in comparison. They were free of rigid English traditions and the slow evolution of the British school. In this way the American school was able to explode with an abundance of important figures between the 1870's and the revolutionary Armory Show in New York in 1913 which included John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), John Marin (1870-1953) and Maurice Prendergast (1859-1924).

Each artist represented an individual and unique approach to the medium. Since there was no particular American school or style of watercolor, the entire group represented "individualism" as a key factor in American art.

Miss Eden
John Singer Sargent
Watercolor on paper

John Marin
Marin Island
Watercolor on paper

Bridge and Steps, Venice
Maurice Prendergast
Watercolor on paper

Part 3: Technology of Watercolor

The technology of watercolor developments corresponded with the evolution and advancement of the British school of watercolorists.

In the 1780's, a British company began producing paper made especially for watercolorists which was treated with sizing, or glazing, to prevent washes from sinking into the fibers of the paper. Early watercolorists ground their own pigments, but by the late eighteenth century the Englishman, William Reeves, was selling them in portable cakes.

In 1846, Winsor & Newton introduced colors packaged in metal tubes. This growing technology encouraged many European artists to experiment with watercolors until eventually the tradition spread to America.

The earliest watercolor drawings produced in America were created for factual documentation of the "new world." As early as the 1560's, European explorers carried this visual information back to the "old world". The first of these important artists was Mark Catesby (English, 1679-1749). He came to Virginia in 1712 and documented hundreds of species of American birds and plant life with hand-colored engravings.

Watercolor by Mark Catesby

Catesby's prints foreshadow the ever-popular romantic and analytical depictions of American wildlife by John James Audubon (American, 1785-1851). Audubon did his first study in 1805. He eventually devoted himself to recording this aspect of the North American continent in a manner seldom equaled in any other medium.

Watercolor by John James Audubon

Part 2: Paper's Role in the
Development of Watercolor

Paper has played an important role in the development of watercolor.

China has been manufacturing paper since ancient times. The Arabs learned their secrets during the eighth century. Paper was imported to Europe until the first papermaking mills were finally established in Italy in 1276. A few other mills developed later in other parts of Europe, while England developed its first mills by 1495. However, high-quality paper was not produced in Britain until much later during the eighteenth century.

Since paper was considered a luxury item in these early ages, traditional Western watercolor painting was slow in evolving. The increased availability of paper by the fourteenth century finally allowed for the possibility of drawing as an artistic activity.

Artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo began to develop drawings as a tool for practice and for recording information. Albrecht Durer (German, 1471-1528) is traditionally considered the first master of watercolor because his works were full renderings used as preliminary studies for other works. Over the next 250, years many other artists like Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577-1640), Anthony van Dyck (Flemish, 1599-1641) and Jean Honore Fragonard (French, 1732-1806) continued to use watercolor as a means of drawing and developing compositions.

With the production of higher quality papers in the late eighteenth century, the first national school of watercolorists emerged in Britain. This watercolor tradition began with topographical drawings that proliferated in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries as Britain began to grow as a world power.

These map-like renderings encompassed visual identity of ports of sea, as well as the surrounding landscape. In 1768, influential topographers founded the Royal Academy which encouraged watercolorists to carry the medium beyond their own technical achievements. The most talented watercolorist from this period was Joseph M.W. Turner (English, 1775-1851) who went on to become one of the greatest painters of the nineteenth century. His contemplative landscapes were tremendously influential on dozens of artists during later decades.

View of Arco. 1495.
Albrecht Durer
Watercolour and gouache on watercolor paper
Louvre, Paris, France

Part 1: History of Watercolor

Watercolor is a tradition that spans the chronicles of history.

Primitive man used pigments mixed with water to create cave paintings by applying the paint with fingers, sticks and bones. Ancient Egyptians used water-based paints to decorate the walls of temples and tombs and created some of the first works on paper, made of papyrus. But it was in the Far and Middle East that the first watercolor schools or predominant styles emerged in the modern sense.

Chinese and Japanese masters painted on silk as well as exquisite handmade paper. Their art was filled with literary allusion and calligraphy, but the primary image was typically a contemplative landscape. This characteristic anticipated what was to be a central aspect of Western watercolor traditions in later centuries. In India and Persia, the opaque gouache paintings created by the Moslems depicted religious incidents derived from Byzantine art.

During the Middle Ages, monks of Europe used tempera to create illuminated manuscripts. These books were considered a major form of art, equivalent to easel painting in later years. Taking many years of service to complete, the monks copied the scriptures by hand onto sheets of parchment made from sheepskin, or vellum made from calfskin. Sometimes, entire pages were decorated with elaborate scroll work and symbolic images.

The most famous illuminated book was by the Limbourg brothers, Paul, Herman, and Jean (Flemish, c.1385-c.1416). This calendar, "Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry" or sometimes called "The Book of Hours," was created about 1415.

Medieval artists also worked in fresco which continued throughout the Renaissance. Fresco is a method by which pigments are mixed with water and applied to wet plaster. This method was used primarily to create large wall paintings and murals by such artists as Michelangelo (Italian, 1475-1564) and Leonardo da Vinci (Italian, 1452-1519). The most famous fresco is Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel of the Vatican painted from 1508 to 1512.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Call-For-Art Program for Collectors

The Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona came up with a great idea; a call-for-art program for collectors.

The way it works is that if you have a particular space in your home or office which has stymied your best efforts at finding the right piece of art, you may send them images of the space, along with dimensions, ideas of what you are looking for, and your budget. They, in turn, will send the call out to their network of thousands of artists who will send you images of potential pieces.

This is an exciting new way for you to let the art find you. They will soon have a page up on their website allowing you to upload images directly, but for now, you may simply email the request directly to Jason:

Maybe I can join this network?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Elements of Light

Light is the most important consideration in creating any picture. Any subject can be exciting or mundane, depending on how you light it. Light is what makes our perception of all things possible.

Value, form, texture, color, depth, and movement are the six basic elements of design. They are the control knobs that allow you to tune the light to suit your perception and taste. When you learn to control all of these elements, you can make the ordinary appear extraordinary. The way an artist manipulates, combines, compares, and contrasts the elements of light makes each artist and each painting unique.

Neon Rain
Paul Jackson

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Finding the "Right" Light

Light is everywhere; however, finding the best light to illuminate you subject in a painting can be a challenge. If you know when good light is likely to occur, you can be on the lookout for it, but you will not always have the luxury of waiting for the right light.

My favorite light is early morning or late evening; the effects are very dramatic.

If you wander around looking for the perfect subject in the perfect light, with every element in its ideal place, you probably would not do much painting. Very rarely does everything come together at once. Artists are feel to imagine and invent. Reality is just an illusion processed through our perceptions. You can alter reality to achieve a more aesthetic effect.

Artists have no rules!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Light's Moods

Light is often the inspiration that guides me to a new subject.

One of the greatest thrills is coming unexpectedly upon a sudden and dramatic lighting phenomenon, when the light catches an object in a way that tugs at my emotions and stops me in my tracks.

Most often, the way the object is revealed ignites my desire to paint, but light is not always just a comment on the subject. Light itself is mysterious, inseparable from the subject it illuminates. There are occasions when the light becomes the focal point and the objects are there just to complement it.

Here is on of my watercolor paintings where the morning light is coming through the trees illuminating the fall leaves.

Light in the Forest
Joanne Osband

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Light's Characteristics

There is no greater element in any painting than the light that illuminates it.

Light affects every aspect of the painting process and is essential to all of our visual experiences. Light is a kind of energy that makes things happen. It makes things visible and colorful. It has incredible descriptive power, determines, shape, models form, reveals color and defines texture. It is a painter's primary tool for directing the attention of the viewer and for unifying and intensifying the subject matter.

The many complex personalities of light help determine the mood and character of your subject. An awareness of light and its subtle qualities and moods is crucial to those who aspire to make dramatic paintings.

Light is the elusive element that separates the magical from the mediocre.

Paul Jackson

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Power of Artists' Organizations

Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change the world, indeed it's the only thing that ever has."

I feel that way about Artists' organization whose value has increased since our society has become increasingly depersonalized. The artists' organization offers the artist a place to share values, convictions, ambitions and solutions to common problems. It empowers the artist-activist who wants to make positive changes. It offers camaraderie and a support system for creative, spiritual and political development. It is the quickest way for an artist to feel less like an outsider. It is one of the best routes for a beginning artist to develop an exhibition history.

Being involved with the Fine Arts and Crafts Sale, which is going on this weekend at the Coach House in Olympia, Washington, is great opportunity for camaraderie and support from fellow artists. Besides, it is a lot of FUN!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

Today I visited the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge just outside of Olympia.

The Nisqually River Delta, a biologically rich and diverse area at the southern end of Puget Sound, supports a variety of habitats. Here, the freshwater of the Nisqually River combines with the saltwater of Puget Sound to form an estuary rich in nutrients and detritus. These nutrients support a web of sea life - the benefits which extend throughout Puget Sound and beyond.

Nisqually Refuge has become an increasingly important place for wildlife, especially migratory birds. Western sandpipers and other shorebirds feed and rest on the estuarine mudflats and marshes. Ducks and geese feed and rest on the freshwater ponds and marshes.

Spring brings many songbirds - goldfinches, warblers, and tree swallows can be seen in the forests and fields. Woodpeckers, hawks, and small mammals are found in the woodlands, croplands, and grasslands. Mixed conifer forests on the bluffs above the delta provide perches for bald eagles and osprey, and a nesting site for a colony of great blue herons. Salmon and steelhead use the estuary for passage to upriver areas.

It is a great place for hiking, wildlife observation, wildlife photography, fishing, and environmental education to learn more about the natural world and the importance of places rich in beauty and biological diversity.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


What a fabulous new group I found on the internet........Sketchercise.

Sketchercise is for people who enjoy sketching AND taking exercise to maintain or improve their health outside a gym!

All you need to do to join this group is enjoy sketching from life (no photos!), have developed the sketching habit, AND have found ways of getting out and about - with a sketchbook. You can walk or cycle or paddle your own canoe - so long as it involves activity and sketching!

Check outSketchercise and view some great art!

There is also Sketchercise on Flickr for those people who would like to give Sketchercise a try - but haven't yet developed the habit.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Advice From Donna Marxer

Donna Marxer is a recognized painter, writer, public speaker, and arts activist. Along with many roles in the art world, she is a regular columnist for Art Calendar magazine and a contributor to national art publications since the '60's. As a labor of love, she is a contributor of a series of oral interviews with older women artists for the National Archives of American Art.

She offers this sage advice: "First and foremost, artists should give up self-pity and do their work. Despair and fear of failure must be fought against as the enemies of creativity. Then, we artists should help one another, share information instead of hugging secrets. When we give out instead of hoarding our hurts, the pain becomes manageable and we are also doing some good for others."

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Fine Arts and Crafts Summer Sale

Signs are up around town advertising this weekend's Fine Arts and Crafts Sale in Olympia. This is a juried show and is known to have high quality art created by artists in the South Sound regions.

I recall several out of town art patrons at the last show who commented about the quality of the artists involved in this show. It is one not to miss.

This is the first weekend and the following weekend will host different artists.

I hope to see YOU there!

Monday, June 8, 2009

More Lupines

I could not resist capturing lupines in another watercolor painting.

This is a newer version of lupines seen through a window. The window is previously painted watercolor paper torn to shape.

Here is a favorite painting I did several years ago. It is one of the earliest watercolor collage paintings; when I began to experiment with this form of creativity.

Lupines Through The Window
Private Collection of Ron and Leslie Case

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Woodard Bay

Today my friend and I visited Woodard Bay Natural Resource Conservation Area; 678 acres of coniferous forest on saltwater bay. A sanctuary for a variety of birds, harbor seals, river otters, bald eagles, a colony of bats, and an important great blue heron rookery. The 678 acres encompass maturing second-growth forest, the waters of Woodard and Chapman bays and a rich history that spans from American Indian use to settlement in the 1850s and Puget Sound's logging era.

It is a good place to come and learn about the former uses and about the area's abundant wildlife -- 175 species of birds have been recorded here. Mink are active during the day, and careful watchers can see these members of the weasel family along the water's edge.

Natural Resources wants to protect the scenic, archaeological, historical, cultural and ecological values in what amounts to an urban wildlife refuge only 15 minutes from downtown Olympia. But the primary concern is ecological values.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Lupine Garden

I first met the incredible large purple lupine when I strolled the Metolius River in Central Oregon. It grew profusely on the stream banks.

My neighbor and I planted a patch two years ago and they have multiplied. They are in full bloom at this time.

Last year I created this painting which is part watercolor collage painting and part traditional watercolor painting. In addition, I cut out a few leaves so that they come forward of the picture plane. Not sure if you can see this clearly on a computer screen?

Lupine Garden

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wildlife Artist of the Year 2009

The Wildlife Artist of the Year Competition offered a platform to many artists from around the world to showcase their work, raised significant funds to save critically endangered wildlife, and helped spread awareness of the desperate plight of wildlife.

Australian artist, Pamela Conder, won the prestigious title of Wildlife Artist of the Year 2009.

Category Winner - Endangered Wildlife
Pamela Conder (Australian) - 'Chimpanzees Reflections on Ageing'

Overall Runner-Up

Category Winner - Wild Places
Paul Bartlett (British) - 'Fading Out'

You can view the online exhibit.

You can also vote for your favourite work in the 'People's Choice' category.

Simply email the title of your favourite to
Your name will be automatically entered into a free prize drawing to
receive a limited edition print of 'After the Rains' and
the winning artist will get a prize too!
Closing date for entries in June 26th.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Gauguin in Portland, Oregon

Gauguin is one of my favorite artists and interestingly ambitious before he so famously found his way to the south pacific and his most iconic works. In 1884 he was busy trying to ingratiate himself amongst the impressionists, then the most vanguard artists at the time. In 1883 Gauguin had decided to become a professional painter, before that having been a stockbroker with a real talent for art. You can see how Gauguin makes even a winter scene look exotic.

Gauguin's Vue d’un jardin, Rouen (1884)

Longtime Portland arts patron Melvin Mark has given the Portland Art Museum Gauguin's Vue d’un jardin, Rouen (Garden View, Rouen) in memory of his recently departed wife, Mary.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Waiting for Inspiration

Wikipedia defines artistic inspiration as sudden creativity in artistic production.

Where does inspiration come from?

Today I was hoping inspiration would show up if I went into my studio. I did not know what to paint? I sat at my drafting table where I create my watercolor paintings and waited. Do I create a collage or a more traditional watercolor painting? What is the subject?

My discipline is to paint at least twenty minutes a day. I felt frustrated, yet compelled to put paint to paper. Many times when I am emotional or wanting to make some connection with Self, I paint a mandala; a Sanskrit word meaning holy or magical circle. Basically, I paint inside a circle which becomes a meditation. Maybe if my mind were quiet, inspiration would find me.

Being an art therapist, I am always asking myself the significance of the images which appear. Today it was a duck with something, figurative-like, on its back. I painted playfully and wondered.

I am beginning to believe that there is a process to spark the creativity whereby inspiration visits. It comes from engaging in art. As the saying goes, "just do it!"