Nature Creates Art

I just completed a new work, inspired by the flight of starlings.  For years I have watched in awe as a flock of birds take flight to dramatically form a series of changing patterns in the sky.  In perfect synchronicity, the flock swoops, changes direction, and the pattern seamlessly morphs into a new shape.  The shapes are liquid in the sky, as they blend from one organic shape to the next.  Inspired, I wondered how to capture this on paper with paint?

This spring, I took a 1/2 sheet of watercolor paper and poured a sky that blended from blue to golden as it touched the desert horizon.  Big sky in Nevada.  By pouring paint in a series of glazes,  underlying layers are preserved while developing a depth of color and enhanced luminosity.  This beautiful background needed a center of focus- the birds I have been forever dreaming about!

How to start?  How to capture the dynamic fluidity of this aviary phenomenon?  Each night I dreamed how I would approach the painting.  Each morning I awoke and found I couldn’t attempt it.  I didn’t know how to begin; I couldn’t feel “the flow. ”  Finally I settled on my pigments- Windor blue shade, alizarin crimson permanent, and burnt sienna. I  made a small practice painting.

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“Flight Before the Storm”

Encouraged with the results of that bird study and before I could “chicken out,” I jumped into the large painting.  I knew the painting would either end as an unmitigated disaster, or it would become a delightful surprise.  Each time I reloaded the brush, I added a different pigment to my palette mixture from my base colors to influence the tone.  The dynamic shape of the flock subtly changed in hue as it grew on my paper.   I continued to add defined bird shapes to the edges and loose bird groupings in the center, striving for a strong abstract shape and interesting movement throughout the painting.  The painting succeeds in capturing the dynamic movement of a flock of birds in the dance of flight.

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Nature inspires wildlife to create beautiful creations of their own.  Enjoy this video showing a pufferfish creating a beautiful mandala to attract a mate.  Pufferfish 

More:

Left to right, clockwise:  Millipede, exhibiting its main defense mechanism, curling into a spectacular spiral, which protects its legs inside its body.  A celestial spiral, the Aurora Borealis, in the skies above Churchill, Manitoba, Canada.  Finally, a collection of diatoms, microscopic algae.  These images were found on National Geographic.  Enjoy more here: National Geographic link

The Ah Haa School of the Arts in Telluride is still accepting registrations for my watercolor class.  To register, click the following link: Cheri Isgreen Watercolor Workshop

New Work 2017 “Break in the Clouds”

After seeing my “After School” painting, a good friend sent me a photo she took while traveling in Nicaragua, which she said reminded her of my narrative painting.  (see March 31 post- After School)  I thought the photo would be a perfect subject for a poured watercolor approach.  I will be teaching this technique in Telluride, CO this summer.  If you are intrigued by this method, you can register with this link- poured watercolor workshop

As with many of my paintings, the first step is a study in ink or pencil.  Lately I have been using ink.  These studies are important to determine values for the many pours, along with defining edges and movement in the painting.

1 break

After transferring the drawing to 140 pound Arches watercolor paper, I begin masking and pouring the multiple layers of color and value.  Now that Adobe Photoshop is so popular, many more people understand the process of poured watercolor.  One must think in layers from light to dark.  Details can be painting early and masked, or the area can be defined after all the masks have been removed and the layers integrate into a composition.  I do both depending on the colors needed and the type of detail I will be adding.  Street scenes have far more fussy details than the landscape and horse compositions I have been pouring, so I’ve been improvising the best ways to define details.  If the details have complimentary color in the adjacent background, it works best to paint and mask the details before pouring to keep the colors pure.

After the final pour is dry, the mask can be removed.  This is the time to clean up edges, define shapes, and resolve the composition.  Sometimes this step is like unwrapping a present; the painting revealed under all the drips, masks, layers, and pours is glowing and almost done.  Other times, removing the mask presents a conundrum; how do I pull all the elements together?  This painting presented a conundrum.  I studied this step of the painting for several days before adding the final touches.

4 break

After much study, I cleaned up the painting and started to add dabs of paint in ways that would unify the artwork.  This took a few days, some brainstorming, some problem solving, and outside eyes to discuss where things needed to go.  I was pleased with the solution.  This painting evolved organically, and the original painting I saw in my mind’s eye was not the final result you see here.  As artists, we must be flexible and listen to what the painting is telling us.

Break in the Clouds (1)

New Works 2017

I have two shows coming up this spring/summer.  My solo show opens in June at the Gunnison Gallery.  I will also be showing in June with Debbie Watkins, fiber artist and Lynn Vogle, fiber/metal artist at Backstreet in Montrose.  New works for these shows will feature my flower/garden paintings, watercolor works developed from my sketches and photos from Mexico this past winter, and of course more horse paintings.

This series of photos shows my process; how I create from initial studies/ ink drawing to final watercolor painting.

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Ink drawing from sketch book

 

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Underpainting, blocking in shapes, directional lines, values
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finished painting; to purchase visit this link:  purchase form

New Work: Watercolor Florals

orchidsOrchids is my newest painting.  After blocking in the basic composition, (two flowers on the upper and mid left and a long vertical for the stem), I created most of this work through negative painting.  I painted a series of dark saturated colors in a “blocky” wash, grading from very dark and cool at the top to warmer and lighter on the bottom.   I dropped a line of permanent rose from the top orchid, through the  bottom orchid , which creates movement through the background, as it also ties the two flowers together visually.  My goal was to create an abstract painting behind the flowers, which makes a more dynamic background.  Use of negative painting and lots of white highlights give the flowers drama.

I wanted the orchid stem to flow into the background at the bottom of the painting.  The background wash drips onto a light warm field of  raw sienna.  The orchid stem grades from dark blues-green into red and finally becomes part of the background drips.

Orchids was painted on 1/4 sheet of Arches 140# cold press paper.  Image size: 7.5″ x 22″  Matted size 12.5″ X 27″  $350

I will be teaching several watercolor workshops in 2017.  Each session will focus on different techniques, concepts, and effects.  Please visit my workshop link to find a class near you: watercolor workshop schedule

 

more new floral watercolors below:

 

New Works at Redstone Art Gallery

My new series of flower paintings began as an experiment, overpainting some older work that I was not happy with.  Since the original paintings were not dear to me, I was embolden to try a variety of techniques to create something new.  To further break the direction of the original paintings, I tore the paintings in half and changed the orientation from vertical to horizon.  Adding a touch of gold to some of the petals added a dash of drama to complete these paintings.  For more details on the painting of these experimental works, visit:  Poppies by Moonlight  and Spring Experiments.

Taking fresh, white paper I built on knowledge gained from these experiments and pushed the envelope even more.  With saturated color, drips, blends, splatters, stamps, and bold strokes, these paintings are filled with joy and playfulness.  They can be seen at the Redstone Art Gallery, 173 Redstone Blvd, Redstone, CO.  The Gallery is open daily from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  Stephanie and Michael, the gallery owners can be reached at 970-963-3790.  These paintings from my new series and more can be seen at the Redstone Art Gallery.  Plan a trip to Redstone, visit the gallery, have lunch at the Inn, and then take the Redstone Castle tour at 1:30.