Sunday, January 29, 2012

Another Wing Study, alcohol ink experimentation.

Today while perusing the many offerings at Craft Warehouse, I happened into the alcohol ink aisle and down the rabbit hole I went. With so many pending projects that need attention, I can scarce afford to point myself in another direction.... but with it's similarity to watercolor, I gave it the green light. After a short while, my day's dilly-dally moment became another expressive piece in my newest "Wings" series. These seemingly disjointed pieces will somehow come together into a wonderful expression of all things winged. 
How to do it? You need a slick surface paper, like Yupo (I used drafting acetate). Water doesn't work too well with the inks, so keep them pretty much away. I did a lot of dripping from the fine tipped bottles of ink and watched mesmerized as the blobs took on a life of their own--mixing with other colors and pushing them out of the way. I used a brush too on the edges and a paper towel for blending. Also a Sharpie and extremely fine tipped archival marker was used to create some stippling and edges. I'm sure there are more advanced techniques, like spraying or using other mediums for resists, etc. Will have to discover more next time.

Brilliant alcohol inks, in a "wing" format

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Wing Study

wing study, watercolor


The morning was filled with brilliant light, hearkening to an impending Spring-time. The warm temperatures made me wistful for the coming months. I felt like a young calf wanting to kick up it's heels after being penned inside the barn for the entire winter.

It seemed like a fitting time to play a bit with watercolor on hot-press. A lighter weight paper, with a bit more vellum cotton in feel, proved a playful surface to begin my series of wing themed artwork. I see that I need to study the actual forms a bit more in order to make this believable and not just an abstract shape. My super fine tip pen added some light stippling off the edges, and a white china marker was used on the surface of the lovely Prussian blue areas, to add the feather-like dimensions.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mandarin Blues, winner announced

Marnelle Sheriff with Mandarin Blues
During the Girls Night Out and Open House event held at my studio in early December, many entered a drawing to win the small oil painting, Mandarin Blues. The display was so delightful, with a quote about the mandarin's connection to Christmas, as well as a variety of the little orange globes scattered about. 
"The mandarin is also called the Christmas orange because it produces fruit in the middle of winter. It was thought to be God's gift to people--a symbol of purity & generosity."
The drawing was held shortly afterwards, and we were pleased to announce that Marnelle Sheriff was the winner of this small painting. Congratulations, Marnelle!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Storm a Brewin'

today's watercolor lesson, landscape study

This small landscape study was my student's focus lesson yesterday. The primary objective was to create strong and dynamic clouds. Onto a very wet page, the dark prussian blue color was laid down first, with a touch of cobalt in the upper right corner. The paper was held upright, allowing the paint to streak down into the white space. Then the tool of the day - a crumpled, dry paper towel - was applied with very firm pressure against the paper's surface, blotting up the paint. Suddenly the white of the paper emerged. The hills and trees were added last. It was a quick little lesson and we all had a great deal of fun "playing" with the landscape.  [I must put a disclaimer here that this was not an original design. I borrowed it from another online artist, Mary Nolan.]

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Though I Walk in Fear

Though not as parodied as da Vinci's Mona Lisa, the popular "Starry Starry Night" by artist Vincent Van Gogh is a close second. There is something about the turbulence of the skies, and movement of the giant cypress trees that evokes a sense of unsettledness, drawing in the viewer. I understand he was trying to represent the motion of the wind and the glittery nature of the stars in this famous nighttime painting.

I chose to use this artwork as a model, in my interpretation of one fearful night in a region quite like our own--with arborvitaes and basalt cliffs. It is the first of a 3-part commissioned series that follows a familiar Bible Psalm--taking the viewer from this fearful yet hopeful location to a place of calm waters and then finally to a glorious place of renewal.

... though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Thou art with me ... (after van Gogh)  ©Laura Gable 2012


Posting Friday's snowbound memory painting... with an attempt to balance the expanse of white and tiny yellow sunset line with the grasses in the foreground, in a looser approach.

"Snowbound" 6x6 oil on panel board  ©Laura Gable 2012
And some wisdom from Montana artist Carolyn Anderson (, who creates expressive, loose, impressionistic oil painting with great economy of stroke. She has a lot to say about impressionism, edges, and the craft of painting:

"Realist painting comes with its own set of parameters and craft can certainly be one of them. But I have yet to agree that craft alone will make a great painting. Craft without creativity is only part of the equation. When we make judgments about what is acceptable, or not, what is good, or not, and what “realism” is, or is not, we end up narrowing the possibilities of what our paintings can be.  Painting is about learning to see  - and hopefully, sharing how we see and what is visually important to us with others. We share a responsibility to interpret, not to try and re-create. We need to be open to the adventure of exploring, visual information. If we accept that what we paint can never be “real”, then we should be able to take our “reality” and see it in new and interesting ways.

[And regarding edges of things] In painting edges are the transition between shapes, values, and color. They help to define or diminish form. Used creatively, edges in painting are areas of translation – allowing one area to become another. Everything is connected to everything else. A favorite book states, “how the pieces are connected to each other is at least as important as what the pieces are." As an artist, you question the reality of what you are seeing. Instead of going in and drawing that shape as an outline, you draw where you see an edge. A lot of people are taught to start with the  outline. I'm saying that the outline is not a reality. You start with what catches your eye, which has a lot to do with the quality of the light."

A divergent path today

A few days ago, I was thinking about this kid who sat behind me in 1st grade--he was missing an eye. Whenever the teacher would leave the room he would pull on my shirt sleeve until I would turn around, then he would plunge his eye socket open wide, forcing me to peer inside. I admit I was a bit curious, yet quite frightened. My reaction today would be quite different. I know I would placate both my younger self, and the odd little boy who thought he could frighten girls with his oddity. Yes it's a bit of a different painting for me. I've always thought art was a healing tool, so perhaps by painting this, I'm healing some little part of myself that was still bound up by this memory of the past.

creepy eye socket  ©Laura Gable 2012

Long Shadows of Mid Winter

Long Shadows  ©Laura Gable 2012

"In the bleak mid-winter, the snow lay on the ground." A favorite stanza from a Christmas carol comes to mind as I peered out the window yesterday morning to this most beautiful sight. I love it when the sunlight streams through the neighbor's arborvitas and onto the glistening snow covered lawn. Hard to capture, but I've made an attempt here in oils for a quick "sketch."  

Realism, and D-R-A-W-ing advice

"Morning Light" watercolor on 140# paper   ©Laura Gable 2012

This is a watercolor in a very realistic style I did last month (with just a few strokes of reflected light added today). It was painted from a photograph, with a few liberties taken in the background and shadows. If I were to observe this from life, I would discover that there is more to be seen in the dark shadow areas. Watercolor has the wonderful capability of blending two colors together by themselves without any assistance from the brush. That's my favorite part of working with watercolors, much different from the way oils behave.
On another note, I'm reading a book called "Learn Watercolor the Edgar Whitney Way," a distinguished artist, who in his day trained many of our current masters. He discusses the value of drawing, which I thought was relevant, since we've got so many diligent sketchers here...

    "In his last class at the Pratt Institute where he had taught for so many years, high on the front wall of the classroom, as large as he possibly could, he wrote the word D R A W. Then he underlined the word and took the line down the wall across the floor to the opposite wall, and up as high as he could, he wrote "Good luck, goodbye."
     It was his way of ramming into his students' heads the importance of drawing. He felt passionately that drawing was the absolute foundation of visual art. "Without draftsmanship--the discipline endured and the mastery achieved--your work will have limited context. It will lack the essential quality of ease and the sense of power."
     He told his students, the way to learn to draw was to draw everything, everywhere in sketchbooks, the more frequent, the more fast thinking and skill one gains. Ten minutes ten times a day is better than six hours once a week. Great draftsmen were eliminators, putting down only essentials, and this skill can be learned with a sketchbook because the limited time teaches you what is important and what isn't. You have to discipline yourself until drawing everywhere and at all times becomes a habit.
     Remember when you're sketching, you're not after results. The drawing is not important--the experience is. Your emotion and your degree of understanding leak through the pencil or brush onto the paper as you make your stroke."

Stylized Still Life's

The nest is taking form here in my home studio, at least I have uncovered the paint tubes so I can paint with fresh color. I'm standing at the drafting table, with reflected light off snow easing it's way in through the north facing windows. I painted these little still life's, but have been dismayed by the deeply intense colors on the mandarin and the greens. I chose not to paint the red studio wall which was behind my little still life, and today I realized that's why I'd visually adjusted those colors. We continue to learn when we aren't even near the brushes. Anyway I stylized the images in Photoshop because I liked a friend's effortless, computer Painted images: "Olive and Mandarin, after Rastovich"

Some sort of green "olive-ish" form, stylized with "paint daubs" setting in Photoshop

Screaming orange mandarin "Look at Me!" stylized with "paint daubs" setting in Photoshop
Images ©Laura Gable 2012

Monday, January 16, 2012

MLK day tribute song, and sketchbook page.

In honor of Martin Luther King day, here is a beautiful rendition of James Taylor's song, "Shed a Little Light." It has a very powerful message, and is a great one to hear again and again.

peace dove (and apple of great deliciousness)   ©Laura Gable 2012
I'm also posting a page from my sketchbook that is a bit relevant. Today I added the dove, which holds a message of peace. I love the movement of birds wings, especially the white dove. The feathers are almost translucent--a sharp contrast to the softness of the sky. My little dove has a halo, as I felt he took on a saintly quality. "Dream a little dream, and Love to all."

I'm not especially sure why I fill up blank spots on sketchbook pages that are already in progress as with this apple study, and intensity scale that I painted a few months ago. Doesn't everyone have a multitude of sketchbooks, only to work in the one closest at hand when the creative impulse strikes ... or do they fill up one book and then go to the next? No matter how disciplined I try to be, I seem to be the more random artist.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


A very fitting and relevant quotation from Julia Cameron, of The Artist's Way, as I am taking a little down time from the studio at the moment.

"An artist must have downtime, time to do nothing. Defending our right to such time takes courage, conviction, and resiliency. Such time, space, and quiet will strike our family as a withdrawal from them. It is ... An artist requires the upkeep of creative solitude. An artist requires the time of healing alone. Without this period of recharging, our artist becomes depleted... We strive to be good, to be nice, to be helpful, to be unselfish. We want to be generous, of service, of the world. But what we really want is to be left alone. When we can't get others to leave us alone, we eventually abandon ourselves. To others, we may look like we're there. We may act like we're there. But our true self has gone to ground. Over time, it becomes something worse than out of sorts. Death threats are issued."

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mulling over a book concept, sketches, and cards

The Book Artists Group that I am a part of is having a show at our local Allied Arts Gallery in March. I enjoy the concept of book making, though I am not a true book builder who focuses on the various bindings and such. I love the look of these books, but the process is a bit tedious for my level of focus. The books I create often have a painted element in them, and tend to be a bit more free form, and are often wall hangings. I have done a series of long linear pieces, that take off on the Japanese scroll concept with a visual depiction of Kuan Yin (the goddess of compassion). I'll post the finished book here in the next post.

I am planning a new series of books that address the concept of growing up in a family business. My family owned a motel for the duration of my childhood, moving there when I was age 5 in the middle of my kindergarten year. There has been a progression of events that occurred at the motel, and I suppose the chores that went along with it could be compared to growing up on a farm--a business as well. This story has many veins and will make a fine book series.

These ideas have been percolating for awhile and I have about 3 directions to take with this book idea. A dear artist friend suggested that I do a small mockup and so that is my next perceived step. In the meantime, I have busied myself with keeping the drawing hand fluid, and also a bit of painting and card-making. It seems my creative solutions come more freely when I am doing something ... rather than just trying to solve it all with my brain. I think that is called a "process-artist". Will post some images soon of these book ideas.

Sketch of the nook over my fireplace shown in the background.  ©Laura Gable 2012

Some of the assembled Valentine's cards
(thank you DS Watkins, for the creative concept)  ©Laura Gable 2012

A poinsettia card I did in December at the painting class at the Cancer Center.
©Laura Gable 2012

New sketchbook, funny sketch

new sketchbook from

"Bound Up!" a sketch
Just have a little bit today... a new delicious sketchbook from Heron Dance, a quick sketch called "Bound Up!" and some musings on quotes I've recently read and the "art" of being an artist.

Sometimes we've got so much creativity inside, that we can't find the means or the tools to get it out ... or we don't fully set aside the attention and time that it demands. Not all efforts are quick nor do they come with ease, some take longer -- "a percolation" if you will. According to Maya Lin, "It is a process of percolation, with the form eventually finding its way to the surface."

In the words of Martha Graham,
"There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening
That is translated through you into action,
and because there is only one you in all time,
This expression is unique,

...It is not your business to determine how good it is,
Nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions.
It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly,
To keep the channel open."

Thursday, January 12, 2012


This was one of my new year's even sketches. It has an eyeball, yet egg yolk feel. I am enjoying this vein of sketches that have been coming up when I "free-draw". Once I get the home studio set up I can do more quick paintings as well. I feel it's important to keep the hand moving. These sketches that draw on the imagination are challenging that as well.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Protective tree

The large tree painting, still in progress  ©Laura Gable 2012
Close up of the sunflower in the shadow of the tree
©Laura Gable 2012
My tree painting has been in progress for months it seems. It's been "parked" in the charcoal state, though recently I had added the Buff Titanium gesso around the branches and applied Retouch Varnish to set the charcoal. I enjoy using charcoal directly on the canvas, as it is more tactile and has great movement, especially when using sweeping arm motion on a large canvas.

Today I added the oil paint color on the bottom, and a bit of opalescent shine to the top most branches. I don't use shimmer very often, as it can sometimes look a bit glitzy or cheap. So I took a chance this time. The painting's story is set in my midwestern homeland, with the stalwart elm and earnest sunflower who thrives in the protective shadow of the immense tree. 

The spiritual significance became clearer to me today. Growing together in a symbiotic state, and interconnected, we thrive. We need each other. One could even attach a deeper spiritual connotation to the enormous tree -- who's branches disappear into the ether at the top. It's open to interpretation and I'm sure we all will see something clearly different. I enjoy the story behind the art.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Gutter Flotsam

I'm calling these photos "gutter-flotsam" ... little bits of green and red and yellow in the gutter out front of the studio. These flecks are mixed in with the little mounds of leaves, feathers and branches. On closer examination today I think I've solved the mystery as to what it is. I recall one day last week when my "upslope" neighbor, Perfection Glass, had their front windows cleaned by a professional crew. What was once a group of festive wreaths painted on their windows, is now flecks and specks of color in the gutter.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Doodle, too

While chatting with a family member, this funny little sketch came about. Without a clear plan, the pen moves about as we discuss all manner of things--from socks to football to nephews to weather ... and of course, vast discussions about food. With her wickedly fancy head-piece, she sort of reminds me of Cindy-loo-hoo from the Grinch movie. Always important to keep a little bit of fun involved in the artistic process!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Book Art Project, complete

©Laura Gable 2012

My Kuan Yin Book is done. She is 60" long and 10" wide, and made of paper and matt board. Colored with colored pencil and china marker. I've shown here here long and with a close up of the top and then the bottom. At this point I have decided not to fold her, and just am considering her a wall hanging variety of book. She will be part of the upcoming Book Artist's show in March at the Allied Arts Gallery.

Friday, January 6, 2012


©Laura Gable 2012
Joining my friends from the art-a-day blog on the sketch verve today, I've sketched a quick image from an old photo. It's much more difficult to sketch from photos than from life ... but since I missed today's session for figure drawing at the 509Art Space, this will suffice. (It's just a quickie, and worked the face over a bit in Photoshop using brush and eraser tools after discovering I hadn't accounted for the glow on the shadow side of the face).

Here's a link to this fun interactive blog, that my local peers and several other artists are participating in.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Book Art Project, nearly complete

"Peace" colored pencil and mixed media on paper, ©Laura Gable
Here she is in a long linear fashion (10" wide x 60" long), totally sketched and almost finished with the coloring. I opted for the white china marker (like a grease pencil) which looks so fabulous on a black background (just black gesso, by the way) and then I've colored it in colored pencils since they were within reach. It's actually quite subtle in color ... a departure from the others that were quite vibrant. Any suggestions whether she needs to be fully colored ... I sort of like the partially colored areas.

The ends have to be attached and then folded to become the "book" format ... I'm liking her so much at this point I don't want to fold her, but will do so to complete the book.

(bear with me on the photo - my cell takes low res photos ... so will take one with the other camera next time).

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Book Art Project

She stands in a prayerful and compassionate way, holding a lotus flower and chanting "om mani padme hum." This is the beginning sketch for the book I am creating, the 4th in my series of Kuan Yin inspired long linear books that can be hung vertically. Besides doing the sketch, I have prepped the paper (10" wide x 60" tall) and started coloring the transferred sketch. I'm just having difficulty photographing it because it is so long ... and piecing it together in Photoshop is looking goofy. Will try again soon.

Not sure if the quote I wrote here will make it into the art, but am posting it so you can better read it:

"Meditate dawn and dusk.
When you see sunrise - it is beautiful.
When you see sunset - it is beautiful.
This is God working in the atmosphere
to increase the vibration
and calm the mind."
- Kuan Yin

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Rambling Pen

While choosing to let the pen meander automatically as mind was distracted by the new year blooming in various parts of the world, this series of sketches on lined note-paper emerged. Though just a few spilled from December into January and 2011 into 2012, I'm still counting it as day 1 of the Art-a-Day challenge (see As I observe their similar egg-yolky theme, I wonder where they will go, or if this sketch phase is their full expression.

©Laura Gable 2012

Art-A-Day Challenge

Calling all artists, express your creative self by taking the January challenge to create art daily: