Back in the 70’s and 80’s it was quite common for my late husband and I to railfan up and down the East Coast. We’d make vacations devoted to finding the unusual, distinctive, and forgotten railroads. From our many photos collected, we’d model engines, buildings, and entire scenes immersing ourselves in everything model railroading. With collections still at hand, my primary concentration is painting them in watercolor.
This latest work entitled “Oxford” holds a special meaning. My first memories as a child were of this town where I once lived with both parents, my baby brothers, and a dog named “Lucky”. I remember the sound of the trains, this coal company, and many of Oxford’s buildings. I returned in the 80’s to find the house in which I lived still standing. We’d gone to do what we refer to as “chase trains” and specifically this one because of its roster of Alco engines.
This was the Octoraro Railroad at the time that operated on what had been the Pennsylvania Railroad. This RS-2, was from the Toledo, Peoria, and Western Railroad and sold to the Octoraro in 1983. The photo from which this was taken by me, was entered originally in a Northeast Region photo contest taking first prize in prototype.
I feel grateful to have had so many wonderful opportunities to capture scenes such as this one and conveying that in my latest watercolor.
These days it would seem that my joy comes from helping others learn to express themselves in watercolor. Since mid winter, I have been teaching basic watercolor classes at the Waterford Halfmoon Senior Center. It is quite surprising how students advance when they are interested. Margaret said that she couldn’t paint. This was her first larger work and only the fourth watercolor. With a little guidance, she has completed this vibrant painting.Five students arrived at 2pm to continue work on their “The sky’s the limit” painting which was structured to have them paint sky and water very casually. They picked from provided photocolor copies of various land and sea. Gary liked the simplicity of grasses and dunes and only his third watercolor.Connie had taken a course with me during a convention. She was new to this methodology and had to sketch this time. Her process is structured and patient. She learned through this painting what layering of color is all about. As she practiced, she relaxed. She’s using several watercolor tools (pencil, pen, and 0000 brushes for her grasses) and a bit of white gouache for the froth on the waves.Next friday will be the completion of this session. All plan on framing their paintings. I’m very proud of them!
I’ve been very lucky so far in 2017 to have the time to take two professional watercolor classes with decidedly different approaches. I find both intriguing and am delighted in the results from both instructors. Above are my latest paintings completed in a 3 hr workshop in North Jersey.
Using watercolor pens without an underlying sketch proved interesting. The loose, playful way in which I painted the geranium flowers in the first painting proved that I could “loosen up” as it has an oriental feel which I really like. The second painting was revamped at home darkening the dogwood to reflect more of a shaded environment. In class, we were attempting backgrounds that produced sediment upon mixing two colors together. Here, I used ultramarine lite and burnt umber. The pink cast is opera.
Both paintings will be matted and available at this weekend’s fair…..Niska Day May 20. Come out and visit!
Spring is a time of rebirth and reflection. We have a chance, yet again, to do it differently and with greater awareness. These days, my preference is to walk gently upon the Earth taking time to observe and be grateful for its offerings. I am always amazed by what has lead me to this place. I now delight in remembering the childlike wonderment of my youth always by water; always in the woods. White trillium was painted from a picture I took on a walk with a close friend observing the beautiful Spring holdings of the well known LongwoodGardens https://plantexplorer.longwoodgardens.org/weboi/oecgi2.exe/INET_ECM_FindPl?PLANTNAME=white+trillium&FINDPLANT.x=0&FINDPLANT.y=0 Being in such a beautiful calm place is my church; a sign that God is present in everything. I am always at peace in such surroundings. Painting comes as an extension of this and is centering and grounding.
As a child I found myself embracing all that Nature held, seeking out Jack-in-the pulpit, violets, arum, & indian smoke pipe plants of early Spring. Ferns were facinating to me unfurling with texture and color towards the dappled light of the canopy of trees. Violets of purple and white in abundance were always my first choice for picking. Dozens would be presented to my mother who would place them in a tea cup on the kitchen table. She’d express that I was the only one who ever gave her flowers. Raising three children alone was difficult. Making her smile was the least that could be done.
Artistic drive came early, spending many evenings with my mother doing paint by number oil paintings. Mom would carefully paint within the lines following number by number. As for me, going my own way mixing colors and extending outside of spaces got it start with this medium. To date, I still prefer a different path…
Cards for my mother were crafted from available card stock or construction paper but always held a emblematic red rose on the cover. She’d always say “Just give me one red rose; that’s all I want”. Love became the underlying meaning for the many hours spent drawing and perfecting that one red rose for her. Later it would translate into another medium, photography. The “One Red Rose” photograph taken by me at Longwood Gardens hung in her home till the day she died.
On April 2 I take more “gentle steps” towards being my best self at Spirit Tree Connections http://www.spirittreeconnections.com/. I am very lucky to be teaching in such a wonderful location. I love to share and still look for those gentle smiles as people begin to relax and appreciate what watercolor and art in general has to offer. It is a medium that is theraputic, gentle, playful, and exciting too. I find that my students, if only for a short time, go into themselves and find unsuspected talent and joy. The process for me is quite rewarding. My class is posted on the calendar on the site. Just click on the title for details.