Water World – cold, restrictive, uncaring,
Sitting in it’s dark ——– just staring
At the blackness. Blankness.
Walls Without Windows.
Screaming so loud that no one can hear
In the isolation of my still infinity.
Unmovable arms, muscles pounded by waves.
Strength dissipated by the struggle.
Each year another breath of water
Engulfs my being, body and brain.
Dying Alive. Dark Death.
Arms at my sides grabbing for life.
Rocket screaming energy propels me from a watery grave.
Into the Red-Orange Sky.
Personal Writing by Mary Ahern, May 15, 1978
Illustration: Oil painting with digital overlays in Photoshop.
“The Red-Orange Sky” is the first painting I ever made. It was before I went to college to study art. I was taking Wednesday evening art classes at the YMCA near where I was living in Queens Village. Circa 1974.
The Digital additions for illustration purposes were made in Photoshop November 16, 2013.
5 days a week I go to school
2 days a week I teach
2 days goes to Little League
Dinner 4 x 7 each.
Friday sees the Pathmark grind.
That’s something I really mind!
Listening to my youngest read and
My oldest pitching with incredible speed.
The house gets cleaned maybe once a week
But I’m convinced my life is neat.
Writing by Mary Ahern. May 5, 1978
Pen & Ink Sketch by Mary Ahern, March, 1977
One of the methods I use to visualize my Art is to take snapshots of my models and modify them on my computer. Since I’m not a photographer I only have a small point and shoot camera that I use to take photos in my garden or in my studio.
- I took this snapshot of these orange tulips using natural light in my studio
I import these snapshots onto my computer and using Photoshop I delete the backgrounds, modify the colors and otherwise play around with the image. I print the images from my Epson printers onto matte cardstock papers.
- Using Photoshop on my Mac, I play around with colors and composition
In this particular Art work, after making a completed tonal drawing which I discussed in my previous post, I traced the outline of the tulip onto 300lb hot press paper using a lightbox and a 2H pencil.
Then, using Winsor Newton watercolors, I put down my first layer of paint. Once dry I used my set of Prismacolor colored pencils to draw over the watercolor.
- In this Mixed Media Art work I used colored pencil over watercolor
For some reason I find this process to be very relaxing and meditative for me. If I need some calmness in my life, I can go to my studio at any time and pick up right where I left off. No fuss, no muss, no bother.
There are so many ways to create paintings. As an Artist who has been creating for over 35 years I have developed a variety of methods to arrive at my finished work. Sometimes it is interesting to get a peek behind the process, so here is one style I enjoy.
- Snapshot of some Orange Tulips I used as the basis of this series of Art works
Since I’m not a photographer, I take snapshot of flowers I either buy or grow. I usually select them for color or just for form. I find myself attracted to large bold shapes rather than the more frilly inflorescences. I then decide what mediums I will work in and whether there will be one finished Art work in one or more mediums or whether the work will be part of a series.
I love creating tonal drawings so I often do a finished piece in graphite before I start a painting just because I like the feel of drawing. It also is a great way to work out values of highlights and shading.
- Tonal drawing of a tulip. I use a pair of magnifying lenses which I hook onto my bifocals to help me see the details
If the work is part of a series, I need to imagine the size of each piece and the total overall impression I’m looking for. This ups the level of complexity considerably and actually makes for quite a nice challenge to my visual imagination and my technical consistency.
For a series of work I need to choose the size of each work and the size of the overall series.
I also need to create a composition that stands alone as well as works for the series.
- I used my altered snapshots to help me come up with my composition in this series
My work must not only be accomplished to my own standards for each piece but it must be consistent across all the work. This can be tricky if you don’t create all the work during the same or close to the same period of time.
I was lucky this cold winter week in December. I went to the beach, hung out at the marina, and gazed at flower gardens in full bloom.
You think I’m kidding? Well, I’m not. I was lucky enough to visit the Jacqueline Penney Art Gallery & Studio in Cutchogue Long Island NY. Now this is an Artist who loves sunshine! Take a look at her work at her website http://www.jacquelinepenney.net and then make an appointment to go see and collect her work.
Jackie is a real renaissance woman. She paints, she teaches and she writes books helping others to enjoy the experience of creating Art. She is a sharing and giving human being and it shows in her work.
Her beautifully re-designed 1840’s barn is at once her home, her studio working space and the gallery where she sells her work to the public. This seamless breaking down of boundaries defines a truly creative person. There is no beginning, no end, just the all-encompassing act of creating.
The way she lives and the way she lives her life describes a true Artist.
Jacqueline Penney Art Gallery & Studio
My Garden and my Art work side by side. Both require me to make aesthetic judgements about composition, scale, color, texture and style. When I’m deciding where to plant the flowers I’ve hauled home on my endless trips to the nurseries it doesn’t seem that much different to me then when I’m deciding how to compose them on a two dimensional surface.
I think about what style I’m looking for, what colors will work together, whether the scale of the placement works for me. I think about the type of flower and texture of the leaves. I make decisions about the 3D composition of the garden much like the 2D composition decisions on a painting.
The garden adds so many additional layers of complexity since the artwork is moving in time with nature, the seasons, the elements, and time. The painting remains caught in a moment.
Capturing that ephemeral moment is so gratifying to me in my Fine Art. I control it, unlike my Garden which is usually out of control.
You can visit this Watercolor painting on my website in The Work or you can buy a print of it in The Store.