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Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas 2012

Silent Night
40x30", acrylic
Performance Painting
This turned out to be a creatively busy Christmas season for me. When I am not painting in my studio I often have the privilege of receiving invitations to do event painting. It is also called performance painting. On December 7th, I painted during a Chuck Limbrick Christmas concert at the Stargazers Theater. Sharing the stage with the musically gifted "Mystro" and his friends was energizing and incredibly fun. Add an enthusiastic audience and I am in painting heaven!

I was given a lot of freedom to paint whatever I wanted. A Colorado winter scene came to mind...snow...the stillness of the night as the wind lay still...heavily blanketed trees... the light of a shining star...the faint signs of a path...thoughts of Christmas.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Visiting Northern England: "Guise Cliff" - Painting Nidderdale

Stage 4: Painting the valley.

As I paint this scene of Nidderdale, I am amazed, once again, at the colors of  northern England in late winter. The countryside reminds me of a giant patchwork quilt sprinkled with farms and houses, accented by the market town, Pateley Bridge, in the midst of it all. It truly is a beautiful place to wander and explore.
Stage 5: Completing the valley.
At last, I am ready to paint the drama of the foreground.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Visiting Northern England: Guise Cliff/ Painting the Horizon

Detail portion of the horizon: Painting Guise Cliff

Stage 3: Painting the horizon. Since this is a 48 x 36" canvas that I'm working on, I decided to divide the painting into sections and complete as much of each section as possible before moving on to the next.
Transitioning from the sky to the horizon I tried to keep the feel of the palette knife strokes consistent as one flowed into the other.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Visiting Northern England: Guise Cliff

Detail Portion of the Sky
"Guise Cliff"
Rita Salazar Dickerson

I painted the sky today. After taking a necessary painting break to help my husband, Robert, recover from surgery, it felt good to get back to my easel.

I am reminded of what a privilege it is to be an artist.

Stage 1: Brushing in the composition of the landscape with a wash of Burnt Sienna.

Stage 2: Painting the sky with a palette knife.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Colorado Color

Colorado Color
9 x 6". Acrylic
Rita Salazar Dickerson
Autumn in Colorado. Two weeks ago the colors by the Arkansas River near Salida were golden with accents of red and deep green. It was a warm, breezy day - no coats required.  As my husband, Robert, fished, I painted.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Visiting Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany Color Study
9 x 6", acrylic on panel
Rita Salazar Dickerson
It almost seems like a dream to me now. It was a warm, fall day. I sat in the shade underneath a fruit tree and looked out upon this scene of rich greens and sienna colored roof tops. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Visiting Siena, Italy

Often times, it is the surprises in life that are the most memorable. Take my visit to Italy, for an example. I was surprised to find myself there. It was not a trip I had spent months pondering on, but when the opportunity presented itself, I didn't hesitate to accept.

After the late arrival in Tuscany the night before, the plan was to spend a good part of the following day visiting Siena. Walking through her narrow cobblestone streets, our first destination was the Duomo, a cathedral so beautifully unique that I still find myself thinking about it today. 
Lupa At The Duomo
3 1/2 x 5 1/2", (sketch book) Ink Pen
Rita Salazar Dickerson 
It was a mild October afternoon. Before entering the cathedral, I sat outside enjoying the view of the main entrance. Breathtaking. This column of the female wolf (lupa), the symbol of Siena, with the two small figures underneath her, captured my attention.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Village Church In Tuscany
5 1/2 x 3 1/2 (sketch book) Ink Pen
Rita Salazar Dickerson
We arrived late at night in Tuscany. With the car's headlights, the only distinctions that I noticed as we drove up and down the narrow, winding, country roads was the relatively warm, dry air and the tall Cypress trees that occasionally loomed over us - silhouetted against the dark sky. And so the next morning I was excited to see the great contrasts to what I had been seeing in England.

Our first goal was to visit Siena. Along the way we stopped briefly at a little village. I only had a few minutes to draw and so I looked up to see this church with its simple yet interesting roof line. I had to forgive myself for all of the imperfections from the moment I started - reminding myself that the purpose of this sketch was to study the lines, note the perspective of the bell tower - and to draw a memory!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Visiting Northern England: Bolton Abbey

Bolton Abbey
5 1/2 x 3 1/2" (sketch book) Ink Pen
Rita Salazar Dickerson
I had packed my little paint box with its built in easel and made plans to find the perfect spot to sit down and paint this scene. The air was brisk and the clouds floated by like cotton candy. The wind was fairly strong at times so I walked a three mile path around the grounds of this beautiful abbey, then ate my picnic lunch -  all the while waiting for it to calm down. It never did. And so I perched myself on the grassy bank of the River Wharfe and drew it instead.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Visiting Northern England: The Seven Bridges

One Of The Seven Bridges
5 1/2 x 3 1/2", (sketch book) Ink Pen
Rita Salazar Dickerson
I loved this walk through part of Deer Park near Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden. Many of the giant, wide old trees are gnarled, twisted and so full of character I wanted to hug them! The walk was enchanting and mysterious as we strolled along and eventually crossed over seven handmade bridges. With the air being still the only sounds we heard (besides our footsteps) were of birds calling out to each other and the stream as it flowed over the stones. (I think the pheasant were having a convention there. The bushes and tall grasses were full of them.) 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Visiting Northern England: Royal Pump Room, Harrogate

Everything fell in to place this morning, I visited Harrogate and had decided on sketching the Royal Pump Room, a beautiful building with lots of shapes and angles. Although it wasn't raining I imagined myself shivering in the cool, damp air. (I packed rain gear.) My daughter Emily dropped me off in front of the historical building and we made plans for her to pick me up in an hour and a half. There were two benches nearby but what I spotted next was perfect. A coffee shop, Cafe at Rasmus. (It is part of a contemporary furniture store that just recently turned some of their space into the coffee shop.) It is located across the street from the museum with a perfect view of it. There was an available table at the window, it couldn't have been more ideal. I ordered a mocha and settled in.
The Royal Pump Room, Harrogate
5 1/2 x 3 1/2" (sketch book) Ink Pen
Rita Salazar Dickerson

As usual, I chose something much more complicated than I thought it would be. I could have spent the entire time on the "crown" alone that rests so prettily at the top of the main building. As it turned out, it was a good drawing exercise on many levels and I enjoyed every moment.

Underneath the "crown", above the door, is an engraved sign that says, ARX CELEBRIS FONTIBUS which means "a citadel famous for its springs". (I must admit I was hoping it would translate into something a little more dramatic than that. But still, its good.)

I love England.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Visiting Northern England: The Back Gate

The rain continues. My boots are still wet from yesterday's adventure and so I've stayed inside to read and draw. Mostly draw.

The Back Gate
3 1/2 x 5 1/2, (sketch book) Graphite
Rita Salazar Dickerson
This scene from the kitchen window has always entertained me. The curious little 21st century version of a weather vain that is perched on top of the trellis looks deceptively simple. As its little arms spin and turn in the wind and rain it is able to read the weather at all levels: temperature, wind speed, barometric pressure, future forecast, dew point and even the moon phase. Regardless of all that, I just wanted to draw it. I like the way it sits at an angle adding contrast to everything else that seems so timeless and traditional.

P.S. The little specks you see on the distant hills are sheep. And the grounds where I went to the Nidderdale Show yesterday are completely flooded today.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Visiting Northern England: The Old Granary Tea Shop

The Old Granary Tea Shop
5 1/2 x 3 1/2 (sketch book) ink sketch
Rita Salazar Dickerson
Today was a rainy day and as I write about it this evening, it still continues to pour down. It was also the day for the yearly Nidderdale Show. Regardless of the weather, the agricultural show in Pateley Bridge went on as planned and I was determined to see it. I dressed in layers and put on every bit of rain gear I could gather. I packed my little sketch book in the outer pocket of my backpack along with pens and pencils. Even though my backpack had a rain cover, I was still paranoid about the risk of rain water reaching my sketch book so I dressed it in layers also: two small sandwich bags and then one quart size outer layer just for good measure. I was excited about walking in the rain. For added protection I took my red umbrella. In the end, regardless of all the layers, I still managed to get wet. The wind blew the rain at an unmerciful angle and puddles, resembling small ponds, were so deep at times I had to find new routes around them.

Once I arrived my desire to draw something of interest faded when I realized how impractical it would be to even think about setting my backpack down to retrieve my sketch book. The rain continued to soak the ground inside and outside of the tents. My boots could not escape the soft, deep mud or the puddles; the earth was saturated.

At this point I decided to walk around and just enjoy all that the show had to offer. Even on this rain soaked day the well groomed animals were a pleasure to see and the numerous competitions in various categories was impressive.

As I walked back through Pateley Bridge I passed The Old Granary Tea Shop. It looked warm and inviting. A few minutes later I turned around and  headed back to its front door. A table at the left front window was available, waiting for me. At last, the backpack came off, the sketch book came out and as I ordered hot tea and a walnut date scone I looked around for something to draw. As the waitress placed my order in front of me I decided not to think too hard and settled on the pot of tea, the creamer and my cup and saucer. I was going to draw the delicious scone but it was warm and I was hungry.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Visiting Northern England: Glasshouses Methodist Church

When I visited Northern England for the first time last winter, each day was treasured. I was in awe of the breathtaking scenery, the seemingly endless rolling green hills dotted by such an interesting variety of sheep, and then there were the wonderful foot paths. I couldn't get enough of it all. And when the opportunity came to visit a second time this year, I took it. So here I am, back again, and loving every minute of my precious time here.

Glasshouses Methodist Church
3 1/5 x 5 1/2" (sketch book), ink pen
Rita Salazar Dickerson

 I have been admiring this little church in the village of Glasshouses for quite some time now. All the different angles of the roof  inspired me to draw it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Visiting Northern England: Final Painting # 7

Oil on canvas, 24x12"
Rita Salazar Dickerson
It felt good to work in my studio tonight. Other painting obligations pulled me away from this painting and I was beginning to wonder when I would get back to this little trio of ewes. Their shaggy wool coats covering such well rounded expectant bellies was entertaining to me especially when the sun enhanced them so brilliantly.
Stage 1: Painting in the drawing

Stage 2: Blocking in the colors.

Stage 3: Blocking in completed

Stage 4: Adding texture.

Stage 5: Completed painting with the 10x8" color study. I cropped the final composition. This visually pulls in the viewer and adds a more interesting design.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Painting Of A Cat

Buster's Friend
10x8", Oil on canvas
Rita Salazar Dickerson
Painting this little cat portrait was a treat for me.

Stage 2: I blocked in the major shapes and colors.
I have known this kitty for years and have always wanted to paint him.

Stage 1: Drawing the cat with a thin wash of Burnt Sienna and mineral spirits.
 The circumstances had to be just right. At last I seized the opportunity.

 His long silky hair and unique markings along with a lazy, relaxed pose and nonchalant attitude set the stage for a fun little painting.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Visiting Northern England: Final Painting # 6

There is a place in England,
along the River Nidd.
Where winter snows fall gently down,
the grass beneath is hid.

There is a place in England,
a place I love to go.
Where twisted trees and branches grow,
to catch the falling snow.

Rita Salazar Dickerson

Reflections On The River Nidd II
24x20", Oil on canvas
Rita Salazar Dickerson
When I saw this scene as I walked from the village, Pateley Bridge, I was so excited that I took photo after photo of it with each picture looking almost exactly the same. Sometimes I stood, other times I knelt, and a couple of times I leaned from one direction to the other. I wanted to capture this memory in the best possible light, angle and composition. In the end, I decided on this simple, straight forward view because of the trees. The grouping in the middle reminded me of a Chihuly sculpture with each tree twisting and moving in a different direction.

I started with a simple line drawing that I free handed with a number 2 filbert brush and a thin wash of paint (four parts mineral spirits to one part Torrit Grey, though any dark color will do).

Next, I blocked in the darkest value and then began painting in the light purple sky.

At this stage, I finished blocking in of all the colors. I always tell myself that this part will be quick and easy; it rarely ever is. Painting around these simple tree shapes was a lot more difficult than I had imagined.

 I completed the painting with the the second layer, wet-on-wet, using brushes and palette knives - and generous amounts of paint.

I didn't do a small study of this painting because I originally hadn't planned on painting it. But after completing the first Reflections On The River Nidd (See Visiting Northern England: Completed Painting # 2, July 15, 2012), I yearned for another winter scene of North Yorkshire and here it is.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Visiting North Yorkshire: Final Painting #5

Oil on canvas, 24x30"
Rita Salazar Dickerson
I have never thought about a sheep looking confident before, but this one looked like she really had it together.

There was something about the way she stood and gazed at me with her dark eyes.

Her striking dark face and legs were the perfect contrast to her luxurious, wool coat and white muzzle.

The sheep's horns added movement and texture.

Since I was working wet-on-wet I wanted to complete the face and horns during the first session.

Using my color study as a guide, I knew which colors to mix for blocking in the entire painting.

I liked this zigzag effect that the stone fences created in the composition.

Once the painting is completely blocked in I can usually tell whether I am going to like it or not. I was so excited to mix large amounts of paint and start completing the entire piece.

The nice thing about painting a small study first is that I have given myself time to think about the composition and decide what I like about it and what I would like to change in the final piece. In this instance, I realized I wanted the focus to be on the sheep and took out much of the background.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Visiting Northern England: Final Painting #4

oil on canvas, 24x18"
Rita Salazar Dickerson
This is the fourth painting in my Visiting Northern England series. After doing twenty-one small studies I am now choosing my favorites from those and painting larger versions. Here is the step by step sequence of how this painting was completed.

Stage 1: Painting in the loose lines of the landscape.

Stages 2: Blocking in the darkest value.

                                                                    Stage 3: Blocking in the purples and blues.

Stage 4: Adding the green to the trees.

Stage 5: Completing the blocking in of the green in the trees.

Stage 6: Painting in the tree trunks and branches.

Stage 7: Adding detail to the trees using a palette knife. I painted wet-on-wet.

Stage 8: Completing the detail in the trees with a palette knife.

Stage 9: Painting in the fence.

Stage 10: Using a palette knife I completed the detail of the wood and stone fence.

Stage 11: I completed the painting by blocking in the foreground and then finishing it with a palette knife. And then my favorite part,  comparing the final painting with the 10x8" study. I used more color and texture throughout the final painting.