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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Angel Christmas Ornaments

 I've had angels on my mind this Christmas season. Ever since I painted angels on stage in Lincoln, Nebraska earlier this month, I have thought about angels. They are so much a part of the Christmas story. And so when it came time to create my annual ornaments for my family, I decided to paint something similar to my "Musical Angels" but with a personal twist: the angels would represent each loved one. It was fun pulling out my pen and ink, using the quill pen as well as a small brush to depict each of them. I enjoy working with ink; the colors are vibrant and fun. I personalized the inside of the card by adding the family names and the year, 2013. From there I punched holes and added ribbon so that they could be easily hung from the tree.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Performance Painting: "Musical Angels"

When I am not painting in my studio, I enjoy painting on stage.

In early October of this year I received an email from the music director of a church in Lincoln, Nebraska. He had seen the YouTube video of me painting my "Musical Angels" and was in the process of planning special events for the December services. He asked if I was available to come and paint the angels. I am so glad that I was!

I flew into Lincoln on a Thursday, bought the canvases, paints and supplies and was ready for rehearsal with the band on Saturday.
When I am about to paint on stage, beginning and completing a painting in a short amount of time in front of a live audience (this time I had about 17 or 18 minutes), I am always amazed that there is this large blank canvas before me that will soon be transformed with the help of brushes, paint and prayer .
I begin my preparations about an hour before I paint, squeezing out plenty of acrylic paint and mixing it with a medium (to keep it from drying out too soon). The colors have been planned so that I already know what I am going to need.
I was given a copy of the "run" sheet so that I knew the plan for the service. 
Painting to beautiful music is one of the most exhilarating and creatively satisfying experiences. I feel like the music enters in through my brushes and flows out on to the canvas. The music becomes part of the painting and then the painting becomes part of the music. For this particular service I painted to live as well as recorded music. What was really fun for me was being able to complete this painting to "Adiemus", the same music that was on my YouTube video.
And then suddenly its over. The music stops, the brushes are set down and I walk away, grateful for the experience.
Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Family Portrait Painting: Part 9 - Completion

It was an ideal August morning in Colorado Springs. The air was still and the sky was bright blue. I had come to this park the day before (with my daughter and granddaughter) to check out various places in the park that would work for staging a family portrait. I paid close attention to the time as we walked from place to place to see what the sun was doing and where the light would fall on the shoulders of my subjects.
And so for the Johnsons, it was an enjoyable stroll through the park as we walked from one place to another, laughing and joking but still focused on what we were there to do, photograph them for this portrait.
Stage 24: Painting the lower stone steps. I enjoyed the variations in the stone steps. Once I blocked this area in with a solid color (the under painting), I came back in with a palette knife while it was still wet. I kept reminding myself to stand back and look at it from a distance just to make certain that the end result was realistic.
Stage 25: Blocking in and then completing the stone steps. I felt almost giddy when I realized how close I was to completing this painting. These stones were generally darker and rougher in texture than the others and so the under painting was darker as well.
The Johnson Family
36 x 48", oil on canvas
Rita Salazar Dickerson (c)2013
Stage 26: Completing the foreground. Although this photograph does not give an accurate representation of the colors in the foreground, (there are also warmer tones of browns, and rusts) I think you can see the textures I created with a palette knife to give it the feeling of small stones and gravel mixed in with sticks and dead grasses on the left. As with all of my paintings, I will look at this again in a couple of weeks to make any necessary adjustments and take a final photograph.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Family Portrait Painting: Part 8

Rocks, rocks, rocks. I spent the last couple of days and and both evenings painting rocks. Their variety of textures and colors were challenging and fun. But along with the time it took patience. The challenge was not just the painting of them, but making them fit into the composition realistically. I didn't want the stones to overwhelm the subjects. It kind of felt like I was painting rocks into a puzzle, making sure each piece fit around legs, arms and hair...
Stage 20: Blocking in the rocks. The simplest way to approach this challenge was to break each section into shapes and form, light and dark, blocking it in with flat color using a larger brush. "No reason to panic or feel overwhelmed", I told myself. "Just take it on, one section at a time".
Stage 21: Painting wet-on-wet. After the shapes were blocked in on the steps I came back in with more paint and additional color, creating the illusion of the steps and the path in the background. From there I worked on the stone wall behind Laurel.

 Stage 22: Painting with a palette knife. For the large stones I started with a brush and then realized the palette knife would be much easier to achieve the effect I was after of rough and smooth stones.

Detail of the stone path.

Stage 23: Completion of the stone wall.

Detail of the stone wall.

Another close-up of the stone wall.