Tribute

It is with great sadness that I write this post, one of my painting students passed away last week.

About twelve years ago, I received a call from a woman who wanted to come to my watercolor/acrylic painting class and paint with oils. I said no. I explained that I hadn’t used oil paints since high school and wouldn’t be able to help her. She came anyway! And boy am I glad she did! If she’d listened to me I would have missed meeting a generous, thoughtful, sensitive woman, who spoke her mind without apology.

Classes come and go, and I was no longer teaching adults when I got another call. Could I come and work with a small group in her home studio? Of course I said yes, and three years ago I began what her son called “Tuesdays with Laurie.” Laurie referred to the group as the “Golden Girls,” three unforgettable women, all with different painting styles, and all dedicated to supporting each others efforts.

Laurie painted places she had visited and cared about; pictures with meaning and memories. She appeared to have no angst or fear about starting a new painting and worked to make each canvas the best it could be, even reworking paintings she had done in the past to get them just right. She was always on the look out for inspiration and loved the look of laundry hanging on a line.

When you work with people over a period of time you get to know them; where they grew up, the places they’ve lived, the people they love, and how they feel about life. I’m lucky to have gotten to know Laurie. She was irrepressible. I will always remember her joy, laughter, and curiosity.  Laurie Chamberlain, you will be missed and I will remember all you taught me!

Blank White Space

Watercolor, work in progress. © 2015 by Pamela Atkinson

I’ve been busy finishing one of my acrylic paintings. It forms the second half of a diptych and together the two canvases make a strong and complex statement. Now, I’m faced with starting my next work and it needs equal care and consideration. I must put aside any fear I have of the blank white space before me, plunge in, and trust that I will make good decisions about color, form, and composition. These things usually take care of themselves, but the white canvas is daunting.

Making art is a mind game, it take courage to continue. I cope with the fear of creating by working on more than one painting and in more than one medium at a time.  For me, working on a watercolor and switching  to acrylic painting allows me to use all my skills and techniques.  For a couple of years, I gave up painting on paper and I missed it. I love the freedom of mixing the pigments on paper and trying colors to see how they combine. If a mishap occurs and the colors looks muddy or jarring, quickly lifting up the paint to get back to  a white surface is a challenge I enjoy.    With Acrylics I can white out something I don’t like and start again. The discoveries I make about myself, my thoughts, and the materials are worth any momentary discomfort.

Do you have any fears about creating? If so, please share them. All my years of painting and teaching tell me you are not alone.

Vibrant Color

Lush, vibrant, bold pigments; a tube of paint is magic!

Color Wheel

Color Wheel

But, when I’m teaching, I like my students to use a limited palette of six colors, (see the color wheel to the right). If they’re using acrylics, they also need white and if they’re really, really insistent, black. I don’t use black in my work because I like the challenge of mixing rich, deep colors. To deepen the value of a hue I use its complement (the opposite color on the color wheel; yellow and violet, red and Green, and orange and blue).  The more complex the color the better!

Tulips in Shadow, 22″ x 30″, Watercolor, ©2014

Pamela Atkinson, “Tulips in Shadow”, 22″ x 30″, Watercolor, ©2015

When I created most of my early watercolors (see painting on the left), I used only four tubes of paint; Cadmium Yellow Medium, Permanent Rose, Ultramarine Blue, and Sap Green. The work I made with this color scheme had unity and a distinctive look and sometimes I still use them.

 

 

Reflections Triad

Reflections Triad

But I don’t like rules in art and new colors delights me, so lately, I’ve been having fun using the watercolor triad sets sold by Daniel Smith. The Reflections Triad* came today. I’ll mix and match these paints with colors I already own. I’ll keep the selection to 4 or 5 pigments per painting and make sure I have a clear bright hue in the mix. I can’t wait to try the Blue Apatite Genuine and I’ll be sure to post the results. Do you have a favorite paint color? I’d love to hear your comments.

*Update, Daniel Smith now sells only the primary and secondary triad set. Still a great deal, you can check them out at Daniel Smith sets.

Curious Viewers

Pamela Atkinson, "Tulip Moon #2," Watercolor, 9" x 12", ©2015

Pamela Atkinson, “Tulip Moon #2,” Watercolor, 9″ x 12″, ©2015

On occasion, I run into someone who is genuinely curious about what I make and why I make it. I am grateful for these generous individuals, they give me a chance to discuss my work and get a fresh take on something I have created.

Painting is a solitary occupation. It’s me, the paint, and the surface on which I’m working. My mind is busy making decisions, spotting discoveries, and solving problems. When I paint I’m expressing my thoughts and feelings; my philosophy of life. The energy and care that I pour into creating are the reward but coming across a curious viewer is a gift. My work is mysterious and amusing and it’s nice when someone gets that.

Please leave a reply, I welcome your thoughts and your stories.

My First Post

Color Studies

Two of my watercolors, “Moon Moss #2” and “Moon Moss #4,” and color charts, Pamela Atkinson, ©2015.

The decision to write a blog was not an easy one for me. My internal critic knows many reasons why this is a bad idea and will articulate them ad nauseam. And yet, I’ve decided to ignore the doubts and excuses; what will I say each week? Who will want to read it? You’re not a writer, you’re a painter, etc. etc. I could go on and on, but I love art and sharing my enthusiasm for color and paint has won out.  So, here I am writing my first post. Starting at the beginning seems like a good idea.

One of my preschool students painting a wonderful animal picture.

One of my preschool students painting a wonderful animal picture.

I have been a painter since my parents gave me my first set of Prang watercolors. They came in a metal box and I thought they were magic! Just add water and a brush and amazing things happen. With the stroke of your hand, you can create a line and turn it into a dog by adding a circle and four small lines. One color blends into another. The shape that starts out yellow turns into a big brown puddle when purple is added.  The paintings take forever to dry and all you want to do is show them off to anyone who will look! Almost as exciting is cleaning your brush;  plunging it into clean water and watching rings of color form and dissipate into a murky pool is all part of the fun. Because I work with small children, as well as teens and adults, I have shared these magical first attempts at painting again and again. Putting down on paper the elusive images in your head is both joyous and frustrating.

Please share your first memories of making art in the comments section.

I hope you enjoy my blog!