Monday, June 29, 2009


Since returning from the Charles Reid workshop a week ago I haven't even gone into my teeny tiny studio or anywhere else for that matter to paint. I actually haven't unpacked the totebags filled with all the supplies I dragged with me to Vermont and some stuff is still in the car. I have been busy doing other very important things that have demanded my immediate attention. 

Distraction #1 I can convince myself that a 4 mile run or 8 mile beach walk means I am too tired to do anything like draw or paint.

Distraction #2 I love dragging an armful of books and magazines around so when I find that perfect place to curl up, I have choices. I can read one or parts of each. I usually have an eclectic choice of art books, design magazines, some kind of informational non-fiction to slog through and a fun beach read. This is my current pile. I also think if I read about art it counts because I think about what I am going to draw or paint. It does count!

Distraction #3 I used to sew all the time in another place and time in my life. Now I use the sewing machine to mend and redesign clothes I don't wear anymore. I beat myself up a bit for buying the darn thing in the first place and then I look for the hidden potential that will not make my impulsive buy so hard to swallow. I will cut off legs or sleeves, add lace or fringe, change buttons, rip, bleach, embroider, shorten, lengthen or anything else to give it another chance and make it fun and wearable. If that doesn't work it goes to the Goodwill. My mother says I have been doing this forever.

More distractions to come...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Charles Reid workshop—The final day

Our fifth and final workshop day was suppose to be plein air painting, but the weather here in new England was not cooperating. As a backup plan, Charles brings vintage black and white photographs for us to paint from. It is all about imagination and fun. When we stopped in San Francisco, I happened to have slipped a photo of my dad in his high school football uniform into my handbag and hadn't yet taken it out. I used it for the above painting.

My dad playing football for "Paly High" (Palo Alto High School in Palo Alto, California circa 1943).

Late that afternoon, I packed up the car, said goodbye to everyone and headed back to Maine. My ride started with this sign post at the first turn on the way out of Manchester. Made me wish I had GPS.

Thank you, Charles for a wonderful workshop.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Charles Reid workshop—Day 4...more flowers

Charles painted another still life this morning as we watched and hung on every word. Sometimes one of us will ask him why did that move or why he does something a certain way and he will chuckle and say "I don't really know". I think sometimes you just can't explain how art happens.
He is known for his signature splashy style, but some people, including his wife Judith, think it is too messy. So, today when someone mentioned it, he decided to clean it up. Even with many of us shouting not to do it, he took a cloth and started scrubbing like he was cleaning the kitchen counter. 

Today I got to sit in the front row and was sitting behind Charles watching over his right shoulder. I was able to see the still life so I did this quick 5 minute study while Charles was taking a break while he let the paint dry a bit.

Above is my still life painting from the afternoon. My photograph actually cropped too much of the original painting, but it is enough to show you my attempt at another floral still life shared by three other people with a bunch of random objects on a table. I have such a hard time with these!

Having finished with time to spare, the thought of another choatic still life was too much for me to handle. Annelein was on the other side of the room so I did a contour drawing of her while she successfully painted florals all afternoon. Charles wandered by as I was starting to paint and encouraged me to leave it as it was. All week he has complimented me on my drawing skills and today he said I need to paint like I draw...hmmmmmmmm, I wonder what that means. Anyway, he suggested I let the drawing be the focus and the painting support it . Above is my attempt at that direction.

Sketching and collaging my cup of tea this morning before class.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Charles Reid workshop—Day 3/Still life

Today was the first of two days of still life painting. As usual, we had a quick critique of yesterday's work and then Charles spent the rest of the morning painting the still life below. I'm not sure I quite understand the still life process of setting up a lot of random things placed on the table, but Charles made it beautiful. Watching him paint the pitcher on the right was amazing and I love the paint brush and tube of paint which was added at the very end to fill a hole.

I was a bit late getting back from lunch and found Charles outside, in the rain, pacing, smoking his pipe and looking like an outdoorsman out of the L.L.Bean catalog. He asked if I was avoiding the chaos going on inside. Of course I said "yes". I guess 12 of us had to position ourselves around three still life set-ups and agree on the position of the elements. Charles was insistent that it was chaos and I should consider sneaking into the small quiet room which would have been against the rules because I was in group #2 which was part of the "large room of chaos". I looked him in the eye and said "I'm going in". 

Above is what I managed to find to paint after I angled a position around one of the random still life set-ups. No one else wanted the decoy or anything else in my painting, so I went for it. Actually everyone was really so agreeable and it was nothing more than a little adult controlled chaos.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Charles Reid workshop—Day 2

Charles critiqued our work from yesterday and then spent the rest of the morning painting the model as we watched and listened. His talent is awesome, his knowledge is extensive and he is comfortable talking through his process and decisions as he paints for his audience. However, once in a while he just wants to paint and he lets us know of those moments so we quietly watch as he makes the magic happen. He is incredibly talented, yet humble of his talent and along with a great sense of humor he makes a wonderful teacher. If you ever have a chance to take one of his workshops, I highly recommend it.

Charles' painting from the morning.

My first of two paintings from the afternoon session.

My second painting from the afternoon session. To mix it up and challenge myself, I decided to try a head study. This was quite hard and extremely frustrating as I had to reinstate more than I would have liked. I'm not wild about the result.

This is Annelien's first painting from the afternoon session. She forbid me to post the second one even though it was fab!

Tomorrow starts two days of still life painting.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Charles Reid workshop—Manchester Vermont

Yesterday I drove to Vermont in the pouring rain for a 5 day watercolor workshop with Charles Reid. It is not easy to get to Vermont from Maine because there are no roads that go east/west. So 4 1/2 hours after leaving Portland I was in beautiful bucolic Manchester, Vermont. Bing Crosby was right when  he said in the movie "White Christmas" "Vermont is so Vermonty".

Day 1—Charles spent the morning demonstrating his amazing drawing techniques by sketching the model's head in profile, 3/4 view and front view so we can understand proportion. He then went over his palette, brushes and color blending technique. He was trained as an oil painter so his watercolor style is based on oil painting techniques. 

Charles finished the morning by painting the model (above). 

I painted the same model in the afternoon and managed to paint two other versions by the time we wrapped up for the day.  

Before class started we were all milling around and woman came up to me and asked if I was Jennifer and I fessed up that yes I was. She introduced herself as Annelien Beukenkamp. I was so taken back and then completely thrilled to meet another blogger, fellow New Englander and great watercolorist whose blog I like to visit—she does great flowers and roosters! She had read that I was  taking this workshop from a comment I left on Drawing Tel Aviv. How cool is that!

This is Annelien's painting of the model from today.

I'm tired from my first workshop day and jet-lag that is still an issue. I am still waking up at 2 am and tending to have trouble getting back to sleep. Good thing there is Red Bull!

Friday, June 12, 2009

It's a long way home

We finally made it home last night. A brief 36 hour stop in San Francisco to see my parents and then back to our life in Maine, as soon as we recover from some serious jet-lag. Bali is a 12 hour time difference from Maine, so I tend to be wide awake at about 1:00 am and manage to finally fall back to sleep around 4:00 am. This will go on for about a week until my brain and body finally adjust to Maine time. So until then, things move pretty slow

Friday, June 5, 2009

DSFDF challenge—Summer vegetables

I decided to give Karin Jurik's Different Strokes for Different Folks challenge, again, before my everything got packed. I was in a hurry because things are a little chaotic here and I am running very late for our last weekend in Bali visiting friends in other parts of the island. Another tough watercolor challenge for me as I constantly struggle with not overworking the painting and ending up with "the dreaded mud". However, this is a great thing to do because it pushes me out of my comfort zone and I have to be very brave to be posted along with other very talented painters.  
I'm really late now...gotta run.

Sampai jumpa Tikus

It's the dreaded packing of the boxes again as we get ready for our trip back to the U.S. After a few hours of that chore, I took a break and sketched, Tikus, my cat named mouse. She is a mighty little thing and quite a character . We have enjoyed having her here and I will miss her. She is going back to Ali's family on Tuesday when Uul puts her back in the rice cooker box and she is placed between his feet on his motorcycle for her 1/2 ride back to Umalas. She is going back home (with a huge bag of crunchies) and she may come back to us when we return in October. She has had a wonderful time here as "kucing manja" "a spoiled cat" and she won't be another Bali pet having unwanted litter after litter.

Sketching my cat in my Moleskine as she sleeps and waits for more attention. Right now she is sleeping in my lap as I am posting these last sketches before I go back to packing. 

I am a huge animal lover and since moving to Bali last October I spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about most of the street dogs and cats. Too many unwanted and unhealthy kittens and puppies for lack of spaying and neutering. I had the opportunity to help this one little cat and I am glad of the choice I made. Hopefully she will have a good, long, healthy life doing what she likes to do the most—sleeping.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Happy Birthday Jackie

Fudgy chocolate cake with dark chocolate ganache frosting

Carrot walnut cake with cream cheese frosting

Jackie & Jim Lawson

I introduced you to my family a few posts back when my dad had his 83rd birthday. Today is my mom’s birthday and she is turning 84. I’m sure she doesn’t want me to tell her age, but I think she looks great—they both do!

Happy birthday, Jackie. I made you two cakes so you can decide which one to have—fudgy chocolate cake with dark chocolate ganache frosting or carrot walnut cake with cream cheese frosting or better yet, have a piece of both. I would definitely try both and when no one was looking I would sneak a little extra of that delicious cream cheese frosting.