Thursday, December 16, 2010

Merry Christmas from Me and My Neighbors

In January we will have resided in Oregon for three years - hard to believe, but true. Each year we are delighted and amazed by all the work one of our neighbors puts into his holiday light display.

He lives on a cul-de-sac and decorates both his front and back yards, and some of his displays are so large they have "marched" their way over to the yard next to his.

We have no idea where he stores these displays from February through October, or whether he has to take out a second mortgage during the remaining months to pay his electric bill. But we do know that his passion for the holidays is obvious and his efforts bring delight to our neighborhood and everyone else who drives down Murray Blvd. and sees the glow from his yard from blocks away.

My contribution to holiday cheer this year was taking pictures of our neighbors' yard to share with you and bring a little light and gaiety into your holiday experience. Hope you enjoy the photos and have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Full Sheet - Painted and Signed

I feel good. With inspiration from my friend Annie Salness, I challenged myself to do a full sheet watercolor. I usually work smaller for space and economic reasons (cost of framing, fear of failure, etc), but thought if Annie can fight back from a stroke, I can surely tackle a large white sheet of paper.

I have an inventory of inspiring photographs from earlier trips to Italy and the Mediterranean - great subject matter for a painting. This latest piece is based on a place that brought me to tears. After touring La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, I sat on a bench and cried - me, little old Donna McCormick Sanson who comes from very humble beginnings, was sitting in this beautiful foreign city outside a splendid work of art by Antonio Gaudi, able to reach out and touch it, to stroll under its vaulted ceilings, to stand in the bans of colored sunlight streaming through its fractured stain glass windows, to watch artisans continue the daily work of its ongoing construction and know that I was there when parts of it were still open to the sky - I was overwhelmed.

The detail in this image is meant to give you a little peek, a little preview of my January showcase at Amato's.

I'm happy with it - I signed it - I'm moving on. Thanks Annie!

Friday, October 29, 2010

My Holiday Auction Tree

Halloween is in two days and I'm working on a tree sculpture for the Christmas season. No wonder life seems to be racing by!

My tree of soft whispy white branches draped with watercolor ornaments and chains will be just one of many holiday trees to be exhibited in December at Amato's Gallery. Each of Amato's artists was challenged to create a tree sculpture reflecting individual style and medium.

My main struggle was choosing a form that would display my watecolor ornaments. After several unsuccessful starts, I finally settled on a white ceramic vase filled with sand and pretty manufactured glass stones. I can't claim creating the vase, sand, stones, or fake tree branches, but all the ornaments are designed and handcrafted by me. I used old less-than-successful paintings as my main material, cut them into strips, wove the strips together, added little watercolor collage elements here and there, strung strips together to make colorful paper chains, and then placed all my unique ornaments carefully on the very delicate branches.

The trees will be featured at Amato's Gallery starting on December 4, with an afternoon reception from 1-4. Each tree will be accompanied by a bidding sheet with a starting bid recommended by the artist. Bidding will begin during the reception and continue until noon on Saturday, December 18. The highest bidders for each of the trees will then be notified and will have their own one-of-a-kind holiday tree to enjoy this Christmas and for years to come.

I can't wait to see what all the artists design!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A New Painting!!!

Monday night, instead of getting ready and heading out to The Canvas Bistro for an evening of drawing, I stayed home in my pj's and painted in my studio. I worked from a photo in my collection of a scene in Roussett, France. My husband and I had taken a cruise of the Mediterranean and selected to take a day trip to this region where the soil is red clay and the buildings reflect the area's natural resource in their coloration. I started with watercolor and ended with a gouache painting. I find myself using this process frequently, which allows me the freedom to make changes and experiment more with the image. I'm happy with the results.

Monday, October 18, 2010

November Event at Amato's

As you can see, our next artist to be featured at Amato's Gallery is an abstract painter who obviously loves color. Bruce Ulrich will share a series of his latest paintings and collages in a show entitled, Exploration in Abstraction.

The show will run from November 6 through November 30, with an evening reception from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, November 6.

I hope you'll join us at Amato's for the reception and visit with Bruce and the other ten Amato artists. Mark your calendars!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Today at Amato's

I spent this afternoon staffing Amato's Art Gallery; during the quiet time I began work on a special project for the month of December.

All of Amato's artists will create a sculpture reflecting their design style and primary medium, and the results will be featured at our Artists Reception on December 4.
I began with old paintings that were started on 300 lb. Arches watercolor paper and just never quite made the grade. The old pieces provided the weight and durability I was looking for, not to mention a use for paintings I will never finish.
I applied wet washes of w/c paint to the backs of the old work so the images can be viewed from both sides and then cut everything into strips of various widths and lengths. When all the strips were dry, I wove them together and varied the edges.
The image above is not finished but you can get the idea of what the final assemblage will look like. It still needs to be embellished and secured. Not sure at this point how many of these I'll need for my finished sculpture but the project has begun and the problem solving is underway.
It was fun to do something creative today. Hope your day included some time for creativity.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Amato's Reinvents Itself

It's been an exciting time for me since I last posted something on this blog. Amato's Gallery in Beaverton has undergone a major restructuring and I've been right in the middle of everything.

First of all, the gallery moved to the Historic District of town and we now have a Broadway address, 12570 SW Broadway Street. Never thought I'd be on Broadway, but anything can happen if you believe.

The dynamics of the business structure changed as well, and I am now one of four "partners," who took the big step and put our names on the lease. Joni Mitchell, Bert Cohen, and I have joined ranks with floral designer, Karen Amato, to run the collaborative business, Amato's Floral and Fine Art
Gallery. Eight other creative souls followed us from the previous location to keep our family of artists complete.

The lease was signed on August 23 and the transformation began immediately. The previous tenant must have raided Ikea's storage supply and confiscated gallons of their signature blue and yellow paint. It was everywhere - inside, outside, you name it. Check out our blog to see photos of the hired hands (better known as family members) at work.

The signage went up today and we stood across the street to see how it looked from a distance. I have to say it was a proud moment to realize what had been accomplished in just six weeks. We will celebrate this Saturday evening with a re-opening celebration. The work is done and it's time to party!
If you read this in time, call some friends or family members and make arrangements to join our check out the art and lights on Broadway! Reception hours are 6 to 9 p.m.
Despite some moments today when I felt like pulling out my hair - and I just had it highlighted in the morning - it was a good day; maybe even a great day. Hope you can say the same!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Outdoor Shows

It's been a very long time since I did an outdoor show, but the price was right for the one last Saturday to celebrate the opening of the new Beaverton History Museum on Broadway, and also for a second event which takes place this Thursday evening, August 5, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the Murrayhill Market Place (near Sandoval's Restaurant, Segal's Children's Store, and Malone's Grill). Neither the Museum nor the Sexton Mountain Neighborhood Associations charged for booth rentals. Both groups wanted to promote community awareness and showcase small businesses.

I quickly remembered why I haven't done one of these recently. The preparation - the gathering of the set-up equipment, the loading of the car, the unloading of the car, the chilly mornings and hot afternoons, the wind, the $20 bills for a $3-4 item, the second loading and unloading of the car. It's a lot of work. But people are so nice and their interest in my artwork is sincere.

I borrowed a pop-up tent from a neighbor and covered folding tables with colorful cloths that drape down over the sides and hide all the storage boxes and packaging materials. I picked up my print rack and prints from Amato's Gallery, set up my metal grids to display my paintings, placed baskets of printed and handmade cards on the table, and put out my inventory of one-of-a-kind artsy bookmarks - a little something for everyone's pocketbook!

Saturday, my big sale was a matted original watercolor of a rose. I had done the painting as a demonstration during one of my classes and the woman who purchased it was quite pleased. It seems her adorable two-year old daughter is named Rose, and the painting will eventually go into Rose's bedroom as part of a upcoming remodel. I forgot all about the set up and the take down, and felt a sense of happiness that my painting would play a small role in the life of one child - one little Rose.

I still haven't unpacked many of the items I displayed Saturday, so preparation for Thursday's show will be easier. I have a painting of a hollyhock and might include it in my exhibit at Murrayhill. Maybe someone named Holly will stop by my booth and be in the middle of a remodel!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Preview of New Abstracts

Somehow the images meant to go along with this blog got posted separately and I can't figure out how to move them, so please click on the link to the right to view little "peeks" of my latest abstract paintings. To see the entire images, join me at Amato's Gallery, 12320 SW 1st Street, Beaverton, 97005, on July 16, 6-9, for Amato's next artists' reception. My abstracts will be featured along with work by Linda Baker, Brenda Boylan, Chris Helton, and Joni Mitchell. Wine tasting, gourmet chocolate, berries, and fun are always a part of Amato's receptions.

This is the first time abstract paintings have been shown at Amato's. I enjoyed the challenge of creating strong compositions based on good design and interesting color patterns rather than working from photos or reality. I hope you'll join me and the other artists at the reception and share your thoughts about this new direction I seem to be taking.

The show runs through August 9 and the gallery is open Monday through Friday 9 to 5; Saturday 9 to 4.

Friday, July 2, 2010

New Show at Amato's Gallery

Merci, Mont Ste Michele is one of my eight new abstract paintings that will be featured in the upcoming show at Amato's Gallery in Beaverton. It was painted on a full sheet of Arches 300 lb. paper, and I used ink on watercolor to complete the imagery.

My goal for this piece was to follow the three basic elements of good design that John Salminen taught in his 2009 workshop in Cannon Beach - oblique, irregular and unpredictable. Did I succeed? I'm old enough to know that there will be an infinite number of answers to that question.

The show, Out and About, runs from July 16 through August 9, with an Artists' Reception on July 16, 6 to 9 p.m. Other featured artists are Linda Baker, Brenda Boylan, Chris Helton, and Joni Mitchell. Receptions at Amato's are always special - great local artwork along with wine tasting, berries, and mouth-watering chocolates!

Hope to see you there! Donna

Helvetia Lavender Paint Out

Last Tuesday, I followed the loyal band of PPASP artists out to Helvetia Lavender Farm, north of Highway 16. Check out PPASP's Behind the Scenes blog for more information on the day.
I used Kitty Wallis' wonderful sanded pastel paper and pastels made from one of her kits. I did a quick design study on paper and then underpainted the major areas of the design onto the Wallis paper with watered-down acrylics. I used large motions at first to block everything in, medium strokes to build the imagery and ended with tiny mark-making dots.
The lavender is about two weeks behind at this farm, but there was still an abundance of color. I actually chose to focus on the small eucalyptus tree amidst the rows of lavender, and as I almost always do, exaggerate the color I saw. To make the tree more prominent against the greens and violets of the fields, I chose warmer colors for the tree.
It was a wonderful afternoon - after a wonderful breakfast in the morning at O'Connor's - all in all, it made for a great day. Hope you enjoyed your day as much as I did mine.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Drawing Classes at Amato's Gallery

Monday evenings, July 5, 12, 19, and 26, from 6 to 8 p.m., I'll be teaching Drawing classes at Amato's Gallery, 12320 1St Street, Beaverton 97005. Fee for the 4 classes is $90 and includes materials. Registration is limited to eight students.

It should be really fun to teach in the atmosphere of a fine art gallery - lots of imagery and inspiration on the walls and pedestals to peak your imagination. I'll use both real life set-ups and photographs as references.

If you, or someone you know, has an interest in taking a drawing class, please contact me to reserve a space. I taught drawing and watercolor for years out of my studio in California and for the Fremont Adult School in Fremont, Ca. My main goal as an instructor is to teach students to really see what they're looking at, by studying shape, value and relationships. Email or call me: or 503.477.0489.

Multnomah Village Painting Accepted into Show

My painting of the Multnomah Village overpass was accepted into "Art in the Heart of Multnomah Village," an exhibition at the town's art center from August 6 through September 1.

David Hooten at Pixel Point Artistry just completed imaging the painting and printing some greeting cards for me, and I'll be off to the framer's tomorrow to complete the product. The center will host an opening reception on Friday, August 6, from 7-9 p.m. I plan to attend and hopefully will see some familiar faces there.

Alaska and More

My husband Tom and our good friends, Doug and Julie Ward, just returned from a wonderful Holland America cruise to Alaska via the inside passage. It was a wonderful trip out of Seattle with stops in Juneau, Hubbard Glacier, Sitka, Ketchikan, and British Columbia, before returning to Seattle. We took Amtrack out of Portland and boarded the Rotterdam not far from the Space Needle. I did some sketching on board the ship - there were lots of beautiful pieces of sculpture and floral arrangements, and I also did a couple very quick paintings from our veranda, which looked pretty much like very quick paintings. I used my camera to capture some of the beauty of the ship, the scenery, the food, the adventures, and the Butchart Gardens, and wish to share a selection of those photos with you. There is no way to really convey the freshness of the air, the clearness of the water, the crackling sounds and thunder of the Hubbard Glacier calving, the aromas of the dining room, the musicality of The Neptune Trio each night in The Ocean Bar, the invigoration of our windy walks on Decks 3 and 9 each day, the trickiness of manuevering the ship when the seas became more turbulent - but perhaps these photos will give you some sense of why it was such a memorable trip. Hope to get a few good paintings from this batch.

I had a good day today - hope you did too. Donna
Well, I had high hopes to share a slide show of about 35 images, but the slideshow didn't transfer so you'll have to be content with just a hint of what we experienced. Sorry.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Sketch Becomes A Painting

After Tuesday's breakfast at O'Connor's with artists from the Portland Plein Air & Studio Painters group, and after sketching with Celeste Bergin and Carrie Holst for the group's Behind the Scenes activity, I headed home. I made my usual right turn and the bridge carrying folks in and out of Multnomah Village lay before me. I have always thought the scene would make great subject material for a painting, so I pulled into a conveniently empty parking spot and did a quick sketch with an even quicker wash of color. I simplified the images and exaggerated the passageways and arches of the structure.

Thursday morning I decided to use the sketch as the basis for a painting; I enlarged the scene by redrawing it on tracing paper and transferring the larger image to my Arches block. I used to draw directly onto my watercolor paper, but ended up with too many unwanted pencil lines and too much erasing. Next I evaluated the composition and felt I needed more information to make the painting work. I drove back to the scene of the crime with my trusty digital camera to record the architectural elements of the bridge more accurately, but alas accuracy was not meant to be - the batteries in my camera were depleted. This was a sign - go with my gut - stay true to the original sketch and the great shapes created by the play of positive and negative shapes.

Once back in my studio, I laid in the basic design with light washes, waited for them to dry, and then began to build the painting. I returned to it on and off all afternoon and evening, added gouache and a few details here and there. As usual, I'm not quite satisfied and will probably make some more "adjustments," but I'm happy that I finally painted a scene that speaks to me every time I drive past.

It was a good day - hope you're having a great weekend.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

More Colors, More Fun

Last Thursday, Bridget Weislouel - a new artist friend from Kitty Wallis' workshop - came over and we created handmade pastels from a kit we purchased from Kitty. What a fun day, and it took all day to use up all the materials and add over 5 dozen new hues each to our collection of beautiful pastels.

The same day, my neighbor delivered a bouquet of glorious spring tulips which I chose to display in my study on the same table as the drying pastels. What a sight - glorious tulips and lovely new hues. Too much inspiration to ignore!

I spent several hours last night painting the tulips with the challenge of using every one of the new 60+ colors. Not my usual approach to painting but a neat exercise nevertheless.

I had fun with pastels this week - hope you have fun in the week ahead.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Critique and Demo and Oregon Society of Artists

Friday, March 19, 2010
Last night I attended a demo by Paul Missal at Oregon Society of Artists. He did a pencil drawing of a nude model using two graphite pencils in both hands. It was magical to see how the drawing came together as he rapidly orchestrated the pencils over the paper. That's what his movements reminded me of - a conductor waving his "wands" and creating a tone, a tempo, a balance of lines from which to choose as he refined the drawing. At one point, he put his pencils down and picked up a simple Pink Pearl eraser and skillfully (but with some abandon) scrubbed in all directions over the pencil lines. I had never seen anyone work this way and I felt his sense of confidence and freedom as he created a rather traditional image, with a rather non-traditional approach. It was a great demo.

Earlier in the evening, Steve Keiser critiqued members' paintings that had been brought to the meeting for that purpose. I submitted the two plein air images above, which I did last year at a Cannon Beach workshop with Mitch Baird. Steve liked the composition of the bottom image and my use of cool blue hues in the shadows of the large rock formation. He suggested the composition in the top image created a problem because there was nothing on the left side to balance the imagery on the right. What do you think of these two paintings?

Tomorrow is our third Saturday morning "Breakfast in the Gallery" event. Brenda Boylan will be sharing her mastery of pastel painting and I will demo basic watercolor techniques. Free coffee and pastries from Beaverton Bakery will be on hand for you to enjoy as you browse the gallery and observe the demonstrations. This event takes place each Saturday during March from 9-11 a.m. at Amato's Fine Art Gallery, 12320 1st Street, Beaverton (503.601.3300).

Amato's is open weekdays from 9 to 5, and Saturdays 9 to 4. It exhibits artwork by sixteen award-winning local artists. Hope you can stop by.

The sun is shining - hope you have a great day!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Making Old Into New

Spent part of this evening cutting up old paintings and class demo exercises to create some one-of-a-kind bookmarks. I enjoy doing this on occasion - therapeutic to make something useful out of artwork that has served a purpose but is now clutter.
They usually end up as small collages and can actually take quite a bit of time. I start by finding some shape or piece of color that is pleasing; that becomes the base on which to build. I tear and cut and glue and weave and crop and end up with little pieces of art. The finished bookmarks easily slide into plastic sleeves designed for such a purpose and I top each one off with a sprout of satin ribbon. It's fun, relaxing, and a good way to recycle. The photo shows several bookmarks displayed on the next unsuccessful painting to hit the cutting board.

Despite the cold, rainy weather, and my list of errands, I managed to make some time today to do something creative. I had a good day - hope you did too.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Watercolor Painting from the Subject to Interpretation Series

I've posted a new watercolor - finished about a month ago actually. The reference was a photo taken by another artist and shared with the Portland Plein Air & Studio Painters Group as part of its "Subject to Interpretation" series. The idea for the series was the brainchild of Katherine van Schoonhoven, who offered it to the group to keep us inspired during the winter months. My thanks to Katherine.

I like this painting, and feel I was successful in capturing the warmth of the early morning light.

Although I didn't paint today, I did manage to take a walk in the morning before the clouds set in. There were lots of other folks taking advantage of the sunshine as well. Later in the day, we headed out to Al's Garden Center - a favorite nursery to shop for plants or just get inspiration for our yard. Today was a purple, lavender, and white day for the garden.

I had a good day - hope you did too!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Today's "Breakfast in the Gallery" at Amato's, Beaverton

The March event at Amato's Gallery is a series of Saturday morning artist demos, complete with coffee and pastries from Beaverton Bakery. Today, visitors observed Gretha Lindwood work in pastels and Chris Helton in acrylics. Visitors had lots of questions for our artists and lots of interest in studying the work on the gallery walls. Comments included: "The art is great." - "I plan to come back." - "Food was a nice touch." I've posted a couple of photos.

Mark your calendars now for the remaining three Saturdays. The event takes place from 9 to 11, at Amato's Gallery, 12320 1st Street, Beaverton. Future demonstrations include jewelry design, oil painting, pastels, and clay. Plan to attend one or all three.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Another Workshop Painting

I finished the third painting I had started in Kitty's workshop last weekend. This was a value/temperature exercise with a specific palette - warm lights and cool darks. The reference was a black and white photo supplied by Kitty. I wasn't happy with it when I posted it on the workshop studio wall - something wasn't quite right. After several days of observation - and time spent painting on the Mendocino piece - I was ready to tackle this image again. I added closely related values to the large bluff on the left which softened the extreme contrast of what had been an extremely dark, solid mass. I'm happier with the new result. Had a good day today - hope you did too.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Nearly Finished Pastel

I worked this evening on a pastel that I started Saturday in Kitty Wallis' pastel workshop. My reference was a photograph I took years ago of a simple backroad in Mendocino, CA, a town of many charms and numerous photo opportunities. I've enjoyed working on this piece. Had a good day; hope you did too.

Change of Artwork at US Bank Lloyd Center Branch

I removed my paintings of Italian scenes from US Bank this morning. Just want to remind you to see Karen Lewis' oil landscape paintings during the month of March at this same site. The bank's staff commented on how much customers enjoy their rotating art display provided by members of Portland Plein Air and Studio Painters. And, we're happy to have the exposure.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

"Breakfast in the Gallery"

Every Saturday morning in March, Amato's Gallery in downtown Beaverton will host "Breakfast in the Gallery," from 9 to 11 a.m. Coffee and continental fare will be provided, along with artists' demonstrations in a variety of media. Mark your calendars and start your Saturdays with a dose of artistic inspiration. Amato's Gallery is located within Amato's Florals, 12320 SW 1st Street, Beaverton.

We celebrated our official opening on February 12, with an artists' reception that was lively and very well attended. I'm exhibiting my work there along with sixteen other award-winning area artists; you can imagine how excited we all are to have a permanent fine art gallery in historic downtown Beaverton.

Stop in Monday through Saturday, 10 to 4, to see sculptures by Joni Mitchell, Joe Pogan and John Wisener; glasswork by Diane Ahrendt; ceramics by Beth O'Mahony; jewelry by Bert Cohen, Sheri Gorman, and Rosie Long; oils by Linda Baker and Michael Orwick; pastels by Brenda Boylan, Gretha Lindwood and Christy Perrine; acrylics by Chris Helton and Annie Salness; and watercolors by me. It's a very talented group and I'm proud to be a part of this exciting venture.

Chris Helton will be "up at the easel" on March 6; she'll be happy to share her process and field your comments and questions.

No need for reservations - just show up. Hope to see you there, Donna

Pastel Workshop with Kitty

Why do I always have to start off my blog entries with, "It's been a long time since my last blog." Isn't the point of a blog to make entries on a regular basis. I aim to do better in the future.

With that said, I had to share the delightful experience of the three-day pastel workshop I just attended with Kitty Wallis at the helm. We started Friday morning with color exercises based on value and temperature, and worked on transforming black and white photos into paintings using specific palettes. Of course we worked on Kitty's fabulous Wallis pastel paper - the best ever made. The hours flew and by the end of day one I was hooked. Too much fun - too much color eye candy. Day two started with Kitty demonstrating her pure pigment underpainting technique, followed by application of pastels. We each followed suit, this time working from our own color photograph. Day three was reserved for creating an array of handmade pastels to share and take home for future masterpieces!

The class was small but energy was high, and we all went away with smiles on our faces. New ideas, new materials, new friends - what could be better. I had a wonderful weekend - hope you did as well.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Upcoming Shows

It's been awhile since my last blog. Happy New Year to all and may 2010 be filled with good health and good creative experiences.

I wanted to share two new exhibits of my work, one is for the month of February and the other is installed and ongoing.

The first show will open on the 1st of February at the Lloyd Center branch of U.S. Bank, 1601 NE Weidler Street, Portland 97232. Hours are Monday thru Friday 9-6, and Saturdays 9-2. This exhibit will feature watercolor images of Italy.

The other exhibit is at Amato's, 12320 SW 1st Street, Beaverton OR 97005. My watercolors and mixed media pieces are currently installed along with paintings by Michael Orwick, Brenda Boylan, and Gretha Lindwood; and sculpture by Joni Mitchell and John Weisener. An opening gallery reception will take place on Friday, February 12, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. This is an exciting group of award-winning Beaverton artists whose work is varied and engaging. On behalf of owner Karen Amato and the other artists, I hope you will stop by and enjoy our opening reception. Gallery hours are currently Monday thru Friday, 10 to 5 p.m.