Thursday, December 31, 2015

beginnings and endings...


"beginnings and endings"
24" x 30" oil on gallery wrap
©2015dottietleatherwood

This is an appropriate painting today for both the weather, my thoughts and New Year's Eve.  I have my fingers crossed that after nothing but rain for days and days and days on end that it will be ending soon.  According to the latest forecast the rain will end at 2:45 today.  I sure am hoping that they are right on target with that forecast.

I love the little sliver of light hitting the ground and illuminating the grass in this painting.  It stands out among the moody sky and the foggy, misty surroundings.  Just like life (and the weather), sometimes all we need is that little glimmer of hope to give us the optimism to keep going.

I believe there is always that light at the end of the tunnel.  Always that silver lining.  Even though at times, it can be so hard to find.  I lost a friend this week to cancer.  She worked at the middle school that all three of my children attended.  With three children that are two years apart, you can only imagine how long I was involved with PTO at that school.  She worked in the office and always had a bright beautiful smile for me when I came in.  We soon became friends and I always looked forward to seeing her.  She was such a beautiful woman with a wonderful sense of humor and never failed to make me laugh.  She was a radiant light and inspired so many along her journey.  Even though she has left this world behind, her light.... her glimmer is still there.   That is the both the beauty and the tragedy of life.   Beginnings and endings.

And so it is with this year.  Today is the last day of 2015.  For me, it has been a wonderful year to be an artist.  So many doors have opened that I never anticipated.  I have been working so hard these last four years and this year I have seen the groundwork and all the long hours start to pay off.  I look forward to next year and the surprises and opportunities that it may bring.  I know that there will be clouds but the sun is always waiting behind them.  A glimmer of light.  I just have to have faith.

Here's to us and the new year ahead.  May there be more beginnings than endings and more sun than rain.  And when the clouds roll in, like they always do, may the glimmer get us through.  Happy New Year!
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I will be teaching a plein air workshop in Edisto Island, SC in March.  If one of your New Year's resolutions is to learn to paint plein air or just paint better, come join me!  We will paint, learn, laugh and have fun.  Click Here for more information! Edisto Island Plein Air Workshop

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Gearing Up and Winding Down...


"There is no such thing as motivation in my world.  I am not motivated to do what I do.  As an artist, I am compelled.  I am thrust forward by a force so rooted inside me, so convincing, that it seems futile to try to explain it.  Although it has a name:  passion."   - Philippe Petit
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I'm sitting here on my couch watching the rain come down outside.  Again.  It started raining last week and hasn't stopped.  Bad plein air painting weather but good painting planning weather.  I am also taking care of some computer tasks that I have been putting off.   Do you like the new blog header above?  A fresh new one to start the new year!

The 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge starts on Friday.  Panels have been ordered and stained and stacked up ready to go. I am painting plein air for the challenge so I am hoping this rain is leaving soon!!



Busywork aside, I am doing lots of reflecting on this past year and planning for the one ahead.  The beginning of a new year always makes me a little nervous.  I feel like I am standing on the edge of a cliff looking out into nothing.  Wondering what's ahead of me and how my life will be different next year this time.  Every year as I grow older, it seems as though the years are filled with more changes.  The changes seem bigger.  Everything moves much faster.  I know I can't always count on the same people being in my life year to year like I could when I was younger.  Somehow all of this makes life much sweeter, more meaningful and so much more fragile.  

I've always used art as a way of capturing moments.  Sometimes these moments are real and sometimes they are dreams of how I would like life to be.  It gives me a tangible way to hold on to memories and places.  It's like once I have recorded them in this way, I can move on to something else.  I captured lots of "moments" this past year.  I wish I had time to capture them all but that is impossible.  You have to pick and choose in this life....Even in painting.

My biggest goal for 2016 is the same one I had for 2015.  To become a better painter.  To see and understand more and translate that understanding onto the canvas.  It seems I can never learn enough.  And that keeps me hungry for more.  I feel like a sponge most of the time, trying so hard to soak it all up.   It is inspiring,  overwhelming and humbling..... all at the same time.

As 2015 winds down and I gear up for all the opportunities that 2016 has to offer, I am so grateful that I am walking down this path.  There is nothing that I love more, than to paint.  Even on the days when I suck at it.  I still love it.  It is my greatest joy.  Thanks for following me this year on this journey of mine.  I hope we cross paths in the coming year, in a class or outside painting or maybe just on Facebook.  I'm glad we are connected.  You make my year sweeter.

Happy New Year!
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Speaking of gearing up.... I will be teaching a plein air workshop in Edisto Island, SC in March.  If one of your New Year's resolutions is to learn to paint plein air or just paint better, come join me!  We will paint, learn, laugh and have fun.  Click Here for more information! Edisto Island Plein Air Workshop

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Mossy Rocks

It is raining buckets here today, but yesterday was a beautiful day to paint ....70 degrees and sunshine.  I couldn't stay in the studio.

I headed to one of my favorite spots, little creek near my studio.  I just love the challenge of painting the rocks and water.  Each time I paint there, I learn something new.  And not just how to climb up and down the steep bank without killing myself either.

This time I focused on the rocks and not so much the stream.  I forgot my hat and had to face the sun the whole time so that my painting and palette would be in the shade.  I'd like to go back and paint the same scene again and try to catch more of the subtleties in color changes in the rocks that were hard to see because of the glare.  But I am happy enough with the composition of this one and how I simplified the shapes of the rocks.   Just enough information, but not too much.  I also liked the little tree growing in a spot between the rocks.  Takes perseverance to do that.  Just like painting plein air.


You can tell that the sun was starting to get lower in the sky by the golden cast reflected on to my plein air setup.  Here is a better view of the finished painting.

 "mossy rocks"
8" x 10" oil on panel
©2015dottietleatherwood

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Sugar Creek

Another gift of a day to paint.  I will paint outside in just about any weather, although rain is not my pick, but warm sun and blue skies are my favorite. The short days mean that the beautiful, golden afternoon light comes a little earlier in the day and lasts a little longer.  It really adds such a glow to the golds and bronzes on the trees.  Painting the landscape around me is still all about the softness.  Soon all the leaves will be gone and painting the southern landscape will be more about the structure and starkness.   Neither is better, just different.  I think that is one of the things that draws me to paint outside... the constant change.  Nothing ever stays the same.

I painted yesterday afternoon beside a little creek with my studio-mate, Paul Hastings.  He is mostly a studio painter but I am trying to convert him to the joy of plein air.  :)  The reflections in the water of the trees and the bright blue sky were so beautiful and such fun to paint.

What an absolutely awesome way to spend an afternoon. :)  This painting is available on Daily Paintworks if you are interested.  It will be dry and ready to ship in a few days....just in time for Christmas!
 
"sugar creek"
9" x 12" oil on panel
©2015dottietleatherwood

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

December Plein Air...

It's beginning to look a lot like....... fall.  Even though Christmas is two and a half weeks away, we still have a few fall leaves on the trees.   And today we had the sunshine, blue skies and temperatures to go with them.  I just couldn't stay in the studio.  :)

I belong to a plein air group and paint with them as often as I can.  Today they met at a nearby lake to paint and I joined them.  What a glorious day!!

I painted a walking path that runs alongside the lake this morning.  I loved the way the light was filtering through the trees and casting shadows on the path, and it was set against the dark trees in the background.  I worked on simplifying some of the shapes in the underbrush, since that wasn't where the focus was.


Here is my initial block in.  I was trying to work out the shadow pattern.

And here is the finished painting:  

After lunch,  I walked down to the lake and set about trying to make sense of the shoreline. The tapestry of the trees was beautiful and their reflections in the water were just as pretty.  Then wind picked up and one moment there were these serene reflections and the next moment they were gone.  But I decided to take a gamble that the wind would die down and began blocking in my painting with a high horizon line. Once again, I tried not to get caught up in the details and squinted a lot to simplify shapes and colors.   And my gamble paid off, the wind died down and those sweet reflections came back!



These are both available for purchase on Daily Paintworks.  See the links below if you are interested.  Such a blissful day for me.  I love my studio but my heart and soul is outside with my paint. 

"a walk in the park"
12" x 9" oil on panel
©2015dottietleatherwood

"lake view"
9" x 12" oil on panel
©2015dottietleatherwood