Friday, March 28, 2014

2012 Great South Bay Music Festival Mermaid

2012 Great South Bay Music Festival Poster
(If you are interested in a copy, please contact me. There may be some printed copies available)

2012 rolled around and the organizer/producer of the festival wanted a NEW Mermaid and a new look for the poster. We wanted to do something a little different and new, but again, the problem is always that the image and look must be easily adaptable to the variety of sizes we need. 

This was a tough one - I had an entirely different idea and I really LOVED it (and still do). It's a little conceptual, but, to me, in the land of poster design, it wasn't that much of a stretch.
But that one didn't, back to the drawing board. We moved her around, re-proportioned the festival and the water, but he felt he need to see more people at the festival (making the festival itself more important). 
Some more sketching and we/I came up with a "cartouche" style (is that the right word?) that would stand alone with the name and date and the schedule and other info would go on an area outside the scene.

Oooh THAT mermaid's face is baaaaad. I REALLY liked the other mermaid, so I photoshopped her into this new look.
See? Much better.
With a few revisions - adding a banner at the top, adjusting the banner at the bottom and making it a little prettier and flowy-er. and here's the drawing on the 140lb hot press Arches watercolor paper.
It's sort of light. Can you see it? 
Here it is close up
I like to play with the mermaid's jewelry. Earrings, necklaces and bracelets are so much fun.
I want you to notice that there are NOT hoards of people at the festival.

I love that bird (common tern, for the curious).

This is 21" wide, by 14.5" high and most of those little teeny people are 3/4" high or less. 
Watercolor, colored pencil and ink marker on Arches 140lb hot press paper.

Finally coloring in! The best part. 

I like to borrow from the past mermaids and then add something new. This mermaid is playing the guitar that the 2011 one is riding through the sky.
And, just to cut to the chase, here's the finished piece. Hand lettered. I would like to point out the billions of people in this scene. Every time I showed him the progress he would say - "More people! I want people to know it's a festival! That it's a happening place!" O.M.G. This was a really intense piece.
I had to buy stronger reading glasses after this. 
There are some really fun little people in there - a strong man, a hula hooper, a guy on stilts...lots of people.
As usual I had to scan and piece together in photoshop.

More borrowing: In the finished poster I used the sky from the first painting and the braiding and corner pieces from the second. 

Overall, I think the mermaid in this one is my second most favorite. So far, which is your favorite?

Next up: Mermaid 2013.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The 2011 Mermaid for Great South Bay Music Festival

(Please let me know if you are interested in purchasing - copies are in storage somewhere.)

While I'm working on this year's mermaid, I thought I'd share the making of her "sisters." 

In 2011 the festival organizer wanted a new mermaid. We would still use the original for "branding" and for general ID, but a new mermaid every year would give new interest moving forward. I was able to use the same sky and most of the festival grounds, but I had to eliminate the carnival altogether and add a larger stage and ADD MORE PEOPLE. Teeny tiny people.

We went through a number of drawings and ideas. We liked this one, with the floating guitar and the mermaid giving the peace sign, the best.

The original sketch idea (l), and the working drawing of the merm and her flying seahorse guitar (r).

Close up of the merm's face.

Finished merm on guitar with seahorse and bubble holes and moonshell head.

Corner pieces of the border.

New, bigger, badder, gianourmous stage added on left...and more people.

I drew/painted the new stage and new people and placed them in photoshop. The new mermaid, braided border, corner pieces and banner were also painted separately and assembled in photoshop.

Materials: For the mermaid and the festival scene, I use Arches 140lb HOT press paper and a combination of watercolors, colored pencils, and pitt pen. I feel that it allows me to get more detailed,  though I have to give up the lovely grainy textures of the cold press paper. The sky, however, was painted with watercolor on Arches 140lb cold press paper. The moon (in the original painting) was also painted on cold press paper.

Coming soon: 2012 Mermaid.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

First Plein Air of 2014 - Fire Island Lighthouse

A Trip to the Lighthouse and the Ocean
Saturday was (finally) a beautiful day. I had heard that the [Fire Island National Seashore’s] boardwalk to the Fire Island Lighthouse had finally been rebuilt and was open for walking! I packed up some painting and drawing supplies (tried to keep it light) and off I went.

I'm always so happy when I cross the Causeway
This post Sandy landscape always freaks me out.

Pretty new boardwalk on National Seashore property. 
(Looks like recycled plastic. Really beautiful and clean.)

YAY! Walking up to the lighthouse and the lens building.
This is the boathouse behind the lighthouse on the bay side. 
I love this composition, but standing here on the boardwalk is awkward and blocks the path for people. So, I'll take the reference shot and move on.

Cool stuff on the bay beach. I love old rusty stuff like this. Looks like a big winch. 
I wonder what its story is?

I came back up and found that I could sit in this spot, on the edge of the boardwalk, out of the way.
(In my sketchbook, NFS)

Then I walked down the beach almost to Kismet. It was windy, and a little cold, but not terribly uncomfortable. I did think that the barefoot people with their feet in the ocean were pushing the envelope, but we really need some spring around here!
This is a really creepy photo for me. Hurricane Sandy stripped away all the dunes, scrub pines and other vegetation. This used to be a dune...not flat as you see it here. You could see the lighthouse and the roof of the keeper's quarters, but not the whole building.

Sand carved by the wind.

That huge dune, sticking out all by itself, is all that's left of the primary dune line in this (approx 1 mile+) section. (Looking west.) 
Walking back along the Burma Road.
I have to go back to the lighthouse. It is my favorite place.

I really enjoy the colors and the graphic-ness of the building, sky and surrounding area.

My happy place. I could sit on this bench all day and watch the sky go by.

Drawn on-site and painted at home from memory.
(In my sketchbook, NFS)

And I was entertained by this little whirlwind of purple and red racing 'round and 'round the lighthouse with her father and brother. (Drawn on site and painted at home from memory.)
Bye-bye Lighthouse - See you soon!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Painting Updates: After School and Mermaids

(Prints are available for storage...ask me if you're interested.)

Don't get your hopes up - I still can't show you the mermaid. Sorry :-(.  BUT I am taking pictures and writing notes about the progress so that at the end, when it's DONE, I can share the process, and the thinking behind it, with you.

Above is the VERY first poster the very first year of the festival! We stuck with this image for a couple of years. You'll see, in future posters, that we changed the look of the festival grounds through the years. The carnival eventually was taken out, a BIGGER stage was added, and the "craft area" moves to the other side. This was made easier because the four main pieces of the poster were painted separately – the festival grounds and water, the sky, the mermaid, and the moon. This was to allow me to change the proportions for ads in various newspapers, magazines, flyers and postcards (always different sizes and proportions). Some alterations were made only in photoshop and sometimes I had to repaint things.

I will show you a little more of the "After School" painting and how I solved a lighting problem.
(Click here to see where we left off.)

Here goes...

Here are a couple of close-ups of the painting with colors sort of blocked in.
I moved the sunflowers from under the window to the right to "cover" 
an electrical box on this corner. 

That chicken kept popping up everywhere. She was very inquisitive and bold.

As I said in the last blog post, the early evening became very overcast (and rainy) shortly after I sat down to work on this scene. When I started to work on it at home, I really wanted there to be some late afternoon/early evening color in the sky and reflected off the building. In pictures (taken when the sun was actually out on Monhegan) the northern sky is quite gorgeous with pinks and lavenders and the ocean horizon line is a cool blue.
Defining the trees and the sunflowers behind the chicken. 

I had to be careful to not make a blob of darkness in the dark areas of the pine tree/s and keep them interesting. The window screens are very dark too – darker then the other windows. But, this is sort of where I got stuck because my reference photo of the building is very grey – the western side is darker than the front of the building – and that's just not right if the sun is setting. Soooo what do I do?

I started looking through my other photos to find clues about the light. Despite the cloud cover, I was lucky enough to have been treated to late afternoon sun on my first day there. The goal was to find a similar building at a similar time of day. I found this picture of the lighthouse keeper's house in the late afternoon.
Granted this is looking south, with the west to the right, whereas the painting is looking north with the west to the left... 
but if you flip can see the similarities more clearly. I did check Google maps to verify that the two buildings are at the same angle. (There's even a pine tree in nearly the same spot!)

Original photo (as a reminder): 

BIG difference!

Looking forward to painting those shadows behind the sunflowers (a la Sargent).

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Pay No Attention To That Mermaid I'm Working On!


...And can't show you! Nope! Not yet. I'll show you everything at the end – when it's done, and we send it out into the world.

In the meantime, I'll distract you with two things. Firstly, the above painting I sold to my dear friend Roni. I painted it mostly (and when I say mostly, I mean 85ish%) plein air at Planting Fields Arboretum. It's a wonderful place in Oyster Bay, NY. I have to confess that I watched a woman paint a fabulous version of this, in acrylic, the day before. I liked hers so much that I went back the next day and did my own painting. This painting showed at the Port Jeff/Bridgeport show Port-to-Port, and at the Love Of Art Show at the Atria in Roslyn.

Secondly, with something I started in the waaaaay back. The sketch for this watercolor was actually done at the schoolhouse on Monhegan Island, Maine. It's called "After School" (or something like that). I started painting it in October.

Here's the beginning. I ALWAYS forget to take the very FIRST picture - of just the sketch. (Oh and look – there's the Sundial right underneath!)

I went to Monhegan in September of 2013. It was an artist's bucket list trip (check out the blog posts starting here) and overlapped with the start of a 30/30 Challenge. The weather started out lovely enough, but once I was on island it rapidly became a grey, dreary, drippy three days punctuated with momentary glimpses of the sun. I'll explain as I go along what I'm doing to this painting to bring out the sun!

Here are a couple of the original photos:
Day 1 on Monhegan. Notice the clouds rolling in. 

Day 3. The sun came out and I got my hopes up. Ran back to the hotel, grabbed my gear and went to the schoolhouse. But, the sun disappeared and though I could have toughed it out and painted fog and grey clouds, the misty rain returned again. You can't really paint with watercolor in the open, in the rain. 

So I took pictures of chickens and the side of the building and thought about how I was going to brighten up the scene with some sunlight.
Here's a second picture of the painting in progress.

More to come!