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Just won an IWS Award of Excellence for my painting, "And then I lost it"

Big news - last night I was honored by winning an "Award of Excellence" at the Illinois Watercolor Society's Annual Member Show for my painting "And then I lost it" (shown below)! I am over the moon thrilled about this. My first award since taking up painting again 2 years ago.

I walked into the exhibition last night with my best friend Robin, took a look around and thought to myself - oh man, I don't have a chance. There were so many truly amazing paintings on display last night, by some incredibly talented artists. This show is really something to see - and I figured no way was I going to win anything.... but then I did!

The judge was Marilynn Derwenskus, NWS, IWS - I was told that my painting was chosen for the story it told, for the risks I took in the composition and for the "glow" I was able to achieve in the execution. Super thrilling for me to get such high praise from a nationally respected artist and judge.

The painting, "And then I lost it" is one of a series I've been developing from discarded vintage photos found in junk shops and antique stores, which I'm calling the Discarded Series. The resource photo I used for this painting was of a little girl, circa 1930s, standing on a hillside with a white dress blowing in the wind. I added the cliff in front of her and the kite, to tell a story of innocence lost.

If you are interested in seeing a truly wonderful show, it runs through December 5 at The Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 West 31st Street, Oak Brook, IL.

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Experimenting with Pigment Sticks

I recently took a painting workshop called "Experimenting with Pigment Sticks", with instructor Lisa Pressman at Shake Rag Alley in Mineral Point Wisconsin. I had a blast. Met some really great people including Lisa who was not only a great instructor but very inspiring as an artist and a person as well. And she got me painting in oil which is something I've not done since my art school days, yonks ago. I came away from the 3 day workshop with 11 paintings - in varying stages of "done-ness", and I haven't stopped since.

R&F Pigment Sticks are kind of like big oil paint crayons, except they're mixed with oil, beeswax and linseed oil which makes them really creamy in texture and incredibly versatile as a tool. Lisa taught us numerous ways to use this medium - drawing with them (kind of like drawing with lipstick), mixing them with different solvents, adding glaze like you would a traditional oil painting, and even mixing them with cold wax medium to give infinite possibilities for creating texture. Scrape, scratch, push, pull, smear, wipe, layer, escavate... let me tell you, I am hooked.

Following are some samples of finished works.

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Portraits make incomparable gifts

Last month I was commissioned to create a double portrait. My new client wanted to give a very special gift to his partner. This man had lost his mother years ago, and even though his father has since remarried, a family portrait of them still hangs in his father's house. She was a very special woman who is greatly missed. My client photographed the framed image last time they visited his partner's father and commissioned me to make a portrait in time to give as a birthday gift. I was really pleased with the finished product and even more pleased to hear how the gift was received. Thank you to my new clients! You made my day!

Here is the note my client sent me:

Rochelle-

Today was (his) birthday and the unveiling of your work. He loved the painting! Words cannot do justice to his overall reaction, but know it was an awesome feeling. Now comes the daunting task of finding a place worthy of this piece but I'm sure it will be on display shortly.

Thank you again for a wonderful job – giving him the gift of his parents, memorialized in watercolor, was awesome. You were truly a pleasure to work with and I knew you were the right person for the job – the fact that this project excited you from inception made me confident I chose the right artist.

I've attached your work framed... I hope you like.

I do like! great choice in frame! Thanks again!

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Winter in Chicago

Winter in Chicago, where are you? There's been so little snow this year I used a photo from last year's snow to create this painting. After a snow fall I like to walk through the city streets and green spaces and see what catches my eye. There's almost always something that grabs my interest so I try to remember to bring my camera at all times. There is a big park near me and these trees were still covered with red berries, which were so striking against the white snow background.

Pictured above, "Winterberries", watercolor.

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Pet portraits from photos

I recently finished two new pet portraits. A portrait makes a wonderfully personal keepsake to remember someone who has passed to to commemorate a beautiful moment in your life.

The portrait of Allie below was completed some months ago but was only just given as a gift over the weekend for the owner's birthday. I knew this cat personally - I used to cat-sit for Allie as she and her owner, my good friend Barbara, used to be my neighbors. Allie had the most beautiful blue eyes, so I chose a bright blue background to really make her eyes pop. Barbara's mother commissioned the painting so I had to keep the portrait on the hush hush until the gift was received but now I'm free to post it. We all miss you Allie!

The dog portrait was a gift I gave to my good friend John this weekend. He lost Bernie (the dog on the right) just a month ago. I had already planned to do a portrait of the dogs for John's birthday - I took the source photo back in November. But now that Bernie has passed the gift is even more poignant. Bernie - most wonderful of dogs - you are greatly missed!

I personally love doing portraits and love to try and find the soul in each subject. I have recently offered a donation of a series 9 pet portraits to Felines & Canines, a nearby pet shelter, to serve as featured art in their new facility currently under construction. Stay tuned for posts following my progress in creating these nine images.

Allie - portrait, monoprint with watercolor and collage

Allie - portrait, monoprint with watercolor and collage

Nina & Bernie - portrait, monoprint with watercolor and collage

Nina & Bernie - portrait, monoprint with watercolor and collage

 

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Remembering Grandma

This Christmas, to commemorate the passing of my wonderful Grandma Gertrude 10 years ago, I did a couple portraits of her to give to family members.

I had wonderful source material - my mother had taken a series of beautiful black/white photo of Grandma years ago, so that was my starting point.

Making the paintings was a wonderful experience for me - it actually felt that I was both honoring her memory and communicating directly with her over the last couple days as I perfected her soft cheeks, her direct gaze and her arthritic hands.

My grandmother was a dear woman, greatly missed by all who knew her. Love you Grandma!

portraits from photography, watercolor artist, modern artist

Grandma Gertrude with patterns - portraits from photography

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Winter Birds - a great holiday gift

Since the first set of 6 has nearly sold out and I'm getting requests for more, I went ahead and created 6 new small canvases of winter birds. I focused on Cardinals and Bluejays.

I just need to get the hanging hardware attached on the backsides and then it's off to the Galleria for hanging.

Happy holidays everyone!

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Red balloons

(Pictured above, Red Balloons - original acrylic painting on canvas, 12" x 12")

Another to add to the moody series - this one more melancholy a bit sad and reminiscent. Dead tree, floating balloons, small red heart. What does it make you think of?

RO

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