Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Pipefish, snake pricklebacks and eelgrass

A Snake Pipefish peeks around the eelgrass. 
I was drawn to the elegance of the Giant White Plumed Anemone, of course. And the flamboyant purple sea star and the delicate pink flowerlike sea urchin. They are all so dramatically beautiful. However, one of the most memorable moments of my visit to the aquariums inside the Breazeale Interpretive Center at Padilla Bay was when I discovered the elongated head of a seahorse on what looked like a strand of eelgrass. I learned that the pipefish isn't a type of seahorse but rather a sub family of small fish. They do belong to the same family though and the males carry their young much the same as seahorses do.  Can you see mine emerging at the left center of eelgrass, with his snout highlighted against the white anemone?
An enchanting little prickleback did his army crawl with his fins to investigate my mini palette.
I was with the Anacortes Sketchers on a sunny, 68 degree midwinter's day at Padilla Bay. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Color Blooms in the Aquarium

Elegant beauty flowers in the aquariums at Padilla Bay
Ready for something colorful during the winter palette of blue and grey? These are but a few of my photos from my meeting with the Anacortes Sketchers today.

It seems a bit too cheerful (on a sunny, 68 degree day in the Pacific NW) when the east coast is bracing for a blizzard today. But maybe we all could use a splash of color while we wait for spring. 

I usually post my sketches of the day, but I will post them on Wednesday. You just can't compete with nature! Thanks to the Breazeale Interpretive Center for hosting us today at Bay View. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Value vs Color

Think in black and white to succeed in color. 
For quite a while now, I have posted a feature on Sundays as a prompt for casual painters. It is intended to encourage and inspire. Sometimes that's all it takes to get you going, get you over to the kitchen table with your collection of art supplies. If you have been checking back on Sundays and thought that I forgot all about you, please be assured that I have not. I trust you came along on vacation with me to Hawaii for a few weeks. :) Aloha!

Ready to dig into your creative projects again? Here's something to consider:
"Value does all the work and Color gets all the credit"---That's a saying with which we artists are familiar. The two paintings on the easel here are shown in grayscale to illustrate that point. Scroll down to my two previous posts to see them in color.

If you have some previous projects of your own, try taking black and white photos of them. The ones that seemed most successful in color are likely to be the ones that read well in black and white.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Skagit Valley fallow fields

For me, painting is more than a way of seeing. It gives me an opportunity to use all my senses and to explore more than just a single aspect of a scene.
"Skagit Valley Fallow Fields" class demonstration by Michele Cooper
Previously I posted a watercolor depicting the serenity of winter in the Skagit Valley, featuring the quiet season in the farmland. But this painting gets us into the earthy part of the landscape; the mud, the weeds, the texture.

Both paintings came from the same time and place.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Skagit Farmland

Recently, our grandson and his new wife visited us from California. They came to pick me up at the airport in Bellingham as I returned home from Hawaii.

We wanted to show them the particular landscape of the Skagit Valley, so different from their home terrain. I posted a photo collage from the experience here. You might recognize the barn and tree as well as the lavender foothills.
"Skagit Farmland" by Michele Cooper

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A clear view of the mountains

A few peaks viewed down the road from my PNW studio
It was a beautifully clear day with a view of the Cascade Mountain peaks near where I live. I sat in the car and sketched this today.
They don't call this the Evergreen State for nothing! What other temperate zone landscape has emerald foothills and green grass in the yard at the end of January?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday's Twelve Hour Cold Remedy

Last Sunday, we started out at the beach in Lanikai and ended up eating ice cream in Haleiwa. Monday I realized that I had caught a nasty cold from my little granddaughter. They say that a cold lasts about a week without treatment, with treatment about 7 days. I wasn't so sure about that at 3:30 this morning.

With the national flu map lit up in red from coast to coast, I called the nurse line at our doctor's office on Friday to see if my symptoms warranted going in to the clinic. I was assured that I didn't have the flu, but a bad cold with congestion and got some good advice on how to alleviate my symptoms. The results are good, but not enough to allow me to go out sketching with the USk Seattle group today. :(
12 hours at the end of a nasty cold.
So I sketched what I saw on the kitchen countertop from my vantage point on the couch in the family room. This helped distract me from the depressing first three quarters of the Seahawks game. By the final score at around 3:30 pm I was feeling a whole lot better! The home team won in overtime and they're going to the Super Bowl for the second year in a row!

I just had to celebrate with a giant cupcake decorated with the team colors and "twelfth man" frosted numbers. Suddenly I realized that my color scheme had subliminaly evolved into the team colors, too!

Vast improvement on many fronts in just twelve hours. What a great way to "cure" the common cold!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Near Edison

Near Edison
I took a red eye fly from Honolulu to Bellingham and arrived at 8:00 am. Just in time to spend the day with my husband and our grandson from California and his new wife. After a cozy, yummy breakfast at Skylark's in Fairhaven, we toured Chuckanut Drive to show them the winter landscape and our beautiful coastal views and villages.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Sandy Beach Gouache

A rare gouache painting en plein air by Michele Cooper
I always tell myself that this will simply be a sketch, no big deal. I know one thing, I will learn something.  So every attempt on location will be successful in some way. I liked the result of my on location gouache at Sandy Beach. In this case, I would call it a plein air painting, not a sketch. 

Before there were children to watch, my daughter-in-law and I would take a deluxe collection of plein air equipment, including lunch, and spend hours painting on location. You pull into parking right off Kalanianaole Highway, there's sometimes an ice cream or food truck, and facilities with a water fountain. This is Sandy Beach, off the southeastern shore of Oahu, sometimes called Obama's beach. If the swells are up you can see the blow hole from there. 
Set up to spend the day at Sandy Beach

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Kawai Nui Marsh

Just before sunset

This is a beautiful natural marsh--the largest on Oahu at 800 acres.  As such, it is a protected Wildife Sanctuary, and that fact by itself deserves respect when visiting this site. There is a nice, somewhat lengthy, flat trail on the floodwater control levy. This levy, however, has no shade, so plan for an early morning walk, and bring water. There is no wheelchair access, no store or food access, no bathrooms, very limited parking. The marsh is a cultural and scientific historic treasure, and was considered a major sacred site by Hawaiians for centuries as a giver of Life--Was able to sustain thousands with fish, kalo-[taro]- and fowl during Hawaii's chiefdoms and later, monarchy period. WW11 marked an era of rapid change for the face of the windward area of Oahu, with the introduction of marine corp base Hawaii, and a change in economy. The marsh fell into disrepair, but in the last 20 years has seen several improvement programs that are helping return this natural area back to its healthy, productive state--fish, fowl and wildlife populations are slowly increasing in healthy numbers.-quote from tripadvisor

It took only a five minute drive down Oneawa and through a neighborhood to find this natural sanctuary. I saw people fishing, cycling, running and taking photos. There were quite a few bird varieties, including waterfowl. The moment the sun passed over the crest of the Koolau Mountains the still, glassy surface of the water became densely pocked with mosquiotos.