Friday, May 28, 2010

Avocado Ice Cream. It's a desert - it's a vegetable - it's a drink!

While glancing thru a cooking magazine one day I came across a simple yet incredible delicious sounding recipe for Avocado Ice Cream.  I'm always on the look out for yummy recipes that are healthy and don't call for any dairy. 

I love to try a new recipe when there's a I made this for our neighborhood party on the dock (if weather co-operates!) that's scheduled for this evening.

A simple Avocado Ice Cream Recipe, from  (A new website to me - but looks totally amazing and has a ton of great recipes!)
Rick Bayless' Dairy Free Avocado Ice Cream

2 cups avocado puree (I used 4 avocados - med. to large)
3/4 cups water (I used coconut water)
1 2/3 cups sugar
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/3 cups tequila  (which, as it happens, is the exact amount that was in the mini tequila bottle we got at Christmas from our neighbor!)

Simply combine in a food processor or blender (our favorite method, because there's no need to puree the avocados first) until smooth. Freeze in your home ice cream maker following the manufacturers instructions.

Rick's version doesn't involve any heat at all, simply mix the ingredients and freeze, but we combined the sugar and water first over the stovetop until all the sugar was dissolved before mixing. Either way is fine, the dissolved sugar has a slightly thinner consistency and smoother texture, but you'll only notice if you know what you're looking for while eating!

Don't have an ice cream maker? No worries, package it and freeze it without churning. It will be slightly heavier, but is still just as creamy and delicious!

So how does it taste?!?! Well first of smells dee-licious!  The lime and tequila give it a wonderful aroma.  When I prepped for that photo above, the ice cream had been in the ice cream maker for about 25 minutes and then in the freezer for almost 2 hours.  It was firm, but not frozen solid.  I tried a few bites after taking the photo - very, very good.  Super creamy, very fresh.   You can really taste the lime and tequila.  I don't imagine you would want a heaping bowl full - but it was good with a few pieces of strawberry, and I'm thinking of making some dark chocolate brownies and serving them together - a square of brownie with a little avocado ice cream on top!  It's like the perfect desert - alcohol, chocolate, and just in case you need to make yourself feel better about the chocolate and alcohol....vegetables :)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sketching from the Male Nude Model

Such a great night of drawing from the live model on Wednesday!  We were very lucky to have one of the best male models around - awesome gesture poses, incredibly inventive.  And I wasn't even torturing him this time!  He chose the poses himself :)

After a few quick gestures, we had one ten minute pose, a very complex relationship between his twisted upper body, his outstretched arms that were supported by a pole, and the dynamic angles at which his knees came toward us - lots of challenges!  I wish I had drawn this slightly smaller (or used a bigger piece of paper!) so I could have included his foot and upper hand.  It was a lot of different relationships to get right.  I loved the dramatic light from the left.

This was an awesome 30 minute pose.  Not only for the great negative and positive shapes formed by his body, but the dramatic lighting and interesting cast shadow.   The shadow was very important in establishing his weight and the direction of the spotlight.  The only spot I don't like right now is the relationship between his chin and his shoulder - too close in value.

For the longest pose of the light, we moved the light to two different sources (both of wich blinded at least one artist who was trying to draw, but o well - the light looked good!) One was high and over his left shoulder, the other was on the floor, throwing light upwards onto his torso creating very complex patterns on his chest.

I was working with charcoal pencil on a tan piece of paper, adding light cream and a bit of white towards the end.  I like the change in height from the left shoulder to the right, and the way he is sitting into his left hip.  The sense of weight on the chair feels pretty good.  Again, I wish I had worked larger, but I'm glad I captured all of the back.

You can see more of my drawings of the male nude model in my Fine Art on Etsy shop.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Colorful Pastel Portrait. How I built up layers of color.

I am working on a Pastel portrait on a large piece of Aubergine colorfix paper.

This a very amateur slide show of how I got to this point...but ignore the fact that each photo was taken in a different light setting and you'll be ok :)


Friday, May 21, 2010

The Female Figure in Red

Well I'm finally back on schedule!  These are figure drawings from this weeks drawing session with the live model.  We started with a few gestures (grey and white pastel on a light tan paper)

She had wonderful shifts in her weight.  This is pastel with a little bit of black charcoal pencil.
A ten minute pose that allowed for a little more development in the shadows.

I switched to watercolors for the long pose, using a bright red watercolor pencil to sketch out the female figure on a piece of watercolor paper (about 16" x 24") mounted to foam core.  I kept thinking about grabbing another green or lilac or prussian blue...but instead stayed with the reds.  I think it's pretty sexy.

I kept adding more detail with the pencils and then softening areas, pulling color into the background, with a wet brush.  Occassionally I added a little wash of color from my palette.

I kept the facial features simple, and tried to create a strong sense of light.

Before I totally ran out of energy (it had been a LONG day!) I did a quick study in watercolor of her back.  I never really resolved her hand, but I think it's a fun little painting (9" x 12" on aquaboard)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Monochromatic Life Drawings.

Still playing catch up!  Here are a few drawings from last week's session with the live female model.  We started out with gestures, ranging from 2 minutes to 15.

Not crazy about her head in this drawing, but I like the torso!

The longer pose, front and back.  Black and white charcoal on grey museum board.

Black and White, warm and cool. A variety of figure drawing styles.

I have so many drawings that I have yet to share with you! So in an effort to get them all edited and posted, I'm going to skip the gritty details and just SHARE! I hope you don't mind (and hey...don't get used to it either! You know I love to hear myself write...)

Above: Gesture poses, 2-5 minutes each.  White and burgundy pastel on cream paper. Below: charcoal and white pencil on grey museum board, about 45 minutes.

Below: Pastel on cream paper, about 45 minutes.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Watercolor painting of a model in the garden. Learning to let go!

If you had asked me "do you use watercolros for your art?" 6 or 7 years ago I would have emphatically said "no".  I was very much an Oil Painter and a Charcoal artist.  However times have changed!  It started with experimenting with watercolor pencils and playing around with an in-expensive palette of watercolors.  Then, as I began to enjoy the medium more, I progressed to a very nice set of watercolor tubes and a variety of surfaces - watercolor papers and Aquaboards.

I am currently working on my largest full-page watercolor that I started in my friend's garden with a gorgeous model.  It is a 16" x 20" Aquaboard, and the first time that I am really doing a full environment in watercolor.

Because I am trying to use the watercolors in the most effective way - blending, layering, etc - I picked up a copy of American Artist's Watercolor Magazine, Spring 2010, which had an article on How to Paint Portraits. 

There were several artist interviews in the issue, all with different watercolor artists focusing on a variety of subject matter.  I picked up different techniques and hints from each interview, some I found helpful, others not so much for my style.  For example, I am not a good planner - I don't think I could layer the way some of the watercolor painters do - the whole surface in a yellow, then red, then blue.

What I did find most liberating was the fact that each artist was willing to share how they achieved what they wanted to achieve - even if it meant changing the perception of what you SHOULD do with watercolors.  One artist shared that she projected the images onto the surface instead of drawing them free hand.  She is a self-taught artist, and utilizing a projector is what gets her to the point where she can do what she loves, and that's paint.  (I have never used a projector or tracing technique of any kind...I want control over everything from the start! Shifts in scale and angles are all up to me right from the beginning)

Another article talked about the effective use of Gouache to create hi-lights.  This was very important for me to read, particularly because of the garden piece.  I was having the most frustrating time trying to re-create the beautiful blues and purples on her slip dress.  I was determined to stick with just transparent watercolor, and I was not having any luck.  For some reason, reading that another artist was having the same struggle and used gouache to accomplish what he was trying to achieve, that freed me up to do the same.

A progress shot before I started adding gouache.  You can see that there is a lot of color in the slip, but it's not capturing the same kind of light as in the photo.

 You can see the changes in the blues on her dress and even a little bit in the rock behind her.  I am trying to use the gouache sparingly at this point, still thinking about layers and where the painting still needs to be resolved.

I hope that whatever media you are experimenting with, you find a good balance between following the "rules" or traditional methods, while also maintaining a willingness to experiment and do whatever it takes to make your piece successful.

Woman as Design. Why do I use women in my Art?

Over Mother's day weekend I had a wonderful opportunity to paint from a live model in my friend's beautiful garden.  As I was enjoying the day, I paused to think of how I am surrounded by my husband's support.  I was able to come and paint because he took on Daddy Duty for the day,  I had an amazing set of watercolors to work with that he bought for my birthday after a great amount of research, and I could take hundreds of reference photos with the fantastic camera he bought me for Christmas. 

Now I'm not saying that he should never have the kids to himself, nor that I was dependant upon him to buy me the supplies I need.  What I am saying is that I really appreciate the fact that he does these things for me, because he loves me, and thinks I'm talented, and wants to show it.

(It's been a while, so I hereby declare my undying love for my husband!)

On Mother's Day I was pleasantly surprised by his gift - a very interesting book titled "Woman as Design" by Stephen Bayley. (A scathing but interesting review here that makes some good points!)

A quick glance thru the pages and I saw that the book discussed Art, Advertising, Architecture, Pop Culture, and numerous other subjects influenced and inspired by the female form.

I started reading with great enthusiasm, for while I love to paint and draw the female figure, I have never ventured beyond the reason of "I think women are Beautiful" or "I am woman - in some way each painting is a self-portrait" (which is an easy cop-out answer, and while not entirley un-true, not a very in-depth annalysis either). 

There are a lot of interesting facts (the snail's vagina is in her head) along with Art History lessons I was already familiar with.  There's a whole section on the Industrialization of the Breast, a segment that forced me to wonder why I take liberties with models' breast sometimes - changing the natural shape to one I think the viewer would find more "pleasing." (Giving it more fullness at the top, for example) instead of allowing myself to capture it as it really is.

I haven't come to any epiphanies yet on why I draw and paint the female figure so much, but I am really enjoying this book and the way it is making me stop and think about some of the choices I make in my Art. 

Also, upon discovering some of the arguments made for and against the book by the author and various critics, I'm excited about reading it thru and forming my own conclussions.  I learned long ago that not everything in print is worthwhile, true, or even worth the paper it's printed on.  But that doesn't mean I can't learn something from it, or that it might not inspire a new thought in my own head in my work.

Thanks, DH, for the great present.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mothers Day!

Happy Mothers Day!
I'd love to share some emotional insights to Motherhood and all the Joys and Personal Fullfillment that comes with it...but why make stuff up?  Instead, I'll just share a moment that only Mothers can appreciate.  The other day I was walking around my yard, photographing my pretty flowers while the kiddos were playing.  I looked over and realized that Jack had found a worm, and decided to give it a full Dr's "Inspection" with his Dr. Kit.
He's explaining to the worm as he listened to his heart "Don't worry little buddy...this isn't gonna hurt"

The worms ears passed inspection as well.  You'll be happy to know that the worm got a clean Bill of Health.

I also announced that I was no longer going to allow any of that Dr. Kit near me again.

Happy Mothers Day!   I hope the little joys and funny moments keep you going :)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Figure Painting in the Garden

I just want to quickly share a couple photos of where I was painting this morning!  A gorgeous model in a beautiful garden...I have more to share, but have SO many pictures to go thru!  So a little at a time :)

Our first pose - sometimes even the dog wanted to pose!

 Our second pose by the koi (sp?) pond - so pretty!  I have a lot to work on...I took enough reference photos to keep me busy all summer!

Thank you B. for sharing your garden.home and C. for being the most wonderful muse!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Getting ready for Marietta Square, GA - First Friday is here!

Tomorow night I will have a tent set up on Marietta Square in GA as part of the First Friday Art Walk.

I spent ALL day framing some art, and creating prints!   A sneak peek at some of the pieces I'll be bringing with me...

A classic charcoal nude in a gorgeous black frame with gold detail.

Beautiful watercolor nude with sap green, picked up in the gorgeous green and gold frame.

A modern, slightly abstract watercolor of a lounging nude in a warm wood frame.

This frame was MEANT for this beautiful watercolor!

The gold detail in this frame has subtle red tones, picking up all the luscious colors in this watercolor of the female nude.

I love the way this bamboo frame compliments her red robe!

I will also have a variety of my Fine Art Prints available and several more framed original drawings and paintings!  I hope to see you Friday night.