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Oh my goodness, the Tanzanian safari and Zanzibar was a trip of a lifetime, for me.  From our Jeep, which the animals are totally indifferent to, we saw 25 different animals and uncountable numbers of elephants, wildebeests, zebra, giraffe, Cape buffalo and antelope in the migrating herds (some so close we could almost touch them).

Colors! There is unexpected beauty in the landscape even at the end of the dry season.  Colors so vivid in common birds (starlings) they were a “carnival” in flight.  And the most intense color is the clothing and art work of the beautiful people.

In the vastness between villages are goats, or maybe a few cows, herded by their very young shepherds, but always a male’s job  Like our Native Americans the women are the water-keepers so containers of water or stick for hut building is often seen on the traveling women, again in gorgeous fabric of color, pattern and tradition.

In contrast to this vast land, and a quick flight later, was the bustling Indian Ocean shore of the island of Zanzibar with a congestion of ships, boats, and rafts of every size and shape.

How to incorporate all or any of this in my artwork?  But the challenge is what I love!  To be continued, my friends…..Kathleen

 

As we dip into autumn I hope everyone is well and will seek some of the gorgeous show of color nature provides us, front row seats, free of  charge!  We, in northern Michigan, will be at peak season soon and I will miss it …. I’ll be in Tanzania, painting on a safari!  I’m so excited I can hardly stay calm and focused enough to get my bags packed.  I leave tomorrow at 5:00 a.m.

I have one image and wonderful news to share:  I am thrilled to have received the XIX Malcolm B Bird Award at the National Watercolor Society (NWS) International Exhibition 2023 for “Storm Warning”.  It will come back from the exhibit in November and then will be available for sale on my Website.

Award Winner

Please take care, my friends.  That Covid bug is rearing its ugly head again.  I have my N95 masks and was informed they will be mandatory in most places we travel.  Happy painting!   Kathleen

KathleenConover.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A fellow artist shared with me her quote, “There is no comfort in a growth zone and no growth in a comfort zone.”  Taking this to heart I’m trying something new.

It’s been a long time since I’ve taken a workshop, so I signed up for not one, but two, in acrylic painting En Plein Air (French term for painting outdoors on location).  The goal is to stretch my skills beyond watercolor, which is oh-so-comfortable for me!

First, was a Plein Air class in acrylic by Mark Mehaffey (excellent artist as well as teacher).  Was this out of my watercolor comfort zone?  Yes!  Feeling uncomfortable?  Definitely! Did I bomb?  of course, at first.  Did I learn anything?  I must have because by day 3 I was starting to get the hang of it.  But my ultimate hope is to find my more distinct “voice” in acrylic landscapes and that takes time at the easel and miles on the brush.

Next month is class #2, “The Tonalists” at the lovely Franciscan Center in Lowell, MI.  This class is taught by three painters and I’ll have instruction from each.  They are primarily oil painters but I’m bringing acrylics and my watercolors.  (I don’t want to go crazy with this “getting-out-of-my-comfort-zone-thing!  I’m happy taking little steps into “uncomfortable”).  Besides, I don’t think my small, home studio can hold one more tube of paint.

So, let’s give a salute to the beauty of mid-summer and capture a moment in time, using whatever materials you’re comfortable with (hah! or not.)  And don’t forget to have fun!  Kathleen

Shadow Play - acrylic on Gatorboard

Shadow Play, and other acrylics will soon be available on my website in the “Hot off the Easel” Gallery!

I’ve just returned from a wonderful Plein Air painting opportunity at Lake Tahoe, CA.  Besides the stunning landscapes (I could paint from for the rest of my life!) I realized that just as inspirational were the 9 other artists in the group!  Each artist with their own vision, perspective, palette of color, handling of the brushes, etc., painted from the same location.  At the end of the week we shared our work and what an exciting collection of paintings it was!   Included were watercolors, acrylics and drawings, some totally abstracted, some very location-specific, 8″ x 10″ to full sheets 22″ x 30″.  But each one was wonderful and created from its unique spark of inspiration.

Here is one of my favorite views that inspired me to paint and, actually, I painted a few times before I could capture the feeling I wanted.  But, as inspiring as the landscape was, more so were my fellow artists.  Once again, I learned the lesson of a little quote hanging on my wall:   “Hearts can inspire other hearts with their fire!”   I hope you all have an inspired rest of your summer.  Kathleen

Oh, the wonderful distractions of summer!  It’s difficult to get to all the paintings that rattle around in my head in the quiet seasons.  It’s even more difficult in this busy season of glorious sunshine and long days.  There is a garden to be planted, friends to visit, places to explore, home repairs to conquer, flowers to admire, lakes to fish and parks to camp in.  But I try to keep up!

The best way to “keep the brushes wet”, I find, is to keep the sketch book and a few basic tools close and just do something – anything – often.  Below is a half-hour sketch done late evening, when we camped at Pentoga County Park, MI.  Not spectacular, but I captured a moment in time.  I can revisit the feeling and inspiration at any time in the future by viewing this sketch.  I did this with one pencil, one pen (“Script Writer” that runs and separates into grays, blue and pink when hit with water), one brush and water.

My art is always a reflection of my life.  Its many “distractions” is the richness from which I draw my inspiration.  I encourage all my fellow artists to keep a sketchbook and pencil with them and capture those moments!  Kathleen

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.”   Joseph Chilton Pierce

This quote is the perfect sentiment for the brave artists in the Colorado Watercolor Society (CWS) who attended my workshop in April.

They weren’t afraid to risk being wrong, to try something else and to try something new.  As a result, wonderful and exciting works were created!  It was a great week when new friendships were formed and Fun was had by all!

Let’s lose our fear of making mistakes as we venture forward in our Art Journey.  Kathleen

Colorado Workshop 2023 – Pictured (left to right):  Beatrice Trainman, CWS President, myself, Sandy Day Selbert, Workshop Director

The month of March holds all the promise of Spring (officially, at least, even though so many are still battling the effects of winter).  I found, and bring to you, a little bit of Spring from Charleston, where I was painting with art friends last week.  I had a chance to practice my En Plein Air technique on the prevalent live-oak trees and blooming azaleas. It was the perfect week!

Under the Live-Oak trees

 

 

Back in the studio, I’m wrapping up my accepted painting, “Locomotion”, to go to the Georgia Watercolor Society National Exhibition.  I send it off with a kiss…always hopeful of getting a “nod” from such a respected judge/artist as John Salminen.

Locomotion

I’m most thrilled to learn I’ve earned the National Watercolor Society (NWS) Master Artist (MA) Status because I’ve been accepted in 6 of their international competitions over many years of competing!  MA are a couple more initials to add to my “alphabet soup” that while silly to some, still mean a great deal to me.  I see those letters as my credentials, my higher degree and steps in my life-long career as an artist.  Paint on, my friends!!

Here’s another quote I just love and want to share:  “If you choose not to find joy in the snow, you will have less joy in your life, but still the same amount of snow”.  unknown

Preparing to teach in-person again is bringing me Joy as I prepare for a collage class at Big Arts, on Sanibel Island, March 1.  This focus allows me to concentrate on one of the most fun art-mediums there is, Mixed Media Collage.  I keep mine 2D and incorporate old paintings, newly painted and embellished tissue papers, altered found papers (newspaper, doilies, sheet music, coffee filters, fabric, etc.), watercolor, acrylic, gouache, pigment sticks, ink, graphite and anything else that might tweak my interest.  It’s all thrown in together, gets cooking, simmers and makes for a whole lot of Fun and a whole lot of Joy!

There’s plenty of Joy out there for you, too, so I hope you gather some materials, glue, sturdy backing and just start playing with shapes and color.  When you like what you have, take a picture (so you remember where the pieces go), glue it down and enJoy!  Kathleen

This is a lovely quote by Louise Bourgeois and its sentiment goes to the heart of an article I wrote, Design by Disaster.  It was sent out on ArtistsNetwork.com, the online art magazine (free).  The editors at Golden Peak Media think they will publish it in Watercolor Artist Magazine next summer.  That would be very nice, too.  I hope you enjoy the article from the link below, Kathleen

https://www.artistsnetwork.com/art-mediums/design-by-disaster/

I’m sending my wishes to each of you for a bright and beautiful end of year celebrations and a healthy, happy new year!   I’m hoping for the same plus I’m feeling very long on gratitude this season after Hurricane Ian.

Although our losses were significant, my studio being demolished was the worst for me.  But so many families lost everything.  I can assure you the “Christmas/Good Samaritan” spirit is very much alive and well.  Neighbors helped neighbors, capable people helped the less able and volunteers were there to completely take care of those in need.  Free meals were provided by World Central Kitchen (great place for making donations).    Water, tarps, laundry and shower facilities and materials for building were provided by FEMA.  So much more than I can mention was freely given and lovingly provided.  My heart is full!

Now back home to my solid base in Michigan, I will enjoy the holidays with my family.  May your heart and new year be filled with the Spirit of this Special Season.  Kathleen