Not all departures have to do with planes, trains and automobiles. My current departure is a summer foray into abstract painting. I am having so much fun playing with color and texture, with little regard for source material or reference photos.
This painting, believe it or not, is based on a photo I took ten years ago of our boardgame cupboard, filled to the brim with potential for family fun. But the horizontality of the game boxes stacked in the cupboard didn't match the excitement of the fun that lay in store. I decided to flip it vertical for more energy and upward motion, evoking joy. This is the result. I toyed with the idea of painting a hint of the names of the games on the sides of the boxes, like they are in the photo, but I think the image is actually more fun without them.
Take your best guess as to the boxes of games portrayed here. There is everything from old-school Chinese Checkers to Taboo. But the real fun is experiencing the joy of giant brushstrokes and exuberant color. Game night, anyone?
Small group instruction, with classes from three to seven members. Custom-created kit of professional-quality materials. Stress-free, non-competitive environment. Celebrating the smallest successes. No pressure ever.
This month we went beyond the basics of negative painting, and explored techniques involving basic kitchen supplies, including cardboard, kosher salt, and food wrap. Pull together a group of friends or neighbors, or join my waiting list, and I'll do the rest!
I also offer private instruction for serious beginners or more advanced art students.
Simply use the contact form or email me: janaparkin[at]gmail[dot]com
Hydrangeas are my favorite flower. Perhaps because they love water as much as my brush does...thirstiest flowers ever! Also, the way they change colors mimics the subtle transitions of a watercolor painting. Love!
The dry Utah climate is not ideal for this thirsty species—me or my favorite flowers! I've tried to grow hydrangeas here with minimal success at best. But England provides exactly the right growing conditions for these water-loving beauties. They grow as tall as the rooftops there, with flowers the size of volleyballs.
The most beautiful specimens I saw in our time in England were in the courtyard of the Victoria and Albert museum. There were hundreds of them lining the walkways, surrounding the reflecting pool. They were taller than I am, boasting beautiful splashes of vibrant color.
This is a painting of some of the blooms from that V&A garden...aptly named Victoria's Hydrangeas. It started with a wild, abstract wet-on-wet underpainting, followed by just the right amount of careful negative painting to make the blossoms come to life.
Happy May, everybody!
Florence is like a love song to the universe. Our time there was pure joy, as we revisited favorite landmarks—and favorite restaurants—we remembered from the ten days we spent there 25 years ago. Only this time it was better, because we were sharing it with our kids.
This was our third day in Florence. We had already seen the David and the Uffizzi, been back to two of our favorite restaurants, and taken the boys to the ceramica shop where we met our little Italian grandmother, Nonna Bruna. Today we had just come from the stunning hillside estate, Villa Agape, where where we stayed during our first visit to Florence. It was looking like rain, but the water-heavy clouds hadn't yet released their rain. We stood in the Piazzale Michelangelo in awe of this view of Florence and the Arno, still warmly lit while the storm clouds gathered overhead.
For me, this painting—and this moment—captures the timeless beauty of Tuscany, the warmth of its people and customs, and a day we'll never forget.
This painting will be exhibited for the first time at the AmBank show which opens this evening in Provo. Come see it in person!
I have to admit, Rome wasn't at the top of my list of Italian cities to visit. But once we got there it blew my mind! Amazing places we'd seen that were hundreds of years old in London were suddenly eclipsed by a civilization that was over two thousand years old in Rome. We spent five days there, soaking up all the history and energy. We saw the Piazza del Populo and the Trevi Fountain, all the Egyptian columns, toured the Vatican and St. Peter's, the Colisseum and the Forum and Palatine Hill. We ate our fill of pizza and pasta and bruschetta.
Our last day we spent exploring the Borghesi. The boys were a little bit museumed-out at that point, so we spent most of our time outdoors, in the gardens. Just as we were leaving, a little before sunset, we walked to the edge of the grounds and were completely taken aback by this incredible view: miles and miles of everything we'd discovered all week, like one final farewell from The Eternal City. Domes and towers stretched as far as we could see, and beyond. The last rays of sunlight pulsed through the city, highlighting its energy, turning everything a glittering gold.
This painting will be exhibited for the first time at the AmBank show which opens tomorrow night in Provo. Come see it in person!
Every day, every time of year, is beautiful at Snow Canyon. But this particular day, just after the rain, was especially jaw-dropping. We were at a Winters family reunion in St George, and after a big rainstorm the night before, the more adventurous of us set off on a morning hike to Three Ponds. The hike wasn't difficult (as you can see, the trail is mostly flat), but it was about three miles of gorgeous, rain-soaked desert trail, concluding with a series of ponds at the end where the kids jumped in and went for a swim!
I just finished this painting last night. This will be on display at the AmBank Invitational show, which opens November 3, 2016.
I was standing on a bridge opposite the one where these girls are seated, painting this gorgeous scenery at Sundance with one of my classes. The autumn trees were backlit in such a way that they glowed like they were on fire. Suddenly these five young girls wandered into the scene and took a seat on the bench, and I snapped a quick picture. I loved their gestures, their friendship, and the way they were out enjoying the fall color just like I was. I knew instantly that I wanted to paint them.
In a class in Salt Lake yesterday I was explaining how and why I include figures in my paintings. The people in my landscapes are nearly always strangers, and I paint them without recognizable features so they can be about anybody. If I want the picture to be about a particular person, say, a family member, then I do a portrait. But otherwise I want any viewer to be able to envision themselves in the picture, interacting with the landscape. Including a figure embraces our humanity and links us to the subject at the same time.
This painting is called "Encircled About by Fire" (inspired by a chapter in 3 Nephi where angels come down from heaven to surround children and minister to them them, "as if in the midst of fire.") The subject of this painting is obviously not little children but teenage girls. Having raised three teenagers of my own, I know they are surrounded by guardian angels! That is every mother's prayer. Sometimes teenagers need that divine intervention even more than their toddler counterparts. Here the reflections in the water complete the circle of fire. This is a larger piece (22 x 30) that I completed in the studio last week. I'm planning to exhibit it at the AmBank show opening November 3.
The piece I was working on en plein air when I took this photo is called "Stream of Light" and has a different format, as you can see below. It is smaller, and was completed on location, visiting this spot in multiple painting sessions. It is now sold. You can see that while the setting is essentially the same, the subject of this smaller piece is clearly the water, while the focus of the larger painting is centered around the girls and the circle of fire that surrounds them.
I spent the the entire day by myself. Jeff and Jeremiah went off to a concert, and I decided to explore the city on my own. I spent most of the time on Portabello Road, exploring the seemingly endless open-air market and photographing all the colors and textures of the shopkeepers and their stalls.
Rather than take the tube home, I decided to find my way back on foot, including a stroll through Kensington Gardens. It had already been a very long day, and I'd been walking for miles, but all the life and growth here kept me going. It inspired and revived me to be surrounded by so much natural beauty.
I was planning to put this in a show of my London paintings, but decided on a whim to show it—unfinished—to a woman who came over to look at my work, and she bought it right then and there. I asked if I could keep it a few more days to add some finishing details (the hints of flowers in the upper right, and a few other bits) and she agreed. This often happens with my florals. I can hardly keep them in stock, and this is the second one that has sold before it was even finished.
This is a small piece, but it packs a lot of punch, thanks to the Transparent Pyrrol Orange. This was originally begun as a class demonstration, in an effort to show how to neutralize the color on the rocks, and capture the rush of the water against the vivid intensity of the surrounding fall foliage. This is the result.
Nearly every year I take a group of students to the base of these majestic falls to draw and paint, and the location never disappoints, at any time of year. There is always contrast, color, drama and light in abundance.
This painting sold last week, and its color and light are bound to add a splash of fire and passion to the walls of their home. I'll definitely miss this one.
If you're interested in painting with me in Provo Canyon this month, The WorkRoom has hired me to teach a watercolor workshop/creative escape for women on September 24th. The class is already sold out, but I think they're adding a few more spots.
One year our house in Pasadena was on the Historic Highlands home tour. People would come from all over California (but mostly from our neighborhood) to admire the lovely restored Craftsman houses. As I walked the neighborhood, I couldn't resist painting this one—on the corner of Atchison and Catalina. It's not a typical Craftsman bungalow. But I love the flash of orange shrubbery growing over the fence, echoed in the red tiles of the roof. The house is almost a back-up band to the flashy array of lush foliage. Something about this painting just says California sunshine in a big way. In fact, I left the top edge of the roof completely out of the picture, as if to invite all the sunshine in.
This painting sold this week, and I have to admit I was a little bit sad to take it down off my wall. But then I was so happy to see it go to a new home where it will be loved and admired, and add a little splash of sunlight and joy.
I am an artist and art instructor working in water media. Just knowing I can watch colors run together makes it worth getting out of bed every morning! Helping students capture the same excitement is equally rewarding.