* Carmen Beecher * Cindy Michaud * Carol Schiff * Denette Schweikert * Donna Vines * Mary Warnick * Kathy Garvey *Fay Picardi * Jean Thomas

Monday, December 26, 2011

Memories of 2011

Going to mountains with my painting buddies,
Wading by streams with our shoes nice and muddy,
Whether in Fall or in Winter or Spring,
These are a few of my favorite things...

As you can see, we never go into the wild without plenty of provisions. This is the trip that recharges our batteries every year, and this year there will be a Spring trip too, thanks to our new friend Mary Jo in South Carolina.

posted by Carmen

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas to all of you who follow our blog!

Every year I paint a picture for our Christmas card,
and my husband makes the cards for me to write and
mail. This year's card is inspired by my favorite
carol, and the beauty of the North Carolina mountains.

May all of you find the Joy of this special season.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sometimes just for fun is the best

I have just returned from a family Thanksgiving in New England. This is the first time that both of my children, their spouses and all the grandchildren have been together for a holiday, and it was wonderful. I am lucky enough to have grown grandchildren, teenagers and toddlers so it made for a lot of fun, a lot of rowdiness and a lot of girlie stuff.
While I was with my oldest granddaughter she showed me where she had hung a fun little piece I did for her last year. I remember seeing this technique in a magazine by an artist named Vanessa Valencia. For some reason I immediately thought of my granddaughter, so of course I had to try it and of course I had to expand on it.
After collaging a support with quotes and sayings relevant to her, I used a wash and tissue to tone it down. I copied a photo, cut it out, glued it to cardstock, then added her dress using shredded sheet music. She always loved butterflies so I gave her one as a "Fascinator".
Seeing how much she treasured this made me realize that there are many ways to express yourself and sometimes just for fun is the best.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Painting for Mom

I painted this 6"x 8" painting in oils this autumn while the Pieces of Eight were on our retreat in North Carolina. It was a drizzly afternoon and Carol Schiff set up the still life on her back porch. Carol and I were the only ones painting that afternoon. I did not finish the painting until about a month later when we were back in Melbourne, Florida. When I looked at it later I realized that it reminded me so much of my mom. She was raised on a farm and loves to plant tomatoes and cucumbers in her little garden behind her house. She also loves to can and makes wonderful pickles. One of her favorite flowers is hydrangea and she has a bush in her back yard. So I framed this little painting and am giving it to her for Christmas. I think that she will love it.

I hope so!

Phillis Holland

Friday, November 18, 2011

SUMMER RETREAT, Carol Schiff Studio

In October, our painting group joined me for a week of fun in my vacation home in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
When we returned home, Kathy Garvey presented me with a CD of photos taken during the week.  She also made a small book featuring events of the week.  I painted this  from her cover photo on the book, showing our home in fall color.

We all had a great time and I cannot wait to repeat the experience next October.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A long way home

After being on the road in some form or fashion since September I finally feel like I'm home. Of course being home means being around all the things you love and feel comfortable with but it also means doing lots of catch up to get these things you love and feel comfortable with back.
First you have to wade through all of the mundane tasks that make the wheels go round, like the mail, paying bills, doing all the laundry, cleaning up the house, weeding, answering email etc. etc. After all of this is at least given a first pass you get to think about doing some painting. One of the good things that come out of having to go through and reorganize your work space is you come across a piece that you really like or enjoyed painting. This is one of the pieces that I really had fun painting. It was painted during a workshop and I loved the photo and the memories it envoked.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Stones Speak


The Pieces of 8 showed up en masse to support fellow artist Cindy Michaud and poet Fay Picardi on the recent opening of their collaborative effort "The Stones Speak."  For nearly a year the two worked on images (painted and verbal) that related to their personal experiences with stones.  Amazingly a lot of the work overlapped in subject matter and thus a book became part of the creative effort featuring both the poetry and the art.
Denette and Carmen
Bob and Cindy
Originally opening in Linville, NC, the gang was happy to be there for the First Friday opening in the Allaprima Styling Group in the Eau Gallie Arts District.  Fellow artist Kathy Garvey was the computer whiz behind the book.  What a great night!

The red fashions were not planned, just a colorful coincidence.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Why I love Digital! Version 3

The next day, I'm not sure if it was the fish, or me. But it certainly wasn't the same mood. This fish had attitude and wanted to look totally different. It took about two hours, but he ate my homework. He's not finished. But I can't wait to see what he's up to for tomorrow.

And just in case these don't show up in the order I had hoped, my message was that I love digital because it's fun and fast and dynamic and I never know where it wants to go but I enjoy the ride.

Well, darn. Thought if I built them up in order but saved them as drafts and loaded the last one first, they'd read one, two, three. But no, this blog tool is not intuitive. What it does one time is not what it does the next. So, I will try to reload. If they still don't read Version 1, 2, 3. I tried, I really tried. But some software (this blog tool) is not as awesome as other software (Illustrator and Photoshop). JMHO

Why I Love Digital! Version 2

The very next day, my fish was feeling blue. He wanted a complete change of company and background, and of course, a place to go and things to do. An hour later, he's happy and maybe thinking of being a poster on my wall.

(And trying to get three simultaneous blogs to print in order by editing a second time. Wish me luck.)

Why I Love Digital! Version 1

I've been having fun with a fish lately. He started out as a very small sketch and within an hour was a very large illustrated fish. From Illustrator he practically swam off on his own to Photoshop where he wanted to be decorated and, of course, multiplied. And then he begged for multiple backgrounds. So several hours later he was ready to be printed to fabric.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Artists' Retreat

Here are more pictures from our annual retreat. The colors were magnificent. We are so fortunate to be able to commune with nature and each other every year. From left to right, Carol, Cindy, Donna, Phillis (behind Denette), Denette, Mary, and Kathy.

Some of the trees looked neon-bright--they glowed!

Posted by Carmen

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Donation to Everglades Completed

Just after we left on retreat I got an email that my donation to the Everglades was due on October 25th. (I really have until next July to donate, but by delivering it early, they frame it for their Christmas Show.) Since I didn't get home until October 2oth, that left me struggling to get it finalized (they wanted a version without words) and printed in time to deliver it.

I'm happy to report that a local business was wonderful to work with and printed my poster to a beautiful watercolor paper at a very reasonable price. The colors were true and the turnaround time was less that 24 hours. For those of you looking for a nice printing resource for your artwork or photos, I'd like to recommend Canvas Depot. You can find them online at http://www.canvasdepot.com/ or you can drop in to the former Christmas Cottage in downtown Melbourne where they have a booth.

And for anyone interested in Liguus Snails, let me know. I have a half hour photo heavy presentation that I'm happy to give at schools or local gatherings to tell anyone about these wonderful little creatures, their habitat, and why they are protected.

And if you want to find and photograph them for yourselves, they can only be found in Florida, between Big Cypress, the Everglades and the Keys.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Revived and Refreshed

Well some of us are back from our week of rest and relaxation. It was really a wonderful time with lots of beautiful foliage. We really hit it at the perfect time. Every day the trees got more colorful. 

This is the view from Newfound Gap (the elevation is about 5000 ft) in the park.  The day was crisp and clear and you could see the shadows of mountains behind mountains in the distance.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

What is this tree?

Sorry about the weird post just before this.

This is a small fruit tree of some sort that grows in North Carolina. Does anyone recognize it. These may be seedpods,
or fruit.

I thought it very pretty, and wanted to paint it when I saw it.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Smoky Mountains, Here We Come!

From left: Phillis, Mary, Kathy, Cindy, Carol, Donna, Carmen, Denette. 
It's that time again, our annual retreat to the Smoky Mountains to meet the challenges of plein air painting. This is the most fun an artist can possibly have, and we hear our envious husbands are going to have some fun of their own. On the road again...
posted by Carmen

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Great Civil War Tour

I spent the last two weeks traversing the countryside of Tennessee visiting Civil War sites. I have had a long fascination with this particular time in American history and have visited many battlefields in Maryland, Virginia and Georgia but my husband and I had never been to Tennessee and really wanted to visit that area.
We started our roadtrip at The Cumberland Gap (which is really in Kentucky) through Knoxville, Munfreesboro, Franklin, Nashville to Shiloh via the beautiful Natchez Trace, down into Corinth Ms and over to Chattanooga. Just for good measure we did Lookout Mountain, Chicamauga and Kennesaw Mountain Battlefields on the way back to Florida.
One of the highlights of the trip was an artillery demonstration at Shiloh. The men always come at least the day before and set up camp. They love to talk about their "company", share their feelings about why they do what they do, the importance of being authentic and the respect they have for the soldiers who fought in these battles. You cannot help but be moved when you visit any of our National Battlefields.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Blue Houseboat

This little painting was started when we were all together on Monday.
Kathy took pictures while I was working on it, and I think the progression is interesting.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Our Own Carmen at AGUA Tonight!

Our very own Piece of 8 - Carmen is part of a group show tonight at the EGAD Art Lab - 1405 Highland Avenue in Downtown Eau Gallie! Don't miss this lovely exhibit - all about AGUA. Stop by and say "Hi!".

We always have fun at our Monday painting sessions and this last one was no exception. While we all worked on individual pieces, Carmen was working on a very beautiful oil painting for the Agua show. This may not be its final view, but check out the mini surfer about to take a dive from this awesome wave!

The opening is from 6 to 10 p.m.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hidden Pond Resort, Maine

 I just returned from a lovely vacation in Maine, which included some plein air painting. This was the gate at our cottage.

 This area was where we could pick vegetables or flowers, do yoga (rain or shine!), or paint with the resident artist, Judith Kinsman. Of course I chose to paint, and Judith was absolutely delightful. The place even provided easels.

Posted by Carmen

Friday, September 16, 2011

Print your Art to Fabric

I'm down in the Everglades photographing snails again. I love their patterns. I wanted to spread the word about putting your designs to fabric. It's so easy now that we have spoonflower.com available to artists everywhere.

Being able to print your designs to fabric quickly is very exciting. Two weeks ago I uploaded the Illustrator image shown above to spoonflower.com. It shows three of my snails and the patterns inspired by them. Less than 9 days later, the fabric arrived and I cut it apart and finished the edges. They only had a voile that was the right weight for scarves when I ordered. But, when the package arrived, it had a sample of their new cotton silk I'll try next.

I love Spoonflower.com and the possibilities it opens up for artists. If you haven't visited, check it out. It's easy as pie to have your designs printed to quilting cotton, voile, cotton silk, and more.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Paper Paintings Workshop Day 1

Paper Paintings Workshop  Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson/// Follow Paper Paintings on Facebook or elizabethsthilairenelson.blogspot.com

Saturday morning 16 happy, enthusiastic artists, all loaded down with years worth of the most interesting papers you have ever seen settled in for two days of learning and sharing. Elizabeth started the workshop with a demonstration of painting and stamping your own papers. We discussed different kinds of papers, how they reacted, where to find them and using common objects to make interesting designs.
After Elizabeth did several sheets we all gave it a try.

Elizabeth demonstrating hand coloring papers

She also showed us some of her work and explained her approach to collage.

Elizabeth's rabbit

After lunch we started on are apples.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Correction and a flurry of activity

I stand corrected in some of the information I posted about my upcoming collage workshop. Elizabeth does not use magazines in her collages, she feels they wrinkle too much.  I am really sorry about that. Of course this news inspired a new fluffy of activity on my part. I started painting papers like a madwoman.
I used all of the methods that Elizabeth suggest plus some experiments of my own. I did lots of reds and oranges for my apple and got a jump start on the blues I will need for my second painting.
I also broke out a new apron for the occasion!! I love aprons and I know this one will keep me smiling.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Getting ready for Paper Paintings

This week-end I will be lucky enough to attend a collage workshop right here in Viera. The instructor is Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson and her website is www.nelsoncreative.com/gallery. Her approach is a little different in that she not only uses magazines for her collages but she makes and hand colors many of her papers. She also likes to use found and personnel papers that have a connection to what she is doing.

Taking a workshop with such a creative and talented artist is a great oppurtunity and I am so looking forward to it, especially after my unplanned hiatus from art this summer. I am hoping this will get my creative juices flowing again and bring me back to my easel.

Checking my paper supplies

Drawing my apple for our group excercise

My very rough underpainting in acrylic paint

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Wetting your feet

After so many weeks of inactivity it felt wonderful to hold a brush again but after several tries everything I did seemed forced and flat. I felt like I had forgotten how to paint! Where was my spark? When I took out my palette knife to scrape yet another attempt a little light came on, why not use the knife to move some paint around, play a little, put some color on the canvas?
The mind is a strange instrument. Palette knife paintings are just as challenging as using a brush but somehow it seemed to free me up. I began to enjoy myself. I stopped trying so hard and got into the process of painting, looking at blocks of color, moving the paint around and getting lost in the process. Maybe the lesson is if you can't do what you normally do, just do something.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Well, Life on the Farm is Kinda Laid Back...

Just returned from visiting our family in upstate Pennsylvania, and I can tell you one thing: life on the farm is anything but laid back. There is so much work, especially if it involves cows! I'll be painting some pastoral scenes soon of the beautiful place. My son-in-law's cousins were visiting too, and one is a well-known restaurateur in Chicago. The master chef cooking home-grown vegetables was foodie heaven. I was surprised to learn that parsley is a root vegetable that has wonderful healthy properties. I had no idea. Here's what the root looks like, and it tastes good, too:
As for the photo of me feeding the calf, I think I should have enhanced my look through the magic of Photoshop before posting this picture!
posted by Carmen