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

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Morgue File Challenge: Red Bellied Woodpecker

Now and then the Pieces of 8 have a challenge day. Whoever is the "planner" for the day comes up with something for those who are in attendance to try if they want. April 16th was my day and when I knew it was coming up I spent time trying to think of something that might appeal to everyone.  Here was the challenge I came up with followed closely by the results.

I downloaded six beautiful bird images from one of my favorite resources for photos that artists can use for free: www.morguefile.com! (Check it out anytime, it's well worth a visit.)

I loaded all six images and their correlating release of copyright information onto a thumb drive and took it to my friendly local Staples (the one at the corner of Palm Bay Road and Babcock - super quality prints and really friendly knowledgeable staff in the print department). I printed all six, eliminated one that I thought printed a little too artificially blue (upper right), and then asked the friendly staff person to choose one of the remaining five without my knowledge, print seven more of just it, and seal them in the large envelope I provided. She was very pleased to be given the choice. I paid for my prints and went off to Ralph's Art Supply to start our challenge.

When we opened the envelope I was excited to see our faithful Staples staff member had given us seven prints of the red bellied woodpecker! Great choice!

This is a really beautiful bird photographed by an artist and photographer named Rodney Campbell of Michigan who goes by the name of AcrylicArtist on morgueFile. (You can search for just AcrylicArtist's work and find many more really spectacular photos that he allows artists to use for creative projects.)

There were seven of us present (Carol was traveling) and I handed out the photos. Within a short amount of time (about 15 minutes) I started making my rounds to photograph everyone's beginning efforts.
Cindy making initial sketches

Donna starting a sketch on watercolor paper

Mary starting a watercolor

Fay sketching

Kathy starting an acrylic

Denette evaluating colors before starting an oil painting

Carmen starting an oil painting.
We only have about two and half hours at Ralph's, but by the time we left, this is what we had to show. Only Mary was calling hers finished.

Mary's watercolor

Kathy's acrylic

Denette's oil

Carmen's oil

Cindy's watercolor and ink

Donna's watercolor

Fay's collage
We all admit that we are like hearding cats!  Just to get seven together anymore was an accomplishment! Getting finals will be a bigger challenge than getting together. But, painting in the beautiful light at Ralph's with music and friends - what could be better! We had fun and there was a little dancing in the aisles at cleanup time!

I requested final images get sent to me for this blog. Now, just about exactly two weeks later I have finally called mine finished. (I almost never call a painting finished.)

I have also received a finished image from Carmen.

And Fay has finished her collage and mocked it up in a frame.
We would like to thank Rodney Campbell and all of the photographers that contribute to www.morguefile.com for their inspirational images. I'm sure we will be doing more with their many resources in the future!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Painting a Masterpiece (in 2 hours?!) with Cindy Michaud

When I was approached by an organization I support to lead a fundraising/painting event based on those franchises springing up all over now (where non-painters leave with a ready-to-hang painting after only 2 hours), I was challenged.  Before I would commit I knew some experience would be helpful.  A cry for help resulted in 15 willing ladies who all agreed to be guinea pigs in my "Masterpiece Painting Experience."  The mission was to take a gathering of non-painters and walk them through the creation of a frame-ready painting they would be proud of.  Game on.

I gathered supplies, made handouts, set up tables, dreamed up an approach and got prepared.  After talking to lots of people who had been to the "paint and wine" or "sip and dip" places I decided that I wantedeveryone to paint their own version of the subject matter...no cookie cutter paintings for us!

I am not a real teacher and while I don't mind public speaking I quickly learned that this process meant I was the teacher, the coach, the demonstrator, the cheerleader, the fixer and the hostess!  Yikes, a lot of hats to wear at once: my brain was buzzing...

I could not have asked for a nicer group of guinea pigs...they were enthusiastic, eager learners and willing to leave their comfort zones and give some new things a try.  I know for a fact that the effort was a real stretch for several of them but I also have it on good authority that they had fun.  The evaluation sheets were full of helpful advice and compliments.

My buddy Cheri won't mind if I share some of the steps everyone went through:

 #1 - hmmmm, this is a tad harder than it looks, gee I hope I am getting this right.  Now what was I supposed to do with the large flower???
#2 - who me?  did you say to "pause" or paint faster?  I love these colors.  What do you mean 'no leaves yet'?  Ah, yeah, I think I'm enjoying this.... 
#3 - Woo Hoo! I do like this style of painting, and I did have fun and hey...when can we do this again?

I learned alot during this class, namely that 2 hours is a real short time for anyone to learn anything!  But as I believe that art should be a positive experience for any and all I think we at least accomplished that goal.  Can't wait to try this again.  Will let you know if I need anymore test subjects!

Just a few of the delightful participants!
Smiles and masterpieces +
one exhausted teacher!

ART FULLY yours,

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Scribble Challenge with Mary Warnick and Carmen Beecher

Mary's Scribble Challenge

Today the Pieces of Eight became the Pieces of Two. People had other places to be, so Mary got to challenge me with her exercise she called "Scribbles." It begins by making a loose and large scribble on a blank sheet, then figuring out what nonsensical painting can be made of it. 

Mary's painting is above, and I really enjoy the alligator that apparently has dentures. Mary didn't want him to have sharp teeth and possibly frighten children.

When I looked at my scribble I saw a bird and two people. I painted it with watercolors and threw in some Zentangle shapes. It was a very relaxing exercise. There is no erasing and no going back, so you just literally go with the flow. The woman looks like she went to Marge Simpson's hairdresser.


Monday, April 20, 2015

New Rosie, 12x9 Watercolor Painting by Carmen Beecher


This painting was part of a series of working people done for a pipefitters union. This one was my favorite. She reminds me of Rosie the Riveter, as she does what is traditionally a man's job.

I am so impressed that she makes a few fashion statements in spite of having to wear ugly overalls and those white gloves that are not going to be seen at any tea party. She has a hairdo, hair ribbon, and earrings. She also has a career with an excellent pension, a rarity these days. Don't bother to badmouth unions to her.

Speaking of women in men's jobs, did you know that over 400 women fought in the Civil War, disguised as men? Some were discovered when wounded, others when their bodies were recovered after battle. Discovered women would usually be sent home, although a few were imprisoned or institutionalized.

It was also illegal for them to vote--and now a woman is running for President. The times, they are a-changin.'


Friday, April 17, 2015

Scarlet and Gold, 11x14 Oil on Canvas, Portrait of Woman in Red by Carmen Beecher

All that glitters is not gold, sometimes it's gold oil paint. I was so seriously studying landscape painting until I unscrewed the top of my gold paint. That started a chain reaction, and this week I am going to see the movie about a stolen Klimt painting, so the fires will be stoked again. I want to get back to the Roaring Twenties too. So many ideas, so little time...


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Flapper, 8x10 Mixed Media by Carmen Beecher

This was an enjoyable project for a special event: the Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum Gala to be held in Montgomery, Alabama on May 2nd. I began this piece by ordering Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This was a selfish act, since I had not read the book. I found a photo of a woman dressed like a flapper but I took 20 pounds off when I drew her, because in the 1920s everyone was thin. The Roaring Twenties were known for excess, but everyone was thin. No McDonald's, no Cheesecake Factory, no Olive Garden--you get the picture.

Anyhoo, I collaged pages (ones I had read, of course) onto a canvas panel, then I painted the figure in acrylic over it. I may do more of these; I love Roaring Twenties art and Fitzgerald's writing has me hooked, so I'm quite inspired. Another shiny object to chase. 


Friday, April 10, 2015

Seascapes and Hawii Five O, Seascape Oil Painting, Ocean Painting

Today I have some very exciting news to report!!  Over the years, I have painted many seascapes, both impressionistic and abstract.  It is part of my environment, living on the coast of Florida, and sometimes seascapes showed up almost without my intention.

On the beach

 The paintings always sold very well and I have featured a few of them as giclee prints.  Can you image my escitement when two of my prints were sold for set design on the CBS show "Hawaii Five O?

A Call From Mother

Yes, it's true!  I still can not believe it! This was one of my favorite shows in the 70's and I love the currant version too.  I will be checking out every episode in the upcoming season, trying to get a quick glimpse of my art.  Unfortunately, I have no information about when this will happen.

The good news is, you can own them too.  Both prints are available in the sizes of your choice at the links below the images.

Book em, Dan-o!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Daily Painting, Small Oil Painting, Floral Still Life, Small Flower Painting, Flower Knife Art, "Roadside Bouquet" by Carol Schiff, 8x8x1.5" Oil

I call this "Roadside Bouquet" because I was walking a country road in the Blue Ridge Mountains last summer, and I collected all these wonderful flowers blooming in ditches and fields.  Wild day lily, Queen Ann's Lace, daisy and purple clover abound!

purchase here
130 + shipping
I was in the zone, while painting this, slinging paint and making no effort to be true to the image I was working from.  No, my orange day lilies don't look like day lilies and I am fine with that.

It was one of my favorite home made bouquets...here is the picture.

I cannot wait for summer to return!

Thanks for reading my blog today.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Sketchy Situation

Look how serious we were this morning! Left to right: Denette is painting, Carol is drawing Mary, Cindy is drawing...hm, I don't know what she is drawing, but she's really concentrating...and Mary is drawing Carol. I drew Carol and Mary. They are not sleeping, I just drew them looking down because that's what they were doing.

Posted by Carmen