Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tracy Hall

Red Squirrel, 1.75" x 2.25" (4.45cm x 5.72cm)

Living in the remote Orkney Islands of Scotland for the past 20 years, Tracy Hall was very busy with commissioned art projects until 2007, when she had a revelation regarding her own art. As she puts it, "I saw potential paintings everywhere I went but always seemed to be filing them away to paint 'some day.' It was frustrating, until I realized that the only person who could make 'some day' arrive was me. So I made time." She gradually found a balance between her commission assignments and her personal work and feels both have benefited as a result.

Young Otters, 2" x 3" (5.08cm x 7.62cm)

Starting out with ACEOs because of limited time, she soon discovered the world of miniature painting -- where painstaking detail is not only embraced but encouraged -- and found it very liberating. Because of the incredibly small size (Tracy's miniature paintings are often 1.75" x 2.25" -- smaller than a standard business card in the U.S.) she works on smooth-surfaced Crescent rag board using a magnifying glass and fine-point brushes that range from size 3 down to 10/0. Although many people assume miniatures will be quick to paint because of their small size, Tracy has found that "if anything, the reverse is true -- I find the more I do the longer they are taking!" With her deep love of nature, birds and animals predominate in her work which is painted exclusively in watercolor using both transparent and opaque paints.

Red Admiral & Rook, 2.25" x 1.75"
(5.72cm x 4.45cm)

Within a year of starting to work in miniature, Tracy had won awards in all the miniature shows she entered in the UK and US, culminating with the prestigious once-in-a-lifetime Gold Memorial Bowl from the Royal Miniature Society in 2008, and she was awarded signature status in the Hilliard Society of Miniaturists (UK) in June 2009. Tracy recently completed a four-year collaboration on The Orkney Book of Birds, painting 50 full-color illustrations for the volume. She is a contributing artist to The Watercolor Flower Artist's Bible and The Watercolor Artist's Flower Handbook and was featured artist in Animal World magazine (US) in both 2005 and 2006. Tracy is included in a special feature on botanical artists in the June 2009 issue of Artists & Illustrators magazine (UK), which is also running a special feature on her miniature paintings in the forthcoming September issue, and she is currently writing an article on miniature art commissioned by Leisure Painter Magazine (UK) to appear in their October issue.

Inca Tern, 1.75" x 2.25" (4.45cm x 5.72cm)

Superb Starling, 2.25" x 3.25" (5.72cm x 8.26cm)

Please visit Tracy's blog to see more of her work. It's well worth your time to go from there to her website to see even more of her excellent work.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Michael Reardon

Piemonte, 21" x 10"

An avid traveler, Michael Reardon uses watercolor to record his observations, convey a sense of place, and communicate his impressions of natural, constructed, and imagined worlds. He has been painting in watercolor for over twenty years, inspired to learn the medium after viewing a show of John Singer Sargent's watercolors at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, and Sargent's work continues to inspire his work, particularly his plein air paintings. With his extensive background in architectural illustration, he composes evocative watercolors using a limited color palette and subtle washes. His most recent work is a series of imagined landscapes. Beginning with a small thumbnail study of shape and value, he enlarges the image, adding architectural detail to create convincing landscapes. His intent is to let the watercolor paint express itself in each piece -- working wet-into-wet -- and he enjoys watching the pigments mingle and granulate as he paints.

California Squall, 22" x 11"

California Pond, 22" x 11"

In 2005, Michael was the recipient of the prestigious Gabriel Prize from the Western European Architecture Foundation, which enabled him to spend three months painting in Paris. His watercolors have been exhibited both nationally and internationally; recent exhibits include the annual shows of the California Watercolor Association, the American Watercolor Society, and Watercolor West. He is a signature member of the National Watercolor Society and the California Watercolor Association, and his work was featured in the Fall 2007 issue of Watercolor magazine and in Splash 10 -- Passionate Brushstrokes from North Light Books (2008). This May he was a juried participant in Sonoma Plein Air 2009.

Pont-au-Change, 21" x 11"

Champs-Elysees Bassin, 14" x 9"

Please visit Michael's website to see more of his work.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Kathleen Alexander

Lawaii Plumeria II, 21" x 28"

With a focus on Pacific Rim subjects, Kathleen Alexander constantly challenges herself to take on new subjects and create artistically inspiring series of paintings. Beginning with local California coastal landscapes, she moved on to botanical orchids and then to tropical flowers -- particularly of Hawaii -- following travel to the islands. From there, she expanded her field to include various tropical plants with intriguing foliage and then pushed the boundaries further with waterlilies, koi, and Japanese persimmons. She chooses subjects that trigger an emotional response for her and aims for finished paintings that evoke peace and tranquility. Kathleen says, "For me, technical skills are important, but having a subject you are passionate about is equally important for creating art. I found that my technical skills improved as I explored painting similar subjects. Working consistently with the same color palette also improved my technical skills, as I learned how certain colors behaved with each other and on the paper." Primarily a studio painter, she uses her camera and computer as tools in creating her striking compositions, preferring subjects with strong contrasts and rich shadows.

Enlightenment, 13" x 31"

Summer Morning, 21" x 29"

Although she began painting in watercolor in 1982, Kathleen earned a degree in biochemistry and worked in that field before starting her family. In 1991, she felt the need for a focussed creative outlet and began taking evening classes in watercolor at a local community college. She was awarded a one-year scholarship to the Academy of Art College in San Francisco after entering a painting in the local County Fair; she studied life drawing and graphic design at AAC in 2000-2001 while continuing to paint in her own studio. She currently participates in regional art festivals during the summer and teaches ongoing classes as well as three-day workshops in watercolor. Her work has won awards in numerous juried watercolor competitions around the country -- the Northwest Watercolor Society, the Watercolor Art Society - Houston, the Lousiana Watercolor Society, and Watercolor West -- and she recently won Third Place in the juried Statewide Watercolor Exhibition at the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara, CA. Kathleen is a signature member of the Northwest Watercolor Society.

Haiku I, 20" x 30"

Lawaii Palm, 32" x 37"

Please visit Kathleen's website to see more of her work and get details of her show schedule and classes.