Monday, December 8, 2014

Getting back to blogging about Art


It's been awhile since I have written. I have been keeping busy painting, honing my craft and showing my art. By the time I sit down to write I am at a loss for words, lol. Seriously I find it more difficult to write out my thoughts than to blurt them out. Hopefully for 2015 I can keep up on a regular basis. Did I just make a New Years resolution? Well you heard it here first!

I was recently interviewed for a featured artist piece on Inspired by Willow Wolfe and sponsored by Princeton Brush Co. 
so I thought I would share it here:

Preferred Medium:


Acrylics on Claybord

Favorite Tools?

My Favorite tool is whatever will give me the texture I want, crumbled up paper for bark texture, Hawthorne thorn for scratching in fur, makeup sponge for defusing background atmosphere and of course my favorite brushes. I have recently discovered the Series 6250—Umbria Synthetic brushes and I am loving them for acrylic painting. I have tried many types of brushes and I find that acrylics are tough on brushes but the Princeton Umbria brushes seem to hold up the best.

What would you call your style?

My style is naturalism. I have always looked toward nature as inspiration for my work. As an artist, I have found that when I am portraying the rich texture of a wolf’s coat or the glistening reflection in a bird’s eye, I feel at peace. As a teacher, it gives me immense pleasure to be able to guide my students so that they can emerge as artists and find their own inner solace as well.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a series of trees through the seasons. I enjoy the contrast of the White Birch against the deep blue sky in fall and I like to paint the Lonely Cypress tree against the ocean blue.

What is a favorite piece of art you created and why?

I did a series called "Life in the Serengeti" for and exhibition last year.

This African Bush Baby is one of my favorites. 




















                                                                     This baby elephant was also one of the series.

                                                                                            

I also enjoy painting flowers and birds:



These paintings are all done in acrylics on Ampersand Claybord.


Who are your art heroes?

Oh the list is long but I will try to list my top 5 art heros: da Vinci because of his sketches, inventive mind and his vast body of work. Van Gogh for his color and moods that show thru in his artwork. O'Keefe for her compositions, colors and her representational work. Wyeth because of his illustrative qualities, mastery of light and shadow. Monet because of his ability to capture the ever changing light and the passing of seasons.

What qualities make your art distinctively you?


My experience and education in both Commercial Art and Fine Arts resonates in my style and in my ability to capture the fine details that make many of my pieces seem more like photographs than paintings. I am well-versed in painting botanicals and other organic forms, my recent work with wildlife is what has been getting the most exposure.

Where do you create?

I have a studio just outside my back door. It is a remodeled garage and I love it! I have lots of work surface and storage. When I am done working for the day I just turn off the lights and lock the door and I don't have to worry about messing up the house!



   

                                                                                   
                                                                       

When do you create?

I try to keep to a schedule of working in my studio from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm at least 4 days a week. I like the solitude during the day when everyone is off to work and I don't have as many interruptions or distractions.

Do you sketch or keep an idea journal?

I love sketching and most paintings start with a pencil sketch. Sometimes the sketch even becomes a finished pencil for framing. I keep all my sketches in a drawer unless I frame it. I have lots of journals with a few sketches in them but I am more prone to get a big sheet of drawing paper and go for a finished drawing. I do always travel with my sketch book just in case inspiration strikes.

What do you do when you hit a creative block?

When I run into a creative block I try to switch gears and start working on making jewelry (my other passion) or cleaning my studio, lol I will place the piece on which I am having a road block up on a shelf either in the studio or in the house and try to ignore it for awhile only glancing at it from time to time. When my mind is ready to take it on again I will put it back on the drawing board and start experimenting with different color schemes, if that was the problem (which usually is) or go back to the drawing reference in case it is about composition. Walking away from it is a safe way for me not to muck it up.

Do you have any special techniques you would like to share?

Techniques that I like are painting trees with a ripped up piece of computer paper crumpled up tightly and dab it into a little paint and stamp it onto the branch to simulate bark. Starting with the darker colors and then progress up to the lighter colors for the highlights.

Do you teach? What and why?

I teach acrylic painting in my studio here in Michigan and I also travel to different locations. I teach botanicals or birds mostly. As a teacher, it gives me immense pleasure to be able to guide my students so that they can emerge as artists and find their own inspiration. I have been teaching on location at our local Community Mental Health with disabled adults. This has been very rewarding for me and they are so appreciative. 

This is a class I taught off site of my studio

What do you listen to when you create?

I go to http://8tracks.com and find playlist without words mostly but then I also have a few marked favorite that are 70's music and also the Beatles. I don't like to be sidetracked by the lyrics as I am easily distracted. I also enjoy cello music and classical. When I find a song I like I save it to my playlist called "Background Music" then I can just play that list without searching for other songs. Other times I just enjoy the sounds of nature outside my studio and don't turn on any music.

What other things do you like to do creatively?

I enjoy cooking and entertaining, crocheting, photography and jewelry making. I like to travel to historic lighthouses and hear their stories, photograph them and just soak up the sounds and history that surrounds them.

Tell us about any commercial art endeavors:

I received a grant from the Art Council of Greater Lansing in 2013 and it allowed me to create a body of work for our local zoo. I painted 10 of their animals along with teaching painting classes on site. One of the paintings I did was of their lion "Dakota". My lion was chosen to be on a 47' x 17' billboard. It currently is on display in the Lansing area.





Sunday, February 16, 2014

KEEPING BUSY.....

MOTHER GIRAFFE
In case you were wondering where I am..........I have been keeping busy in my studio since my Creative Creature project at the Potter Park Zoo came to an end.  I have been working in my studio almost every day while we here in Michigan are caught up in this polar vortex! They say it has snowed every day since Dec. 2nd!  My loving husband (he edited this, lol) snow blows me a path out to my studio almost every day so I can make it out there safely. I have been fighting off the urge to hibernate away these dark and snowy months.  So out to my studio everyday to work on paintings, techniques and prepare for upcoming classes I will be teaching. I am trying to get ahead of schedule while we are in this deep freeze as I have a couple of exhibitions coming up in the spring and summer.  I keep looking out my studio window and dreaming of all the beautiful blooms I hope to see soon in my gardens.  When the gardens thaw and start to bloom, I will be out there weeding so it is good to have this down time to get some paintings done.
Yesterday I worked with a great bunch of kids at our local art center  They made my job easy as I gave them the tools, some techniques and reference photos and they created some great art!  One boy was so proud of his tiger painting that he wrapped it up in some paper and wrote "Happy Valentine Day Mom" on the package.  He said it was the best painting he ever did! Love it!  As much as I enjoy painting and creating art, teaching and sharing it with others is the best part of my job and to see the excitement on their faces is priceless.
I am excited to have also been asked to teach a class at the Community Mental Health office this spring for a group of disabled adults.  I have always felt the therapeutic effects of creating art personally and I hope they will discover it also.

MY BILLBOARD ON I-69 IN MICHIGAN
On another note, my billboard went up in December so if you are driving
 in Michigan on I-69 east of Charlotte near the Potterville exit you
 will see my painting of a lion watching your driving, lol 

CREATIVE CREATURES ON EXHIBITION

My complete collection of my Creative Creatures is hanging at 
Absolute Gallery in Old Town Lansing, Michigan.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

CREATIVE CREATURE ENCOUNTER COME TO A CLOSE..........................


As you probably can tell by the long silence from me on this blog, I have been very busy with my grant project.  My Creative Creature Encounter has officially come to a very successful end. Over the summer, I had over 300 children and some adults paint with me at Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, Michigan.  I had all the supplies available for the kids to sit down and paint with me, and we painted tigers, ducks, butterflies and giraffes.  Everyone that participated went home with a painting. This was all made possible through a grant from the Arts Council of Greater Lansing and thanks to them, I was able to supply paint, brushes and canvases for everyone to paint with.

I met a lot of awesome kids and great painters during my project.  It amazes me what great paintings the kids did with just a little direction from me.  I hope I inspired at least a few young people to follow their creative spirit.


During the times I was not at the zoo painting I was in my home studio painting 10 of the animals that reside at Potter Park Zoo.  I also managed to fit in time to paint an exhibit for the Golden Lion Tamarins that the zoo acquired. Now they have a new home with a mural of the rain forest canopy as their back drop. My daughter Katie and I worked on it together  and I think it looks pretty good for our first attempt at a mural. 

Potter Park Zoo is a lovely park with great staff who are very friendly and helpful. They made me feel at home and welcomed me into their family (human, that is). They have a very wide variety of animals for all to see.

My Creative Creature Encounter project ended with an exhibition of my 10 paintings in their Safari Room.  On September 15th there was a free reception open to the public. We had a great turn out. The paintings continued to be on display until October 5th.

As a result of the grant from the ACGL I will have an outdoor billboard with the Lion on it somewhere along the highway! The Arts Council has partnered with Adams Outdoor Advertising to produce billboards for artist member grantees of the Arts Council. I am very honored and excited about this and as soon as I know where it will be I will let everyone know of it's whereabouts!

What I learned from this project:

Kids are great, creative, energetic and inspiring (but I really already knew that!)
This project enabled me to share my passion for art with others.
I was challenged and I stepped up to the challenge.
I was able to hone my craft over the 6 months of the project.
Painting wildlife is still my favorite subject to paint.
Don't stand too close to the Mandrill's cage as they have very long arms! lol


Most important lesson of all: 
I would like to acknowledge and thank my family and friends for believing in and supporting me!


Friday, June 7, 2013

CREATIVE CREATURE ENCOUNTER HAS BEGUN...............








On June 1st the Greater Lansing Visitors and Convention Bureau coordinated "Be a Tourist in Your Own Town" by convincing over 70 businesses and attractions to waive their admission fees and hold special events - all to celebrate how much art, culture and entertainment our city has.  At Potter Park Zoo they threw a truly wild party by celebrating International Migratory Bird Day on June 1st as well!  One of the main components of the Individual Artist Grant that I received from the Arts Council of Greater Lansing was "community impact".  I couldn't have picked a better day or a better place to get more people in our community as passionate about painting wildlife as I am. I knew it would be a busy day, but I had no idea how busy!  I prepared over 70 canvases, did line drawings of a Bengal Tiger, a Wood Duck and numerous varieties of butterflies for children of all ages to create art with me.  I also brought my trusty side kick and sister Christine along, and thank goodness I did!  4,687 visitors came to the zoo that day!  I was set up down by the duck pond on a deck with a canopy in case of rain.  The rain held off all day and we had a great time painting.  I don't think any kids that passed by didn't stop to paint.  I did a line drawing of a Wood Duck in honor of Migratory Bird Day and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service asked me to promote their Federal Junior Duck Stamp contest. We had so many kids painting that 2 hours before the event ended I ran out of canvases and paper to paint on!  The last few kids that came through painted on the copy paper I had printed the line drawings on.  Christine kept them supplied with paint, brushes and paper while I gave them direction but they knew what they wanted to paint and they did a great job with or without my guidance. We had all ages from 2 years on up, even had a young couple sit down and paint the Wood Ducks together.  I was very impressed with how well behaved and eager to paint the children were.   I am looking forward to another great turnout when I return to the zoo on July 19th, August 17th and again on October 5th.  
Come paint with me and try your hand at art! 

                                                      Painting Tigers at the Zoo



        Made possible by:
      


 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

CREATIVE CREATURE ENCOUNTER.........


is a go at Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, Michigan!  It is official - I got the grant I applied for back in January.   Thanks to the Arts Council of Greater Lansing for believing in me and my project.  There were 2 categories of grants; emerging artist and established artist.  I actually fall into a category of re-emerging artist but that wasn't a choice so after looking over my resume, publications and awards the director decided I would fit in the established artist category.
The day the letter came telling me of my award my grandson became ill and was rushed to the hospital.  It is with a heavy and broken heart that I tell of his passing.  I read the letter in his hospital room and one hour later he took his last breath!  I will continue on, for and because of Ethan, but this is going to be very hard as I have lost the love of my life!  Ethan would have loved to be at the zoo with me and all the kids around us.  His room was full of animals - stuffed and painted.


As I said before my project will be an Artist in Residence at the Potter Park Zoo.  I will be demonstrating acrylic painting techniques to the public during "Tourist in your own town" day on June 1st.  Then again on July 19th and August 17th.  I hope to encourage young and old (and those in between) to pick up a brush and apply paint to a canvas.  I will be providing paint, brushes and small canvases with help from the grant.  Just picking up a brush and applying paint to a canvas is a big step for some.  I will enjoy sharing the awesome feeling I get everytime I pick up my brushes to paint. It can be relaxing and/or therapeutic,  it can be an escape or an embrace.  You can tell stories with your art or just paint something because it is pretty or interesting.  I hope to help many take the first step to picking up a brush and putting paint on a canvas.  I hope it will be the beginning of many journeys for me and them!


              Made possible by:



Wednesday, February 27, 2013

TROPICAL BLUES

TROPICAL BLUES


Well a midst the construction of my work stations I have been trying to paint in a little corner of my studio.  I decided to recreate a painting that I had intended to keep for myself but in the heat of the moment I sold it.  Many things influence my paintings so it is almost impossible to re-create one exactly as before.  This week the weather was changing everyday along with my moods.  I heard birds outside my window at the beginning of the week just to find out we were going to have another "snow storm of the century" by midweek!  Well what we got was a "wintry mess" but not as much snow as promised.  This along with my caring for my grandson took it's toll on my moods.  I thought if I painted a tropical painting it would lift my mood. What started out as a light airy painting soon turned dark.  I struggled not to grey down my tropical colors. I like the contrasts with the vibrant oranges and yellow greens against the dark background but it is not as fresh as I had planned it to be.  I have learned to step away from my paintings when I get overwhelmed and I did that many times with this one.  At one point it had too much bright green (yes I said too much bright, lol) so I painted blues and purples on tissue paper and then tore it into shapes that fit between the leaves to see how the colors looked as a background.  This is a good way to try out background colors without mucking up the painting. When I finally liked the depth of color that the tissue paper added I started washing it onto the painting where need be. I also use my cell phone to take photos of the painting as I go along.  This helps me see the contrasts much like a reducing glass does.  Having struggled with the background I will say that the hummingbird and the blossom were enjoyable to paint! 

I have found some useful advise on acrylic painting from Michele Theberge at MicheleTheberge.com  I am still learning about all the mediums used in Acrylic Painting and she has some helpful advice in this video:
http://www.themindfulartist.com/2013/01/worst-mistake-acrylic-painters-make/  Check it out and let me know what you think.

 I can't wait to see blue skies and all the colors of my garden soon!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

STUDIO RENOVATIONS CONTINUE

STUDIO BEFORE AND ALMOST AFTER.....
STUDIO RENOVATIONS CONTINUED..................

I am still in the process,with a lot of help from my Son-in-law Scott, of remolding an adjacent garage into my art studio. This will be my first studio outside of my home even though it is just 50 feet or so away. We basically started with the shell of a garage and built it up from floor to ceiling, I'm learning a new trade in the process. lol I now know how to drywall, mud, lay wood flooring and various other builder trades.  In the past my studio has always been in my basement along with the kilns. So far I have a kiln room/garden tool storage, art supplies storage room and art studio. We started this project about 2 years ago and the largest part of the renovation is done.  After about a year off to work on other projects Scott is doing the final phase of building my work station and cabinets.  We tried to find ready made cabinets that we could just put a counter top on but could not find any that fit the bill, so back to the drawing board and Scott will customize them to my specifications.  The counter top alone is going to be exciting but a challenge as we are using 140 year old barn wood to make it and then clear coat it with Verathane. I didn't want a total white out like so many studios and this will help bring in a little rustic flare.
This week he got the base cabinet done that will be part of my work station and it took me most of the week to prime and paint it including all the shelves.  I have moved my painting area to the back of the room on my patio table.  I was able to finish and start a new painting while I was waiting for the layers of white to dry.  I am sure it is going to get more and more difficult to get paintings done as the space gets more crowded with the construction but I plan on trying my best to keep painting.
ACRYLIC 6" x 6" POPPY ON CLAYBORD
We hope to get all the cabinetry done by the end of March so I can get busy with my new project at the Zoo.  I hope to have a  series of great animal portraits done by the end of summer or sooner.  I am already planning out my next series of paintings when I am done with the animals.  I feel like I have to make up for lost time! lol
Hope you all stay tuned for the next phase of my art studio and artistic work.
You can follow me on Facebook at:  www.facebook.com/C.L.Tonning.Artist