Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Oil and Water Don't Mix!

Mediums: Oil v. Acrylic

Before, I have mentioned that I am working with acrylic paints. It is hard to say which medium I prefer over the other. At times, they each have a lot to offer, but for different reasons. They are unique from one another and both help me to create a variety of the emotion, color, subject and so on

Acrylics are inexpensive when compared to oils.  Their colors are vibrant, almost garish.  Somehow, no matter what, they appear flat. (which works for me right now) There are chemical extenders to manipulate your window of drying time.   But for me, one of my favorite things about acrylic paint is, its drying time. This can be both wonderful and terrible! Depending on your perspective of the moment. I have felt both of these extremes more than once! 

Oils, on the other hand, have a depth and richness that are unmatched. They are thick, luscious and full bodied products. There is this slight odor from oils that I swear is addictive. Working with oil is more expensive. From the brushes, cleaners, turpentine, varnish and the paint itself, it all adds up. The benefit of working slowly with a large window of drying time is a plus. It too, can be a wonderful and terrible thing. Wonderful, because you have all that extra time to work, and horrible because you have all that extra time to work. What do I mean? Having a lot of time to work makes oil painting tricky and not so forgiving. If you manage to over work an area (and you will) your effort can and will turn to mud. Not all oil colors created are equal or can be mixed to create other colors, as with acrylics. This can be frustrating. Oh, and there is nothing worse than to have painted an area and get it just how you want it to look, only, to lay your hand against the canvas. Only to have smeary mess, where once, a wonderful painting was in progress. This can bring you to tears. (well me anyway) To be fair the industry has improved on oil paints safety, prices and created newer versions of products, even some water based versions.  I have yet to get my nerve up to try any of those. 

Whatever medium you choose to work with it takes time, a lot of time,  to get to know its benefits and quirks. The more work you paint, the more you will learn. Do not be disappointed if a work fails, this is how we learn. Even the great masters made less than perfect pieces, often painting over paintings many layers deep, before they created their masterpiece. The trick is to have faith in yourself and keep working

Can you figure out which medium is my favorite?

There is an old rule about using oils and acrylics that every beginning artist is warned about:
You can put oil over acrylic but you must never put acrylic over oils! If you need to cover an oil painting, use an oil based gesso. Otherwise it might slide right off the canvas. 

Remember: Oils and Water don't Mix!!

24 x 36 inch canvas
acrylic and ink
I am calling this one finished. Well, maybe.....

Saturday, July 26, 2014

I got my butt up and moving and I went downtown to check out our town's farmers-market. While there, I saw vendors with GREAT looking local produce, some cool wooden baskets made by a local artist, home-canned goods and fresh baked loaves of breads. Of course I purchased a loaf of sourdough and a jar of a canned "stuff" called chow-chow. 

See below for more information. 

Chow-chow is regionally associated with the Southern United States, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, the Appalachian Mountains, and soul food. The recipes vary greatly; some varieties are sweeter than others.  Chow-chow found its way to the Southern United States during the expulsion of the Acadian people from Nova Scotia and their settlement in Louisiana. It is eaten by itself or as a condiment on fish cakes, mashed potatoes, biscuits and gravy, pinto beans, hot dogs, hamburgers and other foods. The term "chow-chow" is reportedly based on the French word chou for cabbage. Food historian Luis W. Fernandez claims a connection with Chinese cuisine as an origin. A further possible source of the name is the ingredient chayote, which is itself known as chow chow in India. The name is sometimes used interchangeably with piccalilli.
I personally do not care for it, but my mom does, so I picked it up as a surprise gift. 
Art Updates:

Below and on the left: an update of the progress I made on a piece I shared a couple of weeks ago. You can see that it has significantly changed. The background colors and lines have been painted in and I am ready for detail work. 

On the right: Is a sneak preview of the next work. 

I tend not to like having more than one or two paintings in progress at the same time or I drive myself crazy making decisions of where, how and what I want to do. 



Every morning that I drive to work on US Route 23, I ascend what is called Powell Valley Mountain. At the peak is an overlook.   With some recent weather changes, the clouds have been hanging low each morning and the fog lays heavy across the roads. Within only 0.8 miles that I travel upward the vertical elevation changes by 2,000 feet. 

The drive going home or to work always offers a breathtaking, visually lavish scene no matter the season.I decided to leave early to stop and snap a few pictures from the overlook. 
photography by valerie dowdy 2014

photography by valerie dowdy 2014

 Pretty damn impressive climb and view, right? 

If any of you are fans of facebook (or not fans) you have seen the silly quizzes that make their way through your news feed each day. I catch myself getting sucked into taking these quizzes from time to time...I know I know...

Anyway, this  particular quiz is supposed to "describe" me in quote. I will not claim to have life quite so in hand, but I do like message. 

Peace, Valerie 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Rain = feeling lazy and sleepy. 
Or, at least that is how I am mentally conditioned (thank you mom). We, my twin brother & sister and I, grew up in a rural community, in Ohio. My parents moved to Ohio when I was three years old; my brother and sister had only been born a few months.   Living there until my grandparents failing health impacted the decision  to move back to help out in Virginia. Imagine, transplanting three predominantly northern raised children in to the south west mountains of Virginia. (Other stories for another time)  

Summer weather in Ohio can be tricky business. I think my mom pretended it was nap time in order to gather us together in case a summer storm took a turn for the worse. On the occasion they did, we would head to the basement. Anyone living on the Ohio River Valley or any part of tornado alley areas know and understands exactly what I mean.  

During that time, Holgate was a small community, surrounded by extremely large farms. Farmers grew things like soy, corn, alfalfa and beans. The size and extent of those farms seemed to go on and on for miles. The farming equipment they use is very large. A, must have, in order to work those massive sized farms. Some of the machines are as large as coal mining equipment which I see used for stripping coal here in SW Virginia. AG ED was a big and important part of the life. My children laugh at the notion of AG (agriculture) Ed (education) being as a big deal as it was. But, it was, and for all I know, it still is today. 

There was a train track that ran through our town. Main street was the central location of the farms and houses surrounding its perimeter. Anchored at one end by a large grain elevator and the opposite end by an immigration camp. The bins of the grainary stored the produce which was to be hauled off by train and the camp area is where migrant farmers and their families lived. 

This immigrant camp, was mostly a temporary living arrangement for the farm hands. Sometimes, more than one family lived together in each house. I would describe them, as small, shanty like buildings, not really even houses. They were not as nice as the coal camp houses of the south, that I have seen. Most migrants only stayed long enough to work a season, moving on when the work was finished. Some would chose to stay with their families and make homes. Their children became part of the community, schoolmates which I played, befriended and grew up with. It never occurred to us to think of them in any way, except friends. 

During the 70's, a lot of changes were happening. But as a kid, I was too young to understand most what the "hippies" were all about or what being termed a "baby boomer" meant. I was a kid, playing softball, riding bikes and hanging out at the pool with my friends. Our biggest worry was rainy days, not having enough money for ice cream and whether of not "the cute guy" I was crushing on liked me or not. For me, living in the seventy's came and went without much disruption or understanding. That is, until I grew a little older. 

But as the seventy's drew to an end and I was growing more aware of the world around me. The conflicts in the news seemed a little more real as they grew in proportion with my understanding. The issues became world-wide scaled and more important. From the hostage taking in Iran, Three Mile Island catastrophe, and the imminent fear of a nuclear holocaust, we watched, listened and grew as the Vietnam War veterans seem to fade from existence. The seventy's were definitely a decade of change.  

Living in Virginia was confusing and a culture shock for me and my brother and sister. I realized quickly there were large differences between what I had grown up learning and accepting as the norm and what changes had not yet become part of this area of Virginia. I listened and observed and adapted. Times were changing, the beginning of new exchanges and interactions between my friends and neighbors of the new spanish speaking residents began trickle into and become a part of this region. Change is always difficult and often uncomfortable for most. But, as time marches on, as with all things, people adapt. Albeit, slower in some places than others. 

Today my post has been a story from childhood and growing up during in the 70's. When I've made a little more progress with my art work, I am looking forward to sharing that with you. 

In the mean time I hope you enjoyed my story on this rainy weekend.