Sunday, August 29, 2010

Save the dates for Napa Valley Open Studios!

Napa Valley Open Studios offers a great opportunity to meet Napa Valley artists, visit their studios, see what they're working on, and talk with them about their creative processes. (Disclaimer: I am an Open Studios artist, so I'm pretty biased about how great it is!) Now it is only two weeks away....

When I go on Open Studios tours, wherever they are, I like to sit down with the catalog – or look online – and just look at the images, to decide who I want to see. I then see how much time I have (one day? more than one day? One day each on different weekends?), and map out where I want to go.

Napa Valley Open Studios runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on September 18 - 19 and 25 - 26. You can find more information, including maps and a downloadable catalog, online at, or at Facebook at

This year, you can find me at the Calistoga Art Center, which is also where I teach art. I'll be sharing the space with Yvonne Henry, this year's Open Studios catalog cover artist. You can visit us both, and see what the Calistoga Art Center is up to, in the same visit. We are Studio #4, at 1336 Lincoln Avenue, in Calistoga.

You can see what I've been painting at, and find Yvonne's work at

The Birth of Impressionism - Part Two

A Studio at Les Batignolles, by Henri Fantin-LaTour, 1870

Eduard Manet is seated at the easel. Also depicted are Renoir (back, center), Emile Zola (right of Renoir), Claude Monet (at the far right, in the background), and Frederic Bazille (the tallest figure).

... more from the de Young's exhibit on the Birth of Impressionism...

The importance of the relationships between the painters was readily apparent in the exhibit. Eduard Manet was the center of a group, sometimes called The Batignolles – named for the location of his studio, that gathered regularly at the Cafè Guerbois to talk about art and life. Painters Edgar Degas, Frederic Bazille, Henri Fantin-Latour, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Alfred Sisley were regulars, along with influential writers Emile Zola and Louis Edmond Duranty. Paul Cezanne and Camille Pissarro sometimes joined them, too.

Bazille's Studio, by Frederic Bazille (and Edouard Manet), 1870

Bazille, born into a wealthy family, was generous in sharing his studio and materials with his less fortunate compatriots.

Portrait of Renoir, by Frederic Bazille, 1867

The exhibit showed paintings they did of each other. Bazille painted Renoir; Renoir painted Bazille; Renoir painted Monet.

Frederic Bazille at his Easel, by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1867

Bazille, in Renoir's portrait, is painting a still life with a dead heron. Beside it, in the exhibition, was Sisley's painting of the same still life.

The Heron, by Alfred Sisley, 1867

Claude Monet, Painter, by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1875

When Bazille painted his studio, above, he left himself out. It was Manet who painted in the figure of Bazille, at the easel in the center. And although Bazille was tall, Manet gave him the compliment of painting him oversized. Only a few months later, Bazille died during the Franco-Prussian war.

Classes begin again on September 1st and 3rd

Untitled sheep painting, #1 © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Classes begin again this week!

I will be teaching acrylic painting classes at the Calistoga Art Center again on Wednesday afternoons from 1 to 4 PM, and on Friday afternoons from 1 to 4 PM. Classes begin on Wednesday, September 1st, and Friday, September 3rd.

The classes will run in four-week sessions, so they'll be more affordable up front, and more flexible for people who have to be out of town. You can sign up in advance at the art center's website at

As always, I will address the needs and interests of students attending each class, in addition to teaching principles and practices of composition, design, values, color, and materials, and introducing both historical and contemporary artists.

I'm thinking of focusing in this next session on seeing the big shapes, and (depending on timing, in this session or the next) making the switch, in consciousness and practice, from drawing to painting. Sound good? I hope you'll join us!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Birth of Impressionism - Part One

The Birth of Impressionism exhibit at San Francisco's de Young Museum is marvelous. It places Impressionism, and its beginnings, in its historical and art historical context. The show begins with French Academic painting, and shows successful paintings from the annual Paris Salon exhibition. The Salon was the place to exhibit work, in its day. Success there ensured a painter like William-Adolphe Bouguereau of well-heeled patrons, and a lucrative career.

The Birth of Venus, 1879, William-Adolphe Bouguereau

At the Salon, paintings were hung floor to ceiling, as this exhibit below from the Owens Salon, part of Owens Art Gallery in Canada, demonstrates. Walls were dark - often a burgundy-ish color, as the walls were at the de Young for the Birth of Impressionism exhibit.

Salon-style exhibition at Owens Art Gallery, New Brunswick, Canada

Judges at the Salon determined what work would be hung where. Celebrated paintings of the time were slickly finished, with invisible brushstrokes. Their subjects were idealized, preferably mythological. If the judges didn't like the work, it would be placed high up - where it would be hard to see. One obvious solution for artists was to work very large; many paintings for salon exhibits were painted on a grand scale for that reason. The Bougeureau painting above is nearly ten feet tall.

It's much easier to realize how different the work of the Impressionists was to the eyes of their contemporaries, when you see typical Salon paintings, with their slick finishes and idealized subjects. It's easier to recognize how difficult it was for them, and for other painters who defied the French Academy, to strike out in their own directions. Edouard Manet continued to try to gain acceptance by the Academy, and its Salon, while painting as he chose. The show included beautiful paintings of his, including The Lady with Fans and The Fifer.

The Lady with Fans, Nina de Callias, 1873, Edouard Manet

The Fifer, 1866, Edouard Manet

More subtle, but with a wonderful story behind it, was this small painting of a single spear of asparagus.

Asparagus, 1880, Eduoard Manet

Manet sold another still life painting of a bunch of asparagus to Charles Ephrussi, who loved it, and paid him more than the asking price. In answer, Manet painted this small painting, and sent it to Ephrussi, saying in a note that there was one missing from the bunch.

By, the way, although this wasn't in the exhibit, here's the original bunch of asparagus....

The Bunch of Asparagus, 1880, Edouard Manet

(To be continued...)

To learn more about French academic painting and how Impressionism differed from it, see my blog post French Academic Painting in the 19th century.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Thinking about Claude Monet

Impression: Sunrise Claude Monet, 1872

Have you seen the Birth of Impressionism show at San Francisco's De Young Museum yet? Are you planning to? Are you interested in joining a group to see it (we'll get a great discount rate if we get ten people together)?

If you are interested in carpooling and seeing the show (for the first time? again?) on Thursday, August 26th, email me or give me a call.

In the meantime, here are some wonderful articles online, from a special NPR series (you can listen to it, too, if you'd prefer: Monet in Normandy: The Making of Impressionism.... There's a wonderful slide show, too.

3. Monet the Gardener: Life, And Art, Grow At Giverny

Monday, August 9, 2010

Painting the costumed model – looking back

Painting study © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

As I thought about this week's workshop, Painting the Costumed Model, I began pulling out studies I'd done in my Costumed Model drawing and painting group in Carmel.

Painting study © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Looking at what I'd painted from ten to thirteen years ago, I could now see so many things I wanted to work on!

Painting study © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

It was fun to deduce what colors I'd used in each one. My palette was very different then – mostly experimentational – and included colors I haven't used in years (like Alizarin Crimson - can you tell?). As you can also see, I was experimenting stylistically, too.

Painting study © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls
Here are some of the results.

Painting study © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Some I may still do a bit more to – and I have more in process. And more waiting!

Painting study © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

I like coming back to these with everything I have learned in the interim – it wasn't exactly like picking it up where I left off. I didn't have the model in front of me, too, but that enabled me to work on each study simply as a painting.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Soft Block Printing workshop - Photos

Jane inking the block © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

The soft block printing workshop was so much fun – it's an enjoyable process! Taking two days for it allowed us to spend the second day printing, while we needed much of the first day for carving the blocks and making test prints as we developed them.

Using a key for registration © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

We used various methods of printing multiple colors. These photos were all taken on the second day, so I'm sorry to say I don't have any of Connie, who was with us on Saturday.

Ready for the second color © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Here you can see Carolynne's printing in progress. This was the second color of her print. The first run was of yellow, striking against the lavender color of the paper.

Printing the block © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Carolynne was making a series of printed cards. This method works beautifully for hand-printed cards.
Carolynne's two color print! © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

This printing process was a reduction cut - with further printings from the same block, which you continue to cut more of. The tricky part is that you can't go back to print more of the first run, once you've cut the block further. You have to really plan in advance.

Hand coloring the block © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Notice the two blocks? Here you see a second block, using the same design, created from the first, as well as the first block (with its reduction cut), which is being hand colored.

Carolynne's cards and prints © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Here are some of Carolynne's prints, including several on rice paper, which works beautifully for block printing. Everyone was pleased with the results they got from printing on rice paper.

Donna and her beehives © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Donna experimented with different ways of combining different blocks or parts of blocks in the same print. She asked herself, what would the hive be like both with and without a background? And what would it be like with bees?

Donna's beehives, with bees © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Voilà! Bees!

Donna's Isis prints, in copper and gold © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

You can see both the cards Donna created from her Isis block and her Isis and beehive blocks.

Betsy at work, surrounded by blocks, inks, printed gift tags, and carving tools © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

You can see some of the tools we used in the course of creation during the weekend, in the array Betsy is working with at her table.

Betsy with her gingko leaf prints © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Betsy used several small blocks to create sets of gift tags, using different combinations of colors and different methods of creating multiple colors. Here is one of her wonderful gingko leaves.

Betsy's handmade gift tags, printed with multiple colors on different papers
© 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

It's amazing to see the variety of results you can get from one simple block....

One of Betsy's handmade gingko gift tags © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

The subtlety of this hand-applied second color adds a richness to the print. Red and copper make a beautiful combination.

Carolynne and Jane admire one of the prints of Max © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Jane created a series of prints of Max, her dog, using different combinations of red, black, blue, and gold, with white paper.
Max the Bichon, up close © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

The liveliness of her carving makes for a fun print. We realized, looking at everyone's results, that sometimes when the registration of the second color is a little bit off, it creates some nice special effects with the paper. Happy accidents!

Jane's prints of Max © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Look at the variety of possibilities! Again, these were all printed from one block.

Admiring Jane's prints of Max © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

This second day of printmaking was a wonderful exploration of possibilities. What a joy! That's what soft block printing is all about, for me.

I'm tentatively scheduling one more Soft Block Printing workshop for the year, in October, for those who would like to learn the process and create cards or prints for the holidays. I'll post the date and time when it is definitely scheduled.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity

This talk – Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity – by writer Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love (yes, the same book that's been made into a movie with Julia Roberts) – is a wonderful way to nurture your own creativity or give yourself an inspirational jumpstart.

The website description of this twenty-minute talk (well worth the time) is "Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses – and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person 'being' a genius, all of us 'have' a genius. It's a funny, moving and surprisingly personal talk."

Here's to divine inspiration and creativity - Olè! (You'll understand when you watch the video.)