Anite is a Haitian woman whose story is told below by Kathy Brooks, who works with 2nd Story Goods, a Haitian cottage Industry.
We stand outside Anite’s tiny thatch home, the one she moved into this past June with her four children. I reach down to fix the collar on the dress of the little girl standing there with Anite’s daughters. Anite tells me that the little girl’s family has had many, many problems. They lived next door until recently and were forced to leave. The momma left with the baby and left this little girl behind. Alone.
Anite is a young widow, and might weigh 75 pounds soaking wet. I wonder how many days she has gone without food to keep her children fed… She is a woman of faith. She is a woman fiercely determined to keep her family together and raise her kids well
Anite has taken this little girl in.
So, this young girl is maybe eight years old. She is so thin and small it is difficult to say. Anite has taken in another mouth to feed, another body to clothe, another child to hold when she cries.
She slays me.
She tells me that God will take care of them, that He promises to do that for those who care for those in need. So she does.
I’ve been asking how God might use my talents for some purpose, and I was so touched by Anite’s story that I thought I might paint her and offer the prints as a means to give money to this family. You can purchase a print through Paypal on the sidebar, or by emailing me through my contact page, and we can take a credit card over the phone.
This is really not the first step but you’d never be able to see my “first step” pencil drawing as it is so light. So, this is the step after the drawing where you lay in shapes and try to establish some colors.
Now I start laying in the background shapes and colors trying to balance the background against the foreground. In this painting, I don’t want the background to compete very much as Anite’s clearly the focus. I try to keep the colors somewhat muted.
I can’t believe so much time has passed since my last blog! This has been a year of settling kids in college, or not college. I keep thinking I’ll have my own life, but perhaps that’s a myth…
Anyway, I’ve managed to squeak in painting, and I’ll try and catch you up. I’ll start with “now” and you can scroll down and see what happened “then.” I’m going to try and keep this post updated (ha) so you can check in at your leisure, if you like. I’m presently working on a piece called “Waiting.” This was generated by a series of photos sent to me by a friend of three Mennonite women at the train station. I’m always intrigued by what people might be thinking, especially when waiting. If anyone should happen to read this, I’ll post the sequential pictures in the next few days.
The summer has been filled with illustrations, one a commission (below), the others have been submitted to a children’s book publisher (on the right panel).
The poppies are just for fun…
This painting was accepted for the 72nd National Exhibition of the Watercolor Society of Alabama, Spring, 2013.
To begin, I placed this painting on a board at about a 45° angle. I taped it down, and then started drawing. Below is a sketch of the two hens I drew on the paper. Normally, I draw with a very light pencil so the lines can’t be seen through the paint. Here I’ve darkened them (in Photoshop) so you can at least see them… the bottom of the drawing got so dark, I had to eliminate it…
Next, I laid in the shapes, the lights and the darks. I decided to use black India ink in some areas as it’s more intense than watercolor and has it’s own interesting properties. I put ink on the tails and around the feet of the two hens. Water dropped on the ink causes it to fan out and makes an interesting effect as on the dark hen’s tail tip.
I continued to layer the colors going from light to dark (with oil paint, you generally go from dark to light), testing the colors on the paper next to the painting, finding the color I need. You can see on the feathers of the orange hen the layers of color, especially on the closeup of the finished hen.
The painting is almost finished except for defining the beaks, and laying in the sky and clouds. This is hard to show as it happens so fast (maybe I’ll do a video some time as the process is really fascinating, I think). First, I carefully wet the background around the hens down to the rails (saturate might be a better word). Next, I mixed a large amount of Cobalt Blue paint with a little Quinacridone Coral. Then I lay the paint across the paper, starting at the top.
Because of the angle of the board, the paint descended – fast! I kept laying in the original color as it descended down the page. As I got closer to the girls’ heads, I started dropping in a pink/coral color and some Quinacridone Gold. You literally do drop the colors in and they fan out and blend, creating a beautiful look which is unique to watercolor. It’s beautiful!
There are several techniques for creating clouds. The one I use most often is to take some paper towel (Viva) and lift the paint while the paper is still quite wet. You can also lift with a paint brush, or wait until the paint dries and lift with a small scrub brush. Watercolor paper is extremely durable, and you can scrub and lift. Even Magic Eraser ( like you use on your kitchen floors) works great!
Here is the finished painting – sky, beaks and all.Read More
I’ve been working on a number of pieces over the last months but I’m going to take you through this one that I’ve been painting over a number of weeks. I”m attempting a style of painting called “Tenebrist,” in which most of the figure is engulfed in shadow, but some parts are dramatically illuminated by a beam of light (in this case a spotlight fixed on the side of a black-encased box which is aimed on the model). Caravaggio, a Baroque artist, is generally credited with the invention of this style.
The first step in preparing the oil painting is laying down a background color, usually a dark reddish/brown, with an acrylic paint.
The next step is to lay out the drawing (this model is quite ample and a delight to draw), and lay in the lights. The oil paint is very much thinned down with linseed oil to create a thin glaze. I was fascinated with the way the light illuminated her skin, a bright red, winding it’s way up her leg, through her body and resting on her face. She has a wonderful head and chinline. I might add that she’s a terrific model as she never moves!
After the painting dried for several days, I next lay in a rose color as a glaze; namely a very thin layer of oil paint and linseed oil. The rose color, interestingly, over the dark brown becomes a dark blue. The remainder of the painting is done in layers of a thin glaze which, being transluscent, gives a feeling of depth to the figure. Vermeer is one of the masters who used this technique beautifully!
This was the third week of adding glaze. It’s a long process and I have to admit I didn’t always glaze but added full color in order to move along faster. Also, I decided I’d enter a local competition and felt uneasy with this model being unclothed. So, using a slip that I had, I improvised and added a slip to the model. I’m sure it’s not as good as it would be if I had the real thing to look at but I loved the subtle colors of blue/green complementing the rose of her skin.
That’s it for now. I learned a lot from this study, and I hope you learned something from my description as well.
I just started a watercolor of a barn and a horse, which I’m painting for a fundraiser at my daughter’s school. It’s for Derby Day, thus the horse. Next blog I’ll try and do a sequence of that piece so you can see how watercolor works. It’s very different from oils. I really love both mediums; each has it’s own beauty.
This oil painting is based on a photo taken by my friend, Malcolm Hughes (www.mhughesart.com), and was photographed on Jekyll Island, GA, a beautiful coastal island of inlets, marsh, and native and migratory birds.
It took me forever to figure out what was going on in the left wing as it really is a study in movement. I want to do a large watercolor of this piece as I love the way the wing disappears and reappears as the light hits it.
Oil and watercolor are so different. With watercolor you would be able to blend the background and wing. If you saturated the paper, lay the paint in, one color following the other (with watercolor your paper is usually at a 45° angle so that the paint runs down the paper), the colors would blend. This effect would be almost impossible to render in oil. With oil you can move the paint around and change things so easily but blending is, to my mind, more difficult (I’m reasonably proficient in watercolor but still a babe with respect to oil). Watercolor is not as forgiving as oil but you can lift color, and it’s easier than people realize – Magic Eraser not only cleans the floor but it works wonders at lifting pigment…
I’m amazed at how much white paint you use with oils. It’s just the opposite with watercolor. You don’t even use white paint. You just work around the white of the paper or lay down a very translucent wash, and lift with your damp brush where you want white.
I don’t know if you want all this information or not but my husband says that people are interested. Let me know as I thought I might take pictures of my process next time so you could see how a painting evolves.
This is an oil painting of a little girl I saw on Saba, an island in the Caribbean. I loved her expression, and the Spanish features of her face, the young nose that is still flat at the tip. It is really difficult to do the eye in this position. It’s so easy to make someone look rather bizarre. I love her mouth. Beautiful!
This is a watercolor of a man fishing at Gould’s Inlet where I walk every morning with my dog. I’ve painted this fellow numerous times as I love the colors and the lighting of the hat, his skin, and the shirt. There is great challenge in not only making the light and colors sing, but in making the shirt hang well. I love painting fabric that is lit in some way.
May you all have a blessed Thanksgiving,
and a very Merry Christmas!
I just finished my first commissioned portrait, and it was a stretch!! The difficulty with doing a portrait for someone you know is that it needs to look like them…obviously.
Felder Ann has the most extraordinary eyes. I’m delighted that her parents felt that I captured them in the painting. Unfortunately, the photographs don’t capture the painting very well. New camera, wrong setting…
I did this painting of “Going Home” a while ago from my imagination. It got triggered when I saw a large woman with her baby on her back during a fire drill in an apartment building in Alexandria, VA. That got combined with images from Saba, an island in the Caribbean, that had stuck in my mind. More and more, I see that I’m moved by scenes of vulnerability and light.
I want to redo this painting in time for the Telfair Museum Show in Savannah, November 11th. This time I’ll get a model (it might have to be my daughter, Katrina – I’ll just fatten her up…more Starbucks).
This is a big show, and I’ve promised myself I’d have a unified look. I’ll post things as I complete them.