Saturday, May 9, 2009


Guest Speaker/Artist

Joan Miley (Programs) introduced our guest artist, Barbara Smucker. Barbara was an art major who put her art on hold after graduation in order to earn a living and raise a family. She now shares a studio at the Pendleton Art Center in Cincinnati.

Barbara doesn’t describe herself as a professional or an expert, but as a fellow painter who offers her own journey. She said she always feels lucky to be an artist and to be in the company of artists.

Barbara has experimented with different mediums, beginning her watercolor journey when her husband signed her up for a weeklong workshop through the Hudson Valley Art group where she became a student of Skip Lawrence. She studied with Skip for 10 years, each year taking the 1-week workshop with him to learn more. She has also taken other lessons and workshops locally.

When she first started painting, her goal was to “paint a good one,” so she focused on technique. She thinks that sometimes we get stuck in technique and lose the creativity of art. She thinks you should be able to put yourself in a creative place in order to make great art. With this in mind, she read to us from the children’s book, The Big Orange Splot, by D. Manus Pinkwater. She said this was what learning from Skip Lawrence was like. The refrain was: “My house is me and I am it, and my house is where I like to be, and it is the place for all my dreams.” Barb said you should change your house to fit your dreams – same thing with your art. Change your art to fit your dreams, your goals, your emotions – share who you are, not what you can do technically. We need to translate our dreams into our paintings. And in order to do that we first need to discover what we care about.
Do we love color? Texture? Do we have a personal message to share? During his workshops, Skip had his students paint an emotion. Have you ever tried that? What colors would you use to portray the emotion you chose?

Barb had several of her paintings on the easels and around her, and it was clear that she is a colorist. Color is the thing that excites her as an artist. Knowing that, she tries to use color to make her paintings more personal. She talked about color and color choices and how to personalize color in your paintings. But first she passed out a sheet on a simple and elegant design principle, taken from an article in The Palette Magazine, Issue 5, called A Lot of This and a Little of That.

What that means is you should start your painting with the thought: "What will I have a lot of and what will I have a little of in this painting?"

She compared this to Pierre Bonnard paintings where he has painted a room in gorgeous, sensitive color and then has a little black dog in the corner of the room – the room is a lot and the little black dog is a little. Skip Lawrence actually calls this idea “the dog” because of Bonnards inclusion of the little black dog in many of his paintings – the little something in the lot of something.

A Lot: the repetition of a visual quality in your painting, a color, a texture, the direction of lines, brush strokes, marks, light or dark values, temperature, etc. A Lot of something makes your painting read as a whole. It gives it unity and cohesiveness.

A Little: the contrasting element, the complementary quality that spices up your painting and gives it excitement and interest. The “dog” in the corner of the room! You should think about A Lot and A Little when composing and when critiquing paintings.

Barb said when she was a beginner, she made her color choices based on the local color she could see. If it was a red apple, she got out her red pigments and painted the apple with those colors. But after a while, she realized she could use color in other ways. She shared handouts with the following information on a variety of approaches to use when choosing color.

1. The Traditional Approach: Value as a Color Choice
With this approach, the artist bases color decisions on a value pattern; uses a full range of color values from light to dark; and squints a lot to see the values. This artist establishes a color dominance and uses the push/pull of warm and cool to create space and sculpt shapes. Rembrandt, Edward Hopper, and Andrew Wyeth are all Value Painters.

2. Pure Hues as a Color Choice
With this approach, the artist depicts emotional exuberance, happiness, joy; uses color straight out of the tube; uses pure, bold color; and uses a neutral gray, black or white against the pure hues to make the pure colors shine even more. Vlaminck, Derain, and Kandinsky are all Colorists.

3. Color Intensity as a Color Choice
This artist depicts mystery, passion, hope, thoughtfulness, sunsets, dawns; pays attention to the relative purity or brightness of a color, using mostly grayed or “dirty” colors against “clean” colors, placing pure hues only in the focal area. JMW Turner, Wolf Kahn, Emile Nolde, and Kay Hurley are Color Intensity painters.

4. Tones and Shades as a Color Choice
This artist depicts ideas or emotions that cause you to look at the paint quality/texture of the subject. There is often a softness or lushness to that quality. This artist uses color mixed with whites or complements consistently throughout the piece. Pastels work well for this. Tonalists are Gaugin, Monet, Renoir, and Rothko.

5. Complementary Colors as a Color Choice
This artist uses colors which are direct opposites on the color wheel, creating a visual vibration when used as pure hues. Consider using “visual complements” like red or magenta with turquoise or blue-green, using yellow with blue, or using cyan with orange. One of the most famous complementary colorists is Vincent Van Gogh who said, “I am always in hope of making a discovery…to express the love of two lovers by a marriage of two complementary colors, their mingling and their opposition, the mysterious vibration of kindred tones.”

Barb talked about how her goal in painting is to share emotions and feelings she has. She says she doesn’t want to paint a place, but paint how she felt when visiting that place, giving an example of the 20th anniversary trip she and her husband took to France. When she returned she had paintings that were not about the places she saw but were about the light and the colors that infused the villages and people there.

She also is making contact with her history in the small quilt-type paintings she is doing now: abstracts that have the same lines and blocks of color a quilt would have. She said, “being a Smucker from Ohio with a Mennonite background, there were a lot of quilts in my background.”

Barbara gave us a lot to think about when choosing colors for our own paintings in the future. She then began a short demo of how she uses opaque watercolors in her paintings. She uses mostly Cheap Joe’s American Journey paints because they are inexpensive (she uses a lot of paint in her technique) and have a nice opaque quality. She mentioned Coastal Fog as one she likes to add to paintings over a warmer underpainting.

Starting with her paper (140# coldpress) taped to a board, Barb started with bright, warm, full intensity colors, putting them on the paper in a scrubbing motion with bristle brushes. You could hear the bristles scratch the paper as she worked, really pushing the pigment into the paper. She prewet her brush (not the paper) and then wiped the excess water off with a towel so her brush was just a bit damp as she worked. She did not prewet the paints in the palette but did add fresh paint to one color that was too hard to manipulate.

The demo, an abstract, was going to be about prayer: the peacefulness and underlying energy of prayer. Barbara said she begins each painting with an an emotion. Then her goal is to SIMPLIFY (which is not always easy to do). The warm yellows, oranges and maroons she first put on the paper were to reflect the power and energy of prayer. The American Journey color, Coastal Fog, she put down over the bright, warm colors, toned everything down and reflected the peacefulness and silence of prayer.

It was very interesting to see watercolor paint used this way. Barb said she always begins with a pure, clean color and then grays it out as she works on the painting. Following Skip’s teaching, if she puts a color on that does not work right away and she knows it, she does not continue to add touches of that color throughout the painting to make it work – instead she wipes back to the underlying color right away. She did this when she placed some dark Brown Derby color on the paper and didn’t like it, lifting it back down to the underlying color.

Barbara didn’t have time to finish the painting, but ended the session by telling us, “The more you look at art, the better you will become at making art personal.”

Critique Session

Barbara led the critique session for the single painting shown today. It was a lovely, delicately painted seascape using beautiful, harmonious colors throughout – an excellent example of setting a mood or evoking an emotional response in a painting.

Administration Reports

Shirley welcomed us and shared the following quote from the Creative Catalyst website:

"Things are not difficult to make; what is difficult is putting ourselves in the state of mind to make them.” Constantine Brancusi 1879-1957

Shirley then introduced our 2009 Scholarship Recipient, Bryan Davis. Bryan is a graduating senior from Winton Woods High School and has plans to attend Wilmington College in the fall. Bryan not only has a passion for art but is athletic, competing in track and football. He shared three of his paintings with us, talking about his motivation, his class requirement for the paintings, and his goal for each one. Bryan works well in a variety of mediums and we are very pleased to award him the $500 Scholarship this year. He was so comfortable in front of the group, sharing his artistic experience; it was a pleasure to meet this young man.

Alice Fossett (Treasurer) gave the monthly report, saying the majority of members have paid their yearly dues so our coffers are full right now. She reminded the membership that this amount does have to last throughout the year for rental of the building, payment for guest speakers/artists, and show expenses. While it seems a large amount, it dwindles away by the end of the year after all the expenses have been paid.

Shirley noted that there are several positions in the club that will be open as of March 2010. We need to create a nominating committee to come up with names for the positions of President, Program Chair, Recording Secretary, and Scholarship Chair. Shirley will ask for three volunteers at the June meeting.

Evergreen Spring Show

Deb Ward reported on the progress of the Evergreen Show (April 26 – May 31). Although attendance for the opening was poor, we have sold three paintings. She reminded participants to pick up, or make arrangements to pick up, all paintings on June 1.

Deb thanked Marilyn Bishop for her suggestion to play the “Number Seven” game, which was a hit with the Evergreen residents and those who visited to view the show. They loved the game and the prizes, and it made them look closely at the artwork in order to find the tie-in with the number 7 throughout. Shirley also noted that the lecture given by John Ruthven was very well received and attended. Mr. Ruthven, at 84, is busier than ever and gave a great lecture.

Sharon Roeder reminded us of Sam Hollingsworth’s demo and
lecture scheduled for Sunday, May 17th at 2 pm. Please come and support Sam as he talks about the making of a watercolor painting from planning and preparation to completion. This information is on the blog, along with the schedule for all members who are doing demos during the show.


Deb Ward passed around a sign-up sheet for those members who want to return to receiving postcards as notice of upcoming meetings. She also had copies of the new members’ contact information that should be added to your membership directory to keep it up-to-date.

Springtime Art Shows

Queen City Art Club’s “Spring on Main Street” show (Chesterwood Village, 8037 Tylersville Road, West Chester) continues daily from 8 am to 6 pm through May 15.

The Stephen Blackburn workshop in Cincinnati May 15-16 still has some slots open. Contact Deb Ward for more information.

There are still spots open for the Tom Lynch workshop in June. Contact Howard Krauss if you want more information.

Deb Ward is teaching 2 classes at the Dunham Center and had handouts on the back table for more information on those classes.

Future Programs/Guest Artists

June – Leonard Williams will demo and talk about casein painting. He will have casein paints to share in the paint-along after the program. For those of you who don’t know Len’s work, you can get a sneak peek before the meeting by going to:

July – Jeanne McLeish, transparent watercolorist, will be the guest artist and speaker. You can view some of her work at:

August – Donna Clark, OWS Member, will give a demonstration and talk about her style of watercolor painting. You can view Donna’s work at: