Sunday, July 26, 2015

Canson's Moulin du Roy Watercolor Paper!

I'm very excited to try the new Moulin du Roy line of watercolor papers from Canson! These papers have a nice surface and are available in the usual array of weights, sizes, and textures. The big difference with this paper, is that it's sized with starch -- not with gelatin. That makes it completely vegan! Using 100% plant-based materials (it's also 100% acid free cotton, too!) makes it less expensive than papers using gelatin for sizing, and artists will happily notice that those savings are reflected in the low retail price of this product.

Canson also sent a whole lot of sample packs of this paper to me, and I'll be giving these away (along with lots of other great freebies!) at my painting demonstration for the Delaware Watercolor Society on Tuesday, November 10th. Everyone is welcome to come watch my demo, you don't have to be a member to attend.  I hope I see you there!

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posted by Annie Strack @ 8:36 AM   0 Comments

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

I've been so busy, I haven't had a chance to photograph my paintings from the Cedarburg Plein Air last week! I pulled out of the Plein Air early and spent the last week visiting my sister and her family in northern Wisconsin. I had already turned in my 1st Quick-Paint entry, so I don't have a photo of that one, but here are all the other paintings. Because I only stayed in the Plein Air for the first week, I wasn't able to enter any of these in competition and sale the following week. So these are all available for sale now!

Cedar River Falls, 8x10 oil (SOLD)

Cedarburg Forge, 8x10 oil (SOLD)
Port Washington Beach, 8x10 oil, $195.

Cedarburg Bridge, 8x10 oil, $195.

Foggy Morning, 8x10 oil, $195.
Port Washington Sunrise, 8x10 oil, $195.

Yellow Water Lilies, 5x7 oil, $79. (this was my second painting in the Quick-Paint competition)
All of the eight paintings I painted during the Cedarburg Plein Air are on Fredrix canvas panels and painted with Grumabacher Pre-Tested Artist Oils -- my preferred art supplies for painting en plein air!

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posted by Annie Strack @ 8:33 PM   0 Comments

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Painting in the footsteps of Andrew Wyeth

On Wednesday I joined my friends in the Philadelphia Watercolor Society at Kuerner Farm in Chadds Ford for a day of painting en plein air. A total of a dozen artists participated in the event, some driving from the other side of Pennsylvania and others from as far away as Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. Kuerner Farm is famous for being the favorite painting location of Andrew Wyeth, and it's buildings and fields are the subjects and backdrops in hundreds of his paintings.
Sarah Yeoman, Janet Means Belich, and others painting in the shade of the farmhouse at Kuerner Farm.

Chris Krupinski painting the scenes that were once painted by Andy Wyeth.

The doghouse at Keurner Farm is a charming subject for artists to paint.

The Kuerner Farm springhouse provides a rustic feeling to the landscape.

Kuerrner Farm Doghouse, 8x5 watercolor and ink, $79.
 I sketched this scene of the doghouse using pen and ink and layered a watercolor wash over it using my Sennelier watercolors. The paper is handmade 140# from Garza Papel. Like all fine handmade papers, it has four deckled edges and an extremely bright white surface. The cold-pressed surface is a little softer than other brands of papers, giving it a velvety feel. I found it to be easy to work on, nice texture, wonderful color, and it has perfect amount of sizing which made it easy to move the paint around on it.
Kuerner Farm Springhouse, 5x8 watercolor, $79.
The Springhouse at Kuerner Farm was my first painting of the day. The sky was overcast most of the day, and the sun didn't come out until mid afternoon. When it did, the temperature soared into the nineties and it quickly became blistering hot. I painted this on 90# paper from Garza Papel, which of course did not perform as well with water as did their heavier paper. It is much softer, and much more absorbent. However, it is still a very fine handmade paper and perfect for drawings and sketches, and it is also brilliant white in color with four lovely deckled edges.

I found these papers from Garza Papel to be superior to machine made and mold made papers, particularly the brightness of the paper, the sizing, and deckled edges. Thank you, Garza Papel, for sending me these samples of your lovely papers!

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posted by Annie Strack @ 6:48 PM   0 Comments

Friday, May 22, 2015

Painting at Kuerner Farm

I have wonderful news! I just found out I've been invited back as a jury-exempt artist in the Plein Air Brandywine Valley this year! This prestigeous painting competition will be held in October, with the artwork exhibited at Winterthur Estate and Gardens in Wilmington, Delaware. This is my fourth year in this event, and because I am consistantly one of the top selling artists, it's my second year as an invited artist. The painting locations include the famous gardens and sites near my studio, as well as several private estates and gardens belonging to Du Pont family members. Even better, some of my old plein air painting buddies from New Orleans -- Carol Hallock and Mary Monk -- are coming up to paint with me, and will be staying at my house during the event. The event is currently accepting  artist applications fro jurying, if you're interested in applying you can click on the link for more information. 
In the meantime, I'm getting ready for my next plein air event of the summer -- the Philadelphia Watercolor Society Plein Air at Kuerner Farm in Chadds Ford next Wednesday. This is a small one-day event, and it's non-competitive -- painting just for fun! I won't be giving any formal lessons during this event, but you're welcome to come and watch and me paint! 

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posted by Annie Strack @ 11:25 AM   0 Comments

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Chester County Studio Tour is this Weekend!

I almost forgot to tell you -- this weekend is the annual Chester County Studio Tour! My studio is one of the 47 studios on the tour, with over 100 artists participating. I'll be open 10-6 pm on Saturday and Sunday, and  the studio is stocked with tons of food and drinks for the weekend. There's lot's of art, painting demonstrations, door prizes, and more! Be sure to come on out and visit me at Annie Strack Art Studio, 105 Kabob Lane, Kennett Square. 
My studio is number 43 on the map pictured below. It is right off of Creek Road (SR 82), between Hillendale and McFarlan Roads. See ya there!

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posted by Annie Strack @ 3:59 PM   0 Comments

Monday, April 27, 2015

Painting en plein air at the John James Audubon house was so much fun last week, I decided to get out my watercolor pans and paint some more. This little gem is Haskell's farm, off of Creek road in Chadds Ford. A lovely place to paint!
Haskell's Barn, 5x8 watercolor, $79.
Haskell's Farm, 5x8 watercolor (SOLD)

Also, I married my darling Park Ranger 30 years ago, today! Back then, we were living at Big Cypress National Preserve. He worked for the Park, and I was a Game Warden for the state. It's been a wonderful life, traveling to and living in National Parks around the globe. Someday, when we get old and tired, we might settle down somewhere.
Brian and Annie, 1985

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posted by Annie Strack @ 3:35 PM   0 Comments

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

New Plein Air Paintings!

I had a blast, painting in the plein air competition at the John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove this past weekend! About 50 artists participated in the three day event, and the paintings will be displayed this Friday in the Audubon barn. It was my first plein air event of the year, and I'm not quite up to full speed yet, so I only painted one painting each day.
Perkiomen River, 8x10 oil, $195.
I painted this view of the Perkiomen River from the back porch of the Audubon Museum. The trees were just starting to bloom that day - they were still bare in the morning, and by the afternoon a green halo had appeared around all the trees.

Bat House, 8x10 oil (SOLD).
 This large bat habitat stands behind the Audubon barn, and from a distance looks like a tree house. It  housed hundreds of bats, but unfortunately it's now empty due to the White Nose Syndrome epidemic.
Audubon Pines, 8x10 oil, $195.
On the second day of the plein air, the hardwoods were still bare. I found a willing subject in this pair of pine trees, across from the front door of the Audubon Museum. Bird feeders and houses were hanging everywhere on this property, and the trees were full of wildlife. It is a wonderful place to go and paint! This site is the former home of John James Audubon, and is next to Valley Forge Nat'l Park.

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posted by Annie Strack @ 9:56 PM   0 Comments

Sunday, March 29, 2015

How to Write Your Artist Statement

I've had a lot of requests lately from artists asking for help with writing their artist statements, so I'm reposting this article on the subject that I wrote several years ago for Art Calendar magazine. I hope it helps make the writing process easier for some of my followers!

Writing Your Artist Statement
By Annie Strack (c) 2007

Sooner or later every artist is asked to provide an artist statement. If you sell your work through galleries, you’ll find that most of them will ask you to provide a statement that they can refer to when talking about you and your work to a client. Art festivals sometimes require artists to display their statement in the booth. If you find yourself being interviewed by the media, the information in your statement helps to provide them with your background information and serves as a written resource for them to garner direct quotes. More importantly, buyers like to read them. As an artist, people are interested in you and what you do, and genuinely want to know.

There used to be a time when artists would fold their arms across their chest and haughtily say “my work speaks for it’s self.” In today’s world, that attitude and response finds little acceptance. An artist who is prepared and willing to talk about themselves and their art has a distinct advantage when it comes to promoting their art. The artist statement conveys that you are professional and serious about your career, passionate about your work, and dedicated to your creative mission.

The Artist Statement is one of the three basic building blocks of your marketing plan, the others being your resume and your biography. Your Statement is an essential component of your overall plan, explaining who you are, what you do, how you do it, and why you do it. It clarifies and explains your artistic mission, philosophy, and ideas to the reader, and also sometimes to you.

You can start the process of developing your Artist Statement by answering four basic questions:

  •  Who you are
  •  What you do
  •  How you do it
  •  Why you do it.

Write your answers in first person, using descriptive adjectives but leaving out any technical jargon that the reader may not understand.

Who are you?
Think about what has influenced you and your work. Have you lived in interesting places? Have family, friends, mentors, or schools influenced you? Have you had a life altering experience? Write a few sentences about how these, and other things, shaped who you are or guided your work. For example: “In the course of building my own boat and sailing it around the world, I spent several of the most inspiring years of my life on the islands of the Caribbean. The people I met and the places I visited influenced me tremendously, and stimulated my desire to record my travels in the form of art.” Or maybe: “As a child living in the remote mountains of Montana, I grew up surrounded by the unspoiled vistas of the wilderness. At an early age I acquired a passion for the environment, and often hiked the verdant trails sketching and painting the beauty of nature.”

What do you do?
Now write a few sentences about what you do; the style, genre, and subject matter of your art. For instance, “I paint tropical landscapes in an impressionist style, hoping to convey the beauty and lushness of the hot steamy jungles and sun drenched beaches.” Or, “I paint wildlife in its natural setting, to share with others the majesty of these creatures and the splendor of their environment.”

How do you do it?
Write a few sentences about your artistic process, from start to finish. Do you work in the studio, or on location? What media do you use, and how do you use it? Why do you prefer this media, subject, and style? For example: “I paint in the studio using reference photos gathered from my travels through the Caribbean. I choose to paint in oils because the richness and thickness of the paint allows me to build up the texture of the painting and express the vibrant deep colors of my subjects. I prefer to paint in the impressionist style, using broad loose brushstrokes to convey the sultry hot breezes of the tropics, and the dancing light and shadows of the tropical sun.” Or, “I travel the world on photographic safaris with my camera, to seek out my subjects in their natural habitat. I prefer to work primarily with colored pencils because it affords me the control to accurately capture details and to effectively portray the individual character and personality of each animal.”

Why do you do it?
Write a few sentences about your life as it relates to your art, and what message you are trying to convey to the viewer. Explain what you find to be rewarding or meaningful about your work. Think about your own emotional connection to your art, and what you want viewers to think or feel when looking at your art. Maybe you have a personal philosophy about life or art that you can share in your statement. Here are a few examples: “Each painting portrays my own private sanctuary, and I hope to share with others the peace and serenity I feel when I paint. I want the viewer to be able to take a vacation in my paintings, to escape to my tranquil beaches and stand with me under my swaying palms and tropical skies.” Or, “Each of these wildlife paintings is a way for me to share my passion for nature and the environment with others. I strive to raise the viewer’s awareness of our environment, and share with them the fragile and fleeting splendor of our natural resources.”

I’ve given you a few examples, now it’s your turn. Think about these four basic questions and jot down your own answers. Once you have all of your ideas written down, it’s time to string them together and arrange them into meaningful sentences and paragraphs that will fit onto one page as your finished Artist Statement. Compose it as if you were writing poetry, using descriptive words that paint an image in the readers mind of who you are, what you do, how you do it, and why.

Don’t forget, your artist statement, resume, and bio are useful tools that you can use and refer to when creating other promotional materials. Once you have these materials prepared, you can excerpt information from these documents for your future press releases, brochures, flyers, interviews, etc., making each of these processes simpler to accomplish.

This article was first published in Art Calendar magazine in 2007 and reprinted in the book (The Artists Guide To) Art Business and Marketing in 2008. Annie Strack is an Official Authorized Artist for the U.S. Coast Guard and has earned Signature Membership in eight artist societies. Her artwork has received hundreds of awards and hangs in more than 1,000 public and private collections worldwide. In addition to being a highly acclaimed juror for art shows and popular workshop instructor, she is the producer and host of Painting Seascapes in Watercolor, which is broadcast on television stations worldwide and also available on DVD. Annie draws experience from her former career in corporate management to build a successful art career, and she shares her knowledge of business and marketing in her articles for Art Calendar, Professional Artist, and The Crafts Report magazines. 

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posted by Annie Strack @ 7:24 PM   1 Comments

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Little Problem with the Pumps

I just realized I hadn't posted for over a month. Things have been a little hectic -- I haven't been feeling well, which made it hard to keep up with classes and exhibits. I thought maybe I had a mild case of pneumonia, or maybe a touch of the flu, and I figured it would run it's course and I'd be back to my old self in a few more weeks.

Then when the snow melted, the sump pumps in my studio failed and I had a huge mess (but no damage!) to clean up. My darling hubby fixed all the pump stuff and it's all working just fine now, but my studio is still all tore apart from the mopping up and it will be a week or two before I can put it all back together and resume classes again.
(my hero, fixing the sump pumps in my studio)

The clean up was a little too strenuous for me, and what started out as shortness of breath had progressed to  feeling like suffocation. I went to the doctor  the next day, and it turned out to be Pericardial Effusion. So, I had a little bit of heart surgery on Friday and spent the weekend in the hospital getting that pump fixed. All is now well, and I'm back at home and almost at 100% again.

I can't thank you all enough, for all the messages, emails, and comments on social media, wishing me well.
In the movie "Peter Pan," there's a scene where Tinkerbell is fading away. Peter Pan looks into our eyes, and he tells us that we can save Tink -- we just have to believe and clap our hands loudly.

I feel just like Tinkerbell. Every comment you wrote, every message, every email, and all the phone calls -- every word made me stronger. Everyone reaching out to me and clapping louding has healed me faster and better than anything they did in ICU. I can't thank you all enough! <3>

posted by Annie Strack @ 12:15 PM   0 Comments

Monday, February 2, 2015

Art Tip: How to paint a Sunset

One of my most popular 1-day workshop subjects is "How to Paint Skies." I teach my students how to paint a variety of different atmospheric conditions in skies, such as different types of clouds, sunny weather, rainy skies, stormy skies, fog, etc. My students always enjoy painting sunsets, which are the most difficult because of the multiple colors introduced to the wash.

The most common mistake that watercolor painters make, is layering colors or letting the wrong colors mix on the paper, resulting in the odd colors. For instance, both yellow and blue can be found in the sky during a sunset, but if the yellow and blue are layered or mixed on the paper they will result in green -- a color that is not found in the sky.

(Sunset, 9x12 WC, $85)
The second biggest mistake artists make when painting sunsets, is not painting the colors in the order of the color spectrum. The colors in a sunset (or sunrise) follow the same spectrum order as the colors in a rainbow. The color closest to the Sun is yellow, the next color is orange, then red, with violet being the color that appears furthest from the light source. The sky might be dark blue or light blue depending on the position of the Sun. Values will also deepen as they get further from the light source, with the lightest value being the light source, itself.

The third mistake artists make, is not realizing that sunset colors only appear on clouds. The sky doesn't reflect the colors -- the colors are reflected on the clouds.

In this demonstration painting, I started by painting a wet-on-wet blue wash for the sky, and blotted out the edges of the clouds. Then, starting with the Sun's position in the center of the horizon, I used yellow ochre and worked my way outward using cadmium orange, permanent red, and dioxide violet. Some of the colors overlapped each other, which is fine because the overlapping colors are analogous so the order of the color spectrum is still maintained. A few more cloud layers were blotted out while the colors were still wet. To create the reflection in the water, I did the same thing but without the blotting, and I kept the water movement horizontal in appearance.

I teach this in workshops pretty often, so keep an eye out for a workshop near you!

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posted by Annie Strack @ 2:52 PM   2 Comments

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