Welcome to my Studio!
Daily Oil Paintings of Kathryn Townsend. The paintings posted on this blog are a journal of process. Daily practice, exploration and experimentation are the life blood of the artist's way.
“A man learns to skate by staggering around making a fool of
himself: indeed he progresses in all things by making a fool of
himself.” --George Bernard Shaw
Thursday, September 30, 2010
"Jetty at Fowey", 8" x 10", Oil on Museum Board
The seaside town of Fowey (pronounced something like Foy) was about four miles from the house we stayed at in Cornwall--four miles of narrow two lanes, often only one lane, lined on both sides by tall hedgerows and traveled on frequently by rather fast drivers. The sky was what was most amazing in this view of the river harbor. I'm going to try to post these Cornwall paintings more or less in order of execution. They are all vignettes. I paint fast to try to capture the essence of how I feel about a place.
I got back yesterday from Cornwall, a four hour train ride from Cornwall to London and a nine hour flight from London to Seattle. Thank you to everybody who commented on my portrait series--I really appreciate your support! I hope to do more portraits this fall and winter.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
The ethnic minority in the Lijiang and Yuhu Village areas in Yunnan Province were the Naxi people. Most afternoons at our guest house, a group of people would gather in the courtyard to play mahjong. Some of them agreed to models for us--but it was always clear that their interest was with the mahjong table. It was March and still cold, so they had cement bowls filled with hot coals around the group for heat. We just wore a lot of clothes! This painting is from a photo of one of the women watching the game.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
There were hardly any western tourists in Yuhu Village--I think we saw one American. But the people were not keen on having their photos taken, so we had to be careful. This man, sitting on a doorstep with another old guy and a child didn't seem to mind. Although the buildings and houses were made of stone, the doors were sometimes painted a orangish brown. It was about a mile from the village up to the base of 18,000 foot Snow Dragon Jade Mountain, and we hiked up a little ways on the trail late one afternoon, along with some Chinese tourists in high heels.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
With this painting I went back to a 30 minute time limit. Sometimes this is the best way to change the dynamic of the painting experience--to be less obsessive about "getting it right" and to be more spontaneous.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Of all the portraits I did last week, this one I struggled with the most. It made me realize that having a clear idea of the contrasts in the painting when I start is key. When the contrasts, whether value or color or shape are not definite, then there is the tendency to keep re-doing it and sometimes it is impossible to get it right.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
This funky little painting is of my other daughter--the one who plays the guitar and sings. In June she recorded her song Daybreak with a professor at her college who has a home recording studio. Its one of my favorites of her songs.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
When we visited the Bai village on the west side of Lake Erhai in Yunnan Province, there was a big festival going on, and all the older women were wearing their traditional dress. But this was a tall woman in leather. It made me wonder if she actually was not Bai, but maybe Chinese.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
This is a portrait of one of my daughters--the one who plays the violin. It doesn't look exactly like her, but it is close enough. I never tire of doing portraits of my two daughters--they are so lovely.
Monday, September 20, 2010
This Peruvian woman is a weaver in a small cooperative that my daughter and I visited on a travel tour. Being a person who has collected carpets and weavings for many years now, it is hard for me to resist the beauty of the color combinations and the fabrics of the products that these women made. I came home with a beautiful wool poncho of many colored stripes.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
At the end of our trip to China in 2009, we hired a driver to take us from Zhongdian (now called Shangrila by the Chinese) on a seven hour journey over a 15,000 foot pass to a remote small village on the headwaters of the Mekong River in the Tibetan area of China--called the Three Parallel Rivers, a World Heritage Site. This lovely young Tibetan woman agreed to pose for us in traditional costume. I did a painting of her at the time and this side view was done from a photograph. The most fun thing about Zhongdian, also Tibetan, is the nightly dancing--young and old and tourists dance for about two hours. Believe me, it is more complicated than it looks!
Saturday, September 18, 2010
This was one of the strictly 30 minute paintings I did on the first day of my portrait week. Doing timed exercises like this is a sure fire way for me to get out of the painting doldrums. Everything is limited to the essentials.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Yuhu Village is a small community outside of Lijiang, China, right at the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Each day the villagers would bring their horse or mule to a central area and load up the tourists to go up the mountain. These were almost all Chinese tourists. In this travel link you can see the guest house where we stayed with the mountain behind. There was no central heating and we were at about 8000 feet elevation, so you can imagine how welcome the electric blanket was at night! The daughter of the couple in the link, who were the proprietors, worked for the Nature Conservancy in China. The food was unimaginably good!
Thursday, September 16, 2010
This painting was from a photo I took on a prior trip to China several years ago with Jove Wang. We took a van to an area in Inner Mongolia, which is part of China, and at one point stopped at a farmhouse. And there we were with our Nikons and our Canons, snapping photos of mostly women who probably thought we were pretty strange. I'd much rather take photos of people with a telephoto, far enough away so they are not aware of me.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
This was another one of the women coming home from the fields in the village near Dali, Yunnan Province, in Western China. The challenge of this painting was to capture the face in shadow. Following is the painting I did on the spot, facing the other way.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Coming back from the open-air market in a town near Dali in Yunnan Province, China, we stopped at a wood carving shop so my friend Barry could purchase a pair of beautifully and intricately carved doors. I sat out in the small vehicle to guard our stuff and passed the time by taking photos of the women coming home from the fields. This portrait is of one of those women.
Monday, September 13, 2010
My small portrait marathon is now over for the time being as I have to focus on my trip to the UK. In eight days I painted some 30 small portraits. Not all of them turned out and some painted themselves. Some I limited to 30 minutes, most were painted in less than an hour and at least one I struggled with over time and was still not satisfied. So though I am throwing out the unacceptably bad ones, I think I have enough for my husband to post one every day during the trip because I will not have access to a computer. Some I have already posted. Thank you all for your comments, both on the blog and through email. I appreciate your encouragement!
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Most of the older women in the ethnic minority areas of Western China still wear their traditional outfits. The women in this village were charming and after being allowed to go into their temple and have a special small ceremony, many of them wanted to have their photos taken.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Dali is a city in Yunnan Province, Western China, situated on Lake Erhai. This young girl worked at the guest house where we stayed and she agreed to model for us. We spent several days in Dali, painting the girls at the guest house or traveling by bus to other nearby villages. This guest house, like all the other places we stayed in Western China, from cities to a very remote Tibetan region, heated water with a simple solar system on the rooftop.
Friday, September 10, 2010
In order to complete my small portrait marathon before I leave on my trip to Cornwall, I'm pulling out photos from trips long past. This is from a photo of a child in the town of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley of Peru.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Yunnan Province in Western China has many ethnic minorities. In 2009 my friends Barry Raybould and Timothy Tien and I visited a Bai community on the eastern side of Lake Erhai. Our driver helped us find a family who allowed us to come into their courtyard and set up one of the older members as a model. I came away with photos of the family members and this painting was done from one of them.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Limiting the time for a painting focuses the mind on the essentials. But my question is: limiting the time and doing a lot of paintings in a set period of time definitely puts me in the "zone," but since the "right brain" does not "think" in the same way as the "left", how does learning take place in the "right brain" when the "left" cannot remember what I did? How does this fit into the idea presented in "Art and Fear" that a focus on quantity produces more growth than a focus on quality? Anybody have any thoughts on this?
Monday, September 6, 2010
This is the second painting in the small portrait series. When I'm in between things in my studio, I tend to thrash around with great indecision about what to do--there are too many choices. So I have to narrow the choices and in this case narrow the time for each study to 30 minutes. At Peggi Kroll Roberts' workshop, she had boxes of small studies from 4"x6" to 6"x8". When I went to Ovanes' workshop, he said go out and do twenty paintings in a day.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Since I'm getting ready to go to the UK with a group of painters in mid-September, I needed a project for the next 10 days that I could get really organized around. I decided last night to do a series of small portrait paintings. Maybe I'll even be able to do a few extra because I don't think I will have a computer in Cornwall or easy access to the internet and I'm probably not going to be able to post while I'm gone. This is the first of the series.
Friday, September 3, 2010
When I am out in the field, painting often follows the dictum: don't think, just paint. When I am back in the studio, a different but equally important process comes into play--experimentation. This painting, like the last one, is experimental. I always remember that when I first studied 20th century art at the University of Washington, it was the Fauves and the German Expressionists who really got me exited about painting.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
This painting was done as a result of a challenge on the Artistes de Studio network. You can see I was experimenting with abstraction after my experience with David Mollet in Alaska. Interestingly, when I work in the studio, I sometimes want to just go really abstract, but sometimes feel like I have no idea what I'm doing. So you may be seeing more of these in between my plein air adventures and more traditional paintings.
Purchase this painting unframed for $425
If you would like the painting framed, please contact me.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
When we first started painting here, the tide was way out past the point, there were a lot of people hanging out on the rocks and I was facing the other direction. This was the 2nd painting and by the time we finished the waves were crashing on the shore, but not quite to where we were standing--a beautiful day on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.