Saturday, May 26, 2012


Today's post happens to fall the day before Memorial Day here in the United States.

Since I am an artist, not a political reactionary or pundit, I won’t add to the mountains of opinions, poetry and essays on the benefits/horror/patriotism/valor of serving in our nation’s military forces.

Copyright 2012 Patricia Scarborough 11 x 14 oil 

 I will simply ask you to take a moment, a few seconds even, from whatever holiday revelry you find yourself involved in.  Whisper a thank you to soldiers of conflicts past and present.

 Reflect if you will on what has been given since the early days of our nation so that we – you and I - can live our lives under a system of government that pretty much allows us the opportunity to make our own choices about how we live our lives.

Thank you. Thank you so much.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

No Greens Please

Recently I had the pleasure of visiting with several artists about our experiences painting landscapes. We all agreed that the quality of green in the vegetation carpeting the fields here in Nebraska was especially rich and varied. Spring and summer arrived  early this year and brought soaking rains with it, ensuring a  delightful lushness we haven’t seen in awhile.

It’s a landscape painter’s dream, all those verdant hues bouncing off each other. It’s a kaleidoscope of raw, youthful chlorophyll-laden vegetation. 

©2012 Patricia Scarborough  11 x 14 oil 
The challenge for all of us was: How to interpret all that green?  Which tube to grab? We’ve got highlights, lowlights, shadows and reflections; old growth,new growth, pine trees and maples; meadows, plowed fields freshened with seedlings, others left fallow …
Phthalo green? Maybe Sap Green would be more appropriate. Or perhaps Viridian, Olive Oxide, Chromium Oxide, Cinnabar, or Permanent Green (as opposed to not-so-permanent green?).  Gee whiz those manufacturers are so helpful!  Maybe Phthalo Yellow-Green, Green Earth to paint the earth green. Green Grey, Winsor, Absinthe, Ash, Bamboo, Cadmium Green (deep, medium or light), Celadon (again, deep, medium or light), Chartreuse, Emerald (not just for Ireland anymore), Green Shadow (for shadows, of course), Green Shell, Imperial, Meadow, Opaline, Phthalo Viridian, St. Remy Green, Tropical, Water Green, Hookers (insert your own joke here), Prussian, Peacock, or Terre Vert?

A veritable suitcase of greens, green yellows, green blues, green browns, green greys, and green greens - yet none of them are quite right.
Perhaps the proper green is - drum roll please - none of the above.

Perhaps the proper green starts with -  keep up that drum roll and add a triumphant trumpet - red. Ta da! Cymbals please!

Tucked right beside a large glob of white, I squeeze out piles of lemon yellow and one of the cadmium yellows, either medium or dark. Sometimes naples yellow. Once in awhile indian yellow. 

Next to those I squirt out prussian and french aquamarine. No green. No St. Remy Green, whoever that was. No Water Green regardless of how much rain we got. No Green Shadow green to balance my sunlit skies.  I can't remember the last time I used a green that came from a tube.

©2011 Patricia Scarborough  Great Day  16 x 20 oil

Cool yellow with cool blue makes cool green. Warm yellow with warm blue makes warm green. Switch that recipe up a bit and add cool to warm for another green altogether.  We all learned it in grade school: yellow and blue make green. But there's something else.

©2011 Patricia Scarborough Song of Spring 30 x 40 oil
The secret is in the reds. Oh, yes, to create gorgeous greens, one must keep on hand alizarin crimson, cadmium orange or a cad red or some variation thereof. It only takes a dab; a tiny knife-tip of alizarin crimson in a soup of prussian blue and lemon yellow; a dot of cad orange in a mix of cad yellow and ultramarine blue. Mix and match for an entire wardrobe of magnificent landscape hues.

Like a bowl full of M&M’s and salty peanuts, that smidgen of complementary color creates a delicious rich flavor that is satisfyingly nuanced to cover all the possibilities. Add a little, or a lot, that tangy enhancement offers a world of sunlight, shade, distance and vegetation. Add white to lighten and cool and you've got every kind of green your corner of the world offers.

Skip the Celadon, don’t bother with the Opaline.  Send your  Peacock Imperial Green Light, Medium and Dark to the attic.  Better yet, don't buy them in the first place.  You and your palette knife can whip up the perfect green for every possibility in your landscape painting.
Yellow and blue – and red – make green.
©2012 Patricia Scarborough  Fullness of Summer 30 x 40 oil

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Knowing When to Finish

There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning. - Louis L'Amour

Eighteen months ago my calendar was blank; nothing but empty squares staring back at me, waiting to be marked across with confindent slashes of confident blue ink.

As offers to exhibit came in I accepted almost all of them. After all, I had 300-some blank squares to fill, right?  I filled my date book with group shows, dual exhibits and one giant Featured Artist obligation. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I’ve mentioned before that keeping these obligations and creating art constantly was like riding a bicycle down a steep hill: just don’t think about it and you’ll be fiiiiiiine.  Screaming might make you feel better, but it doesn’t really help, and bothers the neighbors. If you keep your wits about you, you will find yourself safe at the bottom; sweaty, heart thumping wildly and doubled over laughing off the remnants of fear, swearing you’ll never do a crazy thing like that again.

It was a wild, crazy, intense experience, and I can say that I painted some pretty great pictures. That is the upside.

I’m finding there’s a down side though. In my efforts to not overwork a piece, to be fresh and clean, maybe I didn’t myself enough time to think problems through; maybe I finished a few of those paintings too quickly, thereby not finishing at all.

Reviewing my stash of signed art recently I found a few that surprised me, and not in a good way.

Have you ever caught your own reflection in a window unexpectedly?  Occasionally you recognize yourself and smile, maybe you’re pleased with what you see. Maybe you use the opportunity to adjust your hair or check your lipstick.  Now and then, however, you feel a stab of concern for that poor lost soul and wonder why their keeper let them out of the house looking that way.  Then the painful shock of recognition; they’re wearing the same shirt I am – why, that’s my … that’s … me…oh dear.

Copyright 2010 Patricia Scarborough Firefly Morning 30 x 40 oil

Either way it’s an honest assessment.

That’s the lesson I derive from those months of painting constantly.  Showing up ready to produce is absolutely necessary to create a body of work.  With that, however, is a need for time and a little space.
I anticipate that I will again, unexpectedly or not, come face to face with a painting that I signed and declared finished.  Will I recognize it with a gasp of delight, or will there be that moment, that long pause before I realize with a nasty start that it’s my signature in the corner?
Copyright 2012 Patricia Scarborough Firefly Morning - revised  30 x 40 oil

I see now that it takes a few days, sometimes even months to know for certain that a painting is fully mature and ready to leave my studio.  As I look over the calendar for the next several months I’m pleased to see how delightfully clean it is. I’ve made it to the bottom of the hill in one piece, laughing and pleased with myself. Just the same, I’m looking forward to the longer, slower glide downhill and see if I don’t get to the bottom just fine. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Congratulations to All

It's celebration weekend here at the Scarborough house.

Not only are we celebrating my 4th anniversary as blogger extraordinaire (yes, I say that with tongue firmly planted in cheek).
We are also celebrating the culmination of years of study by our youngest Fine Young Man, Timothy, who graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with his Doctorate in Physics and Astronomy.

The first thing is to make certain your name is in the official record.

Tim in da hood.

I used to help him with his homework, and then he started kindergarten and that was the end of that.

So this weekend we're celebrating with family and enjoying each other's accomplishments.

Of course the reason you, Dear Reader, are checking in with me is to see whose name gets drawn out of Handsome Husband's Magic Hat and wins this sweet little 6x8 oil painting that I'm giving away to celebrate my blogging milestone.

@2102 Patricia Scarborough 6x8 oil   Flowering Crab

In celebration of the 4th Anniversary of this blog...

Handsome Husband and his own Vanna White, my Sis
the winner is...

Cathyann!!  Cathyann is the winner of this lovely 6x8 oil.  Hey sweetie, email me and lets figure out how to get this  to you.

A round of congratulations to everyone; please!!