Crazy colors for a crazy life!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

"Moose, Courthouse Dog" 8x8 oil
This is my latest dog portrait--"Moose, CASA Courthouse Dog."  Moose is known for his mohawk (!) and his sunny disposition while helping kids be calm  in courtroom situations.  I loved trying to capture his mohawk and his expression.

Monday, October 6, 2014

"What I Did Last Summer"

Happy Autumn!  The aspens and red maples are just starting to turn their glorious colors.  After an eventful summer, I am trying to get back to posting regularly!

First a bit of news:  The Pastel Society of New Mexico Signature Members' Show is being shown at the Matrix Gallery in Albuquerque, NM, during the month of October.  You can view pictures of the opening and the paintings in the show (including mine) at this Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/PSNMSignatureMembers?ref=stream  You don't have to be a member or sign in, so have a look!

My summer included participating in David Barranti's Master Drawing Class, where we were all challenged to expand beyond our usual subjects and treatments and even learn to use a new support for watercolor!  And expand we did!

Next, I traveled with another artist friend for two weeks.  Santa Fe galleries were first on the agenda.  Taking in the broad and amazing array of artwork  in Santa Fe never gets dull.  We were especially blessed to meet and to hear landscape artist Chris Morel explain some of his insights about his solo exhibit at the Nedra Matteucci (formerly Fenn) Gallery.  A most enjoyable and informing opportunity!

Our next stop was four glorious days at Ghost Ranch, near Abiquiu, where O'Keeffe spent much of her later life.  We painted in the colorful and amazing landscape both day and night and in between enjoyed discussing and sharing art with each other and a few other artists.
"Dreaming of Ghost Ranch" 12"x 9"wc

Leaving Ghost Ranch was tough, but we drove on to Oklahoma City to see and draw in the Prix de West Art Exhibit at the National Cowboy and Western Museum Hall of Fame.  Outstanding!!  The museum itself is gorgeous.  The breadth and depth of the artwork in the show and the permanent collection are without equal in my own museum experiences.  Not only does the show display the absolute best in realistic "Western" artwork, but their collection of such artists as Charles M. Russell, Walter Ufer, Nicolai Fechin and other Taos artists is superior.  And the sculpture!

After nearly three days absorbing and drawing from the paintings and sculpture, we dragged our weary but exhilarated bodies home to recoup before beginning to process the wonderful experiences we had.

Tomorrow--some of what I know after the summer.  

Monday, May 19, 2014


It was serendipity that I found this quote:  "There is an art to wandering. If I have a destination, a plan – an objective – I've lost the ability to find serendipity. I am on a quest, not a ramble. I search for the Holy Grail of particularity and miss the chalice freely offered, filled and overflowing." (Cathy Johnson)

I experienced serendipity at its fullest yesterday while attempting to visit the Rio Grande Botanical Garden, aka the ABQ BioParkBotanic Garden, in Albuquerque.  Amazing garden!  Packed full of irises, poppies and all manner of other colorful blooms.  I highly recommend a painting day or two there, if you have opportunity.  

By the time I arrived at the park (new GPS system not so user-friendly!), wandered around just absorbing and SEEING the wonders, ate lunch, warmed up, set up and painted, for about an hour, my time was gone!  The time was truly a treasure in that glorious garden.  I manage to grab a small watercolor and this small oil from the party that was going on.  
"Glorious Day" 8"x 6" oil
Buy this painting

Be sure to note that I am teaching an Iris Painting Class at the Hondo Iris Farm on May 28th, 9-4.  Call or email me for details.  575-430-6148 or sarajchambers@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Meditation on Teaching--What Do You WANT?

Having just taught a pastel painting class for the Pastel Society of El Paso, I have been thinking quite a bit about what affects my own and others' creation process.  I frequently heard myself asking  individual artists, "What do you WANT?"  Just because I would choose a color or a placement of an element, does not mean it is the right way if it does not reflect what the artist wants.

INTENT is usually the first element of composition that needs to be addressed, and this class made me aware of how important it is. INTENT means deciding if a painting has a story or message or is simply meant to be beautiful for its own sake.  But it also means remembering WHAT attracts us to a subject and  makes us WANT to paint it.  WHY do I choose to paint or draw a particular thing or idea? If our motivation is unclear, we cannot know WHEN or IF we actually reach the goal.  Conversely, if what attracted me was, for example,
This is me, trying to get what I WANT--glorious red poppies!
the vivid color of some flowers, but I end up nuancing the foreground dirt or the sky or the leaves or the path or the landscape behind them, instead, I may not get what I WANT or what I INTEND.

The temptation, particularly using photographs as references, is to wander off in the details and the unrelated bits, thereby diminishing the power of what we WANTED to say or show.  To greatly strengthen a composition, first remember WHY you chose the subject and WHAT you want to show.  Then, balance the rest of the details in proportion to your INTENT in order to arrive at what you WANT.

BTW--note that I am offering a plein air class at the Hondo Iris Farm on May 28, 9-4.  Contact me at sarajchambers@yahoo.com or 575-430-6148 for details.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Happy New Year--Dancing in the Dark

Happy New Year!

I know, I know--that was over two months ago.  But my "new year" was stuck in limbo for six weeks due to an illness in my family.  Then it took me another three weeks to "get back to myself"!  This pastel is one of my newest paintings.  I called it "Dancing in the Dark."  (20x16 pastel on board)  Irises always make me happy!  I really enjoy the play of the light against the dark teal background.

We have an upcoming trip to Chile and Argentina.  It will be very fun to see what that trip adds to my future paintings!

I will be teaching a two day class in pastel painting in early May for the Pastel Society of El Paso.  That will be a lot of fun!

PS--I found out that my short term "paralysis" at creating during a crisis has a name--"anticipatory grief."  Who knew?  Whew--glad it is over!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

SpiritBird Studio Art Gala This Weekend

The annual Gala Art Show is at my SpiritBird Studio this weekend!  Come enjoy ART, wine and cheese, and lots of fun people!

1-5 PM Saturday
2-5 PM Sunday

See new paintings from all my plein air experiences this year, including China, Atlanta, and New Mexico.  I have oils, watercolors, and acrylics in affordable sizes.  Shop early for Christmas!

PRIZES:  I will give away a small piece of original art every hour on the hour.  You need to be present to win!

SILENT AUCTION:  Several  paintings will be priced specially for a silent auction.  increasing bids can be placed up to a limit and bidder need not be present to win the bid.  Winners will be notified by phone or email of their winning bid.

Be sure to visit my new web site at SaraJChambers.com and sign up for my free newsletter, which will only be published a few times per year--not usually more than once per month.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Color Challenge #2

Happy Wednesday!

green-wing macaw, red-orange, greens, blueColor Challenge #2 is this:
  • Select a subject that you want to paint.
  • Identify the one color you cannot do without for that subject. (Cad red in this one.)
  • Use a standard palette or a CMYK palette.  Study and decide what other colors could work best for you.  Select three other colors, two spaces apart on the color wheel, creating a tetradic color scheme.  (This scheme makes a square.)
  • Do two color studies, one warm and one color, using these four colors.  Note that you have two warm and two cool (usually) and that you have two sets of complements.
  • Paint your subject using these four colors in combinations that work for you.
  • Remember to have color and temperature dominance.
  • Be cautious while creating grays that may become "dead" if taken too far.
  • Notice what decisions you had to make to make the scheme "work" for you in an actual painting.
I hope to see some fun results of this exploration!  I had a terrific time trying to apply this tetradic scheme to "Flying Free (Green-winged Macaw)" 14x11 oil.  I fudged the red toward the red-orange, using cad red as the color I had to have, and using cad yellow pale, phthalo blue, and a little ultramarine (BV).

As a footnote, the free online Gamut Mask Tool is a great resource for playing with color options.