Monday, February 25, 2008

acrylic painting, February 25th, 2008

Hello everybody!

It's a windy night in Spencer, Iowa! We started the day with husband-sliding-kind-of-ice. My spouse was supposed to leave for work at 5:30 this morning. I watched him head out the driveway and slide right across the street and into the snow bank on the other side. So he managed to get his vehicle back in the driveway and came back in the house. Aaaah, Monday. The ice was followed by snow. School said '2 hour late start' and then gave up and called the whole day. The snow stopped by mid afternoon, and I was still hoping for a slight chance to work with the Monday night life drawing group. After I was done at the greenhouse for the day, I buzzed north out of town to check the highway---yeah, the wind had decided to warp out to gale-force, and highway 71 was a white out. So, I cranked up my happy little ceramic heater in the studio and painted some more sunshine and warm breezes onto the street cafe scene painting that I have been working on. I have earlier photos posted on the project blog, and here's one that has tonight's work included.

Later, Cooper

Monday, February 18, 2008

acrylic painting

Howdy everybody!

Spring is trying to come, or maybe a few of us are trying to force it. ---Today I started working again at the garden center (Del's Garden Center, Spencer, Iowa) which means it is time to start planning your 2008 garden. Note that I said planning, not planting :) Isn't it crazy to think that all those beautiful little plants that you buy in early May need to get started now? We worked on things like spikes, ivy, springerii, etc today. It's a great fix for cabin fever, but it's also going to make me change my painting schedule a bit. I wonder if less time to spend at the easel made me put the paint on with more determination, or speed, or maybe even less caution? At any rate the evening's work is posted on the project blog tonight.

One painting note that is getting to be a frustration point: we had to cancel our Monday night life drawing group again. People are sick, the roads are covered with yucky-crappy icey stuff, and when that -4 degree temp and 30 mph wind hit me in the face, I cringe enough that my whole spine aches. Whew, listen to this painter whine! I'll be better tomorrow, I promise.

Later, Cooper

Friday, February 15, 2008

acrylic painting 'Picking Summer Flowers', February 15th, 2008

Greetings Everyone!

There's frost on the window this morning, the kind that has feathery little edges that radiate out from a center section that's impervious to vision. I am pretty sure it's illegal to say radiate and frost in the same sentence, especially when it's a minus 9 degrees that's causing it. Welcome to my town, Spencer, Iowa. I guess it encourages thinking warm thoughts?

Somewhere on this blog, or the other blog that I keep, I wrote a mission statement of giving the reader insight as to why painters do what they do. And then the 'artbizcoach' Alyson Stanfield has given the message in her newsletter, that artists need to write their purpose and vision statements as an aid to moving their careers forward. And then, being winter, and needing to drink more hot coffee--it's the build-up effect. Regarding all that, I am wondering if somewhere in what I have been pushing toward recently is my vison or purpose. I have always said I paint still lifes and people, that figures are more challenging, and when I need a breather from the challenge I paint a still life, because they're easy. So why have I given two of the three still lifes painted this year to the garbage guys? And I have a growing pile of figurative pieces? I have always been a people-watcher. [Now that will get you the remarks! "Too much eye contact, Cooper", "Mom, you're embarrassing", "That's annoying", "Quit staring", "How rude" --ok already!] But there is something fascinating about how people move their hands, their posture, a slight hesitation before they act---did I use the phrase build up effect already? :) Ok, now you are wanting me to stop and this post has been rather colorless to this point. So, how about an injection? I promised to do better with getting photos of this painting in the later stages, but I failed. The painting just wanted completion! Signed and named, here is the acrylic painting 'Picking Summer Flowers'. It measures a lovely 21 x 17 inches. It's an acrylic painting original on heavy gessoed paper. Can you see summer? :)

Later, Cooper

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Acrylic painting on February 12th, 2008 At The Cooper Studio

Greetings everybody!
Winter is still here, and in utter defiance, I am still painting summer. 'Summer School Student' got parked a little too close to the easel, so when I started the day it was begging me for just a little more paint. I obliged. I like it even more.

On the project blog I confessed to photo amnesia (or something like that) Still feeling the inspiration from the Kevin Macpherson book, I am trying to start or 'block in' a new painting everyday. (note that the word finish is not included in that phrase) So I started blocking in a nice summery-flower-picking-kind of painting, and I just kept going. I suppose I should get the book back out to read and see if that's legal, huh? :) In regard to the project blog, the idea is to take photos at various stages to show the painting's progress, and from that point of view--oops. But sometimes when you are on a roll, eh, you know what I mean. But the flower-picking painting---it needs more paint, and I'll try to squeeze in a few extra photos tomorrow.

Later, Cooper

Monday, February 11, 2008

Cooper acrylic painting, 'Summer School Student', February 11th, 2008

Howdy everybody,

Yea, it's snowing again! You'll note I have decided to start operating under the Murphy's law pretext here, we'll see if it does any good. School closed at 1:30 today, the wind is blowing and now I need to decide if we should call off Monday night studio group. I am pretty sure we've cancelled more than we've met this winter---arrrgh. (summer's coming, summer's coming!)

Actually in a way, we are getting closer. Spencer is home to Northwest Iowa's premier nursery/garden center 'Del's Garden Center'. It's also a wonderful place at which to work, which I do during the springtime, and will start at again next week. I work in the annuals buildings where all things colorful happen!

And not to be slacking, I have a painting, quite likely finished, and ready to show you. It's got a name now: Summer School Student, it measures 17 x 21 inches, and is an acrylic painting on paper. It's chronicle of progress is logged in over at my project blog, so bop over there if you are curious as to it's stages. Otherwise, just stay here and enjoy!

Later, Cooper

hey! I almost forgot---guess what? I won a book and a gift certificate! My author friend Mary Connealy is part of a group called Seekers ( ) and so I apparently stuck a comment in the right place. Yea!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Book Review: Fill Your Paintings With Light And Color


Well folks, at 2:00 this afternoon, February 10th, it was a -6 degrees in Spencer, Iowa. Lovely. (yes, that's dripping with sarcasm, probably in icicle form) Let's get on to better things! In an earlier post, I promised to write about the three artists whose work I had just read/about. I had hoped for contrast but when I went back in a second time, I realized it would be comparing apples to green beans. (an apple fresh from the orchard, or just picked green beans, steamed lightly and topped with just a bit of butter---I show no partiality!)

But for now, let's talk about the Kevin Macpherson book. Speaking of good things to eat, first glance tell you this book is chock-full of eye candy! It starts with several pages given toward the 'well equipped painter' ---pretty regular list, but with the addition of a 'thick chisel pointed black marker' for sketching. Keeps the prep sketch big and simple. "If you use a pencil you may draw things instead of shapes" (guilty!)

The book includes great demos, example: Practicing Simplicity With Figure Studies "The big shapes. Do not think separate objects. The ear, face, and neck are all one interlocking shape" Must be a good place to jump right in with that aforementioned big black marker. He works through still life and landscape demos as well, eight total. Regarding the big shapes, he gives a clear example on page #55: "Thinking simply will build your painting quickly. Look at your subject and ask what one color choice best represents that mountain, tree or sky. Imagine you are cutting the shapes out of colored paper; this helps you to think big. If you also imagine you will be charged one hundred dollars for every piece of colored paper you use, you will be very selective."!

And don't forget the paintings---page after page of beautiful paintings to look at.

I tend to have a half circle of open books on the floor around my easel while I work. Sometimes they are there for inspiration, sometimes for problem solving, sometimes it's the eye candy thing and I'm hungry! I got this copy I read from the library, but am planning on ordering my own soon. I wonder what Macpherson would say if he knew he was joining my open book circle with Renoir and Morisot? Have a great day!

Later, Cooper

Thursday, February 7, 2008

article from Worthington Globe: Northwest Iowa Artisans Road Trip


Today I have a copy of the Worthington Globe article on the A.R.T. exhibit for you. Tomorrow I have to sand walls---no you don't want to know more about that. We'll see if the current piece on the easel can get a few minutes of time as well :)

Later, Cooper

Iowa artists to show their stuff at Nobles County Art Center

WORTHINGTON — The next Northwest Iowa Artisans Road Trip won’t take place for eight months — Oct. 4-5 — but local residents can get a glimpse of what the event is all about at an exhibit opening Sunday. The Artisans Road Trip (A.R.T.) exhibit will open with a reception from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Nobles County Art Center, 407 12th St., Worthington. The exhibit features selected works by artists involved in A.R.T. A.R.T. is an annual tour of studios and galleries featuring more than 40 northwest Iowa artists representing seven counties. “A.R.T. invites you to travel Iowa’s scenic byways and back roads looking for one-of-a-kind art treasures,” explains the event’s Web site, http:// “Artisans will offer a rare glimpse into creative processes as they demonstrate their craft in personal and unique workspaces.” One such artisan is Karen Cooper of Spencer, Iowa. Cooper moved to Spencer two years ago and participated in her first A.R.T. last October. “Not only do you meet people coming through for the Artisan Road Trip, but you get to network with a lot of artists who you wouldn’t get to meet otherwise,” she said about the experience. On Wednesday, Cooper served as courier for artisans from her area of northwest Iowa, toting their art to the Worthington gallery. In her “car pool of art,” she also brought four of her own works.

BRIAN KORTHALS/DAILY GLOBE Spencer, Iowa, artist Karen Cooper stands between two of her paintings that will be part of the Artisans Road Trip exhibit opening Sunday at the Nobles County Art Center in Worthington.

“I paint with acrylic, all on canvas,” she explained. “I use a gallery wrap-style canvas, so the edges are all finished — no need for a frame. I like strong color. When some people say ‘strong color,’ they mean a small spot of red in the middle. I really like red, so I use a lot of it.” Cooper works with a studio group of artists that meets regularly at the Lakes Art Center in Okoboji, Iowa, and they have models come in and sit for their sessions. “Whether it’s intentional or not, I’m really focusing on figures a lot lately,” she said. “I’m intrigued by all the different ways you can present them.” Other artists participating in the Worthington exhibit are: Dennis Dykema, Spirit Lake, Iowa, landscape paintings; Avis Davis, Spirit Lake, floral and abstract paintings; Hank Hall, Spirit Lake, pottery; William Lieb, Spirit Lake, metal, plastic and wood sculptures; Dan Ruf, Milford, Iowa, photographs; Sharon Sadusky, Jackson, paintings; Sue Biederman, Spencer, watercolor, pastel and pen and ink drawings; Judy Hemphill, Spencer, photographs; Barbara McGee, Peterson, Iowa, contemporary equine and Western art; Connie Hankens, glass sculptures. The exhibit will continue through February. Gallery hours are 2 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call 372-8245.

BRIAN KORTHALS/DAILY GLOBE A sculpture by artist William Lieb is framed in front of a painting by Avis Davis, both of Spirit Lake, Iowa. The works will be featured in an exhibit opening Sunday at the Nobles County Art Center.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Daily Painting, February 5th, 2008, Acrylic Painting "Mums On The Table"


Welcome to my journal blog this February 5th, 2008. It's still winter today in Spencer, Iowa, but I am going to hold off the whining as the weather reports for southeast of here (Des Moines etc.) are growing ugly! But for the meantime, how about a still life painting of mums? Note the window with actual green stuff outside instead of the brown sticks that are currently masquerading outside my window as trees :)

acrylic painting 'Mums On The Table', 15 x 15 inches, acrylic on gessoed paper

I have been painting and reading about painting. What a combination, huh? I promised a few days ago to give you a written opinion of the then current book authored by Kevin Macpherson, but since have polished off an additional book by Gregg Kreutz, and a good magazine article on Margaret Dyer (from a new e-zine: that will probably have to be included in that written opinion. It's kind of interesting to absorb three artist's 'rules of painting' in that small an amount of time. It would seem that when work from all three artists can appeal to one person (me), they are all well known artists, and they are all sharing their theories, that some of them would overlap, right? I am rereading to discover commenalities, but so far they are few!

On the project blog, I have several images of 'starts' or paintings with just the big shapes blocked in--yeah, one of the aforementioned authors recommends practicing that. One a day, was the presciption, ---kind of sounds like vitamins, and hopefully it will have a similar effect! Ok, time to get back to work.

Later, Cooper