Thursday, October 4, 2018

More paintings and events!

October has started off with a bang! This week, I worked on developing lessons for my up coming classes, judged an art exhibit, and shipped more paintings off to juried shows.

Creating more color wheels for references in my classes.
In Unionville, I spent the first part of the morning judging the Adult Art entries, and then moved on to the Youth Art to finish up the judging there. I've been doing this for several years, and always enjoy seeing the artwork created in my own community.

Judging the art entries at the Unionville Fair
I worked on creating samples in my Stillman & Birn sketchbook for reference when I travel to teach workshops. I have large samples that I keep in my studio for teaching, but when I travel I need something a little more portable. My sketchbook works perfectly, as I can fill the pages with all sorts of references, studies, samples, and lessons that I can use for teaching. 

Value scales in my Stillman & Birn Sketchbook
Perhaps the biggest thing of the week was a surprise box from Dynasty Brush, containing 100 of their synthetic watercolor brushes! I've been using the brushes all week, and I must say, I'm very impressed by these brushes! The Faux Kolinsky line offers a wonderful selection of brushes that perform very close to their natural hair counterparts. They hold quite a lot of fluid and have a wonderful spring, all while maintaining a fine point for detail. I was quite surprised to discover that I like the Kalel line of brushes even MORE! They are slightly softer, and seem to hold just as much fluid, if not more. Both lines of brushes are also suitable for acrylics, and highly desirable for fine work in oils. 


Faux Kolinsky and Kalel from Dynasty Brush
Galer Winery, 8x10 watercolor by Annie Strack
I also performed a live painting demonstration for patrons and invited guests of the Plein Air Brandywine Valley, at Galer Estate and Winery near Longwood Gardens. After my demo, my framed painting was given away as a door prize at the event. Our patrons have been very supported of the arts over the years, and I'm delighted to participate in this pre-event party to thank our sponsors.

Annie Strack starting her plein air painting demo. 
And finally, here's another little sketchbook painting from my trip to Provence. This is in my Hahnemuhle Carnet sketchbook, which is a really nice cold pressed watercolor paper with an ivory color. I like the base color for sketching, and it works beautifully with watercolors and other mediums. I used a white gel pen to create highlights and the contrast on the toned paper is lovely. This painting is of one of the medieval buildings along the Rhone river in the ancient town of Arles, where my students and I stayed during my recent trip. I'm taking another group back to France for a workshop in 2020 -- be sure to let me know if you want to come!

Medieval Arles, 6x9 ink and watercolor by Annie Strack

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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Busy Season for Art

The Fall season is traditionally the busy season for artists, and this year is no exception. Tonight I'm painting live at at the Plein Air Brandywine Valley's patron party at Galer Estate Winery. Next week I'm judging the art entries at the Unionville Fair, next weekend I'm jurying Signature Membership applicants into the Baltimore Watercolor Society, then delivering my painting to the Philadelphia Watercolor Society's Juried International Exhibit, then a board meeting for the American Artists Professional League, and on and on! I hardly have time to come up for air. I can't even think of all of the events I have coming up in the next couple of weeks -- check out my calendar page for the full listing!
I was thrilled to receive the catalog of the Kentucky Watercolor Society's Aqueous 2018 in the mail, and with it, a cash award! This show does not award much cash, so I was honored to receive the third highest cash award.
Last week, I invited some of my local students to my studio for a post-Provence painting party. We finished up our paintings from my workshop in Provence, and had a Provencal theme lunch of French inspired foods. We had so much fun, we're planning to do it again soon!
Pond at the Chateaux, 8x12 watercolor by Annie Strack

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Monday, September 10, 2018

Sennelier Art Supplies

I'm so honored that Yves-marie from Sennelier posted this video of me on Sennelier's social media sites! My next workshop in France will be in 2020, and will be in the Brittany region of France to include a collaboration with Sennelier and tours of their factory!



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Friday, September 7, 2018

painting in Provence

I've just returned from teaching a plein air workshop in Provence, France, and I'm still jet-lagged. And, somewhat disappointed that no one brought me fresh croissants when I woke up this morning in Pennsylvania.
Mas de la Boheme in Arles, Provence, France.
Our trip was absolutely amazing. Our tour operator, Mathieu of Provence Art Experience took care of every every need and desire. We walked in the footsteps of the great French Impressionist painters, and painted the scenes and views that they made famous.
Ochre hills of Rousillon
Every day was a new adventure of painting, shopping, eating, and more.
painting the mountain behind Cezanne's studio, using the Cezanne watercolor paper from Hahnemuhle.
There was so much to see, and so much to do! I spent 10 days in Provence with my students, and could have spent 10 years. 

the Roman amphitheater in Arles at night
We stayed at Mas de la Boheme, a beautiful 18th century guesthouse nestled in the countryside just outside of Arles. Turns out, the owner and his son were members of the famous band, Gipsy Kings...


And, to top it all off, I ran into Yves-marie from Sennelier while my group and I were painting in the streets of Rousillon. We weren't even going to paint in Rousillon that day. We went there in the morning to tour the ochre sites and shop in the local market, but we loved it so much we stayed to paint in the afternoon. Yves-marie lives on the other side of the country, and had just flown in for the day to visit the exhibit of the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour. So it was pure serendipity that he just happened to walk by on the same street that I was painting, and recognized me. Although we have known each other for at least a decade, we had never actually met in person. Many years ago, I helped Yves-marie test and formulate the new line of watercolors for Sennelier, and we've been friends ever since.
Yves-marie Salanson of Sennelier and Annie Strack in Provence
So, I will be going back to France in 2020 to teach another plein air painting workshop with Provence Art Experience, and we will be collaborating with Sennelier to paint in the Brittany region so we can visit the factory and include Sennelier in our project.


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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

More paintings!

This is my demo painting for my class last week. We've been drawing and painting glass for three weeks, starting with plain clear glass in the first lesson, progressing to colored liquid in glass for the second lesson, and finishing up with colored glass. Students are never eager to start lessons on drawing or painting glass, but I teach methods that make it easy and fun to learn -- they always end up wanting to paint more glass!

Colored Glass, 12x9 watercolor by Annie Strack $85
Some of my students who are going with me to Provence met up for lunch at Terrain. Although all of them know me, most of them have met each other before now. The rest of my students will meet up at the airport, or after we arrive at the chalet in France. I finished packing today for my journey, and was amazed that I managed to fit all my art supplies and equipment (including all the supplies that I bring to give away to my students!) along with enough clothing to last two weeks in just one medium size suitcase. And I kept it all under 50 pounds! Yay!

Today I received an email notifying me that my painting in the Kentucky Watercolor Society's Annual Juried National Show won a top award! I don't know which award, yet. That info is top secret until the awards ceremony on September 7th. I plan on attending the reception in person, if my flight from France is not delayed.

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Friday, August 17, 2018

Plein Air Painting Excursions

I've finished teaching my summer semester of art classes, and now I'm packing for my plein air workshop in Provence next week. The summer just flew by -- I don't know where the time went! My students have been learning how to draw and paint glass these last few weeks, here's a few of them with some of their recent work.

My workshop in France is plein air, but if we have a day that is too hot or raining we will set up still life subjects or models in the villa and paint indoors.

In other news, I'm thrilled to learn that my painting was juried into the Philadelphia Watercolor Society's 118th international exhibit!
Destiny Awaits, 14x20 watercoolor by Annie Strack
Many thanks to the esteemed juror, Alan Wylie! The exhibit is October through November at the Wayne Art Center.

When I get back from France, I am participating in the International Worldwide Paint Out.  This event is organized and hosted by the International Plein Air Painters, of which I am a proud Signature Member. I will be painting in the Brandywine Valley area of southeastern Pennsylvania on September 7, 8, and 9. Let me know if you want to join me!
http://ipap.homestead.com/paintout.html 
International Plein Air Painters is a blanket organization created for the sole purpose of advancing the execution and enjoyment of plein air painting without the restrictions and limitations of borders or regions.
Membership is restricted to plein air painters, those serious to learn about plein air painting, and those who wish to be benefactors advancing the plein air movement.

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Thursday, August 2, 2018

Upcoming Juried Art Shows

Whoo hoo! I'm happy, thrilled, ecstatic, over the moon! Can you tell I'm a little more than pleased to receive the news that my painting "The Gossipers" is accepted into the Kentucky Watercolor Society's Aqueous USA 2018 Juried Show?
(The Gossipers, watercolor by Annie Strack)

I'm having a very good week -- I'm boxing up paintings to ship to two separate juried shows this week. My painting "Attitude" is juried into the Northstar Watercolor Society's 4th Annual International Juried Show in Minnesota. I'm on a roll! (I hope it lasts!)

(Attitude, watercolor by Annie Strack)

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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

More paintings and demos!

This past weekend I demonstrated watercolor painting in the lobby of the Chase Center in Wilmington, for the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen annual fine arts and crafts festival. I painted twelve paintings during the 2-day event! Here's photos of a few of them...








 My annual "Summer Camp for Grown-ups" is half-way through the course, and my students are keeping me on my toes! Here's a few of them showing off their progress so far...

My annual Spring workshop in Charleston, South Carolina, filled to capacity within an hour after the registration opened. Helen (aka "Organizer Extraordinaire") has added a second workshop, which is now open for registration. This is a great opportunity to take a workshop in a wonderful location, so don't wait -- register NOW!

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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

recent workshops and new classes

Check out these photos of my recent watercolor painting workshop in New Jersey! I have a great group of returning students that result in my New Jersey workshops selling out quickly, and I always eagerly look forward to seeing them again. 
 This workshop was a fast paced and focused on learning specific techniques for depicting a variety of skies and atmospheric conditions.
Next week, my summer semester starts in my studio! You can join me on Thursdays if you want to improve your drawing and painting skills.
Plein Air Painters! July 31 is the deadline to apply for Plein Air Brandywine Valley! This prestigious event awards over $10,000 in prize money to artists and boasts over $40,000 in sales. The planning committee has been hard at work to make this the best year ever, so get your application in now, before the deadline passes you up!

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Friday, June 15, 2018

Packing for Plein Air in Europe

If you're going with me to Provence this summer for my plein air painting workshop, you won't have to bring the following items with you because they will be provided for you!

This photo (above) shows some of the items being provided. Each artist will receive a 4x6 spiral bound sketchbook that they can fill with scenes from our trip, as well as studies, thumbnails, and notes. A pencil, eraser, black ink pen and a white ink pen round out the sketching supplies. Each artist will also get a 12x16 block of Cezanne watercolor paper from Hahnemuhle! Each block contains 10 sheets of 140# rough watercolor paper. Disposable accessories such as sand paper, salt, slide mounts (view finders), tape, Magic Eraser, and paper towels are also provided. Folding chairs will be provided by Mathieu, our host in Provence. 

What else should you bring? Well, this photo (above) shows the supplies that I use, which is a good example of what to bring. Top of the photo is my watercolor field easel and plein air umbrella in it's carrying bag. You don't have to bring an easel. Most of the watercolor artists in my plein air workshops paint while sitting in a chair, holding their painting on their lap and setting their supplies on the ground next to them. I prefer to stand while I paint, so I use an easel. The wire shelf in this photo fits on my easel. See an example in this previous blogpost
The red bottle in the lower left is a reusable water bottle. You must pack and carry your own water with you each day. 
My brush roll contains more brushes than I will actually use -- it is the one thing I tend to over pack. You will need an assortment of good rounds up to a size 12 or so, preferably sable or kolinsky, or a really good synthetic equivalent. At least one squirrel mop/quill, size 5, more or less. A 1" flat. If you have other favorites, bring them. 
Water container -- I use collapsible pet bowls. 
An extra block of paper -- this is optional, as Hahnemuhle is generously providing all of my students with a 12x16 block of 140# rough -- but if you want the option of using a different size or surface texture for some of your paintings then I suggest you bring one along. I'm bringing at least one small block of cold pressed, just for variety.

Assorted watercolor paints. I bring a small set of pans when I travel. Please do NOT bring tubes of watercolor paint. If you do not have a set of pans, you can get an inexpensive (or an expensive one, if you prefer -- it's your choice) folding travel palette and fill it with paint from your tubes, and let the paint dry in the palette. Give the paint at least a week to dry before you travel with it. 


You will need masking fluid. You can see in the photo that I transfer mine into a nail polish bottle. This allows me to self-store the brush in the bottle. It's a lot of work to clean out a nail polish bottle, so if you're thinking about it, you want to start that now. Or look at some alternatives available from your art supply stores. Be sure to wrap your masking fluid carefully in case it leaks in transit, and pack it in your checked bag -- do not attempt to carry it on the airplane. 

Also, I didn't include it in the photos, but you will need a hat for shade. It's summer, and you will need it. I also forgot to include a t-square. I will bring mine, of course, because I really just can't live with it. It's just a clear plastic t-square, only 12 inches long. The kind you find in the back-to-school section of the dollar store. I use it to square up my drawings of buildings and architectural features, developing symmetry, keeping my horizons level, and for determining perspective. You will also need a backpack or tote bag to carry your painting supplies each day as we travel to our painting locations. 

As for clothes, I pack light. You will catch me wearing the same thing on several occasions. I will also pack a few large ziplock baggies, to pack up some delicious french cheeses and other gourmet goodies that I might buy in the markets. Because painting and touring is only part of the adventure -- there's eating, drinking, and shopping, too! 

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