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YA Author Rendezvous

Creativity Unleashed: Books for the young and the young at heart

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Plein Air Painting

Rita Goldner - Plein Air Painting - Young Adult Author Rendezvous 1Written by Rita Goldner.

In the near future I have two trips planned, one a mini family reunion in the cool mountains, and one with my kids and grandkids at a lake. Both times I’ll bring my little plein air set-up:  a folding chair, sun umbrella, paints and brushes, a watercolor tablet and a small folding easel. I’m anticipating feeding my other passion (besides writing and illustrating children’s books).

For me, nothing beats exploring nature, with either a two-hour painting, or a quick pencil sketch in the middle of a hike.  In my obsession, I coax other people to join me, especially those who say they have no ability. I fully intend to push a paintbrush into the hand of each grandchild old enough to know which is the fuzzy end.

I’ve painted outdoors a lot, and taught a few beginner classes, so I’ve condensed the process into a few basic tips, to make it quick and enjoyable (One doesn’t want to spend more than two hours, because the shadows will have shifted)

1.First make some decisions: Should your painting be taller or wider, what to include/omit, what is the most important part. (the focal point)Rita Goldner - Plein Air Painting - Young Adult Author Rendezvous 2

2. Divide your canvas/paper into thirds lengthwise and widthwise, with a big tic-tac-toe.  Pick one of the four intersections to put your focal point, and this area will have the darkest darks and the lightest lights next to each other.

3. Make 3-4 small (2-inch) thumbnail sketches, just pencil, no paint, to break up the space into interesting shapes. Have five to seven shapes, and they should fit together like puzzle pieces. See my example of 5 shapes. Don’t think of a shape as a “thing”, but as a patch that’s different in value from the surrounding patches. (Value means light or dark.)

4. Make the light/dark patches form a balanced abstract pattern, leading the eye around.

5. Have a limited palette of 3-4 colors, and fill in your big shapes. Later you can break some of them down into smaller shapes, but keep them close in value. Have some hard edges and some soft blended edges.

6. Vary brushstroke size and direction.

Most of the readers of these blogs are already expressing themselves is a creative way, writing. So it’s not a big stretch of imagination to think you’ll have fun plein air painting, too. A passer-by once asked me if I got a better finished product painting outdoors or at home and I said “Who cares? This is so much fun I won’t stop even if it turns out bad.”

Note: I belong to the Arizona Plein Air Painters, and they welcome non-members and prospective members to their paint-outs. The upcoming paintouts are on their event page: http://www.arizonapleinair.com/paint-outs/


Rita’s blog and website can be found here.

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The Importance of Telling Stories

 

Written by
Cammie Conn

Most of my friends/family/acquaintances know that when I’m not trapped in a good book or typing away at a keyboard, I’m onstage. Acting, like literature, is one of the many things that keeps me waking up in the morning. While the two are vastly different art forms in most respects, my love for them boils down to one thing: a love of storytelling. A passion for words. A compassion for humanity. The more I’ve read and written books and performed from scripts, I began to realize how intertwined theatre/films and novels are. I fell in love with reading as a small child, when I discovered that books could transport me to new and wonderful worlds. The same can be said of performing, after I was cast in my first show and began to watch theatre/film performances in earnest. What I so love about these art forms is that they convey everyday, human emotions that most of us don’t even like to admit that we have. Reading and watching performances provides for an emotional catharsis that we as human beings need in order to live healthfully. While enjoying art has many benefits, I find even more enjoyment in creating it. As a young person, it can be very daunting trying to find my place in the world; deciding which path to take, where I want to go, why I want to go there. But I’ve always believed that, no matter what happens, I want to change the world through art. Affecting other people’s lives for the better, while doing what I love … I can think of no higher calling. It always brings me such unspeakable happiness when I watch someone’s passion unfold after reading/viewing a story. It’s happened to me, when I read beautiful books that forever change my outlook on life. And I’ve seen it happen to others. Once, my school’s theatre department took a small field trip to a nearby professional theater that was hosting a well-reviewed performance of “Lés Misèrables”. We all had our tickets clutched in hand, bumping around on the dark school bus, eager to watch the show. Once we arrived at the venue and started filing off, one of our theatre teachers noticed that the bus driver — a burly, straight-faced man — was still sitting at the wheel, alone. He hadn’t a ticket to get into the show. Luckily, my theatre teacher had an extra ticket and offered it to the man, who accepted it gratefully. As the night wore on, we watched the production, which was beautifully performed and emotionally electrified. (For those of you who’ve never had the pleasure of seeing Lés Misèrables, I HIGHLY recommend it!) The basic plot is about a prisoner during the French Revolution, who was locked up for nineteen years after stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving sister’s son. During the course of the show, the prisoner realizes that he can redeem his past by overcoming the hardships that life throws his way and making the right decision always, even if it places his family in danger. In the end, he dies a righteous man. When the show was complete, we stood, wiped the tears from our eyes, and made our way back to the school bus. On her way out, our teacher passed the bus driver. He was still sitting in one of the seats, and tears were rolling down his cheeks as he shook with sobs. I think of this moment every time that I start to doubt my ability to write or perform or tell a story of any kind. Art is not something that helps us live: it’s what we live for. It’s in our very nature to create and enjoy other creations. Stories are meant to be told. Stories NEED to be told, for your sake and for the sake of people like that bus driver.

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