Wednesday, July 27, 2016

IPad Play

Today I went off to my second day of the Wayne Art Center's Plein Air excursion.  This time it was to the Water Wheel at the Eastern University.  I had only a little trouble finding the place as Google maps are not always exactly right I'm finding.  Since it was such a hot day I didn't think I would be capable of finishing a painting outside so I decided to take along my camera and my iPad and see if I could do something interesting with the iPad with a back up of photos to work on at home just in case.

The first thing I didn't do was bring a chair so I had to sit on the ground.  Luckily I had a mat to sit on and had sprayed for insects so it was only the problem of a possible back ache to worry about.  The second thing I didn't do was bring my iPad pen so I had to work with my finger. This is a bit clumsy as you can imagine.

I could see this was going to be some rough going but I made a few attempts at getting the scene and managed to work for 2 hours without feeling too uncomfortable.  When I got home and put the potential video into Final Cut Pro I realized it was vertical and the Final Cur Pro screen is horizontal..oops so there would be a lot of space left over on either side of the image.  I decided to simply create something with four versions of the painting, which needed all the help it could get, to see how the parts would come together.  You can't beat symmetry for interesting shapes, no matter what else is going on.  The finished product had a rather oriental look so I added this music by Kevin McLoed.

And here it is already in Youtube and ready for your viewing pleasure.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Well, it sure is summer now.  My vegetable garden is beginning to produce much more than we can eat, the flowers are bursting out of their buds and the butterflies are back.  Not as many butterflies as I would like to see, however.  I've only seen one Monarch in spite of planting lots of Milkweed and having many Butterfly bushes.  There are some Swallow Tails, both black with blue spots and yellow with black.  I caught one on the Butterfly bushes in this painting.  I love seeing them flit around the garden tasting everything.  What a little paradise a garden is!!

Swallowtail, Buddleia, and Umbrella
Nancy Herman
8" x 16"
oil on canvas board


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Friday, July 22, 2016

Trout Quintet, Franz Shubert

Franz Shubert in his short career, (he died when he was 31), composed a great deal of beautiful music.  Here is a link to his Wikipedia site:

The Trout Quintet is the popular name for the Piano Quintet in A major, D. 667. The work was composed in 1819, when he was 22 years old; it was not published, however, until 1829, a year after his death. 
This is a translation of the first 8 measures which only use three instruments.

Here is link to the music.  Once again the lowest part could easily stand alone. The finished piece looks and sounds like a jewel.

First Violin

second violin



Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Intermission from color music for today's post.

This summer I am once again trying some plein air painting.  You can see how easy it is for me to forget what a mess it was last time.  This is a rather long post but if you are interested it is an example of what it is really like to paint outside in new places.
The Wayne Art Center is sponsoring some paint-outs at various places in the area followed by a show in September and I am also joining some HTown Plein Air Artists to paint in farmer's markets and farms for a show in November.

My first Wayne Art Center excursion was to Androssan Farm.  I printed out my Google  map and off I went last Wednesday. I was able to find the place, no problem, turned into the drive marked Androssan right on schedule and drove up the very long drive over dirt roads and past rolling hills and various structures that definitely were not Androssan.  I finally got to what looked like a palatial estate but there were no other cars there and it seemed deserted, so I drove on.  Along this road were huge new estates slightly smaller versions of Downton Abbey overlooking plenty of territory with more construction going on.  Doubling back since I was a bit early I figured the old estate must have been the right place.  I pulled up near the entrance and decided I would paint the large Sycamores that lined the road.

As I started to get out my supplies a woman and a pure white pit bull walked into view.  She looked at me inquiringly so I explained that I was part of the Plein Air painting group from Wayne Art Center.  I didn't get out of the car.  This did not ring any bells with her but she shrugged and said nobody told her what was going on.  Just then a truck appeared and she said it contained the estate manager and he might know what was up.  Luckily he had an inkling that the plein air painters were actually at the "farm".  I followed him down and around more dirt roads over much beautiful scenery with deer loping in front of the car.  We finally arrived at a bunch of farm machinery, some run down buildings and an old stone house.  This was it.  As we got out of the car I asked the estate manager, who reminded my of a character out of  the TV series "Justified" if there was a bathroom handy.  He said he didn't think so but he would check.  There was not a bathroom functioning but there was a hose to get water. mmmm, this was going to be interesting and probably a short visit.

Other people began to arrive and we wondered around introducing ourselves and searching for something to paint.  There were some fine looking black Angus staring out from various places and I took some pictures with my phone.  I finally settled on a spot that had a fairly level place to put down my supplies.

I had decided to try out some pen, ink and water colors for a change as they are a little less messy if they fall all over the place.  I had just completed a pen and ink sketch when it began to drizzle all over the paper causing the ink to run.  I waited a bit hoping it would stop but instead it really started to rain so I dashed for the cover of my car moved up to my spot, threw everything in and drove off down the road.  I was glad at least I had some photos.

Since I went out at another exit than I went in, I had no idea where I was and it was really pouring.  So much so that I had to pull over for a while.  I did ask whoever answers questions on my phone where I was and how to get home but their instructions did not seem to fit the situation I found myself in.  So after the rain let up a bit I just started driving.  I finally found something that looked a bit familiar as well as a Starbucks.  How welcome it seemed.  I went in, had a mocha latte with soy milk - one of my favorite fast food treats and consulted my phone again.  This time it was able to guide me home.

This painting then is not really Plein Air it is Plein iPad.  I have made it a bit more bucolic than it really is I think but the more I looked at those sweet faced cows the more I felt they deserved an ideal place...and maybe for them it is.

8" x 16"
Nancy Herman
oil on canvas board

Monday, July 18, 2016


I know I am jumping ahead quite a bit to get to Mozart after Bach, perhaps I will go back and catch the several geniuses between at a later date.

This is probably Mozart's first Minuet.  Since he composed his first Symphony at the age of 8 it is not impossible that it was composed when he was 6.

How can that be?  My tentative conclusion is that music is actually floating around somewhere in the ether and when a young brain is primed and open for it, that brain catches it.  Considering that once it is caught and written down and performed it moves a great deal of people this doesn't seem so far fetched.  Why then should some composers' work move people more than others?  Perhaps the very best composers have a superior catching system?

What do you think?

Here is a link to the sheet music and if you click on"listen" you can hear the music.

I think the bottom part is so beautiful that it could easily stand alone.

Top part of Minuet

Bottom part of Minuet

2 parts together


Saturday, July 9, 2016


Yesterday I mentioned that the color emphasis in all the music I have translated seems to be on the golden mean.
Here is a lovely video about ideal proportions.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Albers and Fugues

While thinking about fugues and what Albers had to say about how one color changes another I began to wonder if staggering colors in a sequence would hold the colors together in the same way that it holds the notes together in time.

This is an example from Albers' color course of the way one color can be changed because of what surrounds it.

The small color in the center of the two adjacent squares is the same.  In this example you can see the way our perception of color is changed by the colors surrounding it but it is always happening no matter how subtle it may be.  When two colors touch, our perception of them changes.

Here is one of the first wall hangings I created.  It is now in the permanent collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  I am showing it because it illustrates very well how one color changing another can hold a sequence of colors together.

60" x 60"
cotton fabric, hand sewn

Here is an inset to show the way the colors change.  The solid colors change the prints underneath.  This is not a great photo as it is not only a change in the amount of black and white but a color shift as well.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Bach Fugue and Albers

I did translate the first 7 measures of a Bach Fugue #XX.  Several problems immediately became apparent.  The first being that of course Fugues don't come to a tidy place to stop after a few measures like most music.  In fact the very essence of a Fugue is that is goes on and on without a pause and yet we remain interested because of its masterful construction.  I did find a place to pause after 7 measures but it was not something Bach would have wanted to happen.

The second problem is that fugues often begin with the soprano line alone and only after several measures does the bass line enter the scene.  This leaves a lot of black - the color I chose for rest - at the beginning of the piece.

HERE is a link to the Fugue I chose so you can hear the music. (click on 'listen')  You'll notice there are a lot of small lines of color as the fugue moves along at a rapid clip.  You might also notice that in this piece as in the others I have translated into color there is a pretty clear accent on the golden mean.

Soprano Voice

Bass Voice

 Two voices together

Tomorrow what I learned from Fugues that translated to my work with fabric.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


Finally we are up to Bach in my very truncated history of music.
I have chosen a simple piece, THE MINUET IN D minor as it is easy to see the color relationships and it is a simple but satisfying 8 measures.
Go HERE to listen to the whole piece.

Top part

Bottom part


It would not be fair to present Bach without a fugue and in fact the ideas that hold a fugue together inspired a great deal of my work in fiber so next post I will present a fugue.  I have not created one yet so it may take a while.  Meanwhile I will search for a simple but beautiful one to work on.