The fruit of winter’s labor: A painting of red Indian corn

"Red Indian Corn" colored pencil and watercolor on paper, 30" x 22", by Wren M. Allen.

So many details! Working on this 30″ x 22″ mixed-media (colored pencil and watercolor on paper) painting, “Red Indian Corn,” challenged and developed my rendering skills.

I’m so pleased to share this image with you all! This depiction of an ear of red Indian (or decorative) corn has been challenging me all autumn and winter long. First came the difficulty of composing the contour drawing, with the wildly flying dried leaves of the husk. Then figuring out how to render the glossy texture and subtle colorings of the kernels became an obsession. My final quest was balancing the pale, dramatic movement of the husk against the weight of the darker column of the cob.

This particular ear of corn ignited my inspiration over the other corn cobs I bought at an Española farm stand because of its wild, waving leaves curving around the vertical cob in a perfect example of Matisse’s “arabesque”. My working title, in fact, was “Wild-Haired”.

At the beginning of March, I realized I might actually be able to make an exhibit submissions deadline if I could complete the image. All my creative time this month has been devoted to this beauty, instead of blogging or working on my classwork for Lisa Coddington’s spring bulbs course. Time well spent, I’d say! 🙂

A great weekend to all!

Botanical painting workshop in Umbria, Italy, with Malena Barretto

Looking for an autumn art getaway?

Malena Baretto, my friend and teacher at the Jardim Botânico school in Rio, is leading a one-week botanical art workshop this October at Griffin’s Resort in Umbria, Italy, just outside the city of Orvieto. Mornings and early afternoons will be spent choosing seasonally interesting plants from the Umbrian countryside and painting them at the resort.

Besides daily painting classes, there are short excursions to Orvieto, Todi, Perugia and Assisi, as well as visits to the Lake of Bolsena and plein-air painting in the Basilica Forest in Assisi.

In 1990, Malena Baretto was the first person to receive the Margaret Mee Fellowship, a scholarship provided by the Fundação Margaret Mee for advanced study at the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew in London, UK. Her work has been exhibited extensively in Brazil, the US, Europe and Chile. In her most recent publication, she was the co-illustrator with Paulo Ormindo of Arvores Notáveis: 200 Anos do Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro, a prizewinning and groundbreaking book that was the first to fully illustrate and describe all the native tree species of Brazil.

The cultural walking tours are led by a Portuguese-speaking guide, but English speakers are also welcomed.

Price for the week is €2.000 per person, which includes painting classes, meals, transportation and walking tours during the week, a double room for 1 person, and transportation between Fiumicino Airport in Rome and the hotel. Non-painting partners of workshop participants may purchase a €1.500 version of the package, which includes everything but the painting classes. Drinks and painting materials are NOT included in the price. There is a 5-day sightseeing extension package, which includes day trips to Civitá Bagnoregio, Siena, Firenze and Rome. This extension costs €1.000. Neither package includes the airfare between Brazil and Italy. Participants will need to arrange their own international travel arrangements.

Dates for the painting and cultural workshop are 6-13 October, 2013, and the extension tour dates are 13-17 October, 2013. Reservation deadline is 30 August 2013 and requires a 25% deposit fee. For more information (in English), visit Griffin’s Charme & Design Resort, Orvieto. There is also a PDF available for download at the link with greater detail about the workshop. Email: info AT griffinslandsDOTcom or call, +39 0763 616727.

Deadline for reserving your spot is August 30. Dust off your passport and start packing your bags! 🙂

Birthday celebration: JMW Turner

Joseph Mallard William Turner, one of the greatest landscape artists of all time, was born on this day in 1775. Let’s celebrate his birthday with images of his work and quotations by this amazing painter.

Light is therefore colour.

Turner’s metal paintbox. Source: via Wrenaissance on Pinterest

Referring to Rembrandt…
No painter knew so well the extent of his own powers and his own weakness. Conscious of the power as well as the necessity of shade, he took the utmost boundaries of darkness and allowed but one-third of light, which light dazzles the eye thrown upon some favorite point, but where is judgement kept pace with his choice, surrounded with impenetrable shade.

Painting is a strange business.

From the “Vale of Heathfield” sketchbook. Source: via Wrenaissance on Pinterest

There’s a sketch at every turn.

JMW Turner, The Fighting Temeraire, 1839. Source: via Wrenaissance on Pinterest

I don’t paint so that people will understand me, I paint to show what a particular scene looks like.

Snow Storm: Steam Boat off a River’s Mouth, by JMW Turner. Source: via Wrenaissance on Pinterest

If I could find anything blacker than black, I’d use it.

From a series of perspective sketches made by JMW Turner. Source: via Wrenaissance on Pinterest

…my job is to draw what I see, not what I know.

Brighton Beach, with the Chain Pier in the Distance, from the West. Source: via Wrenaissance on Pinterest

You should tell him that indistinctness is my forte. – Turner’s reply upon hearing that collector James Lenox had complained that the painting Fingal’s Cave, purchased by Lenox through a broker, was “indistinct.”

And by the way, a happy St. George’s Day to all of you in England, Catalonia, and Rio de Janeiro!


Art History from

The Painter’s Keys by Robert Genn

Tate Museum

Metropolitan Museum

The National Gallery

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