Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Recycling Old Canvas or Board

I paint so many pieces that there are bound to be failures. I know- everyone else has perfect paintings.

So once in awhile I will paint a landscapes over a bad portrait and a portrait over a bad landscape. It recycles the boards so it saves some money and it also encourages experimentation. Why? I think it's because the painting underneath provides the unconscious with a direction to go-- or at least a direction to cover up. lol

Anyway--- this is a start of one: the landscape was a 20" x 24" plein air piece that was a disaster in my opinion. The model is from Cameroon, and she modeled for our portrait group this month. Unfortunately I could not be there every session so this is as far as I have gone. I have some photos so I may try to finish her up. She is the most beautiful and inspirational model we have had in a long time.

You can still see a little bit of the building that was a focal point in the old painting. The texture and the rough spots in the old painting encouraged me to go a little farther with the background and really lay the paint on- so that was fun.

Monday, October 22, 2012

State Parks are Nice Places to Paint

I live pretty close to three state parks. They are all very different and offer a lot of variety. State parks are usually an excellent place to paint. This morning I stopped at Maumee State Forest, a wooded area with trails not too far from my home.

When I arrived I was the only one there but while I painted a school us arrived with a high school biology class. The peaceful atmosphere was gone 'like a freight train', in the words of Carrie Underwood.

I still finished the piece and enjoyed the day. It was a seasonal 70 degrees and the woodpeckers were hammering away and I was standing near a lot of deer poo but it was just nice to be out painting.

11" x 14"
Maumee State Forest

Thursday, October 18, 2012

House Paintings - Commissions I Love to Paint

I'm not sure why, but I love to paint houses for people. I've never wanted to be an architect or create structural drawings, but there is something irresistible about painting a home with character- one that has been taken care of and loved for generations. I have painted a lot of house commissions, usually as gifts around Christmas time or for a birthday. I can say with certainty that a house painting will always look better than a photo of the house. This is not always true of a portrait of a dog or a person, or even a cat. Up close and intimate photos of people and animals can capture personality and depth. It's a lot harder to photograph an inanimate house and get the same level of detail.

Whenever possible I like to start the house painting en plein air. This extra step allows me to judge the color more accurately and to take in things that will not be obvious in the photograph. (Trust me on this- there are tons of things that you see in person that you would never think of from viewing a static photo.) If the client lives a good distance away or the order is placed in the cooler months, I always ask them to provide as many detailed photos of the area surrounding the home as they possibly can.

Looking at photos of the Precht house might lead you to conclude that there is nothing very special or interesting about their home. But when you are there and seeing it for yourself the colors are brilliant; you notice the details like the red mailbox and the waving flag and the brilliant color of the perennials. Spending a few hours on location allows you to create correct perspective and gauge color more accurately. The time of day is critical too. Some light on the house is desirable but you don't want to be painting with the sun behind the house.

The two hours I spend creating a plein air sketch are well invested. While I painted their cat appeared at the window where it sat and gazed at me for a good thirty minutes. This was providential; I'd received photographs of two cats that they wanted somewhere in the painting. Birds were flying up to the bird feeder continually. Would I have noticed this from a photo? Would I have even seen the feeder? Probably not.

Here are a few photos of this project taken while I painted. Notice the lack of detail.

Painting from life gives an artist ideas and allows her to immerse herself in the atmosphere of the scene. This creates a more accurate portrait of the setting and often a better composition.

18" x 24"
oil on linen

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

When Flowers Die

I planted some wildflowers in the spring and they have been blooming and re-blooming all summer. The frost has set in these past few weeks so I picked the remainder and put them in my small white milk pitcher. I wanted to do one last flower painting and I especially loved the firecracker daisies. Even when they're on their last legs they have unique colors and shapes that are fun to paint.

Friday, October 12, 2012

What to do when you are bored

I was stuck in a hotel room a few weeks ago and I don't really watch TV so I decided to paint a self portrait. It was pretty dark in the room but vanity lights over a mirror create surprisingly good light to work by. The problem was with the light behind me. It was difficult to see the colors I mixed so I stuck with a very limited palette to avoid making any garish colors.

The next morning when I took it outside to take a picture it was a lot better than I thought it would be. Maybe I should paint in the dark more often.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Gold Star Portraits

Sherry Ann Franks coordinated another memorable event on Sunday. Every year Sherry Ann puts in countless hours to put together a Blue Star/Gold Star program that honors the families of local military families. It is a solemn ceremony with a color guard, bagpipe player and inspiring music touches the hearts of everyone who attends. This year the mothers who received Gold Stars (their sons were killed in the line of duty) released white doves as well. This is the fourth year I have done paintings for the families and it doesn't get any easier. The photos I use are not ideal and the time frame is tight- usually four weeks to get two paintings done. But I know these parents will treasure their portraits as a reminder of their loved one and I'm honored to be a part of it.

American Frame donated the frames again this year.

Click image to view full size

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Exotic Models are Truly Inspiring

Our portrait group at Common Space II had a special treat yesterday when Anyho modeled for us. She is a 24 year old student at the University of Toledo and is incredibly beautiful. She wore an exquisite African dress and brought jewelry to complement. If we had a model life her every week there would be standing room only on Saturdays. Many thanks to my friend Charlotte Loetz for asking her to model.

This is where I am after a two hour pose. The dress has a very complicated design and it will take another week at least to finish.

16" x 20" pastel on Ampersand Pastel Board