Monday, April 30, 2012

Out There... Somewhere

My life is crazy sometimes. On my day off I started off with some plein air pieces and then met a friend to paint together at her neighbor's house. After that we drove 20 miles and attended a Black Swamp Art Guild meeting where the project of the day was to paint a still life. She had two options set up and I chose a portion of one and used a 6" x 8" canvas because I knew I would only have an hour to complete the project. Believe it or not, she had fake tomatoes up there but I have painted so many tomatoes I know they are really red and juicy so I faked it.

The plein air piece was fun to do because the neighbor's had a new Newfoundland mix puppy who was adorable and exciting to be around. This dog had the largest paws I have seen on a pup and a very calm disposition. The people also had chickens, which were nice enough to pose for a photo opp. At one point the puppy decided to grab a half-grown chicken and trot into the garage and behind the car. We managed to free the poor thing and it didn't seem to be hurt but I'm sure it will think twice before leaving the hen house when that dog is around.
 9" x 12" Blake's Garden


Tomatoes and Veggies 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Blue Pitcher with Pears

I need a break between large paintings sometimes so I set up a few pieces of fruit, which can always be found in the house of a perpetual dieter like myself. I add a piece of pottery for color, texture and contrast and arrange the composition into what i think are interesting shapes. I tackle the painting in the morning when I'm fresh and usually have an hour to work before I leave for work. When I get home I view the piece with fresh eyes and the paint is just dry enough to address some edges and tweak the values if I need to.

Painting from life is ALWAYS educational, not to mention fun.

6" x 8"
oil on Pintura Canvas ™

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Plein Air Paintings from Peninsula

A friend and I visited Cuyahoga National Park last week and we enjoyed viewing the waterfalls and the rapids in downtown Peninsula. When we were deciding what to paint the forest and water seemed a bit too "green" to capture in any organized way. The sun was not shining so there was no pronounced shadow and light areas and the foliage, although beautiful, lacked any warmth to bring out the greens. I thought the rooftops of the small town, especially the white church steeple, would make a nice painting so I painted that. Another unique feature of the town, which is nestled in the center of the park, is a historic railroad. I had never painted a crossing gate before so this was a great opportunity to  try a plein air painting of that as well.

The sun had come out by the time we set up our easels and there was some nice light on this gorgeous spring day.
 Peninsula Vista
16" x 16"
 Peninsula Depot
6" x 8"

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Hyter Group Portrait

Another Saturday morning spent painting from the live model. It is the single best way to become really observant about color. We have a problem at our group because the overhead lights are too bright and they reflect the green wall up and into our model's skin tones. This creates very strange lighting, especially when it is combined with the warm incandescent lighting of the spot light. A few of us have asked to have the overhead lights turned off to create a more dramatic lighting effect and eliminate the green reflections but sooner or later they always turn the lights back on.

Our model was a wonderful young woman from India and she wore a bright yellow scarf. I used a 14" x 18" linen board (Centurian brand) and I was almost finished after the two hour pose. I painted the rest of the scarf in when I got home.

14" x 18" 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Most people don't realize I own THREE CATS

And that is probably because when people come over the cats are nowhere to be found. they are all extremely shy and only friendly with family. My cats are also extremely sensitive to the dogs, and when we get company the dogs will let you know. The barking might be what initially scared the cats and sent them into hiding and I think that now it has just become habit. Dogs bark! Stranger alerts! Take cover!

They are affectionate cats for the most part and they each have their favorites. The youngest cat, a two year old female, loves to lie on my daughter's bed but hates to be held unless it is her decision. The middle cat is mine, apparently. A 4 year old tabby, she enjoys stalking me around the house and loves to insert her rather large and furry body onto my lap between the computer and my arms. then she rubs her head repeatedly against my neck until I put my arms around her. At this point she tries to wriggle herself into a comfortable position. Her favorite lounging position is to lean over my forearm with her front legs and rest her upper body on the table. I find myself wondering how much more cat hair my computer fan can suck up and still be able to boot up in the morning.

This is a painting I did of a friend's cat, which made me think of mine. :)  I recycled an unsuccessful canvas, which always gives me a head start by providing some interesting color and I have shown the way I typically start a painting like this with a notan study in brown and white to get an idea of how the composition will hold up. I fi like the first stage i will usually like the second if I hold my values.

8" x 10"
Sarah's Cat

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Stop and Smell the Roses

"Stop and smell the roses"... that's what this guy seem to be doing as he sits on a bench and watches the martins. A couple years ago I was painting outside and he and his friend  sat down near me to watch the birds. I took several pictures of them and this painting is a conglomeration of the ones I liked best. There was something so peaceful about the day and the garden. The flower garden was just gorgeous so I spent a lot of time trying to make that work. I added some martins to the house (to give him something to look at).

I'm painting some larger paintings now and I'll probably focus on some lake and water scenes for the next couple months because a new gallery opening in Swanton has invited me to show and that's the kind of thing the owner is interested in.

oil on canvas

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Another Head Study

This gorgeous looking lady was out model at the Hyter Group last week. It is very helpful when the model actually holds their head in one position and can maintain a bright and alert pose. It's not as easy as it appears. I had to leave early and they started late so this is about an hour and a half. When I know the time is limited I do try to pare things down to the essentials and I am not always as careful with my transitions between dark and light. Still, this sometimes results in a positive result. I toned the 1/2" birch board the night before with a light mixture of black and yellow ocher so it was dry when I started the portrait. The light green really created a dramatic contrast to her red hair so in a way it was just a lucky choice of colors for the underpainting.

11" x 14" oil on birch panel

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spring is the Best Time to Paint

I mean, of course, that it's the best time to paint outside! Anytime is the best time to paint, but spring offers a season with cool weather, few bugs and lovely colors in the trees. I have been wanting to paint a redbud tree. Sadly, the one my husband planted last year did not make it through the winter. Apple and pear trees are especially beautiful this time of year too, but I wanted to paint a redbud before it turned green.

the really nice thing about plein air is the inspiration and the flexibility you have. Two birds appeared for just a few moments but long enough to capture and place into MY sky. The Forsythia bush was not close to the redbud tree, but I moved it and it creates a nice foil for the cool violets.

11" x 14" oil on canvas

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Artists are collectors too!

If you're an artist, you are probably a collector too. I know that I am. I love pretty things and I especially love pretty things I can put into my paintings. This lovely pot is hand-thrown and I purchased it because it's hand-made and unique. I know most of the people who buy my paintings make their purchases for the same reason!

Although all paintings need to be based on a strong composition, a secondary consideration can be color, or tone, or theme.... just about anything you as the artist and creator can dream up. You are the director! The pear is there solely to pull the eye into the piece but this painting is really about warm rust colors and how they relate to cool greens and warm yellows.

Composition with Yellow-Greens
14"x18" oil on canvas