Sunday, January 25, 2015

Honey Pot with Pears

Winter wraps it's cold fingers around our frosty neighborhood. I don't allow its icy grip to affect my mood. So what if I am stuck inside the studio and it's becoming a little claustrophobic? I have paint. I have canvas, and I have plenty of stuff to paint.

Today's project was a little piece of pottery I bought at an antique shop because I loved the texture. I added a pair of pears and some miscellaneous fruit.

Progress is being made on my new studio so I may have my new space soon and then I'll be able to work on some larger pieces. I painted walls and woodwork yesterday and we purchased some carpet squares. Carpet squares are an ingenious invention. Commercial grade carpet is cut into 20"squares and comes with a self adhesive backing. This product allows the weekend handyman to install carpet in a piecemeal fashion. I won't have to wait for the entire space to be finished before I can move into my new studio. I will have to deal with the ongoing construction but it's a small price to pay.

8"x 10" 
Honey Pot with Pears

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Still Life with Red Onion

Light and shadow; that is what makes a still life painting interesting. I'm working on how to play this up differently in each painting.

Colors need to be dramatic, with one color dominant. In this painting it is obviously the reddish color of the onion.

11"x 14"oil on canvas

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Another Portrait Oil on Arches Paper

I am still experimenting with the Arches oil paper. I forgot to bring any oil/Liquin mixture with me to the portrait group so this one was done with Gamsol only. I think it will dry very quickly, so it will be a good test piece. I need to know how long it takes with oil and without. If my oil paintings can dry in a day or two in Paris I will be able to easily take them home in the suitcase in a stack inside some cardboard. It won't even matter what size I do as long as the dimensions are small enough to fit in my bag.

This girl is only 13. Her name is Cassandra. Is it me, or are children maturing WAY FASTER than they used to? She is a pretty girl and I may have made her look just a bit older than she is. In my defense she did have on some really red lipstick.

9"x 12"oil on paper

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Another Painting That Takes Advantage of Complementary Colors

My former boss gave me this vase and it is truly a work of art. I have always wanted to paint it. I love the color, the shape---everything about it. There are some silvery dots arranged symmetrically all around the piece and I left those out. I am not saying I will never paint the vase with all its beautiful and subtle variations but it wouldn't work for this painting because there are too many other things going on.

I pulled out something else that has been lying around on my shelf waiting to be painted for quite awhile: a small math primer from the 1800's. It's a book that has been well-used, from a time when books were harder to come by and were valued a bit more than they are now. A stopwatch, some grapes and voila--it was ready.

I've intentionally left the pocket watch suggested. I want it to be a bit puzzling and stop the eye as you try to figure out what it is. I'm learning that less is sometimes more when it comes to this style of painting. If everything is painted with the exact same level of accuracy and detail the focal point disappears. Although this piece is not perfect, it is interesting and very impressionistic, and I can see where I need to go in the future.

Old Primer with Vase

11"x 14"" oil on linen

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Portrait of Robert Stone - Using Arches Oil Paper

Robert Stone died Saturday. He was a talented American writer who specialized in writing intelligent thrillers. He was 78. Stone was probably best known for his novel Dog Soldiers, which won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1975. Three years later it was made into a movie starring Nick Nolte (Who'll Stop the Rain?")

What I liked most about his books were the descriptive characters and settings. When you read one of his stories you feel like you know the people and you have actually visited the places. THAT'S good writing. He wasn't formally trained, but instead took writing workshops and learned by "doing". His books were authentic because he lived an adventurous and uncommon life. Although fortune wasn't always kind to him, he rose above that and became a self-made man, another quality I admire.

How many people today could get to where he did after being given up to an orphanage at the age of six by a schizophrenic mother and absent father? Kicked out of high school, he joined the Navy at 17 and traveled the world.

I am going to France in June and I want to take a light weight painting support so I decided to try out some oil paper made by Arches. This 300 It comes in a pad and is called I think Jerry's sent this to me in my last order as a freebie. I knew in advance that it would be absorbent, because I have used primed watercolor paper before as a support for oils. So I combined some walnut oil and Liquin and coated the paper with it, hoping this would give the paper a bit of "slip". It seemed to work pretty well. Next time I'll try just linseed oil if I can get the lid off my jar. Last time I checked it was pretty well glued tight.

I limited my palette to ivory black, yellow ochre, cadmium red light, alizarin crimson and titanium white. It's pretty close to the Zorn palette, meaning I omitted blue. I did add just a bit of the Alizarin crimson in some mixtures.

There weren't too many good pictures of Stone. In every photo his eyes seemed to be too open and aware. Maybe he was just one of those people who could not relax when their picture was being taken and their eyes bug out. I have been guilty of it myself. I tried to change that in my painting, by darkening the whites and lowering his lids slightly.

I'm including the underpainting I did in about ten minutes so you can see the way the paint adheres to this support. I tried to wipe out some paint for highlights and it doesn't work as well as wiping on canvas or linen. You can't get the white back again. Something to keep in mind for the future.

I can't complain about this product. I thought it performed well as a support for alla prima panting and I didn't feel like I was fighting to keep it wet. I think the absorbency will be a bonus when I travel with it as the paintings will dry faster and I can stack them for easy transport in my bag.

9"x 12"

Robert Stone
(August 21, 1937 – January 10, 2015)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Old World Craftsmen

One hundred years ago this man's craft provided a decent living. Even though Henry Ford had made the automobile accessible to a lot of folks, horses were still the primary means of transportation. Wagons, carriages, buggies and farm machinery were all pulled by horses or mules and these animals needed shoes.

For centuries, horses were a necessity of modern life and in just a few generations everything changed. I don't know any blacksmiths so I took a picture of this one when I saw him demonstrating at the Fulton County Fair.

16"x 20"
The Smithie

Monday, January 05, 2015

A Last Minute Gift for One of Our Kids

I paint so many commissions in November and December that I don't have time to paint much of anything else. Lots of dogs, and cats and, of course, houses. Many people have this idealized picture of their house in their head and when they move they want to have something to help them remember the good times. Or adult children will often commission a painting of their parent's cottage or home.

Creating all these paintings gave me an idea for a gift for one of our kids, who had purchased a house in 2013. I decided to make it a little more personal and put their children into the painting as well. The painting turned out nice but it was really hard to find the time to squeeze this project in when there are so many other things to do to get ready for Christmas. Not to mention the ten other paintings that had to be done before I could start this one. Everything worked out and I had two free evenings to work on the painting while my husband ended up doing all the gift wrapping this year. He has already informed me it's not a job he wants to repeat next year.

18"x 24"
Lee & Erin's House

Saturday, January 03, 2015

A New Year, Painting the Same Old Stuff

Here it is 2015 and I am painting the same old things. That's what I would tell myself if I were not an optimist. But I am an optimist, so this year I will paint bigger and better paintings. If they are not better, they will certainly be more thoughtful and more thoughtfully composed. So even if I paint the same "stuff" I painted last year this year it will be arranged better, which will result in a better painting. Readers might think that this resolution is too easy to achieve. Why not resolve to paint one painting a day for thirty days, or even sixty days. We all know there are plenty of artists out there doing that. I am beyond the place where I need to challenge myself to paint. I don't need any incentives because I already enjoy the process. I also have a tendency to speed through projects a bit too quickly so the last thing I need to do is a thirty day challenge.

So my resolution this year is to look twice and make one stroke. Consider the possibilities before jumping in. Mark out my compositions in a linear fashion prior to pushing the paint onto canvas. In other words, I'll be a more intentional painter. Hopefully this will translate into becoming a better one. That's my goal anyway and I think goals are a necessary part of improving.

We also purchased a Sole 80 for ourselves this year so another goal will be getting into really good shape and running a 5K next October.

So here is my first painting of 2015. It is another still life and it does include things I have painted before. But hopefully the arrangement is more interesting than what I might have done previously and  maybe I have paid more attention to the edges than I have in the past.

Happy New Years and good luck with those resolutions!

Thursday, January 01, 2015

The Last Painting of the Year

This year I have done more custom paintings of houses than usual. I am up front about what I can do ans I can't perform miracles. I tell people that the painting will be better if they provide me with good reference photos. And I am still sent out of focus reference images taken with cell phones or 400 pixel wide images from I patiently explain how to go about getting better images but often they're just not interested in spending the time. I don't argue but I'm not always proud of the paintings I come up with either. I wasn't aware that the Google Monster that has invaded so many facets of our lives has actually recorded minute details of where we live as well. Like almost everyone else I know, I have gone to Google Maps and checked out the image of my house to see what it looks like and try to guess the approximate date it was taken. Sometimes it is possible to narrow it down to a specific year and season but the details of my house were never very clear.

I suppose the cities get more attention because the client asked me to look at Google Maps, but I was still amazed at the level of detail available. Along with the address of the brownstone, she also gave me some photographs but the street was hemmed in with cars so I couldn't really see anything below window level. The Googlemobile uses a van with a roof mounted camera so the viewpoint is better and it allowed me see behind those cars.

My goal is always to make it prettier than in real life so I pretended not to see the peeling paint and the flowers are more vibrant than they actually are. But what is the point of having a painting done of a place where you used to live if you can't recall it as a golden moment in time?

Philadelphia Street
16" x 20"

oil on canvas

And in case you were wondering- here are a few of my reference images.