Saturday, April 04, 2009

A New Website

Blog Title

Big Changes
With a website, a newsletter on the horizon, and a near impossible challenge in May, be sure to read how you can continue to receive emails updating you on the latest news so you don't miss a thing.

New Website

In February, I began designing a new website that will be more like a Website-blog. My intention is to create a website that is constantly changing and where new content is added on a regular basis. I would like it to be place that you might want to visit often. It is still in its early stages, however I am adding content every week. On the site, you will find my current paintings and graphic design. The Artist's studio has new posts, paintings can be commented on and rated in the Art Gallery, and a changing art poll on the home page awaits your input.

In the future, there are plans for an Art Sightings page which will feature the work of other artists that I admire, a resource page for fellow artists, and very soon I will be pulling together my first quarterly newsletter.

visit the new website . . .


For those of you who have signed up for my emails in the past, you won't receive any email notifications from now on. . .

. . . unless you visit the website and sign up again for emails and newsletters.

I am changing email services after this message goes out so if you would like to continue receiving announcements and my upcoming quarterly newsletter, you will need to enter your information again on the new website. I am sorry for the inconvenience, but would appreciate your continued interest in my work.

Sign up for continued contact . . .

The 30 Day Artist Challenge
Beginning May 1st, I will be taking on the challenge of completing 40 works of art in only 30 days. The 30 Day Artist website features an artist every month who attempts to take on this near impossible feat. I will be blogging each day as the journey unfolds and the pieces are completed.

In the plans are 36 small paintings - 6x6 and 10x10 - that in light of today's economy, I hope will be a more realistic way for art lovers to acquire a piece of original art. Stay tuned for more news about this exciting commitment.
Take a Breather

You deserve a break from your busy schedule. Take a few minutes to relax in the Art Gallery, see a painting from start to finish in the Artist's Studio, and feel free to contact me with feedback on what you'd like to see on the site.

Brighten your day here . . .

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My Secret Illustration Obsession

. . . okay, well I guess the secret's out.

Sometimes when I think about creating illustrations, I get a surge of adrenaline. After much research on the subject the process seemed so long and impossible that I finally chose a life of fine art as opposed to dividing my focus on both. Although fine art is very fulfilling, sometimes I walk past the children's book section and all but wipe the drool from my chin.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine who is writing a children's book for an education class asked me to illustrate her book for me. I tend to say "yes" all too soon, so I showed great restraint by looking at my calendar of graphic design deadlines and taking a week before saying "yes".

In anticipation for this project, I dug up my illustrations, and thought as I begin this journey it would be fun to share every step of the way with you including my past work which has not yet been posted on my blogs.

The following are a few illustrations completed in acrylic on illustration board.

Sydney and Sherman
My niece Sydney with her favorite feline, my parent's cat, Sherman

Not a Prince
Some of my slightly sick humor showing

African Baby
Illustration for a friend's baby shower invitation

Don't Forget to Remember
Published Illustration for A Beka Book

The Picture Book
The result of inspiration and desire

Check back for the progress of this want-to-be illustrator.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Three New Blogs

Recently I'd been thinking over the idea of having an art blog that celebrated all the beautiful art out there. After some planning and working on the project, I decided in order to accomplish all the things I wanted to, it would demand that I start three blogs.

Here's the blogroll:

A r t S i g h t i n g s
-Get a weekly dose of beautiful art that I have come across.
-Read article summaries of interesting art techniques for artists.
-Enjoy featured artists from my library of artists which I have come to love.
-Commit to visiting those artist's web pages and give a comment of encouragement to them.

Currently on Art Sightings:
-Enjoy photography by a 14 year old in India
-Discover the engaging Art of Carol Marine
-Read about an unusual limited palette technique

A r t i s t S i g h t i n g s
-Enjoy a growing library of visual artists that I consider to be the cream of the crop.

Currently on Artist Sightings:
-Comment on and encourage six of my favorite artists

A r t R e s o u r c e S i g h t i n g s
-Artists can enjoy a one-stop resource room for all aspects of their career.
-Find book recommendations, links to helpful websites, marketing resources, newsletter software, contest annnouncements. . etc.

Currently on Art Resource Sightings:
-Two contests worth checking out
-My choice art technique book
-Forums and marketing blogs I frequent

How can you be involved in the process?

R e c o m m e n d A n A r t i s t
Feel free to shoot me an email to bring an artist to my attention for possible entry in the Artist Sightings library or for a feature on Art Sightings. If the artist is featured, I will credit you and post a link to your site or blog. The rule is, however, you cannot recommend yourself. Let this be a push to encourage someone else in their art!

S h a r e R e s o u r c e s
Feel free to email me if you have a resource that you think artists could benefit from. I will credit you for the information and give you a link to your site or blog.

All three blogs currently have minimal information on them, but keep checking back as I will be adding to them often.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

First Crop

Today was a beautiful day, so it seemed very wrong and counter productive to stay indoors.

We've been growing our first batch of tomatoes, and have been watching each day for changes. It has been very exciting for my husband and I as we've watched them change from a yellow blossom to full grown and ripening tomatoes.

Today I noticed this one cluster that was an eye catching gradient from green to orange. The colors were so beautiful together, I just knew that it had to be the subject of my painting, today.

Here was my set up as I created a studio in my backyard.

I have everything I need, here. My pallet is a plastic box that has some very thin and wet sponges on the bottom. Then I place a special paper that stays wet along with the sponges underneath. This way my acrylics remain wet and usable instead of drying out within a short period of time.
I use acrylics as if they are watercolor paints. Very thin layers of acrylic are perfect for me as they cannot be re-wet or reworked.

After a significant time of painting, it was necessary to take a five minute break to cool off in the pool. Then it was back to the work at hand (if I can, in fact, call it work).

Here are the stages of this sketchy little piece:

First Crop
6x6 Graphite Acrylic Charcoal on Illustration Board

What a fun piece to paint sitting on the ground outdoors
surrounded by the sounds nature around me.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Petals and Cream III ~In Progress II

The following images show the continuing progress on this 16x20 painting.

I began to block in the flowers, making sure that I was accurately placing the large shapes of light and shadow. I would concern myself with the details after the proper large shapes of value were established.

It was then necessary to work in the background to achieve correct edges around the flowers. Also the darks of the leaves and stems were added to be sure that the range of values was accurate.

After choosing certain flowers to receive detailed attention, I then went on to add lightly the pattern on the pitcher and begin moving left to add the second pitcher. Now that the flowers are completed I no longer have an uncomfortable sense of urgency.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Petals and Cream III - In progress

In continuation with the Petals and Cream series, a third and larger painting has been started in the studio. But first I found it necessary to figure a way to effectively hang fabric behind my still lifes. The more I paint in the studio, the more I realize what is needed for versatility and space management.

The other day I devised a grouping of hooks and wire for such a purpose.

After figuring the background and deciding on the still life arrangement, I began painting. Here you can see again, my usual rough estimate of object placements. At this point it is crucial that I establish the size of one main object, and draw the other objects in proportion and relation to that first object. This helps me to not only be sure that the objects are in a comfortable size so as to remain on the canvas and not come too close to the edge, but to also judge for pleasing composition.

This is only an estimation and I refrain from creating a detailed drawing, for I will only cover it with paint directly upon completion. Also, I find that if I spend so much time on the drawing, when it comes time to paint, I rely too much on the drawing and it becomes a paint by number feel for me, and the painting becomes stiff and inaccurate.

After the initial drawing, I locate the easiest shape of value and color to get correct. I chose the light side of this pitcher. Soon after establishing the values and colors of this pitcher I laid in some of the darks around it to be sure that my values were correct - color and value is, after all, relative to it's surrounding colors and values. Painting the cloth underneath the pitcher was also important as it was a different shade of white - it was good to see the contrast between both shades as they were on the canvas exactly as I was seeing with my eyes.

I aim to complete this 16x20 painting by the end of next week - check back to see the progress.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Mandarin Crowd

Progression Slideshow

There was something about those mandarins when I walked past the kitchen counter. They caught my eye so I knew if anything I at least had to create a small study of them.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Petals and Cream

Petals and Cream
P r o g r e s s i o n
S l i d e s h o w

As you can see from the progressions, the flowers were not originally in the still life. About halfway through it became obvious to me that something was needed in order to keep the painting from appearing monochromatic.

This pitcher, one of three cream colored beauties, is from my mother, with whom I share matching sets. I will continue this series with additional paintings in this coloring and with these lovely subjects.

The napkin on the shelf, along with the rest of the set, belonged to my grandmother. They all bear my grandfather's embroidered initials.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thinking on Her

For the second painting to be completed in our new home, I decided to bring out a familiar piece to paint. It has in fact been 7 months since my last still life, so it is necessary to do some more basic and simple pieces to get back into the swing of things.

Enjoy the progression of this 3 hour painting.

I decided not to dilly dally one bit and after a quick placement sketch, I dove into the deep cobalt shapes to establish the tiny pitcher, blocking in obvious tones as I went.

After a break I continued with more exact edges and values, adding more detail to cause the pitcher to appear more sold and established. The flowers continued to get some attention. I was focused on creating more contrast between the shadows and bright light side of the petals. More paint was added to the previously washed in background and foreground.

Thinking on Her
8x10 oil on linen

After recording even more detail, working on the doily and establishing some more darks, I was pleased and so signed my name.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A New Start

Welcome to my new studio!
Last weekend my husband and I began working on setting up the room. There is much to do, and it will be a slow process to get the room looking how I am imagining, but rest assured I will include you in the process.

Here is the room before I unpacked all of my supplies and books.

I have two wonderful windows. One facing west and the other facing north.

I painted my first still life in over 7 months yesterday,
and was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't a total disaster.

In my next post, you will see a familiar subject for a still life as I continue to practice after my long hiatus away from painting. I'm looking forward to being back into the swing of things.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Yellowware Collection

The Challenge

We had 7 days left to pack all of our belongings and move to another state. With a swarm of mess surrounding me, I heard myself say, "yes" to this commission. Was I crazy? I still don't know (although my husband may tell you that he does). Against every practicality, I took on the challenge of painting in 2 days the largest still life I have ever attempted. Before I knew it, 16 pieces of exquisite yellowware, a few apples, and some fresh daisies were facing me, ready to be reproduced on a 16"x36" linen canvas. In the 20 hours of painting that followed, I wrestled with all the doubts, fears, and frustrations that artists face when brush meets canvas.

The Subject

Some of you are thinking, what is Yellowware? I thought the same thing when Elisa commissioned a painting of her yellowware collection. Here is the skinny on this handmade kitchen fascination taken from Martha Stewart's website.

"From the 1830s until the 1940s, when Pyrex and plastics took over, yellowware was ubiquitous in American kitchens. Yellowware is a ceramic fired from the fine yellow clay that lines riverbanks from New York to Ohio. Its color ranges from butter yellow to deep mustard, and it was popular due to its low cost and durability -- it could even withstand the heat of a woodstove."

I knew that these were special pieces, not only by how much Elisa told me she paid for her smallest bowl, but it was evident in each unique chip, imperfection of line, each variance of shade, and evidence of use. Each lovely piece was a unique gem with a story to tell. My hope was that this would come through in each brushstroke.

The Setup

By the brilliant suggestion of my husband, we took my table top off its stand and placed it up on top of my art supply chest in order to get a straight-on perspective while I sat to paint. After this photograph, I sent him out to fetch some bright white daisies to break up the yellow of the dishes and darkness of the table. I also added a white table cloth to give an area of soft edges.

Surprisingly (and I believe by God's help) it only took me about 30 minutes to arrange all the pieces. Perhaps another 10 minutes once I decided to add the towel and daisies. The apples were an easy choice for the purpose of breaking up the yellow, and to also bring out the deep brown stripes on some of the pieces.

It is difficult to tell in the photograph, but there are many varying shades of yellow. The pieces are arranged not only by shape and composition, but also each piece is set beside, against or in front of a piece with a lighter or darker shade. This was done in order to create as much contrast as possible so that the pieces don't get lost in a sea of yellow. For surely not all beautiful things make a successful painting, the consistent color would prove to be a challenge.

The Setback

The thing that makes my studio so beautiful and enjoyable is also what causes much difficulty in painting. If you remember my comments on my studio in a previous post, you will understand what a day of fast moving clouds on a sunny day will do to ones sanity while painting.

Usually, I can adjust to changing light and paint finishing as I go. This can be done if the light stays the same for at least 15 minutes at a time. On this particular day, the sun was beaming in brightly then was hidden behind clouds. Back and forth it went several times each minute, making it quite impossible to accurately paint anything. It was not possible to put off the painting for another day - it had to be today or not at all. I was close to accepting defeat until my husband once again saved the day with another brilliant idea.

The Solution

It would be difficult and nerve wracking, but we had to do it. We cleared out our second bedroom, covered the window with cardboard, and very cautiously lifted the tabletop and carried the entire setup - dishes, apples, from the front porch, all through our cluttered half packed house, into the bedroom, and onto the dresser. Amazingly it was the same height as the other one, and I had just enough room to achieve the same distance and angle from the still life.

Please excuse the packing clutter.

And please notice the wonderful lighthouse painting on the wall.

It is my husband's handiwork.

It was also a great help to me in that, I could now paint at night with consistent lighting. This also would be a huge factor in the completion of the painting, as I was not guaranteed continual sunny days.

The Progression

Well, enough with the prep, lets get to it and see how this painting came to be.

As usual, I start with a rough sketch in a burnt sienna wash. As time goes by, I find that I don't need to draw in each detail, but merely give myself an indication as to where things will be. I paint to finish as I go, and find this to consistently be the best way to avoid an overly tight painting and it helps keep it fresh and spontaneous looking.

I believe the first thing I painted was the daisies on the lower right. I knew that since they weren't in water that they would fade and droop quickly. Besides, they were the most fun to paint and are my favorite part of the painting. It's best, if possible, to begin painting where one feels the most confident - choose the easiest shapes first. Having one part correctly painted will help set the tone and the confidence will carry on throughout the painting to the more difficult sections.

I believe it was at this point, late at night that my dear husband brought me a milkshake.

I love him.

Up until this point I was unsure as to how to handle the dishes on the outer edge and the background. I was sure, however, that the crock on the right was too close to the edge of the canvas and should not be brought to a finish. I then decided that the outer pieces should be looser and more of a hint of detail in order to bring one's eyes back into the painting. I also decided that the background should be simple, yet have some movement to it, and settled on a rough look with varying values and temperatures.

The Finish Line

Here are a few closeups and comments for your enjoyment.

Pieces on the right are blocked in and will be adjusted and corrected later.

Simple highlights and some indications of detail were given to the outer crock to engage the viewers mind to complete the image, to avoid a tangent at the edge of the painting, and to bring the viewers eye back into the painting.

With all of this yellow, it was important to seek out those colors that one might not expect to find, and perhaps accentuate them a bit to create some interest and contrast. I punched in some pure red cadmium in the apples, added some cool blue splashes and deep reds to the yellowware's shadow side, and allowed some of my burnt sienna under drawing to show through in select areas.

Sometimes the quickest objects to paint become my favorite. The daisies had clear light and shadow, were a refreshing contrast to the object of focus, and were playful additions to the painting. It was the most enjoyable half hour of this commission.

Seen here is the finished painting, after over 20 hours of solid painting, it was finally finished. The painting then spent another day and night in front of a fan to be sure the piece was dry enough to send home with its teary owner.