Thursday, December 21, 2006

A New Year Evaluation

Instead of dwelling on all that did not get done this year, Alyson B. Stanfield of Art Biz Coach has encouraged artists to make a detailed list of our accomplishments from this past year. I must say that having done this not only surprised me as to what all was done this year, but has inspired me to make a more daunting list of goals for next year. I can easily step up my commitment to art.

And because I can't bring myself to post a blog without any photographs, here is a painting that was completed this year.

Acrylic on Watercolor Paper

Title suggestions welcome

Saturday, December 16, 2006

In the Kitchen IV ~ Work in Progress

It's Time for Big Decisions

There are a few more things that are needed before the painting is signed. The cookbook needs a few correcting strokes as some of the angles are a little off. And some decisions need to be made for the background. There's much empty space in the top half, and something needs to be done there, but what, I am not quite sure. I will probably go to some large brushwork, there. Here's where a painting can be made stronger or weaker - in the last wrapping up session.

I do like the lower left corner, and how the towel seems to emerge from the background - something happening, yet not too distracting. I hope to create that same effect for the rest of the background.

Here is a closeup with some more accurate color.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Essentials - (a manditory break)

Click on the "In the Kitchen" archives to see the painting progressions.

Since it's rained and been overcast for the last 2 days, I thought I'd give you a peak at my total set up. Here I have everything I need:
A french easel - my indoor/outdoor buddy
My trusty hat - to keep the glare out of my eyes
Cane - to steady my hand
Large glass palette - the best palette, ever
A large supply of brushes - I use about 10 of them on a regular basis
Music - Mostly soft orchestral movie soundtracks
Camera (not shown). - Sony 3.3 Megapixel (yeah, I know)
Any questions? Post a question as a comment, and I'll be glad to answer and explain as a post here. If you're especially shy, feel free to email me your questions. I love to talk about art and its process, and I understand for those of you who are not artists the desire to see how something is done.
So, my studio is always open for any type of discussion falling under the category of art. Ask away!

Monday, December 11, 2006

In the Kitchen III ~ Work in Progress

For earlier glimpse and background on this painting, see "In the Kitchen" I and II under "Studio Archives"

It's amazing what a few hours of concentration and about 50-70 correctly placed shapes of accurate value and temperature will do. I realize that was probably a few terms you may not be familiar with if you're not an artist. So, let me explain a little to you as I continue my painting. I may have to split this little lesson up in a few posts, so let's tackle phrase #1 for today.

"Correctly Placed Shapes": It may sound really strange to you, but if you want to paint accurately, one must forget pretty much what is being painted. For instance, when I was painting the apples, I had to fight the urge to think "stem, top of the apple, bruise on the apple. . .etc. " Because when I do that, I'm pulling on the left side of my brain that has records of images of what an apple should look like. I can draw an apple from memory, but it can't possibly match the one I'm looking at.

When I paint, I'm literally thinking, " bright red skinny shape, right next to a wider, yet shorter shape that is a tad bluer than the first red skinny shape." I have to look at the colors and compare them to the color next to it. It's a mind bender sometimes. Somedays I'm right there in the "zone" as I like to call it, but other days I'm not concentrating and it pretty much falls apart before my eyes.

I'll explain Temperatures and Values to you at a later date. I hope you enjoyed your mini art lesson!

Come back soon - I'll be giving you a better look at my studio.

In the Kitchen II ~Work in Progress

See "In the Kitchen I - work in Progress" for the first part of this painting in progression.

As promised, here is a better and slightly updated photograph. The sun went behind the trees very fast today as our days are getting shorter and shorter. Currently I have direct sunlight through my studio from noon until around 3pm.

More highlights were added to the kitchen towel, and I started adding some correct shapes on and around the bowl. I am looking forward to the eggs. . . well, I'm looking forward to finishing this one. It's the most complex still life I have painted in some time, and the longer it takes the less enthusiasm I tend to have. We have had a long string of sunny days which I am very thankful for. I will paint, again, today, and will soon post more updated photographs. Thank you for looking.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

In the Kitchen I ~ Work in Progress

It's been set up for about 2 weeks, now, but because of many circumstances falling under the categories of "Life" and "Priorities", today was the first day of real and profitable painting. After a run to the grocery store to get the most old fashioned bag of flour I could find, some apples, and very expensive brown eggs, I set up the still life attempting to mimic the look of a real kitchen counter. Feel very special, for I usually don't like to show the set up, but I thought it would be fun this time.

One thing I would like you to keep in mind as you view the setup and undoubtedly compare it with the painting, (it's hard to fight that urge myself) remember that I am painting, not taking a photograph. I am allowed to make changes in value, temperature and edges. If we weren't then all paintings any artist painted would be the same in style, and they might as well be photographs. So, as a painter, I simplify color changes, edges and subjects,. .etc. to make the painting the best it can be, my goal is not to record everything that is there. With that said, proceed and enjoy.

My most daunting task was to simulate the backsplash to create a little more authenticity. Here you can see the cover to our radiator turned upside down with a piece of cardboard (the backing to one of my old sketchpads) propped up to look like the back wall. You can't see it, but there is a hole in the flour bag (of course I didn't notice until I came home with it). The old Betty Crocker Cookbook was my Mamaw's, and the kitchen towel, bowl, measuring cups and spoons were all wedding gifts. Notice the lovely Dell box underneath the "kitchen counter". Only the best in my studio.

In the time between my first and second painting sessions, some of the props such as the measuring cups and spoons were temporarily taken from the setup because they were needed in the real kitchen so we could eat.

My first painting session yielded only incorrectly sketched items. So after a faulty beginning I studied the still life as I passed by the room on my way to something more urgent and envisioned the painting completed in my mind as I worked on other things. (Pretty cool - I can do art while I vacuum.) I could see the style I was going for. Loose, simple, effective, yet warm, reflecting the enjoyment I find in cooking. For some reason I could see the apples completed in my mind the clearest, so the decision was made that the apples would be my point of origin, and if done correctly, they would set the tone for the rest of the painting.

I am pleased with today's progress, and am able to envision more of the painting completed. The sun was going down, so my opportunity for a good photograph was gone before I realized it. This explains the low color quality. The photograph is a little skewed because the wet paint would have created lots of glare if it were taken straight on.

Better and more complete pictures coming soon. If the sun chooses to shine tomorrow I will be painting, again. Keep checking.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Direct Bear

I've painted this sweet little bear a few times, and have enjoyed each painting. He's a reliable little prop when I need something simple for a quick study - which is the only thing I had time for, today.
I love the raspberry colors and the rich halftones the lighting causes. The halftones I'm referring to are created when the angles of an object are turning away from the light source. Usually right before the darkest dark of the shadows is a deeply saturated color. That's where I can get away with adding a punch of color - sometimes straight from the tube. What fun.
I started painting when the sun was on it's way down, and knowing that I had very limited time, and I had a simple subject, I decided to bypass all preliminary drawing and go right into direct painting. So, my sweet, yet direct little friend was painted rather hurriedly.
It seems that the less time I have to dilly dally, the better and stronger my paintings turn out. I must get right down to business. I must get the values, angles and shapes right the first time, or the piece will be lost.
About an hour after beginning, the sun was gone, but I had enough of the subject and lighting established, so I pulled a lamp over to help me get the shadow shapes correct. I continued painting until my husband came home. (with a beautiful collection of bright orange lilies for me, by the way - how I'd love to skip work, tomorrow so I could stay home and paint them.)
The pattern had been left out, but at my husband's suggestion I put it in loosely, and I'm very glad that I did. As Richard Schmid states, it does take two people to paint a painting. I need Ben to help me know when to stop, and what to add.
Maybe I can steal a few hours after work to capture the very strong lilies that are sitting in my kitchen at the moment.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Pennypacker Park

They said it was going to be sunny and warm. I believed them, and was not disappointed. In an effort to take advantage of the fleeting days of autumn (and thus the fleeting days of bearable weather), the Pennypacker Park on the Cooper River became my studio, today. My arrival was later than intended, and with only 3 hours to paint, it became clear that a rushed pace would be mine for the afternoon.
It was a decent study and a good practice for me.

After parking, with camera in hand, I took my ritual walk about to assess the landscape and decide the best location for the painting. After narrowing down the spot, I returned to the car for the necessities.

Apparently the rain from last week was a little overwhelming for the soil as much of the area where I wanted to set up resembled a swamp. I found a slushy island to set up camp where my bag,( poor bag, there was nowhere else for it to go than on the ground), became soaked through on the bottom - along with my camera and business cards. No harm done, though.

During one of my breaks, I took a few photographs.
This will definitely be a park that I will want to come back to in the springtime.

The view from my easel.

I became inspired by the dried leaves. What a beautiful way to die.

There is great potential for a beautiful spot in the spring. I love the character that is revealed in trees when the modesty of the leaves are gone. Such intricacy.

The sun passes through the leaves as though they are stained glass. The Master Artisan created living stained glass. Something we humans can only attempt to imitate.

Canadian Geese apparently have a very popular hangout. Aside from their personalities, they are really very beautiful birds. I wonder how much longer they'll be around before flying to warmer places.