Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New Painting--New Website

This past week was difficult, mostly because of a head cold that has been hanging on for now three weeks.  But as we must, we push on.  My husband, David, has been working daily to update my blog,  new website, and my Facebook.  By next week I will post the new address and talk more about the changes.  For now, please sign up for the newsletter which will come out at the end of February.  The newsletter will contain artist's tips, collector's advice, a fun video or two, and a painting that can be purchased.  All newsletter subscriber's names will be put in a hat for a drawing to win a print of one of my piece of art. 

I have painted a few small images this week that I will post as soon as David can photograph them--more work for David.  But for now, I am tackling another piece that offers a challenge.  I don't know about most of you but one of the reasons I paint is to try new, more difficult subject matter.  Doing the same thing over and over just isn't for me.  I wish it were.  It would make life so much easier for me and everyone around me.   The image below is made up of some of "My Favorite Things."  This painting is for me.  All the objects speak directly to my childhood.

Some of you may remember the primer "Fun With Dick and Jane."  We learned how to read with these simple sentences and fun pictures of seeing Spot run.  The music box mug is a mystery.  I don't remember where it came from but  I do remember drinking out of it when I was about four-years-old.    The shoe on the left belonged to my father.  Back in the day, mothers had their baby's shoes bronzed.  The big rabbit is the challenge.  It's made up of a mop-like fiber with cascading fringe. 

Of course I have needles, spools of thread, and my tomato pin cushion.  All of this is sitting on an antique quilt. 

I will keep you posted as I go along.  Tomorrow I will start with some preliminary  sketches and probably some notans to check out value patterns.  I will post all this week on my progress.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Road Trip to Ashville, NC

The last two weeks have been not only busy but both David and I caught a cold.  Needless to say I haven't shared everything I wanted to.  Getting the demo out took most of my efforts and I forgot to share a marvelous trip we took to North Carolina.
If you get a chance to visit Ashville, be sure to stop by the Southern Highland Craft Guild at the beginning of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Upon entering you are met with a spacious two story building filled with light streaming in and the feel of the arts and crafts of the Carolinas all around. On the ground floor are all kinds of handmade crafts including clothing, pottery, jewelry, and blown glass.  As you ascend the ramp leading to the second story you see full size hand sewn quilts hanging on the walls.  When we were there the second floor featured an exhibit on the history of quilting with samples from each decade till now.  At the far end were looms that were magnificent. 
Another one seems to be much older but just as beautiful.
All in all, the trip was enjoyable and on the way back we stopped in and dropped one of my paintings off at the M Gallery SE  in Charleston, SC.  Check out their website.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Painting Demo-cont.

I want to thank all of you who have commented both privately and publicly about this painting and the decisions I made to make drastic changes mid-stream.  Knowing that all paintings are not "winners" was comforting for some.  Any artist that can knock it out of the box on each and every painting is few and far between.  I'm done (stick a fork in me).  Whether I like it or not is still up for debate.  I think when I struggle it somehow affects my feelings toward it in the end.  I'll put it away for a few weeks and then look at it again.
Today I took the back portion of the quilt and darkened it with the air color of the background.  It needed to be sent back into more shadow.  I tweaked the coffee grinder with a glaze of red oxide and then added very small white highlights on the drawer and edge of the wood on the top.
I glazed a warm red oxide and cad.yellow deep on the onion and checked my cast shadows from the garlics and onion.  When light hits the surface of wood, there is sometimes a cool blueish haze on the warm wood color.  Did that.  Again I added specular highlights on the edge of the wood on the drop-leaf part of the table.What bothers me the most is the lack of freshness of the paint strokes.  In person, it looks overworked.  The other issue that I need to consider is how much detail should be put into the quilt as far as the stitching and puckering of the fabric (in the area in front of the coffee grinder).  I would love to hear from you and any input good or bad.  As one of my students always says "it's all good."

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Still Life Demo-continued

For those of you following me for awhile, you probably noticed some major changes taking place on my blog.  With the help of Artists Helping Artists and their marketing consultation services, we are moving into the 21st. century.  Hope you like the changes. 

Now for some shocking news on the demonstration.  Last night after posting I went into the studio and took another look at the painting.  I HATED IT!  I know when my work is not up to par and this painting belonged in the "something is wrong" category.  Years ago, Greg Kruetz told me. . ."when something is wrong with your painting, diddling with it isn't going to help.  Be brave and make major changes."  This is a paraphrase.  So I took my palette knife and scraped back the area that was bothering me which was the jug on the left side.  Then I wiped it off and repainted it with a fast drying white.  This morning I took another look and felt better.  The next decision was what was I going to put in its place.  Nothing!  I liked the space it created and so just added the fabric of the quilt that was already there.  I think what was bothering me was it was too crowded.  See what you think.

Because the white fabric paint was wet,  I will have to wait to add the red squares.  My next focus was on the coffee grinder.  To give the wood an old weathered look, I dry brushed grayish browns and blues onto its surface.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Demo Still Life-Day 2

The title for today's blog should have been--What Was I Thinking?  Note to self:  when attempting a painting with lots of folds in the fabric and a strong geometrical design, draw it out first on tracing paper and solve all the problems there.  Drawing first is usually my preference for starting a painting, but no I just jumped right in and did a rough sketch in oil.  And to answer my question from yesterday, I should have saved the red squares for later.  So today was spent correcting the block in mistakes.  By the way, that doesn't count as a step. 
The area with the red squares (to the left of the coffee grinder) has been repainted more accurately.  I don't want the pattern to take center stage but it does draw your eye there instead of on the front objects.  I'm going to keep at it before giving up on it.  Remember not all paintings are keepers but all paintings are learning experiences.

 After this I corrected other areas of the quilt to make sure the general form and values were reading correctly.  Next came the jug.  I've painted this before and know I can get the right color and temperature with burnt umber and ultramarine blue with white added.  It comes out as a grayish purple.  Some highlights have been added but that's enough for now.  The coffee grinder is an interesting color.  The wood is well worn and has a beautiful patina that will take several passes of color to get it just right.

Glazing later will give the wood more character.  The top was a dark red metal but is well worn.
I'm still not sure if this is going to be a keeper.  It's in its ugly stage so it's still too early to tell.  I appreciate any comments even helpful hints.  Just be nice!  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Step 2 -Continuing the Still Life

Now while the underpainting is drying, it's time to lay out my palette.  Clockwise starting in the lower left corner is yellow ochre pale, transparent red oxide, cadmium red light, cobalt blue, ultramarine blue, burnt umber, raw umber, and olive green.   At the bottom is Maroger (my medium), titanium white, and my special color that I can't live without--Neutral 3 from John Sanden's Pro Mix Colors.  More about this wonderful color later.

I always lay out my white in a linear fashion so I can cut off what I need without contaminating the rest of the pile.  After I took this image, I realized I need my cadmium yellow light.

Step 2-  After mixing my colors to get the values I see on the major objects, I paint small areas to check my color notes to see how they resonate together. 

Step 3-  This is easy.  Block in your darks using thin paint.  Then block in the lights.  Here is where I use the Maroger as a thinner.  It will be dry to the touch by tomorrow.  Step back about ten feet and check the overall pattern.  Does it have a strong design that holds together from a distance?  After much deliberation, I decided to put in the red squares at this stage.  I hope I won't regret this move down the road.

Still Life Demo in 10 Easy Steps

I'm stretching "truth in advertising" a bit when I claim I can do it in 10 easy steps but I am going to try . . . maybe 11 just in case.   Fair enough?  Let's start with the idea.  As you know if you have followed my blog that I love anything to do with textiles.  And just so happens I got a new student  who is a quilter and a collector of antique quilts.  There is a god.  I was running out of linens from my own collection.   She loaned me two of her prize possessions to paint and I jumped right in.  This sentence should be followed by "where fools fear to tread."  When you see the quilt, you'll know what I mean.
You can't see it but between the red squares are pale yellow squares.  Otherwise it is a field of white.  Add a coffee grinder, jug, onion, and a few cloves of garlic and I'm set.  The lighting is high to give it a more ethereal feeling.  I know that the red squares are details and I know to save details till last, you know the old saying . . . dog before the fleas, forest before the trees.  But the pattern is so big and bold that I think I may need to block it in with the massing in of the fabric. 

First Step:  Working on a 16"x20" toned canvas, I began sketching in with raw umber and turpenoid.  I blocked in the dark areas with very thin transparent paint and lifted a few lights.  I will be posting everyday as I continue with this painting so following along and be sure to ask questions. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Welcoming A New Year

My silence has been noticed by a few people and with no excuses by me!

I would like to share some reflections.  New Year's resolutions are common and are filled with good intentions.  I'm over making them.  Instead they are going to take a different form.  Not sure what yet, and that is why I have not posted.  I also had house guests before the holidays and had an Open Studio to display my body of work created over this past year.  That meant a week of cleaning house.  In doing so I came upon an old notebook filled with pictures and writings that had meaning to me over twenty years ago.  These thoughts expressed in this piece of writing resonates with me more now than it ever has.  As a Crone (over 55ish and feeling I have wisdom to share) I'm walking in the moment forgetting my failures of the past and looking toward being as real as possible for now in the future.  I don't know who wrote this--I apologize for not being able to give credit---so form now we can attribute it to 'anonymous.'

                                                                      The Dance
                                           "What if it truly doesn't matter what you do but how you do
                               whatever you do?
                                           How would this change what you choose to do with your
                                           What if there is no need to change, no need to try and transform
                               yourself into someone who is more compassionate, more present, more
                               loving or wise?
                                            How would this affect all the places in your life where you
                               are endlessly trying to be better?
                                            What if the question is not why am I so infrequently the person
                               I really want to be, but why do I so infrequently want to be the person
                               I really am?
                                            How would this change what you think you have to learn? . . .
                                            What if you knew that the impulse to move in a way that
                               creates beauty in the world will arise deep within and guide you every
                               time you simply pay attention and wait?
                                            How would this shape your stillness, your movement, your 
                                willingness to follow this impulse, to let go and dance?"

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