Sunday, October 26, 2014


A month has passed since my last post (gee it sounds like I'm in a confessional).  Many events have brought me to where I am today and where I want to go from here.  A few of these events are: I gave up Facebook for a month, didn't watch anything on TV that was news related or programs that didn't lift me up, morning meditation with writing and reading, and the cherry on top was my four day workshop.  All were extremely beneficial for my new understanding of "self."

Let me say that writing about the angst and struggles I was feeling was easy to describe in my earlier post.  Many people responded with like feelings and understandings of what I was experiencing.  Where I am now is much harder to put words to it.  I have turned a corner in my understanding that looking back seems simple. Too simple.  My "dead" feeling for what I was doing was because I wasn't being authentic in the choice of what I was painting.  When I first started painting fabrics and textiles I felt totally connected to the subject matter; I was painting authentically.  But I needed to grow and painting the same thing created a different response to the subject matter than when I began.  When I admitted this to myself is when the interesting part of this journey truly began.

My morning reading included Joseph Campbell, author of Pathways to Bliss.  The book opened the door to digging deep into what truly made me feel blissful when I painted.  Campbell states that bliss is "that deep sense of being present, of doing what you must do to be yourself."  In addition another statement I read in his book was that you can't wear another person's hat.  So I had to be totally honest and ask myself what excited me visually when I viewed my world and when I view others' paintings.  I think being aware of other painters, dead or alive, that you find that curls your toes as we say in the south, is a first step.  To put all of this into words as to what this is, is not possible.  I can say I know it when I see it and it feels transcendent, an inexpressible truth.  It does have something to do with ethereal light and the figure. 

If I haven't lost you by now let me throw another quote at you.  Campbell defines a real artist as "one who has learned to recognize and to render . . . the 'radiance' of all things as an epiphany or showing forth of the truth."  That's heavy but I get IT.  You must translate it for yourself so I won't elaborate on the quote.  Put all this together and add a pinch of Quang Ho's 8 Intentions along with the visual language of line, shape, value, color, edges, and texture and you have a recipe for painting authentically. 

I can say my love for making art has come back.  Not saying that I am painting masterpieces, but I am in bliss when I am working so I must be on the right track. 

This was a young lady who is the daughter of a friend of mine.  The painting is about how the light wrapped around her from the back and right.  The colors are more saturated but this photo will have to do until I can get it photographed by David.  My brushwork is more expressive and I had to stay focused on light and not details and finishing everything at the same level.  Edgework was fun and expressive. Painting this piece was bliss for me and that made all the difference.

I also have been drawing in charcoal --- figures and faces. My goal is to draw or paint every day. Finding vintage photos that are in the public domain help to work without having a model.  This image was taken in 1902 on a Native American reservation.  Will need to do more research into the tribe and history if I want to turn it into a painting.

This drawing reminds me of some of the images of Robert Henri when he was painting in New Mexico.  If any of this makes sense to you and you want to comment, please do or contact me personally.  Happy Painting.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Heartfelt Response

This week I received a heartfelt response to my last blog, "A Journey Worth Taking."  With the permission from the writer I am sharing it for a deeper insight on my thoughts and actions.

". . .  I'm going to share it with friends because it applies to every walk of life. We must shed our carapace, so we can continue to grow. Birds molt, snakes shed their skin, trees renew their needles or their leaves. Are we any different? Ah, yes, we exfoliate, but that's never enough is it?

We need to step back, detach and walk through a period where we gather, renew, rework, and go within.

I am a writer. There are fallow months. Life interferes, but it's all contributing to a future work. And sometimes, when the words flow out of my fingers, I wonder where they are coming from, who guides them through me, and onto paper. I hardly know the person who writes. But that's also how I learn who I am and find my purpose.

Once, long ago, I thought I was a painter. I still love the smell of turpentine. It wafts through my mind as the memory of a good time; but that was then and now is another adventure.

I am waiting to be amazed at where you go from here. It will be good. Perhaps you have a book waiting to be born, with your paintings as milestones in your journey. People love to experience the inner life of an artist, and you write beautifully about art—and life.

Here's to the joy that is returning,

As you can see, this meant a lot to me knowing that when anyone takes the time to respond to my blog posts, I truly appreciate it.  Thanks again.

As an additional note, my interview with the Masters Secret Summit was aired yesterday.  If you haven't seen it, click here and register so you can see all the interviews as they are released.  I am honored to be on the same bill as Burton Silverman and David Hettinger.  They are worth the viewing.  Enjoy.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Reflections on a Journey Worth Taking (reprinted from the Aug. 2014 Newsletter)

I love painting. Okay love may be too strong of a word, but it's right there at the top of my list for activities that give me purpose. Yes there are days when I have to talk myself into entering the studio, but within a few minutes I'm hooked into the process and totally engaged. Having said that, after twenty plus years, the love or passion has changed. The reason for painting has changed too. Like a good marriage, or a fine wine, time and maturity has made me a different painter.

What does this change look like? Initially I found myself in a place that felt wanting and not enjoying the process. It felt like a job. I wanted to regain the passion that I wasn't getting but once enjoyed. Does this sound like marriage? It took time to identify the real issue with these feelings and to come up with a plan to make the necessary changes. For my art to have renewed meaning and to excite me I had to get out of my comfort zone and explore new possibilities. Mind you I'm in the process and it is still difficult, but with conscious effort I am making progress.

So what was this process? First, I have to paint for a different purpose. The old purpose doesn’t work for me anymore. The big one is to not render. Making something look exactly like what I was seeing is now not a goal. The next purpose is to paint authentically and not to please every request. Yes, like all of us I want to have clients that want my work, but at what price? That one I'm still struggling with but trust that we, the galleries and buyers, will be happy.

How am I going to get there without relapsing? There is no AA for artist that I know of so I had to create my own AA-Artists Anonymous. So far it's a group of one and I meet with myself every day. It's not a 12 step program but it does have steps and there is no sponsor except my husband.

My Recovery Program
  1. Quiet my environment, meaning Remove-the-Static of the world; the news, Facebook, and all negative influences as much as possible. I can't do it all, all day so I have set aside time each morning for reflection and putting my steps into practice.
  2. Writing in a Discovery Journal. Many years ago I practiced this habit and it was extremely beneficial to identify what I think and believe. All topics are on the table, but art is the main focus and what I have to say with my art. That's a biggie.
  3. Identify my strengths and weaknesses. This is also done during this morning period of time. What skills are in my tool box and which areas do I need to work on. That gives me a direction for goal setting and a plan for self improvement.
  4. Give myself permission to experiment with new techniques and/or ideas. This goes along nicely with number three.
  5. Write a Plan of Action; set goal for myself. An easy way to write good goals is to remember the anachronism SMART; S=specific, M=measurable, *A=action steps, R=relevant, T=time bound.  *I have substituted action steps for “achievable” because I think it’s more specific.
  6. Limit viewing images of other artist’s work.  I have viewed so many so often on a daily basis that it’s ridiculous! In fact my goal is to not look at images of artist works dead or alive. I confess that I am a junkie with regards to this one! I can spend countless hours on Facebook, the Internet, and my art magazines just looking at images of paintings by other artist all in the name of “art education.” I’ve gone cold-turkey here, but it's a one day at a time struggle.
  7. Establish a routine; a ritual, or form of meditation. The ritual is essential to bringing forth a sense of purpose and passion!
I've completed everything but #1 and working on that one every day (actually I’m working on all seven every day). It's a work in progress, but I'm hopeful for a positive outcome.

If you have any thoughts, questions, or experiences in this area, I would love to hear from you. E-mail me at or post a comment on my blog at

Update:  I have been on this journey for a few weeks now and have made some progress that includes a profound understanding as it relates to the direction that I want to take my art.  I will post this week some of this progress.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Problems with PayPal

This is a notice to all my followers and readers who may have tried using my PayPal button to register for my Oct. Workshop or purchase a painting that there is a problem.  When you click the PayPal button you don't go directly to making a purchase. Not sure what the problem is but we are working on it. Please contact me directly if you don't want to wait until we can resolve this problem.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Painter's Lament

Many of the students I teach and other friends that paint ask "How do I paint loose when my natural tendency is to paint tight."  Great question but the answer is not short.  To begin with, first we have to define loose and tight.  My definition of loose is brushstrokes that are not blended and have volume in the paint quality.  Tight is the opposite where each stroke is blended into the next edge.  Many times a fan or soft brush is feathered over the paint which blends colors and values together. Paint quality is usually flatter in appearance.

Next let's understand that in form painting sometimes referred to as academic painting or indirect painting, the beginning process begins with an tonal underdrawing or tonal underpainting.  Values are established first and then paint is applied in thin tile like marks.  Without going into more details, let's eliminate form painting from this discussion.

I have found that most beginning students naturally paint tight.  They paint everything they see in front of them and try to match color for color.  I believe painting loose requires a conscience understanding and practice to achieve a loose style. Here are some thoughts about painting loose.

As the creator of your painting, you must decide how far to take the details or in other words, the matching of what you see in color and details.  First you should begin with a loose block-in of in the light shapes and out of light shapes.  The block-in can be monochromatic or a color wash of the local color.  Here's where the choices begin.
1.   Leave it in the loose stage but add thicker paint where needed.
2.  A step tighter is to develop your painting to an impressionistic stage by refining the basic light and dark shapes and color masses using broken/unblended color.
3. Take it a step further, add details or blend colors in one of the planes preferably in the middle ground or foreground.
4. Continue developing other areas of details to create secondary focal points without allowing these areas to compete for attention with your primary center of interest.
5. Finally you can refine your painting until is is photorealistic and fully developed with details. All broken color becomes blended together as you pull the painting together in a "tight" rendering.

Here a two examples of tight vs. loose

"Root" is tight in the foreground and middle ground.  The background is obscured as it goes back into shadow.

"Feeling Blue" has the same color scheme but I decided to be tight only in the focal area where the brass and onyx vessel is juxtaposed against the pitcher. 

As you develop as a painter and have more control with your skills, usually you choose a tightness that becomes your style and is recognizable to others.  I have heard seasoned painters say their goal is to capture the essence of the image and say more with less strokes.  Hmmm. Different strokes for different folks as they say.  I would love to know what your experience has been with this idea of tight vs. loose. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Master's Secret Summit

A couple of weeks ago I was contact by an artist, Kathryn Lloyd for her artist's series, Master's Secret Summit.  This series was new to me so I went on line and saw some of her amazing interviews with master artists like Harley Brown, Virgil Elliott, and Stephanie Birdsall.

Yesterday was my scheduled time for the interview and a first time user of Skype on my laptop with camera.  After a few minutes of technical glitches we were up and running. The interview flew by and forty-five minutes later it was over.  Kathryn was a delight to talk to and I rambled on and on.  Hope she is good a editing.  This is her second round of interviews and am not sure how many other artists are in this second series that will be aired on line Sept. 14th. Click on this link to sign up so you will be able to view my interview and the others as soon as it comes out.

I love pot(s).  No not the growing kind but painting interesting pots in a single large format.  I don't paint a lot of them; only when I find a pot that speaks to me.   Had fun painting with a new color-Perylene Black.  It is transparent and a deep green/blue black.  When mixed with Naples Yellow (Old Holland), you get this yummy color.

                                                          Oil on Linen  36" x 36"

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

New Work

I don't usually post a lot of my paintings on the blog to promote sales but this one is lovely and isn't in any of my galleries.  It has an unusual name, "Mystic Bifurcation," and I'm not telling what it means unless you are the lucky buyer.

                                                             "Mystic Bifurcation"
                                                                        8" x 12"
                                                               oil on panel framed
If you have a friend who needs color and the joy of art on their walls, share this post and encourage them to visit my website. 


Friday, June 20, 2014

The Right Stuff

Last year at the National Oil Painters of America convention in Fredericksburg, Texas, I was fortunate to hear Joe Paquet speak on Authenticity and Creativity. Click here for a summary of his talk. After that my goal was to take a workshop from him.  He teaches plein air which is totally out of my comfort zone, but my intuition told me I could learn something valuable more than just how to paint a landscape.  Plus, I wanted to get out of the safety of my studio and try to connect with the great outdoors.  Painting anything is about connecting. Right?

My bags packed and art supplies safely tucked away in my new pull cart, I could have been mistaken for a bag lady. I am ready I thought to myself.  Fifteen hundred miles later I arrived in St. Paul.  Walking into Joe's studio in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota my heart leaped with anticipation.  Beautiful landscapes hung on the walls, soft classical music filled the air, and a six foot plus Joe Paquet stood by his easel surrounded by a number of eager students. The next three hours flew by quickly with so much information - his expectations and his views and philosophy about good art. I was inspired!  I literally had to hold back the tears that seemed to fill my eyes. Did I say that I was inspired!?!  And I wasn't the only one; Joe had that same effect on people back in Fredericksburg too.

After lunch was a demonstration along the banks of the Mississippi river. The sun was shinning, our view was breathtaking perched high above the river and Joe was in command at the easel.

I learned about light and shadow averaging, mixing greens from yellow to violet on the prismatic scale, and how the dark greens really have a deep violet hue in them. He demonstrated what he called "freezing the light."   Great day, great information!

Day two and I was ready.  Unfortunately the weather was ready too and it turned nasty.  Never fear, Joe, like Gen. Patton leading his army through Sicily, assured us that we could handle a little rain and wind.  Even though there was a large pavilion to take shelter in the views wouldn't be the same.  I'm not as tough as I use to be, but I was determined not to wimp out. Dragging my cart over the hill I forged ahead looking for that perfect view.  The wind began to increase and my umbrella kept turning inside out and eventually flew off into the air.  My painting that morning was a wash out and I was soaked to my skin.  Joe came around and sent us off for an early lunch reminding us to be back by one o'clock.

The afternoon weather got worse so all of us headed for the pavilion and this time Joe agreed that it might be better to take shelter.  My grandad use to tell me stories of Patton and the muddy, cold marches that seemed to never end.  I think I know now how he might of felt.  Quickly everyone set up their easels as Joe passed out hot coffee.  (He does have a kind heart.)  Hoping for a better start, I bungee'd my easel to my cart and began painting.  The wind picked up with sporadic gust of winds that I later found out were from 60 to 70 mph. Gee that's what we have in Florida leading up to a category one hurricane.

 Sheets of rain blew horizontally constantly; I needed windshield wipers on my glasses.  Sounds of easels falling over and the sound of large tree branches cracking and falling filled the air as I held on tightly to my easel with one hand and the brush with the other.  I saw a roll of paper towel fly by landing in a large puddle of water and rolling out like it was a red carpet rug for the Oscars.  Limb after broken limb dotted the landscape, but we all stayed at our posts feverishly painting.  Hm mm, oil and water don't mix well and I kept dabbing my palette trying to keep it dry.  Water dripped off the back of my panel that acted as a shield for my paint box.

Gen. Joe was keeping our spirits up as he came around giving us short critiques and passing out coffee.  Did I mention the temperature dropped to around 50 degrees.

By four o'clock we were all done for the day, and believe it or not my painting wasn't too sucky.

Joe gathered us together and told us we had all done good and that he was proud of us.  "If we could paint under these conditions," he told us, "we could paint anywhere no matter what the weather might be." He brought us a special treat, and all I can say is we toasted to our success with Joe telling us that tomorrow would be a better day. And it was.

REFLECTION:  Now you might think to yourself that I was unhappy with my experience, but oddly enough I am/was not at all unhappy with my experience; in fact just the opposite.  After a hot bath and a little more spirituous libations, I felt mildly comforted and greatly encouraged, an almost blissful feeling engulfed me.  We don't get a chance too often to test ourselves and to reach down into that deep well of tenacity and determination.  I thank you, Joe Paquet, for your encouragement and your show of strength to not let us wimp out and go back to our soft and easy place.  Through your encouragement you helped me to see that I have the Right Stuff to be a plein air painter under pretty much any conditions.  Yes, the elements tested my fortitude with a little help from our leader - I did it! My inner voice spoke to me and said "Good girl, you did it."  This I had to share with my husband as we drove back to Florida.

Later on the way home, I went back to Joe's website and read an article he had written.  It said it all. The Living Experience ; Why Paint Plein Air?  Joe Paquet is truly a teacher among teachers! Thanks Joe for a great experience!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

October 2014 Workshop

I'm getting excited about this year's workshop, Creating the Luminous Painting, here in our unique location in lovely coastal central Florida.  Imagine four days of working along side other enthusiastic painters with a small intimate environment of one on one instruction.  All breakfasts and lunches are provided and an additional evening cruise on our local Spruce Creek is a highlight of one of our evenings.
                                                       Evening Sunset on Spruce Creek

                                                     Food, Drink, and Balmy  Breezes

Students have their own individual painting station with easels, lighting, tables, and an abundance of still life objects to choose from.  All you need are your paints, brushes, canvas and palette.

For more information and to register click here.  Space is limited to eight, so reserve your place now. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Something to Say

Recently I read a 2013 interview by the Artist's Magazine with the narrative figurative/portrait artist Katie O'Hagan.  First let me say I admire her work tremendously for her technical skills and the thought provoking narratives that share her personal story.

                                                          Katie O'Hagan   "Life Raft" 

  What struck me at the core was a response to a question she was asked about teaching beginning artists and what would the most important lesson be?  In a nutshell she states that most people can learn "how" to paint but believed the "why" and the "what" is more important than the "how" because the sooner you figure that out, the sooner you can head in a more productive direction.  These sentiments were also stated by Mary Whyte when she said the three things to become an accomplished artist is:

     1.  Something to say
     2.  The ability to say it
     3.  The courage to do it

                                                          Mary Whyte    "Waiting"

We all spend years learning our craft and those techniques that will make us a good painter.  But at some point for those that are painting because they need to connect with others with their work, technique is not enough.

O'Hagan goes on to say that as her learning curve leveled out and she became better at painting, she found herself gradually losing interest in the whole idea of painting.  "That feeling was quite unnerving!  Here I had finally found my "purpose" and I was already growing bored with it.  Accurately rendering a likeness no longer felt quite so compelling," she said.

Wow!  I wonder how many painters have found themselves in that position? Some artists seem to paint the same thing over and over again producing small works daily or larger pieces on a regular basis.  Maybe not all painters need to tell a personal story narrative message in their work.  I was once told by a prominent judge in a major art organization that he didn't pick paintings for awards that were narrative.  I guess that's okay.  Judges look for different things depending on their own view of what art is but I digress.  In my own philosophy, a narrative painting is any painting filtered through your own experience and conveyed in a personal style uniquely your own.  Words like concept and intentions are tools that support and convey your style and message. 

Where do you go to find the "something to say?"  Meditation, journaling, or therapy?  I don't have the answer and O'Hagan didn't allude to how she was able to pull herself out of this slump other than she shifted to being more about the idea.   I would love to hear from any of you that can relate to this situation and how you overcame this slump in your painting or how you went about find your idea and something to say.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Bitten by the Bug

As a studio painter for over twenty years, I have looked at plein air painters with mixed feelings.  They look like they are having so much fun communing with nature and others of like mind and talent.  On the other hand the thought of leaving my cozy, organized studio to brave the heat and cold let alone packing for each outdoor experiences left me with little desire to change.

Well folks, I've been bitten by the P.A. bug.  As some of you may know, I had Karen Winslow of Cambridge Vermont and student of Frank Mason come down to do a four day workshop.  She taught us the prismatic palette where your landscape colors are pre-mixed and ready to be used immediately as you work quickly to capture the light and shade.   After four days I was convinced that plein air was for me too.

After these four days I realized I had to organize my supplies and equipment so that packing for an outdoor session could be easy and quick otherwise I just wouldn't do it no matter how enjoyable it was.  I'm a problem solver and love figuring out how to make a situation better.  I can't carry a back pack because of lower back problems so that was out from the get go.  Then it came to me; a cart!  Not just any cart but one designed to hold everything I need and packed ready to go at a moments notice.  One big benefit of the prismatic palette is the colors are pre-mixed and ready to go (kept in the freezer), and only a few other tubes of paint are needed (white and some earth colors).  So  here is my solution.

Don't judge the cute fabric and colors.  It was left overs from curtains I made.  Not one penny was spent on the pocket liner.  I even have an inside pocket for keys and other necessaries.  Every side has pockets.  My chair fits, Coulter Palette and tripod, as well as a wet panel box, and prismatic palette box.  Everything else is in an outside pocket.  I took it for a "spin" this morning and couldn't believe how easy it was to set up and take down.  Now to learn not to chase the shadows!

Monday, March 31, 2014

So Many Workshops

"Misty Blue"
18x24  oil on linen

Recently in this past year I have come off a long hiatus of taking oil painting workshops.  My first experiences weren't that positive and frankly they were very expensive. Being a life long teacher with a perspective of what makes for good instruction, I set out to try again with some new found knowledge.  The following information was shared earlier in my last newsletter but I felt it was worth repeating.  Since January when it was originally posted, I have taken two workshops and have put my own advice to the test.  It works.  I would love to hear from any of you that try my suggestions and tell me your experience.

So Many Workshops-How Do You Choose?

Painting workshops have become an option for many painters who wants to improve their skills and concepts. The time for these workshops can range from a short two or three day experience to a ten day in-depth experience. Some of these workshops are in great locations becoming part of the experience making it worth the dollars spent. Most of us can't afford to enroll in a program that takes us away from our home and family for years of study so the workshop is a great alternative.

With so many offered today, how do you choose a workshop that will give you a positive experience that meets your own personal goals as an artist? They key is in the question-what are your goals for improvement as a painter? Without a thoroughly thought out inventory of what you need to move forward, chances are your experience in any workshop will fall short of expectations. Self assessment is critical.

The following questions can help with goal setting and self-assessment.
    1. What kind of art do I want to make? A good way to find this answer is to ask yourself what one or two artists' work (dead or alive) are you drawn to and why? Can you identify what qualities of their work you would like to learn? I encourage my students to keep a journal of images they are drawn to and note who they are and who these artists studied with. I suggest an ipad or some other easy device to capture the images. Soon you should be able to see some consistency in your choices.
    2. Have you done your homework on the instructor you have choosen? What is their educational background and philosophy of painting? What school of thought do they teach? Most of you know that there are two BIG schools of thought and the techniques don't mess well. Direct painting know as alla prima and indirect painting are taught totally different from each other.
    3. Have you talked to others who have taken from this instructor/artist? What was their experience? This may take some effort but well worth the time before you plop down your hard earned dollars. One source for this information can be found on the website
    4. How serious of an artist am I? Do I paint almost everyday or is it more a hobby painter? If you are a hobby painter and do it mainly for the fun of it almost any workshop will probably meet your needs.
    5. If your answer to question #4 is -you feel you want to make painting an important part of your everyday life then ask yourself--Am I willing to get out of my comfort zone, put my ego aside, and be willing to paint badly? You can not grow as a painter unless you do. If you are going to defend your process when the instructor offers his or her advice, then both of you will be frustrated.

Once you have truly answered the above questions, sit down and complete a self-assessment. It may look something like this:

Strengths Weaknesses
drawing brushwork
color mixing edges
understanding of materials working process
seeing color as value

I think you get the idea. The point being, if you know what your goals are for improving, then ask specifically for the teacher to help you achieve them. My last piece of advice is to read, read, and read. As you grow as an artists, reread old books with the new knowledge you have gained. It's amazing how you will understand at a much higher level.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Real Start

My last post dealt with the different ways to start a painting.  But what is even more important is what should happen before you start the start.  As a still life painter, I have the ability to totally design my composition.  I have to know what I want to say and how I am going to arrange my cherished objects to achieve that goal.  Some call it concept or intentions.  Whatever you want to call it, much has to be decided as you move objects around and make choices about color and value.  One of those decisions is how to design your image.

My work now reflects something that I'm finding is a must in my compositions--strong lights and darks.  Chiaroscuro is the term used to mean light/dark in paintings.  This was a classic compositional motif used by the Dutch masters of the 17th century.  Does this mean that your major mass is dark with small shapes of light?  Not necessarily. 

A strong pattern can have lights connected with lights on a major dark field, but you can also have darks connected with darks on a major light field.  Your middle tone needs to marry with one or the other.  The fewer the values the better to make for a strong pattern!  This idea is supported by  Daniel Gerhartz in his Technical Insights from his book "Not Far From Home."  Design at its simplest, in my opinion, should be an arrangement of shapes that have a dominance of either dark or light and should be woven together with a thread that lyrically carries the eye to the focal point and around the canvas.  The thread is often comprised of the least dominant value that is either literally connected to or leading to the next progression of shapes that follow the pattern.

Some artists are calling themselves "abstract realists."  This idea makes perfect sense to me.  A Chiaroscuro painting, for example, makes use of light and dark patterns; if compressed into a grayscale and then posterized the resulting image looks like a black and white abstraction (Notan).  Such an abstraction can be powerfully seen from across a room. I am personally drawn to paintings with strong patterns of light and dark .  Here are a few that curl my toes.

                                                                 Daniel Gerhartz

                                                                 Nancy Guzik

                                                            Deborah Elmquist

Are there other compositional designs?  Of course.  But for me a strong pattern is my first choice when my concept is about capturing the path of light or dark.  Remember, there really are no hard and fast rule, or formulas for good compositions.  Knowing what you have to say comes first, then the design follows. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Alla Prima II Has Arrived

I just received my copy of Alla Prima II authored by Richard Schmid and Katie Swatland.  Opening the package was like Christmas all over again.  His first book is on my bookshelf and well worn but from all I read, the expanded edition would be chocked full of new information. And it was.  I'm about a third of the way through because I'm trying to soak in all his wonderful insights about painting. 

Richard Schmid is a master among masters in his art BUT his ability to articulate what he does and why is what I am drawn to.  There is no dogmatic views about how he approaches the making of art.  He realizes that an artist's skill level has to be taken into how he paints and how to start a painting.  No other book that I have read does this. 

Starts are extremely important, in my opinion, and Schmid describes each one in detail with many examples of his own work.  He also gives the advantages and drawbacks to each one. There are six.
   1.  Line and Mass Block-In:  This gives the painter more control, especially when one is in the learning stage. 

   2.  Transparent (Oil) Monochrome Block-In:  The start is a step up from the previous one.  It is a nearly complete value study done with one color family on a white lead oil primed canvas.  When carried to a full value stage will resemble something like an old enlarged sepia photo.

3.  Transparent Monochrome as a Finished Painting:  The above painting is an example of both #2 and #3 because it is so pleasing it can stand on its own.

4.  Impressionistic Block-In:  It is the most unstructured of all the ways Schmid uses to start a painting.  The process begins with an extravagant jumble of colors applied as a scumble over his entire canvas until he gets a sense of the light that he is after. Drawing is NOT given immediate attention.  There is often no dividing line between the beginning and middle stages of a work. 

5.  Full Color Accurate Block-In:  Similar to #4 but in that they are ways to get into serious painting from the very beginning.  It is his favorite start.  It begins with a full color block-in with a light tone applied as a turpentine wash and then a light scumble over the entire canvas. Once it is set enough, he applies the general color and values of the larger masses immediately.  The shapes are painted carefully but as non-detailed as possible.  He describes in detail what comes next in his thinking and process.

6.  Selective Start (Or, The Big Bang Method):  The previous five starts go from a whole to its parts.  In this method he goes from the parts to the whole.  This is a method that evolved along the way as his skilled developed.  He selects a small part of the subject, finishes it, selects the adjoining part, finishes that, selects the next, does the same, and so one-and-on with all the parts, until they are all joined to complete the painting.

As a side note, I once heard a well know artists joke about this start saying "I start with an eyelash and . . ha, ha, ha." Obviously, this is not the only way he paints, but it gets laughs.  This start is really a testament to his extraordinary skills.

This topic is only one of the many chapters that are chocked full of information an artists needs to develop as a painter.  Some of the other chapters are:  drawing from life, values, edges, color and light, palette and vital charts, color harmony, composition, painting from life, painting from photos, to name a few.  Well worth the price both in soft or hard cover edition.  In the spring this year, a companion book with be available with MORE information that couldn't be put in this book. 

I've added a few more images of some of my favorite paintings that move me at a visceral level.

I have realized that limited color speaks to me more than brighter chroma colors.  In part, I think that's why these images are so compelling.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Finishing 2013 with a Big Bang

Big bang-no it's not the TV show but a  painting that is bigger than 1200 sq. inches.  It was a great year and in the last quarter, I had quite a few big bangers find new homes.  Sooo off to the studio to replace those empty spots on the gallery walls.  These paintings require a stamina that can really take it out of me and luckily I finished these two before the holidays but just didn't get around to posting them on the blog.

Earth Light is a 30" x 40" oil on linen and was an attempt to capture a luminescent light that filled the room from my north light.  Edges was another major part of this painting especially in the fabric and lace.

The second painting was lots of fun.  The pot comes from a Largo potter whose company name is The Hairy Potter.  Why hairy?  The pinkish color comes from our Florida Spanish moss that has been soak in a solution of iron, copper, and salt.  After it has been fired a second time wrapped in the moss it is removed and horse hair is laid strategically on the 1100 degree pot.  The hair singes into the surface curling as it penetrates the surface.  I love painting interesting pots and this one was no exception. It's 36"x 36" but I haven't named it yet.  Any suggestions?

The handle comes from our native driftwood that is found on our beaches and lakes. It's all one piece and has a beautiful natural patina.  Happy New Year and happy painting. 
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