January 10, 2020

Wedding Dresses

Happy to be back in the studio after my latest bump in the road (4th knee replacement!).  I saw a friend's daughters' wedding dresses hanging in her house not long ago and I thought how much fun it would be to paint them.  The dresses are so different in style -- apropos of each daughter's personality -- and I added a flower girl dress and my own old wedding dress to the mix to hang in my studio.

I sketched in gouache today to try to get down some ideas about how to approach a possible painting of the dresses.  I tried a few different backdrops, including an old quilt, but went with plain gray panels.  Under strict orders to avoid getting paint on the dresses, I'm going to take them home after studio time today and work from my sketches and some reference photos I took.

September 19, 2019

Work in Progress -- Horseback Riding in Montana

In late August I was hiking in Montana on a trail at Spanish Creek, which is also a trail used by those on horseback.  Spanish Creek has a public hiking trail, but to reach it, you drive through the beautiful ranch Ted Turner owns where he has bison.

We came on these riders while hiking.  I decided to paint them in a large gouache painting.  It's not easy to paint a large painting in gouache (well, not easy for me, anyway).  This is 20 x 24 inches and I've just blocked in the large areas. Much more work to do.

Hood Canal Reflections

I was at a wedding on the Hood Canal in Washington State last weekend and had some time before the festivities to sketch  the reflections in the water.  Back in the studio this week, I took a look at my sketch and some reference photos I took to recreate the scene.  The tide was pretty far out, so the "beach" looks wide.  At high tide it's almost invisible.

gouache on paper, 11 x 14

Old Forge Summer 1962

At my grandparents "camp" in Old Forge, NY, summer of 1962, there was a water fountain built  into the dock.  An old family slide I have captured my sisters and me getting a drink.

My sisters have on matching bathing suits.  I sure hope I have something on!  You can see the beautiful wooden motor boat on the water behind us.

Painted in gouache.

September 10, 2019

New Gouache Work!

I'm so excited to share new work and maybe a new future for what I'll be working on!  After my long illness this summer, I was finally able to travel to Maine and Montana the last two weeks of August.  I took gouache paint with me.

Painting plein air in gouache is tricky -- it does dry quickly on the palette and even quicker on the painting.   The result is that its opacity has a feeling of a screen print, at least the way I've been working with it!  The colors are vivid and unmuddied.  And best of all, the paintings come home exactly as I painted them, no smearing in travel to be fixed later.

As works on paper, to go up in my studio,  I needed to get them framed.   Who knew a 9 x 12"is not a standard size?  Well, I do now.  Nonetheless, I wanted to get them up on the studio walls so I did get them professionally framed for a pretty reasonable price.  I have to build that into the sales prices for the work (presumably, in the future, I'll have some matted and sold from a bin in cellophane wrappers).

Gouache has none of the toxicity issue that oil paints and oil mediums share.  Being sick this summer (completely unrelated to painting) has made me a little sensitive about the issue of toxicity in painting, so I think oil painting will be a less frequent practice, confined to the studio,  and I'll be carrying gouache around with me in the future for Plein air.

The new work is up in the studio and it looks very fresh and different.  I can't wait for our Art Walk this Friday night to see the reaction from studio-goers.


July 30, 2019

Lobster Pier -- work in progress

Working on a commission that I started in the beginning of June with some onsite sketches and reference photos.

Right after I started on this, I got sick. And I don't mean just a little sick, I mean hospital, blood tests every 3 days, and six miserable weeks of being sick.  That was not the summer I'd planned on!

I feel grateful to be back in the studio and tackling this painting again.  It's a lobster pound in Kittery, Maine.  I feel like I have the essentials down, but need to work out how the many elements of the painting support (or fight) each other.

May 14, 2019

Paris, backlit museum-goers

I was in Paris, the trip was too short to sketch or paint more than one quickie on-site.  I came home with images to paint from and started this large oil sketch on illustration board this week.  I started with a blue underpainting and I'm very slowly building from there.

Mural Final

Installation will be May 21 in NYC!  Here's me and my partner-in-hardware, David Goldberg with the final work

April 26, 2019

Mural Project for NYC Education Center

Starry Night in Hardware by David Goldberg
conception of what the finished work will look like installed
I've been working for the past month on what will be a mural installed in an education center in NYC.  The mural will feature the Empire State Building, made out of door hardware!

The creator of the "Starry Night" mural in Bethesda, David
Goldberg, used hardware from his family's business to create Van Gogh's swirling painting.  He was commissioned to create this new work and asked me to work on it with him.  Unlike "Starry Night," this work will have a lot of paint showing!

I have been posting to my instagram (not surprisingly, its judygilbertlevey) in a story with every step of the way.

The project is being done on 2 panels which make up an 8' x 7' PVC surface.  PVC is not easy to paint on!

I've used a primer to set the work up for acrylic paint and it seems ok.  I wouldn't go as far as great, but it's working, just taking longer than I expected.

We've done many, many different layouts of the hardware, and adjusted the paint accordingly.

Today I think we may have settled on the finished hardware layout and tomorrow, if all goes well, the panels will be put back together so I can adjust.
This is what the hardware layout looks like

this panel is "done" 

March 20, 2019

Hiking & Painting in Montana

It was a warm-ish day in Montana earlier this week, so I put gouache paint into my backpack and did a short hike to the South Fork of the West Fork of the Gallatin River, where I knew a bench would be waiting for me.  I attracted a fair amount of attention from other hikers, and had a gorgeous day painting the snow and water and trees.

I'm pretty new to gouache painting and was using the gouache that's based in gum arabic.  I'd be warned that, like watercolor, the paint would lift as additional layers were applied.  I definitely experienced that, particularly when I was painting the trees and trying to deepen the green where it was in shade and almost silhouetted against the bright sky.  I'm going to try "acryla" gouache in the future, as that's got a different base and performs (apparently) more like acrylic paint and doesn't lift once it's dry.