December 3, 2015

Celebrating a return to the studio & Liesel

I am back in the studio after a month off having another knee replacement. I'm glad I only have two knees, two is enough!

Before the surgery, I was at the Tate Britain to see an exhibit of work by Frank Auerbach.  I was struck by how his work is characterized most by the painting and repainting of the same image on a canvas, sometimes layering the paint to inches of thickness, other times scraping and rescraping as the image he wanted emerges.  One result of the repainting is that the work doesn't appear to be overly worked, but each has the boldness and freshness of the last layer of paint applied.

Coming back to the studio, I'm really building up my stamina after the surgery and time off.  I thought I'd get back into painting by mixing up a full palette of paint (no wimpy dabs of color, big tube squeezes and mixes!) and using it to paint the moment at brunch when my family was celebrating the birth of new baby Liesel on a bright sunny day last spring.  The painting isn't done -- I do want to resolve some of the issues in it, but it feels good to be back painting.

October 23, 2015

Painting about Income Inequality

I received a notice of an upcoming exhibit focusing on income inequality and was thinking I could enter a painting in it.  It wasn't hard to come up with an image, as every day when I come to the studio, I walk through a tunnel that is often a refuge for homeless men.  The tunnel is at the metro, and the contrast between the successful metro riders on their way to and from jobs and the huddled men is striking.  At the tunnel entrance, the space between the haves and have-nots is very small, creating a very intimate setting.
I didn't take any photos, I'm just painting from my memory/imagination.  As it turns out, the actual tunnel isn't a barrel-roof as it is where the actual subway trains are -- but since this is about what I think and feel more than representing what's there, I like the way it works.

October 12, 2015

Experimenting with Gouache at the Severn River

It felt like a vacation today spending time on a dock at the Severn River.  Tranquil was the perfect word for it.

I'd recently purchased some gouache to see if the opaque watercolor paint would be something I could take on when I travel.  I've painted with watercolor but gouache was new and I wasn't sure how to use it.

My first dabs ended up a lot like watercolor; as I layered paint on and used less water, they became more and more opaque.  I liked the feeling of it, but I didn't have a good red for mixing -- it makes gray or brown or pink, but it's too muddy/opaque to make a good purple or violet.

I got looser as I went along -- I need to keep working on this to see if I can make this work!

October 10, 2015

Garden Bouquet

I picked these annual flowers in my garden yesterday -- nasturtium, gomphrena (I think people call this globe flower), petunias, salvia -- and put them in a small glass bottle to paint.

I've been really stressed outside the studio and needed to focus on something bright, loose and colorful.

September 19, 2015

Simplifying Rocks

I painted this small painting of rocks in Maine this summer.  I've been looking at these same rocks for 18 years and while they don't really change -- they're too big and they own their spot on the beach -- the tide rises and falls, the light tracks across them as at the day goes by, seaweed collects in the crevasses, small pebbles catch and pile up, fog rolls in and the rocks can be full of color wet or parched dry in muted gray tones.

In the studio, I took out a larger canvas and decided to make a stronger contrast of the light and shade that happens in the afternoon when the rocks on the east side get very dark.  I still gave them color variation, even in the shade, though in my head, I kept thinking that I needed to removed the details from the shady side.  It's part of what needs to happen to focus the eye where it's supposed to look.

One of my studio mates is working on a very, very detailed painting, the kind of work that's done with a magnifying glass to paint in individual bricks or hairs.  It got me thinking. and today, I took out an even larger canvas and bigger brush to revisit the rock painting idea.   I started with simple black white and gray and lay out the large areas of light and dark.  No details in the deep shade.   I'm going to set it aside for a few days and think about it.

September 11, 2015

Revisiting Maine Rocks

I painted the small version of this view on the beach in Maine on a hazy day with a yellow sky.  I'd painted it on a small gesso board, which made the paint slip around.

Working in the studio,  I took out a larger canvas to rethink the scene.  I started out with the same chiseled rocks that I'd painted in the smaller painting, but after days of carving them out, I realized that they were too geometric, too dominant as shapes and I needed to think more holistically about the experience of the rock beach.

The larger painting has fewer rocks that appear as individuals, and more of a pattern of light and shade.  The rocks further out on the beach are even more vague, which I think does a better job of conveying the scene.

September 3, 2015

Summer Painting

I didn't get nearly enough time to paint this summer, but I did have a few moments when things came together.

July 9, 2015

Coffee Shop Scene -updated

Thinking about a new painting for Quartermaine's, this is the start.

I was pretty happy with the start of this painting, but as I continued to work on it, I found that even the minimal level of detail I had created more trouble than a simpler approach.

Here's where the painting is now.  I've put color into the silhouettes and worked out arms and legs a bit more. I've eliminated the details from the yellow building. The street sign that in the center of the painting is now gone.  I may get rid of the train mural, which is the gray detail on the blue building. I'm not sure it adds interest, even if it does add the authenticity of being specific to the place.

July 7, 2015

Plein Air Sunflowers

I went to McKee-Beshers, where the sunflowers were in full glorious bloom today.   It was a hot day and photographers were out in force, with just a few of us hardy painters trying to stay in the shade while working.

It was great to be painting outside again!  I will bring this into the studio for some color correction tomorrow.

June 26, 2015

Lotus at Kenilworth Aquatic Garden

I got a large canvas -- 30 x 40" -- to get back into painting water lilies.  I even used a house painting brush about 1 1/2" wide to put the paint on the canvas.  This is how the painting is starting out. I'm going to be out of the studio for the next 6 days and it will be a nice chance to give my thoughts about this is develop.  

early stage of the painting

June 20, 2015

Starting to think about Maine -- updated

This is the time of year when thoughts of Maine are running through my head all the time.  The Bass Harbor lighthouse is a favorite place to visit and it's approached down a path that leads to the ocean. You can see the top of the beacon and the roof of the lighthouse through the trees.  I am just starting this painting -- there's a lot of the ground color showing through and some smearing of paint as I was getting the sketch down on the canvas -- but the basics are there.   I'll give it the rest of the weekend to dry and come back to it next week to build up the paint.

just starting this painting, more work to come
the finished painting

June 19, 2015

Pitchers & Hydrangeas

This still life has been through many iterations.  It started out as an electric blue study of the shapes of the two pitchers.  The pitcher on the right has a painted pattern on it - added, then painted out.  I put in the vase with hydrangeas behind the pitchers to make the interplay of shapes more interesting, and realized that the electric blue just was overwhelming.  Introducing a more realistic color palette that looked more like what I was looking at was a first step.  Throughout this process, I've been making the brushstrokes stronger, then smoother, then stronger again.  I think this is where it's going to stop.

June 11, 2015

Wedding Table

I had a photo of this beautiful table from a wedding last weekend and I decided to paint it.  It's a very complicated table -- flowers, votive candles, taper candles, plates, champagne -- but I love the challenge.  At this stage, I like the sense of discovery.  Not sure if I'm going to resolve it further or just set up a similar still life to paint from in the studio.

June 6, 2015

At long last, return to the studio! Flowers...

I've been out of the studio for the better part of 3, almost 4 months now, due to an injury in February.  Although I know the legend of many artists includes drunken or drugged creative efforts, but in my case, pain medication and physical discomfort made it impossible to paint.  I had hoped for a Jennifer Bartlett-type In The Garden experience, where a limited view would result in mind-expanding creativity... but it just wasn't happening.  Finally, in the past week, I have been mobile enough and clear-headed enough to sit at an easel and paint!

The flowers in this painting were fresh about two months ago and they are long gone now, so I have been working on this painting this week from the standpoint not of what I'm looking at, but what I'm thinking the painting needs in terms of intensity of color and brushstrokes.  It's evolved quite a bit since I started it in April and let it sit since then.

April 7, 2015

painting at home, anniversary flowers

I moved the beautiful flowers I received last week up to my studio so I could paint them.   I started working on them this afternoon, I hope they last until I get the painting done!

April 3, 2015

Model No-show, daffodil still life

The model didn't show up today in the studio, but I had lugged my painting gear and I figured I might as well get something out of my now infrequent painting times.  I'd brought a fairly large canvas, 24 x 30, and had about 2 1/2 hours to cover it with paint.

March 26, 2015

Model in the studio

I haven't been in the studio for a while, as I've been figuring out how to manage with an injured knee and limited mobility.  The good news is that I've got the up-and-about to rest ratio figured out now and I'm in much less pain, able to do more.  In the studio class today, we had a model who was young,  beautiful and large.  I started to work on a portrait, avoiding painting her body, and decided instead to go for it and work on a painting of her torso.

March 7, 2015

Beach Sketches

I didn't bring paint to the beach last week, and ended up using a pen and copier paper do to some sketching.  I've got the sketches back in the studio and I'm thinking about how to use them.   There's so much information in the sketch about shapes... and so little information about everything else.  That's the challenge.

Here's the beginning of a painting based on that last sketch below.

February 20, 2015

Valentine's Day Flowers, Revisited

I scraped down the painting I'd started in the kitchen and worked it back up today.  The result is looser, more luminous and is a much more emotional painting.  Better.

February 16, 2015

Valentine's Day Flowers - Painting in the Kitchen

It's snowing, it's cold, and I have a huge bouquet of flowers fading fast from Valentine's Day.   I set up today in the kitchen since I couldn't get the flowers to my studio.

It got dark as I was getting a sense of where the painting was going.  Depending on how the flowers survive the night, this may be all I get of them.

February 15, 2015

Ties, Hat

I think it's time to send the ties off to the donation bin...

February 11, 2015

Shirt & Tie

I started on a new shirt & tie painting today in the studio..  It took me some time to figure out how to tie the tie and I didn't get it quite right, but I think it's a fine match for the wrinkled shirt.

February 4, 2015

Painting Ties

There was a pile of ties destined for a donation bin and I've decided to paint them before sending them on to their next life.  As I was hanging them up, I was thinking that I must have seen a painting of ties, couldn't place it at first.  A Google search for Thiebaud and ties came up with his 1969 painting Row of Ties.  He painted ties hanging on a rod and the 60s wide ties with swirling patterns were definitely more vivid than the drab 90s ties my husband was taking out of circulation.  I'm a bit sorry that I looked up the Thiebaud ties, but I plan on painting these and making the image my own.  Here's the start in the studio.

market flowers

I've been working on this, slowly, over the past week or so.  It's the flower market at Pike Place Market in Seattle, a place I visited last year.  I'm not sure if I've hit the sweet spot between enough detail and too much detail.

January 29, 2015

Painting the Nude

Today we had the same model as last week, same pose.  I brought a larger canvas, it helped.  We've got her again next week, stay tuned.  I didn't want to paint her foot today, and set up the composition so that it wasn't on the canvas, which clearly is a lousy way to deal with a painting problem. I did like the foot that tucks under her leg, though.

January 23, 2015

Flowers, after the figure - updated

I painted a nude figure in the studio yesterday and I was not getting in the groove, not at all.  I have nothing to show for that effort.  I made the mistake of using a pretty small canvas and it went downhill from there.  We'll have that model next week and I hope to make a better showing of it next week.

For now, here's more flowers, painted using a photo from Maine last summer as a reference.  Good way to cheer up in the gray of winter.

The painting started out just fine, but I went back into it today to lighten the grassy lawn and create stronger contrast between the lawn and the trees at the background.  I ended up giving the flower stems a stronger role in the painting and I like the energy they add.

this is how it started last week
this is how it looks in final form

January 16, 2015

Another sketch of the unexpected - Metro Goat - Updated!

this is the start of the work 
Continuing my exploration of "what if" skteches, the view of blinding light that awaits at the top of the escalator has been replaced by a goat in Tuscany.  Maybe that would put a smile on the face of haggard commuters coming up from the metro.

I'm not sure when or if I'll turn these sketches into larger paintings, but the ideas are flowing.

I worked on this some more today, I figure I might as well take the sketch to a greater resolution, so here it is:

January 14, 2015

Unexpected on the Metro

 I am working on a sketch to get ready to make a large metro painting.  The canvas I'm using for the sketch is 6" high by 12" wide.  In order to make it transportable, my plan is to make a triptych that's three panels that are something like 30" x 20" so that the final will be 30" high by 60" wide.  I need to play around with the math ... I may adjust this.

Anyway, I was looking at recent work by Ed Miller, a friend whose reality-based work is fantastic -- and his new work takes those works and moves beyond into a mix of reality and history, fantasy and dizzying perspectives.  It's not my direction, but I thought about how the unexpected in a painting can elevate work.  So... what if there was a girl in a bikini on the metro escalator?

To heighten the focus (as if she wasn't attention-grabbing already) I cooled down all the other color in the sketch so she is the main warm spot drawing you in.

January 3, 2015

Working on a Party Invite

Just for fun.  I've got so much paint on the canvas that I need to let this sit before I can add in some blues and greens.