November 15, 2016

Maine Still Life

After spending the recent workshop in Montana talking about value and painting preliminary value sketches I was thinking that some still life paintings I'd done over the summer lacked the range of values needed to make the paintings work.

I took another look at this one, and repainted it with a dark blue under painting to get the values right.  After I added color, I went back into all the "white" highlights and evaluated them for color.

All of which inspired me to make my Maine plans for next summer!

November 1, 2016

Painting in Montana

 I spent the past weekend at a painting workshop in Montana.  The still lifes were painted from a set up in the studio; the landscapes are based on reference photos taken this week along the Gallatin River and a couple of months ago in Yellowstone and Paradise Valley.

All these paintings were started with a value sketch and then quickly painted with color after that.   After an accidental splash of turpenoid over the paintings, they got a bit of repainting on top of that.

I'd had a bit of "painter's block" for a while now, and it was nice to just push through it and paint!

The painting of the still life with the "wallpaper" pattern behind it was done first with a burnt umber band at the top of the painting.  It was too big, too dull and made a lousy composition.  After thinking about ways to solve the problem, I considered what a painter like Eduard Vuillard would do -- and added the pattern (based on a scarf) to bring the painting together.

September 28, 2016

Montana meadow and mountains

I've been working, slowly, on a new painting of a summer scene in Montana.  It's not done yet, but here's the latest.

July 14, 2016

Montana painting update

The Montana painting is coming along.  I share my studio space with other artists who are very precise in their painting -- one uses a projector to project a photo onto canvas and trace its lines to ensure accurate drawing; the other uses some straight edges and spends hours working to make sure that straight lines are perfect and such.

I just paint.  I know the result can have "drawing problems" but I can't give up the spontaneity of painting without drawing first.  I just put the colors and shapes where they seem to go and make adjustments as I go along.  So ... here's the drawing problem that resulted from doing that with this painting.  The porch railing exists in three different spaces that don't really connect to one another visually.

That's what I'll be working on fixing tomorrow.  Not by using a ruler, just working it out in paint.

July 8, 2016

Montana Painting In Progress

I'm just back from Montana -- an amazing landscape that I was desperate to paint.  No time to paint, but also, Montana's Paradise Valley is a very windy place.  A large canvas wouldn't stand a chance, so I took a lot of photos so I could return to the studio and work on what I'd seen.

The canvas for this painting in progress is hanging on the wall, so I'm painting standing up. I used to paint all the time standing up (like the Sundance Kid, I'm better when I move), but my long agonizing knee troubles forced me to paint sitting down for the past couple of years.  But now!  New knees, and I am very happy that standing up feels great.  I'm enjoying painting standing up again, and especially, the ease of painting, standing back from the work, and then painting again.

This is a sunset view from the log cabin where I stayed, looking toward the Gallatin mountains that make up the West side of Paradise Valley.  I have a lot of work to do on this, but this is how it's starting out.

June 16, 2016

Loosening Up the Flower Painting

I started working on a new cut flower painting today -- trying to stay loose.  I haven't brought any good additional objects into the studio to make a better composition, I may do that tomorrow to see if I can both make the painting looser and more interesting.

June 15, 2016

Cut Flowers

Last week for the art walk, I brought in cut flowers to paint during the evening.  I started out with a venetian red-toned ground, expecting that I was going to paint something that would serve as a companion to the flowers I painted the previous week.  The clematis, hydrangeas and roses didn't agree with that plan -- their colors fought the background. As I worked on it, the toned ground went from venetian red to peach to taupe to the final color, a warm beige with areas of cooler color.

For the months of July and August, my work will be on our large gallery wall in the studio, and the show of work will be called Cut Flowers.

June 3, 2016

flowers from my garden - updated

I'm setting this aside to think about this.  The flowers are long gone, so I'm really working from my thoughts about how the light & color might bring focus to different areas of the painting.  I've toned another canvas the same venetian red and will be picking flowers from my garden tomorrow to start a new painting.  Below is how it started.

Working on a painting of flowers from my garden (except that sunflower -- it was from an arrangement).  I brought the flowers into the studio, along with some ants and such.  They were fresher when I started and I'm sure that the droop in the oak leaf hydrangeas will make them fade beyond painting tomorrow.  The flowers are: rose campion (which I grew from seeds years ago and keeps self-seeding), oak leaf hydrangea, nikko blue hydrangea, lonicera vine and tradescantia.  

I started this with a background of venetian red on the canvas and I'm really liking it.  I think it's going to stay.  I'll still be working on this even after the flowers are gone, but I'll have to use my memory to figure out how to finish this next week. 

May 5, 2016

Mixing Colors, Ceiling Fan

Hard to believe, I'm yet again in "return to the studio" mode.  I've been out for knee surgery (3rd in a year! who would have thought when you only have 2 knees....).  But I'm back, very eager to get back into painting.

I spent yesterday mixing paint, just to get back into the feel and into the colors.  I put out ultramarine blue, cadmium red medium, cadmium yellow medium, titanium white and chromatic black on the palette and got out my knife and went to work.

One object that held my attention a lot in this past year of injury, surgery, rehab, surgery, rehab, injury, surgery, rehab was the ceiling fan over my bed.  I was on my back a lot, looking at that fan.  White ceiling, white fan.  The room has a ceiling that is pretty low, so the fan feels like it's looming, close, and I wanted to convey that feeling when I painted it.  I had a photo and my feelings to go on.  Having that mixed palette gave me something to work with.  Since I was mixing with a palette knife, I used it to lay down most of the paint, and then added brush strokes as the fan took shape.

March 28, 2016

Sold Today

I've just closed a show at Gallery B, where two gouache paintings were sold, and instead of the usual post-show let down (that "what now?" feeling...), I sold this painting today from my studio. It's one I did just two blocks from my house where there's a wooded path.

Very happy this painting has found a new home.

March 11, 2016

City Reflections

Years ago, I painted a window scene with a cat perched on the sill and abstract reflections  in each of the window panes. My studio mate, Linda Button, paints store window displays and the reflections of the street scenes that merge into the mannequins and clothes in the window.

I've been spending a bit more time in NYC and Seattle ... and in the suburb where I live, the big city is coming to us in ever taller buildings and busier streets.    Working on a street scene in my studio gives me a chance to play with the forms that appear in the windows and the mysterious way they combine to clearly show both the buildings across the street and the fluorescent lights within.

While I've been focusing in my volunteer life on the development in our community, it's becoming a bigger part of my thinking and may well be the focus of the next set of paintings I'll be working on.

February 25, 2016

Pond Painting Evolves

I started this painting months ago, based on work done a couple of years ago when I spent time at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and Lilypons.

I'd taken a photo of the scene which, in the way that photos can do, flattened the scene to emphasize the sense of a lush, marshy scene.  My first work on the scene lacked a sense of distance that I've since decided was important to the painting.  I ended up working this week on reenvisioning the work and you can see the earlier, much different version, in the blog post from 6/15 entitled Lotus at Kenilworth Aquatic Garden.

February 14, 2016

From the porch in Mexico

Using the small gouache painting from Mexico, I'm working on a large -- 30 x 40 painting of the view from the porch of the house I was staying in.  There's a huge pot of a tropical flowering plant on the porch, and a view of the pool a few steps below on the patio and beyond that, the ocean.  I'll be continuing to add more paint to create more nuanced color and depth to the painting, but the start looks like this:

February 12, 2016

Gouache painting in Mexico

 I'm just back from a vacation in Mexico, where I spent mornings painting on a beach.  Amazingly, I was the only person out most mornings!  I painted with gouache using Multimedia Artboard paper, which is very stiff and very absorbent without any buckling or warping from applications of paint.  The absorption surprised me -- I often found I thought I'd laid down a lot of color only to see it disappear as it dries. I used a clipboard to hold down the 8 x 10" paper and found it was a great painting setup, easy to transport, able to withstand ocean breezes and well suited to capturing the experience of being on a beach on the Pacific Ocean.

January 16, 2016

Larger Painting from the Studies

Just getting started, this 40 x 40 painting is going to take some time... I am thinking of using more color in the large painting, not sure whether that will stay that way.

January 9, 2016

Words in a Painting

I've decided to leave the study I was working as it is and take on another view of that same quote.  I've rarely put words into paintings, other than a vague impression of a sign on a store, so the focus on those words is going to be a new thing for me.  I've taken what I did on the previous painting, and have begun the focus on the words by cropping the image so it's horizontal (as writing is) and cropped closer to so that the words really lead you in and could be as important as the strong lines of the escalators.  I don't really have a roadmap for how to go about this, so I'm thinking a lot about the process.  I do want to end up with the words beliveably etched into the concrete, yet readable.

There's certainly a lot of examples out there of art that's just words or includes words.  I'm not sure that any of them speak to me as I want this painting to work.  Anyway, here's the opening layout of the new painting, where I plan to develop more about the idea of the experience sweet and sad.

January 8, 2016

The Experience Sweet and Sad

Finally back in the studio this week, I am working on a painting of the Dupont Circle North metro stop, where a quote from Walt Whitman is etched in the concrete.  I've painted the scene before from a different angle, but from here, you see the end of the quote:  "the experience sweet and sad" It seems very fitting to my feelings right now. I've been working on getting the light right and keeping the figures in less resolved.  Might be done.

The full quote, from The Dresser by Walt Whitman, is:

Thus in silence in dreams’ projections, 
Returning, resuming, I thread my way through the hospitals;
The hurt and wounded I pacify with soothing hand,
I sit by the restless all the dark night — some are so young;
Some suffer so much — I recall the experience sweet and sad . . .