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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Weekend Warriors

Weekend Warriors II, 9x12, oil 
In an effort to keep clutter down to a minimum, I was thinking it was time to ditch these favorite pair of Birkenstocks. Because they have been such faithful and easy shoes, I thought I should do another portrait of them first. It was also a diversionary tactic to avoid working on any of my other paintings in progress too. In 2002 I painted them thinking it was time to toss them then. Forgotten by me until I just went for this photo of the first version, I called them Weekend Warriors back then too! The first version sold soon after I painted them and bought to hang in his office to remind him that the weekend was coming...

My father, 6 months before he died, bought these Birkenstocks for me while we were in Phoenix for my sisters  Master's Degree graduation. That was 37 years ago. My son was a babe in arms. When I painted the first portrait I was fairly new to oil painting and still very graphic and flat in my approach to painting. I still like the original and I am happy that they still look like the same pair of shoes if not a little more worse for wear now. They are only used for gardening or quick dog walks. They are still a very solid pair of shoes having been made with a heavy leather yet malleable enough to fit the form of my feet, horrific bunions and all. The sole was replaced in recent memory and still has many miles on them. But one of the shoes hurts the top of my foot now, which is a new development. Enough to be quite painful if I am not wearing socks. Who wants to wears socks in the summer to work in the garden? Not me, at any rate.
I had sent the new image to my family saying I was planning on tossing the shoes but how did they like the painting? Well, the uproar from them was deafening even though 2 were in Greece at the time and my sister in California. I am not, under any circumstances, to throw these shoes away. What is a little pain with such stalwart supporters of my feet? Even if I choose not to wear them they are a memento that they all were unanimous on keeping in the family.
So there you have it. I haven't tossed them yet, and I will keep them, for now. I enjoyed painting them again. The portrait will go into the next pop up show that is upcoming the First Friday of August. More on that soon.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

A World to Discover Part 1

Recently, on a road trip, I made some discoveries I would like to share. These are little gems hidden in places I had not heard of before I did a little research. Well, that isn't quite true as the first place I want to talk about was at Bethany Lutheran College and I had heard of this museum before...Bethany Lutheran College is where Birger Sandzen taught. If you don't know who Birger Sandzen is, he was a Swedish immigrant who taught art at the college in the small Swedish town called Lindsborg. I wanted to see the campus and the museum there in his name. I was fortunate to have seen the collection of Birger Sandzen held by the college a few years back when it was sent to Colorado Springs Fine Art Center while the museum in Kansas underwent renovation. Or I might have been very disappointed. The front room was Birger's work, and some of the side hallways held his etchings and drawings. But that was the extent of his work on display. Prime examples to be sure. And the room did him and his work justice. It was to be left wanting more.

It was visually delightful. He handles color and thick paint with such ease. The textures he portrays makes you want to reach out and touch. The disappointment could have come from it not being ALL about Birger Sandzen as it was in Colorado the second gallery was a Kansas artist. His name is Aaron Morgan Brown. I was quite intrigued by his work. The first one that caught my eye was the kid in the museum with all these huge ancient sculptures. In this painting there is a tea cup on the  half wall as if the horses head were going after it. On the floor at the base of the wall is a hammer. And the kid looking into the next gallery holding an apple. It just gets you thinking in a very different way. So I went back and started over and really started to delve into each painting a bit deeper. Every painting drew you in a very different way. Photo realism yet with a decided twist that all is not what it appears. On his website he calls it "constructed dreaming." I have included a few for you to see but please go to his website for a visual journey. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Lenten Rose

Lenten Rose, 9x12, oil on linen panel
Here is a painting I started this past spring. The other name for these perennials is Hellebore. They reside in my garden and they are a great flower for low light areas. These are on the north side of my house next to the sidewalk. They have great leaves that grow larger as the flowers fade. But as you can see, they do get some sun in the middle of the day. I did this painting for a friend of mine for her birthday. I will be celebrating it with her for the first time in too many decades to count. We went to Jr HS together in Munich, Germany and have been in contact all these years as we live in different parts of the US. I know she likes flowers and I do hope this will fit in the new house she just moved in to after selling the family home.
Lenten Rose in the beginning
She reads my blog so I am scheduling this post on her birthday.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Duckling and the Ripple Effect

Ripple Effect, 8x8, oil on panel

A friend of mine in Washington state likes to take lots of photos. I saw the image for this painting in one of her last uploads to Facebook. I felt compelled to do a small painting of this little guy, all alone in his bed of ripples. Interestingly enough, just this morning, a friend came over in distress. In our time together we talked about how our actions, even done when no one is around, still impact not only us but those in our circle, and ultimately in each of those individuals' circle as well. As she whispered, barely audible, "like the wind created by a butterfly's wing!" And that is why I was intrigued by this image.
Here is the block in. I took a painting I wasn't particularly delighted with and painted the duck on top of it. The painting was of three oranges in a deep blue bowl. You can see where I followed some of the bowls outline in the ripples. It was a fun little diversion for me.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Pet Portrait: Petunia

Petunia, 8x8, oil on board

I just finished this portrait of Petunia, the calico cat belonging to two sisters who own and operate a pet store on South Pearl Street here in Denver, The Whole Cat...and dogs too. For many years now they have kept dog biscuits out for all the dogs who walk the neighborhood and then also give out extra special treats at the Farmer's Market every Sunday during the season. In fact, they downright spoil my dog! He is shameless when it comes to Nancy in particular. Petunia was a fixture at the store and often seen sleeping in the window at their prior location. Last year I offered to do one of their pets portrait because I wanted to give back to them. Petunia just died so it was Petunia whom I was asked to do.

Here is my initial block in on top of a plein air piece I did a few a years ago that was not worth keeping. I have so much fun at this stage. Just thinking of big shapes. This came together really fast and was just flat out fun to paint!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Post Pop-up Art Invitational

Admirers looking at my wall, 4-26-19

My wall after I was done hanging it, 4-26-19
I wanted to show those of you who were unable to come to the one night art invitational what it looked like. We had to be there to hang between 9-11 the morning of, and the art had to be taken down either after the show or the next morning starting at 8 a.m. I had a plan for hanging my wall and though I didn't follow it, because I had a pretty good idea, it went pretty fast. I wish I had thought to take photos of how the different artists did theirs, as just like when there are a group of artists painting the same subject and each one is so different, how to hang a wall of art follows pretty much the same pattern.
My friend, Jeannie Paty, hanging her wall
It was my first experience with this kind of a venue. It may well be the wave of the future as yet another well established art gallery closes this month in Denver. I thought it was very successful overall. There was a continual stream of people in attendance with the busiest time starting around 7:30. I believe I had the first sale of the evening, the little hollyhock study on my wall above. For an artist, our loyal supporters are always very close to our hearts, and without them where would we be? When a total stranger likes your work enough to buy it, that is a different kind of validation. It is an entry into a new relationship. The man who bought the little piece below the hollyhocks, "Along the Arno," wrote on the subject line of his check "Keep up the great work!" This is particularly poignant for me as I have been struggling with whether I should stop painting altogether. My shoulder has been reconstructed twice and it has been causing me enough trouble that giving up painting was definitely on my radar as a possibility. I received so much validation to keep on keeping on during this show. I will share one more experience: I was standing in the vicinity of my wall during a quiet time where I was not engaged with anyone else. A man and his wife approached and stopped next to me looking at my wall. He said to his wife "Now these paintings tell a story." He proceeded to go through each painting telling the story he saw. I cannot tell you how gratifying that was to hear. I want my work to draw people in to tell a story or open up a dialogue.

I know I was happy with how many people stopped at my wall and really looked and enjoyed. A great big thank you to Cherry Creek Art Gallery for organizing this event.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Paris Rains

Paris Rain, 30x20, oil on linen

Here is a painting I did about 5-6 years ago. I was so very pleased with it at the time and proudly hung it in my home. It was done in the master painting class I took with Kevin Weckbach and it was the piece I did for the month we studied Dark/light pattern. In my quest to make improvements on existing 'finished' art works, I started to study this piece. Why had it never sold? Was it the subject? Or the way it was handled? Composition seems good to me. There were a few small things that I thought could be improved upon but overall I was still pleased. BUT. Once I got started working on it so much started to pop out. Drawing being premier. Just some subtle things but which I think make a difference.

The bus at a wrong angle on the backend; a few angles here and there on the umbrella's; I added some  tiny features to the figures faces. I don't like faceless humans and though there was a hint at features in the faces, I put a bit more character into them; a bit more shape was added to the clothing: The woman's raincoat was lightened and given more form, the man in the middle now has a pocket on his jacket with his left hand now in a pocket; and the man in the red umbrella lost a little weight and has a brighter blue jacket on, which brings him out from the woman behind him. I darkened the pavement (although in the image it doesn't quite show up as the paint is still wet) and made the crosswalk a bit more distinct. My daughter's comment was "It looks so much lighter." And yet I had darkened more down than added more light. An interesting paradox.

I had pulled this painting out to update it prior to Notre Dame burning but the spire is in this painting. So weird to contemplate that it is now gone. Let us pray that when the repairs and rebuilding are done that they have enough common sense to rebuild as it was and not some horrific idea of 'improving' upon it. Our culture seems to have a huge ego and superiority complex, especially when it comes to history.
A Rainy Day in Paris, 30x20, oil on canvas, circa 2014 or 15