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Monday, May 25, 2009


This long weekend would have been a wonderful weekend full of painting except for two things. One is the rain and the other is my allergies have me laid quite low. I did start a painting on Friday which I took back outside again on Saturday and worked on some more. I am not sure it was vastly improved with more work, but it is what it is. I am quite happy with this one as it is looser and more painterly. I strive for this even though I can't always manage to do it. These alliums are in my back yard and are on an 11x14 board. My plans to paint iris today have been shelved as the iris blooms are all severely water-logged. Instead, I set up a small still life.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A beautiful Spring Sunday in the neighborhood

Today I walked the dog taking my paints along in case I was inspired at Harvard Gulch Park in South Denver. I saw some beautiful poppies in a few front yards, but other than that nothing called my name. There was no shade in which to plop the dog, so I opted to go home and paint in the studio for the morning and try painting my iris in the afternoon. I have been scoping out the best time of day for the iris over the past few days and afternoon seemed best. The iris were started on May 17; I have wanted to get back out and finish them all this weekend but the sun has not been co-operating and since we had hail yesterday (May 24) the iris themselves are a bit worse for wear. It is the foliage I am more interested in anyway, so I should get another opportunity to finish it up.

In the morning, I worked on a painting from TX. I doubt it can now be called Plein Air even though the composition and main elements were done on-site. I have been carving out the shapes and forcing the values in the studio; I understand why so many artists prefer to paint small outside and do studies for larger paintings in the studio. I am really trying to force myself to paint larger outdoors in an effort to be able to complete them faster. I figure every time I work on one of these "incomplete" paintings in the studio, I am "getting" more of what it is I need to accomplish while painting on-site. Also, my time is limited for painting, so I doubt at this point in my life I would actually do a studio painting from a study. There are always trade-offs.

Afternoon at the Denver Botanic Gardens

Saturday (5-16) I met Pat at the DBG to paint. A beautiful spring day at the gardens but it was a zoo of people! I walked around for over an hour before I finally settled down to paint. Pat had choosen a subject where I wasn't motiviated so I kept going. To the south of the little cafe and seating area is a vegetable garden. The chives reminded me of lavendar, so I found a little cranny to set up to get a view without being actually in a garden. The best view, of course, was where it was not feasible to be. I ended up putting a lot more in the painting than I had wanted, but it seemed the best composition when all was said and done. I seemed to spend quite a bit of time talking to people who came by than actually painting. I have noticed that men and children are curious; women often ignore you or turn around and walk away when they see you. At least this was the case on this day. Hispanic men predominate which I find interesting.

I got home about 5:30 and the light was really nice in our back yard so I started a painting but then wiped it off. I was cleaning up when I saw our dog, Fritz, sitting still! His back was to me as he watched the sidewalk waiting to pounce on the next unsuspecting canine. I quickly grabbed a canvas and started to catch him. I had about 3 minutes before he ran off, but I am happy with my quick sketch. I put the background in after he left.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Winter Painting

I started this painting a year ago or so, as I remember working on it over the week of Christmas 2007! I got to a point that I just didn't know what to do with it so I left it until a few months ago. I finally "saw" what had been bugging me and so I fixed it. I just looked at my blogs and did not find that I had posted this particular painting. I had gone to Prospect Park with PAAC in November 2007 I believe it was and when I finished painting the painting below, Prospect Park in Winter (8"x6"), I turned around and saw another beautiful scene. I took photos and then painted in the studio. It is called "Storm's Coming" and is 16"x12." I sure do enjoy painting trees.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hollyhocks or Jeff's Fence

This past weekend I was able to complete the painting of what I call “Jeff’s Fence.” He is our neighbor across the alley that kindly let me throw hollyhock seeds in the narrow strip between his fence and the alley pavement. A few years ago, I had painted a couple of studies out in the hot afternoon sun and then had painted the original in the studio. I had planned on taking it outside once the new crop for the year was up and re-painting it outside, but then realized it would be a whole new scene after 3 years. Plus, the painting just called to me to start on it when I did. So, here it is. This is 2 feet by 4 feet, Linen canvas on board. My family all said the same thing, individually, “I liked it before, but now it has so much more depth.” That is what doing the color/value charts helped me see so much more clearly. I have struggled getting a good photo of it but I am tired of trying right now. Even this photo is a bit washed out in the middle. I have a book on photoshop and the steps to fix a photo like this. Just have to find the time to make that a priority. I am still not 100% okay with the shadows on the left hand side hollyhocks. The shadows seem too carved out.

re: comments. I reshot this painting today and the new one is on the left. It seems a bit richer in color.

Yesterday (Friday May 15) I painted a beautiful flush bleeding heart plant in the backyard. I ended up wiping it off after 2 hours as I realized the blossoms were too large in proportion to the plant. It just seemed easier to start over, which I did not do. I plan to paint at the Denver Botanic Gardens this afternoon.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


To continue the thought from yesterday; I had asked a friend of mine why the taking of class for so long, on and off for about 20 years. The response was "it is the only time I can find to paint." I was curious as to why it takes a commitment to a class to get ourselves painting, when if you are not in class, then you can be painting what inspires you rather than to paint as someone else is dictating.
Last week, I received in the mail, a book called Refractions. A friend had ordered it for me as a gift and it was a total surprise on my part. This book is written by Makoto Fujimura, an artist living in NYC and is a compilation of his essays. One of the first essays I read contained the following excerpt:

For years Dana Gioia served as a vice president of General Foods before leaving business to write full-time. He told me " I would come home too late and very tired, but each night I made myself sit down at my desk and simply copy the last paragraph of the essay I was working on or the last stanza of a poem. Usually, I got my 'second wind.'"

Reading this made me realize two things. One, that is what I am doing when I take an old painting and rework it. Doing so gets me painting if I am not inspired to paint, especially since I only have three days to paint; Second, that I can paint more if I do as Dana did, and just work more during the week after work. I took the time to go to class for 3.5 hours twice a week, so why can't I carve some time out, even though I am tired? I know what some people would say to me on this: "take time for yourself, slow down, etc etc." And sometimes one does need to recharge the batteries as evidenced by my recent overwhelming desire to not go to class of any kind and have no obligations after work except to come home, walk the dog and just be quiet and alone, which I have done over the past two weeks. Part of that is not wanting to be told what to paint and how to paint it. Not that that doesn't have merit, it is just not where I want to be. Reading Robert Henri's book is also showing me how to approach the model in ways I had not thought of before, but Mark wouldn't have gone for anyway, so I am not sure if I could have put the fresh perspective to work for me unless I were to go to the uninstructed model sessions the League provides. Mr Henri choose to paint portraits and figures instead of landscape although he laments the fact that there is only one of him and he had to choose between one or the other, but oh, how many landscapes he painted in his head as he walked.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Musings from my reading

I have again picked up Robert Henri's book "The Art Spirit" this week. In what I read the first night he articulated the feelings I have been trying to express about my lack of enjoyment in the Portrait/figure painting class I was taking and my observations about how the same people take this class (and other classes). Here is what the master says:

"I knew men who were students in the Academie Julian in Paris, where I studied in 1888, thirteen years ago. I visited the Academie this year (1901) and found some of the same students still there, repeating the same exercises, and doing nearly as good as they did 13 years ago.

"At almost any time in these 13 years they have had technical ability enough to produce masterpieces. many of them are more facile in their trade of copying the model, and they make fewer mistakes and imperfections of literal drawing and proportion than do some of the greatest master of art.

"These students have become masters of the trade of drawing, as some others have become masters of their grammars. And like so many of the latter, jugglers of words, having nothing worthwhile to say, they remain little else than clever jugglers of the brush."

The next post or so, will quote from another book on the answer I found to answer a friend when I asked of them why are they still taking this class, on and off, for more than 20 years.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Catch up

I have been falling a bit behind here. There were a number of juried entry deadlines I was trying to get in on, and my camera and software were not cooperating. And then I have dropped the ball on both classes; The week of April 23, Mark had said that we should come in on Thursday night with our work from Monday and be able to look at it with a fresh eye and know where we wanted to go with it and what was needed to get there. On April 30 I looked at my painting from Monday night as I readied to head to the League, and thought, I just don't care enough. It is not a bad start, and I had done as he had prescribed; IE I simplified the shapes graphically and I kept mostly to 3 values plus the highlight. I just didn't care enough to want to finish it. I think I am just burned out. Saturday was Kevin's class and originally a model was planned. I could not face painting one more bored model so I did not plan to go. Even when that was cancelled, I did not go. AND Melinda and crew were painting again on Saturday afternoon, it was a perfect gray day with the light staying consistent and I did not go join them either. That told me just how burned out I am. I just needed to stay home and recharge.

Friday, I grabbed one of the many paintings I have done over the past few years that I was looking at with a more critical eye and began to repaint it. I did see where I wanted to go with it, FINALLY. I worked on it all day Saturday and Sunday. I did not finish it as I had hoped. But then again it is one of the largest I have in my repertoire at 2' x 4.' I am posting the photo of the original painting and then as it is looking now in its "incomplete" state. I have not touched the ground yet which will be completely redone nor have I come back in with all the highlights on the leaves. The original is on the left. Notice in the remake the greens are warmer as is the fence. I have been correcting values and temperature as well as correcting the drawing. Most of the drawing in the original was okay, but I did get sloppy in certain areas. For instance, the buds at the top had no real shape to them and I had made them too large. I also united the shadow shape in the remake and separated the shadow color on the fence from the shadows in the plants. In some places I had not made a distinction.