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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas fruit

This little piece (4x4) I painted as a gift to my daughter's friend who was joining us for Christmas Eve dinner. I didn't know until the last minute that she was coming, and I did want to give her something to remember us by. I had a 4x4 "block" lying around and it seemed so apropos since it can sit on a shelf or ledge or hang in any little nook or cranny. I had fun and she seemed pleased. Can't get any better than that. I have always enjoyed painting these little orange gems.

Monday, December 13, 2010

White on Black Exercise-"Cracked Pot"

On Friday I used this little still life to transition from my work week to my weekend of painting using a white object against a black backdrop. Not only do you get to see the variety of colors within black, but how the white object interact with the blacks. I saw both warm and cool colors in the enamel. I had natural light coming in from a north window. The surface was a painted wood table and then there was a warm wood door in shadow as the backdrop which I chose to put in as a solid surface. I had found this coffee pot in an alley and the bottom is so badly burnt that it is rounded and all the enamel has cracked off. Who knows what happened to whatever was in the top - but I use it as a vase. Just a fun little painting that is 12x9.

Monday, December 6, 2010

1300 South Pearl St Alley

The Saturday class assignment for last month was to do a white on white painting. I posted the still life I did in class already but I happened to see this alley while walking my dog, and thought what a great "white on white" landscape. I went back with my gear and first blocked it in, and then went back and finished it over the Thanksgiving weekend. I probably should add a bit more color into my whites to jazz it up but it was stark white in the glare I was getting. The far back building has some yellow in it and the trailer has some blues and pinks, but I think I need to force that concept further. This painting is 11x14 and may be used for a larger version. I sure do enjoy painting outside once I get myself out the door.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Weekend Work

I will post a few of the pieces I worked on this past long weekend. This first one is from a photo reference I took while in San Francisco the end of October. We walked Ocean Beach in the wind and rain and these two ravens were walking the wall  next to the entrance to the beach. This painting is 20"x30" and I am not sure it is finished, but it is pretty close. I am sitting on it awhile. I don't have a name for it so if any on you have any ideas, I would love to hear them.
This next painting I started a few weeks ago, got stuck (ie didn't feel motivated to work on it) and then just got to it. The reference I am using for it was taken this summer in what I call my parking strip garden (ie it is on the other side of our sidewalk, next to the street). I was going to keep it pretty graphic in the background but then I got started on breaking up the dark shape of the shadow that was across the street. I have not completed that because I am  not convinced I like it. This painting tentatively has the title of "Day Lily Riot" and it is 20x16x1.5. There is a swallowtail butterfly in one of the day lilies.
This little piece is 12x12 and I started it plein air while in Taos last May. It is of a little church that was a few blocks from the B&B we were staying in. I went out before breakfast and only had a short time to get the block in done. It has been sitting around awhile but I was finally motivated to finish it up. The church is called "Neustra Senora de Dolores."
And for something completely different is the painting above that I found while cataloging my inventory last week. I did this still life in Guilford, CT 5 years ago. I was enamored of my friends collection of old hammered pitchers. I did a few touch ups on the two pitchers in the middle ground as they just didn't read right. I also took out the solid black background that just was too dead and put the bluish purple back there instead. That was a vast improvement. I had done a number of w/c studies of her collection, so I did have something to go by. They are just such fun shapes.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Now the Work Begins

To have won The Best of Show at the Littleton Museum's "Own an Original" has quite the weight attached to it. To have one's own show is a wonderful gift. Most times when a person has a one person show, however, they are not expected to come up with 90 paintings! I have had a few one person shows at galleries and I think the most I had at any one show was 35. To get my self in order, I have started to inventory those paintings I have that I would put in the show, then those that I would use if I need them; next I have marked whether the painting needs a frame. I placed my first frame order just the other day, so I can spread out the expenses throughout the 9 months. I just about used up all the prize money I won (but have not yet received)! I am trying a new online frame shop so if I like what I ordered, I will let everyone know via a blog post. Their prices seemed pretty darn good, no tax and I got free shipping. I am glad that most of my new larger pieces are gallery wrapped stretched canvas so I won't have to frame those. I may buy one floater frame to see how I like it, though for one of the smaller profiled wrapped canvases. Organization I hope will keep me on track. The other day I put my list in a spreadsheet so I can keep track of it all. and yesterday I managed to pretty much wrap up two paintings and almost finish a third. May the rest of the weekend continue on such a "roll."

Friday, November 19, 2010

Best of Show


Last night was the opening of the OWN an ORIGINAL juried show at the Littleton Museum. Was I surprised to learn my painting, "Reading@the Metropolis," had won BEST OF SHOW? To say the least!  Not only did the painting earn me a cash prize but also a one person show to be held at the Littleton Museum next September/October. I must have 90 paintings ready to hang for the opening on Sept 15. I take this as a challenge.

Last week, Tuesday November 9, was the opening for the 4th Annual Denver Plein Air Exhibit. This exhibit is located on the 7th floor of the main Denver Public Library. I discovered upon arriving that my one painting, "Curious Red Door," had won an Honorable Mention. I don’t yet know what that means other than a ribbon, but this is the third year in a row that I have been in this show and won an award (2 years ago I received a $100 gift certificate for my Honorable Mention but times are tougher now).  I seem to be doing well at the local level, so I need to continue to put my paintings into the national arena as well. That is much tougher competition, of course, but at least I have gotten into 2 out of the 3 national juried shows I submitted to this past year.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Black and White


The last two Saturdays I attended Kevin Weckbach’s class. Oct 30 was the critique for the month’s homework assignment. I had not been in town to attend the class at the beginning of the month so I had to glean what I could out of the email that was sent with the assignment. I misread it, so I did the following still life thinking it was a use of “mother” color and that mother color was BLACK (ie every color I put on the canvas should include black in the mix, even if the “color” being applied is white). Instead it was supposed to be a still life of “Black on Black.” To do this I should have had a black backdrop and all the objects should have been black. The Reflective objects I used where fine as well, since they would have reflected all the black around them to make them appear “black.” I failed in that I did not do the assignment correctly, but I passed in that I did the project correctly based on my criteria. I also timed myself so this was a very quick painting. I gave myself 1.5 hours to do a 14”x18” canvas. I cropped out a roll of blue paper towels as they just didn't add anything to the composition.


November 6 we painted in class doing “White on White.” The same concept using all white objects, back drop and table top. It is 11x14 and it took me the whole class time to do it. (10 am-1pm) We did not get to a critique but Kevin said I was getting it. The point of these exercises is to pay attention to the color variations within a color grouping, ie there are warm whites and cool whites and what reflects into or bounces off of each surface also impacts the color.(that is a billy goat's horn (hollow) on the right-not really a white but we got away with it.)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

2010 Denver Plein Air Opening and Own an Original

Tuesday, November 9 starting at 5-8 p.m. will be the artists reception at the main Denver Public Library, downtown. I have only one painting in this year. To view the show online, http://gtmd.org/. It is a fun event to attend; and the show is up through December. The painting I submitted that was accepted is the side building of the Curious Theater.


Thursday, November 18, 5:30-7 p.m. is the City of Littleton Fine Arts Own an Original Art Exhibition reception. This opening and show is held at the Littleton Museum of Fine Arts Gallery, 6028 S. Gallup St, Littleton 80120. I just found out today that the 3 pieces I submitted were accepted. This show is up thru January 16, 2011, so there is time if you are in the area to check it out. For those of you out of town or not interested in going to the museum, the paintings are Lavendar Hydrangeas, 24x30; Reading@theMetropolis, 20x16; and Smokin', 16x20. I have had a number of comments lately that I really need to focus on painting people, so that got me to submit the two figure paintings to this exhibit.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Watercolor Studies

Gay's Table, 10x7: I painted this at my sister-in-laws table on a very rainy day; there is a hedge outside the window that technically should have been darker in value. Still not that comfortable with watercolors. Gay picked this one to keep. She sets a beautiful table.

Pomegranate Singleton, 6x4-Killing time in the orchard I sat on the ground to do this study; 1st one of the trip to CA. Family were coming for a lunch BBQ. The pomegranates are not quite ripe yet but still beautiful.

Pomegranate Singleton II, 6x6-I tried to put in some darks on this one. Still sitting on the ground painting the low-hanging fruit. I think I need to put darks in the whole upper right corner to make this look more complete. Something missing for me.

Marc's Pick, 7x10-Because it poured all Sunday in the Bay Area, Marc went out and cut me these two pomegranates. I did a small study of the short branch before putting the two together here.
I did one landscape but only got as far as the sketch, no color. I was shooed off of private property; Mea culpa. I also did a drawing of the baggage carts on the tarmac as our flight home was delayed and it gave me something to do. I forgot to scan it when I scanned these.
Baby Walnut Trees, 7x10-this is my incomplete sketch. The idea was going to be a white picket fence coming into a haloed light green as the sun hit the tree edges (I hadn't gotten to the leaf outlines yet). The bulk of the trees would be silhouetted. The background hillside was in shadow and that was going to be dark blue green. The earth was stubble dead grasses. I might still get to it, but it isn't a high priority. I have no photo reference just the picture in my minds eye.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Visit to the de Young Museum

For those of you who don't know, the deYoung Museum, located in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco,  has the honor of hosting the Impressionist collection from the D'Orsay Museum in Paris while that museum undergoes renovation. The deYoung split this exhibit into 2 parts. The early Impressionists ended in early September and the "later" opened the end of September. We attended the second exhibit on Friday. My mistake was getting timed tickets for mid-day; The place was packed solid, which made it difficult to get a good feel for a painting unless you were very patient and waited for a break in the waves of humanity. I like to view up close (to see brush strokes and color mixing) and then from a distance (to see how it all holds together). I knew better when I ordered the tickets online, but it worked out in that we would never have been able to see the second and companion exhibit that was held in the Legion of Honor Fine Art Museum, "Japanesque, the Japanese print in the era of Impressionism" if we had gone to the deYoung later in the day. I had seen most of the work in the deYoung exhibit, but I did discover some "new" artists to me, which is always a delight. One artist, Paul Serusier, had an outstanding painting. I had not noticed his work in my visits to the D'Orsay. It could be the placement at the deYoung that made it jump out at me. Van Gogh was almost impossible to really look at from a distance, as it was near where they let the next timed group in, so people pooled in front of his work. Richard and I did manage to study his amazing brushwork up close. I did get to spend time with Toulouse-Lautrec who was on the opposite wall from Vincent. Toulouse-Lautrec never disappoints. His graphic sensibilities always inspire me. There was a good number of Cezannes and Gauguins, but the choices from Bonnard and Vuilliard were a bit disappointing to me. The focus from these artists was more their prints and not their paintings. Not a bad thing, but I really had my heart set on seeing the paintings again. C'est la vie.

At the Legion of Honor was a Frenchman, Henri Riviere, who was so inspired by the Japanese woodblock print that he did a series of 36 views of the Eiffel Tower as it was being built which was highlighted in the exhibit. There was so much to see at this exhibit that it would have been worth seeing on its own merit with more time to devote to it. The Japanese prints were of course noteworthy, but so were the Westerners inspired by them. It was a great addition and enriched the wonders from the D'Orsay.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Works in Progress

I was reading an article about the artist, Karin Jurik, in the latest issue of Southwest Art. In it Karin mentioned how she completes a painting a day because she gets bored with a painting if she has to keep coming back to it. I found this an interesting perspective, because as I have mentioned, I get bored with the larger pieces myself. Here are two that fit this criteria. The alley painting below is relatively new as I started this piece in late August. It isn't that large, being 20" x 30" and technically, I should have been able to finish it by now. My thought is to "rip" through it quickly when I get back from my trip to California to wrap it up. It needs some life breathed into it. This past weekend I did a 14x18 study in less than 2 hours so that is what I need to do with this piece. Wake it up a bit as the values are pretty much in place.
Alameda Alley, 20" x 30"
The French Waiters I began over a year ago and just recently got it out to see where I wanted to go with it. It hasa complimentary color scheme going on (blue and orange) which for the most part is working. I need to decide once and for all if I want to show tiles on the back wall or get rid of them. I have gone back and forth more than once now it is time to just be rid of them. I think they take away from the center of interest. I do like the light aiming down, so I will keep that. I want to pull the most forward plate out more (more light on it) to draw the viewer into the work area. Once those items are tidied up I will reevaluate to see if that takes care of my dissatisfaction with this piece. Any other suggestions or observations are most welcome.
French Waiters, 24" x 24"

Monday, October 18, 2010

Southwest Art Magazine top 50 finalists

I had an email from a colleague over the weekend asking me if I had done a blog post yet on the fact that I was in the top 50 of Southwest Art Magazines annual 21 over 31 competition. I have not for the simple reason I didn't make it to the top 21,  which to me means it wasn't worth mentioning. When I saw that there were over 3,000 entries, it then seemed more newsworthy. I submitted the Harvard Gulch Alley painting for this competition. To be honest, I didn't even realize that the paintings had been posted - she sent me the link. Thanks to my friend, Jeannie Paty, who not only encouraged me to apply, but also reminded me of the deadline. She also is in the top 50 I was happy to see.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Long Time Coming

I took an 11 day road trip through North Carolina with my aunt during this past month and in just about 4 days we will be flying to California for a week. It has been a wonderful month, but painting has been on the back burner. Today's post was going to be about painting, but it ended up being about my trip. The waterfall above is the location where the" Last of the Mohicans" was filmed (I believe we were still in South Carolina at this point.) It was a nice hike down to the falls, still so lush and green. You can see there is lots of room to walk behind the veil of water. My aunt had picked me up at the Orlando Airport and we drove through GA, and SC to get to our destination of Franklin, NC and my aunt's friend, Karen. That drive took us a day and a half. That evening we went into town to the Saturday night auction, and what fun that was. Oh my. I wish I had a trailer. I could not believe what  things were selling for, not that I need anything. We left the auction early and went to listen to the last hour of Music on the Green, where a bluegrass band was playing in the town square - there is live music every Saturday evening. What a great sense of community I felt there.
The next day found us driving from Franklin to the Tennessee entrance of the Smoky Mountain National Park. We stopped at the top of the mountain on our way to the other side, and lo and behold, part of the Appalachian Trail was there! I met a couple who had just done 8 miles that day, and they were soaked to the bone but happy. I walked up a short ways just to say I had been on the trail, not wanting to keep us too long from our destination, but oh would I have loved to have least walked the Sweat Heifer Creek Trail.
We were headed to Cades Cove, a wonderful old settlement that was on an a one way 11 mile loop. The buildings are all open to walk in and explore. There were 16 stops on the map, including 3 churches, an amazing cantilevered barn, homes and old graveyards. It was 5 pm by the time we hit the loop so we had to pick and choose where to stop. The house above was one of the larger abodes, but very typical. The photo below was taken from the car but showed the landscape off well, I think. Evening rain...
Monday we headed North to Asheville. We did the market first and then some shopping. Spent 2 nights in Asheville seeing the sights and walking the town. Some of the healthiest restaurants I saw in the South and some of the best art were in Asheville.
Scuppernong Grapes (note size next to figs!) The Muscadine are the dark grapes behind.
The Fiddlin' Pig in Asheville, where you get Bluegrass with your BBQ. Seemed a perfect pairing along with a local brew.
On the Blue Ridge Parkway on the way to the highest point, Mt Mitchell. We had followed the Harley riders for miles. They were from Florida.
Fried Green Tomatoes with crab!
After driving the Blue Ridge Parkway North, we headed towards Old Salem for a day. The biggest disappointment for me was that Salem is this big interpretive venue, where they dress in period costumes, made by a "tailor" who sews all the clothes for the employees, a "shoemaker," who makes the period shoes, etc. Like a living history museum. There is a much touted bakery, using "authentic original" recipes, and then you look on the ingredient list of the cookies they sell and I can assure you, the are not using the original recipe, unless modifications are accepted into their definition or authentic and original. In their defense, they do use the original ovens and mixing troughs, bread paddles and other molds for baking. The stores do have some handcrafted items, but the majority of the items are made in China. I guess I expected a bit more authenticity being that this area is full of some of the finest craftspeople I have ever seen in one area. The "apothecary" could not carry on a discourse on basic herbal remedies, yet the shelves were lined with wonderfully filled jars of herbs and roots and barks. I guess I have too great of expectations.

The next day we went to Greensboro, NC to visit the International Civil Rights Museum. That was very interesting and I am glad I went. Very thought provoking and hard to believe this was still going on in my lifetime. I grew up in a colorblind military family overseas, so this part of American history seemed very foreign to me.
Vic with friend from Zweibrucken American HS, Sandy. We hadn't seen each other in decades.
From Greensboro we high tailed it to Charleston, SC to be there bright and early on Saturday morning. We met my friend, Sandy on the Battery and then did a horse drawn carriage ride of old Charleston. I thoroughly enjoyed it, visited the Slaves Market (not where slaves were sold, but where slaves sold goods), and then sat on the water for lunch where we had the fried green tomatoes as an appetizer (Very Good).  My digestion took a week to settle down after all the fried food I ate in such a short time. (Fried pickles came with our bbq in Asheville. Not something I need in my life, nor the boiled peanuts. UGH.)
Leaving Charleston we drove along the marsh lands to Savannah, were we did a quick drive through so I could at least see how the squares are laid out. Charleston and Savannah are often compared, but I found them so completely different. I would have liked to have at least spent one night there, but if we had then I would not have been able to go to the beach the next day and eat one of the best pizzas I have eaten outside of Italy. I did so enjoy walking the beach. My aunt and uncle live in Melbourne, Fl, and the area is beautiful and full of birds. Walking along the golf course out back of my aunt's home, I saw egrets, storks, cranes, ibis and some ducks I did not recognize. I loved it! See the terns below with the sea gulls?
And here is my traveling companion and aunt, Vi; her mother, and my Uncle Lou (my father's younger brother) as we prepare to go to Lone Cabbage so I can try gator on the way to Orlando Airport.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Denver Plein Air Event

The top painting, 16x10, is the one I did yesterday. Below it is the study I did for it to figure it out. I had taken some photos the week before after I did the painting of the church spires. Since the reference photos for this scene  had two photos taken at different angles, I thought I would try to figure it out before hand - see if what I had in mind would actually work, being a sort of composite. In the original photo references from which I did the study the sky and the building were just about the same value, though different colors of blue. Yesterday though, the sky was noticeably darker, so I put that in to see if I liked it darker, and I do. I decided to not put in the windows on the right because I didn't get the angle quite right on the telephone pole to allow enough of the windows to make a difference. I didn't quite get the cattywampus look I was trying for, but I still like it. The study is on linen watercolor paper with oil paints thinned down. You would think having worked it all out before hand the actually painting would have gone faster, but I spent 3 hours on location. It was easier, if not faster, and it was great to have the study with me to keep me from chasing the light. I may change the angle on the green doors as I think I like it better in my study.
Here is the painting I did last weekend. Now you can see that it isn't quite the great painting it was made out to be by my admiring audience. But the suspense was fun, wasn't it? I have not decided if I will submit it to the juried show. I have a week to think about it. "One Way" is 11"x14" painted from around 9:30-11:30 a.m.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Corner of 13th and Penn during Denver Plein Air Event

I wish I had a few photos to illustrate this blog post. A few days ago, I participated in the paint out during the Denver Plein Air Event on 13th Avenue. I chose the corner of 13th and Pennsylvania. This area is called Capital Hill and has a very diverse population. I was set up in the shadow of a local bar that happened to have a few parking spaces that came in to the sidewalk area behind me. My subject was the twin spires of the Gothic style Basilica to the north. I had an interesting few hours on that corner. There was a mushroom deal going down on the trunk of a car right behind me. Once that was completed the young man with dreadlocks came over to talk to me about what medium I was using. He likes to paint in acrylics; we talked about the advantages and disadvantages of oils vs acrylics. Then there was the 50 something year old woman, her face covered in what I would venture to guess are sebaceous cysts, who told me that one of the spires (the lighter colored one to the East) was hit by lightening a few years ago; she was also into politics so we chatted about the upcoming elections. A young man missing his two front teeth wanted to talk about doing portraits in pencil and did I think he could move to painting from working in pencil? (I said of course!) Another man came by, one I would say lived on the streets, and he told me I was doing a “good job and good subject.” Then there was the middle aged couple who had gone to the coffee shop across the street and were walking back by; she said not only was my painting of a church but it felt very tranquil as well. The last comment came from an older gentleman who had parked his truck behind me, jumped out and went to pick up something in a brown paper bag, he said to me, “Don’t let anyone tell you any different. That is a good painting. “ I was talking to another artist at the time and we were critiquing it. Maybe I should stand on that corner more often! I have had plenty of conversations over the years with people curious about the whole painting outdoors concept, but I don’t think I have had quite the range of people as I did this time. It is amazing I got any painting done.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Grand Lake Weekend

While Julia and I were painting last weekend off of Hwy 34, a young man from the East coast stopped and asked if he could take our photos. We said, sure and I added, only if you send them to me! Today, the photos arrived. So here we are. What a great day it was, too. Below is the painting I did that afternoon.
This painting is 14x11. It was the second one of the day, on the first day and we started about 2 p.m. or so. I enjoyed painting this very much. I was fortunate, because when I started there were two "tractors" here. I picked this one, and about halfway through this painting, the other tractor was put to work. When I came back through this valley on my way home Sunday night, all the hay had been picked up.I liked the pattern of the silhouetted hay bales leading the eye to the haybaler, surrounded by the bright field.
The Haystack, 16x12 above, was the second painting on Saturday, and was started about 1 p.m. Again, I had a great time painting this. I was struck by the free form of this haystack, and its massive size. I loved the way the light was skipping across it from behind illuminating the planes with the contrasting blue mountain behind it. I still want to rework the sage along the fence. Certainly not looking very sage like. But other than that, I will leave it as is. I used a pencil to put in the woven wire fence in the wet paint. I took this painting in to Kevin's class this morning  for critique. Our assignment for this month had been to do an "expressive" painting and this is about expressive as I get. He said I did a great job, and he really liked this piece. He liked the Haybaler, too.
New Growth, 8x10, was painted Sunday morning. I had intended to paint the Colorado River, so I set up on a strip of land that came into the river to paint the river coming right at me. Then I saw this dark mass of evergreens with some light filtering through, with the beetle kill on one side and the new growth looking so vibrant in the front, I switched gears immediately. I am always amazed at how mother nature regenerates. Grand County is covered in beetle kill, and/or clear cutting where the dead trees have already been removed. But the flip side is now the contours of the landscape are visible, views are spectacular, and new growth is springing forth. If I were to do this again I would pay more attention to the filtering light. I made those areas too large. They should be carving out the evergreens in a more subtle way.