Search This Blog

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Highway 101

I found out recently that my father-in-law, Bob Ekelund, had been refusing food and drink. I had already been thinking of doing this painting in remembrance of all the times we drove to the ranch in Hopland, California from either the airport or from my brother-in-laws home
Fall Colors in Northern California vineyards. 20x16, oil on panel

I found out yesterday afternoon (Tuesday) that he had passed away peacefully. It is only fitting that I post this painting now in remembrance for Bob and all the wonderful memories shared in his home.

This image is from the last trip we took for Thanksgiving 2006 on the ranch. We were driving up Hwy 101 somewhere between Geyserville and Cloverdale. It is such a beautiful drive.

This painting practically painted itself. It doesn't happen as often as I would like, this phenomenon of a painting painting itself but when it does, it is a joy. Fast and easy and no struggles! It is what is called a 'Z' composition, where the viewer zig-zags thru the picture.

Monday, December 14, 2015

A new painting emerges

A bit of a story to this post. I have a painting I did a year or two ago where I played with abstraction. I had it hanging at the office for fall as it is a scene where the dawn light was casting its long fingers across a street in the river town of Migennes, France. I was out looking for a patisserie to bring back breakfast. I am an early riser, even on vacation. One of my co-workers asked me if he could make a comment on the painting and of course I replied yes. I am always thrilled when someone looks at my work long enough to want to comment. He told me that the foreground of the road bothered him because there wasn't enough interest at the entry point into the painting. GREAT observation. So I took the painting home that weekend and fixed the road. Unfortunately, that little fix was leading me into wanting to repaint the whole thing as I am not in the same place I was when I painted it. On this particular painting I wanted to leave it alone. I was and am happy with it 'as is.' Here is the original painting with the road repaired:

Migenne at Dawn, 18x24, oil on panel over old painting. Available
Not on my agenda that weekend was to start a new painting, same subject, but that is what I ended up doing. I was jazzed! I found another old painting, same size at 18x24, on which to paint. I found out through this process that it is a different result depending on if the original painting ever had varnish on it or not. The painting above had varnish. Even with removing the varnish, the paint is still tacky so the brush glides over it and sticks. Which is the effect I like in the above painting. The new rendition over another old painting did not ever have varnish on it so it was like painting on a fresh canvas.
I took photos along the way so you could see how it works. I had intended to make a slideshow out of the progression so it would not involve so much scrolling but the latest versions make it so much harder than the easy Picasa I used for all my slideshows in the past! Maybe I will figure it out but today, it is not happening and I have been messing with this for weeks and I am over it.
1. I don't have the original painting but in this first image it is mostly there. I have drawn in the basic structure of the new painting and blocked in the outline of the new sky.
2. Here I have added the road and some guiding lines of the gutters. The roof color is already as a wall and the chimney looks like a door.
3. Here I have added walls in two different values. One color for the walls in the light and another for the same color walls in shadow.

4. Finishing up more houses. I do like how the trees work with the composition of the new scene.
5. Roofs are coming into play and the side of the orange building with its basic structure and the sidewalk on the left is no longer tree colored. The chimney pots are taking shape as well. The growth is tied to big blocks of color.
6. More roof's and finishing up another house to the left.
7. this photo was taken after dark so it is studio lit. I did not want to stop yet so that is why the colors look a bit yellow. The houses at the end of the street are coming in. Oh how I struggled to want to cover up the trees but it had to happen. Windows are being shuttered as the town is still asleep. The car shape is added.
8. Day 2: more details. Windows, roofs and car. The sidewalk is finally put in on the right as is detail on the wall. I changed the color of the beige walls that are shadow. They were too warm in color. I am starting to shape the green bushes.

9. working on color shifts. I thought the roof was too green on the tall house. Added more detail that is particular to France.
 10. Minor changes here. Starting to work on the greenery on both sides of the street.
 11. This is where I stopped. I am not finished. I don't normally paint in such a methodical way. In this case it had to be or I would have been lost in the trees, no pun intended. Now that I have the structure in the next step will be to force some areas and tone down others. I don't yet get the feeling in this version that it is dawn. The road needs more visual interest and the bushes on the right need better definition of being bushes in the dawn light. They are a bit indistinguishable for my taste. In other words, not reading right. I will post the finished piece when I get there but this is where it ends for now. It is the way of the artist. I need a break from this piece as I work on others. That way I can let these ideas simmer until they are ready to be manifested.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving

Green and Orange Pumpkins, 14x18, oil on canvas
My neighbor is married to a minister. Her mission is to provide food baskets to a number of families each week during the growing season. To that end she has gardens all over this neighborhood as well as many other neighborhoods throughout the metroplex. However, she does not grow raspberries and I do! She and her daughters pick my raspberries and in return I get a pumpkin pie pumpkin when she harvests them. This year she had this one greenish blue pumpkin and wasn't quite sure what to do with just one and then she thought of me...I had to paint this portrait in short order as I had little time between when I received the pumpkins until now. The orange pumpkin is now ready for pie but I am not sure what to do with the green pumpkin except to use it as a decoration for Thanksgiving. If anyone knows different, please let me know. My intention is to give this painting to her in thanksgiving for all she does for others. I know that they struggle themselves.

I painted this over an old varnished painting. I did remove the varnish but it leaves the old paint tacky unless you let it dry again. I did not have time to wait for it to dry so what that means is that the new paint melds into the old and light colors become darker and dark colors get lighter. In other words a lot of mediums show up. I put many layers on this to get it this "light." I do like painting on the tacky surface as the paint drags across it and lets the old painting show through.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Randy Higbee Gallery 6x6 juried show

Pelican Study, 6 x 6 on panel
I got word Monday that I had one painting accepted out of the 1400 submitted into the Randy Higbee annual 6x6 juried show in California. I submitted three myself. I fell in love with the brown pelicans in Florida as they are so different from the white pelicans we get here in Denver. The first time I saw one dive into the Gulf was thrilling. They are such powerful birds. I also loved the way they congregated together near a ferry crossing just hanging out having a chat and an occasional dive. I think they were really hanging out waiting on the fishing boats...This is one of many I plan to do of this majestic bird. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Happy Client: Gallery Cat found a new home

Gallery Cat found a new home!
A friend of mine, going through some difficult personal problems, bought this painting from me recently to cheer herself up. She sent me this photo to show me how well it looks on a little easel. I am so pleased it has a place of honor next to a family photo. The color of  the alcove is perfect to show of the colors in the painting.
I painted this cat in January while doing the 30 paintings in 30 days personal challenge. I loved the organic cat moving among the graphic quality of the walls in the gallery. It is gratifying for the artist to see their work hanging or in this case, sitting in its new home.
Thank you to all who invest in art at whatever level.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Orange in the mode of Rembrandt, 6x6

Orange, 6x6, oil on panel, Bid Now!
Here is a little study where I was thinking again of Rembrandt and how he turned his portraits gently from the dark background into the light. It is only an orange but it still was a good way to learn about the transition on a round object. I did not paint this study in a darkened room with a spotlight on the orange. It was in daylight in my studio on a painted black table. In my minds eye I worked the dark red to be close to the dark background and slowly brought it into the light. It was an odd orange with ridges and nodules which is why I picked it. It gave some interest to otherwise very smooth surface. Plus it had that great stem still on it. Not sure how I found this little gem as it isn't what you normally find in the grocery store.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Expressionist Pears, 8x6

Expressionist Pears, 8x6, $40 Bid Now!
Here is a fun fast sketch of Bosc Pears done around Christmas time a few years back. I did this as an exercise to be more bold and loose. Imagine that. I love painting pears of all the fruits I have used as segue's into getting to my easel when I don't quite feel like it. It is easier for me to commit to a timed exercise when not wanting to go into the studio.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Monarda in the Garden

Monarda in the Garden, 9x12, Buy NOW
Day 2 of my online studio sale. Please click on the link provided in the title above to go to ebay. "Monarda in the Garden" was done in my back yard when the monarda were at their peak. I love have this firecracker red flower adding a splash of color in the summer months. This painting was so much fun to paint. Monarda is a member of the mint family and how you determine what is a member of the mint family is by the square stem. Roll the stem between your fingers and you can feel it, although it is also quite visible.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Online Studio Sale started today

As I have been procrastinating, and October is at an end, the open house studio sale I was thinking of having is just not getting done. Therefore, today I posted my first painting for sale on ebay to try a different route. This is an plan is to list one painting per day, but already I have messed that up and ended up posting the two paintings below. It isn't the same as having you all come to the studio here which I thoroughly enjoy; it is due to my inability to focus on hostessing such an event as well as November just packed already to the gills. Hope you see something you like!
Prairie Canyon Barn, 8x10 Bid NOW

Art Deco Sherry Glass, 7x5, Bid Now

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Critique of The Crit

critique of The Crit painting
Here is a photo from last week's working critique. Kevin is critiquing my painting that I am doing of him critiquing another artist's painting. My painting of The Critique is not done in this photo with Kevin holding it.
As I was working from the outside in on this painting, Steph's painting just blocked in. 'The Critique' is done as dark/light pattern where I wanted a strong sense of light versus dark. Even at the angle it is being held at here you can sense that strong structure of what is in the light group and what is in the dark group. When you squint, the mediums marry themselves to one or the other.
Below is the painting on my easel this weekend as I continue to build on it. The structure is there so it is a matter of  time before it is completed.

The Critique, 30x24, oil on linen panel
The reason I like this particular subject is because of the repetitious shapes that the dark values carve out. The lines in the painting he is holding repeat shapes in the background and also help lead the eye around the whole painting. This particular composition has repetitions of rectangles as well as triangles. The viewer is taken in by the direction of the two figures looking at the painting.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Critique Study

The Critique, study for, 12x9, oil on Panel, available
Here is a study I did for a larger piece I am now working on. It is a "dark/light" pattern that I have spoken of before. If you squint your eyes you will see that every shape is either a part of the dark shape or a part of the overall light shape. I am staying away from medium values to create this pattern. The only medium here is really the light on the sweat shirt of the figure on the left which I will darken down in the larger painting. In this study it is tied to the darks but not quite enough so.

The head of Kevin transitions from the light into the dark pattern, as does his arm. Against the light background his arm groups itself with the dark pattern, but against his shirt and the painting he is holding his hand transitions to the light group. I love working with dark/light pattern. If done well, the painting is so much more interesting to me.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Coming up to Tiger Wall

Another new one off the easel recently is from a trip I took on the Yampa River a few years ago. It is a larger format for me. I wanted to show the grandeur of Tiger Wall, a monument we all love to kiss as we float by. You can see the size of the wall by the tiny two man raft floating towards it. The raft is hard to see in this size of an image, I grant you that!
 Approaching Tiger Wall, 40x30, oil on canvas - available

I am going to post this now as for whatever reason, this blog is going cattywampus on me. I wrote a post before this on a completely different topic and gave up after two days of trying. I don't like getting frustrated by trying to write a post because this application doesn't want to cooperate. I may have to look for another option for my blog.  I take no credit for however it ends up looking as nothing I do to adjust the format is working lately.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Reading on a Jet Plane

Reading on a Jet Plane, 20x16, oil on canvas panel
From the takeaway from the workshop I did earlier this month, I decided to redo one of the subjects started there. Not over paint the existing painting as is my habit, but start over from the beginning on a new canvas. I spent more time getting the proportions correct up front instead of covering the canvas with big shapes as I did in the previous version. This version is working so much better. You see the second figure reading much more clearly. His hands don't look like hams.

In my efforts to always improve, I decided it was good to start over as I knew what I wanted to do differently after the study done in the workshop. In this version I wanted to keep the yellow/violet complements but not overuse either. I wanted to keep the big shapes simple. I think it gives a good idea of the bright light you get flying high above the earth. 

Since this photo dates before digital imagery or maybe at the beginning of digital photography (was it really 13 years ago?) I worked from a 4 x6 photo I had in our photo album from our trip to Germany in 2002. This is my son (sans glasses as I did not think that the glasses were needed for the success of the painting and it is not technically a portrait) and my daughter is in the window seat.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Artists Statement

In the August 8th edition of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) - I can't remember if it was in the Off Duty or the Review section of the paper that weekend, but it was in a little corner called Notable and Quotable. These little tidbits are usually in the oped section but the day it wasn't. It was an excerpt from a piece written by John Seed and pulled from the online magazine "Hyperallergic." I have not read the whole piece yet but just from the excerpt it was obviously a piece making fun at the "required" artist statement of our time. If you have ever written or read one you know how awful they can be. The excerpt in the WSJ had the Mona Lisa with Leonardo da Vinci's artist statement on the work. It is unintelligible and uproariously funny to me.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Janice Nowinski Workshop Day 2 and 3

Day Two: I decided to start a new painting and leave the boats for now. I was a bit confused by the end of day one so I brought in a larger board and decided to go graphic with big simple shapes. I used a photo of my son since figures seemed to be the modus operandi. It is a photo I had taken to be part of a series I had started on reading years ago but had been distracted from completing. I started this series before the iPhone came on the scene but I have kept those photo references in an envelope as I add to it in case I revisit that series. NOTE: an ironic addendum to this. In yesterday's WSJ was an article on the decline of summer reading from its apex after WWII. The link to this article by Lee Siegel is not available but when I did a search I see that this is a recurring theme of his. I realized I had read other of his articles on this topic on the decline of reading books.
After quickly blocking the shapes in on this very slick surface I was ready to correct the relationships and start painting. It was suggested that I leave it as is. So I did. After looking at it awhile I think I did not have the right proportion board in relation to the photograph. My math is off, in other words. That is one reason I think the hands are so large. I can't find the photo to verify this.
I think this piece has potential. It was well received as is and deemed complete by the class and by Janice. Not sure I agree. You can judge for yourselves. What I may end up doing is starting a new one instead of my normal reaction to over painting the original. That is something Janice suggested that is starting to make sense to me. So there is a takeaway from the workshop.
Reading On a Jet Plane, 20x16, oil on slick board, 20x16
When I took these pieces to work one of my coworkers really liked this painting as well. Another coworker asked why I was taking a workshop and not giving one? Good question...Amazingly enough I had an email yesterday asking me to go to WI to give a workshop. I'm thinking on it.

Day Three:Another figure. I wanted to see what I would do with editing an image and not being so *literal in its translation. I left out quite a bit from the photo reference and am quite happy with this one. No one recognized it as the wall sculpture outside the Denver Art Museum. I don't think you are supposed to climb it but one day where I was meeting a friend, someone did!
Here are some photos from the critique at the end of the third day:
All three of these paintings were done from black andwhite photos. Nicely done, too.

Sampling of works completed during the workshop.

More the translation of Matisse.
*Note: "literal" became one of the hot button words of the workshop-not sure we all agreed on what that word means. I had to define the term "graphic" more than once when I used it to describe my work. Another interesting topic for another post. How we think we can redefine words to fit our own definition.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Janice Nowinski Workshop Day 1

I have not taken a workshop in years. In fact it has been so long I can't remember when the last one was. I took a three day workshop this past week with Janice Nowinski. I do not know her work but I was intrigued by the title description: photo as catalyst: Extracting and Transforming. I was hoping to break down some of my self-imposed barriers and to trust my instincts when editing and painting from photo references. Day One was Monday. Janice talked about what she meant by extracting and transforming as we viewed the photos and photos of art that we had all brought in as per the syllabus. We were to bring in 5 photos. Including postcards of favorite artist/painting. It was remarkable some of the themes that popped up on the display board. There were many Odalisques. One participant painted this theme all three days. Many had brought black and white photos of themselves or family members to paint. The first day I was the only one who did not paint a figure! I painted boats. It was interesting to see those who painted something personal vs those of us who did not. It seemed the class was half there to explore themselves thru their art. What can I say? I left the first day wondering what in the heck I walked into. Did I misread what the class was about? No. I was wondering if I was getting in my own way again and maybe I just needed to roll with it.

Here is the painting from day 1 of the workshop. It is not complete; but it is what it is for the time being. My goal was to make order out of chaos. The jumble of boats both in the foreground and the background seemed a challenge to me and I wanted to work on repeating patterns and colors. I think it is a good start.

Sligo Boats, 16x12, work in progress or study for larger painting

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Legacy of an Artist

Here is the post (last paragraph) I referred to in my last article on my observations at the Sargent show at the Met. This is not the first time I have noticed this occurrence at gallery openings but it was the first time that it was my focus to observe and not just something I noticed but didn't think much about. I wrote this in April after a talk with a gallery owner.

I was grousing yesterday to a friend of mine about galleries and what, if anything, can I do to fit in. More so than ever galleries today want a name that sells, and who can blame them? After all, they are in the business to make money. It doesn't seem to matter if the work is any good as long as the artist is a great self-promoter and has a schtick. If an artist is a great self-promoter though, why would they need a gallery? I am not great at self-promotion. Although I am often surprised at how many people read my blog or go to my website, I am not one who gets thousands or even hundreds of hits or page views. Is that what it takes today to have a name that sells? Or is it through advertising and teaching classes? I don't know the answers which is why I was grousing. What works for one person does not necessarily work for another. Her answer was to suggest that I think about what I want my legacy of an artist to be.

That is not that hard for me to answer. I write this blog to share the journey as I continue to learn and grow. My intention is to educate; not just you the reader, but also myself. Writing about what I do and why or what the painting is about keeps the purpose in the forefront for me. A painting should tell a story. What is it I want the viewer to takeaway? Did I draw the viewer into the scene so that they feel a part of it?  Does it arouse the viewer to want to know more or to write their own story to go with it? Should it matter if the viewer relates to the subject or not? Shouldn't the art transcend what the subject is? How much a struggle it is to say what you want to say.

I would like to be remembered for helping others to understand the process a bit better; that they can understand art that they might come across; also for being universal in my subjects yet with a cant from the norm. I have recently been told that I don't have a recognizable style. I don't know that I agree with that but I can say I am not where I want to be...

I went to a one person art opening on Friday night and I was watching to see if I could take a photo of someone or a group of people looking at the exhibit. I felt like a stalker. People were trying to stay out of my way as I held my phone up to try and capture someone, anyone, stopping to look at the art. On my way out, I finally got a shot. Unbelievable. Most people were standing around talking; the others were doing a "walk by" much like a "drive by;" in other words, walking through the gallery glancing at the works on display, but nothing was drawing them in enough to stop and look. It was bizarre. I am not sure if it was the works themselves or just this particular crowd. It is for sure something I am going to keep my eye on. That is not what I want my legacy to be. If I never sell another painting, so be it, as long as people stop and LOOK. (note: I have not been to any opening since; at some point I will do a follow-up but I can say that I have seen galleries post photos from art openings and NO-ONE in the photos are looking at the art. The one exception might my 1261.)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Museum follow up - observations

A few months ago, I wrote a blog that I never posted. This one is a continuation of that theme but as it is on a museum and a particular show it is not the same, yet is similar.

After going through the Sargent exhibit at the Met, I then started over at the beginning to take photos of museum goers to see what were the most popular paintings; which paintings did artists get drawn to (and yes, you can tell when artists are looking at art vs "normal" people); and which, if any, got not much attention. I was trying to see if my previous observation at a gallery opening for a one person show was valid here. It wasn't.  Here are my observations with photos to go along to illustrate.

Another great "head"
I love this portrait. It is of an actor in character; can't remember which character.
 Artists tend to really study a painting and if with someone, talk about it.

 People who get the audio spend more time looking at the art.

the gown of this actress from MacBeth was made with insect wings to get the iridescent look.
A noticeable amount of museum goers take photos with their phones and don't bother to look at the art itself but "may" do a quick read for more info.
William Merritt Chase-commissioned by his students

Madame X always had a gathering
Those with no audio, spend more time reading the placards then looking at the paintings. They read, then look for whatever might have been mentioned, and move on to the next placard. I am not coming down on this approach, as I learned a lot from my husband who read way more of those notations than I did, but it is an observation. And this is not to say "all" who read the notes do this, but it was a commonality. My husband found things in paintings I totally missed and were not on the cards! He looks at the paintings.

The "known" paintings got more attention than the unknown. And in this Sargent show at the Met there were many (1/2?) that I did not know existed. A very prolific painter.

In the galleries of the museum outside of the "special exhibits" more of a percentage of viewers were actually LOOKING AT THE ART and talking about it. I wonder if this is due to the lack of crowds in the normal galleries. Even in the 20th century European gallery which was filled with wonderful works, people were either just walking thru unless something caught there eye (guilty as charged) or they were actually animated about the works.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, July 25, 2015

John Singer Sargent at the Met

Oh my! where to begin? GO TO NYC; SEE THE John Singer Sargent exhibit. NOW. That about sums it up. Some of you may remember that I went to NYC in April 2013 to see an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum of John Singer Sargent watercolors which literally blew me out of the water (pardon the pun). But this exhibit at the Met on portraits of his family and friends really takes the cake. I had great expectations of this show, not knowing the half of it. Not only was this exhibit extensive and covers most of his career, I saw works I knew not of. There were many that were well known for one reason or another (notoriety being one reason). But the portraits that were not well known were quite as stunning as those that are. And there was room after room of them. There was not many galleries at the Met where photos were not allowed. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact I could take photos of this show as in Denver it is very rare indeed that photos are allowed at any exhibit, not even without a flash. The thing is I had to look at the works too, so it took me a long time to get through the exhibit. I took some closeups of details I felt I needed for future reference. He handled paint so deftly. Makes it look so easy.
There were two paintings of this Italian artist friend of Sargent. The one above, which is a personal favorite, as well as the one below, which is also quite amazing. One must contemplate before one begins to paint out of doors. I apologize, I was not good about taking photos of the tags so I cannot remember this man's name. I did my best with the glare from the lights.  Some of them were under glass as well. More than few other artists did he paint and that were represented such as Claude Monet, Rodin and William Merritt Chase - a portrait that was commissioned by his students. It was a full length, life-sized portrait so those are some dedicated students to have commissioned that portrait for Chase.

There is a small room near the end of the show with drawings and watercolors from the Met's own collection of Sargent's; many of which had not been on view before. Sargent's sister, Violet, donated a sizable collection of her brothers personal works to the museum upon his death. Below are a couple. Included were some of his "Tommy" paintings that he did of British soldiers while he was out at the front to document WWI.

Paul Manship, January 30, 1921
Paul Manships daughter, at the age of 7, while watching Sargent sketch this portrait of her father remarked: "Mr Sargent is drawing Papa just like writing!" Does that not say all that needs to be said?
I will leave you with that "high" note.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Off to Vacate - Beaches, Art, Family and sight seeing

See, a lounge chair waiting for me!
 The Gulf Coast off of Florida is the first stop. Looking forward to some beach time.

Then to the Atlantic side with a day trip to St Augustine perhaps...
Flying to NJ/NY to see some Art - imagine that. And John Singer Sargent AGAIN. Gustave Klimt and The Wyeth's might also be in the cards.
Family time in upstate NY and NJ will be a treat. Here is my cousin on my last visit east.
And the Jersey Shore...the repairs should be near completion from that epic storm a few years back. See you when I get back!