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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Have a seat

Almost finished!

as it is being taken down to the frame

Finished chair in natural light
Once upon a time, in a life faraway, there was an artist that decided to learn upholstery. This artist had a premature infant that required a full time mom, so the family had only one income stream from dad, a taxi driver. Furnishing the home was out of the question, so this artist became an alley rat. There was much to be found in the central Denver alley's around Cheeseman Park, but most needed work, and lots of it. Taking the very inexpensive Upholstery class at Emily Griffith Opportunity School, these finds from another era soon furnished the living room with wonderful antiques from the 1920's and 1930's and a little side business developed. By this time another child appeared, so still not ready to pull out the oil paints just yet. There were no odorless turps or mineral spirits in those days.

Those infants are now in their 30's and I have not upholstered anything but dining room chairs in decades. This chair was going to be joint project with my daughter, but after 2 years of storage in our garage, my husband wanted it out. Hence the idea to do it as a Christmas present. I had intended to have it done by a professional, but the quotes on it were $330 and $430 and it would take 4 months! Certainly not by Christmas, even though I started research on this in late September/early October. The good news about taking it in for a quote is that I learned it was an Eastlake chair that was mainly manufactured in the Midwest/West during the mid to late 1800's. They were usually sold in pairs. He said this was a higher end chair for the period due to the extra carvings on the top and the piece of burl wood on the front of the seat. He said the name came from a furniture maker in the 1700's who had this idea to mass produce chairs and had designed it to be so. This idea did not catch on until it was brought to the USA by some enterprising soul almost a 100 years later as an affordable, but good looking seating option. I can tell you it is a very hard wood, possibly walnut as it was very hard to tack and staple into!

It was hard to find the inner pieces I needed to work on this chair, so fortunately I had enough still stored in my basement to complete the task. Thank goodness for Youtube as I had not tied springs in 25 years. There are 5 springs in the seat I had to tie 8 ways so that they move as a unit. Only had to tie each one 3 times to get it taut enough, straight enough, etc. There were many aspects of rebuilding this chair that I did 3 times to get it right. The seat was not straightforward with the little extra detail or brace on the side coming off the back. Made that corner very tricky for cutting fabric. I can honestly say I am glad I got it done. It was fun, up to a point, but am I ready to tackle another upholstery project? Not really, at least not yet. But this is where my creative juices have been focused for the last week or so. Hence, it is worthy of a post.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Urbino Alley, Italy

I don't believe I have posted this painting before. This painting was started in 2014, or possibly early as it is from a trip I took in the Fall of 2012. It is one of those "problem children" we artists sometimes give birth to.  It is a LOCAL TONE with light and shadow. What I mean by that is, since most of the subject is in shadow, it is painted with more flat surfaces, not impacted by light. But there is that streak of sunlight coming in on one side which produced some reflected light on the opposite building which can get tricky, so I just downplayed that reflected light. It was causing confusion, so it had to go. I also had trouble with the light coming down on either side of the bridge. I could not seem to get past a candy stripe effect on the street, so I finally down played that contrast as well. I will not publish all of the phases this poor painting has gone through, but suffice it to say, it is now the best it has looked. Darkening down all the values did make a huge difference. I also ended up redrawing the whole bottom left side so that the lines from the doorway did not go off the edge.

Urbino Alley 2014, 30x20, oil on linen

Urbino is a wonderful medieval walled town in the Marche region of Italy. I wanted to go to this region because one, I wanted to go to the Adriatic and two, I heard it is very similar to Tuscany in terrain but much cheaper! I found this to be true, especially in the off season. Heard very little English. We took the bus to Urbino for the day, as it is not an easy place to find lodgings. I enjoyed staying a half block off of the sea, so that was no problem. A pit stop on the Adriatic was a good way to take a needed break during our trip. Started in Paris (crowds), then went to Venice (more crowds) and from the Adriatic we headed to Rome (even more crowds as the day we arrived in Rome was the Marathon AND then Pope Benedict was canonizing 9 saints from around the world so Think BIG Crowds and the city shut down to normal traffic!). No crowds in the off season in a beach resort town Here is the post of the painting I did from one of my walks on the beach. The town on the Adriatic where we stayed was called Pescara.

Having Fun with Old Works -7-7-15

I found this old draft for a post that I never uploaded. Since it is the holidays and I would rather not post something new right now, I am going to put it out there as originally written with a few added adjustments.

The other day 18 new, large canvases arrived. Two large boxes and one thin medium; and nowhere to put them. It really made me realize I need to move some paintings as I tried to reorganize the basement.

These are the first I grabbed to work on today. I hope to work on the rest during the week as I have time. Some of these don't look so bad in their original state but over the years I have dinked on them, sometimes much to my chagrin.
Last Harvest 2003, 9x12, oil on linen
Last Harvest, 2015, 9x2 oil on linen
For the Acorn Squash, I remember when I first did this piece I was trying to create energy; No one has paid much attention to it over the years so I felt I had nothing to lose by reworking it. After seeing the "remake"  however, I think the purple cast shadows are too much of a distraction and I miss the energy aspect. I think this one may get my attention again...

The "Sagebrush" paintings were done in bright late morning sun. Although the painting itself is "not bad" it does not really give you sense of that bright overhead light. That is why I brightened up all the foliage and flowers and darkened down the top part which was not doing its part in the original. I also took some of that orange red of the flowers and wove it through the rest of the flowers for a feeling of continuity.
Sagebrush, 2008, 12x9, oil on linen

"On Berthoud Pass" we have a decent plein air painting; It does give a sense of distance but not a sense of rain. I was painting in the rain. I also tended at that time to put a lot of color shifts without thinking of the values. If the colors stay within the overall value (value = on a scale of 1-10, white to black) of the object(s) then it gives a sense of unity. My original has strips of color which is distracting to the whole.  A side note on this painting: my mentor, Kevin Weckbach, came to my recent open house and picked this painting out as a perfect example of edges that are working. He knows how I struggle with this particular aspect of painting and he said I did an amazing job and that I needed to keep it not sell it. High praise indeed!
On Berthoud Pass facing North, 2006, 6x8, oil on linen

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Vail Pass Descent

Vail Pass Descent, 30x30, oil on linen, available
I posted this when I had it on the easel for it's block in last April. This post was started shortly after, but I just found it was still a draft. Guess it is time to finish this post up.

I did try to keep that energy and rhythm that I had in the block in going while I worked on it. That is not an easy thing for me to do, but I believe I succeeded on this one. Since the block in went so well this painting took no time at all to finish. Big Shapes; Three Values; Local Tone; what's not to like?

I forgot about finishing this post up way back when that this painting is now hanging at the Framed Image (Happy Canyon Shopping Center, 5066 E Hampden Ave, Denver, CO 80222) through the end of December for the Snow Show. Stop in and check it out if you are in the area.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Bad Advice?

One of the worst things I think I was ever told when learning to paint by an instructor was to "stop resting on my laurels" and learn to paint. He was referring to the fact that I liked to paint in big bold simplified shapes. Every week he would say what was good about what I was doing and why it worked, but then would tell me now I needed to learn 'to paint' and not be so stylized as obviously that was easy for me. And boy, was it hard to break myself of this viewpoint. 

It was my first formal class in oil painting, which I took at the Arts Student League of Denver when it was located in Lodo on Larimer Street. He started us out in black and white only, then to gray and then moved on to adding one color at a time. Here are two color examples I came across recently, and I still like them! Painted on gessoed cardboard, you can see where the top example was punctured. Being that these are now 30 plus years old, they have held up remarkably well, don't you think? I think they were painted in acrylics, not oils, though.

I had recently seen an artist friend post her new paintings on Instagram and they reminded me so much of my own work way back when. I really like what she is doing. I still paint in bold simplified shapes, but in a more 'painterly' and 'refined' way. A part of me is wanting to go back to the day and revisit flat color. Play around a bit. Simplify and exaggerate.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Day After...

Just a short recap of my Art Open House last night. I have no photos (is that a sin in today's culture??) as I was busy with the steady stream, and sometimes flood, of people who came to show their support of me and my art. It was truly overwhelming. I am so grateful for each and everyone who took the time, and braved the traffic (an accident on I-25 during rush hour of an overturned truck loaded with new cars) to get here. My son, for one, sat in traffic on the opposite side of the highway from the accident for 1.5 hours. Should have been a 20" drive! That is dedication and love. But he was one of many who got caught in that entanglement. The day was blessed with decent and unseasonably warm weather, which in Denver can turn on a dime, and boy, are we due for some weather.

New friends, old friends, friends of friends, neighbors, coworkers, young people and even a 93 year old. Who believe it or not went home with a painting! Some I have known for decades, and some I met for the first time last night. My mentor, Kevin Weckbach, showed up which for me, was epic. Got some glowing remarks from him and Sasha Ripps, another artist friend that came with him, which of course, carries so much weight. A very successful and rewarding evening, with people hanging out and talking about and buying art. I owe to my dear friend, Cindy, for hounding me into opening my home once again, after a 10 year hiatus. With many requests for me to do it again.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Save the Date!

You are cordially invited to Victoria's Art Open House

Thursday, December 1, 2016
3:30 - 8 pm, at my home studio.
1600 South Ogden Street, Denver CO 80210

This is my first home show in 10 years. Before that I hosted a show almost every year. I have noticed that quite a few artists I know have been doing this lately as well. I think it has become harder and harder to get into the few remaining galleries still open in Denver and something must be done about it! Just showing up to support the artist means so much.

Please know that there will be something for everyone and that art is an investment for your well being. It soothes the soul and the senses and gives one pleasure for years to come. I practice what I preach and have an extensive art collection (of which you will not see, of course, being it is all about me on this particular evening).

Be there or be square. Would love to see you.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Randy Higbee Gallery 6x6 show

Just a wee note to let you all know that I got the 3 pieces I submitted accepted into the Randy Higbee Gallery for the annual 6x6 show. The gallery is in Costa Mesa, CA the month of December. I had one accepted last year out of three and it sold. Sure hoping I sell at least one again but all three of course would be lovely. Randy has posted all accepted paintings on so you can see them online.
Below is the only one of the three I have not posted on my blog. It is coming out of Glenwood Canyon on I-70. A year ago I went to Glenwood Springs with my two adult children to take in the hot springs. What a lovely time it was, too. Gorgeous weather and outdoor pools. I could use a bit of that right about now, too.
Homeward Bound, 6x6, oil on panel

Thursday, October 27, 2016

County Road 519 - facing south

CR 519, looking south, oil on linen panel, 18x24, available
Here is the third painting in this mini series of CR 519. I posted the hay bales last week, and a few weeks before that I painted the view heading east in a little 6x6. There will not be one looking north I don't think as that view did not inspire me so much. Of the three, I was most interested in this composition as it allowed me to think more abstractly. By that I mean there were all these large simple shapes that I explored almost as individual areas, yet wanting them to work together, too. Within each large shape I wanted there to be interest by keeping the values close together and using brushstrokes, texture and layers.

It was in the late afternoon as the sun was going down so in that light from this direction, the hay bales are all just dark shapes as they are in shadow. They help move the eye down, and then the grasses and road sweep your eye down the road. Just where does that road lead? This view is definitely more linear than the hay bales, but both are painted graphically with shapes in mind. I sure enjoyed the colors too.

Friday, October 21, 2016

County Road 519 Harvest

County Road Ready, 18x24, oil on panel. Available
Here is the finished painting from the block in I did a few weeks ago.  I have included it below so it is easier to compare.

You can see that I did not have to correct much of the drawing on this one. That is one of the more forgiving aspects of doing a landscape. What I really enjoyed about this particular scene was the repeating shapes. Not just in the hay bales, which is the obvious, but also the circular oval patterns in the fields and the same movement in the hills. The buildings are the minor player or a secondary pattern. I did think about leaving them out originally but I liked them in the block in so they stayed.
The other aspect I liked was the yellow reds moving to yellow greens; the yellow greens going to blue greens and then to purple and blue. I am not sure what it is that is so pleasing to me about using the primary and secondary colors but it has a freshness to it that I find appealing.

This is scene is facing north. From the same section of road, I took photos in each direction. This painting I posted recently is facing east. I have also finished the painting that was in the block in post linked above that is facing south so more in shadow as I was facing the sun. It will be its own post. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Silhouette of a parakeet

Peepers, 9x12, oil on panel block in stage
Here is a painting over a false start. The green and orange come from when I had played with an abstraction of a sea and beach scene but it was not successful. I thought it might be an interesting color to have underneath this portrait of my daughter's parakeet taken in winter. The white shapes are the sky and snow on buildings and fences. I want to get some snow scenes done in time for winter so this one was just to see what I can do with a silhouetted white parakeet against a snowy background. His attitude is already in evidence, that is for sure. He is very curious.
Peepers with color added, 9x12, oil 2nd stage
Here is with some color added and filling in the shapes I had blocked in above with the white. He is still looking a bit plump for such a little guy so I tried to shave some weight off of him and yet keep the overall shape. He has a deformed foot from being in a large cage with so many other birds. He had been attacked, probably for being different since he was a totally white parakeet. He now has some black on his wings and face and a blue belly. Every time he molts, more color is added, if incrementally.

Finished?, 9x12, oi on panel

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Camp Robbers

Visitors, 16x20, oil on birch panel, available

This past month I decided to start going through my slides again and get digital images made from the ones I might want to still paint and of course ones of family. I have some slides of my mother's that go back to the 40's, so it has been a lot of fun. Since it is not inexpensive to do this, and my stack of 'possible' paintings kept growing and I still have so many slides still to look at, I got the old trusty slide projector out, and lo and behold, it still works! I decided to try painting a few, projecting the slides onto a huge canvas I happen to have.

This is my very first painting using slides. I took a ton of slides back in the day, but I never actually painted from any of them even though that is why I took so many of them! A few times I would get photos made from the slides and use the printed image. I had always wanted to paint this scene but I never did get around to having photos made. This scene is from cross country skiing at the Moffat tunnel, dare I say, back in the 70's. It is one of two snow scenes I picked out to try painting this way.

It wasn't as hard as I anticipated, but it is still an adjustment from using a computer screen. We have it so easy these days! Even though you can get the image bigger using the projector it isn't like zooming in. And if you go up to look closer, you have to stay out of the way of the light. At least for now, I don't have to get all those slides moved to digital as I continue to play with this set up. By the same token, I am So glad that I don't have to depend on it, that is for sure!

This has been a very difficult painting to photograph. Originally I had used burnt umber as my base color but it was highly reflective even when mixed with other colors, so I had to mix my own burnt umber base, which isn't quite as dark but I don't mind that, and the gloss effect is tempered to get a better image.

When I went to finish up the second painting I have been working on from a slide, I found that the bulb had burnt out, or maybe I did something to it when I moved the projector. Amazingly, I found a bulb online for it so I ordered it. I can finish the painting without the image at this point anyway.

In my research for the bulb I found that Kodak stopped making this machine in 2003. I have had it since at least 2000 if not a bit earlier. It was old and beat up when it was given to me, so that the bulb lasted this long is amazing.  

Saturday, October 1, 2016

CR 519, 6x6, oil on panel. Available

In my pursuit of keeping things simple, here is a small version of the county road I have been painting the past few weeks. I have so enjoyed working with this simple subject. I like roads anyway, which is not new, but I enjoy the ribbon effect of the county roads throughout the mountains. The colors in this landscape were stunning.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Exciting Block Ins - or How I love the Block in process

After a month of no inspiration or even thinking much about painting in any way, I started with three, no four, block ins within 3 days. So exciting and excited to be off to a good start. Only one has been moved past the block in stage so it will get its own post shortly.

The first one was inspired by an artist I discovered via a share by a FB friend. The artist is Leonhard Lehmann, a contemporary Austrian artist. His abstracted scenes really drew me in and reminded me somewhat of California artist, Richard Diebenkorn. This is a direction I would like to go more towards. It isn't hard for me to do this in the block in stage but as I go forward, I tightened down no matter what I see in my minds eye. Here is the piece that broke my month long hiatus due to life circumstances.
Road Ribbon, 18x24, oil on linen panel. Block in stage
A week ago, late in the day, I went to my easel and got the canvas covered in about an hour or so. Just goes to show what you can do when you are motivated. The weekend before I had gone up to Fraser to house sit for a friend of mine. This is the county road heading to his house off of HWY 40. The field off to the right was full of hay bales. Looking this direction was looking into the sun so the colors are dark and muted. I turned around and shot a photo of the road I had just traveled and it is full of light - almost a night and day study. I used colors in this block in that I want to use in layering but they are growing on me so who knows what will happen once I get going on it. What drew me to this scene is that I feel I can play with the colors and the large shapes down to smaller shapes. The rectangles, circles and triangles. It comes across to me already as abstracted shapes so I am wanting to keep it that way while also playing with the colors and not so much thinking about the colors as they are in the image.

The next morning, I decided to start a companion piece to the one above and paint the hay bales in the field. I took a number of shots of this field at different times of day, but I settled on this one due to its repetitious shapes. The hills repeat the rounded shapes of the hay bales and I also like the lines leading the eye into a Zig Zag through the fields and the houses into the foothills.

Since I am looking at this scene with my back to the sun, you can see how bright it is going to be relative to the scene above. These were both shot between 5:30 and 6 pm.
Hay bales, 18x24, oil on linen panel. Block in stage
Today, I started to work on top of the block in of the hay bales and it is coming along nicely. I also started a small one of the road. Who'd have thought a country road could be so inspiring...or just what I needed?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Venice Crossroads -

Venice Crossroads, 30x30, oil on linen, available
Motivated by my recent visit to Tuscany, I pulled this painting out of the closest. It isn't that I didn't like this painting as it was; There was a lot I liked about it. It just felt a bit too dull for me. Even if it was overcast while I was in Venice 3 years ago, it was brighter in my memory than I had painted it.
Rereading the original blog post is always interesting! I don't disagree with any of it but I had been working on it then for almost a year. So there is no limit of time when I don't feel reworking a piece is called for.
In the painting below from two years ago I was going for a more local tone approach even though there was a sliver of light coming down. I am still going for the same thing but I added a bit of brightness to the colors and not as much atmosphere. I also reworked all the figures and gave them a bit more personality, yet not pulling anyone out. I defined the chairs and table a bit more showing more of the light hitting them. I think it aids the movement I want to create through the painting. A few areas got broken down a bit more. I ended up doing a bit more than I had expected as once you get started you see all kinds of things that need tweaking.

Venice Crossroads, original, 30x30, oil on linen

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Cortona - one of the oldest towns in Tuscany

Cortona, 30x15, oil on panel. Available
This piece is my favorite so far from my recent trip to Italy. We had wandered around this medieval walled town built on a hill for hours and were coming back down to the main square when I saw these buildings making great patterns and colors right in front of me. For the first time in a long time, I had to use two photos to make one piece as neither the phone nor camera photos were just what I wanted.

What I liked about this scene was all the repeating shapes and lines. Rectangles, half circles, squares and triangles. Despite the tall verticals there is good eye movement in it. Though it painted realistically, it comes off as an abstract. Since the majority of the scene is in shadow, I could paint it rather flat (local tone) with just a bit of light hitting the roofs (it was about high noon) to give dimension.

I am not sure of the significance of all the flags, but it seemed that each town we were in the town flag was in evidence. Everywhere.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

On a Wing and a Prayer

6x6, oil on panel, available
My first thought when I saw this scene was 'Drive By Religion.' but that seems to trivialize not only the church but religion which I don't want to do. So I am thinking 'On a Wing and a Prayer.'  We were on our way to Rome from Montepolciano and I was intrigued that the road would curve around the old church. I believe the name of the church is 'Madonna Regina della Pace.'  My translation of that is the Reigning Madonna of Peace. I am up for correction if anyone knows Italian, which I do not.

I decided to do this one in a small format to work out the shapes. I thought the shapes fun and worthy of playing around with. The whole church is local tone (in shadow) while the landscape around it is in full sun. As is usually the case, when I see the painting in a photograph I start to see things that I had not noticed before. In this case, some of the patterns are repeating that I did not consciously think about. I am happy with that!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Italy - Walking the Tuscan Countryside

Hay Bale with Poppies, 12x24, oil on panel
Here is the next painting from my recent sojourn in Tuscany. The reference image was taken by Olin and posted in the groups Flickr album. I photographed a couple of versions of this scene myself. Had I not seen Olin's version, I would have been happy with mine. But my format was 3x4, so much more of a square, and his had the length that I liked better. I still cropped it to get the 1x2 format here. I punched up the poppies a bit but from the looks of it I may have to tone them back down a bit. The reds read okay in person, though.

I added the painting below from my last post because the field with the hay bale and poppies is off to the right of the road that we walked on. To put it in context. And one image was taken by the husband and the other, his wife. It was a lovely walk on a beautiful day.
Children of the Landscape, 6x6, oil on panel
The poppies were in their full glory and it brought to mind the field of Flanders and why poppies are handed out on November 11, Veteran's Day. Here is the poem from WWI In Flanders Field:

by John McCrae, May 1915, a Canadian Physician

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Italy, first round

Study, 9x12, oil on panel
A Walk Under the Tuscan Sun, 6x6, oil on panel

I have been busy doing some fun pieces from my trip to Italy last month. A 'walking' tour of Tuscany. Both of the references for these pieces were shot by one of my new friends from the tour, Nancy, from Tampa. Nancy was more than willing to share her photos with me to use. She and her husband are both avid photographers.  It is so much fun to see what catches other peoples eye.

We deemed the top painting's image 'Hopperesque' which was taken with Nancy's phone. I did this as a study to see whether I wanted to do it larger or not. I think I like it this size for now. 

Nancy took the bottom photo as well. It immediately made me think of Van Gogh and the south of France. I love the simplicity of the shot. I cropped it to be square, and I think these are the tiniest people I have ever painted! Group of 4 to fit in less than an inch squared. I had to get a sable watercolor brush out to to it as I do not own any tiny sable oil brushes.

I am always looking for help in titles, so if anything comes to mind, please let me know.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Rooflines revisited

Still no title, 24x30, oil on board

Last seen in 2015, 24x30, oil on board
European roof lines intrigue me. It is the catawampus way of building without a grid I think that just makes them so interesting to me. Since most of the places that have these great angles are also usually built on hills, helps. The history that can be discerned from the ages of the tiles and the shape of the stucco or bricks or stones. This scene is from a walled town in Burgundy called Semur. It was an afternoon's byway on our way from Dijon to Paris. I did the bottom painting and was never quite satisfied with it. The color of the roofs are too similar with the red one jumping out in the middle like a bulls eye.

After finishing up the Cesky Krumlov scene recently I decided to give this one a revamping of its rooftops. I had figured out in that one what was missing in this one. In the original lower image, I was going for a more orange and violet complement but somehow it didn't work as well as I would have liked. I felt the painting lacked something. I set about in the upper left hand corner and worked my way left to right on each layer of roofs going for visual interest and texture forcing value shifts as needed, something I am often hesitant to do for some reason. Being bolder in adding pinks and pale blue greens to the rooftops. I had started on that idea but was timid in not going further. Adding texture to the red bulls eye roof in the middle helped to add to the visual interest and tied it to the break up of shapes in the shadows down below it. In that big shadow shape down below and heading up the right side of the painting I added a bit of lighter blue gray to stair step the tops of the bricks up to the tin roof to help the circular rhythm that I was originally attracted to.

I changed the color of some of the houses in shade leaning towards the blue green in some and adding more yellow red green to the once violet cast shadow on the house that is to the left and in the middle row. The cast shadow now blends from the house across the wall unifying the two. The wall with its tiles casting a shadow moves from that yellow orange to a more violet when it gets to the right.

In the deep shadows (window holes, doorways and blocks), I warmed them up. Where once they were towards the dark blue violet I added some yellow making them not only deeper but helping to break up the too blue violet of the shadows. This adds to the eye movement through the shadows and back up into the light, stair stepping the shapes.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Rooftops -Cesky Krumlov

Cesky Krumlov, 30x40, oil on linen

Last year I saw the photo of this scene posted on FB by my sister-in-law. I Really Wanted to Paint it. But last year, it intimidated me. I downloaded the image (with her permission) and saved it for a later time. In April I decided to go for it. The rooftops are so catawampus who would know but me where it is off and really, in this scene, who cares? Not only did I want to have a few routes through and around this intriguing place but I also wanted to see how many different colored and textured orange roofs I could get out of it. In the end I think I used 3-4 different reds and yellows with blues added where needed. It was a maze to figure out but I did enjoy painting this piece and I learned a lot doing it. I have a few paintings unfinished that I think this piece has given me the information I need to finish them up.

I looked up Cesky Krumlov and it is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. I believe this was shot from the castle overlooking the old town.

This has been a tough painting to photograph. Some of the reds I cannot get the camera to read correctly so I may repaint them to see if that helps.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Fishin' off the Pier

Fishing off the Pier, 24x24, oil on panel
Here is the finished painting of my brown pelican. I was struggling with the block in for this piece. Getting the Pelican correctly drawn should not have been a problem but sometimes these things happen. It seems the simpler the shape the more the errors show!

This is local tone, or three main values: light, medium and dark. Just as a reminder, local tone is usually a gray or overcast day.

Once I got my pelican drawn in the rest was fun to paint. This image was taken on the inter-coastal river along the eastern seaboard of Florida when my aunt and I were on a road trip. She was so gracious to stop whenever and where-ever I got a fancy so I could take photos. I zoomed in when taking this handsome portrait as I did not want the bird to fly away if I got too close for comfort. Not to worry. He had his eye on bigger fish than me.

Not only was I taken with the bird but I liked the graphic structure of the pier as well. A nice break up of the space. The juxtaposition of the organic on the linear intrigues me.

Sitting on the dock in the bay? I may have to take that for the name of this piece with a nod to Otis Redding.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Blood Moon - Denver Skyline

Blood Moon hitting the city at dusk, oil, 24x36
A couple of days after the Blood Moon rise a coworker showed me some photos on her phone. She and a photographer friend of hers had gone up to Lookout Mountain that evening to watch the moon rise. She initially showed me a photo with the moon in it, a big red orange ball in the evening sky. I really liked the photo and I asked her to ask her friend if I could possible use her image for a painting. She sent the original image along with another without the moon; shot earlier in the evening as the moon rose. The photographer was using her professional equipment that evening but I viewed them on an iPhone.
Image I thought I wanted to do of Blood Moon
After looking at the two images she sent me I decided I liked the orange light without the moon, so that is the one I ended up painting. I like them both and I may still end up doing the moon.  This skyline was not the 'piece of cake' I thought it would be. After I had it all done, I realized I had painted the skyline in a different manner from the rest of the landscape so it did not have an overall cohesive feel to it. I had to go back in and repaint the city so that it blended in texture wise with the rest. It was fun using orange and red in all the colors to unify the light. That was one of the most valuable lessons I think I ever learned; to use color in that manner. A blue green foreground has a lot of orange in it yet not as much as the middle ground so in relation to the middle ground, the foreground reads more blue green. Likewise, the sky has orange and red yet next to all the orange and yellow greens the sky looks more purple.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Flooded St Johns River

Flooded St Johns River - Fall, oil on linen, 24x30

Here is a painting I started a year ago. At that time I thought it was pretty much done but then I did a touch up that just destroyed it for me. It wasn't much but it doesn't always take much. Into the closet it went, face to the wall!

Feeling like it was time to salvage that 'so close and yet so far away' piece I got it out of 'time out' and decided to take a whole new approach to it.
Original "finished" loose painting
In the first rendition I was going for a loose, impressionistic approach, which as many of you know is not really my style, but sometimes you just have to get out of your comfort zone and try something foreign. I enjoyed the loose strokes and thought it a successful painting. Until I decided to darken and add depth to the trees at the water line. UGH. I used an almost black color and it just killed the painting for me. Not a hard thing to fix but I could not face it. So be it. I also felt that the reflection was getting too fragmented and not reading so much as a whole shape.

On this approach, using the same painting, I decided to break up the loose brush strokes with smaller, more directional individual strokes but still keeping the impressionist tone to it. The scene just calls for that. But this approach is also not 'normal' for me. I have done the broken stroke application before but I am still feeling my way around it. It certainly has its place I am discovering.

On this second run through I had finished it but it seemed to have taken on a somber tone that I was not thrilled with so I did another pass through lightening the colors back up. It is still a bit somber from the original finished painting, but for now I like it as is. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Block in for St Johns River-going for large color shapes

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My first Flash Mob- at the Governor's Invitational Gala

In front of my paintings

Last Saturday night at the Governor's Gala Event at the Loveland Museum, just as things seemed to be at a lull, a beautiful tenor voice broke into song in the middle of the gallery. Then Carmen sang in response with the chorus joining in. It was so much fun and the Loveland Opera Theatre sounded so good. What a wonderful surprise. I heard one older gentleman in cowboy boots tell the tenor afterwards that "it wasn't Merle Haggard, but he enjoyed it just the same." My friend, Jeannie, took a video with her phone but it was too large to load here unfortunately.

The show looks great and you can tell a lot of thought went into the hanging of it. Lots of variety of styles and subjects. I think it is worth your while to get up to it as a field trip/outing. I saw a brew pub a few blocks away...for an 'arts and crafts' date.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

On the easel: Inspired by drive down I-70 from Vail

Vail Pass Descent, 30x30, oil on linen

Last Thursday and Friday I was in Vail for the FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) State Conference. On Thursday I judged the Graphic Design competition and on Friday I helped in headquarters. The storm reports for Friday-Sunday were getting more and more horrendous so it was recommended I leave sooner than later. When I left Vail it was not only snowing and hailing but also thunder clapped. Hitting Vail Pass it was clear, although not sunny. This image is coming down from Vail Pass. Just before getting to Frisco I hit a white out. That was quite terrifying and took all my concentration. I slipped in behind a semi-tractor trailer and prayed he could see better than I could.

I wanted to get this painting started as not only is part of a new series I want to do, I wanted the freshness of the memory from the drive.

My first thought was to do this painting 24x24 but after looking at that size decided it was too small. Even 30x30 is looking a bit undersized but I don't want to go out and get a larger canvas when I have so much stock on hand. Plus, this is a good size for me. I must admit though, the more I work on these larger for me sizes the smaller they are tending to become.

This one started as per my usual approach of very thinned down paint color to just get the canvas covered and the big shapes blocked in. Then I go with a bit thicker paint and correct the drawing if that is needing to be done. There usually is some adjustments. Then I really start to lay on more color and paint. This is as far as I got but I am quite pleased with it thus far. I love this stage in the development. I could start paintings all day long. Just don't ask me to finish them...until I am good and ready.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Blockin Pelican develops into struggle

Pelican Block in, 24x24, oil on panel
Pelican structure, 24x24, oil on panel
Loosely blocked in on the slick oil gesso I had put on the Masonite, makes for a very thin coverage of paint in the first photo. I am now building up paint layers. I added that sea green color to the sky to be under and behind the darker blue gray clouds that are building up in the sky and will pop the pelican's head out. I solidified the river's light color but I will be adding the darker edges of the waves that are rippling with the wind.
 I am still undecided whether I will leave the trash can in that is peaking out behind the tail feathers. I thought it might be a good balance to the beak but know am not so sure I like it. It seems to be competing instead of complimentary. There were two figures on the bridge that I have so far left out. One figure is fishing and has his back to the viewer; the other is peaking out from behind the pelicans shoulder and looking over his shoulder at the viewer. My husband said to take them out but I am not yet convinced they don't belong.
Pelican Drawing Correction
The Pelican's head, neck and beak just felt off to me so I had to redraw the whole thing. The only part I did not move was the back of the head and neck. The bird's body didn't seem able to support the head. I think the proportion's are better. I finished blocking in the feet and legs, too. Good drawing is so important to the whole painting's success. I was convinced I should take out the trash can but now I am waffling on it...again.

Those nice straight lines that I like so much will most likely be softened once I get down to really laying down the color. The slick surface forces me to layer, which is a good thing. I like having the depth of color. I still struggle with the good coloring book syndrome of 'keeping within the lines.' Which for me translates to cover everything flat within those lines, ie not allowing the underlying colors to come through. It is a challenge for me but I have been working so hard on that aspect I think I got it. It is my yin and yang fighting! In one sense I like the rigid Mondrian linear quality against the organic shape of the Pelican. Then I think, flatten down the Pelican to a more abstract linear image to go with the other lines...Then, no, soften edges! I am still not sure which side of me is going to win the fight on this particular painting.

Governor's Invitational Gala Tickets now on sale!

The Gala Event of the Governor's Invitational Art show and sale is fast approaching. Saturday, April 23 is the day of the Gala. I am not sure if there are any tickets left but you can always check via the website.  350 artists applied for the 55 spots. For some reason, I thought there would be more artists applying for this show. The exhibit will be up from April 23 - May 29, 2016 if you get a chance to get to Loveland to see it.

Drove up to drop off the paintings Tuesday. I meant to take a few photos but I get caught up in the moment and forget. It was a very easy drop-off using the loading dock area at the back of the museum. Two people checking you in and many hands moving the paintings out of the drop off area.

I talked to one of the main organizer's and he said that there is a big surprise planned for the Gala evening. I had complimented him on the Sponsor's Evening that was held last Friday at the Embassy Suites in Loveland. There was a dance artist using parachute type 'clouds' that she manipulated while she danced to the live music. The cloud of fabric hung from the ceiling with quite an array of wires. She had three handles she would use to move the fabric to the music and her movements as if it were a giant marionette. I, again, just am not yet tuned to using my phone to take photos, so no photos. We will just have to wait and see what this surprise will be.

On May 7 there will be a plein air event in conjunction with the Governor's Invitational. 50 artists will be participating in a prescribed area around the museum with the auction to start at 2 pm. My friend Jeannie Paty and I will be participating. Hope to see you around!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Museum Exit

Museum Exit, 24x18, oil on panel
I saw this scene as I was walking out of the National Museum of Ireland. I immediately thought it was an abstract painting with all the colors and repeating shapes. And the buildings were catawampas on top of it. I had gone to the National Museum to see the 'bog' people. There is so much in this museum it is a shame I was already on overload and so really did just go to see what I wanted to see. The floors were beautiful mosaics and I had to walk past all the Celtic gold jewelry to get to where I wanted to go. The gold work looked amazing as I glanced at the display cases. I had already been to the National Gallery of Ireland to see art for a few hours, which I enjoyed very much. The two museums are very close which is why I headed over to the National Museum while I was in that part of Dublin. I had walked over from where I was staying which was across the river.

In this painting I was trying to get movement through color. There is the yellow that creates the most obvious movement; followed by the reds and then the blues. The image provided a good start to this structure as is, but I did force a few color notes as well. While working on this one I kept toying with making it much more abstracted in a Diebenkorn approach. Now that I have this one done I am thinking of doing it again, same size, with that more flattened, layered color block approach. Not sure if the figures would be included; that is still to be determined.