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Thursday, June 22, 2017

From Here to Eternity II

From Here to Eternity II, 12x24, oil on linen panel
As a movie I was watching was beginning recently, I noticed the beautiful abstract landscapes of the intro with the credits. The images were so abstract that they did not at first read as a real place in any landscape. I had to go back a number of times to really note what these photographs were saying. They so impressed me I decided to translate them in my own way. Here is the first of these images that so captured my imagination. I call it From Here to Eternity II for, I think, obvious reasons. The road is straight for miles without end. The film took place in Australia. The II is because I named another painting recently the same title, also of a road. In the blogpost it did not have that title yet.

It is a good vehicle for me to keep things simple; to try and add visual interest to very basic shapes.

I think it does beg the viewer to ask themselves some questions. For me, I was thinking about the road I am on. It isn't really as straight and narrow as I would like. In fact, the next painting from this movie inspiration is more like the road I believe I am on which is full of circles which I hope I can break out of soon to get on this road in the twilight of my life. Much calmer and straight forward.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Rolling Tundra

Rolling Tundra - Guanella Pass, oil on panel, 15x30
Last fall on a beautiful day, a friend and I went up to hike on Guanella Pass. We headed the opposite direction of most hikers who stop here. The more 'usual' hike is to go to Mount Bierstadt. There is no cover from the sun and as you continue to wander up the path there seems no end. Around every bend the path goes around some willows or another roll in the landscape. And then you stop to catch your breath and there lies before you these glorious colors. It was incredibly beautiful and this particular scene off to our left was a marvel to me. The fall colors of the willows looked like polka dots as they tumbled down the hillside in oranges, reds and purples. It was one of those clear blue, not a cloud in the sky, Colorado days.

I started this painting right after the hike itself, but so much has been going on. Finally finishing it just recently. I did saturate the colors just a little bit but not as much as you might think!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Growth and Renewal

untitled, 30x20, oil on linen
“It is with art as it is with trees, constant growth and renewal. Seeking new forms of expression is a vital necessity for art. When art doesn’t put out new shoots, it is dead.” Birger Sandzen, 1913

With this quote in mind, here is a piece that shows something different for me. I have been digging through my old works lately and I am surprised by what I am finding. Lots of good work hidden below. It energized me. My roots are more graphic and flat before I opted to move to the more representational arena.

For this painting I used a photo my son had taken of some old buildings downtown Denver. Since the same rules apply in abstraction as they do in any other painting, I was not only thinking what colors to use but also what colors were in which value group. I was also thinking about repeating patterns using the 'windows' and architectural details to break up the bigger shapes whether they were there or not. The light group is used to help move the eye around.

Here is the image in B and W to illustrate the values and how the colors group.
untitled in B&W
If anyone has a brilliant idea for a title for this piece, I would be happy to hear it. I am stumped. Thank you in advance.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Kicked off Vans

Vans, 16x12, oil on panel
I have been doing some major spring cleaning the past month or so and one of the projects led me to stored paintings of questionable value. Here is one I pulled out from that pile. I am seeing it with fresh eyes and thinking, 'now what is so very wrong with this little piece?' It is not so bad after all. I must not have thought it awful, as those get wiped off or painted over.

So, here is a study I did of a pair of Vans sneakers I inherited from my then teen-aged daughter. I had wanted to document them before I threw them out after miles of walking the dog in them. Oh good and faithful servants that they were.

What is it about shoes that I get so attached to? I sure enjoy painting my shoes. I have a very hard foot to find comfortable shoes for so when I find a pair that doesn't give me blisters or great pain. I am then so overjoyed, no matter how homely they may be.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Beach Trinity

Beach Trinity, 6x6, oil on panel
I liked this little vignette I saw on a beach in Florida. That it included the dog was a bonus. I am glad that he was somewhat connected to the sea grasses as I did like the family group of three.

This being a simple little composition, I tried to maintain that without getting too involved in details.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Critique

Critique, 30x24, oil on linen panel
 I don't believe I have posted this painting before. It is really hard to put out there a portrait of sorts of someone so well known in the local art community here in Denver. This is from the Master Painting class I took a few years ago with Kevin Weckbach. I am very grateful for the time I was able to spend under his tutelage so the last thing I want to do is put a bad painting of him out in public.That happens to be my easel behind him with my nifty tennis ball tube turned brush holder hanging on the wall. People who have seen this painting ask if that is me sitting on the left, but alas, no; I took the reference photo and then used it as a class project for dark/light pattern.

I have explained dark/light pattern before so to briefly review what that means it is to find a pattern either in the light or the dark values and then push the medium values either to the light pattern or the dark pattern. This one I used the darks to carve out the light. The dark values marry to one another to create a circle that moves the eye around. To do the assignment, for instance, the brown hair highlights of Tomiko on the left were toned down so as to not be disrupted by her highlights and to blend from Kevin's black shirt to his navy pants to her brown hair, etc. Her sweatshirt was overall a darker gray to unify with the darker areas of her hood folds. Kevin's blue cargo pants were overall darker and flatter too. I brought the mediums back out after the critique but still keeping the pattern in mind.

The other things I liked about this composition were the repeating square shapes and the angles both in the painting being critiqued and the easel and the brush holder. That is what we call the "abstract quality" and in this case, help guide the eye as well.

Here is Kevin critiquing the start of the painting where you can see what I was talking about marrying the values.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Lilacs

Lilacs, 14x11, oil on panel
Another recent plein air piece painted in our backyard. As I mentioned in a past post on painting tulips, this year has been particularly beautiful for flowering trees, shrubs and bulbs here in Denver.  I managed to remember to take a photo of my block in (it is in the shade which is why it looks a bit dull). In the block in below I was looking for the dark pattern within the bush to give shape and structure to it. I wanted to block in the lilacs themselves with a unifying mid value so that I could then have fun putting the lilacs in on top in a lighter value as well as adding texture. Because at the end of the hour (I started about noon) the light was shifting and where I was sitting was now getting sun in my face, I stopped to come back the next day. Painting on your own premises allows for that more easily than going out to another location and I enjoy taking my time that way. I like that the block in is mostly dry and you can layer more easily than when painting wet into wet in one sitting.
Day One first hour

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Spring in my back yard

Tulips springing forth, 14x11, oil over an old painting on canvas/board
This spring in Denver has been particularly beautiful. Not only for the blooms that come out most every year, but for the length of time the blooms have stayed out. Denver can have snow and or hail up and through June so from year to year we may or may not have blossoms around for very long. In an effort to get outside during this amazing time, but also fighting allergies big time, I opted to stay close to home and sit outside in my own backyard to paint.

For this painting, I set my chair atop my hostas that were peeping out against the fence. There was not much room between the fence and the tulips but I managed to squeeze in the chair so I could be a bit closer to the subject. I reused a panel that had an old plein air on it as I try to keep my inventory to something manageable. And some pieces are just not worth keeping after a few years. I do like the way these tulips were snaking around, all in different phases of development. The sun was coming from across the fence over my shoulder so this view had the best light too.

Because of the lighting situation, on the first day I figured out my composition and got it blocked in before the light was too different. I had plans to go back the next day but it ended up I could not get back out for another 2 days. Not good in the life-cycle of bulbs. In 2 days, so many changes have taken place. With my composition and block in already to go, it wasn't too bad and I just worked on getting my values put in.

I do enjoy painting outdoors!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Gustave Baumann at the Pasadena Museum of California Art

Gustave Baumann, long a favorite of mine, just 'happened' to have an exhibit at the Pasadena Museum of Art where I had gone to see the Joseph Kleitsch show that I had read about in American Art Review. If you don't subscribe to this magazine (artists in particular) I highly recommend it for learning about not just American Artists, but the history of American Art through our founding. It is a magazine that compiles shows going on all across the US. I have learned so much over the years from this well written magazine. For instance, there was another article in this latest issue on Maynard Dixon and a show in Reno, NV of all places, currently going on. Since we were driving, I had hoped to get to that show as well, but I am grateful that I got to Pasadena, so I knew two stops, out or our way,would be pushing it.

For those who do not know Gustave Baumann's work a brief introduction. He was born (1881-1971) and raised in Germany. His family moved to the USA when he was 10, but he studied art and wood block print making back in Munich, Germany. He settled in Santa Fe, NM in 1918 thinking Taos was too crowded! His color wood block prints from NM are perhaps his best known. He also built marionettes.
Gustave's printing press.
There were a few of his gouache studies included. I had not realized that he did these studies for future block prints. The simple graphic shapes show that he is thinking all the time about how it will work in a block print.
I took this photo of one of his blocks (the finished print is below the tools) to show not only the size but the 'yellow' denoting the color of the block. Good reminder! Some of his prints had, and I am guessing, 8 individual blocks for color per print. I can only image having to register that many blocks on however many prints he was making! I struggled with 4 and my foray into block printing was nowhere near the level he took it to.
The tools of the trade. I liked the turquoise handles...
Gustave did love to do trees. I had not seen the mighty redwood print before. They showed this particular composition in each of its separate colors. I can't remember now if it was 6 or 7.
One of his early works from Germany. Simple, with only a few colors (3?) but I liked it.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Reading on a Jet Plane

Reading On A Jet Plane, 20x16, oil on panel

Sung to the tune of "Leaving on a Jet Plane, Don't know when I'll be back again..." I could not help myself with this particular title.

Another more challenging painting for me as it is back lit which makes the figure a silhouette. And most importantly, painted from a 4x6 photograph as this image was taken BEFORE digital photography!  I just never got around to painting it before, being spoiled with technology. It doesn't seem that long ago but counting back, it has been 16 years since our family went to Germany. This is my son, with his sister by the window. It was to be part of a series I wanted to do on people reading. I think I have done a number of pieces on this theme but never have they been shown together as they do span 20 years now.
Lost in a Good Book, 18x24, oil on canvas, 1996ish with a few updates along the way
For giggles and grins, I will add a few others from this drawn out series. The above painting is of my daughter at 7 or 8 years old. I originally painted it sometime in the late 90's. I did work on it again after that.
@ The Metropolis, 20x16, oil on canvas, 2009
Another one of my daughter. She had agreed to be my model so I could paint her plein air for the Denver Plein Air Event back in 2009. I did a 9x12 while she patiently read a Charles Dickens novel (Great Expectations?) all for a cup of coffee. I did this larger piece in the studio and it won Best of Show at the 'Own an Original' juried show at the Littleton Museum. It also sold at that show, which is always a wonderful thing for an artist. The gentleman who bought her said she looks like his daughter.
The Butcher's Son, 6x6, oil on panel, 2012
To throw in a non-family member, here is a young boy reading at the Dijon, France Saturday market. His parents had a butcher shop and he was perched between to cases of prime meats of all kinds.
Liz Reading, 20x16, oil on canvas, 2009?
Here is another one of my daughter when she was in college. It may be 2009 as well (no date on the back). I did this one from life sitting on the couch opposite her in our living room.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Joseph Kleitsch at the Pasadena Museum of California Art

Joseph Kleitsch; who the heck is he? Most of us have never heard his name before. I sure hadn't. He was born in Hungry and immigrated to the US at the turn of the last century. He lived in Denver (who knew?), Cincinnati and settled in Chicago by 1912. He was a very well known portrait painter and made a decent living at it. I have included some portraits for that reason. He was called to California to do a few portraits of Hollywood starlets, and after enjoying the warm climate there, moved to Laguna Beach in 1920. (He became friends with Edgar Payne) There, he started to do landscapes, and noticing how fast Laguna Beach was changing, started to document those changes. He also loved painting the Missions of the area. After his untimely death in 1931 he was largely forgotten. This is the first exhibit of his works since his death. So happy that he has come to light again.

The Pasadena Museum of California Art has no permanent collection. It holds exhibits of artists who lived and/or painted in California. This show is up through August 6. A must see if you are in the LA area. The icing on this cake was that there was a second show, on Gustave Baumann, as well. I have always liked his work but have rarely seen his prints in person. The exhibit included some of his wood blocks and print proofs. That may be its own post. Stay tuned!
I particularly love the painting above; the commentary on it was that this could be his wife, but more than likely is an 'amour' from his stay in France. No matter; it is a a beautiful tribute not only to her but what a stunning view of the reflected windows and into the room as well.
Another one I liked; Who knows if she is looking at a portrait of herself or if she is evaluating her own work? It is so graphically pleasing overall and I like the color harmony. Joseph's use of windows to frame his subjects was evident in a number of his works.
I cannot remember who this gentleman is. But he looks like a banker. I liked the look on his face.
This is a detail of an early self-portrait of the artist. Who could resist those blue eyes? The commentary said you could tell by his portraits of women that he held them captive with his charm and good looks.

Another early painting from his time in Paris. Not his normal subject but I thought the composition particularly interesting.
 Here is one of his scenes from Laguna Beach. Notice what seems to be dirt streets. This is a crop of the scene. Below is another closer in view to see how he showed how bustling Laguna Beach was becoming in the late 1920's. And a third, closer detail below that one. I noticed a number of loosely, almost nude appearing females in his paintings of Laguna Beach. His later works did get looser with more paint texture.

Last but by no means least, another stunning portrait using the window to frame his subject.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Climbing the Wall - Denver Monolith



Climbing the Wall, 36x24, oil on linen
Here is a painting that has caused me great angst. One that I thought would be fairly straightforward. A man, mostly in shadow climbing a wall, mostly in shadow, and then a wall of glass reflecting...how hard can this be? Part of the reflection from the glass wall is hitting the Monolith; and the man has sun hitting him from the side, that is how hard it is. I even went downtown again to see the wall; it looks so black and dead and falling apart in real life. It is so hard for me to want to paint it that color!

So it may be 'too' blue but it is what it is for now. I need to take a break from it. Trying to make a man-made sculpture look like real stones is quite the challenge. Plus, the wall curves. Lots of things involved. Challenges are what builds character, or so I hear.

I wanted to do this picture as part of my series on people experiencing art. This is just one of climbing on public art or sculpture that I have thus far completed. This was a first and only time I have ever seen anyone climbing the Denver Monolith which is in the plaza outside the main entrance to the Denver Art Museum. I did not hang around to see just how high he was able to go but here he is at the second story level.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Wynetka Farm Barn - as painted on site

Wynetka Farm Barn, 14x11, oil on canvas  Available
Tuesday is the Plein Air Artists of Colorado (PAAC) day to paint in and around Denver each week. It has been years since I have been an active member. This year I am endeavoring to go out more, this being the second time I have actually made it.

I am posting the painting as it was when I walked away from the scene. I do plan to do a few minor things to it to "finish" it. Example: the fence posts do not have their slats in them. The grasses on the hillside were mostly dead but I like the contrast of the color so I doubt I will get into that, but the tall dead grasses along the pond's edge, which I started to put in, might get a wee boost.

It was a beautiful morning before the wind started to softly, at first, blow around 10 or so. It changed the reflection mightily over the time I painted this, approximately an hour or so. That is what is so wonderful about painting plein air. You must get it down quickly before the conditions change! The light, the wind, the clouds, etc etc. There is something magical about painting outdoors and every time I do get out, I wonder why I do not do it more often.

Note: this photo was taken with my phone on my easel inside. I totally forgot to take a photo of it on the easel with the scene in front. It is fun to see that, I know.

I chose this scene because it was fairly straight forward. It divided the panel into almost equal thirds; the shape of the barn is a rectangle; the roof is a parallelogram; the barn was nice and white against all the color and I liked the white Winnebago (even if you can't tell, that is what it is) repeating the white of the barn, and the dark window within the white, opposite to the window in the barn.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Wildflowers in the High Country - Colorado



Basic block in of large shapes, 18x14

Adding texture and color
Wildflower Peak, 18x14, oil on linen, available (contact me)

Lately I have been touching up paintings that have been relegated to the closet. Either I was tired of working on them or did not want to look at them anymore. And I knew they were not where I wanted them to be but was not in the place to get them there. It is rewarding to finish these outcasts but then I also need to do something completely different to break that work up. Hence, as spring has recently shown up, a summer painting painting called to me. Nothing too complex but that I could express my joy.
One of the things I try to remember for myself is to layer. Blocking in this painting I used colors to layout the big shapes. Nothing too extraordinary, pink sky, blue bushes and tan for dirt on the hillside and the overall dark shape of the evergreens in silhouette.  building on these shapes I wanted to leave the underlying color showing through. My tendency, as a graphic artist, is to want to cover it all up and make it flat color. So I went with patterns in the grass and the front bush to avoid my habit and to allow the underlying color to come through. When I got to the point of the sky, it was tough. I was getting used to the pinkish lavender sky and should I leave it or go with blue. Colorado can have the most amazing cobalt blue skies, and the reference I was using for this painting had a big white cloud taking up most of the sky but with blue blue all around it. Do I go for the more traditional blue or not? Since I had seen so much blue in the bushes that I wanted to have show through, I ended up going for the blue sky as the blue in the bushes was from the sky. Don't want to confuse the viewer, after all. I am glad I did. Not only is it more interesting, the lavender pink shows through enough to still 'be there.'

Thursday, March 9, 2017

French Village - around the Church


The Rectory, 20x16, oil on panel
We were doing a river cruise of our own making along the Yonne River in Burgundy, France. The Yonne River has locks. We had rented a small yacht that slept 8 for this river trip. One day we got behind schedule and knew we  would miss the last lock of our day. (The lock keepers are government employees and having lived in France as children, my sister and I knew that the locks would close down on time, if not earlier!) Instead of risking it, we 'docked' in a small village called Gurgy sur l'Yonne. We only spent one night there but I have painted now at least 4 paintings from that pit stop I was so taken by it. We had River Fog that night; there was a dinghy docked in front of us; the town was so quaint, as if time had passed it by. I know most people will not relate to this subject but it is so the France of my youth.

I started this piece close to 9 years ago. It is a simple subject but it has been hard for me to get it to a place I liked. I never thought it 'bad' just not as interesting as I would have preferred. When my husband walked into my studio the other day and exclaimed what a cool painting, I knew I had finally arrived. He has never been to France and so the painting was liked for itself and not his relation to it as he had none!

Why was it so hard to make interesting? Trying to get the brownish grey stucco of the buildings to be more than than just that; I kept trying to think of how to layer and what to layer to make it more of itself. There are so many layers on this painting now the stucco looks real enough.



Thursday, February 23, 2017

Spanish Sheep Market Circa 1962

the Art of the Deal, Sheep Market, Spain, Circa 1962; oil on panel, 18x24

Here is my latest painting shown below as a work in progress.  I had wanted to do this in a square format but I did not have that sized surface ready when I was ready to go. The image used for this painting was from a slide that was turning orange that I had made into a digital image at Costco. My mother took the photo circa 1962 in Spain. The men at this sheep sale make me think of the Basque but according to her note it was just north of Barcelona, a place now known for its beaches. I was attracted to this image for a number of reason. I liked the composition; I liked the subject and I appreciated the group of men doing business. Each of them taking a unique stand, as it were. Something about a wet gray day and fairly flat light attracts me.

Sketching in on the canvas with colored pencil

Starting the big shape block in

Working on unifying the dark shapes

First wave of color in big shapes

Second wave of big shape value correction

Fine tuning figures and values, 18x24, oil on panel
I am struggling with a name for this painting; The Art of the Deal; Market Shares-Sheep Trading; Deals Going Down; Your thoughts?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Green on Green


You might ask, why do I keep painting over old works? Do I not have clean canvas's to start anew? Sometimes, yes I am out of a certain size of canvas or board so I scrounge for a piece that can be sacrificed for the greater good. Other times I choose to use an old painting because it is not worth saving in my opinion and I want to have the colors to come through on the new painting. A quick way to layer color, in other words.
Developing stage 1
Wishing to once more play around with bottles of varying colors of green, I started this piece over an old study I had done awhile back for a larger painting. (See bicycle with balloons below) I wanted to keep some of the color coming through.
Developing stage 2-getting some darks in
I began with a piece of greenish blue rice paper that I set down on the table. I then found 5 greenish bottles out of my collection that worked well together. To block out the background I put up the Japanese doll screen and used the back as the backdrop. It is a light greenish neutral color. Loosely sketching in the bottles I then used blocks of color to quickly block out the distracting balloons and bicycle leaving bits of color and line to show through. Really liking it at this stage and wondering how far do I want to take it?
Stage 3-more form
Proceeding rather cautiously at this stage as I cannot decide what to leave or what to cover. In person, I like the stripes going across the gold label on the right. But in the photos posted here, I am not liking them much. Overall, I do like the way the painting is right now and do not want to get too far along and ruin the energy it has. Any comments on that? Should I leave the line between the bottles on either side and the one in the middle (my sketching guideline)? Does it add to the composition or detract from it?
Green Bottles, 14x11, oil on panel
Writing out my thoughts in questions really helped me decide what I wanted to do. As you can see in the finished painting, I took out the sketching guide although there is a hint of it left. The dark lines across the bottle on the right also came out but not in the background. I should have been able to paint this in one sitting, but I took my time on it so that the likelihood of me getting carried away might be tempered.  Working on it in small bite-sized pieces.