Saturday, March 21, 2009

Moving Days/Daze

Copper and Oranges / 8x16 / Oil on Linen Panel

I finally began the moving process into my new studio yesterday. I've been painting in an extra bedroom on the second floor of our home, so moving everything down two flights of stairs is great exercise. I've still got to address the floor issue, but for now I've decided to use a porch and floor paint to make it look a bit more finished and add a few mats to make it more comfortable. I think I need to live in the space awhile before I make any final decisions.

I really appreciate everyone who took the time to share their studio suggestions and experiences with me. When I get everything moved in I will post some pictures and share how I deal with lighting (which is a much bigger issue than the floor!) Until then I'm going to take a few days off from blogging so that I can get everything done and get over my end-of-construction head cold.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Studio Flooring Options--One Last Plea for Help...

Peonies and Pitcher / 9x15 / Oil on Linen--private collection

My new studio is almost complete. It's 14x28 plus an additional 9x4 storage closet. The last inspection should be on Thursday, and at that point I'll have to make a final decision on the flooring. If you've been following my blog for awhile, you know how tormented I've been about this decision. I'd like to get it right the first time, and my studio is in the basement so I'm more than a tad concerned that it (and especially the concrete floor) will be quite cold during much of the year.

I tweeted and facebooked and got lots of input from artists all over the world--everything from horse trailer mats to laminate, tile, stained or painted concrete, commercial vinyl flooring, epoxy and garage flooring products. No one suggested carpet, which didn't surprise me.

Interestingly, most people who chose tile wished they hadn't, although no one really said why. The artist with horse trailer mats said they were really comfy and easy to keep clean. This sounded good to me, but they are not cheap and are either gray or black. Laminate either got great reviews or poor ones. Some people just loved it, but others said it chipped and dented.

I was tempted by one of the commercial vinyl products I saw at Home Depot. It required little or no floor prep, came in 1'x3' strips and looked like tile. I could install this myself, and it would be easy to clean--but not much warmer than the concrete and certainly no softer. (Armstrong Traffic Master--$2.09 sq. ft)

I found some interlocking garage floor tiles that looked promising. These were about 3/8" thick, (not the squishy ones for exercising,) and would have been the easiest to install, a bit warmer and more comfy than concrete. Only gray and black, though--or special orders colors that were way too bright. ($6.50 for a 20" sq. at Lowes)

My niece suggested sticking with the concrete and getting an electric fireplace as an additional hear source. Ah, ambience... Not a bad idea. Today I found out that you can put heating mats under laminate. This is very tempting, but also very expensive--$10-$15 a sq. ft. for the heating mat, plus laminate. Even though you don't put the heating mat under the entire floor, this would add up quick!!!

So, I'm still stuck, and I either have to make a decision very soon or move into the space and move out if I want to add flooring later. If you've been brave enough to read to the end of this post and have any final suggestions, I would love hearing from you!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Three Pears

Three Pears / 9x12 / Oil on Linen (sold)

I haven't gotten to my easel in a couple of days so the painting above is one I did about a year ago. I am still dealing with the studio construction which I thought would be complete by now. If you've lived through construction, you know how frustrating the last few weeks can be...

I got tagged a couple of days ago by Cathyann Burgess. She has great work and tips on her blog, and also a beautiful portrait that she posted yesterday. You can check it all out at Cathyann's Studio.

According to the rules of the tag, I'm supposed to post five random things about myself and then tag other artists, so here goes:

1. My Washington, DC gallery just bit the economic slow-down dust. Consequently, my house now has additional paintings floating around and I need to find another gallery. I've decided to take a bit of time before I do that, though, because my paintings seem to be changing a bit. I used to paint very realistic still life, and now I'm finding that my work is looser and I'm paying more attention to the abstraction of the painting as a whole. (See March 9th post.) I like this new trend and I'm excited about where it might lead me, so I want to give myself some time to create a newer body of work.

2. Gosh, that last one was wordy, so here's a short one: I had a tooth pulled recently. Ouch!!

3. Not only am I obsessed with painting, I'm obsessed with the color teal. In the olden days before the name "teal," my favorite crayon was blue-green. Cinderella's dress was always colored blue-green, and now it's all over my house (tastefully done, I hope...) I find this color to be very peaceful.

4. I have a wonderful recipe for brownies and I've made it so many times that I have it memorized. Wait, I'll be back in a few minutes...

5. OK, I'm back and the brownies are wonderful. Wish you were here to share one, but since you're not I guess that means I get to eat yours.

If you're interested in more random facts about me, you can check out my Feb. 10th post. Now, on to the "tagees."

The two artists I would like to tag are Sandy Sandy (yes, that's her real name,) and Deborah Paris. Sandy is multi-talented--watercolor, sketching, photography, and more. She actually has several blogs, so make sure you look at her list of links--especially her Art for the Animals project. She's a busy lady!!!

Deborah creates some of the most beautiful landscapes I've ever seen. They are very soft and a little more on the impressionistic side. Deborah is also a busy lady and has a framing business as well as her art work. (Mountains Edge Frames) These are high quality, closed-corner frames at very competitive prices.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tiffen Black and White Viewing Filter

I know it's best to keep my plein air paintings to five values--or fewer if possible--but
if you're like me you're overwhelmed by the value range you see outdoors. A helpful tool I've found is this "Tiffen Black and White Viewing Filter." Looking through the viewer eliminates the color in your scene, so consequently the values are much easier to see and combine. The viewer has a little handle and you put it up to your eye like a monocle. It is attached to a cord, so you can hang it around your neck and easily grab it whenever you want to check those pesky values. It's small, lightweight, and also comes with the nifty pouch you see in the photo. The cost is around $30 and it's available online through several outlets--just google "Tiffen Black and White Viewing Filter."

Hey, the weather is getting warmer and you know you're going to do some plein air painting soon. It's the hardest (in my opinion) kind of painting, so why not make it a bit easier?

PS Don't forget the bug spray!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sushi and Black Mirrors

Sushi / 5x5 / Oil on Cradled Panel (sold)

Here's my entry for Karin Jurick's latest challenge on "Different Strokes from Different Folks." I love sushi, and this makes me hungry just looking at it.

Yesterday I promised that I would share another mistake-finding tool that I use. Have you ever heard of a black mirror? Neither had I until I took a workshop from Laura Robb. This was back in the mid-90's in Aspen and it was my very first "away from home" art workshop. Needless to say, I was a bit over my head. Laura had set up about ten small still-lifes with different lighting on each one, and we were to paint as many as we could. I nailed the first one and was so proud, but then I got to the second one (which was back-lit) and I simply could not see the values. I can't remember if she showed me a black mirror or just described it, but I dutifully made my own when I got home and it really helped me during those first years of painting.

I made mine with an 8x10 piece of glass from an old photo frame, but you could also use plexiglass. Paint one side of the glass with black acrylic paint so that the glass is completely covered. Let that dry and cover the painted side with a piece of cardboard. Wrap the edges of the glass and cardboard with duct tape and you've got your own black mirror. If you look in the "mirror" at your set-up and your painting, it's easy to compare the value relationships and see where your painting has gone astray. It's also useful as a drawing tool, because reversing the image fools your brain and the mistakes just pop right out at you.

Tomorrow I'll share a helpful plein air painting tool.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Abstract Shapes, and Finding Mistakes

Yellow Vase and Oranges / 6x6 / Oil on Cradled Panel (sold)

I try to get together with a couple of painting friends every Sunday for some camaraderie, art conversation and a quick still life or plein air session. A couple of weeks ago we painted this yellow vase and oranges, but when I got home I immediately wiped everything off. The drawing was wrong, and I had gotten way too fussy with a pattern on the cloth.

Courtesy of Don Gray's post on Friday, (March 6th,) I decided to give it another go today and spend more time thinking about the abstract pattern of the shapes and values. After messing around a bit, I said good-bye to the pattern and added the horizontal dark strip to balance the strong vertical of the vase, orange and peel. It may be hard to tell from the photo, but I also played around with my palette knife and did some scraping and blending. I often forget to use the palette knife as a painting knife, but when I do I'm always pleased with the result, so I intend to do that more of that in the future.

When I think I'm close to being done with a painting I take a photo of it.
For me, it's like looking at the painting with fresh eyes. In the photo above I can see that the value of the reflection of the orange and the peel on the vase is too light. I also noticed that the highlight on the handle could be a bit more curved to match the curve of the handle.

I have to be a bit careful in using the photo, though, because sometimes the photo is wrong. For example, the highlight on the right hand orange looks too light, but in reality the camera has read the light value of the orange as darker and the highlight is fine. In short, the camera is one tool for finding mistakes--just like using a mirror, turning the painting upside down, or putting it aside for a few days.

Tomorrow I'll share another tool that I've found helpful.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Gray Day on the Slopes

Gray Day on the Slopes / 6x6 / Oil on Cradled Panel

March is supposed to go in like a lion and out like a lamb, but you never know when you're in Colorado. It's normally our snowiest month, but Wednesday was 76 and we set record highs for three days last week. Today we're back to winter, and as I look out my window I can see big flakes falling from the sky. Winter's grasp is short at this point, so I decided to pay homage by painting this tonal ski slope. I was tempted to add a few skiers, but thought the lonely feeling matched the gray skies.

PS Don't forget to set your clocks ahead tonight!

Monday, March 2, 2009

One Step at a Time

One Step at a Time / 5x7 / Oil on panel (sold)

I thought I would be able to post photos of my new studio by today, but the finishing touches are taking a bit longer than I expected. I still haven't decided on the flooring, but I have decided to give myself more time to decide. Phew! That said, I feel better. I'm just going to take everything "one step at a time!"

It's lovely here in Denver today--in the 70's. If you're in the Northeast US, I hope you're enjoying your snowfall. If you want to be inspired by some beautiful snow photos, visit Sandy Sandy's Web Log.

Finally, thanks to all the new visitors to my blog. I appreciate all your comments and feedback!