Thursday, April 30, 2009

New York Taxis

New York Taxis / 8x6 / Oil on Cradled Panel

I missed the last two challenges for Different Strokes from Different Folks--just too busy getting the new studio together and catching up on some of my own paintings. I love the photo that Karin Jurick posted for this new one, so I decided to get it done now rather than wait. The buildings were a bit of a struggle, but painting the taxis was great fun.

I painted this on black gesso, and the black really helped with the shadows under the taxis, etc. Because I started with a black surface, I found myself painting the lights first and then working into the shadows. Very different for me, but something I'm sure all you watercolor folks are used to doing.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Narcissus and Green Vase

Narcissus and Green Vase / 8x10 / Oil on Linen Panel

Here's yesterday's attempt at narcissus. I always get the edges too hard and then have to go in and soften everything. It's much better to do it the other way around!
I received the "Passion for Painting" award from several wonderful artists over the past few weeks. I apologize for not getting to this sooner, but here goes:

First of all, go to Gwen Bell's blog and read her latest--it's guaranteed to make you laugh! Scroll down to see all of her amazing paintings and sketches--especially her latest entry into Different Strokes from Different Folks. (I must admit, Gwen, I decided to take a pass on that one. Good for you!)

Next, please visit Liz Holm's blog to see her beautiful work. She is currently showing "Trixie," her latest painting in the Art for Animals Project. It's such an amazing painting that you think you could reach right out and give Trixie a hug. Don't forget to scroll down to see all of her beautiful portraits!

Finally, visit Arthur Simo's blog. Arthur is a teenager with autism who creates some of the most amazing artwork I've seen in a long time.
Arthur's work has a folk art look, and we can all take lessons from Arthur on color, composition and simplicity. His mom writes the blog for him, and I'm sure we could take a few lessons from her as well.

Seven things I love:

1. My family. I don't know what I would do without them.
2. Painting. I'm not sure what I would do without that, either.
3. Chocolate. Ditto on the can't live without part, although I periodically try...
4. A good book. Novels, non-fiction, whatever. I'm a life-long learner.
5. Travel. Kinda goes with the life-long learner part.
6. Good food. Especially if someone else cooks it.
7. Warm weather. Gosh, it's still getting down to the 30's tonight. Where is spring???

I'll post my seven blogs to award tomorrow.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Road Home

The Road Home / 8x16 / Oil on Linen Panel

I spent the morning working on a still life of narcissus in a glass vase with chiaroscuro lighting. Although I love narcissus, I should know by now not to paint them. I become obsessed with all the ins and outs of the petals, and before you know it the painting is tighter than a rubber band on a pony tail. Accuracy is good, but more and more I'm finding that it's much better to be interesting--perhaps even mysterious--than accurate.

To compensate for all that intensity, I decided to have some fun and play with an old unfinished painting. The first version of "The Road Home" was a light and shadow landscape with okay shapes but not enough light and shadow to make it work. I put away all my reference material and focused only on shapes, values, composition and color. My goal was to create an emotional response instead of a photocopy. I'm really happy with this tonal version. More importantly, I had fun doing it!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tea Party and New Studio Photos

Tea Party and Hydrangeas / 18x24 / Oil on Linen Panel

This is my first painting in my new studio--finally! :-) I'm trying to create a softer look but am still tempted to go back into the flowers a bit. I want this painting to be about the tea pot, though--and not the flowers--so I've decided to leave it the way it is for a few days. I'll probably find a few things to touch up, but I think it's mostly finished at this point.

This is my new studio. It's 14x28, and this is the west end. I'm in the basement, but the good news is that the previous owner installed 9 ft. ceilings. What a bonus! There's a 9x4 storage closet with shelves for panels and frames beyond the sink.

I've got three fluorescent fixtures in the studio with a mixture of warm and cool bulbs in each. Each fixture is on a separate switch, as is this bank of four recessed lights. There is another bank of four recessed lights at the other end of the studio, plus an additional three over my desk. I'm sure the contractor thought I was a bit wacko with all the lights and switches--you might, too--but since I'm in the basement I wanted as much flexible lighting as possible. The under cabinet lights are also on a separate switch.

One of the things I did in my old studio area was rip apart a cardboard box and nail it around the lights over my easel. That way I could have plenty of light to paint with and still keep it off the still life set-up. I've purchased some black-out roller shades and am planning to install them in the new studio on the ceiling around my easel--the idea is that I can raise and lower them as needed. The first painting worked okay with the spotlight on the set-up, the east end lights on and the west end lights off, but I know it will be better with the shades. I'll post a photo when I get that accomplished!

This is a good view of my painting and set-up area. In the far corner (hidden by the easel) are a couple of old bookcases full of still life props.

Several years ago I purchased a couple of hospital bed tables and have used them for a variety of things. They are really versatile since they raise and lower plus roll. I've used them for still life set-ups as well as my palette, as you can see here.

I plan to put a couple of 8 ft. long ledges (1"x3") on the back wall so that I can get wet paintings out of the way. I'll post a photo when I've got that finished so you can see. Also, for those of you who gave me all your wonderful flooring suggestions, it's hard to tell what I wound up with from this photo but this is the garage flooring from Lowe's. It comes in 20"x20" tiles that interlock, so it was easy to install (no glue) and added some comfort plus warmth to the cement floor. Best of all is that I'm not worried about messing it up. If worse comes to worse, I can easily replace a tile.

This is the east end of the studio with my desk, file cabinets, etc.

This is the other corner of the east end. I plan to install a hanging system on this wall so that I can showcase framed paintings.

Thanks for taking the "tour." This studio has taken fourteen years of dreaming, three months of construction, and way longer than I thought to actually make the move. I've been busy!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Bluff, Utah

Bluff Sunrise / 8x8 / Oil on panel (sold)

Our basement/studio remodel is still not 100% complete. I guess that's just the reality of construction. My studio is about 98% finished. Still a little flooring to do and some lighting issues to resolve. I've moved in but haven't painted in it yet. My husband and I decided to get away from it all for a few days and go someplace warm, so we drove to Phoenix on Thursday-Friday.

We spent the night in Bluff, Utah, and as we walked across the street to a little coffee shop for breakfast the sun was coming up.
High fog, and lots of dust in the sky created the scene above. I quickly snapped a bunch of photos and yes, I finally got to paint today. Phew! I'm better now.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Apricots and Brass

Apricots and Brass / 10x20 / Oil on Linen Panel

Where does the time go? I thought a week would be ample time to get my studio moved and get back into my everyday routine (I like to think I have a routine...) I was wrong. It's been ten days and I'm still not quite settled, but sometimes I guess you just have to let the birthing go at it's own pace. Right? Unfortunately, this attitude seems to be going head-to-head with my control issues.

The problem is that I haven't painted in over two weeks. Do you get cranky when you can't paint? Do you feel just plain "weird" when you can't paint? Do you get a strange, achy feeling inside when you can't paint? Do you feel disconnected to the universe when you can't paint? Do you want to tell everyone to get lost and spend the next 72 hours alone in front of your easel?

Tomorrow, I'm going to paint. Come hell or high water, last minute taxes, bills to pay, family needs, meals to cook, laundry, etc., I'm going to paint. And I've also been tagged by a couple of wonderful artists. I will get to that as well.

What happens to you when you can't paint? How do you feel? What's your strategy to get through those times and still be sane? I'd love to hear from you.