Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Quiet Place

Working with abstract shapes, layering paint and losing sight of the plan has me oddly exhilarated. 16x20

Friday, February 21, 2014

Reflections, in progress

Lately I've been working on some larger paintings and have been going back into them, scraping, adding, all the while with more long looking.
This one is 12 x24; I'm using a gouache study as reference, looking at it takes me back to the scene.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Painting Fundamentals, Class Demo

In class today we started with thumbnails, an exercise often neglected as we usually just want to get on with the painting. We saw that our first look may not be the best or most interesting composition, so we did three. We looked at them as objectively as possible asking, which would make the best painting? I kept my demo simple with the focal point being the light area of green background against the edge of the flower. Lots of simplification of the shapes in the glass and the petals of the flower.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Experimenting with some larger paintings based on abstracted gouache studies I did back in October on Hilton Head. This one is 16x20. I feel like a new path is emerging, but I'm not far enough along to feel comfortable or whether I'm even staying!

Making a few minor changes to the window mullions, wanting to integrate it with the landscape more. I feel it's better. Will continue to look before I declare, "Done!"

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Thinking Spring this Morning

Looking at these daffodils this morning was energizing/challenging - all the shapes and shades of greens and yellows!  Not worrying or trying to paint individual petals, instead asking, "What is the overall shape that I see?"  Looking at the negative spaces, especially inside the glass bottle, and thinking only about shapes, keeping variety in the background by mixing fresh color for each area. Demo from todays' class Painting Fundamentals at Beach Studios. I am so fortunate to have a wonderful group of students, so willing to go to a new place, and isn't that what we love about painting anyway?

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Quarterdeck at The Newport Art Museum

I am thrilled to share that this painting THE QUARTERDECK got juried into the Newport Art Museum' Members Show. You just never know what the juror is looking for, so it's always a surprise- good or bad! I have learned about myself over the years by entering juried shows, how to have a thicker skin, to believe in myself, to keep making art in spite of what the critics may say, to keep moving along this beautiful path of self-expression. 
Feb 8th to May 18 when you visit Newport, Rhode Island!
Did I say how happy this makes me?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

White Amaryllis

This amazing bulb has put forth so many blooms; just knew I had to paint it. The yellow is a sash I used to keep the stalk from falling over, push-pinned to the studio wall. A continuation of still life against the grey wall is allowing room for exploration and that's a good thing. We used this set up in the class I teach on Tuesday and the biggest lesson was value. White flowers that are by no means just white, and a light grey wall that wasn't that light! 
8x8 on cradled panel.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

In the Studio

The class I teach at Beach Studios has started up again and I thought I'd share my paintings from those classes. I don't manage to get them finished during class but they do serve as reference as to:
1. Determining a composition from a setup. I highly suggest small thumbnails to see how the painting will fit in the picture plane. This saves valuable time later when you discover the orientation is wrong, should have been vertical and not horizontal  or worse, the center of interest has managed to not even be on the canvas.
2. I demonstrate color mixing and how to see relative value.

I have gone back into this painting and made several changes which I think improve it:
1. Changing the background to a more neutral warm grey.
2. Changing the right hand shape and the color around it to echo some of what is happening in the plate. 
3. Increased the value around the lemon and on the plate to emphasize those shapes. 
Sometimes a painting has to sit a bit before I can "see" it and make changes. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The 30 Day Recap, Wrap Up

Maurice Denis, Peasant Woman With Cow, 1893. My painting is a closely cropped focus on the woman. You wouldn't know that was even a cow behind her unless you saw the original! The palette intrigued me, and are not colors I would usually use. I learned: keep looking and exploring color combinations. Don't let self keep doing the same ole thing! Don't fall into the rut of repeating myself. 
Denis is known for this quote,"Remember that a picture- before being a war-horse, a nude, or an anecdotal of some kind- is essentially a plane surface covered with colours disposed in a certain order."

Edward Hopper, Girl at a Sewing Machine, 1921-2. I felt again a bit confined with my format, too many verticals, but thankfully somewhat relieved by the diagonal pattern of sunlight on the wall and the repeating shapes in the girl and the cloth. I wanted to play with the sewing machine shapes for the abstract and I learned: keep looking for the shapes when I paint, it is these shapes that make up the entire painting.

Milton Avery, Feeding, 1944. I cropped this to exclude another figure, wanting to concentrate on the mother and child. Avery, who was influenced by Matisse, was always annoyed by comparisons to Matisse. But let's face it : who is not influenced by others, whether its another painter or an important teacher?  I learned: over and over with these abstracts, the content, the composition, came out of the blue. Somewhere from inside of me, and, that I could trust that without judging myself.

Milton Avery, Sally and Sarah, 1947. As the title implies, there is another figure, but everything I wanted was right here. All those colors nestled up against each other got me excited and the abstract came together very quickly. I learned: whether painting from an inspiration painting, a still life, plein air or an interior, MY JOB is to edit, to find the painting in whatever I am looking at. Another word for edit is simplify.

Wayne Thiebaud, Yellow Dress, 1974. The original shows the entire dress and the gorgeous shadow to the left which I was sorry to lose in my rendition. The abstract is a bit strange, but that's ok too. I learned: sometimes what I paint doesn't work, for any of the ways you might define "This works!" It's ok to have paintings that are wipers. 
I remember talking with an artist hanging a show in a Newbury Street gallery, when I was just beginning to paint. He said, "You have to paint a lot of shit before anything good happens." I think he speaks to all of us, as it's really about the act of painting and what we learn from the process, not necessarily the finished product.

Mary Cassatt, The Boating Party, 1893-4. I've always loved this painting but had never noticed the proximity of the hands of the three people. I learned: keep looking, as you look you can see more things. Things you might not notice at all at first. Is this what makes us an artist, this seeing? On another note, make sure your painting has something that brings the viewer a little closer, to take that second look. That split second first impression is so important!

Henri Matisse, Girl With Green Eyes, 1908. Ah, the interlocking shapes, the dark outlines, the luminous colours of Matisse, a favorite since childhood. I had fun with the abstract, inspired by the funky vases behind the model. I learned: remember the things I loved when I was 10- simple and true, without wanting to "be cool" or "be smart", I was happy to just be me. 
Or to put it in another way, "To thine own self be true!" Keep on painting/ making art and you will find your voice, a voice that is uniquely yours and yours alone.

Richard Diebenkorn, July, 1957. If you look at the original painting, all of which are posted on my blog with my interpretation of that painting, you will see the landscape behind the figure on the bench. I knew my abstract would be a landscape of sorts, to further the feeling I got from the original painting. I learned: it really is about the feeling we get when we look at art, make art, talk about art, write about art.... It gets me somewhere deep inside and appeals to a larger energy that connects and unites me to the past and to the present in a way unlike any other. Thank you for staying with this long winded recap of the 30 day challenge, may our paths cross again soon! Be well and be happy.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The 30 Day Recap, Part 1

Young Girl Braiding her Hair by Edgar Degas painted in 1894. I painted this one with a palette knife and learned: simplification always works to distill an image. The focus was the color around the relative large shape.

Dining Room in the Country by Pierre Bonnard painted in 1913. What I learned: cropping must be carefully and thoughtfully done. I wanted to include the figure and the door from the original painting but had to narrow the view through the door to fit my format. I feel this made my painting too much about verticals and then had to try to adjust that in the abstract. This abstract adheres most closely to the original. Be bold!

The Hotel Room by Edward Hopper 1933. I stayed with the palette knife and again felt somewhat challenged by the choice of my square format. The abstract didn't flow as the two previous days had and I learned: Every day in the studio is different and so what? Just get into the studio!

Woman in a Window by Richard Diebenkorn 1957. Happier with my format and composition, both paintings just seemed to flow with minimal effort. What I learned: it may be my hand, but remember to thank the painting gods.

Nude Woman Drying Her Feet by Edgar Degas 1885-6. Enjoying the painting process here and thoroughly surprised by the abstract. Since I am in many ways a very cerebral painter,  I learned: Trust the process and don't second guess myself.

Kids on Bikes by David Park 1950. I've always enjoyed the group of Bay area painters to which Park belonged and the strange perspective of this painting. Again, the abstract came into being of its' own accord! I learned to: try out color combinations I am not normally attracted to. This is actually a big overall lesson from the challenge and from looking at other painters palettes.

Excursion at Sea by Pierre Bonnard 1924. I love the palette of this painting and noticed how calming the colors were, both to look at and to paint with. The whimsy of the abstract totally surprised me and I learned: Don't take yourself so damn seriously! Have more fun with painting.