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Friday, December 31, 2010

Painting Intuitvely

I wanted to do a figure painting but didn't want to be tied to a reference photo.  Yesterday I painted from a photo taken by a friend, professional photographer Tom Szalay.  I don't have much experience painting different ethnicities so wanted to experiment but didn't want to use another one of his photos.  Instead I just started painting without any preconceived idea of whether it was going to a child, woman or man.  I did have a sense it would be someone other than a Caucasian but even then I wasn't sure.

The painting evolved and changed along the way and this is what I ended up with.  Any ideas for a title?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sudanese Woman

I usually paint from life or from my own photo references but this week I saw a good friend's photographs and immediately had a desire to paint from them.  My friend, Tom Szalay, is a professional photographer and these past few years has been photographing many refugees some of which are students at the school where he teaches.  Tom graciously gave me permission to use some of his photos as reference material.  Here is the first of what I hope will be many paintings.

Palette Knives

I love the freedom that painting with a palette knife gives me.  It is impossible to be too precise so capturing the essence or feeling of a place  is easier with large brushes or using just a palette knife.  This painting was done entirely with a palette knife except for the initial underpainting which was a juicy flowing on of color and gamsol.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Zoning out

It's been raining today with some pretty mild temperatures so I opened the window of my studio and started a painting.  After awhile, I began to wonder what it was I was feeling.  It took a bit to register.  It had started to snow and the wind was blowing it in the window and falling onto my canvas.  I know I often lose sense of time and space when I paint but this is the first time I got snowed on and didn't realize it.

"Golden Sky"
16x20 oil

Friday, December 17, 2010

Intuitive Painting

My camera takes wonderful photos and often I use photos as a jumping off place for a painting.  The painting below was not inspired by a photo but by a meditation.  I can often get so wrapped up in the holiday season that I lose who I am and what the season is really all about.  Yesterday I began my time in my studio with Christmas music and some quiet breathing time.  Often when I meditate I feel as if I've been lifted out of myself into a deeper place.  Feelings rather than pictures flood me and it was with that feeling that I began this painting.  I began painting what I thought was to be an ocean scene but it was as if the painting itself had other ideas and I'm not really surprised.  Trees and water speak to me and give me peace.

9x12 oil

Monday, November 15, 2010

I'm along for the ride

Sometimes I feel like breaking out and give the inner me a chance to rise to the surface.  I know that the "inner me" will involve lots of feelings and emotions and be more abstract that concrete.  It will also probably involve a palette knife.  When I paint with a palette knife, I find myself loosening up and just going with what the canvas and paint want to say to me. Crazy as it sounds, but there are times that I think I'm only along for the ride - the holder of the brush or knife but that the canvas and some other part of me are really the artist.

I did this painting below with music playing and no idea ahead of time as to what what going to come up.  The canvas is 24" x 36"

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I have been painting - honest I have!

I had hoped that blogging would encourage me to paint every day and it worked.  I have been painting almost every day but I have not blogged in four months.   It's not that I don't enjoy blogging.  I do but I enjoy painting more mainly in oils.

I got to go to Oregon twice this summer.  Once with a friend who was preparing to return to India and another time with my husband.  I spent time in Portland, the Oregon coast and in Bend which is in central Oregon.  I took lots of reference photos and did some watercolor paintings, too.  Here are just some of my paintings since I last blogged.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Artistic Liberties

Like most artists, I will often take some artistic liberties with my paintings.  I will add something like snow on a mountain long after the last of the snow melted.  Or in some cases I will take it away, using my memories of greener times to influence my work.  I will often do a quick study while outside then work on a larger piece in my studio using the original study as my inspiration.  Light changes quickly so I will take photos to help remind me of what it was that captured my interest in the first place but photos never come close to capturing what the naked eye sees while out in the field.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cache Valley - Enjoying Summer

I love getting outside to paint.  Everywhere I turn there is something new and different to paint.  The sun falling on a barn- the new growth on the trees - the snow lingering on the mountains - the newly plowed field.  I am never for lack of subject material.

Before I started painting I think I just wandered through life not noticing the shapes, colors and patterns that were all around me.  I saw trees, barns, houses, man, woman or child.  I labeled what I saw but it wasn't until I took up painting that I really began to think and see in shapes and values.  My family will laugh when I get all excited and say "Look at the wonderful dark shape and how it intersects with that light shape and how it connects and flows over to there!"  I wish everyone could sample seeing the world through the eyes of an artist but then maybe that's why I and others paint.  We want others to share in our experiences.

Second Cutting

16x20 oil on panel

Late Snow

18x24 oil on canvas

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Painting in Spurts

I get on a roll with painting and I lose all sense of time and space.  I forget to eat.  I forget to drink water.  I even forget I have a family.  I travel some place when I'm painting and sometimes forget to come back.  Today was like that.  Here it is 4 pm and I haven't eaten lunch or drank anything since breakfast.  I think husband and son have each poked their heads in here but I honestly can't tell you what they said.  I hope it wasn't important.

In last weeks workshop the individual head studies were each done in about three hours.  That included jockeying for position with the others in the class, setting up our easels and giving the models breaks about every 20 or 25 minutes.

I worked on two of the paintings today.  As usual, I'll probably make changes tomorrow or the next day but I wanted to post what I've done today.  Click on the paintings to see more detail.

Blogging each day has helped me to keep my focus on painting.  If I take a break from my easel, I often find it difficult to get back at it but if I continue painting then the momentum builds and builds until I feel like an obsessed woman.  What a high!!!!  Legal and fun.

These are both 12x16 oil on canvas.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I have come to realize that I love painting anything that is living especially people.  At least for now, I don't relate to barns, buildings or other inanimate objects.  There is something about people that intrigues me.  We are each a compilation  of all of our experiences and those experiences can often be seen in our eyes and in our body positions.  When painting people I try and capture that essence - that distillation of who they are or at least who they are presenting to the world on that particular day.

Here is what is on my easel today.  It is a painting that I began last week in a workshop. I've already made some adjustments to the hair but haven't photographed the changes yet.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Art Workshops - Love or Hate?

I'll be the first to admit I find art workshops challenging on many levels.  First there is the part about learning something new that gets my brain to sizzling not to mention being surrounded by what I always perceive as better artists.  These past six days I've been in such a surrounding.  

Mike Malm, a local yet renowned artist held what turned out to be an awesome workshop on painting the figure using live models.  Four of the six days Mike demonstrated his techniques for painting under different lighting conditions.  Mike would paint in the morning and we would paint in the afternoon.  On two of the days, we painted all day.  I can't say enough about what a wonderful instructor Mike is.  He seemed to meet each of us at whatever level we were at.  My experience would have been made easier had I taken a drawing class in the past.  In spite of my not having had formal art training, I think I did ok.

Here are four of the six paintings I did during the week.  (I still need to photograph the other two.)  I will do some more work on these paintings now that I'm home but wanted to post what was accomplished in the workshop.  

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Family time

My granddaughter, Rachael, graduated a couple of days ago.  I could go on and on about how quickly these years have passed but that would only make me feel old so instead I'll focus on the joys this past week have brought.  My daughter, Lisa, flew in from Portland and my sister, Dottie, arrived from California.  My son and daughter-in-law put us all up for what can only be described as one of my best weekends in a long time.  To have all my children under the same roof again can only be understood by those of you who are parents of grown children.  My heart and my face are still smiling.

On Friday we reluctantly dropped my sis off at the airport and Lisa came up for the remainder of this holiday weekend.  We have been going through old photos, reminiscing about old times and sharing stories of what is going on in our lives now.  One of the fun things was to see Lisa's excitement over some abstract paintings that I had done.  She said, she really, really wanted some of them so they will soon be gracing the walls of her new apartment.

My first art teacher once advised us all not to give our paintings to our friends or family.  I couldn't understand her logic until I experienced what she was talking about.  She said not everyone you give a painting to was going to want it or want to hang it in their house and giving them something would only make them feel obligated to hang it even if they didn't like the painting they received.  At the time, I thought all my friends and family members would just LOVE to hang MY paintings on their walls, even those early, not so good paintings.  I've found over the years my art teacher was right.  So, to see Lisa go crazy over some abstract paintings that I had piled upside down on a shelf made me feel good especially since my husband's comments when he first saw them was something like he'd never pay good money for them.  Although I totally loved painting these abstracts and would have framed and hung them in a skinny minute, his comments led me to not try to paint abstracts again.  It's nice to know these will have a home.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Any excuse will do

I fractured a couple of ribs on Saturday and am limited to what I can do comfortably.  Sneezing, hiccuping, coughing or cleaning the house are not on the list.  Painting, however, is.  So, I'm enjoying the luxury of painting without experiencing the normal "guilt" that goes along with taking long days for myself.  Here are my latest creations.  The aspen trees are getting their new leaves and they inspired me to recapture a taste of autumn.  The paintings actually have richer darks than the camera has picked up.

A Taste of Autumn
oil on multimedia board 11x14

Sunday Afternoon
oil on multimedia board 11x14

Plein Air

The weather is getting nice here in the Cache Valley so another artist friend and I went out the other morning and painted.  Plein air is a challenge and a delight.  A challenge because the light is continually changing and a delight because you can see more colors in person than you can from a photo.

Wellsville Mountains
oil on board 8x10

Carla O'Connor Workshop

Last week I took a watercolor workshop from Carla O'Connor.  Carla uses both watercolors and gouache (pronounced gwash like in wash).  Gouache is a watercolor that has chalk added to it to make it opaque.  The unique thing for me was to paint on hot press paper. The focus of this workshop was abstract figure and design.

Carla is a spunky, vivacious task master who makes use of every moment in the workshop.  Three of the five mornings were spent with a model.  The only painting demonstration we saw done was at the Tuesday evening meeting of our local watercolor society or if she came by and changed something on the painting you were working on.  Carla did demo some quick sketches and also showed us how to make a print.   Carla repeatedly said that we don't learn by watching her paint.  We only learn by painting.  Personally I like a combination of both.  Rather than demo in the morning we would draw very quick sketches of the model.  Did I say quick?  It was more like the speed of lightening.  5 seconds and she would say "change" which meant the model was to quickly take a new pose and we were to do a rather fast gestural drawing using the same paper.  Eventually we got to 30 second gestural drawings and even a bit longer.  I know the purpose was not to torture us although she seemed to delight a bit in that, but to get us to not analyze things and slow ourselves down but to go with the flow and just quickly get down the movement or body language of the model's poses.

The first day we each pulled a word out of a box that expressed a human emotion.  We were not supposed to share what our word was but paint the word in a non-representational way - a non-objective abstract which basically meant you could not put anything in your painting that looked like anything. You had to express the emotion with color, line, movement etc.  My table partner got rage while I got sensual.  Need I say more?

Some of our quick sketches were to be done a watercolor paper then we applied paint after the model left.  None of our paintings were done with the model still there which was a challenge in itself.

I never expect to come away from a workshop with a finished painting but tools that I may use in later paintings.  These are some of the things I did in the workshop.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Too nice not to paint

Spring is finally arriving, the birds are singing and the trees are beginning to bud.  Yesterday I invited a couple of friends over for an afternoon of painting and an evening of eating.  Both of these wonderful women have traveled here from India to further their education.  Bushra just received her doctorate in civil engineering and Udita is putting the final touches on the thesis she will present this week and prepare to receive her Master's Degree in Ecology.  We decided together to take time from the busyness of our lives and get together and paint.

This painting was started on location last spring in Mack Park in Smithfield, UT.  I'd never painted on watercolor board before and found it to be challenging yet fun.  Just as Bushra and Udita will be moving on back to India, this water is moving on.

De-cluttering My Life

This winter has been mild in the Cache Valley.  Very little snow yet I am tired of it.  Maybe it's been the extraordinary amount of winter days of bad air brought on by the inversion due to lack of snow or maybe it's just that I've been in the house for what seems like years rather than months but I am ready for warmer weather.

One project I have been working on is de-cluttering my life starting with getting rid of my huge book collection with the exception, of course, of my art books and my vegan cookbooks.  Those will remain at least for awhile.

It's embarrassing to admit but between Bob and me we have 47' of bookcases filled to the ceiling PLUS about 20 or more boxes of books.  These books have brought each of us many hours and weeks of pleasure.  One of the things we are doing as we plan for our future is take stock of where we want to live and what we would like our lives to be filled with.

Our time here in Utah has been good.  Actually it has been more than good.  We've especially loved being able to be near our son Mark and family.  There is nothing quite like the excitement that grandchildren exude when grandparents arrive.  We realize though that our children have their own lives and as they get older their calendars get more full.  It is time that we branch out and find new ways to live ours.

So the defining of what our future will bring begins now.  Whatever or wherever we live we know that we want to travel with less on our backs and in our homes.  So the cleaning out begins.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Winter lingers on

I spoke too soon when I thought spring had arrived in the Cache Valley.  It seems winter was hiding only to pop out once again.  Our winter days are usually sunny but there are times that everything in monochromatic.  There is a beauty in winter. I just don't want it too last too long.

This valley is filled with farms with wonderful barns.  This is just one of the many here in the Cache Valley.

"Winter Lingers On"
8x10 oil on board

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Signs of Spring

We are beginning to see signs of spring here in the Cache Valley.  Down in town crocus and daffodils are blooming and birds are signing.  I love the sounds of nature except the pheasant that squawks outside my bedroom window.  He can get a big obnoxious.  I'm eager for the weather to get a bit warmer so I can do more painting outside.  A few little trips now and then are all I do until the weather warms up.   I have to admit I'm a fair weather painter.

The painting Side Street was begun outside but finished in my studio.

"Side Street"
8x10 oil on board

"Signs of Spring" is totally from my memory with a little imagination thrown in.

"Signs of Spring"
11x14 oil on panel

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Not giving up

Mid December I blogged about "Starting a Painting and Ruining it in One Day."  I had begun a painting of a fish market at Pikes Market in Seattle.  Nothing felt right about it so I gave up on it but fortunately didn't throw it away.  This morning I was straightening up my art studio and I came across it.  I thought all is already ruined so why not just have fun with it.  Some times my best paintings have been the result of not giving up and just going for it.  Here it is.

"Fish Market"
11x14 oil on panel

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Alan - Portrait of little boy

11x14 oil on panel

I've opened up Alan's eyes at the request of his mom and did a few more touchups.  In a few days I'll go over the painting with a medium that will deepen and bring out the colors especially the darks and then later put a light varnish on it.  (The lighting in my studio has lightened and flattened out some of the color.) I am really enjoying doing commissioned portraits.  They can be challenging but my heart sings when I get positive feedback.  My "friends" price for an 11x14 framed oil portrait is $395.  Let me know if you are interested.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Portrait of little boy

I implied earlier that I was only beginning the portrait painting today.  Actually I started this the other day as I couldn't wait to get going on it.   If you have been reading my previous posts, you'll know that there are probably many small and possibly changes to comes but here is what I have so far.  It feels so good to be back in my studio again.

I love commission work!

While in Arizona I received an email from a woman who wanted me to paint a portrait of her second child. A couple of years ago I had done a watercolor of her first son.  She wanted this second one to be done in oils.  She sent me a number of photos so that I can get a sense of the personality of this darling little boy.  Most successful are when I can take the pictures myself but I don't think she's prepared to fly me across the country.  So, now that I have my sea legs back and the suitcases are unpacked, I'm back in my studio once again.

I am taking photos of the process and will post the results when the painting is done.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

It's good to be home

It is good to be home.  Our travels took us in search of warm weather and sunshine.  We spent almost a week visiting with friends outside of Phoenix.  They live half the year in Arizona and half here in the Cache Valley of Utah.  That lifestyle sounds so inviting especially when we are still living with snow.  While there we spent a day (of course) visiting galleries in Scottsdale and enjoying the Celebration of Fine Art 2010 show which is 100 artists busily making great art under big white tents.  20% of those 100 artists are from Utah and each of the galleries we visited in Scottsdale had painting from artists right here in the valley.

Each morning we would awake to fresh oranges and grapefruit from the trees of Barb and Bill.  I don't think I've ever tasted fruit more sweet.  We brought home two lemons to support our tales of how big and delicious the fruit is in Arizona.  This photo is of a sweet lemon NOT a grapefruit.

Our time in Tucson was divided between traveling down memory lane (Bob's parents used to live here), visiting the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum and exploring places to possibly retire or at least spend winters.

Sedona was another trip down memory lane.  The city of Sedona itself has grown into something I don't recognize any more but the red rock formations are as beautiful as ever.

A trip to Sedona wouldn't be complete without visiting Jerome an old mining town turned art town set on the side of a mountain.  The town is filled with art galleries and artist studios.  The old abandoned high school as been turned over to the art community for artist studios.  What a joy!

The Grand Canyon was even more beautiful under a blanket of snow.
Beware of the mountain lions!

Our time in St. George was equally filled with exploring the red rocks and canyons.  The trees were blooming with beautiful spring flowers and the daffodils were in bloom.  What a great time to see Zion we thought.   Once again we were greeted with changing weather - fog - snow and sunshine.  I had never seen Zion with snow and it was as beautiful as the Grand Canyon.  Maybe moving to a warm climate isn't what we are meant to do.  Snow is so pretty to look at.  Too bad it requires shoveling.

While gone our son Scott said it was sunny and warm at home.  Today as I write this it is snowing.  There is no escaping it.