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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Not Quite Finished Portrait of Scott Selfridge

The actual painting is much warmer than what is showing on this blog page.  It must have something to do with my camera settings or in the process of uploading the photos.  I've heard other artists complain of similiar problems.  I hope I've been able to portray the warmth that is this giant of a man.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Portraits - A Strange Experience

It is a strange experience painting a portrait.  There is something about bringing life to an inanimate object with just a brush and some paint that seems almost magical. Portraits at least for me take the most time but are the most rewarding.  Photos with time fade with age as does our memories but a painted portrait has the potential to outlive us and that is a powerful thing.  I still have a long way to go with this portrait but wanted to share its birthing with you.  The initial underpainting was done earlier this week (or was it last week?) and this will probably undergo many changes before it is complete.  Read back a few posts to see the underpainting.

I woke up this morning and the awning behind his head really wasn't working for me.  It looked more like a flag and that isn't the feeling I am going for so out came the palette knife almost before my breakfast and I began to change the background.  I still need to make changes to his face, eyes and beard and hopefully the painting will tell me where to go from there.  

I couldn't resist continuing on this painting.  It ended up being a blend of palette knife and brushwork.  It is finished for now.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Making do in a small art studio

I used to think that in order to be a good artist you needed a beautiful art studio with perfect north light.  What I've discovered is although that would be wonderful, having a lot of space is not necessary to creating art.  I've seen some artists paint in their unfinished basements and others take a small corner of a furnace room.  Some have set up an easel in the corner for a dining or living room and others have used the breakfast table, having to clear everything away when they are ready to sit down to eat with the family.  What I have is a quite small extra bedroom.

I've taken off the closet doors and put in shelves.  Yesterday my husband added other shelves so I wouldn't feel so cluttered.  The first photo is a stack of finished watercolor paintings dating back to some of my earliest ones.  Looks like I need to have a giant sale.

As you can see I have an area for painting in oils and another for painting in watercolors although I usually stay in the same seat for either medium.  This extra table is ready for one of my artist friends to come and visit and do a day or week of painting together. Any takers?

Need for order

About a week ago I straightened my art studio but a couple of days later it became apparent that it needed more than just a little straightening up.  I needed more storage.  The room is small to begin with and I'm not naturally a "neat-nik" type of person so on Monday, Bob built some shelves to help me get better organized.  To do that, many things had to be moved around which created more chaos than I've seen in a long time.  So rather than paint like I would like to do I am sinking in a sea of art materials.  If you don't hear from me in a couple of days, send a rescue team.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Starting a Portrait

Today I'm starting another portrait.  I started with a light pencil drawing on my gessoed panel then applied a light wash with transparent oxide brown mixed with turpenoid.  Now I'm putting some values in with the same colors only using a bit less turpenoid.
The part I don't like is having to wait until things dry.  In watercolors you can use a hairdryer but in oils you just have to wait.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Zion Canyon

Zion Canyon
oil on panel 11x14

I've finished the painting Zion Canyon.  My struggle is with getting good photographs.  My camera for some reason is not picking up the depth of the colors.  It's also toning down some of the reds. Clicking on the photo brings you to a larger size that is closer to the right colors.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Palette Knife Painting

Zion (still under construction)

This painting like the previous post is still under construction.  The difference between the two is this one is totally done with one palette knife.  The only other time I have used a palette knife is in the painting of Lake O'Hara that I've previously posted.  In that painting I used both a palette knife and a brush.  The above painting still needs to dry some before I put the final touches on it.  Obviously not all paintings can be accomplished in one day.  The glare on this painting is mainly due to the paint being wet.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Painting Utah

Under Construction
oil on panel 12x16

How can one live in Utah and not at least occasionally paint the beautiful rock formations that are all around.  Before seeing Utah for the first time I thought every thing would look like Arches National Park.  I was so wrong.  Arches, Canyonlands, Zion Nat'l Park, Bryce Canyon etc all are distinctly different and each beautiful.  One could spend their whole life painting the Utah deserts and canyons and not run out of material.  This is the initial stages of a painting I am doing from photos I took on a cloudy day in Zion National Park.  The same scene after a rain or in the sun would be totally different.

I spent most of the day replacing windshields on two of our cars but did get a little painting time in before breaking for dinner.  I can paint until I drop but need to fit a little family time in so this is probably it for today.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Art Studio

Ok - half the studio is in order.  Now for the other side.  It's hard to be creative in chaos.  I have no idea how the Creator did it.

Unearthing old paintings

I can't even think about painting today until I clean out my studio.  I walked in there this morning and my first thought was someone had come in an ransacked the place.  I'm one to joke about not being skilled in the art of cleaning but even I have my limits.  I started with the closet taking out literally piles and piles of paintings - most of them watercolors.  I used to throw out my "oh no - did I do that" paintings but found that my husband got to them before the trash collectors did and back in the house they came.  So, I just started saving them thinking some day I'll go back and "fix" them.  I haven't and probably won't but in the meantime they are piling up in my studio closet.  My goal is to take everything out and have my husband put in more shelves.  I don't know why dividing my things up onto different shelves will stay any more organized that what I have now.

If you're interested here are some of my earlier works.  I have hundred's of them. (click to enlarge)

Monday, January 18, 2010

I've learned a lot

I've learned a lot from doing this painting and have a long way to travel still.  To see my the beginning of this look back to my Jan 9 post "Today's Portrait in Progress."   I know as this sits in my art studio I'll see what changes still need to be made but for now, I think I'm done.  The light on the back of her head is just a reflection from my camera.  I hadn't realized that last week's pose was the end and today this model was in a different outfit and standing in totally different light so I guess that's a hint to just stop.  Ah - what will tomorrow bring?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Watercolors or Oils - Which is Better?

I've always wondered why watercolors are the poor country cousin to oils?  Watercolors are not easier to paint than oils and they are more expensive to frame.  I've known oil painters who have said they would not even try watercolors because they are so hard to do  and some who have tried and given up.  Both mediums are beautiful so what will it take to have watercolors gain respect?

Painting that almost paints itself

oil 8x10

Sometimes I sit down to paint and the brush seems to take on a life of its own.  That happened this morning.  Maybe it was because my studio was a little on the cool side or maybe its just that I let my mind go someplace else but when I awoke, this was on my easel.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Now I Can Paint!

Take Only Pictures
watercolor 11x14

Life has a way of getting in the way of doing the things I want to do.  Car repaired - dinner cooked - house cleaned - groceries bought - blog updated.   Now I can paint.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Leaving the nest.

It was very hard for me to let some of my first paintings go to other homes.  Although most artists love seeing the red tag that marks a painting sold, it can also be like seeing your children grow up and leave the nest.  So much energy goes into a painting that there is a feeling of emptiness when they are sold or gifted to someone else.

Today I'm traveling down through memory lane recalling some of the paintings that are now in new homes.  Some have recently left and others have been gone for a while.  What helps ease the pain of separation is knowing these paintings are hopefully bringing others happiness.

Here are just some of my "children" that have left the nest.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Painting and/or Drawing

I really should title this blog site Painting and/or Drawing Almost Every Day.  Today was a painting day.  I returned to the art center to continue the painting I started last Monday and worked a little bit on last Saturday.  I guess I'm not whipping it out as quickly as I'd like but I'm enjoying the process.  Liz, the model, is very good and says this painting looks like her so I guess I'm heading in the right direction.  I still have more to do but this is how far I've gotten this afternoon.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Power of Fear

I spent most of my life avoiding painting because I had a fear of drawing.  That fear caused me to waste a lot of time that could have been spent enjoying what I was yearning to do.  Why do we give in to our "fear voice?"  Why did I?  Although I've been painting now for a while, I avoided drawing at all costs.  I would use tracing paper, projector, light box - you name it.  All to avoid drawing.  Joe Alleman has helped me to see shapes and trust that I could draw shapes.  You see it isn't drawing a tree, a barn or a person but the shapes that all come together to make up what we think we see.  Carl Purcell also is a master who helped me see things as shapes and values.

The assignments I was given in the portrait drawing class I'm taking was to copy the shapes and values we saw of various Hollywood stars.  If I watched more movies I'd know all their names but that's another story.  The first drawing I was so insecure that I make a copy of it and did the assignment on the copy as insurance against messing up so much that I'd ruin the original.  When that drawing came together I threw caution to the wind and did the other assignments directly on the "master."    I ignored my "fear voice" (oh yes it was still shouting inside my head) and just drew.

Now I have to figure out how not to be too hard on myself for avoiding drawing all these years.  I've come to realize that mistakes are a part of the learning process and it's okay if I screw up.  WOW is that freeing.

Today's drawings.  Yes, I realize that I need to get more values down.  Yes I realize that I am new to sketching and don't have the crosshatching part down yet.  Yes, they are not perfect and that's OK!!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Today's Portrait in Progress

I started this painting in a live model session last Monday at the Art Center in Logan.  The model gave me permission to photograph her so today I did a little more work from the photo.  Monday I'll paint some more directly from the model.  The subtleties of color, temperature and value only show up when you paint directly from something live rather than from a photo.  This painting is 12x16, linen on board and I'm doing it in oils.

Sketching is also fun and very relaxing.  Here's today's sketch.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Trying Something New

I arose early to join a group for what I thought was drawing or painting from a live model.  It turned out to be a group of sculptorss with a live, male model.   Gene Needham, owner of the Art Center, asked if I'd like to try my hand at sculpting.  So, I bought some clay, watched him quickly demonstrate how to build an armature and I went to it.  By the time I started there was only an hour left of the session so I just dove in.  Fun, fun, fun.  I have a long way to go but I had fun with the beginning part. What do you think?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Don't wait - Do it NOW

I have always wanted to learn how to draw but I was afraid I couldn't do it so I didn't.  The same for painting.  I was always envious of those who had artistic talent and never felt I did.  It was my fears that kept me yearning instead of doing.  My first art classes were given by an artist who painted abstractly with very big brushes.  The benefit was I didn't have to know how to draw.  Abstracts were great.  I would just hint at what the subject was and get away with it but inside I've always wanted to learn how to draw.  Finally I'm taking a drawing class and yes, I've started with a portrait class and surprising myself that I'm capturing the likeness.  My advice is don't wait to do whatever it is you've been yearning to do.  Do it NOW.  Be willing to make mistakes - that's part of the process of learning and really it's no biggie.  I should know - I've made plenty of them myself.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Art Marathon

Today felt like an art marathon having spent the morning painting and getting my art supplies together for the two classes I took this afternoon and evening.   Today was the first day of a portrait class with Doc Christensen.  Doc did a demonstration drawing of Angelina Jolie and then we were each given photos of other actors to draw from.  I chose Kenau Reeves since I have little experience drawing men.  We had about an hour to do our drawings.  I am really excited about this class and kicking myself for not having started drawing and painting earlier in my life.  I was with Doc from 2-5pm and Joe Alleman from 6-9pm.  Time just flew by although next time I'll have to remember to bring something to eat for dinner.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Stretch Marks

Yesterday I attended a live model session and brought my oil paints with me.  Once again I felt pretty intimidated by the quality work that the professional artist around me were doing and vowed to work even harder at becoming a better artist.  I want to stretch myself.  As many new mothers have discovered once you are stretched you never quite go back to the same place.  I know that what it will take to become a better artist is to become better in drawing.  Not having taken any formal drawing classes before, I've signed up for a portrait drawing/painting class that begins tomorrow.  The approach I took in the past to learn to draw was initially I would blow up photos and then trace over them.  With each drawing, I would trace less and less lines telling myself that I was imprinting on my brain the experience of drawing well.  I have reached the point where I don't trace anymore so something in this process must have worked.

Today to practice, I took one of the photos of yesterday's model, clipped it to my 18"x24" sketch book and have spent the morning sketching.  I can see that I'm approaching the values (darks and lights) pretty timidly and need to build my confidence and just do it.  Many artists won't try to paint portraits so I give myself a pat on the back for attempting this and fortunately my experience with Mike Malm last May has given me the confidence to do this.  You, my friends and family, are welcome to journey along with me.  You will get to see the good, the bad and the ugly and hopefully like in pregnancy, the journey and the resulting stretch marks will be worth it.  This sketch isn't done but I thought I'd post it while I still had the nerve to share it with you.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Finding Your Own Style

Girl with Scarf

watercolor 14x11

There are some artists that you can tell who painted something just by looking at it even before you see the signature.  There are times I think I have found my style then all of a sudden something totally different comes out from the end of my brush.  I know this painting was influenced by the work of Ted Nuttall whose workshop I took but it also felt very natural when I painted it. One problem though, it doesn't look like the photo I worked from.      It is almost as if some force took over.  I wonder if other artists have this happen to them.