Thursday, April 28, 2016

Back Soon!

Hi Everyone.  I've been a bit under the weather, but I'll be back next week with some new posts.

See you then!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Starting A Painting

I started a new painting the other day, and it is the first one in quite awhile that was not done for a show.  It was nice to just be able to play around with my props until I found something I liked.  I had an idea of what I wanted to paint.  I wanted to do a still life using a silver dish filled with fruit.  As you will see, that is not what I ended up with at all.

The first thing I did was stop by the store to grab a bag of fruit.  I always buy way more than I think I'll need.  You never really know what you will need until you are actually setting up, so you should always have extra.  Whatever you have left you can eat!

For this set up, I got a bag of red grapes, oranges, plums and pears.  Next, I went about setting up the still life.  I tried many configurations, but the silver plate was just not working.  After pulling a bunch of my props and trying many different set ups, I realized the silver plate would have to wait for another day.

Once I gave up on my original idea, I quickly got a set up that I liked.

Now it was time to start the painting.  Years ago when I started painting, I did not have a clue what I was doing.  I had no idea how to start a painting or how to proceed once I did.  It really held me back.  Then one day I got very lucky.  After being on the wait list for quite awhile, I finally got into Gregg Kreutz's class at the Art Students League.  The very first thing he taught me was how to begin a painting.  Gregg's formula is this:  placement, background, shadow, light.  Having a formula to follow was life changing for me.  I no longer sat looking at my blank canvas wondering what to do.

As you can see, I painted in the outline of the objects in the still life.  I could not decide if I wanted to go vertical or horizontal so I tried both.  Horizontal won out in the end.  This is not a step that should be rushed.  It is a lot easier to correct mistakes at the beginning than later on in the painting.

Once I was satisfied with my composition, I painted in the background.  After the background, I painted in the shadows.  It's so helpful to know from the beginning where your darks are going to be.
Next comes the light.  My goal is always to get the canvas covered on the first run through.  This way when you come back to the painting you can just get started working on the whole thing.

I have worked on the painting twice since the initial block in, just letting the paint build up.  I took a day off today as I wanted it to dry up a little bit, but I'll be back at it next week.

I've done a lot of still life set ups in my day, so here are a few tricks that I use.  To fill up a bowl of fruit, you don't need to use fruit for the whole thing.  I stuff a dish towel into the pot and let the fruit rest on top of that.  Grapes are notorious for falling all over the studio, so if I can't get them to stay in place, I use a push pin in between the stems and that helps keep them where they are suppose to be.  There will be wine in the glass decanter, but instead of opening a bottle of wine and wasting it, I use grape juice as a substitute.  It looks exactly the same.

I hope you enjoyed this little peek into my process of setting up a still life.  Soon I hope to show you the finished painting.  Spring has finally arrived here in New York.  Hope the weather is great wherever you are!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Paint It Black

I have a new painting to show you today and it's a bit different from my normal routine.  I have a completely black background without any shadow.  I've never done anything like that before, but I have to say, it was a lot of fun to change things up and do something different.

This was the set up.  As usual, I started by blocking in the objects and then got to work on the background.

For the background I used straight Ivory Black with a little bit of Burnt Umber mixed in.  As you can see, there are no shadows in the background, which is very different way of working for me.  After the background was finished, I continued on with the painting by getting the color and shadows on the rest of the canvas.

This was day two.  I was still concentrating on building up the colors on the canvas.  I also considerably lightened up the inside of the pewter bowl.  Without the light against dark, it looked flat as opposed to round and the light added some much needed depth.

I think this was my fourth session with the painting.  This is always a happy time - when the painting starts to look like it will actually be successful.  To be honest, up until this point I was very uncertain about this one.  Two things made the difference:  Darkening up the shadows on the white cloth and the vase and using straight black for the black pattern on the vase.  In real life, it is kind of a blue/black mix, but the blue was just not working with the black background.  Once I changed to straight black, the vase really popped.

On the very last day, I put in the patterns on the vase and the white cloth.

This is the finished painting.  I apologize for the very poor quality of this photo.  Unfortunately, no matter how many times I photographed it, I had terrible results.  We've had terrible weather here in New York the last few weeks and I just did not have the light for a decent photo.  In frustration, I just turned on the lights in my studio and took the photo.  Soon I will be able to varnish the painting and I hope I will be able to do some outdoor shooting soon.  When I do, I will repost the photo.

Though there was some frustration, it is good to step out of your comfort zone occasionally.  I will experiment a bit more with different backgrounds and fabrics in the future.  

Friday, April 1, 2016

Two New Shows

Hi Everyone.  I thought I would have two new paintings to show you today, but my plan didn't quite work out.  I finished up a new still life on Monday, but I have found it impossible to get a decent photo of the completed painting.  I used a black background for the first time and it is just not photographing well.  If I can't get a good one today, I'll show you the painting with a less than perfect photo :).  I've also been working very hard on a second still life, but I have made the difficult decision that this one is just not going to work and needs to be wiped out.  I've been working on it for a few weeks so it is hard to do that, but after having a dream about the whole situation the other night I know that is what has to be done.

However, there is some good news to report.  My pink roses were chosen for the "A Rose By Any Other Name" show at the Huntington Arts Council.  I drove myself (and everyone else) nuts with this painting, so I was thrilled when it was entered into the show.  And... I got a lovely surprise when the publicity card was emailed to me.  My roses were chosen as one of the paintings for the card!  This is the first time one of my works has been used for publicity and I couldn't be more thrilled.

Valentine's Day Roses, 16x20, oil

The reception is tonight from 6-8pm.  If you are in the Huntington (LI) area, please come by and check out all the roses!

The other big news is that two of my paintings were chosen for the Richeson75 Still Life and Floral online show.  It just went live a few hours ago, and my painting,  Blue And White Vase With Fruit, was chosen as a finalist! My Sunflowers were also selected to be in the exhibit.   You can click on the link to see the entire show, but I'll post my two paintings here.

Sunflowers And Apples, 14x18, oil

Blue And White Vase With Fruit, 12x16, oil

After a less than optimal few weeks, I'm so happy and excited to be in these shows.  I'll be back with my new still life soon.  Have a great weekend!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Visiting Cuba

President Obama's historic trip to Cuba yesterday had me and my travel buddies thinking about our trip there last year and how much we enjoyed visiting the island.  We all hope to go back someday.  I hope things open up enough between the US and Cuba that we can just go there on vacation whenever we want to.  Cuba is a beautiful country.  Though much of it is crumbling, you can still see the beauty of the buildings and the landscape.  I've written a few posts about my painting trip, but I thought you might like to see some of the photos that I have not previously posted.

We spent our first few days in the older part of Havana.  The buildings were beautiful and the old square was a lovely place to paint.

The architecture reminds me of the French Quarter in New Orleans, but there is a strong European influence as well.

I love book stalls on the street.  We found them when we were searching for the art supply store.

After the first two days in Havana, I spent the rest of my time on the Paseo de Marti, a grand boulevard in the city.  Painting there was so much fun.  People stopped to talk to us all day long, and so many of them were artists.  I got the impression that the art scene was a bit on the DL, but they were still working and doing the best that they could with the limited supplies available.  Everyone that I spoke with was so happy that we were there and seemed particularly happy to have artists coming to visit.  We asked some people what they thought about relations opening up between the US and Cuba and everyone responded positively.  I don't think politics had much to do with it, it was more that they were hoping for money and visitors to be coming into the country.  As a person who lives in New York City and can have just about anything I want, any time I want it, I was shocked at the inability to buy even basic goods in Cuba.  I could see a clear difference in the residents who had relatives in Florida to bring them necessities and the people who did not.  I have no idea how they are surviving, but they do.

There were chess players out every day.  They made chess boards by drawing the squares on pieces of material.

This was my favorite building on the street.  I spent two days painting it.  Even though it is a bit dilapidated, you can still see the beauty in it.

This is getting to be a bit long.  I did not realize how many photos I had.  I will save the rest for another post, but I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into Cuba.  I'm having a great time going through my photos and remembering the trip.  If you would like to read my earlier posts, the links are here, here and here.

As always, thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Two New Paintings

Hi Everyone.  I have two new paintings to show you today.  Unfortunately, I seem to have had a photo meltdown and many of the photos of these paintings seem to be missing. However, I would like to show them to you so I will just do the best with what I still have.

First up, I have a new floral painting.  I began this painting when the cold weather finally hit New York, so it was nice to have something spring like to work on.

 This was the bouquet.  I don't often do multi colored bouquets so this was a fun change.

I did my usual block in, this time using a different background color.  It is still gray, but not as warm as I usually go.  This was a combination of french ultramarine, transparent red oxide and titanium white.  I really like the new color for this painting, but when I tried it on a second canvas I got very frustrated with it and reverted back to my usual black and yellow ochre :)


Next I blocked in the flowers, just trying to get the basic shapes and colors.  I was not sure how long they would last, so I wanted to get as much info on to the canvas as possible.

This was my third session on the painting.  The flowers were the most important thing, so other than building up the background color, I worked on them while leaving the rest of the painting for later.

After the flowers were done, it was time to get on with the rest of the painting.  I started by painting in the pattern on the vase as well as the leaves that were scattered about on the shelf.  This vase has a very intricate pattern and it took some time to get it right.

A close up of the pattern.  It takes some effort to keep track of where all the darks and lights are suppose to be, but it is worth it to get the pattern done correctly.

This is a hilarious photo that my friend took the day I finished the painting.  As you can see, this bouquet was done!  When I'm painting flowers, I give myself permission to break the rule about working on the entire painting at once.  They are only going to be around for a short time, so you have to get them done as soon as you can.

The second painting I have to show you is a still life with a cantaloupe and grapes.  I've been wanting to paint a melon forever, but I figured it would be difficult and kept putting it off.

Here is the set up.  The painting went on the canvas pretty easily.  Unfortunately, all my progress pics seem to have disappeared into the ether, including a hilarious shot that showed the cantaloupe looking like it had teeth!.  I was painting in the seeds, but I went a bit overboard and it looked like an open mouth ready to bite.  I started calling it the "cantaloupe monster".   I solved the problem by wiping out most of them and just leaving a few behind to show that the cantaloupe did have seeds, I just didn't need to show every one.

This is the finished painting.  It was fun to switch things up and paint something new.  As soon as these are dry and varnished, I will photograph them and add the images to the drop down menus.

I think that covers my crazy winter painting spree.  I started a new still life last week and there is no deadline! I'm taking my time with this one and will post it as soon as it is finished.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Travel And Destinations Show At The Art Guild Of Port Washington

Hi Everyone,

Just a quick note to let you know that my painting, Monet's Pond At Dusk, will be in the Travels And Destinations Show at The Art Guild Of Port Washington.

Landscape painting is not my usual forte, so I was thrilled to be accepted into this show.  The show will be up from March 5 to April 3, 2016.  The opening reception and awards ceremony will be this Sunday, March 6th, from 3-5pm.  If you are in the New York City/Long Island area, please stop in.  It is a fun show and we would love to see you!

The Art Guild Of Port Washington
200 Port Washington Blvd
Manhasset, NY  11030