Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Visit To The Florence Griswold House And Museum

This past weekend I went on a visit to Old Lyme, CT to see The Artist's Garden exhibit at the Florence Griswold House and Museum.  The exhibit was beautiful and I have so many photos that I will give the show it's own separate post, but today I want to talk about the Griswold Home.

Miss Florence, as she was known, ran a boardinghouse in Old Lyme, and it became the center of the American Impressionist movement.  Artists came to Old Lyme for the summer to paint the landscape and stayed in the house.

The house is a national historic landmark, as it should be.  I'm so happy that the place has been preserved and we can see how these artists lived and worked.

I was dying over the pink glass in the window frames of the front door.

This is the front hall of the house.  There are beautiful paintings on the walls and lovely antique furniture.

A portrait of Miss Florence.  I don't know which of the artists painted it.  Since this was her home, there are no tags next to the artwork.

This room was originally the parlor.  It was transformed into a bedroom and studio, and this room was reserved for the most special guests of the house.

Apparently, it was quite festive in the evenings.  This parlor is where everyone gathered after dinner.  There was music and games and conversation.

Another beautiful bedroom.

Miss Florence had quite the blue and white collection.  You know I wanted to abscond with all of these beautiful pieces!

Finally, we made our way to the back of the house.  The whole house is beautiful, but what I really wanted to see were the famous painted doors.  The artists that stayed in the house painted the door panels.  This is one of the many reasons I'm so happy that this place cannot be torn down and replaced by condos or something equally awful.

The above photo is in the dining room.  The painted panels in there were incredibly beautiful.

The gardens outside the house are as beautiful as the inside.  In a few respects, they reminded me of Giverny.  Not surprising as the exhibition noted that many of the American Impressionists spent time there.

check out this busy bee

I hope you enjoyed this look at the Florence Griswold House and gardens.  If you find yourself near Old Lyme, please stop in and check it out for yourself.  A really amazing place.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Story Of The Lilacs

It's been a busy few weeks over here, but I did manage to finally finish my lilacs.  I just edited the photos and was stunned to discover that I started this painting back on May 11th!  I was in the middle of a few other paintings, but I happened upon this giant bunch of lilacs at the Union Square Greenmarket and no way could I pass up painting them.

I knew I would have to get the flowers done before anything else, so I painted over an old panel.  This way I didn't have to worry about needing to build up layers of paint.

Once I got my block in done, I immediately started on the flowers.

Sorry for the darkness.  The beginning of this painting was done during a pouring rain storm, but you can see how I did the lilacs.  Shadow, mid tone, light.  Once I had that in, I was able to put down the petals.

I continued building up the layers on the flowers.  I knew as long as they were done, I could finish the rest of the painting later.  Of course, I was breaking the big rule about working on the whole painting at once, but with flowers you sometimes have to do that.

Eventually the time came and the flowers went to the great beyond.  This is the sad little set up that  was left behind.  It was also around this time that I took my painting break.  I just recently got back to work on this canvas.

The first day back,  I redid the background and the color on the vase.  It took quite a bit of doing to get the color of the porcelain right.  I think I did the white colors five or six times to get it right.  I was still having problems when fate intervened and I dropped the painting!  I went to grab it and my hand brushed right across the shadow side and that really helped integrate the colors and it finally looked like a vintage porcelain vase.  Luckily it also fell face up.  Sometimes there are happy accidents in the studio :)

I let it dry for a day, then got started on the blue pattern.  There are different views on whether or not to do the pattern right away, but if I have the time, I prefer to let the painting dry for a day so that I can wipe out the pattern if necessary.  It is too nerve wracking to have to worry about making a mistake.

I always start with the darks.  To make the dark of a blue pattern, I simply add some Ivory Black into my French Ultramarine.

Next up, the mid tone blue.  That is just straight French Ultramarine out of the tube.

Then it was time to deal with the highlight.  If you look at the photos above, you can see that I already had the highlight on the vase.  You should always put the highlight in early so you can properly judge your colors, but I always end up redoing it when the pattern goes in.

Of course, the colors around the highlight will be lighter than the mid tone, so I added some Titanium White to the French Ultramarine.

The key to all of this with the colors is to use different brushes for each color and to be careful about keeping them separated.

This highlight and the surrounding area took quite a bit of time.  I even posted on Instagram that it was taking all day.  But then a funny thing happened.  All of a sudden everything started working and I finished the entire painting!

Originally, I was going to try to find some lilacs somewhere, even if they were faux, but I just decided to try and fake it and after a few layers of flowers on the shelf, the painting was done.

Here is the finished painting.  I'm so happy that this all worked out.  I actually considered waiting to finish until next spring when lilacs will be in bloom again, but I'm really glad I took a chance and finished the painting.  Hope you like it!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Blog Update

Hi Everyone.  I hope all of you are enjoying the three day weekend.  It's beautiful here in New York today,  though I'm not too happy that the end of summer is right around the corner :(

I know I promised a studio update for my next post, but one key piece has not arrived yet, so it will have to wait a few days.  Instead, I have been doing some blog tweaking.  I've added three new paintings to the drop down menus.

Chinese Lanterns In A Blue And White Vase, 12x16, oil

Monet's Garden At Dusk, 16x20, oil

Lupines In A Blue And White Vase, 16x20, oil

I also cleaned out the drop down menus and got rid of some paintings that I no longer want to save, and some that need updated photography.  My photo skills, while still needing work, have gotten much better since I first started blogging.  As soon as I'm back to 100 percent, I plan to re photograph almost everything.  If there is anything you were interested in that is no longer on the site, just leave me a comment or send an email and I can send you a pic.

I'm also back to work on the lilacs.  I think this one will be done soon, which will make me very happy.  I had three paintings going on at once and that tends to make me a little crazy.  I finished up the wine carafe last week, the lilacs are almost done and I've got one small still life in the works that will probably need about two more weeks.  It's only 9x12 but has a very complicated background.  I will also be helping out with the set up for Gregg Kreutz's workshop next weekend.

So that's what is happening over here.  I'll be back soon with my new studio set up and hopefully a completed still life!