Sunday, February 18, 2018

New Still Life: Blue And White With Oranges And Grapes

Hi All,

Good to be back! Things have been a little cray here and one of the reasons was the need to finish this painting.  I started on January 2nd and just finished last Monday.  The Art Guild is having a show called "Something Blue" and I wanted to enter and became completely obsessed with finishing this painting.

I set up the still life with a blue cloth and some blue and white porcelains.








I knew I wanted to add some oranges to make the whole thing pop, so I sketched them in even before I had them.  Of course, I ended up adding grapes as well (can't do a still life without grapes!).




This was the completed set up.  I blocked in the whole canvas and went to work from there.








An upside down painting is never a good sign.  I spent quite a bit of time with the t-square getting the symmetry of the three pieces done correctly.




Finally it started to look the way I envisioned.  At this point, I kept adding coats of paint and darkened up the shadows.




I gave the whole painting a few days to dry, then I put in the blue pattern on the white pieces.  I always do this part on a dry canvas because I will inevitably make a mistake, and this way I can just wipe it off with a paper towel and start again.



The last two weeks were mostly spent fussing with little things that I doubt anyone besides me would notice, but I really believe that you have to get those tiny details done correctly or it affects the whole painting.  So what did I do?  I brightened up the glass compote.  It was looking a little dull and not fitting in with the rest of the painting.  One day I got so annoyed with it that I just threw a stroke of white on it and that did the trick.  I also spent some time fixing the bottom of the pitcher on the left.  It was not as round as I wanted so I had to play with the light and shadow a bit.  I also lightened up the cloth near the cut orange to help bring the viewer's eye across the painting.  The last thing I did was brighten up the grapes to the left of the pitcher.  There was no light happening in that area of the painting and it needed some.



Here is the finished painting.  I'm really glad I kept at it with this one.  There were days when it was beyond frustrating, but it was all worth it in the end.  The painting did make it into the show!  Opening and reception will be March 3rd.  I'll post details as it gets closer for anyone in the area who might like to stop in.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Notecards Of My Paintings Available At Blake And Taylor!

You may remember my post a few months ago announcing that prints and notecards of my florals are now available through the Blake and Taylor shop in Brisbane, Australia.

I had a few requests for a direct link for the notecards, so I wanted to post it here, along with a few photos.





















Ellie kindly sent me a packet of the cards and they are beautiful.  Photos do not do them justice.  The cards are printed on heavy stock and are perfect to use for any notes you may need to send.  In these days of instant messages and texts, a hand written note is a special treat and these are perfect for any occasion.

They are also heavy enough to be framed, which is what I am doing with my set.  

Here are the photos of the original paintings. These are also available as prints with free, worldwide shipping.  (The cards have a small shipping fee).


















Hope you'll take a look over at the Blake and Taylor website.  Let me know if you pick up the cards or prints!



Sunday, January 7, 2018

New Still Life: Bread, Fruit and Wine

Greetings from the frozen tundra, aka, New York City.  After getting hit by the bomb cyclone and ten inches of snow, we are hoping for a warm up tomorrow.

I hope everyone is having a Happy New Year so far.  2017 was not great and I'm glad to see it left behind.  I was not able to paint as much as I usually do, but I do have some new things to show you.

I started this still life back in August and figured I would quickly be done with it.  Unfortunately, the complete opposite happened and I just finished it up last month.  One of my longer time frames, but I could not let it go until it was just right.

I wanted to paint an entry for a food themed show and I have a serious obsession with Dutch still lifes, so I figured this was a good opportunity to do a large painting.  That was probably my first mistake, but that was my vision so I went with it.

First up, a trip to the grocery store.  I didn't know exactly what I was going to do, so I bought a variety of fruit and grape juice to use as wine ( an artist friend gave me this tip years ago and it works very well.)  I knew I wanted to include a loaf of bread, so I picked one up from the French bakery near my house.




















When I did my first set up, I was happy with it, but it did not look good on the canvas.  I switched out the wine decanter, took away the knife and added more grapes  If you are ever stuck on a still life, grapes are like a little black dress.  They hide a multitude of sins.










After some rearranging, this is the set up I decided on.








This was the end of the first day.  The composition and the block in went well, but this painting ended up going through a lot of changes before it was done.



This is where I knew things were going to go awry.  It was obvious that the wine decanter was off and no matter what I did I could not get the symmetry right.  After struggling with it a bit, I decided to leave it and work on the rest of the painting.



I concentrated on the fruit and the glass bowl.  The bowl took a bit of work as the glass had a design to it that was picking up a lot of light, but when I painted the bowl as I was actually seeing it, there was way too much going on.  After several tries, I got the main highlight and the smaller ones around it to behave.



When I got to this point, I was satisfied with the whole painting except for the wine decanter.  I had changed some other things around.  I shortened the green grapes in the bowl as they were too similar to the size of the red grapes and I added assorted grapes to the right side of the painting.  I wanted the green and red of the grapes to carry over to that side so it did not look like I had single areas of those colors.

I also did many incarnations of the background.  I went from too light to too dark and every other variable in between.



Between the background and the wine decanter, I was going nuts.  Only sheer stubbornness kept me from giving up on this thing.  A few times I was ready to throw in the towel, but I like the bread and the fruit bowl, so I just kept going.

Twice on Instagram I posted that I was done, but each time I arrived back to my studio, I took a look at the painting and I was not happy.



This was the second time I thought it was done.  It's not bad, but the bottle seemed a bit blah to me.  The rest of the painting has pretty dynamic color to it and I felt like the decanter was just fading into the background.

After many frustrating days painting this one thing, my friend across the hall said it needed a blast of color.  Of course, that is exactly what it needed.  I had been concentrating on this bottle for so long that I did not even see what was wrong with it.

I really blasted the highlight and that helped tremendously.  The morning after doing that I walked into the studio and didn't hate the decanter!  A sure sign I was finally on the right track.  I added even more light to the bottle and darkened up the background.  I did like the light behind the grapes, but it was competing with the light on the decanter and I wanted the decanter to be front and center.  By the way, if anyone had seen me doing this part of the painting, they would have thought I'd finally gone off the deep end.  We have had gray, dreary, snowy and just all around horrible weather here for the last few weeks and I have been painting with my light on as the studio is just too dark without it.  But in order to get the correct lights on the glass, I turned off my studio light, basically painted in the dark, and then turned the light back on to see what I had done.  It sounds nuts, but it worked.


Bread, Fruit and Wine, 18x24, oil


This is where I finally ended up.  This is a crappy iPhone pic, but it is going to be quite some time before this one is dry enough to varnish.  Now the light is flowing across the canvas and the whole thing is working together.  Even though this painting was beyond frustrating at times, I'm so glad I stuck it out.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

New York City Holiday Windows 2017

Hi Everyone.  I hope all of you are enjoying the holiday season.  A few nights ago, on the spur of the moment, I decided to check out the holiday windows on Fifth Avenue.  It is usually jam packed and difficult to get photos, but I really lucked out and it was relatively quiet, or as quiet as things can be on Fifth and Fifty-Seventh streets.  I started at Cartier and worked my way up to Bergdorf's.

















If you look at my Instagram Stories, there is a video of the leopard riding down the hill.  I always love the windows at Cartier and this year was no exception.




Across the street is Ferragamo, all wrapped up in a bow.


Continuing up the block, I got a great surprise in the windows of Dolce & Gabbana.  They had window displays that looked like massive Dutch still life paintings!  As you know, the Dutch still lifes are my favorite, so I really enjoyed looking at these windows.
















Next up, Tiffany's.  I wasn't in love with the windows, but the outside of the building is beautifully decorated.



And across from Tiffany's, the piece de resistance, Bergdorf Goodman.  Bergdorf's always has the most amazing and creative windows.  Titled "To New York With Love" the exhibits are dedicated to the cultural institutions of New York.

First up, The New York Botanical Garden.








Next, The American Museum of Natural History.



The New York Historical Society



Museum of the Moving Image



The New York Philharmonic.


The people who do these windows are true artisans.  Planning for the windows goes on all year.  If you would like to see more about how the windows are done and see more of Bergdorf's, I watched a great movie on Netflix last year called "Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's".

I have to say, the windows in the city this year are my favorite.  If you are local or visiting, please make time to go and see them.  If that is not possible, I hope you enjoyed seeing a bit of the holiday decor here.

Wishing all of you a great holiday!