Sunday, July 5, 2015

Plein Air Painting, Flatiron

Last April my painting bestie was in town, and we decided to hit the streets for some outdoor painting.  We set up in the Flatiron neighborhood, just outside of Madison Square Park.  This is a great painting location.  You can see the Empire State Building to the north and the Flatiron building is to the south.  You can also paint in Madison Square Park or on the Fifth Avenue median.  Most important, Eataly is across the street if you need a loo or something delicious to eat.

We set up just outside Madison Square Park in a little area of the street that is closed off to cars.

I somehow neglected to take a photo of the view that I was painting, but I was looking north toward the Empire State Building.  This was my initial block in.

In a landscape, the sky is your background, so that went in first.  It is way too blue, so I spent some time toning it down.

That is me in my classy painting outfit and the end of the Sikh Day Parade (more on that in a minute) in the background.  I'm sorry to say that I did not finish the painting.  The perspective was just not working out and I spent a lot of time trying to get that right.

This is as far as I made it, but I didn't care.  I had a great time painting out there.  Here are a few more photos from the day.  Painting on the busy streets of New York City is not for everyone, but I love it.

It was a gorgeous spring day and the neighborhood was packed.  We had just had a freezing cold spell and it seemed like the entire city was out and about.  Flatiron is always a busy neighborhood, but this Saturday was busier than normal.  The annual Sikh Day Parade was ending in Madison Square Park and three weddings were performed in the park!

Marchers relaxing after the parade

Everyone was out celebrating the fact that it was finally spring!

This guy was running around all over the place with his big peanut :)

We were very excited to see some blooming trees after our never ending winter.

Flatiron building at dusk

We stayed out there until dusk, then headed off to Nanoosh to revive ourselves.  A great day with my great friend.  I'll have some more cityscape painting coming up soon.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Small Still Life

As regular readers of this blog know, I work on medium to large canvases unless I'm painting outdoors.  But I recently got the urge to do a small still life.  I have to say, it took me as long to paint this little 9x12 as it did the 16x20 before it.

Unfortunately, I seem to have forgotten to take a photo of the original set up, but here is my initial block in.

After the block in was completed, I put in the background, then the shadows and color.

I always like to get the entire canvas covered the first day of a painting.  It makes it much easier the for the next time you work on it.

This shot was around day three of this painting.  At this point I got fed up with the pears and replaced them with lemons.  This worked out very well for two reasons.  One, pears are the hardest fruit for me to paint.  Number two is that the lemons provided a good pop of color that the painting needed.  In the photo above I felt everything looked too alike and it did not make for an interesting painting.

I just finished the painting this weekend.  I'm very happy with how it turned out.  It was a bit of a struggle doing a small still life, but it is always good to challenge yourself. However, the new painting I just started is an 18x24 :)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

New Paintings

Just a quick note to let everybody know that I photographed all my recent paintings and added the photos to the drop down menus above.  I'll post them here as well.  Hope you like them!

Peonies In A Blue And White Vase, 11x14, oil

Blue And White Vase With Fruit, 12x16, oil

Peaches and Grapes, 12x16, oil

Sunflowers And Apples, 14x18, oil

Brass Teapot With Fruit

Pussy Willows In A Ginger Jar, 18x24, oil

Brass Teapot With Lemons, 12x16, oil

White Pitcher With Fruit, 12x16, oil

2015 Members Showcase at The Art Guild Of Port Washington

Hello Everybody.  I have some big news.  Remember my painting of the pussy willows?  It won first place in The Art Guild Of Port Washington members show!  This is very exciting for me.  The first time I have won first place.  The Art Guild had a lovely garden party reception and we all had a great time.

Pussy Willows In A Ginger Jar (sold!)

Some more paintings in the show and the second place winner.

The weather was perfect for an outdoor reception.

Some of the board members of The Art Guild.  They worked really hard to make this a great day.

Me with Gregg Kreutz and Ilene Silberstein (The Art Guild co-president)

We also had wonderful music by Chris Kennear.  I apologize for this horrible photo!  I snapped it at the end when I was running out of time, but the music was a great addition to the party.

We had a great day and thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make it happen.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Members Show At The Art Guild Of Port Washington

Hi Everyone,

Just a quick note to let you know that The Art Guild Of Port Washington is having their members show and the reception is today from 3-5pm.  My painting, Pussy Willows In A Ginger Jar, is in the show.

If you are in the NYC/Long Island area, please stop by and see the show.  Check for info and directions.  Hope to see you there!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Longest Sunflower Painting In History

I'm not sure if this painting actually was the longest sunflower painting in history, but it sure felt like it.  I was just looking through my photos to gather some for this post, and I was shocked to see that I began the painting in August of 2013!

This is how I started off.  At the time, I thought the set up was ok, but looking back I can see that it had a few issues.

I added another flower to the side and got to work.  As usual with my paintings, the flowers went in right away, while the rest of it took forever.

This is what I ended up with.  Not good at all, so I put it aside and forgot about it.

Awhile later, I picked it up again and redid the red velvet cloth and repainted the background to have a stronger contrast between the darks and lights.  It was definitely better than before, but still not great.

During the next round of "edits" I decided that the shape of the vase was incorrect.  I started out by redoing the shape and using the T-square to make sure it was right.  I then repainted it making the darks darker and the lights lighter.

This is where I ended up.  I signed it and everything, but I still knew it was not quite right.  The painting went back in the pile leaning against my studio wall.

Luckily, I happened to be working on a painting in Gregg's studio and I was using a blue velvet fabric in that set up.  As I was setting it up, he told me to make sure the fabric was placed in a way that flowed across the canvas.  Lightbulb!! I instantly knew what was wrong with the sunflowers.  The red fabric was just hanging out on the left side all by itself.  This was causing the painting to be divided up into thirds.  Not what you want in a still life.  You want the eye of the viewer to look from left to right.

I got the painting out again and made some serious changes.

I started by bringing the red velvet fabric across the canvas so it was integrated in to the painting.

I also decided to lose the giant sunflower on the right side of the shelf.  It was contributing to the unbalanced look of the canvas.  I added these nectarines and a few sunflower petals (debris, as David Leffel refers to these little additions to the still life shelf).

The only issue left was to add a little life to the red velvet.  When you are painting a velvet fabric, you don't want to add too much detail or you lose the "velvetiness" (a technical term) of it, but it cannot be a monochromatic lump either.  A few gentle highlights are all you need.  Easy to say, not so easy to do.

Finally, here is the finished painting.

Unfortunately, these are iPhone shots.  My paintings are taking their sweet time drying with the humidity here, but I hope to have a real photo soon.

I know this post was a bit photo heavy, but I wanted to show you that not every painting happens easily.  There are often mistakes and corrections that have to be made along the way, but it is always worth it to create the best painting that you can.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Are Those Pussy Willows?

Yes, I painted a bunch of pussy willows.  But before I continue on with the post, we have to pay homage to the queen of pussy willows, Mrs. Beverly Sutphin .  If you have seen Serial Mom, you cannot even look at pussy willows without thinking of her.

"Are those pussy willows?"
"Dried ones.  Aren't they pretty?"
"What did you just say?"
"Pussy willows, Dottie!"

Is there anybody who can say "pussy willows" like Kathleen Turner?  I think not!

Anyway, back at the beginning of March, I stopped into Whole Foods to stock up for yet another snow storm and they had beautiful bunches of pussy willows right in the front of the store.  I decided that I would finally paint them this year, but I also knew that I would not be able to work around the delicate buds while doing the background of the painting.  I decided to break a few painting rules and lay in most of the painting and then add the flowers later.

I decided to put the flowers in a ginger jar, so I started by loosely blocking in the fabrics and the jar, then started layering in the background.  This process took quite some time as we had a month of snowstorms, rain, fog and humidity here in New York.  After painting over this everyday for 6 days, I finally let it sit for a week so it could completely dry.  I was then able to put the final coats on the background and let that dry so the flowers would go on easily.

The other delay in this project was the ginger jar.  I love my ginger jar, but getting the shape right is no easy task.  I don't know how many times I repainted it, but I'm going to estimate is was about ten to fifteen times.  I just can't move on in a painting if something is off so I kept at it until it was right.

Finally in desperation I turned the canvas upside down, got out the T square and spent one whole afternoon just working on the jar until it was right.

Now it was time for the fun part, the flowers!  I spotted these beauties at the farmers market and got to work.

I started by putting in the stems, then I blocked in the tiny buds.

I decided the painting needed a bit more than just the flowers, so I added some oranges and grapes.  I really liked this set up and at this point the painting came very easily.

Close up of the buds

Here is the finished painting.

Pussy Willows In A Ginger Jar, 18x24, oil

As I said on Instagram, I was thrilled to be painting a spring flower.  Now that New York City is no longer a frozen tundra, I'm looking forward to starting up with flower painting again.
Hope spring has finally sprung wherever you are!