Saturday, October 6, 2018

Sherrie McGraw Demo At The Salmagundi Club

Last week I was lucky enough to see Sherrie McGraw do a portrait demo at the Salmagundi Club here in New York City.  I've seen Sherrie demo many times out in Taos, but it was great to have an event close to home.

It was a packed house and I was about half way back so the pics I was able to get are not great, but I know I have many Sherrie and David fans here, so I decided to post them as I thought you guys would like to see the demo.

The Art Renewal Center exhibition was also hanging, so it was great to see that.  I had seen many of the paintings online, but it is so different seeing them in person.

Tim Newton, Chairman of the Salmagundi Club, introduced Sherrie to the audience.

Sherrie told us a bit about what she was going to do, and then got to work.

The block in.

There were screens set up so everyone could see exactly what was happening.

On the model breaks we were able to check out the exhibit.  There were so many beautiful pieces hanging.

The model, Henry, during a break.  Such a great costume!

Here is the finished demo.  Sherrie is amazing.  This was done in less than two hours while answering questions.  It would have taken me that long just to do the block in.

I'm so glad I got to see this, especially as I am headed out to Taos to take a workshop with David, Sherrie and Jackie Kamin very soon.

Next up at the Club is the American Masters Show.  David and Sherrie, as well as many other great artists, have work in the show.  Check it out if you are in the area, but if not, I will have a post here soon.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Cast Drawing Boot Camp At Grand Central Atelier

This summer I tried my hand at cast drawing again, this time in the Grand Central Atelier boot camp.  I thought boot camp would be much harder than the regular course, but it was actually a lot easier.  Knowing there was a limited amount of time forced me to just do the work and not obsess on every little thing.

I decided to try doing lips this time.  I started out by blocking in the shape of the cast.

Then the real work starts, shading in the drawing.

As you can see, we moved very slowly, covering a tiny bit of the paper at a time.

This is where I ended up after working right up to the last minute of class.  Obviously, I could have spent another month on this drawing, but I'm pretty pleased with how far I got on it as I spent months working on my ear and was not able to finish it.

Cast drawing is hard, but you learn so much and you don't have to worry about the model moving!

Thanks to GCA and our instructor Justin Wood.  It was a great way to spend a summer week.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Wallflowers At The Art Guild Of Port Washington

Just a quick note to let local readers know about a great show happening today at The Art Guild.  The reception for our big floral show, Wallflowers, is happening today from 3-5 pm.  I have two paintings in the show, and I'm thrilled to say that my Sunflowers won third prize!

Cherry Blossoms, 20x16, oil

Sunflowers, 20x16, oil

The Art Guild is located at 200 Port Washington Blvd, Manhasset ( LI ), New York.  Come join us if you are in the area.  New York City readers, the building is a ten minute cab ride from the Port Washington station.  Hope to see you there!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Setting Up For Robert Johnson's Painting Workshop At The Art Guild Of Port Washington

In July, The Art Guild of Port Washington was lucky enough to host Robert Johnson for a very rare New York area workshop.  I have a ton of photos from the workshop itself, but I thought you might like to see how we set up for a still life workshop.

I've been to several workshops where there are no set ups and the students are left to fend for themselves, often with lackluster props.  Also, there can be people in a workshop who are new to still life and may not know how to do a proper set up.   And don't get me started on sharing a set up in an expensive workshop.

When we do still life at The Art Guild, everyone has their own set up, already set up the day before the class starts.

We have a lot of props there as two of us are still life artists and there are also a lot of "community" props, things that people have donated and are for everyone to use.

Luckily, my studio mate is a very talented floral designer as well as a painter, so she is able to buy flowers at a distributor for the classes, and she makes the most amazing floral arrangements.

The first thing I do is get my own supplies together and pack them in my paint box.  It is one less thing to worry about in the midst of everything else that is going on.

Next up is purchasing supplies.  For a still life/floral workshop, we gather a few buckets full of flowers, and a variety of fruit ( lemons, red and green grapes, oranges, apples, etc).

We then get all the props in one place.  Fabrics, vases, small objects, crystal pieces and presentation boards to hold up the fabrics and create a background.

And then it begins.  We spend a LOT of time with the set ups.  It's quite rare that we just pull some objects and fruit and create a set up.  They go through lots of changes.  Fruit, objects and flowers go in and out until the still life is just right.  This can take some time and people often look at us like we are nuts, but what is the point in doing a workshop with all of these beautiful things if you are not going to make it the best it can be, right?

These are some of the set ups that we ended up with.  You may be wondering what the little post it notes on some of the shelves are for.  When using fruit in a still life, I like to include one or two pieces of cut fruit, but I don't want to do that until the morning of the workshop, so we put a mini post it in the spot we want to use for the fruit slice as a reminder.  This way it's easy to just come in and cut the fruit and not have to think about where it belongs.

Two other things I should mention.  Lighting is very important.  In a workshop, there is rarely natural light for everyone, so we use spotlights with daylight bulbs.  We just hook them up at either side of the still life to create shadows and they work very well.  The other is how we actually make the set up.  We use milk crates to create height and then lay wooden shelves on top of them.  If you go to Home Depot, you can just tell them the size you want and they will cut them up right there.  We then stained them with Minwax Dark Walnut.  We clip the fabric to the presentation boards and then you are ready to start styling.

When people see me doing set ups, they will often ask how I know when it's right.  I wish I had an answer to that question, but unfortunately, I don't.  I do follow two basic rules.  The still life should be a triangle and should read from left to right.  But the rest is just having an eye for when it is right.  I take my time with the set ups and if there has to be a ten minute discussion of whether there should be one grape or two on the right side of the still life, that is what happens.  I guess what I'm trying to say is, don't rush in order to get it done quickly and if something doesn't look quite right, change it.  No need to have anything that drags down the set up.

It is also really helpful to consult books on the type of set ups you want to do.  We had Robert Johnson's book open while we were doing these to make sure they were along the line of what he would want to paint.

In addition to Robert's book,  David Leffel and Sherrie McGraw's books are a great source of inspiration for this type of still life set up, as well as any book on Chardin or the Dutch Masters.  I look at them all the time and they are so helpful.

The students were so happy with the set ups and thanked us for making them available, which was so nice.  I want people at a workshop to be happy and if they are paying for the class, they deserve the best you can give. ( Can you tell I recently had a crappy workshop??? :)

I always love a behind the scenes look, so I hope you enjoyed this one.  I'll have a separate post about the workshop itself.  It was amazing.  If you have any questions about setting up a still life or a workshop, leave me a comment.  I'm happy to try and help!

** I just want to make clear as per the rules that I was not comped in any way for anything in this post.  I paid for the workshop and helped out as a volunteer. The props and supplies that were used were purchased by us or were things we already owned.**

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

New Painting: Cherry Blossoms

I mentioned in a previous post that I finished a second painting since getting back to the studio.  I started these cherry blossoms last March before the big mishap, and the canvas has been sitting in my studio ever since.  My first thought was to just leave it and finish it up next spring when the cherry blossoms are out again, and I also considered buying faux blossoms and trying to finish the painting that way.  But I never use faux flowers for painting and I really didn't want to leave it sitting around for another eight months.

Because the buds were so delicate, I painted the background and the ginger jar first.  This background has many coats of paint and I knew I would not be able to paint around the blooms, so as I did with my pussy willows, I let the background completely dry and then began doing the flowers.  I got two sessions in with them before I had to stop painting.

Fast forward to two weeks ago.  I finished the hydrangeas and needed another floral painting for a show I wanted to enter.  Since I am the slowest painter alive, I knew I could not crank out another painting in two days ( my time before the deadline).  On a whim I put the painting on the easel and just started painting.  I figured the worst that could happen was I would have to wipe it out.  No guts, no glory and all that.

This is where I left it the first night.  The flower buds went right in, and I faked the ones on the wood shelf, and they went in fine as well.  I also finished up the wood shelf without a problem.  I did all that with no reference material whatsoever, so what was the problem?  The ginger jar!  The one thing that was sitting right in front of me was the hardest part of this painting.

The problem was that I decided the jar needed a few more coats of paint.  That took some time, but was not too terrible.  The main problem was that I like to have my porcelains completely dry before I put the pattern on, but in this case that was not going to happen.  Now, I could have left well enough alone and just painted the pattern on the canvas the first day, but I have to have everything just right and the perfectionist in me could never just go with "good enough".  So the next day, deadline day, I got back to it.  I painted one more coat onto the jar and then got started putting in the pattern.  It was not as difficult as I had thought it would be.  The main difference is that it is not so easy to correct a mistake on a wet canvas.  On a dry canvas you simply wipe it down and start over.  With this situation, I still made plenty of mistakes, but had to be very delicate in removing them, as well as adding the paint back to the jar from the wipe out.  I also redid the highlight about a thousand times.  I was having a tough time getting it to look exactly like I wanted it to.  It either looked like a blob of white, or it took over the whole top quarter of the ginger jar.

Finally it all worked and I got my show submission in at 9:30 pm.  Two and a half hours before the deadline!  There are reasons my hubs refers to me as 'Last Minute Frances'  :)

This is the finished painting and I'm happy to say, it was accepted into the show!  I've already started a new painting, and it's very nice to just be painting without worrying about a deadline.  I'll have show info up soon.