Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Taking A Painting Break

Hi All!  So, it's been a little bit.  Things got a little crazy here.  I've been out of town so have not been painting.  And, for the first time ever, I needed a painting break.

As you all know, I love painting flowers.  They are beautiful and mostly fun to paint, but the down side is that you are on a time crunch with them.  That is okay if you paint quickly, but I am an extremely slow painter.  When doing a still life with objects and fruit, that is not a problem, but with flowers it is a whole other ball game.

This was my set up.  Pretty straight forward, right?  I thought this would go pretty easily, but it was difficult from the beginning.  The peonies were pretty closed up when I bought them, and that is how I started the painting, but after a day or two, they really opened and became much bigger.  Of course, I was expanding them on the canvas as they were opening in order to try and really capture them.  Nothing I haven't done before, but this time it just wasn't working.

As you can see, this is where the problem started.  The peonies were too big, the vase was too big, the flower in front was too big.  Everything was just off.

This was turning into peonies on steroids.  But the main problem here is that I had been working so intensely on this painting that I couldn't see the problems with it at all.  Luckily for me, a very good friend messaged me and told me everything was way too big.  After that, I took a good look at it and saw that she was so right.

Of course, being an artist, I had to go through a lot of mental grief.  Painting sucks, I suck, I hate this, I should give up and go back to working in an office.  The usual nonsense we tend to put ourselves through when things go wrong.  The good news is that I had a trip of a few weeks scheduled and would not be painting.  It turned out to be the best thing for me.

Now that I've been out of my studio for some time, I'm missing painting and can't wait to get back to work.  I just saw some flowers Katie Whipple painted on her Instagram and I was immediately envious that she was getting to paint florals.  A good sign for sure.

I don't know if I'll go back to the peonies.  I may or I might just let it go and start something new.  Two weeks ago I was making myself crazy and now I don't really care one way or the other.  I'll see how I feel when I get back.

This was so strange for me because I have never needed a painting break before, but I guess the time comes for everybody.  The good news is that taking a break is not the end of the world and now I'm completely ready to get back to the canvas.

Has this ever happened to you?  Leave me a comment!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Members Show At The Art Guild Of Port Washington

Just a quick note to let you know that I have a painting hanging in the members show at The Art Guild of Port Washington.

My painting, Silver Bowl With Lemons And Grapes, is hanging now along with work from many of our members.  The reception/awards ceremony is this Friday from 6-8pm.  There will be music, food,  wine and there is a rumor that the sun is actually coming out.  That alone is a good reason to come out and join the party!

The Art Guild Of Port Washington
200 Port Washington Blvd
Manhasset (LI),  NY

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Hydrangeas And The Enchanted Home

Hi Everyone,

I was thrilled to see that my painting, Blue And White Hydrangeas, was featured on The Enchanted Home blog post Seven On Sunday!  A huge thank you to Tina for adding my painting to her Instagram round up.

If you are new to my site, welcome! I'm so glad you stopped by.  I thought I would tell you a little bit about me and my work.  I'm an artist living in New York City.  Though I do the occasional portrait and landscape, I am primarily a still life painter.  Depending on the time of the year, I concentrate on traditional still life ( fruit and objects) or flowers.  As it is spring time, and this weekend is the unofficial start of summer, I have been in flower mode.  I recently finished a bouquet of lilacs, the hydrangeas, and I am now on to some peonies.   Here are a few examples of my work.

Fruit In A Glass Candy Dish, 16x12, oil

Peruvian Lilies In A Blue And White Vase, 14x11, oil

The Purple Flowers, 12x16, oil

My regular readers, I hope you will check out The Enchanted Home.  If you love home decor, flowers, entertaining, and most of all, blue and white, you will love Tina's blog.

I hope you enjoy my paintings, and if you have any comments or questions, I'd love to hear from you! Please leave a comment or email me, paintingsbyfrances [at]  Thanks again, Tina!

Have a wonderful day!


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Blue And White Hydrangeas

I finished up two new paintings yesterday.  Since we are having our usual cold, dreary, rainy weather here in New York, I'll talk about the floral painting first.  I started these hydrangeas back in March, so this one took a bit of time, but it was worth it to get it just right.

I actually started out by just putting in the vase, shelf and background.  At this point, I was not even sure what sort of flowers I would be painting.  I just wanted to get things going so that when I did find the flowers I wanted to use, I would be ready to go.  At this point, the weirdest thing happened.  A few people (unsolicited) told me that I should just keep the painting as is!  I could never imagine doing so.  I'm not a minimalist, especially in painting.  I want the whole canvas covered and I want color on the canvas.  So when I happened into Whole Foods and saw this big bouquet of hydrangeas, I was excited to put them in the painting.

I simply outlined the placement of the flowers and the leaves, and then got to work filling it all in.

This is where I left off the first day.  After that, it was just a matter of layering on paint until the hydrangeas looked the way I wanted them to.  I also ended up darkening all of the leaves.  As I got further into the painting, I realized the leaves were competing with the flowers so I made them less prominent.

At this point, I put some debris on the shelf and thought I was done except for the pattern on the vase, but it was not to be.  After contemplating the painting for a few days, I decided it needed something more on the shelf, so I took one stem (from a new bouquet) and painted it in.

As you can see above, I also painted in the blue pattern on the vase.  That went on quite easily, but I was still having aggravation with the shelf.  I just couldn't get it to look the way I wanted it to.

This is where I left off the first time.  I thought the painting was done and I signed it and posted to Instagram.  However, there was still something nagging at me.  My original vision for this painting was flowers "exploding" out of the vase and even though I liked what I had done, the painting did not feel finished to me.

Luckily, Gregg Kreutz made a Facebook post that pointed me in the right direction.  He said that if you listen to the painting, it will tell you what to do.  Bingo!  When I listened to this painting it was shouting at me "PUT SOMETHING ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE VASE!!!".  So that is what I did.

After thinking about it a bit, I decided to use a white hydrangea since the vase had blue in it.  I wanted to make sure that the colors stayed balanced and a blue flower would have been too much.

At this point I thought I was done with the painting (again) and cleaned my brushes and put everything away, but something was still bugging me.

So, this is what I did:  I put some white paint on my easel (the palette was already clean), got out my small palette knife, and just started putting straight titanium white on the left side hydrangea.  The right side of the flower was facing the light and needed to be pumped up.

And here we are, the finished painting.  I swear I'm not touching it again!  It needs to be varnished and if we ever have a non rainy day again, photographed outside, but for now I'm so happy that it is finally finished.

As I mentioned earlier, I also finished a new still life yesterday, so I'll have that for you next.  I know this was a long one, so thanks for reading!!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Painting Lilacs

Hi All!  I'm glad to be back.  Even though it is pouring rain and freezing here in NYC, the flowers are still blooming and I just finished a bouquet of lilacs.  I've had a lot going on and missed out on some painting days, but the end of last week I picked up two bouquets of and got to work.

Before I started on the flowers, I spent some time getting the canvas ready.  I actually started on this painting back in April.  I knew I wanted to have everything ready so that when I got the flowers I could just concentrate on them.

This was my sad little set up.  I mostly wanted to get a few coats of paint on the background so I would not have to worry about painting around the flowers.

This was the end of the first day.  After this, I just kept painting over the canvas.  I'm not sure how many coats are on there.  It is at least five.  I normally would not do a painting this way, but with certain flowers, it is a lot easier to not have to worry about the background when you are trying to deal with tiny petals and leaves.

Finally, it was time for the lilacs.  I have to say, it was a bit difficult to find them this year.  After running all over the city looking for a decent bunch, I found these at the flower shop on 62nd and Lex.  I put them in the vase and got to work.

This was the first pass at the flowers.  I have to say, they went on to the canvas pretty easily.  Of course, the rest of the painting made me want to tear my hair out, but the fact that the flowers were not an issue is important as they have a deadline.

Last Monday, I spotted these beauties at the farmers market, so I grabbed two bunches.  I figured I would have one bouquet at home and one at the studio for replacements.  Unfortunately, despite being told they were freshly cut, they barely lasted two days.  I ended up using some of them for flowers on my still life shelf.  Happily, the lilacs from the tiny flower shop lasted almost a week, so I was able to get the bouquet done.

Here we are at what I thought was the end of the flowers.  I think I just put three coats on them and I did not really deviate much from the first time I painted them.  However, the glass vase and the shelf were another story.  The vase drove me nuts.  I just could not get it to look like a glass vase.  I lost count of how many times I repainted it.  And I could not get the water line to behave.  Finally, I realized what was wrong.  To paint glass, all you have to do is obscure the lines of the piece.  Mine were still far too prominent.  The other issue is that my vase was completely dark.  I had light on the background, but not in the glass vase.  I wiped the whole thing down, lightened up a good portion of it, repainted the stems and used a small t-square and to draw a new water line. I also had to redo the highlight a few times.

At this point I thought I was done except for the pattern on the creamer, but in my brain I was hearing Gregg Kreutz telling me to lighten the lights and darken the darks, so that is what I did.

Lilacs In A Glass Vase, 20x16, oil

And here we are at the grand finale.  I struggled through a lot of this painting and the reason I write about it is because so many people think painting is easy and when it is not going well, artists who are struggling tend to blame themselves or think they are doing something wrong.  You are not.  Anybody who makes art will have pieces that practically paint themselves and others that are difficult from the moment you start.  The trick is to keep going even when it is not fun and you feel like you want to throw the painting out the window.  I'm already on to a new one, peonies this time!

Monday, April 17, 2017

New Still Life, Blue Bottle With Fruit

Hello, everyone.  I hope everybody had a nice holiday week.  I'm glad to be back here.  Unfortunately, I've been very under the weather for a few weeks and I had a crazy mishap and ended up fracturing my finger.  Needless to say, typing is difficult, but I hope to be back to blogging more regularly.

About two weeks ago, I finished up a new still life and luckily was able to get a signature on it yesterday.

This was the set up.  I had not done colored glass in years, so it was fun to try something different.

The placement went very smoothly, which is usually a good sign that the painting will go well.

Here is the original block in, as well as a side by side (or top and bottom in this case).  As you can see, the bottle is already starting to look like colored glass.  It is simply Ultramarine Blue with some Ivory Black added in the darker areas.

I believe this was after the fourth painting session.  This painting really didn't have too many difficulties, it just needed a lot of layers to achieve the effect I was going for.  At this point I was happy because the vase was looking like porcelain and the bottle was looking like glass.  There was one element that was driving me bonkers though:  the oranges!  They made me absolutely crazy.  I cannot tell you how many times I painted them, scraped them down and then painted them again.  I had the shadows and the colors right, but could not seem to get the bumpy skin that these small oranges have to look realistic.

In the meantime, I put in the pattern on the vase and did the cutout on the lace cloth.  I also added in a few of the folds on the background fabric.  I felt that the right side of the painting needed something as the blue bottle was so strong on the left.

The lace and the blue pattern went in very easily, but I was still struggling with the oranges.  They really drove me nuts.  That was one of those situations where you just have to keep going.  You don't want to give up on the painting all together, or, even worse - settle for something that is not quite right.  When you are sick to death of dealing with something, put it aside for a bit and then come back to it.  My regular readers know that I usually have two or three paintings going at once and this is one of the reasons why.  When I'm fed up with one, I just work on another.

And here is the finished painting.  I took this right on the easel.  It is seriously in need of a varnishing, but that is a few months away, and I wanted to show you the finished piece.  I'm still working on some hydrangeas, and lilacs have started appearing so I'll probably be starting up a new floral soon.

I'm hoping to be blogging on a regular basis, but in the mean time, I'm still active on Instagram if you would like to see what I'm up to.

Monday, March 20, 2017

More Painting Updates, Empire State Building and Union Square

Happy first day of spring!  Here in New York City, we are still digging out from last weeks blizzard/ice storm and it feels nothing like spring.  Our insane weather is actually what led me to redo these two paintings.

The Art Guild of Port Washington is having a show celebrating America and I want to enter.  Back in February, my plan was to go down to Battery Park and paint the Statue Of Liberty.  Of course, in February, it was 65-70 degrees every day.  Since March started, it's been nothing but rain, snow, blizzards and freezing temps.  Battery Park is on the cool side most of the time.  There is no way I was going to hang out there for hours painting.   I took these two photos today.  There is a snow mountain at 13th and University and cars all over the city are stuck in blocks of ice.  I knew if I were going to do something for this show, it would have to be done in the studio.

I was about to give up on entering the show, when I remembered that I had two paintings I might be able to use.  One of the Empire State Building, and another of Union Square that happened to have an American flag in the background.  The only problem is that these two paintings were not among my best.  I had worked on each of them twice on location.  I'm not a landscape painter, so two passes are not nearly enough for me to complete a canvas.

I decided to tackle them in the studio.  I figured the worst that could happen would be that I would totally ruin them and would skip entering the show.

This was the original painting of the Empire State Building.  I always thought this painting needed a bit more work, but never got back out there to do it.  It was a little too gray for me.  It was a gray, rainy day when I was there, but I thought I would take a chance and try to brighten it up a bit.  After two sessions in the studio, I'm much happier with it.

Empire State Building, 11x14, oil

 Here is the updated version.  I feel like this one has more life in it and I'm now happy with the painting.

The second painting was done in Union Square.  Unfortunately, I do not have a before photo for you. I neglected to take one when I began my painting frenzy and the originals were lost in the iPhoto to Photos transition (the worst thing Apple ever did, in my opinion).

Anyway, here is what I ended up with.  If you are familiar with Union Square, I entered the park at 17th and Broadway and I was looking across the park toward Beth Israel.

Union Square, Summer 11x14, oil

Now all I have to do is enter these in the show!  Even if I am not chosen, I'm still happy that these paintings are now officially finished.  I'm on a big clean out and every thing that is not suitable for framing and hanging is either getting an update or getting painted over.  I'm glad that these two were able to be saved.