Friday, May 31, 2013

Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity At The Metropolitan Museum Of Art

This past Monday, I made it just in time (literally) to see the Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity show at the Metropolitan Museum.  The show combined two of my favorite things, art and fashion, and I throughly enjoyed it.

I've done a lot of reading and research about the Impressionist painters, but this is one aspect of their work that I never knew about.  According to what I read at the show, the painters consulted fashion illustrations and fashion photos and posed their models in the same way as these ads.  They painted on large canvases to show off the clothes, and many times the models were looking away.  The idea was that if the models were looking away, the viewer would notice the clothes first.

Aside from the beautiful paintings, there were dresses and fashion illustrations on display.  Unfortunately, since this was a special exhibition, no photography was allowed.  I only got one shot off before the guard caught me, so here are a few photos from the Met Museum website.

Camille, Claude Monet (courtesy

Madame Louis Joachim Gaudibert, Claude Monet (courtesy

The Millinery Shop, Edgar Degas (courtesy

My one quick shot of a dress on display
The very lucky Heather of Habitually Chic was invited to a semi-private tour and was allowed to take photographs, so please click over to her site to see more.

You can also purchase the catalog from the show here.

I really enjoyed this show.  Not just for the beautiful paintings, but because I learned something new about artists I have admired for years.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Show Announcement

Hi Everyone.  I hope everybody had a good weekend.  I have some exciting news to share with all of you.  Friday afternoon I received word that my portrait of Rochelle was accepted into the Art of the Figure:  A Juried Exhibition show at Gallery North on Long Island.

I can't tell you how pleased and honored I am to be included in this show.  I will have more details as it gets closer, but the painting will be hanging from Friday, August 30, 2013 to Friday, September 27, 2013.

Portrait of Rochelle

Gallery North
90 Old Country Road
Setauket, NY  11733

Thank you to the gallery and to juror Philip Pearlstein for giving me this opportunity.

And now friends, even though it is a holiday here in the US, the peonies are waiting.  Have a great day everybody!


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Blue And White

If you look through my still life paintings you will see that I love to use blue and white pieces in my set ups.  As I mentioned in this post, I've been on the hunt for props for my new studio.  I got myself a bunch of fabrics and I already had a lot of silver and crystal, but I did not have any blue and white china.  Here are some examples of how I have used the blue and white props in my paintings.

These are just a few examples.  I have many more, but the blue and white props do not belong to me.  These were all painted in my teacher's studio.  Now that I have my own space, it was time to get my own things.

First, I went to ebay, thinking I'd find some great deals, but that was not to be.  Much of what I found there was very overpriced, some were even up in the hundreds.  Obviously, that was not happening.  Not only was the price out of my range, but you don't want to over spend on still life props.  Accidents happen and a few will always get broken and the ones that survive long term will eventually end up with paint and other spots and stains on them.  Next I tried poking around some vintage stores.  Again, most things were overpriced, but I did find one vase to get me started.

Last weekend, on a whim, my hubby put estate sales into Craigslist and I hit the jackpot.  He spotted a sale to sell the contents of "Grandma's finely furnished home" and there was a shot of the dining room packed with blue and white!  We got ourselves out there asap as it was already noon and I was afraid that everything would be gone, but the still life gods were with me and I found a treasure trove of beautiful things.

Here is what I bought at the sale.  There were many pieces still there, but I took my time and only bought what I would want to use in the paintings.  If I had a large space to display everything, I would have bought it all, but that will have to wait until I win the powerball and buy my townhouse.

Aren't they beautiful?  I can't wait to get them over to my studio so I can paint these great pieces.  Grandma had many beautiful things.  She obviously had impeccable taste and a great eye.  The sale was run by a professional company so there were no family members around, which was a shame.  I would have loved to find out more about Grandma as I could tell from her house and her belongings that she must have been a very interesting lady.  In fact, I'm still obsessing over her house and if it wasn't so far out from the city and too far from the subway, I would have put in a bid then and there.  There was even a glass enclosed sunroom that I was dying over.  Could you imagine painting in there all day?  I sure could.

If you love blue and white like I do, check out The Enchanted Home.  Tina has a serious blue and white obsession and her amazing house is filled with gorgeous pieces.  She also has a shop with some beautiful blue and white items available.

Also, Robert Johnson, a great artist and teacher of mine uses blue and white in his still life paintings as well.  Click on over to see them.  They are really beautiful.  In fact, it was in a weekend workshop with him that I first discovered using blue and white pieces and how great they look in a painting.

I'm very excited to get to work with my new things.  Of course, I'll post the new paintings as soon as they are ready.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

New Portrait

Just a quick post to show you a new portrait I finished last week.  I was lucky to have the beautiful Regina posing for me, so it was a very fun and exciting painting to work on.  The right model can make all the difference, don't you think?

I had intended to photograph the process all the way through, but I was really into the painting zone and just did not get all the steps documented.  However, I did shoot enough to give you a basic idea of how this portrait came about.

This is the original placement on the panel.  Actually, it's the second placement.  If you look at the top right hand corner, you can see the original outline that I put down.  Luckily, Gregg pointed out that the placement of the model should be over to the left about an inch.  It really did look much better and I'm so happy to have made the change before any real work started.

Here is where I fell into the zone.  This is the end of the third painting session.  I suddenly realized that I had not photographed anything since the original block in.  I'm working on a still life and have managed to document that whole process, so I'll have that for you soon.

This is midway through the fourth and final pose.  At this point I mostly worked on her hair and the background and did a little bit of tweaking to the red robe.

The end of the modeling session.  The painting is now drying and waiting to be varnished.  When that happens I will post a proper photo.

I really enjoyed doing this painting.  There is nothing like painting a beautiful and inspiring model.  I hope you enjoyed seeing how this painting came about.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Mentoring With The Masters At The Salmagundi Club

Hi everyone.  Last week I attended Mentoring With The Masters day at The Salmagundi Club here in New York City.

There were four master artists in various rooms of the club and the students and teachers could wander about and paint where ever they wanted.  Since my teacher was one of the mentors, of course I went to the event.  I never get a chance to paint interior scenes, so this was a first for me.  It was great fun and I learned a lot, including some elusive perspective skills!

Gregg was set up in the basement so I went down there as well.  The basement of the club is a fun spot with a bar, tables and pool tables.  The proceeds from the event went to refurbish the pool tables.  Here is a shot of the room.

The shot above includes Blaine, our model for the day.  Each room had it's own set up and model, but we were having such a fun time down in the basement that we all stayed there for the duration of the event.

This is my original sketch on to the canvas.  As I said, perspective is not my strong suit, but luckily Gregg was there to remind me about the vanishing points.  Also, he had a T-square, which really saved the day.

The block in.  It took me awhile to get going as I had never painted an interior scene before, but once I figured it out, it was really fun.

Here are some of the other painters.  Everyone did a great job and had a lot of fun.

Around noon we had a lunch break which gave my panel some time to dry, so when I got started again I was really able to get some paint on it.

This is what I ended up with at the end of the day.  Not too bad considering it was a one shot session of something I had never done before.  I would love to be able to go back for another session to really finish it up, but it was such a great learning experience that I don't mind the unfinished canvas.

Painting by Gregg Kreutz

This is Gregg's painting.  Yes, he managed to do all this while helping the rest of us.  Amazing. 

This was a really fun day and I'm so glad that I got to take part in the event.  I'm hoping this is the first of many interior paintings.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Over the past few days I have read some great articles related to the business of art and blogging and thought I would share them with you here.

First up, Holly from decor8 wrote a great post about getting paid for your work.  I was so glad to see this post as the misconception that creatives should not get paid for their work drives me nuts.  No, you can't "have" a painting.  No, you can't use my image and not pay for it.  No, "exposure" is not sufficient payment for articles or images.  Please click through and read the article, but Holly's point was that bloggers and creatives provide a service and we should be paid for it.  When artists or bloggers  get pulled into the exposure trap and work for free, it devalues all of us.

Second, last week I discovered the fantastic reddotblog.  Red dot is written by Xanadu Gallery owner Jason Horejs.  I'm going through all the posts, but there are two that I wanted to mention here.

This is the BEST article I've ever read about how to ship artwork.  Yes, it is so good I had to use all caps.  Jason goes through every step, including what tools and supplies you will need.  I've been desperately needing something like this and I'm so grateful to have this step by step guide.  If you ship artwork or are considering it, read this post.

The second article is a recent post about women in the art world.  Does discrimination still exist in the art world?  In my own experience, I have never felt discriminated against professionally, even though I do sign my name with my first initial and last name as mentioned in the article.  Personally, however, is another matter.  I am constantly fighting against the stereotype that my painting is a little hobby on the side.  None of the male artists I know ever have to deal with this.  Even if they have a day job, they are still considered by society to be serious artists.  A very thought provoking article and the comments are interesting as well.

 I had to share this post by Shauna over on Nubbytwiglet.  Do you look at Instagram, blogs or Pinterest and start thinking how your work/apartment/blog/whatever are horrible compared to everyone else?  I know I'm guilty on all counts.  Sometimes I have to step back and remember that Elle Decor isn't coming over to photograph my place, so it's okay if it does not look like a Pinterest photo shoot.  As Shauna and many of the commenters wrote, we are only seeing the best parts of everyone online and it is helpful to remember that.

Megan made the same point.  Just do your best and don't compare yourself to everyone else.

I found these posts very interesting and thought provoking and hope you do too.  Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Saturday In The Park

I was going to add "but it wasn't the fourth of July" to the title, but thankfully I stopped myself.  This weekend was absolutely perfect and it seemed like everyone in the city came out of their homes and headed to the parks.

I spent some time in Madison Square Park and it was lovely.  The park was packed with people, flowers were blooming and there was a pretty good singer belting out Sinatra tunes.  Gotta love New York!

People were camped out all over the grass enjoying the sunshine.

The gardens were in full bloom.  There were gorgeous flowers everywhere.

The trees were in full bloom as well.  So pretty.

Love this beautiful fountain.  Of course I threw a penny in and made a wish.

Here is the Sinatra crooner.  He was actually quite a good singer and it is always nice to hear good music while relaxing in the park.

This is just part of the line of people waiting to get into Shake Shack. Crazy!!

Hope you enjoyed this look into a weather perfect Saturday in New York City.  It was beautiful!


Friday, May 3, 2013

Varnishing Day

Mother Nature finally blessed us with a perfect spring day today.  No wind, no humidity or rain and a 64 degree temperature.  That means it was time to pull out the varnish and get to the paintings that have been sitting around all winter.  Luckily for me I have a terrace so I can work out there and then leave the paintings out to dry.  I brought the paintings and my supplies outside and got to work.

Varnishing sounds intimidating, but it is really quite easy.  Just lay some plastic or a drop cloth over your work surface and get a good brush.  That is all you need.  I use Gamblin Gamvar varnish.  It is easy to use, can be removed with mineral spirits and the smell doesn't make you feel like you want to pass out.  The Gamblin website has a short video of the process that is very helpful if you haven't varnished before and want to give it a try.

Once you get your supplies together, it is time to bring the paintings outside.  The first step:  clean the painting with an old T-shirt to get any dust off of the surface.  Then put the painting in a sunny spot to check for dust again.  If there is any left you will see it right away.  When there is stubborn dust that won't come off with the rag, roll a piece of blue painters tape into a circle and roll it over the painting.  Gregg taught me this trick when my landscape fell face down in the dirt.

When that step is completed it is time to apply the varnish.  I got this wide mouthed jar at The Container Store and it works great, but you can use a plastic cup in a pinch.  Just make sure you have a funnel to put the unused varnish back in the bottle.  

This is the painting after I completed the varnishing.  It is easiest to work in an assembly line and just get them all done at once since this project is so dependent on the weather.

I went over this painting with the blue tape and then varnished (notice my classy paint stained pants!)

I thought this painting was fine after dusting.  Good thing I put it in the sun because sure enough there was dust all over.

I use a large brush and apply one coat of varnish.  I follow the technique in the Gamblin video and it works great.

When you are finished, put the paintings upright to dry for a couple of hours.  You will have to check on them every twenty minutes or so the first hour to make sure nothing blowing around gets stuck on the wet surface.  In my case I also have to watch out for my very curious studio assistant.

One last caveat, make sure the painting you are varnishing is dry to the touch.  Gamblin recommends waiting three to six months before varnishing and I think that is a good rule of thumb, but I've done it at two months and did not have any problems.

If you have any questions about varnishing or cleaning paintings, leave me a comment.  I'll do my best to help.  (As usual, I didn't receive any comps from these companies.  I'm just a satisfied customer).

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Field Trip To The Metropolitan Museum Of Art

Over the winter my teacher, Gregg Kreutz, took us on a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  I have a habit of going to the museum and looking at the same things all the time, so it was great to go and see art that I was unfamiliar with.  I took a ton of pictures, but I'll just show a few here.


I love everything about this painting.  Rembrandt was the master of portraits and self portraits and we study his work often.

Woman With A Pink, Rembrandt

Somehow, Woman With A Pink was never on my radar, but since seeing it at the museum, I've become completely obsessed with it.  It is one of the most beautiful paintings I have ever seen.  According to the  Met Museum website a pink is a carnation, a symbol of love and marriage.

Here is a photo of one of my all time favorite paintings, Madame X, by John Singer Sargent.  Sargent's painting of Madame Virginie Gautreau created a scandal in when it was shown at the Paris Salon.  The strap of her gown was shown falling down her right shoulder.  It is hard to imagine today, but in 1884 people were shocked and scandalized by the painting.  Sargent eventually repainted the strap so it was shown securely on Madame Gautreau's shoulder.

The master of all things floral and still life, Henri Fantin-Latour.

I will do an in depth post about Fantin-Latour some time, but for now I will just say that he is an incredible inspiration to me and I've learned so much from studying his paintings.

I'll leave you with a group shot from our outing.  We had a great day and hope to do it again sometime.  

I've got many more photos to show you, so stay tuned!