Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Hydrangeas and Ranunculus Done!

As of 3:15pm today, the hydrangeas and ranunculus are done.  I started this painting about six weeks ago and managed to get the flowers in, but then I got waylaid by all the gorgeous flowers at the farmers markets.  Even though I had a brand new bouquet of sunflowers ready to go today, I decided to just finish this up and I am glad to say it is finally done.

Lets start at the beginning.  I got these two bouquets of flowers at TJ's back in the beginning of June.  From the beginning, it was not working on the panel I was using, so after some frustrating hours of trying to get the painting down, I grabbed a canvas that already had paint on it and just put down the block in on that and then things moved along.  

Once I started using a panel that the paint was not sinking into, I was finally able to get these flowers painted.  Unlike other subjects, flowers have to be done fast.  Sometimes people get upset with me when I paint over old paintings, but I have a rule:  if I wouldn't hang it on the wall, it gets painted over. This particular painting was a nude that was okay, but I only had three sessions with the model and really needed four or five.  And if truth be told, she wasn't very exciting so I had no qualms reusing the canvas.  However, I didn't get much past this point because I started working on the other paintings.

This past Monday I got back to it and it was almost finished, but I felt it still needed a bit of work.

 You can see the set up changed from the original that I was working with.  It was so long ago I forgot all about the fruit, but I think the flower petals worked nicely.

This is the finished painting.  I'm looking at the flower petals and may pump them up a bit as they are in the shot above, but I'm very happy with it.  And I'm very happy to have successfully painted this vase.  It has been vexing me for years and this is the first time that I have been satisfied with it in a painting.

Now that this is finished, it's on to the sunflowers!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Spills, Streaks and Stains: How To Clean Up After A Painting Session

If you are an oil painter, you know that cleaning up after painting is a necessity, but we also have to clean up after all our little paint accidents.  A painting pal recently emailed me to see what products I use to clean up after her feline assistant got into the paint and I thought you guys might be interested as well.  Let's get started...

Over the last year, I've started wearing gloves to set up and clean up my palette.  You know those old photos of artists all dressed up while they are painting?  That's not me.  When I am painting I make a mess (so the opposite of my Felix Unger tendencies), so I've had to try to minimize this and wearing gloves really helps.  They keep the paint and mediums off of my skin and in turn, with the paint all on the gloves, I'm not spreading it around to everything else that I touch.  You can easily get them in boxes from the drugstore.  I use the same gloves a few times to cut down on waste.   A good tip:  if you want to re-use a pair of gloves but are having a hard time getting them on, blow into them like a balloon.  Opens them right up.  These are like the gloves I use, but like I said, anything from the drugstore is fine, just make sure they are powder free.

When I am painting, I wear an old t shirt over my clothes to try to cut down on the mess, but it doesn't always stop the paint from getting where it shouldn't, so I've had to experiment with some products to get paint stains out of clothes.  If the paint is still wet, a baby wipe can sometimes get all of the paint out of material.  I've tried them all and the two that seem to work are Earth's Best baby wipes and the 365 Whole Foods brand.  Both are aloe vera based and do the trick.  They also work very well on your hands, hair, face, cats and anything else that ends up with paint where it shouldn't be.

When you have stubborn stains or dried paint to deal with, I use Master's Brush Soap.  I've been using this soap for years and love it.  I started using it to clean brushes, but quickly discovered that it works on just about everything else as well.  To get stains out of fabric, wet the fabric then rub the soap in and let sit for awhile.  Rinse and repeat if necessary.  This also works on carpet and just about any kind of material.  It also works on cats.  When mine was a baby, she decided to amuse herself by jumping onto my palette.  Needless to say, she had to be given a bath right away and the Master's soap cleaned her right up.

I'm sure the soap work on dogs too, but cats seem to be the main culprits in studio dramas!

Did you ever forget to wash your brushes and then the paint dried onto them?  I only started washing my brushes right after using them when I got my studio as there is a slop sink right there.  Before that, I use to let them sit around as washing brushes is a chore I just don't like doing.  I have no idea how I found out about this, but one day I decided to soak them in some Murphy's Oil Soap, and like magic they were as good as new.  Just put some soap into a disposable plastic cup and let the brushes sit for awhile.  I've never had to soak them for more than five or ten minutes, but YMMV depending on how hardened the paint is.  After they are done soaking, I wash them as I normally would with the Master's soap.

The last product I use for clean up in Turpenoid.  I use it not only to clean my palette, but to clean up the mess I make while I'm cleaning my palette.  I scrape my palette down with a painting knife and paint usually goes flying somewhere.  A few weeks ago, I ended up with a blob of white paint on the floor which I then stepped in and tracked around all over the place.  Luckily the floor is painted cement, so I just put some turpenoid on a rag and cleaned it up.

So there you have it.  If you have any questions or tips of your own, leave me a comment.  I'd love to know what others are using in their studios.

*As usual, I was not paid or perked for anything in this post.

Monday, July 15, 2013

My First Blog Anniversary!!

The other day I decided to look up when I wrote my first blog post.  I thought it was in the fall and was shocked to find out that it was July 15!  I can't believe that one year has passed since I sat down and finally made that first post.

I'm amazed that one year has gone by and equally amazed at all the great things that have happened due to the blog.  I still can't believe that people around the world are looking at my paintings every day.  That is something I could not have imagined years ago when I began painting.

I've also met many of the great bloggers that I have admired for years.  Holly from decor8, Leslie of A Creative Mint, Shauna of Nubbytwiglet, Kat from Rock and Roll Bride, Gala of GalaDarling and Molly Crabapple.

If not for the generosity of these ladies sharing their blogging and business wisdom, this blog would not exist.  Thank you to all of them and thank you to each and every one of my dear readers.  I'm very excited to start my second year of this adventure and hope you will all come along for the ride!


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Some Links for a Sunday Night

Hi Everyone.  Hope everybody had a great weekend.  Here in New York we are enjoying our first day without rain in some time.  Unfortunately, it was also 90 degrees.  Too hot to attend the paint out I had scheduled for today, so what have I been doing?  Catching up on blogs and articles.  I found some very interesting posts and thought I would share a few with you.  I was out of town for a few days so I don't have any new painting photos to show you, but painting will commence again this week so keep an eye out for some new completed panels.

Do you love the California Impressionists?  I sure do.  Bonhams is having a sale and Underpaintings has the scoop.  Scroll down to the end of the post for a big surprise.  I know it shocked the hell out of me!

Tired of searching Ebay and used bookstores for the Andrew Loomis books?  Now you don't have to.  Titan Books has released new editions of them all. Click on over to Art and Influence to read all about it.   I paid $90 on Ebay to purchase an original copy of Figure Drawing For All It's Worth, so I'm happy to be able to buy the others at a reasonable price.

Does the thought of writing an artist statement drive you mad? All I can think about is Elaine Benes and the Himalayan walking shoes whenever I try to write one, but after years of searching for a decent tutorial on this, I finally found one today.  Alan at has a great post about it and I actually wrote one out in about an hour today using his recommendations.

Alan also has a very thought provoking post about artists and business and why we need to get serious about taking responsibility for our own careers, rather than depending on a gallery to do everything for us.

In closing, I must give a shout out to one of my Blogcademy headmistresses, the amazing Gala Darling.  
I have been inside working on art related things all day and feeling kind of bad about it.  No rain on a weekend had me feeling like I should be "doing something".  Then I happened upon the post she put up today.  Thank you, Gala!!

Gala and I at the First Blogcademy class

Have a great night everybody.  I'll see you back here tomorrow.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Peonies and Cherries

I'm back to tell you about the second painting I finished up this week, another lovely bouquet of peonies.  There is a stand at the farmers market that has the most incredible peonies.  They are so beautiful that I am forced to buy them whenever I am there.  I was hoping the seller would have beautiful flowers all summer long, but he told me that when the peonies are no longer blooming, they are switching over to blueberries!? Oh well, I'll just have to enjoy them while they are here, right?

This is the original set up.  Not very exciting, I know, but as I needed to get the flowers done before they wilted, I just dropped them in the vase and got to work.

This is the end of the second painting session.  I don't have the block in to show you because I hadn't actually planned to paint this bouquet.  I have several other paintings that need to be finished up and I had planned to work on one of those, but then I saw these peonies at the market and that plan changed immediately.  I brought them to my studio, set them up, and then realized the one thing I didn't have was a canvas.  So I had to do what almost every artist has had to do at one time or another:  choose which painting was going to be sacrificed.  After debating for a few minutes, I chose an early figure painting.  It was good, but not great and a figure painting isn't easily made over without the model.

Once I got started, the flowers went in very easily.  They were done in two sessions.  I was in shock that they were done so quickly as my last bouquet of peonies almost sent me into a nervous breakdown.

On Wednesday I put the background in again and finished up the blue and white pitcher.

At this point I realized that I forgot to bring the grapes I had planned on using on the right side of the painting.  I wasn't sure what I was going to do when I realized that I had picked up a box of cherries that morning for my husband so I dug into those.  I guess the theme of this post is when in the studio, use what you have!

Peonies and Cherries, 16x20, oil on panel

Here is the finished painting.  I'm so excited to have a studio for the first time during the summer.  I've long dreamed of being able to spend the summer painting beautiful flowers and I'm having the best time.

Next on the list, the hydrangea still life will be finished next week and I have another floral still life that needs a little tweaking.

Have a great weekend everybody.  See you back here Monday.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th And A New Landscape

Hi everybody.  It's been a busy painting week around here.  First, I want to wish my American readers a happy Fourth of July.  Today is the first time in awhile we are having a sunny day with no rain, so I hope every one is out having fun.

I snapped this pic of the Empire State Building all lit up for the holiday last night.  But I spent the day painting and managed to finish up two paintings.

This is the first.  This painting is what Gregg refers to as a phony landscape, meaning it is not done from any sort of reference.  We do them as an exercise and just make them up.  I had beginning photos, but they seem to have disappeared into the ether, so I'll have to show this one first.  This shot is after the third session working on the painting.  I thought I was finished, but after spending a few days looking at it, I decided I needed one more day to be completely done.  That happens a lot in painting, so if possible, it's best to let them sit a few days just to be sure no more work is needed.

The bush on the left was looking a little flat and the river didn't seem "water like" enough for me.  I also decided to brighten up the grass in front and add a little blue sky into the sunlight.

The River, 18x24, oil on panel

This is the finished result.  I'm quite happy with it now.  It was very wet so I couldn't sign it, but I will take care of that tomorrow.  Then I just have to let it dry, varnish and photograph it.

I love doing fake landscapes.  They allow you to work out all the difficulties of landscape painting in your studio.  Much easier than when you are outside fighting the weather, changing light and people who want to chat.  After I did my first fake, I found painting outside to be much easier.

I'll be back tomorrow with a recap of my finished floral still life.  Hope you are all having a great day!