Saturday, February 22, 2014

Some New Paintings

The paintings are not exactly new, but we have a sunny day here in New York City (finally!!) so I was able to photograph some of the paintings that have been sitting around.

First up are the sunflowers.  I finished this painting awhile ago so it's nice to be able to get it up on the blog.

Sunflowers, 14x18, oil

Next I have the portrait I did of the lovely Jamila.

Jamila, 16x20, oil

I have two still life paintings to show you.  The first is my revamped Brass Pitcher With Lemons

Brass Pitcher With Lemons, 9x12, oil

The second still life is one that I finished quite some time ago, but I could never get a decent photo of it.   The painting is rather dark so it did not photograph easily, but I decided to just get the best shot I could and get it up on the blog.

The Blue Vase, 16x20, oil

All of these will be added to the drop down tabs above.  Have a great weekend everybody and enjoy the sun!

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Dahlias Are Done!!!

Greetings from the frozen tundra that is New York City!  Yesterday started with a blizzard, then had sleet, rain, thunder and lightening and then more snow.  It has been a crazy week, but despite all that, I managed to finish three paintings.

First up:  the never-ending dahlias.  If you recall, I started this painting back in October.  The flowers went in right away, but the rest of it took some time.  Between the Mexico trip, the holidays and two portraits, they got put on the back burner.  However this week I resolved to tie up all the loose ends that were hanging around my studio.

The original set up

I painted over an old canvas.  I started with an outline of the set up and then began to put the flowers in.  

This is where things stalled.  Luckily the flowers were done, so it was easy to pick up where I left off.

When I got back to the painting, I started out by putting in the background again, just to get things moving on the whole canvas (a great tip I learned from Gregg).  I also decided to add some lemons to the shelf so I put them in and then pumped up the shadows on the vase.  I also put in the highlight on the vase.  I know it sound counterintuitive, but Gregg taught me that you have to put the highlight in first so you know that your other colors are dark enough that you can see it.

Finally I got to the fun part, the blue pattern.  Now I have to admit, this did not go on in one shot.  I re-did the pattern four or five times and when you fix one thing, you end up changing everything around it.  That meant that if I wanted to do the pattern over, I had to do the shadow and the white of the pot as well.  It took some time, but it was worth it to get it right.

This is the finished painting.  The photo is not great as it was already getting dark so I just snapped a quick pic to show you.  I may tweak it a bit over the next week or so, but for now I'm calling it done.

The second painting I worked on was really a spur of the moment decision.  I originally finished this up  over the summer, but I was never quite happy with it.

It's not bad, but not great either.  It really needed something, but I didn't know what.  At the end of the day on Tuesday, I was suddenly struck with inspiration.  The gray background needed to go.  I replaced it with a greenish red background and it looks so much better.  The new color makes the fruit pop and just brightens up the whole painting.

Next I decided that there was not enough going on in the painting.  As you can see, there is a lot happening on the shelf, but with the exception of the vase, nothing is going on in the background.  I added some stems and leaves coming out of the vase and from behind the vase as well.  Now the flow of the painting is really working.  This whole process took me less than thirty minutes and I was so into what I was doing that I completely forgot to take photos! Luckily I do have the finished painting to show you.

I like it so much better with these changes and I'm so happy I was able to save the painting instead of having it be a paint over.

I also finished a portrait this week, but I'll put that in another post as there is one tiny thing in it that is driving me crazy.  I may have to make a change before I post it.

So that is what has been happening around here.  Hope all of you are warm and dry!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Girl With A Pearl Earring, Van Gogh's Letters And Blogging

Hi Everyone,

How is everybody doing?  Like much of the US, it has been freezing here in New York.  Cold weather is not my thing and I have not been getting out to my studio as much as I usually do, but I am working on a new portrait (have the third sitting tomorrow) and I finally got back to the dahlias.  I'm finally happy with the background and the flowers.  I also repainted the vase, but still have to do the blue pattern.  I've never taken this long with a painting but I think the results will be worth it.

I did manage to get out to see the Vermeer, Rembrandt and Hals show at the Frick.  It was a great show and seeing the permanent collection at the Frick made it even better.  Of course, the star of the show was Vermeer's Girl With A Pearl Earring.

Girl With A Pearl Earring,  Johannes Vermeer.  Google Images

After seeing the show I stopped in the gift shop to pick up the catalog and I also bought the fictional novel based on the painting.  The book is fabulous and I cannot put it down, but it also got me thinking about something.  As the author, Tracy Chevalier, tells us in the foreward, the book is a work of fiction because nobody knows anything about the young woman in the painting.  As she points out, the model could be anyone.  There have been all kinds of speculation about who she is, but nobody will ever know for sure because Vermeer kept no notes or journals and did not write letters about his work.

A few months ago I read Van Gogh's letters for the second time.  He wrote letters to his brother Theo describing what he was working on and I realized that those letters were similar to what I and so many others are doing on our blogs.  As Van Gogh was writing the letters, I'm sure he never imagined that they would be seen by anyone but Theo.  Luckily for all of us Theo's wife, Johanna, saved the letters and now the world knows about his process, his models, and his thoughts about art.

While talking about the book in a discussion group, I realized that blogs are the modern day equivalent of Van Gogh's letters, only our thoughts are put on the internet for the entire world to read and they will be available forever.  I love that people all over the world are looking at my paintings and enjoy reading about the process of making them.  Long before I started writing this blog, I was a voracious reader of them.  I'll read blogs about almost anything; art, interior design, cooking, writing.  Being an artist can sometimes be a solitary endeavor and I love the fact that I can just go online and find a whole community of people who are also creating something and writing about it.  A few months ago I received a lovely email from one of my readers.  She complimented my work and sent me a link to the website she set up for her grandfather.  He was an artist and even though he is no longer with us, everyone can still see his art and will be able to do so forever.  How fantastic is that?!

Years from now no one will have to guess about the thoughts or process of an artist that they are interested in.  It is all out in the world for anyone to see.

What do you guys think about blogging?  Do you love to read about your favorite artists or writers or designers and know how they created their work?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!