Thursday, April 28, 2016

Back Soon!

Hi Everyone.  I've been a bit under the weather, but I'll be back next week with some new posts.

See you then!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Starting A Painting

I started a new painting the other day, and it is the first one in quite awhile that was not done for a show.  It was nice to just be able to play around with my props until I found something I liked.  I had an idea of what I wanted to paint.  I wanted to do a still life using a silver dish filled with fruit.  As you will see, that is not what I ended up with at all.

The first thing I did was stop by the store to grab a bag of fruit.  I always buy way more than I think I'll need.  You never really know what you will need until you are actually setting up, so you should always have extra.  Whatever you have left you can eat!

For this set up, I got a bag of red grapes, oranges, plums and pears.  Next, I went about setting up the still life.  I tried many configurations, but the silver plate was just not working.  After pulling a bunch of my props and trying many different set ups, I realized the silver plate would have to wait for another day.

Once I gave up on my original idea, I quickly got a set up that I liked.

Now it was time to start the painting.  Years ago when I started painting, I did not have a clue what I was doing.  I had no idea how to start a painting or how to proceed once I did.  It really held me back.  Then one day I got very lucky.  After being on the wait list for quite awhile, I finally got into Gregg Kreutz's class at the Art Students League.  The very first thing he taught me was how to begin a painting.  Gregg's formula is this:  placement, background, shadow, light.  Having a formula to follow was life changing for me.  I no longer sat looking at my blank canvas wondering what to do.

As you can see, I painted in the outline of the objects in the still life.  I could not decide if I wanted to go vertical or horizontal so I tried both.  Horizontal won out in the end.  This is not a step that should be rushed.  It is a lot easier to correct mistakes at the beginning than later on in the painting.

Once I was satisfied with my composition, I painted in the background.  After the background, I painted in the shadows.  It's so helpful to know from the beginning where your darks are going to be.
Next comes the light.  My goal is always to get the canvas covered on the first run through.  This way when you come back to the painting you can just get started working on the whole thing.

I have worked on the painting twice since the initial block in, just letting the paint build up.  I took a day off today as I wanted it to dry up a little bit, but I'll be back at it next week.

I've done a lot of still life set ups in my day, so here are a few tricks that I use.  To fill up a bowl of fruit, you don't need to use fruit for the whole thing.  I stuff a dish towel into the pot and let the fruit rest on top of that.  Grapes are notorious for falling all over the studio, so if I can't get them to stay in place, I use a push pin in between the stems and that helps keep them where they are suppose to be.  There will be wine in the glass decanter, but instead of opening a bottle of wine and wasting it, I use grape juice as a substitute.  It looks exactly the same.

I hope you enjoyed this little peek into my process of setting up a still life.  Soon I hope to show you the finished painting.  Spring has finally arrived here in New York.  Hope the weather is great wherever you are!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Paint It Black

I have a new painting to show you today and it's a bit different from my normal routine.  I have a completely black background without any shadow.  I've never done anything like that before, but I have to say, it was a lot of fun to change things up and do something different.

This was the set up.  As usual, I started by blocking in the objects and then got to work on the background.

For the background I used straight Ivory Black with a little bit of Burnt Umber mixed in.  As you can see, there are no shadows in the background, which is very different way of working for me.  After the background was finished, I continued on with the painting by getting the color and shadows on the rest of the canvas.

This was day two.  I was still concentrating on building up the colors on the canvas.  I also considerably lightened up the inside of the pewter bowl.  Without the light against dark, it looked flat as opposed to round and the light added some much needed depth.

I think this was my fourth session with the painting.  This is always a happy time - when the painting starts to look like it will actually be successful.  To be honest, up until this point I was very uncertain about this one.  Two things made the difference:  Darkening up the shadows on the white cloth and the vase and using straight black for the black pattern on the vase.  In real life, it is kind of a blue/black mix, but the blue was just not working with the black background.  Once I changed to straight black, the vase really popped.

On the very last day, I put in the patterns on the vase and the white cloth.

This is the finished painting.  I apologize for the very poor quality of this photo.  Unfortunately, no matter how many times I photographed it, I had terrible results.  We've had terrible weather here in New York the last few weeks and I just did not have the light for a decent photo.  In frustration, I just turned on the lights in my studio and took the photo.  Soon I will be able to varnish the painting and I hope I will be able to do some outdoor shooting soon.  When I do, I will repost the photo.

Though there was some frustration, it is good to step out of your comfort zone occasionally.  I will experiment a bit more with different backgrounds and fabrics in the future.  

Friday, April 1, 2016

Two New Shows

Hi Everyone.  I thought I would have two new paintings to show you today, but my plan didn't quite work out.  I finished up a new still life on Monday, but I have found it impossible to get a decent photo of the completed painting.  I used a black background for the first time and it is just not photographing well.  If I can't get a good one today, I'll show you the painting with a less than perfect photo :).  I've also been working very hard on a second still life, but I have made the difficult decision that this one is just not going to work and needs to be wiped out.  I've been working on it for a few weeks so it is hard to do that, but after having a dream about the whole situation the other night I know that is what has to be done.

However, there is some good news to report.  My pink roses were chosen for the "A Rose By Any Other Name" show at the Huntington Arts Council.  I drove myself (and everyone else) nuts with this painting, so I was thrilled when it was entered into the show.  And... I got a lovely surprise when the publicity card was emailed to me.  My roses were chosen as one of the paintings for the card!  This is the first time one of my works has been used for publicity and I couldn't be more thrilled.

Valentine's Day Roses, 16x20, oil

The reception is tonight from 6-8pm.  If you are in the Huntington (LI) area, please come by and check out all the roses!

The other big news is that two of my paintings were chosen for the Richeson75 Still Life and Floral online show.  It just went live a few hours ago, and my painting,  Blue And White Vase With Fruit, was chosen as a finalist! My Sunflowers were also selected to be in the exhibit.   You can click on the link to see the entire show, but I'll post my two paintings here.

Sunflowers And Apples, 14x18, oil

Blue And White Vase With Fruit, 12x16, oil

After a less than optimal few weeks, I'm so happy and excited to be in these shows.  I'll be back with my new still life soon.  Have a great weekend!