Friday, August 26, 2016

New Still Life, Wine And Fruit

I'm very excited to post that I finished a new painting today!  This is the first painting I've finished in a few months, so I'm very happy about it.  I started this painting back in April.

This was the original set up.  I started out with a mix of pears, grapes and plums.  After I worked on the painting for awhile, I decided that the plums were not working and replaced them with more red grapes.

And here is a good tip that an artist friend told me a few years ago:  when you are painting wine, instead of opening a real bottle, use grape juice!  It works great and you don't have to waste the real thing.

As you can see, I originally thought I would paint this set up vertically, but it just wasn't working out. I started over on the horizontal side and it looked much better.  When doing your initial block in, don't be afraid to wipe it out and start over as many times as needed.  It is much easier to fix problems at this point than after you are way into the painting.

The initial color block in.

Getting the wine carafe done was the hardest part of this painting.  I just could not get the shape, but I continued with the rest of the painting while working on the carafe.

At one point, I got so frustrated, I turned the canvas upside down!

When I got to this point in the painting, I realized that I needed to darken up my shadows.  Sometimes as you get farther into the painting, you have to make adjustments even though everything was looking okay at the beginning.  I also added the lace cloth.  That turned out to be the easiest part of the painting and I was expecting the opposite.  You just never know how things will go until you get started.

Things are looking so much better here.  Now the objects have the proper dimension.

This is the finished painting, just after I signed it this afternoon.

It is great to have this painting finished.  There were a few times when I was feeling that this one was going to be a wipe out, but I'm so glad I kept going.  Now I will get back to work on my lilies.  I've also made a few changes to my studio and I'll update you guys on that in my next post.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Still Life Workshop With Gregg Kreutz

I have a fun announcement today.  My teacher, Gregg Kreutz, is giving a still life workshop at the Chelsea Studios and Gallery on September 10 and 11th.

Chelsea Studios is located in Huntington, LI.  It is a short train ride from NYC and we will pick you up and bring you back to the station at night.

If you are in the NYC/Long Island area this is a great opportunity to study the still life with Gregg.  Call the studio for more information and to sign up for the class.  You can also leave any questions you may have in the comments here.

Here are a few of Gregg's still life paintings.

Gregg Kreutz

Gregg Kreutz

Gregg Kreutz

Gregg taught me everything I know, so if you are in the area, this is a great opportunity to learn from him.

Hope to see you there!


Monday, August 8, 2016

Taos Workshop - David Leffel's Opening Night Demonstration

As I said a few weeks ago, I'm not really painting at the moment, but I do have some workshop and travel related things I would like to write about until I'm back in the studio.

In the fall of 2014 I attended a workshop in Taos given by David Leffel, Sherrie McGraw, Jacqueline Kamin and Gregg Kreutz.  On the opening night of the workshop, 80 of us gathered to watch David Leffel do a portrait demo.  While he painted, David also spoke to us about his process and told us to use the demo as a vehicle to learn and to get an insight into his thinking.  I did my best to accomplish both of those tasks.  I have nineteen pages of notes and a bunch of photos from the beginning of the painting until the end.  It was really quite amazing.

*Just a note about the photos.  I was a seated off to the side and using the telephoto lens on my phone so they are not the greatest pics, but you can still follow along with the progression of the painting.

The man himself, David Leffel

The text below is right out of my notes from the lecture.

David began by talking to us a bit about how he approaches painting.  He talked about sculptural painting, seeing the world in terms of planes and masses rather than smooth and rendered.  You want to paint with paint, not draw with paint.

What you put on the canvas is what you are thinking.  When you look at a painting you are looking at what the artist was thinking.  In order to paint better, you have to understand what your brain is thinking about.  Then you can appreciate what your subject matter is.  Don't copy what you are looking at, if you do, you are not seeing dimension or form or understanding the medium.

You should get information from your painting.  Is the color good? Is the form okay? Look for form, dimensions and planes on the model, still life or landscape.  Don't paint a bunch of individual objects - let the light flow.  Think about what your mind is focusing on.  Get an idea about what you are painting.  Don't just match the colors you are seeing.

Make every brush stroke meaningful.  Careless brush strokes won't make a good painting.  Be aware and on top of what you're doing from the first brush stroke.

As you can see here, David starts with a toned canvas.  He told us he uses a mixture of Old Holland Olive Green and Burnt Umber.

To start the painting, he told us to first get a sense of the size and placement of what you are going for.   Be concerned with the filled space and the empty space, the light flows and the shadow stops.  You should start out very abstract, making the shadow hold the light.  See what is important about the whole composition rather than little pieces.

Our lovely model, Drea

Don't worry about proportion or drawing yet.  Don't measure or you will destroy your confidence - telling yourself you can't see.

Holding the brush and making brush strokes with your arm is the only real oil painting technique you need to know.

Painting is a problem solving discipline.

With a single source of light, the start of a painting creates a hard edge.

In sculptural painting, the light hits, turns away, becomes a soft edge, then becomes a shadow.  You want the viewer to look inside the form.  The highlight is the most compelling thing to look at.

Look for ways to describe movement of space - near to far or far to near.  Don't copy lines.  Look for something to describe the model ( or whatever you are painting).  In this painting, David used the model's hair to make the lines of her face.  He worked from side to side, not concentrating on any one area.  Things that are close are sharper, what you want to go back is vague.  Don't wait until the end of the painting to describe something.

Try to understand what you are painting from the first brushstroke.  Don't plan on fixing later.  You have to do a lot of paintings to do this.  Read fast and get it down.  Think like a painter.  Don't paint every little thing - paint the shapes.  In sculptural painting, it is important what you leave out.  Learn what to leave out rather than what to put in.  Good painting is an open ended dialog.  Do a lot of paintings to learn what to leave out.

You are not drawing an eyelid, you are drawing a plane.  You are always painting movement.  Life is movement.

The shadow holds the composition in place.  If the shadows are weak the painting will be weak.  Light is the melody of the painting.  Light moves, shadow is still.  That is their relationship.  They play off of each other.  Light against shadow.  The shadow has to be quiet so the light can move.  The strength of the shadow is the strength of the painting.  The light moves the eye in a chiaroscuro painting.  The old masters used rich, warm shadows and their paintings looked warm.  The impressionists used cool shadows so their paintings are cool.

White is the coolest and most opaque color - the opposite is depth.  Warm shadows have the depth of transparency.  Warm has a feeling of depth.

When painting, think more abstractly.  Don't be seduced on a personal level (painting an eye or a nose).  Everything in the painting is important.

Painting the background - part of painting the background is the color and value of it.  Everything you don't want to be seen is part of the background.  This will determine how dramatic the painting will be.  You are selecting what the painting will be.

You are not copying - you are in control of the painting.  You have to think about it.  You are responsible for your painting.  The more dramatic the foreground, the more dramatic the background can be.  The painting tells you what to do and what not to do.  Internalize rather than externalize.

Make crisp brushstrokes.  A brush stroke begins and ends.  You finish the brushstroke, you control how much paint comes off your brush.  You need to feel what is happening under the brush.  Your technique is all feeling.  Don't blend.  Just let the paint merge by making brush strokes.  Your whole arm has to be open.  What you are doing on your palette is as important as what you do on your painting.  You are always responsible.

Form goes across.  You will paint form or direction.  Light and movement are most important.

This was the end of the demo.  It lasted about 90 minutes and though I did leave out some of my notes, you can get a very good idea of David's teaching.  It was pretty amazing to be there for this presentation.  It is not often that you get to hear a master painter tell you their process, paint a demo, and answer questions from the audience all at the same time.

If you would like to learn more about David Leffel and the Artist Guild artists, check out their website here.  The site has all the info on David, Sherrie and Jackie as well as videos and books for sale.  I have David and Sherrie's books and they are wonderful learning tools, as well as beautiful art books.

Reading over my notes from the class brought back a lot of memories of the fun time we had as well as reinforcing these lessons in my mind.  I hope you enjoyed reading about it as well.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

What's Been Happening In The Studio

Hello Everyone,

I finally painted a little bit this week so I thought I'd update everyone on what is happening in the studio.  I only lasted an hour, so it's not much, but I was very happy to have a paint brush in my hand again.

I started this painting a few months ago.  Unfortunately, the photo of the original set up has vanished into the ether, but I used a heavy crimson fabric with gold detailing, along with a silver fruit bowl.  As you can see, the fabric is the main event in this painting.  That is not how I usually do my set ups, but I wanted to try something different and thought this would be a fun way to switch things up.

The top photo was the original block in.  The photo just above is the fourth week working on the painting.  The background is a mixture of alizarin crimson and red, with french ultramarine added for the dark shadows.  If you have ever painted with alizarin, you know that it is extremely transparent.  I spent quite a bit of time getting the coverage on the canvas that I wanted.  I think I painted the background four or five times before the color stopped fading into the canvas.  I also had to let it dry in between coats, so this whole thing took awhile, but it was worth it.

As you can see, I started painting in the gold pattern a little bit at a time.  That was painstaking work and I would have gone nuts if I tried to do it all at once.  I would do a little bit then move on to the pot or the grapes.

Things finally started progressing at a more rapid pace.  In addition to the fabric, there were a lot of grapes to do, as well as all the lemons.  Lemons are very difficult for me (second only to pears), so I would work on the fruit while taking breaks from the pattern.  I guess the theme of this painting was dealing with difficult subjects!

I finished the painting three nights before my surgery.  I was very happy to have it done.  I signed it the other day and as soon as a few weeks go by, I can varnish it.  I'll be very happy to have that done so those dry spots in the fabric will be gone.

I have also been working on another painting for the last few months.  This is one of those paintings where everything is technically correct, but something is just not right.  Eventually I will figure it out.
I worked on it a bit the other day, which was a lot of fun.

This is where I left off before the surgery.  I think the problem is something in the background.  I'm going to redo that and see how I feel about things.

When I went to the studio this week, I painted the blue pattern in on the fruit bowl.  That was all I could manage, but it's a start.

I, (meaning my long suffering husband) also rearranged things in the studio.  If you recall, I bought a kitchen cart for my palette, but ended up using it as a desk.  Since I have had a lot of free time lately, I was thinking about the best way to use the studio and I realized that my small taboret was not the best for the palette, so after switching some furniture around, I have a much more user friendly set up.

I may replace the palette with a large piece of glass, but I'm still pondering that.

I also had some good news.  Just a week after surgery, my painting Brass Teapot With Peaches, won third place in The Art Guild Of Port Washington members show!  I was so happy because I agonized over which painting to put in the show.  I'm so glad that I made a good choice.

Brass Teapot With Peaches, 12x16, oil

So that is what I have going on over here.  I'm happy to be back to blogging and I want to thank all of you for hanging in there with me.  I appreciate it more than I can say.