Friday, December 2, 2016

Circle Of Light

"Circle of Light"
8 x 8 inches, oil on canvas

One fun thing about painting Christmas balls: there's a tiny self-portrait inside each one of them! You can see it especially in the dark purple one. 
I could make a list (and check it twice): there are probably a dozen things I love about painting ornaments. This has been kind of a big year for them already, considering that I only painted ONE last year.....
I can feel it coming on, the annual stock-taking that accompanies this season. It's like a holiday for my inner statistician. How many paintings did I make this year? How many blog posts did I write? How many new Instagram followers? Blog subscribers?

Depending on how you feel about statistics, comparison, and self-judgement, either something to look forward to, or a situation requiring immediate distraction. I suggest shopping! Specifically, at the WhitPrint Holiday Show and Sale - next weekend, December 10-11th. I will be there, showing my newest (as in November's) paintings, and with a huge table covered in bargain basement holiday deals. I mean it, I have some stuff to clear out of the studio. Studies, oil sketches, and older works, from $20. Plus, cards and calendars! Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Patti's Sugar Bowl

sugar bowl still life painting by sarah sedwick
 "Patti's Sugar Bowl"
10 x 10 inches, oil on canvas

Over the weekend, I was invited to a studio-remodel inauguration party at my friend Patti's house. What a great idea to break in your new/old studio - by painting with friends! It was definitely an infusion of artistic energy. 

I was, of course, drafted to set up the still life. Can you spot my painting subject amid the jumble?

persimmon and cranberry still life setup by sarah sedwick
 I love setting up a big, sprawling still life and letting everyone choose which part they are most attracted to. Just like I do when landscape painting, I settle on a composition by editing out extraneous details and zeroing in on what my unique artistic eye responds to. 

If you'd like to paint a still life like this, you have three options. One: invite me over for a painting party at your studio (be sure to send me a plane ticket, too, where applicable). Two: join me for a session of Still Life Open Studio - the next one is Thursday December 8th. Or three: take my three-day still life workshop this January at Oregon Art Supply. Fun guaranteed, whichever way you choose. ;)

still life oil painting work-in-progress by sarah sedwick

Here's how this one got started. I almost never work this way: laying in the background first. I have no idea why I did it this time, and no plans to do it again in the future. But it worked out fine.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Pointed Persimmon and Public Painting Demo

 "Pointed Persimmon"
8 x 10 inches, oil on linen

Lots of elements came together to make this painting! First, the persimmon: gifted to me by a friend who knows his trees (also, a little something about my persimmon obsession). It's a Hachiya persimmon, as opposed to the Fuyus I usually paint. Second, the fun patterned paper - a new addition to my still life stable which I already can't wait to paint again. And third - the luxurious Belgian linen canvas I painted it on, a sample sent to me by the generous owners of Masterpiece Canvas. It's from their Vincent Pro Muir series - a beautiful surface, and drum tight! 

The painting went through quite a few stages, and you'll notice it gathered more cranberries as time went on. They multiplied before my eyes!

If you'd like to watch a painting come together before your eyes, you can! This Friday, December 2nd, I'll be giving a figure painting demonstration at Whiteaker Printmakers, to introduce my workshop - also this weekend, and also with spaces still available
Come watch me paint this lovely model, Hannah. Young artists welcome - everyone in the room will be at least partially clothed. ;)   

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Persimmons and Purple Ornaments

 "Persimmons and Purple Ornaments"
12 x 12 inches, oil on canvas

Here's how my palette looked when I finished this painting - you can tell I painted the persimmons first, followed by the ornaments, ground color, and cast shadows. Or, at least I can tell. Because all the bright clean oranges are mixed over - they would have been found in the Northwest quadrant earlier on.....kind of like me, up here in the PNW. Except my mixed oranges were located more towards Utah and Nevada. 


And here's even more evidence that I painted those orange persimmons before anything work-in-progress! 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Flaming Leaves

 Persimmon christmas ornament oil painting still life by Sarah Sedwick
 "Flaming Leaves"
10 x 10 inches, oil on canvas

What brilliant timing - the day before the huge art supply trade show at the U of O, a friend offered me persimmons from her tree - making the question of what to paint for my demo an absolute no-brainer! I love that.

The show was a blast - and a whirlwind. Two days of painting, talking, and junking out on the latest and best in art supplies. I came home with a bunch of new things to try. Because who doesn't need more art stuff? No one!

 still life painting by sarah sedwick

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Green Line - And Trade Show News!

 art oil painting still life red pear by sarah sedwick
 "The Green Line"
10 x 10 inches, oil on canvas

Here's my newest still life! I was drawn to the green line on this pear - can you picture me examining every single red pear on the shelf before choosing just the right one for a painting? 

work-in-progress oil painting still life red pear sarah sedwick
I like all the triangles and circles in this composition - they echo the shape of the pear, which is nothing more than a circle with a triangle on top, when you break it down.

In other news, I'll be at the Duck Store on the U of O campus all day Wednesday and Thursday, painting and chatting away! Tools of the Trade is a really fun event, with tons of products to try out, and big discounts. I'll have my greeting cards and calendars for sale, too - so come down and say hi!  

Friday, November 11, 2016

River Stones and Reds, and a Time-Lapse Video!

 "River Stones and Reds"
16 x 16 inches, oil on canvas

I picked up some stones last weekend on the bank of the Willamette river. I was out there at dusk, and all the stones looked white - or maybe they were just dusted with dried mud. When I cleaned them off, they were pleasingly multi-colored. 

I also really enjoyed the yellow line on the red pear.

Here's the very beginning of my process - you can see me fiddling around with placement a bit:


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

I Hear the "Click"

 "Red Reflection"
9 x 12 inches, oil on Arches oil paper

If I paint until I'm 100, I'll never get tired of the little tricks light plays on the world. 
This painting exists because of that beautiful red streak bouncing onto the underside of the pomegranate from the silver dish. When I saw that, I heard the "click," that inner voice that says, "This still life is ready to be painted!"

Below is a quick color chart of my palette for this piece: Cadmium Red light and Alizarin Crimson, combined with Hansa yellow, Ultramarine blue, and a green mixed from the two. Then two rows of tints beneath. This chart was a demo for one of my private students, to show the possibilities of having  both a warm and a cool version of one of the primaries in a limited palette. 

 I'll be in the Portland, OR area this weekend, teaching "Color Mixing for Painters" at Sequoia Gallery + Studios - you can still sign up for that! More info, and online registration here. Can't attend a workshop? Check out my online art mentorship program.....


....And, as always - thanks for reading!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Royal Reds, and A Show Announcement

 "Royal Reds"
14 x 18 inches, oil on canvas
Available at Out on a Limb Gallery

Painting Christmas ornaments before Thanksgiving.... that's like Starbucks busting out the pumpkin spice lattes in August! Which they do. In my defense, these pomegranates were just crying out for some sparkly holiday cheer - I love the little dots of light reflecting into the shadow on the lower pom - so fun to paint!

This palette was a red bonanza - I had Cad red light, Cadmium red, Quinacridone red, and Alizarin Crimson up there. Dioxazine Purple, too. Yum.

This painting, and 14 others, is on display at Out on a Limb Gallery here in Eugene this month. The opening reception is tonight, during the First Friday artwalk! Starting at 5:30. Hope you can attend. And read this lovely write-up on our town's newest arts publication: The Eugene Review!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Color Phases

pumpkin oil painting art
 "Fall Four"
12 x 24 inches, oil on canvas

I've been painting a lot lately, and it feels great! I am ready to move on from pumpkins, though. It actually seems that I've been in an orange phase for a couple months now. I didn't realize that I go through these cycles with color until it was pointed out to me by my 11 year old private student the other day. She was gazing at the wall where I hang my paintings to dry, and said, "You paint a lot of orange, don't you?" And I said, "Well, um, yes, I guess I do!"
Perspective: just one of the benefits of letting other humans into your studio once in a while! 

If you scroll back though my still lives from this year, you'll see that I do cycle through colors - before orange, it was purple/red, and before that, yellow (a perennial favorite), then green, then red.  I tend to be into red in the winter months - and my current orange obsession can't be explained by the prevalence of pumpkins during this time of year - I've got oranges, cantaloupe, and grapefruit under my belt as well. Literally. I ate them.

Here's my work-in-progress. This painting took about three days to complete. 

work in progress oil painting pumpkin art

As always, thanks for looking - and for reading this far! If you'd like to see my recent orange phase paintings in person, I'll be showing most of them during November at Out on a Limb Gallery, here in Eugene. The opening reception is Friday, November 4th, from 5:30-8 pm. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Political Pumpkins

pumpkin still life oil painting by sarah sedwick
"Political Pumpkins"
8 x 8 inches, oil on canvas
I didn't watch the debate, and only caught a few minutes of it on the radio, but when I saw this comment my painting got on Instagram, I looked up some images. Sure enough, this pair of pumpkins is evocative of our candidates - especially with Hillary in that white power suit! 
Though I feel bad for my orange pumpkin - he doesn't mean to be looming so ominously over his short, white friend. Don't worry, orange pumpkin, I won't do this to you.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

From Drawing to Painting

pumpkin squash still life oil painting
 "Squash Game"
14 x 18 inches, oil on canvas

Another painting, mining my maybe-excessive Hillsboro pumpkin patch lode.

I brought them all home from Still Life Open Studios and threw them on the studio table, where they were very conveniently waiting when it was time for my next daily sketch. As I was drawing, I began to see that there was a painting there, somewhere.

There are lots of reasons that artists draw - and there are plenty of artists for whom drawing is the main medium of creation. As a painter, there are several things that make drawing an integral part of my studio practice.
sketch to finish pumpkin squash drawing painting
 For one thing, it keeps me in touch with my love of line. I'm always trying to paint more tonally, with fewer outlines, so junking out on lines and hatchmarks feels really good when I sketch. 

I've got a brand new workshop coming up October 29-30, here in Eugene called "From Sketchbook to Canvas: Drawing to Improve Your Painting." Despite that maybe-excessive title, it's going to be a simple class: we're going to draw, then we're going to paint. And we're all going to learn something about ourselves as artists, and our own unique artistic process. More info and online registration here!

pumpkin squash still life painting by sarah sedwick

Friday, October 7, 2016

A Fall Shopping Spree

pumpkin oil painting by sarah sedwick
 "Ghost Pumpkin"
12 x 16 inches, oil on canvas

I lucked out in more ways than one when I found this farm during the Washington County plein air event last week. Not only did they have gorgeous pear trees, they had lots of pumpkins for sale. So, with Still Life Open Studios in mind, I stocked up:

We had a fun session of SOS last night - and a colorful one! The next one will be Thursday October 20th. Join us!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

In Which I have a Rockstar Moment

 "The Apple Barn"
12 x 24 inches, oil on canvas
Framed, $700

I'm just going to say this at the outset: I'm really proud of this painting. We artists all know the feeling: a piece is working right from the beginning. I say, "It painted itself," "It fell off the brush," or "It was a rockstar moment," but I think the best description of this particular magic is that I felt in control the entire time I was painting it. And that doesn't happen all that often - maybe once every 20 paintings? 

As you can see, it was a heartbreakingly beautiful day - one of those fall afternoons that make you feel grateful to be alive.

I started with a 3-value sketch - oil paint in my sketchbook. This was extremely helpful, especially when it came to painting mid-value areas like the grass and distant hills. Green just doesn't feel all that light to my eye - in general, it's a mid-to-dark value color, and it's very saturated and beautiful in the sunlight. But, referring to my sketch, I told myself to keep it as light as those rooftops. 

Understanding that color has value - and how that works in our paintings - is a huge benefit of practicing in black and white. So, if it's been a while since you went back to basics, give it a might have a "rockstar moment" yourself!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Plein Air for the Still Life Painter

 fruit tree oil painting plein air alla prima by sarah sedwick
 "In the Pear Orchard"
14 x 18 inches, oil on canvas
Available, contact Sequoia Gallery to inquire

After a morning of painting landscape, this still life painter was ready to get back to more familiar territory. So, I found some fruit to paint - plein air! it even had a tree attached.

I continued using my palette from the morning, now with some lovely leftover greys all mixed up.

 I parked my easel in back of a U-pick farmstand, in a shaded spot between three pear trees. No plein air umbrella needed - perfect!           

I began with those patches of bright sunlight hitting the pears - the very first stroke on the canvas (after my underpainting) was the bright spot on the central pear. Everything else got keyed below that, to really make it pop!

oil painting work-in-progress by Sarah Sedwick

Fresh off the easel. This one was really fun!

plein air oil painting of a pear tree by sarah sedwick

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Plein Air Washington County, Take 1!

white barn oil painting plein air by sarah sedwick
 "Plum Hill Barn"
14 x 18 inches, oil on canvas
Available through Sequoia Gallery 

I just got back from a fabulous paintout! The Plein Air Washington County event happens every fall just outside of Portland, Oregon in an extremely scenic area chock full of rolling hills, gorgeous vineyards, and farms.  

With so much to choose from, it took me a while to settle down and pick a spot, but I finally did: a weathered white barn on the property of Plum Hill Vineyards.

Sarah sedwick oregon artist plein air painter
I knew I wasn't going to need a lot of greens for this kind of landscape. Two reds, two yellows, two blues and a bonus purple. My kind of split-primary palette!
 And my secret weapon for all plein-air painting: Radiant Blue, by Gamblin. It makes gorgeous skies. The anonymous guy on the far right is Ultramarine blue, by the way.

split primary palette oil paint masterpiece canvas gamblin

I started with a notan sketch, in a mixed dark paint, just in my sketchbook. If you think you can't oil paint in your sketchbook, give it a try sometime! I can't say enough about how helpful these preliminary sketches are - so be forewarned: I will be saying more. Because there were two more days of painting after this one, which I'll save for future posts.

oil painting process notan sketch landscape

So now that I've covered the future, I'll bring up the past.  Here are my posts about the first and second time I did this paintout. And obviously, the third time's the charm: this painting was awarded an honorable mention by judge Eric Jacobsen - and I do indeed feel truly honored!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Fall is in the Air

still life apples and pears by sarah sedwick
"Red Into Green"
9 x 12 inches, oil on canvas

Well, I had my birthday, and I've broken out the legwarmers, so it must be Fall. I spent yesterday painting outside in some gorgeous weather at the Plein Air Washington County event, and will be heading back up there tomorrow for some more - including their quick draw with costumed models, which I love.

Here's a work-in-progress that shows how this apple came together. Specifically, how I painted out beyond the contour lines and then used the background to refine the shape of the apple, working back and forth to create the edges that I want.
alla prima oil painting work in progress apples and pears 
I'll also mention that this was painted with a limited palette:
hansa yellow, alizarin crimson, cerulean blue, titanium white.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Avocado and Tomatoes in Black and White - and More about Notan

fine art black and white oil painting of avocado
 "Avocado and Tomatoes"
approx. 8 x 11 inches, oil on Arches oil paper

After reading this post by James Gurney, I decided to try some notan sketches on brown cardboard as a warmup for this painting - and it was fun! It's so satisfying to put thick white paint over a midtone surface. Why? Who knows - but I'll be back for more. 

notan black and white oil painting of avocado and tomato

The idea with notan is that midtones have to get lumped into either dark or light - you only have two values to work with. These forced choices remind us that we are interpreting, not copying the subject; composition is something we impose on nature. Two artists will not come up with the same value scheme in a notan sketch. There is no right or wrong way to do it. 

Also, it looks cool!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

"Orange Orbit" oil painting and work-in-progress, notan to finish

art painting oil painting of oranges by Sarah Sedwick
 "Orange Orbit"
12 x 16 inches, oil on canvas

While I had this still life set up, I thought I'd try a vertical rectangle in addition to the square composition I painted first. 

These oranges were really patient! They stuck with me for weeks - and I even ate one of them after I finished this today. So maybe they really were from outer space....orbiting. Hm.

Here's my progression from notan to a 4-value sketch to my underpainting to the finish! No shot of me eating the orange, though. Next time.

art painting oil painting process notan sketch underpainting