Saturday, March 18, 2017

Change and Experimentation

 "Two Oranges (Blue Scrap)"
8 x 8 inches, oil on canvas

The last of my 8x8 orange paintings from Playa, and the only piece I made there that I'll be auctioning online. 
It felt good to have familiar subject matter to fall back on during my first week at the residency - in an unfamiliar studio, in an unfamiliar unfamiliar landscape with schizophrenic weather, I might add! One morning, I wake up to a rainbow, the next, SNOW! These pictures were taken from the same spot - I was just reluctant to venture all the way out to the railing to take the second one. Can you blame me? (By the way, both shots were taken between 7 and 8 am.)

With nature in such a blatantly experimental mood, I felt inspired to try some new things myself. Here's a pencil sketch on Arches oil paper that I painted over - from memory. It's amazing how having the sketch underneath helped my recall of color details, even with the still life itself dismantled. 

I did spray-fix the graphite before painting on top. 

"Playa Vessels"
6 x 12 inches, graphite and oil paint on Arches oil paper
collection of the artist ;)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Three Oranges, One Video, One Self-Portrait Sketch, and Some Words

 "Three Oranges no. 3 (Pattern)"
8 x 8 inches, oil on canvas

Another orange painting from Playa - and a time-lapse video of my underpainting. You can see how I tweak the position of everything just a bit at the very beginning - the best time to make changes like that, for sure! 

(If you're an email subscriber, you may need to click on this link to watch.)


Here's another of my daily sketchbook self-portraits - this one done in oils on a ground of gray gesso. When I'm using oil paint in my sketchbook, I actually prefer to paint right on the paper. Gesso, being water-based, makes the paper buckle. Paint thinners like Gamsol don't have the same effect. And, because I get a lot of questions about whether I use a special kind of sketchbook to paint in - the answer is no - it's just your garden variety sketchbook. Pentalic - this one, I think.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Figure Painting Workshop Announcement!

 "In the Gray"
16 x 20 inches, oil on canvas

I'm taking a break from my slew of Playa residency blog posts to let you all know about a master class workshop I'll be teaching next month at the Conservatory for Classical Art in Edmond, Oklahoma.

It's called "The Alla Prima Figure." Three days of painting from live models, demos, and lots of talk about mixing gorgeous flesh tones. There are several spaces still available, so if you - or someone you know - are in the Oklahoma City area, please consider joining us! 

 This will be my fourth visit to the CCA. I love the energy there, and am really looking forward to it! 

Here I am demonstrating for a class last year:

 ...And another limited palette figure painting - done in one sitting, about three hours. Alla prima! 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Back To Basics

 "Three Oranges no. 2 (Yellow Scrap)"
8 x 8 inches, oil on canvas

After my initial surge of residency-ambition, I had a bit of an 'OMG, what now?' moment. We all have those, right? Well, when I have mine, I usually try to go back to basics. (Sometimes, I go shopping, but at Playa... um, not an option). And the basics for me are shapes and colors - and artificial lighting - with the added bonus that I could work on paintings like this before the sun came up...

and then step outside and take a sunrise shot like this!

 Getting up so early (ugh, yes, I'm a morning person)  has many advantages, but it tends to leave me looking like this by evening self-portrait sketch time. Looking like this - or seeing like this. Tired eyes do some crazy things!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Painting by Window Light

 "Playa Tea"
12 x 16 inches, oil on canvas

As I mentioned yesterday, in the first post about my Playa residency, one of my goals was to paint with natural light on my still lives. For the past two years, I've been in a studio with very little window light - which has its advantages, but is limiting as well. Although I really enjoy composing with the dramatic shadows cast by clip-lamps, and exploring all the warm glowing colors created by halogen light bulbs, there's just something so serene about sunlight. So window light vs. artificial light is not an either-or proposition for me - I enjoy both - but having the choice? Love it! 

 Here's my setup, on a nice little ledge built above the studio heater, next to a north-facing window. I painted this one in morning light, switching to the feather painting I posted yesterday in the afternoons - an A.M. and a P.M. painting! How very impressionist of me.

Here's how this painting got started. See those gridlines on the canvas? It's a product from Masterpiece I've been trying out, and I like it! 

Of course, I was also moving onward with my daily self-portrait sketches, in the evenings when I was too tired to do much else. This one was done in a combo of water-soluble graphite and white gouache. 

 In between my morning and afternoon painting sessions, I hiked! The weather at Playa changed constantly - and rainbows were an almost-daily occurrence - though not all of them as glorious as this one. Nothing makes me feel like I'm right where I'm supposed to be than seeing something like this:

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Artist Returns!

 "The Owl Feather"
12 x 16 inches, oil on canvas

Wow! Well - I am home from an amazing sojourn at the Playa Fellowship Residency Program, in Southeastern Oregon - and how to even begin describing the experience? The shortest possible way would be to say I made as much work in four weeks there as I would have in four months at home. But luckily, we don't have to settle for the shortest possible way - I'm planning to spend the next few weeks posting my new paintings, and writing about my time there.

So, I'll begin at the beginning - packing! Playa is in a pretty remote location - 60 miles from the nearest grocery store - so in addition to my art supplies and warmest winter-weather sweaters, I had to pack a lot of food. My car was full!

 Playa isn't all that far from my home in Eugene, Oregon - a 3.5 hour drive in good weather. I had a much shorter journey than many of the other residents. Here's a photo from near Willamette Pass, crossing over the Cascades

I watched the landscape slowly change, from deep snow and tall pine trees to more open vistas of scrublands and chilly blue sky.

I arrived at my destination at last - after driving right past it. This place seriously flies under the radar. Aside from being in the middle of breathtaking nowhere, it doesn't announce itself. There's a small sign, a rustic gate made of tree branches, and group of unassuming, red-roofed cottages on the edge of a huge, shallow, half-iced-over lake. The atmosphere is down-to-earth and unpretentious - the focus is on quiet, and work- time, space, introspection. And, after unpacking my many provisions with a wheel barrow between car and studio, I attempted to settle in. 

I am a relatively quiet person, used to working alone, used to structuring my own days - but when you can do absolutely anything you want to do - where do you start? I actually showed up without a clearly defined plan of what to paint - on purpose - hoping to use natural light on my setups, paint whatever I found around the place - just see what happened. 

And, in the absence of anything happening, fall back on self-portraits. From life - not photos, as I usually do.

 I made a plan to do a self-portrait sketch every day - and I did it. Here's number one, the night I arrived. I still have that glimmer of civilization in my eyes....

 And soon, still life subjects started showing up. I found this beautiful owl feather practically on my front lawn, just out for a walk in the wind and mud.

In this studio shot, I'm just about to begin the painting; you can see my still life on the table, in afternoon light from that west-facing window:

 And so it began....

Friday, January 20, 2017

New Year, New Art, New News!

still life painting of oranges by sarah sedwick
"The Blue Fish"
10x10 inches, oil on canvas

My first painting of the year! What took me so long? I could trot out my litany of excuses, but I'll simply say I've been preparing for big things coming - including an artist's residency - my very first - at Playa Summerlake. I'm really looking forward to this opportunity to do nothing but paint for four weeks. With no plan going in, just to take what I find there and see what comes out of me. 

I'm thinking this will change the course of my work, temporarily if not forever. So...I'll be out of touch for a while, but will be back with a vengeance, renewed energy - watch out online students! And to all my loyal blog readers, thank you, and stay tuned for exciting things to come in a few short weeks!

Friday, December 30, 2016

A Still Life Commission

 "Membrillo and Moroccan Plate"
18 x 24 inches, oil on canvas
Sold, commission piece

Sometimes that perfect piece of art is not out there waiting for you to find it, and you have to take matters into your own hands! That's what one savvy collector did recently when she commissioned me to paint this still life of quince. There's a backstory here, but first: my process!

I began with the objects she supplied me - the fruit, a jar of her homemade quince jelly, the Membrillo (a paste made of quince) and its wrapping paper, and several lovey plates and dishes in a blue-and-white color scheme - and arranged them with some additions of my own. Then I did this value study - it's about 9x12:

 The great thing about still life commissions is that the general parameters come from the client, but the inspiration is still my own. I could have made a hundred different paintings with the subjects I was presented! The quince were lovely - a fruit I've never painted before. 

Here's how this painting came together - an underpainting in sepia tones, then I blocked in the blue plate so it had time to dry before I added the pattern. The rest just flowed from there.
 This family bought a painting from me four years ago - a gift for their daughter. And this commission was a gift for another of their daughters, the Membrillo-maker herself! When I delivered the painting, I got to meet both girls, and see the older painting again, which is always a treat.  

Feeling very lucky and blessed - both to have gotten to make this piece, and to work with these amazing, art-loving people.  

Thanks for reading!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Figure Sketching in Oils

 "Study of A, Seated"
12 x 24 inches, oil on canvas
$200, free shipping in the USA

Technically, I suppose this painting is unfinished, though I consider it fully realized as an oil sketch or figure study. It's like a drawing in paint! My underpainting and process are revealed in the lower portion of the canvas and in the background, though the figure is nearly complete. Everything except the fussing and overworking! 

Here it is in the beginning stages:

This painting is being offered as part of my year-end Etsy clearance sale. Many pieces are available, some as low as $50. Check it out! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

All That Glitters

"All That Glitters"
10 x 10 inches, oil on canvas

This painting makes me really happy. Hope it brightens your day! 

Here's a time-lapse video of me painting it. If you're an email subscriber, you may need to click on this link to check it out.


Friday, December 9, 2016


 christmas art ornament and ribbon painting by sarah sedwick
10 x 10 inches, oil on canvas

Still Life Open Studio, Holiday Edition, was a bit smaller than it might have been due to some seriously yucky weather, but those who braved the icy rain got to witness firsthand my wretched excess when it comes to ornament still life setup.  Even I had trouble deciding which of the half-dozen paintings I was seeing in the objects on the table to bring to life on canvas. But this curling ribbon kept snagging my eye - and here it is! 
Collectors! Don't miss this opportunity to browse my paintings, new and old - come find out what I mean when i say serious end-of-the-year deals. Saturday and Sunday, 11-7, at Whitprint:

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.

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!