Wednesday, April 23, 2014

In Which I Discuss Amputation, Serial Killers, and the Zorn Palette

18 x 14 inches, oil on canvas

When composing a figurative painting, keep in mind that letting a limb exit the picture plane ("cutting it off") at a joint is a definite don't. It's supposedly reminiscent of amputation in the viewer's mind - mostly subconsciously - unless, of course, your audience is composed of HBO-style serial killers (in which case, do it! $$$$)

This blog post is rapidly getting out of hand, and I certainly don't want to imply that the human body, minus certain capabilities, is not still beautiful. What I'm saying is this: you take a figure model with no disabilities, and create some for her, and your viewer is going to wonder why.

Which brings me to this particular painting, which I banged out last night. It's another Zorn palette effort, which has become my rushing-out-of-the-house at 5:30, get-your-own-damn-dinner-dear-family go-to.

I'd like to pat myself long and lovingly on the back, though, for getting the entire body - head, hands, elbows, knees, and BOTH FEET on the canvas. That almost never happens. And when I mean almost never, I think the last time was January 2012. Don't call me out on her fingers.
It was two years ago, after all.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tulips through time

"Tulips in Silver"
12 x 9 inches, oil on canvas

Tulips, as every flower painter knows, need to be painted fast. Under strong light, they move and open! It's like a slow dance. I've been painting these red and white beauties for years - they grow in my mom's yard (along with almost everything else I paint during the warmer months). Here are the same tulips from two years ago, from four years ago, and even from six years ago

 Do any of those look familiar? How long have you been with me, dear reader?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Doings

 "Easter Lily"
14 x 11 inches, oil on canvas

I had a lovely Sunday! Through a liaison with my local gallery, I was invited to paint during an opulent Easter brunch at the Eugene Hilton hotel. Of course, I chose an Easter lily as my subject. 

Below you can see my value sketch, done with two grays and a black Copic marker. I tried to stick to that value structure as I moved into the painting, but I think I ended up too dark on the ground plane.

I always benefit from preliminary studies - and opulent brunches. Shrimp, salmon, and crab at 11 am? Yes, please!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Spring Pinks: a floral still life oil painting

 "Spring Pinks"
9 x 12 inches, oil on canvas

The colors of spring on my street, including a sprig of exuberant purple Azalea. I stayed very loose and suggestive on those purple blossoms - I'll tell you it was my way of keeping the focus inside the composition, but really it was to keep from making myself crazy!

Here's a work-in-progress:

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Zorn Palette Portrait and a New Model

12 x 9 inches, oil on canvas

 It felt so great to be back in front of a live model this week, after the Art Center's spring break and my trip to OKC. I love this young woman's face - she has the most transparent green eyes and a nose that reminds me, pleasantly, of my sister's.

....And just to prove how obsessed I am with facial likeness:

I truly wish I could be a little more obsessed with composition sometimes!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Traveling and Teaching

I just got home from teaching an amazing group of painters at The Conservatory for Classical Art in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma! I must say I was thrilled with it all - the space, the students, even the crazy Oklahoma weather, which certainly keeps it interesting. I'm already looking forward to heading back next year!

Below you can see the space, in the upper left, before I brought my explosion of fruit and fabric to the scene. The Conservatory is housed in an old dance school, so it has a soft wooden floor, with lots of give - great for walking around on all day. Also mirrors on three walls - and barres, in case you need to take a break from painting for a pliƩ or two!

What would you choose to paint, from the cornucopia on the bottom right? 


 These are my demo paintings from the weekend - each painted "at" specific issues I wanted to address.


 Here I am with my students, with one missing. It was a great group, and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with them!
(I'm second from left, sitting down)

These were some talented artists, and undaunted by the most complicated subjects: halved peppers, glass bowls...the only thing that intimidated these brave ladies was the timer. And I do love to use the timer!

 For information on my upcoming workshops, subscribe to my blog here, or follow me on Facebook - a great place to keep up with all my doings (and see even more pictures from OKC).

Monday, April 7, 2014

Hi, Remember Me?

 "Red Camellia in a Tea Cup"
10 x 8 inches, oil on canvas

Well, I won't bend your ear making excuses for why I haven't posted in a month (*no guilt!*). I think instead I'll just move on to the excitement, of which there's plenty!

I'm leaving in two days to teach a master class workshop at Leslie Lienau's Conservatory for Classical Art in Oklahoma City.  Really, really excited about this! I love to teach, love to paint with my colleagues. I paint the figure with a weekly group, but I always feel really lucky when I get to share a still life with other artists.

 I just got done taking an amazing workshop myself - right here in Eugene, from Yer Za Vue, an accomplished Portland painter, teacher, and former Disney animator. 

Huge thanks to the Plein Air Painters of Lane County for bringing her down, and putting her up (Victoria)! I met Za for the first time at Eric Sandgren's coast paintout last summer (which I will totally be attending again this year, as it was life-changing). She rocked an amazing two days of art-making and art-teaching, and we were so graciously hosted by Ann of Aragon Alpaca Farm.

What a great way to kick off Plein Air season! (Even if I won't really be out there until it's legitimately warm here....maybe July?)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Opposite of Alla Prima

 "Two Orchids, Out of Bloom"
18 x 14 inches, oil on canvas

I started this one ages ago - at least it feels that way. I posted the oil sketch back in February, and have been slowly chipping away at this larger piece since then. That is not the way I prefer to work -  I'm usually alla prima all the way. I'm glad I saw this one through, though. And it's fitting that it finally gets posted this week, following two newer paintings featuring this little dish.

Monday, March 10, 2014

"Fallen Blossom" A floral still life oil painting of red Camellias

 "Fallen Blossom"
12 x 9 inches, oil on canvas

Camellias don't last long as cut flowers - especially if you're constantly fussing and rearranging to get the perfect bouquet for a painting. Luckily, I liked the look of this blossom on the tabletop, and was able to capture it before its petals began to shrivel. I'd love to do a really big still life of Camellias, but I'd have to work fast - a photograph could never do these amazing colors justice - my palette barely can, and I've been using four different reds!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Pretty Larceny

 "Early Camellias"
approx. 12 x 9 inches, oil on Arches oil paper

The scissors in my glove compartment strike again! This beautiful Camellia bush lives on the front lawn of a real estate office downtown - conveniently located along my morning drop-off-the-people route. I'm sure the friendly realtors would be happy to know they'd donated some excess bloomage to the cause of Art. Not that I'm telling them or anything. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

"Six Quail Eggs" It's All About the Negative Space:

"Six Quail Eggs"
12 x 12 inches, oil on canvas

Yes, I've been painting! But I've been away from the blog, and I've missed you! I do apologize, things have been up and down. "In sickness and in health," as they said when I married this blog. 

 Somehow, I managed to work on this painting for two weeks, but kept the freshness of the brushwork on the painted-over canvas- it was one of the first parts of the painting I blocked in, as you can see below, and I left it completely alone. 

The negative space in this painting is the subject. I wanted to emphasize the smallness of the quail eggs, and the little speckled dish they're in. So I used my usual array of colored papers, but also that half-painted canvas, because I live in an art studio, and there's a lot of that around. Kind of my way of self-portraitizing an otherwise normal still life.

 (As always, click the picture for a bigger view.)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Speckled Eggs and Spring

"Quail Eggs"
6 x 6 inches, oil on canvas
Ships free with code: SARAH  

The Asian market strikes again! These little cuties have been sitting in my refrigerator for I-won't-even-tell-you-how-long, but hey - they don't smell yet - and I'm not planning to eat them. Quail-egg-painting procrastination is over now, and I've got another version on the easel as I type.

One thing I'm terribly excited about this week: Spring! I actually saw the first Camellia blossoms of the year yesterday. I'll be out and about with my scissors soon.....


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Another Self Portrait and Another Road Trip!

 "Self Portrait, February 2014"
14 x 11 inches, oil on canvas

Last week, once Snow-maggeddon finally melted (and the power came back on and my car was towed out of a ditch), Carol and I hit the rainy road to Portland for a brunch date with a group of awesome artist-bloggers. There were a lot of familiar faces in attendance, and one new to me, but a blogger I've been following for years, Don Gray. What a pleasure to meet someone in person and feel like you already know them so well!

Because you can never have too much of a good thing: artist-friends, delicious brunch food, cute dogs, painterly commiseration, new-work-sharing...

Below, clockwise from top: Annie Salness, Carol Marine, Ruth Armitage, and Randall David Tipton; Lulu the cutest damn dog in Oregon; Sarah Peroutka; Don Gray and Randall; Jo Reimer, Don, and his wife Brenda. Present, but not pictured: Gretha Lindwood. Huge thanks to Ruth for hosting us at her stunning home.

As far as this self portrait is concerned, (and I should say something about it, huh?), I painted it while cooped up in the snow (but before the power went out).  I used a Zorn palette, and really wasn't planning on even finishing it, but ended up liking it. The nose is a bit short, the chin maybe a bit too big, but you'll have that. Until you come to Eugene and meet me, you can't really argue!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A post for a snowy Thursday

 "One Dozen Brown Eggs"
10 x 8 inches, oil on canvas
Available through The Gallery at the Watershed

Here's the painting from my always-fun live session at the gallery last Saturday. If you've been reading awhile, you might recognize this plate as the green twin of my subject from the previous weekend. If so, bonus points for you!

Unlike that one, this green-plate painting was neither finished nor sold on-location. It took me a little bit longer, back home in my studio, to complete it - mostly without the help of the photo I took. Memory really is better than photos for color. Don't you agree?


If you're interested in watching me paint, I'll be at the gallery this Saturday for the final day of my solo show, from 12-4. Feel free to join - pull up a chair, watch as long as you like, and ask me anything!

If you prefer a fancier soiree, tomorrow is First Friday, once again (because it's February, for all you doubters!) and I will be out and about, in a dress, no less! Brave the snow. Let's meet.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Road Trip!

 "All Kinds of Orange"
8 x 8 inches, oil on canvas

I have a pretty strict policy around here: Say Yes As Often As Possible. Which is how I came to be driving North on I-5 this past Monday evening with my trunk full of painting gear, and trusty sidekick Amy in the passenger seat. Destination: The Corvallis Art Guild's monthly meeting.

I'm always honored to be asked to do anything - especially paint in front of people and talk about my work! The Corvallis Art Guild turned out to be a great group of artists who peppered me with delightfully technical questions about paint, mediums, etc, while I did my demo. Speaking of technical - the whole thing was projected onto a huge screen, with some help from the chairman of the group (and a friend of mine), Joseph Pfeiffer-Herbert. Everyone had a great view, and Joseph's arm only got a little tired.

Another invitation I gratefully accepted that evening came from Herbert and Rogena Berman, who welcomed Amy and I into their Corvallis home. They had seen my show at The Gallery at the Watershed and liked it so much that they invited us to see Herbert's wonderful paintings and studio. It was really a treat.

What a great night!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

All Questions, No Answers

"Two Orchids, Out of Bloom (sketch)"
 8 x 10 inches, oil on canvas

As promised yesterday, this piece segues me nicely into a topic I worry about periodically - how to do preparatory sketches for a piece without burning myself out on a setup before I even get to the large canvas?

Well, I don't have an answer, but one thing seems clear: even if I enjoy and feel really excited about the sketch, if I'm still dreading starting the larger version, it really shouldn't happen. 

In this case, I have a totally different composition in mind from the same setup - vertical, so I can incorporate all the lovely green leaves of the orchids, and plenty of the negative/shadow space that I love. Sounds good, right? So why has the half-begun canvas been sitting on my easel for days? I keep telling myself that my dread of the large canvas is just some kind of stage fright, and not an issue with the painting itself. 

But I'm worried. I'm intrigued, as an artist, a mom, and a human, by the things that kids make. How fascinated they can be by jumbled strings of random beads, such as this one that my daughter made at preschool awhile back. But is it good in a painting? Does it work automatically because it interests me, and I'm the artist here, after all? I didn't set out to say anything with this piece, besides 'These are beautiful objects from my life that I love looking at together.' But as much as I try to deny it, meaning keeps sneaking in. I've discussed it before: my dread of artist statements: my dread of making any statement at all, beyond 'It's beautiful,' but a setup like this appeals to me more and more on a personal, narrative level. Either I'm getting old, or growing as an artist. You heard it here first!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Sketch to Finish

"Curved Spine"
14 x 11 inches, oil on canvas

Here's what I did with that little sketch I posted a week ago. You'd think there wouldn't be too much to worry about, detail-wise when painting a back, but the subtleties are engrossing. And I had so much time to focus on her lovely translucent ears since I had no face to obsess over!

Here's how the painting came together over three hours. Having a preparatory sketch under my belt made the final piece flow SO much more smoothly. I'm a serious advocate of doing as much preparation for a painting as you can...without getting totally bored of your subject. More on that tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Plate, A Love Story

"Amy's Plate"
10 x 8 inches, oil on canvas

  Sometimes painting still life is all about serendipity. I haunt thrift stores, gratefully accept donations and loans of lovely little things from friends, and frequently paint my food - but chance is a powerful force in my work, and small romances with objects often bear fruit.

I'd been flirting with this plate - which belongs to my gallerist, and is usually a vessel for opening-night treats - for a while, but found myself awake at 5 am and thinking about it yet again this past Saturday morning. With the addition of a few things from my collection - and some eggs stolen from her family's breakfast - my vision congealed.

 Never discount the possibilities inherent in just showing up prepared to paint. The universe will always supply what we need, as artists, when our eyes are open.

In progress....the block-in