Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I Picked Your Lilacs

 "Lilacs and Lemons"
8 x 8 inches, oil on canvas

After my brush stroke workout yesterday, I was more than ready to break out a brand new brush and keep keeping it simple! New flats and brights are the best for this - their lines are so precise and crisp. If you don't clean them, or leave them sitting in your solvent jar for hours, or carry them around in a funky vintage makeup case to and from classes and open studios (as I do, yes, all of the above), that crispness doesn't last long. Believe me, I will be cleaning my brushes as soon as I hit "publish!"

...cleaning them, and then stuffing them into the aforementioned case and heading to figure painting night. Join me! (Virtually, in person, or via astral projection - your choice.)
 Sketch for "Lilacs and Lemons" approx. 5.5" square, oil on Arches oil paper. 30 minutes.

Monday, April 29, 2013

I Paint Like a Different Person

"A Landscape on the Table"
8 x 10 inches, oil on canvas

Mondays are teaching days in my world, and this particular lesson is a tough one: the 25-20-15 stroke exercise, followed by a longer, larger piece. It seems that every time I warm up this way, I paint like a different person. Sometimes you have to force yourself to think differently - the results can be dramatic! I noticed them in my students' work too.

Here's some of that work, along with my exercise in the upper right.

 (clockwise, from top left: Joy, Me, Francis, a snippet of our still life setup, and Katia)

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Stay-of-Execution

8 x 10 inches, oil on canvas
Oh, Dylan, you miniature Don Draper you. You could be my muse if I didn't have so much f$%&ing trouble capturing your likeness. Maybe I could just pinch your bearded cheeks?

Before I moved to Oregon, I never thought of beards as attractive. Goatees - maybe - that's about as far as facial hair went in the midwest in the 90's. But I digress...

As I've already hinted, this one almost didn't make it. I literally had the palette knife poised to strike this morning when I decided to try a couple of tweaks. Also influencing the stay-of-execution, the fact that this one spent a couple of hours baking in my hot car yesterday afternoon, and was basically already dry when I went to wipe it.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Queen of the Elegant Segway

"Emily's Eyes"
9 x 12 inches, oil on canvas

Paint, paint, paint! Life is good this week, with lots going on, at the easel and elsewhere. Here's my work from Tuesday night, getting a bit closer-in to this pose. I used a basic primary palette - red, yellow, and blue - with a little black thrown in, you know, for darkness.

Because what this model needs is a little darkness!?! I admit, I'm totally taken with her clear blue eyes and blonde, asymmetrical hair.  I feel like I should be painting her in a beautiful garden, with flowers spilling everywhere.

....Speaking of which (and I will now accept the title of 'Queen of the Elegant Segway'), Eugene is having a huge celebration of All Things Art this August - there is even a plein air paintout and competition in the works - and I have thrown myself and my hat into the ring! I'll be teaching a one-day workshop, "Painting the Figure en Plein Air" in the lovely courtyard of The Gallery at the Watershed, Saturday August 10th. It will be an all-day affair, with a lengthy demo and plenty of time for painting and individual instruction. There are only eight spots, so if you want to join me, please call Amy at the gallery right now! ((541) 844-1668 - or email amy@thewatershed.com).

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I Exercise In Spite of Myself

"View of the Flower Farm"
8 x 10 inches, oil on canvas

I should have gone running. I have 13.1 reasons to keep my legs in fighting form, at least through this weekend, but instead....

I set off this morning for Mt. Pisgah arboretum without much of a plan in mind - I was on my own, and not being too familiar with this particular park, I wandered around for a while looking for a good spot. In a lazy effort to avoid any actual hiking, I investigated a puddle-ey bridal path, saw some cows, then more cows, no views. Finally I decided to just grab my gear and start climbing. All of the trails in this park seem to head in one direction: up.

 I couldn't have gone more than 3/4 of a mile before I found a spot that felt right, and got started.

After a while, my easel almost fell over - the ground randomly attempted to swallow one of the legs(?). I caught it in time, but got white paint on some stuff. Returning minerals to the earth from whence they came. Titanium, you're welcome.

After that adrenaline rush, I took a break. These awesome pink shoes are a pair of last year's runners - all worn out for pounding the pavement, but super comfy for standing around, and the colors make me happy.
 By noon I was hot, hungry, and happy with my work. Going down was so much easier than going up!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Strange Fruit

 "Meyer Lemons on the Table"
8 x 8 inches, oil on canvas

I've been eyeing these strange orange lemons for a month or so in the produce section, and finally decided to take the plunge. I consider it a rule of thumb that if something doesn't look quite right in your still life setup, you'll never be able to make it come across in a painting. I'm hoping these wierdos are the exception that proves my rule. Their color is a gorgeous, delicate orange, but their shape and texture are all lemon. Hope it's working for you. I'm just indulging my whims over here.

This was painted with the remnants of my purple/yellow palette from yesterday, with some Cadmium Red added, for that orange that screams "lemon!"

Monday, April 22, 2013

Another Purple Day: Playshop!

 "Purple Tea" 
6 x 8 inches, oil on canvas

Don't call it a workshop! The second ever teaching of "Painting, Fast and Fun" is outdoing itself in the fun department, with a great group of artists. Last time I took this exercise out for a spin, I used blue and orange, but today was all about purple and yellow.

 We started the day with a black and white painting, to get the whole value-first thing fast in our minds, and then dove in with our choice of complements. The idea is not to capture local color (the color of the actual object), but to use the paint mixtures to achieve correct value. If nothing else, it shakes you out of your comfort zone.....

Though there was plenty of laughing and banter (or was that just me?) for an uncomfortable group.
My wonderful students, with Liz's purple/yellow painting, unfinished at bottom right

I was having a particularly hard time photographing this intensely purple painting, so I thought I'd share some of my photo editing behind-the-scenes today.
I have a 5 year old Canon Powershot 10 megapixel camera. I always take my photos inside, in my studio, in between a window and my overhead halogen lightbulb, with the painting positioned to get the least glare --- and the pictures always come out too blue. iPhoto to the rescue! Don't ever be afraid to edit your photos prior to posting. They should look as close to the actual painting as they can. If anything, this particular piece is MORE purple than it appears on your screen. Believe it. I'm a purple person.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

I'm a Purple Person

"Garlic on a Purple Plate"
8 x 8 inches, oil on canvas

Friday was a good day. It started off with a misty 6 mile run with Gabriella, then I hit up the thrift store for some new still life props and fabrics (also scored two cute cocktail dresses, in case anyone's thinking of inviting me to a fancy shindig....*hint hint*). In the evening I headed to The Gallery at the Watershed for some live painting - and wine.

Both of which are in evidence here:

 I really love painting with others - not so much in front of a hushed audience, but in a relaxed, convivial atmosphere. I'm thinking of hiring myself out for parties. Better than a mime! I'll just stand in the corner and paint. It's not the wildest party idea I've come across lately....

Friday, April 19, 2013

Random Roundup: What a Week!

"The Florist"
 9 x 12"
oil on canvas

Here's my portrait from yesterday morning's open studio. I was going to wipe it before I even left the Art Center, but was dissuaded by the gentle encouragement of my painting friends. After bringing it home and letting it hang out in my kitchen for a bit, I realized that that red shirt kept catching my eye as I breezed past. And I have to admit I'm drawn to the strange dynamic between his dignified face and those flowers....

My start was terrible. I believe this goes in the category of "I was stupid to share it," but hey, it's the Random Roundup. No shame.

In other news(papers), The Gallery at the Watershed was written up in our local daily this week, and the photo they published was yours truly, making this painting last week. It was entirely coincidental that I was there when the photographer arrived, and I might even call it fortuitous, if I had been identified in the photo they ran in their paper, online, and on Facebook. Go to your grave gracefully, print journalism. 

(Here's a link to the article, really a very nice writeup of an exciting addition to our local art scene.)


 My workshop got off to a great start this past Monday. I'm loving my new crop of students, and their enthusiasm. Here is one of my demos from the day - in case you haven't already seen it on Facebook, it's up for auction on Daily Paintworks, starting at $1.

 "Garlic and Butter Knife"
approx. 6 x 8 inches, oil on Arches oil paper

Well, that's all the news that's random this week. I'll be painting live once again at The Gallery at the Watershed tonight from 7-10 pm. I'd love it if you came by to say hello, but please, no pictures.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

An Exotic Reverie

"Touching Her Shoulder"
11 x 14 inches, oil on canvas

 Not only do I love this graceful pose, but the lighting (which I can take no credit for) truly makes the painting. The way only her nose and cheekbone emerge from her face, while most of the light falls across her opposite breast and shoulder is what drew me to this view of the model.

What thoughts are brewing behind those eyes?
Could it be 'Ow, my hip hurts in this position'?

I choose to imagine a more exotic reverie.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

In Which I Do Performance Art

"In The Gallery"
8 x 10 inches, oil on canvas

With our crazy changeable Spring weather, it can be sunny one minute and pouring the next. So, when the plein-air itch hit this week, I opted for an indoor version - at my new gallery! I love painting interiors. I really don't do them often enough - mostly because I figure, meh, it's just my house. Well, my art now has a gorgeous house - which I hope to paint again very soon.

Shots of the Gallery and my work-in-progress. Click for a better view.

 Here's me. I never know what to do with my left hand when someone photographs me while painting! Normally, it would be holding a filthy, paint-soaked rag, but I like to hide the evidence when the camera approaches. Then what? Put my fist on my hip like the supermodel I am? I do always feel sexy in an apron. (True story!)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

My Avatar, the Sequel

"Ali in Stripes"
11 x 14 inches, oil on canvas

I haven't seen this model, Ali, except for random sightings around town - this is a small place we live in after all - since last May. And I wasn't the only one happy to see her this morning! Some of us were giddy. (Lol, Joy).

I've had such success painting Ali in the past that her likeness has been my online avatar and another has been on my business cards for the past year.

 I loved the stripes.

But then, I've been known to rock a few myself, from time to time. 

via Instagram

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

In Which I Confess

"Bountiful Camellias" 
12 x 12 inches, oil on canvas
Available through The Gallery at the Watershed

A funny thing happened last Friday.  Hanging out at my new gallery during the artwalk, I was randomly introduced to the very same neighbor of mine from whom I've been stealing these gorgeous red Camellias for the past four years. I immediately came clean and thanked her profusely (some Japanese-style bowing was involved), but she laughed and thanked me. I assume for helping tame a slightly out-of-control bush. Or possibly for making her an unknowing, (but valued) patron of the arts. 

So, Anna, now that I actually know who you are I can publicly thank you for all the flowers. 


 oil sketch for "Bountiful Camellias"
 6 x 6"

Monday, April 8, 2013

How We Met

"Gabriella with a Book" 
14 x 18 inches, oil on canvas

I think it's safe to assume that we're all internet people here. This is a blog, after all. So, many of you will relate to the story I'm about to tell, I'm sure.

Almost four years ago, I got an email from a stranger. She introduced herself and told me she'd found my Etsy shop, loved it, and then discovered that we both lived in Eugene - could we meet to discuss some internet-art-selling stuff? We arranged a meeting. I remember telling her how she'd be able to recognize me: I was 8.5 months pregnant, and enormous!

Not only do we live in the same small town, we live less than two miles away from each other. Not only are we the same age, but we are less than one month apart (she's older, ha). We got married in the same year, we both LOVE to read and love the same authors, we both have sisters, and (now) daughters, and most importantly - we are both STILL LIFE painters. We were fast friends - and remain dear friends to this day.

I've been wanting to attempt this portrait for a long time now, and I'm actually kind of relieved that it worked out as well as it did. It's not an exact likeness, but they never really are. The important thing, to me, is that when the sitter first sees it (and those in the know always wait until the artist is finished to look - never at the breaks) they recognize themselves. It's something I've observed closely - the look that passes over a face when they aren't expecting to, but suddenly see something familiar. A smile is always involved.

 Ok, a small smile, but still:
My takeaway is this (once again): DO the things that intimidate you. They are the most rewarding in the end. 

Here's where I'd say 'Thanks for modelling for me, Gab.' But I don't think I need to - she knows I'm grateful. Plus, I think she had fun. Just a little bit!

(Here's a work-in-progress to finish detail of the face:)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Rainy Plein Air

"View From the Alpaca Farm"
 11 x 14 inches, oil on canvas

Just because I faked you out the last two years running doesn't make it any less awesome that I'm following up on my new years resolution to paint outside in 2013, right? I believe 'Better late than never' is what they say....

Luckily for me and my follow-through, I found a great group of artists ready-made for me to join: Plein Air Painters of Lane County. One of their regular haunts is this gorgeous Alpaca Farm, only about five miles from my house. Aragon Alpacas. My god, Alpacas are cute.

....But they have funny teeth.

It was raining on and off all afternoon, but I usurped a covered Alpaca shelter (hey, they have fur) and settled in cozily, considering it was a comfortable 60-ish out. If you can't get into the colors of Oregon in the rain, what CAN you get into? Look at all that green. Spring!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Somebody get him a can of Bud!

"Shirtless Man"
11x14 inches, oil on canvas

Ah, figure painting. So good to be back to you after what felt like a loooong spring break, during which I actually took no time off from you.

Well, Maude Kerns Art Center figure painting is just better than other kinds of figure painting, what can I say?

Here's what I can say: when I saw this model last night, I was less-than-thrilled. We're all human, deserving of respect, and beautiful in our own way, but some of us make better painting subjects than others. At least that was my initial reaction. Then I started thinking about some of my art-idols and imaginary boyfriends, and realized that their subjects aren't always young, thin, female, and gorgeous. One of my current favorites is Sean Cheetham - he doesn't paint the classical beauty, ever. So I decided to attempt to work on some of the things I want to improve in my figure painting - flesh tones, composition, looseness, gesture - and forget about the fact that most likely no one would want to put this one on their bedroom wall.

 Though I admit, I'm a horrible judge of what-people-will-buy. Without fail, whenever I finish a painting feeling like a rockstar, I'm in luck, because that painting stays with me forever.

 ....So someone get ME a can of bud - or 250 cans, even. I'll share.