Tuesday, July 22, 2014

It's Owl Good in the Summer

"It's Owl Good" screech owl oil painting study 8x10 on linen

Summer is flying by (no pun intended)! I’ve been enjoying the outdoors and having a great time working on art projects with my summer students. I’ve also had some challenges and frustrations working on my of key art goals for this year: Improve plein air painting skills.

Ahh...Unfortunately as much as I love nature I’m just not “outdoorsy.” It’s one of those skills that I know will come in time with patience and practice.  As I think about where to practice again in a nice shady quiet spot I decided to put in some air conditioned studio time. But in 2 weeks am off to another one day plein air workshop.(Am just hoping not to get lost in the wilderness this time...)

On a much happier note I always enjoy participating in the Daily Paintworks challenges—especially when the theme relates to birds or flowers.  There’s something really motivating about painting something that you have a strong connection with.

So you can imagine my delight when I saw this week’s challenge was—hoot, hoot—owls! If you visit my studio you’ll find a cherished international owl collection thanks to my friends, family, and students. Yep, I’m a proud “bubophile.” (That’s a fancy word for owl lover.)

So I set aside a few other art projects to quickly paint this this adorable (and sleepy) little screech owl I fell in love with at a raptor education event.  Isn’t it cool how their mottled feathers mimic tree bark?

I often paint really large colorful owls but I really enjoyed painting this little guy. Thanks again to artist Linda McCoy for posting my dream challenge this week! Finally if you're an owl fan like I am, you'll find 100 owls to inspire you on my Pinterest board. P.S. Did you know a group of owls is called a Parliament? 

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Painting Knife of the Party

"Jazzy Crow" 8x01 oil on linen (for sale at Framed Image Gallery)
Happy Summer everyone! It's going to be exciting painting week. Today I'm getting ready for a three day plein air workshop in beautiful Evergreen, Colorado later this week with with landscape artist Dave Santillanes. It's going to be a challenge but I'm looking forward to it!

In the meantime I wanted to post this new painting and offer my thoughts on painting with a knife-- one of my favorite oil painting techniques. FYI, I consider a palette knife to be a mixing knife. But really, one could mix/paint with either and I often do. And artists seem to use the terms interchangeably.

The knife has been of my favorite painting tools for years. It works wonderfully (most of the time) for adding texture or thicker impasto paint layers in the final stages. And sometimes, as with my crow painting today, I paint the entire painting from start to finish with the knife. 

Even if you prefer using a  brush (which I mostly use as well) I think having some knife skills are very useful for oil painting. Painting knives, for example, can be used to quickly rework or scrape a section. This scraping often results in exciting sections of interesting broken color effects. Note that scraping over wet paint and scraping over dry paint render different results so be sure to try to both.

My favorite painting knives have two key features: An "soft grip" rubber handle (I do use wood handle knives but not as much) and a pointed “diamond shape” tip for control. I most often use the RGM knives Regarding size—just like brushes the bigger the canvas the bigger the knife size.

There are several oil painting books that feature knife painting as a key approach if you want to explore this technique: Susan Sarback's Capturing Radiant Color in Oil, Lois Griffel's Painting the Impressionist Landscape, and How to See Color and Paint It by Arthur Stern--which has fantastic painting exercises. 

Thanks for stopping by! Finally, I’m happy to share that this painting (along with 3 others) will be featured in an upcoming show in Denver at Framed Image Gallery. For more info, please visit my Events Page on my website.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

O is for Owl

"O is for Owl" Mixed Media on Gallery Wrap Canvas 30x40
First, thanks to everyone who helped me over the weekend or stopped by to say hi at the Summer Art Market in Denver. Painting is often a solitary and isolated activity but these weekend events take a village! Thank you students, friends, neighbors, and fellow artists!

I’m very appreciative the Denver community is so enthused and supportive of creative events like this. Saturday was very busy! And despite some cooler and rainy weather on Sunday (you just don’t expect to be under a snuggie in June!) I sold many paintings which is always fantastic.

I’m often asked what sold after a market like this. Of course each venue is unique but over the weekend I found birds continued to be a popular. This is good news for all us bird painters. (In fact a blue jay bird theme was picked for the official Cherry Creek Art Festival poster this year).

I was also happy to see that my horse paintings were selling well—another favorite subject. And as always landscapes were popular at this event. (Denver is home to many amazing landscape painters.) But I did notice paintings that include water seemed more in demand which was interesting.

All year I’ve heard that buyers are looking for larger paintings and from what I could tell watching shoppers walk by and in my own booth (I sold 3 out of 4 of my largest works) that seems to be true.
In the next few weeks I’ll post some of my smaller pieces (there were some very nice “leftovers”) through my Daily Paintworks gallery

June’s going to be a great art month. I’m headed to Dave Santillanes plein air landscape painting workshop in Evergreen. In fact with some of my market profits I just ordered the new Strada mini easel which I can’t wait to try (I have the Coulter system now and I like it but wanted a lighter option.)

I thought a plein air workshop like this would be the perfect way to kick off summer painting. Speaking of painting now that I’ve rested a few days it’s time to get back to the easel! Thanks everyone and have a colorful summer week!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Summer Market Sneak Peak

"Pepper Prism" 16x16 oil on gallery wrap canvas
Nothing spurs creativity more than a deadline. (Mary E. Whitehill)

Welcome to June!  The Denver Summer Art Market is only days away--I can see the finish line! My goal was to have about 75 paintings ready (this includes small studies). Have you ever painted four paintings in a day? I know some of you have—maybe in a a workshop or class. I did it yesterday--Amazing but exhausting!

As you can guess creating and preparing 75 paintings requires a great deal of attention, concentration and energy. (Does anyone enjoy matting?) But it’s also a luxury to have an excuse to paint so much. That being said you can’t do everything during these intense work spurts. Certain things have gone by the wayside…

My car hasn't been washed since last fall. I think my driver’s license expired a few days ago. My laundry is pile is gaining elevation. I owe a close friend a birthday card...Sometimes I think you have to give yourself a pass when you have a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal).  Thanks again to everyone--my friends, students, collectors and followers for your support and patience this time of the year. I couldn't do a weekend event like this without you.

"Crow Confab" 18x24 oil on canvas panel

Next week I know I'll return to a more balanced existence (included a regular teaching schedule) but in the meantime I'm going to enjoy a week of indulgent creativity. Today's post features just a few of the paintings I've been working on. I had a great time working on these colorful Pearl Street farmer's market peppers as well as these "murder" of crows from Wash Park.

Finally, since I've been so busy I didn't have as many posts in May as I'd like so I'm extending my blog contest for a free print or phone cover into June. Just comment on any May or June post to be entered. Cheers everyone and hope to see you this weekend!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Daily Bread of the Eyes

"Mesa Thunder" 9x12 oil on archival linen panel
The sky is the daily bread of the eyes. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happy sunny Monday everyone! The Denver Summer Art Market is less than 2 weeks away so I’m so exciting to be getting ready for the event and working on lots of new art. Looking forward to seeing all the Denver art fans there! 

Today’s oil paint alla prima cloud study was from northern New Mexico—just south of Raton. This study (which will be for sale at SAM) is also a nod to one of my favorite painters--Maynard Dixon. (Love painting skies? Please check out my Pinterest sky board.)

The change of seasons always brings new artists to my studio--so welcome new summer students! And before I get back to SAM work here are some of my fav pics from beautiful New Mexico--I loved it so much I hope to return in the fall. In the meantime--enjoy and happy warmer weather painting!
Best dessert? This dark chocolate pinon tart at the Abiquiu Inn--Amazing!
Georgia O'Keeffe country (Ghost Ranch)

Giant paint tube sculpture on Canyon Road

Colorful SF artist Barbara Meikle's palette at Passport to the Arts paint out

One of my favorite adobe homes off Canyon Road

Gorgeous red chile ristras--I never get tired of this color!

Passport to the Arts event on Canyon Road--lots of artists hard a work!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Georgia On My Mind (and Easel)

"Abiquiu Poppies" 20x24 acrylic on gallery wrap canvas--SOLD

Well! Well! Well!... This is wonderful. No one told me it was like this!Georgia O’Keeffe upon arriving in New Mexico
 Last weekend I too had a wonderful trip to the Land of Enchantment--New Mexico. Thankfully Santa Fe is only about 6 hours from my studio in Denver. It’s easy to see why artists so many artists and painters call this beautiful state their home. (Love New Mexico too? You'll enjoy my Pinterest New Mexico art board.)

There are endless artistic and cultural influences in New Mexico but one artist who clearly left her mark and legacy on the region is of course Georgia O’Keeffe.  Whether you’re a fan  or not, I see her as an artistic pioneer. 

Not only did she find success as a woman over 100 years ago but she also elevated “simple floral”  paintings to fine art. And she clearly loved the New Mexico high desert landscape and nature. Today’s colorful poppies painting was inspired by my trip to O’Keeffe country. (Available at the Summer Art Market in a few weeks.)

As part of my trip, I planned an entire O’Keeffe “immersion” day starting early at the Georgia O’Keeffe museum in Santa Fe. One of the featured exhibits were her atypical tropical Hawaii paintings. Did you know she went to Hawaii?
O'Keeffe in Maui in 1939
 There’s an interesting New York Times article about her excursion —20 years before Hawaii’s statehood. Here’s one of her beautiful ginger floral paintings she painted for--of all things--a Dole pineapple ad which you can see here. 
O'Keeffe painted this ginger flower for this Dole pineapple ad circa 1940
The other highlight at the museum was a display of O'Keeffe's studio supplies, props, etc. as well as her easel.  On the large canvas was an unfinished light tree painting sketch (charcoal?) as if frozen in time waiting for the artist to return.
O'Keeffe studio table, supplies, easel and unfinished painting in progress
After the museum I drove directly to her studio and home in Abiquiu (space is limited so be sure to RSVP online before you visit). Unfortunately, photos are not allowed at the site (which is also a national landmark) but in my next post I"ll share some pics of the area including Ghost Ranch and a fantastic pie I had. (Yes...Chocolate was involved.)

Love to shop for art? Reminder that Denver’s Summer Art Market is June 7 and 8. Hope to see everyone there if you’re in town. Remember the Market is open longer hours on Sat. until 7P.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The "Keys" to a Still Life Painting: Daniel Keys Demo

Daniel Keys alla prima still life painting demo @ Gallery 1261
Happy May everyone! My artist demos are popular posts, so I hope you’ll enjoy these photos from the Daniel J. Keys alla prima still life oil painting demo a few weekends ago. Daniel was visiting Denver as one of the featured artists  at Gallery 1261 this month.
Daniel Keys at work at Gallery 1261
Even those he’s relatively young Daniel’s a seasoned painter (who has studied with Richard Schmid) and popular workshop instructor who work I’ve admired for years. I particularly enjoy his gorgeous  floral paintings (such as this one) and was really looking forward to seeing him paint in person.
Daniel Keys Still Life Oil Painting (those roses are amazing.)
For those of you who enjoy still life painting you probably know that arranging your still life items for a successful painting can be half the battle.  When I asked Daniel about this he said he may take an entire day back in his studio to arrange his objects.

I'm always interested to see how other painters start a painting As you can see, Daniel begins with a quick tonal wash.  After a fairly quick sketch in of the subject he made note of his darkest darks and lightest lights which provides a helpful value range for the painting. FYI, here’s a link to his palette colors and favorite materials.
Daniel Keys Palette (he noted that he usually paints on gray rather than white)

Did notice that Daniel changed the green lid of the jar to a more “harmonious” gold? I love seeing artistic license at work! Daniel also offers several DVDs that take you step by step through his still life process. And here’s a very interesting article about his time management tips and studio habits

P.S. Looking for more still life painting ideas and inspiration? Check out my Pinterest board “Not so Still Life.