Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Naturally Inspired

Over the weekend, I went to Jill Soukup oil painting demo at Saks Galleries in Cherry Creek, just north of where I live. I have always admired Jill's painting subject matter and style and it was a treat to see her paint in person.  She said she'd been working with a lot of secondaries--greens, violets, and oranges in her work and I thought that would be fun to try this week in a landscape.

Ms. Soukup worked on the beginning underpaitning of wonderful bison painting as well as the front of a local old church building.  I tend to be a bit impatient in the studio, so it was a helpful reminder to think more carefully and make each of my brush strokes important. She also uses some very large brushes (e.g., house painting width) which creates some fabulous "dragged" textures over her dry areas.  Another "technique" that I can't wait to try. 

Since for me it's still a bit chilly for plein air landscape painting, I was looking through my sketchbooks and found this watercolor  sketch from the summer which I thought would be perfect for testing some green, violet, and orange landscape approaches.

If your in the Denver area, be sure to check out the Heart Art Silent Auction Event on February 11. Have a great week everyone and students I'll see you in the studio!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Tree in Progress

I don't often post an unfinished painting, but I have a confession to make--while I paint and teach as much as I can do have another "life" as something other than an artist that sometimes keeps me away from the studio.  This was a busy week and I'm already looking forward to some art "me time" this weekend. 

For example, I hope to finish this study of a mesquite tree I started a few weeks ago. I spotted this tree just outside the Desert Botanical Garden when I was in Scottsdale last fall. I'd never seen a mesquite tree and the bright green bark and overall shape is quite intriguing.

And in just a bit am headed off to a demo by one my favorite Denver painters, Jill Soukup at Saks Galleries Today. Because I also love to paint horses, I'm hoping she'll demo a horse painting. Better get going--have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Artist of the Portrait

As an oil painter, the one type of painting I really admire is skilled portrait painting.  Even though I've drawn and painted for most of my life, I find it endlessing challenging and am still fascinated by the process.  Last Saturday, I went to see a portrait demo by one of my former instructors Ron Hicks.  It was only a 2 hour demo, which as those of you know is a fairly limited time for an accurate alla prima (in one sitting) portrait or head study.

Ron starts his work in neutral, monochrome thin washes on primed stretched linen canvas, then builds up to the heavier/more opaque oil paint layers. It's fascinating to see the live model and then the portrait come to life as he continues to fine tune his shape and value relationships. 

This portrait was a study in light and shadow. The main thing I learned painting with Ron was to accurately record how the light moves across the subject (model, wall, etc.) not only from right to left, but also from top to bottom.

Ron's known for his lower key painting and always seems to have some interesting colors on his palette. This time I noted that he was using a great looking blue and crimson from Robert Doak, which I'm looking forward to trying.   

Before I head off to the studio myself, quick note of welcome to all my new January oil painting students--I look forward to painting with you in the studio!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Drawing from Experience

Happy Friday Everyone! One of my New Year's art resolutions is to draw more often, but as a painter I have to remind myself how valuable and essential this skill can be.  I sometimes "make" my students draw crumpled paper or bags, here is one of my own studies:


One of my favorite designers is the iconic Milton Glaser (in fact one of the only framed poster I have in my home is his Night of the Snow Leopard for the New York Zoo which I posted above).  On Glaser's website is a wonderful "essay" addressing 10 Things He's Learned over the years.  A part of this talks about his belief (and I believe it to) that drawing is good for your brain. Glaser also says of drawing: 

Drawing also makes you attentive. It makes you pay attention to what you are looking at, which is not so easy.

Here's a wonderful short video of Glaser drawing Shakespeare.Tomorrow I'm off to see my former figure painting teacher Ron Hicks demo at Meininger's Art Store--am guessing it will be a packed house. So planning to get there early and then try not to buy too many art supplies at their sale...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Just My Cup of Tea

I'm having super busy week, but I was determined to get in some watercolor practice in.A helpful exercise for working in any media, as many of you know, is to concentrate primarly on arrangement of your values (light dark pattern).  Here I've also played with the temperature by using two complementary pigments (wonderful quin burnt orange by Daniel Smith) and FUB (french ultra blue). I will likely turn this into quick value oil study as well.

Like many enthusiastic watercolor painters, once I get painting I too struggle with saving my whites (or lightest areas) so these type of small still life studies are perfect for practicing that discipline. Remember saving whites is essential for glowing light-filled watercolor paintings. Plan ahead and protect them vigorously!  

Also, just signed up for Tim Deibler's oil painting landscape workshop at Abend Gallery in Denver in February.  I been lucky enough to have taken a summer plein air workshop with Tim before and quite frankly am hoping he does not remember me or my frustration in a windy cow pasture chasing my very wet oil study across the muddy field.  I recall my language was less than lady like...Ahh, how I respect and admire plein painters!  

For more information about my beginning watercolor color workshops or classes in Denver (conducted in a comfy warm studio in the winter!), please write me a note. I look forward to seeing you in the studio!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Interior Motives

Happy Tuesday everyone! I've always admired artists who paint beautiful buildings and interior spaces (Hopper is one of my favorite painters).  And, I'm a bit of a "foodie" and so I particularly love restaurant, cafe, and food paintings. 

I'm not as good as I should be about taking my sketchbook or camera with me when I'm out an about. Painting a restaurant interior is on my "to do" for 2010.  So, about a week ago, while I was enjoying a delicious wood-fired pizza margherita and refreshing goat cheese & pear salad (OK, I'm hungry now) at a new restaurant, I stopped to take a few quick shots with my iPhone  for reference back in the studio.

Since I was planning to do an abstracted version of the scene anyway the photos were perfectly suitable. This is a study for a larger piece and I can tell I'm going to have to fix a few things already (the color key is clearly off), but I think it has some potential with the shapes, patterns, etc.

If you want to see some simply amazing restaurant paintings, check out Quang Ho's kitchen paintings which were part of his solo show at local Gallery 1261

Also, for those of you who love figure painting, I finally received a painting book I've wanted for several years, Art Students League of New York teacher Mary Beth McKenzie's Painterly Approach.  I think it's out of print, but not too hard to find used. I love her self-portraits and I can't wait to try a an oil monotype painting.  Am sure I'll be posting more on this book as I have time to read it in-depth.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Mixed Media Friday

Happy first friday of the year everyone! And welcome to all my new 2010 visitors! One of my New Year Art Resolutions is to paint with at least 2 media each week.  This week I started in oils and think I will work in watercolors today.

Next week, though, I'd really like to work on a mixed media piece since I haven't done one in a few months. As much as I love representational painting, these paintings are great for creative blocks, color exploration, and personal artistic growth.

For inspiration, I'm posting on of my personal favorite mixed media paintings called Justice for All.  It's liquid acrylics (Golden) on gessoed Masonite with stamping, gold leaf, pouring, calligraphy, and a few other techniques. And I'm happy to report this SOLD at one of my shows and I hope she is living a happy life somewhere.

I'll also be working on my art donation for Colorado AIGA's annual Heart Art Auction event on February 11--be sure to check it out if you are in the area.  I'll post more details as I know them. Each year the event features some interesting, affordable, and beautiful "heart themed" art and benefits Project Angel Heart. 

For more information about my Mixed Media art classes & workshops, please email me at the studio email in my blog header.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Painting in Style for the New Year

For January Wednesdays, I thought I'd focus on some "studio must haves." While I don't typically paint in a couture gown (though that would be interesting), I do like to paint in decent clothes when I paint in oils so I can run out to the art store, etc. without stopping to change. 

Because of that, I'm rather obsessed with artist aprons. Since sewing has been my nemesis since high school (my only non A grade--seriously) I asked my Mom to create a new artist apron which you can see here modeled by the lovely "Esmeralda" my beloved vintage dress form mannequin. Note the fun and useful pockets in front. And the colorful pattern is perfect for hiding those occasional paint spots.    

My other favorite art apron is my Caroline Lefrance (she's a European designer) Chocolate Apron that I bought in France a few years ago.  I love the heavy fabric and the giant front "kangaroo" like pouch.

In January, I also like to get my studio well organized for the year and today this included "inventory" of my oil colors which includes my annual purging of those tubes that have well seen better days. (You know the ones.)  It's also a good time to make a list of what colors you are running low on (or would like to try) for your next art store trip. As frugal as I tend to be with art supplies, once in a while, you just have to treat yourself to some fresh new juicy oil paint! Mmm...

Back to painting--In the meantime, "owl" be seeing you in the studio--have a great day!  

Sunday, January 3, 2010

One Horse in a Blue Moon

Hope you are already enjoying 2010! This is a good example of an oil painting where I combine a variety of themes, goals, and inspirations. Which for me is how I like to paint the most. For example, I was thinking about the recent rare blue moon--it only occurs one ever 19 years on New Year's Eve in fact. So we won't see another until 2028...

I also challenged myself to paint in fairly dark, limited range neutral palette--but of course some color made it's way in as I worked along. So I'd like to try this again and really try to keep the color at a minimum just to see what happens.

Originally, I wanted to play with balancing 2 objects or key shapes, in this case 2 horses, but in the end it wasn't working and I decided to simply paint out the second horse. Just for fun though I left the ghost of his shadow on the left. Ahh artistic license...And to balance the remaining horse I added some mysterious figures (?) on the ridge.

I should note that this was entirely from my head which helps me at least to focus more on shapes, patterns, line, edges, values, etc. This is one of the paintings where I may be tempted to keep playing with it, but it's frankly sometimes best to move on with what you've learned in this one.

For more information about my work or my classes, as always I welcome your emails. Please write to me at the email in my blog header. Have a great first week of 2010!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Year of the Artist

Happy New Year from the studio everyone. First, thanks again to all you who helped make 2009 one of my best art years ever, I know 2010 will be even better. So many ideas, so little time...

I'm just about finished watching my fantastic new Quang Ho Nuts & Bolts DVD and getting much inspiration and ideas from him. I already can't wait to order one of the demo DVDs. In the meatime, his review of the visual basics (shape, value, edges, line, color, texture) inspireed me to rush into the studio and get started a local tone abstracted equine painting yesterday which I hope to post in a day or two. I even added some Burnt Sienna to my typically primary color palette and was reminded just how versatile and rich this color is...

In weeks to come I'll be posting some of my 2010 Art BHAGs (aka Big Hairy Audacious Goals for all you Jim Collins fans) and hope you'll be working on yours as well.

Like many artists, I listen to a variety music while working. Often our local public radio Jazz/Latin station KUVO, but favorite CDs as well. Yesterday I listened to my new Eric Hutchinson CD which I've seen on several other artist blogs as a studio favorite and I have to agree it's upbeat, funky, and has some great painting energy.

Here's to a great year of art, learning, color, and creativity! Cheers!