Thursday, November 18, 2010

Drawing Conclusions

Recently, while demoing mixed media painting (watercolor and oil pastel), it occurred to me that I've never really used oil pastels on their own merit. At least not since I was very young. And perhaps that's why we may tend to think of oil pastels as a really fancy crayons for less sophisticated art projects. Something we might have used at an arts and crafts camp.  

Clearly though in skilled hands, as some of may know first hand, oil pastels can be a beautiful and unique medium. FYI for this painting, I used a "vintage" set here by Grumbacher (who I believe no longer produces pastels) but I've also used high quality brands like Sennelier, I particularly love their gorgeous iridescent oil pastels.

Given their nice blending qualities, I found oil pastels to be a perfect choice for some quick abstract oil painting planning. Here's a helpful Oil Pastel 101 article about how oil pastels can be a convenient, affordable, colorful medium to add to our artist tool box. I found the Oil Pastel Society also has lots of interesting tips and info. 

In these quick (less than 30 minutes) paintings I approached the overall work much as I would paint with a brush in oil or acrylics: I begin loosely (which means only left handed drawing for me) with broad, gestural lines to help define spaces and larger shapes. As I begin to layer in strokes of color, layering along the way, I focused on mind my primary painting composition goal: Variety. 

While these are not refined works, I have to give a big multi-hued thumbs up for oil pastels. (In fact, I think it's that "fancy crayon" feeling that makes them kind of a comfort media.). So next time you are looking for a fresh perspective, try a new medium or revisit one you gave up on long ago. You might just discover a new BFF or rekindle a long lost love! Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Portrait of Moi (the Artist)

I haven't done a self portrait in at least several years since I was assigned one in an oil figure class, one 2010 goal was to paint a self-portrait.  So far, I've yet to tackle this but I've been at least thinking about it.

Today, I'm cheating a bit with this post as this "portrait' of yours truly painted by a fellow artist Terrey, who I shared a workshop with several years ago. She created this with Sharpie, yupo (one of my favorite surfaces) and watercolor. I've always loved paintings of artists at work and so I'm thrilled that Terrey captured me hard at work.   

If you paint or draw, I think painting a something that you'll find both enjoyable and challenging. Here's a short article I found called 6 Reasons to Paint a Self Portrait

If you are in the Denver area, I wanted to give a quick shout out for First Friday Art Walks. These fun, informal walks are a great way to spend a Friday night out with family or friends. While the Santa Fe Arts District is probably the best known art walk in Denver there are more "intimate" neighborhood art walks such as Old South Pearl Street.  I'm happy to say I have a few small paintings (as well as some of my friends and students) hanging at the always lively and bohemian Stella's Coffehaus so be sure to stop by if you are in the area.

Also, although I'm proud to say I've been in shows since I was a teen, receptions never get old so I'm greatly 
ooking forward to the Littleton Own An Original Show opening reception tomorrow night. Congratulations to my fellow artists in the show, I look forward to seeing you there! 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lismore Lillies

Happy Monday everyone! As I've mentioned before, I love sketching quickly and freely with a contour line using a fine tip Sharpie (or other waterproof black felt tip pen) on watercolor paper (cold or hot press, I think, works best). Then adding bold washes using a limited palette such as Winsor Blue (Thalo), Permanent Rose, and Lemon Yellow. Here's a more detailed view:

You can find some relatively affordable seasonal bouquets that a really quite nice nowadays at your local grocery store. I was drawn to the purple/red/oranges of the lilies, daisies, and carnations (as well as their varied shapes and sizes) balanced with dark warm greens of the leaves and cooler blue green eucalyptus.  Plus, I find it really uplifting to paint bright, colorful flowers on some of these gloomier autumn days.

To add more pattern to the painting, I chose my clear Lismore pattern Waterford vase which has a big chip in the rim. Which brings me to why I don't paint more florals. Because my handsome gray tabby Dashiell  boldly attacks any type of botanical matter. It's really only his bad habit. Since he's an otherwise excellent studio muse, I find I have to paint fresh flowers very quickly. Otherwise, it only seems to take an instant before all the flowers are shredded and the vase is rolling away on the floor...Anyway, I still enjoyed working on a watercolor that has so many colors and shape varieties.

It's a cool, dreary Monday here so before I get back to painting, I also need to start my big pot of Alton Brown's lentil soup--if you like lentil soup I highly recommend it.  As always, if you have any painting questions, would like a quick online critique, or want info about my classes, please email me. Enjoy the rest of your week! P.S. Mom if you're reading this, I'm saving this one for you! :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Juicy Trio

Happy fall Saturday everyone! First, thanks again to the Denver Art Club who invited me to demo this morning. It was an honor to meet all of you and I had a wonderful time sharing some watercolor tips. For those of you who've tried to paint and talk at the same time you know that can be a bit tricky, especially after a grande Starbucks mocha, but I hope I did OK. Thank you again for the warm welcome!  

Earlier this week, inspired by the Van Gogh master copy, I decided to paint a quick, relatively high key, impasto oil study of three green sunlit apples. (If you take a lot of photos like I try to, but don't necessarily find the perfect painting subjects, try adjusting the value key considerably up or down, you may be much happier with the result.) 

On another note, I just received my my first "front load" frames from King of Frame and am very pleased with the quality and value. I love the warm antiqued black finish with the metallic liner. (FYI, I could not easily locate the "front load" frames on the website but just asked for them on the phone.)  I can see why so many artists use them--they're the perfect match for the 6 by 6 oil on panel paintings.

Finally, for all my fellow Colorado artists, did you see this online ranking of Who collects art? If someone had asked me I probably would have guessed New York, L.A. or maybe San Francisco. But am thrilled to see Denver was the top market, followed by the Springs/Pueblo, with Portland, San Francisco, and Atlanta rounding out the top 5.  Now, the study doesn't include a lot of details, but as an artist I think it's great to see any good art news about your town. So on that positive note, I'm heading back to studio. Enjoy your weekend and happy painting!   

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ode to the Original Daily Painter

In the last 70 days of his life, it's believed Vincent Van Gogh painted every day, despite his declining mental and physical condition. Thanks to my talented painting mother/daughter duo Anita and Amber for bringing me this wonderful painting inspiration this week.  Van Gogh painted this Mulberry Tree near St. Remy in the fall of 1889, less than a year before his death in the summer of 1890.

As I've mentioned before, master copies (even loose interpretations) are a tried and true learning tool for learn new painting techniques. I promise they will also give you a new appreciate for their work, color sense, and vision.

This painting was no exception. Following in Vincent's brush steps, so to speak, I was constantly reminded to change the direction of my brush strokes and keep my thick, impasto oil colors clean and high energy at every turn. I also took note his use of signature dark lines and mastery of complementary colors. Every time I take the time to examine a Van Gogh at length, I can't help but feel he's left them behind as some kind of urgent yet timeless message to all the painters who dare follow him. 

Before painting, I considered some of the 19th century pigments (many of course now considered fugitive or poisonous or both) Vincent would have had on his little wooden palette such as emerald or Paris green, lamp black, yellow ochre, lead white, chrome yellow, Prussian blue, etc. 

For color history geeks like me, here's an  interesting article regarding master painter palettes.  For this little 9 x 12 oil study (the original is approx. 21 x 25),  I chose a more contemporary palette of Ultramarine, Thalo Blue, Burnt Sienna, Indian Yellow, Lemon Yellow, Cad. Red Light, and Permalba White--which I thought was a fantastic autumn palette. I also used relatively small brushes to help imitate the undulating texture.

Thanks again to all my students (and Vincent!) who continue to inspire me with their work! See you in the studio!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Celebrating Denver Arts Week!

The best time about this year in Denver is that the arts are thriving and events are everywhere! First, am happy to report that I had 2 small oil paintings accepted into the 45th Annual Own an Original Show in Littleton judged this year by landscape painter Susie Hyer. It's always an enjoyable show at the Littleton Museum Fine Arts Gallery and usually features a great mix of media and subject matter from local fine artists. The show runs from November 19 through January 16. (Quick shout out to my neighbor Mark for letting me borrow his much nicer camera for the entry photos.)

Second, I'm doing a demo, which is always flattering and exciting, for the Denver Art Club up in the Highlands Neighborhood next Saturday. While I'm still deciding exactly what to do, I'm leaning toward a large (full sheet of CP Lana here) nature inspired watercolor like the canna flower garden painting I've been working on this week. As I've mentioned in the past, natural subjects in watercolor are one of my all time favorite painting challenges.

I'm also honored be a part of the 7th Annual Art for Love Art Auction Fundraiser tonight in downtown Denver. I think buying art, which is often quite affordable at these events, is a wonderful way to support a local non profit in your area this time of year.

Finally, am looking forward to checking out a variety of events that take place this week in association with Denver Arts Week, I'm grateful to work and live a metro area that supports our creative business culture. As always if you have questions or would like more information about my classes please visit me on TeachStreet (just click on button on right) or email me. Have a great art filled weekend!