Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tres Peras

Happy Wednesday readers! Posting a small quick oil study of three pears on a wrinkled paper bag with some high key impasto colors. Speaking of small oil studies, wanted to remind everyone if you haven't already to be sure to check out the dazzling collection of 6x6 paintings in the Randy Higbee Gallery Spring 6x6 Show.

You can find over 100 paintings that are still available including my own little watermelon painting in Randy Higbee's Facebook Photo Gallery. You can also see the many great paintings that have SOLD (which is wonderfully encouraging). Plus, be sure to check out the award winners. If you enjoy intimate representational art, particularly landscape paintings, I promise you'll like this collection. I really feel the art bar has been raised on these little paintings. I can't wait to work on the next show.

Speaking of shows, if you are in the Denver area and enjoy contemporary art be sure to stop by William Havu Gallery in the Golden Triangle District. My new abstract teacher, Homare Ikeda, has a fantastic one man show called Time is Floating.

Editorial correction: A blog follower and fellow bird aficionado (let's call him "Dad") reminded me the correct term is  "Canada Goose" not "Canadian Goose" as I recently posted. (And yet it's Canadian Bacon not Canada Bacon?) Anyway, here's a link that goes into more detail about the "Branta Canadensis" and it's proper nomenclature should you want to further explore the controversy. In the meantime, back to the easel--Happy painting and see you in the studio!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Found in Translation

Found in Translation--24 x 24 Mixed Media Collage on Gallery Wrap Canvas
Happy Friday everyone! Another busy spring working on several different pieces this week in the studio. First, in my Abstract Class on Monday with Homare Ikeda, I worked on a relatively large (36 x 36) acrylic and oil abstract I've tentatively titled Escapade--Below is a detail.

This week, I wanted to push toward a different palette and ended up using (as you can see) some warm yellows and oranges and then balancing those with some cooler neutralized blues and grays. And while I've used many circular symbols, as I often do, I really enjoyed searching for other interesting shapes such as figures. 

Yesterday turned up the jazz station and really enjoyed creating a big square collage on stretched canvas using Thai papers, vintage European postage stamps, and Jane Eyre in Chinese (which I found in a used bookstore). I'm calling this piece Found in Translation because of all the bits of different languages (there's French, Swedish, Russian, Greek, etc.) found on the envelopes and stamps.

Interestingly, in one of the envelopes, I found a torn part of an old typed letter that seems to be about a death, marriage, and some kind of immigration. I just wish I had the entire letter. Anyway, I had to use that in the piece. To apply and seal the collage materials I used a matte finish acrylic gel (in this case Liquitex brand).  To all my painters out there, collage is a great way to strengthen your composition skills.

Quick note to my students, thanks for sharing all your new spring projects with me--great work this week!
Finally thank you to Sarah for your high bid on my Help Japan Challenge watercolor painting on Daily Paintworks!  

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Primarily Birding

"Primary Sparrow" 6x6 oil on panel
Happy Weekend all! Yesterday Carol posted a wonderful color painting challenge on DPW. I decided I would try a bird study with the three primaries and white. So for this sparrow painting, I used Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Cad. Yellow Light and Permalba for my white. (This little guy was outside my kitchen window earlier this week in my thorny pyracanthus.) FYI, here's my limited primary palette which I set out roughly as a color wheel which was very helpful for mixing, as is the gray palette paper.
Oil Palette with 3 Primaries + White
I always enjoy bird watching in my own backyard, but early this morning I joined a small group of fellow bird watchers in Washington Park in Central Denver near my home in hopes of spotting something a bit more exotic. Am happy to report with the help of Candice from the Wild Bird Center of Denver, I saw my first downy woodpecker pair, a golden rumped warbler (awesome name), and what I believe is an American Wigeon (seen below). Not that I don't like mallards and Canadian geese, but was very excited to see a different water fowl by the boathouse. 
My first wigeon!
Quick reminder that you can still bid on hundreds of gorgeous paintings DPW Help Japan Auction. Many paintings (including my own "Colorful Kimono" watercolor) have very reasonable starting bids with all the proceeds going to help organizations like the Red Cross. Many, many thanks to my current high bidder for your support!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Compassed Window

The Compassed Window--18 x 24

Happy Tuesday everyone! Lately, Monday has been my day to take a break from the representational painting and work on my abstracts. Really enjoyed working on this yesterday. A process I often use for this type of  painting is to do a loose, washy acrylic under painting (which in theory could stand on it's own as an abstract work) with fluid Golden acrylics using a variety of cool and warm colors.

That then helps give me a further direction to work with the "over" painting in relatively thin oils, still playing with the warm and cool balance. To me the initial acrylic layers lent themselves to the feeling of looking down on maps (grids) and through windows, thus my painting title.

Are we there yet?
Often when I paint abstractly (i.e. without a strong end goal) am often faced with the when to stop or "is this done??" question. Some artists, I think Picasso was one, assert that they are finished with a work of art when it's sold. Picasso has a good point, but before it goes out to the client we still need to set our brushes down and sign our name. Which brings me back to when is a painting finished? Understanding that the answer is personal to each artist, here are just a few quick thoughts I found regarding the  subject of painting completion:

Artist M.E. Baily says in his post: Isn’t that really the reason we paint? . . .to capture a spirit? A feeling? A mood? I suppose the painting is finished when we look at the painting and can feel that spirit.
Artist Jo-Ann Sanborn offers a more tactical approach with a checklist that includes a thoughtful review of your color, composition, and craftsmanship.
Artist Isle Hable suggests simply: A painting can be considered finished when no additional time spent working on it will improve it.

Finally, here's an interesting article by art critic James Elkins regarding famous "unfinished" paintings and the fascinating Google Art Project  which allows you to explore paintings around the world on a macro level. As always thanks for stopping by--see you in the studio!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Primavera Robin

Primavera Robin-8x8-oil on panel
Happy Sunday everyone! My quest to capture the colors of spring continues. This is the same robin I posted a few days ago after he flew up and landed on a budding spring branch by an evergreen tree. Initially, most of my photos were of the swaying branch or sky and no robin, so I was thrilled to finally capture him at rest.

Here, I really wanted to capture the sunlit warmth of the robin and the reddish buds/berries against the coolness of the blue green evergreen. I also had a great time playing with the brush edges in this because of all the different textures--branches, feathers, spiky evergreen foliage, etc.

Speaking of birds, the Daily Paintworks painting challenge this week is chickens, which as many of you know are very popular art subject. And I know art buyers seem have a fondness for farm fouls as well. I'm often asked at an art festival if I have chicken or rooster paintings. But, as a city artist, I don't have a lot of chicken photos handy, so I may use the photo Carol posted. We'll have to wait and see...

Summer Art Market News
As I've mentioned before I'll be taking many of my posted paintings to the Summer Art Market on June 11-12, 2011, so if you are in Denver be sure to stop by and say hi. FYI, in the spirit of daily deals, closer to the Art Market I'll post a very special Colorful Connection Blog Readers discount coupon for everyone so be looking for that in a future post.

Thanks for stopping by, have a wonderful rest of your weekend!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Rockin Robin

Rockin Robin--6x6 oil on panel
Happy Thursday everyone! As you may know if you read my blog, birds are one of my favorite subjects to paint. But I also like to work from my own photo references so this makes painting birds a bit tricky since I'm not known for my photography skills.

Thankfully, the other evening when I was walking in the neighbor hood the spring sun was washing everything in that warm "magic hour" light that movie makers love so much. I had my little digital camera and was able to capture (not very easily I might add) of few robins for my paintings this week. I also read robins are one of the last birds you'll hear singing as the sun sets so I thought that tied in well with my title.

I also wanted to focus working with the warm and cool temperatures in my color mixtures of this painting, which reminded me of another one of my favorite oil painting books that I don't think I've mentioned before and that's the Yin Yang of Painting by Zhang--it's a bit expensive for used paperback but it's a beautiful book by a color (and value) master. You can see more examples on Zhang's website.  I love his discussion of working with opposites in your painting such as dark/light, cool/warm, blurred/sharp, etc.

Wanted to wish a fond bon voyage to my many traveling friends and students this month--I look forward to seeing you back again soon! For more information about my classes please click on the class tab above or email me. Thanks for stopping by!


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Real Abstractions & Global Inspirations

Carol's Journey -6x6 oil on canvas
Happy Spring Tuesday! One of the truly amazing aspects about being a painter is that you can "travel" vicariously all the time. This week's challenge on Daily Paintworks features two pictures from Carol Marine's trip to Germany. As a Coloradan, I was immediately struck by how much the scenes reminded me of the landscape in our own Rocky Mountains. 

It's intriguing (and often humbling) to see how different artists interpret the landscape. While you'll see some similar "academic" cropping, it's fascinating to see how each artist decided to edit individual shapes.  FYI, a handy landscape cropping tool for square canvases is a Zoomfinder.

The other reason I wanted to paint this challenge was that it was my first attempt at a 6x6 landscape, which seems rather like an oxymoron. But, it's an enjoyable challenge trying to create atmospheric perspective in a relatively small square. I really have to give kudos to artists who have mastered working in this scale. 

It's extremely helpful painting practice because every little shape really needs to make sense. Speaking of every shape making sense, yesterday was my first day in local contemporary artist Homare Ikeda's abstract class. If you paint abstractly, you may relate to my ongoing struggle which is that I find non-representational paintings relatively easy to dive into but, then after a few hours, I tend to lose direction, energy, and focus.

In Mr. Ikeda's class I'm looking forward to honing those skills. Here's a detailed look at some of my first layers on a 2 x 3 stretched canvas. (For now, I decided to paint in acrylic since I didn't want to transport an unwieldy wet oil painting back and forth particularly on breezy spring days.)
It may seem a bit odd paint a representational German landscape in the morning and an Asian inspired abstract in the afternoon, but for me each discipline supports the other. Plus, if you look around the globe for inspiration you''ll likely never run out of painting ideas. For example, here's a blog that offers artists the chance to "paint around the world" is The Virtual Painter where I see the April 2011 challenge location is Japan.

Monday, April 4, 2011

DAM Fine Spring Art Weekend

Iris in Bloom--Abstract Watercolor (private collection)
Happy April Monday Everyone! In Denver the first weekend of the month means First Friday Art Events and Free Museum Saturday which makes for a very busy but enjoyable art weekend with gallery hopping, art supply shopping, and museum perusing.

Also, for a few months now, I've been thinking about splurging on an out of town painting workshop so Saturday morning I decided to sign up for Carol Marine's "A Painting a Day" oil painting Workshop at the Sedona Arts Center in May 2012 while I still had the chance. As many of you may know Ms. Marine's a popular teacher whose workshops sell out months in advance. The workshop may be 13 months away but I'm already looking forward to returning to beautiful Sedona area. 

Saturday afternoon headed downtown to one my favorite galleries near the Denver Art Museum (DAM) 1261 Gallery where they were having a fantastic winter landscape show featuring some of my favorite painters such as Quang Ho and Dan McCaw.

At the DAM I spent the most time in the Western Art Collection. Since I love Southwestern painting, it's a joy to see the stars of New Mexican painting such as Dixon, Fechin (his color and brushwork always breathtaking), Blumenschein and the Lanford Monroe with the misty horses. There are also some stunning contemporary western landscapes on display including Post, Forsman, Aspevig, Brown, and Moore. Check out the shapes and color in this gorgeous Howard Post painting. 
Howard Post Painting at the Denver Art Museum
On a side note, as I mature as a painter when I look at museum paintings I can't help but do the math of artist birth date versus when they completed the painting. Sometimes I'm relieved to see they were well advanced in their age and career. Other times I note they were younger than I am now which makes me want to really focus and produce. Either way, very motivating to visit your local museum!

Finally quick welcome to my new April students--I think it's going to be an exciting spring--See you soon in the studio!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Shell Game & Summer Market

Shell Game-6x6 oil on panel
Happy April 1 everyone! I'm happy to report that it's a sunny and warm day here in Colorado. I decided to paint this 6 x6 oil study of small shells yesterday for two reasons. One is that I wanted to paint a high key subject using my new tube of Williamsburg Handmade Paint Titanium White (which after one painting I'm giving a big white thumbs up!) and the other is I wanted a very summery subject. 

I also have a few quick announcements. First, for those of you in the Denver metro area, I'm thrilled to announce my participation in the Summer Art Market (SAM) on June 11-12 Weekend.  So be sure to save the date. If you're looking for wonderful art at with a wide range of prices (many of them super reasonable) this is an art festival you won't want to miss. I know it's one of my favorite festivals to hunt for amazing art bargains. 

Last year, my schedule did not allow me to be in the SAM so I'm really looking forward to seeing many of my friends, collectors, and students this year. Most of the paintings I've been posting all year on my blog will be at SAM for purchase. I'll be posting more updates about the SAM as we get closer.

Also, I'm putting up for bid my "Colorful Kimono" watercolor that I painted last fall on the Daily Paintworks Help Japan Challenge. I'm donating all proceeds for the sale of this painting to the Japanese Red Cross. Anyone can bid and any artist can submit paintings to the Help Japan Challenge. Thanks Daily Paintworks for hosting such a cool way to help through art.