Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fruits of My Labor

"Let's Make Pie" oil on gallery canvas
"Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness." -- Jane Austen

Happy fall everyone! I've been painting almost everyday in prep for my gallery group show next month.  Much like changing your swing the week before a golf tournament, you wouldn't think this would be a good time to suddenly change the way you've painted for years.

But recently I decided to start painting directly from the photos on my iPad. (Note I also have a laptop that I manage my photos on so I take the photos with my 20x digital Canon and then email them to myself.)  Both these paintings were done from my iPad screen.

It took a few paintings to used to but so far I really prefer the color over my ink jet printer and of course it's great being able to "zoom in" on detail as needed. I don't think it will be long before I won't be able to paint without it. An added bonus is that with a tablet right there you can easily listen to music, podcasts, etc. at the same time. You could paint from your laptop screen as well--I just prefer a more compact tablet my easel. 

"Cherries--Sweet!" 8x8 oil on gallery canvas
I was born in Michigan—A state that takes great pride in their apples and cherries.  So these subjects were also a subtle nod to my childhood. More specifically, I selected these photos because I like the composition element and lighter value of the bags. Briefly, one  alla prima or “wet in wet” oil painting technique I’ve used here is painting the lighter value areas with a more textural impasto application of paint.

Often I use a knife (you could also use a cut credit card) directly on the canvas for this, but I also scrape up the paint from my palette and then scoop that paint off the knife with a brush. It may sound like extra work but you get a wonderful effect from this method. Thanks for stopping by--have a colorful weekend!

Monday, October 22, 2012

OPA Master Jeff Legg Still Life Demo

"Botanic Bulb" 8x8 oil on gallery canvas--On Hold for November Show
Save the Date! Spirits Bright Show: Friday, November 30
I'm pleased to announce my next art show "Spirits Bright" which will open November 30 at the 910 Events Center Gallery in the Denver Art District on Santa Fe. I also plan to be in attendance for First Friday Art Night on December 7. Everyone is invited and I look forward to seeing you in person!

Jeff Legg: A Classic Approach to Still Life
As much as I love to stay in and paint or read a good art book by a cozy fire on gray, chilly days sometimes you just need to get out and see in person what other artists are up to. As I mentioned in a previous post, a couple of weeks ago on an overcast Saturday I had the pleasure of watching three master oil painters demo at Gallery 1261 in Denver: Jeff Legg (still life), Theresa Vito (portrait), and Quang Ho (clothed figure). I enjoyed each demo and will post my pics of all of these as I have some extra time. I was a bit under the weather with my injured foot--so I didn't take a ton of notes but I hope you'll enjoy the demo pics.

The audience at Gallery 1261 watches as Jeff Legg begins his demo
I'll start with Jeff Legg who a Master Signature Member of OPA, is often featured in magazines, and known his "old masters" approach to his subjects. I also saw on Jeff's website that he has a new teaching video a similar setup as well as workshop info for those of you interested in seeing more of his technique.
Legg uses a draped "black box" to help control his light condtions

Jeff Legg begins his tonal still life block in
Artist Jeff Legg started the day off by painting a “traditional” still life which you can see was set against a dark background lit with a single dramatic light source. He began as you can see with an umber toned board which makes sense with this strong light and shadow approach.  I’ve always admired how skilled still life painters are masters at capturing a variety of textures—the brass pot vs. a cantaloupe for example.You can see Mr. Legg's beautiful finished still life here.

Jeff Legg still life setup--detail of melon slice an vase
Legg adding more color and thicker paint to his subjects

For this demo, Legg used quicker drying alkyd oil paints
Legg demo "final" after about 2 hours
For more tips about setting up a successful still life, check out this helpful post by artist Lori McNee.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Look on the Bright Side

"Look on the Bright Side" 8x8 oil on canvas  

 (On hold for gallery event in November.)

Imagine all the people living life in peace.
You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.
I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one. 

As some of you know, I sometimes look to Beatles lyrics for my paintings titles and inspiration so I wanted to note John Lennon’s birthday yesterday. Also the most enjoyable art event I've ever took part in was a John Lennon birthday gathering so October 9 holds a special place for me. 

Because I’ve been so busy painting for an upcoming show and nursing my foot injury that I’ve missed the last few DPW painting challenges which I love to do.  But, I couldn’t pass up this week’s challenge posted by one of my favorite DPW artists talented watercolorist Jo Mackenzie—Emotion was the theme. If you check out Jo's blog you'll see she was kind enough to answer my "what's on your palette" question for all my watercolor students and fans out there.

I started a mostly green abstract (since that’s probably my favorite color family) with the idea of envy—which I think is a fairly common emotion in the art world.  But then I remembered this strong light and shadow sunflower I had in my paintings “to do” queue which I’d really been looking forward to since sunflowers always cheer me.

Also, since my last painting had more of an autumn palette it was fun to return to some brighter, more summery hues.  Quick color tip: You know how you change out your wardrobe colors when the seasons change? I tend to do the same with my pigments. For example, my “fall” palette tends to have more earthy richer pigments like ochres (yellow and red), indian yellow and red, crimson, violet, etc. 

Last Saturday, I managed to hobble on downtown and got to see an amazing line up of three master oil painting demos at Gallery 1261 which is currently hosting a gorgeous Western Regional OPA show. Jeff Legg, Theresa Vito, and Quang Ho demoed a still life, portrait, and figure respectively.  It made for a long day (almost 8 hours) but  it was highly informative and enjoyable. Plus, I had the pleasure of meeting several of the artists in the show. I’ll have some pics and thoughts on that to post soon.  In the meantime, time for some hot cocoa and more painting.  In the meantime keep imagining!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

When Every Leaf is a Flower

"October Road" 18x24 oil on canvas
Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
Albert Camus

First  many thanks to all my painting students and friends for their patience, get well wishes and “medicinal” chocolate as my broken toe heals.  If any of you have broken or fractured a bone, you know it’s pretty uncomfortable. Plus, I’m a constant multitasker so having limited mobility is a well, also a different kind of pain.

But, the “silver lining” is that you’re pretty much stuck so that’s keeping me focused on the work at hand.  As I noted in my previous post, I’m currently working on some slightly larger oil paintings in anticipation of a group art show late in November at the 910 Arts Event Gallery. 
"Acorn Study" 8x8 oil on panel
The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

More specifically, I’ve been considering a series of paintings inspired by natural elements (fallen leaves, tree roots, river banks, gardens, etc.) based on photos I’ve taken in the past few months.  I recently went for a short hike (thankfully before the toe incident) along the Bear Creek near Evergreen, Colorado.
Walking along Bear Creek in late September near Evergreen, CO
The creek hiking trail is a favorite location for many local painters-In  fact there was a large plein air group setting up as I was walking around.  Although, I’ve heard there are indeed bear and rattlesnakes to be on the lookout for. 
Plein Air painters in Lair o Bear near Evergreen, Colorado
Also, before I forget I’m gradually closing in on my 250th blog post—Which I’m very excited about!  I’ll be doing something special for that post so be sure to check back. Thanks—wishing you as always a week of creativity and color!