Monday, July 25, 2011

Bowl of cherries

Cherries in a Bowl 6x6 oil, copyright 2011

This one was inspired by a Yooper friend of mine - though my plain white bowls with blue trim are not nearly as interesting as her vintage Pyrex.  For those who don't know, a "Yooper" is someone from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan - and cherries are big business in Michigan.

This biggest challenge for me on this one was in making each cherry stand out from the others and not have a big blob of dark red red.  They were also very dark - I prefer the taste of black cherries, though their color doesn't make them easy to paint.

Friday, July 22, 2011

At the Lake

At the Lake, Memorial Day 6x6 oil, copyright 2011

Went back to late May for this one.  A cool dip in the lake sounds inviting in the extreme heat we've been having this week!   Over Memorial Day weekend, the family headed out to a man-made lake in eastern Ohio where my parents have a small cottage.  Boating, fishing and swimming took up most of our time.  

Close to the cottage is an area for launching boats, and swallowtail butterflies gather at the edge of the water to drink up nutrients from the mud.   My daughter tried to see how close she could get, but they all took off at her approach.  I tried painting them flittering around her, but the painting is just too small - they came out just as blobs.  

I think this is the first time I have painted a figure in oil.   Slowly it's sinking in that careful measurements before painting make a big difference in the end.  And I have to add, that I am loving her hat - I think that might make a few more appearances in the future.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunflower II

Sunflower II 6x6 oil, copyright 2011

My very first commission is finally complete.  I am fortunate that my friend has been so patient with me.  Things got rather hectic over the spring, and spilled over into summer, but I am learning to convince myself that sometimes it's okay to say no.  

I enjoyed these sunflowers, the petals are challenging but fun to paint.  This spring I planted a variety of them, and it looks like a few will be blooming soon - I even had one self seed, and it has about 5 blooms on it.  Can't wait to see what color they will be.  I've had a few people mention how beautiful fields of sunflowers are, so if anyone local spots one, please let me know where, I'd love paint it!

Sunflowers I is below, to compare.  I didn't want them to quite match - after all each flower is unique. 


Friday, July 15, 2011

Lake Champlain at Crown Point

Lake Champlain at Crown Point 12x9 pastel, copyright 2011

I've finally gotten around to posting this one from our New York trip earlier this summer.  I could blame work, family obligations and a quick trip to Toronto for being so slow about it, but the truth is that I just wasn't happy with it and didn't know why.  It was one of those paintings that is perfectly fine, but somehow not quite right.  

This morning I finally realize that it was just boring.  Too many blues and greens and not enough interesting lines which made it flat and dull.  So this morning I warmed it up with yellows and oranges, using short vertical strokes over the long horizontal ones.  It's amazing how much the seemingly little things can make such a big difference. 

By the way, this is the same park as the previous pastel.  Beautiful spot, I highly recommend it.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Why Do I Paint?

The question most commonly asked of an artist is probably, “How long does it take to create a painting?” A fellow artist told me the answer she likes to give is, “Two hours. And twenty years.”

Another common but much more difficult question is, “Why do you paint?” I’ve been struggling a bit lately to put that answer into words suitable for a biography or artist’s statement. To tell the truth, art for me is a selfish thing – or perhaps self-centered is a better description. I paint because something catches my eye. I see a line or a color or a shadow that I find pleasing and want to put to paper or canvas. It’s really all about what appeals to me. If it also appeals to someone else, that’s just a bonus. I think a lot of artists work this way. After all, if you didn’t like your own work, why even bother?

But just this week I saw that art can be so much more than just a line or a shadow or a splash of color. A friend of mine recently took a photo that caught my eye, and I knew I had to paint it. The thought was in the back of my mind that she would like it as well, but mostly it was about me. With her permission I based a pastel off of her photo, and it turned out quite well. I was happy with it and when I emailed her the image, so was she.

Then the unexpected happened when she finally saw the original. The subject matter was very special to her, and the fact that I thought of her when I painted it made it even more special. It brought tears to her eyes in fact. It was a wonderful reminder that art isn’t just a self-centered pursuit but something that should be shared and that like music, the world is a better place for having art in it. Art may not be “necessary” for life, but I think it makes life better, and I’m glad to be a small part of that.