Friday, September 23, 2011 prep

I've been doing some work recently in my etsy shop, getting things ready to open it again as a venue for selling artwork.  For those of you who aren't familiar with the site, it is modeled somewhat after ebay.  However, unlike ebay, all the prices are set and there are no "auctions" or bidding.  And etsy caters specifically to the creative types.  The only things that can be sold on etsy are handmade, one of a kind items, plus a few vintage things and arts and crafts supplies.  Crafts outnumber arts, but there are a lot of artists on there.  Personally I find the environment a lot more friendly and a lot less chaotic than ebay, where it is far too easy to get lost in the shuffle.

Right now I am in the process of ordering supplies and just generally organizing things to get ready.  When everything is up and running, I will post to let everyone know, and I will have a link to the shop available on the blog, the website, Facebook and Twitter.  More details will follow when it's all said and done, hopefully by the end of next week, if not sooner.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Morning Mist near Alexander Bay

Morning Mist Near Alexander Bay 20x10 pastel, copyright 2011

I was finally able to get a piece finished to my satisfaction by returning to summer vacation, this time along the St. Lawrence River.  Alexander Bay is a pleasant little resort town in the Thousand Islands region.  It was raining when we arrived in the evening, though the clouds broke up near sunset and a rainbow made a brief appearance.  In the morning we took a tour via paddle boat.  It started cool and misty but was quite warm and sunny by the time we returned to the hotel in the early afternoon.  The photo I took in morning of just a few of the 1700+ islands was the most intriguing one of the trip - I'm thinking of saving it for a photo exhibit.

This painting was a bit different for me since I usually prefer bright sunshine and saturated colors but the challenge of capturing the mood was too much to resist.  The most difficult part lay in making the water look like water rather than snow and ice.  In the photograph the water is too chopping and the lighting too poor to show reflections - but what works in a photo is not always the same as what works in a painting, so I took a bit of artistic license.  The size is also a bit unusual, but it seemed to fit the linear composition.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Asparagus patch work in progress, part 2

And now to finish the painting...

Work continues on the details bit by bit.  This included darkening the trees with black and burnt sienna (a rusty colored brown) and redrawing some of the branches in the nearly finished trees.  I'm also pulling the sky down into the trees as I go.  Artists like to call the spaces in trees where the sky is visible "sky holes".

More blacks and purples in the shadows and more orange in the highlights.  I've also added more of a blue-green-grey to the middle tone areas.  Asparagus has a bit of this color in it, plus I wanted to de-emphsized the areas that weren't being directly hit by sunlight by making them more neutral in color.  Though it isn't obvious in the photo, a bit of salmon pink and lavender are going into the sky.  The trees on the left are more blended, again to de-emphasize them.  I really want to push the patches of sunlight.

At this point I got caught up in the "zone" and forgot to take more photos until it was pretty much done.  In the final piece, the trees got darkened quite a bit with black, burnt sienna, purple and dark green.  A lot of burnt sienna goes into the silo as well, and I toned down its highlights by using blue rather than yellow.  The yellow in the sky made it too washed out; bright orange and bluish purple made it both more intense and darker, and more in keeping with early morning.  Though I increased the contrasts in the background asparagus slightly with a few more blacks and yellows, it seems darker because the foreground is much brighter.  Various yellows, including just a bit of the palest yellow, add depth and texture.  It isn't obvious, but there are bits of the bright orange from the sky scattered throughout the asparagus as well.

Hopefully next week I'll have a newly finished piece to show you.  I also have receptions for two different shows next weekend, so keep your fingers crossed for me!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Asparagus Patch, work in progress part 1

I haven't posted lately partly because I've been pretty busy and partly because I honestly don't have any thing worthwhile to post.  I've made a few attempts in pastel recently, including a large sunflower, a plein air landscape and a still life with tomatoes.  None of them turned out, so I decided to switch to a larger sized oil landscape.  It's giving me fits as well.  I haven't abandoned it yet, but I did decide to set it aside for awhile until I feel like I can work on it without getting frustrated.

Meantime, I thought everyone might be interested in a series of photos I took of the asparagus patch posted a few weeks ago.

I started by quickly sketching the scene in black pastel to give me the basic idea of where everything show go and to lay out the foundations for the darkest areas.  I sprayed this with fixative so it wouldn't smear all over or blend with and dull the light areas.

Then I added color to the sky, followed by the trees, working from left to right to minimize smudging.  Highlights in the asparagus were next.

Purples and blues in the shadows followed, along with highlights on the little storage silo.  Then I started on the details of the asparagus and trees on the left, adding depth with more yellows and oranges to emphasize highlights and trying to work out the texture.  A bit of pale yellow was added to brighten up the sky as well.

Blogger seems to be objecting to my adding a whole series of images in one posting, so I'll finish it up tomorrow.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A stop at Lake Ontario

Clean Hands  6x6 oil, copyright 2011

A brief moment of sunshine, the first in almost a week, allowed me to finally get a decent photo.  The redhead and her hat return to the water, this time in Lake Ontario.  Between Niagara Falls and the 1000 Islands region, we stopped at one of the many state parks along the lake shore.  It has become a family tradition to make a sand castle on every beach we come to.  So far this has included three of the five Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean.  After building is completed, hands must be washed free of sand - my daughter came up with the appropriate title.

The hardest part of this one was getting the ripples right.  They were painted and wiped several times before they finally seemed right.  I've tried a few other scenes with water this past week that haven't turned out as well.  Ripples and waves and reflections all conspire to make a very challenging subject to paint.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fall art shows

Me Time 24x18 oil, copyright 2011

While my first attempt at a plein air painting didn't work out, the entry for Sacred Spaces did.  Having focused on small paintings and pastels lately, it's been awhile since I've painted anything this large.  I think the practice has paid off and I feel a lot more confident about setting up the compositions for my paintings.  A cup of tea and a good book, by the way, is one of my favorite ways to escape the craziness of life - it becomes my personal sacred space.  This show runs from September 6-30 at the Preble Fine Arts Center, with the reception on September 24.

In other news, I've entered three pieces in the Greenville Art Guild's annual show.  Two pastels, Meadow at Crown Point and Waiting for the Sun and one of my 6x6 oils, White Zinnia will be included.  The awards will be given on September 23 and the show runs from September 24 to October 1 at the Shawnee Prairie Preserve just outside of Greenville.