Thursday, October 27, 2011

Painting glass

Amber Glass Ornament 6x6 oil, copyright 2011

One of the things on my "bucket list" is to learn how to blow glass.  It's amazing to see a glowing, gooey glob on the end of a pipe turn into a work of art using only fire and air.  I still remember the first time I watched a demonstration of someone making a large serving plate by blowing a globe, then folding it together and spinning it to shape a disk.  Over the years since I have slowly accumulated a collection of handmade glass items, mostly ornaments.  This particular one is my most recent acquisition, picked up this fall at the Renaissance Festival.

Glass and water are two very challenging subjects to paint.  They are transparent and opaque at the time time and can be a confusing mess of reflection and refraction.  The light and shadows feel right on this one, but I haven't quite figured out how to portray the slightly transparent quality accurately.  Water gives me the same sort of fits - how do you paint both the surface and below the surface at the same time?

Monday, October 24, 2011

etsy shop up and running

Finally!  I know I've promised this for awhile now, but at last my etsy shop is open and ready for business.  I've added the link to the side and the bottom of my blog.  It's also on my web site and Facebook page.

At the moment there are nine of my 6x6 oil paintings listed.  I will add to that list as the more recent pantings dry and are varnished - I usually like to give them about 2 months before varnishing.  The mats that were on back order have been shipped and should arrive in the next few days.  This means that pastels will also be listed, in two different sizes.  I don't have any immediate plans to list different sized oils, although I can easily do that if the demand is out there.  For now, if you see something on the blog or web site that isn't listed, just let me know and I can easily put it on there for you.  If you are local to me, send me an email and we can arrange to have the piece dropped off or picked up if you don't want it shipped.  For those who have their own etsy shop, add me to your favorites or your circle, and I will gladly return the favor.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Miniature roses

Floating Miniature Roses 6x6 oil, copyright 2011

On one of the last truly beautiful days of the season I picked the three best flowers off my miniature rose and set them floating in a little bowl.  Moving around to find the best shadows, I finally settled on the stone steps that go down into the bubbling spring we are fortunate to have in the front yard.  There is nothing quite like bright sunshine to make shadows and highlights and colors really pop, and that's what I decided to emphasize instead of trying to capture the details and the texture of the horn bowl and stone step.   

For some reason roses are always a struggle for me.  I'm not sure why, but the layers and layers of short, brightly colored petals give me fits.  It took a little bit of reworking, but I feel pretty good about these.  And I really feel like I've big improvements on capturing the shapes and shadows of rounded objects like the bowl.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Return to Central Park

View Across The Lake 6x6 oil, copyright 2011

Today while looking through my photos in preparation for etsy, I rediscovered this never posted painting, finished early in the summer and sold almost before it was dry.  It's a view of Central Park, looking across the aptly named The Lake towards Midtown.  Buildings are challenging to me as it's hard to know how little detail you can get away with and still have them look like buildings.  Add in reflections on windows, deep shadows, architectural elements... it can easily become a mess.  Surprisingly though, the real struggle for me was the water.  I just couldn't get the reflections right and it kept looking like a pathway instead of a lake.  I think it was scraped down 4-5 times before I was satisfied.  I have to say though, the most satisfying part for me was that I was able to get a tiny flag on the top of the central building.  Don't ask me how I did it, as I'm sure I won't be able to do it again.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sketching Degas style

Famous people get to do some of the coolest stuff.

I recently discovered the blog of Neil Gaiman.  I'm not very familiar with his work as I'm not really into graphic novels, although I do love science fiction.  After reading a bit more about him, I've decided to give his novels a try.  When I have time.

But the real reason behind my posting about him has to do with his post on October 5.  In it he described, among other things, how he and his wife got a private tour of the "Degas and the Nude" exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston since she narrated the audio guide for the exhibit.  During the tour, they convinced the staff to allow her to pose nude in front of one of the paintings while he sketched her.

What an amazing experience that would be for any artist.  If this was any closer to me, I think I'd be calling the museum and demanding that they have life drawing sessions in the exhibit hall.

Monday, October 10, 2011

October trees

Trees Study, Early October 12x16 pastel, copyright 2011

This autumn the trees have been unusually colorful; it seems we got the right amount of rain and cool temperatures followed by ten clear, warm days that made the perfect combination for a wonderful show.  I've taken many reference photos to hopefully cheer me up during the dreary wet late autumn that will soon be here.  I spotted this pair of trees about a week ago on the way to Greenville to pick up my artwork from a show and ended up turning around and driving past twice to get the shot.  Thankfully traffic was non-existant at the time.  Today is likely the last clear day and I plan on spending some time getting a few more photos.

The show in Greenville late last month gave me a bit of a birthday surprise: my painting, White Zinnia, won the purchase award.  This means a local business promised to buy a piece from the show, with some of the proceeds going to the Greenville Art Guild.  This is the first time that one of my pieces has been purchased by someone at random, who has never met me and is unfamiliar with my work.  It feels like a big step forward.  A special thanks to Granny's Corner Frame Shop in Greenville.

An update on my plans for etsy:  I have ordered some supplies, which are now on back order.  This is why haven't set anything up yet.  They are pastel supplies, including cut mats that I plan on including with sold pieces.  I'm getting a bit tired of waiting on them, and the date of their availability keeps changing, so I may just go ahead and start putting oil paintings on there and hold off on the pastels until the mats arrive.  I'll post once everything is up and running.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Birthday azaleas

Pink Azaleas 6x6 oil, copyright 2011
click to purchase this painting

My husband often gets me flowers on my birthday and this year was no exception.  Typically they are cut flowers and it's always a race to paint them before they wither and die - usually a losing race.  But this year he bought me a little azalea bush so I was able to take my time.  I wish I could plant it outside and let it grow into a huge bush, but unfortunately the soils around here are too alkaline, so it will just have to take its chances inside.  It is sitting in my kitchen window above the sink, so hopefully that means I will remember to water it.  Plants in my house need to be quite drought tolerant.

I played with this one a little bit, curious to see how little I could detail I could go into and still have an easily recognized subject.  In the end I went back to the individual flowers for some touch up work, but mostly left the leaves as is.  For some reason I tend to shy away from using black, worried that it will dull the palette, but I'm getting used to the idea that a little bit here and there in the shadows really makes the highlights stand out.