Friday, November 30, 2012

Art for the holidays

Nautilus 9x12 pastel, copyright 2010

Hayloft, Evening Light 9x12 pastel, copyright 2010

Bank Barn, Early Spring 9x12 pastel, copyright 2012

If these three pastels seem familiar, it's probably because you've seen them on the blog before.  This morning were dropped off in Sidney, Ohio at the Gateway Arts Council.  During the month of December the GAC is having an exhibit, Give the Gift of the Arts.  It's a show made for the holiday season, with work from a wide variety of artists, all priced under $300.  The reception is December 7 from 6-8 and it looks like I will be able to attend.  There are some very talented artist participating, and I feel honored (and a bit humbled) to be among them.  Hopefully I will see some of you there!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Charcoal portrait

Contemplating 6x8 charcoal, copyright 2012

Every artist should draw or sketch every day.  It's like exercising or doing your homework, a necessity to keep up your skills.  I know this, and while I have good intentions, it often doesn't happen.  Life gets in the way, as it tends to do.  But really, that's just an excuse, one that I need to quit using.  

Over the weekend, Black Friday in fact, I stopped in one of the few remaining art supply stores around to look for some of my favorite pastel paper.  They didn't have any so I picked of a pad of gray tone papers, thinking it would be good for sketching.  Today I decided to quit using excuses and use this paper instead.  I flipped through my reference photos and found this one.  Hands and faces and the two parts of the body that I have the most difficulty with so of course I had to put both in the same sketch.  Obviously I still need a bit of practice, but it's not too bad for a half hour of work.  Now I just have to convince myself to keep sketching every day.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Autumn creek

Along the Creek, Late November 12x9 pastel, copyright 2012

Not surprisingly, it didn't take long before I returned to pastel landscapes.  This one wasn't really planned, but the weather was so perfect last week that I decided to wander down to the creek and see what I could see.  A couple of tree trunks that had piled up during last spring's flood served as both seat and easel.   It took about an hour to work it out and the details were finished later in the studio.  I might play with it a bit more, perhaps eliminating the grasses since they feel a bit distracting to me.  It can be difficult to filter out what's unnecessary when working plein air - there can be too much too look at sometimes, though I certainly can't complain about the view.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Garden favorites

Budding Roses 4x4 pastel, copyright 2012

Turning Koi 4x4 pastel, copyright 2012

These are the last two of the small pastels and they also happen to be my favorites.  Again and again I've tried to paint roses without much success.  For some reason portraying the intricacy of the layered petals eludes me so I decided to take a different route, focusing only on the buds.   This time it actually worked!

The red of the roses and the orange of the koi just seem to pop against the dark background.  Though it doesn't show up well in a photograph, the koi in particular seems to shimmer as it slips along the edges of the paper.  Finally I have a good grasp of how to use rather than fight the rough texture of the paper.  I think both of these are candidates for larger paintings.

Below are all eight of the paintings together.  In my etsy shop I am offering an option to purchase the paintings individually for $25 each or all eight of them for $175.  

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S., it may be a bit before I get back to posting, but rest assured, I have a few more paintings ready to show off, including more sky.  For those of you celebrating, have a good holiday, and keep safe!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Zen in the garden

Stacked Stones 4x4 pastel, copyright 2012

Water Lily Blossom 4x4 pastel, copyright 2012

Piles of stones have been used for millennia to mark boundaries and trials.  In some Buddhist circles a stack of three rounded stones are said to represent three Buddhavistas.  To others it is a meditation, a symbol of balance.  More recently stacked stones have simply become a decorative element.  These three came from our creek; I'll let you decided the meaning behind them.

In many eastern traditions, water lilies are symbols of rebirth, renewal and awakening.  This particular one was blooming in a koi and goldfish pond at the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, one of my favorite places to find some zen and an excellent urban spot for land snorkeling.

Both of these paintings are available in my etsy shop.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Gardener's delight

Fancy Orange Zinnia 4x4 pastel, copyright 2012

Buckeye Butterfly 4x4 pastel, copyright 2012

Sorry about being slow on posting these, I'll get them all up in the next few days.  The top one is one of many zinnias that fill up my flower garden every year.  It's the first time I've tried this particular variety which turned out very well.  It's a rather bright orange which the photo can't quite capture, and was quite popular with the butterflies.  The Common Buckeye below it was a frequent visitor.  Both are available in my etsy shop.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A tiny garden

Perennial Sunflower Pair 4x4 pastel, copyright 2012

Pink Zinnia Facing the Sun 4x4 pastel, copyright 2012

I haven't abandoned pastels altogether, just decided to move in a slightly different direction.  My first intention with this 16x20 piece of black matboard was to paint something larger, as I've done in the past.  But as the pastel primer on it was drying, something dripped from the ceiling, right into the middle.  Instead of just letting it dry I wiped if off, ruining the surface at the drip. In frustration I started cutting up the matboard - the pieces kept getting smaller and smaller until I had a stack of 4x4's.  

These have turned out to be fun little sketches.  It can be quite challenging to compose an interesting painting in such a small space, and the rough texture and black surface make it more difficult.  So far I have painted 11.  Eight have turned out well enough to show off and two have the potential to be painted again larger.  

Here are the first two that I like, I'll post two at a time.  The weather has been turning more winter-like which I have decided to defy with garden scenes.  These eight, and hopefully more, will be made available in my etsy shop.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Deepening Blue 20x16 oil, copyright 2012

Finally this painting is dry enough to photograph, though it's still a bit tacky in places.  I love this color, ultramarine blue, but I'd forgotten how dark it is, and how much oil is in it, slowing the drying process. For some reason the darker and more saturated or "pure" colors tend to have more oil.  

It was inspired by the same photo as the previous painting, and was painted the same day.   While I often start with a photo, which leads my color palette, once I get started the photo is largely ignored and the painting becomes intuitive.  It's a different way of thinking for me, and I'm rather enjoying the freedom it allows.

In other news, the brownstone that was being auctioned went to a friend of mine, one who was with me  in NYC when I took the reference photo.  A check is on its way to Red Cross and the painting is on its way to Cleveland, so it's win-win all around.  I love it when that happens.  Thanks Tracey!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Blue skies

Searching for Serenity 16x20 oil on panel, copyright 2012

After a series of failed pastel paintings, I decided it was time to switch it up a bit.  Oils have been neglected for the past nine months or so while I worked on my pastel technique but recently I've been feeling a bit burnt out on the landscapes.  I won't abandon pastels altogether but instead will take the opportunity to explore a few alternatives.  

One of my favorite past times as a kid was to stare up at the sky, watching the ever changing clouds and shifting blues.   We lived near the airport, so contrails would some times crisscross the view, and I often wondered about the people on the planes, where they were going and what they were thinking.  In fact, my first sky painting was titled Where Are They Going?  I played with a few more paintings, but none came out quite as well as the first and the idea was ignored for quite awhile.  But it's always been in the back of my mind to paint a whole series of skies and I find myself rather compulsively photographing sunrises and sunsets, clouds and storms.

A few weeks ago a decided to paint a little acrylic as a get well gift for a friend, which worked out  quite well for both of us.  It really got me contemplating sky paintings again, and a few days later I painted two in oil, one right after the other, over the course of several hours.  It had been a frustrating, stressful day and the work became an almost meditative exercise, and a very satisfying one.   I think I'll have to keep a stack of panels on hand, ready to be used when needed.  I'll post the second one once it dries a bit more.

Don't forget, the art auction to raise funds for the Red Cross is still going on; you have through Friday to bid on my brownstone!

Monday, November 5, 2012

A judgement call

Brownstone with Geraniums 8x10 oil, copyright 2010

Don't forget, the Red Cross fundraiser is still on.  So far I have three bids for my New York City Brownstone painting, let's see if we can keep it going!  You have until November 8 to help out this great cause.

Morning Drive 9x12 pastel, copyright 2012

Just how subjective is art?  After a few touch ups, last month I entered this pastel in two different shows - and was rejected from one and received a Special Recognition award in the other.  Go figure.

The first was the Richmond Art Museum.  This is a very competitive regional exhibit that I have tried and failed to get into before.  They have an open judging that I went to for the first time, a truly hand wringing experience.  There were at least 300 pieces being judged, many of them by well established artists, so the competition was quite stiff.  I managed to get through the first round but was then rejected in the second.  That was frustrating but at least the other artists were both supportive and sympathetic.  

The second was Light Space Time, a well established online gallery with monthly, international exhibits.  This time there were about 450 pieces and although I didn't win a top award I was part of a group that received special recognition and ended up on page 33 of the online catalogue.  I still feel like this is one of my better pieces so I will try for a few more shows - there is a local landscape show this spring that I might finally get into.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Bid on a brownstone

I've been to New York twice in my life.  The first time was to visit with a college friend, a native of Queens.  The second time was with a group of friends from all over the map, meeting up for a holiday. Both were very intense but enjoyable experiences.  It's a very different world than I am used to, one that I don't think I would be comfortable living in, though I certainly love visiting from time to time.  The last time I was there, in 2010, my friends and I stayed in the Upper East Side for a few days, soaking in the culture and the Park, before switching to Mid Town for a few more days.  I fell in love with the architecture of the UWS and felt like I could have spent several more days wandering among the brownstones.

Like the rest of the country, I intently watched Superstorm Sandy as it rolled over the East Coast, worried for those in its path.  The brownstones remained intact, but I haven't heard yet from my Queens friend, who now lives on Long Island.  Hopefully he and his family are suffering through nothing more than a power outage.  Other friends in the area have made it through, their lives seriously disrupted but intact.  Many others were not so lucky.

To help raise funds for relief effort, the art web site Daily Paintworks is hosting an art auction, with the proceeds all being donated to the charity of the artist's choice.  I've decided to donate my oil painting Brownstone with Geraniums to the cause, with the funds raised going to the Red Cross.  The auction lasts one week, ending on November 9, and the starting bid is just $25.  I'd like to make a big donation, so please consider bidding.  The money goes to a great cause and you get one of my original paintings for your collection - it's win-win!

Brownstone with Geraniums 8x10 oil, copyright 2010