Monday, February 28, 2011

Saint Patrick's Cathedral

I love to sketch, which is a whole different ballgame than painting, but drawing skills are the foundation for (representational) painting, so its very related. This is a sketch of Saint Patrick's Cathedral in NYC. I showed up with a 18x24" pad of paper and some charcoal. My initial thought was that the enormous space did not lend itself to fitting on any pad of paper, no matter how large. But, eventually it all came together. Drawing that ceiling - all those beautiful sweeping arches - the scale of the room, the exquisite architectural details, the grandeur of it all - inspiring and intimidating all at once. This is not for the faint of heart. But what a great exercise - try it! You will leave feeling like you're walking on air - or water!

Saint Patrick's Cathedral
18x24 Charcoal on Paper

Friday, February 25, 2011

Plant Spritzer

I've been eyeing this little plant spritzer every time my husband sprays the Hibiscus. I fear I'm falling into a dimension where everything in life is cleverly disguised as a painting prop. I've never heard anyone describe that but for the severely obsessed painter, it surely must be a well traveled route? I can only hope I'm not alone in this...

Plant Spritzer
6x6" Acrylic on Gessoboard

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lighter Darker

Lighter/Darker  Acrylic 8x10"  Click to Buy

This painting was part of a weekly painting "challenge" I do just for fun, that I mentioned in an earlier post (Blue Imperial). The requirement this week was to paint a Zippo lighter in two colors only - Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna (a reddish-brown color) plus white. It was not something that I would normally do - I love color, so this 2 color limitation felt a bit dry from the get go. But what the heck - try something new, right? Here is a link to the painting challenge site, where you can see the photo we all worked from, and the other artists' entries. I don't normally use Burnt Sienna on my palette, so I tried to create it by mixing Cadmium Red Medium (didn't have Cad red light, either) plus black. Not exactly the real Burnt Sienna, but whatever... sometimes you have to make do.

Lighter, Darker
8x10 Acrylic on Canvas

Jazz Drummer

Letting the paint flow freely is the same whether its acrylics or oils. I like allowing the paint dance on its own, without my controlling it too much. I find that it does much more beautiful things by itself - with just a little "guidance" from me, than if I force too much control on it. In otherwords, let it groove out freely - kinda like this guy!

Jazz Drummer
16x16 Oil on Canvas
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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bold Brush Painting Contest Finalist

(again:-) I'm really starting to like this "Bold Brush Painting Contest". Notification just arrived that I won the "Outstanding Acrylic" award for the second month in a row. What makes it particularly special is the high quality of work that was entered by other painters - all 696 of them. Ditto comments from last month : love being in the same circle of winners as some of my favorite West Coast painters, I'm impressed with the high quality of work overall in this contest, and the prize money is ...always sweet.
This is one of my favorite pieces, sold recently by my gallery in Provincetown, Simie Maryles Gallery, called "Into the Light". Right about now I'm feeling very motivated to dive "Into the Acrylics".

Into the Light (SOLD)
12x12 Acrylic on Canvas

Monday, February 21, 2011

Our First Egg (SOLD)

I have heard that if you have a professional blog, you're not supposed to be posting pictures of grandchildren, family vacations, etc. But this is one of those times where I'm dying to make an exception. I happen to be "mom" to 3 spectacular polish chickens. They arrived by UPS, unexpectedly, one morning about 6 months ago. You can't make this stuff up. I didn't even know polish chickens existed, much less desire to own one - or three. If you have never seen a polish chicken, I urge you to google it - you are in for a visual field day. Fast forward, one of "our girls" apparently laid her first egg. We were starting to give up on free omlettes but - voila! Yesterday morning, a perfect, sleek, svelte white egg sat proudly on a mound of sawdust. It was stunning in its elegant simplicity. So much so that... you guessed it, this painter had to immortalize it before it turned into breakfast.
I'm always telling my students - if you are painting a white egg on a white foreground with a white background, put out ALL your colors on your palette. You will see some many shades of lovely greys your head will spin. Just LOOK for them, they are there. Now it was my turn to practice what I preach.

Our First Egg
Oil on Canvas 6x6"
Click to Bid

PS - Gotta break the rules on this "the Gals"
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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Cherry Reflections (SOLD)

I'm playing with oils again... I'm so not used to being able to change my mind - but with oils you can change things endlessly. Talk about safety nets - if I do something I don't like, brush right over it and it magically goes away till I get it right. Acrylics does not offer that luxury unless I'm working with the new GOLDEN "Open" Acrylics, that don't dry fast. They offer lots of flexibility as well, and I'm experimenting with them too. Its clear to me that my style of painting changes a bit with the type of materials I use - and I'm working a bit slower with oils. As I get more familiar with them I'm sure I'll speed up. But for now, its a good learning experience. One of the most difficult parts of the entire painting was signing my name - since I use large brushes, plus the oily surface is wet and slippery - I couldn't get any delicate brushstroke or "traction". Nothing was working. So I had to chop down one of my brushes to get it small enough to get a tiny signature. I was ready to leave it unsigned ...but stuck with it and finally got my name painted ... I'll get it figured out sooner or later.

Cherry Reflections
6x6" oil on canvasboard
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Friday, February 18, 2011

Jon's House

This is a house painting commission I did from a photograph the client gave me. Many house paintings I see look like they came off an architectural drafting table - or a CAD software program. I wanted to give the house some real personality - like real people with colorful lives live there. I found out they had a cat, so I added that. Then I thought, why not put in a halloween pumpkin to go with the black cat. It added a nice spot of color to go with the fall leaves.

Jon's House
16x20 Acrylic on Canvas NFS
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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cherry Tango (SOLD)

I decided to try my hand at oils last night. Admittedly, I'm not as familiar with oils as I am with acrylics, but there were some obvious aspects of working with them that I enjoyed - easy blending, easy manipulating, no build up of bumpy texture, a nice precision to brush strokes, etc etc. I could go on and on. The pigment load is much higher too, so a little goes a long way. I felt a bit clutsy at first, mainly because acrylics are the consistency of yogurt, and the oil paints I was using were the consistency of cold butter (how do you pick this stuff up?) I'm used to scooping up large blobs of "goopy" acrylic in one fell swoop - its not that way with oils. Bottom line is there are plusses and minuses to everything - its all about finding the best vehicle to express your artistic voice.

Cherry Tango
Oil on Canvas, 6x6"
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pink Rose

For Valentines day, a Pink Rose, (my favorite) from my sweetie.

Pink Rose
8x10 Acrylic on Canvas

Monday, February 14, 2011

Pooch Du Jour

Rube Goldberg would have smiled. No sooner had I settled in yesterday at my desk for a marathon day of 4 digital illustrations (for a Monday - today- morning deadline) with a steaming cup of coffee, when my 3-legged rescue kitty, Tut (as in King) jumped up to keep me company, and in doing so bumped my glass beaded lamp which toppled over towards the window propelling me to intercept the flying lamp causing me to knock over the entire mug of coffee which in turn spilled over, under and into both my laptop and my Wacom tablet. COMMAND Z!!!!! Next order of business was to soak up the pools of coffee and spend hours taking apart the now defunct Wacom Tablet, hit the innards with the blow dryer, jiggle cords, press buttons, restart the computer 10 times, call tech support, and ultimately go out and buy two new Wacom Tablets. Thats the easy part. Now its time to create 4 illustrations for my publishing client in 4 less hours than I originally thought I had. Um, what was that I was saying about digital artwork having more safety nets than traditional? How easily I forget...

Pooch Du Jour
Digital Image for Commercial Usage

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bandana Dog

Not all of the artwork I create is done traditionally, with paint and brushes, altho 99% of it is. Here is one piece of a series of pet fashion posters I have designed that will be going to press next week. I "drew" and "painted" the images with a Wacom tablet using a pressure sensitive stylus pen. The awesome thing about working digitally is that there are so many layers, literally, of safety nets built in. You can try anything - colors, different brush strokes, certain effects, etc. and if you don't like what you did, just hit the good old Command Z keystroke (or Edit>Undo). And poof - its gone, simple as that.
If only it were so easy with traditional painting. I can't tell you how many times I have put down a big thickly loaded brushstroke that just happened to totally be the wrong color, value or shape and immediately in my mind screamed, "command Z!!!" Those command Z moments are lessons learned the hard way, which is - unfortunately - the best way. Digital artwork is clean, efficient, fast and precise. I don't end up with splotches of Alizarin Crimson and Phthalo Blue smeared across my face like war paint. It has it's plusses for sure, but my heart will always be in the down and dirty tactile world of messy, drippy paints - with no safety nets allowed.

Bandana Dog
Digital Image for Commercial Usage

Friday, February 11, 2011

Bottle and Cherries (SOLD)

Yesterday was one of those deadline laden days, what else is new. I've been in the advertising business for over 30 (ahem) years , the deadlines just keep getting tighter and crazier. At least in the old days there was built in fluff time - send out for type that you physically pasted - with glue or wax - on to your boards, sending the type back for revisions... all that back and forth left plenty of time for the 3 martini lunch (for some people that is, I was never so lucky).

I have to scratch my head sometimes and ask why I have added a new self imposed deadline to the mix - daily painting. Do I really need yet another deadline? Hardly - but this one trumps all the others in terms of what it adds to my life... its for me. Its my way of showing myself that my soul needs are just as important as everyone else's business demands. I get the crumbs of time that are left over after everyone else is accommodated. But thats OK - I'll make time for it by squeezing it in somewhere, somehow, at whatever crazy hour of the day or night, because I committed to that goal. Whether the painting comes out well or is a total flop - what matters is the act of doing it.

I didn't have time to mess around with dramatic lighting - or any lighting - I just plopped the bottle and the cherries down and dove in fast. Maybe next time, when I have a little more time, I'll at least shine a light on it and see what happens. For now, this will do - I did it:-)

Now I'm running off to a trade show where I will be demo-ing and teaching people how to use acrylic pastes, gels and mediums with their paint - maybe one of my demos will be tomorrow's post...

Bottle and Cherries
Acrylic on Canvas 6x6"

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Capitol Building

Often I do commissioned pieces that are for the specific needs of clients - in other words, illustration. This one happens to be for an organization in Washington, I worked on gessoed masonite and got that slippery, slick surface. It may end up on the front cover of a brochure or an ad - I did it large enough so that the resolution will work for multiple usages. If only the goings on in Washington were as cheery and colorful as they appear here...

Capitol Building
Acrylic on Masonite, 16x20"

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Christmas in February

Uh oh. Now everyone will know how lame I am. The christmas gifts I bought for my siblings and parents have been collecting dust since, well, December. They somehow consistently drop to the bottom of my to-do list, since the family is more forgiving than the clients when it comes to meeting deadlines. Finally I seem to be catching up and realize its time to wrap those gifts and ship 'em out once and for all... NOT SO FAST... ooohh - the colors, the shiny ribbon, the loopy bow, the reflections! Needless to say that box of wrapped gifts was far too alluring for this painter to pass up. What's one more day, its already so late, they'll understand, right? The answer to that is yes, they will. Unless of course, Dad breaks a tooth on that fossilized carmelcorn.

Christmas in February
Acrylic on Canvas 7.25"x 7.25" $100

Monday, February 7, 2011

New York Pretty

I like to do paintings in one session (called "Alla Prima") but when they have a lot of detail, as in urban landscapes, that one session can feel like a marathon. This was one of those. I started at about 1pm and finished at 11:30 pm, taking a break only to go out for a slice of pizza, and to throw the ball for my bored-silly pooch.
Once you get warmed up and into the flow, the brushwork takes on a natural, loose quality. "New starts" can show up in a multi-session painting as passages that look stiff and forced. I want the whole painting to have the same loose quality, thus the painting marathon. Plus, I'm impatient and this was a commission with a tight deadline. That always helps.
New York Pretty
Acrylic on canvas, 18x24"

Friday, February 4, 2011

Parfum Tocca

This is still wet (even tho its acrylic) and I'm still in my pajamas. A clear case of TMI (too much information) for sure, but I reveal this only to point out that until I get my daily painting done, it "hangs over my shoulders" ALL DAY. What am I going to paint? When can I squeeze it in? Is it my turn to cook dinner or can I paint at night? etc etc. Since I'm going to Les Miserables tonight -my husband, a bassist, ( is playing the show and I get a free ticket - that set the stage (no pun intended) for my ramped up schedule, as in 'do it NOW'. So I did.
This is another wonderful little gift from hubby that gets more use as a painting prop than its intended purpose. I will make sure to put a touch of it behind my ears tonight!
Parfum Tocca
Acrylic on Canvas, 6x6"

PS ... he's also an excellent artist )

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Blue Imperial

Sadly, I missed out on the days of these stylish, elegant, fin-adorned cars. Not that I wasn't around, I just don't remember much of anything. Way back in the crevices of my brain I do have a vague memory of seeing a pistachio green and ivory Thunderbird, (or was it an Edsel?) viewed from the back seat of my mother's station wagon. I distinctly remember thinking that it was really cool and maybe someday I could have one...
This painting was done as an entry in a painting challenge, of sorts, organized by my one of my favorite daily painters, Carol Marine. This challenge is just for kicks - no awards, prizes or winners, just a way of everyone painting together as group and seeing what each other is up to. Kinda like we are all in the same class painting from the same model. Its always fun to see other painters' interpretation and the variety of styles. To see the other entries, click here.
Blue Imperial
Acrylic on Canvas, 6x6" $100

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

5 Minute Tea Cup Demo

Sunday I taught a 5 hour workshop at Rockland Center for the Arts, my standard "How to Paint Fast, Loose and Bold". I've taught enough of these workshops that I can expect certain reactions from the participants. I hand out evaluation sheets at the end of the class, one question I pose is, "What would have made the workshop better?". Inevitably someone always responds "more time to paint". I find that a bit ironic, since this class is specifically about LESS time, not more. My goal is to show everyone how to paint quickly and confidently - working FAST. If I say so myself, thats a fairly tall order to teach diverse group of people, from total beginners to very advanced painters how it works. And it requires a certain amount of talking, explaining and demonstrating on my part. After I'm done with my part, its time for each student to do 3 paintings - the first is 45 miniutes, the second is 30 minutes and the last is 15 minutes. This is not exactly comfortable for those who are used to weekly, monthly or even bi-yearly paintings. By the time they have finished their second painting, however, the lightbulb goes off. And everyone starts to get it, as in better put down those small brushes because you got a lot of canvas to cover in a small amount of time. For those who think that its just impossible to do a 15 minute painting, I demo a 5 minute painting. In contrast, I explain, 45 minutes is a lifetime!
Daily painting is cool - you exercise your creativity/painting muscle, it stays limber and flexible. Nothing gets too precious because you don't have much time invested in it. If it works, great. If it doesn't, so what - try again tomorrow. I tell my students, anyone who is motivated enough has 15 minutes a day to paint, no matter how busy their life is. Keep your paints and brushes handy and ready go at a moments notice - paint ANYTHING. A spoon, a hammer, an orange... And if you need more time to paint, see what you can create in 5 minutes and gradually build up to 45. It will feel like a lifetime.

5 Minute Tea Cup
Acrylic on Canvas 4.5 x 4.5"