Sunday, April 28, 2013

The (dreaded) self-portrait

Self Portrait  Acrylic on Gessoboard, 8x10"

Egad, I have not done a self portrait since college. I mean really, who wants to stare at themselves for hours on end... it is not for the faint of heart. But alas, I couldn't avoid it any longer. I am in the home stretch of completing my third book, which is all step-by-step demos of various subjects and issues that painters encounter, such as painting glass and reflections, creating depth with color temperature, layering in glazes, experimenting with color, etc etc.  I've finished nine topics, and the very last one, which I have been avoiding like the plague was... you guessed it, the self-portrait. With my deadline closing in and my excuses running thin, I took a deep breath and faced it - er, me. It wasn't as painful as I expected (isn't that usually the case?) and I may even attempt a few more, now that I've gotten over the hump. One nice benefit of painting with the big brushes in a looser style -- I don't pay much attention to fine detail or, (ahem) lines and wrinkles.  When I squint to see the big shapes and the values, they all drop away so nicely!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Dos Daffodils

 Dos Daffodils,  Acrylic on Gessoboard  8x10"  Click to Bid
I'm just getting settled back in after my trip to North Carolina and then immediately following, a quickie snowboarding trip to Vermont to enjoy the last vestiges of winter.
With Daffodils blooming everywhere, I set up a still life for my Wednesday morning class.  When class ended and everyone left, I had to indulge myself and paint them too. Good-bye Winter, hello Spring!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

"Paint Fast, Loose and Bold" Workshop in Cary, NC

Fruit Gang 8x8" Acrylic on Gessoboard  (SOLD)
Pink Rose 8x6"  Acrylic on Canvas  Click to Bid

Just returned from Cary, NC where I taught a 3 day "How to Paint Fast, Loose and Bold" workshop. We covered a lot of ground! Here is a quick summary...

I spent the first day teaching and drilling in, the value of values, and how to be a designer of shapes, rather than a transcriber of what is there. In fact, I spent so much time on this topic that I was worried everyone was going to get bored. But the feedback I got from everyone afterwards was overwhelmingly a big 'thank you' for taking so much time to demonstrate over and over, how to create and "design" a strong value foundation. I loved hearing "I finally get it!!"

Next we did exercises in translating values to colors, interpreting greytones into wild and beautiful colors - departing completely from reality.

Then we practiced how to work with very large brushes. The fruit and flower demos were done using 2" brushes on small canvases - 8x8" and 6x8". I showed what to look for when buying a large brush and how to hold and maneuver it to get smaller shapes and fine lines. I often use just one large brush to do an entire painting.

After a 1 hour rose demo, in which I stated upfront that my goal was to edit out everything but the most important detail, I did a 25-stroke rose painting, using the 2" brush, and then had everyone do the same. The purpose of that exercise is learning brushwork and editing skills. Later in the day I did a quick demo on edges and transitioning from one color/value to the next - geared especially to the acrylic painters. Oil painters can easily blend by dragging their paint from one value to the next. Because acrylics dry so fast, transitioning methods are important to learn. 

We also worked FAST -- 15 minute paintings!  As is usually the case, the paintings whipped out in 15 minutes were actually better and bolder than the "longer" 45 minute paintings.  It's always fun to see the look on everyone's faces when they realize just how much they can accomplish in so short a time, once they have the important fundamentals in place.

One of the best parts of the workshop was the lunch at a nearby Italian restaurant, planned by my awesome hostess-with-the-mostest, Monica Linares. Getting to know everyone better, in a social setting is the icing on the cake, and always makes me wish the workshop were a few days longer. Just as we are all becoming friends, we are then saying goodbyes. I pointed out that its not too early to start thinking about re-connecting in Italy for my "Let's paint Tuscany Fast, Loose and Bold".  

Here's a picture of the group, at work and at play.  I sure hope our paths cross again, as hanging out with painters is always, in my book, the best!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Orange Juice and Strawberries

OJ and Strawberries  8x10"  Acrylic on panel

Although I painted this in acrylics, it was better suited for oils. Today the temperature went up over 80 degrees and my studio was preeetttty hot. Acrylics dry more quickly when the conditions are hot and dry. I don't have my AC hooked up yet so the minute the paint went down it dried. I normally have a bit more leeway.  Maybe its time to crack out the oils, for a nice seasonal change of pace...

Thursday, April 4, 2013

To the Triboro - SOLD!

"To the Triboro"  44x43"  Acrylic on Canvas
Just got the news from my gallery in NY - SOLD.  Now I want to start painting larger again! And to think I just got a gig to paint 10 - yes TEN,  4"x4" paintings... anyone out there got a magnifying glass I could borrow?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Seductive Surfaces Workshop

Here are a few techniques from the 2 day "Seductive Surfaces" workshop I taught recently in Syracuse, NY. The participants did such beautiful work, I had a hard time choosing from all of their samples.  During the workshop we covered about 15 different acrylic techniques, which involved using a wide array of gels, pastes, mediums and paints.  

The butterflies were a lesson in how to use interference (and iridescent) paints to simulate the opalescent, shimmery effects found in nature. The center image shows a resist technique using polymer medium as a drawing tool, combined with acrylic fluid washes. The example at the right shows a combination of two techniques, sgraffito and glazing.  There is never enough time to cover all the techniques that are possible, because there are endless combinations that can be layered one over the other, to create new variations. Collaging with Skins, Image Transfers, Scumbling effects over Fiber paste, Sgraffito with Heavy Gels, washes over Acrylic Ground for Pastels, Sculptural texture with Light Molding Paste, layering with Glass Bead, feathering with OPEN paints... these are just the tip of the iceberg. 

However, we covered plenty. Most artists don't realize the creative doorways that burst open when they start combining various acrylic grounds and mediums, regardless of whether they are abstract or representational painters. One student mumbled as he was walking out the door - " my head is so full, I can't even talk." I think (hope) he meant that in a good way.