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One Dealine Down

August 30, 2008

Completed Three White Orchids today. The paintings all look good in their frames. Sigh of relief.



Edges of Things

August 28, 2008

I'm working very hard on the second of the orchid paintings today. It's important for me to get the delicate undulations of the waxy white petals right; I want them to be convincing. In order to do this, two things have to take place: the graduations from whitest white (which practically glows, if it's done right) to the pale blue grey shadings has to be blended ever so subtlely. This takes a lot of time and analysis.  The second part of it is the edges of the petals. Right now, even though I'm using a high grade, fine weave linen as support, some of the weave texture is showing up on the edges. I don't like ambivalence on edges that meet up with the dark contrasting background. If a painting is successful, it will resonate as being truthful to the viewer. In my case, the story I'm trying to tell is about the way light reveals the form, and hopefully, the texture of the blossoms.

I spent all day yesterday working at the gallery in Alexandria, got home around 7. It's a treat to look at all the art and the different ways of seeing things. There's realism, abstraction, poetry, color, concept, draftsmanship, you name it.

The five frames I ordered for the Decorator's Show at the gallery are arriving tomorrow. I can't wait to see how the paintings look when framed.



Orchids, Zinnias and Peppers

August 26, 2008

Finished the first of the two orchid paintings today, and am happy with the way it turned out. Working on it and the second one has been such a pleasant experience I might try a few more.

The second orchid painting is drying after today's work on the background and the edges of the petals. As soon as it dries I think I can finish it off. The flowers themselves have come along quickly, and the slight undulations in the petals look pretty convincing. It's been fun.

Went to a farmer's market last Saturday and picked up some of the most unusual peppers in a riot of colors. I scattered them on the kitchen table, took photos, made arrangements and took more photos, and ended up with 135 pictures. The day was partly cloudy, so I had to wait for the sun for some of the shots, as the ones with distinct shadows really look exciting. I also bought a little nosegay of colorful garden posies— zinnias, purple clover—that I put in a painted pitcher. There's probably enough interesting material in this batch of pix for me to do twenty little paintings.



August 22, 2008

Too many deadlines— and some of them have nothing to do with painting— are coming together at once, but that seems to be the story of my life. I just have to roll with it. Completed the painting of the mill window, and one of the orchid paintings is close to completion with maybe one sitting left. The other is not far behind. This weekend looks very full in terms of activity, so I'll need to squeeze in the painting time. Still, it looks like there will be enough for the next show at the gallery...I don't have to actually deliver the work until a week from Monday, though the promotional jpegs were requested to be sent in today.


Figure Work

August 19, 2008

Every time I'm faced with making a decision about where to start the day's work on Conversation, I feel it's hopeless. Then I spot some little thing that annoys me, and I want to fix it; then it all starts to roll along smoothly. Worked on the male figure in the lower left foreground today, and FINALLY it feels like it's going right. The insert at right, a detail of the figure, has some glare on it, but you can get a sense of what it looks like. Still have to work on the face, the hands, the extended leg, etc. But it's falling into place.

Too hot to do anything else today, and I have to let the things I worked on yesterday dry. Must pick out frames and order them so they arrive in time to hang these things! That's going to be a big expense, too...



August 18, 2008

I've long been an admirer of John Singer Sargent, and each time I browse through a book I have on his paintings, it knocks me out. Here I am stressed out over a 44"h x 60"w painting, and Sargent's masterpiece, El Jaleo, comes in at a whopping 93-3/8" x 138-1/2". Yow. How did he do it? How did he arrange the lighting? I love the two guitars on the back left wall and the way the spectacular and dramatic dancer is pushed over to the right in the foreground. The cast shadows have their own personality.

Well, today I worked through four paintings. The orchids are coming along very well, it's too bad the photos don't do them justice. The centers of the orchids look 3-dimensional from a viewing distance of about 5 feet. But it's tedious work, and I'll be happy when it's over. Tomorrow, back to Conversation.




August 15, 2008

Spent all of my painting time today wrestling with problems I'd been avoiding on Conversation— taking care of them makes me feel much better. Things were in the wrong place and had to be redrawn; the color had to be changed in some spots; the central figure had to be dealt with. All this and more took a lot of time, though you can't see much progress on the larger image. At right is a close-up of the figure of the woman in the center of the painting. She'll be holding an open cell phone when the painting is done. I like the play on the cell phones. The guy at left is on his. Is she looking at her phone because she's just now receiving a call? Are they communicating with each other?

The Works in Progress page is now updated.


Server Problems

August 15, 2008

Server problems have kept me from posting for a week, but I have been working in the meantime. So glad to be able to post again! Right now am in the middle of fixing some mistakes on Conversation, but later today or tomorrow will upload new items on the works in progress page. I've been moving along rapidly on the first of the two orchid paintings, blocked in the background and worked up some of the petals on the second, and have done a significant amount of work on the mill window. The hummingbird piece looks out of balance, so I'm going to change the white petals on the right side of the painting to the deep purple of the ones on the left, plus lighten them up a bit. Much to do before September 1st!


A Good Day's Work

August 8, 2008

Somehow managed to work my way through six paintings today. Didn't spend a whole lot of time on any one of them, but made progress on each, and stopped before I could overthink them or otherwise mess them up. I do have hope now that I'll have something, at least, for the two shows coming up.

The painting of the orchids is going so well that I also stretched a new canvas in the same size (12" x 16") and will do a second one. The strong, direct light source in both of the reference photos makes them very appealing.



August 7, 2008

I took photos of a spray of orchids a couple of years ago, and haven't done anything with them until now. Using a grid, I transferred the image onto a 12" x 16" pre-primed canvas last night. It should work up very quickly. Again, I'm deadline-minded these days. Not only do I have to finish Conversation and possibly one other painting for the Levine School of Music show, there's an additional opportunity available through the gallery— if I can get the images ready by the 22nd of this month! It's a little disconcerting to have to drop the productive work I was doing on finishing a number of things on the Works in Progress page as well as the mysterious Time Piece. But getting work ready for these two shows has to take priority.



August 6, 2008 

So I had to sidestep the whole issue of the pillars on Conversation today; the layers I'd put down yesterday still needed some drying time. I worked on the back wall and the mirrored right side as well as the female figure. The figure has been troublesome— I couldn't seem to get the placement right until today, and had played with the idea of making her a blonde in order to stand out more against the background. But now it's working.

Those brushes I bought the other day included two bristle brushes, one a round, the other a filbert. Looking at them in the store I wondered why I never use bristles; now I remember! They have less spring than the sable or sable-synthetics I'm used to, and their stiff hairs lay the paint down in a way that absolutely does not work for a style of painting that depends on subtle blending.

Once I switched off to a softer brush, things went much better. I placed some highlights and shadows on the back wall, and will emphasize them when I paint the dark trim. And overall, the color looks more realistic and less complementary now that I adjusted the reference photo.

Also worked on Chaos Theory, started a 12" x 16" of orchids, and finished the gesso on the new 18" x 24". Pictures tomorrow.



August 5, 2008  5:00 p.m.

Finished stretching the new 18" x 24" canvas, took out the wrinkles on the surface, and now have to give it a couple of coats of gesso. Not sure whether to go with a floral or a mill window for this one, now.

Worked on Conversation, but found it very difficult. The color of the pillars is a real challenge, as it changes from one plane to another, and is also affected by the light. I'm letting it dry for tonight, will go back to it tomorrow. Picked up on another long-neglected piece, the pinky-girly confection called Le Monde des femmes. We'll see where that one goes. Also did a little work on the clouds in Postcards 3.


New Painting Deadline

August 5, 2008  8:30 a.m.

The gallery has a group show coming up at the Levine School of Music, and since almost all of my paintings are at the Washington Technology Park, I'm going to have to make tracks and finish a couple of things in the next three weeks. Painting to deadline is not my favorite thing.

Started squaring up a new canvas in the 18 x 24 inch format. People often don't realize how much time and effort go into just the preparation of the canvas alone, nor of the expense involved (linen, which lasts a long, long, time—think of how ancient Egyptian pharaohs were wrapped—is not cheap). The corners of the stretcher frame have to be squared, and this is actually done with a t-square and a hammer. Then the linen has to be stretched until taut, and stapled around the back. You also have to cut out—very carefully— the excess fabric at the corners. All of this is done so the canvas will fit properly into its frame.

Anyway, I'm thinking of doing a splashy floral on the 18" x 24", and will put in a couple of hours a day on Conversation.

Picked up half a dozen new brushes, four tubes of oil paint, and two pairs of stretchers yesterday. Visited the home and studio of my friend S., and viewed her wall of beautiful collages. She has been busy. The collages really stand out against the plaque backings she's attached them to, and it was an impressive body of work. Wish I could do that sort of thing---I really have no idea where one would begin, or how to put it all together (images and colors and textures) to make sense.

Now to work.


Last of July

July 31, 2008

Apparently yesterday was not the 29th after all, but the 30th, so I've corrected the dates on the webpages that correspond to the paintings I worked on. What can I say? Too much partying...

I've been bothered all along by the color cast in Conversation, so yesterday I pulled up the original photo reference for it and color corrected it. What a difference! But now i have to adjust a lot of the tones that should be more neutral and less warm, like in the pillars. (Heavy sigh) Should have been onto this much sooner.

Time Piece is something that I want to be spectaculary well painted, and I'm moving very slowly on it, measuring the placement of every design element to within a quarter-inch. Sound tedious? It is. But I don't want to have to do a lot of re-painting when it turns out that the reflection of a car in the window glass is way off. I want to save my energy for getting the subtleties of the painting right. There are some wonderful areas, opportunities for vague, shadowy depths where who knows what is happening. The painting should be a combination of straightforward realism and mystery. There is a dark, hooded figure near the center, and an elderly man exiting the station. Other figures appear as blurry streaks, moving through space and time. A reflection of a white stretch limousine on the glass adds another dimension to the narrative.


A Breath of Fresh Air

July 30, 2008

Took a quick out-of-town trip last weekend. It's always good to catch an occasional break and change your perspective. This trip involved some train travel, which I absolutely love. Now am setting up for working on Conversation and a new big work, tentatively called "Time Piece." Hopefully, more later today.


Switching Gears

July 21, 2008

Dropped off the six large paintings this morning. After having focused on getting this show out the door for the last couple of months, I came home to a feeling of being in a vacuum. Now what? There's certainly plenty on the Works in Progress page to finish, but I couldn't get started painting today.

The show looks good! Took some pictures, chatted with a few people who said how much they liked the work, heard that the lunch line was abuzz with talk about the paintings. Nice.


A Respite

July 18, 2008

It took all of Wednesday to prep the paintings for the show. There's so much that goes into it---dusting off frames and cleaning the paintings' surfaces; making sure everything's signed; framing the new paintings; touching up a few strip frames from older pieces; photographing new work; attaching screw eyes to the backs; cataloguing everything and printing up a list with names, sizes and prices; creating and attaching labels...and then, the trickiest part: fitting 32 paintings into a car so that none of the frames touch each other and no painting pokes into the surface of anything else.

Driving to a show with a loaded car is always an adventure, too. Other drivers wonder why you're taking corners so-o-o-o slowly. In reality, if you wing around a corner, everything in the car shifts. It's the same thing with sudden stops or starts. So if your show is 20+ miles from your house, you'd better do some mental preparation and plan on taking the easiest route possible (in my case, the Dulles Toll Road, even if there is a toll attached to the drive) and just cruising along in the slow lane, no matter what.

As always, the representative from the group responsible for providing the opportunity was a pleasure to work with. Everything went smoothly and enjoyably, and I always feel like my work is in good hands. It was fun, too, to see people stop in their tracks as they came down the hall to look at a painting. My whole philosophy of art is that I want the viewer to be engaged, drawn in, to have a sense of recognition of that moment, that place, that time, and to say, "yes, I've been in a similar situation and this rings true for me." Or at least to be able to look at a work and be intrigued enough to craete a story about what's going on. So---it made me happy to hear that after I left, a lot of people stopped by as the show was being hung and mentioned how much they liked it.

Six or seven of the large pieces go up on Monday. I only hope Flowers of the Valley will fit into the car!



July 12, 2008

Things are looking good. I added a seagull to the Outer Banks, Passing Storm painting, feeling it needed something to balance the lower left hand corner. This led to some musing about balance in general, as far as the Universe is concerned, and balance in artwork in particular. But we'll move along here.

Outer Banks (at right) is almost finished. I'd really like to get a sense of the peachy-orange luminosity in the clouds in my original reference photo, but that's all it needs.

Living On Borrowed Time is also nearly done. I've been working on the right side of the painting and really only have three areas of concern left. I put pieces of blue painter's tape on the spots that need work and you can see them in the image on the Works in Progress page. Overall, it's very different from anything else I've painted. There's a contrast between the Caravaggio-inspired secondary self-portrait image (which I think is very successful) and the dreamy quality of the overlays and the smudgy strokes. Would like to try more work in this vein.

Falling Dark, the oil version, is complete except for that new dark cloud in the upper left hand corner. I don't believe that it's a cloud when looking at it, so will have to repaint it.

Headless needs some work on the lower right hand corner. I'd like this shadowy area to graduate in tone, like the shadow on the left does.

The frames arrived yesterday, and the paintings look wonderful in their new frames. I'm going to take photos of them framed and put them on the website once all the frenzy is over.

Now, back to work.


Worth Its Weight

July 9, 2008

Normally I'm not excited about painting straight lines, particularly freehand, but today I found a brush that actually held a point. It made everything so much more pleasant. I had a conversation with S. a while ago (a friend who also paints in a tight realist style) and we both bemoaned the fact that so many of the brushes on the market these days splay out at the tip after a couple of days. The one I used today was a Robert Simmons 785 White Sable. Must buy more.

Did some of the detail work on the wood framing the windows on Flowers. It went smoothly and helps create the illusion of being there, looking at the store from the sidewalk. The orchids inside the door are coming along, too.

I figure two or three sessions are left on Falling Dark. I took out a lot of the scrubby tree branches along the horizon line today—they were just too distracting. Have to paint in a larger, hovering purple cloud in the upper left hand corner and clean up some of the green ground, the strokes just look too unfinished and haphazard in some places on the left.

Did more work on two of the postcard-size watercolors. Both are almost done.


Moving Forward

July 7, 2008

Five paintings (at least) are coming down to the wire. Flowers has only detail work to do; the others that are getting close to being finished are Living on Borrowed Time; Falling Dark(oil version); the re-do of the beach scene, Outer Banks, Passing Storm; and Headless. It's also conceivable that I'll finish The Blind Date sometime this calendar year.


I actually was up early and painting before 9am---having brought a small table up from the basement has made it possible to set up the watercolors and work on them at a comfortable height, rather than on the floor. My desk space is taken up with computer, printer, and scanner, so there's no room for them there. I have almost got the little farmhouse painting done, and---of course---couldn't resist the urge to start a new postcard sized watercolor. I'm hoping that my technique will improve if I do enough of these in a short period of time, rather than sporadically playing with the medium.


Soft Watercolor Technique

July 6, 2008 7:00pm

I went back to the painting of the cows in the field to make the most of the scrubbing technique, and it does impart a dreamy quality to watercolor done on a board surface. However---the board surface needs to be a bit more durable than the one I'm using. This one gets grainy pretty quickly. I think I'll try another brand next time.

Anyway, I'm pleased with the results. The painting looks a lot more coherent with soft edges than it did before.

Looks like a week of solid work coming up. Ten days of painting before the show goes up!


Orange Skies

July 6, 2008

Feeling virtuous; despite the fact that it's a three day weekend full of distractions (e.g., a trip to the movies last night to see Wall*E) I've managed to get a fair amount of work done. Some of it's been watercolor, as mentioned in the last entry.

Worked on Falling Dark, oil, this morning, and Outer Banks, Passing Storm, at right. The trees are going well in the former, but the sky is giving me some trouble in OBPS. It doesn't have the luminescent quality of the reference photo.

Hopefully will get to a couple more things before dark.


More Watercolor

July 4, 2008 10:00pm

It's been a while since I took the watercolors out of the closet, but I did work on three of the unfinished pieces this afternoon and evening. It's a nice switch from the tedium of final detail on the oil paintings. The painting of the peaches on the blue background is done, so I'll scan that tomorrow and put it on the watercolor page.

At right, the little painting of the old farmhouse out in the country in Autumn. There will be goldenrod in the foreground eventually, and some white flowers as well. I may work up the same image in a larger size.


So Far, So Good

July 4, 2008 5:00pm

Proceeding slowly on the trees in Falling Dark, oil, and it seems to be working. But it's so tedious!

Completed the little watercolor of the egret. Will mat it and bring it in to the gallery.


Fear of Trees

July 3, 2008

I've seen images by people who can paint tree structure with breathtaking results; Peter Poskas is one---but it's always been a challenge for me. I remember my first drawing class in art school. The instructor took us outside and had us draw trees from every angle. Working on Falling Dark, oil, today just brings it all home: trees are not my forte. I am learning, though---when working up a landscape foreground I tend to use an irregular brushstroke, very quick, almost in a Zen-like fashion. This doesn't work for tree structure.

Today I went very s-l-o-w-l-y and had better results. Eventually had to stop because, as usual, I'm smearing paint from other parts of the painting. But realized that my fear of drawing trees is what's kept me from finishing Falling Dark, pastel version.




July 2, 2008

Have just uploaded a new image for Flowers of the Valley; I finally decided that I couldn't stand the greyness of the "white" wood on the storefront, and lightened up parts of it. It's tedious work, but necessary. There's still a sense that the light graduates away from the center of the window in a subtle way, but the overall feeling now is more cheerful and less somber.

I added a tiny image of a man talking on a cell phone on the reflected balcony across the street from the shop; it tickles me and makes me smile when I look at it. It adds just the smallest measure of quirkiness and humor that I like to see in a painting, and it's also easy for the casual viewer to miss, but provides a visual joke for those who spend some time with the piece.

Back to work. Have to do more painting on the cans in the lower right hand corner.


Workin' It

July 1, 2008

Worked on four paintings yesterday, and six today. I'm trying to concentrate on the pieces that are going into the WTP show in a couple of weeks. I think it will all pull together. Am definitely paying more attention to contrast lately, don't know why all of a sudden, but it seems to be working.

The last painting on the easel today was a little seascape that has never sold. I decided to change the sky. There was a fantastic sunset here last April, right after a storm passed through, and I took about 40 photos. One of them is perfect for this beach image, and gives it a more dramatic look. Needs more work, but you get the idea.


Feeling Accomplished

June 27, 2008 7:30 pm

Worked on four paintings after Flowers this morning and made some real progress on all of them. Seems like I needed to up the contrast in a bunch of places. And my color sense---in terms of mixing color so it looks right in its context---is improving. There's always more to learn.


More Flowers

June 27, 2008 1:00 pm

I have to tell you, working on these flowers is tedious stuff. It took me the better part of an hour this morning to paint in the detail on the orange tulips. Also, I keep getting my hand in areas that I worked on the day before and smearing paint all over. Time to let this big one dry for a couple of days. Will work on some smaller pieces in the studio this afternoon (as opposed to the upstairs hall wall, the only place where I have enough light and room to work on the large canvases). Hopefully the next storm, projected for this afternoon, will not knock out the power so I can get some things accomplished by lamplight into the early evening hours.



Back to Work

June 26, 2008

Finally! I've been away from painting for so long that when I stood in front of Flowers of the Valley this morning it was like seeing it with a new pair of eyes. Didn't know where to begin, but finally decided that the strip of wood at the top of the painting that sits just above the windows was too dark; lightened it up but am not sure it's enough. Also decided to enhance the element of magic by adding some highlights to the aluminum cans.

What you won't see in the current picture is the work I did on the flowers after I took the picture. I was afraid I'd lose the light, so I photographed it a little early.


Brushes Down

June 23, 2008

Have had visitors; no chance to paint when one is seeing the sights and visiting museums. Will get back to work later this week.


More Flowers

June 3, 2008

Flowers of the Valley: Have finally figured out how to get the aluminum cans to work. The color of them had been elusive, but a combination of Thalo Blue, Prussian Green, Raw Umber, Perrmanent Blue, Ivory Black and Permalba White seems to have done the trick. They look more modeled to me now, too, like they have some kind of form. Have been working on the architectural details of the shop itself, as well. The painting's coming along. I just hope there's enough time between now and the end of the month to finish it!



June 2, 2008

Worked for hours on the left side of Flowers today, might still get in some more painting time, but have to go to a meeting tonight and that always cuts into work time. Have been listing ideas for new pieces. Must finish some of the stuff on the Works in Progress page first!


Early to Rise

May 30, 2008 9:30am

Back to work!

More later. I am hoping this will be a productive day. Started the postcard-size watercolor at right late late last night; just couldn't keep my hands still...



Crawling Out of Bed

May 29, 2008 5:25pm

Worked on the little watercolor of the peaches; did some scrubbing and lightened up some of the folds of the cloth. At least it's something.


A Nasty Turn of Events

May 29, 2008 10:00am

Well, this was supposed to be my week to paint; instead I've spent it largely in bed as the result of a truly nasty virus. Still feel woozy today, but at least my temp's down from the scary 101.5 it was last night. The days haven't been completely wasted, as I've been surfing all kinds of art-related websites and have finished reading one art history book. Started reading the final chapters on Modernism and Postmodernism in another art history for comparison, but have to say that it bores the hell out of me. I have trouble convincing myself that a lot of the art of the past 50 years is meaningful in the Great Grand Scope of Existence.

Also worked for a bit on getting the stretcher frames squared and the canvas cut for a new painting, 60" x 44", featuring an elderly gentleman exiting a subway station. I am psyched and ready to run with it. Meanwhile the deadline looms for Flowers of the Valley and Conversation!

Also read one novel---Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad--- and am about halfway through Anna Quindlen's Blessings.


More Artomatic

May 24, 2008

Completed my second shift at Artomatic yesterday, and got to see the art on about six of the floors close-up. There is some fine work there. I took about 200 photos and came away with solutions to two paintings that I've been stuck on, as well as dozens of new ideas. Was awed by some of the ceramics on the 10th floor, saw some paintings that inspired me, found some treasures in box construction and mixed media. But more later, as today is the last of the busy, spring celebration days with family and friends. Tomorrow my life returns to normal, and I get back to painting full-time.



May 13, 2008

Can't believe how this month is flying by. Uploaded a new picture of Flowers of the Valley an hour or so ago, but have continued to work on it. It's finally beginning to show some of the atmospheric realism I'd originally envisioned. Worked mainly on the tubs that hold the flowers---the color really eludes me, it's got a lot of blue in it---and the orange tulips and part of the stand in the lower left. Added some more of the signage. It just makes me happy to see it beginning to take shape. Unfortunately, there is so much excitement going on in my personal life right now, it's probably the last time I'll get a chance to work on it or any of the paintings before this time next week. (Heavy sigh)


Uploaded most current pic of Flowers. Note the little gold letters below the big ones.



May 9, 2008

Just got back from Artomatic. It looks great! The last time I was there, a lot of stuff hadn't been installed yet, but today is opening day and I only saw one blank wall on the four floors I visited. Go and see! Oh, and my paintings are on the 5th floor, right across from the lounge. I dropped off some postcards today, made sure the lights were plugged in, got distracted talking to a photographer and failed to realize one spot is WAY off (see right), met a glass artist up on 7 or 8, and had a generally good time. There's plenty to see, and there's something for everybody.

Picked up some art supplies on the way home, and spent a lot of time sitting in rainy day traffic thinking about art. An artist friend called yesterday and we talked about the importance of stepping back from the actual work and musing on what needs to be done next. It's also necessary to take time to take stock of what you've just accomplished and where you need to go next, and that's what I'm trying to do now. There are so many different directions to take---large social commentary, 5 x 5 inch tree studies, watercolors, constructions, finishing the Postcards series...Going to shows like Artomatic doesn't help, because there's always somebody doing that quirky thing you thought you'd do someday, and there's too much inspiration!

Finished two paintings yesterday, worked on the watercolor of the cows, and figured out what's been bothering me about Headless all this time. It needs more of a sense of a spotlight on the two prominent figures on the bottom left. Will hopefully get to that one a little later today. It doesn't have too much more to be done, I think...



Getting Ready for Company

May 6, 2008

Finally! Found the missing slide for the little painting of the campus pond, and while I was rummaging through years of photographs, turned up a *perfect* image of eroding sand dunes for a painting I'm planning called "Figures on a Beach." It simply couldn't be any better if I had actually gone to the beach and taken the photo with the painting in mind.

The oversized postcards have been shipped, so they should arrive tomorrow. Artomatic opens Friday! I need to get them over there.

Got some work done yesterday on Flowers of the Valley and the little watercolor of the three peaches (see right). It's like stealing time away from all of the domestic stuff that has to be done in the next ten days, but I'm so unhappy when I'm not painting. I shouldn't be around other people when long breaks from creativity make me grouchy. And a new deadline approaches---have to make sure I have enough paintings for the next solo show in early July! So today I will forgo kitchen, basement, and yard work until around 5pm, and get back to the easel.


May 4, 2008

The only painting I've done in the last few days has been at Artomatic, where I had five hours of volunteer duty yesterday. I spent much of it painting some nifty-but-unfinished plywood kiosks that will hold information about the art on each floor. Took a turn around the building to see what was up. A lot of art hasn't been put into place yet, but what was there was varied, colorful, and unexpected. There's the huge range that I've always heard about, everything from photos to paintings to glasswork to ceramic and sculpture to digital prints. There were a couple of well done graffiti walls and some intriguing-though-not-yet-finished installations.It should be a very interesting event.

My paintings have been hung, and all that has to be done now is to drop the new oversized postcards into the acrylic container on the right side of the wall. See my stuff on the 5th floor if you're interested.




April 28, 2008 (6:45pm)

Never got anywhere near the easel until around 3:15. Argh!

Lately I've been going through all of the slides from the last 14 years to see if there's anything worth using as reference for paintings---there's been a lot, actually---so part of the day was spent scanning. At least it feels like I got *some* creative work done. There were some amazing sunsets with wispy, ethereal clouds, some rural landscapes from upstate New York, and some snow scenes from a trip I took to Roanoke in 1994.

I am not convinced that the watercolor of the cows will turn out to be anything less than a disaster. Right now it looks murky and heavy. One of the cows is disappearing! Maybe when I start rubbing away some of the color to produce highlights, things will start coming together. I tried it in the clouds and it produced a soft, grainy look.


Sailing into Choppy Waters

April 28, 2008 (10:00am)

Some outside events and responsibilities have been taking a huge chunk out of my creative time in the last few days, and this will continue for the next couple of weeks. I'm hoping to get some solid work done today, but the rest of the week will be catch-as-catch-can.

Got the wall painted and the lighting installed yesterday at Artomatic (see pic at right) and am very happy with the way it turned out. The color should unify the paintings I'm planning to show and provide an unobtrusive, complementary backdrop. Have to work on the signage and promotional materials this week, and do the actual installation next weekend. People are buzzing about the event. It looks like it's going to be fantastic, with 8 or 9 floors of around 800 visual artists as well as performance artists and entertainment. I'm really excited about this opportunity!


Hot Press Board

April 23, 2008

Lightened some of the white wood areas on Flowers yesterday (see the upper left corner) but it probably still needs more contrast. The jutting piece of wood that will support the letters "of the Valley" should have a more obvious shadow under it. Worked on a lot of flower detail, greyed the color on the door on the right, and sketched the brick back in at bottom left. There is going to be some redrawing, as the car reflections are both too low on the glass.

I did get an opportunity late in the day to start a watercolor on hot press bristol. Probably went too dark too soon, but I find the ideas behind Burt Silverman's system are liberating---will try some wiping out and softening today. Will also add some red and ochre washes to warm up the grassy foreground area.


Counting the Cars on the New Jersey Turnpike

April 21, 2008

The weekend was very busy, and I ended up spending almost eight hours of it on the interstate and the New Jersey Turnpike. There is much work to be done this week, but the gloomy skies this morning make it difficult to get in gear and assess correct value/color relationships on the big paintings.

At right, a dark little watercolor of three peaches. I did read a lot more of Burt Silverman's book both on the road and at home, and while this painting is on rough watercolor paper, I'm looking for a nice landscape that I can try on plate bristol in order to use some of the techniques he describes.


Water and Oil

April 17, 2008

Well, the fun part of splashing the paint on Flowers of the Valley with a big brush is over, and the more tedious, analytical painting begins. Now it's important to get the colors and values right, to say nothing of the drawing. There's a lot of flower detail to work out. The darker reflections on the window glass allow a glimpse of what happens inside the store, while the lighter ones block it out, and that all has to be balanced. Still, it's doable—especially since the painting's divided up into so many little areas that can be managed one at a time. There are paintings within the painting.

Today I worked on the orchids and the door on the left side.The door has a nice subtle tinge of cerulean, while the glass in the door is more of a true (but pale) blue. The eucalyptus just outside the door presents some stylistic problems: do I carefully paint each leaf realistically (which would be nuts) or do I suggest the essence of the plant with a few quick strokes? And how will that square with what I'm planning to do with the rest of the flowers?

Completed a watercolor last night of fish in a pond. I'm trying to learn how to handle watercolors well and have started reading Burt Silverman's excellent book, Breaking the Rules of Watercolor. Today I cut a piece of hot press bristol into smaller sections, and can't wait to get started on something using a few of the techniques he describes. Also started a little watercolor of three peaches on a blue background. More on this as it progresses.


Lots of Work

April 15, 2008

Worked on several things yesterday. Added some details to the little watercolor of the egret (see pic at right). Started placement of some of the main architectural elements on Jay on Read; of course, most of them are just a bit off and have to be redrawn...worked on the subtle value transitions happening on the wooden structures that frame the windows on Flowers of the Valley. I want to give the viewer a sense of something large, maybe a tree, blocking some of the light on the left side of the picture and creating gradations from light to dark on the woodwork. That way the center is in a kind of spotlight. But I think I overdid it on the left, and there's a wicked little area on the topmost woodwork up above the "W" that is not taking kindly to careful blending. It's a bit streaky. Will have to go over it again.

Got back to the Postcards---worked on both 1 and 2. Since I'm no longer sure where they're going to be shown (I had planned to do 20 of them for the December show at Barnes and Noble) there's no rush to complete them; still, it would be nice to finish something on my list and I want to get them done before I forget what they were about in the first place.



AOM: 5th Floor, SW

April 14, 2008

Selected my spot at Artomatic over the weekend; it's directly across from the lounge on the 5th floor (see pic at right). I'm hoping that will prove to be a good choice---I envision people sitting in comfy chairs, with my paintings facing them as they rest and talk.

Having now made the switch to art, full-time, as my day job, I now approach the week with a Thank-God-It's-Monday attitude. This week's plans: Jay on Read, one or two of the Postcards, the little watercolors, and of course the two large paintings. The deadline I'm aiming for with the two big ones is the end of June.



April 10, 2008

Worked on the two big paintings today. They're both coming along pretty well, though I'm at the point where the canvas texture is fighting me in Flowers of the Valley. I need a nice sharp edge for the architectural details, and the nubbly quality of the canvas is making that difficult. Some of the images have been drawn slightly off from where they should be, so there's been a fair amount of covering up and repainting. And the drawing on the containers needs work. But I love the modulated light! It's why I paint, I think...those subtle changes in value.

Bit the bullet and worked on the foreground figure in  Conversation.

Spent about two hours today searching the house for the little reference slide I took years ago for the Loudoun Campus painting. Did not find it. Did find the elusive slide for the watercolor of two sheep in a pen and the backlit cherry blossoms for an old oil painting. Somewhere in this house there is a slide box marked "Current Reference." Would like to know where.


Large Canvas Work

April 6, 2008

Finally felt energetic enough to spend a couple of hours on the two big paintings. The proximity to the left edge in Conversation of the extended leg on the figure was just driving me nuts every time I looked at it, so I redrew it. The guy looks ghostly now, or maybe more like a Futurist figure, but eventually I'll get him in place. Worked on the leathery banquettes, too; I love their soft sheen.

Made some progress on the foreground in Flowers of the Valley as well. Had originally made the mistake of using a very large brush on the pavement, and it ended up looking slick, not at all nubbly and textured. Somewhat more satisfied with it now, though the tonal values may have gotten too dark. These days I like slightly darker better than lighter, anyway. When I got the paintings back from the Manassas show last Monday, was pleasantly surprised by the intimate homey feeling in Cambridge. I still have to correct the ghastly type on the left side of the painting, but overall it did achieve the mood I was going for in the first place.

Worked on another watercolor yesterday of fish in a pond. It was about all I had the energy for, and while it was disappointing in terms of faithfulness to the original image, today it looks just fine. It still needs some detail, but it's not all that bad. Have been reading up on technique. Still recall the gorgeous watercolors of T. S. in grad school: wish I could paint like that!

Continued the art history reading. Still in the 1950s. Love Louise Nevelson's constructions, Mark Rothko's color fields.



Head Cold

April 4, 2008

A head cold knocked me flat yesterday, I believe the correct word for the way I feel is "wretched." Trying to get in gear this morning, but since working on the big canvases requires hours of standing, I did nothing yesterday. Oh, I added a few details to the egret watercolor. Spent the afternoon reading more art history.



April 2, 2008

Where to begin?

Well, a couple of months ago, it occurred to me that it would be a good idea to read up on art history, since I've forgotten much of what I learned in college. I decided to start with the beginnings of realism, circa 1850; specifically, the later eighteenth century and the birth of the modern world. It's been interesting and informative. Didn't know that photography was seen as an aid to painting way back in the 19th century, for example. Last night I worked my way into the modern era, after a few weeks of not having enough time to crack the books, and have picked up again with Mondrian and abstract formalism. My goal is to understand the forces that were in play before 1950 in order to get a better handle on the last 60 years of American art. Jed Perl's New Art City beckons from the shelf.

The two new big canvases—Flowers of the Valley and Conversation are coming along reasonably well. For the last three months I've been pretty much sticking to a schedule of painting between 5-8 hours a day, depending on how many errands I have to run or how much domestic stuff needs to be attended to. Monday was a wash, as I had to take home the paintings from the Manassas show. Have a head cold today which is slowing me down, but I did manage to rough in the greeny reflections on the right side mirrors in Conversation. Worked on the top three window panels of Flowers yesterday, but still have to go back and paint in the sky color as it peeks through the trees. I admire the way some artists handle that particular technique, but it's not one of my strengths. It never seems to look natural enough.

Worked on a very small watercolor this morning. Bought a little squirrel mop on Monday before going to Manassas and had to try it out. I LOVE squirrel mops. The watercolor is of a shoreline visited by an egret. It's a winter scene, and the colors in the reference photo are kinda dull, but I'm going toward a warm palette for the marshy plants to make it more interesting.