A Painter's Blog   Questions? Comments? Send me an email at susanlamont at cox dot net

Click here for most recent posts

Click here for posts before September 2013

Click here for posts before March 2013

Click here for posts before September 2012

Click here for posts before March 2012

Click here for posts before September 2011

Click here for posts before March 2011

Click here for posts before September 2010

Click here for posts before March 2010

Click here for posts before September 2009

Click here for posts before March 2009

Click here for posts before September 2008


February 28, 2010

Worked with a lot of green paint today. The wall on the right side of You Are Here needed to be resolved, and it took a while to get the various shades of green mixed correctly. The wall itself has some surface irregularities, and it's hard to show those without making it look like bad painting. The color gets a liitle more yellow up at the top, and a little bluer on the lower flat part where it picks up the light from the window.

From there I went to the new painting. I don't need to be starting a new painting right now, in light of how much I've got to finish for the May show, but this is a pro bono effort I'd promised to a neighbor for a charity event. I just found out that the deadline is April 1...

Anyway, the new piece is called "Meet Cute," and I'm doing it in acrylic (otherwise it might not be done until December!) but the colors seem raelly artificial to me when I mix them. It's like they're made of plastic. The kind of plastic that cheap toys are made of. The greens---which I painted into most of the background---are particularly unnatural. Have to see it through, though.



Finished for the Day

February 26, 2010

Whew. Time to clean the paint out of the brushes and call it a day. I've really been struggling with forcing myself to work on the vignettes lately, but got through four of them today, and I did work on a couple of others yesterday... The painting itself is going very well, I'm just bored.

So much of what I did today involved straight lines! When I have a brush that actually comes to a point, I like to make the best of it until the ends start to fray. But things are starting to snap into focus, especially on The Blind Date and Clock, W. 44th Street. And I finally figured out how to get the reflections of the rear lights of the cabs to work on the street. Happy enough. Feel like I dug myself out of a hole this week.


Not Much to Report

February 24, 2010

Feeling a bit under the weather lately.

Also, so sick and tired of working on the paintings for the show, I could scream.


A Little Light Work

February 18, 2010

Painting the hanging lights in You Are Here is harder than I would have thought. The light bulbs themselves are a brilliant white, but that's not the problem. The glass pendulum lamps graduate from a dusky Naples Yellow to a lighter color, and they have a distinctive shape. The shape and size has to be consistent--- the lamps hang in a straight line across the width of the store--- but because they're being seen from different angles, you can see more of the inside on some.

Meanwhile, I worked on the portrait of Robert. The likeness is pretty good, but I haven't caught his bemused expression. I get the feeling his general approach to life is open and curious, but that doesn't come through yet in the painting. Oh, also, I drew the nose too long originally ( a tendency I have with all portraits); and am trying to readjust it. The modelling's working pretty well, I think.



Back to the Portraits

February 17, 2010

Well, it seems that the portraits have got a hold on me. I really wanted to work on the two faces today, and see if I could bring them a little farther along. So despite the fact that I don't need them anytime soon, I got back to them this afternoon. The one of Tamara looks just like her now, so I'm happy. There's still lots to do on the hair and figure, but the face and expression are just about right.


Sanity Returns

February 16, 2010

The past 9 days have been full of distractions, but today I'm back on track. I did a lot of painting on the green wall area on You Are Here on the 14th, and need to let it dry for another day or two, but got to work on the floor today. If you look, you'll see a grid pattern on the circular area on the lower left side, plus the start of the legs of a chair or table (I'm not sure which) and some cast shadows.

I notice that on the internet, the green wall looks amazingly, glaringly bright... at least on my monitor... You really have to see these things in person to get the right impact. Anyway, I've tried to tone the .jpeg down through Photoshop, but it's still not representative.


Another Reprieve!

February 15, 2010

While adding the Artomatic bookmark to my new laptop tonight, I noticed a statement on the website that said the 2010 event will be held later in the year....! This means I can use the big paintings from the May show for AOM, and... I don't need to do the b&w large-scale acrylic portraits AT ALL! Hmmm. So now there is a question as to whether or not to finish them.

I think I will, and maybe tweak them a bit. Maybe I'll play with the backgrounds. But at any rate, this takes the pressure off getting the paintings done for the May show, as I don't have to work on the portraits until after it's hung.

The server's been out for most of the day, but I worked on four paintings and a silverpoint. Details are on the Works in Progress page.




February 15, 2010

Back at work. At right, the latest on the portrait of Robert.


Taking Stock

February 14, 2010

So it's time I took a look at what I did last year, professionally.


Participated in the "4 x 4 New Members' Show" at Gallery West.

Began meeting with M.L. for the spring semester as mentor for her master's degree in painting with the AAUSF.

Applied for Strauss Fellowship at ACFC.

Taught a workshop in Photoshop techniques.


Visited the Lorton Workhouse with S.T.


Visited NYC for photos, gallery visits


Applied to MPA for solo show

Delivered 6 paintings to Antreasian Gallery, Baltimore, MD


Delivered 2 paintings to Applegate Gallery, Vienna, VA

Installed five paintings at Artomatic, D.C. Got some terrific press; made several top ten lists.

Finished my teaching sessions with M.L. and the AAUSF. Enjoyed them tremendously.


Visited Arlington Arts Center show with S.M.


Applied to City of Gaithersburg for solo show


Solo show at Applegate

Solo show at Barnes and Noble, Reston VA


Placed first in "Timeless" show, Bethesda, MD; awarded a spot in a group show in 2010


Notification of show award from City of Gaithersburg

Visited NYC for more photos


Accepted into 13th National Show

Participated in the Small Works Show at the Oerth Gallery

In between all that activity was, of course, a great deal of painting. I worked up from 3 hours a day to a set schedule from 10am - 5pm, five days a week. In terms of moving my career forward, it was a pretty good year: I had three solo shows, participated in two external group shows, and now have my work in three different galleries. But this year is really going to be busy, with at least four shows on tap already, and that doesn't count the regular monthly exhibits at Gallery West.


A Little Better

February 12, 2010

After a tough start, things slowly improved. I ended up working on four paintings today, and really put a lot of effort into the two portraits. Learning to use acrylic paint over large areas is tricky. So is the blending required on facial planes. But I made some progress, and feel a little less anguished.


Wet Paint

February 12, 2010

Back to work on You Are Here after a long hiatus, and it ain't easy. Wow. I had priorities in mind for this painting before the two big snowstorms hit, but couldn't recall what they were today. I guess the most important thing is to get enough finished in the lower right hand quarter that I can use it to create the postcard and PR stuff for the show. The rest can be finished later. But it's slow--- I'm mostly putting in tiny details now, and don't feel like I'm getting much accomplished.


A Good Day for Painting

February 11, 2010

We've got spectacular sunlight this morning, and the house is warm. I'm going to work on those two portraits I started yesterday and try to nail the resemblance on the faces.

Back with more later on.


Oil vs. Acrylic

February 10, 2010

After getting a few tasks done around here things settled down and I started working on two large portraits. In ACRYLIC. It's been years since I did anything in acrylic, and even then it was just small pieces. These two are 36" wide by 48" high.

Well, I started by using straight black paint on the areas that are going to be the darkest darks. The streaking was unbelievable...there was no way to control the paint, and it was drying very quickly. I got the feeling that if I went in to rework places that were still a little wet, something really bad was going to happen, like the paint would just peel off. Disaster, I thought. I remembered freshman year, when we were introducd to different mediums, like casein, then acrylic, then oils. There was such a difference with oil paint--- it felt natural, whereas acrylic felt like liquid plastic. Oil paint was sensuous, flexible, compliant. It worked with me and the brush, flowing smoothly, expressing whatever I needed it to say.

So I ended up using oil paint almost exclusively, except for illustrations, which really needed to be done in jig time. Illustrations are usually pretty small, anyway, and manageable. But the big, big areas on the two portraits today had me freaking out. What to do?

Eventually I walked away and then came back later, and that's when I remembered two things: the second coat of acrylic paint (think wall paint) is always smoother than the first; and mixing a tiny amount of white into anything, even black, makes it more opaque. The streaking and lap marks were gone!

Now I'm beginning to see potential in the paint. There's a seductive quality to the way it memorizes a brush stroke, and I realize why folks who are more expressive than I am are drawn to that. The brushiness can add some interest, or it can be controlled. You can see some streaking on the image, but that's just the first layer. I'm very optimistic at this point.

(Note to Tam and Robert: these paintings have a long way to go--- don't worry if they don't look like you yet!)



Still Here

February 10, 2010

It seems like it's been snowing for weeks. Of course we lost electricity during the first storm, last Saturday morning... the power didn't return for 55 hours, most of which I spent in my basement. So--- I'm not getting a lot of painting done. We're in the midst of a near-whiteout again now, with the second storm depositing more snow on top of the bird feeding area I've marked out faster than I can replenish the seed. I hope to post some photos in a little while, providing the power doesn't go out again.


Happy and SAD

January 26, 2010

Seasonal Affective Disorder! I call it the January Doldrums. Overslept by AN HOUR this morning, and then fell asleep at 5p.m. Yawn! It seems like it's been very dark this month... we've had a few sunny days here and there but mostly it's been dark grey. I do need more light.

But--- things are happening, and I worked up as much of the left side of You Are Here today as I could without smearing the paint all over with the ham of my hand. It looks pretty good! I am jazzed to see it starting to come together--- there are still a couple of left side edges that are shabby looking, but once I get them sharpened up the painting's going to look like it's done. It won't be, of course; there's plenty of detail in the background to finesse; but standing in front of it right now it sure is lookin' good.

Put in some more time on Hats and Checking In, as well.

I really need to do a couple of: small watercolors; drawings; silverpoints.


Tiny Faces

January 22, 2010

Just couldn't bring myself to work on the two paintings I mentioned yesterday. They're so grey. I think, when I do get back to them, I'll change the color of the shirts on the guys in WTW. They blend into the background too much. The main problem is the fact that the entire foreground is in shadow.

So, I ended up doing a lot to the faces in the crowd and in the background of You Are Here. Also added a little building detail, and began to paint in the trees in the Square. The faces are tiny, so it's hard to get the planes of the faces and the expressions right. I know it's hard to see any change from one day to the next; will try to get a decent close-up of the day's work for the next entry.

It's quite dismal here, with a wintry mix of rain, sleet, and snow. But the birds in the yard make it colorful.


Cruising, Though at Low Altitude

January 21, 2010

Settled down to work early, and put in some time on five of the vignettes and You Are Here. I don't feel like I got a lot accomplished, but did make progress on details. At least it was a full day's work.

At this point, everything for the show is too wet to work on except for Walking the Walk, the clock painting, and Point of View. I guess that'll be tomorrow's menu.


Just Not That Into It Today

January 20, 2010

Had to run a bunch of errands this morning. Got back and couldn't quite figure out where to start; finally decided to work on some background detail in Day Job. Also tried to decipher the confusing elements in the left side of You Are Here. But tomorrow, as Scarlett O'Hara has put it, is another day.


Getting My Head Straight

January 19, 2010

Have done no painting at all since Saturday, as it was a holiday weekend; those always throw my entire schedule into chaos. I must be one of the few people on the planet who actually looks forward to a full week of unobstructed work.

The last month has been like a whirlwind, and now I just need to sit down with a cup of coffee, think things through, and try to figure out how to adjust my schedule to accommodate all the changes. The month of May has me showing two different bodies of work in two different places. I have a long-standing project in mind that needs to get started. Two new commercial jobs have come in the door, and they have deadlines! And I've got a painting to do for a pro bono, volunteer effort.

There's also committee work and the monthly shows at Gallery West, plus the need to provide Antreasian with some new stuff.


What else? Well, G.S. and I went over to the Apple store a week ago and convinced ourselves that we really did need those MacBook Pros. We came back here and did the initial set-up, but now I'm trying to get accustomed to a brand-new operating system, an updated browser, and updated graphics/word processing software. This sort of thing can suck up all of your free time (if there's any to start with).

I've also been ruminating on some points of visual inspiration lately. My recent trip south provided me with a lot of photos for paintings. And the work of Alphonse Mucha I've already mentioned. But---yesterday I saw Avatar in 3-D and was blown away by the gorgeousness of the Pandorean biology. How can I bring something as wonderful as that, and a sense of how important it is to preserve our own planet's natural beauty into my own work? There are plenty of artists whose landscapes put mine to shame, and I don't think that simply painting more of them is the solution I'm looking for.

Anyway, it's a crazy time, and one for reflection and sorting out.


Holding My Breath

January 15, 2010

...Is what I do when working on critical details, usually on faces. There was a lot of breath-holding today.

Worked on four paintings, with varying degrees of success. Here's a detail from You Are Here.



More Branches and Vines

January 13, 2010

The trees in the background of Branches and Vines have been bothering me, so I sat down in front of the window and sketched the trees in the back yard onto a piece of tracing paper that I'd overlaid on the blue panel. I've made some changes for the better. The trees look a little more natural now. The two images at right are: the background panel on its own, and below it, the two panels temporarily conjoined.

As previously mentioned, this is an oldie but a goodie. I haven't given up on it though I probably started it in 1996...!


Baby Steps

January 13, 2010

The really fine detail in paintings aggravates me. I wish I had Sargent's intuition, the ability to add dabs of perfectly mixed color and value to the canvas quickly, and in just the right spot to create a sense of light and form. But my head works in a more analytical process, so it takes me a while to study where a tree branch bends, what the shape of a cluster of leaves is, etc.

Worked on Hats, one of my current favorites. I'm trying something a little different with Coffee Guy; in the reference photo, he's slightly blurry, as he was moving along when I took the picture. I'd like to bring a sense of that movement into the painting, as a remark about how busy life is these days. This involves elongating his nose and mouth a bit, and blending the areas on his face and at the back of his head. Not sure that it's working yet. At right, a close-up of what I've done on it today.



January 12, 2010

Yesterday was loaded with distractions, and I never got near a brush. Today I'm starting late, but am having a little bit of success: the big pink building outside the window of You Are Here has been a struggle for me thus far (too pink? too red? too light? not light enough?) but today I'm finally getting it right. Usually the texture of the canvas presents problems for me, but now I'm using a fairly dry brush and am whisking the color (a combination of Cad Red Deep, Manganese Blue and Permalba White) over the surface of the bulding. Just the tops of the canvas weave are picking it up, allowing the previous color to show through, and the end effect is that of sunlight shimmering off the brickwork. It has dimension and atmosphere now, instead of being flat.

Am working the windows at the same time. There are lots of them...

The picture at right has some distortion from the camera lens.


Mucha; Changes to The Blind Date

January 10, 2010

Mucha used an attractive palette of ochres, oranges, rusts, warm greens and golds, and once in a while he would put a hit of blue-green or teal in the composition to keep things lively and add balance. When I've looked at The Blind Date in the last month or two, I've been bothered by the fact that it's been mostly rusts, oranges and greens. Today I'm working on it and have decided to add more blue to the shirt on the figure. I'm also bothered by the fact that the chair in the foreground dominated the space, so have painted it out. I'll probably redraw it closer to the right side. I've used the color of the tablecloths on the small triangle in the lower left-hand corner, which was a light lemon yellow. Now it still holds that corner but it doesn't yell for attention, drawing the eye away from the important goings-on.



January 10, 2010

My head must be in a good place these days. Dreamt that I was back at Pratt Institute last night, and was wandering around the newly renovated main building. I was SO happy. Anytime I dream of being back at Pratt I wake up feeling positive and excited about moving forward artistically. The building had been restructured---all of the walls and floors were now made of concrete, and the rooms opened off each other in a convoluted sort of way that made one want to explore them. I remember taking a few deep breaths and saying, "I love the smell of fresh concrete," and thinking that the place was like a church.

Have not mentioned yet that I received a book about Alphonse Mucha for Christmas. It's loaded with images of his beautiful art work. I'm nearly done reading it, and it's providing me with ideas for a project I've long been considering.


A Day to Hang Loose

January 9, 2010

Had a very interesting business meeting last night for a project that I personally find very exciting. It's not related to painting, but it is related to art in the sense of the larger art world, and I'm psyched.

Today the sunlight bounces off the newly fallen snow. There are animal tracks in the yard, which I've photographed. It's a good day to just sit back, take a deep breath, and appreciate life.


The Wall

January 7, 2010

Just wanted to add this pic of the studio wall that displays the vignettes. They're coming along pretty well.

You can just see the edges of two prepared but as yet unworked canvases on the right side of the photo. I think I'll use one of them for a painting of a street scene in Coconut Grove.


Sharpening Up Some Details

January 7, 2010

Despite the fact that the pressure is off, I've been up and painting before 10am for the last three days.

This morning, I allowed myself the pleasure of getting back to the hanging light fixtures in You Are Here. It's something I've been itching to work on, but my concern about having a major part of the painting ready (as a detail) for advertising purposes dictated that I concentrate on the folks in the shop. At this point, they're nearly done, and I feel relaxed enough to move around a bit on the canvas. I discovered that two of the fixtures were misplaced, so that issue needed to be attended to; this meant repainting the ceiling color on the left side. But I also repainted the trim around the big window and eliminated all of the brush strokes from the background. This seems to have snapped the whole thing into focus, and it feels like progress.


Branches and Vines

January 6, 2010

The painting I mentioned yesterday is begging to be finished, so I'm trying to make some solid decisions about color for the background panel. The foreground panel, not pictured here, fits into the open white space on the board and connects with it visually. I'm dabbing on bits of color here and there in an effort to get it right. Now will have to let it dry for a couple of days before I get back to it. The image at right is one I took in the studio on what's shaping up to be a dark day; the color's actually more pastel. And it doesn't look quite as raw in real life.


Continuing Color Study

January 5, 2010

Who would have thought that Permanent Green would be just the thing to tone down the warmer skin colors in the girl in the red sweater? And yet it does. Permanent Green is a tricky color to use, very assertive, very forthright in its glorious greenness. The secret here is that the interior of the coffee shop has lime green walls (I probably used Perm Green on them) and so the reflected light includes some of that. Which is why formulas for skin color don't work. It all depends on the environment. The faces outside the shop contain light blue, reflected from the color of the sky.

Picked up again on a painting that I've had shelved for a while called Branches and Vines. (I might rename it.) It's on panel--- well, actually, two panels that need to be glued together--- and this is the right time of year to be working on it, as it features bare winter trees in the bluish background. I'd like them to have a soft-edged look, like one is seeing them through a fog. Anyway, it's nice to have the option to work on something that's not going into the solo show.


A Reprieve!

January 5, 2010

I feel like someone has just handed me a fifty-dollar bill.... The solo show I've been stressing about is now going to take place in May instead of March! This changes everything. Two extra months of painting and preparation will allow me to start breathing regularly again, really concentrate on the work, complete the paintings that need to be used for marketing purposes, and even catch up with a couple of friends I haven't seen in a while.

The one drawback is that I can't use the paintings from the You Are Here show at Artomatic, which will be opening near the end of May. So that means I'll have to do some completely different pieces for AOM, and they have to be done and dry by about May 15th. Out of the frying pan, into the fire?


Fear is a Great Motivator

January 3, 2010

I am now working 7 days a week. One or two enticing new show opportunities have turned up, and there's a strong temptation to enter them. Plus I still have to make sure I have enough stuff for the galleries.

The work for the March show is on schedule, but I don't want to take any chances. There's always some unexpected thing that comes up that needs immediate attention.

At right: the latest detail from You Are Here.



January 1, 2010

Worked on the clock painting, but it's too dark now to get a decent photo of it. I finally bit the bullet and made some changes: the couple walking hand-in-hand was too small and far away, so I painted them in a little larger, and lightened the columns and front of the building near them. Also found some other reference material that shows a guy wearing dark clothes standing just around the corner on the right. If I paint him in, then make the woman in the white cap bigger and move her forward on the sidewalk, it'll create a question as to whether he's waiting for her or not, and I like that. I like a little ambiguity in my paintings; it leaves the whole narrative open to speculation by the viewer. It's like a short story that's open-ended. Or one could see it as a collaborative effort.



January 1, 2010

Amazingly, I am not hung over and am back at work on what should be a day to put one's feet up and read the paper.

At right: a detail from You Are Here. I love it, love it, love it when the paint, the brush, and my hand all come together to create something that communicates its intentions.




Year's End

December 31, 2009

I should take stock of what I've accomplished this year, but I need to take a shower and make some hors d'ouvres. Isn't that the way it goes, though? We're all so busy running all the time, it's hard to take the time to think and reflect.

Worked mainly on Point of View (The Villers) and You Are Here today. The light's gone already, so there's no point in continuing. Had a moment of panic last night when I realized that I have to send out an image to accompany the press release for the March show, and it has to go out next week. And nothing's finished except for two of the vignettes!

At right, today's work on some of the folks in the crowd. The color's more accurate than the image I posted yesterday. This is why the work needs to be viewed in person!

Happy New Year to all!


Getting Back Up to Speed

December 29, 2009

Despite the fact that I started painting before 10am, I've had a really hard time trying to get my head back into the painting groove today. At right is a detail from You Are Here, showing the areas I've concentrated on so far. The young woman in the red sweater is coming along pretty well, but I still have some detail work to do on her face in order to get the expression just right.

Waiting for a call from the heating repair service.


How I Spent My Christmas Vacation

December 29, 2009

This is what Christmas looked like. It was magical...But now, back to reality, and work!


Out of Town For a Bit

December 21, 2009

Will return soon.




Sandwich Guy and Others

December 19, 2009

Amazingly, we haven't lost power. There's easily 14" of snow outside right now with more on the way. Yesterday was an all-day feeding frenzy at the bird feeding stations; it was like the birds knew what was coming. I go out every half hour and throw more seed around, as it gets covered up very quickly. We must have between 50-70 birds in the back yard.

Got into the 13th National Juried Show. This is good news. The juror was Jack Rasmussen, noted area arts leader. He accepted Coffee After Work, one of my favorites.

I continue to work on You Are Here. The detail at right shows the latest painting on some of the faces in the crowd as well as the two guys (signing?) at the back of the shop. Most of the faces are close to being done, but all of them need at least some detail work. I love the delighted expression on the guy in the hat, who is so obviously charmed by whatever the street performer is doing, and the little smile on Sandwich Guy as he takes a bite out of his meal.


The Dance of the Snowflakes

December 18, 2009

We're under a winter storm watch, with up to a foot of snow expected tomorrow. No doubt we'll lose power at some point. Everybody is out at the stores (I just got back) picking up supplies and getting a little shopping done for the holidays. I have to do a few chores around here and get started on some cookie baking, but hope to get back to painting in a little bit.



December 17, 2009

Had a dream last night that A. B. had moved; kept thinking of him all morning while I worked on You Are Here. Finally rang him up; got the machine, but he called back and we had a very pleasant conversation. He is moving! Far away, which makes me very sad. But we'll stay in touch.

It was another day of working on one painting...I did a lot of detail work on the faces in the crowd in the coffee shop. It took forever! The area I worked on was approximately 20" x 10", in the middle of the painting, mostly with a very small brush. There's a lot of bounced, reflected light on the faces. Some of it is the interior light, which has a green cast (due to the color of the walls) and some comes in the window from outside, adding a bluish wash on things. There's also color reflected from people's shirts. Note the guy in the red shirt--- you can only see a corner of the shoulder--- seated close to the window. Some of the rosy glow bounces back up onto his face. It's beautiful, but getting it to work, and to blend into the surrounding areas takes a long time.

At right is the study group, as I call them. It's not done yet, but further along than before.


The Big Picture(s)

December 16, 2009

It's amazing to see the big paintings suddenly snapping into focus.

I darkened the left side of Conversation this morning, and's it's made a real difference. It has more depth now, more mystery, and brings more contrast to the painting. (Unfortunately, there's a lot of glare on the photo of today's work.) I also lightened some spots on the carpeting, but that was a mistake as it makes the center of the painting just a bit too busy, so I'll have to darken them a little.

Worked on You Are Here for most of the afternoon, with special attention paid to the green walls. They're nearly done. The really bright lime color on the right has to be toned down but there's a nice feeling of graduated light that makes the interior space seem more realistic.

It's been a good couple of days, and I feel very positive about the way things are shaping up.


A Day of Conversation

December 15, 2009

Worked exclusively on Conversation today in an effort to try to get it closer to completion. I know how it looks to the observer--- like it's finished. Like: "Is this woman crazy? It looks like it's done." If you look at it up close, though, you'll see sloppy, unfinished lines... places where the canvas shows through... unformed details... Anyway, I made some color adjustments, adding a little blue here and there, darkening some corners, and finally attacking the columns on the right side. Feeling much better about it.


7 Hours of Work

December 14, 2009

Can't believe how much time I spent on Time Piece today. Looking at it from an angle you can see how much wet paint there is on it. Of course, there's still plenty left to redo, refine, etc. I did paint in the words, "No entry," very slowly and carefully...put the blue trim strips on the red woodwork, cleaned up some of the sloppy straight lines on the left side, repainted the elderly man's overcoat, blended the color on most of those hanging tiles or whatever they are on the back wall, and did some other touch-up.

Started painting at 10am, and finished up around 5. I worked on two of the vignettes today, too, but right now the main focus is on getting the big paintings finished.


Bah, Humbug

December 10, 2009

This is one of those days when I'm torn between trying to shop online for family Christmas presents and focus on what needs to be done on the paintings. So far, I feel like a failure, though I've managed to order from several catalogs and work on both Day Job and Time Piece. Must carry on, but my head's not in it.


Slow and Steady

December 9, 2009

I feel like the tortoise in the Tortoise and Hare story sometimes; plodding along, always moving forward but at a glacial speed. The big paintings seem like they'll never be done. Time Piece is taking forever. I worked on several areas today: painted out the distracting element behind the old man's head; fixed some unstraight lines on the left side; refined the neon signage reflected in the window, cleaned up some nasty scratchy looking painted areas on the lower left side, and finished (I think) the sidewalk. It took hours, but it doesn't look like anything's been done.

The entire morning was taken up with painting You Are Here, particularly the little table still life in the foreground.


Making Adjustments

December 8, 2009

Have been annoyed by a couple of areas on two paintings lately, and this morning I bit the bullet and took care of the problems. The reason I fell in love with the Clock image is the glow of the red lights on the cabs, but there wasn't enough contrast in the painting to focus the viewer's attention on them. I darkened some of the buildings, and the contrast helps; also, I re-worked the red lights so the glow is larger.Unfortunately, I'll have to put in extra hours on the buildings now...

The Broadway Evening snow painting's main figure was just too large. I was bothered by the fact that her foot was so near the bottom of the picture plane, and that her face is so big. Have done a bit of re-drawing there.


The Studio Wall

December 7, 2009

At right is a shot of one of the walls of my painting studio. I'm trying to concentrate on the things that are going into the March show, and the vignettes in the pic are some of the works in progress right now. There'll be four large paintings as well, and one of the little ones, SoHo Crossing , is finished (I think).

Got stuck with running errands today. Haven't been able to get as much done as usual.


End of the Week Review

December 4, 2009

Things are going pretty well with You Are Here. I'm making adjustments as I go; everything outside the window is sun-bleached and washed with a light blue. Everything inside the coffee shop is in richer, darker color. I wish I knew what the street performer was doing. I love the transfixed expression on the face of the man in the cap on the left, and hope I can capture it on canvas.

Painted in the stripes on the shirt of the guy sitting near the window, and was reminded of the kinds of things my old instructors would say in painting classes. They certainly were able to verbalize what we needed to know to make our work successful; things like, "Look at the way the break between light and shadow describes the shape of that object," or, "Get the angle on the head to work with the way the neck and spine are tilted," or, "Should that be a hard or a soft shadow?" Listening to them was like living in a foreign country and suddenly hearing someone speaking in your native tongue. I'm forever grateful for my art school education.

Winter Coats is almost done! All it needs is some more tree branches in the background in the upper right hand corner.


Making Up For Lost Time

December 4, 2009

Up and working at the easel before 9 a.m.


Gallery Sitting

December 3, 2009

Had a busy day at the gallery today; met a few interesting folks and got some work done. We had gorgeous weather. Back to the easel tomorrow!


Inching Along

November 24, 2009

So today it took me an hour to work on a 6" x 8" section of You Are Here. And I'll still have to go over some parts of it again, to make it look right; shadows and highlights on hair, details on clothing, refining uneven edges that don't tell the truth about the way something is structured, etc. At this rate it'll take another six months.

I do like working on Point of View, which is moving at a much faster clip. This is partly due to the fact that POV is on board, which has a smooth surface, while YAH is on fine--- but very scratchy--- linen. I have to go over the strokes on the linen three or four times to cover up the whiteness of the gesso ground, and I worry that doing so kills the freshness of the stroke. Ah, well, c'est la vie. Anyway, I got into the red drapery on POV today, and that was fun. I'm using Cadmium Red Deep and Thalo Turquoise to get the shadow color. Have not used the turquoise much in the past, but it's interesting to see what effect it has when mixed with other colors. It creates a nice green when mixed with Raw Sienna.


Off to a Good Running Start

November 23, 2009

Managed to accomplish an unusual amount of things on my to-do list today, so I'm feeling virtuous. It's a short work week, what with Thanksgiving coming up. Started the last of the little 11" x 16" paintings that I'm calling the Vignettes for the March show, so the sense of relief is palpable. Now I just have to buckle down and see it all through.

Worked on four of the vignettes today, and put in some time on You Are Here, which I need to have ready SOON for use in advertising the show. Stopped working on it too late to take a photo. I'm sure I have to lighten the background wherever you look through the window--- seems to me that the outside should be light and have a bluish cast to separate it from the interior.

Stretched another canvas to use for the Dawn Series. Found some more reference to go with the two I have now that are in the 8" x 10" size. They're such pretty little things, especially when you see them together. It's the color, I guess. Who can resist the gemlike hues of a sunrise, especially when it's reflected in the ocean?


Prep Work

November 22, 2009

Yesterday I stretched and/or gessoed 11 new canvases and one panel. Took a look at the floor plan for the gallery last night, and finalized (I think) the number of and selections for the vignettes. I want them to relate to the 4 large pieces I'll be showing. Feeling alternately panic-stricken and calm. Made a schedule of what has to be done when.

My studio wall is full of blank canvases, and the sun's out today.


Getting Dark Early

November 20, 2009

I usually finish painting for the day around 5pm, as it gets too dark to see color accurately, and so much of what I do depends on gradual color and value changes. So when I work on one of the big pieces, it's hard to get a decent photo record of the day's work. Such was the case yesterday, with Time Piece. I took another shot of it just a little while ago, and have uploaded that picture instead of the one yesterday that had the glare from the overhead light bulb on it.

Worked up the right side of the painting yesterday, and though some places are still tacky, I plan to work around them today. I changed the pitch of the elderly man's shoulders and think it looks more realistic.

Is it nearly December??? I have to get busy on those new vignettes!


Paying Attention to Detail

November 18, 2009

Worked very slowly and carefully on four of the vignettes today. Getting the placement right is important in the early stages, and I had to go back to the grid system on a couple of them. Did not get to stretch any new canvases; for some reason I can't get the stretchers to square up at the corners lately. I can get three of them squared, but the fourth is always a little off, so then I have to tap the wood here and there and it throws the whole thing out of square again.


More Nice Weather

November 17, 2009

It's just been gorgeous here. It's hard to stay  inside.

I did notice, much to my dismay, that the drawing on the lower part of the building  on the right side of Waiting For The X-10 is messed up. Did the correct re-draw today (in paint, of course) but found it irritating. Every time I look at it I think it's almost done, but upon closer inspection I find lots of little details that need work. Bah.

Finished the second painting in the Dawn Series. Need to stretch a couple more canvases for the vignettes tomorrow.


Checking In

November 16, 2009

Since I spent all of last week painting, I felt virtuous enough to take the weekend off (for the most part). Went to the art supply store late Saturday afternoon, and picked up as many stretcher strips for the vignettes as they had available. Saturday night we went to the Columbia Pike Studios Gala 2009 reception, and it was wall-to-wall people. (If I don't come down with the flu after that, I'll be very surprised.) Anyway, it was interesting to see all the work, and the space had the feeling of a mini-Torpedo Factory.

Today I had to go to the dentist, and that took a huge chunk out of the workday. Dealt with some domestic chores when I got home--- the weather has been amazingly mild the last couple of days, allowing me to do a bunch of little batten-down-the-hatches jobs before winter sets in. I didn't think I was going to get them done, but the grace period has been a wonderful opportunity.

Tomorrow: back to art work!


Feeling Energized

November 8, 2009

Have been side-stepping many of my domestic duties lately, as a lot of my time last week was consumed with various gallery-related activities. But this morning I got up and went around like a house afire; cleaning, organizing, transplanting, taking care of a whole bunch of to-do list items that had been foundering for weeks. I feel so much better!

Last night we had the 30th anniversary party for Gallery West, and it was amazing. So many peole showed up! It was great fun, and I think everybody had a good time. Now: onwards and upwards. I'm very excited about the new work--- the vignettes for the March show. Have started three new pieces, and I continue to work on the large paintings that will be the focal points of the show.

Today is one of those rare gifts--- a mild, quiet day in November. Have spent the last hour with my honey sitting on the porch with a glass of wine, listening to the birds and watching the sky. I feel re-energized, like my batteries have been recharged. Soon it may snow, but bring it on: I'm ready!


Why I Love Dick Blick

November 4, 2009

Dick Blick is an artists' supply store, and I placed an order online late late at night on November 1st. The brushes, paint, and canvas all arrived about a half hour ago. I DESPERATELY needed the brushes---was working on the head of the figure on the right in Walking the Walk, and I didn't have a single brush that was up to the job of detailed work at that point--- so I was very happy when I heard the knock at the door. The little walking guy still needs work, but I've got to let the paint dry before I can refine the mouth/chin area.

Spent most of yesterday on You Are Here.

Began The Villers today. Happy happy happy. Now, off to open the long box with the linen in it. Hope to start three more vignettes in the next couple of days.


Local Shows

November 3 , 2009

Did not bring the tree series to the gallery yesterday, as I couldn't figure out a way to frame the paintings. They're 5" x 5", and though I found a place that sells frames in that size in multiple amounts, they were "assorted," which means unmatched. So I'll have to table that set for a while. I only have 3 done right now, anyway. Brought 6 of the Postcards in instead.

Another gallery in Alexandria is having a small works show, and when I wrote to the owner with a question, she wrote back and encouraged me to participate, calling my work "impressive." So I may do that, too. And I received a lovely email from a man who had bought one of my works over the weekend, the kind of email all artists love to get. I wrote back to say thank you but got a bounceback message.

All I can think about today is getting my hands on that new linen (already primed!!!) and getting started on the vignettes. There is a notice from Blick that they sent it out yesterday. Soon...


New Work

November 2 , 2009

Halloween was fun, though somewhat subdued. We had only a few trick-or-treaters.

Everyone I talk with lately seems to be borderline depressed. I think it's partly the time of year, partly the economy, and partly worries about H1N1. But I digress.

Started a new silverpoint, and am about to start a new vignette for the March show. I've got enough reference material for a dozen vignettes, but if I can pull off that many by then it will be a miracle. Ordered some more linen online last night, and will be able to stretch it as soon as it arrives, since I've got the stretchers for 3 more vignettes put together and squared up already. I'm also gessoing a 24" x 30" board for the wonderful painting of the young woman photographing the Villers.


Time Piece

October 30, 2009

I'm really thrilled with the way Time Piece is developing. The refinement stage, which is tedious but ultimately rewarding, is producing some beautiful areas. This is a big, important painting, and I'm using all of the lessons my instructors taught me at Pratt and Syracuse to pull it together: when to play off one color against another; when to use a hard edge or a soft edge; when to leave things out that are too distracting or add an element that amplifies the painting's message. And, of course, the drawing is vital. I'm excited! Still working on the bars on the left side of the turnstile today, and they're coming out well. Once they dry I need to go back in with some soft reflected highlights. It's slow going, but I'm happy with the work.

I'm remembering that amusing phrase we used to use in graphic design work: "Fast, perfect, cheap: pick two."


Working Large, III

October 29, 2009

Since the left side of Time Piece still needed to dry, I worked on the right side today, up around the top of the revolving exit door. There was a lot of blending to do, and the edges of the metal bars had to be redrawn, scaled up and evened out. It actually was pleasant work, unlike the frustration of trying to get the #$%* columns right in Conversation, which I'd worked on earlier. No matter. At least I finished one of the tiny trees this morning. Now am trying to decide which image to use first to start the little vignettes for the March show.


Working Large, II

October 28, 2009

Picked up on Conversation today. If you've followed this blog for a while, you know how intimidating I find the prospect of working on the columns in that painting. Today I mixed up a whole lotta paint and just attacked the left side. Of course, it's still going to need more refinement, and a little drying time before I get back to it, but at least I made some progress. According to the records, today was the 70th time I've worked on that piece. How do you charge for something like this? By the hour? By the size?

Worked a bit on the male figure on the left side, too.

Also filled in some of the unpainted (and therefore annoying) areas on You Are Here. Sometimes it's real easy to know what needs to be done. Other times I have to look at a painting for a couple of days or weeks to figure out what to do next.

The out-of-town trips have zapped my dieting routine, so I've spent a part of the last 3 days on the exercycle doing 20 miles a day. I'm tired, but it's working.


Working Large

October 27, 2009

Worked on a couple of smaller things this morning, then picked up on Time Piece. The yellow-tan banner on the left side had to be repainted, since the original placement was off, and that took a while. The color changes in the banner are very subtle--- some parts of it look like they're being hit with spotlights, while others are darker or slightly bluer. The dark parts of the ceiling aren't just a flat dark, either--- they're alive with layers of reflections from the lights on the buildings across the street. It's fascinating, and kinda fun to try to make sense out of it all.

After that, and until it got late, I worked on You Are Here. I think You Are Here is going to be the title for the March solo show, but I digress... I filled in a lot of under color on people and the environmental elements in the painting, and it's beginning to take shape. After I get the canvas covered, I'll start to refine areas and put in the details. Will probably get back to this one first thing in the morning. I'd be working on it now if it wasn't too dark to see whether the color's just right, or too light, or slightly more green or yellow than it should be.

I think I need some big spotlights.


Staying Put For a While

October 26, 2009

I'm hoping that I can just stay home and paint for a while. The trips out of town have been fun and rewarding in many ways, but I feel I'm neglecting the painting over the weekends, so once I get back I just throw myself into it to the detriment of domestic chores. The house is a wreck. I owe many people dinner parties, but it's going to take weeks to catch up on the cleaning and reorganizing. Bah. Meanwhile, the deadlines loom for the National Show and the Small Works show. I've given up on the idea of having the abstract ready in time for the Silent Auction, so will have to pull something out of the archives.

Worked on four of the Tiny Trees today. They're nearly done... it's numbers 5 and 6 that need the most work.

Got some great news over the weekend! The city of Gaithersburg has awarded me a solo show at one of their venues at a date to be announced soon, but probably some time in the 2010 season. Next year will be very busy.


Server Weirdness

October 26, 2009

Got back yesterday from yet another weekend out-of-town; have been painting all day but for some reason the server is taking forever to accept my .jpg files. More later.


Who We Are Now

October 23, 2009

More and more, my work is focusing on what it's like to be alive during this period of time. The old masters concentrated on history, religious, and genre scenes, and the latter tell us something about what everyday life was like for people who were living then. The details tell the story... ruffled shirt cuffs, aprons, cobblestone streets and horse carts...even in the still life paintings, there's a glimpse of how tables were set for meals or what kind of pottery was fashionable or used for every day meals. I'm trying to capture what it's like to be a part of humanity in the early twenty-first century, with all its activity and noise, periods of isolation and quiet reflection, its reliance on technology and the great grids of the city that hold everything in place.

I think I've got the left half of Waiting For The X-10 finished. The figure still needs work, and the architectural elements on the right side need to be neatened up.



October 21, 2009

I feel like I'm learning a lot about color lately; better late than never, I guess... It's important to have the figures in You Are Here look like they're all in the same room, sharing the same air, not like they're cut out and pasted into the picture plane. And I think I'm getting it right for the most part. Everything still looks a little too light to me. (I think it's my world view, which tends to be somewhat optimistic.) I've tried to use less white in mixing, but the painting still lacks the dramatic edge I think it needs.

On the other hand, I'm very pleased with the way the figure work came together on The Blind Date today. Here's how it works: I paint for a while, then just feel like I have to stop. I hang the painting on a wall in the studio, and forget about it for the next couple of days while it dries. I go on to other paintings, and glance at it as I go in and out of the studio. Eventually something about the painting bothers me. (Right now I'm excessively bothered by the white unpainted area in the lower right-hand corner of You Are Here.) It might take another couple of days or even months to figure out what to do about it, but one day there'll be an "Ah-Ha" moment: A skin color needs to be darkened or made bluer; an element that wasn't adding to the composition needs to be taken out; a hard edge needs to be softened. This--- well, plus the drying time necessary for oils--- is why my paintings take so long.

But today I was just itching to work on the shirt of the figure in The Blind Date, and I thought long and hard about the color and the strokes every step of the way. I thought about Sargent's brushy, precise, confident stroke placement, and the way the shirt and skin color had to integrate the light coming through the window as well as the artificial light in the restaurant. And I'm happy with the result.

Now, if I can just keep from screwing up the rest of the painting!


A Little Progress

October 20, 2009

Since the deadline is fast approaching for the November shows at the gallery, I'm trying to concentrate on the small works and an abstract for the Silent Auction. Still, I was able to get some quality time in on Time Piece and You Are Here today. The March show is always on my mind, and I think I have enough of the small painting reference photos earmarked that I can breathe a little easier. It's the trips out of town that throw me for a loop.

This morning I had to go to Bethesda to pick up the two paintings that had been in the Timeless show, and there was a nice surprise: I'd received a cash award for the first place piece. I hadn't known about it, and it's much appreciated--- I'm thinking it's going to cost a bundle to frame  and mount the March show, do some advertising, and pay for postcards and food. But the drive home from Bethesda was a lot more pleasant.


A Change of Pace

October 19 , 2009

Spent the weekend in New York City; back now, have a few errands to run, then back to the easel. Had a great time, and took 274 photos. There are a couple I want to use for the March show.

The weekend was mostly set up as an excuse to take care of some family business, but it included two wonderful dinners on Friday and Saturday nights with an old and dear friend (Friday) and a cousin whom I don't see often enough (Saturday). There had been a threat of terrible weather--- two nor'easters back-to-back--- but all we had was some overcast skies and a little light rain on Sunday. Did not spend any time in a gallery or museum, just walked around and looked at everything.


On Second Thought

October 16 , 2009

M-m-m-mmmm, maybe not so bad after all--- mebbe the wall just needs to be darkened slightly, enough to match the back of the wall on the right side.

Meanwhile, there is reason for folks like me, who have been doggedly working at developing their skills and (as the artists' responses to questions in my doctoral dissertation have suggested---) cognitive abilities, to hope! This courtesy of Lenny Campello's blog about the Damien Hirst article today.



October 15 , 2009

For a few weeks now, whenever I've looked at Time Piece, I've thought it looked too dark in the center. Dark and mysterious is okay, but in this  case it was gloomy and uninviting. And dull. So I decided to brighten up the back wall, based on some other reference photos I'd shot of the location in one of my trips to New York. At first, it looked like it was working, but now the wall looks luminous, and completely wrong. I'll have to wait for it to dry and then brush over it with a muted greeny-brown.

Have been working on other parts of it, too; on the lines of blue trim around the edges of the red woodwork, and the very top three inches of the painting where there are light and dark shapes behind the glass.


Some Painting Done

October 13 , 2009

So today I only got to work on a couple of things--- a friend needed some help---- but the pieces I worked on are coming along nicely. Much of the detail placement in You Are Here is done; there are more people outside the coffee shop that need to be drawn in, but I think I've sketched everybody inside now. I just have to be patient. It's hard--- I want to start painting right away, but it'll be a lot better if I get the placement right from the start. I love all the little scenarios that are taking place in the shop, as well as the activity going on just outside the window on the sidewalk.

The Wake of the Ocracoke  (the oil paint version) looks more and more like it's supposed to. The boat's churning up turbulent water behind it, and the sun's lighting up the sky. The sunset colors are intense while the color of the ocean is a muted blue-green in the wake of the boat, with a light blue foam where the surface breaks. I'm trying to keep the brushwork free and loose, but still definitive of the fluid quality of the water.

A Long Way To Go is taking shape. The people on the platform look hemmed in by the structures around them. There's so much metal! It's going to be fun to work out the differences between the metallic colors, and the reflections on the surfaces. The light's working well in places, especially on the left side, where there's some direct sunlight.

More to do tomorrow.


More Tree Work

October 9 , 2009

Yesterday was my gallery sitting day. The weather was so fine I left the gallery door open all day long. I really like that little shop, and there were visitors and phone calls that made things lively and fun.

Today: trees! Silverpoint!


Apple Happy

October 2 , 2009

I started the Apple Series #3 painting a long time ago, like maybe 1996, as part of a series I'd hoped to market to a poster repro manufacturer. The leaves are a jumble of greens, and not too successfully painted so far. Today I worked just in the upper-left hand corner, trying to paint with a limited palette. I think the original yellows were too warm, so I've switched to the two lemon yellows from Gamblin. The pale yellow is the color of sunlight, and it's really nice in places where the leaves are practically transparent or where there's a shot of lightest light on an edge. So far so good. Tedious, though. There are so many little twists and turns, and the blue of the sky reflects onto the leaves, the branches and the apples.

Had a mere 4-1/2 hours of sleep last night and feel like a zombie today. I think I'll take a nap and then get back to work if there's enough light. It's getting dark earlier these days, of course.



October 1 , 2009

There's a small works show coming up at Gallery West, and I hope to have at least half a dozen little tree paintings done by the end of the month. There's a red tree, a pink tree, a fir, a couple of oaks and maples, and the backgrounds are all different. Since they're 5" square, I actually have hope that I'll finish in time. Worked on a couple of those today, also spent some time on detail work on the left side of Conversation. And finished the portrait, yay!

Apparently there's a Norman Rockwell show coming to town next summer. I bet it'll be packed--- the one time I went to the Rockwell museum in Stockbridge, MA (and this was on a weekday) it was wall-to-wall people. You had to just shuffle along with the crowd, a couple of steps at a time, in front of the paintings. It was like being on a conveyer belt. So much for the art snobs who decry illustration as "not real art."


Things Are Coming Along

September 29, 2009

I'd hoped to have the portrait of the two little girls finished by the end of September, and despite the last-minute trip to Boston, it looks like it'll be ready after the next sitting... which might be tomorrow! A few other things are nearing completion, too... mainly the daffodils and Waiting For The X-10. All in all, things look pretty good. It's like working in a darkroom, peering into the developer tray as the image, foggy at first, starts to appear. Over time, it becomes clearer as the details emerge. That's how it is for me with my paintings, and right now a bunch of them are starting to have that sense of clarity.

Sometimes I come upon one of the big ones in the hall, leaning against the wall, and it surprises me to suddenly be confronted with the image as the normal viewer is for the first time. I can instantly see what's wrong, what needs to be repainted, what colors need to be adjusted.

Today I worked for a long time on the red curtains in X-10, this time creating more volume on the shadow sides of the folds with Alizarin Crimson. It took forever, as it required a steady hand, and I made several mishaps that needed to be redone. This kind of tedious work is frustrating, but when I catch sight of the painting after a couple of hours away from it, it all seems worth it.

I'm still feeling panicky about the March show.


Life is Good

September 26, 2009

My life seems to go like this: intense periods of work punctuated by a sudden trip out of town, disrupting my schedule completely, but providing me with rewarding and immeasurable experiences. I take great delight in seeing familiar old faces, and my perspective changes as I make new aquaintances or just chat with total strangers. Of course, the visual excitement is almost too much for my little brain to handle--- I'm overwhelmed by flocks of geese landing in deserted urban lots, by the sight of warm sunlight hitting old, red brick factory buildings at sunset, by toddlers riding carousel horses, banners wafting in an autumn breeze, and the great clouds of the Northern skies.

So I write this on Amtrack, on my way back home from a quick couple of days and nights in Boston. The weather was spectacular there, but we streamed into cloudy greyness around New York City, and now it's raining. It's a dismal end to a lovely break, but I'm on my way to see some friends at a show in D.C., and that should be fun. I always enjoy seeing these folks. Will settle in later at home, and review the couple of hundred photos I took with an eye to incorporating some of them into paintings for the March show.

Life is good.

  Above: Obligatory Tourist Shot


September 23, 2009

A couple of outside projects have laid claim to my time lately, and it's likely that this will continue for the next few days. I'm working on Dawn Series 2 right now, and am a little dubious about whether or not the glaze layer I'm working with is going to be successful or not.


Artist Friends

September 19, 2009

Had a long, leisurely conversation with I.C. the other night. I called her at 6pm, after the day was done, so I wouldn't feel the tug of the paintings in the studio calling me back to work on them. The topics went from everyday stuff to mutual friends to current art projects; I'm fortunate to have friends who are as passionate about their art as I am, and who value craftsmanship, technical ability, presentation, and archival methods. Talking with them reinforces my own values, which sometimes seem antiquated in an art world that's less concerned with substance than shock. I.C. is moving towards an artist book and showing her gorgeous colored pencil work, and seems very content in her new situation.

I'd thought I was going to take a break from painting over the weekend, but couldn't keep away from Waiting For The X-10 this morning. I just did detail work, straightening out some of the architectural lines and adjusting color here and there, so it won't look like much got done from the last sitting. There is a party to go to tonight and the weather is just fine, so the day seems filled with possibility.


A Productive Week

September 18, 2009

I got so much done this week. I worked on every painting on the works in progress page, though I wish I could have gotten more done on the big paintings.Still, it feels good. And I'm ready for a break this weekend!



September 17, 2009

It feels ominous and deliciously creepy out there today. The Baltimore classical station was playing Rocky 2 this morning (Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto) and the wistful central passage was just right.

I'm trying to balance a couple of gallery duties and other responsibilities with painting, and am currently working on the little clock image. Yesterday I tore through seven projects, and have got almost everything on the works in progress page up to date for September. The big paintings, unfortunately, still have many hours' worth of work to go on each of them.



September 15, 2009,  8:00pm

A productive day!

Despite the fact that I had to spend an hour mowing the lawn (it was already a week overdue and rain is in the forecast) I got a lot done today, and much of it was getting past stumbling blocks on a couple of the important works.

For a long time now, I've been bothered by the fact that the elderly man in Time Piece looked cartoony. I just couldn't get past it, because I couldn't figure out how to make it work, and that kept me from doing much of anything else on the painting. But last Sunday's New York Times had a full-page, full color ad from the Met touting their loan of Vermeer's Milkmaid, and seeing the tones and values on the maid's face made me think I should try for something more like that on Time Piece. I taped the ad up on the wall next to the painting and went back to looking at the original reference photo, darkening some areas, redrawing others. I'm much happier with the way it looks now (see right).

So that was a relief. Feeling successful, I decided to try working on another problem that's held me back for months: the female figure in Conversation. The reference photo unfortunately didn't have much detail on the figure, and I've repainted her a dozen times and failed. But when S.M. and I were in Bethesda last Friday night, I needed some sort of celebration after the Timeless show, so we went to the nearby La Madeleine for a bite to eat. I'm a sucker for the way incandescent lighting produces warm interior shots, and the lighting in the restaurant was just lovely, so after we finished eating I asked S. if she could sit at one of the small tables while I took a picture. The pose she took (when I reviewed my photos the next day) turned out to be exactly right for the Conversation figure! It needed to be flopped horizontally, but everything about it was perfect; the angle of the head, the lighting, the gesture... what great luck! Anyway, I painted her in and while it still needs some refining, it looks great!

Earlier in the day I'd put Le Monde des femmes back on the easel after months of letting it gather dust. Le Monde is absurdly girly, a wacko confection with tutus hanging from the ceiling of a suburban clothing store, and it just makes me smile to think of all that pink frou frou. I redrew the lights that are reflected in the store window and adjusted some of the color. The rafters really need to be painted in before I go much further, as they establish the color and mood of the piece.

I worked a little on a couple of other things, too.... I heightened the contrast on Waiting For The X-10 and for once had the sense to consciously work from left to right, avoiding the smearing that is so much of a problem for me when I jump around the picture plane. I'm not sure if the contrast is too strong now, but will take a look at it in the light of day tomorrow and see if it works.

Oh--- and I got a second coat of gesso on that new 40" x 50" canvas.

(Big sigh of relief.)


Somewhat Better

September 15, 2009,  2:00pm

More on this later--- but I worked on the face of the elderly man in Time Piece.


So Here's How It Is

September 14, 2009

A very dear family member whom I haven't seen in two years came to town for a visit last Thursday. This meant days of cleaning and yard work in advance of the visit, complicated by the fact that I was scheduled for gallery sitting on the day of the actual visit. But I was able to get another member to switch with me, and the visit went beautifully. The day was perfect from start to finish, including a terrific sushi dinner at a favorite restaurant, and I got to take a bunch of photos that can be used for paintings.

Over the weekend there was plenty of activity. Friday night I met up with S.M. at the Washington School of Photography, where she said there was a surprise for me. Two of my paintings had been selected for the show, and one of them had been awarded first place. That was exciting  enough, but S. took off for the Fraser Gallery, and after spending some time talking with Missy Loewe at the first show, I met up with her at Fraser, where the Trawick Prize work was on display. We looked at the art and chatted with Catriona Fraser and a few other artists and aficionados. It was a very pleasant evening.

Saturday night I went to the reception for Kathy Guzman at Gallery West, and Sunday went into DC to take some photos for more paintings. It's been a busy couple of weeks lately, with little time for writing. Sometimes you have to live life before you can write about it, though, don't you?

So, I'm stressing out already about my solo show in March. I've got six or seven large paintings but am not sure they all work together. Plus, I need some smaller ones to tie in with the large ones. Should I try to relate everything in terms of color, imagery, composition, or the cities they represent? Should I forget about the large ones and just concentrate on a bunch of smaller pieces?

Spent three hours last night combing through the photo archives, trying to get a handle on the problem. I've got some possible candidates for new work in folders on my laptop. Today I threw caution to the wind and just painted. Tomorrow: more painting!



September 5, 2009

I haven't felt much like writing lately, and have been a little short of time, too, as my evenings have been spent catching up on some things I've been neglecting for a while. The end of August was a little depressing, anyway. The air was heavy and dull, the sky was overcast, and it seemed like everything had come to a standstill. I figured September would bring a feeling of change--- it always does--- and we've had beautiful weather for the last few days. There's a sense, too, that the economy is beginning to turn around. I started a bunch of new paintings, and one of my paintings has sold. So things are looking better.