March 31, 2011

Still wrestling with CSS technology, and with the detail work on Country Bouquet. Looks finished, doesn't it? But up close, there are some sloppy looking lines and inconsistencies. I'm also trying to get the shadow line on the right side of the table to have a softer edge... The architectural element that's throwing the shadow on the table is some distance away; therefore, the shadow should have a soft edge. The jug, on the other hand, casts a sharp shadow because of its proximity to the table surface. Painting the soft shadow requires a mix of five different colors, and a lot of blending.

After this,there's some work to do on the leaves, the delphinium centers, some of the wood grain, and the green/white pods. But it might be done in a month.


Two Guys on a Platform

March 30, 2011

So today I worked on A Long Way To Go, mostly on two of the men standing on the platform. One of them is in direct sunlight, the other in the shade provided by the overhang. It's tricky, working on these people... some of them are really washed out in the reference photo. The ones in sunlight need lots of contrast, while the ones in shadow are more subtle.

Also worked on the lovely lovely blue delphiniums in Country Bouquet. The blue is so intense, and then it takes a pale turn towards a soft lemony yellow. Every time I think I'm getting down to the wire on that one, though, I find some other area that needs attention.



March 29, 2011

This is a note to myself for the end of next Winter. I have to remember that once Spring arrives, my mood and energy levels improve exponentially. Every year I forget this, and then it's a surprise when we get a sunny day with temps above 50, and I find myself grabbed by The Spirit of Yard Work. I get more active inside the house, too. Winter has its own set of rules, and I guess I have to accept the fact that it's just a time for more sedentary occupations, but if I could just remember that there's a flip side, I'd be less unsettled by the sludginess.

Am playing with pastel and colored pencil again. The pastel is irritatingly messy and I have to figure out how to get a reliable fine point on the chalks for the detail work on the little head study I'm doing. But it's fast!

Have been studying CSS and hopefully have figured out how to create an external style sheet. And just in time, too; it's the end of March, and time to turn this blog over to page 7. With an external style sheet in place, I'll be able to change the options on the navbar quickly and globally.



March 23, 2011

Well, as awful as yesterday was, today turned in a 180-degree direction. Yesterday I felt like a useless slug, today I got a lot accomplished in a number of areas. Part of the problem was web design work. Because it's so sedentary, it feels like I'm not doing anything--- in reality, I spent hours trying to figure out how to create a vertical fly-out menu, and it kept being buggy. Late last night after painstakingly deconstructing the code, I figured out what I was doing wrong and got the thing to work. Tonight I'll tinker with the font, font size, and font style to get things just right.

So today I worked on 4 paintings, or maybe 5. The frames arrived--- my frame company had a recent sale on custom size frames, so I ordered 5 of them--- and they really look like they were good selections. Now I have a few more pieces to show. I plan to work on the big flower painting tomorrow in the hopes of taking it even closer to completion.

Called S.T. to see how she's doing after her recent operation, and was happy to hear she's doing well.


A New Show

March 22, 2011

Carefully loaded 13 paintings in my car Sunday night and drove them off to Gaithersburg on Monday morning. The drive went without a hitch. Nothing shifted in the car, not even when I made a turn. Wish it could always be like this! Did not get lost, either--- found my way to a fantastic little place called Kentlands, where the paintings are now installed as part of a 4-person show in the Arts Barn. Kentlands is cuter than a 6-month old baby, and I immediately started checking housing prices when I got home, but it's--- as I was warned--- a bit pricey. Still, it seems like a real art lovers' town, and it has a great deal of natural beauty as well as a quaint little downtown area and a nice-size shopping center a stone's throw away.

Today, not so good. Stuck with running an errand, I got it out of the way early but still couldn't settle down to paint. Tackled the cherry blossom painting and felt like I was making mistakes every step of the way, though after a couple of hours it began to take shape. It looks awful in the photo from today's session, but that's because when the paint is wet it never photographs true. The contrast is working much better. Part of the problem is the stress involved in needing it finished by April 1st.

Also tackled the museum painting. It can't do anything but get better from here on in. At least now all of the floor lines are drawn in and the tiles are lining up instead of shifting around. As I mentioned a few days ago, the floor itself will be much lighter and softer looking when it's done. Right now I have some heavy dark lines and blocks painted in just to establish where things begin and end. It's just a matter of waiting for everything to dry, and then we will see some progress.



Trying Again

March 18, 2011

Somewhere further down in this blog you can see the past attempts at capturing the enigmatic face of the young lady on the left side of Inside/Out. Here's my latest try, at right--- some things are working better than in previous iterations, but I've still got some work to do on the eyes. Oh, also, there's a lot of glare on the image because the paint is wet. Trust me, it looks better than it does here.


A Giant Huge Mess

March 16, 2011

The floor tiles are finally lining up straight in Museum Encounter, but I have to wait until the paint dries before filling in the rest of the corrected perspective lines. It's a big mess right now, and there's too much going on visually. I made some of the tiles darker so I can see where the lines of demarcation are, but when it's finished the floor is going to be a much lighter, softer color, without so much distinction between the tiles.


The Particular Pain of Perspective

March 14, 2011

Perspective, sad to say, has never been my strong point. And it's definitely not going well on the parquet floor of Museum Encounter (which needs a better title, BTW). I could take the easy way out and just paint in a plain plank wooden floor, but no. Meanwhile, it's a struggle to get all the tiles to line up.

Went to a wedding over the weekend in Brooklyn, had a fabulous time, went to sleep with a smile on my face. Danced, had champagne, saw some wonderful people and friends. S.M. was there with her family, a bonus, though we were seated at different tables and didn't get a lot of time to chat. Happy for the bride, a sweet young woman whom I've known since she was 7. She seems to have found a great guy to spend her life with. Sometimes life is good.

Took 388 photos on the trip--- 4 of them may turn out to be possibilities for paintings.


Hanging a Show

March 1, 2011

Spent yesterday tracking down a black ink cartridge and some business card type stock for my printer. Cooked up the labels and bio, then selected and prepped the sky paintings for the Mason District show--- had to paint the edges of the large paintings a dark grey so they'd be invisible inside their floating frames.

This morning I went over to the building and hung the work. It took a little over three hours to hang 15 paintings; three large and 12 small. The problem was (of course) trying to get them at the same height in places where they were together on a wall. But it all worked out eventually and now the show's ready for viewing. I'd forgotten that it's meant to be up for three months--- thought it was one. Now I need to go and change the dates on the other pages of the website.

Tomorrow: back to painting.


Moving Forward

February 23, 2011

Sometimes it's really hard to force myself to work on a given painting. I think I should pick up on my old dissertation work and interview other artists again, this time asking them what methods they use to get started when they're not so much in the mood to work on a piece, but it has to be done.

Anyway, today I got back to A Long Way To Go, after avoiding it for most of the day. I darkened the outfits on several of the people on the forefront of the crowd, and worked on the turnstiles. Also darkened the red and orange flowers in Country Bouquet, and painted the highlights on most of the pods that are hit directly by the sun. I like the way the pods look.

If I stick to my present schedule and don't have too many interruptions, I could finish 7 pieces by the end of March.


Snow and Snowdrops

February 22, 2011

Woke up to a surprise this morning; the back yard looked like a thin layer of confectioner's sugar had been sifted over it. Just yesterday I'd been marveling at the appearance of the first snowdrop in the yard. Today it was almost invisible under the snow. There was mass hysteria among the bird population, so I had to get out and throw some seed around before brewing my morning cup of coffee.

Worked hard all day on six paintings, and finished Dinner Date, though I might go back and redraw the mouth on the guy. Spent the last two hours tonight (it's a quarter to midnight) on Ram, Williamsburg--- it needs to be a lot darker.


Catching Up

February 17, 2011

All of the works-in-progress are now up to date with the exception of the three big monochrome portraits in acrylic, which are down in the New Painting Studio waiting for me to get that room organized. I picked up on Expectation 3 and Country Bouquet today; still trying to get the skin tones right on the former. Worked on the leaves that catch the sunlight on the right side of Bouquet, and am currently trying to sketch in the funny little pod things on the left side. Will do more of this tomorrow, I hope--- there's another busy weekend coming up.


This and That

February 16, 2011

Sunlight is very strong in February, I guess because the sun's so much lower in the sky. It feels like Spring's not too far away. I saw the first chipmunk of the year yesterday, and most of the snow has melted.

Had a fun weekend of celebration with friends, and was ready to get back into harness on Monday. So far this week I've worked on 12 different pieces, and tomorrow---mostly because everything else is wet and unworkable--- I'll pick up on a couple of things that have been gathering dust. Things are sailing along, and I hope to have several paintings done by this time next month. Have two shows to hang in March, so that'll keep me busy.

Hope the dog show is going well.


More Gallery Representation

February 10, 2011

I am pleased to announce that seven of my paintings are now available at the Hermitage Gallery in McLean, VA. It is a very nice space, and I am hopeful for more sales.



February 9, 2011

This has been a day of working on tedious detail on a couple of paintings. I'd picked up on A Long Way To Go and Early April a few days ago, after many months of neglect, and now I remember why. Even though ALWTG is a sizable painting at 18"h x 40"w, there are many tiny faces in the background. It's a challenge to mix the right hue, tone, and paint viscosity, and then hold one's breath and keep one's hand steady enought to apply it in exactly the right spot--- sometimes within a millimeter. On top of this, the brush has to cooperate, and they aren't making brushes the way they used to.

Anyway, at right, a detail area from ALWTG. It's getting really hard to see the day-to-day changes in a painting of that size on the regular works in progress updates, so I'm putting the spot I worked on today here for your viewing pleasure.

Started a couple of new things, and have an idea for a series that might satisfy my need to do some brushy stuff.

Hope to have some good news to share tomorrow.


Wintry Mix

February 2, 2011

Have to confess to some serious slacking off in the last few days. This has included eating junk food and watching junk TV. The weather's partly a factor, but also I just needed a break. I'm very confused about my own work. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of a painting in the hall, let's say, Wedding Preparations, for example; and the stillness and breathable air and singularity of moment captured on canvas excite me, and I want to do more work like that. But then I look at the paintings of other artists in magazines or on the web, and the looseness and freedom of stroke make me want to work in that style.

I worry that my stuff's too constrained and formal, but the clarity of the vision really is me. I think I'm hard-wired to do this kind of painting. Still, I'm going to try another brushy piece--- this one of a young woman entering Grand Central Terminal in New York. I made an attempt at impressionism with Two By Two, but didn't feel I pulled it off.

This afternoon, I spent about an hour and a half reworking the face on the left side of Inside/Out. It's finally beginning to come together. Have to let it dry, and then go back in on the eyes, maybe the left side of the mouth. Then on to the neck and hand. Whew.


Some Success; Some...Not

January 30, 2011

Spent the better part of an hour working on the girl's head in Inside/Out; still can't get anything right.

I did finish two paintings: Treats, Please, and Air Series #1.


More Wet Paint

January 30, 2011

A couple of the things I really want to work on are still tacky, so I started a new painting this morning called "Four Women." It's a beach scene at dusk, and one I've been wanting to start since last summer. Will be finishing the dog painting today in anticipation of getting it to the show at Antreasian in time; also can work some areas of Inside/Out, maybe finish the figure at extreme left.



January 28, 2011

As predicted, we lost power around 7:45 Wednesday night, and it didn't return until 4:21 this morning. We ended up with only about 7" of snow, but you could hear the tree branches cracking at night, and the lights kept flickering until everything went dark.

I ended up holed up in the basement, snuggled up next to the woodburning stove and suffering withdrawal from the lack of internet access and light. Was forced to spend the time reading by candlelight. This wasn't such a bad thing, as I learned a few new tricks from some techie books and manuals. Today, worked on two paintings. The one called Angelo's has a lovely complementary color combination that I find very exciting to work with.


Imminent Snowfall

January 26, 2011

I may be out of touch for a few days, if the weather turns really nasty like it did this time last year--- we lost power for 55 hours and were starting to talk about burning the furniture to stay warm. So far, the prediction, which changed from 5 inches of snow to between 5 and 10 inches, seems manageable on the face of it; the reality is that once the tree limbs start hitting the power lines, we're sunk. I've spent part of the day attending to things that require water, because when the electricity goes out, the pump for the well stops working. So I've been watering plants, cleaning pots, filling the bathtub with water so we can use it to flush the toilet, etc. The birds have been fed but they'll become hysterical once the snow starts to fall.

Meanwhile, have also been working on the museum painting, specifically, the walls of the room. The light's really poor today, so I can't tell if what I've done in the way of a subtle gradationis actually going to be believable or not. Hope so, because I'm tired of holding my breath while working those transitions.


Observation vs. Commentary

January 26, 2011

I've been reading up on Dutch genre painters of the 17th century lately (at Pratt, we revered Vermeer like a demi-god), and it's been interesting to see how they used symbolism. It makes me wonder if I should be doing that, too, in an effort to make my paintings deeper and more meaningful. But I draw a blank when I try to think of present-day symbolic images. The wedding painting, for example, is a simple narrative about a young woman being attended to by one of her bridesmaids while another looks (wistfully?) out the open window; they're in a very traditionally decorated room, with a fireplace, mantel, and bookcases in the background. Maybe I can come up with something on the shelves that gives the viewer some other insight into the goings-on. But what?


Looking Forward

January 24, 2011

Every night when I finish painting, I'm hopeful that tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow I'll attack that large (or small) painting that I've been avoiding for weeks; tomorrow I'll resolve the background or take care of the problem with the skin tones or straighten the vertical lines. Then the next day comes, and it's just so damned tedious. Things don't go the way I'd planned or hoped. Colors don't look right, or the tonality is off, or the people in my paintings look like cartoons.

Today, there have been multiple problems. For a while now I've been wavering about whether or not Wedding Preparations is finished, but this morning I decided to work on a small area on the right side that's been bothering me. Before long, I was repainting the figures, the hair on the bride, the dress on the attendant bridesmaid, and changing the color of some of the books. There hasn't been enough decent progress on any of the pieces I worked on today to make me happy. Maybe tomorrow...

Well, we are in the middle of winter here, and the daytime temperatures have underscored that fact. Over the weekend, though, I had to pick up some art and craft supplies in the town south of here, which required a drive through a neighborhood that has a tree-lined center avenue. It was startling to see the faint haze of red on the tips of the cherry tree branches, and the sense of potential in the midst of a bleak winter's day.


Some Days I Can't Seem to Do Anything Right

January 19, 2011

Today seems to be one of them.


Website Progress

January 18, 2011

The website redesign is moving along at a steady pace. I found some slides of old work and scanned them, though the scanner is not quite up to par after 6 years of use, and have been uploading the pictures to the website. I've created several landscape series over time, and am trying to decide whether to show them through more pop-outs on the nav bar menu or just stack the series titles within the Landscapes category.

Meanwhile, the painting continues, though a bit more slowly than usual. We had a busy weekend socially, and that, combined with the cold weather and the MLK holiday yesterday, made me prone to laziness. I need to finish the doggie painting by the end of next week for entry into the Best in Show exhibition at Antreasian, so that's a priority.

J. and E. stopped by for popovers and coffee on Saturday, and I asked them to look at my current work. I'm just not sure that the green shirt on the guy in Two By Two is working, though it's absolutely faithful to the original reference photo. J. suggested greying it down a bit. I think that's good advice.


Everything's Wet, #2

January 5, 2011

Have started a few new paintings in the last couple of days, and it's so aggravating when I'm excited about working on them but they're too wet/sticky! Aaargh! Did some washes in a few of the open areas and some work on the middle figure in Inside/Out, but mainly spent the day upgrading the website.

And what fun that is--- hours of copying images and titles and pasting them into new pages. Most of it's done, but I have to tackle the Sky Series B set next, and that ain't gonna be a picnic. Plus I've got to figure out how to add a page for acrylic work under the "Artwork in Other Mediums" nav bar element in such a way that it shows up on every page without my having to actually go into every page to alter the nav bar.


Playing With Light

January 4, 2011

The back wall of the room in Museum Encounter is very tricky. It's a pale green, but in the corners it goes kinda brownish. I'd originally tried creating the shadow color with Payne's Gray, but it didn't look right. P.T. was over one day for a quick visit, and she agreed: brown in the shadowy corners was the way to go. But while getting the color right is one thing, even worse is the gradual slide from one value to the next. I'm trying to keep the brushmarks invisible, so as to lure the viewer into wondering (from a distance) whether this is a painting or a photograph. I like that kind of visual fun. Anyway, keeping the brushstrokes invisible requires a lot of careful blending, and reverses of stroke from horizontal to vertical to horizontal again, in order to smooth things out, make the transitions believeable, and avoid sueding. So this is probably more technical information than you wanted, but there it is.

Now, back to work.


A New Year

January 3, 2011

Resolved: to move the entire painting studio to the room in the basement. Working there will not be as dreary as it sounds, since there's a southwest-facing window and the possibility of adding track lighting on the ceiling. There's the added benefit of a nearby utility sink for washing brushes, and lots of wall space for the big paintings. It'll take a while to move all the junk out of that room and give it a fresh coat of paint, but that's my big New Year's resolution for painting, anyway.

Have been working on the redesign of this website day and night for the past 3 or 4 days. It's a very tedious operation, but I like the fact that some of the little inconsistencies are being addressed. And I like the white background.


Another Sale!

December 28, 2010

There was a surprise check in the mail yesterday from Antreasian, where Coffee After Work was sold! Yay! That makes three sales this month. Have been jotting ideas down on paper for the December 2011 show at Antreasian; I want it to be a knockout.

Feeling much less depressed since Christmas. We had a good family holiday and it brightened my spirits.


Monday Evening

December 20, 2010

Had some success with the face of the woman in the museum, see right. Held my breath the whole time I was working on her tiny features. The color's not true to the original (mostly because of glare), but at least it gives you an idea.



December 20, 2010

Turns out the Monday morning before Christmas is not the time to go to the post office.


A Bright Day

December 19, 2010

It's a gorgeous day outside. Fed the birds early, and started working on Inside/Out. I'm trying to get a handle on where, exactly, the vanishing point is for this scene. I know I'm bad--- should have gotten a fix on it a while ago.


Random Ruminations

December 18, 2010

Artomatic: Looks like there will be no Artomatic in 2010. Back, way back when I thought it would coincide with my solo show last May, I quickly assembled some reference photos of artsy-looking folks peering at the viewer (Eric, Tamara, and Robert), and decided to do them in black-and-white, more for speed than anything else. I thought it would be fun to go to an art show and have the art looking back at you. Now, though, I'm wondering if this is really what I want to show at the next AOM, particularly if I've got time to work on new stuff. But then the quandary: what do I do with the three canvases I've already worked on?

Bah Humbug: Not feeling very Christmasy this year. Still need to buy a tree and a couple more presents. Need to decide which charities to send money to. Must make some decisions about Christmas dinner. The recent death in the family, coupled with the fact that my favorite neighbors moved out of the 'hood yesterday, are of course factors in my humbugginess. Was not even thrilled with the recent snowfall, a sure sign that things are amiss.

Painting: At least the painting is going well. Finished a couple of things recently. Sold two paintings this month. Loving the two I'm putting most of my energies into now: Inside/Out and Museum Encounter. The woman in Museum Encounter looks lost in a reverie, emotionally overwhelmed by the art that surrounds her, evidenced by the placement of her hand inside the collar of her shirt. Inside/Out just has a quirkiness that delights me. Hope I can pull it off technically; the morning light is a soft blue creating an atmospheric haze over the buildings outside, and there are streaks and smudges on the glass window wall.

Politics: Just can't stand it anymore. I think I'll go apolitical for a while.


Flesh Tones

December 15, 2010

At right, the woman on the extreme left of Inside/Out. Have been working on her for a while now, looks like the skin tones are finally improving.

Still have to finish the hand, and of course, the left eye.


A Death in the Family

December 8, 2010

Someone very dear to me passed away on November 13th. Have been trying to come to terms with it, but almost a month later I still feel like someone whacked me with a two by four.


Reading Robert Henri

November 4, 2010

Someone recommended Robert Henri's book, The Art Spirit, a while back, and then I after saw a reference to it on the internet I bought a copy. Have been working my way through it for the last two months. Robert Henri (1865-1929) was an American painter identified with the Ashcan School, and every page of the book is loaded with observational gems about the nature of painting.



November 4, 2010

Not a good day for painting--- the light outside is pretty dim, so that means critical color choices are going to be difficult. I work with 2 lights at the easel, so smaller pieces can still be done with some accuracy, but the big ones that I work on in the upstairs hall will be a problem. Have been planning to move the big paintings into a spare room in the basement for a while now, and last week some of the junk in that room went out to the trash, making it more of a possibility. Today might be a good day to mop the floor and sift through some boxes of old papers. Frankly, the room is a horror story, but with adeqaute lighting it could be a great work space for the big stuff.

Deadlines are approaching quickly. Wedding Preparations still has a ways to go, though I think it'll be done in time. Christmas Doors and veggies need to be ready by December 1st.


The Red Wall

October 21, 2010

Just spent an exhausting session at the easel trying to perfect the red wall in Wedding Preparations. It needed special treatment to get the subtle transitions from light to shadow, plus the problem of sueding was a big factor here. Sueding is the appearance of light where there are brushstrokes in an area of oil paint, and it's really just like the way the nap shows on suede fabric. So if you have brushtrokes going in one direction, the light will fall on them and reveal them; then if there are brushstrokes going in an opposite direction (let's say vertically instead of horizontally) in the same large area of color, the surface will show that. And it can ruin the experience for the viewer in what should be a seamless area.

Anyway, I hope I've pulled it off; it's exhausting work and you can never tell if it's right until it dries. Hopefully there isn't any streaking there. I had to use a combination of transparent and opaque colors to get the effect I wanted, so there could be some rogue strokes. Here's a detail at right, though the red color had to be worked in several different places on the painting.


Rethinking It All

October 17, 2010

Ever since I got back from an emotionally draining out-of-town trip, I've been thinking about what I really want to do with my painting. I've also been looking at a lot of other artists' work, and have some new ideas about mood and atmosphere. People tell me that my paintings have a certain clarity, but maybe a little mystery would bring an added dimension.

Acrylic vs. Oil: the experiment continues. The veggie paintings improved 100% when I switched from acrylic to oil. It's a combination of color (the oil colors just look more natural) and flow. But the 3 large acrylic portraits are coming out just great since I started using the extender.


Everything's Wet

October 14, 2010

Worked on eleven paintings today. I think that's a new record for me. But--- I should qualify this statement: six of them were from the 5" x 7" Doors of Old Town series, and there wasn't much I could do to them before the paint began to smear. Still, it feels like an accomplishment.

There's been a lot going on in the last month to pull me away from work, so I'm pleased with the fact that I've gotten to work Tuesday, Wednesday, and today. There are some serious deadlines coming up, and it's going to be hard to make them.