Down to the Wire

April 30, 2012

I've got about a week left to finish Fashion Forward and Each Day Had Its Own Challenges; actually, I'm pleased with the way FFwd is developing, even if it doesn't get completed in time. Maybe I'll show You Are Here if things get too tight around the deadline. But it would be nice to show something brand new--- I wouldn't want to disappoint the folks who saw my work at the Ratner last month by displaying work they've already seen. And my S.O. thinks I should finish the telephones and hang that piece as a sort of sight gag. We had two visitors recently who really enjoyed the telephones piece, even in its unfinished state.


Some Progress

April 27, 2012

Fashion Forward, the painting I want to finish for Artomatic, is coming along quickly. I'm going to put in several hours on it today. The background is looking pretty good, and that, of course, is the foundation I need to work up from.

Put in 5 long hours yesterday in my first shift at Artomatic. This is going to be one interesting show--- but then, haven't they all been? I think the sheer size of the thing is going to overwhelm people, but what a feast this is going to be for the senses. Had the opportunity to visit three floors: 3. 4, and 11. Eleven is a byzantine but intriguing maze of small and large rooms, 3 and 4 more user-friendly. It was a surprise to see how little space was still available (on those floors, at least); apparently the entire arts community of the DMV area is going to be represented. I can't wait! At right: the far wall is where I'll be showing on floor 3.


More Traveling, and Artomatic

April 6, 2012

So...more traveling, and now I'm back in the studio. Had a few action-packed and exciting days trying to register for Artomatic 2012; the sheer volume of artists trying to get a spot overwhelmed the website's server. After a false start Sunday night, I got on the road on Monday and pulled over into Mickey D's a couple of times to access the free wi-fi, but to no avail. Finally got registered late late Wednesday night, and now I wonder if there's enough time to finish the two large paintings I want to show. I might have to go to Plan B.

Recently we watched "The Impressionists" on DVD, and it was an eye-opener, filling in a lot of the blanks for questions I'd had about their work and their private lives. I was even inspired enough to put a pleinair easel into a shopping cart on the internet, but now I'm rethinking that idea. Anyway--- according to history, Monet finished a large painting in four days to enter the Salon. And it ended up looking pretty good, too. Can I do something like that? Doubtful. If I can't get the two paintings done in time, Plan B has me finishing those three large portraits I'd intended for the 2010 Artomatic, which never took place.


Obligations, and Traveling

April 3, 2012

It feels like a dog's age since I've posted anything. The pro bono project I mentioned back in January ended up taking much more time than I'd thought it would; still, I wanted to do a good job on it, and it turned out pretty well. But I wasn't able to work on any of my regular paintings from the 10th of March until yesterday.

There was also a trip out of town over the weekend, and while it's normally refreshing to get a change of scene, this time I was fairly unhappy because it just prolonged the absence from the studio. I did catch a few decent photos to use for future reference, so it wasn't a waste of time, but I'm really happy to be back in the painting groove today. The pressure is on now, because there are a couple of other opportunities coming up, and I'm far behind in terms of where I should be.


Reception at the Ratner

March 4, 2012

So! We had the reception today, and it was great, very well attended. There was a nice spread (including meringue cookies!), the wine was flowing, and a lot of people said some very complimentary things about my paintings. Some of my favorite folks showed up, including my friend S.T. (whom I expect will have a show at the Ratner sometime soon) and art aficionado extraordinaire Steve Krensky in one of his technicolor, zebra-inspired shirts. Pictures at right.


65 Degrees and Partly Cloudy?

March 1, 2012

Well, the show is up at the Ratner and it looks good. I'm getting excited, and can't wait for the reception this Sunday. (If you're reading this and want to know more information, it's on my home page.) The space is large and lovely, it's a compatible group of artists, and there's something for every taste. I'm showing six paintings, three of them large.

The "winter" weather continues to be very mild. A couple of the daffodils have been out for two days now. So what's going on? I wonder, if it's this warm now, what it's going to be like this summer.




February 28, 2012

There's still a day left in February, though tomorrow, Leap Year Day, I'll be taking work to the Dennis and Phillip Ratner Museum in Bethsda for the upcoming show. So, no painting tomorrow!

I've been trying to figure out what comes next. The pro bono painting is due April first; then, Artomatic opens its doors in May. The pro bono's going much better than I'd expected. There's still a lot of work to do on it, but it's easy to paint it at night, especially in acrylic.

Artomatic is a different kettle of fish. What to show? Large, killer paintings that are too expensive for most people to buy? Small, affordable pieces that might also have a tendency to sneak out the door? Maybe mid-sized stuff. But a lot of the newest mids have sold. Is it looking like crunch time again?


February Light

February 26, 2012

The thing that gets overlooked in February is the purity of the light on sunny days. Everything seems to be clearer and sharper, almost surreal. There's very nearly a spiritual quality to it. February, I know, makes a lot of people crazy, but it's also the month when things start stirring underground and responding to the light. I love the morning sunlight and the way it makes me feel like good things are about to unfold in time.

Went to a birthday party last night and had a great time talking with other artists and art patrons. And there was a terrific spread, too. I won't need another meal for a week.

Worked on one little landscape today, and two of the Atlantic Ocean paintings.



February 24, 2012

Had a short-but-sweet visit yesterday from family members who live far away. Both of them make excellent models, and they were willing to pose for a few shots that I needed desperately in order to move forward on a couple of paintings. And the crocuses are out--- actually, they've been open for a week now, and every day more of them pop up in the grass in unexpected places. Life is good.


The Big Apple

February 13, 2012

Had a blast over the weekend in NYC. Took many, many photos despite the dismal dank weather--- we were promised snow, but only a few short squalls materialized, with not enough substance for a decent "it's-snowing-in-Manhattan" shot. But I did get some nice interiors and a few other things, all of which will be fun to work on this year. Laughed a lot, had some great meals, saw an old friend, and walked several miles uptown. A really great time!


Slipping and Sliding Redux

January 31, 2012

Maybe the way to get around the brushmark problem on panels is simple: use a roller to lay down a thin base coat of Titanium White. Hmmm.


Slipping and Sliding

January 30, 2012

I know I've written about this before, but it's always a surprise when I start a painting on a really smooth panel surface. The paint smears around uncontrollably, and the brush marks are very obvious. It's annoying, but I have to remember that it's just like painting a wall--- you have to do at least two coats before you get decent coverage.

Off to a good start on several new paintings!


The Late Shift

January 29, 2012

I've been able to do some work on the Rose Bowl painting at night while we watch TV, because it's small and easy to hold. Also, the surface is rock hard, so I don't have to worry about something poking up from underneath and making it look lumpy. So, now that the box of panels for the Ocean series has arrived, I'm thinking I can probably work on those at night, too! The only real problem is the yellow light coming from the floor lamp next to my chair. It doesn't provide a reliable perception of the color. Maybe I'll buy one of those natural-light lamps.



January 27, 2012

The recent sales have provided the funds for new panels. Blick had a deal on shipping, so I jumped in on it and ordered half a dozen 10" squares. I was happy to find the package sitting at the top of the driveway today, and am already starting to work on the first of the Atlantic Ocean series. I'd played around with different sizes for the last week, and ten inches is just right. And the square format will let me concentrate on the abstract qualities of the waves.


More Sales!

January 23, 2012

I am elated! There have been two sales over the weekend--- well, one is pending, but it looks pretty good. Now I can afford to buy some 10" square panels for the new Ocean series.

Worked on a whole lotta things today. The Rose Bowl painting is coming along very well, and tonight I started another silverpoint.


A Flurry of Opportunities

January 21, 2012

I had 2012 all planned. I'd made a list of the new pieces I wanted to work on, and had started assembling the large canvases (see pic at right) and procuring the panels for the smaller ones (it's hard to get panels for anything over 24" x 36"). Had started gessoing. Then on the 19th, a whole bunch of new opportunities came in the email (or over the phone) slam-bang fast!

The first thing to throw a monkey wrench into the plans was an announcement from Artomatic, that wonderful, sprawling testament to creativity, that negotiations for a building had been finalized and there will be a show in May-June. That set my head spinning as I tried to weigh the benefits against the drawbacks (benefits won, easily) and then had to figure out whether I'd show old work or new. If I went with new, what could I reasonably expect to accomplish in the next couple of months?

Next, I heard from R. A., the gallery owner up in Baltimore, that someone was interested in using one of my images as a book cover. This is very exciting, though a long way from being concrete. Then A.B. called to say hello, and during our close-to-one-hour conversation, he invited me to take part in a program that places art in government buildings. This could also involve travel, so it sounds pretty exciting!

Last but not least, two very dear friends asked politely if I could donate a painting for a good cause here in the metro D.C. area. Since I've been feeling rather spoiled lately, this is a good opportunity for me to give back and assuage my feelings of guilt. But--- since the image will be used as a program cover for the big fundraising event, it makes more sense to do an original piece that's appropriate for the situation. There has been some suggestion of what to do, image-wise, and apparently the sponsoring group can provide me with photo reference. Awesome! I am jazzed.

Now, time to get back to work in the studio.


Something Old, Something New

January 17, 2012

I'm trying not to get too far behind on paintings; if something on the Works in Progress page hasn't been worked on in the last month, I put it at the top of the To-Do list. It doesn't always get the attention it needs, anyway. Some things just reach The Point of Utter Tedium, like Sunrise Over Breakers. Another example is the three large monochrome portraits, which I'm working in acrylic. Acrylic is not my friend, and trying to get believable modeling over the vast areas of the models' clothing is something that makes me want to give up as soon as I look at them.

Today I'm doing bits and pieces on Power Play (which I'm afraid needs some major repainting in the lower sky) and on Robert's hands. I also started something exciting called Shadow Study. It's small, 12" x 12", so there is some hope that I can finish it before 2013.



January 15, 2012

The list of paintings I want to start just keeps getting longer. At least I'm thinking--- for the most part--- in terms of series, rather than just doing what I want when I want and not building "a body of work." But it's so hard not to respond to the images that just grab me by the throat, so to speak, even if they're not related in terms of size or subject matter.



January 13, 2012

I'm planning to do more work on panel this year. Canvas--- well, linen, actually--- is very frustrating for me to work on despite its great features. Because I frequently paint very precise lines, the bumpiness and weave of the canvas surfaces get in the way, making things a bit wonky. It always seems especially bad on facial features.

In the last couple of weeks I've gone through the archives of images that I have in slide, print, and digital form, trying to select and prioritize the paintings for this year. And today I pulled out a bunch of wood panels and started the gesso process. You need to paint several coats of gesso on the surface and then sand them if you want a completely smooth start; if you want a textured support, you can just leave the brush marks in place or even exaggerate them. I worked on several panels and stretched one canvas. (The canvas is part of a set of images that I already started on linen, so I need to maintain consistency).

One of the panels is a 10-1/4" round that I bought 12 years ago. I'm excited about working on it--- I found an image from 2010 that features a large salmon colored rose in a round cut-glass bowl. Perfect! The reference image is at right.



January 1, 2012

Saw the New Year in with a little Veuve Cliquot and Chocolate Cream pie. The sun is bright this morning, and I'm feeling cheerful and ready to rush head-on into 2012.


How Could 2011 Be The Old Year?

December 30, 2011

So the year's almost over! It's hard to believe. Did I accomplish the goals I had in mind when the year began? It seems like there should be another couple of months at least, to get everything done...

Let's see; I had the solo show in mind all year, and that went off pretty well... I didn't get to place an ad in American Art Collector to advertise it, due to a general lack of funds after dealing with the cost incurred by framing the work. Other than that, there weren't many disappointments. I sold 13 paintings in a bad economic climate, nearly all of them to people I don't know. I finished 30 new works. And I showed at 6 different venues, a feat that's not likely to be repeated in 2012.

As far as the work itself went, I'm fairly happy with the paintings, but still feel like I need to push myself further. And I'm not sure what that means. Do I need to make a change in style, or try to bring the work up to a level that makes me feel satisfied?


So the Show Ends

December 19, 2011

Drove to Baltimore this morning to pick up most of the unsold paintings; Robert thinks he may be able to find good homes for the 12 I left with him. Four in all were sold, so that's great news. Now I feel it's time to try some new work, and maybe experiment with pastel and watercolor.

Of course, the hollidays are upon us, and domestic pursuits await. Family is on the way for a visit, so a certain amount of housecleaning has to be done! But it'll be fun once they arrive, and I can spend all of January holed up in the studio.


A Start to the Holidays

December 14, 2011

Had lunch with A.T. yesterday, and we had a pretty good time. We wandered the streets of Reston window shopping and talking about the holidays for a little bit after a delicious meal of lobster rolls, and then I set off for home, intending to go straight to work. But once I got here I didn't really feel motivated to paint, and the rest of the day just oozed away.

Today I made up for it, working on 9 different paintings and finishing one, so I feel less guilty. But there's lots more stuff coming up in the next couple of weeks that'll take me out of the studio.


Catching Up

December 8, 2011

Now that the show is up, I've been going back to some paintings that I haven't been able to work on in a long time. Everything on the Works in Progress page has now been painted sometime this month with the exception of two of the three acrylics: Tamara and Robert. Today I worked on Eric for the first time in 14 months--- the three paintings were intended for the 2010 version of Artomatic, which never took place, and so I just let them sit aside while other, deadline-oriented stuff was dealt with. Anyway, it feels good to be catching up on everything, even if I haven't a clue as to where it's going.

At right, a detail from Eric. Worked carefully on the hand today. And I keep forgetting that acrylic dries darker.



December 7, 2011

Every artist hopes for a warm reception when he or she has a gallery show, and that's what hppened at Antreasian last Friday night. I don't live in Baltimore, and while my friends all said they wanted to come, it's just too far for anyone to drive there and back, especially at night, and particularly on I-95.

But the numerous folks from Baltimore who came into the gallery were wonderful! They seemed genuinely interested in the art, told me they loved it, and asked all sorts of questions. I hung around in the background, overhearing some comments, and everything was positive. Ah, but you ask: sales? Well, there were two. There are two weeks left, so I'm hoping there'll be more, but realistically--- and I am a realist, after all--- we are in the worst economy in a long time.

At right, Robert Antreasian chats with a visitor.


Painting For Pleasure

November 30, 2011

There's a big difference between painting under duress--- the type of thing one does in the last few weeks before the deadline for a show--- and painting for the sheer pleasure of it. That's what I did this afternoon.

The day started out poorly: Hubby's car refused to start, so I offered him mine; this meant unloading the two large paintings in the back of the car, giving him my keys, and then waiting for the Triple-A guy to show up and make a diagnosis. He replaced the battery but thought it was a problem with the alternator (he was right) and suggested we get it looked at. Meanwhile, I had errands to run, so that took up the rest of the morning and early afternoon, but by 2:00 I was able to get back into the studio. It was *so* satisfying to just work on whatever I felt like doing.



November 29, 2011

All of the paintings are now at the gallery. It took two carloads on Sunday, and another today (in maddening downpours on I-95, both directions). At right: a view of the inside of the gallery.


Counting Down

November 18, 2011

At right, a photo of the wall behind the easel.

Got a lot done this week, but the only time I went out of the house was last Saturday night, to get food. This has got to stop! Well, everything has to be finished on Tuesday, so at least the end is in sight. I even worked until 7pm tonight, having figured out a way to use the floor lamp to help with the color issues.

The people in Cambridge look much better, but a new problem came up when I painted in the black sweater on one of the women, and realized that it was like a sink hole. There are no other blackest blacks in the painting. So some adjustments are going to have to be made here and there.

Repainted the entire background of The Higher She Went last night. And Inside/Out is nearly done. Here's why paintings are so expensive: I spent all of yesterday afternoon painting hundreds of tiny (4mm) dots to represent the ball chains that hang from the window. Plus their reflections. And I still have to go over the ones on the leftmost chain to add their highlights and make them look more three-dimensional.

Robert has done a nice write-up of the show, if you want to take a look:

Lastly: Have been reading the Steve Jobs biography. He certainly had his faults, as do we all, but I'm finding his devotion to excellence inspiring. And it makes me feel even better about all those times I had to fight for the use of the Macintosh at my former job.


Crawling Towards the Finish Line

November 15, 2011

The day was so dark I had to put up my brushes around 4:30. It was impossible to see subtle variations in color, so rather than make mistakes, I just stopped... But I did get to repaint two of the people in the foreground in Cambridge, the man and woman sitting across from each other. The woman's sweater has always bothered me, and the man's shirt didn't do much to explain the form underneath. Tomorrow I hope to work on the woman writing, close to the window. The ceiling is going to take some time.

Meanwhile, the rest of the paintings are getting close to completion. Angelo's and A Long Way To Go are just about done...


Another Hard Decision

November 10, 2011

Ten days left to finish the work.

A few days ago I decided to repaint A Quiet Evening in Cambridge for the show--- it wasn't like I didn't have enough to do already, but the piece has always bothered me, especially the figures. Oh, and the hideously unprofessional lettering on the window. So now I'm working on it as well as the other paintings. I just think that this is the perfect opportunity to display it, since its theme is Christmastime in Cambridge, and the show runs for the first two-and-a-half weeks of December.

Anyway, I've spent quite a lot of time in the last week just looking at it, and comparing it to the reference photo. I've decided to heighten the contrast and amp up the color in some places as well as apply the paint a little more carefully. The piece does seem to want to go more painterly than I'm used to doing; maybe it's because of the softness of the reference photo, maybe because of the size; probably a combination of the two...But it does look much better to me already.


Finally, Something's Going Right

November 4, 2011

Yesterday morning wasn't so pleasant, in the great grand scheme of things. I wasn't sure whether I could recoup today, in light of the disturbing encounter I'd had. Working on these paintings not only requires focus, but also I have to be in a reasonably good mood and not worrying about anything.

So I started painting this morning on Museum Encounter, figuring that doing the rote work on reversing the color of the floor tiles was something I could handle. I pushed through until every square was the correct value, even though there's still going to be a lot more detail work on the individual tiles. Then I left the room for a little while. When I came back, the painting, which was still on the easel, actually looked good.

Next up was A Long Way to Go. I've been trying to be smart and work it from left to right and top to bottom to avoid smearing, and so far, that's been a good plan.The areas that still need to be done are the far platform (both the people and the back wall), the turnstiles, and some details on the far right side. Stepping back from it, I saw that it's beginning to have that finished look, and I've finally got the central figure to look the way she should. Then my S.O. came into the studio for a visit (he has the day off), and was so enthusiastic about the painting I nearly cried. So maybe there is hope for this upcoming show.

Talked at length with Robert A. yesterday afternoon, and he says I can bring as many as 30-40 paintings. Yow! I don't have that many, but it sure opens things up, as I have a lot of stuff that fits the theme of the show.


A Little Problem with the Floor

October 25, 2011

Ah, the parquet floor on Museum Study. First, I had to fix the perspective on the tiles, which were all wonky. Then, there's been the ongoing dilemma with the color of the tiles, which were too yellow and also too assertive.

A couple of days ago, I took a long, hard look at the painting, which had been going pretty well up to that point, and which I was feeling pleased with. One thing that caught my eye was the fact that the triangular tiles on the right side of the room (where they meet up with the trim) were the lighter color, while the ones on the left were darker. Hmmm. So I went back to the left and started counting: dark, light, dark, light, dark, etc. until I got into the middle of the painting and realized I had gotten off track in the section where the overhead light floods the center of the floor. I'd switched the order--- so tiles that should have been dark were light, and vice versa. That meant a lot of tedious repainting, or just letting it go.

Spent the latter part of the afternon getting some of the alternating colors back on track. Still have much to do, and it's set me back as far as finishing the painting. (Heavy sigh) But at least it'll be right. Otherwise, I'll wince every time I look at it.


Seven More to Go

October 19, 2011

Finished It Was Just a Bad Idea From the Start today. That leaves just 7 more paintings to finish over the next 4-1/2 weeks. Found Dinner Date and one other painting in one of the upstairs bedrooms; had forgotten all about them, but they can go into the show.

Worked very hard on the blue jeans on the woman in Museum Study, and I think I finally got a sense of volume on the legs. The delicate changes in value make it tricky when one is trying to create the illusion of form. Now, am taking a break for a little while, since practically everything's wet.


Settling In

October 13, 2011

The studio is now officially comfy cozy, as we begin another cycle of wet weather. Everything I need is now in place in the room, and easy to locate, so I don't waste time looking for stuff. This move has worked out much better than I'd thought it would.

Sent off the order for the postcards, so they should be arriving soon. I used the image from Navigating the Stones, since it's the only painting that's finished. It Was Just A Bad Idea is close to being done, though.


Not Panicking Yet

October 6, 2011

The work for the solo show at Antreasian needs to be finished and framed in about 7 weeks' time. Will I make it? Some things, like He Began to Wonder Where He Was Going, and Inside/Out, need a lot more work. I might be deluding myself about others, like The Higher She Went and Museum Study. I think they'll be finished in a couple of weeks, but I've thought that before about paintings that needed plenty of work at the last minute. Angelo's--- that's another one. It's pretty far along, but the gradations it needs could take forever, plus every time I look at it I find it lacks little details in the background behind the bottles and jars.


Working Left to Right

October 5, 2011

I'm always messing up wet paint by smearing it with the ham of my hand because for reasons unknown I have a tendency to work right to left. I'm trying to change that--- on Inside/Out, anyway--- by working left to right. So far, so good.


The Girl in the Coffee Shop

October 3, 2011

Finally, after months of trying to get it right (you can see the struggle in the earlier blog entries) I'm satisfied with the face of the young woman on the extreme left of Inside/Out. Of course, I have to finish the eye on the viewer's left, but at last it's all coming together: the color, the values, the gradations, and the drawing. I breathe a sigh of relief.


Face Painting

September 29, 2011

It's been over a month since I last worked on Wedding Preparations, but today I got enough courage to tackle the issue of the face of the young woman looking out the window. It's still not perfect, but at least she doesn't look like a doll now. I found some other reference sources and have changed the angle of her head slightly. Before starting to paint, I spent a good deal of time looking at the work of several art masters of skin tones--- John Singer Sargent, John William Waterhouse, Jan Vermeer, Norman Rockwell, and contemporary portrait artists Nelson Shanks and Everett Raymond Kinstler. There's so much blue in the cool light coming through the window that it really throws me off when I try to mix the color, but I think what I did today will be an improvement.

Have been going through the material from the road trip and there sure is a lot to work with. Seascapes...architecture...landscapes. Looking forward to starting a couple of new things, though it's imperative at this point to get back to the paintings that'll be in the upcoming show.

I am beginning to think that panels are the way to go for anything under 18" x 24".


Back from the Road

September 26, 2011

Am back from an insanely great road trip, up the east coast to New England, all across Cape Cod, and back again through western Mass and Downstate New York. I took about 850 photos.There was something new and wonderful to see every mile, and a lot of the photos are going to translate into paintings.

I got back Friday night, and went into the new painting studio first thing Saturday. It is a little weird being down there, but I'm getting used to it, and everything I need is in the same having to scrounge around in the upstairs hall when I need a tube of Cadmium Vermillion, for example. Did some more painting Sunday, and again today. Eventually I'll get caught up in transforming the basement and cleaning out closets again, but for now, all I can think about is painting. And all I want to paint is landscapes, and organic stuff.



September 13, 2011

Another painting has sold, so that's nine this year; pretty good, considering the economy. It averages out to one per month. It's not enough to live on by any means, but maybe once things improve...

Heard from a gallery on the West Coast a couple of days ago, and they're interested in showing my work. Also heard from the Ratner Museum today; time to start planning for that exhibition in March! I'm hoping to interest a D.C. gallery in the new impressionist views from across the Potomac. And five of my paintings are going to be published sometime next year. So things are looking up.


River Views

September 9, 2011

Saw P.T. at her reception Saturday night, and she advised me to try some quick, impressionist-style paintings. I took photos of D.C. from across the Potomac on the way home, and pulled out three 12" x 18" panels today. It was certainly different, and kinda refreshing to work in a looser style.



September 6, 2011

Hurricane Irene came and went, and though there was a lot of lingering rain and some tree branches down, we never lost power. It seems like the folks up north caught the worst of it, with flooding and a lot of damage.

I got hooked on an ebook about the life and times of Lorenzo de Medici, and finished it this morning. I miss reading it.

Getting back into a painting routine has been slow going--- I really wanted to finish up some yard and domestic work after the storm, and am glad I did. Today has been cool and we've had nothing but rain; apparently it's going to continue for the next three weeks. After some scrubbing and cleaning inside, I did work on three paintings into the early evening. The studio is very accommodating even after the sun goes down.