Sunday, December 28, 2008

Melting Snow

Our two feet of snow melted today. We didn't have much sun, but it felt like at least 60 degrees. For some reason our backyard is the usually the last one on the block to melt, but today it kept up, so even the cat got a nice walk.
All day long I was itching to paint something and this evening the setting sun was glinting so prettily on the remaining snow patches that I decided to capture it. I am starting my New Year's resolution early, to try harder while painting to convey emotion rather than merely copy what I see. I think this is a good start. Size is 6x8 on Old Holland linen.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Snowy Garden

Yesterday afternoon during the snowstorm I decided to set my easel up in the kitchen and paint the view from the window. I love the little tufts of snow covering the sunflower heads. I don't cut any of my garden back until the spring as it is useful during the winter to the backyard wildlife. The dried foilage can be used for shelter, perches, and even food. I saw a chickadee last week picking out sunflower seeds that had been overlooked in one of the flowers. Last night after the snow stopped, it became very cold and windy. I saw a rabbit hop to the back of our little pond against the fence to find shelter in the tall dense grasses there.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Scituate at Dusk

In September, I spent a weekend in Scituate staying in a house just a short walk from the beach. I had painted the house shown in these two paintings from life in the morning before kayaking. When dusk arrived, I returned and found the scene even more entrancing. It was much too dark to paint on the beach, so I worked from photos and just finished these today. Since we are currently having a snowstorm, I am going to set my easel up by the window and see what I can come up with.

Friday, December 19, 2008

an abundance of roses

This 14 x 18 oil was painted for my sister-in-law. The request was for a horizontal landscape that includes roses over a stone wall, with some kind of a structure in the background. It look a long time to find a suitable scene, but I finally found one not far from her house in Chelmsford. The owner of the property actually drove by while I was taking pictures from the road and when I explained what I was doing, he seemed pleased that someone was taking an interest in his beautiful roses.

The painting has come a long way, and I discovered that it really is necesssary for me to work standing up on anything larger than a miniature. Having complete freedom of movement makes the painting experience more enjoyable, and one does tend to stand back more readily, than when sitting down.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Printer's Ink

I discovered this antique ink bottle in Concord, MA in a shop called Nesting. It's a fascinating place in which to browse around, especially if you love old, worn things as I do. I will have to go back to buy some of the old buttons, bar tokens, and clock gears. The place was filled with still life possibilities. It's rare that I come across an item that I absolutely cannot live without, but I just had to paint this bottle, so it has a new home with me.
For some reason, I had trouble starting this painting. I was not feeling very confident and couldn't decide on a base color. I finally told myself to get over it and mindlessly slapped green paint down. Most of it got scrubbed off, but it stained the linen a pretty color. The linen is called Centurion and it came in a sampler pad. The surface has such a luscious feel to it that I am wondering if it was oil-primed. I thought I would have to take a few days on this, but it took the layers of paint very well. Centurion just might be my new favorite painting surface.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wayside Inn, Sudbury

Looks like a quiet scene but the Wayside Inn was very busy with weddings and wedding receptions when I was painting there on a Saturday a few months ago. I was lucky to have one end of the garden to myself. I found out that this building boasts a gallery as well as a restaurant, so one of my goals is to have a show there.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Paintings from an island

In September, I spent a very enjoyable weekend at the cottage of a fellow artist on Long Island, Maine. These three oils were painted en plein air with a few touch ups in the studio. The first day was very foggy which made for an ethereal atmosphere fascinating both to paint and to observe. The surrounding islands and boats were constantly drifting in and out of view.

These paintings and many more will be available for purchase on Sunday, Dec. 7 at the Celebrate Newton Arts & Crafts festival.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Chocolate Trio

I mixed my own browns for these miniature oils (2x2) using a nice warm orangy cadmium red light, with either Pthalo blue, or French Ultramarine. The background is pure cad. red medium. Shiny candy foil is certainly a challenge to paint and I ended up using more color in it than I had expected.

Monday, November 24, 2008

What to paint?

I finally settled on a tube of watercolor paint. I'd love to paint a whole pile of these. I was looking at my art table this morning and there are so many possibilities there.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

An Afternoon with Vincent Van Gogh

Friday evening I attended an art exhibit at The Jaffrey Civic Center in New Hampshire. I went early because about a year ago I was receiving exhibit entries in their library and saw three volumes of Van Goghs letters, with his letter sketches included. I told myself I would come back to spend some time with them. I own a copy of Letters to Theo, but I had never seen most of these sketches. They are amazing! And it always does one good to reread his letters. The following passage gives me the determination to keep painting and try to have faith that I will improve. Above all though, to have a little patience with myself:

... I can tell you that dissatisfaction with bad work, the failure of things, the difficulties of technique, can make one dreadfully melancholy. I can assure you that I am sometimes terribly discouraged when I think of Millet, Israels, Breton, Debroux, so many others... one only knows what these fellows really are when on is at work oneself. And then to swallow this despair and melancholy; to be patient with oneself as one is - not in order to sit down and rest , but to struggle on notwithstanding thousands of shortcomings and faults and the uncertainty of conquering them - all these things are the reason why a painter is unhappy too.

Of course, this being Vincent, he adds:

The struggle with oneself, the trying to improve onself, the renewal of one's energy- all this is complicated by material difficulties.

He did manage at one point to purchase a portable paint box which he badly needed; however he wrote some time later that he had to spend more money having it repaired, as it was damaged when he had to suddenly jump down a bluff to avoid an escaped out of control horse. And I complain about the mosquitoes!

A bit of interesting information for plein air painters: Vincent wrote that he heard of a method Corot used for judging values when painting out of doors. Corot evidently was in the habit of bringing along a square of white linen, and another of black velvet which he would throw on the ground in front of him.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

brown pear

I set up this pear on some white linen. The cloth is both lovely to paint, and to paint on. I have had little experience with rendering cloth and am finding it very difficult. The edge of this fabric forms the prettiest little ripples when you gather it and that is enough incentive for me to keep trying.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Baking with lemons

4.5" x 10" oil on linen panel.
Hubby brought home lemons this morning with plans to make a lemon/cornmeal pound cake. Luckily he did not use them all because I had my eye on this one. It took almost the whole lemon to get a satisfactory peel because I couldn't get it to hang down right. I almost gave up, but I really wanted to paint a lemon this way.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Please tell me that this oil painting looks like a pomegranate and not a Christmas ornament. I went shopping the other day for subject matter. This is the only time I will enter a grocery store and not crab about it. I bought a beautifully shaped long brown pear, and two smaller green pears. When I passed a display of pomegranates, I remembered that last year at the annual holiday arts and crafts festival, a regular customer of mine asked if I had any paintings of pomegranates. Regretfully, I only had apples and pears. So I went ahead and bought one and painted it today since I don't know how long pomegranates last. I also have no idea how to eat it. But I do love painting fruit!
This is done on a 5x7 linen panel that I prepared myself. At the fabric store, I bought two kinds of lovely linen, one fine and the other a little coarser. I glue it onto a board, and when dry, I apply the gesso. For the painting, I used a technique described by a very talented and friendly artist named Ann who I met at the Manchester Art Gallery this week.
It involves using a large brush to apply a dark background (paint mixed with pale drying oil) then using a rag to work subtractively which is useful for blocking in the composition and helping to create the values as the painting progresses. I used opaque paint sparingly and let the beautiful linen texture show through. This technique is lots of fun and I can't wait to use it again.
Reality changes: There was a strong highlight below the stem but it looked too much like the previously mentioned ornament, so I had to tone it down. The tiny brown stem spikes were curled under but I rendered them as sticking straight up after googling the fruit to see stem variations. This helps prevent the shape of the fruit from being too round. Now that I have painted my first pomegranate, I am curious to find out how other artists handle this tricky fruit. Maybe tomorrow I'll slice it open and paint the interior.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monument etching

I recently gave a presentation for one of the art associations to which I belong and a friend wanted me to tell the audience what I did for a living, as she knew the artists would find my daily work interesting and unusual. No one had ever met a monument etcher before so I had a few questions to answer. It's hard to describe what an etching looks like so here are a couple of examples. The motorcycle monument was custom cut on the sides to accomodate the wheels, and it's one of my favorites. My job was to produce a drawing (using reference photos) to be approved by the customer, then to transfer the drawing onto the monument and finally engrave the image into the granite. My tool is a dremel with a diamond tip, and it cuts very finely into the granite with a high speed stippling motion. Over the summer, I etched the angel as a sample for the show room at one monument shop. The image is taken from a statue. I have been etching since about 1997 and I still love my job. I am very lucky to have steady work as an artist, and at the same time be able to dictate my own hours so that I am free to go out and paint whenever I like.
Here is a conundrum: why is it that I refuse to work in watercolors because "I'm afraid I'll mess up and won't be able to fix it", yet I etch on granite everyday. It's a mystery to me.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

On Halloween Day, I painted with two friends in a field. I was drawn to several strong horizontal shadows from the trees, but they were taking attention away from the water, so I scrubbed them out. Another major change from reality was that after finally deciding to include the tree line, I pushed it back allowing a little sky to show. I like that a subtle version of the blue water hue is repeated in the sky. I was a little distracted while painting this because the fall colors are really brilliant and I wanted to put them all in. I am getting better at realizing that what is good for nature isn't necessarily good for my painting.

My friends and I have been painting once a week and are hoping that the local art association will decide to add a plein air category to the annual show.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Iron Work Farm Paintout

On Oct 4, I attended the Iron Work Farm Paint Out Art Show and Fundraiser at the historic Jones Tavern in South Acton. My 8"x10"painting, which sold, shows the caretaker Brownie watering some flowers in a wheelbarrow at the Faulkner Homestead. This was painted onsite and the weather was quite chilly that day. Luckily, the sun was out and gradually made its way to the front of the building (which I then had to repaint.)

The Jones Tavern was originally built as a house but by the late 1700's was a tavern and general store. It was restored in the 1960's and had been open as a museum for only a year when it was tragically struck by lightning and partially burned. Some original pieces of furniture are now charcoal.

I would love to see this building (at one time actually two buildings) restored a second time, along with the beautiful Faulkner house.