Saturday, May 28, 2016

Cloudscape

"Distant Storm"

20" x 10"
Oil on Panel


















I recently finished this piece for an upcoming show at Gallery 9 in Port Townsend when I will be the featured artist. The show will be called "The Sky's no Limit".  Actually, that might change but for the moment it seems to fit.  I've completed a number of cloudscapes over the past year and I'd like to present them together in one show.

Like most folks, I'm always looking up at the sky.  I find clouds fascinating and a touch spiritual. They're always changing and so ephemeral.  I've recently adopted a few new techniques for capturing them.  The best is to work in glazes from the very first but I find this frustrating as it means only working a painting for an hour or so before having to put it aside to dry.  And I'm not one to work on several paintings at a time.  Maybe two or so but rarely more than that. So I've adopted a technique that once I'm through with the initial first pass, I can start working in combinations of opaque and glaze.  It generally takes about four or five passes before the work is finished.  A fully glazed painting could have as many as 20 or more - many more, passes.  This technique seems to work best for me although I'm always looking to improve or innovate.

Stop by Gallery 9 on first Saturday in July.  I'll be there about 5:30 and am always happy to talk about my technique.  

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Still Life of Brass and Silver Cups

"Two Cups"
12" x 16", Oil on Panel


















After a month and a half of various and sundry illness along with a back issue, I finally got into the studio, whipped out two paintings and then promptly put them aside and started another.  But I forgot to photograph them.  So I spent the better half of the other day behind the lens of a camera trying to get them recorded.

"Two Cups" is one of my signature metal pieces.  I like painting metal and despite my claims that it's really not hard, I found this one difficult to do.  I'm not sure if it was the surface of the new double lead primed linen or not.  It should be a nearly perfect surface to paint on but this piece just seemed to fight me all the way.  Despite the battle, however, I think the piece came out just fine.

I recently sold the painting "Clouds over Mendocino" to a collector and then this month sold another two landscapes.  Despite being under the weather for a month or so, I emerged to find the sun shinning.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Clouds over Mendocino

"Clouds over Mendocino", Oil on Board, 20" x 30"
I recently took a trip to California to deliver some paintings to my gallery in Boonville.  It's easy to see why this coastal area has inspired so many plein air artists. 

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Still Life Painting of Pitchers

"In Golden Light"

Oil on Linen Pane17" x 31"


Some days I look back to when I was just starting out in this business of being a full time artist and I recall thinking how cool it would be to do what I loved full time. I'm always amazed that I managed to do this and that my life has turned out to be so full and busy. But there are days when I have to admit - it's just a job. Today was one of those days. I had emails to dash off, paperwork to complete for certification by the school board (I'm taking on some teens in my classes who are serious about pursuing realism). I had to order frames for newly completed work. Then I had to finish the background on a newly finished piece that I wasn't happy with and then it was photograph this and type out that. Price this and post that. Just a lot of little nit picky things that have to get done and which get pushed to the side until I have a day clear enough to plow through them. Finally, I'm done and can post this. I still have some paperwork to do for the Gallery, but it can wait until I'm done here and can pour a cup of tea and settle into it. 


I finished this piece about a month ago and just finished varnishing it. It's going with me in two weeks to California to be presented to a gallery along with a bunch of others. Hopefully it will meet muster.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Pastel Painting of Washington Hoh River


"Hoh River Morning"Pastel, 12" x 18"

The past two or three months have been extremely hectic. Summer's on the Olympic Peninsula generally are very busy. Our summer's are short and once the weather turns warm, everyone's relatives and out of state friends start clamoring to visit. While the rest of the country is sweltering in 100 degree temps, it's a nice comfortable 75 degrees here - most of the time.  I've had one house guest after another and then my work load has increased. A gallery in Northern California has expressed interest in my work and requested that I bring 10 new pieces down for possible selection. Needless to say I've been pretty busy.  

This year I was asked to judge the Clallam County Fair Art Show and in addition, I spent two days demonstrating pastels. Here's one of the pieces I did on Saturday.  Sunday's piece to follow in a couple of days. 



Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Head Study in Oil

Study of Anna Marie

Oil on Paper


Sometimes I just need to practice and so I whip out a piece of oil paper (Arches) and throw it up on the easel.  If I'm lucky enough to have someone I can nail down to a chair, I'll paint from life. If not, I'll put up one of my many photos of my favorite models and friends on a large vertical monitor and place it back a bit from my easel. The goal is to do the sketch directly onto my surface and then paint into it.

I was pretty happy with the way this one came out although it didn't quite meet all my expectations or goals. Still - practice is practice and the more mileage on a brush, the better the magic it makes.  

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Male Nude Charcoal Drawing

"The Dreamer"

25" x 19", Charcoal and White Chalk on Paper

I really enjoy life drawing. There's nothing that can compare for me to the concentration and pleasure I get from trying to capture a pose. In order to hold myself to the discipline of drawing, I host a life drawing group at my studio on Mondays. We hire our models for up to six weeks because those participating in our group want to take time to develop a drawing to a high level of polish. This model is one of my favorites. He keeps himself in great shape and works hard to hold a pose. Here's my latest drawing.


Thursday, April 09, 2015

Oil Painting of Cloud Scape

"Salt Flats on the Hood Canal", Oil on Linen Panel, 36" x 25"
















I've started a new series on cloudscapes in the Northwest recently. This is the first in the series. I used to do a lot of landscape but got away from it in order to pursue the figure and still life. However, recently I was asked to do an in-kind trade with a charity in exchange for some publicity. It seemed like a good idea.  But I wanted to be sure that the painting would have a good chance of selling for them. Landscapes generally do better than still life in the sales department so I figured I'd do one of the local Sol Duc Falls. But then I have a student who has expressed a strong interest in painting clouds and so I decided to try my hand at doing a cloudscape for the charity and that way my student could watch the process.

I'm very much attracted to salt flats and river basins. Perhaps it's the dreamy look or the interesting shapes that they take or maybe just the color of the grasses. But I had the idea to use some photo references I had of the Hamma Hamma River basin/salt flats in Washington and combine them with a cloud reference from my overflowing box of photo references that rarely gets used. In order to avoid getting stuck with the color in the photos, which rarely looks good, I put the two photos together on Photoshop and then took out the color and adjusted the values. Then I built the color that I envisioned for the piece. Hope you like it. 

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Painting of a Jade Plant

Journal Entry, Thursday, March 26th.  Done. I've been on a mission to finish this piece so that I could get started on a landscape commission. I brought the piece to a finish over the last three studio days and let it rest between to see what it needed. Overall, I'm happy with the painting although my vision for it was a bit different, the end result was satisfying. I'm pleased with the fabric and the vase design came out well. The last change I made was to the vase where I darkened it with a glaze a bit on the right side.

So, off to the gallery and onward and upward.  

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Painting of a Jade Plant

























Journal Entry: March 6, 2015

Today was a teaching day but the class was small so I was able to do some work on the piece.  The cloth is starting to come together and I'm finding great satisfaction in the way it's evolving. I can see where it will take on more dimension and feel once I start to add some compliments and some blue as well to the lights and shadows. I've been experimenting with this as I go along. I'm not an impressionist but I do love the way color can enliven a traditional painting when added in the right place. One of my favorite painters is Howard Terpning. His use of color is pure magic and I'd like to add some of that to my work. The metallic threads in the cloth are fun to do as well. The use of tiny pieces of white along with yellow ochre and cad yellow in certain places really work to bring these out. One of my students accused me of using metallic paint! Ha! Overall, very satisfied with the progress today. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Painting of a Jade Plant

Journal Entry, March 2, 2015

I spent the better part of the morning contemplating this possible disaster and trying to decide where to go next. The plant itself didn't take long to get a first pass in a few days ago but I can see that the fabric will be more of a challenge. The light in the studio is best now around 2:00 PM. It wafts softly onto the setup and the shadows are deeper and warmer at that hour. But the light soon fades after that and I'm back to artificial light. I can't wait half a day for one hour's easel time. I can see that I'll have to work on this problem before my next piece. It's never been this much of an issue before. Why am I so focused on it now?                                                           


  
In tackling the tapestry, I considered painting it alla prima or working flatly and then describing the lights and shadows with glazes and scumbles. I decided on a combination of the latter. It's a challenge because the shadows are rather shallow and poorly described in the morning hours. By working it in glazes, I have the option of darkening and brightening selective passages when the light is right. (An apology to my readers about the easel light which blows out the plant.) I worked the darks and lights on the areas of cloth that didn't have design on them and left the design relatively flat. Much of that will have to be described later.

My container looks sick and lopsided. I can hardly stand to look at it. Definitely a lesson in getting the drawing right before starting work. I covered a lot of canvas today, but the real meat of the work still lies ahead. 

Monday, March 09, 2015

The Painting of a Jade Plant

I usually reserve step by step explanations of paintings for my teaching blog (www.musensbysusan.blogspot.com), however I haven't been working that blog in some time and I thought this blog would be a better platform because this is a not so much a step by step lesson but more an insight into the mind and heart of what this artist is thinking from the inspiration and inception of a painting, through its stages of growth and into its final and painful birth. So join me for awhile as I share with you entries from my journal as the painting emerges. As I'm already quite a ways into the piece, I'll be putting down here the first few stages and corresponding entries in one shot. I'll break it into two separate blog entries bringing it to where it is today and then further developments will be shared as they take place.

Journal Entry, February 24, 2015

The inspiration for this piece came as a whispered prayer from the Jade plant itself which has been growing patiently in the foyer of my home under the soft, filtered light from my northern skylight. The plant loves it there I think. I can tell by the way the stems reach straight up toward the light. I fear that the painting may be taking too long and that the poor thing regrets its request and wishes to return to the sanctity of that quiet false rain forest atmosphere where it has been for a very long time. It is, after all, rather gloomy in my studio. I turn the set up directly to the light of my over large studio window when I'm not at work. The race is on now to finish before the plant suffers for its vanity.

I thought for a long time about how I wanted to do this painting. Should I work in pastels or Oils? I decided on oils and then I took another month to consider my concept. After all, I have always taught and been taught to have a concept. How else will I know when I'm done? When I have fulfilled my concept, the work is done. Or so I've come to believe.  Though I do have a concept in mind, I've decided to honor the request of the Jade and ask the painting what it requires instead. It seems to call for a background that would speak of it's ancestry or at the very least lend some viability to its name. Hence, the Asian wallpaper in the background. Now, mind you, I don't know that Jade plants are at all descended from Asian ancestry. But who am I to question a plant after all? While I wanted to honor this request, I had to consider the how of it all. I'm really not very good at calligraphy and, for that matter, my own handwriting is terrible. I settled on some paper that had Korean writing on it and scanned that into my computer, printing it out through the magic of Photoshop onto archival paper. This was affixed to canvas - which had some problems of its own. Won't go into that here, but I've learned a lot about this kind of application since. Being a classical painter and having had the importance of archival materials beat into my head, I struggled with this whole idea of mixed media for another couple of weeks. A call to Golden relieved my anxiety and I moved forward. (Please comment on the blog if you have any questions about how I proceeded here.)

Journal Entry, February 26, 2015

I transferred the drawing this past Sunday and spent the better part that day just getting some glazing down. I used combinations of burnt sienna, burnt umber and permanent alizarin crimson to lay in the color. Today, I felt that I could start in on the container or is it a vase? It doesn't seem quite the right word. I was a bit stymied by the light. The cool light coming in from my north facing window just doesn't seem to set it off right. I was definitely frustrated over this unexpected conundrum. I changed the temperature of an additional light bulb several times. I'm still not happy. The plant wants natural light. I can hear that and obviously it needs it to survive this process as well. I can easily see this painting taking a month or more. Just artificial light won't do and besides, I dislike working from it. I settled on a combination but can see that I'll need to use my internal vision more than my physical sight to get the quality of light I envision. But the whole trial and error thing took the better part of the day. Sigh. I didn't get far, but at least I made a start. 



Journal Entry, February 27, 2015

Well, things are moving ahead although I can't say I'm completely satisfied. I struggle to integrate the background with the foreground. The leaves of the plant are trickier than I thought, and as is the manner of plants, it keeps changing as it endeavors to turn toward the light. Still, the plant is dictating this painting. It thinks it's the client and has commissioned the work. So I have to deal. The under painting could have been done better but the ground on which I'm working has its own challenges and so I made do with a very basic wash in and allowed myself to forego the usual detailed grissaille. I hope none of my fellow graduates from Georgetown Atelier see this once I post it. The container is off a bit and this first pass is not what I was aiming for.  But the Jade is taking shape. I've experimented a bit with some broken yellow/green in the background and think I'll keep it. So much still to do.




Stay tuned for the next installment.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Oil Painting of Crystalline Glaze Tea Pot and Eggs

"Two for Tea"
Oil on Board, 9" x 12"

















Hot off the easel. I just finished this little piece. Usually I paint by the north light that comes in from the large arched window in the studio. I started this under north light, however, here in Washington in the winter, the light fades fast and with so many overcast or rainy days, the light fades even faster in my studio. I like to paint in all day sessions but the fact that by 2:00, it's too dark, put a damper on my work day. So I added some artificial light to supplement. It did warm things up a bit and made it possible to work through the day, but I'm not entirely happy with the cast the light put on my set up. The shadows turned rather cool in response to the warmer light and the work just didn't have the same feel. I'm thinking that in the future, I'll either paint entirely in warm artificial light or just wait out the weather. Your comments are always welcome.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Oil Painting of Magnolias in a Red Vase


"The Red Vase"

Oil on Linen


























I finished this piece some time ago and it is hanging in Gallery 9.  Somehow, though, it never got posted here. It's a small but unassuming piece and yet I like it because of the strong shapes and the bright red vase which pops the piece.