Friday, August 19, 2016

Where I find my Inspiration

Untitled18" x 14", Oil on Panel




This still life piece has been sitting on my easel for about three weeks while I finished preparing for my show at Gallery-9.  I'm still considering changes I think would enhance the piece.  For instance, I've been considering adding a little more violet or bluish violet to background on the right.  Perhaps a little softening of the edge on the egg.  Maybe a bit of brightening on I'm otherwise pretty happy with this piece.

People sometimes ask me why I paint still life.  I've given this a lot of thought.  For one, I prefer to paint from life.  Cameras produce pictures that have very little in the way of life to them and lie horribly.  They blow out the lights and tend to make the shadows too dense.  Nothing beats the human eye.

But what inspires me? That's an important question.  This week, as part of an assignment in an art marketing course I'm taking, I was given some exercises to do to assist me in re-writing my artist's statement.  Now that's a touchy subject.  There are lots of coaches out there giving advice on this subject and I've read quite few of them. I had written my statement some time ago and have been pretty happy with it so I was resistant to this exercise, but this assignment brought up some things I hadn't actually pinpointed before.
My current statement talks about light being the predominant theme in my work. This is still true - as it is for many artists.  But that's what made me stop and think. What about light is it that I am trying to say? So I answered a bunch of questions about important events in my life and who or what incidents were pivotal in my life.  I found some interesting things.

In almost every case that I was writing about, I saw an image in my mind.  "So what?" you think. "Everyone does that." Well, yes and I'm a visual artist so for me it happens with every memory and every projected thought about the future.  But I came to realize that I wasn't just seeing the image, I was feeling something about it and in every case, the light in the image carried the emotion for me. 


Here's an example of what I'm talking about.  When I recall my childhood from about age three to six, I recall a lot of lonely afternoons at my Grandmother's house.  My father was dying of  Polycystic Kidney Disease and my mother had to spend most afternoons at the Veterans Hospital in the Bronx.  I was left at my Grandmother's house.  Some folks have many happy memories of their days with grandparents.  Not me.  I loved my grandmother but those were lonely days.  The images that came to me were of lying on her couch, bored and watching the late afternoon sun come in from the north facing windows.  It was a bit dim and it fell on an old clock that ticked away the hours until my mother would come to get me. That light felt sad to me.

Now I have a north facing window in my studio and I paint using its light, but it doesn't depress me.  Sometimes, though, if I'm feeling lonely or just a little sad over something, that particular quality of light will become the focus of my painting.  Other times, it's a more silvery or golden light I'm after that speaks about other emotions.  So it's the light that carries my message.

One more thing:  We live in a world that is fast and caters to instant gratification.  My work is about slowing down and taking the time to look at things - the light on an object, the patina on a silver chalice that tells us this piece is old and has a history.

So there you go.  That's why I paint still life -- and other subjects as well.  Because the light carries meaning and emotion for me and I want to share that with you.  Be well.  And if you think of a name for this piece, go ahead and post it here.  I'd love some feedback!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Sky Painting

"One Last Cast"

Oil on Linen Panel

36" x 24"

















Well, the title of this painting might confuse you a bit.  It's rather difficult to see here in the photo but there are two figures fishing with a bunch of Seagulls swooping around them as a storm approaches.  I had a different title for this piece originally but once I placed the figures, it became apparent that the title had to change.

This is the last painting I had to complete for my show at Gallery 9 in Port Townsend.  My show as Featured Artist will be on display for the month of August and will have 11 new original skyscapes, so if you have a chance to drop by, please do.  I'll be there, of course, on August 6th at 5:00 for Gallery Walk so if you can, come on by and share a glass of wine with me. I'll also be at the gallery all day on the 9th and the 14th and would love to chat with you about art in general or, even better, my art!







Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Studio Tour


I have recently started teaching through Skype. Of course Skype is a great tool but it makes it difficult for my students to see what I'm doing when I paint because I can't direct the camera on my computer. Sooooo...the obvious answer is video! Now I'm no veteran video artist so this requires a learning curve. I pulled out my video camera - which was brand new about three years ago and which I only used once. I know. Bad, right? But better late than never. So as a practice exercise, I decided to do a tour of my studio which one of my Skype students thought would be nice to see. I must warn you, however, that I failed to do any house cleaning when I shot this and it's pretty raw. But it will give you a very good idea of the space I work and create in. So, welcome to my studio. Hope you enjoy the stay. I wanted to offer wine, however, there just wasn't an option for that on YouTube.




Friday, July 08, 2016

Skyscape

Sun Shower
Oil on Board, 10" x 24"











I just finished number seven in a series of skyscapes for a show in August when I'll be featured artist at Gallery 9 in Port Townsend, WA.  I usually show a variety of work but with the advent of spring and now summer, my eyes have been cast heavenward at the spectacular show of clouds we've been enjoying over our waters and mountains here.

I've also been trying to master the technique of glazing the difficult colors that emerge in sunsets.  Pigment, unlike light, is a gross substance.  It doesn't do what light does and although nature can get away with very intense color, when an artist does it, it can come out positively garish.  Also, in order to get the ethereal effects of rim light on a cloud, I'm forced to change the colors that nature displays.  For instance, I have to add small amounts of yellow to my whites in order to make them brighter and cast violet into the areas around the cloud so that when I glaze them later, the blue areas around the clouds don't turn green.  It's a tricky thing.  But very satisfying when it comes out right.

I now have about nine paintings for this show and I'm fairly satisfied with the results.  Still have one on the easel I'm toying with but I should work out the problems fairly soon and then be done with the piece.  Frames ordered.  Now to move on to other things. 

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.