Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Still Life of Alabaster Vases against Egyptian Background

"Out of Egypt"Oil on Panel13" x 19"

Finished. Spent this morning tidying up. I concluded the salt cellar lid and glazed shadows to neutralize some of the blue. I did this to the background as well though it may shop up that way in the photo. I toyed with the cast shadow on the wall and lightened it by scumbling a bit but didn't change it by much. Highlights on the small vase in the background brought it to a finish. It will be on display at Gallery-9 this Saturday. Come take a gander.


Monday, July 22, 2019

Still Life of Alabaster Vases with Egyptian Background

"Out of Egypt" - On the Easel

This summer has kept me pretty busy with travel, home improvements and sick cats. The latter have kept me hopping with medications and special feedings. I'm happy to report I'm back at the easel - in between taking sunshine breaks.

On a recent trip to Ellensburg, WA, I picked up three Alabaster vases that I fell in love with. After prepping the background, I set them up together with a salt cellar I've painted many times and proceeded to work. Here's a step by step on what I've done so far:


Day One: 
Now on the easel. I recently purchased several marble vases. I’ve painted objects like these many times and enjoy the challenge of the swirling colors and the translucence of the marble. 
This time however, instead of a plain background I was inspired by some Egyptian imagery and decided to try something new. The background is archival paper mounted and sealed on a cradled panel. The shapes of the vases were transferred from a drawing and painted with gesso to allow for a more translucent effect once they are painted. 
As you can see, the foot of the largest vase and the tile on which it sits have been given a first pass. Yum! I’m having fun and the paint is so delicious I could eat it! More later as the painting progresses.






















Day Two:

(My apologies - this photo was deleted from my files prematurely)



I’ve matched the background and continue to lay in the large Onyx vase. This takes careful observation and, as always, this close looking, examining and considering brings on a meditative state. The swirl of color, the translucence of the stone and the rosy color of the light are hypnotizing. I know some of the values will need to be adjusted. Even the north light from my window shifts as the day progresses. Tomorrow is another day.

Day Three:


















The first pass on the large vase is completed. I can see that there are still more value adjustments to make. The light at this hour in the studio is quite magical but eludes me. The vase in the front will also need adjustment. I’m pushing the background towards green. The cool offsets the warms in the vases and pushes them forward. Still much to do.
Day Four:















I took some time off on Saturday to enjoy the beautiful weather. But kept visiting the painting like a sick patient. Today I took to it again. The vase was off kilter so I took out my plumb line and redrew the thing. It sits better now. No longer drunk. I adjusted and conserved values on the vase in order to have highlights show up. Warmed some of the glow with a glaze of coral. The small
 vase in the foreground also needed adjustment and it too was off center. I needed to make a decision in favor of losing an edge or letting it show. I decided in favor of a slight contrast in value because the asymmetrical design of color created the illusion of it again being out of balance. Same for the smaller vase. I finished the day by laying in the smallest vase in the background. It will need a second pass perhaps tomorrow. I softened edges and toyed with the background and table top before closing. The horizon line needs fixing. The salt cellar and I are old friends. It will go easy and I anticipate being done either tomorrow or Monday. I am, though, considering adding another element. Something living?









Friday, January 25, 2019

Still Life with White Lace - New Beginnings

Since my beloved uncle passed in November, I have been unable to get into my studio for anything other than teaching. First grief and then the time consuming chores of closing out his apartment and assisting the executor in aspects of his estate have kept me in a state that swung from sadness to confusion to numbness. Then came the holidays. I don't need to explain what that was like.

When I first got the phone call from his guardian that said he was in the hospital, I was in my studio engrossed in a painting that I had envisioned for a long time. I put my paints away, cleaned my brushes and immediately left for Seattle. I was with him for three days in the hospital before he passed. And since that telephone call until two weeks ago, I was just unable to get back to the painting.

When I finally did, I was sure that I had gone cold on it and would not be able to finish. But I persevered and I'm glad I did. As the work progressed, I found myself pulled back into the canvas and in a dialogue with the painting that pushed and pulled me in a new direction. I insisted on painting it one way and it insisted I try another approach. We compromised and the final result is a kind of detente.

I hope you like it.

"White Lace"
Oil on Canvas
40" x 30"



Saturday, October 06, 2018

Angel Tree

"Magus"
Oil on Canvas
30" x 40"

In North Carolina there is a tree named "Angel Tree". I've always found trees to be glorious, majestic sculptures. Each one has its own unique character and personality. I am especially called to Oaks. When I lived in California I spent a lot of time on the Santa Rosa Ecological Plateau. Contrary to its name, this beautiful preserve is located off the I-15 somewhere between Lake Elsinore and Temecula and not in Santa Rosa.

The park has hundreds of 400 year old California Live Oaks dancing on grassy hills with walking paths winding through them. There are mysterious shady dells and sunlit patches and knobby areas everywhere with boulders, blue skies and seasonal ponds. The trees dot the landscape like so many dancers celebrating their freedom and the endless horizon.

I spent many hours there hiking, painting and photographing those trees. But now I live where Oaks are rare things and fir and pine dominate the landscape. Although I had hundreds of photos of trees to choose from to assist me in bringing my vision to canvas, I chose the image of  "The
Angel Tree" because its reaching branches made me think of a great magician raising his arms to manifest something beautiful and mysterious into the world.

This painting was in a way a bit of breakthrough for me in that instead of my directing the brush, the painting took over and directed it. It was a kind of push/pull because I don't relinquish control easily. Still, I think the painting won. I called the painting "Magus", because for me, it's magic.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Still Life Painting with an Abstract Feel

The new year started with a whimper for me. I had all kinds of plans to do all kinds of new stuff but it all just seemed to evaporate with a puff of smoke. It may be that I have been focusing on my Magick stuff too much these days. My brain seems to be someplace else and despite lots and lots of meditation and other good mind stuff, my brain seems to have taken a vacation. I believe my teachers would say I need to work on grounding. OK, OK, I’m listening.
"Cityscape", 20" x 31 1/4", Oil on Linen
True, I had a video to produce on my Atelier class and that took some time and energy, but hey, I wasn’t the one editing it. My videographer was. But that’s another story. I’ll post the video after this post. I did manage to start another painting for the new year and I’m pretty satisfied that I came close to my vision for it. Lots of ideas are swimming around my head so maybe all that meditation did something after all.  I wanted to do a still life that had a feeling of abstract work. Well, not fully abstract. I am a representational painter after all. But I always say that a good realist painting has at it’s oily heart a good abstract design. So that’s what I was aiming for. I made the objects larger than they are in life and the painting measures 30 1/4″ by 20″ which is big for a still life.  Anyway, here’s the painting and I hope you like it as much as I do.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Marine Painting

Every time I paint a new marine painting, I'm reminded of why these can be so difficult to do well. Although I had the background for this piece worked out, finding the right resource for the water and the sailboat became a great challenge. I needed to find one where the waves, water, wind and light all worked with the reference photo of the clouds. Basically, I needed three photos. Actually, that's not as many as I used for my large marine piece, "Before the Reef". But still, even with finding photos that worked for all those factors, I was still confronted with the color issue. How to make all these disparate factors come together for a harmonious painting.

I find in these cases the best thing to do is to put it all together on Photoshop, work on getting the light and values to work together and then changing the whole image to black and white. Then I can use what ever colors work best for the piece without being influenced by what I see in a photo. That's what I did here. I may change things a bit later on. I sometimes do. But I think it's OK for now. Anyway, it needs to go in my upcoming show at Gallery 9 in December. Wish me luck.




















"Running with the Wind"
17 1/2" x 23 1/2"
Oil on Panel

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Painting Nature, Quail's Nest

I have several pieces done but this was my favorite. I just love the way the feathers curl around the nest in a little protective embrace. So I was looking forward to displaying this little gem at the gallery and last night a good friend came by for dinner and bought it! So the gallery loses the commission but I gained another 20%. And really, although I would have enjoyed showing it off, it sold and that's the point of these little pieces, isn't it? So I did a little happy dance and put it aside for varnishing.

I enjoyed this little painting and think I might like to explore nature a bit more. For someone who lives so close to it, I don't get out as often as I'd like. I'm pretty sensitive to the cold and now that winter is here, I spend less and less time out of doors. Maybe I'm missing something?

P.S. I'm now entering my work onto Art Work Archive. Here's a link to my Public Page. Still have a ton to put up there but at least things are getting organized.

Quail's Nest
5 7/8" x 6"
Oil on Linen Panel
SOLD


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Miniature Painting of Tin Measuring Cup

Measuring Cups
6" x 8", Oil on Panel



During the months of October and November, Gallery 9 in Port Townsend, WA will be featuring a 100 under $100 sale which will include small art works, jewelery and miscellaneous items for sale under $100.  I just whipped this little piece out in anticipation of the event.  Be sure to come by and check out the sale! Lots of great opportunities for Christmas presents and other holiday gifts.  


Monday, September 25, 2017

Marine Painting of Ship in Storm Tossed Sea

Done! Lots of time went into this piece. I've learned a lot. I've gotten some good advice from other painters and plenty of advice from sailors. There are one or two things I would have done differently here but otherwise I'm satisfied with this piece.

I'll be giving a talk at the Olympic Peninsula Art Association this Thursday on the making of this piece. But it won't really premier until the beginning of  December when I can put it in the window of Gallery 9 where I'll be featured artist for that month. Stop by if you have a chance. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Ship on Stormy Sea

This is the fourth or fifth iteration of this painting. It's had more work done before this stage and some after. I'm nearly finished and will post the fnal piece in a couple of weeks.  

Here I've painted in the rigging as well as the seams on the sails. I made some changes to the hull as well, removing the gun ports as they were empty and I didn't have good photo resources for them. 

The wave in the front has been worked on more as well as those in the background. Stay tuned for the finale!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Marine Painting - Ship on Stormy Sea

Here's the second progress report on my first marine painting with a ship.  I have, of course, lots of photos of this piece in progress but thought better of boring you with too many closeups and small change photos. 

The water is nearly finished although I have made changes to the mid-ground and foreground wave not shown here. Also the sky. 

The ship remains with lots to do.  

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Marine Painting of Storm Tossed Ship

Clouds and ocean go together like peanut butter and jelly. Or at least it seems so to me. I've been practicing skyscapes a lot over the past year and with them, I've painted a lot of water as well. So after all this practice, I decided to put it all together and drop a ship into that water. Now despite living on the water, or at least close to it, I don't know much about ships and less about sailing. But I figured I could do a decent job of painting one. So in my typical - "let's just dive right in" attitude, I pulled out the stops and started to paint one.

The elements for this painting were drawn from stock photos. I pulled separate pictures for the sky, mid ground (er, water) and foreground. Then I searched for a masted ship photo that would serve for my subject. Then I put it all together and Photoshopped the color and values until I was satisfied. So here are the first two iterations. The painting is much further along than this now but I want to show how I have been building toward the final image so stay tuned over the next few days.I've skipped a couple of steps in order not to bore you. 



Sunday, July 30, 2017

Wedding Portraits in Oil on Gold Leaf

I recently attended the long awaited wedding of my granddaughter Cassidy to her fiance, Luke. Like any grandma I wanted to give them wonderful presents. And I did. My husband and I bequeathed a monetary gift as well as an item from one of her gift registries. But it just wasn't enough. I mean, when you love someone you want to keep on showering them with stuff.  

Because my granddaughter and her family live three thousand miles from us, it makes showing love in other ways difficult. How many times can you heart someone on Facebook?

I recently became interested in doing miniature portraits and paintings on gold leaf. So I went to Cassidy's FB page and looked over all the wonderful pics she had been posting of her and Luke.  I really liked this one so I copied it and projected it on my computer to work from. This was the result.  I gifted this to her at her wedding shower and she loved it.  Turns out that the photo was a popular one and she had used it on the special wine bottles that were gifted to members of the bridal party and family.  


I love doing these. The total size for the entire piece framed is 8" x 10".  I can work from any photo you supply as long as it is clean and clear.  Old black and white photos lend themselves nicely to a beautiful antique look as I paint them in a warm sepia tone on the gold leaf. These make wonderful anniversary or wedding gifts. Wouldn't you love to gift your parents or a favorite friend with one?

If you're interested or just have questions, you can email me at: susanspar@susanspar.com.  Check out my website for other gift ideas. Thanks for reading.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Video Demo of a Pastel Landscape


I was proud to have a one woman show at the Sequim Museum in Sequim, Washington during the month of June. On June 17th I held a demonstration of a pastel landscape. I really enjoy doing demos because it's a great opportunity to meet the public in a way that introduces them to my work and also helps to enlighten and teach others about the art making process.

This painting was done from a small oil plein air study I painted a couple of years ago at Ediz Hook in Port Angeles, Washington.  It's a long spit that goes out for about two miles into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  It was overcast that day and very windy. I actually did this small piece as a demo for the paper and my small plein air class. I used a very limited palette for the oil. I always liked the study and thought it would be fun to try as a pastel. So I used it for the demo.

I didn't have a videographer to work my camera so I set the camera up on a tripod and asked a friend to just monitor it and make sure it kept running.  Unfortunately, I do step a bit out of the camera range but only for a second or two.  It's been edited down and fixed as much as possible.  Hope you enjoy it!