Thursday, November 30, 2006

Johnny Depp - Demo

Being the obsessive compulsive person that I am, I am still thinking about the pastel demo and lesson I will be doing in my son's 7th grade art class. In preparation, I played around with this portrait of J. Depp, stopping after an hour. I chose this subject because the colors and patterns of dark and light are so dramatic; also, I was thinking he might be a fun subject for the kids to watch me demo and/or try to paint themselves. It also works for the purpose of explaining how to look at big shapes, work dark to light, consider values, etc. But I am meeting with the teacher tomorrow, and will see what she thinks of this idea. Maybe it is overambitious...if it comes down to it, we can always do fruit!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Chinese Apple with Vase of Flowers - 8 x 8" Pastel

On Thanksgiving my sister-in-law Beth garnished her turkey platter with a cut pomegranite. This led to a discussion...apparently, the entire world except for me calls this fruit a Chinese Apple! Anyway, thinking about that led to this Chinese inspired still life.
Now, a painting question. What color should the background be? I was (and still am) undecided as to the best color to set off the vase and fruit-- deeper? richer warm brown? deeper cool purply-blue? Or keep as is?!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Demos for 7th Grade Art Class

I am going to be teaching a class on pastels next week in my son's school; these were test demos I did this morning to see what kind of subject lends itself best to a 15 minute demo and illustrates the points I want to cover. I decided to try a few subjects, including a few based on pop culture, which I thought would hold their interest(no boring apples and pears!). The more detailed portraits take longer to do, and could be dissapointing if you don't get a good likeness. I decided that the figure (Jay Z) was the quickest to do, is easy to replicate, and best illustrates the points I plan to make, so I will likely do that one. Then the kids will have a chance to do their own painting...should be fun!


Still Life With Red Peppers (Study) - 12 x 16" Pastel


This was a still life set up in my weekly class. I didn't love the subject but enjoyed the exercise of painting it. I spent a few hours reading a book on painting yesterday, and could see how it influenced my choices as I was painting(Linda Cateura's book on David Leffel).

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Sunflowers - 8 x 10" Pastel

More flowers today. Sunflowers are hard to paint well...makes you really appreciate what Georgia O'Keefe and others have done. The thing that is so beautiful with O'keefe's sunflower, if you take a close look, is the brushwork. Sometimes that feels like a limitation with pastels. I tried to use the side of the stick to create interesting marks, but within the context of the small petals I really couldn't do that. It was hard not to get caught up in each petal, and think in terms of bigger shapes and values. Had fun trying, though.
Well as of tomorrow, I am taking a bit of a vacation. Next post will be in a week. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Purple Flowers (Crocus) - 8 x 10" Pastel

Today was a good day to reflect and regroup. I looked back at what I have been painting lately, and thought about what kind of paintings I like best, and respond to most. Color seemed to be missing, well maybe not color, exactly, but colors I like. And strong patterns of light and shadow, of course. What better antidote than flowers! So thank you, Wet Canvas Image Library (how else could you paint crocus in November). Painting this lifted my mood.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Painted Pony ( Antique Wooden Horse Toy) - 8" x 10" Pastel


I bought this liitle wooden horse at a tag sale...I wish I knew the story behind it. Perhaps someone made it for a child, before the days of plastic Breyer horses? Or maybe it's a decorative item, who knows. It was fun to paint, though!

I always struggle with shadow and background colors, and wasn't thrilled with the paper I used (still waiting for my replacement Wallis paper to arrive). I am satisfied with it, though.

Friday, November 17, 2006

A Pear, and a Story With a Happy Ending



First the story of the pear. I bought three pears with the idea of painting them: a red one, a green one, and a gold one. Ate the red one on the way home from the store, and since I had some metallic gold pastels I had never tried, decided to experiment while painting the gold pear. The metallic and irridescent pastels didn't work out the way I thought...I was expecting an effect like gold leaf, but it was much more subtle. Disappointing, actually. This wasn't the look that I was after.

But something else also happened. I had noticed over the past few days that some new Kitty Wallis paper I was using wasn't holding the pastel the way it normally does. In fact, big chunks were flaking off, making layering impossible. After a few days, I decided to call the company, to see if they had changed their product. I find a phone # online, dial it, and who should answer the phone but Kitty Wallis herself!(it sounded like I woke her out of bed...sorry, Kitty). We talked briefly about the problem I was having, and she explained that I probably received a defective lot, and she would send me replacement paper. I love a company that really stands behind their product, expecially since I had just dealt with a shoe company that wouldn't stand behind their poor product. Anyway, moral of the story: use Kitty Wallis paper (and if you have a problem, go straight to the top)!

Photographing a Painting Under Different Lighting Conditions

I was reading a thread on the Daily Painters Forum, about what lighting to use to photograph a painting for posting on the blog, and decided to experiment. The bottom version is photographed indoors, using the North light coming in through a window in my studio, supplemented by the overhead lighing and an extra light that I use to see what I'm painting, which uses regular lightbulbs. The top version is photographed outdoors in a shaded area. Clearly the indoor one is too warm and very different than the actual painting, but the outdoor one is appearing somewhat cooler and more blue than what I consider the real color(then again, maybe that is my computer monitor). The problem is that lots of times I finish a painting at night, and indoor lighting is the only game in town. Also I am painting under this lighting! What a difference. I think I will look into getting "natural light" indoor lighting for the studio.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Two Boats - 8 x 10" Pastel

Had only a few hours to paint today, which forced me to be fast and pay the most attention to the focal point, less to the other areas. This may have been a good thing! In any case, I wanted to post this by the midnight deadline, my goal is to make it a little more finished tomorrow, without OVERWORKING! (Note: based on photo from Wet Canvas RIL)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Just Like Mike (Nike Sneakers) - 6 x 8" Pastel

My 12 year old son is "just like Mike"...from the ankles down! These are his Air Jordans, lying on the front steps. Don't trip over them on your way in.

I am still waiting for some kind of personal painting style to emerge. Some days my paintings turn out more graphic and bold, like today; other days the result looks more impressionist, like yesterday. I really admire artists who have their own distinctive style. On the daily painters website, there are a few artists whose work I can pick out on any given day without even checking the name. One artist said he aims to be more of a painter than a copyist...that's a good goal, not sure how to get there. I guess just keep at it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Windy Day (Girl on Beach) - 8 x 10" Pastel

After two days of doing a frustrating stilllife of my own design, I broke down and went to the Wet Canvas Reference Image Library for inspiration. I chose a black and white photo, so that made for a bit of a challenge. I was a little disappointed with the outcome of the face and the stiffness (or maybe the proportions) of the figure; after working on it for quite a while, I was ready for something else, so I painted my son's sneakers instead (see above).

Monday, November 13, 2006

Mutsu Apples (Finished)

I finished this painting this morning, and ended up agreeing with the person who left a comment on the Work in Process version, that the full view was best.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Mutsu Apples (Work in Process)

I am going away for the weekend, and had high hopes of finishing this painting before leaving, but I'm out of time, and will finish it Sunday or Monday. I started out with the entire plate in view (11x14"), but now I may crop it to around 8x8" -- I'm undecided -- just not sure what composition I like better. I guess you are supposed to do thumbnail sketches ahead of time to work out things like composition before you start, but I just dove in and now see that there might be a better way. Also, only the apple on the far left is done(detail shown), the others are only blocked in.

Got the Mutsu apples at a local farm called Salingers, and they are delicious!


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Afternoon in Burano Italy, with Bicycle - 12.5 x 16" Pastel (Not A Daily Painting)

Didn't have time to finish a daily painting today, so I am posting a scene I painted from my summer trip to Italy. Burano is a small island off the coast of Venice where all the buildings are painted different colors, as you see here. Not sure why they do that, but it is incredibly beautiful.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Silk Kimonos - 18 x 24" Pastel

This painting was a nice change of pace. In an attempt to be looser, I decided to paint really BIG for a change, and I wanted a subject with lots of color. I found these silk kimonos in the back of my closet. Oddly enough, this photo makes the center kimono look pink (it is white!), and the overall picture appears darker and less bright than the painting actually is. Not sure why the photo colors aren't true --I'll have to look into that.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Celadon Vase - repost

This wasn't picked up by the daily painters yesterday, so I'm reposting to see if the computer glitch has been worked out.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Celadon Vase with Flowers - 8 x 8" Pastel

After trying to improve the goats all morning and getting a little frustrated, I needed a break, so I decided to set up a still life and try for a looser style. I love celadon pottery, and I have a lot of it-- I bought this little vase in Korea more than 20 years ago. I like this still life; I enjoyed using the shadow box set-up, and using some pretty silk flowers to offset the vase. But I still feel it's too tight...I need to loosen up! AAARGH!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Curiosity (Adorable Goats) - 8x10" Pastel (Before and After )


This painting is for friends who are raising some goats...and as you can see, they are too cute for words. Lisa tells me that she has trouble taking their picture-- they are so curious about the camera that instead of staying still, they come right up to it to see what the heck is going on.

This painting has been fun, and the top photo is the finished painting, the one underneath was an intermediate stage. The funny thing is, I worked on it a long time to get from the almost done stage to the finished painting, and it doesn't look much different. But now I'm happy with it!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Equal Time (Cat in Sunlight) - 8 x 10" Pastel

I have done two paintings of my dog Trixie so far, and only one of my cats. Fair is fair...so today I painted Mooshie. I love the way her profile looks in the light.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Anniversary in Italy- 5 x 7" Pastel


Today is a mini-milestone: I have been doing a painting a day for one month now. I admire the artists who have been at it for many months, and now I know why they keep at it. First of all, this discipline has helped me immensely, looking at other daily art and being inspired by it, trying new things and seeing what works and what doesn't.

But as for today's painting, it was a milestone for a different reason. After two still lifes I decided to do something with figures. This little vignette was from a photo I took in Venice...I really like the way the figures were backlit. But thus far, I have been the queen of literal painting...what I see is what I paint, for the most part. For this painting, I invented the background; it isn't perfect, but I am very happy I was finally able to make that leap creatively. I credit painting daily for that. Thanks for looking.