Saturday, September 27, 2014

Peaceful Pride

Group Show
I am sitting here on my bed tonight surrounded by the paintings I have been working on for the last several months in anticipation of our group show,

I've purchased the frames and now have all the paintings leaning against the walls as I go through the process of installing the canvases and panels into the frames and wiring the frames so they can be hung.  Aside from the relief I feel at having almost completed 16 paintings for this show, I realize now several other emotions.   Hopefully, I won't sound arrogant or boastful, but darn.... I feel proud of myself!!

I have to say that the women I traveled to Canyon de Chelly  with are amazing people and wonderful artists and I was feeling a bit intimidated.  When I was at the canyon, I was afraid I couldn't paint a thing, but heck, it turned out that I did just fine.   Then when one of the gals was able to arrange a group show for all of our paintings, I was thrilled, but I also almost panicked! 

Goal:  Don't Embarrass Yourself
Initially, my one aim was to paint some studio pieces well enough not to embarrass myself.  I really worked hard to use color and texture and design which is unique, interesting and different from that of my talented colleagues.  Of course, we're all painting the scenes we experienced together from the same canyon, but I was hoping to differentiate myself a bit -- (and not in a bad way). 

We all went together to arrange an ad in Southwest Art Magazine and the editor decided to write a piece about our show.  I was really pleased when we got the "collector" copies of the magazine and I discovered that she had chosen one of my paintings for the editorial!!   (She selected "First Light" which was painted from a small study I called "Dawn".)

Whoo Hooo!  What a thrill!


 


Right now I am surrounded by my Canyon de Chelly paintings and they make me feel proud. 

And that gives me a sense of peace.

"Peaceful"  is the last painting I created for the show and it's fitting that both the painting and my state of mind are in sync.


If you're anywhere near Monrovia, please consider coming by to see the show!!!



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Friday, September 12, 2014

Mystic Ruins -- Getting Ready For a Show



    Mystic Ruins 14x18 O/C

I wonder how many people realize how much thought and time and work goes into creating a single artwork.  I know I really never did.  It's not always about sitting in front of an easel with a paintbrush in your hand.  There are so many facets to it:
  • You need to go on location to get impressions, sketches, small paintings, photos, gather feelings and notes about the place.
  • You need to pour through all of that to decide which sketches, notes, or impressions to use if you're going to create a studio piece.
  • You need to decide on what you want to feeling of the piece to be... the story.
  • You need to decide what size it will be -- what aspect (horizontal or vertical).
  • Will you sketch it out or will you let the final image emerge as you paint? 
  • Will your painting be more about the paint or more about the scene?
  • Will your painting be imaginative??  If so, in what way will you push it?   (pushing color, adding clouds, not including shapes which don't add to the story... )
  • How can your painting escape the mundane... stand out?
  • Are your values right?   Are the colors playful and interesting?  Do your edges help the painting read?  And what does the brushwork say about you?
  • Can you have a painting that is about the scene but still be mysterious, painterly and playful?
  • How will you frame it?   Where will you get the frames?
  • Where will you show the work?
  • How will you market or advertise the work?
Seriously, those of you that are painters know these things, so I'm sure you could add many, many more thoughts to it.  Actually I'd love it if you'd add some of the things I've left off.

I've been working hard to get paintings ready for our upcoming show, "Canyon de Chelly: Spirit of Land and Light" which will open on October 11th at Segil Art Source Gallery in Monrovia.  It is a culmination of the work of the six artists called the PAC6 Painters who traveled to Canyon de Chelly to paint last April.  We all have different styles and visions and we know it will be a great show.  I would love it if you would come!

Canyon de Chelly: Spirit of Land and Light
October 11-November 8 2014
Segil Art Source, Monrovia, CA


"Mystic Ruins" is one of 14 or 15 pieces I have painted for the show.  I wanted to include at least one painting depicting the ancient Anasazi ruins which still remain in the canyon.  We were able to see them from the canyon edge as well as closer up when we rode into the canyon.  The Navajo, on whose reservation the canyon sits, are proud of their heritage and our guide, Irene, told many stories about the People (The Dine') who lived and struggled to survive in these lands.

If you are in the area, please put this show on your calendar.  I'd love to meet you and share all of our work.


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Friday, August 29, 2014

Malibu Moonrise... Working on the night moves..

Malibu Moonrise 9x12 O/L


Diane Nelson-Gold and I headed out to paint the August Super Moon as it rose over the coast.  We headed up over the Santa Monica Mountains, but as we neared the coast all we could see was a thick blanket of fog.  So we decided to paint the moonrise over the Malibu hills off of Mulholland Highway.  We got there while it was still light and weren't really sure where the moon would rise. 

It was sure beautiful when it began to peak out over the top of the mountain!
I got my block in and then realized I was standing on an ant hill.  As I slapped my legs and stomped my feet, Diane came over to help and what did she see?  --a scorpion at my feet!   It hadn't bitten me, but it certainly was worse for wear after the fright it gave us.

Such is the life a a plein air painter!

**********
I've been working on several low light painting...  evening, like this one where the values are very close together.  I haven't been really satisfied with my efforts, but I really do know that the more often I work at it, the more likely it will be that I WILL be satisfied with how it comes out.  Sometimes painting is just a struggle.  I think that's true especially when you are trying something new or different. 

Sadly, I think I'm a pretty slow learner.   I do, however, seem to keep at it and I'm ever-hopeful that, like the tortoise, I will cross the "finish" line a winner.

Actually I've come to the conclusion that just BEING ON THIS JOURNEY of learning and growing as an artist makes me a winner.

In addition to my Venice nocturne from my last blog post, here are a few other nocturnes/ moon rises  I've attempted lately (and one from a while back that I've always liked).

Malibu Moonrise   9x12     O/L                     July Moonrise   8x10  O/L                  
                   

  Good Night, Moon  12x12  O/L                 San Pedro Evening Sky     9x12     O/L

                   
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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Salute A Notte (One of several experimental nocturnes)

Salute A Notte 11x14 O/L $600

 Experimenting
When my brother-in-law last visited from Italy, he suggested that I should paint pictures of Venice.  He told me he could sell them easily when he returned back home.  Well, I didn't jump on it for quite a while and I'm still not convinced that it's a good idea for any number of reasons.
  • The first reason is that there are a lot of bad paintings of Venice and I didn't want MY work to be among them.
  • Those paintings I HAVE done of Venice have seemed stiff and not where I want to go with my work.  I've gotten some awards for them, but... most just weren't "me".
  • The next reason I've hesitated is that I think of myself as an outdoor painter first.  I haven't been to Venice in a while.  (Lately Gastone goes alone so that he can spend more time with his Mom and Dad who are in their 80s.)  So if I paint, I have to rely on my old photos not current field studies.
  • Finally... well.... Venice is a city... and that involves architecture which I haven't painted much.  I'm trying to work looser and I fear I'd get tighter rather than looser if I focused on an architecture-rich environment.
Inspirations
The other day I decided to try a Venice painting anyway.   I've been experimenting with nocturnes and low light paintings for a month or so now ...-sadly rather unsuccessfully.. and I decided to try a Venice painting inspired by a photo I took about 10 years ago across the basin of Santa Maria della Salute at night.  I researched so many artists' work:

Of course there is John Singer Sargent:

    

And Claude Monet:






       

Then I found some contemporary artists' work I liked... some on Facebook (Michael Anfinogenov) and another artwork I really by Andrew Gifford, ("Southbank Towards the City")

    




At first when I painted the scene it was awful.  The colors had too much blue.  There was no subtlety and no interest.  When I saw this last painting, I tried to paint the Venice nocturne of the Salute in the spirit of it.  It's so beautifully full of color, but there is no real line.  The buildings emerge out of light and shade.  I love it.

I will keep working on my own paintings to achieve that loose "nothing" where you know exactly what is being painted without being "told".

In the meantime, I did have a bit of fun with my "Salute a Notte"

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Beach Play

Beach Play     10x10     O/L
Another fun day at Mondos Beach.




I have mentioned many times before that I take a regular weekly class from artist, David Gallup.  I always enjoy the critiques, the many challenges he throws our way, his demos and his advice.  I started studying with him years ago during a weekly plein air class which I loved.  However, because of conflicts with my schedule and several changes in his schedule, I moved to his Master class.

One of the other students in the class, Julie, always brings in the most interesting questions complete with photos and research.  Because David had started doing his plein air class at Mondos, I learned about the surfing classes for Tyler.  David's emphasis at Mondos had been to challenge us all to add figures to our work.  This is not an easy thing to do en plein air when people are moving all over -- the interesting ones are always moving.  After several questions from Julie and an ensuing class discussion, it becomes clear that the key element is composition.  Finding a pattern of light and dark that attracts you.  Manipulating the scene, -- the placement -- the values and the color to create a pleasing story.

After my first attempt, I wanted to go back and try it again.  Tyler, however, was off at camp.  But I decided to go anyway and join the group.  It was a gorgeous day... bright and sunny and lovely.  I'm glad I went.  We all had a nice time painting.  Mondos is just past Ventura and so after I packed up, I drove up to Santa Barbara to visit with my daughter and her family.   -- A perfect day, I think!

The plein air sketch had some good bones, but as I said, everyone moved, so after I got home, I used the photo reference to clean up and jazz it up a bit.  (I was initially drawn to the light on the back of the girl's leg and the way it pointed at the light on the forearm of the little girl sitting in the water.  I hadn't even remembered the red of her wet suit or the way the turquoise in the other wet suit blended into the water.  Then when I looked at it at home, I realized that the foam had formed a bit of a heart around the children...  I hadn't consciously noticed that, but I liked it so I kept it.)

Hope you like my little plein air piece,

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

First Light


First Light 20x20x2 Oil/Canvas

A few posts back I wrote about how I wanted to paint a larger version of scene I had done while I was in Canyon de Chelly.  It was a fairly hilarious scene.  We got there when it was still pitch black and it was quite the comedy to see us trying to set up our tripods and pochade boxes in a hurry to get set up before the sun came up.

I don't know what I expected, but it was pretty hard to get anything down that resembled a sunrise.  I did a little 8x6 just to put some notes down before the sun was high in the sky.  I definitely need to practice more nocturnes as well as sunrises and sunsets.
Painting at dawn

Since I'd had several disappointing efforts making paintings with dark foregrounds, I had decided to do a small study of a dawn painting before creating a larger version.  I wrote about it in a earlier post which I called "DAWN".

I was very happy with my little 8x8 study called "Dawn".

I shared the post on Facebook and several of my friends reminded me that making a larger painting is entirely different than painting a small one.  Brushwork isn't the same... scale is different... nothing is really the same.

That's one of the reasons it took me a bit of time to even begin the larger painting.  - I was afraid I couldn't.  But I finally realized that it wasn't supposed to be the SAME painting.  I wanted to paint the dawn over the canyon.  I had created a nice practice painting.  I had learned by doing the smaller painter.

So I started playing with color and paint and had a great time.  It may not be totally finished....  I'll let it sit for a while to "rest".

I hope you like my larger painting "First Light".

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Surfing At Mondos

Surfing At Mondos        8x8         O/L


Tyler went surfing at Mondos.  He had a blast!
While he surfed, I painted a few of the kids on the beach in front of me.
It was a fun day.



INFLUENCES
 
There is an exhibition of some of the body of work of Joaquin Sorolla, who has long been among my favorite artists.  I never learned about him in school.  Frankly my art education was rather dismal.  I learned of Sorolla's work after I began taking classes from John Paul Thornton at Mission Renaissance about 12 years ago.  John Paul taught me the basics -- drawing, values, and oil and helped me learn to love painting and art history.  I owe him an immense debt of gratitude.

If possible, I plan to go several times to see this wonderful exhibit down in San Diego.  Sorolla's work is an inspiration to me.   Joaquin Sorolla's work is masterful in catching light and color and freshness.  It is joyful, enriching and influential.

Children On The Beach   1917


Sorolla and America

Now through August 26, 2014
The story of Sorolla and America begins in 1893, with Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida's prize-winning submission to the World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago.


                                                                                                             Sewing The Sail  1896


Many of my favorite artists were influenced by Sorolla and I have been too.  Those that immediately come to mind are John Asaro and Dan McCaw's early work.  Here are some examples:


   On the left is "Watchful Eye" by Dan McCaw


   On the right is "Sisters" by John Asaro

Both of these artists have moved on and are exploring somewhat different styles, but it is clear that Sorolla's work tremendously influenced both artists.

And I am hoping all three will influence me.  I know I was thinking of their work as I did my plein air sketch at Mondos.  I was there watching Tyler on his first attempt at surfing.  He did a GREAT job.  I am hoping to go back and paint at the beach again... always with the beautiful work of Sorolla in my mind and heart.

I enjoyed painting Tyler and his friends at the beach a while back.  (It was called "Boys At The Beach" )   Perhaps after I've done several plein air sketches like this one and the other one, I'll try a studio piece with Asaro, McCaw and Sorolla as my muses.



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