Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Amber Pears

Amber Pears
6 x 6, oil on gessoed panel
On eBay with a starting bid of $30.00

This is a beautiful little painting. It's the preliminary study for the larger pear paintings on the damask cloth, where I was working out ideas about color and texture. I am particularly thrilled with the soft violet glow in the shadows and the way it works so well with the golden yellow color.
My pricing on eBay includes the shipping, and it usually takes 2 - 3 days to get to you. I have also added a buy it now price of $35.00. The painting that sold today started at the same terms but the bidding went higher than the $35.00 so I was thrilled, but I wonder if the buyer isn't kicking themselves for not grabbing it at the lower price. Well...that painting was also gorgeous! The buyer should be very happy anyway.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Orange Sunshine

No Title Yet
16 x 20, oil on canvas
@Sue Favinger Smith

I haven't named this painting yet. It's been so cold and dark here in Oregon that I think I have been trying to paint sunshine. This is the second still life I set up on this gold damask cloth, because I love the challenge I find in capturing the weave. I wanted to push myself beyond using white - which is basically easy to paint, or stripes, or an abstracted version of cloth. I also wanted to see if I could realistically recreate the lovely blue cast shadow from the blue glass plate. There were a lot of subtleties where the light moving through the glass changed in color and how the shadow also changed. Plus it was an important element to indicate the table edge.

If you want to try painting a cloth with a definite pattern, such as a jacquard or a damask, this is what I discovered:

I use color temperatures and not values to define the weave. I started with a cool neutral tending toward blue and loosely scrubbed in the pattern. Look very closely at your own setup and you will notice that in the "light" side of the cloth, the raised pattern is one value and the lower pattern is another value, but on the "shadow" side of the cloth this seemed to be reversed. I had to really concentrate on what light side I was painting when approaching this. Then the warmer tone was applied to tell us the local color and have it read "damask cloth."

It also was very important to paint this wet-in-wet so that I could "push" some of the paint around. Then find a few light highlights on the weave and to direct the eye. The tangerines are a favorite of mine to paint right now, and the "pot" behind them usually holds my brushes.

I have also noticed that I usually end up with a "contemporary" approach to my division of space which I'm sure comes from years of painting abstractedly, but I'm happy enough with it so I guess it's just my "style." It's part of what I like right now about my version of the still life - I admit, I usually find traditional still life a little stodgy and boring. So I guess we'll see whether anyone else likes these paintings.

I submitted two similar still life paintings to the OPA's national show - somewhat foolishly optimistic on my part, I know, since this show will feature the top oil painters in the US, but my rational is that just submitting something I can feel good about is the goal and maybe someday something will come of it.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Blue Funk Day

According to Katherine Tyrrell on Making a Mark, today is considered to be the most depressing day of the year, and it certainly was a blue funk day in the studio. I started and stopped, painted and wiped off. All of my still life "props" had softened to the point of near rotting - except for the onion - and it was too cold and frosty to go out to the market for more.

Three Pears on A White Plate
16 x 20, Oil on Linen

The above painting is one I set aside more than a month ago thinking it was finished, but I wasn't happy with it and finally took it out and tried working on the colors of the pears and the edges. I really prefer to paint wet-in-wet and finish a painting in one setting, maybe two if I haven't used a medium and the paint stays workable. But I've only recently started painting still life and I'm learning with every painting. I wish I'd been more knowledgeable with my edges on this painting, but the newer work is much better and one day I might do another like this because I like the composition.

Vietnamese Pot Tied With String
22 x 28, Oil on Linen

This painting is the large studio version of the small sketch I posted here a few weeks ago. I did this after I painted the Three Pears painting, and I am much happier with the edges in this painting. I never thought I would enjoy doing still life, but I'm finding them so much easier than the struggles I constantly have with the landscape. I know that it's because I am actually painting from life with these paintings, and if I ever expect to push my landscapes to a higher level I will have to do the same with them and stop relying on photo references. Oh...but that means going out in the cold...maybe I'll think about that in the spring.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Studio Tip for January

Keeping my studio neat and clean is always a challenge: there are aspects of painting that just demand mess, and I'd rather spend most of my time messing around in the stuff than cleaning it up.

But there are some useful strategies that I use consistently.

Here is an image of my painting set-up - and no, it isn't really slanted, I'm just photo challenged at times. I recently arranged my easel and palette in this configuration because, well, I think I saw where some really famous artist painted this way so I thought if I did, too, some of the creative talent would rub off...I digress....

I decided to try painting with my palette in front of me and between my body and my easel. I have a tendency to get too close to my painting surface and not step back enough, so I logically concluded that by putting a barrier here that would cure me.

I actually like the set-up now that I'm used to it. I discovered that with my still life setups, I am able to maintain proper perspective instead of looking from one position and then trying to paint and compare from another position. Maybe Cezanne would have sympathy for this predicament.

My studio tip, though, has nothing to do with all the above. I'm just feeling chatty today and writing about perfectly inane things.

There's the tip, actually two tips:

to cover my black table (seen here beneath my palette) I use adhesive, clear shelf paper. I pull it off when the surface gets too grungy and put on a fresh piece. Sometimes the left-over adhesive - from when I pull the old piece off -- remains on the surface but I clean that off with some Simple Green and careful use of a razor blade. I really don't know if it matters whether you use clear or solid shelf paper, I just like the black table to show through because it helps me with values.

On my watercolor tables (which I use for flat work) I cover them with freezer paper, shiny side face up, taped down. I use the clear packing tape because artist's blue tape doesn't hold very well on the shiny surface, and I like this side up because it cleans easily and keeps stuff from sinking in to the paper. Then whenever I want a clean workspace, I replace my papers.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

paintings From the Oregon Outback: Strawberry Lake

Strawberry Lake
5 x 7, oil on gessoed hardwood panel

This painting is from the When Space Could Breathe series of landscapes, featuring places in Oregon once populated by ancient civilizations, explorers, trappers and bandits.

Strawberry Lake was formed a thousand years ago when a landslide blocked an alpine valley in the Blue Mountains. The lake now releases excess water through a "whirlpool" that emerges as a creek from beneath the giant rocks.

Click here to bid on this painting

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Peachy Keen

Had to paint these two peaches just before I ate them. Yum.

just posted at auction for 7 days. Click here to bid.

A portion of my sales goes to, a micro-funding organization for entrepreneurs in the far reaches of the globe.