Friday, February 26, 2010

My Art has been installed at Brennan's Houston Restaurant

Late last year I recieved a call from an Interior Designer with The Johnson Studio here in Atlanta.  She was looking for some custom artwork for the new interior of Brennan's Restaurant in Houston, Texas. 

In 2008, a fire broke out in the restaurant during Hurricane Ike, engulfing the historic building. They have been under re-construction ever since, and you can see the progress that was made on their Flickr photo stream. 

There were three parts to our collaboration.  The first was a set of original paintings for the dining area.  She had seen the Nest painting on-line, and wanted a second painting in the same style and size.  I showed the progress of the painting recently on my blog.

They are now hanging against a beautiful brick wall.  I love how the colors of the chairs picks up the creamy yellows in the paintings, and the steel blue and reds echo the colors in the brick wall.

In keeping with the Bird theme and the gorgeous color palette, we framed two large prints of my bird paintings and framed them in a subtle, elegant silver frame.  Again, I love how the colors of the brick are mirrored in the birds.

Perhaps my favorite part of the project was the series of Citrus colored nudes that were installed in the bathrooms.  First of all...not many people say "I would like ten nudes, please.  For a public space"  I loved hearing that the owners wanted some elegant, lovely ladies in their restrooms! 

The colors look fabulous together (yes...I used the word fabulous).  What a gorgeous bathroom!  There are also several pictures of the bathroom in-progress (before the art was installed) in their Flickr photos.

Many thanks to Ashley, at Johnson Studio, for connecting with me and making me REALLY busy thru the month of January!  This was a great project to be a part of.

And Congratulations to Brennans on your gorgeous re-build and recent re-opening.  I wish you many, many more years of success!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

New painting from the live model of a beautiful back pose.

Just quickly posting this lovely little painting that I worked on last night from the live model.  Another cold night in GA and our brave nude model, surrounded by heaters, was actually holding a rope that was thrown over a rafter above - the hand closest to me was holding the rope next to the cushion, while the other hand gripped the other end of the rope, keeping her arm suspended - and her muscles flexed!

This is acrylic paint on a 9" x 12" primed masonite board, and learning some lessons from last weeks drawing session, I painted it right-side-up (yay!) and also brought several new flat brushes, which really worked better than the round brushes I had last week. 

I have to tweak a bit of the palette - I think her back is too pink, and I have to finish the background, but over all I am pleased .  I think she is sitting in the pose very well, I love the shape of her waist, and I am glad I got so far in one sitting.  I'll post another photo (if I ever get around to) making those changes!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My "Guarded" painting on a poetry book cover

A few months back I told you about a chance encounter on Twitter between myself and a very talented poet in Italy.  Just recently I recieved a copy of Laura Mercurio Ebohon's book, "If I look Inside".  It was a surreal moment to hold it in my hands, to see one of my favorite paintings reproduced on the cover.

But the experience only became richer as I opened the book and started to read her words and absorb her true talent.  I admit, I never sought out poetry, I don't have a favorite poet or read poetry in my leisure.  Her poetry, however, her words and phrases are so meaningful and raw and speak to me in so many ways.  I conected with it in a way I never had with poetry before.

(I hesitate to quote any poems here, I feel that Laura should do that.)

Well I was GOING to try and post a picture of myself reading the book...but there were many flaws in that plan.  The major one being my 5 yr old who insisted on touching my camera every time I set the timer and walked why fight it? I just let him be my model :) 

I think he is a better model anyway :)

If you are interested in learning more about Laura's poetry, I hope you check out her website.  If you are interested in purchasing her wonderful book, you can find it below.  The poems are written in Italian and English.

Book available at and all Italian Book stores distributed by Mursia

Or by email:
If you are interested in a print of the cover art, "Guarded", you can find it in my Fine Art on Etsy shop.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Acrylic Painting from the live female model. Come to class prepared!

Figure drawing group started with the usual warm-ups - 2-3 minute poses for gesture drawig.  These are done with Nupastel on 14" x 17" white drawing paper.  I like that the model did several standing and then a few stitting poses - they worked well layered on one page.

Next we worked on a 7 minute pose (we couldn't decide on a 5 or a ten minute pose so 7 minutes was the compromise!)  I love the shape of her back - almost abstracted by her pose.  I lengthened her legs...I may try and re-visit this pose and work on a painting.

I haven't done an acrylic painting from the live model in a while, so I decided to try that last night.  I brought a 9" x 12" primed panel (which I realized today that I painted up up-side down....the built-in hanger on her back is now at her feet! ha!)  What I did not bring with me was a good selection of brushes.  I only had one flat brush, 1" wide, which I used to block in the large shapes and values, and the only small brushes were little round ones, and it was difficult to build up volume and value quickly. 

and yes...that sticker does say "Artists do it creatively"

I don't feel like she is "sitting" in the chair yet, so I took a photo of the set-up after our model went on break.

I see a few things that I need to work on, such as the shift in her shoulders - the shoulder closer to me was significantly higher than her back shoulder - that's why one breast is higher than the other.  The shadow on her cheek also feels too harsh - I need to go back and soften it a little more.  Over all there's minor value shifts that need to be pushed to create a better sense of volume (such as the side of her torso to the flat area of her stomach)

I was pleased to get so much done while working form the model...I hope I can add those few finishing touches and bring it all together!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Surreal Snowman

It's kind of bizarre to look out my front door and see our snowman still standing, when all the other snow from last week's winter weather in Atlanta has melted away long ago.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Girl with the Butterfly Tattoos. New model, new figure drawings

As luck would have it, just as I was scheduling models for our February drawing sessions, I got a phone call from (what sounded like) a lovely young woman looking for modeling work.  After a brief chat, I scheduled her for our group that met last Thursday evening and was thrilled to meet such a beautiful woman who was also a terrific model!  She also had a fabulous collection on tattoos running down her leg...9 beautiful butterflies.  I am hoping that our next scheduled drawing session together I get to work more on adding those details to my drawings!

Our first drawing of the night was only 20 minutes long, so I focused on blocking in the large areas of light and shadow.  From my vantage point this was pretty much two large areas - the hi lights along her left side and the shadows along her back.  Once those two shapes were defined, I played within the shapes, finding variations of value and warmth.  I'm happy with everything except her face...I need to soften the information.

This beautiful zig-zag pose also had a dramatic pattern of light and shadow, especially on her face.  There was a cool line of dark blue next to the hi light on her cheekbone, and the reflective light on her jawline was almost glowing with a warm orange.

Hi-lights can seem to "pop" more when they are surrounded by both a cool and warm tone.

The final pose was very sensual...a lounging pose with her head dropped back on the stool and her leg stretched out before her.  I worked on a piece of wallis paper, thinking I would work in pastel, but after my first layer of periwinkle Nupastel I changed my mind - grabbing a cup of water, my brush and my watercolor pencils.  I washed over the pastel with water, moving around the pigment and fixing the shapes of the shadows.  Then I started to draw with the watercolor pencils, adding in some sap greens, purples and oranges. 

I probably would have worked on it a little more, but I think I got the paper too wet, because as I tried to draw with my watercolor pencils they scratched into the surface instead of gliding on it.  I am not sure why that happened, most of the time the Wallis paper is incredibly durable and allows me to work extensively.

But all that asside...I love the look of this drawing,  I think it's simple and sexy.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Goddess model is back! New figure drawings to share.

You know I always start these posts the same way..."our lucky figure drawing group had the fabulous so-and-so on the stand last night"...well, here I go again!

Our VERY lucky figure drawing group had the pleasure of drawing one of my favorite models, because, my friends, she is a Goddess, on Wednesday night.  She had some amazing gesture poses (which I forgot to photograph...perhaps I'll add those later!) and then settled into this beautiful pose (which was very close to all the heaters! Dang it's cold in GA!)

This first drawing was about an hour long, creadted with Nupastels on a purple piece of pastel paper (the textured kind that feels like sand-paper).  I think I need to devolop at least one area a little more...I'm not sure which one...but the drawing doesn't seem to have a point of focus yet - everything is at the same level of development.  But at the time I was drawing I didn't want to get too tight.

Next I moved to the opposite side of the room to capture her beautiful back.

This is a charcoal drawing of the figure on an 11" x 14" piece of white drawing paper.  I blocked the major shapes in with vine charcoal, and then developed the hi-lights and shadows with a kneaded eraser and a charcoal pencil.  I spent about 40 minutes on this drawing.

As I was changing drawing locations in the room, I also noticed that this view was particularly lovely, so I quickly grabbed a 9" x 13" piece of pastel paper in light blue and worked on a modern version of a pastel figure drawing.   I think the shapes are quite beautiful, and I captured a sense of volume and light in a small amount of information.

Monday, February 8, 2010

How Artists can Stay Motivated in a Down Economy

I recently answered a few questions about how artists can stay motivated when the economy is bad.  I don't know if my answers will be used by the on-line magazine that asked, but I thought they were good questions, and I wanted to share my answers with you.

1. How do you (if you are an artisan) stay motivated in a down economy?

Artists tend to be two things – creative and innovative. When Art is not selling with the regularity it used to be or at the prices it used to be, Artists will adapt. Perhaps creating smaller, more affordable works or taking on different projects that would normally interfere with their studio time. Volunteer your time and create a mural in a local school or church. Make some new contacts. The best thing an artist can do, always, is be prepared for the next big thing. Keep creating. The next opportunity will come along.

2. What are some tips to keep you focused and with a “success” attitude toward your business?

Artists have to believe in their work. If we don’t believe in what we are doing, than no one will. If necessary, go thru your past clients and past sales. Remind yourself of some of the projects you were particularly proud of. This may be a great time to start a newsletter! Write out your new goals, current and upcoming projects, share new work with past clients. Show them that your Art is still vital and growing and successful…others will want to be a part of it.

3. What are some steps an artisan can take to turn around his or her attitude (to one of success)?

Surround yourself with positive affirmations of your success. Put up pictures of work that has sold. Print out e-mails from happy clients. Post positive editorials about your work. Join chat rooms or forums to share tips and techniques. Sometimes by helping others, you gain confidence in your own abilities. When giving advice and support to others, your attitude tends to veer towards success as well.

4. What are some things you should avoid (that might drag you down)?

Don’t spend time wondering what other people are selling and why. Don’t think about buying new supplies or how your success is impeded by not having the newest paper or product. Get back to basics! Use what you have.

5. Any other tips/advice?

The Art community needs support from the Artist and the Art Patron. If you are an artist, don’t sit around waiting for the next buyer to come along to re-vitalize the Art World. Become a member of some local art groups. Chip in at a local figure drawing session. See the latest exhibit at the Art Gallery near you. Buy a small print or even an original from a fellow artist. Become a contributing member to the Art World – not only thru what you create, but you support.

I would love to hear more positive advice for every artist out there who needs a bit of fresh enthusiasm and support!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Charcoal Drawings of the Male Nude. Light and shadow, muscles and mood.

Whenever I have a figure drawing session to look forward to, my brain is plotting and planning all day...what material do I want to use? What paper am I going to bring? Is there going to be wine? (That last question of course being the most important one!)

Last night our lucky, lucky group had a terrific male model. It was my first opportunity to work with him, and I had anticipated that I would want to work with charcoal pencil - a little tighter and more specific than I tend to work from a female model (such as the watercolor drawings from the previous post).

The first few 3-5 minute gestures were a mix of vine charcoal and charcoal pencil.

The gesture drawings were very dramatic - the spotlights were creating bright areas of light and shadow, and the model had some great twists and changes in his weight.  He had great mass in his legs - he was muscular without being sinewy.  (By love, and by law, I will say that my husbands' legs are better :)

Our long pose had the model leaning into a tower of black blocks.

This was about an hour of drawing, starting with a little vine charcoal and slowly getting darker with a hard and then soft charcoal pencil.  I was sitting closer than I normally do, working on an 11" x 14" drawing pad. So I cropped off the legs.  I wish I had brought a larger pad or surface because the whole pose was great.

Keeping the proportion correct and considering how all of the light and shadow was working together was of course very challenging.  I actually like this cropped area the best.  I think whole drawing, above, feels a little off - I don't think I ever got the shape of his face correct.

In the last half hour I switched to the other side of the room.

The lighting was also great from this side of the room - almost hitting the palm of his hand directly, creating a very cool set of shadows thru his fingers.  I worked quickly, blocking in large areas of shadow with the side of a piece of vine charcoal, then using a kneaded eraser to define the light. 

You can see more of my drawings of the male nude in my Etsy shop.