Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pastel Portrait of a Little Girl in the Garden - a WIP

I'm really excited about the progress I am making on my daughter's portrait in Nupastel.  I'm getting into the details, such as the flowers on her dress and the wisps of hair that frame her face.  One thing I do have to resolve is what she's holding in her had - in the photo she was holding a barbie, but all you could see was a bit of dress and one arm sticking out - kind of awkward looking, so I need to insert a new toy!

(I found a GORGEOUS custom frame at Hobby Lobby that is the exact size of the paper - 19" x 27" - marked down 75% off.  I took that as a sign that I needed to finish this portrait!)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cyber Monday Art Sale in my Etsy Shop!

Monday November 29th is known as "Cyber Monday" this year - the Monday after the long Thanksgiving weekend where shoppers head back to work...but are still looking for a few more gifts on their lists.  Still plenty of time to order on-line near and far!

So tomorrow, and let's say Tuesday, too, you can take 20% off ANY PURCHASE in my Etsy shop by entering the code NOVEMBER20 at check out.  It's super easy, and the BIGGEST store-wide sale I have ever had!

Happy Shopping!

All Original Paintings are 20% Off with coupon code NOVEMBER20

All Fine Art Prints are 20% off - just enter November 20 at check out!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Figure with Drapery Painting Update

Today, I painted.  Tomorrow, I will be making lots of dessert :) 

I still have more work to do on her skin tones, details in the hand and feat as well.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Female Figure Seated in a Chair with Orange Drapery. New Acrylic Painting from the Live Model

I've been working with acrylics the last few weeks while completing a portrait painting commission, so last night I grabbed the paints that were handy my brushes and a 9" x 12" panel to take to our weekly figure drawing group.

For our long pose, the model perched on a chair and footrest that were draped with black fabric.  This was a great contrast for her pale skin tone.

I blocked in the large shapes first, trying to cover the white surface before establishing her skin tones.  I could already tell that there was going to be too much black in the piece, dominating the figure.  So when we took a break, I added in a piece of patterned orange drapery.

I continued to block in color, and also changed the position of her leg on our left.  It was actually stretched out, with the foot coming right at me, which seemed really awkward.  I haven't resolved it completely yet.  There may be some added drapery down by her foot.

This is as far as I got last night, a total of about 90 minutes of painting from the model.  I think proportions are good, and there is a good feeling of her weight leaning on her elbow.  I'd like to work more on her profile, add the rest of the pattern in the orange drapery, and finalize her right foot.

Working quickly with acrylics can have it's plusses - the layers dry quickly during breaks, easy to clean up.  But last night they were drying very quickly, and I was mixing more than painting.  I recommend small surfaces if you are painting with Acrylic from the Live model.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Inspiration in the Art Studio. What gets your creative juices flowing?

I had a quick visit from a fellow artist yesterday, and while we were looking thru my studio (or the Disaster Zone, you may say) we chatted about technique and inspiration.   One of the things I like to keep handy in my work area are examples of work that I think have a great use of Drawing and Painting Language.  Art that shows the creator's facility with paint or pastel or charcoal.  A couple of my favorites are

This book of paintings by Joan Mitchell.  Her use of paint is beyond fantastic, and her color palettes are wonderful.  What's great about a book like this, with so many examples of one artists' work, is that you can see they had to make hundreds, even thousands, of pieces before they developed their own style.  And, not every piece is a success.  Inspires me to keep working.

I pulled this page out of Art in America way back in October of 2002.  I love the way Larry Rivers uses every trick up his sleeve - but not in a trite way - with a purpose.  Drawing, painting, outlining, gesture, collage, figure, mirrored images.   It all works together so well.  It reminds me that just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should.  Use each technique to it's fullest, and timely, potential.

And this just makes me laugh.  And sometimes, this is all you can do.  Just keep working!

What images or Artists inspire you in your studio?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I didn't know Jesus was in the Shnitzel business

My family and I just spent a beautiful fall weekend in Helen, GA, a town rich in German food and culture.  The foliage was beautiful, the sky a clear blue, the sun warm as we walked the streets of the quaint town.  On our second evening of our stay, we joined up with 5 of my cousins at a restaurant on the edge of Main Street.  It was around 6:15, we figured we could grab some dinner, and then take the kiddos back into the main stretch for funnel cakes, which is really the only thing the 5 youngsters REALLY wanted (hey, if you put fruit topping on it, it's almost healthy!)

Our table of 11 sat down right around 6:30.  After 20 minutes, a waitress finally took our drink order. After 40 minutes, we saw our first crusts of bread.  After 60 minutes, the kids got their plates of cold fries and overcooked fish sticks.  After an hour and fifteen minutes, I finally grabbed a waitress (not the one who, in theory, was waiting on our table) and asked if I could speak to the manager.

A woman came up to the table and I recognized her right away.  (She had been in the parking lot when I, the first of our party to arrived, pulled in.  The entire 20 minutes I was waiting outside, she was having a loud, pretty obnoxious, phone call).  She said to our table "I just yelled at my staff for taking so long.  I'm going to send out some free dessert".  I replied, "Dessert really is not necessary. We just want to eat and take the kids out for funnel cake." She got offended and started yelling at me for not accepting her offer to make it "right".  I calmly reminded her that dessert will not help us get back on schedule.

After another 10 minutes, we were still waiting, so when she came back around I said "you know the kids have already eaten, and we are still waiting, so please bring them dessert"  She gladly obliged and raved that they had the best desserts in town.  The 5 kids put in their orders.  Several minutes later, she came back with 1 small chocolate cake for 5 kids.  I explained to her that we needed 3 chocolate cakes and one crepe for the Birthday Girl.  She proceeded  to yell at me, saying "I'm not a mind reader you should have told me you needed that many"  I was at a loss.  She had asked the kids what they wanted, each child gave her their order, I told her my 3 and 5 yr old would split a chocolate cake, and she seemed to comprehend the request at the time.

At this point she started to tell me that I had a bad attitude.  In the middle of the restaurant, that she Owns, she bellowed out that "you are a very pretty lady but you need to smile more.  There is no reason to have an attitude with me.  I am a Child of God and you are not.  I heard you using "GD" with your son out in the parking lot"

At this point, I want you to imagine me using every bit of strength in my body to hold myself back.  What this Brilliant Business Woman was referring to was a moment when my son Jack darted out into the parking lot in front of a moving car and I grabbed his arm, pulling him back to me, saying "G-D it stay next to me!"

Now I have spent the entire day hiking around town with my children, taking them horseback riding, out to lunch, up to a beautiful cabin in the woods to spend some quality time with mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, and the cousins.  All I was looking for was a nice dinner and a walk thru town to get my 11 year old cousin a birthday funnel cake.  And this woman was calling me a bad mother.  In front of the entire restaurant.  This Child of God was sure to tell us that she had YELLED at her staff for not performing up to the standards she demanded, and then turned around and ridiculed me for cursing when my 5 year old ran in front of a car.

At this point my husband, who is the most level headed person I know, was up out of his chair, telling her how inappropriate her behavior was.  She continued to yell at the top of her lungs "just pay your check and leave.  I need you to pay your check and leave".  I took my children out of there as fast as I could. 

After I got them into the car I sat and waited for the rest of my family to emerge, and as I did, this Child of God came out of the restaurant and lit a cigarette (her God Given lungs are probably praying for mercy).  Apparently she had done all of the training of her wait staff that she was going to do for one evening.  For her, I guess Ownership begins and ends with a piece of paper. She clearly was not taking Ownership of the dinner crowd debacle in her establishment.

When my husband finally joined me outside, he shared what I had missed.  That the owner yelled at her entire wait staff, repeatedly using the "f-word", and then yelled about our party, saying "who brings kids out to dinner anyway?!"

Now I want you to understand something.  I used to work retail, I used to manage a multi-million dollar business.  I was raised Catholic, and then attended a Baptist Church all thru High School and College.  I was even baptised as an adult in the Niagara River.  But I would never, ever, tell an unhappy customer that my Religion or beliefs trumps their dissatisfaction with my service.  And I would never, ever, take a customer's moment of weakness, such as mine in the parking lot, and turn that against them, as if they somehow deserved less than exemplary service because of it.

And if you happen to dine at that same restaurant, tell them Jesus makes a mean schnitzel.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

New Drawings of Two Models, Male and Female. Watercolor Pencil

Great night of figure drawing...where I took a lot of great photos of the models, yet only produced one decent drawing!  Oh well.  I actually did start a couple that have potential - if I ever finish them I promise to share!

But here is a watercolor pencil drawing from the long pose.

I started out with a light graphite drawing to get the scale and shapes correct, then erased about 75% of the line so it was "ghost-like" and I could draw over with watercolor.  I used a light periwinkle blue first, then layered some orange, olive green, fuscia, and dark purple.  In a few dark areas I added a little prussian blue.

I'm not sure about what's actually happening between the two of them.  If it's anything like my relationship with my husband, she's just gotten over-emotional about losing something somewhere in the house and he's exasperated because all he really wants to do is go to bed.  But I digress...

The pose was beautiful from all angles.  It's interesting because when I looked at one artist's drawing before he finished - the woman's hand was not yet included (on the far left) and it made her appear to be clutching the male model's hand behind her shoulder (cover the hand with your thumb to see what I mean)  By eliminating that hand you totally change the relationship.  It's amazing how a turn of the head, a placement of the hand, the angle of an arm can change the dynamic between two models in a pose.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Really? Dollar store pregnancy tests?

A few years ago when DH and I were building our family (covert terminology for having sex) there were a couple months where I was wondering "could I be?" I drove to the drugstore, ready take a test just to find out with a little more certainty.

Buying a pregnancy test was always a tricky thing.  First, I would wait a suitable amount of time to be sure there was a REASON to take the test.  Then, I had to convince myself to go to the store to buy the test, then I had to build up the guts to go ask a clerk to open LOCKED glass compartment that held these precious $15 sticks that could give me the answer, all while clutching my purse strap with my left hand up near my shoulder so the clerk would SEE the wedding ring.  Ya know?

Well I took my son to the Dollar Store the other day so he could buy a little something with his allowance.  Wandering around following a 5 year old clutching to the dollar her earned for finding the carpet under 12 inches of legos, race cars, stuffed animals and books, I couldn't help but notice right there on the aisle with the $1 hair brushes and car wax...$1 pregnancy tests!  Dozens of them! 

Holy cow!  I would have peed on a stick every day for a month if I new it would only cost me a buck a piece. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Custom Portrait - at the beginning...

Just a quick peek at my latest custom portrait.  The client wants a very painterly approach, large, loose brushstrokes and bright colors.   She has a portrait of her older son by a very talented artist who has passed away, and our goal is to make both portraits, while completed by two different artists, work together when finished.

I'll post more photos, including the inspiration, soon!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Back to COLOR - New Drawings from the Live Model.

Our figure drawing group had a wonderful evening last night working with a new model.  A lovely petite woman with a short black pixie hair-cut.  We took full advantage of her beautiful back when we set up this lounging back pose with some dramatic lighting near her head.

I was working with Nupastel on a brick red half sheet (about 12" x 19") of Colourfix paper.  I was struggling to get the shadows as rich and deep as I wanted - I just didn't have a dark enough brown.  So I started incorporating some deep prussian blue, a little black, deep burgundy and brown into the shadows.  Where there was a bit of reflected light on her legs I used some brighter turquoise.

But, poor model, this was a very strenuous pose on her shoulder, so we took frequent breaks to let her relax and de-numb her arm.  As she was resting, she was sitting in a position much like this one, and we all agreed - let's cut the lounging pose short and move on to this pose!

The pose and lighting are very similar to pieces I have been working on in black and white - it was interesting to take that practice and turn it into a more colorful (yet still subdued) interpretation.

This was one of our warm-up poses, about 20 minutes.  I still ave to play with it a little more - especially the yellows which came out more acidic than warm.  But I like the diagonal lines and her pose, as well as the cast shadow on her torso.  It has some potential, too!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Counting down the days to a milestone birthday.

My next birthday is looming, and I'm having trouble dealing with it.  There are so many things that I feel like I SHOULD have accomplished by this age.  So...here are a list of things I want to accomplish before the next milestone.  I'm putting it out there because I a) am hoping by making a public announcement I will hold myself to it b) if any of you can make it happen...HELP!  Seriously.

1.  Solo show in a beautiful Gallery or Museum.  I create nude figurative art, so that must be a consideration.

2.  Finish a substantial body of work in one theme and style.  Exhaust the possibilities and bring my ideas to fruition.  (I feel like this is on its way...the most recent series of charcoal figures on modeling paste has really got my juices flowing, and I can already picture a dozen more, with subtle changes as they develop)

3.  Have an article published in a major Artist magazine.   So many artists have asked me "where have you been published?" and I have to say "nowhere, yet".  I have submitted articles and Artwork to several magazines, with no luck yet.  I'll keep trying!

4.  Be featured on a blog with a million followers.  OK a million is not necessary, and I have been so lucky to be featured on some beautiful blogs by incredibly supportive people and fellow artists.  But a feature on a major blog could mean a HUGE boost for my business!

5.  Open my own Art Studio - a space to create, display my work, hold figure drawing classes, and showcase my fellow Artists.

So there are a few more, but these will do nicely as birthday presents :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

New Figure in Black and White - Dramatic Charcoal

This is the latest in my series of charcoal drawings on gesso/modeling paste.  I love this pose - it's the first one that's not only embracing a dramatic shadow, but pushes the depth from the tip of his head to the back of his foot.

You can see more from this series in my album on Flickr.