Saturday, December 17, 2011

Drawing and Painting the Female

Another wonderful night of drawing this week!  I quick 25 minute drawing in charcoal.  Mostly blocking in bold sections of light and dark.

It was challenging to draw from this angle, looking right at her extended legs - the foreshortening was pretty severe.  I also wish I hadn't tried to indicate the features of her face - just used the light and shadow to show which was she was looking.  But I like the bold lines and dramatic values.

Our long pose was really beautiful.  She took a reclining pose accented with a beautiful turquoise robe on top of a deep aubergine blanket.

I was so absorbed in my painting that I forgot to take a picture before this stage, which would have been good to show you.  I actually did everything BUT the model when I started.  Her pose was very complex - reclined with lots of angles.  So by blocking in the large ottoman, the drapery, and the background, the model became the last piece of the puzzle - in the correct size and position.

I was painting on a Clayboard designed for watercolor.  I can't remember when I first tried this, but I like using the surface for quick oil studies.  The paint soaks in pretty quickly, so I can apply a couple layers without getting too muddy.  However - it does reach a saturation point pretty fast - you end up just moving paint around rather than applying paint layers on top of one another - if you do too much in the first sitting.

I was lucky to get a reference photo and I look forward to finishing up this painting.

Another beautiful drawing from that night by my friend Shane...

A lovely pose from multiple vantage points!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Charcoal Drawings of the Male Model

OK I'm going to post and run...just a couple recent drawings from our awesome male model.  Charcoal on white drawing paper.

16" x 20" charcoal drawing on white paper, 25 minutes

Charcoal drawing on 18" x 24" white paper, about 80 minutes

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dorothea Tanning. I think I'm in love.

A couple years ago I was flipping through the TV channels and happened upon an interview of Katharine Hepburn at Dick Cavett.  I watched, enamored, for at least 30 minutes (I'm not really sure how long the interview actually was).  But, like Mr. Cavett, I think I fell in love with her about 10 times during the interview.

(I had painted this picture years before, based on a photo that was used in her Obituary in EW magazine.)

Strong women do that for me.  Women who speak the Truth, even if it against what they are "supposed" to say or feel.  Women who are well read, who are independent (marital status aside).  Women who know who they want to be and go be it.

This article has introduced me to another one of these dynamic and forthright women - Dorothea Tanning.

A few of my favorite quotes (be sure to read the whole interview !)

"It was a kind of a statement, wanting the utter truth, and bareness was necessary. "

"Keep your eye on your inner world and keep away from ads and idiots and movie starts, except when you need amusement"

"Art has always been the raft onto which we climb to save our sanity"

What more can you add to that?  Art has always been my Sanity.) 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Japanese Maple Tree Painting

It's not often that I venture away from my usual subject matter of figures and faces, but a few weeks ago, right at the end of Fall, there was a beautiful Japanese Maple Tree just around the corner from my house that was the most gorgeous shade of red.  It was one of the last trees in the area to hold onto it's leaves, which made it stand out even more.  I happened to pass by one late afternoon, and the sun was just low enough to light the entire tree from behind, giving the red leaves an incredible glow.

The next day I made sure to have my camera in the car, and I stopped again in front of the tree so I could take a picture of the tree in the late afternoon light.

I used a 30" square panel, starting with a charcoal drawing and then applying a thin layer of modeling paste.  After that dried, I blocked in some of the sky and ground.  It was very strong colors at this point, and more cool than warm.

Next I used copper leaf under the tree to show all of the dried leaves below.  I only wanted a few pieces, I didn't want the copper to dominate the painting.  I also used a palette knife for the first layer of red leaves.
Once these dried, I added more leaves in an intense cadmium orange and red mix.

The thick palette knife application took several days to dry, and I added a few more layers of color to the sky, settling on a soft greenish grey that complimented the red tree.  I finished the painting off with a glaze of ochres and brown to bring warmth to the entire piece, also emphasizing the texture of the modeling paste.

I loved the creation of this piece and I think there will be more to follow!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Pastel Drawings of the Female Nude

I bought a pad of the Sennelier Pastel La Carte paper, 9" x 12", and it's just the right size for quick colorful studies of the female model.  Three from our model a couple weeks ago...

I abstracted the figure slightly, emphasizing the light and shadow through bold strokes of color.

And last Wednesday we had another wonderful pose that I wanted to capture quickly from both front and back.

The paper I chose in this case dictated what direction I took the drawing - the dramatic black inspired me to grab bold neon colors that added energy and dynamism to the pose.  The soft mint compelled me to take a more feminine and delicate approach that emphasized her beautiful, subtle curves.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Dog Named Cat

I just want to take a moment to introduce you to our newest member of the family, Catalina.  We adopted her last weekend from a shelter.  She's a black lab about a year old, and so sweet.  INCREDIBLY smart and loves to play.

We don't know why she was at the shelter, or why her family dropped her off...but we feel very lucky to have her.  Whoever raised her - you did a wonderful job, and we will take good care of her.

We've shortened her name to "Lina"...because calling her "Cat" would have been to wierd :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thank You for Believing in Me

When you add one of my drawings, paintings, or prints for your collection, or commission a portrait, you are not just buying a piece of my work.  You are saying to me "I believe in your talent, and your potential".  Your purchase does not just cover the cost of producing that particular piece, but helps support my studio space, telling me "Go! Create more!"  Every purchase, big or small, also helps support another aspect of growing as an artist: entering juried exhibitions. Entering shows are costly, but to be selected as a finalist could mean incredible exposure for my work.  

So...Thank You.  Thank you for every kind word on my blog, every link you have share on FB, every RT on Twitter, every post you StumbleUpon, every purchase you have made, because your belief in me, and my Work, is what I am truly Thankful For.

Happy Thanksgiving :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Capturing the Conversation on Canvas

A few weeks back I worked with a new (to me) model, (E.) and thought she was fantastic.  She had wonderful gesture poses and great stage presence - she reminded me a lot of one of my other favorite models (C.).  In fact half way thru out modeling session I started thinking "I have to get E. and C. together!"

So I scheduled both of these lovely ladies for a special Sunday afternoon modeling session.  I had in my mind that I wanted them in some light slip dresses, so I brought in two with similar colors, but not too "matchy".  After a few 5 minute warm-up poses, they settled into this conversational pose on the couch.

I was painting over an old painting - which I love doing because there's already some color and texture on the surface to play with.

I tried to keep it loose and blocked in the larges shapes of light and shadow, focusing on getting the right proportions and relationship between the two girls.

After blocking in some cool grays and dark browns, I moved into fleshy oranges.

The light changed a little as the afternoon went on, but luckily it was an overcast day and there wasn't a strong window light that dramatically moved across the room.

I'm very happy with the pose - the two girls were chatting the entire time, so the painting captured that energy - they were amazing at holding the pose but also engaging with each other - and I think that translated onto the canvas.  The model on the left feels like she is just sitting down, not stagnant and posed.

While there are some color adjustments to be made, I don't want to get much tighter with this piece.  I love the atmosphere and painterly quality.  I will post the final result...soon? we'll see!

Watercolor Figure Drawings from the Live Model

New watercolor sketches from our last Wednesday evening figure drawing group.  I was working on Wallis paper, which is lightly sanded, but also primed so it can accept washes of watercolor - up to a limit. (The paper is also a light creamy color...the photos came out a bit cool) If it becomes to wet the surface will start to crumble (in my experience).  For these two drawings I used watercolor pencil, one color at a time, and lightly brushed the lines with a damp flat brush.

The palette below is a little different for me - I tend to use brighter colors, but this time I used a steel blue (almost a silver) followed by yellow ochre and then a dark brown.  I like the warmth the classic feel of the colors.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Flourless Almond and Chocolate Chip Cookies

I got to spoil my younger brother for a few weeks while he was in town for some job training.  By spoil - I mean cook lots and lots of yummy gluten-free meals.  With vegetables - LOTS of vegetables.  Which spoiled me because no one in my household eats veggies except for me.

Anyway.  Thanks to the discovery of Almond Meal at Trader Joe's and the need to cook Gluten free deserts, I came across this great recipe for Flourless Chocolate Chip cookies.

The recipe was super easy to try, and not too threatening - you are only making a dozen cookies, so experimenting is easy to do.

The first batch was very good - and made according to the recipe.  They were especially good right after they cooled off.  Which is another plus - make a quick batch right before dinner for a warm, delicious desert.

The next time I tried the recipe I added 1 tbs of flax seed.  This made the cookies a little puffier and added the benefits of ground flax seed.  Very yummy.

I had a full 6 weeks to feed my brother so I tried the recipe a couple more times, and after reading the notes on the original blog I followed one of the suggestions in the comments - add 1 cup of coconut.  This was so good and nearly doubled the yield of cookies.  The sweetness of the coconut and texture balanced very nicely with the almond meal.

1 cup almond meal
14 cup sugar
12 tsp baking soda
Variations: Add 1 tbs ground flax seed, and/or 1 cup coconut
1 Preheat oven to 350 and grease 1 cookie sheet.
2 Stir together almond meal, sugar (I use 1/4 cup loosely packed brown sugar) and baking soda in a large bowl.
3 Add beaten egg, chocolate chips and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
4 Place dough balls one inch apart on cookie sheet . You should be able to fit all 15 on the single cookie sheet.
5 Bake until puffed and golden, about 10 minutes.
6 Cool cookies on baking sheet about 2 minutes and then transfer to paper towels or rack to cool.
7 Note: I personally avoid artificial sweeteners, so I don't know how they would taste made with splenda.
14 cup chocolate chips (mini chips work)
1 tsp vanilla extract

I have no cookie pictures so I'll just show you my Brand New Nephew!

Isn't he cute :) Just born yesterday!  I can't wait to meet him...and make him and his daddy some Almond cookies.

Friday, November 11, 2011

New Watercolor Figure Paintings

My favorite night of the week is Wednesday, when I get to draw and paint from the live model.  But really, it has become much more than just a night to draw.  The artists who participate in these weekly sessions are truly kind and generous people, who form a diverse group of artists of a variety of skill levels and styles.  And among all of this, there is no competition, pressure, or inclination to be anything but Who You Are.  It thrills me to see such a broad range of interpretation when it comes to drawing the live model - precise and tight, loose and quick, abstract and gutsy.  And it's not just me who thinks this.  So many of the wonderful models that work with us remark about how enjoyable it is to work with our group - the camaraderie is palpable, but they are also there to work, which makes it so successful.  It's not just a drawing group anymore - it's a circle of friends.

But I have been really slacking with showing you my weekly drawings!  So in an attempt to get back on track, a few of my sketches from this past Wednesday...

A 25 minute watercolor on Wallis paper (using watercolor pencil and softening the lines with a damp brush)

We have worked with this lovely model several times in the past but this was our first time where she had this adorable pixie haircut.  I am now wondering if I should chop my hair - she looked so cute!

Also on Wallis paper, I started with a watercolor wash then added layers of pastel on top.  

I didn't want to over-work the pastel, so for the last 20 minutes of the pose I worked on another watercolor on Wallis, using a red watercolor pencil and a damp brush to soften the lines.   It's tricky to know what to define and what to leave loose - I added and subtracted information from her face several times.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Forced to look at myself

My 36th birthday is approaching way too quickly.  This year keeps pressing upon me like some terrible deadline.  Even my clocks are against me - it seems like I'm always catching "11:21" on the clock, it's way of saying "You can't escape it!"

I'm totally steeped in self-evaluation lately.  Partly because I have just finished this self-portrait in oil.

And partly because I am having to justify keeping my studio space.  No one is asking me to give it up - DH is totally supportive, my studio partner and I are totally sympatico - but my sales on-line have slowed down and I am having a difficult time allowing myself to see myself as being worthy of this beautiful space.

I think part of the problem is that I have a difficult time accepting my self-worth, as an Artist and as a teacher. I have always had this problem.  It mostly manifests itself in my pricing.  I am constantly hearing from other artists "you are pricing your work too low!  Do you know how much other artist's are charging for custom portrait work? For original paintings?!?"  

And in some ways they are right.  I found some of my portrait pricing lists from years ago - almost a decade - and I am not charging much more now than I did way back then.  And I KNOW my work has improved.  I KNOW that my work is worth more, because of the finished product and the years of study and practice that have gone into making a great portrait.

But here's where it gets tricky. Every time I feel like "I'm worth it", something else, or someone else, steps up to tell me otherwise.  When I got a nice present from my mother as a child, which was rare because there were six of us, I would often be made fun of by my older sibling, especially in front of other people  - "Oh my GAWD is she spoiled or WHAT?"  And I would sit there and think to myself "I get straight A's, cook dinner and clean all the time, and I pay for all my own stuff all the buys me one present and I'm spoiled?"  

I can't bring myself to buy a single article of clothing that isn't marked down 75% off...who am I to spend money like that on clothes?  The guilt that I feel with spending money is almost as great as when I get paid for my work.  Guilt.  I feel badly taking money, I feel even worse spending money.  I get physically sick when I go shopping.  Even to the grocery store.

There are things that I am certain of.  I am a much calmer, happier mom right now with my studio being out of the house.  To be able to work on my art and not be thinking about the sink full of dishes or the dirty laundry has mentally put me in a better place.

I am a good teacher.  I know what I'm doing.  I know how to verbalize instructions and how to fix a painting or drawing.  I love watching students accomplish new things - it brings me great joy.

I know I am a capable Artist.  I know I can accomplish great things.  

But this inner conflict has been plaguing me all year.  One sibling called me spoiled again, in a very public way, and I can't get past it.  I have gotten to the point where I barely even speak around my family, for fear that they will think I'm spoiled for talking about myself.  I fear that every time I open my mouth it will only be to provide them with another opportunity to attack me.  

So where do I go from here?  I'm committing to another 6 months in my studio - that's already a certainty, I can pay that right now.  But in order for me to stay in that space, I need to accept my own self-worth and evaluate everything - from the prices of my custom portraits to the cost of lessons.  If I can't make the money on my own to keep the space, then I don't want to stay there...I don't want to be spoiled. 

I had a visitor to my studio over the weekend, and when she walked up to my self portrait she said "You are very self aware".  Let's hope that can translate into self-worth as well.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Portrait Classes and Open Studios in Woodstock, GA

I'm excited to announce that I am adding more classes and studio times at my Woodstock Art Studio!

Portrait Drawing and Painting

This will be an on-going class, new artists may join at any time.  The first 4 weeks for each
student will be a series of exercises to study anatomy, learn about proportion, and how to
capture a true likeness.  Students will start with black and white and then progress into color, in your choice of media, including pastel, watercolor, oil or acrylic.

Tuesday Mornings 10:30—1:30.  4 Consecutive Weeks $108
*Classes Start November 7th!*

Open Figure Studio

Every Wednesday evening join a diverse group of Artist as we draw and paint from the live model.  A variety of short and long poses.  Professional models (male and female, nude unless otherwise stated.)  Work in your choice of media (Orange paint thinners only, please)  Some easels are available—portable easels or drawing boards are recommended.

$12 per week or $45 for five consecutive weeks
7:30—10:30 Wednesday Evening
Studio opens at 7:10

4 hours 4 art

Join me in the studio to dedicate 4 hours a week to your Art.  You could bring in a painting you have been trying to finish, resolve a drawing you started from the live model, get a critique on some new work, get help photographing your work, pick my brain on setting up a Blog,
an on-line shop, or Facebook business page, or hire a model and work! 
Dedicate 4 hours a week to building your portfolio, making new connections, finishing new work—being an Artist! 

Every Friday 10:30—2:30.  $20/Week
*Additional sessions will be added!

I have really missed teaching regular classes.  Portrait and figurative work is my specialty, but I am willing to critique or help you with any other paintings or projects during 4 Hours 4 Art.   4 Hours 4 Art is not just the name of the open studio's a promise to yourself to dedicate 4 hours a week to becoming a better Artist.  As the sessions grow, I hope to establish a group of artists who support and encourage each other to create, try new things, enter shows, share their work, share a model, whatever!  

Contact Me if you would like to sign up!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I can only handle Mistakes on Canvas

I am one of those people who fears making a mistake.  Not that mistakes are a bad thing, they are part of everyday life.  I guess it's more about a fear of being WRONG.  I really hate being wrong.

Cooking, for example, is one of those things that brings out the worst feelings of fear and inadequacy.  For example I made a half a turkey breast the other day, and I called my mother and had a 20 minute conversation about whether or not I should add onion and carrot to the pot or cook them separately.  Then, as if that battle of willpower wasn't enough, I decided to make soup from the leftover turkey carcass the next day.

Have you ever looked up how to make soup from a turkey carcass?  Be prepared to set aside 48 hours to boil, steam, peel, strain, re-boil, and cook.  I just want to cook a turkey into some soup darn it!!  But when you are WRONG in the way you prepare a dish, you can't just say "I meant to do that!" because everyone can taste your mistake.

Perhaps that is why I am most at home in front of a canvas.  I can turn almost any moment into "I meant to do that".  Of course I wasn't always this way.  I feared doing it "wrong" when I was in college - at first.  Luckily I had some amazing professors who pushed and prodded and even cut me down a peg or two and just said "TRY!"

I have seen that fear of mistakes in students in the past.  That fear of putting a single mark on the paper, the first stroke of color on a canvas.  I would say often, and loudly, "I can't fix what's not there! If you want me to help you I have to see what you're doing!"  Students who would wait for 30 minutes for me to come around to their easel, petrified that they would DO IT WRONG.

What would happen if that fear of doing it wrong took precedence over the thrill of getting it right?  Had I never tried making turkey soup I wouldn't have this big bowl of yumminess with turkey and rice and fresh carrots and zucchini and oh my goodness it came out SO GOOD.  And I didn't follow any one's recipe or directions - I knew what I wanted to make and I tried.

I had a wonderful studio partner during graduate school who worked in encaustic, a media I had never tried before.  Her work was inspired by her family's land in south Texas.  The cracks when the land was dry, the various colors in the earth, the tracks the animals made thru the brush.  Her work consisted of layers and layers of color that she would scratch into, each scratch revealing the colors down below.

She would often tell me - it's not just about the final layer, it's about all of the layers underneath.

When you are creating, don't fear mistakes.  Embrace them.  Let them become part of the history on the surface, the process of discovery as you create.  Take ownership of your successes and failures - be willing to TRY - be willing to fix it.

One of my favorite figurative pieces, that was three different (bad!) paintings before this layer finally resolved all of my mistakes...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Prints now available on Canvas!

I often get asked for some of my post popular prints on Canvas, or larger than what I can produce in my home studio.  After asking around and getting great feedback from my fellow artists, I have decided to offer Prints on canvas, paper, and greeting cards thru Fine Art America.

I have started with a few images but will be adding more every day.  If you don't see your favorite - please let me know! I'll be happy to add it.

I hope you can check out my shop - which you can also access on my Facebook page.

I still offer beautiful 8 1/2" x 11" and 13" x 19" Archival Prints (signed by me) thru my Fine Art on Etsy shop.

And I'm always here is you need a custom painting or print size - thanks!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Generosity Can Be Contageous

This is what happens when a popular blogger like Heather Armstrong (aka Dooce) inspires peoples with her actions and her words...

Heather traveled to Bangladesh with the groundbreaking charity Every Mother Counts, she came home and share her stories and photos on her blog, I was inspired to create some paintings based on her work, I posted an auction on a fantastic site, Daily Paintworks, to benefit the charity, and now the entire Daily Paintworks community is joining in to build the auction into something even BIGGER!

I am so excited that the DPW community will be adding their amazing work to the Challenge - inspired by the theme "Mom" - with all proceeds going towards Every Mother Counts, either directly to their team that is participating in the NYC Marathon or to the charity.

And where does the money go? To tangible, concrete projects that truly work like training midwives, building health centers, and donating medical supplies.  

What can YOU do?

I encourage you to start by visiting the Every Mother Counts education page ("Toolkits") - watch a couple of the movies, see what needs there are.  It only takes a few moments, and you will see that change can and should happen.

If you are an artist - paint!  Think "Mom" - paint from your favorite photo, set up a still life with her favorite colors, ask her to sit for a portrait!  (Don't stop there - you can also donate any painting you'd like!) Sign up to add your painting to the auction.

If you are an art lover - BID!  These are amazing paintings for an amazing cause.  I guarantee good warm fuzzies and general feelings of happiness whenever you gaze upon your original work of art!

If you are reading this - SHARE! Chose a few of your favorite paintings and click the "LIKE" button to post it on Facebook, tweet this post, post your favorite paintings in the auction to Pinterest - whatever!  By sharing the auction you are becoming part of an amazing team, and we appreciate it so much :)

***A quick note about my paintings...I had an technical issue with my auction duration when I listed the paintings, and now that is fixed! So they will be available until October 25th instead of October 20th.   Thank you!***

Happy Painting!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My Kids Are the Future. I'm sorry.

Every morning I have to walk Arianna into her Pre-K class, answer the question on the wall, sign her in, and extract myself before she decides to climb me like the monkey bars.  A few days ago our-question and answer session went like this...

Me: "Ari - can you name an animal that lives on a farm?"

Ari - pausing to think - replies "Sure.  Let's call the horse 'Mom'".

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bidding Has Begun!

I am so excited to report that bidding has begun on the Bangladesh Series inspired by Heather Armstrong!  You can view all of the paintings in the auction in my Daily Paintworks Gallery.  This project has been so special to me and I am so moved by the actions and motivations of the Charity, Every Mother Counts.  So bid if you can! And if you can't...I humbly ask you to link, share, tweet, post, and spread the word!  Thank you :)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Dooce's Favorites. Painting number five

The first paragraph of Heather's blog entry describes, in a very potent way, the differences in the voices between the older generation and the younger women in Bangladesh.

I wanted to illustrate the "silence of the young girls and the brilliant, almost piercing voices of older women who have been empowered".  

So...what does a brilliant, older voice look like? I think this woman embodied that description.  And how about the silent young mothers? This beautiful new mom.

At first I was going to just use the print from the older woman's fabric behind the girl in blue, but that wasn't exactly what I was looking for - the different voices of the young and old.

So I scaled down the young woman and places the older woman behind her.  The way they over-lapped built a strong shape in the middle, leaving a lot of negative space on the sides.  To address this empty space, I spent a lot of time looking at figurative work by Gustav Klimt, trying to figure out how to use pattern effectively.

Starting to block in color and pattern.

I filled in areas with various patterns, activating the entire surface.

The black block was something that Klimt had used in many of his pieces, and I tried to use that shape here, to break up the space behind the figures and along both sides.

The painting was feeling too dark - and masculine.  I wanted their to be a sense of feminine energy - I painted over the dark green sides and the grey block behind her head on the left with shades of yellow.  I also changed the shapes of the patterns - instead of a row of rectangles, I wanted them to feel more like drapery.

The yellows helped, but the black block was still too heavy.  I tried to address it in two ways - I layered a kidney-shaped brown pattern over the black area, then softened the corners.

Closer...but the black, finally, had to go.  I chose an intense red-orange to cover the black and changed to a rounded form.

"You Shall Be Heard".  It's practically shouting from the the older woman to the young mother.  This painting celebrates the colors, patterns, and personalities of the Women of Bangladesh.

This painting will be auctioned to benefit team Every Mother Counts, participating in the New York City Marathon on November 6th.