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.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Dooce's Favorites. Painting number four

As I continue to share the paintings from the Bangladesh series, I return frequently to the sites that have inspired this work - of course, Heather's posts on Dooce, where this began for me, and also to the education page on Every Mother Counts.  If you have a few moments, watch the videos and read the fact sheets about Global Maternal Health.  The video about Obstetric Fistula and how it can effect a woman's entire world will move you.

One of the pictures that Heather took on her travels that really grabbed me was a line up of women waiting for health care at an Upazila Hospital.  (That is a photo from the Bangladesh Album on Every Mother Counts' facebook page)

I loved everything about this photo.  The variety of fabric, the patterns of light, the children being held by their mothers (the bare bottoms are too cute!)

The first day that I sat down to start this piece I painted for 6 hours straight.  By the time I put down my brush I could barely move my hand!  I did however manage to take several progress shots, and I have put them together in a short video.

I wanted to use the white squares of their paperwork as a design element that connected one end of the painting to the other - a visual connect-the-dots.  
Each woman has a distinct personality, along with her unique dress.  With the fabric and their profiles being so defined, I decided not to add the features to their faces.  They were already Beautiful.

This painting will be auctioned on-line starting October 10th to benefit Team Every Mother Counts participating in the New York City Marathon on November 6th.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dooce's Favorites. Painting number three

Sometimes I come across a photograph that would barely needs any adjustments if I were to translate it into a painting.  This was one of those photographs.

Heather captured a young woman, in the most glorious yellow and red outfit, posed in a doorway.  She was tentatively looking into the darkness behind her.  The sunlight seemed to want to drag her outside, yet she was being pulled back into the dark space inside.  A woman of an older generation appears in the background, slightly out of focus, entering a back doorway, perhaps catching the young woman off guard.

Heather didn't just frame a stunning picture of a beautiful young woman, she captured a dialogue between young and old.  She captured a relationship that could be interpreted in a million different ways by a million different viewers.

I painted with oil on a 12" x 24" birch panel that I primed with a clear gesso, allowing the grain of the wood to show thru.

I started with a pretty dark palette of prussian blue and alizarin crimson, blocking in the largest shapes.  Then I added the bright light coming thru the back door in a shade of light turquoise and grey.  

I was pretty excited about the fabric in this piece, especially the red satin.  A rich red requires several layers of paint and glaze to develop a truly saturated red.  I actually started the red area in more of a fuschia tone, which would then be covered by a warmer red alizarin glaze for the perfect final color.

I continued to block in the shapes of the yellow fabric and her skin tone.  These two colors needed to work well together.  I didn't want her skin to appear washed out, which is difficult next to such a saturated color.  However, if I went too far with the color of her skin, maybe too orange or red, it would appear more like make-up than skin color.

Adjustments are made at every step.  Colors are fixed.  Edges are shifted.

The look in her eyes was so important.  You make look at her once and see fear, but look again and see defiance.  

The fabric folds and patterns took the most time.  I don't mind telling you I took several breaks to check Facebook when my eyes started to glaze over...

This painting will be part of an on-line auction starting on October 10th to benefit Team Every Mother Counts, participating in the New York City Marathon on November 6th.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dooce's Favorites. Painting number two

As Heather Armstrong shared her remarkable experiences in Bangladesh, she spoke about a time when she was sitting among a group of men and women, learning more about the concerns for the pregnant women of the village.  

"Two men in the group had lost their wives to childbirth. Another man had lost his son.  When we asked what had inspired them to organize this group one man spoke up and our translator said, "Two years ago they
learned that women did not have to die when giving birth. Before then, they did not know there were options."

What would have my husband done had I died during childbirth? Or our son? Or daughter?

So I wanted to create at least one painting focused on the men, of all ages, who could be effected by the loss of a mother.  There were stunning photos of babies, teens, and elders, and I brought them all together in a layered mixed media piece.

This is charcoal on watercolor board.  I blocked in the shapes with vine charcoal then started defining the features with charcoal pencil.   I chose to put two of the faces upside down, as a way to activate all the space and create an interesting flow among the faces.  It's also a little off that what I felt when I thought what the men go thru when a woman dies in childbirth? A loss of balance?

I slowly added some color with washes of watercolor.

I liked it at this stage, but it felt unfinished.  

Then the color got a little too intense!  So I had to tone it down a little.  I added a thin later of modeling paste, then re-defined some lines with charcoal pencil, and added another layer of glaze to unify the colors.

The eyes on every face were so expressive and had totally different characteristics.  I kept trying to add the second eye to the sweet child in the middle, but every time I did, it made the face seem older, and too engaging.   There was something that worked about the simple negative shape in the middle of the circle of men.

I was a little worried that this piece might feel too "quiet" among the colorful oil paintings of the women, but during an open studio event, when the paintings were on display, several people walked right across the room, as if drawn in my their faces.  It has an incredible presence.

This painting will be part of an on-line auction starting October 10th to benefit Team Every Mother Counts participating in the New York City Marathon on November 6th.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Dooce's Favorites. Painting number one

There are two different attitudes that usually manifest themselves as I begin a new painting or series of paintings.  'Total Excitement' or 'Confidence Crushing Fear'.  This painting brought out a little bit of both!  As the first painting  in the series of Dooce's Favorites from her travels to Bangladesh with the charity Every Mother Counts, I knew that this painting was going to set the tone for the whole group.

I loved this photo as soon as I saw it - the expressions on the children's faces, the pattern of their clothing, the gestures of their hands.  I started with a loose sketch in oil on a panel, 24" x 36".

From the beginning i knew I wanted the focus to be on the tallest girl of the three.  I wanted a lot of layers, transparent under opaque, dark under light, lots of focus on pattern and texture.

This layer is a little spooky...transparent glazes and a bit of color on top.

I think this is when I realize I made the arm of the tallest girl too short.  I was really upset, because I loved the color and the shape, but it was in the wrong place!  But painting in oil is very forgiving, because every layer adds texture and interest, so I painted it over...

Experimenting with background color...would a cool blue work? Does it need more detail?

Warmer background, but now there was SO much going on in the painting, I was losing the focus on the face of the tallest girl - should I block out the other two faces to balance it out?

Sticking with the plan to fill in the background, I inserted a little girl from a different photo, thinking she would address the negative space along the left.  It didn't work...everything was feeling too pieced together and not cohesive.

After talking it thru with a couple of my fellow artists, I added the faces back onto the two other girls.  Now, they felt like they belonged together.

I toned down the blues, going back to my initial plan of utilizing an earthy palette.  I still wasn't sure about the girl on the left, and...painted her over...

...and now it's done!  

These three girls have unique personalities, and the whole time I painted I was thinking about their Potential, how their future might somehow be written on their face.  How would the little girl on the right be served by her defiance and self confidence?  How would the young lady in the middle turn her level-headed temper and ability to empathise with those around  her into her biggest asset?  How would the pretty one on the left force you to see past her beauty, and realize that she has ideas to change the world?  

This painting will be auctioned on-line starting October 10th with net proceeds benefiting Team Every Mother Counts , participating in the New York City Marathon on November 6th.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Dooce's Favorites. The Story behind the Bangladesh Series.

Earlier this year, I was beyond thrilled when Heather Armstrong featured a portrait I created of her daughter, Leta, on her blog.  Following that beautiful post, I was overwhelmed by the kindness, enthusiasm, and support that came forth from her amazing community and beyond.  I have been lucky enough to create dozens of beautiful portraits for clients all around the world who were introduced to my work thru Heather.  It's been incredibly satisfying, challenging, joyful! to be creating custom portraits for clients who were inspired by Leta's painting.

A couple of months ago, Heather shared her experiences when she traveled to Bangladesh with the Charity Every Mother Counts.   The stories she shared were emotional and compelling, accompanied as always by her  illustrious photos.

As I read the stories and learned more about the charity, I couldn't help but be completely enamored by the beautiful faces of the men, women and children she met on her trip.  As a portrait artist, I am always looking at people's faces - watching how the light reacts to their skin tone, noticing how their eyebrows frame their face, taking note of how they tend to tilt their head when they talk, what Presence they have.   The subjects of Heather's photos were beautiful, not only for their engaging eyes and sculpted lips, but the honest emotional content in every nuance of their expressions.

Could I ever, as a portrait artist, rise to a level where I can capture all those beautiful things that Heather captured in her photos - the light, the context, the story, the emotions - in a painting?  I spent many restless nights running those photos thru my head, dreaming of ways to translate her photos into paintings.

After a week of tossing and turning, I knew I had to try to paint these portraits.  But - Why?  Just to see if I can? It had to be bigger than that.  So I contacted Heather and proposed an idea: "Heather, you did so much for me, my family, and my business this year...Could I create a series of portraits based on some of your favorite photos from Bangladesh, and then we can auction the series of paintings on-line, with all of the proceeds going to the charity Every Mother Counts?"

Then I held my breath...

And Heather said "YES!!!"

So I pored thru her Bangladesh photos on Flickr and watched her video about a hundred times, coming up with a list of about 15 photos that kept stopping me again and again.   When Heather finalized the list, "Dooce's Favorites" were ready to be painted.

I began the first painting on August 3rd, and just finished the fifth painting over this past weekend.  In those two months, I have spent hundreds of hours in front of my easel, trying to do justice to my subjects, while considering the fact that an amazing woman has trusted me with her personal experiences, and believes in me to create something - mind blowing? spiritual? moving? pretty? - to the best of my ability!

So here we are - the five paintings are done, and I can't wait to share them with you.  The plan is to introduce a painting each day this week, and then start the auction on-line Monday October 10th. The auction will run for ten days, and all of the money raised (minus the auction site fees) will be going to Team Every Mother Counts ,  participating in the New York City Marathon on November 6th.

I don't know if these painting will inspire you the way they have inspired me, but I hope they do, and I hope you consider donating to the charity, even if you don't bid in the auction.  I couldn't get on a plane to see these strong-willed, able bodied, positive, and hard-working men, women and children in person, and I am so grateful that Heather DID go, and brought their story to my attention.  It made me realize and appreciate how lucky I was before, during, and after my two pregnancies.

(Detail, Painting five)

Every Mother Counts.  I want to count.  Women around the world want to count.  Their Children want to count.  Their husbands want them to count.  This auction could be small, it could be huge - who knows?  EVERY LITTLE BIT COUNTS, when it comes from the sense that You are part of Something Bigger.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sketching the Live Model in Oil

As you know I work from the live model at least once a week when our figure drawing group meets in my studio.  Most of the time I work with pastel (Nupastels are my favorite) or watercolor.  Lately I have been using my oil paints more and more to work from the live model.

A couple of weeks ago I painted this 11" x 14" panel in oil, about 80 minutes of painting time.

One of two paintings I did that evening, the other was a study in watercolor.  I especially like the stool she is sitting on - I didn't fully paint all four legs, a couple are only implied, but work very well.

This past Wednesday we had another wonderful model, and I chose to create two more oil sketches from the longer poses (about 50 minutes to work on each) These are 6" x 12" textured panels.

I like the horizontal pose, the way she fits into the space, her pressure on her elbow, the subtle indication of the knee under her leg.
I only did a little work on it the next day, filling in the rest of her leg.  When I do work on these paintings the following day, I have to find that balance between defining shapes and keeping the loose, immediate quality of working right from the live model.

I also worked on the vertical pose, filling in the background the emphasize the sheer white drapery.

I was tempted to "fix" her hand - define the shape and the fingers, but restrained myself!  It would have eliminated the "abreviation" I used the night before - the quick stroke of dark skin tone on the back of her hand and the quick dab of yellow to show the light on her fingertips.  Sometimes less is best!