November 30, 2007

(40) DJ's Elephant
private collection
6 x 8, oil
Today I went back to a wider value range, and (surprise) my subject is a carved wooden toy. My father-in-law brought this one back from a photo safari in Africa. I love all the colors that showed up in the beautifully carved wood-- they were there from the beginning, but I didn't really "see" them until I finished. I just concentrated on painting spots of color and when I stepped back, I realized this one just painted itself --I love it when that happens. It is very much akin to when you are driving down the highway and your mind wanders, and suddenly you realize you are miles closer to your destination without having concentrated on driving. Oh, that never happens to you?, ok, me either.
"Flow is simply the result of shifting from left brain to right brain work"...Steve Hovland

November 29, 2007

(39) Race car
6 x 8, oil
This is another of the wooden cars my dad carved, and another attempt at value organization. And speaking of values, check out my new friend Frank Gardner's blog. Frank is an accomplished artist living in Mexico, who graciously offers insight and tips on painting and will be featured in the Winter issue of Workshop Magazine (on sale Dec. 11th)! I look forward to hearing what he has to say about painting light and shadow.
"For those who know how to read, I have painted my autobiography"...Picasso

November 28, 2007

(38) Choo-Choo
6 x 8, oil
I love these old wooden toys. My goal for this low-key painting was the opposite of what I have done the last two days. I wanted to keep the lightest light no lighter than 5, and the darkest dark no darker than 8 (with 1 being white and 10 being black). I typically do not choose to paint low-key paintings, so it was a good learning exercise.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm"...Winston Churchill (just a little humor for a Wednesday)

November 27, 2007

(37) Wooden Truck
6 x 6, oil
My dad made this little truck for my children. It is the perfect subject for a little study. My goal was to keep the value range between 2 and 5 .
"To somehow let loose the bonds of everyday life, to close off the voices and let the creative spirit flow is the most rewarding side of creativity in any form" Jo-Scott

November 26, 2007

(36) Toys
6 x 6, oil
OK, the thing about taking a few days off is that I tend to have withdrawals. I found myself squinting at the cranberry sauce and asking myself how I would paint it (pathetic, I know). Anyway, it was good to take a break because it allowed me to look at the paintings from last month with a fresh eye, and I concluded that I need to focus more on value relationships (among other things). And, that realization brought me to one of my favorite painters on the planet: Peggi Kroll-Roberts. No one simplifies values as beautifully or eloquently as she does. I had the privilege of taking a workshop with her in Scottsdale, where one of the exercises was to paint a high-key painting allowing yellow ochre ( a midtone value) to be the "darkest dark" in the painting.
"Painting is just another way of keeping a diary"...Pablo Picasso

November 22, 2007

(35) Prince of Wales
6 x 8, oil
private collection
My dad loved gardening much like I love painting. He advised hopeful gardeners to focus on enjoying the process of gardening, and "avoid being discouraged by weeds, insects, grasses and dry weather, as they are a sure thing. As time goes by, you will learn a lot about nature". As I painted this, I realized that the same could be said about painting. There will always be challenges with values, color relationships, drawing, etc; but the best way to learn is by observing nature; that is, painting
directly from life.
"Working outdoors or from life puts you in direct contact with the life force, not just the light and the landscape, but also the vitality of the world around you"...plein-air master painter, George Carlson
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Today is my 30th day of posting a daily painting (woohoo!); I plan to celebrate by stepping away from the easel for a couple of days to enjoy time with family.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

November 21, 2007

(34) Lemon Tea
6 x 8, oil
private collection
When life gives you lemons, paint them. Or at least attempt to paint them, right?
"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken"...Oscar Wilde

November 20, 2007

(33) Blue Cottage
6 x 8, oil
Continuing my yellow/blue theme, these pieces are part of a favorite "tea for one" set, made by Royal Winton. I really didn't plan to spend four weeks studying ellipses, but the more I study them, the more I realize there is so much more to learn.
This quote came to mind as I painted today: "I know that to paint the sea really well, you need to look at it every hour of every day in the same place so you can understand its way in that particular spot, and that is why I am working on the same motifs over and over again"....Claude Monet

November 19, 2007

(32) Reflections
6 x 8, oil
This was a fun challenge. I used a cool light in combination with a warm one, which makes the shadows more interesting. But it really gets interesting when the butter starts to melt from the heat of the warm light...
"Do not force solutions. Allow solutions to spontaneously emerge. Uncertainty is essential, and your path to freedom"...Deepak Chopra, defining the Law of Detachment.

November 18, 2007

(31) Darjeeling
6 x 8, oil
Early every morning, I make a pot of tea and sit down at the computer to read the day's email- and like many of you, I see the new blog painting with a fresh eye. And very often, I cringe. I find myself wishing areas were painted darker, lighter, warmer, cooler; or perhaps it is the accuracy of the drawing that is off. What was previously unnoticed is suddenly and painfully obvious. When I feel this way, this quote by Philip Guston reminds me that I am not alone: "I am a night painter, so when I come into the studio the next morning, the delirium is over. I come in very fearfully, creeping in to see what happened the night before. And the feeling is one of "My God, did I do that?". (never ceases to crack me up)

November 17, 2007

(30) Yellow Tomatoes
6 x 8, oil
As soon as I spotted these lovely tomatoes, I knew I had to paint them--"One need not travel the world for inspiration. If one is receptive, it meets them on the way"...S. Sandy

November 16, 2007

(29) Tea for Two
6 x 8, oil
private collection
...and two for tea, me for you and you for me...Tea parties are fun for all ages and sizes. And teatime is the perfect time to check out this thoughtful blogspot:
"Among those I like and admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh" poet W. H. Auden

November 15, 2007

(28) Teapot
6 x 8, oil
private collection
This was a great exercise in really seeing the form. The bounced light reflecting underneath the teapot was so bright, I had to remind myself that it was in shadow. The difference between the bounced light from the tablecloth and the light hitting the top of the teapot was very subtle, so I went back and forth comparing the two. A good rule in this case is to simplify: divide everything in the painting into two categories: light or shadow. Then adjustments to be made have to follow this rule: the lightest value of the shadow side must always remain darker than the darkest value of the light side...say it with me, the lightest get it--Painting is a push-pull adventure in planning, thinking, working, playing! Robert Henri said it best "A work of art is the trace of a magnificent struggle"

November 14, 2007

(27) Joaquin Sorolla
6 x 8, oil
private collection

This painting is of a beautifully illustrated book about the Spanish painter Sorolla, lovingly written by his great granddaughter, Blanca Pons Sorolla. He is known as the Painter of Light.
"There are two ways of spreading light--to be the candle, or the mirror reflecting it" ...Edith Wharton

November 13, 2007

(26) 1952, Baby!
8 x 6, oil
private collection
I love and adore this--it is a fashion advertisement from Charm Magazine, dated 1952. It reminds me of the gorgeous clothes Grace Kelly wore in Hitchcock's "Rear Window"-- back when women took fashion seriously, and would never dream of leaving the house without their hats and gloves....I know, I know...I was born in the wrong era where sweat pants are a fashion epidemic.
"I have two kinds of clothes: those that have paint on them--and those that WILL"...Ken Auster (ouch, so do I)

November 12, 2007

(25) Afternoon Tea
8 x 6, oil
private collection
This teacup and saucer are made by Georgia Pottery, fun to paint because it has a matt finish and the edges are uneven and imperfect. And, I love this shade of green.
"There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea"...Henry James

November 11, 2007

(24) Red Delicious
6 x 8, oil
Red Delicious apples always remind me of my dad. He often recounted fond memories of the fragrant and beautiful orchard where he grew up.
"Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting"...R.W.Emerson

November 10, 2007

(23) Today I worked on a larger commissioned piece, so I chose to do this study as a warm-up--it was a suggestion by artist Kenn Backhaus for those of us who tend to overwork our paintings (yes, that's me!) and I decided to share it in case other artists out there want to give it a try. The idea is that you choose a simple object like an apple, paint it as you normally would, and count the number of brushstrokes it takes. Then, you paint it a second time, halving those brushstokes, and repeat the process twice more! Yikes--I started at 124 and ended with 15--it is tougher than it looks, but a great exercise forcing you to be mindful of each stroke. Pretty cool, huh?
By the way, THANK YOU all so much for the wonderful comments and questions I have received. I am humbled that so many of you have chosen to "tune in" to see what I am doing each day. I have been asked if it is okay to share the blog address with friends--yes, I am honored.
And, I have gotten a lot of positive feedback about the quotes I include each day. The truth is, I have collected them in sketchbooks for over a decade--a nerdy admission I know, but very much a part of who I am (and who I aspire to be!) And with that in mind..."Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication"...Leonardo da Vinci (so true, but not easy, as I discovered today)

November 9, 2007

(22) Degas Sketch
6 x 8, oil
private collection
Like most everyone, I adore this artist's paintings of dancers, but it is his sketches that blow me away. They are simple, yet elegant; the best kind of chi.
"Drawing is the artist's most direct and spontaneous expression, a species of writing: it reveals, better than does painting, his true personality"...Edgar Degas

November 8, 2007

(21) Royal Albert
6 x 8, oil
In case it is not obvious, I have enjoyed sticking with the same theme for a week at a time before switching to a new one. It is a fun and challenging way to see the same object from different perspectives. This week the theme is books, but I still managed to slip in a Royal Albert teacup. The values are wrong for this one, more evident now that I see it here... but that is part of the learning process.
Lady Nancy Astor said to Winston Churchill "Winston, if you were my husband, I'd poison your tea." Churchill replied "Nancy, if I were your husband, I'd drink it."

November 7, 2007

(20) Sargeant
6" x 8", oil
private collection
Two of my favorite things: tea and art books. Of all John Singer Sargeant's beautiful paintings, this is my favorite. It is called "Capri" and his model, Rosina Ferrara, was dancing the dance of the tarantella on the roof of the hotel. I love her spirit and spontaneity, and I suspect the artist did as well.
"Let the beauty we love be what we do" ...Rumi

November 6, 2007

(19) Silver Leaf
8 x 6, oil
private collection

I love painting reflective surfaces--this was tons of fun.
"Do good work. Don't worry about expressing yourself. Figure out what you do well and make it better"...Thomas Buechner

November 5, 2007

(18) Walden
6 x 6, oil
private collection
A nod to one of my favorite nonconformists: "Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill"...H.D. Thoreau

November 4, 2007

(17) Paragon, Oak Leaves
6 x 6, oil
private collection
My mother's oak leaf teacup + apple cider = the welcome taste and aroma of fall
"Only God creates. The rest of us just copy"...Michelangelo

November 3, 2007

(16) Maple Tree
6 x 6, oil
Hmmm...I painted the leaves darker than they appeared on the tree because I could only go as light as my tubes of yellow would take me. I avoided using white because it makes the colors look chalky,flat and dull, not at all like the brilliant colors in nature. I may try this again another day, and... darken the sky around the leaves? paint more neutral areas around the ones I want to keep vibrant? discover a new yellow? scrape it down and call it a day?...
"Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes." Oscar Wilde

November 2, 2007

(15) Pumpkin Patch
8 x 6
"Live in each season as it passes; breathe air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each." Thoreau

November 1, 2007

(14) Fall Leaves
6 x 8, oil
private collection
I spotted these leaves on the stones this morning, and decided it was just too beautiful a day to be inside. So I dragged my easel out to where they were.
I took a workshop with Kenn Backhaus a few years ago, and I recall him saying that what he enjoys most about plein air painting is that his "office is wherever he sets up his easel"--I love that. He is an excellent teacher, and a really nice guy.