May 31, 2010

ode to clean water

8 x 8, 
oil on canvas
May has been a lesson in appreciating clean water. The month began with flood waters that engulfed our front yard and ultimately the lower level of our home. I quickly learned the meanings of water classifications 2 and 3 (potentially contaminated with microbes) which translates to hours of trashing anything and everything deemed "porous": carpet, hardwood floors, bookshelves, walls up to four feet, as well as furniture, toys, games, and yes, even a few paintings. A few days later, while this part of the country continued to dried out, I left for the Charlotte workshop, followed by a family trip to the Gulf of Mexico... a vacation we had planned weeks before. And we were lucky. The beaches were not yet closed, the days were crisp and clear, and yet heavy with the impending dread of what was to come. So on this day when we honor our veterans and celebrate the beginning of summer, my heart goes out to all the lovely people (and wildlife) of the Gulf shores whose lives (and livelihoods) have been, or will be affected by this environmental nightmare. 
"A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. 
 It is earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature." 
 ~Henry David Thoreau

May 30, 2010

Peggi and Ray Roberts

"Figure Study/Kathryn" (my 400th blog post!)
6 x 12, oil on canvas

       I had the honor of painting with Peggi Kroll Roberts 

and her husband Ray Roberts  this month. This was my third opportunity to paint with Peggi, and as I have said before, she is one of my favorite people on the planet. Not only is she an excellent teacher, but no one could be more kind, gracious and humble. I was especially delighted to meet Ray and have the good fortune to paint with both of them this time around. (to see their work, click on their names above)
My friend, artist Anne Neilson organized the workshop in lovely Charlotte, NC.  If you have never been to Charlotte, let me just say it is one of the most charming and enchanting cities ever. 
And I just had to include the photo below of Ray's palette because it serves as an excellent example of proficient paint quality and texture, and reminds me of a brilliant concept Camille Przewodek first revealed when I studied with her a few years back. I have never forgotten it because it was a huge "Aha!"moment for me, and a point I have struggled to incorporate into my painting process ever since. She disclosed that when offering a critique to her students, she studies their palettes more than their paintings, because the palettes reveal infinitely more about the level of understanding attained so far--or, in most cases, everything the students have not yet grasped! And once you see what she is talking about, you realize that It Is So True! For example, if we are in the habit of mixing separate little piles of color (and values) all over the palette, it will translate to poor value and color relationships in the painting. In contrast, look at how masterfully Ray's palette illustrates the importance of juxtaposing similar values, allowing him to easily compare and tweak the temperature of the paint. As Ray pointed out, if you get the relationships correct on the palette first, they will hold together and read correctly in the painting later. And we just can't get these thick, luscious brushstrokes and blends of color if we lay out tiny little blobs of paint on the palette to begin with (another mistake beginners often make). 
Peggi emphasized this point further with a favorite quote, often repeated by her mentor, artist John Asaro
"Value does all the work but color gets all the glory!" 

May 23, 2010

Cecelia Beaux

12 x 16 (after Cecelia Beaux's painting of her portrait of Henry Sturgis Drinker, titled "A Man With a Cat")
oil on canvas

Another artist born during the same era (1855) as Robert Henri was Cecelia Beaux. She was a master painter of portraits, and what I love most about her work is how she painted the various nuances of white. My drawing of her work is a little wobbly, but I did manage to observe and mix many shades of white for this one.
A renowned artist during her lifetime, Miss Beaux was also a contemporary of William Merritt Chase who enthusiastically declared "Miss Beaux is not only the greatest woman painter of modern times, but the best that has ever lived."

May 15, 2010

Robert Henri

6 x 8,
oil on canvas (after Henri's painting on the cover of  "The Art Spirit")

Robert (Cozad) Henri is one of my favorite painters of all time. Born in 1865, he painted and taught many subjects during his long career, but it is his portraits of children that really shine. I know of no other artist more adept at depicting the personality, character, and sense of wonder inherit in childhood.  I was especially drawn to the ruddy cheeks, curly locks and watery eyes in this one.
"What we need is more sense of the wonder of life,
 and less of the business of making a picture"
...Robert Henri

May 9, 2010

Longchamp Racetrack 1911

24 x 30, 
oil on canvas

In an era when many of the latest fashions were first introduced at the racetracks just outside of Paris, these were the styles coveted by women one hundred years ago. Now, I know what you are thinking--how uncomfortable the women must have been wearing ensembles like these, especially strolling on uneven turf in unpredictable weather....but (sigh) if you discover a time machine, please let me know. I will be first in line to go back to that time. Just viewing the designers attention to detail up close would be worth the trip alone.
 After all, by the year 1911, Coco Chanel's Rue Cambon shop had been open for a whole year already. And she was only twenty seven years old.
"Fashion is architecture: it is a matter of proportions"...Coco Chanel
Happy Mother's Day! This painting, along with Ky Derby Bling is part of a Celebration of Women Show at the Gallery at 916

May 1, 2010

Kentucky Derby Bling

12 x 16
oil on canvas

Today a hat won't help much. With torrential rains expected, a large tarp will be the order of the day at Churchill Downs, which I'm sorry to say also makes it tough for the horses. 

Writer Tom Pedulla says that most jockeys don't even see their horses until it is time for their race to begin, but Derby winner Calvin Borel goes out early every morning to visit the horses and "learn their nuances". Calvin explains "I get on all my horses and work them. Every horse is not the same--every horse has a different key to him. You've got to get to them in the morning and find the key".  Having dropped out of school after the eighth grade, he is proof that school is only one aspect of receiving an education. I find his genuine love of horses and dedication to excellence most inspiring