July 22, 2008

(219) Sensible Shoes
8 x 16, oil

This woman's ensemble of primary colors caught my eye and when she stopped to strike this great pose, I knew she was destined to become a painting.
The 26th is Mick Jagger's birthday. It was tough choosing just one quote because there are just so many great ones, so I will leave you with two of my favorites...
"People have this obsession. They want you to be like you were in 1969. They want you to, because otherwise their youth goes with you. It's very selfish, but it's understandable.
They love talking about when they were young and heard Honky Tonk Women for the first time. It's quite a heavy load to carry on your shoulders, the memories of so many people"...
"I got nasty habits. I take tea at three" (always cracks me up) I am off to spend a few days with family...ttfn

July 21, 2008

(218) The Long and the Short Of It
8 x 8, oil
"I may not lead the most dramatic life, but in my brain it's War and Peace everyday"...Rufus Wainwright

July 18, 2008

(217) "Hi! It's so great to see you!"
6 x 8, oil
private collection
I knew this jovial group of twenty-somethings would make an interesting figure painting, but once I studied my photos, I realized that the shapes created by the late afternoon shadows were the real story. Fun stuff.
And as I noted the interesting shapes today, I was thinking about the Magic Eye books
that were all the craze in the 90s. At first you think you see the image on the page, but the more you look (really look) - a shift occurs, and a "hidden" image appears that simply wasn't there before. I suspect that learning to see when painting is quite similar. It is a concept available to everyone, but can't really be taught, only discovered by covering miles and miles of canvas. Some "see" right away, while others never seem to make that "shift"...but one thing for certain, once you get it, you never view anything the old way again. Then, the quest becomes how to best express it - a lifelong journey.
Here are a few people who "got it"...
"The question is not what you look at, but what you see"...H.D. Thoreau
"The hardest thing to explain is the glaringly evident which everybody has decided not to see"...Ayn Rand
"The obscure we see eventually. The completely obvious, it seems, takes longer"...Edward R. Murrow

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes"...Marcel Proust

July 17, 2008

(216) Tweenager

6 x 8, oil
As soon as I saw this lanky boy in the middle, I knew I had to paint him. At first I was drawn to his shoes the size of boats, the baggy clothes, untied shoelaces, and gangly appearance. But once he assumed this contorted foot stance, I also wanted to to give him a hug and tell him to be patient during these awkward teenage years. Any day now he will transform before his mother's eyes into a handsome young man - it seems to happen overnight in spite of our best efforts to slow down time.
Maybe I should have given his mom a hug instead.
"Out on the ocean sailing away, I can hardly wait to see you to come of age,
But I guess we'll both just have to be patient,
Yes it's a long way to go, but in the meantime,
Before you cross the street, take my hand,
Life is just what happens to you, while you're busy making other plans,
Beautiful,Beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful Boy"...John Lennon

July 16, 2008

(215) Jazzercise
10 x 20, oil

"Many dreams come true and some have silver linings
I live for my dream and a pocketful of gold.
Mellow is the man who knows what he's been missing
Many many men can't see the open road.
Many is a word that only leaves you guessing..."Led Zeppelin
(from Jazz's favorite song "Over the Hills and Far Away")

July 15, 2008

(214) Repose
8 x 8, oil
I find I am drawn to the square format more and more. Guess that makes me pretty boring, huh? But then, I'm probably in fairly good company there....
Life is like a box of crayons. Most people are the 8-color boxes, but what you're really looking for are the 64-color boxes with the sharpeners on the back. I fancy myself to be a 64-color box, though I've got a few missing. It's ok though, because I've got some more vibrant colors like periwinkle at my disposal. I have a bit of a problem though in that I can only meet the 8-color boxes. Does anyone else have that problem? I mean there are so many different colors of life, of feeling, of articulation.. so when I meet someone who's an 8-color type.. I'm like, "hey girl, magenta!" and she's like, "oh, you mean purple!" and she goes off on her purple thing, and I'm like, "no - I want magenta!"...John Mayer - Room for Squares

July 14, 2008

(213) Tangled up in Blue
8 x 10, oil
When I was in college, my roommate's favorite musician was Bob Dylan. Out of respect, she would never allow anyone to call him anything but Mr. Dylan in her presence. We saw him in concert in the 70's and decades later, my college-age son and his friends attended a Dylan concert too...
"People today are still living off the table scraps of the sixties. They are still being passed around - the music and the ideas"... Bob Dylan, that's Mr. Dylan to you and me

July 11, 2008

Being away for two weeks has allowed me to have a new perspective. Not noticeable from the outside - just a subtle shift really, but present all the same - funny how that "vacation mentality" works. It is akin to opening a window and allowing a breeze to stir the old surroundings. New energy. New focus. New way of seeing. Wish we could bottle it.
Anyway, after painting from life for months, I'm suddenly ready to shake it up, venture off in a different direction for a time. I have all these great reference photos that are calling to me, and since it is hot and humid outside, I'm listening...what next? will I trade in my small canvases for larger ones? ...better open another window and find out.
To me that is what is so great about the blog-- no rules...
no lines to color inside, just endless discoveries to be made...you just have to be willing to dive in!

(212) 6' 2" and Eyes of Blue
8 x 16, oil
private collection
Studying the abstract shapes the figure makes underwater was what drew me to paint this one. I find that the paintings I am most drawn to in galleries and museums are realistic subjects, but when I study one section at a time, the common denominator is that most have abstract shapes that support and hold the design together. I would like to explore that more in my own work.
And that reminds me of a great quote. Several years ago, I watched master-painter David Leffel paint a demo. Someone asked him a question about contemporary abstract art, and with a sly smile he looked up and said "The thing I have never understood about abstract expressionists is, how do they know when their work has improved?" (yes...how do they?)

July 10, 2008

(211) Duck Pond
8 x 10, oil
Yesterday I studied the effects of light on the color black, so I thought today should be white in shadow. And yes, I used a photo for reference since my models didn't quite grasp the fact that I needed for them to remain still.
"Art supplies constantly to contemplation what nature seldom affords in concrete experience - the union of life and peace"...George Santayana

July 9, 2008

(210) Zippy Lou
6 x 8, oil
As I glanced over at my little 10 year-old poodle relaxing on her bed, I realized she would be a perfect example of how the color black can appear almost white in intense sunlight. By the way, I did not use black on my palette, but made varying shades of darks with mixtures of thalo green + alizarin, and ultra blue + alizarin and a touch of cad red or cad yellow.
"My little dog - a heartbeat at my feet"...Edith Wharton

July 7, 2008

(209) Fountain Nymphs

8 x 10, oil
private collection
I really enjoyed painting this fountain located at the El Monte Sagrado. The reflected light from the water beneath produced interesting shapes and subtle shifts in color and value.
(I placed the larger white canvas underneath the painting to shield my palette from the dappled sunlight. This works better than an umbrella when the light is coming in from a low angle)
(208) The Pond
We painted the pond one more time on our last day in the workshop. I varied the shapes of the background trees, but failed to make them different heights--funny how much easier it is to see mistakes later with a "fresh eye"...
Then it was time to say goodbye to the desert...

adios to the mountains....
chao to the ever-changing pond...

and begin the long journey home.
"I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train"...Oscar Wilde

July 6, 2008

These two paintings were done just for fun, independent of the workshop. My artist friend and I were anxious to capture the early morning light at El Monte Sagrado.

(207) Morning Shadows
6 x 8, oil
My focus here was to paint quickly before the light changed. I was drawn to the crooked levels and unevenly spaced posts of the building.

(206) Sacred Mountain
6 x 8, oil
The mountains were fun to observe every day because the rapidly changing light revealed all new colors/values. At sunrise, they appeared orange-red for a brief time, and as the day progressed, they became a dark, rich blue. I toned both of these canvases with cad red light before painting, which I think compliments the greens.
(yes, that is a big ol' moose you see in the distance--it is a sculpture. I chose not to include him in the painting)
Before I visited Taos, I was very familiar with the paintings and drawings of Russian artist Nicolai Fechin, who moved here in 1927. But upon visiting his home/museum, I discovered that he painted during the day, and when the light was no longer adequate, he carved wood-- jaw-dropping creations including the bed below, dozens of chairs, doors, stair rails, etc.-- each room more enchanting than the next...a must see if you visit Taos. As Kevin pointed out, this is what people did before TV.
His studio is also on the tour. This upstairs bedroom was my favorite. I love those windows...

"An artist should work everyday with what is at hand"...Nicolai Fechin

July 5, 2008

Continuing with paintings from the workshop... on Wednesday we were most fortunate to be invited to paint at Taos artist Walt Gonske's garden. Isn't it lovely? He couldn't have been more gracious and welcoming. He told us he moved here in the 70's to surround himself with the southwest's representational art, and escape New York's love affair with abstract. A familiar story for many.

(205) Hot! Hot! Hot!
8 x 10, oil
My assignment for this plein air study was to plan the painting around a word that I drew out of a hat--my word was "hot" so I made her skin color a little hotter than it appeared, and added a tiny amount of cad red light to all my mixtures.
This is how the scene looked. I had to turn my easel a little to get the glare of the sun off the canvas for this photo, so it may be a little harder to see-- but look at what a gorgeous day it was.
(204) Pass the Wine
8 x 10, oil
OK, this was just painful. We had a "grab bag palette" of three colors and mine were a warm red (terra cotta), a cool red, and a medium cool gray (plus white). No yellow or blue in sight. Ouch. The gray "becomes" my blue. The point of this exercise is to judge a color based on what is next to it, not just how it appears out of the tube. Green, necessary to paint the foliage in this case, is impossible to mix with reds and gray, but once its complement (red) is juxtaposed next to the gray, that color begins to take on a greener appearance... Confused?Think of it like trying to write your name while looking only at a mirror image of your hand. Go on...try it...tough stuff. But the point is, having a super limited palette forces you to note how a color's appearance is determined by its surroundings. Think about how a single color pops against a neutral background, or how compliments seem to vibrate next to each other. This is a concept the impressionists reveled in--but I'm fairly certain, they engaged in the consumption of wine as a lunchtime ritual...
(203) E.I. Couse Studio
8 x 10, oil
This home and studio is located on Kit Carson Drive and was such a lovely discovery. There was "a painting in every direction" I turned, and its present caretakers, descendants of Couse were most gracious in inviting us to paint there. My focus was on keeping the color notes clean, not going back in once they were down, not overworking it.

The photo shows the foreground in shadow, but it was in fact, in sunlight while I was painting. And that's it for today--I will post the last batch tomorrow.
"It was all so far away - there was quiet and an untouched feel to the country and I could work as I pleased".... Georgia O'Keefe

July 4, 2008

...and just like that...I'm back! In the last couple of weeks I have been to Nashville, Tennessee; Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos, New Mexico; Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri; with a brief stop in Dallas, Texas (...just for variety's sake and to see what they were doing). It was a grand adventure involving many friendly art galleries, a week-long painting workshop, a family wedding and a Cardinal/Mets game... a little of everything.
Once arriving in Albuquerque, I rented a car and as I ventured through the desert alone, I envisioned Georgia O'Keefe here-I was instantly inspired by her sense of adventure and the awe she must have felt when she first visited the southwest.

My first day was spent in Santa Fe where I visited some of my favorite galleries on Canyon Road. Next, I headed into higher elevations to Taos. My arrival into town was punctuated by the blue sheets of rain moving across the plains. I was enthralled by what appeared to be a big white check mark above the middle of the town, and was later informed that in fact, it was a fairly intense hailstorm that had ushered me into town-a sight not nearly as "cool" to the locals as it had appeared from my distant vantage point.
Once in Taos, I met with my friend from North Carolina, and we visited several galleries over the weekend, including my favorite, Total Arts Gallery. Thanks to Teruko Wilde for such kind attention there (we spent three hours studying the paintings in this one gallery alone--proverbial kids in a candy store).
Next, on the agenda was a week long workshop with Taos artist, Kevin Macpherson, and fourteen mostly new artist friends. If you are a regular reader here, you know that I was inspired to begin this blog because of Kevin's books about painting, so attending this workshop was a dream come true. He did not disappoint.
On the first day, we painted his lovely pond:

(202) Morning Light on the Pond
6 x 8, oil
(201) Arroya Seco
5 x 7, oil
On the second day, we visited the quaint little village of Arroya Seco. Our focus here was the separation of light and shadow families.
(200) Mountain View
6 x 8, oil
In this painting, I tried to focus on massing and creating interesting shapes in the cloud and tree masses.
I'll post more over the weekend as I continue to sort through paintings, photos, luggage, and happy memories...
Happy 4th of July!
"I know now that most people are so closely concerned with themselves that they are not aware of their own individuality. I can see myself, and it has helped me to say what I want to say in paint"...Georgia O'Keefe