I started this painting on site with a pleine aire painting group. It’s nice to get out of the studio in a very satisfying location both environmentally and socially. It was a perfect day. There was not a cloud in the sky and the temperature hovered in the mid 70s with low humidity. What more could I ask? I’m very easy to please with perfect!
The owner of the farm had a barn painted in a not usual color—yellow. The strong sunshine and consequently strong shadows reminded me of the paintings of Edward Hopper. He was a modern realist whose simplified, austere landscapes expressed an alienation and loneliness of twentieth century American life. He was particularly attracted to what he called the vernacular architecture of rural America. With variations on the theme, it was a characteristic he stayed with all of his life.
For my painting above, the side of the barn with the singular tree against the pale yellow and bright white of the barn in the sun seemed perfect for an homage to Hopper. The difficult part was maintaining a pared down, simplified look without getting caught up by the textures of the masonry foundation and the complexity of the leaf masses. The tree was repainted several times because I had gotten to fussy. The difficulty was in deciding what degree of detail was required in communicating the feel of the tree crown. It had to be in keeping with the more flat, detail limited landscape and surfaces of the building.
It’s the starkness that I wanted to convey. From the descriptors ‘austere’ and ‘simplified’ one would think it might be less difficult but, it’s not. It’s not any less difficult than any other painting except non-objective abstract painting. Nothing is more challenging.
The weather here has been damnably uncooperative! Warm one day. Cold the next day. Then rainy and cold. Then just rainy. It has been putting the cabash on my plans to paint outside this summer. The one day we had that was agreeably warm and sunny allowed me to go out into my front yard to paint.
This is the view up the rode coming to my new home in Wisconsin. These are my neighbor’s trees seen from my vantage point. I want to communicate why I moved here. I also want to paint outdoors with oils and make them look like oils and not look like watercolors. It seems simple but it can be a daunting goal.
I have always said that the subject matter for art is all around us. There are little places that provide all that’s needed for creating a painting. It’s all there if you pay attention. You don’t have to go to distant locales or exotic places to make art. It’s all around you just waiting. These trees and the landscape they are occupying posed very nicely for me that day. A few hundred feet down the road are more models to pose for me. Thank you very much!
I have been very busy lately. Hence, the long interval between posts. I have been showing with the Art Garage and the De Pere Art Walk has just begun. I will be showing my work once each month through the summer. I am introducing myself to the community. I have been torn between creative projects. I have some sewing projects and painting projects that need beginning and finishing. My honey and I have been working out three times a week and we find that after all our errands afterwards the day is gone! I have to sit my self down and schedule my time and be disciplined enough to keep it. I have too many opportunities to play and I can’t decide which opportunity to take. Oh the vicissitudes of retirement!
Still Life with Apples and Blossoms Oil on Panel, 11×14″
I painted this while on a visit to Florida last March. It was a workshop and I did not set this up. It has no brilliant color contrast or pattern. To my mind it’s boring. It should have an odd number of blossoms in the bowl. Three or five would have been my choice. I could have invented extra items but I was all the way across the room from it and my vision is not what it was. I couldn’t see the cues well enough for convincing invention.
I am very picky about my still life set-ups. It takes me a week to get exactly what I want when I set one up. I put out the items and, as I walk in and out of the studio, I look at it and make changes until it’s right. What makes it right is some intangible that seems to click for me. I’m looking for color contrast and color distribution. Pattern provides the color distribution. I am essentially solving compositional problems in the set-up rather than on the panel I paint it on. Sometimes some thing needs to be added after the painting is underway. It’s all about knowing what I want from a piece and also being honest at self-critique. Sometimes it means knowing what the painting needs. If I pay attention, the painting will tell me what it needs.
I don’t know what I might do with this piece. It’s telling me it needs some red. What form that will take I have not decided. I may add a red element or I may just leave it as it is and move on. I also want to be outside painting right now. The weather is just now beginning to moderate enough for more outdoor painting and while that’s the case I want to take advantage of that. So still life paintings are on the back burner.
Gray Day at the Shore
Oil on Archival Panel, 12×16″
This was also painted during my visit to Florida. I went to a park to paint. I had a shelter with a picnic table. It was very comfortable. In spite of the overcast, the temperature was perfect too. So it was a good day. I have made my lessons in color matching work for this piece. All the values and the color express the grayness of the day. You will see hints of orange because I painted the panel with orange paint. I let tiny bits of the orange peak through so as to give the painting a counterpoint to over all the grayness. The clumps of shrubbery began at the crest of the dune with the ocean beyond. Then they descended into a hollow while I looked over the scene through the foreground grasses.
I intend to do some more pleine aire paintings in oil this summer. I usually paint watercolor outside. Oil requires more schlepping. Watercolor is very portable. It remains to be seen if I live up to my rhetoric. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I say this because, as I get older, it seems the door to my schlepp department is gradually closing. I have to say that all my exercise in the pool has helped me some and my physical abilities have improved slightly. I will keep exercising and painting. I have to take advantage of both for as long as I can. Time marches on and, damn it, I keep getting older!
I came home from Florida with a cold and covered in furiously itching insect bites. I ended up on an antibiotic for a secondary infection from the bites. Who’d a thunk it?!
I painted this in Fernandina Beach. I was covered up like a Bedouin to keep out of the sun (I’m a sunburn queen.) I also sprayed all my coverings with insect repellant to prevent, unsuccessfully, any more bites. At least, they were minimized. Fernandina Beach is known for shrimping and a paper mill. The railroad runs right along the water, primarily, for the paper mill. These were sitting on a siding waiting for a load. While everyone else was painting the boats at their moorings, I latched onto this. The boats were too pristine. There was no character.
This had character! I guess I like to have the history of my subjects written on their exteriors like my older models. They have it written on their bodies and their faces. I loved the bright blue of the freight car and I loved the graffiti. I also loved the grunge. This is actually the first pleine aire painting I have been satisfied with. I could go crazy with more grunge, but it’s no longer available for observation. I like being there to look at it. It makes for a better painting. Photographs just don’t cut it.
Come see my work if you are in the area. My paintings will be on display for three months. I can change the work shown at the beginning of the month so three separate shows will be on display in sequence.
This is Winston, an English bull dog. Despite his fierce look, a sweeter dog never lived. He has sadly passed recently. Our whole family misses him terribly. He came into our family with my daughter-in-law. It’s no mystery why he had such a sweet disposition with the owner he had. She said that Winston chose her when he was a puppy. He had very good sense in doing so. She took such good care of him that he exceeded the life span of most English bullies. She also taught him his good manners. He took the role as Peabody to my son’s role as Sherman almost immediately. Their fondness for each other was quite obvious..
I searched pictures of Winston in all my digital files and on Facebook and selected this one for a portrait. I am so pleased with it that I intend to paint more. I have a few pieces with him as my subject but they are studies or very small images; not really finished work. You can see them here and here.
Who knows? His image might be vehicle for paintings which may end up more significant. He may end up being my Blue Dog!
The Beautiful One Is Come
This young woman had us kvelling the last time she modeled for us. Well, she did it again. And the work showed it. Each on of us produced very good work. She was an inspiration. Not only is she a lovely woman on the outside but she is just as lovely as a person. There is a sweetness about her that cannot be denied.
All I kept thinking about was that she had the look of an Egyptian portrait. There is one royal fragment presumed to be that of Nefertiti. It consists only of the loser portion of her head. The shape of the mouth is just like our model’s mouth. So I think of this beautiful woman as a neo-Nefertiti.
My college just had its midterm recess. I don’t like hanging around Chicago during my spring breaks. It’s been very dreary here and temperatures are unusually low for the time of year. That’s a complete turn of events from last year when it was unusually warm. I just wanted a preview of spring. So my hubby and I flew off to Florida to visit some dear friends for ten days. They graciously put us up in their house.
We are pretty compatible couples. She and I are artists. Her hubby and my hubby are avid bicycle riders. So I packed more art supplies than clothing and my hubby brought his folding bike which just fit in its case. It was larger than the bag for his clothing.
While the guys were on their bikes we women painted together and with the artists of the local art center. What fun! This was painted in her studio using some items from around the house. My friend is an animal activist who volunteers at the local animal shelter. She paints pet portraits. Half of her fee is donated to the shelter.
I always have items that are meaningful to me in my still life paintings. The dog bookend is for my friend’s passion for animal welfare and the little bike is for her hubby’s passion for cycling. The coffee cup was included for the red color (representing my need for a morning caffeine fix, too) while the lemon came from a friend’s lemon tree.
This was the only panel dry enough for the trip home. I wrapped it in some plastic coated freezer paper and it emerged from my suitcase in pristine condition.
I think this is a much better approach than making a linear sketch. It provides so much more information. A linear sketch soon gets lost in the painting process and gives no direction in terms of value. Having a complete value study with a full value range has all the information for a finished product.
This was done over two class periods of about two hours each. Class is two hours and forty minutes. Setting up and cleaning up take up the rest of the time. It usually takes me twice as long for these. Hence the roughness of it.