Sunday, December 13, 2015

Guilt 12-13-15

The tedious work has begun! It is now just about tweaking and refining, drawing and checking values. Then rechecking values, then searching for the right color in the huge collection of odd tubes I have in my paint drawers, and then reconstructing and improving the drawing as I go.  I find that I work for about 3 or 4 hours and can't tell you what I did! It looks about the same as it did this morning. However, there has been much done on the painting since Thanksgiving, and I have to say that I am pleased with the progress. I wish I could work on it more consistently, but life has a way of commanding attention from a myriad of problems. And now Christmas looms with its associated parties and gatherings, all of which require food and some baking here and there. The good news, for me, is that Christmas is a painting day with my dear friend Carole Flagg, and that is always a joyous way to spend 3 hours. No gifts, no big dinners, no cooking, and no singing! YES!!!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Guilt on Thanksgiving 11-26-15

I have worked on Guilt on and off for the past month and it is slowly coming along. It is very difficult work, as I get very tired working on this canvas. The subject matter doesn't help much, although I work to divorce myself from the feeling, and concentrate on the painting and technical aspects of looking at where the light falls, and the infinite details in a painting of this scale. I added one small item since I last posted, and it barely shows, but there is a pretty cross in the bookcase, on the bottom shelf, which I have lightly blocked in. I saw this in a sale rack and grabbed it up, as it seemed to resonate with GUILT, although I don't feel guilty about religious things any more, I can tell you tales of guilt that will make you laugh and cry at the same time. Anyway, I wanted to add that piece to the whole mix, but I also wanted it to be very subtle. Anyway, for what it's worth, this painting is coming along much better than I expected! Thankfully, on Thanksgiving!!!!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Guilt on 10-31-15

You can see that Guilt is coming along nicely. I have worked on it today and yesterday for about 9 or 10 hours total and I must say that I am exhausted and looking forward to a day away from the house tomorrow. It is very tedious work but I am really happy with what I have done so far. The canvas and the "good" paint I am using is such a treat. I generally work on canvas that is store-bought and nice, but not as nice as the elegant Belgium linen double oil primed canvas that I am using now. My usual paint is cheap! It is nice, and the colors are good, and it mixes pretty true, Soho from Jerry's Artarama, but for this painting I am using Winsor Newton, Rembrandt and a few Gamblin colors. There is a huge difference, especially in the drying times, as the Soho has been treated so it dries out very rapidly, and with these paints the drying times are vastly extended. Also, working over the burnt sienna toned ground gives the colors that are laid on top an optical mix that is very exciting, and nearly impossible to capture well in the camera.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Guilt (Work in Progress) 10-26-15

I am painting it now. I started with the light areas, but have graduated to filling in whatever is calling me next. It still feels very overwhelming! I keep reminding myself to take it one day at a time and one step at a time. I am finding that my small tablet is a huge asset in viewing details close up and it is easy to view the image in sections and segments. I can zoom in on a highlight, or shadow, and see it so much better than I can in viewing it in front of me, or in the printed photograph. The light in my studio seems to be shifting all the time and with the photograph and tablet the lighting is stable.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The "final" painting of Guilt begins

This week I started working on the actual painting, using thicker paint and as close to the actual colors that I see. I started with the drapery which was just scumbled over with white, and now I have put in the actual colors. Then I moved on to adding the darks in the bookcase and the black suitcase. The week was productive, but it is exhausting work, and the concentration level is very high. I find that I don't have the stamina I used to have! Well, yes, that's why I had to quit my job in order to focus on this painting. I must say that I am very pleased with the progress so far and this very pricey high end canvas is a dream to work on. It is Claessen's double oil primed linen! I also try to use higher end paint for these paintings, and the best I can afford is Rembrandt line made by Talens, which is the parent company of the best paint around, Old Holland. So, onward we go, and I hope to get a lot of work done this week. Tomorrow, Sunday, is a day off, so I will have the whole day to work on Guilt.

Friday, October 9, 2015

First layer of thin paint applied to Guilt

This first layer is very thin paint scumbled over the toned ground which shows through in many places. The lightest areas are painted white so the brighter colors go over white rather than burnt sienna. Those white areas will become pink, magenta, and whatever colors are in that variegated drapery in the center of the painting. I will let it dry for a few days before I start to work on it again next week.  

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Line Work Completed

I am kind of cramped into my studio and can't get very good photographs. My camera is mounted on a tripod and I'm clicking the shutter by a wireless remote. I didn't fiddle with the camera as much as I fiddled with the painting, so I'm apologizing for the dark and murky photos here.
I like to draw straight lines with a level. It is so much easier than trying to line up a ruler
I have my overlay attached to the canvas at the top with 4 C-clamps and I can pull it over when I need to check something. I am not positioned exactly in the same place as I was when I took my original photographs so looking at the setup is confusing because it is slightly off. I got the bright idea to put the large photo on my tablet and I can use that to see very close up details that I can't figure out by just looking at my big photo that I printed out. The tablet is great because it has that bright light inside and I can go very close up and really see what I'm trying to do. Instead of trying to print out pieces of the original photograph I can hold the small tablet in my hand, or put it on my work table and really understand what I am looking at. I like to get as accurate as possible, especially in this stage.
Line work is finished and I'm stopping for the day to do some other projects. More will be revealed!

Monday, October 5, 2015

"Guilt" the start

 The first thing I had to do was prepare an "overlay", which is a clear plastic film that has the image of the still life traced onto it. I did that a few days ago and a photo is posted on September 25th. The photo above shows me transferring that overlay to the canvas using a small piece of transfer paper and a stylus (my silverpoint tool which is a silver rod inserted into a mechanical pencil holder). It is very tedious work and bending over that way was not fun for my troubled back. The painting in the background is one that I just finished called "Fixing Supper".

I have moved the canvas to my easel and I'm getting ready to start to draw over the tracing with dark paint. You can see the still life set up in the background. It was very difficult to position myself in exactly the same spot that I was in when I took the original photo. And Miss Puss has some kind of weird affection for the drapery on the floor and she has pulled it all apart and this morning one of them was totally out of the suitcase and pushed almost back to the wall. So photo reference was totally necessary. In the end trying to see those faint tracing marks on the canvas was a challenge. You can barely see them in the photograph above. I finally decided to use my tablet as a reference and installed the original photo in its Gallery, and I could blow it up in pieces to see what I was doing. It was tedious work and after 5 hours I decided I needed to stop.

You can see my progress in this photograph where I was trying to establish a dark line to work against. I felt that I needed the overlay for reference and used clamps to attach it to the top of the canvas so I could flip it up and down whenever I needed a quick reference for something that didn't transfer or lines that I couldn't see. I'll finish the drawing tomorrow.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Bye, Bye Old Easel

this Julian French Easel (with an Italian maker on it) was a prize possession of mine that was purchased in Italy (I think it was in the City of Milan) on a grand tour in 1963. Mom and I had acquired a Mercedes from the factory and we picked it up in Switzerland. You could do that in those days, and get a nice car for much cheaper than buying it in the US especially if you used it for transportation around Europe. The plan was to ship the car back to the US on a freighter that would dock in New York or New Jersey sometime after we arrived home by air. I was on a buying spree all over Europe and I had a fantastic time getting some wonderful items, this easel was one of them. I used it too. All over the US on various trips, and on the boat we lived on as well. 
I am sitting beside the Snake River in Wyoming, outside of Jackson Hole, having a nice time with my easel and my painting! We were on one of our many criss-crossings of the US in our RV or car. 

The backstory of that grand trip ended with my mother becoming extremely ill in France as we were heading for the drop off of the car. I knew I had to get her home immediately. I had the easel, lots of other art supplies, and a set of pottery I had bought in Picasso's hometown of Valauris in southern France, in the trunk of the car as well as luggage and other flotsam and jetsam. I drove directly to the airport and went to the Pan Am ticket booth to get Mom on the next plane to New York. The manager of the ticket counter came to help me and the upshot of the whole thing was that he wouldn't let Mom go alone and he said he would drive our car to Le Havre himself and put it on the freighter. Mom was so sick we decided to take him up on the offer and with some misgivings about giving up all my goodies in the truck, perhaps never to be seen again, we boarded the next plane to JFK. We were met at the airport and Mom was driven to the hospital where she was treated for pneumonia and other bronchial problems. About a month later the car arrived with all the goodies intact in the trunk just as I left it. My father sent a commendation to Pan Am and evidently that lovely man was given a promotion.

The poor old easel started to fail some years ago and it was hard to set up, and the hardware was banged up and didn't work very well. In time I stopped using it, preferring other folding easels that were more flexible and easy to tote around. For the past 3 or 4 years the Julian has been on my outside porch which is open to the weather and it has suffered much in neglect and abandonment. It has taken me 2 years of weekly trash pickups to finally get the easel off to the landfill. It was a very sad day yesterday when the trash men picked up the Julian and put it in the truck, not to be seen again. Boo-hoo.  

Friday, September 25, 2015

Here we go....GUILT!

One year ago I quit my job as curator of the Gallery at Carrollwood Cultural Center in order to work on the eleventh painting in the Feeling Series. I worked steadily on the set up of the various props and furniture that I wanted for the painting and you can see the result below. I have had a few comments, like "I don't see guilt here", and why is there a gun in it" and "what's with the suitcases and handbags", "I don't get it", and "this painting is so different from the others". My answer is that this painting is about my feelings about guilt, presented symbolically. Having worked my way through so much of it during my lifetime; it feels like a chaos of baggage and failures, hurts both given and received, and the myriad layers of perceptions of guilt ranging from my role as a white person in a rarefied society, to my addictive personality, to many decisions I have made in my life that are not appropriate to discuss here!

This is a photograph of Guilt as it is set up in my studio. Much of my time over the past year has been trying to figure out how best to manage the workflow in my studio, with two Sundays a month given over to Painting For Fun, where I have as many as 9 people in the studio wandering around, and other students and projects that require a reorganization of the space. Many of these paintings reuse props that appear in other paintings and one prop that I wanted to use was the buffet table that was my mother's that I used in Fear and Shame

And I also knew from the start that this painting would be 48 x 48 and that alone creates a space management problem. I will have to stow the painting in my bedroom or office when I am not working on it. I wanted to use the best canvas I could afford which was Claessen's Belgium Linen, double oil primed. It is glorious to look at and feel! But very difficult to stretch and so I had a test canvas that looked horrible and it was not suitable at all. So I asked P.J. Draper at AOE Artworks, in Temple Terrace, if she could stretch it for me. She agreed to do it, and I was thrilled at what she was able to do, after much hand wringing and difficulties for her as well. The canvas was finished in early August, and I must admit that I have felt some Guilt, on and off, as it sat in the closet of my office, while I got ready to dive into the painting phase of the painting, which was very scary. 

After quite a lot of back and forth in my mind, I finally decided that this painting would be worked on a toned ground. Classical painters call this Imprimatura. The definition, thanks to Wikipedia, is:

Imprimatura is a term used in painting, meaning an initial stain of color painted on a ground. It provides a painter with a transparent, toned ground, which will allow light falling onto the painting to reflect through the paint layers. 

I learned to do this technique in a series of workshops with Aaron Shikler in the 1990s in Connecticut. How fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to be able to study with him at Lyme Academy of Fine Arts in Old Lyme, Connecticut. My other training was with Robert Brackman who worked the Impressionist style on a white canvas. The toned ground requires some special techniques that I do not normally employ, and the last painting I did in this manner was in 2001 when I finished Fear, just before I moved to Florida. So that is why I said it was very scary to cover that pristine white canvas with Burnt Sienna and Rectified Turpentine, which I am allergic to!

See what I mean? All that pristine white is about to be covered with a slop of burnt sienna and turps. Oh my!!!

Half done


I also use a process I may have conceived (well I am SURE other artists have done something similar) that I call an overlay. Basically this amounts to a huge time saver when working on a portrait or complex painting that requires hours and hours of tedious drawing. My life is no longer one of leisure to fiddle for hours to get perspective just right and proportion figured out, so the overlay becomes an essential ingredient of my work these days. I do know how to draw! I teach it, for heaven's sake, but I am not so good to hit it correctly on the first, or even 10th try, so the overlay cuts time and makes my work more accurate. It requires a photograph that is blown up to be the same size as the canvas, in this case 48 x 48. I print the photo using Publisher which will tile the print out, and I had 15 images to paste together to make one big photo! Clear .5 mil overlay film is then put over the enlarged photo and traced with a felt tip pen. The overlay is then put over the toned canvas and transferred. When the painting is underway the progress can be checked for mistakes by putting the overlay over the painting to check for drawing errors. It is just so nifty.

I am holding a 48 x 48 foam board that contains my photograph of Guilt over which there is a clear plastic film that I call an overlay. I am tracing with an Identipen those little details in the lace cloth. Yeah, I know...a little obsessive and complusive, for sure. But it surely saves a lot of time in the end and helps the visual confusion when painting because it is so hard to make your brain go back and forth from canvas to the still life set up, over and over until you are crazy.

As work progresses I plan to add entries here on my blog as I did with Awe. It was a nice record to have and I must admit that I found myself referring back to it several times. So, stay tuned! More is about to come.

As an aside, I realize it has been months since I last posted work on my blog. I have quite a few paintings that I have completed during the summer and soon I will have them posted on my blog. I have put most of them on my website, but they are scattered over several places and it is more convenient to view them here. I will be posting them soon.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Painting For Fun Update

I have been very busy in the past few months. Painting For Fun is/was a great deal of fun, but also a huge amount of work for me, and I'm learning as I go along. I am basically offering two painting sessions a month with about 8 people in each one, which requires me to prepare 16 projects per month! Wow!! I finally figured out how to print on the lightweight canvas in pads made by Fredrix and that has saved me a huge amount of time. However, my printer is very temperamental and the canvas folds over and jams the printer time and again. I am waiting for an order of canvas that is designed for inkjet printing. We shall see if that helps.

I have a website with all the current projects listed with samples of them so that people can check it out in advance. There are all sorts of goodies there and more are coming soon...Flowers, Angels, Geometric Designs, Scenic America, Lighthouses, and so on.

Most of my friends are novice painters and require fairly simple images to paint, but a few of them are more advanced and the following project is one that I made for them. It is Spiral Galaxy M74 as seen by the Hubble Telescope and painted by me. I tried it twice and the first attempt is safely in the local landfill. It was horrible, as I used black canvas and that was so difficult and I couldn't find any reference points in the photograph of the Galaxy to focus on. In the end I turned the photo into a greyscale image and printed it on the canvas and painted on top of it. Even so, it was difficult for me as I kept losing my way, which I suppose is the whole point of being lost in space.

This is painted in acrylics with various glitter paint and glow-in-the dark glitter added here and there. I sprinkled the glitter on small glue dots to give it some interesting sparkle. Most of the white points were simply dots of white paint.
This is an image I shot with a huge ISO in my bathroom with the camera hand held which is why it is somewhat out of focus, but you can see the glow-in-the dark paint showing up in the middle of the spiral.
And for all you folks who love mathematics here is the diagram of the Golden Spiral superimposed on top of the Galaxy. Is it any surprise that it is correct mathematically? I am using PhiMatrix, a nifty program that allows you to figure out all kinds of things related to the Golden Mean. If you are so inclined you can find it by doing a Google search. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Divinum Spiralem

Divinum Spiralem        Egg Tempera on Gesso Panels    
16 x 20     Private Collection

Divinum Spiralem is a series of 7 small Egg Tempera paintings mounted together to create one artwork. It was started in 2013 and finished in 2015. Those shells are much more difficult to paint than one would imagine! I said I wouldn't do any more miniature sized shell paintings, but now that this is finished I might be lining up my egg yolks to do some more. We shall see!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Radiant Fruit Show - I win a First Prize

Genesis: Orange       6 x 8      Egg Tempera      $450
First Prize at Carrollwood Cultural Center "Radiant Fruit" 
April/May 2015

Click here for Tampa Tribune Article

Monday, March 30, 2015

Painting For Fun

The photos show the first ever "Painting for Fun" workshop which was Sunday, March 29th, from 1:00 - 4:00. Coffee, tea and cookies were served with the artwork and paint!

Friends, and friends of friends came to my studio for an afternoon of painting. I spent a great deal of time and energy coming up with various designs, most of which I got from some very nice coloring books published by Dover. The outline drawings were enlarged and then I transferred them to either a piece of lightweight canvas, or a painting panel. Everyone got a small colored version of the artwork and they painted it in acrylic paint. I didn't know what to expect but it turned out to be very much fun, and everyone had a good time.

I can comfortably fit in 8 people and so far I have 3 signed up for the next workshop which will be at the end of April. I am working on a website for the Painting For Fun Sundays and will have many themes and ideas that people can select to paint. We had some beautiful flower designs, some geometric abstracts, angels, and a lighthouse that will be the first of many, using my own designs that I made many years ago.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Painting with Eggs Workshop Sunday

Margret putting on the finishing touches to her landscape

Nancy working on her painting

  Nancy's finished painting 

Peggie with her finished painting

 Peggy with her Flower Painting

  Robert working on his painting

Robert's finished painting 

Yolanda with her 2nd finished painting!

This was the most successful workshop I've done! Egg Tempera is unlike any other medium and requires a lot of concentration and attention to detail. It is not for the spontaneous painter, as it is difficult to make changes once it has begun, so everyone came with a photograph or drawing sized to the panel size they chose in advance of the workshop. We used several methods to transfer our drawings to the panel and once we separated the eggs we could start to paint. I had a wide selection of both pigment dispersions and pigment pastes to choose from. 

Everyone went home with a nice painting and a new understanding of what Egg Tempera painting is all about. I hope some of them will continue to choose to paint in Egg Tempera as it is not as fussy as people believe and the results are beautiful and luminous jewel-like treasures. Thank you, everyone, for coming and I hope we can do this again soon!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Painting With Eggs Workshop Saturday

I have done a few Egg Tempera workshops but most of them have not been very well attended, and in truth the people who came didn't really like working in the medium. But this one was totally different. The participants were all current or past students, and friends of mine and so I knew what kind of group I would get. It was marvelous!! The pictures below show my studio turned into a cluttered workshop space where everyone seemed focused and relatively happy, although Egg Tempera's quirky ways didn't sit too well with a few, but we will work that out on Day 2.

I was blown away by the work everyone has produced. My photographs are at the end of the day, on Saturday, and by Sunday afternoon I suspect we will have some really splendid examples of the beautiful medium of Egg Tempera to show off here. I am so pleased with how the workshop went I am planning for the next one.

 I had planned for a maximum of 8 people and one couldn't make it so we were 7 and it looks crowded and cluttered, but it was just fine, and one more would have fit in well. Perhaps next time. Robert and Peggy are pictured on the right.

Robert's Dog
Peggy's Flower
Margret and Natalia
(the computer was handy in showing some Egg Tempera artists websites and a few suppliers of the dispersions and pigments we were using) 
Margret's Landscape
Natalia's Tree
(she seems not too pleased with her efforts, but it was really very nice, in spite of what she thinks!)
After intense concentration for hours some levity must follow! Here they are examining one of my plastic hands. 
Nancy with plastic hand. Someday that thing will make it into a painting!
Nancy's Painting
Peggie's Still Life
We have one Peggy, one Peggie, and one Margret in the workshop.
You can tell by Yolanda's big smile that she is really pleased with her avocados!