Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Lady with a Cockatiel

Oil on Canvas       20 x 24      POR
The "Lady" is my dear friend, Carole Flagg, who at 87 is still producing a massive output of marvelous paintings. You can see some of her work on her website: www.caroleflagg.com 

I met Carole shortly after I moved to Florida when we both were associated with Horizon Line Gallery in Temple Terrace. She took some of my classes and we began a friendship that continues to build in mutual support and appreciation of each other's experiences and talents. Today I meet with her every Saturday afternoon for our "coaching" session. Carole wanted to learn oil painting techniques, and having been an acrylic and pastel painter for many years she wanted to add oil paint to her repertoire. She still works in acrylic and pastel, but has found wonderful success as an oil painter too.

I shot this photograph of her several years ago, when her beloved pet bird was still alive. Sadly he is not with us any more. What a character that bird was! Unable to fly and picked upon by other birds in the large cage downstairs at the residential facility she lives in, she took him to her apartment and his life was forever changed, happily so, as he had a nice place to live, plenty of good food, and a new "mother" who doted on him. He often perched on her shoulder or hand. I was so amused by him, as he would greet me with clicks of the tongue, that I could imitate back at him, and he and I had many dialogs about lots of important subjects, of interest to birds.

I used to paint lots of portraits, especially pastel head studies, but the economy and shifting tastes has changed much of that, and I found that I didn't have a market for portraits after 911 and our move to Florida. I missed the excitement and challenge of portrait painting, and so after much deliberation, I decided to add Portrait Painting With Help to the growing list of art classes I teach at Carrollwood Cultural Center. Over the summer I put together my plans for the class and started several oil paintings that I could use as demonstration pieces in my class. The class is a great success, and I'm happy to have an opportunity to move back into doing some portraits. 

Some of my art friends have said that I am a "still life painter" and I wished to change that image of myself! I enjoy painting everything. The challenge of portrait painting is greatly helped by an invention of mine that involves making overlays to find mistakes as we go along in the painting process. I spend quite a lot of time with a photograph to make it useful for portrait painting, and blow it up to the exact size of the canvas, and edit out most of the distracting background elements, and in place of them I add a background that will enhance the painting. It is a great help to be able to see what I want before I start the painting. A quick change in the photo editing program can show me a new color, or value, before I spend hours painting it. I love my computer!!!

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