Saturday, October 16, 2010

Friday Still Life Class

In addition to my Tuesday evening Still Life class, I teach on Fridays. Fridays are usually pretty quiet and only a couple of people can attend. So, whenever possible, I paint along with the students. Here is a photo of this Friday's session, with the set-up, Maryellen's painting and my own. We had a wonderful time, and when we stepped out of the studio door, we were greeted with SNOW! I guess it's time to get those snow tires back on the car!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I thought you might enjoy another sequence. I actually started my blog with this sequence. This painting is of my daughter Priscilla, and it was painted at my storefront from life, while I was holding Violet (now 6 years old). It is a fast, direct painting, or alla prima painting.

As you can see, I started this painting the way I always do, by getting the pitch and finding my general light and shadow planes. I never start with a tight, finished drawing, but rather with the general shapes, deciding what is essential, what is not essential, and where I want my light effect. This allows me the ultimate freedom to "find" the figure, allowing her to imerge out of a nebulous fog, where I can change and edit as the painting progresses. With each pass, I try to tighten up my drawing, but never sacrifice the illusion of depth or light. I am a realist, but I do not want my paintings to be primitive (showing every little detail which flattens the illusion) or photographic (like HD TV, which over-sees, or has hyper-vision, and loses the magic).

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Making Changes

I decided that the leaves I painted in...just didn't work. So, I completely scraped out the leaf on the right, and repainted the background. Then, I scraped out most of the leaf on the left, and I painted another leaf that leaned away from me and towards the background. As I start to refine my painting, I tighten up my drawing.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

A little more work on the still life

I babysat for 2 of my grandchildren today, so once again, my studio time was very short. The weather is turning colder, and the grape leaves on the vine by my garage are starting to fade with each frost. We haven't had a real hard frost yet, but that can happen any day. I decided that I had better try to paint some of those leaves, before there were none to be painted. My original set up had just the right ones, but they had wilted before I had a chance to paint them in. These new ones weren't the same, but they would do. I mix up more green and quickly painted them. I also picked a few more leaves from my apple tree, because the ones in this set up had curled and drooped. I began to develop my grapes a little more, too.

Painting from life, with real fruits (vegetables, flowers, etc.) that are not quite "still" means that your painting takes on a more organic air, with changes and developments that force you to go with the flow. Being willing to adapt and flexible enough to make the changes is fun. Keeping everything unified is the goal. Hopefully, I will get to work on this tomorrow.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Still Life Sequence

We have a grapevine that grows along the side of our garage. Most years, we get a frost before we actually get grapes, but this year the frost held off. I started this painting late in the afternoon under natural light, so I had to paint fast. I thought that you might enjoy seeing the sequence. This is painted on a gessoed panel. Jack made a batch of panels for me for Mother's Day. They are slightly absorbent.

I start very loosely, with big general shapes. So, in the first photo, the big blob could have been anything, but what I really saw was a big dark mass, or value shape, against the background. the following photos show how I worked into the mass, developing my forms. I generally work from my middle values, and with each pass I go a little lighter in the lights and darker in the shadows. The whole time I am drawing with the brush and trying to maintain an illusion of depth and bulk, as well as thinking about planes of light.

This is as far as I got today before the light faded. If I can get into the studio tomorrow, I will continue. When I set up the arrangement, I had grape leaves, but they wilted long before I got them in, so I will pick more and try to recreate what I originally envisioned.

Old Storefront/studio - classes

When I had the storefront/studio (2001-2007), I offered some weekly classes, as well as an occasional workshop. I had a head studies weekly class with a model, and the last picture here shows one of my demos. This man just happened to walk in my store one day, and I asked him if he would pose for a class.

The top photo shows they way I normally looked at the store...with a smock. Basically, I painted in my little back room (see older posts), but when someone came in the store, I came out to show them around and invited them to see what I was working on. It was fun.

The second photo was from one of my 5 day workshops. The workshops usually included still life, outdoor landscape painting, and sometimes included one day with a model.

In case you haven't noticed, I am rather small, and I often use a step-stool when I teach. This will put me at the same height level (or eye level) as my student.

The young student took several classes as part of his high school requirements.

Friday, October 01, 2010

More Pictures of the Old Storefront - Violet

Before Violet, my first grandchild, was even born, she came to the gallery. She visited often. I believe that children should be exposed to art from an early age. They should visit galleries, museums, and art studios. Museums should not be places where only adults venture. Painting (and drawing) is a visual language that allows us to express ourselves beyond words. Children can learn to appreciate the work and study that goes into creating paintings by watching artists at work. In order to cultivate a society that appreciates art, we need to teach them, starting at a young age, to see beauty in design and color, as well as to value skilled craftsmanship.