I never got around to posting the final peach and final cat. Here are photos of the finished paintings:
I spent a long day Friday trying to finish a commission that seemed very simple at first, painting a peach to go with a painting I had sold a few years ago of a pear. The friend of the groom in an upcoming wedding wanted this as a wedding present and I agreed to do my best. The pear took me almost no time, but the peach! An entirely different proposition. Making sure it doesn’t look like an apple is just one difficulty. Here are some attempts, but I’m still trying for one that has the transparency and simplicity of the original pear.
After struggling for a while and needing a respite, I pulled out this painting, which you may recall, and played with it. The first version I seem not to have taken a photo of, but it was a still life done from a class set up, fairly traditional. I didn’t care for it, and tried to make it more abstract, but got carried away with the shapes and colors:
Some people loved it, others were made anxious by the chaotic forms and incoherence. So here is the current iteration—a cat, (or perhaps a bowling ball with a head?), on a box. This one I like. I intend to make kitty a little less rotund–at least with acrylic it really is simple to repaint, and repaint, and repaint.
I was eager to gain from the momentum of my 2015 watercolor classes, so this year I planned to dedicate to study and experiment (along with many hours spent studying Czech for our planned trip in April/May), rather than an emphasis on entering shows and selling. A torn rotator cuff was a complication I hadn’t expected, so slow and steady was my goal. I was also eager to make more use of my brand new printing press, so I took a short course in Printmaking at School 33. Two of the results:
April came and we headed off to the Czech Republic, only to return after a week when my mother-in-law became ill and subsequently died. Another hard time which caused a gap in painting. This time, though, I dived right back in with a still life class, and despite the rotator cuff issue, I painted obsessively through June and July. The class required using acrylic, not at all my favorite medium, but I was happily surprised by the results:
These came out okay, right? So what’s the problem with acrylic paint? It just feels “wrong” (I’m an oil painter, after all); it dries incredibly fast, even becoming tacky in the midst of applying the paint; and it is a major pain to clean up! I’ve heard so many people say they use acrylic because the clean up is easy. Don’t believe it.
I haven’t abandoned oil of course. Here are my most recent two.
Looking over Vineyards, Croatia. We had a marvelous time last year in Croatia, and this view in the morning, just after rain, had a lovely, hazy atmosphere. I made a few pencil sketches while there in addition to a photo.
In a dream I saw a city invincible.
This painting was in fact inspired by a dream I had last year. I awoke with the dream still in my mind; a dream of a large, square painting, yellow ground and dark purple stripes of varying lengths. I quickly made a sketch, and then bought square canvas, plenty of yellow paint, and began working.
sketch and preliminary paint
Somehow the idea just didn’t work. I painted, and considered, and painted and considered, for many months, adding an orange square, changing the stripes subtly, until one day, all at once, the vision came together for me and I saw the whole painting I wanted. The Whitman poem, a favorite, seemed to fit so well what I wanted to express that I used part of it as the painting title.
I Dreamed In A Dream Walt Whitman
I DREAM’D in a dream, I saw a city invincible to the
attacks of the whole of the rest of the earth;
I dream’d that was the new City of Friends;
Nothing was greater there than the quality of robust
love—it led the rest;
It was seen every hour in the actions of the men of
And in all their looks and words.
So what’s next?
I’m working on these,
and I have numerous other paintings to complete, a lot of study and experimenting, more oil, watercolor, and even acrylic paintings, some printmaking, and possibly even more blog posts!
I never thought, when my Mother fell and broke her hip nearly two years ago, that I would have to take such a long break from working. One of my friends recently lamented having fallen off my blog email list, since she no longer received notifications of new work. This spurred me to get off my duff, but of course the longer the lapse, the harder to come back. Inertia, borne of lack of practice, fear, and apathy, seems to take over.
To regain the habit of working, I find it helpful to take classes or workshops. In spring 2015 I ventured north for Watercolor Monotypes at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, then spent a week in July at my favorite summer workshop location, Wildacres on the Blue Ridge in North Carolina, where the Ringling School of Art and Design holds week-long programs. The class in Watercolor with Dwight Rose was wonderful and sparked my interest in the medium again, so I followed up with a watercolor class in the fall.
I painted these two watercolors looking over the Blue Ridge mountains. I used an easel instead of keeping the paper relatively flat, so there are some nice drippy areas in the trees. Top: Reach for the Sky, Lower: Bare Ruined Choirs.
Reflections on an Ebbing Tide, painted from a photo I took on the Outer Hebrides.
Quixotic, from a photo taken in Spain.
Tourist Boat, from a photo in Napflio, Greece
Cloudglow, downtown Baltimore on a summer evening. The photo unfortunately doesn’t do a good job of representing the painting–the color just won’t adjust correctly with the limited tools I have.
Taos Pueblo, from a photo I took on our New Mexico trip.
Last one, painted in Fall 2015. I can’t think of a decent title–any suggestions?
Despite having bought a ton of watercolor paper, I haven’t done any more recently, but I have been painting a lot in other mediums. Watch for a follow-up soon!
Being short of boats to mess about in, I have had to make do with paint. When I’m feeling stressed or just want to warm up after not painting for awhile, I’ll often pull out an old painting or a study and rework it. I don’t feel worried about how it will turn out, since it wasn’t going anywhere to begin with. Sometimes they turn out:
(These were originally black and white studies done in a class last winter.)
sometimes I’m not sure:
(a watercolor slightly cropped and matted)
and sometimes they are, in fact, a mess:
(This began as a collage of drawings from my Extrapolations class:
which I painted somewhat like the image on the right (no photo), then altered to the “mess” above. I really didn’t like it and wiped it back down to the image on the right, which I may or may not play with more sometime. They can’t all turn out.
By the way—this painting was one that I reworked and then modified somewhat after your helpful comments—here’s the modified version:
And if you haven’t looked at my website in awhile, I’ve been slowly updating it, so it’s worth taking another look.
Every time I plan a full schedule of work and classes, or am actually making progress in getting my life organized, something dire happens. I was excited about three new classes for this fall, classes in media or approaches that are new to me. However, my 90-year-old mother fell about 2 weeks ago and has been in the hospital since her hip surgery, with ever increasing complications. I haven’t had time to do much work, so until I get my life straightened out again, I thought of the many wonderful artists in the Baltimore area that you might enjoy looking at. Of course, there are many more than I can list here—Baltimore is full of talent, so here are a few to begin with.
My first class would have been Encaustic, with Lynn Poshepny. Lynn is a wonderfully enthusiastic and generous artist brimming with new ideas, and I was very sorry to have to give up that class, though I’m hoping to take it in the future. (I am still able to take Extrapolations with Wendy Cohen, whose teaching and ideas have me thinking in new ways about abstract art, and my Printmaking course doesn’t begin for a few more weeks.)
A few weeks ago I was delighted when Craig L. Haupt introduced himself at the opening for Station North’s Salon Show. His whimsical and inventive work fascinates me and never fails to boost my mood. One of his current projects is “The House that Jack Built,” for which he solicited suggestions from viewers as to what they would like to see included in the work.
Sam Robinson’s interiors, figures, landscapes, and equestrian art are gorgeous as he captures so beautifully the essence of his subjects. I particularly love the beautiful light in his comfortable, inviting, interiors, and the excitement and action in the racing paintings. I have to thank Sam as well for some very helpful tips on my own work.
If you love the natural world, you will love Meg Page’s exceptional watercolors, reminiscent of Durer in many ways.
Don’t miss Maxine Taylor‘s abstracts, full of motion and color. I can spend a great deal of time with each one, looking at the numerous small drawings which are perfectly integrated into the larger painting. Her Baltimore rowhouse paintings are also not to be missed.
A little farther afield, in Philadelphia, is Cynthia Harvey, whose art I stumbled upon on the internet. The forms of her figures are so simple and yet they include all the expression needed to give a complete feel for the figure and the personality behind it.
These are just a tiny sample of all the talent in Baltimore. I hope to add some more in the future, and also to get back to work myself very soon. For now, I hope you enjoy these artists’ work as much as I do.
One of the things I like about printmaking is that, perhaps because it is new to me, I feel able to experiment more and try slightly wacky things.Wacky to me, that is–there are much more adventurous artists around, but I seem to dip my toe very carefully into unfamiliar waters. I took a break from prints yesterday in order to finish a couple of oil paintings, one of which I began last summer on the Eastern Shore (MD). I painted over it with brighter colors and I’m pleased with the result–though I’m not really sure about the orange–is it too much? Too bright? Orange is actually one of my least favorite colors, and yet I find I use it more and more, liking the brightness and boldness that I think most other colors don’t achieve–except perhaps for shocking pink. What do you think? Comments welcome.
Doesn’t press-free sound more positive than press-less, as if I’m happy not to be encumbered with such a useless item? It does give me an opportunity to experiment. After abandoning the walking press I mentioned in the last post, I turned to Gelli prints and then, laden with leaves and flowers from my garden and a new stainless steel rolling pin, to rolling out prints with a lot of pressure. I also went back into some prints, inking the leaves and flowers and applying right onto the paper.
During a week at the Ringling College of Art and Design’s summer program at Wildacres retreat in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina learning the rudiments of printmaking, I fell in love with the process. While there, I had the use of beautiful Takach presses. But now I’m back in my studio, sadly a studio without a printing press. Until I come up with a few thousand dollars (no doubt from selling hundreds of my press-less prints), I’m experimenting with various non-press methods.
My first thought was to try relief printing, or linotype. I’d like to be able to make a good number of prints that I can then finish in different ways–watercolor, new print layers, all sorts of possibilities. I armed myself with linoleum blocks and Speedball inks, cutters, etc. I did not realize how difficult it is to cut linoleum so this block will likely take me a few months to finish! My arm and shoulder start to ache pretty quickly. A couple of tips help–just mask that big open area (sky) at the top. And heat the linoleum. I applied a hair-dryer and sure enough, it is much easier.
I have a lot more cutting to do, but I ran a proof just to see how it looks so far:
Giving my arm a rest, I turned to the “walking press” idea I’d read about. I inked a plate with Golden Open Acrylic paint, which doesn’t dry fast, and placed some geranium flowers and leaves as well as a few wildflowers on the plate. On top I put printmaking paper which had been soaked and blotted, then put the sandwich into a folded sheet of newsprint and onto a board cushioned with newspaper. More newspaper on top and then–lots of fun–I walked back and forth on top as heavily as I could. The result, along with some other attempts:
Last week a friend, artist Carol McGraw, visited my studio, where we tried out Gelli printing, a method of monoprinting. Lots of fun, very messy, allows for multiple layers. I’ll save these for the next post.
The first big question was why have an art blog at all. Isn’t it a bit pretentious to think anyone might be interested in what I have to say about art? Will people laugh and criticize my writing errors or the shallowness of my reflections? I already have a website to show my finished work–isn’t that enough?
I decided to go ahead because I wanted somewhere to organize my thoughts and talk about my experiments and struggles, rather than just show the results, the product of said struggles. After posting some of my art on Facebook, I felt frustrated by the randomness of who sees the posts, people who are interested and those who are not (but who no doubt feel compelled to click “like” even if they don’t like what they see!), and how scattered the posts are. Here I can write and keep all my posts together and in chronological order.
The second big question was what to call the blog. Artful blogger came immediately to mind…taken already, of course. Okay, how about MagnaArta? Nah, too pretentious, and would everyone “get it?” MangoArta?–getting silly. Art Reflections, ArtStrings, all taken. I wanted to get across that I’m just writing about my thoughts while creating art rather than anything deep and universal, something introspective…Artrospective? Taken! Finally I thought of adding the s….Bingo.
So here we are, and now the big question is, “What do I write?” (and can I keep this up?). Stay tuned.