Monday, April 30, 2012

Morning Light

                                                                                                      acrylic, 6x6"

Painted about a month or so ago, this geranium had just had a drastic haircut.  It has about three times as many leaves now.  I should try to paint it again--I would have more compositional choices.  Painted in the morning with the sun coming through the window.  I was happy enough with this one, except I don't like how the right side of the pot is almost just touching the right side of the painting.  That is not what my intention was, but I don't have a handle on these ellipses yet.   They seem to push me around.  Live and learn....

Bonus show and tell.  My mother asked to see a landscape.  This one was done in the fall of 2010, when I had the admirable goal of running around on my lunch hour painting plein air.  So, this one was painted probably in about a half hour by the time I found a site, set up, painted, packed up, and got back to work.  I also clearly remember I only had an unprimed panel in the car, so I had to use it.  The panel was drawing a lot of the moisture from the paint.    Oh yeah, the painting:

                                                  acrylic, 6x8ish

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Look Mom, No Shadows

                                                                                                                      acrylic, 8x8"

Several times this painting actually had shadows, and several times I actually painted them out.   Thank goodness May 9 is the start of Lorelle Bacon's class on painting shadow and light.  I need that class!

I find I have a much easier time painting shadows on objects than painting shadows on surfaces the objects sit on.

This was painted yesterday.  I didn't paint at all today.  I painted longer than usual yesterday, maybe because I painted larger than usual yesterday.   Or maybe it was those shadows...

Painting on an 8x8" support instead of 6x6" was fun.  The brush fit better.  Who knew?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Great News!

                                                                                                     acrylic 6x6"

Painted within the past couple weeks.   Same flowers and vase from the 4/22/12 post, but this one was painted outside and the other, inside.  I actually had to use my plein air umbrella while painting this, because the sun was so strong. 

The Great News:  I am going to be taking a four week art class on shadow and light with Lorelle Bacon, my original art teacher.  When I first started doing art (five or six years ago), I took several months of classes with Lorelle.  She then moved to Texas, and I haven't really had a regular teacher since.  Well, Lorelle is back and happens to be offering a class on the very topic I want to study, on the very day I have off each week.  And I happened to stumble upon this news in time to sign up for the class rather than just in time to have missed it.

Lorelle Bacon is a master of EVERY medium, even scratchboard, it's amazing.  You can see her site by clicking her name in the right column of this blog under Art Blogs and Sites.  I am so excited to get back into a class with her!

(Editor's note:  I know I said I wasn't going to complain about my photos anymore, but for the sake of artistic honesty, I want to tell you I think this photo is making my painting look better than it really is in terms of the lighting of the flowers.  I don't think I got as much sense of light into the flowers in the actual painting as they appear to have when lit by the computer screen, at least on my screen.  The vase looks fairly accurate)

A Favorite

                                                                                                   acrylic 6x6"

Yesterday's painting met an early demise, so I thought to cheer myself up, I would show you one of my favorites.

And do you know why this is a favorite?  Because it only took 10, 15 minutes tops to paint it!  Most of my paintings take close to 2 hours. This one was so quick because I was already warmed up from painting other things.  Hmmmm....a lesson there?

My screen shows a fairly accurate version, except in the real painting, the stems and dark part of the water are a lighter green, so the whole painting is fairly soft, not too contrasty (it's a word now).

Have a great day, Watchers!                             

Monday, April 23, 2012

Last Red Azaleas

                                                                                                                     acrylic, 6x6"

Yesterday's painting offering.  I'm going to stop complaining about how the photos don't look true to the colors of the painting....I'm putting you on notice that I will be working to correct the issue, probably by changing the software I am using for photo editing.  Until I do, please just assume I am not happy with the photos, so we can move on.   I wonder whether other artists are satisfied with "close enough," or if they keep editing until the photo looks perfect.  One of my friends told me she thinks the photos will never completely match the paintings.  She's an Off-Blog Commenter.  I have a few of those among the Watchers.  I am very grateful for all of you.

For the first time since I started my painting practice, I left in the middle of a painting and returned to finish it.  I really had to go somewhere for about 30 minutes yesterday, and I think maybe the pause was good for the painting, because the first layers of paint had a chance to dry well before I got into layering over them.  I like to paint wet over dry, but sometimes with acrylics, I end up painting wet over kind of sticky.  I wonder if the painting is still considered alla prima since I stopped for a half hour--I'm not really concerned about the label, just curious.

You can see I am still having an ellipse problem.   I'm expecting improvement with practice.  Sometimes the ellipses are a matter of a drawing/seeing/mind distortion and sometimes a paint-handling issue.  In Last Red Azaleas, the ellipse was a seeing distortion. 

I feel kind of guilty cutting flowers to paint them.  I usually leave flowers to grow where they are.  The azaleas were on the way out, though, so how guilty can I let myself be?  It's supposed to be quite cold tonight.   I went around the yard trying to cover up plants and cut some flowers I didn't think I could cover well.  I guess they would have died tonight anyway.  We'll see what's left in the morning....

Hi Brooke!  Hi T!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Painting the Light

                                                                                acrylic, approx 6x8"

This painting isn't quite a standard size (slightly less than 6x8"), because it is on a masonite board that was cut to size at home, and apparently when you take a large piece of masonite and cut it into a bunch of smaller boards, the end ones are going to end up slightly smaller.   I've been told.  Anyway, I am wanting this to be slightly even smaller at the bottom, because think it would be a better composition that way.  I'm going to have the same sawer saw some off as soon as other projects around the house are finished and the table saw becomes available for art cropping (unless someone out there knows for a fact that sawing a completed acrylic painting on masonite is a bad idea and lets me know).  Here's how I would rather this look:

It's slight, but I think it makes a difference.

You can see that the ellipse at the top of the vase (BTW, same vase as yesterday's painting) is kind of off, tilted.  You know what?  That doesn't bother me.  I have decided that I am not after perfection in the drawing, because I think having some things a little off gives the painting some life. 

I like the sense of light in this one, and my main interest in painting is to capture a light effect.  Whether painting still life, landscapes, or people, that is what I am interested in.  I have so much to learn about painting light.  Lighting a still life has been a big learning challenge, because of wanting to have a nice light effect without harsh shadows.  I've done research and experimented, but if anyone can direct me to any reference information on this topic, I would be so grateful.

So far, natural light on the still life when the light is at certain angles gives me more of the effect I want....but then I have the same issue painting still life as with painting plein air--the light CHANGES!  It's pretty interesting over a painting session to watch the light change--you see all your light and shadow effects disappear and reappear in other places.  But it makes it hard to complete the original vision of the painting.  At least in the amount of time I need to do one of these paintings.

For the light effect in this painting, I think I lucked out in finding these purple flowers and being able to pair them with my peachy-colored vase.  I think being sort of complementary colors, they helped make the light effect on the vase pop.  Then again, I am not a trained artist, so maybe I am making that up.  But I do think from my readings on color that these are near complements and that having them together did help give a sense of light.  I'm happy to hear from any artist out there who can tell me if I am making sense!

Photos.  First, I want to acknowledge my friend Dixie for letting me use her art photo shooting set-up.  Without access to Dixie's set-up, I would not have this blog on-line yet.  So, thank you SO much, Dixie.  Secondly, I want to say that the photos for this post and the prior two were done by me, alone with the photo-shooting set-up, without Dixie there.  For the first three posts' photos, Dixie was there.  One thing we know that made a difference is that she had one extra light on that I didn't use.  When I look at the photo from this post and the last two compared to the first few, the first few look more accurate to the paintings to me.  So, I'll need to try that extra light from now on.  Or maybe actually having Dixie there made all the difference...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Painted these Outside

                                                                                              acrylic 5x7"

This painting was more recent, within the last few weeks.  Again, I am not so sure if the photo is representing the painting accurately... 

I am always trying to get rid of "things," but since I became a painter of still life, I have had to collect more things to paint.  This vase is a favorite.  You will see more of it, I am sure (it's already in several other paintings).

I didn't know that somebody was photographing me while I painted this.   You can see that my cat Spider was clearly helping.  I don't know why the text below this photo is being centered.  Excuse me while I learn how to make my blog behave.....

(EDIT:  Somebody already noted above commented that this actually is not his photo because since I cropped it, it's not his composition. So give me credit for the bad crop.  I admit I cropped it because I didn't want you Watchers to see any more of the smock I was wearing, because it just gets goofier the lower down it is on me)

By the way, GREAT NEWS for the Commenters among the Watchers...I have figured out how to remove the Word Identification step you have to go through to put a comment on this blog!  Your comment will still go to me before it goes on-line, and now I'll have to use my own brain to decide if an actual human wrote the comment.  I think I'm capable...but if I find too many nonhumans are getting past my brain to the blog, I will have to revert back to the dizzy word thing.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Big Brave Me

                                                                                                      (acrylic 6x6")

Hello again, Watchers!  Here I am being oh so brave, because I am showing you what I painted today, this very day!  This is a whole new level of "showing" for me, because I haven't had any time to live with this one and see how I feel about it.  But I want to be timely; I don't want to be showing you irises in the Fall.

I'm not sure how I feel about the photograph of this painting.  Photographing paintings is just plain difficult.  Even with a good set-up, which I am lucky enough to have access to.  The image doesn't look quite the same from my painting to my camera, or from my camera to my computer, or from my photo viewing program to my blog.  Goodness knows what these things look like by the time they get to you. 

I would like for the photo to be a honest representation, but I just don't think I have total control over that one.  Especially with my inexperience at this process...

I was happy enough with this painting, the way the actual painting looks to my actual, unaided eyes.  Which is lucky for me, because putting precious free time into a painting and hating it makes for a difficult time afterward.  Let's just say a disappointing time.  I should add that having a regular painting practice is teaching me many things, among them the idea that my worth isn't based on my most recent painting!  I have also learned to adjust expectations, because with my current skill level, I am unable to paint the beauty of what I see in anything, let alone a delicate, gorgeous flower like an iris.  I have learned that in order to judge the painting, I have to stop looking at the iris.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Painting Alla Prima

                                                                                                   (acrylic 6x6")

This one was a real challenge for me, and I unfortunately ran out of time while I was painting it, as I had to meet friends.  This was my second try to paint this gold plate, and I was happy with the results this time.   I can't remember what else I had in the set-up with this plate the first time I tried to paint it, but it was an absolute disaster.  I was much happier with how the plate came out in this one. 

I definitely see things I would change throughout this painting if I could, but I never touch the small paintings again once I pull them off the easel and clean up.  Somehow, changing them doesn't feel right.  It's almost like they are not mine to work on any longer.  I think because I'm in such a state of concentrated consciousness when I am painting, each color mixture flows from the next.  Now, they don't always flow as I wish they would flow, but at least while I'm in the throes of the painting, I have an idea of where each mixture that worked and where each mixture that didn't work came from.  I don't feel I could jump back into the same state later.  I feel I should start a new painting of the same object and try again.

(For those non-artists in the group, creating a painting in one sitting only is called Alla Prima)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Daily Painting and Still Life

                                                                                                          (acrylic, 6"x6")

I was introduced to the Daily Painters movement by Karen Margulis a few years ago when I took a pastel workshop from her.  She told us that she taught herself to paint with pastels by doing one small painting every day, and she blogged each painting to help herself stay accountable to the daily discipline.  I thought her idea of daily painting was interesting, but didn't see how I could apply it in my own life.  Well, this past November, I saw another presentation by Karen, heard the story again, and took what she said to heart (by the way, Karen is a generous, fantastic painter/blogger/teacher and if you want to learn anything about pastels, I am sure she has blogged about it or will.  See Karen at  When I learn how to change her name into a link, I will.).

I had been doing art for about five years prior to hearing Karen speak the second time.  My art-making time was very inconsistent, applying myself only occasionally and whenever it fit in after everything else.  In other words, I didn't make painting a priority or a disciplne.  So, inspired by Karen Margulis, in November 2011, I decided to be a daily painter.

I looked at lots of daily painter art blogs and saw that not only Karen, but many people had truly created miracles in their art, by painting one small painting each day and keeping at it.  I SO wanted to created miracles, myself.

Painting daily, however, did not work with my current schedule.  I tried painting before work, after work, and even on my lunch hour--all options that stressed me out rather than helped me improve.  I decided I didn't need to add any further stress to my life.  I'm already hard enough on myself with regard to my art.  I have settled into painting one small painting, alla prima, three days per week, a schedule that works well for me.  I am at peace with not being a daily painter.  Rather than referring to what I do as daily painting, I will refer to it as my painting practice.
When I first started my regular painting practice, I jumped from medium to medium, depending on what suited my circumstances.  Literally, I tried to do my daily paintings in pastel, oil, gouache, and acrylic.  In January 2012, I settled in on my one favorite medium, acrylic.  Since keeping with one medium, my painting seemed to improve.  As a bonus, now I have my routine, I know exactly how I will set up my easel, paint, what I will use as a palette, etc.

Prior to my painting practice, I had mostly been painting from photos, from my imagination, and sometimes plein air landscapes.  One day in January of this year, I decided to paint a still life object.  I was absolutely astounded at the difference painting from life made.  Yes, I had been doing plein air landscapes from life, but the landscape is very difficult to organize, and most plein air paintings I do are less than pleasing to me.  When I painted my first still life object, I left my studio stunned, thinking, "I didn't know I could paint that well."

Now, that first still life is not a great painting (maybe sometime I will show it here), but it was life-changing, and that's what counts.  No matter that I knew the light source needed to be different on the subject than in the room, and the only way I could figure out to make that happen was to have my still life object UNDER a table with a light shining on it and myself lying on the floor painting! 

I wish I had kept track of the dates of all the paintings I have done since November, or even since January when I started working exclusively with acrylics.  I can tell you that the painting with this post and the prior post were either done in January or February of 2012.

I have such respect for the daily and almost daily painters who post on a blog every single painting from day one of their practice.  They do other artists such a service in allowing us to see the improvement from the very beginning.  I, however, am not going to be able to do that.  I won't insist on just posting paintings I really like, but I simply cannot post the ones I hate.  Partly out of shyness and partly because when I hate a painting and decide I can't fix it, I do one of two things.  I either "go off" on the painting, using with abandon whatever paint is left on the palette,  to vent my tension and  to see what I can learn (I have learned how to work my way towards one solid color of mud on my surface this way!).  OR I simply paint the word "puke" on the painting.  So....the ones I hate, there is nothing left to show you of them by the time I finish with 'em!

Well, long post, but I wanted to be honest here about how I view my painting practice and how much of my painting I will be blogging.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Paint Like Nobody's Watching

And maybe nobody will be watching....                                              (acrylic, 6"x6")

The title of this blog was inspired by the song "Come from the Heart."*   This song left a lasting impression on me from the first time I heard it--performed by Garnet Rogers in a small venue many years ago.  The lyrics have become quite popular, so you have probably heard it, too. The chorus is:

"You've got to Sing, like you don't need the money,
 Love, like you'll never be hurt,
You've got to Dance, like nobody's watching,
 It's got to come from the heart if you want it to work."

(*to the best of my research, this song was written by Richard Leigh and Susanna Clark and recorded by Kathy Mattea)

I knew that if I wanted to start an art blog, I would have to "Paint like Nobody's Watching."   I've never put my art "out there" before.  I never had to wonder if anyone was watching before.  Now, here I go....

I do think at least my mother will be watching.

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