Sunday, December 6, 2020

Hanging in there, and there...

Hey folks, I hope you are all doing well, hunkering down, masking up and staying focused on protecting yourself and your loved ones as the winter weather sets in for real. It seems the least we can do for our heroic, beleaguered front-line health care workers is to take care to stay healthy. So far we are OK.

If you've wondered about my social media slump in recent months, it's mainly to avoid too much negativity. And although I truly believe that all creative arts are good for the soul, lately the challenges are so great that it seems a bit trivial. 

However, my work is currently in a show that not only highlights fine art but also benefits a variety of charities in Westchester County so it feels good to mention it. For 48 years St. Matthew's has held Art Show Bedford to raise money for local charities in Westchester County. They have done so much good, supporting charities every year, that it feels good to have been part of this effort again. This year the exhibit is online and I have eight paintings included. You can see my work here and also the work of many fine artists who enjoy giving back to our communities - including my friends Leslie Carone and Laura Gould! There is also an impressive list of the 14 charities who will benefit from the proceeds of art sales.

Here are three of my eight paintings at Art Show Bedford.

flow blue china, heirloom tomato
Heirloom & Antique ©2020 Dorothy Lorenze

Flow blue china, blue cheese still life painting
Blue on Blue ©2020 Dorothy Lorenze

Red spring onions, still life, fresh produce
Baby Red Onions ©2020 Dorothy Lorenze

I am also pleased to say that two of my paintings are on exhibit at the beautiful Mark Twain Library in Redding, CT. This is always a beautiful show! It runs from Dec 5th to Dec 13th and, this year, you can see the work online as well as in person. Paintings are listed alphabetically by title and mine are Chick Please and The Regiment.

vintage diner, restaurant check, chick
Chick Please ©2018 Dorothy Lorenze

shaving brushes, vintage barber, original art
The Regiment ©2020 Dorothy Lorenze

If you're wondering about the art world in our new home state of Massachusetts, well, I have connected with several arts organizations. Of course it hasn't been so easy since more than half of the year that we've lived here has been during "the great Covid19 pandemic" (not so great, but you know what I mean). So I'm very pleased to have won awards at the Boston Guild of Artists, Newburyport Art Association and Rockland Art Association and Museum! Currently my painting Plum Regal is in the Annual National Exhibit in Rockland and it's a truly gorgeous show! And Pepper Pile is at Newburyport.

textile pattern, plums, still life
Plum Regal ©2020 Dorothy Lorenze

peppers, still life, original fine art
Pepper Pile ©2020 Dorothy Lorenze

Lastly I want to say a belated Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I feel blessed to have been able to celebrate with our small family pandemic pod in MA and look forward to seeing the rest of our crew - hopefully in the near future. It's been hard to be apart but I am grateful that we are all healthy. I also appreciate all the good wishes and support of so many art lovers and artist friends who continue to create,  making this world a more beautiful place for us all! Stay healthy, my friends!

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Painting details

Composing a painting is hard. I'm usually inspired by an actual object, but inspiration can also come from the desire to capture a particular texture, finish or light effect. And as happened here, even the simplest subject (plums) can become complicated.

This latest painting started in the produce aisle where red-purple plums were looking rather regal. In my studio, while figuring out how to highlight their glory, they sat in a spatterware pie plate. Not exactly regal, but spatter grey against glossy purple made a nice contrast. So that was the start of what was meant to be a horizontal painting starring purple plums. 

And then this happened.

plum still life, vintage tea towel
Plum Regal ©2020 Dorothy Lorenze

A simple portrait of produce became a regal throne of intricate tapestry. Well, maybe just plums on a tea towel, but certainly elevated by the rich pattern. Really, the complimentary colors of green-blue and red-purple were just perfect. So... what to do about that fabric pattern?!

A detailed drawing is almost always my starting point. For this painting I focused on the plums and the ellipse of the pie tin. Figuring I'd do a looser impression of the fabric pattern, and kind of wing it to avoid being too mechanical.

Realism is challenging, of course, and involves training your eye to see the small details that will add to the interest of the painting. It can also mean training your brain to ignore some degree of detail to maintain the poetry. So I gave myself permission to be not entirely literal with the fabric while still creating a level of realism that felt right, to me. That meant drawing the fabric to provide key shapes and elements of the pattern to be a road map for painting the pattern. 

fabric pattern

More detail than just winging it and less than photo accuracy. In the end it did not feel like a compromise, but a successful rendering of my vision. And that's a great feeling.  

I drew, but, also used photos to check my work. There are artists who work strictly from photos and those who believe that's cheating. My feeling is photos can be a tool, not the same as personal observation - which is OK when you know how photos can flatten images and effect color. I don't want to be so literal that I miss the personality of the subject. Artists have different backgrounds and different goals, and that's fine. As Karen O'Neil used to say, "There's no right or wrong. There's only what works and what doesn't". 

I drew the plums and the pie tin as accurately as possible, focusing on the ellipse of the tin and positions of the plums front/back, above/below one another. Then transferred the drawing to the painting surface. You can see an example of this process here

Things were going along ok but the pie tin wasn't quite right. So I took a photo of the painting, marked the center axis of the tin and folded it to see if it was symmetrical. The left side looked more accurate to me so I cut through the folded pieces which slightly reshaped the right side to match the left. The depth of the tin had been off slightly causing the angle to be sharper and that made the difference. You can see this on the right side of the cut printout - very hard to visually measure!

checking symmetry
checking symmetry

Checking symmetry this way helps separate what your brain knows from what your eyes see. When drawing a symmetrical object on paper you simply fold it in half, use backlight to see if the sides align. You can't do that with canvas, hence the photo. (This can also be accomplished with a tracing, but the painting was wet.)

At this point the fabric was looking more sloppy than impressionist. So I made a greyscale image of the painting to help determine how stark or subtle the contrast was in the fabric pattern. I could see that not only were the thread colors closer in value but there were variations throughout where the light hit differently. This helped to make the fabric more natural and realistic.

vintage tea towel, plums, contrast
comparing values with a greyscale image

I was still at the ugly duckling stage of this painting - a time when its easy to get frustrated or lose confidence. But on this day my audio book was ... a bit different. It was the story of David Goggins, Navy Seal, USAF Tactical Air Control and ultra athlete. Don't laugh, but I was inspired. 

Goggins came from an abusive background where he always felt like a loser. After many personal disappointments, he challenged himself, stopped making excuses, worked hard and never settled. It's a raw story and I can't exactly recommend the totality of it. However, I will say, it's hard not to do your very best when his voice is in your ear! 

Thank you for joining me on my art journey and please share these posts with those you feel might enjoy them. If this post was shared by a friend, if you like, sign up on my website to receive monthly newsletters from my art studio. 

Friday, July 3, 2020

Interdependence Day

Does anybody know what day it is? Perhaps not. Fortunately I have help with my calendar as two of our grandchildren come for weekly playdates. Otherwise we'd have no sense of time... and far less laughter! 

But I hear July 4th is coming.

This year Independence Day might feel more like Interdependence Day. We're all in it together... apart. Thankfully, folks around here are generally considerate - maintaining safe distance and wearing masks in public.  While we may be cranky about restrictions, I feel pretty fortunate overall. 

Artists are generally comfortable with solitude anyway. I love the quiet of my studio, where my mind is somehow settled and invigorated at the same time. There are many ups and downs in painting and it's a good day when the ugly duckling stages are balanced with satisfying moments. But art-making is a little like the tree that falls in the forest - more fully appreciated when it's actually witnessed. 

So I love hearing how a piece resonates - the story about a feather painting connecting a young woman with her grandmother or a vintage object bringing a warm nostalgic moment to mind. Which brings me back to "interdependence" on this Independence Day. Most often I'm painting for the challenge of rendering a subject in an interesting and skillful manner, but the icing on the cake is knowing how a piece impacts others. And I thank you all for that perspective.

Here are some recent red, white and blue paintings for this July 4th. I've been on a roll painting beautiful  flow-blue china in our new, old house. All were fun and challenging but I think I enjoyed Blue on Blue the best. And I don't even like blue cheese!

If you'd like to learn more about these paintings click on the images for the link to their website page.

heirloom tomato, flow blue china, still life
Heirloom and Antique ©2020 Dorothy Lorenze

ripe tomato, flow blue plate
Juicy & Blue ©2020 Dorothy Lorenze

Blue cheese and flow blue china
Blue on Blue ©2020 Dorothy Lorenze

Baby Red Onions came about because I saw these beauties in the produce section and loved the way the shiny white bulbs, stained with purple-red striations, contrasted with the translucently, water-filled, green sprouts. Fascinating textures to capture. Onions were not on my list that day but we take inspiration when it comes.

red onions, baby onions, still life
Baby Red Onions ©2020 Dorothy Lorenze

The week when there were virtually no eggs anywhere I found a small box of delicate, pale blue eggs. Six local heirloom eggs. They were probably delicious, but of course we never tasted them since they were unrefrigerated for days while being painted. The bowl in this still life is one I've had for awhile. Even though it's actually contemporary, I love it for its Art Deco meets Neoclassicism collaboration. I call the painting Scrambling, in deference to the crazy times we are living in. I'm honored that this painting was purchased as a house warming gift. It's hard enough to buy/sell a house without being in pandemic isolation! How special that my painting was bought to celebrate folks moving closer to family.

pale blue eggs, vintage china bowl, still life
Scrambled ©2020 Dorothy Lorenze

There have been several pandemic painting purchases lately. Here is a happy art collector who treated herself to some art as "home improvement" during isolation (safe, socially-distanced delivery by my daughter).
art collector with painting
Orange and Ginger ©2020 Dorothy Lorenze

Another recent sale was made to someone who had seen my work in an art exhibit last fall and eventually found me via the event organizers. He had missed out on buying a painting and couldn't quite forget it. So now he has purchased Rosy Nosegay and commissioned two others. That's dedication - and I'm so appreciative of the interest, and effort!

rose bouquet, silver pitcher
Rosy Nosegay ©2020 Dorothy Lorenze

And lastly, today I heard the good news that, with the acceptance of my painting Chicks and Balances, I was awarded the status of Elected Member of Allied Artists of America. I'm honored but also just happy for the painting's sake because it was a favorite of mine and I'm tickled that it was recognized. I don't know if that sounds weird, but think of it as being proud of your kids' successes.

1920s pottery, ceramic chicks, vintage scale
Chicks and Balances ©2020 Dorothy Lorenze

So, I haven't been to an art show, exhibit, museum, arts organization or casual art talk with artist friends in... months. And it feels pretty weird. We all are missing the sort of routine activities and relationships that are easy to take for granted. Here's hoping the "new normal" will return to the real normal soon. Who would have thought we would still be at home after four months. It's quite unimaginable, and yet, pretty much doable. Meanwhile, I'm still painting. I hope you are enjoying some kind of summer fun!

Thank you for joining me on my art journey and for weighing in with your comments and questions. 

Take care. Stay safe. Be kind. Be creative!