Tuesday, March 28, 2017

News and New Work

The "quiet" winter months are nearly behind us, but I'm pleased to say it's been fairly active art-wise thanks to shows at Salmagundi Club, auctions and online sales. Several paintings have found new homes including the original study for Who Knows Where the Time Goes, as well as the larger commissioned painting, and Munchkin Spoonful.
vintage, antique, hour glass, baby shoe
study ©2016 Dorothy Lorenze
white pumpkin, silver spoon
Munchkin Spoonful ©2015 Dorothy Lorenze

Two earlier paintings sold at a silent auction benefiting the Taghkanic Chorale. It's always exciting to see the bids go up, but kind of worrying until it starts! These paintings were from a series focused on figuring out how-the-heck to paint glass!

canning jar, blue glass, reflections, transluscency

Two new paintings are currently in the member show at Kent Art Association. To see that show, take a ride up Route 7 to lovely Kent CT now through April 16th. It's a quaint town with cafés and antique stores - and art! The paintings on exhibit at Kent Art Gallery are: East Meets West and Table & Stairs.
blue china teapot, copper kettle, vintage metal, antigue china
East Meets West ©2017 Dorothy Lorenze
maple tabletop, painted wood stairway, colonial house
Table & Stairs ©2017 Dorothy Lorenze
Next up is the elegant Appetite for Art cocktail reception this weekend. It benefits the Ruth Keeler Memorial Library in North Salem and is such a nice event with artwork of all genres. There were many sales last year. My pieces are the interior and still life, below. Interestingly, I submitted four paintings and the two works chosen were both painted in the same Victorian home in San Francisco. Both presented interesting challenges - the wallpaper and carpet in the interior and another exploration of light and reflection in glass. Wish me luck.
antique carpet, floral wallpaper, interior scene, genre painting
Sitting Pretty ©2015 Dorothy Lorenze
transluscency, reflection, conch shell
Green Glass Glows ©2015 Dorothy Lorenze
The most exciting news is an upcoming floral workshop with Carlo Russo in Virginia in early April. Flowers are tough! Carlo is a masterful painter and I look forward to learning how to approach this complex subject. I've painted very few flowers because the structure of most blooms is hard to discern and simplify so this should be interesting. Hopefully I'll be able to show some flower paintings very soon. Keep an eye out. After all, spring is supposedly here!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Fooling the Eye with Paint

I've been fascinated by trompe l'oeil paintings forever. The fire was fueled during a workshop at the John F. Peto Studio Museum and I finally decided to try my hand at a composition typical of this genre. "Trompe l'oeil" literally means "fool the eye" and the idea is to create a three dimensional effect with objects that are arranged in a shallow depth of field. Overlapping elements and careful attention to shadows help create the illusion. It can also be a play on reality vs illusion. But not in my composition. Reality is hard enough!

Old Souvenirs ©1881 John F. Peto
Here's an example of Peto's work, Old Souvenirs, 1881, which hangs at the Met Museum.

A classic trope of trompe is the letter rack. These paintings feature an early version of a bulletin board where ribbons or leather straps secure items. Often there was political commentary or some other personal agenda hidden within the objects. The example below is by Edward Collier and was painted in 1696! I love fragile edges of old, browning paper, so this is right up my alley.
Trompe L'Oeil Letter Rack ©1696 Edward Collier
To make the "rack" I used the top of a wooden wine box, found leather strips found on Etsy and secured them with tiny copper nails from our local, old-school hardware store.

creating a letter rack
Below left is the letter rack set up with a variety of vintage papers, assorted writing materials and office supplies. At right is the first pass of color over most of the canvas.

Set up and early work in progress
I've been asked how long it takes to do a painting so I'm trying to pay attention to my studio time. The initial set up (deciding on elements and composition), original drawing, transfer to canvas and beginning to lay down color took the better part of one day.

The following day the first pass of color was completed and some details of objects were added.

Then I left town for a few days. But that's OK because I got hugs from this sweet chickadee. Heavenly.

back home and back in the studio, I worked for three days, probably 4-6 hours a day and I thought it was done.

Sometimes painting is like baking bread. You just have to let it "rest".

A few days later, I realized it wasn't quite finished. The diagonal shadow in the lower left wasn't clear. Some of the small cast shadows needed to be refined to help describe objects. Finally, I signed a scrap of paper, tacked it lower left, and painted the signature. It added to the composition - and was just plain fun to do!

This 12 x 16" painting took about 6 days to complete, which seems pretty quick for such detail (the folded pink and yellow papers below center are receipts - they actually have rule lines and invoice numbers!)

trompe l'oeil painting, still life, illustion
Noteworthy ©2017 Dorothy Lorenze, 12 x 16" oil on linen
The key is starting with a thorough drawing. And X-ray vision might have helped. But lacking that, it was important to check that all the edges of the papers were aligned, creating rectangles rather than trapezoids, overlapping corners that were hidden because the angles are accurate. So the challenge is to use comparative measuring to create realistic details while keeping a sense of artistry and poetry overall.

I don't know if I totally achieved the realism/poetry balance on this one but I really enjoyed trying and plan to do more. Possibly with specific themes ...or hidden meanings?! We shall see. Stay tuned, and let me know what you think.

Thanks for joining me on my art journey.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

When life gives you (Cadmium) Lemon...

...or Alizarin Crimson or Ultramarine Blue where it shouldn't be, it can scare the crap out of you! But, splat happens.

After a week of painting these beautiful little baby shoes, I was nearly finished. Just a few fine details to add. So, I took it off the easel to turn it to a better angle for adding shadows under those tiny buttons.

progress shot, original oil painting, still lifeLooks pretty much done, right? 

Then I somehow bobbled it and dropped the painting face down on my wet palette. Crap.

There is no photo of that mess, because I was too panicked about fixing it. So, just to provide a visual of my agony - below, for your commiseration and amusement, is a Photoshop-created "map" of the piles and plops. Each was swirled to a lovely little peak of paint, like cupcakes dipped in icing.

The worst was ta big red pile that landed on the creamy leather spat, obliterating subtle shading, fine seams and contrasting stitching. Alizarin Crimson, no less, which is notorious for staining.
palette mess
I used a palette knife to lift the plopped paint, then blotted it with paper towel and tried not to panic... too much.

Then I remembered advice I got years ago, after losing files for 100+ pages of a journal I was designing. I desperately called my graphic-designer-daughter for help recovering weeks of lost work. Sadly, that wasn't possible, but she said, "Don't worry, it won't be that hard to recreate because you've already made all the decisions." I was skeptical, but she was right.

Surprisingly, the same thing applies to re-painting. So many issues had already been worked out - the structure was there and the hierarchy of values. It really wasn't too awfully hard to repair. Although, I'd rather not repeat the experience!

Here's the finished painting. There were many interesting challenges: the contrast of soft worn leather with shiny hard toes, golden highlights on the hatpin holder and the oh-so-subtle tapestry pattern. And you would never know that deep red paint landed, uninvited, smack dab in the center! It was all rather nerve-wracking, but a helpful to realize that making decisions about proportion, value, edges, transitions and saturation is the hard part. And it's helpful, too, that oil painting "do-overs" are not totally impossible! (Sorry water colorists.)
tete a tete, vintage shoes, antique hat pins
Tête à Tête à Tootsies ©2017 Dorothy Lorenze, 6x8"
In other news... recent painting sales include these: The Book of Mango, Muscoot Milk House, Morning Light at Seven Hearths and Who Knows Where the Time Goes. Sincere thanks to my wonderful collectors!

realistic still life, rustic interior
The Book of Mango & Muscoot Milk House ©2016 Lorenze
realistic still life, rustic interior
Who Knows Where the Time Goes (2017), Morning Light (2015)

Also "East Meets West" recently won the 1st Vice President's Award at Salmagundi Club of NY. What a thrill to be there with so many wonderful artists! This painting is available on my website.

blue china teapot, copper tea kettle
East Meets West ©2016 Dorothy Lorenze, 12 x 16"

Looking forward to an exciting, creative year. I hope you are too. If you're interested, take a look at my latest Craftsy online post here. It offers ideas and steps to get more art-making time in your life.

Thanks for joining me on my art journey.