Saturday, April 28, 2012

sublime to ridiculous

If last week's post about creating a nostalgic family heirloom painting was leaning toward the sublime,  time-honored tradition of classical historical narrative (leaning, I'm saying) then this one just might be the ridiculous!

It's still nostalgic, in a convoluted, "twisted," tongue-in-cheek sort of way.

You may have noticed I get great inspiration in the produce aisles. Last week I noticed this  chunky, Chubby Pepper. Putting it on the checkered cloth just seemed natural since the name Chubby Checker came to mind immediately. And don't you just love how the reflection of the white squares dances around the pepper!

So, of course I looked up Chubby Checker for this post and - you won't believe this - he worked in a grocery store and was nicknamed "Chubby" by the produce manager!

Ah the circle of life!

PS - In case you are wondering, Chubby's last name "Checker" came from Dick Clark's wife as a play on "Domino" when she heard him imitate Fats Domino!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Heirloom Painting #2

I just love to paint.
But now and then I'm convinced, like Luke Skywalker, to use "the force" for good. So I've made a few special, wedding paintings for nieces. This one, is full of family history.

The couple in the photo is my parents (my niece's grandparents) looking cute and dapper - Mom in her 40s full skirt and Dad in his Airforce uniform. They were married during his airforce training at the start of WWII. Mom and her mother took a bus from NYC to Greenville, GA. This was 1943 - way before AC in vehicles - what a trip that must have been! Once they got there my parents had 36 hours to get married and "honeymoon" before Dad's leave was up. Not to mention, they had to wait all afternoon to get hitched because the local priest was napping! (how does this compare to today's wedding planning - I'm just sayin')

Anyway... the brass frame in this painting was made by my father's grandfather, or my niece's great-great grandfather! The vase is one of my mother's prized Lenox pieces. And the medal? Well that's my Dad's Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded for dangerous missions as a fighter pilot in the Pacific. Lots of pride there.

With our large family, there really aren't so many family momentos to share with the next generation  so maybe these paintings will help sustain the memories.

...and I should be in the studio because there is another wedding this spring!

Of course, in the true spirit of the "shoemaker" my own children do not (yet?) have a nostalgic, family heirloom painting. (I think they know I love them anyway.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Family "Heirlooms"

As an artist "gifting" art for a special occasion never came easily to me. 

Recently there have been a crop of family weddings and I've found a way to create something personal for the newlyweds. This is the third of four wedding paintings so far. Another includes a photo of my parents dating. They are all different.

Samantha's painting features granny's (my mother) teacup along with marshmallow twists in front of the silver pitcher. Candy as a family heirloom? Here's the reason: my dad had a voracious sweet tooth (must have been a molar... certainly not a wisdom tooth!) One of his favorite candies was marshmallow twists, so anyone who knew him will get the connection! 

I'm happy to give the new couple a warm start with a bit of family nostalgia.

Next wedding is in June. The challenge is on!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Get Framed!

Making art can get expensive so I'm always looking for "quality bargains." Sounds like an oxymoron but not really - if what you're buying isn't decent quality, then it's not a bargain. More importantly, it won't compliment your artwork!

If you think of art as food for the soul (essential, really good food!) then the main course is your artwork. The frame?... well it's not quite the icing on the cake, more like a condiment! But if it's the wrong choice, it could be a disaster. Fries with... mayo? NO.

Local framing stores are far too expensive for a daily painter (so sorry, I do buy local whenever I can). I've tried chain craft stores, and other online frame companies but my go-to suppliers are Dick Blick and Art Supply Warehouse for quality, simple, plein air style frames that compliment without competing. Both come in a variety of finishes. The ASW frames are great in black, gold or silver. I prefer Dick Blick for wood colors. Popular sizes are available from both but only ASW has 6" squares and only Dick Blick has 8" squares. Go figure! Both offer bulk discounts and there is a flat fee for shipping (or no fee over a certain $$ amount). Get on their mailing list to catch a special sale for even better bargains.

Here's an example. This little "plum pedestal" was selected for the Mamaroneck Artist's Guild Small Works show next month. Stop in during the reception May 19 from 7-9, say hello, enjoy the art and check out the quality of these frames for yourself!

Friday, April 6, 2012

This painting was started in Putney at the workshop with Qiang Huang. There was a presentation and demonstration each day and we had about half a day to paint. We started a new painting each day so that we could incorporate Qiang's tips into our process. 

Set ups were designed with awareness of how the viewer's eye moves across the composition. Ideally a path of movement is created using contrasting values and bringing the eye toward a center of interest. So we worked on that each day with a new painting. This is the first painting I started in class and finished at home. Making tarnished copper look realistic was challenging. I see the clementine as the star of this still life. The bottle and the copper pot are standing by like proud parents but you can see by the reflections that they are pretty impressed with their darling clementine!

The second painting was a brighter composition with so many interesting surfaces to render: silver! glazed pottery! and orange peel! I'm not sure who is the star in this painting but I enjoyed getting these characters to work together! They are huddled together cooking up a plan!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Painting with Qiang Huang at Village Arts of Putney

Last week I went to a painting workshop with Qiang Huang, a daily painter for Texas and a wonderful instructor. It was great! We painted for 3 days in a barn/studio/workshop. Qiang lectured and demo'd in the morning and we painted all afternoon. We started a new painting each day and none of them were quite done but I will finish at home this week.
So much inspiration swimming in my head, I haven't exactly slept!

This is Qiang at his demo:

And my three "starts":

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Out of the mouths of babes...

Okay, here goes. I'm taking my art journey to a new place... starting a blog. It's official. Let the bloggin' begin!

After many years as a graphic artist and a lifetime of drawing I began painting in oils in 2007. It took a change of scenery to actually get started, but once I jumped in, it felt great! I've been painting ever since and enjoying it more and more.
Painting is wonderful...and frustrating, inspiring, difficult and rewarding. Sometimes all in the same day! So I take encouragement wherever I can get it. One of my favorite comments EVER came from my grand daughter Jule. She was 5 and I was trying to paint a still life of her Russian Nesting dolls. It's chock full of ellipses and the forms were escaping me! Jule wanted to know how it was going.

So I told her, "Oh Jule, it's really difficult, I don't know if this is going to come out so good. There are so many circles and it's really hard to do..."

And Jule said, "Just do your best, I know I'll love it!"


So I did my best, and of course she loves it! But I love her confidence in me. This photo is  a bit out of focus, but since the original is proudly displayed in Jule's bedroom, it's all I've got. I wanted to share the painting and the story because it reminds me to listen to voices other than my own!

What an adventure -
...circles, ellipses and color, oh my!
So this is one of my first oil paintings - the one that inspired Jule to inspire me!