Monday, June 25, 2012

latest heirloom painting

I'm finally able to post about my latest heirloom painting. This one was a gift for my nephew Jimmy's wedding in June. His lovely Lauren has been a fan of my artwork for awhile, so naturally I think she is a woman with sophisticated taste! 

Each cup belonged to one of their grandmothers. To add a personal touch for Jimmy, the cap is the same as the one my Dad wore that Jimmy liked to wear as a boy. And, my added touch is the depression glass sugar bowl which is like one my grandmother had (Jimmy's great-grandmother, although he wouldn't have known).

So, there are lots of cousins getting married these days and it's nice to be able to incorporate family memorabilia in a wedding gift painting. But they live in Georgia and I'm in New York so it took some effort. 

First I asked Jimmy's mom to ask Lauren's mom for a family teacup for the composition. It arrived quickly and I was ready. Until I realized that a boy is probably not going to care about teacups. So the cap was added since Jimmy liked my dad's. But the original could not be found. So I went shopping. Found a cap!

How to compose lady's teacups and a mans cap? Needed a chair with posts to hang it on. A friend with many antique chairs had the perfect one: beautiful wood ladderback... with arms!

Next, I moved all the living room furniture to get this set up on a table by the window. Perfect! Except the chair arms didn't fit under the table so the table had to be propped up on books. Twice.

All set, cups on the table, cap on the chair, paint on the palette, pandora playing: ready! 
Not quite. It just didn't seem right for the cups to be empty. So I made coffee... and tea. 
(and maybe had a snack).

Finally it all came together and I really liked the composition, the light through the window and the reflection of white china on the milky coffee. So, I was feeling pretty good about the steps that went into creating this special, authentic painting. Patting myself on the back. Such a conscientious artist am I!!!

Then I read a book about the painter Ernest Meissonier and the formal Paris salon period as the Impressionists were struggling to come into their own. Needless to say, they were all pretty darn serious about their work. But Meissonier was the embodiment of authenticity and perfectionism. For example, to paint scenes with realistic galloping horses (before stop action photography was invented) he had an actual train track built on his property so he could keep pace with the horses and sketch them in action! 

This explains why I paint "still life"!

I think I'm a serious painter anyway. No galloping horses, but Lauren and Jimmy are happy.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

tea with kathy

Painting a series of similar subjects is a great way to learn; it helps to reinforce similar characteristics and work on different aspects of composition, color and perspective. Right now, I'm working on a series of teacups based on china I've collected over the years. Each cup has a story and this chintz cup is one that is truly close to my heart. It belonged to Kathy: a watercolor painter, antique collector, classical music listener and a dear friend.

Kathy shared her art adventures with me and encouraged me in ways no one else ever had. She even made it possible for me to return to college for my degree - offering to watch my baby even though her own girls had just started school full time! After class we had tea and she always served mine in this beautiful aqua chintz cup... because it's "your color"! 

In the spirit of nurturing artistic abilities, here are some of the stages of painting "Tea with Kathy"...

The initial sketch, organizes the composition and proportions are measured. Vertical and horizontal guides check symmetry.
Because of foreshortening ellipses are not quite symmetrical front to back - the front is usually slightly deeper than the back. The "corners" of the ellipse (widest edge left and right) are not too "sharp" and should be directly opposite one another.
Another good test for symmetry is to turn the painting upside down!

Adding local color creates volume which helps me see if the proportions are correct. Here I noticed that the bowl of the cup was a bit too narrow.

Added basic background and foreground colors and worked on overall values here.
Often shadows are blocked in at the drawing stage, but this cup has a very complicated surface pattern so I needed to keep it simple to start.
Basic shadows on the cup background color underlay the surface design - which also must be in shadow.
Here's the tricky part for me: implying an overall flower pattern for the "chintz" design of this beautiful cup without trying to paint each petal!
...and using brushstrokes that follow the contour of the cup so that the flower forms are foreshortened to prevent the cup from becoming flattened,
...and using deeper values of each flower hue in the shadow areas to create more depth and strengthen the form.

After cleaning up edges, adding stronger highlights, more complex shadow colors and details to the flowers and sugar cubes, the final: "Tea with Kathy."

I'm pretty sure Kathy would have had something sweet to say about the resulting painting.

On a personal note, I have to say, the chintz pattern of this china is amazing and I have always loved it. And even though this was a favorite of their mother's teacups, Kathy's daughters Amy and Becky gave it to me when she died... the finest china with the finest memories! And after all, it's my color.

I know I will paint it many times but I'm pretty pleased with this first attempt.
Thank you, Kathy, for yet another artistic challenge!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

adventures in social media

My adventures in social media over the last few months have been interesting and enlightening... and pretty darn social! Sure, it takes time to wade through all the blogs (well, not nearly ALL the blogs!) I have found some useful creative information and assistance as well as thoughtful, engaging - and often humorous - marketing insights.

Thanks to the real media mavens and mavericks out there, who are prolific bloggers, I've learned a thing or two as well as made connections with potential buyers and real art lovers! So here are some of the folks who make me stop and think... or more importantly... just STOP making excuses and get to work!

Carolyn Edlund
 Carolyn is the founder of Artsy Shark, a consulting service for emerging artists. And Carolyn actually puts her support into practice by featuring artists on her website! First I was linked on Arsty Shark under the heading "Links to Artists We Love" (Who doesn't love THAT listing!) Then I was received an email from Carolyn on Mother's Day asking if I wanted to be considered as a featured artist! Um... YES!!! I was truly honored to be asked. And my blog and website views have increased tremendously since the featured artist post! Thank you Carolyn! You can see my featured artist post on Artsy Shark here. While you're there check out Carolyn's advice as well as other featured artists on Artsy Shark!

Alease Michelle
multi media collage by Alease Michelle

Alease Michelle is an artist and consultant and generous soul! Her medium is collage - and that makes sense! Alease has forged a creative collaboration: working her art while helping other artists with market theirs. And did I mention generous? Last month Alease spent an hour on a FREE phone consultation with me! She offered advice on prioritizing online marketing and made me feel good about my decisions and capabilities. Thank you Alease!

Ariane Goodwin: smARTist
Ariane is an artist's consultant who offers a multitude of connection through seminars and webinars, etc - some of which are free. I participated in a free webinar on Pinterest where I learned many helpful hints and was introduced to the well informed and highly irreverent Jess and Sammi from Badass Biz. Always so many new things and new ways to learn!

©2012 Jackie Garner, Eye of the Beholder. Acrylic on board.
photo: "Eye of the Beholder" by Jackie  Garner, acrylic on board
Alyson B. Stanfield, the Art Biz Coach  has real advice for artists. She understands when we are our own worst enemies - sabotaging our professionalism. Alyson has "nut n bolts" (or maybe, brush and palette) info as well as some soul-searching suggestions for how to be honest with yourself, spark you creativity and get serious about promoting your work. Click her name above to reach her blog on thinking big - as illustrated by the rather large critter by one of her featured artists, Jackie Garner!

Social media works!
It takes some discipline to not let the art of connecting take over the art of making art! But really, it's not too hard to keep it in balance since I truly love making art. Honestly! there's no real danger that I will become a tech geek (no offense to the brilliant ones) or a marketing maven!

A sprinkling of social media a day is already helping the business-side of my artwork grow. Recently, through friends ... of friends ... of friends on this great wide world web, I was contacted by Produce Pete, my favorite veggie guru on NBC. He heard about a painting of mine. It just happens to be called "Tribute to Produce Pete"! (read the related blog post here)

With a little consistent effort social media can, quite literally, pay off!