Monday, March 25, 2013

Conquering Cabbage

I'm not so good at painting florals - all those petals! But I'm thinking maybe cabbages are the "gateway organic" to floral painting. Overlapping leaves are just really big petals, right?

Essentially, here's how I tackled this painting. First, squinted to break it down into basic, flat shapes including the major shapes of cabbage leaf forms.

Next, mapped out the darkest darks. Sticking with only the cabbage at first since the ruffle of surrounding leaves was bound to wilt fairly quickly. (Fortunately my studio is about the same temperature as a refrigerator so it held up overnight.)

I was struggling in the second image above - the "ugly duckling" stage of the painting when it's doubtful that it will become anything worth keeping. It can take discipline and crossed fingers to keep going. No stopping for photos.

Painting the mandolin (an antique coleslaw slicer) balanced the composition and provided a contrast for all that green. And speaking of green - the base color starts fairly neutral, unsaturated and subdued. Then the more complex greens, yellows and blues were added because nature is just not that boring! A lesson learned in Karen O'Neil's class at the Art Student's League.

Leaves started as flat planes of color and began to gain depth and direction when the veins were added. Where they go deeper into shadow veins need to be are duller and darker. I was reminded of Leah Lopez's lesson at New York Academy of Art about painting a form in shadow then painting the pattern on top, also in shadow. That helped a lot.

Cabbage leaves vary between the veins too - the leafy part is thinner. More shadow shapes helped define that area. Todd Casey does an amazing job of explaining light and shadow and how it describes the way a form turns, or "rolling the form," in relationship to the light source. He teaches about the geometry of light on a object and it makes sense!

I suppose some might think it's kind of tedious to shade and highlight nearly every segment between each vine-y vein of every blessed cabbage leaf!!! And they might be right, but I like the degree of realism it brings.

Knots in the wood and tarnish on the blade finished the slicer. And finally another squint to check the lightest lights - which had gotten a little dull while working on the shadow forms. So I brightened the light area... and it was done!

With gratitude to Karen, Leah and Todd.

Cutting Cabbage ©2013 Dorothy Lorenze
PS: I'm still not ready for florals.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Luvely Cuppa

Here's hoping your St. Patrick's Day was sweet and civil! (You know what I'm talking about.) Mine included Aunt Rena's Irish Soda Bread. Delicious!

And my drink of choice is that ubiquitous Irish beverage served in times of trial and celebration: tea! I bet you were thinking Guinness. But I have a rule: only drink Guinness in Ireland. It tastes better there. Seriously!

Tea fills my day so it's no surprise that tea and teacups finds their way into my artwork.

I paint teacups because beauty, tradition and nostalgia are built right in. Everyone has a favorite cup or mug to drink from, and other cups bring back memories. The teacups in the paintings below belong to grandmothers and the paintings themselves were gifts to newlyweds.
Right now the most important cup is the one below because it comes with a gift and it could be yours! With every $25 donation to help educate girls in Nepal you get a chance to win my original painting: Mug Hug (oil on panel, 8" x10"). It's easy, follow this link to donate before March 31 and learn how your support will make a huge difference in the lives of girls and their communities.

Mug Hug © 2013 Dorothy Lorenze
You can help a girl in the mountains of rural Nepal continue her education and improve not only her own life, but her whole community!  Educating girls really is an investment in ending poverty.
  • $25 buys a desk
  • $100 provides a door
  • $1000 builds an entire classroom! 
Thanks to those who have donated already bringing this campaign beyond the halfway mark! Please forward this blog to your friends who appreciate the importance of educating girls.
From the bottom of my heart - a mountain of thanks!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Practice makes...


Maybe not quite perfect... but it certainly makes a difference.

Last week I worked on two paintings that initially seemed to be done
... but they weren't.

First I did was a little color sketch of three pears. It was meant as a preliminary study to work out composition and color/values issues for a larger painting. It had a fresh quality that I really liked. And I thought, should I bother to re-paint this? I mean, it's not bad, right?
Pear Study ©2013 Dorothy Lorenze
But, the plan was to do a study and then do a larger painting. I'm trying to be disciplined and learn through the process... so I painted the pears again. By now, I was getting to know these little guys pretty well and I think it shows (you can also see that the pears were ripening from green to yellow).

Eeny, Meeny, Miny... ©2013 Dorothy Lorenze

The next painting is one I really thought was finished... until I tried to frame it. The little pewter pitcher was set up in front of a wooden box... and you know how I feel about painting wood!
So I decided that a nice neutral grey would do the trick.

It was OK, but not quite right.
How about a warmer cocoa brown?

Maybe that was better, but I couldn't find a frame that worked well with it. Back to the drawing board (or, more accurately, the still life set up). Putting in the dark brown background that actually existed in the shadow box of the set up - well, that made sense!

Seems like "patience and perseverance" are almost as important as "practice." Seriously, if something doesn't seem quite right, it's better to fix it than to pretend it's not going to bother me. (eww, that's sounding dangerously like "perfectionism." Moving right along... )

I do think it was worthwhile to find the right background for this still life "Satin, Pewter and Quartz." Now it's easier to appreciate the textural differences between each of the objects in the painting.
It just works better.  I hope you agree!

Pewter, Satin and Quartz ©2013 Dorothy Lorenze
The frame is a beauty from Custom Frame Solutions.