Monday, January 27, 2014

New Year's challenge #2

The next new adventure in painting this year was a seascape: Punta Cana Sunrise. It may not sound like anything new, after all it's still oil painting, but nature scenes (landscape or seascape) are very different from still life. Composition-wise, this was fairly easy because it was so naturally beautiful; no decisions needed about what to leave out. But rendering the surface of the water? That was a total learning experience.

Just to ante-up the risk factor, this painting is a gift for a couple who were married on this beach. So I chose to paint the beach at dawn - symbolic of the start of their life together.

Punta Cana Sunrise, 8x16" ©2014 Dorothy Lorenze

Since I'm not so much a pre-dawn morning-person, my surprise was that sunrises are not nearly as colorful as sunsets tend to be. Trust me, I was up before dawn 3 days in a row trying to get the most colorful image.

But what a sunrise may lack in extreme color drama, it makes up for in sheer serenity. So peaceful with just the sound of rolling waves, like a steady pulse. Visually, what captured my attention was the expanse of pristine, wet sand at the water's edge. A beautiful, liquid reflection of emerging sunshine looked like it had been drizzled onto the beach. I hope I captured that.

Naturally, Ultramarine blue played an important role in this painting. In medieval days this pigment was more precious than gold. Robert Genn presents the story of Ultramarine blue in his latest post at The Painter's Keys. Enjoy.

Thanks for stopping by!

ps - Welcome to all my new blog subscribers. Please feel free to forward to your friends.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Great artistic inspiration via "bookies"

And by "bookies" I mean the ardent readers of my esteemed book group, Bad Girls Book Club.

Thanks to a brilliant book club selection, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, we were introduced to an exquisite little painting of the same name, The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius. Painted in 1654 (seriously, that old!) it has a very contemporary feel (although, these days, we rarely see a goldfinch chained to a perch). The simplicity of the composition, light color palette and dramatic but delicate shadows give it a modern look - surely not 360+ years old!

When another curious bookie discovered that the painting was on exhibit for only one more week at The Frick Museum in NYC, we rushed to plan a field trip!

The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius 1654
I have to admit that I almost didn't go - and that would have been a huge mistake. I love The Frick, it's an elegant, grand mansion of the Gilded Age with many masterworks of art hanging in living spaces, just as they might have been when Henry Clay Frick's family was in residence. The house itself is always worth the visit - especially in this age of Downton Abbey-mania!

But the idea of contending with crowds all clamoring for a peek at this little painting was almost enough to keep me away. I mean who ARE these non-artist hoards who just happened to read a best seller that just happened to revolve around a little-known painting? Well... that would be just about everyone. Including me. Because even though, as an "artist," I like to think I know a little something about the art world... there is always so much more to learn!

Jan Vermeer's celebrated Girl with the Pearl Earring was also on exhibit, so that was a treat too, but for my money The Goldfinch was the star of the show. I'm thrilled to have been up close to this sweet painting. Fortunately, the book is fabulous as well: an interesting story and cast of characters to be sure, but the prose itself is just delicious! All 700+ pages of it. As wonderful as words can be, nothing beats seeing original art in person.

Masterpieces abound, god bless 'em. And you know what? Every novel or movie that celebrates art is a reminder that beauty and poetry and music thoroughly enrich our lives. If it takes a contemporary best-seller to draw attention to a 17th century masterpiece, that's just fine with me.

So a great book lead us to a fabulous painting. How wonderful is that! You know that reading is good for the soul - art books are doubly enriching. More books about art and and artists are available via this Amazon link. Go be inspired!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Make it new

The New Year is still new so there is still time to get started on all those good intentions.

This past week brought a couple of new experiences for me. The first was a portrait sketching session with plein air artists who have come in from the cold to draw one another. Their rule: don't be pissed if you don't like how someone draws you. (I'm pretty sure that's a good rule for life in general)

We took turns modeling and Lisa did this sweet watercolor sketch of me. Watercolor sketch - that seems really brave.

These were 20 minute sketches, which is a far cry from the hours I usually spend on a drawing. But I finally got one I felt good about. Below is my sketch of Bernard.

So glad I went!

Thanks for stopping by,

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Use the force for good!

And by "force" I mean the internet which, as we all know, can be a major waste of time.

So instead of checking out cats playing the piano and toddlers singing opera, here are some websites and blogs that consistently provide insightful tidbits that are art related.
  • Robert Genn's The Painter's Keys inspires artistically and philosophically. Plus it's a source for workshops, retreats, art shows, etc. You can also sign up for Robert's twice weekly letters - he is a wonderful writer! 
  •  Fine Art Views from FASO (Fine Art Studios Online) has endless information for artists from marketing to, well, attitude adjustment. (you know we need that too...sometimes). And yes, they would like to host your website, but you don't connect in that way, they are still so generous!  
  • by Henk Helmantel courtesy M. Innis
  •  Matthew D. Innis' blog Underpaintings celebrates representational art with in-depth information and images of paintings by master artists, past and present. It's one of my absolute favorite places to lose myself. There are previews of important exhibitions and demos of classical painting techniques - all searchable by subject.
  • For color junkies (and aren't we all?!) check out the Munsell Color System website. Munsell's system describes colors by hue, value and chroma. Subtle differences adjacent colors and how they compare is what makes realistic paintings "real".
  • Lori McNee provides info on everything from composition to marketing in her blog Fine Art Tips and she often features guest posts by artists and experts on specific areas of interest.
  • Another source of marketing information and strategy is Alyson Stanfield's Art Biz Blog. Alyson is also a professional Art Biz Coach who offers courses for artists, but she also gives plenty of practical information on the business of being an artist, free, on her blog.
  • There are zillions of YouTube videos demonstrating painting technique. Seek and ye shall find! My favorites have audio and time lapse, like this one from David Jon Kassan.
So, the next time you feel like getting caught in the world wide web, spend your time checking out some creative and informative art resources.

I vow to never get lost in the world of cute kittens and giggly kiddies. Seriously, life it too short.  (however, I may have a hard time passing up the video of a dog with perfect pitch... just because I'm a little jealous)

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