Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanks for giving

... your encouragement!

This Thanksgiving I'm sending special thanks... and credit... to the folks who have inspired and helped bring clarity to my creative process. From art class and workshop teachers to historic landmarks and historic homes, my thanks to:

Karen O'Neil of the Art Student's League.

Leah Lopez at the New York Academy of Art.

Daily Painter Qiang Huang at his Putney, VT workshop.

Julian Merrow-Smith plein air workshop at La Madeleine in Provence.

Amawalk Friends Meeting House for access to their historic space.

The Kent CT Historical Society and Seven Hearths, the studio/home of George Laurence Nelson.

Abbey Ryan and the welcoming folks at John F. Peto Studio Museum.

Special thanks go to Todd M. Casey whose classical training and generous nature continue to amaze our little "painting posse" and improve our skills every time we get together!

And to the many friends (personal and internet) and collectors (who have become friends): Thank you for your kind comments. You help soothe those inevitable artistic frustrations and keep me moving forward. I am so very grateful to you all!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
(let's eat!)
White Munchkin & Silver Spoon ©2014 Dorothy Lorenze

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

"Zen" Painting with Abbey Ryan

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending Abbey Ryan's two day painting workshop. And, as if that wasn't wonderful enough, it was held at the Peto Studio Museum in Island Heights, NJ!

John F. Peto, an American artist working from about 1880 to 1907, was known as a master of trompe l'oeil. His studio is complete with copper kettles and crockery featured in his "fool the eye" still life paintings. These authentic objects added an aura of artistry and creative energy to an already inspirational workshop environment.

John Peto Studio, photo by Abbey Ryan
The morning began with an introduction to Abbey's painting philosophy followed by a demonstration ...a still life including one of Peto's salt glazed mugs! It was fascinating to see the painting develop as we experienced her process.

Abbey has a light touch, holding her brush at the very end, and it's clear that she connects with her subject. Her intention is to "capture the moment" of a still life and honor the gesture of the objects. She instructs students to pay attention to the energy of the painting. A good thing to remember!

Somehow Abbey manages to paint and describe her process at the same time. We learned a great deal observing her technique and hearing explanations as she worked.

Abbey Ryan is a soulful and supportive teacher who clearly wants to help her students grow as artists. She spent time with each participant individually, identifying each person's strengths as well as offering suggestions.

Below is Abbey's completed still life featuring Peto's mug - and a burnt match, a nod to his classic subject matter which often included a pipe.

demo ©Abbey Ryan, photo Garry Kravit
In addition to thinking and talking and doing art with a lively group of like-minded artists in a renowned painter's studio... we also enjoyed the Peto Museum's annual Trompe L'oeil exhibit, currently on display.

What could be better than that?!

Well... did I mention staying in the gorgeous 600 Main Bed & Breakfast and Victorian Tea House?!! A magnificent home with leaded glass, wood paneling and period furnishings, it was built during the time Peto was painting. Just perfect for getting in the spirit of that artistic era.

Here is my first painting from Abbey Ryan's workshop. I didn't quite finish the second one but will post it when it's done.

Tea and Cream ©2014 Dorothy Lorenze

Thanks for joining me on my painting journey!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Patience vs Persnickety-ness

Recently I complained about my lack of patience when it comes to painting. That comment sparked "incredulous" replies suggesting I must have tons of patience, considering the level of detail in some of my paintings. In particular, this one -

Sitting Pretty, 9x12" ©2014 Dorothy Lorenze

The thing is, although I love the details, it can be hard for me to stop adding them. So that's where patience comes in. I just can't believe I'm not done yet!

With so many details under scrutiny, I tend to get antsy and then I have a hard time staying focused. I'll be working on the wallpaper when I notice a part of the rug that isn't right so I have to fix that before I lose track of it. Then I'll go back to figure out where I left the wallpaper pattern, when suddenly I notice that the perspective needs correction!!! 

So I make tea. 

Why tea? It takes a few minutes to boil, a few more to steep and then I sit at my easel waiting for it to cool enough to sip. Just about the perfect length of time to refocus and reassess.

This became clear in a class with Leah Lopez at New York Academy of Art. I was having trouble deciding what was wrong with my painting. Leah told me to step back, and compare the subject to the painting to see if the area I was struggling with should be lighter or darker. I said, "lighter." Wrong. She gently (but firmly) suggested that I step farther back and give it some distance. When I still couldn't see it, she told me to leave the room! 

So I left. And when I came back it was immediately obvious that the trouble spot needed to be darker! Real distance requires time as well as space.

There is something about walking away and returning that can bring a level of clarity. Being impatient is what gets me to walk away. It's all a part of the process. 

Here is the painting framed in a beautiful plein air from San Diego Framing Company. Putting a frame around an interior scene adds a bit of mystery or intrigue, I think. It's like looking through a window into someone else's story.

Thanks for joining me on my painting journey!