Monday, December 21, 2015

Happy Holidaze!

It's the most wonderful time of the year! 

That's what they tell us, but of course, there are two sides to that coin. I hope you all are past the most stressful worries of holiday preparation and have landed on the side of peace and joy, or at the very least, merry-making!

This time of year artwork is just a side dish for the main course of crazy we can work ourselves up to. But it does help keep me sane.

Along with ubiquitous holiday prep there have been old-house, old-appliance issues this month. Studio time has been rare and precious. Like this little jingle bell painting. A reiteration of last year's Christmas card, it was a special request and has been happily delivered. (My favorite part of this painting is the elongated shadows!) There were a few other starts but nothing to show yet. Which is ok since December has other priorities.

Christmas is meant to be magical. And since magic is not so easy for us mere mortals, there's the stress of not disappointing those we love.

So here's my personal, little, Christmas story that has helped to keep that worry in perspective... somewhat -
Once, after what seemed like a pretty happy Christmas morning and fun day overall, I was tucking our 6 year old into bed when she said, "Now I really know there is no Santa Claus." I just about froze, then casually asked "what do you mean?" and she said, "because nobody but you could know exactly what I wanted" and gave me the biggest hug. Ahhh. Christmas magic.

I actually don't always know, hence the stress. I try to enjoy finding gifts that I think will make people smile, but mostly it makes me smile to imagine making them happy. When that's working, it's a gift me. There have been plenty of misses. I remember being certain that the Easy-Bake Oven that made cakes from tiny box mixes was evil, but somehow the one that made pizza starting with smashed white bread seemed "healthy." Magically, that was still a smile-evoking gift. Phew!

Back to artwork, here are some paintings from my Christmas cards in recent years. The subjects are filled with memories and I hope they make you smile!

vintage christmas ball, antique jingle bells, sleigh bells

Thank you all for your kind comments and support through 2015! It's been a great year and I so appreciate your interest in my work, both in the studio and at shows! Thank you so much!!!

I have lots of thoughts for 2016, but for now, I wish -
Merry Memories to you all!

Memory holds together past and present, gives continuity and dignity to human life... the companion... the tutor, the poet, the library, with which you travel. (Mark van Doren)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Feeling Great Fullness

Time to step up to the plate and declare our great fullness. I mean, gratefulness! I'm sure you are all super busy with family and friends, so I'll just take a moment to say -

It's been a year filled with many good moments thanks to family and friends, colleagues and collectors. I'm so very appreciative, because creating art is one of the most fulfilling personal challenges I know... except when it isn't. You keep me going, making art and being fulfilled.

And so I'm wishing you all "Great Fullness" in your life, on Thanksgiving and always!

green cabbage still life, wine crate
Vintage Cabbage ©2015 Dorothy Lorenze, 10x11"

"I have touched with a sense of art some people – they felt the love and the life. Can you offer me anything to compare to that joy for an artist?" (Mary Cassatt)

Thanks for joining me on my art journey.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Making Color Decisions

It's been a month of decisions... about house repairs and family events, but mostly having to do with the color of rusty metal. Who would have thought it could be so exhausting to figure out if one antique sleigh bell is more metallic grey or rusty brown?!

Each bell is different. And there are a dozen. And it's taken a month.

Karen O'Neil (at the Art Students League) told us painting is just spots of color, one next to the other. Compare how they are similar or differ. Sounds easy. So when I get frustrated or overwhelmed (by a dozen similar, but very different, rusty bells) I try to remember to break the process down to this simplest form.

How you compare is by considering the three properties that describe any color:
  • Hue - the common color description or name (red-orange, blue-violet ... and on and on)
  • Value - the lightness or darkness of a color, lighter tint or darker shade
  • Chroma - the intensity or saturation of a color, how vivid or greyed out it is
Hue, Value, Chroma chart

So... that's all you need to know. Well, not exactly "all", because it's all relative!

Which is where decision-making comes in. Is one area warmer or cooler (hue) than the shape next to it? Is it darker or lighter (value)? More dull or more colorful (chroma)? With a subject as neutral as old metal and leather on weathered wood, those distinctions are slight but significant.

Mixing the right general color is obviously important. Sadly, I seem to be of the Goldilocks school of color mixing -  "... this porridge [color] is too hot! This porridge is too cold..." and after multiple tries eventually, hopefully, mixing a color that is "just right!" That's how it goes for each color... each time.
one bell evolves: color shifts to less chroma, more subtle values
In representational painting, where the goal is to represent a realistic image, many more color decisions are made because shifts in hue, value and chroma are very subtle in real life. Careful depiction of light and shadow is what creates realistic form and the effect of light is different on every part of an object... x 12 bells = tons of decisions!

So, I'm also focused on following the advice of my painting coach, Todd Casey, and wherever possible, wedge a finer gradation of color between two tones to create the tiny, realistic transitions that round a form. And at the same time honor the distinct character of each object (a dull rusty bell compared to a shinier one).

Vintage Sleigh Bells, 12x18"
Last month I was fully entrenched in sleigh bell color queries when our Todd-led painting group met. But, before they arrived, a crew was here to replace our brick walk. At 7:30 am the first question of the day was "do you want tan or grey sand between the bricks". 

No samples to consider, just "tan" or "grey". My response: "what color grey?" And so it began. For the next 5 hours it was pretty much a matter of asking that same question.

It's exciting ...and actually exhausting. When decision overload sets it helps to take a break and step away from the sleigh bells. Fortunately, like Goldilocks, we have snack!

painting group snack on Halloween

Thanks for joining me on my painting journey.

Friday, October 23, 2015

New American Art at New Britain Museum

Last month the New Britain Museum of American Art hosted a gallery talk with a panel of established contemporary artists who are advocates, and some might say leaders, of the current representational art movement. Graydon Parrish (3rd from left) moderated the panel which included Patricia Watwood, Richard Thomas Scott, Sadie Valeri, Daniel Maidman and Tony Curanaj. Impressively, each of these artists has work that is now part of the permanent collection.

Cycle of Terror and Tragedy: September 11, Graydon Parrish
Artist panel in front of Parrish's "Cycle of Terror and Tragedy: Sept 11"
NBMAA's panel discussion centered on the current representational art movement, which has earned new respect, significant followers and a profound level of excellence thanks to academies devoted to old-world, atelier-style, academic methods of painting - the kind of techniques that produced masters of allegorical, figurative and representational work from Michelangelo to Millet over a 300+ year span. Who could argue with that?!

Oh, lots of people! As with any "movement" there are conflicting points of view... mainly from proponents of other movements. And those conflicting opinions can sometimes strike one as a bit self-serving, IMHO. You've heard it before: my "xxx" is newer/elite-er/holier than yours. My favorite remarks came from Sadie Valeri who compared art to music and suggested that fine art should be acknowledged, appreciated and peacefully coexist in the way that music does. No one tells Joshua Bell that his style is "old" and he should embrace hip hop because it's "newer" aka better. Point made.

Sadie also won me over describing her personal artistic journey which included being disillusioned by her acclaimed art school (Rhode Island School of Design!!!) that required classical drawing in admission portfolios and then ignored classical art instruction in favor of ...oh, let's say the emperors new clothes (oops, that's me sounding derisive of modern art - just my personal opinion, folks).

This group has christened it's style of painting  "Post Contemporary." Love the work. Questioning the moniker. It's meant to differentiate from "modern" art (post-modernism was already taken). But they tend to shorten it to "Po-Co" which in Spanish means "little" or "not much." And believe me, their work is definitely NOT "not much".
contemporary realism
Post Contemporary Art by panelists Richard Thomas Scott (l), Tony Curanaj (c), Sadie Valeri (r) © the artists

While I was there I enjoyed the rest of the museum's collection, specializing in American art. Exhibits are sometimes organized by style rather than date making it all the more interesting. On the wall below they've grouped master trompe l'oeil work by John Haberle with today's artist Michael Theise. It's part of their Appropriation and Inspiration series which pairs contemporary work with its historical counterpart from the permanent collection. I love this perspective.

trompe l'oeil, oil painting, peg board
Michael Theise's Madame X Desk Blotter, l. John Haberle's Time and Eternity, r.

Kudos to NBMAA for their recognition and support of realist artists working today! If you haven't been, it's worth the trip. This is a wonderfully intimate museum, as close as NYC ...and parking is free. Plus they host gallery crawls with Happy Hours! More importantly, they provide art education programs for home schooled children - so valuable in a time when art education has been pared down or eliminated altogether. This is a museum worthy of support!

If you'd like to read more about classical (or classic) realism there is an interesting three part series on the Oil Painters of America blog, which is a source of info self-described as "Dedicated to the Preservation of Representational Art".

Thanks for wandering this corner of the art world with me.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Go for the gusto... and wine, and art!

You know what they say, "life is short" so...

photo credit: The-Artists-Room-Fine-Art-Gallery
This Friday you can do at least two outta three at a wine tasting and meet the artist event at Cellar XV in Ridgefield, CT (the artist is me).

The folks at Cellar XV know their stuff when it comes to wine, selecting well-priced artisan wines from around the world and this Friday you can enjoy tastes of special selections from 6-8. I'll be there as well, enjoying libations and talking with guests about my paintings and art focus.

Coincidentally, one of the paintings that will be hanging at Cellar XV is a local artisanal cheese. Wine and cheese: goes together, right?!

This cheese is called Amram, named after musician David Amram. It's a semi-creamy, semi-stinky but totally flavorsome cheese and you can read more about the Amram connection in an earlier post here.

I hope you will stop by to learn about wonderful, affordable wines and chat about art!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Filling in the details... on the right track

There are some lovely old store fronts in France and this one in Avignon is positively eye-catching. It's actually a sweet shop chain that can be found throughout Europe (now also in Le District in lower Manhattan) and it's a memorable image of Europe for travelers to France and beyond.

La Cure Gourmande ©2015 Dorothy Lorenze
I started painting this two years ago when I returned from a workshop in Provence. But after laying out the basic forms and blocking in some color I had set this canvas aside. To be honest, the details were just too daunting. It's been mocking me ever since.

So, armed with Pandora stations on my ipad to ward off impatience, I set upon a marathon painting spree this Labor (of love) Day weekend.

Classical music was my first choice since it  helps me slow down and connect to the work. But after a couple of long days I switched to Broadway tunes to keep me going. Pippin in particular - and the song that rumbled in my head as I persevered with lettering and louvered shutters was "On the right track."

Later, listening to the same Pandora station in the car, I actually focused on the words and had to laugh:

You look frenzied, you look frazzled
Peaked as any alp
Flushed and rushed and razzle-dazzled
Dry your lips, damp your scalp
Now I can see you're in a rut in
And I'm not one to butt in
But in fact I must say
If you'd take it easy, trust awhile
Don't look blue, don't look back
You'll pull through in just awhile
'Cause you're on the right track

This is now my "go-to" anthem for painting cobblestones and all those details that make you want to scream... and quit! Turns out one of Pippin's themes is to get in there, keep working on the thing that feels worthwhile and eventually be fulfilled. Really.

The sweet inner sanctum of La Cure Gourmande
So, with the help of Broadway show tunes, "La Cure Gourmande" will be part of "A Bygone Era... in Oils" at Ruth Keeler Library in North Salem this month. And that's perfect because the company says they create sweets "inspired by a blend of tradition and magic...[that] reflect emotions and memories."

Once again, a nostalgia connection. Guess that means that eating cookies makes us more human too.
(That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!)

Thanks for joining me on my art journey.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Paintings inspired by an elegant era

The Happy Couple ©2015 Dorothy Lorenze
A Bygone Era... in Oils is the title of my current solo show in North Salem. Maybe it's the Downton Abbey wannabe in me, but I like old homes and their decorative furnishings. Over time my studio has taken on a near museum-like quality, full of the vintage china, silver, books, and textiles from days gone by that I enjoy painting for their richness and evocative, nostalgic nature. Well, I guess it's not literally "nostalgia" since I never lived in the Victorian-Edwardian age, but you get it, right?

Some folks think nostalgia is for the staid and sentimental. If that's so, you've got to wonder why Downton Abbey is such a hit. Elegance envy? Snooping on society muckety mucks?

At the Opera ©2015 Dorothy Lorenze
For me, it's the degree of artistry intrinsic to everyday objects of an earlier age. Decorative, vintage accoutrements are more interesting to paint! Depression glass refrigerator dishes or Tupperware? You be the judge. Taste aside, it turns out there is scientific evidence for why nostalgia is good for us.

When Dr. Constantine Sedikides was told by a psychologist friend that his wistful nostalgia for a former home meant he was depressed (the heretofore official association with nostalgia), he disagreed saying, “...Nostalgia made me feel that my life had roots and continuity. It made me feel good about myself and my relationships.”

So he decided to study how nostalgia really effects feelings and determined that it, "...counteract[s] loneliness, boredom and anxiety. It makes people more generous to strangers and more tolerant of outsiders." His overriding conclusion is, "nostalgia makes us a bit more human." Not a bad goal! (See the New York Times article "What is Nostalgia Good For.")

So, go ahead, be a bit more human. And you can indulge in the art of nostalgia by visiting A Bygone Era... in Oils at the Ruth Keeler Library in North Salem. This exhibition of my latest paintings includes interiors of gracious spaces (Seven Hearths, artist George Lawrence Nelson's studio; a historic Greek Revival stone house and a private home in San Francisco's elegant Pacific Heights) as well as some favorite vintage-yet-familar objects.
The exhibit continues through September 29th during regular library hours (closed for Labor Day 9-5 to 9-7). A few paintings are currently on display in other shows and will be added on September 8th. Stop by to take a look or join us at the reception 3-5pm on Sunday, September 13th. Hope to See you there!
Thanks for joining me on my art journey!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Sargent at the Met... and more

The current Sargent exhibit at the Met is wonderful. Of course. In addition to several of his iconic high society portraits, "Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends," offers more intimate images of many of Sargent's friends and fellow artists as well as numerous sketches.

The show goes on and on with scores of images. The beauty of that is not just the richness of the selections, but having the opportunity to absorb the effect of Sargent's brush strokes, time and again. As artists we can spend a good bit of time examining technique in a single painting but seeing dozens, one after another, is so much more impactful.

I was especially interested in noticing subtle nuances in color and value changes - like the range of color in a white ruffle. Much to my surprise, photography (without flash) is allowed in this exhibit. Both photos below show sampled color from "white" areas. The circle is absolute white and the squares are neutral tints that make up mid-tones and shadow. Clearly, shadows on the satin dress are much warmer, reflecting the warmth of the tapestry, while the ruffle is influenced by cool black.

detail of Portrait of Madame Edouard Pailleron 1879
color samples, Ada Rehan
Being allowed to take pictures added a lot to my experience, not only because I have the photos to refer to, but it helped me focus on the details I was most interested in as a painter. Which, somewhat, kept the experience from being totally overwhelming. Somewhat. 

Even though the exhibit was busy on a Sunday morning, there was enough room to get up close to examine details as well as step back to admire large canvases.

Take a look at the variation in color of this rose, velvet dress. Sargent so beautifully captures the character of velvet! Highlights are cooler and less saturated; by contrast, the lower part of the skirt has a vibrant coral cast. Luscious!

Mrs. Hugh Hammersley by John Singer Sargent 1892

Zeroing in on Sargent's technical moments that amaze... here is a close up of the "simplest" rendering of a hand, delicately holding a jadeite topped cane. So much information in so few strokes!
detail W. Graham Robertson, by John Singer Sargent 1894

There are also a few genre paintings which I so enjoy. This one made me laugh ... and relate! Seriously, though, the energy in these brushstrokes seems perfect for depicting an artist who paints on his unmade bed! (and don't you just want to say, "does your mother know you're painting on those sheets?!")
An Artist in His Studio, John Singer Sargent, 1904

The Met posts most of their exhibits online - so you can take a look here - but there is nothing like seeing the real thing. Plus, if you go before September 7th, you can also see China: Through the Looking Glass. 

It's a fitting juxtaposition of exhibits. Chinese culture and decorative arts greatly influenced European art during the 1800s. This can easily be seen in interiors of the time, as in the gallery scene below. So, having this wonderful, multimedia exhibit featuring Chinese influence on western design at the same time as the Sargent show was an added bonus.  

China: Through the Looking Glass closes September 7th so hurry and go if you can! If you can't get there, here is a video describing this record breaking exhibit. But really, it's a spectacle that's masterfully staged and best experienced first hand.
couture and Whistler's painting of Chinese porcelain, 1864
Thanks for joining me on another art adventure!

And... ps... closer to home, you're invited to a reception for "A Bygone Era... in Oils" - an exhibit of my still life and interiors at Ruth Keeler Library in North Salem, September 13th. Details to come.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Painting: a technical assist from technology

So here's the thing - 3D perspective is hard to capture in 2D. And foreshortening is really hard because we want to trust what we know rather than what we see. In my latest painting, an opera program is foreshortened, with type skewed to follow one point perspective! Where to begin...

I have a simple tool to help isolate the main angles. Is that technology? Low-tech, for sure. It's made of two cardboard arms hinged with a paper fastener. (A couple of knitting needles held like chopsticks also work, but I've never been very good at chopsticks.) Holding this tool in front of the still life set up and squinting you can recreate an angle pretty accurately by aligning the arms with two edges. For example, I followed the top and side edges of the opera program.
It's really important to establish those main angles, the finicky details of type need more careful attention.

The lettering is "VERDI" and those capitals have the strong vertical lines that are parallel to the long edge of the program. At the same time the top and bottom edges of the letters need to lead to the same vanishing points as the top and bottom of the program. In my first pass at the type, I was mostly thinking about parallel verticals... only barely dealing with how they begin to converge. I actually turned the canvas 90º to make sure the strokes were painted vertically. Got the parallel part just fine, but the converging? not so much.
opera glasses oil painting work in progress

To illustrate the concept, below is VERDI with verticals noted in red, turned 90º, then skewed in perspective. The letter spacing gets closer at the far side as well (VE compared to DI) and the letters themselves appear bolder closer to the viewer. The skewed text sample is not exactly accurate to the still life; it was just done in Photoshop as an exercise. That's all good information, hard to discern by eye and more than can be clearly rendered in small type with oil paint! But it helps to understand it, so the essence of the painted word will look more believable. One would hope.
My verticals aligned fairly well, but the direction of the line of type is all wrong. Although, of course it didn't look that wrong when I was working on it up close. And that's the thing about perspective... it needs perspective! Time and distance help. So does checking out a photo.

When you draw on paper, it's a bit easier to figure perspective because you can literally draw the lines that will converge at the vanishing point. Not so easy to do with wet paint. So I checked it out by photographing the painting and "drawing" the lines in Illustrator.

First, red lines lead to where the edges of the paper converge. That's the vanishing point and all the parallels created by the top and bottom of the type should also meet at this point. Obviously, they do not! The lines were created in Illustrator on a separate layer from the photo (think tracing paper). That layer can be digitally hidden by turning it off to see if the image below. Then turned back on to see if it matches. Like the low tech version of quickly lifting tracing paper to see whats underneath compared to guidelines on top.
illustration of perspective
Then there is the issue of trying to visualize how it should look. (Honestly, it's kind of easy to tell yourself that it's not so bad after all that work, but I've learned that a week or so later, it's likely to feel "not good enough"!) Looking closely at the set-up certainly helps but since it takes both eyes working together to appreciate depth perception, every time you shift slightly, the perspective changes. A photo is static.

So Photoshop helped me visualize how much better the type could look. To do that, the area of type was selected and skewed at an angle that aligned with the vanishing point. (I don't have that photo to show because it was just an exercise to observe the angles before writing this post.) Seeing the type's 3D perspective in 2D via Photoshop helped me paint it more accurately. 

And along the way, focusing so much on those @#$% letters, I remembered... they actually weren't all that important! Certainly it isn't necessary to read the lettering. Their "job" is basically to help balance the composition. But if the angle is wrong it's a total distraction - as I'm sure is evident in the earlier photo! So, in the final version the type is also lighter and I think it works better, 

So here is "At the Opera," with revised type thanks to both mental and technical exercise!

still life of opera glasses and vintage paper program on wood
At the Opera ©2015 Dorothy Lorenze, oil on panel
Oh, and thanks too, to Taghkanic Chorale pal Melanie for the loan of her elegant opera glasses! This painting will be at my solo show featuring elements of vintage elegance at the Ruth Keeler Library in North Salem during September. Details to come, but I hope you will stop by!

PS - Some folks say using any sort of technical aid is cheating. I say, balderdash! I believe the old masters used whatever-tools-were-available to assist them: consider Leonardo da Vinci's mechanical engineering fascination! He would have used a camera - and a computer - in a heartbeat. But more concretely, as far back as 1514 (four years before Leonardo's death) an Albrecht Dürer etching illustrates a "tracing window" following Leonardo's design! If you read Italian, there's more info here.* More recently, the documentary Tim's Vermeer is all about recreating a Vermeer using technology, such as it was, in the artist's time.

*PPS - My thanks to Matt Innis' Underpaintings Magazine article on Eckersberg's Perspective Octant for the Durer link above. Underpaintings is an online magazine available by subscription. It's full of well-researched information about representational art. You can check out some free content from Underpaintings here.

Thanks for hanging out with me on my art journey.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Practice of Sketching

Drawing for it's own sake is a wonderful, meditative experience. Following a contour with sensitive line can be mesmerizing. And drawing was always my go-to art activity. Now that I'm painting, color and texture claim my visual attention more often than line. But, lately I feel "drawn" to drawing, and that's a good thing.

At a plein air workshop with Charlotte Wharton we started out with thumbnail sketches for composition and value patterns. Haven't done that in a long time. And you know, you can get to a certain level of comfort with one medium, but it doesn't just slide over to another. My still life paintings might start with a fairly refined drawing but sketching feels very different. So I hold the pencil like I've never seen it before and finally dig in. Once I got into the swing of it, it felt great.
Switching gears is a creaky process.

The workshop was in Massachusetts, close enough to go to the Fitchburg Museum and bask in the glorious interiors of Eleanor Norcross. After going through the exhibit 2, 3 times, I wasn't ready to leave, so I started sketching - observing the artist's choices and taking it all in. It's not just looking; more like touching with the pencil on paper, getting to know the work better. Because adding another sensory experience enhances memory (like taking notes that you never refer to, or repeating something out loud that's important to remember). Drawing is a way to study shapes and spatial relationships, taking in a wealth of information to creatively interpret an object or scene.
my sketch of Eleanor Norcross' painting "My Studio"
"My Studio" by Eleanor Norcross 1891

Back home again, while organizing my own studio, I got lost looking through old drawings from... 45+ years ago! Amazingly, I knew when and where most were done, and you'd think there would be steady progress over time, but, not so much. Plenty of ups and downs. The peaks happened when I was "in the zone" ...somehow. That used to confuse and frustrate me - isn't learning supposed to be a gradual, upward climb? No, there is good interspersed with awful. Successes tend to happen when you can tune out from distractions and tune in to the subject or materials.

And that brings me back to meditation. Sometimes life lets you do that, and sometimes it doesn't, but I think practice helps. So, on this little trip down memory lane, I enjoyed revisiting the times when it clicked and being ok with the times that it didn't. And I will try not to feel too guilty about not having a daily sketch habit. There are only so many hours in a day...

If you're in New England, spend some time checking out Evoking Eleanor at the Fitchburg Museum. Beautiful artwork in an elegant space!

by Eleanor Norcross at Fitchburg Museum of Art
by Eleanor Norcross

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Personal Independence and Creativity

This is a re-post an earlier July 4th newsletter about independence and creativity. Why re-post? Because it goes to the heart of being "true to your art" (whatever that may mean) and more importantly, "true to yourself." I think we all know what that should mean.

First a July 4th 2015 "shout-out" to all the new subscribers: Welcome, enjoy, and thank you for your interest.

Independence Rules! originally published July 3, 2013.

July 4th is our national holiday dedicated to Independence! How great is that! In addition to raising the flag and honoring our country, take a minute to ponder your personal independence. Not just freedom, as awesome as that is, but independence.

It may sound self-indulgent, but go ahead, you've got congress behind you. More or less.

This independence-thing has to do with knowing and doing what's best for you - as in being your best self ...not selfish. So it's also about caring for others and being the best parent-partner-person possible. But you can't be yourself if you lose yourself always going-with-the-flow or pleasing anyone-but-yourself. It's far easier said than done.

In terms of artwork, take a chance and break away from anti-independence habits:
  • forget about what's "trending" - connect with what inspires you 
  • leave negativity behind - embrace those of generous spirit
  • move beyond your comfort zone - push the limits to see what you can actually do
  • believe in yourself like your life depends on YOU - because, honestly... it does
Independent thinking is an important element of creativity. In fact that's what it takes to be creative and baby steps can get it done. It's been a pretty creative year for me so I want to wish everyone all the joy and satisfaction that comes from being yourself and working toward your personal dreams and goals.  

Be your own most creative self!
Happy Independence Day!

For this patriotic July 4th, I'm posting my only red, white and blue painting. Coincidentally, it was sold at my very first, independent, solo, art exhibit - something that used to be way outside my comfort zone.

 Chubby Pepper ©2012 Dorothy Lorenze
2015 Addendum:
And here's a fairly classic, all-American image of a boy and his dog, on the quintessential porch, no less.
Grandson and granddog "Waiting for the Bus".

Waiting for the Bus ©2015 Dorothy Lorenze

Thank you for joining me on my artistic journey.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Transfixed by Translucency

Jacob Collins exhibit at Adelson Galleries, Inc., NYC
Lately I've been especially interested in the delicate transmission of light through objects. And last month I was totally transfixed by translucency, viewing the work of contemporary master  Jacob Collins at Adelson Gallery in New York.

I mean, just what happens to white paper when light goes through it. How are those subtle color changes and shadows created?

Check out the shadow and edge color in the enlarged insert of Jacob Collins' "Paper with Drawing Instruments" below. Incredible.

Using Photoshop's sampling tool, I compared the "white" on the left side (in brighter light) to the "white" near the pencil. Samples of those areas are shown in the two color boxes to the right of the detail, indicating the spectrum of "white" in his paper. Somehow, it's dramatic and subtle at the same time.

detail Paper with Drawing Instruments by Jacob Collins

In the full image below, looking from the brightest paper in full light at the left, to the paper farthest from the light source, you can really appreciate the range of value (light/shadow) and hue (color).
©2015 Jacob Collins, "Paper with Drawing Instruments," at Adelson Galleries Inc., NY

©2014 David Ligare at Hirschl & Adler Gallery

Another excellent example of painted translucency is David Ligare's "Telemachus and the Crow." Such intense, strong sunlight on the right side of the figure. And then the challenge is to intensify it to indicate the effect of that strong light on the translucent fabric drape.

So beautifully done, it glows.

Amram on Amram ©2015 Dorothy Lorenze oil on board 6x12"
So... with this "light painting" in mind, I went to the farmers market and bought some funky looking cheese to paint. 
This cheese is a product of the Bobolink Dairy & Bakery and they called it "Amram" in honor of their friend and music icon David Amram. Since I've been interested in painting paper, as well as cheese, this seemed the perfect combination of objets d'art. 
Amram cheese on Amram sheet music! 
The music sheet is actually a copy of David Amram's "Canción de Verano," which means "Song of Summer." Also perfect for the occasion since Amram is an early cheese from this wonderful, small, raw-milk, dairy farm making cheeses from grass-fed cows, aged in caves! The cheese, not the cows. 
You can check out their latest "vintage" (milkage? lactage?) at Pleasantville Farmers market on Saturday mornings.
My "Amram on Amram," complete with sheets of paper, that is foreshortened and somewhat translucent. The really tricky part was the curled paper edges. An exciting challenge over all!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Hanging at Sorolla's Studio

One of the treats in Madrid was that our hotel was a two minute walk from the home and studio of Impressionist painter Joaquín Sorolla. It's a beautiful little villa with a garden courtyard in an elegant neighborhood in Madrid. And for a few days, we were neighbors!

We were traveling with a group of folks who were not familiar with the work of Sorolla but when I mentioned that he is considered the Spanish John Singer Sargent - they were hooked!

Once again, here is an artist whose volume of work inspires. He was prolific, often repeating a subject to explore different effects and creating hundreds of paintings each year, many quite large!

Viewing dozens of his studies together was exhilarating, not to mention paintings hanging all the way to the ceiling,

It's easy to see the love that Sorolla had for his family, frequent subjects in his paintings. His figures are painted with sensitivity and tenderness, without becoming cloyingly sweet.

My Wife and My Children, by Sorolla 1897
BTW, his home is gorgeous even without the artwork. Like Sargent, this artist actually thrived during his lifetime!

He surrounded himself with beautiful furnishings, object d'art and light (the ceilings must be 15-20ft!)

So, I'm thinking I could paint like a master if I just had some of that gorgeous crockery!
(employing the magical thinking of a young nephew who once cried, "I know I could make a rocket if I just had enough metal!!!" He is now a software designer for a major tech company.)
Still life, anyone?

If you want some Sorolla in your life - and who doesn't - you can have "Las Tres Hermanas en la Playa" at auction at Christie's London for about $4,000,000. Remember, it's an auction, so start bidding!

On Auction June 15 at Christie's 19th C European & Orientalist Art, London
Or you can visit the Hispanic Society of America in New York where there are 14 enormous Sorolla murals portraying regions of Spain. Or the Met... or the Prado, or nearly any major museum.

Sorolla once said, “Go to nature with no parti pris. You should not know what your picture is to look like until it is done. Just see the picture that is coming."

Fisherwomen from Valencia by Sorolla
I get that, although it's more a plein air mindset and just about opposite of how we still life-ers think. We tend to, first, envision the story we want the painting to tell. In the end, though, I think it's the same thing - don't paint what you see so much as what it says to you. 
Sorolla has also said, "As far as outdoor work is concerned, a studio is only a garage; a place in which to store pictures and repair them, never a place in which to paint them."

Hmmm, my studio literally is a garage. Oops.

Thanks for joining me on my art journey.