Sunday, August 21, 2016
This painting is one I managed to fit in early on in the animal-
painting marathon. I used a black and white reference photo of
the artist Francis Bacon. When I first saw his work in the late
60s, it intrigued me and also repulsed me in a way but I was drawn
to it for its intensity and originality. I've always wished I could be
that bold and push past what seems safe and acceptable. While that
wish doesn't seem to materialize, I enjoyed trying to infuse my
impressions of him onto a portrait.
Still photographing the animals and will post some at some point.
Thanks so much for viewing and for your very nice comments!
Thursday, August 11, 2016
Can't believe I haven't posted since April! Time flies. This one
was done in May as an exploration of color, invented, exaggerated color.
I used a reference photo taken by a photographer friend, Peter Szarmach.
His work can be seen at www.composingbeauty.com
I've been painting a lot—25 5 x 7 animal paintings for my daughter's
wedding. I feel like I've been painting them for months (because I have).
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
I've done a lot of paintings recently but haven't wanted to post any
of them. Or show them to anyone. They just didn't look like me or
I didn't recognize anything of me in them. And then it seemed I should
just accept that this is me, this is the way I paint. So I did and slowly,
it dawned on me that it was the paint itself or lack of painterliness
that was bothering me. I was using more and more paint with a
little walnut oil but the paint still seemed brittle and flat when it dried,
not juicy. This is painted over a previous image as an attempt to just
putter. It was fun to drag dark colors into and over lights and not worry
about overshooting edges, just keeping everything soft, finding an edge
if the composition seemed to need it. Most fun I've had in awhile.
Thursday, December 3, 2015
I found it easier here to think in terms of composition
and light and not worry about details. Wise artist friends
have told me I should allow viewers to supply details
or complete unfinished areas in their imaginations. I
try to be conscious of that while painting but don't always
practice what I'm intending . . . This will be one of my
offerings in an upcoming holiday show at the Hunt Gallery
in San Antonio. It's on Saturday, December 5th from
1 - 5pm. There will be drinks and munchies and maybe
even some very good deals!
Saturday, November 14, 2015
Same building as in previous posts but this time, I
hoped to create a "white" painting. My intention was
to spell out very little but it may still need more work.
The actual painting looks better than this photo—it was
hard to shoot and color correct.
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Same building in Galveston as the previous post . . . this building
has different architectural elements and many windows, some of
which are arched and some a hybrid arch. Some areas of the facade
are pretty clean while others are dark, dirty and rusty. It's one subject
that can be cropped so many ways to look for different compositions,
colors and to play with scale. This old girl probably has a lot of
interesting stories to tell.
Sunday, October 18, 2015
These are two 8 x 10 studies of an old neglected building in Galveston,
with 2 more in the works. I've been working on several larger canvases
but am not yet satisfied with how they're developing. Switching gears
usually disrupts whatever single-minded obsessive rut I seem to fall into.
There are several layers on these, some where everything is spelled out,
then scraped and softened, then repainted. Sometimes I get too focused
on what I'm observing and don't pay enough attention to what's happening
on the canvas. Working in layers feels natural to me but it was mostly to try
to get things more "right." Now I'm watching the layers create optical grays
and a skin or patina so that the paint itself seems as important as the
subject. These may need more work but they'll be set aside for a bit and
looked at again later. (The other rut I'm prey to is overworking and ruining!)
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
It was fun to concentrate on color and making marks and not think
at all about accuracy. I take photos of buildings all the time but I'm
not really interested in reproducing them on canvas. I've wasted a lot
of time moaning about not having a subject I'm excited about.
Then it struck me that I could assemble different architectural features to
give myself a structure to hang paint on. I drew a b&w composition in my
sketchbook and used it as a model. Color was made up and maybe it's
too simplistic but it's an experiment to alter my thought process, practice
straying from reality and try to get closer to a marriage of representation
Thursday, July 2, 2015
This was not a very interesting scene, taken from a motel
parking lot, but I love palm trees and love painting them so
I snapped it. I thought it was finished months ago but it
was pretty blah. Reworking was an opportunity to use my
imagination which I forget to use sometimes because I tend
to get hung up on accuracy and trying to be faithful to a scene.
Going forward, my intention is to focus more on color, texture
and paint manipulation. And to make stuff up!
Saturday, May 30, 2015
Saturday, May 9, 2015
This painting is from a photo taken on the working side of Galveston
Island. It will be included in a Hunt Gallery group show based on the
gulf coast, opening May 14th. It was a very complicated scene with
so much going on, I kept getting lost. It was great practice on editing
Friday, April 17, 2015
Saturday, April 11, 2015
Monday, April 6, 2015
Thursday, April 2, 2015
I was taken with this scene because of the light and pattern. All
the geometry provided the opportunity to think more abstractly and
experiment with textures. This is one of the paintings in my recent
exhibit—it was really great to see the work framed, lit and presented
on gallery walls.
Saturday, February 28, 2015
Friday, December 5, 2014
Thursday, June 19, 2014
I really enjoyed painting this in spite of running into problems along
the way. I felt I had a little more clarity on how to solve them, not
that clueless, frustrated feeling that sometimes descends. I'm working
towards a two-person show for next March and wanted to settle on a
subject that I could enjoy exploring for several months. I thought that
would be landscapes and took the Workman class to get a little more
knowledge under my belt. But as I looked at the landscape painters I
admire, it was clear they lived in rural areas, were immersed in their
environment and had all their senses engaged while making their
paintings. It made sense for me to switch to a city environment which
I am surrounded by. I'm feeling it's a good fit with a lot of varied
Just a note: My previous post "Rising" looks very bad in Blogger as
had the two paintings before that. It's very contrasty with the color
tending too cool whereas the actual painting and the photo of it is quite
soft with much more subtlety. The painting above looks great in
Blogger's preview but I'm holding my breath as I click "publish." I will
let you know in the next post if it's accurate. How do I correct this? Who
do you contact for help?
Monday, June 16, 2014
This is a great old building on Galveston's industrial side that's seen better days.
I painted it over several weeks, starting out pretty literally, then set it aside for a
few days at a time until some "aha" moment came to me on what to do next. It
went through a lot of transformations over time each time emerging with less
spelled out and different color shifts. Now that I see it as a photo image, I'm
seeing more I could have done but it's time to move on.
Friday, May 23, 2014
Perfect morning last September in Boston. This image doesn't match the painting
or the photo in Photoshop. Here in Blogger, it's very contrasty, coarse and blues
are too saturated and ultramarine-y. The last post really heightened the reds
inaccurately. This happened for a few posts last fall and then seemed to correct
itself. Is anyone else noticing this happening to their images?
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Saturday, April 5, 2014
I'm deliberately practicing to not define too much because I often
still lapse back to spelling everything out. It helps to have a simple
composition and to start out with amorphous shapes. I'm thinking
of choosing a photo reference and drawing it, doing the observation
part in the drawing—working out the composition, lights/darks, then
painting from the b&w sketch, essentially relying on memory or
even making the painting up from imagination. Paintings of mine
that I'm happiest with are the ones that are blocked in, then finished
without the photo reference.
Posted by Lorraine Shirkus at 2:48 PM
Monday, March 31, 2014
Monday, March 24, 2014
Friday, February 28, 2014
I wanted to take Michael Workman's workshop to learn structure
and get a better understanding of basics. Workman's message wasn't
one I really wanted to hear: limit everything: palette and subject. But,
of course, it was exactly the message I needed to get. I've been all
over the place trying to figure out who I am as a painter so it's a way
to make painting be real and valuable work. Instead of getting up in
the morning and wondering what I'll paint today, it's a way to focus
and build on what I did yesterday. I still want to push for more
abstraction but there was enough here to like so it felt like a good
place to stop.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
This is a portion of a Michael Workman photo that he provided
photocopies of for an exercise called Paint Along with Mike. His photo
was gorgeous, complex and quite a bit cooler than the photocopies. My
attempt at the complete photo is still in progress but while it dries so I
can torture it more—scrape, sand and paint over it, I took a corner of it
and did a 6 x 8. Kinda wish I'd disobeyed and not painted along but
watched him instead. :-) I'm a weenie.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
I really enjoyed Michael Workman's workshop and was hoping
to become a temporary clone. Ha! Easier said than done! He had
demonstrated adhering canvas or paper to a panel for texture and
irregular edges and I had some unprimed canvas so I prepared a
few canvas panels when I got home. Thought that troweling on 3
coats of gesso would obliterate the canvas texture but no. Preparing
panels had always seemed like busy-work and time taken away
from painting but after 5 days with Workman, it feels an important
part of the process to have your hand and attention focused on creating
the surface right from the start.
The Fredericksburg Artist School has a great roster of artists lined
up for the rest of the year. I recommend it!
Sunday, January 26, 2014
A different cropping of the same barn on 18 x 24 stretched linen.
I was trying consciously to vary the cool and warm tones in large
expanses of space, careful to keep transitions close and not get hung
up on all the straight lines. It felt easier to overshoot boundaries with
this one maybe because I laid in the drawing more loosely so the edges
weren't yet defined in my mind. It felt good to paint them in and cover
them up, leaving traces of the previous layer to show through. Painting
in layers feels natural to me, possibly because I don't know the next
right value or color to use, but more, I think, because I like not knowing.
It adds to a feeling of exploration and nice accidental possibilities.
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
When looking at a scene my immediate response is to try to replicate
it so I've been conscious the past few months of using mark-making
to explore and let a scene build up sort of on its own. The panoramic
scenes are easier now but once there's a dominant subject, I tend to
do a "portrait" of it and forget the marks so with this, I tried to obliterate
boundaries and edges. It still feels awkward but as always . . . it's
about getting "there" even if you don't quite make it.