Thursday, March 31, 2011

Splendor In The Mess Sold

Here's another I will need to paint again . . . it's from a photo I took
late last year of the tangerines I'd picked and set on my messy kitchen
island. One morning, the sun slanted in at a beautiful angle and bleached
the leaves on the one at right. Fortunately, my camera was right there in the
midst of bills, papers, magazines . . . This photo offered a wealth of
challenges and also illustrated them quite clearly for me. The short focal
length blurred everything behind the main subjects, bleached out the
lights and gave me more depth than I can invent in my shadow-box.
My set-ups often seem so dull whatever I do with the lighting. There was
also so much information that it forced me to paint the shapes and values,
a much-needed exercise to keep tipping my brain towards thinking that way,
but what I haven't done as well as I hoped was to capture the blurry whites
through the center. They're quite blazing in the photo but behave and recede
just like they're supposed to. When I painted them as bright as I saw them,
they totally misbehaved---something to be aware of and work at: how to
capture whites/lights in a background? This mess is pretty much an example
of "home" for me. Should I post it for the Japan Challenge?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Teabowl and Apple 2

This is a revisit of a set-up I did a week ago . . . I never seem to tire
of the same subject matter. With a little time lapse, I get to compare
what I thought was important on the first go and what stands out to
me now. With this, I wanted to purposely leave information out and
see if I could stand not tinkering with it and putting it back in.

I visited Carrie Waller's wonderful blog yesterday and read that she had
been juried into a show by a judge who stated she didn't like literal art. I
had a regretful thought: I had written how impatient I am with myself when
I'm too literal but I want to make it clear that I love good realism! I'm
amazed by and admire the facility of these artists!

Friday, March 25, 2011


This is my painting for Jean Townsend's zen challenge
for STALP this month. What could be more full and
empty than oneself? It looks just like me. :-) I had fun
and may have stumbled on a way to handle paint that feels
natural to me. Must continue to work at it, but possibly not
too hard.

Teabowl and Apple

I laid down really thick paint on the objects and kept them small
to continue practice in eliminating detail. One needs to get really
good at value relationships to lay the paint down and leave it alone . . .

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Apple Studies

These were done very quickly. The first (top left) is the free-est. It
appears I got tighter as I went.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Teabowl with Fruit

It's kind of ironic that after my big push to be more experimental,
this painting seems so traditional! Who's in charge here? This is
another handmade pot by Michael Simon.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


As I was photographing this and even now as I post it, I feel an
underlying itch to "tidy" it up. Every morning I spend about 30
minutes looking at artists whose work I like and they are definitely
not tidy painters. I'm thinking that part of developing one's own
vision is to trust what you respond to in others' work and become
accustomed to valuing it when you do it as well as you can. I need
to keep it around and get used to it until the urge to tidy goes away.
I do see my work as more lively overall: there's less concern with outlines
and boundaries and more focus on making color resonate and how it
relates to the entire surface. The cup is actually a strong gray-blue
but it seemed dull to me so I tried a lavender which perked things up
a bit. I feel progress---less fear in trying things that are not actually
"there" if they contribute to the painting, and more confidence in the
way I judge what I've done.

For anyone on a budget, I'm working on Canson mat board that I seal
with two coats of Liquitex matte medium. The paint glides on, there's
a canvas-like texture and it's archival. And, no need to mount it on a
more rigid surface for framing.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Apple, Cup, Orange

This really isn't what I intended for this painting at all but it was
coming together in a way that I was liking so I decided to forget the
"plan" and just go where it was leading me.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Little Lady 2

I've been working on archival paper sealed with matte medium so
I can have 2 or 3 starts of the same set-up to work on. Leap-frogging
from one to another makes getting a result less important and offers
more chances for exploration. Setting them aside at various stages
provides a delay and an opportunity to see each one fresh before going
on with them again.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Little Lady 1

One of my main concerns over the past couple of months is in
assessing my own reaction to what I see developing on my canvases.
It's sort of a schizophrenic exercise: look hard at the set-up, try to find
the elements of it that excite and serve to anchor a conscious intention
which will then inform the paint. That kind of intentional looking has to
be maintained throughout the process. But, then, so does looking critically
at the canvas to see if the marks you're making reflect your intention.
Not to work towards getting it accurate but to find something in the canvas
that makes me react to my own work the way I do when looking at the
work of the painters I love.

Looking in both directions should be all of a piece, united in one goal,
but it's so easy to go unconscious and veer off course.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lady Apples

Nice to take a break from cups . . .

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Still trying to get over my tendency to describe and illustrate. The
quest continues . . .

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Set-Up

An 8 x 8 panel seemed huge! Still not brave enough to go where I
think I should (haven't identified where that is) but it was fun to have
a larger surface . . . seemed to help in making me consider the whole
painting and not just the objects. I've been trying to be conscious enough
to have one specific intention before I begin a painting, like for this: to use
many grays and just a few areas of bright color. An intention works as an
anchor if and when I start mindlessly copying or get too obsessed with
individual elements, I can bring myself back to what I intended. I fall short
but am beginning to see glimmerings of stuff coalescing.

Why do I always see the flaws once the painting is on the computer screen?
I should probably work on it more before posting but there's that precarious
edge where I could ruin one small good thing.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Green-Rimmed Cup 2

Another go . . . I'm painting very slowly . . . I don't have  a
problem with being too tight or detailed: I like swashbuckling
strokes, stray pieces of color, painting outside of the lines.
But I am beginning to understand Kehoe's comment that it takes
a long time for her to see how something really looks. The
shadow side of the cup, for instance, looked like a gray-green
to me so I painted it as I saw it. But the canvas looked odd with a
greenish shadow on the same canvas as the cup handle which had
almost blazing red reflected lights and shadows cast by the red table-top.
It probably could have worked if I got the "right" gray-green and
the right color for the cast shadow so they would resonate, but I elected
to "purple-up" the shadow side thinking it must also be influenced by
the red table-top. Not sure if I'm seeing what's there accurately or if
I'm being tricked by all the vibrating color? With practice, I hope it'll
become more intuitive and go a little quicker.