Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Strawberry Still Life Painting

Summer Strawberries – 6" x 8" Oil on Canvas Panel SOLD

For about an hour I fussed with these strawberries to come up with something I liked. Strawberries are sweet and girly, and I kept trying out different bowls and such to come up with a soft and light setup. Finally I opened a cabinet and came upon these frilly porcelain dishes. They were bought originally as water dishes for my girl kitty, Slim, however she prefers drinking out of glass water goblets so I had forgotten about them. In order to guarantee that she stays properly hydrated we find it easier to give in and supply water in the cups she prefers drinking from. So these white dishes have been languishing in the cabinets. But not for long, now that I have discovered them as a still life object, they are bound to show up again :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lemons with a Rose Background Still Life

Bowl of Lemons with Rose Background – 6" x 8" Oil on Canvas Panel SOLD

This painting was first completed on Sunday afternoon however today I reworked it some as I felt the painting was too dark with its original blue background and green tablecloth. By experimenting with a layer of Zinc Buff for the tablecloth color and then applying another zinc white based color, Brilliant Yellow-Reddish over the blue background. The result is this finished painting, which is brighter and in my opinion a more cheerful composition.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Yellow Peaches Still Life

Two Yellow Peaches – 6" x 6" Oil on Canvas Panel SOLD

These yellow peaches are just beautiful. For this painting I placed them on a new decorative plate. I worked to keep the pattern on the plate loose and not overly tight, as I did not want it to overpower the peaches.

Daily Art Painters Website

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Apple Wedges

Apple Wedges – 6" x 6" Oil on Canvas Panel SOLD

For this painting I wanted to work with triangular shapes and how the apple sides are different in the direct lighted areas versus those in shadow.

As a side note, this Friday I was accepted into the Daily Art Painters group. Which has a website and a blog. I am happy to become part of this group of daily painters. I will keep my current goal of posting 3-4 new paintings aweek along with sketches and other random images that I typically share on this blog. Thanks, Liz

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Succulents and Random-ness

Succulents are my favorite plants, I have several varieties and have no idea of what their official names are. I just find them at shops or sometimes pinch off a cutting when out on a walk. However I may now be able to learn the names of my plants because yesterday, while reading Poppytalk, I came across a ceramic artist, Michael McDowell. He recommended this succulent and cactus web-retailer, If you get a chance, check out the great selection offered by the succelent retailer, and especially the Favela stacking vases by McDowell. I love the strong geometric patterns of these square vases...

With the weekend coming up I have been thinking about how to spend it. This week has been such a roller coaster with work and life, I am looking forward to it already! Sleeping in one morning and having a yummy slow-paced brunch with juice, rolls, and maybe some homemade granola. With only one more full work day until the weekend, have a great evening and may your Friday be productive and your weekend full of zest.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Two Shallots Still Life & Making Color Sing

Two Shallots – 6" x 8" Oil on Canvas Panel SOLD

Yes, sometimes my food will begin to grow before I use it. This happens most often in my kitchen with potatoes and ginger root. Needless to say I was somewhat surprised by the green coming out of my shallot. It was a happy surprise, as they created a very picturesque duo.

I am particularly pleased how everything in this painting came together ~ the process, color theory, and outcome ~ to create something that I am proud of. (I am about to dive into the geek aspects of painting and the little gifts of happiness that makes painting such a joy in my life…) To play off the vibrant red/violet of the skin, I shifted the background to be more of a cool gray/green. Cool temperature colors pervaded the setup, so to offset that and to bring in some warmth I infused warmer colors into the shadow areas. Warm color temperatures are emphasized especially in the reflected light. I really love how playing off the warm/cool color temperatures of a painting can really get some legs and become more visually stimulating.

Prior to painting with oils, I did some watercolor painting. Watercolor is beautiful however all of my pieces ended up being overworked and rather drab. Because I like to read and investigate, I initially turned to researching why this was happening. I read many books on theory, technique, and materials to get a better understanding. From this experience I came away with a pretty extensive knowledge of pigment properties, and knowing the techniques, but not being so adept at applying them when painting with watercolors. However the one thing I did come away from this period of extensive inquiry is a firm belief in the importance of understanding color theory and learning to apply it in your composition. The one book I keep on going back to read, is Jeanne Dobie’s Make Color Sing. This is a watercolor book, however I find many of the color theory principles can be applied to oil as well. I will occasionally read one of her chapters, and purposefully apply the main message to a painting or two to see if I understand it, if not I will go back re-read that chapter and try again. Chapter 30 “A Personalized Light – Changing the Light Pattern” in one chapter I go back to all the time and will sometimes find ways to work out examples of it in my mind. The message still eludes me, but like any quest I will continue on. One day I will go through the entire book and try out each of the principles, and record the effects. That is one of many goals I have, I guess when time is more plentiful, maybe it will occur then...

I am very interested in learning what books do you really enjoy and find helpful? Please leave a comment so I may learn more about them. Thanks, Liz

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cut Lemon Still Life

Cut Lemon - 6" x 6" Oil on Canvas Panel SOLD

Painting lemons has been a focus of mine for a few months. Each time I paint them, I learn something new. My ability to observe and understand them has increased, so I am now starting to investigate how to capture the translucent interior. Cutting a quarter wedge out of the fruit was a way to emphasize how light transmits through, and how the white of the rind is quite reflective.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Emphasis of Gray with a Yellow Peach

Yellow Peach – 6" x 6" Oil on Canvas Panel SOLD

These were found at a local Harris Teeter. I was really drawn to the subdued colors of yellow-green with patches of pink. With this painting I was working towards creating a subtle color palette of grays, whites, and pastels. Yellow peaches are more subdued then the regular orange/pink peaches found in stores, so the transitions from light to dark are more of the emphasis of this painting than color transitions.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Still Life of Bright Yellow Lemons

Lemons in a Bowl – 6" x 8" Oil on Canvas Panel SOLD

I find great satisfaction in painting lemons. I love how the shadows go green, sometimes blue and occasionally a violet color will lurk in the shadows. The transition between light into shadow is also a mystery, the end result depends on the light and surrounding colors.

Every painting is a new adventure and fun challenge to solve.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Georgetown Rowhouse Drawing - Sketchbook

Today during my lunch break I was walking in the neighborhood streets of Georgetown, when I found a great stoop to sit on to sketch. This townhouse was a bright jewel in the sunlight and it just felt right to take time and draw…

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Loosely Painted Magnolia Blossom

Magnolia Blossom – 6" x 8" Oil on Canvas Panel SOLD

This painting was completed in the more typical style I paint in. Bolder, more defined brushstrokes, mixing the paint on the canvas, trying to keep things loose and gestural. It was painted quickly as the flower was starting to turn brown. To limit damage of having the light shine directly on the flower, the light was directed on a piece of museum board, resulting in having lovely defused light illuminating the flower.

It was fun painting the same object, different views, with different objectives. The experience was fun, as I moved out of my comfort zone with the painting I posted yesterday. While I shifted back into what comes naturally for today's painting. Both methods have their positive aspects, and as I continue to paint both styles will meld into one, taking the best for the specific occasion.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Magnolia Flower with a Grisaille Underpainting

Magnolia Flower – 8" x 6" Oil on Canvas Panel

This flower inspired me to paint in a smooth and subtle manner. Typically I favor more active brushwork, however the beautiful creamy white petals just begged for a more subtle handling of paint. For this painting I laid down a grisaille underpainting (Susan Spar has a great blog post with photos explaining how to use the grisaille technique). Being that I was impatient, I did not stop to let it dry instead I then started adding color on top of my underpainting and worked on smoothing out my transitions.

This is the first painting I have completed where my goal was to minimize brush strokes and go for subtlety, however there are a few places where I added some paint texture to help catch light to emphasize the highlights and add a little sparkle.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Inspiration & a Peeled Orange Still Life

Peeled Orange – 6" x 6" Oil on Canvas Panel

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about the book Taking The Leap and the author’s recommendation to keep a visual journal where daily you record a minimum of three design/art ideas. Well, nightly before going to bed I jot down three ideas, sometimes the ideas are just a list of bullet points, other times they end up being thumbnail sketches, or a mixture of both. It has been a fun exercise, both of patience and dedication, as sometimes I just want to go to sleep after a long day of work and extracurricular activities… However this little painting is the first direct result of keeping this journal.

I was stumped on what next to focus on, I have been working on larger more complicated paintings, and I need something simple but also a challenge. I also did not want to revisit a subject I have painted recently, so I started flipping through the journal and came across a series a thumbnail sketches that were of partially peeled lemons and oranges. I was inspired. And here is the result.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bowl of Lemons - Circular Composition within a Square

Bowl of Lemons – 6" x 6" Oil on Canvas Panel - SOLD

In this painting I was going for a pretty classic image, a bowl of fruit. Initially my goal was not to make such a symmetrical and compact composition, it came together that way. As I posted a few months ago, I really enjoy the “circle within a square” motif, with its sense of a beginning and an end while always staring over and never ending.

I just feel it is a stable and optimistic compositional format that looks forward while also being happy to stay in the present. Oh, I do not know if this is how others feel, it is just my impression every time I think about it and my way of explaining to myself, why it repeatedly crops up as a composition in my paintings… maybe others have a different opinion, this is just mine.

Thanks, Liz

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Graphite Sketch of Slim

Graphite on Strathmore sketch paper

This past Monday I was listening to one of Danny Gregory’s Illustrated Life podcasts. He was interviewing artist Roz Stendahl. I was not familiar her, however as the podcast progressed I continued to learn more and gain more inspiration from what she shared with Danny Gregory. The thing that captured my imagination most was her “Daily Dots” project, which was a five year process of daily sketching her beautiful dog, Dot.

So that Monday night I began making a point of sketching my cat, Slim. She is a very special pet, friendly and quirky, and I care for her very much. This sketch is of her napping in one of her beds (she has three) at the dinning room window.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Two Bell Peppers Still Life

Two Red Bell Peppers – 6" x 8" Oil on Canvas Panel SOLD

Sometimes just as I am about to use a vegetable or fruit to prepare a meal, I realize how much I want to paint it. Typically, I arrive home around 7:30pm from work. This does not leave much time in the evening. So on the lucky occasions where my schedule allows me the opportunity to paint before dinner, I grab it! This is how this painting was created, right before cooking dinner as the bell peppers were the main vegetable ingredient in a stir-fry.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Apricots and Peaches Still Life

Apricots and Peaches Study – 6" x 8" Oil on Canvas Panel SOLD

This painting was painted as a means of testing out some ideas. I was investigating the effectiveness of using the salvaged tile as a backdrop along with a stack of white fiesta bowls. The color palette is a pleasing combination of peaches, oranges and creams with bright whites and blues as accents.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Apricots & Blue Bowls Still Life

Apricots with Blue Fiesta Bowls – 6" x 8" Oil on Canvas Panel SOLD

Fuzzy fruit are a joy to paint; they do not have the obvious highlights like smooth skin fruit. So in pairing the fruit with fiesta bowls that have lots of shine and highlights was a fun exercise in differences.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Peaches and Apricots Frieze Still Life

(in-progress painting, with my studio in the background)
Peaches and Apricots Frieze – 5 1/2” x 24” Linen on Panel

This weekend I began another Frieze painting. This still life includes fruit like the other frieze paintings have had, however to mix things up a bit I also am including a salvaged tile and an antique cigar box.

Below is a detail of the painting.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Red, White, and Blue 4th of July

Three Apples in a Row – 6” x 12” Oil on Canvas Panel

Happy Fourth of July! Here is my red, white, and blue contribution to this wonderful day.

In the spirit of being patriotic, last night Steve and I started watching the HBO movie John Adams. Wow, it is really a great mini-series. Love Laura Linney as Abigail, she is a wonderful actress, and Paul Giamatti plays a convincing John Adams.

A few years ago I attended the Gilbert Stuart exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. One of the last paintings hung in this exhibit was the 1826 portrait of John Adams as a very old man. The inquisitive look and the way his hand clasps the handle of a cane really captures the razor sharp intellect and integrity of John Adams. I believe this may be one of the best portraits I have ever been lucky enough to see in person.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Lemon with a Jar Still Life

Lemon with a Jar – 8" x 6" Oil on Canvas Panel SOLD

Last week I read Taking the Leapby Cay Lang, and in the introduction she encourages you to keep a visual diary. This is a little different than just keeping a sketchbook in that it is a means for discovering your mission as an artist, the inner voice that defines what inspires and drive you to create art.

Here is her description: “every night before you go to bed, write or sketch three ideas for your art in your journal. Don’t make a big production out of this. It doesn’t have to take an hour; sometimes five minutes is all you will feel like giving to it. The ideas don’t have to be good ones, and you don’t ever have to follow through on making them. You just have to imagine them and write them down, or make a sketch if you like. The point is to bring attention to your work, and to notice the ideas that occur. Within a short time, a week or two, a pattern will begin to emerge…. Pay close attention to these ideas. This is your heart speaking.” Pg. xvii

I feel the repetitive actions of painting and posting on this blog is helping me focus as an artist. Last year I happened to take a still life painting class and really fell in love with this genre. Since then I have been mainly painting still lifes, though I would not consider myself just a still life artist, as I also enjoy plein air and figurative work as well. However this painting just came into being from a random placement a few items set on the model stand while I was trying to get to an item that was behind the jar. From the random placement, I found something interesting, I liked the way the jar reflected and dissolved in front of the purple cloth, and then the yellow lemon also caught my interest. This painting was just the result of random actions, though to me it also has the quietness I love in paintings.

As of now, I am not sure if I have found my mission as an artist, however am learning that I truly enjoy the experience of finding a quite moment with simple items and recording them.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Still Life with Two Green Apples

Two Green Apples – 6" x 6" Oil on Canvas Panel

After painting the single apple, the composition was altered slightly to include two apples. The second apple was placed behind and to the side of the front apple so I could capture the extreme value difference of the shadow of the front apple and the highlighted area of the second apple. These transitions between light and shade were used with great affect in Dutch Still Life paintings, here is a great link to the Rijksmuseum, and the closest example I can find that depicts this specific method of perspective is the Still Life with Jug.