Sunday, August 30, 2009

Zinnias and Snap Dragons & a New Project

Zinnias and Snap Dragons -- 14" x 11" (35.5 x 28 cm) – Oil on Canvas
Available in my Etsy Shop

Hello friends ~

It is good to be back in the saddle again – that is working and painting away… The trip to Washington State was a good one, full of sunshine, wide open landscapes, and lots of food. While away I spent the majority of time musing about art and my process, investigating where it is working and what areas could be improved on. In the past when I have given myself room to think and mentally explore, large and small discoveries have been made that always further my life path. I guess it has a lot to do with being and the qualities of meditation.

The one big focus of my summer has been to refine my work schedule so that I am creating everyday and do not let this wonderful opportunity of being a full-time artist be wasted. After working in architecture for almost nine years and being miserable for the majority of the time due to lack of creative opportunities because the business of architecture is really 95% paper pushing (or being a mouse jockey) and if you are lucky 5% can be dedicated to true design. Because of this experience it is very important to me to make the most of this time and work so I never have to go back to architectural employment in a firm. But I digress… Through the summer when at home and in the studio I set a goal of producing daily paintings regularly (3-4 per week) and also completing larger more complicated compositions (2-3 per month). Because of the relative success of these goals and because I always view the beginning of the academic year as a time to start new projects I am going to implement a new goal. Over the next year I will work to complete 50 flower/bouquet still life paintings.

In order to make it a doable goal, the painting sizes will be moderate and designed to be completed in a day or two. This is important as flowers have a tendency to change as time goes by, either wilting or adjusting the blooms to be more upright and vertical. My goal with this series it to get more confident about painting complex shapes such as flowers and to speed up my painting skills without losing quality. I also want to improve my ability to capture detail while also finding ways to simplify the form in a convincing manner. And to kick off this new project, tomorrow is the first day of a five-day workshop with Danni Dawson dedicated to painting in her rose garden! I am really psyched about this coming week and hope to come away with a lot of new knowledge of how to tackle flowers. I love learning from Danni, she is by far the best instructor at the Art League in my opinion.

This painting is the first of this series. These flowers were picked up yesterday at the Old Town Farmer’s Market. Zinnias have been a favorite flower of mine for years. When in seventh grade I planted a small flower bed of zinnias in our front yard, the first time I ever exerted any effort of gardening, and I remember it as being a very big production for me. Removing sod, tilling in new topsoil and then having to wait for the seeds to germinate and grow. Looking back at the memory I realize that it was not a very large garden, but being the first it just seemed like it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Treasures from Afar

Treasures from Afar – 18" x 24" (45.7 x 61 cm) – Oil on Canvas

Hello ~

I finished this one just in time as I am heading out on a trip tomorrow to western Washington to visit with family and spend some time on Lake Roosevelt. This is my first trip flying with an oil painting kit, and I am looking forward to completing a painting or two while out there. The sunsets in western Washington are spectacular.

This painting has been on the easel for several weeks now and is the third large-ish painting I have completed this month, they were all started the second week of July (here are links to the first and second paintings).

The pottery is borrowed from my friend Chrish, who at one time lived in Morocco. The pottery is so beautiful and all are handmade with the slight imperfections of handmade items. Like the rims are not exactly even and the pattern changes as it goes around the bowl making up for anything omitted or extra. The traveling trunk was given to me by my love, he found it a few months back and knew I would like it as a still life item. The trunk has old worn out leather and brass bits, the canvas coating is worn in places and torn in others. And on the sides there are several old travel stickers from the different destinations it was taken to.

With this painting I have been experimenting on working with layers and glazes. Last year when I was taking a painting class from Danni Dawson, she spoke about the textural differences between painting alla prima versus slowly layering and building up a painted surface. For the various parts of the painting I would block it in and then would go back to refine and rework an area, always striving to add a greater sense of depth and quality of light. The painting relied on bright indirect natural light, so on the cloudy, overcast days no painting occurred, I worked on other projects.

Here is an example of an area that was first blocked in and the final outcome with the various layers. I am really knocked out by the base of this bowl, the reflected highlights and the modeling of the white glaze at the bottom rim. This is what is supposed to happen when working with all the extra layers and in the end it is worth all the time dedicated to a single painting.

While away I am going to take a break from blogging, and before I sign off I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you how much I appreciate your support and comments. These past five months have been so rewarding and having friends like you stopping by and visiting has been wonderful. Thank you and have a wonderful week! Liz

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bosc Pears Hanging Out {a daily painting}

Hanging out {Bosc Pears} – 6" x 6" (15.25 x 15.25 cm) – Oil on Gessoed Panel

Hi, today is my first day back painting since Saturday morning where I had a minor mishap of breaking two toes in my right foot. Because my foot was constantly throbbing I had to sit with my foot inclined above the level of my heart to relieve the pressure. Not much got done art wise over the past three days, instead I started a cabled sweater for my love made with this yarn. It is my first cable pattern and after completing the test square to measure the gauge I altered the pattern a bit to make it a little more simple to complete.

{just beginning}

Friday, August 14, 2009

CSA Tomatoes {a daily painting}

CSA Tomatoes – 6" x 8" (15.25 x 20.3 cm) – Oil Canvas Panel

Friday Inspiration {No. 17}

{my studio mate, Slim}

This week I spent most of my time in the studio working on this painting and being a companion to my Abyssinian kitty, Slim. She likes to go for walks around 2:30pm right after waking up from her mid-day nap. I want to be reincarnated as an American house cat in my next life :)

When on the web this week, here are a few links I thought were worth sharing...

} While browsing Barbara Bechtel's blog I came across this amazing video about creativity.

} Love how Carol Schiff uses bright color in this abstract.

} This week I have been enchanted with these waterscapes:

This weekend I hope to finish up a 18x24 inch still life. I will share it with you when it is complete. Have a wonderful weekend! Liz

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Heirloom Apple {a daily painting}

Heirloom Apple – 5" x 6" (12.7 x 15.25 cm) – Oil on Gessoed Panel

This apple was given to me yesterday, supposedly it has a great tart flavor but so far all I want to do with it is find ways to incorporate it into some paintings. Today’s painting is on a new dimension, 5 x 6 inches, it has a nice ratio of height to width without being an exact square format. I have one more gessoed panel in this dimension and next time when I purchase supplies that I will get more.

Have a nice evening! Liz

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

National Gallery of Art {a daily painting}

National Gallery of Art (west wing) – 6" x 6" (15.25 x 15.25 cm) – Oil on Gessoed Panel

This is the view of the National Gallery of Art from in front of the Air and Space Museum on the National Mall. Sometimes I will head down to the Mall on Sunday mornings to sketch and visit the museums before they get crowded, this is a peaceful time when a few people are jogging, the hordes of summer tourists have yet to be deposited by the tour buses and the sun is bright but not hot. I use this time for think space, where I get inspired, plan the week, and overall muse about the various projects I am working on. By noon the magical atmosphere has changed to that of busy and populated park and I head home to work in my studio or to cook a nice weekend meal.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Three Eggs {a daily painting}

Three Eggs – 5" x 7" (12.7 x 17.8 cm) – Oil Canvas Panel

Eggs are one of my favorite shapes to paint, I love working to capture the shadows and reflected light and doing this in a smooth, painterly manner. With this painting I choose a red background to emphasize the cool whites of the eggs.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Charcoal Drawing

Adam – 22” x 19” (55.9 x 48.3 cm) – Charcoal on Paper

I was not able to complete a daily painting today, so here is a recent drawing from my figure drawing class taught by Robert Liberace. In this class I am learning how to draw in the classic academic manner.

This drawing has been completed during 2-1/2 four hour classes, the half class was last week when Rob was not present for the class so I stayed until the lunch break and went home to work on a painting. The materials used are a variety of vine charcoal, compressed charcoal (HB), and some white pastel for the highlights.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Two Buddies - Bosc Pears {a daily painting}

Two Buddies {Bosc Pears} – 6" x 6" (15.25 x 15.25 cm) – Oil Canvas Panel
Available via an eBay Auction

Friday Inspiration {No.16}

{items from Morocco, Turkey, Spain, & New Mexico}


My week has been full of ideas, emotions, and thoughts about the next step. When in this kind of mindset I enjoy learning about how others journal and collect ideas, this post and this post have captured my thoughts about how journalling is really a personal decision and that all ways are beneficial.

I am loving paintings of clouds like these --

Blue Clouds

Cloud #7

Morning Sky

Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful weekend! Liz

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Radish {a daily painting}

CSA Radish – 4" x 6" (10.2 x 15.25 cm) – Oil Canvas Panel

This is one of four radishes we received in this week’s CSA vegetable share. This is our first summer to purchase a CSA share and we have had such a good variety of vegetables and for two people it has been difficult eating everything in the given week before more veggies are on their way home :)

{Link will engage @ 10:00pm EST}

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Georgetown Townhouses {a daily painting}

Georgetown Townhouses – 6" x 6" (15.25 x 15.25 cm) – Oil on Gessoed Panel

Recently I realized it would be nice to start painting landscapes more often, and to also try a hand at painting buildings. With so many wonderful sights and neighborhoods in the DC region great painting opportunities are all around. These rowhouses are from Georgetown, I think they are on P Street east of Wisconsin Ave.

Have a nice evening! Liz

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Black Eyed Susan #2 {a daily painting}

Black Eyed Susan #2 – 5" x 7" (12.7 x 17.8 cm) – Oil Canvas Panel

This painting was completed a few days ago, it just did not get posted because of other things going on.

After completing the previous black eyed susan painting I wanted another go at it, this time working with the various opacities of the paints and different paint combinations. Recently I added burnt sienna and yellow ochre to my paint palette, previously avoiding these earth tones for the more intense cadmium yellows and cadmium orange. It has been fun experimenting with how yellow ochre added to cad yellow pale will knock down the saturation without turning it too orange or gray. I also liked discovering how burnt sienna added to the yellows makes for a wonderful de-saturated yellow, good for yellow objects in shade. Typically I use complementary colors to knock down the saturation of a color. Using earth tones sometimes brings about the same goals without graying the color too much.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Orchid {a daily painting}

Orchid – 6" x 6" (15.25 x 15.25 cm) – Oil on Linen Panel
When I have extra pieces of primed linen that are too small for stretching on canvas I will sometimes glue it to 6" x 6" masonite panels. This gives me an opportunity to paint on linen and take advantage of the positive textural influences of this support. I use “Yes Paste” as my adhesive because it is acid free and dries quickly.

This orchid is a part of a larger setup I have been working on, and after attempting to paint it several times in this other painting it became clear to my sanity that I needed to take some time and just focus on it. Separate from the other objects in the still life and becoming the focus of this daily painting. Now I can go back to the larger painting and capture it with a better sense of how to proceed. I do this often, if something becomes too much and I begin to overwork an area, I will then focus on specific parts, sometimes completing other paintings or sketches in order to better comprehend the object but also to investigate the what and how I am trying to achieve. In my experience paintings flow and creativity abounds when comprehension is at its highest, it allows me to feel free in experimenting and also to work in a heightened state of energy.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Too Hot to Loiter

Too Hot to Loiter – 20” x 16” (50.8 x 40.6 cm) – Oil on Canvas

This painting was completed last week; it is one of the three large paintings started in July. And yesterday it was selected into the Eighth Annual “Something Hot” Regional Juried Show held at Gallery 222 in Leesburg, VA. I am pleased it is included in the show and somewhat relieved. I had expectations of having to return to the gallery to fetch it because it did not make the cut. I always try to enter shows with this expectation so as not to be too disappointed and if I am fortunate to be selected to really feel a sense of pleasure and excitement for the inclusion.

Last night the juror, Michael Davis, gave a presentation of what drew him to make the selections he did. His discussion was very good, though not everyone in the audience was very pleased with his choices. One unfortunate lady was quite sad and before the discussion started she was heard sobbing outside of the area where we were all assembled. Michael’s main point of what he used to qualify his choices had to do with the blending of technical skill with the expression of emotional content. He did not limit his selections to just realistic paintings, but instead applied the idea to all styles and mediums. The variety of mediums included pottery, sculpture, photography, pastel, watercolor, and oil paintings. Ted Reed also has a beautiful painting of his daughter in the show

This painting has been an incubated idea for some time. I drew a charcoal sketch of it last year sometime and then this summer worked on other versions of composition before settling on this design. The goal was to really emphasize the quality of the hot space before and around the table and plastic chairs in contrast to the colonnade that is in deep shade. The sense that this may be a pleasant place to hang out in the evening, but during the mid-day it is totally oppressive from the heat of the sun.