Monday, January 31, 2011

Week 18: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem

week 18: end of day comparison
{week 18: end of day comparison}

Today I was back at the gallery, happy to be inside on a damp, gray, and cold day.

One of the perks of painting in the NGA is that in order to preserve and protect the valuable art the building is kept year round at 72 degrees F with a 50% relative humidity. This prevents the shrinking and expansion that will usually occur under the typical atmospheric changes that occur season to seaon, day to day. So I was more cozy and comfortable than usual.

week 18: beginning of day detail
{week 18: beginning of day}

The focus for today was to work on the red poppy at the bottom right hand corner. I wanted to get it blocked in, establishing the outside edges and proportions of the flower in relation to the bottle and the table top.

week 18: middle of day
{week 18: status at lunch time}

Here is a detail from around the middle of the day and I realize that I did not get a close up shot of this area at the end of the day. Oops! My brain was pretty shot after focusing for so many hours on the minute detail of the petal edges... Next week I will definitely get a close up to share with you.

The painting I am copying has a new neighbor in gallery 50, Franz Snyders Still Life with Grapes and Game.

vase of flowers new neighbor

Frans Snyders Still life with Grapes and Game
{here is a close up of the still life}

This is a beautiful and large still life, and it is tempting me to copy it! Now that I am more than half way finished with the Vase of Flowers I have been pondering what will be the next painting to copy. With so many to choose from it is hard to narrow down the choices...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Oriental Lily {a new small painting}

20110116 oriental lily 6x5

Oriental Lily
{6" x 5" (15.2 x 12.7 cm) – oil on linen panel}  SOLD

After a stint with tulips I switched over to lilies for a bit. This is a small study completed in preparation for beginning an 18" x 14" painting with oriental lilies as the main focal point.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

morning in the studio

picture ledges in the studio

It was late morning when I captured this shot.
The ledges are full of paintings from last year
and new flower paintings are starting to proliferate.
Just in time for Spring.

I love it that the mornings are brighter, earlier,
and that the days are getting longer.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Week 16 & 17: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem

{beginning of week 17}


I am going to cover the past two visits to the NGA in this post. Two seperate areas of the composition have been worked on over the last two painting days. For week 16 the focus was still on the hydrangea and then a second pass was given to the red and white tulip to its left and the wheat stalk.

week 16: beginning of the day
{week 16: beginning of the day}

{week 16: end of the day}

As you can see the wheat stalk altered the most, this is because when I started to rework the area I realized it would be better to just start over. After painting the background color over the area {a mixture of burnt umber and french ultramarine blue thinned with some medium} I began to reapply the paint and block in the wheat kernals with greater accuracy. Capturing the gesture of the wheat was important because it leads the eye on such a merry journey in this area of the painting.

I also went over the tulip for a second time, it was a little flat and needed a little more modeling. The hydrangea got another pass of refining, however I am holding off on applying the last hairline highlights until later in the process.

For week 17 I shifted gears and decided to revisit the lower right hand quarter of the painting. Working to finalize the large red flower with the dark leaves and the purple flowers, both of which I cannot identify what they are... Maybe they are creations for the artist's imagination, whatever they are they really add to the painting. I love how the bright red is hidden and really gives a sense of volume to the bouquet, where the purple flowers are actually more forward but because their values blend so well with the dark background they are almost hidden except for a few highlights.

{week 17: beginning of the day}

{week 17: end of the day}

When working on this area of the painting I started to flush out the location of the red poppy stem, so as to verify the massing of the large dark leaf that is below the red flower and visually bridges the poppy with the main body of the bouquet. With this item in place, I felt comfortable about finalizing the other elements of the area.

I am hoping to begin the red poppy next week.

Thanks for stopping by :) Liz

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tulips and Bowl {a new painting}

20110116 tulips and bowl 8x10
Still Life with Tulips and a Bowl
{8" x 10" (20.3 x 25.4 cm) – Oil on Canvas}


After working on the smaller scaled tulip paintings I decided to jump up to an 8x10 inch size. For the time being I have decided to work on smaller format paintings {last year my goal was to get comfortable with 16x20 and larger canvases}, staying smaller helps the process go faster, thus increasing the opportunities to practice completing paintings.

This painting was completed over three sessions. On the first day I worked mainly in blocking in the composition and then focused on getting the tulip flowers painted. I knew they would change rapidly and wanted to complete as much as possible from life. I also did take a photo of the setup that first session so I could have a record of how the stem and leaves looked on the first day. Typically when I take a photo I do so for recording the shape of things as I print the photo out in black and white on my laser printer. I prefer working from life and using the colors I see in front of me, as the eye can see and interpret color better than a photograph can.

On the second day I worked on flushing out the leaves and stems and laid in the first layers of the bowl. The bowl required a series of steps, I used opaque paints initially and then used thick glazes of blues to lay in the pattern of the bowl. Because of the high quantity of linseed oil in the glazes, the painting had to sit and dry for a few days before I could come back and complete the finishing touches.

For the last session, I mainly used glazes to add a final layer to the bowl giving it a greater depth and dimension, and in areas on the tulips either opaque highlights were added for extra oomph or glazes were washed over the flowers to unify the shape of the flowers.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Three Tulips {a new painting}

20110112 tulips 6x6
Three Tulips - SOLD
{6" x6" (15.2 x 15.2 cm) – oil on canvas panel}

The new year has been full of inspiration. Every time I am at the grocery store I am tempted to purchase some flowers and then come home and paint them. Maybe it is because I am so looking forward to the Spring and Summer, planting new seeds and seeing them grow...

This year I will post more small paintings along side larger format pieces, thus increasing the number of paintings created and embodying one of the year's goals, to practice more!

Have a wonderful day, Liz

PS. We are thawing out from an ice storm from last night

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tulips in a Jar {a new painting}

20110109 tulips 6x5
Tulips in a Jar - SOLD
{6" x 5" (15.2 x 12.7 cm) – oil on linen panel}

Sometimes the days get away from me... because this painting was completed last weekend.

When I was working on this painting it was my goal to capture the difference in surface textures, the soft delicate petals versus the hard reflective angles of the glass jar.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Tulip {a new painting} & 2011 Resolutions

20110107 tulip 8x6
Tulip - SOLD
{8" x 6" (20.3 x 15.2 cm) – oil canvas panel}

In April 2010 I attended the Portrait Society of America annual conference in Reston, VA, which was a stimulating four days learning from established artists of all ages. Rose Frantzen won the Face-Off portrait event and on Saturday morning when she gave her presentation she shared with the audience that she had completed (12) 1-1/2 hour practice sessions to get ready for the conference. This impressed me and made me realize that no matter how established or accomplished you may be in your profession, practicing is a good way to prepare and prosper in most situations.

With this experience in mind, and the positive results of having "words" embody my 2010 professional goals, I have decided to select two new words for 2011.


Maintaining a consistent level of my craft while also striving for a greater depth of understanding of the techniques and ideas I encounter in my art career is my goal and why I chose these two words.

This first painting of the year is an example of both these words, in that I am interested in growing as an artist by beginning to apply the skills I've been gaining from copying Jan Davidsz de Heem's Vase of Flowers at the NGA. It is my intent to begin applying the experience learned from this to my own compositions.

Last Year in Review

In 2010 instead of making several quantifiable goals to achieve during the year I decided to have my actions defined by two words -- growth and inquiry. The goal was to have all my art related activities be supported by the idea that every action must promote growth and inquire more into the practice of art.

Initially having these two words as my new year's resolution did not seem to change much, but as time went by I realized they did. This is because I was more willing to experiment and scrape down and start over, and being willing to take a chance and fail because a product was not my primary goal.

I feel certain that the wonderful experiences gained throughout 2010 would not have been possible if I had not embraced an inquisitive outlook and made artistic growth my main priority. During the year I did not set out to accomplish specific tasks or goals, instead I just went about everyday trying to do the best I could.

Some highlights of the year include being honored to be the student of several talented and skilled artists in the DC area. In 2010 I took classes from Robert Liberace, Jonathan Linton, Kurt Schwarz, Rick Weaver, and Danni Dawson. I owe special thanks to Danni for being so generous with her time and knowledge. It is because of her encouragement that I began applying to the several national jurieds shows that I was fortunate enough to have paintings accepted into.

Here are some of the highlights of the year:

. Rawls Museum Arts Annual Juried Show - Courtland, VA. Being in this show lead to being invited to participate in a group show in Suffolk, VA at Shooting Star Gallery.

. Salmagundi Annual Non-Member Juried Show - New York, NY. And my painting was one of four selected for the show's poster.

20100211 three apples on crate
{Three Apples on a Crate}
8" x 16" (20.3 x 40.6 cm) – Oil Canvas Panel

. Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club 114th Annual Open Juried Exhibition - New York, NY

20100406 Daffodils and Pears 24x18
{Daffodils and Pears}
24" x 18" (61 x 45.7 cm) – Oil on Canvas

. Audubon Artist Annual Juried Show - New York, NY

20100708 peaches 18x24
{Fresh Peaches}
18" x 24" (45.7 x 61 cm), Oil on Linen

. Allied Artists of America 97th Annual Juried Exhibition - New York, NY

20101010 Birdnest and Bottle 14x11
{Still Life with Bird Nest and Bottle}
14" x 11" (35.6 x 28 cm) - Oil on Linen

. The Art League Gallery Juried Shows, Alexandria, VA. I have been juried into enough shows to now be a part of the Bin Gallery membership.


2010 was a rewarding and fulfilling year, thank you for being a part of it!


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Week 15: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem


I am back to share the details of yesterday's work at the NGA. Just as a benchmark, this is what I am trying to achieve... A pretty detailed rendering of a white hydrangea, that has visual depth and dimension.


Even though I did not get much painting done during December, time was spent contemplating the next step to take on this project and researching some technical questions. Recently I had read two helpful notes on glazing from Robert Massey's book Formulas for Painters

Here are the notes:

Note No. 8 : Glazes and dimension
By a judicious use of glazes, the painter can control to some extent the illusion of three dimensional space. The more heavily an area is glazed, the more it tends to recede; opaque surfaces, by contrast, appear to advance. By controlling the degree to which he glazes the various areas, the painter can push back or bring forward these areas.

Note No. 6 : Opaque Glazes
Though opaque glaze sounds like a contradiction in terms, it really works. Mix just enough lead white (Cremnitz or flake) with your glaze to render the glaze opaque. The immediate effect of this kind of glazing looks exactly like direct - or alla prima - painting. Within three or more years, the inevitable alteration of the pigment particles in the glaze layers will occur, allowing light to penetrate them, producing an opalescent quality in the glaze color. As in the use of any glazes, the entire painting should be glazed to some extent to maintain an optical unity.

These ideas got me thinking about the entire painting and what makes the hydrangea such a beautiful flower, but rather enigmatic. I had painted this flower earlier and was really not satisfied with how it turned out, so I had scraped that part down with the goal of returning to it.

{at the beginning of the day}

week 15: midday
{status at the middle of the day}

By taking the idea of using an opaque glaze I started working on this area by mixing some basic values and blocking them in some. I also re-worked all the edges where the hydrangea intersects, having total control of edge quality.

It was a slow going process originally and I ended up painting over areas multiple times trying to get the scale and values correct. This flower has so much detail that it requires constant attention to relationships. Before finishing the day I tried to get the entire flower blocked in, setting up for where the work will begin next week.

A few other things tackled this week included going over the morning glory again with new glazes to capture the warm yellow center and to enhance the variations of blue.

week 15: end of day detail
{at the end of the day}

week 15: end of day
{end of week 15}

Glazing is the most important aspect of this painting and learning to think about the steps it takes to setup the desired affect has been the biggest reward of copying at the NGA. For instance in order to accomplish the quite subtlety of this painting each object must be worked on a minimum of three times with varying glaze layers. Some layers will be predominantly transparent in the pigments used, however recently I have also begun to investigate the affects of using more opaque pigments in the glazes. And as the effect of opaque glazes do not show up immediately I just have to have faith that eventually the magic will appear.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Today, after a long month of not painting, I got back to work on my copy at the NGA of Jan Davidsz de Heem's Vase of Flowers. This is the part of the painting I focused on today...

{detail of the original painting}

I am too tired to write a full post tonight, so I will return tomorrow with more information. Dirty brushes need to be cleaned before diving into bed...

See you tomorrow, Liz

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Hello 2011,

The last of 2010 has come and gone,
not everything on my end-of-the-year list was checked off...
making me look forward to starting afresh,
beginning again,
and enjoying the opportunities that may come to be.

Happy New Year!
thank you for stopping by and saying hello
I always appreciate it.