Friday, September 30, 2011

Inspiration Friday: Quotes about Beauty

{Rembrandt van Rijn, 'Old Man with a Walking Stick; Head of a Young Woman,' c. 1633-34, brown ink on cream antique laid paper.}

. No thing is beautiful. But all things await the sensitive and imaginative mind that may be aroused to pleasurable emotion at sight of them. This is beauty.
Robert Henri

. Art is not the application of a canon of beauty but what the instinct and the brain can conceive beyond any canon. When we love a woman we don't start measuring her limbs.
Pablo Picasso

. Artist are sometimes asked, "Why do you paint ugly and not beautiful things?" The questioner rarely hesitates in his judgement of what is beautiful and what is ugly. This with him is a foregone conclusion. Beauty he thinks is a settled fact. His conception also is that beauty rests in teh subject, not in the expression. He should, therefore, pay high for Rembrandt's portrait of a gentleman, and turn with disgust from a beggar by Rembrandt. Fortunately Rembrandt is old enough not to have this happen, and the two, the gentleman and the beggar, flank each other on the walls in fine places. but the lesson has not been learned. The idea still remains, that beauty rests in the subject.
Robert Henri

{Rembrandt van Rijn, 'Four Studies of Male Heads', c. 1635, brown ink and brown wash on cream antique laid paper}

{Rembrandt van Rijn, Beggar Woman Leaning on a Stick, c. 1628/1630, brush and brown wash on laid paper}

. That which is not slightly distorted lacks sensible appeal; from which it follows that irregularity – that is to say, the unexpected, surprise and astonishment, are a essential part and characteristic of beauty.
Charles Baudelaire

Thursday, September 29, 2011

First Plein Air Expedition...

{my painting setup and Naomi in the background}

Today was our first plein air painting trip, that is Naomi was in attendance. We met up with a friend for an afternoon by the Potomac River.

The weather turned out great, nice temperature and breeze, and no bugs!

20110929 Potomac River Series 25
{Potomac River Series XXV - approx. 7" x 5" (17.8 x 12.7 cm) - Oil on Gessoed Paper}

And while out I did manage to grab an opportunity to paint! Initially it did not seem like it would work out, I had set up my easel and paint, when Naomi decided she was awake and wanted attention. She eventually settled down and I was able to make the most of what time we had left before needing to leave to beat the rush hour traffic.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Inspiration: Mary Cassatt

Baby Charles Looking Over His Mother's Shoulder
{Baby Charles Looking Over His Mother's Shoulder}


Today I want to share with you some images of artwork by Mary Cassatt.

Finishing the still life with a portion of a Mary Cassatt pastel this week got me thinking about her work and how she depicted the special bond between mother and child. Yet as special and evocative as her images are, what is also remarkable about her work is the way she utilized color to create form.

Mary Cassatt - Young Mother Sewing [1900]
{Young Mother Sewing}

She was a master of laying layers of color on top of each other to create complex and compelling passages in her work. She utilized the impressionist practice of producing color vibrations between complementary colors, laying pure color notes on top of one another without mixing the two colors together, but instead having the eye of the viewer do the "mixing".

Cassatt, Breakfast In Bed
{Breakfast in Bed}

Cassatt, Breakfast In Bed, detail with feet
{detail of feet}

Cassatt, Breakfast In Bed, detail with faces
{detail of faces}

CassattwTeaCassatt, Breakfast In Bed, detail with tea
{detail of tea cup}

Mother and Child by Mary Cassatt
{Mother and Child}


Children Playing with a Cat
{Children Playing with a Cat}

Paris, Musée d'Orsay, Mutter und Kind von Mary Cassatt
{Mother and Child}

Here is a website dedicated to Mary Cassatt

****All images are from photostreams from Flickr, please click on the image to visit flickr and the specific photostream *****************************

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Contemplating Motherhood {now complete}

20110920 contemplating motherhood 24x18
{Contemplating Motherhood – 24" x 18" (61 x 45.7 cm) - Oil on Linen}


Yesterday I finished this painting... And thank you to everyone who shared their opinion of how to title it. With your help, I decided to go with "Contemplating Motherhood" and I think it is very fitting because that is how this painting came into being...

Lately I have been experimenting on different painting surfaces, super smooth linen, gessoed paper, gessoed masonite panels, and super rough linen, and for this painting I selected a burlap-like alkyd primed linen from New York Central Art Supply.

contemplating motherhood detail
{back of streched canvas - New York Central’s Belgique Unprimed Linen, Style "T"}

I have worked on this type of surface before and really enjoy the variety of effects you can achieve with it by varying the thickness of paint applied and using different types of brushes or palette knifes.

contemplating motherhood detail1
{detail of canvas texture and echinacea flowers}

The flowers were painted in several layers, initially with paint thinned with medium using a sable brush to get into all the groves, once this layer setup I would go back into some areas to build up the paint to give a better sense of dimension.

contemplating motherhood detail2
{detail of canvas texture, bird nest, and jar}

For areas of the jar and bird nest, I laid in a thick layer of paint and smoothed out the surface texture of the canvas with a palette knife. Specifically I wanted the central part of the jar to be smooth so the impression of glass would be better conveyed, and in the bird nest I wanted the areas that were deep in shadow and the egg to have a smooth base. By smoothing these areas out made it easy to get a new surface texture so when I would scumble paint across those areas it would be a different affect than when I would scumble across the canvas where the rough weave was still present.

I am beginning to think this is my favorite linen surface to paint on. Though in the spirit of exploration, I would also like to try out a few other rough linen textures to see what offers the greatest diversity. Maybe style "F" and "W" from New York Central Art Supply's catalog pg 174...


PS. Naomi is 2 months old today!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Inspriation: Sketchbooks

prendergast sketchbook entry
{sketchbook entry by Maurice Prendergast}


This week I received an email from Spanierman Galleries in New York city that included a link to a sketchbook by Prendergast. What I found remarkable about this sketchbook is how the book was used, some pages were beautifully conceived sketches with color while others were half thoughts, though I would expect that each page when viewed by Prendergast was informative and helpful in some way when he would leaf through it. This is what happens when I go through old sketchbooks of my own...

After spending some time perusing this sketchbook I began to think about other artists who also keep sketchbooks and how with the assistance of blogging they share their experiences. Here are a few of my favorite links to other artists and sketchbook resources.

Artist Blogs:
. Woolgathering
. Travels with a Sketchbook in...
. Cuatro Ojos
. Bonecos de Bolso
. Desenhador do Quotidiano

Other Resources:
. Artist's Sketchbook Magazine
. Art Journaling Magazine
. Sketchbook page on Squidoo

. Sketchbook Project, this is an opportunity to participate in a traveling exhibition where you submit a sketchbook

I was wondering, do you keep a sketchbook? In the past I have kept sketchbooks, but lately I find that instead of keeping a sketchbook per se, I really keep an idea book, a place where I jot down ideas for future paintings and such...

Have a wonderful weekend,

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Work in Progress: Echinacea Still Life

WIP echinacea 24x18 20110912
{WIP Still Life - 24" x 18" (61 x 45.7 cm)}


It has been a long time my friends and I have missed sharing thoughts about art and new work with you. Now that Naomi is seven weeks old and I am starting to get the swing of this "motherhood" thing, I am hopeful that I will be able to stop by more often.

Today I want to share the progress of a still life I began a few weeks before Naomi was born. In fact I worked on it the day before I went into the hospital...

When setting up this composition I was enamored with the flowers, the bird's nest and the symbolic meaning of the robin's egg, and how I was holding onto my own little one while painting. I worked furiously to complete this painting before my little girl would arrive but fate dictated something different, and it turns out it also gave me the breathing time I needed to get away from this painting and to come back to it with new eyes.

A few weeks after Naomi was born a good friend sent me a beautiful card with an image of one of Mary Cassatt's mother and baby pastels. I fell in love with this image and soon decided I wanted to incorporate it into the still life I had been working on, and so that is what happened.

Over the past week I have been re-working the painting to include this image as if it were a poster I had pinned up on the wall behind the still life setup of the echinacea and the bird's nest. I still need to work on getting the flowers to pop more forward and to then go back into the bird's nest and repaint it where I took it out to change the background.

Because of how this painting has progressed and evolved the tentative title is "Contemplating Motherhood". What do you think? Is this a good title or should it be simple like "Still life with Echinacea, Robin's Egg, and Print"? Please share with me what you think, I am waivering about what to name would work best.

It is nice being back.
Thanks for reading and stopping by.


PS. Here are a few photos of my seven week old :)

{Naomi in her supergirl pose}

{Naomi's baby smiles make me so happy}

So far I have been lucky in being able to grab a few hours here and there to paint. I am hopeful that as time goes by Naomi and I will get into a nice pattern of caring for her needs while also feeding my creative desire to get some time in the studio. Keep your fingers crossed that this is able to work out!