Sunday, August 9, 2009

Paint Out

I am shocked that I only have one more week here in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Though I don't feel that the summer has gone by too quickly, the month of June was mostly pretty much lost to be painting-wise, because of the uncharacteristic rainy cloudy weather every day. So I didn't feel that the summer truly started until mid-July, when we started to get normal summer weather again. Since the weather became beautiful, I have been painting a lot, using my new french easel. I have been in Kittery, Maine quite a bit, painting with the Kittery Art Association and with the New Hampshire Plein Air Group. This weekend I painted en plein air at the Wentworth Coolidge Historic Site in Portsmouth, sponsored by the McGowan Fine Art Gallery.

Update and Sketchbook Peek

Here is another peek into my sketchbook from another trip to Old Lyme, Connecticut in July:
This one is a quick sketch I did of the sand in front of my chair, the miniature dunes it formed from people walking across the beach.

This one is the view across from me at the time, of the front of a home with dune grass and trees in the background.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sunday Sketchin'

I spent yesterday in Old Lyme, Connecticut, relaxing on the beach for a few hours.  I spent a couple of minutes producing this quick sketch of the view in front of me, using a soft charcoal pencil in my Moleskine sketchbook:
Looking from Old Lyme, you can see across the Long Island Sound, and a tiny strip of Long Island is visible.  I've sketched it so many times from my position on the beach, but this time was different.  I drew this after observing the way the thin, dark line of Long Island, fades into the horizon line of the ocean, just as the clouds do right above it.  It was so similar in fact that it was hard for me to distinguish which was the cloud and which was the island.  It is just another example of how amazing nature is, constantly mirroring itself right in front of our eyes.  I hope you enjoyed this peek into my sketchbook.

Friday, June 26, 2009

New Painting: "Sunset Over the Rooftops, Portsmouth"

Here is one of my recent paintings, painted en plein air (outdoors, on location) last week.  It is 9 x 12", oil on canvas.

"Sunset Over the Rooftops, Portsmouth", 2009
I finally had good weather so I could take photographs of it in the correct sunlight.  I painted this one, starting at 8 PM here in New England, so  you can imagine that I only had a short stretch of time to complete this outdoors, especially as the shapes and colors of the clouds and the light were all the while changing.  I painted this outside of my house in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where I spotted a beautiful little patch of sunlight and clouds behind the rooftops of neighboring buildings.  I love how the colors of the shadows and highlights are repeated in the clouds and the buildings themselves.  

I also took photos of my progress, if you would like a sneak peek inside my process for painting landscapes.  I chose Cadmium Red Light for my underpainting, quickly painted as I observed the cloud formations.

I then mixed my colors and values for the clouds, and quickly painted them in while they were still not moving too fast, and before the sun completely set.
After I finished putting down the colors I saw, I blended them as I saw them blended in the sky, twisting and heightening the shapes as I usually do with my abstracted clouds in my landscapes.

After the sky was done, I completed the buildings, which were not changing colors and values as quickly as the clouds to complete the painting.

Monday, June 22, 2009


I have been busy at work, painting away En Plein Air, ready to share the new images.  However, I do not have good pictures yet because it has been raining non-stop here in New Hampshire.  I take photographs of my paintings outside to get the best light, so this is a problem!  The forecast does not look good for the week, so I think I am just going to upload temporary photos, the best that I can do, tomorrow.  Look for my new paintings soon.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

New Painting: "Raw Vegetables Still Life" DSDF Challenge

Since moving to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, I have been looking to "warm up" a new painting routine for the summer, now that I am finally settled in. The Different Strokes From Different Folks Challenge seemed to be the perfect thing to start with, even though it is a departure from my landscapes. Here is my painting:

My Painting, "Raw Vegetables Still Life"

It is an oil painting done on 5 x 7" canvas board. I have never done the DSDF challenge before, though I have been lurking on the blog for a couple of months. It is a challenge for artists everywhere via blog, started by artist Karin Jurick. How it works is she posts a reference image photograph every week or two, and all different artists interpret the photograph through their art in different ways, and then post photographs of their art. It is really interesting to see many different takes on one subject. Here is the reference image from this challenge:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

I just finished moving in to a beautiful 18th century home in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on the Seacoast.  I have never been this far north before and I am really enjoying the landscapes I see all around me.  I also joined the New Hampshire Plein Air group and am looking forward to painting En Plein Air for the first time!  I am hoping to go to the Isles of Shoals this week to start, traveling in the steps of my favorite artist, Childe Hassam.  Look for new paintings soon!  I plan on painting many small paintings this summer.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Happy June!

Please excuse my lack of new work lately, as I am making the move from Newark, Delaware to Portsmouth, New Hampshire for the summer.  I am not sure exactly where I will be after that, but probably in the DC area.  Moving and packing does not give me a lot of time to paint, but I will start again once I am settled in to Portsmouth.  I have joined the New Hampshire Plein Air group so I'm sure there will be lots of work to share with you this summer.  Please be sure to check out my last painting and hopefully I will post about other things this week as I make my move.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

WIP Update: Metro Map Painting

Here is the painting as it is right now:
I haven't decided if it is done yet or not.  I do think it needs a little something else, but it is very nearly complete.  Again, the color quality is not good, I have not photographed it professionally with color adjustments yet.  The colors in actuality are much more vibrant.  Thoughts?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

WIP Update: Metro Map Painting

Here's an update on my current painting project: 

I added more drips of paint in different directions, a sheer layer of a gray-lavender color to what should be the land/water part of the map, and an opaque violet octagonal border to represent the Beltway.  I think I am going to go in to the black metro rail system and make parts of it opaque again and even add some highlights.  This way there will be even more depth and the rails will look "pipe-like."  I should be done in a few days.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

New WIP (Work In Progress): Metro Map Painting

I am not sure what I think about it yet, but I wanted to challenge myself and go in a new direction.  I think it's a start.  It has been hard to "let loose" and let the paint drip where it wants to, rather than try to control it too much with my brush.  I think I am going to do lots of layers of light washes of paint to express depth.

If you have not figured it out already, this painting is based off of the Washington DC Metro system, the Red, Blue, Yellow, Green, and Orange lines.  I worked with a lot of ideas, but decided to remove the colors of the lines and use the iconic shapes of the lines on the map as a basis for a painting.  It really is an interesting shape, even without the colors.  It's definitely something to explore and work on.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

WIP Update: Metro Landscape Painting

I worked some more on this painting, changing around the lines a little and adding more dimension to the radiating circles.

I also started another painting, which I will post about tomorrow.

Kreativ Blogger Award

Thank you, Tabitha, for making my day by awarding me with the Kreativ Blogger Award!  So, I have to list 7 of my favorite things as part of it.  Here we go:

1. Browsing a bookstore and smelling books (old or new, both good smells!),

2. Getting up at 5 AM and watching the sun rise, especially on the beach, and feeling the sand between my toes,

3. The smell of wet leaves after a rain in autumn,

4. Hydrangeas, lupines, and lilacs,

5. Going to art museums and being alone to experience fantastic works of art by myself,

6. Closing my eyes and smelling the Long Island Sound in the air from miles away,

7. Sipping coffee and eating a scone or biscotti for breakfast.

These are only some of my many favorite things in life, they were just the first things I thought of, besides my loved ones, of course.  Now I will tag 7 bloggers who I think deserve this award.  These are some people who inspire me through their blogs, in no particular order:

Also a special mention to Tabitha, of course, who I would award if she hadn't already received it this week.  Thank you, again!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Now on Exhibition: Landscapes/Dreamscapes of the Delmarva Peninsula

Here is my painting from the last post, "Dreamscape- View of the Newark Reservoir" on exhibition at the Newark Arts Alliance:

The Artist's Reception on Friday went well.  I loved meeting the other artists and seeing different depictions of the beautiful landscape that makes up our wonderful Mid-Atlantic region of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.  My painting is at the end of one wall in the gallery's exhibition space:

If you are in the Newark, Delaware area at all this month, I would recommend you come see the exhibition, especially if you are partial to landscapes as I am.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

New Painting: Dreamscape- View of the Newark Reservoir

I finished this painting last Friday, the emotive landscape/dreamscape painting of the Newark Reservoir in Newark, Delaware:

My brush took me somewhere special.  I just kept painting and painting wherever I felt was right at the time.  I sketch for general composition, but not for details, so I did not really plan where I was going.  I am really satisfied with how it turned out.  To me, it was about depicting the emotional response I have to the landscape in the paint.  The saturated colors and exaggerated lines reflect how I view the landscape.  Even though it is abstracted and exaggerated, to me it looks realistic of the landscape as I know it.  Again, it is in oil on 24 x 36" canvas.

This painting is now on exhibition at the Newark Arts Alliance in Newark, Delaware.  It is part of the open juried show, "Landscapes/Dreamscapes of the Delmarva Peninsula" and is on exhibition until May 30th.  Come stop by to see it!  It's a great exhibition full of beautiful landscapes.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New Painting: Childe Hassam-Inspired Self-Portrait

Here is the third of my 3 self-portraits, also 9 x 12" and in oil.  It is inspired by Childe Hassam, one of my favorite artists, an American Impressionist:
My Self-Portrait:  
This was actually the first self-portrait I painted, which took the longest, but I feel I learned the most from.  I waited to post this one because I thought I was going to add a plant in the window, as Hassam often does.  I never painted it in, because I decided the canvas was small enough and detailed enough already.

Hassam created a series of paintings of women (usually using his wife as a model) looking out of windows, and/or with plants that reflected the women, creating a sense of longing.  I wanted to paint myself in this way, staring out the window at the landscape in the morning, something I do all the time, and could do for hours!  There is something about the beautiful pink and blue morning light.  To me, looking at the landscape is reflective, bringing me peace and keeping me mindful of the present.  This is probably why I am most drawn to landscapes as subjects for my art.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Idea: Using Cadmium Red For Vibrancy In Any Painting

I listened to this podcast, Views from Santa Flamingo (now Aisling D'Art) while I was working on my painting yesterday.  The name of the episode was "Little Things in Art and Life", which you can find here.  In the podcast she suggests using a tiny dot of Cadmium Red/Chinese Red in every painting to add a little spark to your paint, helping the eye to move all around the painting.  I tried it when I was mixing the sky color and the peach sunset color.  I think it did make a difference.  What do you think?

Aisling tells in another one of her podcast episodes that Claude Monet used to do his underpaintings in this color, to give each painting a vibrancy.  I usually do my underpainting in Cerulean Blue or Ultramarine, but I think I will try the Cadmium Red next time.  I hope you enjoyed this link, and stay tuned for an update on the painting.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

WIP Update: Newark Landscape Painting

Thank you all for the wonderful comments!  While I think I am pretty positive about my work, as I am an eternal optimist, these comments certainly encourage me to continue producing work and uploading pictures.  For that I thank you!  

Here is an update on one of my WIPs (Works in Progress).  I worked on the upper half today, trying to get the sky done first while the oil paint is still dry.  I definitely want the paint to create a mood of awe.  I am trying to create a smoothness and fluidity throughout the composition, introducing more and more colors, and mirroring the landscape below in the cloud formations.  I wonder where this dreamy landscape will take my brush next.

Monday, April 20, 2009

New WIP (Work In Progress): Newark Landscape Painting

I just started another one today, so now I have several paintings in progress.  It will be an "emotive landscape" of Newark, Delaware.  The Newark reservoir will be a little sliver in the background.  It is an oil painting on 24 x 36" canvas.  I would love any feedback.  Right now I'm just trying to put down main colors and tweaking the composition as I see it in my sketchbook.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

New Painting: Alice Neel-Inspired Self-Portrait

Here is my second self-portrait that I did last weekend, this time inspired by Alice Neel:
My Self-Portrait:
It's another 9 x 12" oil painting.  I have always admired Neel's portraits for their rawness and seeming effortlessness.  Neel makes her portraits by having the sitter sit in a chair for a long period of time until they move into their most natural sitting position.  I thought in order to express what I really look like, I could depict my terrible posture when I am sitting on a stool painting for a long time.  I started out with a heavy blue outline from sketches I did of myself, exaggerating the curves and length of the body, and added light washes of color to complete it.  I think it is a fairly good likeness, especially since this is a challenge for me.  I don't ever do portraits!  I had fun painting this because it was loose and free, and it didn't take more than a couple of hours.  Stay tuned for the third self-portrait I completed this weekend.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New Painting: Edvard Munch-Inspired Self-Portrait

Here is one of the 3 self-portraits I completed this weekend.  They are all 9 x 12" oil paintings, inspired by a famous artist.  This one is inspired by Edvard Munch, specifically, his painting, The Voice.  I used Munch's painting and changed the landscape to one that has significance for me, Old Lyme, Connecticut, with views of the Long Island Sound.  
My Self-Portrait:
I like Munch's style, how he makes his figures look like skeletons, and the way the landscape is Expressionistic and dreamy.  Using this one for my self-portrait was a choice so that I could show the intuitive-side of my personality, using the landscape from my memories.  This landscape is a place I retreat to in my mind to ground me.  Those nights spent walking alone on the beach are some of my most contemplative and relaxing moments.  Also, the figure resembles the character I once was in a play, another strong part of my memory.  This was definitely an interesting project to undertake.  I like the smaller-format of these paintings because it was easier to work on in small spurts of time.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

What I've been doing lately

I have not been updating the last week or so because I have been traveling to Charleston and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  I loved both places.  I learned a lot about the American South while there, visiting museums and interacting with people.  I definitely needed the break, and was hoping to do some sketching on the beach, but we had rain every day except for the last one.  

I took some good reference photos and hope to do some sketches based on them soon.  While there I was struck by the beautiful Neoclassical architecture, and how harmonious it was with the landscape.  This is something I have always believed about the American landscape, that it is possible to have something manmade living harmoniously with nature.  I will definitely have to develop this idea.

Also, I attended the reception for the Enclave Art Contest that I entered several months ago, and I was awarded with the Special Achievement Award for my painting, "Life Liberty, and the Pursuit of... Prosperity."  It was kind of a shock since this was the first contest I have ever entered, so I was incredibly pleased just to be a finalist and have my work on exhibition!  It was a great experience.  I felt like a "real artist" for the first time.  I need to hold on to that for times when my inner critic tells me I'm just "faking it."

As far as my paintings go, I'm still working on the last one, but I am also challenging myself to paint in subjects and styles I am not so comfortable with.  I am not sure I will post those when those are done, but I'm doing it to learn.  Back to painting!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

WIP (Work in Progress) Update: Metro Landscape Painting

Here's where I am with the painting now:

Not finished yet, but it's nice to get the blocks of color down.  Can you tell that there is a Metro train?  I am still working on making the lines straight.  I think I'm going to make some of the sections more painterly-looking, and doing more with the train cars.  Any comments on the painting so far?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

New WIP (Work In Progress): Metro Landscape Painting

I am currently working on an oil painting on an 18 x 24" canvas.  I'm not sure what it will be titled yet, but hopefully I will know soon.  I started it last week, and hopefully will have it done in the next couple of days.  Here's what I have so far:

I know it's hard to see at this early stage, but this painting is actually depicting the Washington DC Metro.  Later I will describe some of my influences, and my whole concept of the painting.  I am really excited about it because it builds on my last painting, "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Prosperity" but goes in a different direction.  I have some really great sketches in preparation for this painting too, so perhaps this is the start of a series...?  I certainly hope so.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New Painting: "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Prosperity"

I haven't written in quite some time, so I should update!  I actually just found out a few weeks ago that I am a finalist in the art contest I entered at the end of 2008.  The contest was sponsored by the Enclave apartment complex in Silver Spring, Maryland.  I could choose from 3 themes, and I chose "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of...", using that theme for my title, and ending it with "Prosperity".  Hopefully you can see why from my painting.  It is a large canvas, 36 x 48", done in acrylic.  

I did a lot of preparation for this painting: brainstorming, sketching, photographing, researching, collecting images, etc. before I even started painting it.  It took me two weeks total, but it was well worth it.  The subject is from part of the actual Enclave apartments.  I visited there for about an hour, and took many photographs, using them all as reference, and not painting directly from a particular image.  I wanted to capture the height and the curvature of the building, and I think I succeeded.  What do you think?  I thought it was important to use a large canvas to portray such a large building.  I want the viewer to look up at the painting and have their eyes drawn to the top, just as mine where when I visited the buildings myself.

I am a lover of American Art, and as such, some of my favorite artists served as my inspirations for this painting.  Among them are Georgia O'Keeffe's cycle of cityscapes, Precisionists Charles Demuth and Charles Sheeler, and the Works Progress Administration prints by Gerhard Bakker.  I did a lot of thinking, writing, and researching of what buildings mean to America.  The city, the skyscraper, are landmark symbols of our identity.  There are so many dimensions to portraying the American industrial landscape.  Perhaps it is because I am drawn to good use of line in art, but I think it is only fitting for cities and buildings to be portrayed in this modern, geometric way, with crisp, clean lines.  

The artists that inspired me painted many of their cityscapes during the 1920's, and stopped with the stock market crash, when the once prideful symbol of strength became a painful reminder of the failure of business.  I wanted to take a different
approach, not shying away from it in this economic recession.  This painting is meant to be a more positive approach, reflecting my optimistic personality.  I wanted to show the sun casting shadows on the building, looking ominous, but peaceful.  Is the sun setting or rising?  It is not meant to be clear, but I wanted to draw the comparison to the glass being "half-empty or half-full".  For me the sun is rising, though uncertainty lurks around the corner of this economic crisis.  Hope can be reflected in the lights of the building: a symbol of life, activity, and perseverance of the American people.  As Americans, we have the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, but also to the Pursuit of Prosperity (at least I think we do).  I kept thinking that if I were to live in one of these apartments, I would have a prosperous life, and that I would be ok no matter what happened with the economy.  Because it's true, that America will turn around eventually and once again prosper.  We just have to wait for it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Gridlock Sketches

So...I was driving to Delaware a few weeks ago, and on my way on 95 I was stopped for about 40 minutes in traffic.  Apparently a truck fell over, blocking all of the lanes!  Anyway, I'm ashamed to say I spent way to much time thinking of how I could get out of the traffic, looking at maps and adjusting my radio in a frenzy.  After about 20 minutes I realized we weren't going anywhere, parked my car, turned up the music, and took out my moleskine sketchbook.  I had just bought it a few days before, and though I did sketches when I thought to, couldn't justify drawing in the moleskine when I wasn't on the go, which is what I bought it for.  It's my first moleskine, so I was quick to break it out when I thought of it.  

I just did some quick sketches of a tree-lined path above the banks of mud of the construction site to the right of my car.  The trees looked interesting, even though they weren't that appealing with only thin patches of leaves on their bare branches.

The other quick sketch I did of the shiny truck in front of me.  I didn't really notice it before, but now that I was in sketching mode, I loved the details on the truck, and especially the way the sun hit the aluminum back.  I actually was a little disappointed when the truck started moving and traffic disappeared.  Anyway, here are the pages:

They are very quick, very loose, nothing much, just a sample of some sketches on the go.  I wish I had thought of it sooner.  It was interesting going from a frenzy of worrying about how to get out of the situation to a moment of literally kicking back, parking, and sketching.  I think for me that transitional moment happens often in my life.  In our busy world, it's easy to get caught up in stress and worry when you are thrust into a sticky situation.  It's the moment when you remember what is important, when you distinguish what you can and cannot change about something, then you can truly be free from worry and be open to what life has to offer.  For me that day, it meant being able to notice a shiny truck and capturing it on the page, but another time, it could be something else, like stopping to smell the roses.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Art-making Flow

I am having a hard time getting a schedule going for art-making.  I find that I have spurts of creating some days, and other spurts of researching artist opportunities, reading about art marketing, looking up galleries, etc. on other days.  I think lately I have been doing more research and reading than actually creating!  I think the reason for that is because I don't really have a set schedule for art-making.  There is plenty of inspiration, ideas, motivation, and time at the moment for me, just not a lot of focus and organization.  I haven't really established a flow yet.  Also, I think starting out as an artist has been a little overwhelming as I'm trying to establish my artist identity, what I want to do, how, and when.  There are so many opportunities out there, that it's hard to decide which ones to go for.  I have ideas for 3 different series of artwork, that I can work on at the same time, little by little.  I think I have to develop a process for myself, and a purpose.  Once I do that, my "flow" will hopefully become more natural and it will be smooth sailing.  Are there any artists who have thoughts on this?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

First Post

Yay, I'm a blogger!  I am now getting serious about being an artist, so I thought it would be a good idea to start a blog to show my work online.  Once I get some decent photos of my painting I just finished and entered into a contest, I will put them here.  So here it is, a start.