Saturday, June 17, 2017

Selfie, Women Artists Mentors, and travel



Top Hat selfie
16 x 20
Oil on Raymar panel

I try to paint a self portrait from time to time.  It gives me a chance to paint from life and I get to wear some of my wonderful hats!  This time as I was painting it reminded me a funny story...

I belong to a mentoring group.  Women, Artists, Mentors...we refer to ourselves as WAM.  Debra Kierce, Helen Beacham, Carrie Roets Waller and Kim Minichiello are the members.  We work towards helping each other by advising, encouraging, cheering, commiserating, informing, and mutually admiring each others work with a genuine feeling of love and affection.  We have been fortunate to be able to travel together from time to time.  Our first meeting was a show in Charleston...we were all able to attend except for Carrie who was living in Japan.  I hated to see her left out so I decided to take a page from "flat Stanley,s" playbook and printed out a picture of Carrie that I mounted on a stick...so we could include her in all the group photos

A few years ago Flat Stanley was all over the internet.  Classes would send a cartoon character to friends and relatives to see how far and traveled he could get.  It was quite a phenomenon.  I decided it was a great way to include Carrie in our show!   I often have these ideas and they are not always met with enthusiasm...so you can imagine my delight when my fellow WAM members embraced the idea and it has become part of what we do when we travel.  We have pictures of each of our faces and we bring them along whenever two or more of us meet.  It is a fun way to keep everyone included.  We started calling them flatheads.  You can see my four flatheads that grace my studio...my WAM members are always with me.  

Funny story...we recently had a show at a wonderful museum in Miles City Montana.  Waterworks art Museum, coincidentally WAM also, hosted us.  Deb and I were able to attend so we dutifully brought along the other three flatheads.  As we were recounting the story of the flatheads to those in Montana we were quickly told that there is an Indian tribe nearby that are known as the Flatheads!  Who Knew????   We certainly did not want to offend and so refrained from using the name for our cutouts.  

Our next WAM adventure will be to Montreal to see Helen's hometown!  There will be sightseeing, sketching and we will get to meet Helen's sister.  No flatheads will be necessary as all of us are able to make the trip.  

Saturday, June 10, 2017

bowler hats and vanilla beans!



A twofer!  I recently visited my dear friend in Charleston.  We celebrate our birthdays together and have for he last 25 years!  Having missed last February with her I decided to drive to Charleston during Spoleto to visit and celebrate.  Spoleto is a big art festival...my dear friend Helen Beacham participates every year so it was a great way to get to see her too!  What a great time!  

When I travel I always bring kimonos and hats with me in the hopes of finding willing models.  I am not fussy about whether they sit for let me do a photo shoot...I prefer the sitting but I am happy to have photos.

My dear friend Kathy offered to pose with the bowler and tie...who doesn't love a bowler and tie!  I was trying to think of how to spice it up a bit when I thought of a moustache...of course it has been done but I wanted to put my own spin on it.  I thought of a vanilla bean!  I was fortunate enough to get one that had the perfect little curl at the end...it reminded me of Snidley Whiplash...dating myself but it amused me!  After Kathy so generously sat I asked her beautiful daughter in law to do the same.  Here are my first two attempts at

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Dog Walker - Can if I Want



Dog Walker
24 x 36
Oil on Canvas

This painting has been through many iterations. I love the little girl...love what she is wearing...such a free spirit!  I knew I liked her but wanted to put her in a setting.  I decided on putting a dog in the composition then set about trying to compose a background.  I am not a landscape painter and struggled with making the painting look like it is deep...like the field is far away.  I first put a fence and some buildings back there but didn't really like the result.  Then I made the back ground look kind of fuzzy...with the fence still there.  I wasn't sure so I sent it to a friend for a critique. She said she loved and and was glad I added the cows to the background.  I laughed till I cried when I read that!  I wrote back and told her there were no cow in the painting!  

I got down to business and studied how to make the background look like it recedes...darker more vibrant colors in the foreground and lighten up the field as it goes back...making sure not to make it look vibrant...just lighter.  Blurring out the background and adding some sky and clouds made it look like a background that recedes.  I learned a lot with this one.  I almost gave up on it multiple times..it has been in a corner in my studio haunting me! 

I am starting a new series called "Can if I want."  It will feature girls in traditionally male roles.  I am still fleshing out scenarios and researching.  When I finished this piece I thought it fit the series perfectly.  It is not a traditionally male role she is filling...but she is following her own path. 

That is the message I want to convey...Can if I want.  

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Notes and Sketches from the Portrait Society of America annual conference 2017

Random notes and sketches from the Portrait Society of America National Conference 2017:




 Everything far away is barely darker than the sky
90% of the job is done on the palette
2 basic values


transparent/opaque - warm/cool of each color on his palette
flesh is translucent
even if you don't see it, paint it
paints on ABS plastic
map out features - use higher chroma than actually there.
darks stay thin
form first
with olive skin avoid cool colors
warm color in the shadows
warm light =cool shadows
cool light = warm shadows
orange skin shade with blue"




"As an artist, have a concept then strive to reach it"

Daniel Greene - color theory- everything is either bluish or yellowish.  A simplification but it works for him.
Values, edges, contrast make colors come forward and recede
Flake white dries rapidly and shows brush strokes
titanium white is the strongest white - use sparingly a lot of titanium will produce a chalky effect



Put your painting next to a painting of someone you admire.  Compare and see how you can improve

Great artists don't settle.  - Scott Burdick



If it doesn't excite me it probably won't excite anyone else.

when taking pictures of your subject be at least 6 feet away to avoid distortion.

Last but not least:

Use white...don't use white
use black...don't use black




The whole conference was wonderful...but all good things must come to an end...

...random sketches from the airport...











Tuesday, April 18, 2017

WAM presents WAM




This is the sign that greeted us as we entered the Women Artists Mentors show in Miles City, Montana at the Waterworks Art Museum. 


This is the view of some of the artwork.  What an honor to have my artwork displayed in this wonderful facility. 



I just returned from my show with my WAM (Women Artists Mentors) group in Miles City, Montana at the Waterworks Art Museum…coincidentally also WAM.  After flying across the country and driving a couple of hours my artist friend and fellow WAM member, Debra Keirce, and I arrived at the venue.  We were warmly met my Dixie, the director of the museum.  Walking into the museum is absolutely amazing.  It is a repurposed water treatment facility and the character of the original purpose is evident at every turn.  The walls are concrete, original pipes are present and the original control panel is prominently placed in the foyer.  What looks like a modest building from the outside reveals itself to be a large series of hallways that hold classrooms, galleries, offices and other facilities.  The history is fascinating. 

We were led down a concrete hallway to the main gallery which held our paintings.  I was totally overwhelmed by the sight of my work in such a magical setting.  Each piece placed perfectly on large panels and lit by spotlights that showcased the work.  Walking through the gallery was like a dream. 

We had a quick tour then Dixie, Toni, DeNice, Kim, Debra and I went to the Hole in the Wall Café for dinner.  It was like stepping back in time.  All the fixtures, woodwork and ambiance are all right out of the past.  It was fabulous.  The American home town feeling was evident.  We had our dinner then Debra and I crashed at the hotel to recuperate and get ready for our demo’s, art talks, and reception the next day. 

Up early-ish and off to Spoonful Coffee Shop for a bite to eat with our gift certificates.  When we arrived they recognized us (new in town) and greeted us warmly.  We had a delicious treat and headed across the street to Girl Ran Away with the Spoon shop to browse the eclectic, interesting, and innovative wares.  I could have spent all day in there…but we had an agenda and places to go.  We did pop out back to the “sale trailer” to check on bargains and spotted an old pink Desoto in the lot!  I digress…

We had a bit of time to kill before heading to the demo so we went to the Range Riders Museum.  It is an enormous display of history, artifacts, and replicas of historic streets.  It was indescribable.  Multiple buildings holding thousands of artifacts including a donut from the civil war...yes…a donut from the civil war.  We had precious little time to spend there and could have spent days pouring over all the artifacts. 

My biggest regret for the weekend is that this hat shop was closed...a hat shop.  I certainly would have left with a new hat had it been open.

Our demos began at 4 pm.  Deb set up at a table to let people try their hand at painting miniatures and I set up nearby painting a portrait.  One of the many visitors was Karen Stevenson…an author.  She was anxious to talk to me about one of my paintings.  It is of a woman wearing white and holding a white umbrella…the comment was the woman in the painting looks just like someone from Miles City.  She was an activist and quite well known in the area…Elise Fox.  Karen was amazed by the resemblance and presented me with the book she wrote about Elsie and picture of her.  The woman in my painting is actually Dot, the mother of my neighbor and dear friend LaVonda!  Such an interesting happenstance. 

Our demos were over and we geared up for our reception and art talk.  We had a nice crowd of enthusiastic, inquisitive art lovers and our talks were well received.  We mingled and stayed past our 9 o'clock closing…I, for one, did not want the evening to end.  It was all so wonderful.  I cannot thank everyone enough.  The whole weekend was like a dream. 




Monday, March 27, 2017

Pride of the Corps '74 - United States Military Academy

Pride of the Corps '74
20 x 24
Oil on Panel

If you asked my husband where he went to college he would reply "a small school on the Hudson in Upstate New York."  That small school is the Military Academy at West Point.  My husband never brags and never calls attention to himself, He just quietly excels.  He wore this uniform proudly for 4 years and wore an Army uniform proudly for 27 years. 

I painted this study to prepare for a larger piece with someone actually wearing that uniform.  I wish I could say it is my husband's uniform ... but unfortunately I am not a saver...I throw away, clean out, and get rid of stuff.  I was fortunate to be able to borrow this uniform from one of Bruce's classmates. 



Friday, March 24, 2017

Amazing Grace - Guitar player


Amazing Grace
18 x 24
Oil on Panel

I am always looking for inspiration.  One of my favorite things to do is visit friends and relatives to see if they will model for me.  I come equipped with my hats, kimonos and other props to see what I can talk them into!  My cousins and I have "art days"...  since I moved away it may be a while before we have another!  During one of our art sessions the lovely Alice borrowed my camera and snapped some shots of her dad playing the guitar.  Christopher Russell has been in bands for years and now plays regularly at church.  I love this particular pose for so many reasons.  It is calm, the slight downward tilt of the head, the placement of the fingers and hands.  It is just everything I want in a composition.  I decided to put a glow around his head and as I glazed and added more colors daily, it really took on a life of its own.  Then I wanted to make it personal so I found out three of his favorite hymns and wrote the lyrics across the glow. 

Every painting I do is a learning experience.  I have experimented with glazing a bit but wanted to do more so I glazed the glow and also did quite a bit of glazing on the hands and face.  I wanted the face to have definite planes and temperature and color changes and I wanted the face to be the focal point with the rest of the piece out of focus just a bit.  I still have a lot to learn but with each painting I will push myself.  I am so excited about the future. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

copying at the National Gallery of art - Young Woman in a Kimono



beginning of my copy of "Young Woman in Kimono"
copied at the National Gallery of art in Washington DC

I recently spent a week in Washington DC and was able to paint a copy at the National Gallery of Art.  I became a copyist when I lived near DC and tried to continuously work on copying one of the master's paintings on a weekly basis.  Now as an "out of towner" I apply to copy for a week at a time...or however many days I can get into a gallery in a week's time. 

The copyist program is a wonderful opportunity to study the masters and learn as much as possible about strokes, colors, composition and the lives of these amazing artists.  I study the artist, their palette, their life and spend some time sketching the piece I am going to copy.  Once I get to the gallery I set up and begin.  I always start with a blank white canvas and just dive in. 

The painting I chose for this copyist session is, Young Woman in Kimono by Alfred Maurer.   I  chose it because it has a rich color palette of muted tones with bright swashes of red accenting the kimono.  I do love kimonos and have a collection of my own  that I love to paint.  I had not heard of Alfred Maurer and was excited to discover a new artist...new to me!  After checking out his work I must admit that the painting I copied is my favorite of all his works.  I feel very fortunate. 


This is where I am after a couple of long days of work.  I still have a way to go but my time in DC has come to an end and must stop work for now.  My options are to re-apply to complete this work or I can simply move on to another copy.  I will bring it home and make a decision after I digest what I have done. 


The National Gallery of Art is always an adventure.  While copying this gentleman introduced himself as a distant relative of Frank Benson!  How cool is that?  We chatted for a short while about my favorite work of Benson's "Margaret Gretchen Strong."  I fell in love with that painting when I first started painting and have loved it ever since.  It was exciting to meet someone who could have a great Frank Benson talk with me!. 

Another perk of copying at the National Gallery is the concert that was given at on the of atriums near me.  So nice to hear such beautiful music as I painted. 

I was also fortunate to have some friends stop by.  Since I am no longer in the area it is fun to catch a quick lunch and chat with friends.  The steady stream of visitors to the gallery are always polite but very curious.  I enjoy my visits immensely and look forward to my next visit. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Colors in the hand

WIP

I am doing a series of hands.  I decided to do hand paintings because I need the practice AND hands are very interesting!  They are intricate, complicated and the configurations for composition is endless.  It is fun, educational and hands are always available to paint as I always have mine with me!

I start my paintings pretty much the same way...I block in colors...darks, mediums, lights.  I try to incorporate interesting color combinations.  As I am laying in the darks, lights, reds, blues, yellows, literally every color on my palette I started thinking about skin tones and racial conflict.  I was brought up in a military family.  I went to school with very diverse classmates.  I never thought of color of skin as a difference.  As I am painting I realize we all have the same colors...just in different combinations.  We are all so different and so much the same.  My wish for the world is to be kind...be generous...treat people like you would want to be treated.  PSA over...now back to my easel!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Sunshine

Sunshine
24 x 36
Oil on Canvas

I usually paint from life or my own photographs.  Often I will start from life then finish up with a photo reference.  Sometimes I think I am smart enough to finish up with no reference but I soon learn I still need guidance.  It is a good exercise for me and  I am constantly learning and pushing myself.  I mention my methods because this painting was done from a photo reference that is not mine.  My brother, Dan Bennett, is a photographer and I love his work.  When I saw this photo I was so happy with the gesture and composition I asked if I could please paint it.  After checking with his model I was given the go ahead and set out painting.  I changed a few things but left the girl and umbrella essentially the same.  I love the bright yellow shirt and blue umbrella.  Getting to paint the blue hair and profile was a bonus. 

Painting challenges me and I am constantly experimenting to improve my work.  I have been working with a limited palette lately and really enjoying it.  It has forced me to work on my colors more...to really figure out which colors I need to mix to achieve my goals.   Right now my palette is
Cad yellow light
Yellow Ochre
Cad red light
alizarin crimson
cerulean blue
ultramarine blue
white

I sometimes put some black on my palette but find I do better without it so I am trying to wean myself from it. 

You can see some of Dan's work at http://www.shotophoto.com/f700133950