Friday, June 28, 2013

Beatrice Townsend after John Singer Sargent at the National Gallery of Art

Beatrice Townsend
After John Singer Sargent

This is my progress so far on Beatrice Townsend by John Singer Sargent.  I am painting at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC participating in the Copyist program..  I am really have a great time.  My day began by re-assessing placement of the facial features, neck and the size of the puppy.  I figured out the dog's head was not bit enough so I made that bigger.  Adjusted the sash a bit and then tackled the facial features.  I knew the mouth was too high...but I remained in denial all day long...I kept thinking that it was OK.  Then just before quitting time I fixed it.  I knew I would never be happy with down it went.  

I still have quite a bit to do...finishing.  The white collar needs detail and the necklace has to be repositioned a bit and some dimension added to it.  

No joke of the week this week.  Everyone was very quiet.  I don't know whether it was because I had to concentrate on features so much that I didn't interact or the heat got to everyone and they were just too hot and tired!  The highlight of the day was a little boy around seven or so who walked by...smiled...and gave me a thumbs up!  

Here I am diligently working can see how empty the gallery was today!!!  So unusual!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Connor - High School Graduation

16 x 20
Oil on Raymar Panel

We are blessed with wonderful neighbors surrounding us.  This young man has been mowing our lawn and helping out for quite a few years now.  His family owns Renovator Pro a fabulous contracting business in Northern Virginia.  They are responsible for completely renovating our kitchen and bathroom along with various and as sundry jobs throughout my house and yard that needed tending...but I digress.

Connor is now a high school graduate and headed to college in the fall.  An exciting time for him and angst filled for his parents...though they are very proud.  I painted this for his parents to keep them company while he is away at college.  I am very pleased to say they are happy with the piece and it proudly hangs in their dining room.

Connor's family has helped me out in so many ways.  When I need a model or need to see how a mother and child look holding hands from the back they are always ready to come over and pose.  Since the kids age ranges are diverse I have someone for almost every age group.  I have painted Connor with a cell phone, his sister Meghan playing baseball and need to tackle Brady next.  

It is really fun to paint memories and even more rewarding when the recipient accepts the gift with such unbridled enthusiasm.  

Good times...

Saturday, June 22, 2013

National Gallery of Art - Beatrice Townsend by John Singer Sargent

I am at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC again and working on Beatrice Townsend by John Singer Sargent.  I was having some difficulty with my colors last week so researched Sargent's palette and practiced mixing some colors in preparation of this weeks visit.  I am making progress...I did a lot of work on the background the face and the little puppy.  I still have a lot to do on the face...but thank heaven I have time!  ;)  For the puppy I concentrated on the exact brush strokes to show the dog's features.  It was so fun to think that I am trying to copy the exact brush strokes!!!  It really was evident more than any other part of the painting because the strokes are so defined.  

My joke of the elderly lady walked up to me and asked if I painted the one on the wall also.  I really thought she was joking so I replied that I DID but it was many years ago.  I told her I was much older than I looked.  She walked away nodding!!!  I had to run after her and tell her I was joking!  It was painted by John Singer Sargent and I had her read the information under the painting.  Whew!!!   

I was, once again, overwhelmed by the complimentary comments of the visitors to the gallery.  Most people are so very nice.  Only one man said "it kind of looks like he one on the wall"...I thought ....kinda is OK...after all it IS JOHN SINGER SARGENT for pete's sake!  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I AM the Flower Girl

I AM the Flower Girl
16 x 20
Oil in Raymar Panel

This little painting did not make the cut.  I brought it to hang in my featured artist show at the Workhouse Arts Center but when placing the groupings on the wall it just didn't fit comfortably into the show.  So...though I do love the gesture of the little girl...she remained at home.  She is the grand-daughter of a relative and will reside in her grandma's home instead.  What drew me to the piece is her attitude. She just exudes an "I'm in charge" attitude.  

The show will be hung until July 1st...I cannot believe in two short weeks I will be bringing the wedding paintings home!  It has been a wonderful experience.  

Now I begin new adventures!  Stay tuned...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Zipper - preparation for the big day

18 x 20
Oil on Canvas

This is the last of the nine pieces in my featured artist show at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, Virginia.  The show is titled "Weddings and Destinations."  I share the billing with Kathy Strauss's fabulous destinations photography that compliment my weddings paintings perfectly.  

Here the bride is getting ready...helped out by a close relative with the final touches of her preparation for what will be one of the most important days of her life.  

I remember all the preparation for my own wedding.  It was a relatively small affair by today's standards but we arranged for photography, food, cake, church etc...all the bases were covered.  We even got ahold of an antique car to ride to the church...The one thing we forgot to make arrangements for is for my mom to get to the church!!!  In all the preparation I boarded the car with my maid of honor and my mom was left at home with the photographer!!!  She had to hitch a ride with him or she would have missed the whole thing!!!  So funny now...not so funny then!  

This series and show has been a wonderful experience for me.  I love painting series and look forward to starting my next project.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Beatrice Townsend at the National Gallery of Art

I am back at the National Gallery of Art painting Beatrice Townsend by John Singer Sargent.   This is the result of my first day's work.  I still have a lot to do but I am pleased with my progress so far.  I really haven't touched the face but everything else has been at least blocked in and some things shaded a bit.  I remember thinking I could not wait to get to that red sash...that beautiful red sash.  I grabbed a glob of alizarin crimson and stroked the canvas....AACK!!!  The sash is NOT alizarin crimson red.  It is much more terra cotta/orange red.  The lessons I learn when I *think* I know what I am doing!!!  So with the correct color mixed I painted the sash.  Happy happy me.  

I start out at home sketching the piece and getting a feel for where everything is.  It is all about relationships.  Once I was pretty comfortable with the sketch I headed to the gallery.

When at the National Gallery of art I set up my easel and began sketching on the canvas.  I brought a blank white canvas.  My first two tries were not successful...but undaunted I persevered and managed to get everything in the right place...or pretty close!

My loving husband of 39 years (our anniversary is the 15th!!!) stopped by to see how I was doing and took some actions shots!

I did get quite a few questions from visitors this time...a lot of people asking about the process of applying to become a copyist.  I always try to be helpful and pleasant.  As I packed up to leave a groups of teenage girls stopped by and asked if they could take a picture of me with my painting...there exact words were "you are awesome"!!!  So I left the gallery with a huge smile on my face that will take days to fade.  

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Flower Girl

Flower Girl
30 x 40
Oil on Canvas

This little girl when through a lot to get where she is.  I loved the composition of the girl and her grandmother...I loved the feeling of the piece...but I wasn't sure what to put in the background.  I thought maybe a realization of the church.  A flower girl being led into the church by her grandmother told the story I wanted to tell.  An artist friend, Lydia , suggested a church.  She even researched a few source photos.  So the trials began...

I painted the girl and her grandmother.  I am pretty pleased with the placement and the gesture.  Now what to do with the background.  I have since learned that I WILL have a complete concept before I begin a piece...the lessons continue...

I brought my painting into photoshop and "cut out" the figures and placed them on a blank "canvas".  I then laid in the picture of the church and blurred  and faded it a bit to see how it would look.  I liked the result so I decided to proceed. 

Here the church is too realized...the sidewalk is too straight and that bow on the back of the dress!!!!  What was I thinking???

I softened the background...still not happy...
At this point I am trying to figure out what direction to go...Why have I not fixed that bow yet???  AAUUGGHH!!!!

I tried brightening the background a bit and extending the sidewalk to the bottom of the canvas.  Oh, yes, that is my mahl stick hanging down across the grandmother's backside.  I also am not pleased with the little girl's left arm...and the tie in the back (formerly known as the bow)  is now more subtle...hanging and looking looser.  

Undaunted, I decide to try something else with the background.

This is where I landed.  Not everything has to be spelled out...this painting is a story.  A rite of passage.  The grandmother is taking her granddaughter on the first of what could be many trips down the aisle.  My wish is that when people see this they will read their own story...remember their own rites of passage.  The background now lets the viewer find their story in this piece.  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I Hope You Dance - Weddings and Destinations

"I Hope You Dance"
36 x 36
Oil on Canvas

This piece is now hanging at The Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton Virginia in my "Weddings and Destinations" show with Kathy Strauss, photographer extraordinaire! The show will be hung until July 1, 2013.  

In this scene a young mother watches her child dance will unbridled abandon.  She twirls and swirls without inhibitions.  Her mother's wish is for her to always choose her passion in life...follow her heart and let there be no limitations on her aspirations.  Isn't that what we all wish for our loved ones?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Wedded Bliss - Rising above the political fray

Wedded Bliss
18 x 24
Oil on Canvas

A long awaited and long anticipated legality...the choice to marry the one you love.  Such a simple thing and yet so much unnecessary controversy surrounds the act.  This couple has risen above the fray and claimed their day.

This is one of the pieces in my "Weddings" Series at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton Virginia. The show will be hung until July 1, 2013.  

The reception for the show was June 8th...last night.  It was a magical, wonderful evening filled will friends, relatives and lots of fun.  My son Michael Bennett Hock catered the affair for me.  He is a fabulous BBQ artist!  He arranged for three of his friends to wear their wedding dresses and work the crowd during the reception.  He also wrote a blog tribute to me...of which I am very proud.  You can read it HERE if you are so inclined.  

Here are a couple of pictures of my biggest supporter...and my self at the reception and a great picture of my parents having fun at the reception.

What a great evening!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Now What

Now What
48 x 60
Oil on Canvas

This is the larger piece fashioned after the previously posted "Now What", 16 x 20.  I played around with the composition a bit and found that some thing worked in the smaller size but didn't work as well in this larger composition.  The only thing I left on the table was the illusion of a wine bottle on the left side of the bride.  I darkened the background more to really emphasize the dress...a wedding is always about the dress.  This is the largest piece in the show.

The reception will be this Saturday, June 8th from 6 to 9 at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton Virginia...building 16.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Toss! Throwing the bridal bouquet

18 x 36
Oil on Canvas

This piece is part of my Weddings series that will be featured at The Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, Virginia.  I am the featured artist along with Kathy Strauss, photographer extraordinaire,  who is contributing a series of "Destinations" to the show.  The reception is June 8th at 6 pm in building 16. 

The Lorton Workhouse Arts Center is a former prison.  It has an amazing history.  The buildings that were cell/dorms that housed the prisoners have been converted to wonderful artists studios.  There is a large courtyard in the center surrounded by these buildings.  A walk along the courtyard dropping in to see the artists at work makes for a wonderful day or evening!  

I love this action shot of the bride throwing the bouquet.  For this series I tried to represent many traditional and some untraditional scenes from weddings.  

My wedding was 39 years ago this month.  I married my prince charming and we are living happily ever after!  

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Veil - Weddings Series

The Veil
18 x 36
Oil on Canvas

Today is the day I install my featured artist show at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, Virginia.  This is one of my favorite pieces in the show.  When beginning a painting I usually start with my shadows and darks and then move towards the light.  In this piece I began with the face almost stark white and then spent weeks layering on glazes to achieve soft, subtle definition.  The process was fun experimentation.  I had just watched a you tube video of Da Vinci's work and the process was mentioned.  I really had no direction other than the casual mention of the a light base and numerous glazes in the video but I thought I would try anyway.  It is supposed to allow the light to travel through the layers to the bright layer underneath and give a luminescent quality.  I am pleased with the result and will certainly try it again.

And here is my self portrait again.  I just can't seem to let go of it.  Every time I walk by I add color and definition to it.  I am having fun seeing how many colors I can use and experimenting with brush strokes.  It is such a great learning tool for me.