Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Patty's Winter Barn

My sister Patty has long asked me to do a painting of a red barn for her, and particularly a red barn in the snow.  Of course I have no *photos* of a red barn in the snow. I looked in the Resource Image Library at Wetcanvas but saw nothing that grabbed me. I guess part of the problem was that I had no interest in doing just any old barn. 

In fact if I did a barn I wanted to do our barn in Canada! It's not red, but has red doors and red trim, and I thought that might do. But we only go there in the summertime so I have no photos of it in snow. 

So this is sort of a combined picture taken from three sources: 
1) A photo of the barn and edge of the farmhouse shed - but at high noon, so a flattish light and no shadows.
2) A plein air painting I did of almost identical scene, done in the green of August, but in late afternoon with long shadows.
3) A photo of a cabin in the snow from the Wetcanvas RIL

So I merged those three and used:
1) The vantage point of number one
2)  The long afternoon shadows of two
3) The snow and snow-covered trees of three

And the above is what I wound up with! It's done on Art Spectrum Colourfix, the standard 9x12 sheet, but the picture is just 8x10 as that's the size frame I have for it,  and I'll give it to Patty for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Christmas Cardinal

For the last few years, since I took up pastels, I have painted a picture to use for my own Christmas cards, which I have made myself. Choosing a subject is always the first step, of course. Now I happen to love birds, and bird-watching is another hobby of mine. I have feeders in my yard, which is a certified Wilfdlife Habitat, and I count birds every winter for Cornell University's Project Feeder Watch. So my card last year was a bird (a Carolina wren which can be seen here after I had Photoshopped it a bit) and I wanted to do a bird again this year.

This past Sunday was my first day home from my Thanksgiving trip to NC, and I woke early to find it snowing. The snow quickly turned to rain, but it remained raw and rainy all day. The birds were out in force though, since I had topped off my feeders upon my return home. I had at least 6 cardinals. I think even the female cardinals, with their more subtle colors, are lovely, but of course the bright red males really stand out cheerily in the grays of winter. No wonder they feature on so many Christmas cards.

Well now I'll join the pack I guess, LOL. This is from a photo I took on Sunday, where one of the male cardinals posed so perfectly me on the dogwood branch. As soon as I uploaded the photo to my PC and saw how it had turned out I knew I'd found my Christmas card picture, and was finally able to paint it last night after finishing my Amaryllis picture in art class. I'll still need to Photoshop a border, and see if I need anything else for it.

He's done (like most all of my recent pictures) on a 9x12 sheet of rose gray Art Spectrum Colourfix paper. Once you get using Colourfix regularly it's hard to go back to Canson, although I still like the larger Canson size better.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


This is from art class tonight, and the plant is absolutely fake, LOL. But it sure looked pretty real. As Christina said, real flowers are wonderful, but they make fake ones these days that look almost as good as real, and you can take as much time to paint one as you want, without any worries about fading or wilting!

However I'm still speedy Gonzales, so probably would have no worries about painting live flowers. I only spent 90 minutes on this one. But it did look quite real, and the reds in it were lovely. I had a lot of fun trying to get up-close and personal with the blossoms.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Golden afternoon

I'm not sure about this one yet, might need some more work. But I have less time down here in NC than I thought I would, so I squeezed in about 45 minutes last night after Thanksgiving dinner,  and tried one more from a photo. This is from a photo I took at the Ship Inn, in Milford, NJ, where I had gone to have a meal with my son. It's a restaurant we all enjoy, even though it's quite a ride to get there, but the ride is half the fun. We love to get a window table were we can look out at the stream and watch the ducks. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Quoddy Light

Here I am in North Carolina for Thanksgiving. It would be great to try some plein air painting here, but I'm staying with my dad, and just no time in the day to spare. But if I wake up early I can paint for an hour in my bedroom. So I brought some photos with me and am working on the idea of trying to use less than ideal photos to create my art. This is not *quite* part of my Canadian maritime series, being in Maine, but very close to the Canadian border. This is from a photo I took years ago when I took my son to see Quoddy Light, the easternmost point in the US.

The day was foggy and overcast, with a very flat light, and no shadows - so my photo is flat and faded too, so it left me free to try to imagine how it would have looked on a bright and sunny day. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Vase and pears

I'm still in the still life mode it seems, but I do love still lifes too. I feel that with still lifes and landscapes I've found the subjects that are giving me the most fun and pleasure. This one was done, as all my latests paintings have been, on a sheet of 9x12 Art Spectrum Colourfix paper. I bought 20 sheets of the rose gray color from Dick Blick, and it showed up at my house two days later. Now that's service! The Colourfix paper I special ordered at Jerry's weeks ago still has not arrived. But these 20 sheets will last a little while. The size is still a bit smaller than I'm happy with, but the large sheets of Colourfix are too big for me, yet also not easily cutable into sizes I like.

Of course one of the key features of size is that it fit into a standard frame, as I can't afford special-order frames for unusual sizes. And the large Colourfix does not seem to cut up to standard sizes without wastage. So in the meantime I'm learning to love the 9x12, though the 12x16 Canson paper is a size I prefer. I still have plenty of Canson - but it's hard to go back when you get used to the Colourfix!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Harvest Fruit

I've been enjoying, in varying degrees, my landscape kick lately, so I meant to brings my photos to class tonight and work on another landscape. But I got gabbing online with my piffle friends and only just raced out in time to get to class, and forgot the photos!

But Christina had set up the same still life we had had last week. Working from life is always so different from working from photos (though I find both valuable learning tools), and I loved this still life so much. So I had no problem doing it again. I didn't want this to be a clone of last week's painting though, so shifted my focus more to the right. I included things I had cropped out last week, and cropped out things that made it into last week's painting, so I felt I wound up with something new.

In was a fun class and I got to hear a lot of "arty" talk between Christina and one of the other students - all such a foreign world to me. I've never even *been* in an art gallery! They seem like such intimidating places, LOL.

This was done on a sheet of 9x12 rose grey Art Spectrum Colourfix paper.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Tidnish Shore (Maritimes 8)

I had some free time this afternoon, so decided to add to my Maritimes series with a second Nova Scotia picture.  I'm not too thrilled with this one. I like the tree pretty well, but I really struggled with the water and the beach. Everything I did seemed to make it worse, not better. But I finally reached a stopping point and this is it. I'll have to look tomorrow and decide if it's hopeless, or beyond me to fix. 

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Bras d'Or Lake, Cape Breton (Maritimes 7)

LOL, yesterday I had the day off, and it was back to landscapes for me. I'm still on my Canadian Maritime kick, and had several reference photos I wanted to try - but I kept saying I needed to get a Nova Scotia painting in there, so that limited my choices. In class Christina had had us working with fairly dull photos and seeing what sort of things we could do to turn them into interesting paintings, and that was fun.

So that's how I chose this ref, from a camping trip to Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island some 20+ years ago when my son was only about 5 or so. We camped one night in a campground on a hillside overlooking Bras d'Or Lake. The ref photo is dark, dull and nondescript, so trying to develop colors was a lot of fun, and I'm not unhappy with how it turned out. It makes me yearn to go back to Cape Breton again!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Autumn Harvest

Well I've been having such a wonderful time working on landscapes lately. I was all ready to continue with that in art class last night, but Christina had such a gorgeous still life set up for us that I could not resist doing that instead. Maybe I'll do a landscape today since I have the day off from work.

But this is the still life from last night - it's done on a sheet of very dark brown 9x12 Colourfix. It's my favorite support although 9x12 is smaller than I really like to work, and there is no intermediary size until you get to the big full sheets which are still too big for me, yet also can't seem to be cut into smaller sizes that I like either - which is why I've mostly stuck with Canson. It comes in a useful size.

However I love the feel of Colourfix and had been using more of it lately, even though my paintings are smaller than I would prefer. And I also loved this setup of fruit, and the colors, and the blue cloth - so enjoyed this last night thought I'm still feeling in a "landscapey" mode mentally.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Murray Corner (20-minute sketch)

It's back to the Maritimes again for me. I had to leave art class early last night to get to a meeting, so only had about 20 minutes to work on a painting, so this is truly a "quickie"  sketch even by my standards. The reference photo I used was taken up by Murray Corner, New Brunswick.  This is fast and rough, of course, but I like the composition well enough that I think I  want to try to expand it into a more finished work. This sketch was done on Canson, smooth side, about 8x10.  Maybe in the finished work I'll be able to get the cow to look like a cow. 

Friday, October 24, 2008

Corinthian Blue

I finished my 'Olympic Gold' painting at 8:45 PM on Tuesday, and class runs until 9:30, so Christina told me I had 45 minutes to do a second painting. I chose another Greek ref photo, of a walkway down to the beach along the Gulf of Corinth, and since the first picture had so many hot colors I chose a different palette for this one, mostly cool blues and lavenders. I raced like mad to get something more or less complete and recognizable in 45 minutes, and this is what I came up with for the second painting of the night.

These exercises were tons of fun and I had a great time in class this week.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Olympic Gold

It's back to Greece for me, and getting wild and crazy. In art class Tuesday Christina had a series of paintings done by artists she admired - and our assignment was to take a ref photo of our own choosing, and to try to paint the scene, but using the color palette of one of the paintings she had to show us. Plus she wanted us to *simplify simplify simplify* and just go with big, broad, basic shapes, though she wanted buildings or man-made objects. I chose a ref photo, of my trip to Greece, of the entranceway to the stadium at Olympia, home of the ancient Olympic games. My ref photo is the basic sort of dusty browns, grays, olives and tans that one might expect in Greece, but I chose the color palette of a painting that was mostly all vivid orange, gold, red and purple - and used those colors for my palette! And just turned off my thinking brain and let my fingers take over! So this is what I came up with. One odd thing in the photo is that the underside of the archway shows as a pale bue, but it's actually much darker than that. I  used a pale blue as  an underlayer but then used darker blues and purples on top. I wonder why only the underlayer shows? It makes the painting look a bit "weird". 

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fort Beausejour (Maritime series 6)

 I still have not made it to Nova Scotia though I'm inching closer. This is from a reference photo of Fort Beausejour, in Aulac, NB. It sits almost right on the border between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, at the edge of the Tantramar Marsh, and adjoining the Chignecto Basin, which is an arm of the Bay of Fundy. 

It was a drizzling, misty day when I took this ref, though you could catch a faint hint of the sun trying to burn off the fog. But it was still most cool and misty looking in the distance, and I wanted to see how I could do with a softer cooler palette than I usually use. 

Bad or good, I have to say I had a lot of fun working on this. I have not done enough landscapes yet to feel I have a particular "style" but I'm sure enjoying it, and today was especially enjoyable for some reason. 

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Confederation Bridge (Maritime series)

 I've been using so many of my Canadian vacation photos for references while I try to get the hang of landscapes that I realize I sort of have a "series" going here! This is the 4th one set in the Maritimes now. So far two on PEI, one in New Brunswick, and this new one is New Brunswick also. I'll have to see what I have in the way of Nova Scotia photos so I can get that into the series too.  

But I did this one this afternoon, about 90 minutes spent on it - it's on 9x12 Colourfix paper, a variety of pastels. It's a view of the Confederation Bridge which connects New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Prince Edward Island Grasses

Well, I'm still up in the Maritimes(artistically speaking, at any rate). I finally got back to art class tonight and was able to show Christina my "homework" paintings I did last week in NC. She was mostly pleased with them though had a few small suggestions. 

And tonight we worked on more landscapes. She had her own box of photos, but I had one more photo I'd brought to NC with me. It was (IMHO) the most boring of the few I had grabbed to take with me to NC, which is why it was still just sitting in my box. But I preferred working from my own photo reference rather than one of Christina's. 

It was interesting too, as Christina told us some interesting horror stories (naming no names) during her years as President of the PSA, and judging the annual PSA show, where people sent in works that were clearly found to be copied from photos in famous magazines, like National Geographic and others - or more obscure magazines and then tried to claim that the works were their own and not copied, etc. 

Clearly not something I'd be doing, but I still wanted to use my own ref, so used the "boring" photo. But as a painting I think it turned out more nicely than I had hoped, and nicer than the photo. I've told Christina about the
Wetcanvas site, so she said to me, "Stop now, I think it's done. Now just go post it to Wetcanvas

This is another old photo, also taken on PEI, but in this case I'm totally clueless about where I was when I took it. 

Oh, done on a piece of 9x12 Colourfix, a dark terra cotta color. All my "homework" pieces were on 9x12 Colourfix, though various colors.

Also during class last night Christina gave us little small 3x6-inch samples of some fancy expensive pastel board (whose brand-name I promptly forgot!) and told us to just play with them to try the surface out. Now I'm not much of one for working too small, so not much I could think to do with a small 3x6, but I noodled around on it and created this orange.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Baie Verte - a picture's progress

LOL, I did something that I often thing about doing, essentially never do, when doing the "Baie Verte" painting. I took pictures of various stages of progress. A picture goes through so many "ugly" phases, I thought some might enjoy seeing how a picture progresses:

1) Here I've colored in the sky, the sketch is very rough, just some very rough darks to indicate where the trees are in the background.

2) More work has been done on the trees. I've laid in some background color for the grasses in the foreground.

3) More work on the trees, then laying in rough color for the water and embankments, with the bird sketched in. 

4) Work on the water in the distance, a little more detail in the embankments and the far marsh grasses. Mostly this stage is laying in the darks along the edges of the grass and water. 

5) A lot more detail now in the bird, water, and background grasses. Foreground still to come.

6) The grasses on the small island have now been worked on, mostly done except for the foreground now.
7) Some colors for the foreground.
8) Initial pastel strokes for the foreground grasses, showing a definitely "ugly" phase at this point. 

And of course the final image can be seen in my posting of the previous date. So there you see a little progression of how it goes, and for much of the stages it sure doesn't look like very much!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Baie Verte

Well, here I am back in the Canadian Maritimes again - this time in New Brunswick, where we have our family summer home. We often go to Amherst, Nova Scotia, to go shopping, and the back road there takes us through the town of Baie Verte. The town is at the end of the bay named Baie Verte, the same bay our farm is on. But the town of Baie Verte has lots of fascinating inlets and marshes, and when the tide is low you can see up to a dozen Great Blue Herons in the water, fishing.

It's a gorgeous spot and I've long wanted to paint it. Finally, today, I did, using a reference photo that I took many years ago in my pre-digital days, but Baie Verte still looks the same. 

Friday, October 10, 2008

Woodleigh Gardens - PEI

Well it's back to PEI again for another homework assignment. One of my our favorite spots on PEI are the Woodleigh Replicas in Kensington, lots of minatures of famous British buildings. Some are small, like St. Paul's Cathedral, and some are big enough to walk through, like Castle Dunvegan and the Tower of London. But all are fun. 

And they also have lovely English-style gardens. It's a scenic place, lovely rolling countryside, and the gardens in bloom are fabulous. I certainly can't do them justice, but still had fun with this scene. Except I had to edit myself out, as I'm standing on the pathway in the original reference photo which a family member took for me. 

Sunrise on the Gulf of Corinth

This is done from a reference photo I took in 1994 when I went on a trip to Greece with my son and a group from his school. It was the trip of a lifetime for me! All my life I had been fascinated by Greece - Greek history, Greek mythology. It was one of those places I had yearned to see all my life, but never dreamed I would get there. 

So when this trip opportunity came up it was too much to resist! I had to go, and I think it was a good experience for my son as well, who was 15 at the time.  Most of the time we stayed in city hotels, but for two nights we stayed at a lovely place out in the country - outside the city of Patras -  that was right on the Gulf of Corinth, and one of those mornings I got up early to watch the sun rise, and I took the photo I used here as a ref, along with others. I might have to try more and do a Greek series, What fun. 

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Victoria-by-the-Sea, PEI

This is the first of my "homework" landscapes for Christina, using a ref photo I took many years ago on Prince Edward Island.  I love the incredible red sands you find along many of the PEI shores.  I'm not totally happy with this picture yet, mostly the tree and the foreground a bit . But I'll post what I have now anyway, as I need to think about this. Maybe I'll just ask Christina for advice on the grass and the tree.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Mountain Valley

I started new classes with Christina last week. Always fun with her, and this was a new departure. She brought in a giant box of photos and said we were going to work on landscapes, and to choose a photo we liked. Then we had to do the drawing UPSIDE DOWN, as she wanted us to try to get "loose" and just concentrate on shapes, and not worry about nitpicking. Then even the beginning and underlayers were done upside down. Most of us turned the photos right-side up after that. 

So this is the photo I chose. No clue where it was. Christina could not even remember where many of the photos were taken. I'm not thrilled with it. I choose the photo as I loved the line of trees there, but in the painting I'm not so thrilled with, and feel I need to change the very thing I liked best which made me choose the photo! 

Sunday, September 14, 2008

New York Harbor

I still have this desire to be able to do boats and seascapes, though it is clearly not where my strengths lay. So what to do? Should I just keep trying? Or should I just pick a particular area, like still lifes, and concentrate on that? I love still lifes, but I feel like I'd get bored if I did nothing else. But if I could do the occasional landscape or seascape as well I'd be happy, or even the occasional bird or animal. I guess I want to do it all! LOL, *except* for portraits or figure studies. I truly don't have any interest in doing more of those.

Still lifes feel like my "comfort zone". Landscapes and seascapes are both a struggle. Water eludes me, as do trees. I guess I really should take the suggestions made to me and try to look at and copy some of the masters, to get a feel for how they did it.

But it's a hot muggy and quiet day here in NJ. I'll be busy this week - work of course, and then out every evening. Monday is the opening reception for the "Partners in Pastel" art show, Tuesday is art class, Wednesday is a birthday dinner for my niece, Thursday is choir rehearsal, and Friday a birthday dinner for my son!

So I took advantage of the afternoon lull and spent about 2 hours on this painting. I used as a reference a photo I took from the Staten Island ferry a few years ago.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sad Susans

I had a wonderful class at Christina's house on Tuesday night. She has a great studio set-up which can accomodate up to about 9 students I would say. She had several still lifes set up and I chose to do this one. But even though she said it was fresh the poor black-eyed susans had gotten all droopy and dejected looking.

This is not one of my fave paintings but we can't hit a home run every time. It was fun just for the experience of being in Christina's studio and meeting several of her other students. They all seem to be so "tuned in" to the art community and art shows and art events - things I'm pretty much clueless about.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Point Pleasant

I love pics of the ocean, seashore, boats, etc. They just call to my spirit somehow, but it's not something I'm good at producing myself, Water, especially, just terrifies me and seems impossible. But I've been inspired lately by a few paintings posted by Joni from Wetcanvas, and wanted to give it a whirl. I'll never get anywhere with painting water if I never try to paint any, right?

So this is done from a ref. photo I took about a year ago when I was down in Point Pleasant, NJ. I spent a couple hours on it this afternoon. I'm still quite a novice at this sort of painting, but I did have fun doing it, and each time I work on water I hope I'll learn something.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Applegate Farm

I'm just a "paintin' fool" this weekend. I had such fun with my 'Montclair Farmer's Market' painting that I decided I had to do a second one. But not having to work Monday makes me feel more relaxed and less anxious about getting all my chores done.

I've always loved nighttime and twilight paintings and have yearned to try my hand at them. I did one earlier this summer up in Canada of our farmhouse in New Brunswick and had fun with that. But I've wanted to try more.

Last night a friend and I went to Applegate Farm, a local place that makes their own ice cream and is quite a local institution. We had a coupon for 'buy 1 cone, get 1 free" so went to get a cone, along with hundreds of other people, alas.

I had my camera with me, and took a photo of the place which appealed to me, so I decided I had to try to paint it!

This is my usual 12x16 Canson, smooth side, NuPastels, Rembrants and Unisons. I spent a *long* time on this by my standards - two hours non-stop, which is just about an eternity for me - about my limit I think, .

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Montclair Farmer's Market

I didn't get to the Farmer's market this weekend, but I've enjoyed going there earlier in the summer. I hope to get apples there too as we head into the fall. But I was there earlier this month when the first of the tomatoes were appearing, and had to take a few pictures of them.

One of my goals for Labor Day weekend was to paint at least one picture - and this juicy tomato reference photo from earlier this month just seemed like something I wanted to try.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Purple Heart

Wednesday night I got back to art class! I did miss it on vacation. Sadly this was the last session for the summer. But it was great to see Christina again and everyone else in the class. I'm hoping to take a class with her at her home studio this fall. But in the meantime she had this wonderful yellow jug and floral arrangement to attempt. I had a great time doing it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Window Glass

This was my last picture from my farm vacation. We have several interesting glass bottles that line the windowsill in the dining room, so I decided to try to capture a few of them.

Admittedly the bottles look a bit wonky - but we'll just call them hand-blown glass and let it go at that, LOL.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Hummingbird Feeder

While I was cleaning stuff up at the farm I discovered a little hummingbird feeder that had belonged to my mom years ago, and I could not resist making up a sugar-water solution and hanging it from the front porch. Within a day we had hummers! I was happy to watch them on and off all day long, so finally had to paint them as well.

I did take a little artistic license here, as I only ever saw females and/or juveniles - who don't have the red throat of the male. But I gave this hummer a red throat as I thought it tied in nicely with the red from the feeder.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Beach Treasures

One of the things we love to do at the farm is stroll along the beach at low tide. There are lots of sandbars that appear, rippled in long lines, and lots of shells and driftwood and interesting beach artifacts. We enjoy collecting some of the nice specimens to bring home to the farmhouse.We have so many around that it seemed like a good time to give them a painting of their own!

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Kitchen Desk

The kitchen desk is such a hub at the farm. It's painted bright red so pretty unmistakable, and it's the first thing there by the door as you come in. That's where the phone sits, and where we do all our paperwork. So I finally decided that I needed to try to do a picture of the kitchen desk. No series of farm paintings would be complete without it!