Sunday, October 18, 2009

Out Damned Red

I guess after having a few good painting weeks I was due for a struggle. I am having the hardest time with this subject - and it isn't just the problem that I'm having with the red, I'm starting to question what I'm doing with these still lifes (so is it "still lifes" or "still lives"? There is no past tense for "still life" as far as I know). They're starting to bore me a bit - so I think I need to add more complexity to what I'm doing.

But back to this painting. So many things that suck. This the second weekend I've tried this - last weekend I wiped the whole canvas off in complete frustration.

The red of the tomatoes and peppers are very different - but I can't seem to capture that difference. There are shadows on both of them, and mid-tones, and highlights - and I tried very hard to depict the differences between the two very different veggies but they ended up the same. I'm closer on the color of the tomato because there is a lot of yellow and orange in the tomatoes, but the pepper is more blue. I couldn't figure out how to get that bluish hue without making it muddy or just not "light" enough. The peppers have a kind of internal glow and it is totally escaping me. So frustrating!!! I can see it with my eye, but I am not skilled enough to interpret it on the canvas.

The veggies are sitting on a black stool. I'm ok with where the reflection on the stool is going - but the background is not working. I changed it halfway through, the stool actually extends all the way to the left but that didn't work. The background is really a placeholder until I figure it out. I think the issue is that I didn't think through the composition enough before I started painting. The background doesn't exist really, and I'm making it up. I'm trying to create the "air" around the still life and, again, beyond my skill level. I think I need to create a decent background in life, and then paint it.

I'll get back to the studio during the week and continue working - try to separate the colors of the tomatoes and the peppers. They all have stems too, in fact the tomatoes are connected on a vine. The stems will make this more interesting, and add green in other places besides the big green pepper, and they will be the last things I paint in.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Struggling with red

Last weekend I tried painting some tomatoes and peppers and had a really hard time. I struggled with the reds and getting the shadows etc. I started the painting on Sunday and thought it was going OK and then came back one night during the week to work on it and it was all down hill from there. This is where it was on Sunday:

I thought it had some promise but as I worked on it things went poorly and I got so frustrated I scribbled it out, and then wiped the whole thing off, and finally ended up just painting over it with red.

The biggest issue I had was the curly red pepper (is it a chili pepper? not sure) and dealing with the light and shadows on the red. So I decided to just do a quick practice on a panel to try and work out the light and curves of the pepper.

I posted the pepper study below - and yes it is pretty ugly but it helped me figure out the color problems I was having. I went back to the studio today and started the still life of the tomatoes and peppers again - different arrangement. So far so good, and if I don't have a spaz attack and wipe it all off, I'll post it when I finish it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Artichokes, Marketing and Mediums

So I do a lot of fruit & veggie paintings - not because I'm obsessed with them, although it looks like that, but because they are the perfect subject for me to learn all the things I need to learn about painting. There is an endless supply - I just stop at the grocery store on my way to the studio and look for interesting shapes and colors. I am that weird lady in the produce section picking through pears and apples and nectarines, holding them up, staring at them, turning them over, comparing them to each other. Taking fruit waaaay too seriously.

During Lowell Open Studios a woman asked me if I had any paintings of artichokes because she loves artichokes. While I failed miserably as an art marketing person by actually telling her she didn't have to leave her email address - just check my blog - it did get me really into the idea of painting an artichoke. Dropping the ball on the art marketing is sad considering I've been doing marketing for a living for years - I guess when it is my product that I'm marketing I find it harder.

Anyway - here's my first artichoke. It's another small one - 6x6. I had a hard time with the photo, the focus is off. I'll probably do a couple more because I enjoyed this and I worked through a lot of painting challenges. My favorite parts of the painting are the leaves on the table.

Oh, I also tried a new medium on this painting. Medium - for those non-painters out there - is not some new age psychic coming in and checking the painting chakras, it is the stuff you mix with the paint on the palette to get it to flow better, dry faster or slower, add gloss and probably other stuff I'm forgetting or I don't know about. I have used Galkyd (my first oil paintings) and linseed oil (the past 3-4 months) and I liked both of them. Then someone told me about Liquin and that's what I used on this painting. I'm not sure I'm digging it actually - I think I really like linseed oil the best, but I'm going to use Liquin a few more times before I decide. The advantage of Liquin is that it allows the oil paint to dry faster, which is great because you can come back the next day and it's almost dry - or at least dry enough to paint over. Galkyd supposedly does the same thing, so I need to go back to that again now that I have more of a clue what I'm doing.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I sold my first painting!

I sold my first painting (the one titled "The Sentinel") and it is a result of the Lowell Open Studios I did in September. I got an IM from someone who had brought a friend to the studio and he liked one of my paintings. I dropped it off on Sunday and got a check so it is official!!

This is the painting - I posted the many variations it went through a few weeks ago, but this is where it ended up. I probably would have kept fiddling with it but once someone said they were buying it, I had to stop.

It is a very strange feeling to sell a painting. Its gone now, never to be seen again.

Monday, October 12, 2009

2 Macs

It's been way too long since I posted a painting. The past month has been really busy and kind of nutty - too many things going on and too little time to get everything done.

I have been painting though - and making progress. I went back to some smaller canvases because I'd like to get a bunch done for the November and December Open Studios.

This is a 5x5" canvas and it turned out well, although I am getting all realistic again. But that's ok - I'll go with it and see where it takes me.

I started this and after a couple of hours I just wiped the whole thing off - it wasn't working. Then I don't what happened - I started again and it all sort of flowed.

Friday, October 2, 2009

My studio on Lowell Open Studio day

It's been a while since I posted - I've been so busy with work and trying to get things set up to help out with publicity for Western Avenue Studios Artist Association (WASAA) that I haven't had any time to post. Creating a blog for WASAA is turning out to be a much bigger project than creating one just for me. Especially with no budget and my very limited HTML skills. I did get a volunteer designer to help create a banner and help with the overall colors, etc which will be a huge help.

Last weekend was Lowell Open Studios and it was great. Exhausting, but great. I had to move a lot of stuff out of my studio, and rearrange everything to make room for my paintings and those of a friend, Nadia Richman, so it was 2 days of work before I even opened the door. Nadia came up from Brighton to show some of her work. That's her on the left in front of her paintings. It was great to be able to spend so much time with Nadia - we've been friends for over 20 years, from our days as single bartenders in Boston, through marriage, career, motherhood, and both of our journeys into art. Nadia has always encouraged me to go back to art and I thank her for that. She's an amazing woman - the mother of 4 smart, talented, wonderful children and somehow managed to squeeze painting in while raising her kids and working.

Annie Cronin was there too handing out her gluten-free goodies (excellent chocolate chip cookies on Sat and unbelievably good focaccia on Sun). She is a gluten-free consultant who helps restaurants develop gluten-free menus and people who are newly diagnosed with celiac learn to shop and cook in a new way. She is my neighbor and close friend who feeds me her good food and listens to me and is always there for me. Annie was the sales woman, she literally coaxed people into the studio from the hall with "Hi, would you like a chocolate chip cookie?" and then proceeded to introduce Nadia and me and our paintings, while we sat there like lumps smiling a lot. It's hard to "sell" your own stuff.

The three of us had so much fun and I'm so glad they were there!

I didn't sell anything, a couple of people came by and asked about my painting of the glass salt shaker "Lonely Shaker" that they had seen on the LOS web site, but I gave that to my father. (no...oops...forgot...A prominent Florida collector bought it to add to his collection).

I got a call from a friend who had stopped by with her boyfriend and she said that he was interested in my wetlands painting "The Sentinel" but I haven't heard back so not sure if he is going to buy it.

Here's how the studio looked that day. I framed and hung some paintings, and others I put on table stands. Sunday night I put everything back together again and rearranged so that I can do the monthly first Saturday Open Studios without having to spend two days of preparation. Next one is actually tomorrow - so I have to go there tonight and re-hang my paintings and finish cleaning up. ugh. But hopefully after tonight I'll be set.