Saturday, December 20, 2008

"Alexandria" Completed

I am very happy to say that my painting of Alexandria is complete and has been delivered! Delayed for several reasons, including my inability to paint because of my shoulder surgery for almost a year, I have worked many, many hours to complete it before Christmas. Alexandria hangs beside a portrait of her brother, Jonathan (the boy with the skateboard), featured in an earlier post. One of the most time consuming parts of this painting was the skirt, with all those folds! I faced a few challenges in this painting which, fortunately, I overcame. I am now very happy with the result as are Alexandria and her family.

I am having a lot of family here for Christmas and hope to enjoy my time with them. I wish all my readers a wonderful Christmas, some of you a great Channuka, and all of you a healthy and happy new year. Keep your loved ones close and treasure your moments with them.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Still Life in Oil Workshop

What a great still life class we had in early December! Seven students and three set-ups (sorry, one is not pictured) provided an interesting and challenging four days...yes, for them! Still life painting is sucha wonderful training ground for all genres of painting. Painters included Susan Deryke, Henne Karavitch, Sharon Mullings, Susan Phillips, Linda Rubenstein, Dru Sumner (recently married and name may have changed!) and Bert Schaffer. Great Group!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Completed Portrait

Portraits such as this one take me soooo long to complete, and I am always happy when I call it done and paint my signature on it. Someone just asked me the other night how I know when to stop, how I know when it is finished. The answer is straightforward. When I can't find anything to do to it that will make it better. Now that doesn't mean that I won't see something later that I might have done differently. As Burt Silverman once said, "The dynamic of a painting does not end with the signature." As you grow as an artist, and let's hope that we are growing every day in some way, you will see things differently, may learn something new that you could have applied to an old work. You may have reached a greater understanding on resolving particular problems in a painting. But for me, once it is done, I rarely, if ever, go back to an old painting. If anything, I might repaint it (not a portrait), applying the newer philosophies or techniques to a new work. Then I have the advantage of comparison.
I hope you like this painting. Chance is the third grandchild I've painted for this client, with one more to go. (Chance's cousin, Ben, is in the right hand column of this blog.) But I have another portrait in the last stages (Alexandria) and will have that finished by next week.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cane Hollow Farm

Outbuildings, Oil, 9 x 12
Cane Hollow Farm, WC, app.15 x 30,

I don't know what it is about a particular image that draws you in, that ignites a spark of creativity, and beckons you to return to it repeatedly. I have a photo on my computer that I took some time ago of a particular group of farm buildings and each time I see it, I am drawn to paint it. First I painted it on a small 9 x 12 canvas in oil (Outbuildings, shown at top)as a demo in a workshop, using only a palette knife, and I stayed fairly true to the proportion and the scene as it appeared in the photo. I did, however, push the autumn colors beyond what appeared in the photo. The second time I used the image as source material, I altered the concept, changing the weather to a blustery winter day, with snow and stormy grey clouds, painting in oil again but this time on a 12 x 24 canvas. (That painting is almost complete and not pictured above.) Last week, during a watercolor workshop, I once again used the photo as inspiration, this time painting in watercolor on 300# rough paper (Cane Hollow Farm, bottom photo). I used a landscape format, larger than the one before it, using a 15 x 30 sheet. Again I painted a winter scene, but used a limited palette with what I felt was a pleasing mix of warm and cool colors. I added a typical white Georgia farmhouse to the scene as well as a dirt path or roadway, and kept the painting quite simple.

A funny aspect of this is that I could not remember where I was when I had taken the photograph and it was really frustrating me as I was working on the second painting. A couple of weeks ago I went to visit friends. Across the road from their house is a wonderful huge pasture, usually filled with cows and an inviting vista. With the trees bared once again in preparation of winter, I was able to see some barns in a clearing and thought, "Gee, that looks like that gambrel roofed barn in my paintings. Oh, and that other building looks like..." Yes, indeed, there was the image I had photographed, probably two years prior. And it held the same excitement for me then as it did when I first snapped that picture. I have no doubt I will paint these buildings again!

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Wonderful Exhibition

On Saturday my husband and I went to the Atlanta Art Gallery to view their current exhibition, Jacob Collins and the Water Street Atelier. The show contains the works of many artists, all of whom are or have been students of the famed Brooklyn Water Street Atelier founded by Jacob Collins in 1994, when he was thirty years old. Frustrated with the lack of traditional academic training in the art schools at that time, Jacob founded this school in his studio, hoping to attract like-minded artists/students, those interested in preserving, or at that time, perhaps more appropriately, resurrecting the teaching methods of the Masters and the Academies found in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. With good draftsmanship the foundation for good painting, students would work first in pencil or charcoal only, replicating sculptural casts. Next they would draw the human form from life and only when they had mastered this could they begin to paint.
Thus began a new generation of artists in the United States, artists whose high degree of excellence could not be ignored by the modernist art establishment. Classical Realism slowly crept back into the galleries and museums, and while it is still not held in the highest regard in all circles, it has certainly gained a very strong foothold in the art world of the 21st century. Today there are ateliers and more formal academic schools throughout the country, offering students the kind of educational foundation that can lead them to greatness.
It has been my great honor to have met and spoken with Jacob Collins, to have attended a round table discussion with him, and to hear him speak and present an incredible slide show of his work. I have also had the privilege of interviewing and writing articles about two of the artists in this show, Juliette Aristedes and Patricia Watwood. Juliette runs a four year atelier at the Gage Academy in Seattle and has recently published two wonderful books, both based on the classical academic tradition, one on drawing and one on painting. (Look them up in my Art Matters Amazon Bookstore in the right column of this blog.)
I strongly recommend that you visit the Atlanta Art Gallery in Buckhead to see this show. You will not be sorry that you did. I am posting a few images from the show here to entice you, but you can see the catalog and view more images at their website.
Seeing a show of this caliber just makes me want to paint better and better! I hope it will do that for you, too!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Great Landscape Workshop!

Boy, did everyone do a great job on these paintings! This was a really great workshop a couple of weeks ago. These photos were taken on the last day, Critique Day! Everyone made great progress and really produced some great paintings! A round of applause for these beautiful art works!

Recent Plein Air Outings

I've gotten to go out painting on location several times in the past couple of months. Top photo is of a small 5" x 5" painting of students painting at Meeks Park in Blairsville. Third painting is the same day, as I turned and faced the opposite direction. This, too, is a small painting, about 5" x 4" I think.
Second from top photo is from a great day at Crane Creek Vineyard, where we were served a wonderful lunch with some wine in the pavillion. The two bottom photos as well as the Crane Creek photo are from a day at Vogel State Park with the AFAL sponsored workshop with Anita Louise West, based at Carriage House. These photos are not the best and I apologize for that!

You fight the elements when you paint on location. At Crane Creek we persevered on a very unseasonal cold and windy day with plenty of rain! At Meeks Park, the insects and the wooly worms were in great abundance, and I got some nasty bites on my neck. First time I didn't have my insect repellant with me! At the Lake at Vogel State Park, we had gale force gusts of wind that overturned easels and paintings. I had to scrape the dirt, grass, and bugs off my lake painting when it dried! But it was fun nonetheless!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Finishing a "Finished" Painting

A student recently brought this painting to class (done outside the class) for a critique. First, though, he added two additional elements to it to try to balance the composition - the palette knife on the lower left and the tube of paint on the lower right. This did not really do the trick. The apple, because it contained the strongest light int he painting, is the focal point, located in the left third of the painting, not a good place for a focal point to be. The lighting on the vase is inconsistent with the level of the light on the apple. One brush, which enters the vase at the lower left "corner", would go through the outside of the vase if it followed the path indicated by the top of the brush. The student wanted to just paint over this painting with a new one. Instead, I asked if I could show him how he could improve this painting before he covered it up.

I modeled the apple a little better by adding form shadow to the right dide and bottom of the apple, which not only improved the roundness of the apple, but also decreased the amount of light in the left third of the painting. I added a stem and its shadow. I painted over the palette knife and the tube of paint with the color of the table and increased the light on the table as it approached the vase. My purpose from here on was to change the focal point from the apple to the vase, which would make the focal point more appropriately placed.

I corrected the middle value on the vase as it turned out of the light into the form shadow on the right and I lightened the light value on the left third of the vase. I then added highlights to the main body of the vase and made these, as well as the highlights on the neck of the vase, much lighter and more intense than the highlights on the apple.

I moved (repainted) the errant brush into a position that would allow its handle to stand upright int he vase. I also added slight highlights to the brush handles to add to the effect that the light was hitting this area of the painting strongly. I also added a reflected light on the right edge of the vase.The last thing I did was add another green apple, totally in shadow, to the area behind and to the right of the vase, to balance the composition. This is not a great painting, but it is much improved from its original state. And now it will lie beneath a hopefully successful new painting for many years to come! My thanks to my student for allowing me to demonstrate this.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Portrait in Progress

I am currently working on two portraits, going back and forth as necessary to keep working as paint is drying. I don't usually do this but I really must complete these, so I am putting in every effort to complete them as soon as I can. My clients have been incredibly understanding of the delays and I don't want to keep them waiting any longer than I have to.

The work in progress I am showing on the left (detail above) shows the painting with only the face in a greater state of completion than the initial block-in. The painting on the right is at its current stage which includes a more complete upper half background, the hat and right arm with more work done on them, and new paint applied to part of the shirt. When I view images on the computer I get to see them in a new light, so to speak, and areas that need more work become more apparent to me. For example, I want to lighten the boy's upper lip on his right and darker side. It is a little too dark, I think. If you click on the image of the more complete detail above, you should see what I am referring to.

I will post some new photos as I make more progress.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Exhibition at Chateau Elan

Today I was in Braselton, GA at Chateau Elan Winery and Resort, where I hung an exhibition of paintings by yours truly as well as paintings by six of my painting students: Carol Parks of Asheville, NC, Riki Fiebel of Hayesville, NC, Ginny Urani of Murphy, NC, and Sharon Mullings, Gene Lawrence, and Henna Karavitch, all of Blairsville, GA. A special thank you to Henna, as she is responsible for our being asked to show our work at Chateau Elan. All of the paintings I've posted to my blog of late were included in this exhibition and I am very proud to say that the paintings by these other fine artists look wonderful on the wall in the Winery's art gallery! If you are in the area of Chateau Elan, you might enjoy a visit to see the exhibition and enjoy a little wine-tasting to boot! Unfortunately, I used my sister's car to deliver the paintings and had left my camera in my car in the garage! When I get back down there I will get some photos and post them here. The paintings will hang there until the end of October.

Now that this deadline has passed I will be back to my portrait commissions, which have suffered serious neglect while I prepared work for this show. But they are in progress and I will resume work on them immediately...right after my weekly class! I'll post some progress photos shortly.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

And Yet Another Huge Flower!

Iris, Standing Tall, 30 x 22, Watercolor, copyright Pat Aube Gray

I am not really sure what is driving my muse these days, but large flowers are uncharacteristic for me. I completed the painting of this huge iris this morning and you may recall that back on July 13, 2008 I posted Brooke's Texas Rose, another full sheet of watercolor paper occupied by a single oversized yellow rose. (It is simply coincidence that I named the painting for my daughter Brooke's love of Texas, the yellow rose tattoo on her leg, and the fact that it was her birthday!) When my other daughter, Kerry, died last year, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the flowers we brought home, some of which I identified with her natural beauty. In particular, there was a huge, and I do mean huge, white rose, glorious in its fragrance, its size, and the singular beauty of it, and it became a symbol for me of my daughter's natural grace and simple elegance. I vowed then to someday paint that white rose, or one like it, in memory of Kerry. I have not yet done it as I am simply not ready to, I am afraid I could not do it justice, and I have not come across another rose that has the magnificence of that one. Perhaps these other flower paintings are baby steps leading me toward the white rose, or perhaps they are the result of a deeper appreciation for and connection to the simple, yet elegant beauty that we sometimes take for granted. It is interesting to me, too, that I have chosen to paint these flowers in watercolor instead of the oil I have used so much of late. But these subjects beckoned me to watercolor and the attempt to achieve the luminosity inherent in sunlit flower petals. Kerry's favorites were sunflowers, with roses a very close second. Do not be surprised to see more flower paintings...a giant sunflower, perhaps?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Cobalt Mister

I found this cobalt blue glass mister at the flea market and couldn't wait to paint it. I chose two other glass pieces for the composition and cut the daisies and rubeckia from my garden. The mister was the last thing I painted and by the time I got to it, the water inside had condensed and form the littel rivulets you see in the painting above the water line. I thought it would be more challenging to pull that off, but I just painted what I saw and it worked! (Click on the image to enlarge it.)

Sunday, August 03, 2008

I'm off to a Workshop with Yuqi Wang

This coming week, Monday through Friday, I will be in Atlanta for a workshop by the internationally renowned master painter, Yuqi Wang. I had seen Yuqi's 2000 grand prize winner at the American Society of Portrait Artists conference in NY and was in awe of it. Last year I met him at the Portrait Society of America conference in D.C. and we spent many hours talking about painting. I am very excited to have this opportunity (he says this will be his last workshop) and promise to report back upon my return. Be sure to click on the link to his site in this paragraph to see his wonderful work.

2008 Kerry Aube Lingle Memorial Sunflower Award

On Saturday night, August 1st, on the occasion of the opening reception of the Atlanta Fine Arts League's 2nd Annual National Exhibition, the first annual Kerry Aube Lingle Memorial Sunflower Award was presented to a painting in the exhibit. Matt Lingle, Kerry's husband, along with Tom and I, selected Lavendar and Lace, a beautiful painting by Charles Walls, a member of the League, and we three presented the $250 award accompanied by a beautiful certificate designed by Fran Milner, a friend and also a member of the League. (In years past, Fran was the editor of the Folio, the Portrait Society of Atlanta's news publication, and Kerry, my daughter, was the graphic designer, so they got to know each other well.) Charles was out of town so his wife, Heather, accepted the award on his behalf. As stated on the certificate, the award was created in memory of Kerry's giving nature and her love of creativity. This was a very special evening for us and, for me, a very special way to honor my daughter's memory.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Pet Portraits

Edie, 17 x 21, Watercolor on Paper, copyright 2008 Pat Aube Gray
Click on photo to see enlargement.

Unfortunately, this is a posthumous portrait of Edie, an adorable long-haired dachsund who succumbed to cancer. Edie was the much loved pet of my doctor, and Edie's death was very upsetting to her. I hope that this portrait will serve to keep Edie's memory alive every day that it hangs in the doctor's home. Edie was so loved and so missed that the family has already brought home a new long-haired dacshund to love.

I used hand made watercolor paper by Twin Rocker, a paper I learned about years ago form Stephen Scott Young, a fabulous and very successful watercolorist. It has a harder surface than Arches, for example, and I really enjoy working on it. Hot pressed paper is too hard for most of the work I do, but this cold pressed paper seems to be just the right degree of hardness. Lifting is fairly easy, but you can still glaze with it and not lift the layers below. I recently watched a video about Twin Rocker and found it very interesting. A young couple started the company and has found a niche in a market rife with machine made products. They make many different kinds of paper, in many different sizes, some with deckled edges such as the piece I used for the above painting. For more information, go to

New Beginnings

A New Day, Oil on Canvas, 12 x 24 copyright Pat Aube Gray 2008
Click on Image to enlarge.

I began this painting in my palette knife workshop and finished it afterward. The only part of this painting that was done with a brush is the interesting vent on the roof and my signature! I had been wanting to paint on a 12 x 24 canvas and this barn with the long range mountain view and a sunrise was just the right image for it. The clarity is lost a little in the photo you see here, but if you click to enlarge it you can see more detail. I am particularly pleased with the color harmony in this painting. Hope you like it,too!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Brooke's Texas Rose

Brooke's Texas Rose, 22 x 30 watercolor on paper - copyright Pat Aube Gray

While working on oil portraits and waiting for paint to dry, I have been working on watercolors in my home studio. This subject is one I have wanted to paint for a long time. We lived in Texas for six years many years ago and have some very happy memories there. My daughter, Brooke, consistent with the contemporary practice of women getting tattoos, actually had the yellow rose of Texas etched on her leg. So in her honor, and in memory of our days in Texas, I named this painting Brooke's Texas Rose. This painting will be included in my upcoming exhibition at Chateau Elan Resort & Winery Gallery in Braselton, GA.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Painting with a Palette Knife

Outbuildings, 9 x 12, oil on canvas, copyright Pat Aube Gray 2008

I had a great time these past three days in a palette knife oil workshop I held in the teaching studio at Carriage House Art Center in Blairsville ( Had a great group, including several returning students whom I have not seen in a while, so it was a little like old home week. Everyone did a great job on their paintings, some jumping right in with the knife and others, perhaps at first, a little intimidated by the lack of control over a knife versus a brush. But by the second day, the paintings just emerged beautifully under the more confident hands of these good painters. As for me, I painted the small demo seen above, entirely with palette knives, as a demonstration during the workshop. Everyone worked from my photographs and most were summer scenes. As with the painting above, dealing with so much green in hte summer can be a challenge. There are actually many other colors besides green in the grass and foliage than perhaps can be seen here. I did get a decent start on a second larger painting and hope to finish it this week.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Recent Works

I have been spending the last several weeks working on new websites for myself ( and also for our gallery (, so I have not had much time to post here. We have hired a former employee, Sarah, to work in the gallery/frame shop and that has relieved me a great deal. So within the next couple of days, I will be painting most of the time and teaching part of the time! With three commissions to complete and a show at Chateau Elan coming up in September, this is a must!

The only paintings I have been able to do recently have been plein air pieces, when I have gone out with my student groups or the Plein Air Painters of the Southern Appalachians (PAPOSA). The two paintings (above and below) at Butternut Creek in Meeks Park in Blairsville are pastels on paper. One was painted in the morning and the other in mid-afternoon. It is amazing how different the same basic subject matter looks at different times of the day and those differences are readily apparent in my two paintings.

The third piece, an oil, was painted at Crane Creek Vineyard on a rainy, cloudy day. Again the effect of weather and a different quality of light is apparent in the painting. Sometimes I will "doctor" a plein air piece up a little back in the studio, as I did with the pastels because my painting time on location was short (one in the morning, one in the afternoon.) But I worked on the same painting all day at Crane Creek under a cloudy sky, so the light did not change very much. Even though I would like to beef this one up a little with more color variation and a few dark accents and light highlights, I decided to leave it as I completed it that day. I think it is truer to the scene and the weather than if I tweak it. All three of these paintings are available at Carriage House Art Center.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Plein-Air Painting This Past Week

Click on Photos for a Larger View

Wow! I've been painting on location twice in the past week! Last Wednesday a group went out with me from my studio to a local park in Blairsville and we had a great time! It was a beautiful day; I couldn't have asked for better weather. Painted one picture in the morning and another in the afternoon, with a wonderful picnic lunch in between! Everyone left with some great paintings, all in oil except mine. I chose to bring pastels with me that day and I must admit, it is much easier than dealing with oils outdoors. I will complete the paintings in the studio and post them at a later date.

Today I went with four other painters to Jackrabbit Mountain Park in the Nantahala Forest to paint on Lake Chatuge. It was a beautiful setting, but we are having what is called a "dogwood winter." It was cold and windy with the dogwoods in full bloom! This was the first paint-out for the Plein Air Painters of Southern Appalachia (PAPOSA), a newly formed casual group of artists who love painting on location. It was a great day and more are planned! If anyone is interested in joining PAPOSA, email me and I will get you the information.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Students Learn About Values in Color

Oddball, oil on canvas, 9 x 12, copyright Pat Aube Gray

One morning each week, two lovely ladies come to my studio for semi-private lessons. Beginners in oil painting, the two are eager to paint more exciting things than four colored balls on a table, but I find that the color of all the values found in a colored object is difficult for some students to see. Mention shadow and they reach for greys and browns instinctively, instead of the darker values of any given color. For example, the form shadow on the yellow ball is a dark version of yellow, not just any grey or brown. So for this painting, I set up four different color rubber balls and all three of us painted them, with mine being a demo for them to watch as they painted. It was a good lesson and they each did a very good job!

Note that since the balls are rubber, they do not have really strong highlights, such as pool balls might have, for example. Hard, shiny objects reflect light and have strong highlights. Think of chrome bumpers, automobile finishes, apples, shiny table tops, etc. Soft objects, like rubber balls, peaches, and fabrics absorb light rather than reflect it, so the highlighted areas are softer and not as dramatic.

I decided to include the sku label on the yellow ball in my painting. My students were timid in that regard and left it off. SO both I and the yellow ball are "oddballs," hence the title for the painting.

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Sunday Greetings!

New Salem NY Rock Fence, Copyright Pat Aube Gray

Good morning! I painted this scene on location in 2006, but without the light. It was my last painting in an afternoon of work at a wonderful farm in New Salem, NY, established in the 1700's. All I did initially was record the shapes of what I saw and just indicate where the sun was hitting and where it wasn't. This week I overpainted my underpainting with color and light. It was a wonderful scene and makes for a pleasant painting, don't you think?

I was in NY that summer taking a portrait workshop for two weeks with the inimitable master, Daniel Greene. A wonderful experience and I left with a definite realization that sometimes I settle for less than I should and could do! An invaluable lesson for me! Over the weekend, between sessions of the weekly workshops, I went out with other artists to paint en plein aire.

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