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!