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Thursday, July 28, 2011


Unsung Dorothy   oil/canvas   20 x 16 x 1.5
Gale just might be the most famous Dorothy ever...the I-wish-I-were-in-Kansas-ruby-slippers Dorothy.  And then there is that darling skater with the darling haircut....Dorothy Hamill.  But there are so many unsung Dorothys out there...participating in the daily grind and running offices at art centers on a volunteer basis.  These are the real Dorothys.  We were fortunate to have Dorothy pose for our class at the art center....3 hours.  I need about three times that amount of time in front of the model, at the very least, to reach completion.  If I'm lucky.  The next week she was unavailable.  I was lucky to have remembered my camera.  When investing time and energy in work from a model, it is always good to have a camera handy for finishing the work if schedules go south....illnesses, vacations, and a million other activities can easily shortchange our best efforts.  We work on a 20-minutes-on/5-minute-off session.  My favorite time to shoot the photo is 5 minutes or so into the SECOND session.  By this time, the model has found the pose.  Also more relaxed from the break.  Not too stiff from finding the pose again.

The world turns thanks to the efforts of all the unsung Dorothys.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

and it's HOT HOT HOT...

Red Gold   oil/canvas   6 x 6 x 1.5
here in Northeast Ohio.  Our old 150-year-old dwelling has no air conditioning so the fans are at full tilt and begging for mercy.  The good news is that the heat and humidity have been superb growing conditions for the garden.  The first tomatoes are off the vine this week.  Yum.

All forms present their own particular problems in painting.  Circles.  Circles.  Circles.  Without hard and soft edges, the forms become too self-enclosed for me, preventing the movement around the painting.  I have learned this over the years with repeated efforts at painting pumpkins.  I love to play off these circles with line...the vines...and with texture...the leaves and the small buds at the tops.  For me, these considerations have improved my tomato painting efforts.

Add balsamic vinegar, soft mozzarella, salt or mayonnaise.  Life is good.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Brush your teeth and paint some flowers...

For the Love of Geranium   oil/canvas board   8 x 8
are among those structured disciplines that reside somewhere in my head.  Have to do them.  Not always a pleasure.  I feel that floral painting is one of the most difficult endeavors possible.  The form of just one bloom is highly complex.  Add another.  And yet another.  And consider the relationships between them.  Yikes!  I decided to paint the geraniums on my patio.  They are, in my opinion, right up there with lilacs when it comes to complexity.  They are made up of a myriad of pieces-parts, all in various stages of ebb and flow.  And so, I knew that the simple shapes of the blooms might best tell the story.  Seeing and interpreting their parts was amazingly confusing.  Their colors are also complex....being somewhat florescent and a merging of more than one hue.  And now, two days later, my studio is littered with pieces of geranium parts and leaves.  I feel as if I have done battle.

"For the Love of Geranium" is the result.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Daily Painting...or painting daily?

Ginger Jar with Peaches   oil/canvas   12 x 9 x 1.25
Yes, I paint every day....or nearly.  But the current daily painter movement is comprised of artists who actually finish a painting in a day.  How DO they do it?  I linger over my coffee and my meals.  I even linger over many decisions.  And, I just love the look of paint over paint.  That can only occur when the paint has some time to dry.  I consider and reconsider.  To give myself a break from the larger painting problems in my work area, I have decided to paint a few smaller still life works that will be color-driven and a bit mindless.  The shift will accommodate attention and practice in other arenas....brushwork, the difficulty of painting flowers and design to name a few.

"Ginger Jar with Peaches" is a smaller 12 x 9 painting.  A 2-day painting.  The best I can do.

How do they do it?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Express Yourself...

Grande Dame   oil/canvas   30 x 40 x 1.5
I am the happiest when my work reflects who I own personal recipe of design expressed through paint.  In the past, I have painted what is in front of me, especially en plein air, using local color, hard edges and pretty much what would be seen from a photograph.  The result has been a great dissatisfaction and uneasiness.  "Grande Dame" was originally painted from photos taken from a Victorian home.  Its title was "Gabled".  Despite the fact that it was, in my opinion, a respectable work, it didn't thrill me.  It did not represent my own ideas, my own interpretation.  After a year had passed and it was time for varnishing, I decided that I just couldn't preserve it as it was.  I couldn't wait for the initial destruction.  It sat in my studio for a very long time.  By then I had deleted all photo references.  It took four sessions of discovery and interpretation.  It was rechristened "Grande Dame".

While I am certain that there are those who prefer the first version, I owe it to myself to be myself.  Not painting to an audience.  

I felt as if I had come home.  At long last.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Jardiniere   watercolor/mixed   20.5 x 12
is a wonderful expression....and most often conjures up a birthday party.  Most recently, my work "Jardiniere" was the subject of surprise for me.  This painting, a watercolor, was begun in class from a model who posed as a gardener.  I continued the work at home, filling in the spaces with an imaginary garden.  Soon, I was overwhelmed with a sameness of color and a busy-ness that had taken over.  It looked like most of my other garden paintings droned into sameness.  I yearned to simplify the background and, thus, shift all of the attention to the gardener whose work is unending.  I am quite a fan of the teachings of Robert Henri who believed that the evolution of a work depending on the altering of passages that seem wrong.  As the work progressed, I found myself using gouache as well as printer's ink which was applied to a plate and pressed onto the surface.  Colors were urged into excitement.  The journey became totally unpredictable.

Surprise!  Immediately afterwards, I was very confused as to the amount of affection I felt for this work.  Now, several weeks later, I find myself liking it.