Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How Long Does it Take to Make a Painting?

"Early Morning Together"
Acrylic on Canvas
16 x 20 x 1.5 inch

I often get this question. "How long does it take?" It sounds like a simple question, but the answer isn't quite so. Each painting I make has it's own life. It's own destiny, often over which I have no control (or at least feel like I don't have control). Sometimes I can whip out a 16 x 20 inch painting in a couple hours having that satisfied "that's it" feeling. Sometimes it takes days and days (or longer if I set it aside to ruminate). This little bird pair, for example, may be vaguely familiar to those of you who saw me start it at the Everett Fresh Paint Show a couple weeks ago. It seemed to come together quite quickly (often my demonstration pieces do), but then it swerved out of control and needed to rest for a few days. The birds actually made their debut as a couple of indistinct red blobs amongst many other red blobs. From there they went back and forth between red, tan, yellow, red again, and in the very end... green. Their tree was full of green foliage. Their sky was blue, white, yellow, grey, and yellow-green again. The coral flowers were many, then few, and then almost rubbed out completely. Their feathers were ruffled. Their plumes blended into the background. The tree limbs were drawn and re-drawn many times. There was writing, and then just grey. I added paint, rubbed it out, added more. Then suddenly the birds just jumped out at me. They were done. A last touch up to the sky to even out the composition and then "that's it". Sometimes that's just how it happens. If you asked me "how long did it take?" it would be hard to say... but let's go with about 10 hours plus years of experience drawing and painting birds.

... and remember - SHIPPING within the U.S. is always FREE when purchasing original art from my blog!

Fine Art Quality Giclee Reproductions of this piece
unframed, framed, on canvas and paper
Available on Imagekind!

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Art of Scumbling... Techniques in Acrylic Painting

(painting showing scumbling - a turquoise background with off-white scumbling for the sky and layers of green & for the hills)

I am proud to say that I was trained by a select group of talented NW modern artists teaching at the University of Washington in the early '90s, lead by none other than the late, very talented, Eugene Pizzuto (see his works HERE.) I love his work, and can only hope to create such creatively bold and interesting art as I continue to learn and progress in my painting.

Amazingly enough, while these artists were often pushing us to explore the canvas and materials to create our paintings using techniques both new and old - we rarely if ever caught a glimpse of their work (I only discovered how much I enjoyed Pizzuto's work much later). As a whole they wanted us to create our own art and become our own artists. When I think back to this practice of theirs, I appreciate it so much more now. They taught me how to create a painting without me seeing them paint. I find that extraordinary.

That all being said, I also wanted to highlight that while these artists applied many different more modern methods to their painting, they also were highly skilled and educated in the fundamentals of classical painting techniques - one of my favorites of which I am sharing today, with hopefully many more to come over the next few months.

The Art of Scumbling: an oil painting color mixing technique applied to Acrylics

While it's roots are found in the more classical oil painting methods of Rembrandt, Da Vinci, and many others... it lived on in the French Impressionists (e.g. Monet) and more modern artists such as Klee, and many others. It is often glossed over as another form of glazing technique, but I find it to have a wonderful tactile lushness to it that you won't find in the thin glazes. Also, it is a technique easier to use with Acrylics since they dry so much faster than oil paints.

The basics: Once you have a base color (turquoise was used in the sample painting) that is dry (or dry enough not to mix with a light touch - which is very easy and fast with Acrylics), you load up a dry brush with thick paint (straight from the tube, not thinned). Depending on how much of the background you want to show through your brushstrokes, you gently sweep your brush across the area you are scumbling. Sweeping more or less depending on how much of the base color you want to show through. The more textured your surface is when you start, the easier it will be to to create this color mixing effect as your dry brush catches the high points with paint. What is left are hints of your first color showing through your newly applied color. Great for sunny highlights in your portrait or still life as well as creating hazy depth to your landscape painting, this simple technique can raise the complexity of even the simplest piece (landscape above) giving it a more interesting life.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

Painting BIG (well, a little big) at the FRESH PAINT show in Everett

"The Dance of Spring"

I love painting on a big canvas. So much so, I've even considered painting solely BIG. I LOVE the movement and texture associated with larger sweeping brush strokes - physically moving with the painting. However, until I firm up a larger studio space... it's one big painting at a time. And the one right now? Well, it's almost 8 feet long by 2 1/2 feet tall. And I'm itching to go bigger! I just put the final touches on today, though, and am looking forward to picking up more canvas from Artisan Custom Canvas (a GREAT local custom canvas builder) at the end of the month so that I can start my next big (but not quite as big) commission.

In the meantime - come watch me paint a 30 x 40 inch canvas at the Fresh Paint show in Everett, WA this weekend! It's a great ARTIST IN ACTION show where you can watch glass-blowing, encaustic painting, metalsmithing, and more!

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Land of Milk and Honey - NEW Little Bird Painting

"The Land of Milk and Honey"

Painted during the "Craft-In" show in Newberg, Oregon - my latest little bird painting is full of nature's goodness, Milk (the sunny little world beyond the undergrowth) and Honey (the sweet little yellow bird considering flight into the milky goodness). I'm beginning to think that I should paint all my art at shows! I tend to be more thoughtful and take more time while painting at a show. I break often to help customers and then take a moment to stand back and see my progress. The result is more layers of color and a greater compositional consideration. This particular piece started out as a landscape of rolling hills and large oak trees, but the hills seemed to transition to branches which then led me down this warm and lovely garden path.

LOOK for this painting at the Currents Gallery SHOW in McMinnville, Oregon

August 12 - September 14

Opening Reception

August 15, 2009
5pm - 8pm

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Green Note Cards - Show Your LOVE!

Send a little LOVE for your family or friend with a little love for your planet too!

I'm always looking to find ways to lesson my impact on our environment. From recycling used acrylic paint into "art tiles" for paintings on recycled cabinet doors, to using my Prius to drive to shows, I try to find ways to be kinder and gentler to our planet. I'm FAR from perfect, but I keep trying...

My latest effort is making all my Art Cards more eco-friendly! I have always loved sending and receiving cards, and have been making them in one form or another for the past 20 years. I have always tried to use recycled paper products, but not always consistently so.

But NOW - My latest line of cards portraying my collection of various paintings and drawings in a 4 x 6 framable art card format are getting a little GREENER! By using 100% PCW Recycled Envelopes and Paper from Mohawk Papers with a biodegradable plastic sleeve, these cards are a great way to send a little more love to all! Look for the EARTH FIRST symbol on these eco-friendly cards and share the love!

Coming Soon: An ECO-friendly printer with the same graphics quality you've come to love with my cards!

Have MORE ideas on how to be Earth Friendly? Why not post them here! I would love to find more ways to help our planet!

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