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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Asters, Freud (8"square)

Today I used a round brush and I loved it! The entire painting experience was more fluid and natural, no fighting against anything. A pointed brush offers lots of mark making opportunities and directional stuff. I was able to leave some edges unfinished, for instance in the font and it feels ok to do it and looks (to me) like there is enough done. I also did a small narrow painting of the little pink glass with the round brush. I set up outside in the driveway and taped everything down to a little table. That was my first plein aire shot and it was a different kettle of fish. Wind blowing, flowers flopping, blistering sunlight and shadows that were stronger than the forms. I can see you have to keep making adjustments until you figure how to get what you need to best paint. But the light was really gorgeous.
I have a workshop coming up Monday and Tuesday, see you Wednesday.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Flowers from the Looney's Garden, (6"square)

I found this 3 inch tall glass in a thrift shop and couldn't buy it then so had to return 4 days later and search among endless piles of stuff for it. But while I waited to go back, I dreamed of how the glass belled out in two rows at the base and the odd pink color of it and how I would paint it. I also have cutting privileges in my neighbors' garden, which is full of the last tiny fall flowers. In my thinking, the painting was loose and the forms soft! That double fold of glass at the bottom was a bear though. I need to paint be more at home with this glass so I can relax about it, and will try again tomorrow.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Three Things: Salt, Onion, Freud

The two things are leaning on the third thing, which is the sleeve to the Lucian Freud book.
These colors are altogether too upbeat for Lucian, what was I thinking.... Also, I didn't put the stripes on the onion on purpose. I'm cleaning my house this week and sick of all the clutter, so out went the stripes. It's time to discard.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Three Things/ Plums (6"square)

I backed up to a simpler composition for re-entry. It's so interesting how you take for granted the accumulation of millions of gross and fine skills, expecting them to operate without your making conscious effort. The miraculous plastic brain - I'm so pleased to have one.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Three Things (8x6")

Ooo, hard to plunge in just where you left off...
I wanted to do a formal presentation of objects with lots of space around so I could pay attention to the temperature change which was very obvious under the lights, warm yellow lights in the top half, cool blue in the bottom, with some lavender crossover patches. But when I have such delicate changes, the smallest bit of overworking destroys them. So another try for this idea.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sylvester's Oleander Again (9x4 inches)

Another one with the big brush. Of course when you think about it, it is amusing to think a tool is going to change the way you see things. It might gum you up a bit at first, but then your habitual way of doing things, which is fiercely entrenched, overcomes all. So as usual, the battle is within. I remember seeing Velasquez at the Prado, all those huge paintings of the Spanish royalty. If you stood within a foot of the canvases, you could not see one line or edge, not one. If you stood back further, it made itself into the forms. Oy vey!
I am off for a few days to attend my father's birthday party -- Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cigar (6x8 ")

I had to take a shot at this, it was so good, the illuminated mouth and the fat cigar. Thank you, Tom.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sylvester's Oleander (6 inches square)

This time I used a #10 but it was a brand new Monarch bright with a crisp new edge to it, so I could have painted the teeth on a zipper if I had wanted to. And in fact, I did labor too long here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mama Belle's Sugar Bowl Lid/ Still Life (8 " square)

I wanted to try something more complex and larger and still use the big brush, keeping as loose as I could and getting shapes blocked in simply. This approach is definitely quicker and forces me to simplify the information. In addition, I have been reading Schmid's Alla Prima for the second time - I understand more this time - and am now in the discussion about what one wants out of the painting, color, values, drawing or design. And of course, he says you should only have one for an effective painting, and then don't finish out all the other aspects. So I'm just thinking on that one to see how it fits. I did make the conscious decision that color was the thing I wanted here -- but I think really it is design that I wanted -- the interconnectedness of disparate parts and the way they sit across the picture plane. But how can you not choose color? I have to ruminate on all this. Or marinate.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Plums, Grapes

For this painting I on purpose used the Bristlon Silver #8 brush (huge, 3/4 quarters of an inch wide) which is also old and splayed. I felt like I was riding a roller coaster with no seat belt -- I had to place the paint on the surface somewhat differently, sabotaging my inclination to put every little detail in and "do a good job of it". I had to wipe the plums out a couple of times, but overall I think the painting is an improvement. The interesting thing is, even with a coarse huge brush, you can still get in adequate detail. I guess the important word there is - adequate.

Friday, October 15, 2010


This is my good friend, Hedy Lamarr.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Campari and Lemon (7x5 inches)

This is my favorite drink, best drunk in the summer months on a veranda anywhere in Italy.
Winter months ok also.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Candy Corn (3x8")

OK, I know the chicken was grotesque. Grotesque things are good to paint because you really have to look hard. It wasn't my best chicken though, not even in the top ten. So there's room for improvement. In the meantime, something pretty to take your mind off the chicken.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hen (8x6")

This is a little Cornish game hen. It starts out pink and pearly and then it cooks under the lights and turns brown before your eyes, faster than you can paint it. It's enough to make you a vegetarian. But it is a good exercise for painting skin.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Five Quince (3x8 inches)

Here are the quince again on a more glamorous background. I really like working on these throwaway bits of primed hardboard. I feel like it doesn't count for much, it is so small and sort of secretive, so it is easier to feel brave and free while you are painting.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Two Self Portraits, (12x10 and 10x8 inches)

These are the self portraits my student and I painted. Although often harrowing, I think portrait painting is the most exciting painting experience. I have a heightened feeling of athleticism -- like I need to be on my toes with all my core muscles clenched for balance and all the pistons firing. It takes the most of all I have. I am happy to report that with a minimum of harassment I got my student to give me hers.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Misbegotten Quince (5"square)

A friend sent me a priority mail box of these fruits and I am trying to turn them into a silk purse. I had a quick go at them here on a tiny canvas and will try them again. They are misshapen, folded, dented and liver spotted, so my work is cut out for me. Maybe some Hollywood the old Loretta Young movies.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Mechanical Bird and Peanut Butter Cupcake (6"square)

I've been missing the bird, so I went for another cupcake pairing. Lately I have been using a burnt sienna wash on the gessobord and drying it well with a blast from the hair dryer, so it's good and dry when I put down the paint. In this case, it gave a pink tinge to the white area which I like. Also I have been making a concerted effort NOT to blend at all, but to mix a transition tone when the value difference is too great between paint pieces or shapes, maybe you call them patches. My brain resists this! It takes more time and concentration, I have to slow down and figure out what the transition tone is and how to get it. Of course I am thinking this will only happen at first, and soon I will be figuring those tones easily and naturally, and I am really looking forward to this.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Nick's Cupcake Altar Piece (8x6")

Nick R. gave me this cupcake to paint and I immediately wanted to elevate it spiritually and physically. I painted it on top of a stack of stuff and applied gold leaf behind it to give it a sort of 13th century altar piece look, then gave it some greenish wings (if only they would fold in!) and would have painted putti on them if there had been room. Maybe this idea needs a larger format.... Gold leaf is the most fun thing ever!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Peach and Vine (6"square)

Yesterday morning early I stumbled on Jeff Mahorney's blog in which he discussed what he learned from doing 120 paintings. He has it listed under "What I Learned" just under his portrait ( There is a long and a short version, but don't miss the long one. It is a concise distillation of many technical and creative issues and I found them extremely helpful and even comforting. He also has a really interesting blog, don't miss it!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Grape Juice (7x5")

This painting was a breakthrough of sorts. I did not futz with it at all. I used a brush that was too large and put everything down in blocks and moved to the next section. The experience of painting it was fast-paced and relaxed, with things falling into place with naturalness. I think detail - too much of it - is the enemy, which I have not understood before. Backing up, both visually and emotionally, seems like the correct next step.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Peaches, Green Grapes (5x9")

With my present camera I cannot eliminate the glare in the upper left corner, which is maddening. I have been reading about polarized lenses for DSL cameras -- financial considerations aside, that is another technical purgatory to be plumbed - aaaugh! If they can put a man on the moon, why can't they make a little inexpensive camera that will fix glare? The thousands of us who have blogs would run right out and buy them. If anyone knows of such a thing, please advise.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Wedding Cupcake (6"square)

Exploring white. Out of steam tonight. Words took flight.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Italian Shoes (8"square)

Well, shoes....they are an indulgence, even painting them. The shapes of shoes can be exciting like the shapes of cars (Jaguars! The BMW Mini!). These shoes are convertibles.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Purple Aster, Redbud Leaf (6"square)

Maybe you could make an entire career of getting glass right, the edges of it as it meets the air.
I mostly don't feel defeated when I don't get it right as I do with other things, like portrait elements. It is just purely fun to see how little you can have and still have it be glass. And almost always, you could have had even less.