Tuesday, December 30, 2014

No painting today but yesterday

Yesterday I worked on a couple of paintings and started a third.  On Father George I was only planning to work everything but the face and when I finished with that and was happy with what was my initial attempt with the portrait except for one spot on the cheek near the crease near the nose.  I kept analyzing that spot, can I go in there and work on just that spot or will I end up doing everything over. It was kind of an all or nothing thing, I knew I wouldn't stop if I got started, and didn't want to leave it alone, so even though I did try to fix that spot, I was bitten again by the challenge to keep going.  I will be happy someday when I really can do a good job with an alla prima portrait.
Then I started on a new one from a photo.  I did the block in and then had to leave the studio and tend to other matters like doing a drawing for the lumber/wood guy about the mounting boards for the show.
I started off this morning by almost being late to the dentist, then one thing after another and I never did get into the studio, but I did do two to three hours of art related computer stuff, partly to find which photo book company to go with and watched a webinar on doing photo books. I also received a photo of one of the people who was planning to sit at the Senior Center but we just didn't get together on dates.  I am excited to get back to painting tomorrow and finish the two photo portraits.  Oh, yes, I heard from one of our models who is also an artist and she did a self-portrait and another portrait and will submit them for the show--so now we have a sitter who is also a painter.
I felt guilty about not painting today, but then I did paint on Christmas day.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Two more people

I'm now taking photos to reach my goal of 30 people and have received two.  I'll get to them today in order to get a start on them.  Yesterday I painted on three others.  I'm still enjoying the Greene palette.  Today is Father George for starters.
One of the frequent other artists in the portrait project, Fran Butsavich let me know yesterday that she will not have anything to put in the show.  This is sad because it would have given a very nice drawing aspect to the show.  Fran worked in pencil, charcoal, and maybe paint while she worked with the project models and usually gave them her work.
I did get to talk with the exhibit advisor at the Merrimac Library and everything looks good as far as the requirements are concerned and the hang day will be Monday, January 26.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Shaping up and looking good.

I now know that there will be ample representation by others for the Merrimacians show.  Five people have not replied, and some of them will have a number of paintings, and yet, so far I have approximately 21 paintings coming in.  This is an important aspect of the show to allow the public to see varying styles and methods and mediums of art.

Yesterday I worked on three paintings, trying to get them more resolved.  Since I faced the fact that I won't be able to do a lot of work on all of them in time for the show, and realized that showing some of them in their initial stage would be a good idea, I'm under less pressure to rush to the finish line.  Sadly, I can't work on one of them further because I only took a couple of photos and they are so blurry and at a distance that it won't give me any information to work with.

Showing those untouched versions with the reworked versions brought me to a thought process which compared the 'portrait oil sketch' to a 'plein air pochade'.  Both are meant to be spontaneous and document the feeling and gesture and color notes rather than a finished work.  In outdoor painting, when someone takes their plein air piece indoors and works on it further, it almost always looses it's refreshing quality.

For those of you who are aware of Daniel Greene, yesterday I finally bit the bullet and worked with his palette AND ENJOYED IT IMMENSELY.  I had heard of him back in the early 80s when I was at the Art Students League and have the DVD and have watched it many times.  I studiously took notes on the palette (he pronounces it pal-lette, accent on the last syllable) rewinding and rewinding the tape in order to record his every nuance regarding mixing the paint.  Being innately frugal, I was always leery of 'wasting paint'!  I did a paint inventory this year and realized that I had well over 100 tubes of paint, so what the heck! let's live a little!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Home Stretch

Yesterday I didn't paint, but did a lot of other art related things to prepare for the upcoming show.  I made files both in Photoshop and Word and WordPerfect to better prepare for the final push.  I made thumbnails of all the photos of the People that will be used in various ways.  I made files for the photos, the final paintings, the snaps of the other artists, and made lists.  I wrote an introduction for the photo book and flyers for the show. I researched photo books, spoke with my wood guy and, Catherine, the organizer of art events at the Merrimac Library.  Now I must contact the 'other artists' and coordinate the hanging with them and find a mutual agreeable date for the reception.  Catherine Dullea at the library, who is a photographer in her own right, will take care of shooting some of the art and getting some nice mentions of the show in newspapers and other advertising.

The game is afoot, it won't be long now.
I'm about half-way through my pile and still have 4 or 5 left to create from scratch and 30 days left!  I don't know how it will get done, but somehow it will.  This is what my studio looks like today.
None of these on the floor are completely finished.

This is the pile yet to be worked on for the second time.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Vertical Palette

The past couple of days I've been trying a vertical palette and there are some things about using it that I do like.  The jury is still out however.  I'm getting to an acceptable level of completeness on a portrait and then moving on to another so that I'll get through the pile at least once before the deadline--now 32 days away.

Today I received a mock up of the sign for the show and need to go back to the library and remeasure to be sure the size is correct, and I heard back from my wood guy who is making the mounting boards and he can do them, that's a relief.
 I'm also looking into doing a photo book to have as a desk reference not to sell or give away.  On BlogTalkRadio there is a episode where Carol Marine talked with Leslie about making her books and she recommended Blurb as I recall.  I'll have to listen to that show again.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Shoulder to the grind stone

Yup, I'm plugging along.  Had a good day yesterday, made some good progress.  Moving slowly today, but moving none the less.
Wow, a big black crow just landed on my back porch.  We usually don't have them around here.  Went for the camera, but he's gone.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas company

Just as I was all set to start on THAT painting that was giving me so much trouble, my brother called and said he was on his way over to spend the day with me, eat, drink and be merry.  I have to say that I was really in the mood to fight the good fight and work on my problem portrait, but I only see him a couple of times a year, so I closed up shop and spent the day and night with brother Al.  This morning when I woke, we had breakfast and off he went.  I enjoyed his visit and it could be my biggest joy for this season (even though I'm headed off tonight for a quick visit with my son at his business for the employee party), we cooked 4 lbs of mussels and two lobsters in garlic, butter, onion, yum yum. and drank a bit of wine.  It was a good day.
This morning I jumped right back on the horse and worked on that problem painting and got it to some level of acceptance.  Happily I'm now working on another one, one that was good to start with, lots of rich color, but thinly painted and showing heavy brush marks.  I have to catch up and make up for no painting yesterday.
I've finally heard from the library art director, and have not heard from my lumber mill guy.  I have to talk with the library person and if she won't let me hang these portraits the way I want to, I may have to scuttle the whole thing.  There is no way I'm going to frame and hang all 30, mostly because they won't look right that way.  I priced the lumber and can make the mount boards myself if the lumber guy's price comes in too high.
What will I do if this show doesn't happen????  Darn.  I'll have to have it elsewhere.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

All day and no results

I had NO luck yesterday, and I just couldn't stop myself.  I'm afraid to go up to my studio today, that painting is on my easel and will grab me the minute I get there, and I'll have to try again.  I've made up my mind to swap to another one as soon as I know this one is going nowhere.  Well, here goes.

Friday, December 19, 2014

More portraits...

I worked on two more portraits yesterday.  Every one is so different.  When I 'think' I'm done with one, I clean off the palette and remix another batch of flesh color base that might suite the tone of the skin of the next person.  While I like to embellish a little, using some intense colors to liven up the portrait, basically everyone's complexion is very different. So I don't really 'get' the color to be photographic or realistic, what I am striving for is a good likeness.  Now that is the hard part. 
The range of values is so close in portraits, a lot different from landscape, maybe more like still life.  I had to get a passport photo done at CVS the other day and they had a few cards lying around that were tests of their printer and it was a gray scale chart.  I asked about them, and they gave them to me as they were only going to throw them out.  I'm a real pack rat, so I took them.  When I got home I realized how little help they would be doing a face, because not only are the values so close but the color influences the values a great deal--warm, cool, intense, not intense.  Doing these portraits is frequent succession helps a lot with these decisions.
My approach differs with each one.  I try to start with the nose and STAY with the nose, but I'd have to have someone standing over me with a whip to do that.  My subconscious takes over and away I go.  Also when I go to the pile of portraits to choose another one to work on, sometimes I try to stay with the same general colors and other times I take one that needs the most work. 
My countdown calendar says 37 days left to hang day.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Self might be done.

I worked on the self portrait today and two other portraits.  I intend to work on all the portraits that I've painted from the 3-hour sitting with the models.  What happens is that I end up working on the entire portrait and mostly do it over again.  It's not my intention to do that, but you start with one little thing, and one thing leads to another, etc.
Here is a little video of the self portrait that could be finished, I may do more on it when I've gone through all the others.
I can't get it to slow down or stop repeating, and it's not showing the finished portrait entirely.
Self Portrait, December 2014, sketch of Mary Pyche

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Self Portrait, Day 2

I probably have one more day on this one.  It's very handy to paint yourself because you can easily check something just by looking in the mirror and you know right away if your not looking like yourself, maybe you don't even recognize yourself.  It is a good way to practice portraits I must say because you can get any head position you want to practice or facial expression.  The other thing I like is that you don't have to worry about what the sitter will say about the finished product.  I'm sure someone already wrote a funny treatise on the subject.
I downloaded a count down calendar on my computer screen so I'll stay on track painting the portraits.  I have 39 days to go.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Sold a painting and yesterday's photos

I got a nice surprise this morning when I got a notice from Pay Pal that a painting had been sold!  I didn't even hear from Daily Paintworks first!  It was so nice to hear from the man who bought it for his wife for Christmas.
Here is a second version of a painting I did previously.  No two are alike as they say, or you can't go home again, something like that.  It's a commission so I can mail them both out on Monday as long as this one dries sufficiently.
This is the original version of Italian Garden,
 framed, available.

This is version 2 of above painting.  

The funny thing is that I thought that the original was 12x12" and wanted to make one that was 10x10".  I didn't realize it until it was finished that they were the same size.  What a difference a frame makes.

Another Dreama and dreams for next year.

Today is 12-13-14, cool date.  Yesterday I painted a 10x10" painting that is a copy of a painting  I did while in a workshop with Dreama Toll Perry last year.  I could never be a counterfeiter because I couldn't make it look all that much like the one I had done previously.  I used the same palette.  The colors are close, and the design is close, but the technique changed.

I really have to get to my portraits, why am I doing everything else but?  Even with the deadline hanging over my head?  I must admit that my usual MO is that I like working under pressure (at the last minute), but in this case, it's not a good idea.

With the immediacy of having to do these portraits, it's frustrating to have lots of good painting ideas cooking and not be able to execute them.  I'm writing them down, but chances are that when I get to it, the excitement of the idea will have passed me by. So January will be full of "getting ready for the portrait show" and then I can implement the outline of goals I will set for myself for the coming year.
This years big change will be that there will be no workshops since my husband needs 24/7 care.  My biggest painting trip to Italy is usually something that I looked forward to and counted down to it, month by month.  These Italy trips have stopped anyway, how fortuitous for me, as the leader is retiring so that takes the sting away a little.  Because I've been going for several years and have a traveling companion, perhaps she and I will take another trip when the opportunity arises.

Usually during the winter I try to work on all the unfinished paintings I have in a stack near by easel. Well, if all these new ideas don't excite me any longer, I can work on the 'pile'.

All the art gurus say lately that we (artists who blog) should be writing more--making more of a narrative about the paintings or how the process went or how we were inspired, etc. and writing courses are being offered.  One thing that I want to get around to is setting up my Etsy account.  I did put it together last year but never carried through with it.  I think it deserves a chance.  I guess you can see that I'm beginning to think about next year's work.  I miss my morning walks, that's where I got all my good thinking done.

Exciting news!  The Huffpost Arts & Culture article is encouraging everyone to learn to paint:  Article HERE.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Gubbio, Italy, small church

I painted the gorgeous small church that Carol and I visited while on our trip to Italy in September.  I love this tiny church.  It is a grand piece of art all by itself.

5x7" oil on masonite
So I'm working on portraits and not getting anywhere fast. I better get a hitch in my get-along.  Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work I go.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

My first painting demo slide show movie

Did I have fun today or what?  Anyway, it's not great but it now exists.  I probably shouldn't have posted it but just couldn't help myself. 

Quick demo

I did learn a bit from doing it.  I tried to use a camera tripod but didn't set it up quite right.  I can see that it is important to do that.  I also had a side view, not a good idea, but I was only practicing.  My camera has poor settings for getting the colors true.  I used Photoshop Elements to make it.  

Anyway, I painted the little gold gift box again, and I like this one better.  It's a DPW auction.

I worked on a portrait today, finished one and started another one.  I think now I'll go get some supper.

See Cumberbach video - wax head

How do they do it at Madam Tussaud's?

My daily work...So I've been working on my portrait project to get the 30 portraits completed by the end of January and mounted on a platform to display them at the library.  Yesterday I wrote to my local mill guy who makes my moldings for the frames I make and asked about making foundations for the project.  I would make them myself, and still may if his price is too high.  I gave him my specs and a photo of the portraits the way they would look when mounted.
I've contacted the company that does nice vinyl lettering and visited the library to see the space.  I'm beginning to get a folder together with materials for the flyers and ideas about the mounting of the project in general.  The coordinator at the library is away until Christmas and doesn't want to answer any emails--there are some questions by other artists who want to purchase their frames, etc. now.  I've found some nice sticky strips that, I hope, will hold the panels onto the larger panel and be easy to remove when the show is over and the sitters receive their portraits.

Two of my small gems sold on Daily Paintworks and I packaged them for shipment yesterday, well, I tried, one has a wet spot.

I should do another one today as it's a good way to get a quick fix--since it's small and can be completed rather quickly, I think of it as instant gratification--sometimes the only satisfaction for the day. :)