Wednesday, December 2, 2009

22nd Painting - The light

Landscapes have not been my thing. I like them. Love them even, but I've not done a much with them except as a backdrop for something else. Number 22 changes this. I love it. Love the way the light shines through the trees. It's also a larger one, so that was new too. I've already started another one simular to it. This is one of the many numberous times I wish I took better photos. It, like most of the others look so much better in person.

Riley Days Awards !!!

So I ended up entering 4 paintings this year. Mostly because I couldn'ts decide which one to enter....

I ended up entering #15 (chipmunk), #19 (portrait for the daughterinlaw), #20 (butterfly) and of course #21 (what a view - for the theme of the contest).

So the chipmunk, the earliest work in the bunch, won 1st place and the portrait (#19) won honorable mention.

21st Painting - What a view

Once a year the country seat holds a festival to celbrate the life of James Whitcom Riley. He was a famous not only hoosier poet, but from Greenfield, the county seat. During this yearly festival they hold an art show/contest. (If you've read my posts from last year, you've seen I entered two last year and one 3rd and honerable mention. ) There is a theme each year and they all come from titles of poems that Riley wrote. This year's theme was " from a balloon". The theme is how I came up with this painting.

Reference photo:

And the painting:

20th Painting Butterfly on Coneflower

Ok, I know, months without an update and now 2 in one day, all I can say is I was busy painting... Priorities an all...

My 20th painting is one that I just had to paint. I love butterflies . I love flowers. This reference photo had both. (My thanks to whoever posted it in the wetcanvas reference library)

It's not a large painting, but it still took a bit of time. I was striving for a translucent looks to the wings. I'm not sure I accomplished it, but I do like it a lot anyway.

8" x 10"

19th Painting

The only thing my daughter-in-law asked for for her birthday is a family photo be painted.

This is the result.

It took several months but she is very happy with the result and so am I.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

18th Painting - Hancock County Iron Bridge

My second attempt at plein air sent me to the boon-docks. I was to meet the rest of the plein air group at 9am at the bridge. The only address I had was 900s sout of 500 east. The only problem with that is that this particular intersection is right on the edge of 3 counties, so depending on which direction you are comming from, the signage said a different thing! I finally arrived about 9:30. As you can imagine from the painting, although it was a beautiful day, with the tree canapy, the lighting made it seam almost dusky. This sounds kind of gloomy, but the way the light was hitting the bridge was dramatic. (It did, however, make choosing my paint colors difficult. )

I once again learned some lessons for the next time I go out. #1 - bring bug spray. I think I spent more time swatting bugs (2 or 3 at a time), then actually painting. And #2 - bring your mahl stick. You never know when your run into a sign that needs lettering and for me, I need that stability to get good lettering.

One really cool thing that happened, after we had been painting for a while, a deer walked across, just past the bridge. It walk to the middle, turned looked at us for a few minutes then casually walked off. I just knew it was thinking... what are you doing here? After it left we were all very excited and stopped painting for a bit as we all had to comment on the deer. One of the artists got a few photos. Another artist has incorporated the deer into her painting. I don't paint that quickly, so it is not in mine, but I do think it is quite neat!

As I stated before, the lighting was better at this stop than my 1st plein air, so I like this finished painting better than the first. I feel I still need some work on my greens though. Next time I'll do better. Besides I still have a long way to go before I'm suppose to judge weather or not I'm good or not. 82 more paintings to be exact!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

17th painting -FORTVILLE GRAIN

Do you remember that song back when you watched Sesame Street ..."one of these things is not like the other"? Well, no 17 is that one. Up to this point I've painted still lifes, animals and a run of portraits, but no landscapes. I decided to do something about this. A local art gallery has a plein aire group and I joined it. Once a month, in the warmer months they get together as a group and go paint. Plein aire implies completed in one setting. So during this outing we have about 3 hours to set up, sketch, and paint something.

I generally paint very slowly, so this was to be a big challenge in just in completing it in the time allowed. It is also my first landscape. Then throw in, just for good measure, it was a dark and grey day. Oh, and one more thing, it is a grey building!

I had never been to this small town where we were to meet. The directions I had been given would have been ok if I knew were anything was, but I didn't! We were set to start at 9am. I finally found the place about 9:20. Then I set up and didn't actually get started until about 9:30.

Painting out doors is new to me, so really enjoyed that. Unfortunately, there is one thing I hadn't considered. Lack of restrooms. I had wanted to be really awake and alert for this expedition so I fully drank a whole pot of coffee before leaving the house. This mistake won't happen again!

About 11am I needed to use the restroom. By about 11:30 had really had to go. I could have packed it all up and found a bathroom and come back, but my chances of getting exactly the same angle again were really pretty low, so I continued on.

By noon I was not alone in needing a restroom. And by 12:30 I believe there was lots of hurrying to finish so everyone could find a bathroom. Keep in mind all the angles in the building we were painting. This was not an easy subject!

The project was set to wind up around 1pm, but around 12:45 we started packing up so we could go find our respective bathrooms.

So that's how my first plein aire painting was completed. "FORTVILLE GRAIN" is not like the others for many reasons. It's a landscape, it was not painted from reference photos, it was painted plein aire, and it is by far the quickest painting I've done! All in all, I don't think it bad. Though I'm told "you are an artist, you never think it is good enough!" I still think next time I'll drink a lot less coffee before I go.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

16th Painting

I have a grand-daughter. 5 sons and finally a grand-daughter. Love the sound of it! It doesnt hurt that she is beautiful either! See for yourselves!

the painting - Shea Meadow on 8" x 10" oil on canvas

15th painting

I got the reference photo for this one on wetcanvas. I fell instantly in love with the little guy. Getting the light right took some time and tons of adjustments but I am happy with it now.

Chipmunk in the woods on 8" x 10" oval canvas

Friday, April 10, 2009

14th Painting - No, for real this time!

If you read my last post, you understand why this painting had to be done.

I spent Christmas, 2008 with my friend Tim and his family. It is his niece that was the subject of my 9th & 10th paintings. Both of her parents were there (along with Elizabeth of course). I had sent -via email - pictures of the completed paintings. They of course showed the ribbons. They told me how they had bragged about the paintings to friends. I was already feeling guilty about not giving the portraits to them. As usual, we took, everyone took, tons of photos.

A week or so went by and I kept feeling guilty. So I started looking at the Christmas photos. I found one that just spoke to me. I had to paint it. I had to try and capture the look on her face. I don't know what to call this look, it just was special to me. I'll show the reference photo so you see what I mean.

See? She has something definite on her mind!

So although during this time I was also working on what became the 13th painting (and my first commission), I started this one. I work in oils, so although I spent a lot of time on the 13th painting, I had to keep letting the paint dry, so I had time here and there to work on it. I also still took care of the elderly couple from my church, this took quite a bit of time as well. I mention these things because this one seamed to be pretty easy for me. In other words, not as much work. In some ways it is easier to paint something you care about then if you don't. I care about Izzy. I care about her parents. It sounds bad, but I really didn't care about the kids in the commission painting. So this painting was easier than that one for me. It went fairly quickly. Not as quickly as the 9th and 10th (3 weeks) but by the time I next saw the family (St Patrick's Day get together - they are Irish), I had the painting completed and I was much happier with it than the first two of them.

I have found that an old pizza box is just about the most perfect way of transporting paintings safely. So the morning of St Patricks Day, I arrived at the party with a pizza box in hand. It was a pot-luck type get-together, so I was immediately teased about bringing a pizza to St Paddy's day! I laughed and told them the real food was coming on my next trip into the house, put the box out of the way and went back out to the car. When I had finished unloading the car and had done my rounds of saying hello to everyone, I found Mary (Izzy's mom). I carried the pizza box over to her and she gave me a very strange look. I told her "I have something for you." She still had that puzzled look on her face, but followed me to a nearby table where I could put down the box and open it. I opened the box and looked at her face. It was priceless! She started shaking and then started crying! She yelled for her husband "Bob! Bob! Come in here! You have to see this!" Mary then through her arms around me and gave me a big hug! When Bob (her husband) came in he looked at it, looked at me, then looked again at the painting. Mary said " It's for us". He then gave me a big hug. They both said "thank you".

All day at the party, Mary kept calling people over to look at the painting. In fact, I believe she spent most of the day looking at it. I decided that day I had to keep painting. I loved the feeling that their reaction (and the reaction the owners of the 13th painting) gave me. It really is amazing to me that I can produce something that gives that strong of an impact to someone. So without any further delays, this is the 14th painting...

Just a quick note in regards to the addition of the chair in the finished photo. After I had been painting it for a while, I noticed I had the portrait too low on the canvas. For this reason I added the chair.

14th Painting - the reason behind it ... or 9th and 10th paintings.

To understand the why of the 14th painting you have to look back. Back to my 9th and 10th paintings.

Every October in the next town over there is a festival. This sleepy little town (Greenfield Indiana) really only has one claim to fame, J.W. Rieley, poet. The festival celebrates his life and achievements. He wrote around the turn of the last century and became very famous. In fact, he even wrote the poem Little Orphan Annie that inspired so many stories, plays and even movies.

Well, I'd been attending this festival for several years (really good food). But in September of 2008, I found out that during this festival they also have an art competition. I hadn't been painting long, but I really am extremely competitive, and just had to enter. So I found out the theme. It was based on one of many poems by Riley named "Our working girl". I'm not originally from here so I had no clue what the poem was about. I remember my first thoughts were "a hooker!?!" But the poem is about a girl who worked for Riley named Elizabeth, who made, according to him, the best custard pies.

As it turned out, I have a friend whose niece is a young girl named Elizabeth. I thought "perfect!!!" I emailed her mother (she lives a couple of hours away but I've met her many times) and described what was going on and asked if she would be willing to help. About a week later I received via email several photos of Elizabeth pretending to make a custard pie to use as reference material.

Keep in mind three things, #1 - I had never painted a portrait, #2 - I only had three weeks to paint one, and #3 - I generally hide in the background and don't participate in things that put me in center stage. So entering this contest was not my usual thing to do.

All of the reference photos had tricky angles, and because a flash was used the color was not good either. I ended up deciding that 2 pictures were the most usable so these became my reference for the paintings. So I painted, and I painted, and then I painted some more.

I take care of an elderly couple from my church who a year early had been nearly killed in a car accident so they do not drive anymore. During this three weeks, I was still taking care of them. Any chance I had though, I painted. The night before the paintings were due, I put the last stroke on each painting. I would have kept adjusting things but I ran out of time.

The morning they were due, it took a bit of work to find out where the competition was being held. Most of the festival was "downtown" but it turned out the competition was at a nearby park. When I got to the park, it was NOT clearly marked where you were suppose to go. I remember thinking "I've worked so hard, and now I can't find where I am suppose to go! This is just not right!" But eventually I saw someone else with some paintings go into a small building. I got my paintings out of the car and took them in. I was so nervous. I think I stuttered when I asked if this was the place. I handed in my paintings, my fee and the entry form, and left.

I don't know how other artists feel, but I become very attached to my paintings. I am even a little sad when I complete them. Kind of like when a child grows up and moves out. So I felt like I was leaving a small child with strangers. This of course made my case of nerves even worse. At this point, I wasn't even thinking about he competition any more, I was thinking about, in detail, every bad thing that could possibly happen to my paintings while they were in someone else's hands!

A few days later the festival started. We of course started with the "downtown" area where the food was. (Did I mention there is great food there?) After we had looked around and eaten our fill, I got up my nerve to go check out the art area. I hadn't wanted to look like the competition was too important to me, so I didn't even mention going to check it out until we had seen everything else.

We looked around at everyone's art. I tried to look interested in what others had accomplished, but I really just wanted to see my paintings. Then I found the first of the 2 paintings. It hung on the wall with a ribbon attached too it! I couldn't believe it! It said 3rd place! I was so excited I almost screeched! Then I saw my other painting. It too had a ribbon! Honorable mention! Wow! (I think I was jumping up and down about this time but I'm not sure.)

During the painting of these portraits, I assumed I would give them to the mother as a way of saying "thank you" after the competition. I did not consider how attached I would become to them. My first 2 portraits, and both had won ribbons! So as you are probably deducing, I did not give the paintings to Elizabeth's mother. They, along with the ribbons, are hanging in my house. I felt guilty about not giving the paintings to Elizabeth's mother. So the 14th painting is of Elizabeth, that yes, I did give to the mother. My next posting will be on the actual 14th painting.

These are the paintings:

BTW - I was later told it is not possible to do one portrait in 3 weeks, not to mention 2, so I feel that although they are not what I will ever feel as my best work, they will always be special to me!

Friday, March 20, 2009

13th painting

The 13th painting in the count down is my first commission painting. It is a good thing I'm not superstitious!

Right about Thanksgiving 2008, an elderly lady from my church approached me and requested I paint her daughters favorite photo. The children are now 18 & 20, but it still remains her favorite. In fact, she has made it clear that if the house were to ever catch fire, save the photo first!

I was extremely flattered that the woman asked me to paint the portrait. It is only the 3rd portrait I have painted so I was also extremely nervous. What responsibility! What if she/ they don't like it? Could I do it???

I was so excited I agreed before I even saw the photo. I don't think I will agree to a price without seeing the photo again. - you live and learn-

When I received the reference photo I was reminded the value of the photo to the Mama. In the past, every reference photo I used ended up covered in paint! Nothing like adding a bit more pressure! I handled this worry by going to Kinko's and making a scan of the photo to use as my general reference photo, and not using the real one until I needed to get the colors just right. I kept the original under glass and fully protected.

Besides just being my 3rd portrait this was a very challenging one. Tons of shades of white, not to mention the face tones or the difficult angels. And I wont even go into painting the wicker!

I worked on this painting for months. Several times during the painting process I became discouraged. More than once I even thought "Man! You suck!" But I continued. After all, I agreed to do this. I checked around and found out most people who paint portraits take several months to finish. I believe the average is around 4 months so I decided I OK with the time it was taking.

On February 28th I posted it on Wetcanvas and several people gave some input which improved it. After looking at something for so long, sometimes you cant see it anymore. You know that old saying "you can't see the forest through the trees"? Well, its true!

Besides the critique, I also received much encouragement and praise for the portrait. To say I needed it is probably the understatement of the year. Among the praise, a few people even compared me to Norman Rockwell!!! I know he is much better than I am, but still wonderful to hear! I was even told that to "not to exploit my gift would be a waste..."!!! Also that I really should enter some major competitions!!! This flattered me immensely, also scared me. How could I enter competitions when I had such trouble with this painting, and it took so long?

When I corrected the things pointed out, I emailed a photo of the painting to both the mother and grandmother. Their response was incredible! Very very happy with it!!! I'll even quote her (the Mama) "WOW!!!!!!! Awesome........... God gave you a great gift. I've never seen a painting this good outside a museum, and I'm not exaggerating.Praise God that He gives us gifts though out our lives that we never see coming and they are more than we ever hoped or imagined. TRUE JOY from GOD knowing He gave you the gift and in using the gift you know you are right in His will were you should be. I cant thank you enough for painting my children, the painting i will cherish all my life.God Bless You and Thank You Again"

Now, I don't believe the painting is museum quality for even a second, but I am very encouraged and happy she likes it!

A painting needs to dry for about a month before the first coat of varnish can be applied, so it needed drying time before delivery was an option. I informed the Mama about this. I also told her that after a year the painting needed to receive it's final coat. The first week in March I returned the original reference photo to the grandmother. This was such a relief! -The grandmother later told me that she accidentally wrinkled the photo before returning it to the mother. This may sound bad, but I was happy it didn't happen while in my possession!-

So here is the reference photo:

And the finished painting:

The grandmother lives in the same small town I do. The Mama lives about an hour away. Last week the mother came to her mother's house for a visit. I took the painting over there for her to see. She started crying and gave me a big hug! Maybe it was worth the stress after all!

12th painting

I painted "Winter Cardinals" (12th painting) from a reference photo supplied by the generous people at Wetcanvas. The site provides a generous reference photo area. My first draft really was pretty flat (no depth). But with help and incite from its members I think I improved it. This is the final painting. I think I captured the depth of the leaves, I realize the bird still needed some work, but I called it done.

I later came back to it. I truely bothered me that the bird just didnt look right. Yes, I am obsessive. I'm now much happier with it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Count Down From 100

In the beginning God created light...then a long time later convinced me to paint. I'll explain.

Last May my pastor gave a wonderful sermon (he usually does, but this one was special to me). The sermon was on God's gifts. I had no clue what my gifts were, so that night I said a prayer asking that he let me know what mine were. I also asked him to be clear because I am not that bright, so something subtle would not work.

Well, it wasn't long when I kept having this urge to paint. Not just paint, but paint with oils. I never considered being an artist. My entire list of art classes includes 1 art class back in high school. That might not sound bad to you, but let me tell you, high school was a long, long time ago. Even with my prayer this did not make sense to me. So I continued to fight this urge. I tried to ignore it - remember there is a reason I asked God not to be subtle. At the time I was not connecting the prayer and the painting. After about a month of this growing obsession, I went to the library and started checking out books and reading about it. This only made things worse. I started dreaming about painting. So I gave in and I looked into purchasing some oil paints and all the stuff you need. At this time, I knew I just didn't have it in my finances to get them. Oil paints are not cheap, not to mention an easel can be very expensive.

Up until this point, I had been making jewelry and selling it. One morning I woke up and had the Epiphany that I needed to sell all my jewelry making equipment and parts and that would allow me to paint. Please understand, I had not been making a living doing this, but I enjoyed it, so making the leap of faith was really a big deal.

So then I gathered everything up, took a bunch of photos, and listed everything in one big lot on Ebay. It did well. Much better than I anticipated. So I had enough for a basic painting setup (including an easel).

Next, I purchase all the paints, brushes, canvas and an easel and a how-to book on painting. This was about mid-July in 2008. I started at the front of the book painting the projects working my way back. The first one was a large bowl full of eggs. I had a very hard time with perspective. And I didn't understand why I couldn't make it look the way the artist in the book did. But after about a week of struggling, I produced a painting. Not a wonderful one, but a painting none the less. I was very excited and because I finished it on a Saturday, the next morning I took a picture of it and showed it to everyone at church. They were all very happy for me and encouraging. Looking back at the painting now I think they were all just being kind - but then their encouragement was all I needed to continue.

The next project was a slice of watermelon, then a coffee pot and cup, then a pepper mill, etc. etc. Each painting took me about a week, so after each one was completed, I would take a picture and show it to everyone at church the next week. After showing it around I would receive more and more encouragement. I did 8 paintings from this book. Each one better than the last. Each receiving more encouragement than the last.

This brings me to September of 2008. I live in a very small town. The next town over is the county seat. I new that every October Greenfield (the county seat) has a festival, but in September I found out they have a fine art show as part of this. (shows how into art I had been.) So with all of the encouragement I had received, I decide to enter. The theme was "our working girl". The theme was based on a poem by Jame Whitcome Rily. A poet from Greenfield at the turn of the century. He is the one responsible for writting "Annie" among others. The poem is about a girl name Elizabeth, who makes what he describes as the best custard pies. I have a friend who has a young niece named Elizabeth. She and her mother live a bit away from me but agreed to send some pictures I could use as reference pictures. In the 3 weeks I had before the paintings were due I painted 2 paintings of Elizabeth making pies. I received a 3rd place for one, and a Honorable mention for the 2nd.

Then one night my dog Bonnie was laying in the living room snuggling her bear. Yes she really does that. And we got a picture of her. This became my 11th painting. It turned out pretty good. Good enough several people declared I was an artist. I didn't know what to think of that, but it did encourage me.

Because of all the encouragement I received I decided to find out more about becoming an artist. I found a really great magazine called "The Artist Magazine". And then I found out it had a website called "Wetcanvas". I started visiting the web site and began learning more and more. The artists that visit this site are very friendly, encouraging, and have helped me improve in so many ways I can't begin to tell you. This is were I learned the theory of 100.

The theory of 100 is very simple. Paint 100 paintings, then decide if you are good or not. So that is were we are. I've now finished 14 paintings. This blog will follow the journey of the next 86. You are welcome to follow along.