Friday, January 31, 2014

Thoughts on the 30/30 Challenge

I completed twenty-two 5x7 paintings for the Challenge. The last week in January was just too busy at our house for painting, except for my class day on Tuesday. I did paint all day with my student, Greg. We are working together on a long, involved still life and have one more week of touch ups before calling our paintings finished. But there was no extra time for my Challenge paintings.

When I look back over the past month, I’m very glad that I participated. I could definitely see an improvement in my “Alla Prima” techniques. 

Every new painting presents its own set of problems and I found that after facing these problems every day, knowing that I had a limited time to finish (my self-imposed 2 hours) and that I had publicly stated that I was doing this challenge and needed to post a finished painting each day – my focus became sharper and within a few days, I instinctively knew how each subject needed to be handled. The painting process became easier and I felt that my paintings were improving. I also could feel a new sense of energy in my studio.

I found the most difficult and time-consuming part was not the painting, but the posting process. After taking the photos and loading them into my computer, I had to resize and sort them for different formats. Ebay requires a larger size picture than my website and blog, etc. I then posted them on my website, Facebook, Pinterest, Ebay, Leslie Saeta’s Blog and my own blog. I also had to write the texts for each posting and make sure all the links were correct. I have the process streamlined now, but it still takes about an hour each evening.

The upside to all this posting is that I have met many new friends and enjoyed being a part of a larger artist community. The increased traffic has also brought more visitors to my sites and my sales have increased.

Would I do it again? Yes, but I would limit myself to 4-5 paintings a week. It was very hard to find time for my other chores and I’m sorry to say that my housework suffered the most. I will have to remedy that this weekend.

Thank you for visiting with me.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Day #28 of the 30/30 Challenge

No time to paint today, the puppy is keeping us very busy.  She had her first check up at the vet's this afternoon and he was very pleased with her.  Tuesday my husband has puppy duty as I have a class here at the house.  Hopefully I will have some paintings to share tomorrow.  Even though I didn't paint today it was still a good art day as I had two more sales through my Ebay page.

White Roses, 6x6, oil.  SOLD.

This was the last of a 6x6 series that I painted for the Art Gallery in Stowe, Vermont. This was my favorite and now it will have a new home in Saco, Maine.

Bird Watchers, 5x7, oil.  SOLD

This is one of the 30/30 Challenge paintings and was sold to a lady from Texas.

Thank you for visiting.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Our New Puppy

This is Ginger.  She is a Golden Retriever, 8 weeks old.  We brought her home on Saturday.

She loves the fringe on the carpets.

And the magazine basket.

And that cold white stuff.

Playing is hard work.  Time for a nap.

Ginger shares our Sophie's lineage.  In fact, we met Sophie's sister.  She has been retired for a long time and is the senior dog at the kennel, keeping an eye on the other dogs and their pups. She has Sophie's sweet personality.

Ginger is a darling and has made herself at home in our house and hearts.  It is so good to have a dog in the house again.  She is a busy little girl. 

I think my painting time will be limited for the next few weeks.  I hope to have some class work to share with you later this week.

Thanks for visiting.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Day #24 No time to paint today.

No time to paint today because I was busy with errands and appointments, but I had a nice surprise waiting for me when I got home.  This painting sold on Ebay today.  A few years back, when I was working at the gallery, I saw a dog waiting patiently for its owner to come out of a shop across the street.  I always remembered that scene and thought it would make a good painting.  So a few months ago I painted this and listed it on my Ebay page.  I used our Golden Retriever, Sophie, as the model and named the store, "Annie's" after a dear friend in Florida.  The painting will have a new home in Texas.

Time to Go Home, 9x12, oil.  Framed.  Sold.
Tomorrow we are going to the kennel to see the new Golden Retriever puppies. One litter is ready to leave, the other litter still has two weeks to go.  So, maybe we might be coming home with a new puppy tomorrow.  Our house is too quiet without a dog.  We miss you, Sophie Dog.

Thank you for visiting.  Hope to get back to painting on Sunday.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Day #22 Belfast Boat House, Maine. 5x7, oil

Original reference photograph.

Cropped version.

It is important to decide the theme of your painting and crop your photograph accordingly.  My theme was the white boat house, so I cropped the photo in this manner.  The original photo gives more importance to the feeling of distance and less to the boat house, and I might paint it that way for another painting, but since I have chosen the boat house for my theme, I need to be sure the building is the main attraction.  The horizontal format also helps.

The initial sketch to check my placement and composition.

Beginning to paint.

I indicate my focal point at the beginning  so I can be sure that nothing will compete with its importance.

Massing in.

The photograph shows the distant trees the same color and tone as the foreground trees.  We know from the rules of aerial perspective, that this is not possible.  So I have lightened and cooled the distant trees to make them recede.

Belfast Boathouse, 5x7, oil
I tell my students to look at their photographs and remember what first caught their eye. What made you stop and grab your camera? Keep that feeling in mind and forget all the little details that you can see in the photo, but that you didn't see when you first came upon the scene.  And to remember that the camera sees with a mechanical eye, altering colors and flattening perspective.  That is why it is so important to work from your own photographs.

This is such a beautiful scene.  I think I will paint these two versions in larger formats and with more time.  And when summer comes, I hope to paint there in person.  But for now, photographs will have to do.

This painting is sold.

Thank you for visiting with me.

Day #4 Winter Sun, 5x7, oil

Winter Sun, 5x7, oil

Reference Photo

Goal – To capture the soft light of dusk on snow and ice covered trees.

Thoughts This photo was taken from our den window.  The sky was a beautiful, soft peach color and the setting sun lit the distant trees with an orange glow.  Even though the color of the orange trees in the distance was warmer than the evergreens in the middle distance, I was able to keep them in their place by softening the orange with grays and intensifying the colors of the evergreens.  It was the value and intensity differences that kept the orange from coming forward, as warm colors normally do. As I am only allowing two hours for painting, these are artist studies and not finished studio work and I’m pleased with the results.

This painting is available on my Ebay page.  Fixed-price format, immediate purchase, no auction, no bidding.  All major credit cards accepted through Paypal Checkout. 

Thank you for visiting,


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Day #21 The Blue Bird, 9x12, oil. Week #2

This painting is our Tuesday class project.  We are working in steps, glazing, refining and adding more detail.  After the entire painting receives a layer of paint, it is then put aside to dry until the next week's class.

My painting at the end of week #1.

My painting today, week #2.
I have reworked the background, glazed the Shaker boxes to add more color and changed the table to a wood surface.  I intensified the light and reworked the shadows.  Next week I hope to give the boxes some "age" by dry brushing in some worn areas, finish the marbles and add reflections to the table top.  

My student is doing a great job.

My grandchildren's dog is spending the day with us.
She keeps an eye on our progress.

Looking good, Greg.

We added the green cloth for Greg's composition.
He even had time to start a new painting this afternoon.  Another fun day.

Thank you for visiting with us.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Day #20 Bird Watchers, 7x5, oil

Reference Photo.
I seem to be in a dog mood this week.  This is a photo of mother and daughter English Setters that we raised years ago.  They would sit together on an old platform rocker in our kitchen and watch the birds for hours.  The two dogs were inseparable.

My drawing and placement on an orange toned canvas.  I never work from a tight drawing.  I would rather correct shapes by moving the paint around.

Starting with the darks and massing in the negative shapes.

Finding my way.

Dogs need work.  One is too tall, the other too short. 

Bird Watchers, 7x5. oil

It was hard to drag the lace curtains over wet paint.  It would have been easier to wait until the painting was dry.  Also the dark areas would look richer if allowed to dry and then glazed.  I will do that, as I really like this little painting.

I am learning a lot from this challenge.  Allowing myself only two hours per painting has sharpened my focus.  My painting technique is more streamlined and I know that each stroke has to be as correct as possible because I don't have the time to go back and correct.  I am pleased with all that I have learned and look forward to these last ten days.

This painting is sold.

Thank you for visiting with me today.

Day #19 Sea Dog, 5x7, oil

For many years we spent a few months of the winter at the beach in Florida.  I found this photo of Sophie and thought it would be a good painting for today.  As we get closer to getting our new puppy, Sophie's memory remains strong. 

I think it is very important not to over mix your colors when laying in the varied hues of water, especially the ocean.  The colors will blend a bit more as you apply the paint to your canvas.

Almost done.

Sea Dog, 5x7. oil

I painted this with mixed emotions.  Enjoying the memories, but missing her terribly.  I have painted this one before in a larger format but it sold.  I think I will have to paint it again for us.

This painting is sold.

Thank you for visiting.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Day #18 The Wooden Horse, 5x7, oil

This hand carved wooden horse with inlaid brass and turquoise was found at an antique shop in Maine.  I marvel at the skilled hand work and the inlaid pieces, the tiny nails that fasten the brass pieces, and his proud stance. He is a joy to paint.

My initial sketch.

Adding the mass tones.

Almost finished.

The Wooden Horse, 5x7, oil

This painting is available on my Ebay page.

Thank you for visiting.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Day #17 The Old Home Place, 5x7, oil

My goal today was to paint an old Maine farmhouse using these two reference photos.

I began laying in the colors but the house looks too new and the yard is too neat.  I want the look of an old farm. 

The Old Home Place, 5x7, oil

This is the look I wanted.  Fields that need mowing, yard overgrown - an old farmhouse that may be empty except for the memories. 

This painting is sold. 

Thank you for visiting.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Day #16 Winter Reflections, 5x7, oil

Winter Reflections, 5x7, oil,  SOLD

Today was an interesting day.  I had been busy on the computer all morning and decided that I would paint something from my visual memory after lunch. You can't live in Maine and not have memories like these stored in your head.  As I was finishing up this little painting, my husband's buddy came into my studio to see what I was up to.  He bought this little painting to give to his wife for her birthday. We even found a frame to fit. Happy birthday, Lisa.

Thank you for visiting with me.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Day #15 Welcome Home, 5x7, oil

My reference photo.  I have painted this picture before in a larger format and wrote about it on my blog.  I will copy that text as it explains my feelings about this special old house.

Welcome Home, 5x7, oil, SOLD

My painting is darker than this posted version.  I tried making it darker, but there must be an auto contrast setting that over-rides my posting.  It is a late evening scene.  When you view it on my Ebay page, the value is correct. 
"This old house was located on the road between my home and Belfast. I would pass it every day on my way to the gallery. This tall house, with its stately manner and bay windows always made me think that it belonged on an island overlooking the sea instead of on the “flats” overlooking quiet pastures and woods. Coming home in the evening, its welcoming light told me that I was almost home. I stopped one night to snap a picture knowing that I had to paint it. The house is now gone, replaced by a modern home and the road has lost some of its charm. This painting hangs in my living room, and it’s light says “Welcome Home”."

This small painting is SOLD.

Thank you for visiting.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Day #14 The Blue Bird, 9x12, oil. Week #1

Today my art class resumed after the long holiday break.  This is the original set-up that my student and I were working on. We painted together so I could demonstrate key points to him.

My tonal under painting.
My student hard at work.

I had so much fun painting the marbles that I decided to replace the spool of thread on the Shaker box with a glass blue bird. I love the translucent quality and the way the light dances through colored glass. You can see where I wiped out the spool and indicated the little bird.

This is our new set-up.  My student chose to leave the spool of thread on his box. This is what makes painting so exciting. Once you have your painting underway, the painting becomes more important than the actual set-up.  I have covered this topic a few times in my previous posts. The painting takes on a life of its own and if you listen carefully, it will lead you to a more successful painting.

The Blue Bird, 9x12. oil, unfinished.

This painting isn't finished. I have a good start and will give the painting a day or so to dry. I will then add more color to the boxes with glazes, excite the background a bit more and add more color and contrast where needed. The table cloth also needs more attention. Oil paints are not as substantial as some may think. Colors sink in and often look weak with just one layer of paint. This painting may take another week or two of work before it is finished. I will post the finished painting. We had a great day today.

Thank you for visiting.