Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Onions 'n Oil 8 x 8 oil

I like onions.  I like to paint onions.  You might have started to notice.  They are sensual, and strong, and shapely, and subtle, and lovely pieces of everyday life.  They add elegance and some sophistication to almost anything you pick up and place nearby; here an oil bottle and a jar of spice.  

This is a backlit study I painted with my class;  cool up-facing planes, and juicy, warm shadows; and the hot glow of the oil bottle. Combine the three; and it's that wonderful cooking smell you love to come home to.... 

Did you ever see the movie "Always"?  Richard Dreyfus, Holly Hunter, with cameo by Audrey Hepburn.  It's a beautiful movie about love, grief, hope -  wrapped up in a story about the men and women who fight fires from the air.  Holly Hunter invites a romantic interest over for dinner.  She buys a boatload of takeout; then sautes onions and oil, tosses the takeout into her own serving dishes... dinner date success.  Okay, a bit of deceit; but my point is that onions and oil are a wonderful combo to cook... or to paint. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

High School Debate sketches 9 x 12 pen & ink

 I spent most of yesterday with our high school debate team.  It's wonderful to see hundreds of exuberant teens being teens for the day; wearing business attire, and competing intellectually.  Lots of research, writing, and thinking on their feet.  This month's topic:

"Direct popular vote should replace electoral vote in presidential elections."

Of course,  the 2000 election and subsequent recount in Florida were a big part of the arguments.  Loved hearing the kids argue about this event which dominated our news coverage yet the oldest of these students was in 2nd grade. 
Teams prepare both pro and con positions and speeches; and it is determined via coin toss during each round which side they will argue.    

Here are some continuous line contour drawings  I made when our team was brand new and we observed some debate rounds. Captive audience, and thirty-three minutes to draw!  

Friday, November 18, 2011

Shelf Life 6 x 8 oil

I love my studio; compact, yet mine.  It is filled with things I love to look at, to touch, and just to be around.  I find it visually stimulating; some may find it visually exhausting.  To each his own. I can rationalize any small purchase (see "compact" above) as a still life prop.  

A few years ago; I had a milestone birthday and threw myself a party, ("no gifts, please") to which I invited about 65 people I love, and don't see often enough.  Who can see that many people very often? Do the math....
During the weeks prior, I gathered things from around the house and wrapped them up as my gifts to my friends; sort of a grown up goody bag. Everyone took home something I'd loved for while; and chose to move along.  Bottom line, I like things.  Some, I keep; some I keep for a while.
  "Shelf Life" is the first in a series of small paintings using vignettes of my things as subject matter.  I have enjoyed these two small wooden blocks, sitting jauntily on my shelf, but never painted them.  They are sort of nautical and nostalgic, and have that special patina and warmth that well-used items can have.    The Norman Rockwell postcard, and blocks, and little architectural detail are sitting on the narrow chair rail in my studio. I love the contrast of movement amid stationary objects. My goal was to say as little as possible, while conveying the intimacy of a peacefully perched collection.
More to come.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Island Retreat, 12 x 9, oil

For many years, I have been blessed to spend time painting on the coast of Maine. This is a study from South Bristol.  This tiny island had a wooden causeway to the mainland near my location, perhaps 50 yds long. While I was painting, someone wheeled a garden cart full of groceries across the little bridge; and later, a lawnmower.  Lawnmower?  From my vantage point, nail scissors could have done the trick.  Lovely day. I liked thinking how my life might change if I had a wooden footbridge rather than a driveway.

Come check out Island Retreat the North River Arts Society's Holiday sale this weekend. Saturday and Sunday 10 - 4; more details here:

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Sunny Onions 12 x 9 oil

It promises to be an unseasonably warm and sunny day for November in New England.  I'll be teaching math today, but thought I'd post a demo I painted out in the sun on an unusually warm early spring day; well, maybe not-so-warm but that type of day you can't resist because the sun is bright, and the winter has been long, and maybe, just maybe, if you hunker down in a sheltered spot you'll feel more warmth than chill.  Maybe.  

We set up these glorious spanish onions on tables in the sunshine; to get the class accustomed to the rapid changes in shadow patterns outdoors. I loved the combination of reds, and the glowingly warm shadows; and the surprising Medusa-like quality of the design.  Generally speaking, my goal is NOT to have surprises in the design of a painting; I discover those as I make thumbnail sketches, and eliminate the unintended.  However, once in a while I get a surprise.  My students got the point; watched the shadows move; learned to block in the patterns quickly; and had great results.

$150 plus $10 s&h

Friday, November 04, 2011

Reflections of Greatness

 Today we talked about reflections in paintings; how to ensure the reflected image reads as reflection.  My students set up wonderful still life arrangements  on and in front of mirrors.  Very challenging.. some great successes.  We looked at several painting images.
This detail from Rubens, to the left, was a great example of the center of interest found IN the reflection. 

 Below is Frank Benson's "Rainy Day".  In this painting, the reflection is a  design element which enhances the sense of space and piques my                                              curiousity, as well as carrying my eye
                                                        through the painting.
               The painting at left is a Stanhope Forbes. I love the use of the two, very different, mirrors, especially the rounded mirror in the foreground.

We had a great day. My students dug in, as usual.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Dolly and Pretty Boy 8 x 6 oil

$125 plus $10 s&h

I surprised my painting class with a pair of live Solomon Island Eclectus parrots, and their owners, this week.  Dolly and Pretty Boy were great models, perched on the back of a chair - they looked around, made a few interesting sounds, and sat under the spot light provided.  I think our cavernous classroom was a bit cooler than they prefer, so they huddled, and puffed themselves up.  After an hour, they took a 15-minute lunch break while my students strolled about and looked at the other easels.  Then Dolly and Pretty Box got "back to work" for another hour; leaving us time for a critique at the end of the class.  Each interpretation of the two lovely birds was fascinating.

Hoping Dolly and Pretty Boy can visit again soon.