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Positive Reinforcement December 3, 2013

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Overlook Point, 12in x 16 in, oil on canvas  I have just finished teaching classes for this season, finished a large painting for a new gallery, and now I’m getting smaller projects finished that have required my attention these last few months.

This is a busy season! Christmas music is on the radio again and I am wondering, where did the time go since last year? It doesn’t seem like I got a lot of painting done in this year, but my work has become more complex. It has required that I slow down and pay more attention to what I’m trying to accomplish with each image. Part of that is clarity of values, something which I tell my students is more important than color.

Values are the ‘make it or break it’ factor in representational painting. If your values are off, the image doesn’t read correctly. Each color in your palette responds to a different value on a black/white value key, and it is very important to understand this and to put it into practice. I spend some time almost every class I teach reviewing this principle and applying it to the color charts the students use. Just placing the colors on the canvas is not enough; it is necessary to understand their strength and weaknesses through visual means. I suggest to my students that they take a black/white photo to have alongside their painting image so that they can relate the color to the b/w key. This helps immensely when needing to adjust contrasts with the color.

So, keep this idea in mind if you are having trouble with getting your color selection to read correctly in your painting. Take a photo in b/w and check if the key of the color is properly relating to the actual color. It will show up in b/w. This is the ‘secret’ to a good painting….positive reinforcement using negative color.


Selling Right Off the Easel October 11, 2012

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Cool Water II, 24in x 36in, oil on canvas

Its really a wonderful testament to the validity of your work as an artist when a painting, just finished, isn’t off the easel and is sold, especially when it is being created for a solo art show. This recently happened to me. I was thrilled and exhilarated, but here’s the rub; the work I was painting was to go in one of the galleries that represent my work. This particular piece was on my easel in a location I was painting in as a result of an emergency, being that my own studio had some water damage and was being attended to by my loyal Mr. FixEverything husband.

People never get to visit my studio while working on a show…never, never, never. I will touch and re-touch too many times before I’m satisfied with the final result. Only then will the painting be done. If someone sees it (as happened recently as well), and if they are another artist, they usually like to make helpful comments such as “maybe you should brighten that area up” or “maybe you should dull that area down” and so on….you get the idea. However, in this situation all the remarks were ‘oooh’ and ‘wow!’ I took this to mean that the painting was working.

So Mister and Missus walk in and see the painting and immediately fall in love with it. Lovely! But there’s a problem. They want to take it home RIGHT NOW. I can’t do that since the painting is for a show and MUST be up at least for the opening reception. Also, the other thing is that it hadn’t been sold in the gallery! This means that the commission doesn’t have to be split (ordinarily).  Now this is where it gets tricky.

Mister and Missus want to take the painting home NOW and they can’t. I have to retain it and let the gallery know it has been sold even before they have seen it, and it must go through the gallery for sale and removal. This is the right thing to do. So I contact the gallery first, explain the situation and then contact Mister and Missus. Their disappointment is abated when I tell them it needs to be up for the Opening Reception of my show and will be the HIGHLIGHT of it. They are delighted and everything goes ahead.

Now the moral here is, if you have gallery representation and you sell work outside the gallery that is meant for a show with them, your moral compass will point the way to do what is right for both of you. I told my gallery up front about the situation. Yes, I split my commission with them, that’s just the way it has to be. And what I got out of it was that my gallery worked very hard to sell a few more pieces of mine. They were happy I was honest, I was happy and carried no guilt. And the people who bought it? Their painting highlighted my show, got great reviews and comments, and it now hangs happily in a home where these people enjoy it.

Softly comes the Morning Light February 12, 2012

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Morning Light on Turtle Cove

  A Georgia morning is soft and cool with light mist rising up from the lake. This is the scene from a place I stayed at and which captured my attention and heightened all my senses. I can still smell the magnolias just starting to bloom in the Spring. The irises have all grown up to almost full maturity. The morning light gently and softly touches every bush, tree and knoll of grass as the sun slowly rises. I can hear the frogs calling to each other, and hear the calls of the cardinals and little finches flitting from branch to branch in this idyllic setting. Georgia on my mind……mmmmmmm, yes.

Romantic Nostalgia on a Winter Theme December 9, 2011

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I was given a recent request by one of the galleries that carry my work to do something with a winter/christmas theme. What to do? I had many ideas and many photographic resources to choose from. I wanted to try to do something with a challenge.  My work this past year seems to have been charged with back lighting, a difficult thing to paint. I decided to continue to pursue this direction as I still had a couple of paintings in my mind I wanted to accomplish. “Winter’s Glow” is my newest addition, 20 in x 24 in., oil on canvas. It is a romantic interlude, a dreamy nostalgic reminiscence. I hope you like it as much as I do.

Winter's Glow

A Painter’s Painter – John Singer Sargent October 8, 2011

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One of my favorite artists is John Singer Sargent. He was born in 1856 and died in 1925. He was a very talented and prolific artist having done over 900 oils and more than 2,000 watercolors along with countless charcoal sketches and endless graphite drawings, all between 1877 and 1925.  He painted 2 United States Presidents, aristocracy of Europe, and barons of business – Rockefeller, Sears, Vanderbilt, along with gypsies, children, and tramps, all with the same passion.

Carnation Lily, Lily rose

I would like to have you share in this wealth of great works. Here is the link to probably the most comprehensive collection of John Singer Sargent’s works spanning his entire life. http://www.jssgallery.org

Click on ‘Major Paintings’ – here is where you will get a quick look at some of Sargent’s major pieces which link to essays explaining why he did that painting.

Click on ‘Chronology Thumbnails‘ – here is the main body of this site gallery. It starts the year he was born (1856) and runs until his death (1925). It concisely outlines his life story and show the paintings he did each year.

If that doesn’t give you enough of him, here’s another link, The John Singer Sargent Method of Painting – YouTube – www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyVCfMdKxWs – Paul DuSold, a Philadelphia artist, explains the John Singer Sargent method.