Monday, November 20, 2017

Thrift Stores and Turtles

I love a good thrift store. I am always looking for items for my art - either items to use in still life, or items I can reuse for a studio or plein air gear purpose. The key is to not go into a thrift store with only one item in mind. You have to be open minded and think outside the box! Sometimes I feel I enjoy tinkering for gear more than painting!

I have found good use of a couple office supply items. One is the metal paper sorter bin. These brand new would cost in the $35 range. So far, I have collected at least 5 of these "vintage era" models at thrift stores with prices ranging from $3-6 each. You can find something similar in a horizontal version, but this vertical style works really well for painting panel storage - either unpainted or finished paintings. I put a different size or style stack in each slot. I think I have enough of these bins, but each time I see one I can't pass it up! This one was at Goodwill for $3 just yesterday.

 Here's my supply closet with four different bins. I think I still have room for the newest one!:
 See how easy it is to find the panel you want without unstacking a horizontal pile?
Another item I always look for is a copy holder. Brand new, these can run between $13-35. You can find them used in plastic or metal for less than $5. These are nice for holding a reference photo, or even the board you are painting on - if you like to work sitting down like I do.

These are the metal pair I found this earlier last week. The smaller one on the left doesn't fold down and is very sturdy, so I decided to try this for a painting easel for small hardboard panels.
Here you can see I added some HandiTAK reusable adhesive putty. This stuff is useful for many things.
 I pressed this 6x6 gessobord onto it and it stayed put throughout my painting!
Another great find were these old stereo speaker stands. A pair for only $3!! What did I have in mind? Why an adjustable still life stand, that's what!

 Here I used an older 9x12 cradled board clamped into the jaws of the speaker stand for my platform.
Then I use a simple still life light box to set on top. (This is a small version, while I have a more complex model for bigger setups). I make a lot of stuff out of foam core board. Super easy to work with - this box is 3 sides and a bottom, glued together. I usually don't worry too much about it getting knocked over, but could clamp it down easy enough.

For a backdrop, I added a sheet of scrap booking paper. I buy this paper in a big book that gives me lots of options of colors or textures.

If I want a colored "floor" I could add another color of paper, add some fabric, or just leave it dark. On the left photo below, I have added a piece of white foam core board, and put a piece of styrene down so I would have clearer reflections of the objects. On the right, I added a loose piece of black foam core board to block some of the light from my overhead lighting. Easy to move around to cover as needed.
I used the second speaker stand for holding some light fixtures. I play around with different light bulbs with different hues or intensity. This view shows I used a piece of white foam core for the lid to reflect a bit more light into the setup from below.
And who is that little guy in the spotlight? Well, I call him the Goofy Turtle! Look at that cute little face!! A friend gave him to me a couple years ago. I was in the mood to paint something fun yesterday. It was a bit tricky capturing the glaze colors and shine though.

"Goofy Turtle", 6x6, oil on gessobord.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Another Slump

I think I am moving out of another one of my frequent art "slumps". I've learned over the years, that I have several of these a year. I seem to have one in the fall and once the weather gets colder and dark earlier I usually get busy in the studio again. Although I am still working full-time, unless I already have a project started, I don't feel very creative coming home from work. I do most of my painting on the weekends.

I had recently tried to paint a couple 6x6" still life and wasn't happy with the results. Then decided that I just needed to paint something and picked one of the contemporary painters who I follow to study. I copied one of their paintings, so I will not show it here complete. It will stay in my private collection as I do not use another artists' work - paintings or photographs - as a reference for my own art.

This was a lesson to get out of my rut and it was really fun! I learned quite a bit, didn't understand what they saw in certain passages, but in the end, I really like the painting. I will take what I learned here to attempt my own still life painting.

I'll leave you a tiny snippet of my version here:

Saturday, October 14, 2017

New Pastel Paper

I've been using the UArt brand of sanded pastel paper for a few years. It had only come in a tan color until recently when they released a "dark" paper. Depending on the grit selected, the color goes from almost black to a charcoal grey. I bought some 500 grit Dark and gave it a test run today.

We were painting at a local farm and I wanted to see how this new paper would work for plein air work. I was only using a limited selection of NuPastel sticks today, to keep my setup light and compact.

I was painting the chicken coop next to the big barn. My paper was 6x8", so I needed to keep things simple. I did not add a chicken as they were not visible from my view.

I found the paper worked just like the tan color, but I had a hard time getting the colors to pop against the black. My painting did not show the brightness of the day. With my limited selection of pastels, it was difficult. I feel this color paper would work really well for studio work and having my full selection of pastels available. This paper should work really nicely for some really bright subject matter, such as flowers.

Chicken Run, 6x8", pastel on UArt Dark 500.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Annual Retreat

Every year, I organize a painting retreat with my painting buddies up at Lake Erie. I usually have trouble getting settled enough to paint, but this year, I had a couple paintings that I am happy with. One of my friends asked me to do a 2 hour pastel class on Thursday morning to get us warmed up. I had four students. I'd used a photo I'd taken last year at the retreat for the reference during the class.

Here is the finished demo. I really like this one!
 My next painting was in oil. I setup in front of the tabernacle.

The next day, I painted two paintings. Several of us painted at the marina along the river. A couple of us liked the view across the river with the Foxy Lady and the colorful kayaks. I was working in pastel.
But surprise! We just got setup and the owner came along to get it ready to take out on the lake. I was able to get the teal cover in place on my surface before he removed it. While he cleaned the boat, I was able to get more of the boat drawn in, and then he left!

After lunch back at the lodge, several of us drove out to the Vermilion River park south of town. This is always a tough scene to paint, but it's fun to be painting right down in the riverbed. Not sure it reads correctly, but we had fun!

The last day, I sat on a bench overlooking the beach and lake. There was a family on the beach and I used that as my center of interest.
As I was painting, the mother asked if she could buy my painting! I said certainly, and she said she would check with hubby down on the beach. Soon after, her son came up from behind, and said he wanted to buy it as a surprise for his mother! YES! I got it prepared for him to pickup later by adding a white mat and putting it into a clear bag. Love selling off the easel!!
In the afternoon we had an art sale for the public of the new paintings along with a few others from home. I sold another pastel brought from home that was framed of lemon slices. The gal said it was her birthday! Perfect!

Here's a shot of the paintings that came home:

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Central Ohio Plein Air exhibit

“Dog Days of Summer: COPA at the Brown Family Environmental
Center of Kenyon College”
July 29 through September 22, 2017,  9781 Laymon Road, Gambier Ohio

Members of the Central Ohio Plein Air group were asked to paint on the grounds of the Brown Family Environment Center at Kenyon College in July to prepare for a plein air exhibit at the center. The painters were required to select scenes within the 480 acre preserve.

Please join the artists for the Opening Reception:
Saturday, July 29, 2017 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The Center is open M-F 8:30-4:30. The exhibit will hang until September 22. Below is the postcard for the exhibit, with my painting which was completed on the grounds last Labor Day:


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

How Loose?

Been finishing up some pieces in the studio begun as plein air paintings. I always struggle to get photos of my art which, to me, look like the actual art. I have several good cameras, and my cellphone of course, but when I post things online - they sure don't show the heart of what I painted. I know most artists struggle with this same dilemma. Everyone has a different device and screen to view photos online, so it's a mute point to worry about it. So, my advice, go see the art in person!

With that said, here is the piece I finished last night. I wanted a loose feeling and push away from local color. I worked more intuitively on this piece and didn't copy the actual scene.

I am preparing art for an upcoming exhibit with my local plein air group. This piece may be included, although I have one more to paint and have to decide on which of the four paintings will be hung. In the next blog post, I will include information on the exhibit - so go see art in person and feel the heart of the artist in all the paintings!

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Painting the Day Lilies

My group painted today at a small family owned day lily farm. We had over 30 painters show up, which is a big group!

It was overwhelming with all the beautiful varieties of lilies. I painted with pastels and set up just down the small hill below the rows, looking up. Painting flower heads are pretty difficult, so I just painted them all.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

So Behind in Posting!

I am so behind in posting on this blog. What with working full time, and having the instant posting off my cellphone to Instagram, I just haven't kept up with adding multiple adventures to this blog!

So this will be a big photo dump! Will try to keep up with the blog from now on, as it's an important tool for myself, let alone all you fans out there! These are quick cellphone photos. Seems like I am missing a few, but here we go!

Painting with COPA at Jeffrey Mansion in the spring! Pastel
Painting at Park of Roses around Memorial day with friends:

Painting with COPA at Franklin Park, June 17:
Experimenting with Neocolor II water soluble crayons as underpaintings for pastel:

Using the Neocolor II crayons under pastels - in the field in Granville Ohio June 24 - lots of fun!

And painting with COPA on July 1st at Griggs reservoir, Scioto river, oils on panel. Took too much time chatting and not enough time painting, so ran out of time to finish in the field. Finished this in the studio.