Thursday, May 11, 2017

On Being Less Literal


"If you always do what you always did -- you'll always get what you always got," 

Unknown


Lately, I have been trying to be less literal, i.e. using my set-up for a starting point, but not necessarily sticking with that exact representation.  It's OK to change placement, colors, background, whatever, and still retain the power of painting from life...
Duh!  I guess it took me so long to be able to catch in paint the subject before me that I forgot or feared changing things as needed on the canvas.  Often this is a problem as well when en plein air or when using a photo reference.

Below are some peonies purchased last week from Trader Joe's, which I randomly placed in a sparkly glass and added a light source.   I've painted this-type subject a TON in my life, and while I do love white flowers, and the movement of stems in glass vase, I switched it up, as seen in photos below.



I made the decision to roughly paint in a grey-toned background, meant to  pop the pale peonies; the flowers were laid in with lots of palette knife slashes.  When I saw the grey, I thought -- how about a bright vase?  Below is a progress shot, where I have most of the peonies as seen, but then realized that something was needed on the upper left of the canvas.



So I pulled one peony from the glass, in order to see the light effect.  After adding that shape to the painting, it was obvious that the addition helped matters!   I used to be too nervous to change the arrangement (being my literal self and wanting to be able to reproduce the flowers as they appeared). 

Needed peony


 Progress photo with addition of new flower


Then, after correcting a few items, I decided to leave the background way less refined than usual, and was pleased with the pops of light and the spontaneous feeling.  I had to put this one in another room, however, so I would not work on it.



An artist never really finishes his work; 

he merely abandons it," Paul Valéry





Wild Sweet Things, 30 x 24, Oil on Linen




Just found out that three spots are available at the last minute for my Alla Prima workshop at Atlanta Artists Center next week (May 19 and 20th). If you can come, we will have some fun: painting fast and loose and being less literal😎   To join us, call Zindi at AAC -- 404-237-2324. 










Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Gesture, Feeling and Truth


"Drawing is like making an expressive gesture with the advantage of permanence," 
Henri Matisse 




That Magic Girl, NF, 24 x 12, 2017, Acrylic on Linen


Back to the drawing board!  I have been spending lots of time producing -- and not enough time on filling the tank.
Luckily, recently it's become quite clear to me that a return to the basics was in order. And, oh, the answers sought are right there -- just by drawing, even for 5 minutes, each evening.

For this painter, catching the essence of the subject is the goal.   Details and rendering are NOT!  Life is easier if I am fluent in seeing...and SEEING is honed by sketching, drawing and observing.  

Below are a few paintings of mine, one recent and others through the ages, as well as wonderful collected paintings here in my home...which serve as reminders of the truth of quiet study and easy flow.


Quiet Moment, NF, 16 x 8, 2017, Oil on linen





A couple of my studies from the (somewhat ancient :-) past:


Michael, 9 x 12, NF, c. 2000, Oil on canvas




Pensive, 16 x 8, NF, c. 2008, oil on linen



Sarah at Five, 12 x 9, NF, c. 2012, oil on linen



Now look at these gorgeous paintings in my petite collection, illustrating the humanity and universality of the subjects --  done with an ease of expression possible only from confident practice and frequent studies:



Conte Crayon Drawing, Susan Lyon, c. 2008




Simple Pose, Diane Eugster, c. 2003




Knowing Glance, Scott Burdick, c. 2002



For me, perhaps a bit of growth has happened, but for sure, the nice paintings in my home serve up constant inspiration, if I just remember to LOOK!

FYI, yesterday a few spaces opened in my figure study workshops next week here in the Atlanta area.  The first workshop is on April 4 -5th, and the second April 6-7th.  If you have interest, contact Rae Broyles, Fountainhead Art Space , raebroyles@me.com!




Quick Study of Annie, 9 x 12, NF, oil on linen, c. 2011

























Friday, December 30, 2016

Limitless



  2017 is almost here... Time for some reflection and new ideas!


I Can See Clearly Now, 44 x 44

What's it all about?  That question sums up the painting journey for me.  And it has been about
many different things: learning to capture the subject matter visually; finding my own approach to expression in paint; evolving the IDEA; growing bored with myself and my ideas; finding new
inspiration; and finally, continually working to release limitations! 





This is funny because it is so TRUE.  Many of us limit our best instincts with too much self-critique, surely the invisible "fence" in the studio.   In my workshops, I am able to verbalize these painting frustrations, but often don't follow my own advice to escape them (i.e., use big brushes, set a timer, paint more, care less, socialize more, get outside, get away from have-to's, discover want-to's).  

SO ... 2017 will be my year of putting joy and happiness on the canvas.  No longer will I paint roses, or children or Paris street scenes, but instead light and joy and color will be my subjects.  
I'm going to push it, exaggerate the light, and savor the experience.  Painting alla prima (in one session) is the ticket for the likes of me.  Otherwise, it's a private journey into hours of corrections, over-thinking and often over-working -- UGH.

Meanwhile, 2016 has been a stellar year...fun painting trips to Maine and Provence, lots of workshops with many fabulous and inspiring participants, and personal growth in my own work.  

2016, alas, was also the year that the art community lost Charles Movalli, a painterly painter who inspired me and many others with his work and his wisdom.


"It can't look like you've worked hard and long, even if you have.  A painting should be done quickly with both your intellect and your nerves. When they give out, stop,"  Charles Movalli


  
Charles Movalli, Villefranche

"The greatest temptation and danger is to rely on previous solutions and thus paint the same picture for the rest of your life, "  
Charles Movalli



I'm sending along a petite gallery of paintings done since I last blogged, and lots of great wishes for a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

Blondie, 10 x 8


A Glimpse of Les Murets, 12 x 9


Of Petals from Some Magic Rose, 48 x 36


Yes Way, Rose´, 9 x 7



 Workshop Demo, 14 x 11



Monday, August 29, 2016

Go Figure!



"What we need is more a sense of the wonder of life, and less of the business of making a picture,"  Robert Henri



As we head off to Provence tomorrow, I am planning to emphasize that idea; perhaps some of the wonder and joy of being there will translate to the canvas.   Releasing investment in outcome is difficult at first, but once embraced, will set one free!  Eight painters and I will paint the countryside and enjoy the silky air,  as we share ideas and inspiration in the coming days - what a special privilege and opportunity for a re-boot and welcome respite from the studio!




Les Imberts, 12 x 10





En Plein Air, Painting Mt. Ste. Victoire, 12 x 9



Below are studies from a recent weekly figure painting class (taught by the inspiring Margaret Dyer) which I recently attended; while they are rough, I was able to catch a bit of truth, most likely because I wasn't worried about creating a painting!  


Model in Repose (from a photo reference),  12 x 9





Beach Study (from photo reference), 12 x 9




Speaking of the figure, a few spots have opened in my upcoming Figure Focus workshop on September 22 and 23, at Soulful Art Studio, just north of Atlanta in Cumming, GA.  This is a two day, fun session where we make "soulful" figure studies from photos of kids or any figure in the light.   Check out my website for details or call Jeanne Matey if you want to join us! (404) 403-8334.   


Look at this little French girl in blue shoes, 
full of wonder, as she watches an artist at the easel


Au Revoir!



Monday, August 8, 2016

Commitment

"Wherever you go, go with all your heart,"  Confucius




Heart and Soul: Victoria, 16 x 12



Or as Robert Henri said, "Do what you do intensely."
   
Children naturally do this, non?  I keep reminding myself to commit to that painting... perhaps losing some part of it that I wanted to preserve -- in order to make a better overall statement.  That's easy to say, hard to do!

During  a recent workshop at the Bascom Visual Arts Center in Highlands, NC, I noticed several participants using thinned paint and tentative strokes in passages they weren't sure how to handle -- i.e., cast shadows, or perhaps background areas.

How well I know that feeling, when I'm thinking, "What now?"

My advice to myself and to others too:  DECIDE -- decide on something, a shape, color or value, to at least try,  and apply the strokes with generous paint and confidence.   As oil painters we can wipe off, scrape and re-state if it doesn't work.
Take the plunge, for confidence looks good on a painting -- fear does not.
Always, always, I strive for the look of confidence and ease, however I get there!

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness; boldness has genius, power and magic in it."  William Hutchison Murray



Below are a few recents from my wonderful week in Maine, from my garden, where hydrangeas were abundant,  along with some reminders of Provence (where we happily return in about three weeks)!
This painting life continues to be a most special one ...



Study - Our Cottage, Maine, 12 x 9





Study - Friends' Cottage, Maine, 12 x 9





Dance of Summer, 36 x 36





Aix en Provence, 20 x 16





Coustellet, 12 x 12





Return to Les Murets, 24 x 20





Merci, Mes Amies, 14 x  11




Monday, April 11, 2016

Paint Diet


Dance Music, 40 x 30 - warm and cool color





I have found that it is vexing to many workshop participants to limit their colors - whether to six pigments, a warm and cool of each primary, or even worse to some,  MY everyday palette:
Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Red Medium, and Ultramarine Blue, plus white.    

Yet, using a limited palette:

1.   Simplifies one's life, especially when traveling.
2.   Automatically creates color harmony, since all colors are derived from the basic three.
3.   Aids in understanding the Warm/Cool dynamic.
4.   And best of all, we can create some very subtle and sophisticated colors!

Any limited palette DOES, however, mean lots of time mixing...but it means less time buying and squeezing out paint too.  Also, my personal tendency is to throw anything on my palette into the pile, which is a likely path to mud. 

To me, the pros are worth the tradeoffs, but each of us has to utimately find her own sweet spot.  
  
After my workshop two weeks ago, however, I rediscovered true appreciation of the Paint Diet, as its benefits unfolded before my eyes in the wonderful work each participant created (wish I had more images to share).

Below are some of my recent pieces, along with two by Kathleen Smithson, who has come to
embrace the potential of "limits," (offering Unlimited Potential).






 Beach Girl, 18 x 14 - mostly warm color






 Remembering Alaska, 36 x 36 - cool and muted color







Pattern Dance, 30 x 30,  strong and subtle, high-contrast color





Below are two paintings by workshop friend, Kathleen Smithson, who told me she has been on the  PAINT DIET for a year!  Look at the colors she achieves... 
(and again, I regret only having two out of SO many nice paintings done at my last workshop hosted by Jeanne Matey at Soulful Art Studio in Cumming, GA).

 Smithson, Spring Ideas,  45-minute workshop study




 Smithson, Light on Roses,  60-minute workshop study




So, why not practice with a simple set-up and just a few colors?

Warm Up, 9 x 12



  Slim Down and Have some Fun - try the 
PAINT DIET ;-)












Sunday, March 6, 2016

Time Flies




Last Saturday was the 10th Anniversary Celebration at Huff Harrington Fine Art in Atlanta.  I have been lucky enough to be represented by them for the entire 10 years.  When Ann (Huff) and Meg (Harrington) joined forces, they decided to open their venture in a nifty small house, "Your Home for Art." 

Huff Harrington Fine Art
Rickenbacker Drive, Atlanta


Cozy and bright inside


It is not on a main thoroughfare (though just off one), nor located on a "gallery row," nor in a shopping area where walk-ins might happen.  No problem!  They gathered a group of artists, held spunky openings, with titles like "Splash," "Luminosity," and "Bastille Day." They got to know designers, advertised in magazines, held book signings in the gallery, and made it all work in a most splendid way!  Then, five years later they opened Huff Harrington Home, an emporium of good taste in furniture, all things French, cool jewels, and lots of art, bien sur!!  The amazing group of positive people that Ann and Meg have gathered sell loads of paintings and help collectors see the HH-inspired vision of artwork in their homes.  (My special thanks to Linda, Mac and Sam for all you do).
Last Saturday, there were painting demos during the day -- with Millie Gosch, Melissa Payne Baker and me at the easel, followed by a lovely party that night!  All enjoyed yummy wines, food, champagne and lively music by a group featuring the talented Pascal Bouterin, who not only is a long-term Huff Harrington painter, but a top jazz musician.

Below are a few photos of the goings-on!

Here I am painting in the gallery with Sarah, my sweet granddaughter, as model

Oil Sketch of Sarah, 18 x 14

My second demo done that afternoon

Festivities began in earnest at 6:00 p.m.!

Ann Huff and friend at the party


Pascal Bouterin on the drums, in front of cool paintings
by Lorraine Christie and Trip Park

My friend and fellow artist, Helen Farson, who came
from Greensboro, NC for the party.  She also
went to Provence on a painting trip with me in 2014.

A Provence-inspired painting by Helen Farson


Speaking of Provence, Huff Harrington sponsors painting trips to Les Murets, a lovely and charming getaway not far from Gordes.  I have been one of the painters leading these trips since 2011, and what a special experience it is.  Yesterday, I learned that two spaces have opened for the June, 2016, trip led by Bethanne Cople, who has been a gallery artist since the opening of HH as well.  If you are interested, give Linda a call at 404-257-0511, and check out The Artful Lifestyle blog on last year's art trip with Bethanne here - blog.huffharrington.com/tag/bethanne-cople/.


"Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right," Henry Ford

Ann and Meg thought they could and they DID -- create one of the best galleries in Atlanta, that is --  Bonne Anniversaire!