Archive for August, 2008

Shallow Water- New Painting

August 25, 2008

Shallow Water 8X10 oil on linen

By this time in August, the days are hot and the sun is relentless. The best way to cool off is to get in the water. I was watching this father and son at the shoreline, saw a good shot, and happened to also have the camera with me. Doesn’t always line up that way.

The dad was apparently comfortable in the water but the little guy, not so much. His face showed some displeasure. If he only knew how lucky he was to be living near a beach as pretty as this one.

I tried some new approaches on this painting and you can see the process below. Seeing works in progress when other artists show them has been so helpful. I thought I’d do the same.

First I toned the canvas with a raw sienna wash and while it was still wet, wiped away some areas for lights. Then I did a rough-in with a deeper sienna to position the dark shapes.

I usually sketched my subjects first but I wind up trying to “stay in the lines ” and I wanted to be looser with this and just get the feel for it. The toned canvas is great to give you a value base to relate to. Lights look more luminous and the darks are already pretty much in place.

Now I started to add in the colors, and again tried something new: a limited palette.

Yellow ochre

Alizarin Crimson

Ultramarine Blue

Titanium White

Burnt Sienna

Touch of Black but barely.

And one teeny dab of Cad. Red on swim trunks. I just had to.

It’s a serious exercise in being very precise in the use of color. And challenging.

Without Cad yellows, greens are much softer and cooler. What is it about green? Sheesh, I hate painting them.

So to complete the reverse order of images, this is the original reference.

It’s too hot…. I’m going for a swim. Unlike the little guy, I fully realize how lucky I am.

Jailbreak Caterpillars

August 19, 2008

We’ve had rain. After not having any for almost 2 months. Things come alive again. Things you want to come alive and…well…. other things. From my studio, I noticed a frangiapani tree that was growing unevenly and at that moment had to go out with pruners and do some lopping.

I grabbed the biggest branch, poised the Felcos’ #9 made for lefties and with precision, executed my first cut. Off came this unexpected conglomeration of the most bizarre caterpillar cluster I’d ever seen here. In my hand. Like a bouquet. They’re actually velvety, ( yes, I had to pet one ).

Their coloring is a warning to experienced predators that they are not to be eaten without Rolaids or, worse, the handy phone number of the Poison Control Center. They average between 4-6 inches, lay zillions of eggs on the underside of the leaves, and strip the tree to its’ skeletal remains. The leaves grow back. The caterpillars turn into B-52 moths.

That’s what I call them because although there’s nothing stealth like about them, they’re huge, and have the same wing formation.

Thought it was a sign that I needn’t worry about the shape of the tree. Mother Nature was going to help me take care of that.

And I got to use my new camera ( notice that depth of field?) Or lack of.

This is the rain that poured 4 gorgeous inches of rain on us, spawned the spawning of Jailbreak Caterpillars ( really, officially: Frangianpani Worms ).

Before she became Miss Hurricane Fay, she was this…….

Trinidad Market Girl – A New Painting

August 13, 2008

I thought I’d hate the fumes. I don’t. What really happened is that I transported myself back to my days as an art student at Parsons School of Design in NYC.

I’d forgotten how the smell of linseed oil evoked the small, airless room we painted in, feeling a little bohemian and maybe a little bit goofy after 5 hours of breathing in turps.

I’d had this reference photo of a Trinidad Market Girl and wanted to rough out a sketch first, to get scale and placement. Sketching gets me familiar with the subject.

This is an 8X10 linen canvas that I tinted first, and visible are the bisecting lines in pink to make sure I didn’t truncate her head or her arms. You know how that goes- huge head, tiny body.

I need to pitch a big thank you to two great blog mate painters who are always eager to share information and very generously.

Linda Blondheim– a superb painter of Florida landscapes whose posts include textbooks worth of painting tips. You’d think she was getting paid to do it.

And Nancy Moskovitz who is also a terrific Florida painter in both oils and acrylics, for sharing painting tips and a great heads up on increasing your hits on your blog by selecting the right titles- read more about it here at Empty Easel.

Getting my Photoshop toes in the water and playing with values lets me look as I go, with a dispassionate eye. Being artists, we’re supposed to be passionate. We can trip over our own damn egos and toes if we’re not careful. I fiddled around to get this in shades of grey- thought it looked pretty good.

It’s a real discipline for me to get un-disciplined. I went for loose and sassy. Did I make it?


August 10, 2008

Finding the right home is getting more challenging every day.

Given the size her home should be, do you think the hermit crab looked at this, dejectedly but pragmatically and said, “hmmmm my Fannie, Mae fit into this if I give away a lot of the stuff I haven’t used in years and give up fries and bread with dinner?”

” Before the divorce, my house was the one on the left- now all I’ve got is this tiny studio and no damn privacy”!

These hermit crabs are fascinating to watch. Changing shells is a complex process- I’ve watched one take 45 minutes to pick one in the yard, eek it’s puny, undeveloped body out of it’s former protective covering, take another 45 minutes to use it’s antennae to scope out the insides of its’ perspective new home, and if it finds it unsatisfactory for whatever reason, take another 45 minutes to acclimate back to the previously discarded one.

They remind me of muscle bound guys in the gym- hugely developed upper bodies ( think monstrous biceps and lats ), and legs like chopsticks. Yeah, you know the guy- his name is probably Freddie Mac.

There’s Been a Mistake……

August 5, 2008

The perfect way to announce an uh-oh moment. And no pronoun usage to denote blame.

August 5, 1948

I didn’t make a mistake, HE didn’t make a mistake, THEY didn’t make a mistake, but somehow, a mistake has been made.

This handy phrase comes from Michele, friend for life and therapist fantastico. So no one made a mistake, and yet, this is the unavoidable reality of the birthday I was not so keen on having.

Until I encountered this shop window in NY last month and thought- ” who cares what number the age is, as long as the goddess of Props is working overtime for my amusement, that’s all that matters “. And wasn’t this the perfect prop?

Photo, of Miss 60 – thanks, Judy.

It’s an oddity, being the age that only your mother was. And now it’s you. Look at the disparity of company I’m in:

President George Bush is one of many baby boomers hitting the age of 60. Some other boomers turning 60 this year include Dolly Parton, Donald Trump, Diane Keaton, Suzanne Somers, Reggie Jackson, Cher and Jimmy Buffett.

What a contrast – Cher, Dolly, me and Dubya. Don’t you feel a sequel to Nine to Five in the cooker?

It happens- you pass a store window, look at your reflection and think- “Crap, I really DO need Botox!”

But the rest of me looks pretty good, right?

Wasn’t i just the wise cracking 7th grader, who, when asked in English class, ” Does anyone know who wrote A Farewell to Arms “?, there seemed only one correct answer to this budding artist?? ” Venus de Milo”, I said.

I didn’t get a note home for irascibility, just a partially stifled guffaw from Mr. Lichtenstein, the teacher. And an appreciation of art AND English.

A lesson early in life: humor is a passport.

Now it’s serious stuff, the daily concerns of metabolism, exercise, favorite jeans that feel, well, like there’s been a mistake…..

So AARP mail that would be fireplace fodder if I had one, who cares? I get discounts to movies, for groceries, art supplies, my gym and on occasion, still get a cheesy, smarmy, obviously pathetic comment from the guys in the car wash that want to know if I’m 35 cause ” You be lookin’ fine”.

No, silly boys, you’re way off.

I’m feeling so good now that it’s as though I’m….

Thirty five, are they nuts??*%)#

My gift to you is the very funny and short Birthday Video from Joe Cocker- yes, please sing along and don’t stop too soon- it gets better as it goes: