Wednesday, October 31, 2007

New Christmas Card Design

This week one of my watercolor classes wanted to work on a project that could be completed in one class. Most of the class projects take two classes to complete. So, I pulled out a drawing I did a couple of years ago but never used. We worked together to develop the painting on a greeting card. The most important lesson I hope they took away from the class is that they can take any line drawing and develop a painting from it. They don't need to have detailed instructions for everything they wish to paint. These students have taken classes with me for a couple of years, so they are not beginners. It is time to stretch their creative muscles.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The latest still life

Here is my latest painting. It is done on 8x10 gesso board. There is a Burnt Sienna underpainting with oil overlays.

You can see in this photo of the underpainting that the vase on the right looks crooked. One of the things a value study underpainting allows you to do is check for design flaws. I checked the vase and sure enough, the right side is not straight. I was able to correct the underpainting before I began the oil overlays.

Completed Painting
The vase on the right still looks a little crooked in this photo. I went back and checked it and it seems to be the photo. The vase is actually straight. This appears to be an optical illusion caused by a combination of the design on the vase and the angle of the camera to the painting when I took the picture.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Tiny Bottles

Here is a completed miniature. I haven't really worked on a miniature for a while. This piece is a 4x4 clayboard surface. A Burnt Sienna underpainting using acrylic paint was the first step. This underpainting is a value study for the final painting. Because the acrylic paint dries quickly, developing the value study in this way allows you to quickly move on to the business of applying the oil overlays.

Oil overlays are applied using water mixable oils.

Completed Dachshund

This morning I completed the oil overlays on the Dachshund. I think he turned out pretty well. Are you interested in a 5x7 portrait of your pet? I will soon have a purchase option here on my blog. If you want it sooner, contact me at and I will give you the information.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Preparing new projects

My personal studio time seems to be available only toward the end of the week for the moment. I finally got time to work on my projects this afternoon and chose to spend that time preparing underpaintings to work on tomorrow. I have two underpaintings completed today so that I can do the oil overlays tomorrow. The dachshund is on a 5x7 gesso board and the still life is on a 4x4 clayboard.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Theodora is finished

I have a small class of three ladies every Tuesday morning. They are learning to paint with watercolor. They used to come to my continuing ed class at the college, but those classes are not filling any more, so they come to my home. The first piece we worked on since we started these classes is a piece I call Theodora's Tea. I created this painting several years ago. It was the very first pattern packet I designed and developed myself. Even though it is a few years old, students still love to paint it and it is a charming little painting. Here is Theodora.

Friday, October 12, 2007

My new project-a painting a day (mostly)

I have been working with a new coach who has suggested doing a painting a day. These are small paintings--5x7, 6x6, 4x4. Since I like working small, this approach suits me just fine. The objective is to complete a painting from start to finish in a few hours with a goal of decreasing your time and increasing your quality. Today, my painting was done on 5x7 gesso board basecoated in orange. The value scale underpainting was done in black and then I applied oil overlays in water mixable oils. Zach lives in Alaska and his Mama sent me his picture when they were on vacation. I simplified the background because the exercise was to paint Zach himself.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Completed Portrait

I finished Windy's portrait today. I like the results. Now I have to wait for it to dry before it can go in a special frame.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Portrait of Windy

Last week I posted an underpainting of a portrait of Miss Windy, my Lakeland Terrier. I finally was able to get back to it today and start the oil overlay. It is coming along quite nicely. The support is a 5x7 gesso board that was basecoated in orange acrylic. A value study was then applies using black acrylic. Now I am applying an oil overlay using the Holbein Duo Aqua water mixable oils.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Learn To Paint Month

The month of October is designated as Learn To Paint Month. The decorative painting club is celebrating this month by holding free Learn To Paint classes at 4 different locations in our region. This coming Saturday, I will be the instructor for the session in our town. We will have two classes at the local library. They will be open to the first 15 people who sign up for each session. We will be teaching the same simple project in all of the class locations. The project is a small diary/notebook with a papier mache cover. We are painting a design that was published by Prudy Vannier for use with these types of events. We are providing all of the materials--paint, books, brushes, tracing paper, etc--for the classes and there is no fee for the class. We hope that we will inspire some of the participants to want to study further and to perhaps even join our group.

The Learn to Paint project

Saturday, October 6, 2007

What do you do with a ceramic pumpkin??

I was handed several ceramic pumpkins to turn into centerpieces with some painting on them. They are lovely pumpkins in their own right and did not require a lot of detailed painting. So, what to do? Fortunately, these pumpkins are beautifully painted from the factory and have a nice matte finish making them easy to paint on.

DecoArt has come out with a new dimensional paint with a writing tip. It comes in regular colors and metallics. The one that I bought is Dazzling Metallics Elegant Finish Acrylic Dimensional Writer in gold. The paint is quite thick and is applied using the writing tip that comes on the bottle. Using this paint, I created swirls around the top of the pumpkin. I saw a similar project in an obscure craft magazine done on a papier mache pumpkin.

I think the result is quite nice and the pumpkin will look lovely sitting in the middle of the table in a bed of silk Autumn leaves. This is the sort of project that takes only a few minutes to complete and requires little painting skill. So, if you are looking for a simple centerpiece for your thanksgiving table, give this some thought. You can find similar pumpkins at reasonable cost at your local art and craft stores.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Today's work

I had an entire day to spend in my studio today. I worked on two new paintings. This one is a portrait of my dog. She is a Lakeland Terrier named Windy. The painting is on 5x7 gesso board. So far, I have completed the underpainting. I am using Robert Warren's technique for the underpainting which is to basecoat the surface (canvas or board) in orange acrylic and then complete the value scale painting in black acrylic. Tomorrow I will begin work on the color.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Artist of the Month

I am honored to have been selected to be the Artist of the Month for the month of October by the Transit Fine Art Gallery in Oil City, PA. This gallery offers work by local artists. Each month they present a major exhibit for one artist. One wall of the gallery is given over to displaying the selected artist's work. My exhibit opened today and will run through the end of the month.

Monday, October 1, 2007

A Study Method

I have reached a new place in my painting life with regard to study. For a lot of years I have religiously taken workshops with a variety of teachers. This has involved traveling to the workshop locations, hotels, meals, the cost of the workshop, supplies, etc. I have benefited from all of these experiences, but there is a cost associated with all that learning. A couple of weeks ago an artist friend told me that I should just work through some of the books in my extensive library and use those books as my teacher. Once I have learned the techniques and approaches that one "teacher" is using, move on to another book. You can also make use of some of the videos that are out in the world (and in my library as well). She recommended starting with the Helen van Wyk books that I already own.

Interestingly enough, the Robert Glen Twice Weekly Newsletter was written on the subject of having a personal coach. His recommendation was almost exactly the same as the advice my friend gave me. Use books and videos and paint for a couple of hours every day.

I don't necessarily need to be hit over the head with a bat to recognize that when you get the same advice from multiple unrelated sources in a short period of time, the advice is probably valid. So, I am working through my Helen van Wyk books. I may not do everything in the books, but I will pick and choose the things that most appeal to me. The objective is to learn how she did what she did and be able to apply the principles to my own work. At the same time I will be working on projects that are purely my own.

Here is a painting done in water mixable oils with an underpainting in Burnt Sienna acrylic. It is a study of silver. It is based on a painting from Helen van Wyk's Welcome to my Studio. Helen did not always use an underpainting and when she did, it was a grey scale rather than Burnt Sienna. Practicing using an underpainting makes you think about value placement without having to worry about the color. Once the underpainting is done, then applying the color on top is relatively quick and easy.