Saturday, March 25, 2017

French Peonies

French Peonies,  5x7" Oil on gesso panel 
©2017 Helen Read 
(ready to frame) 
(Please add $10 shipping in the US, IL residents please add 8% sales tax)

Such beautiful color - like gemstones in bloom!   Beautiful restful colors of blue and pink.  You can almost smell their delicate scent.  A reminder that it is a wonderful thing to slow down, breathe deeply, and find delight in the colors of springtime.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Field in Bloom!

Poppies in Bloom, 6x12" Oil on gesso board 
©2017, Helen Read 

(ready to frame) 
(Price includes shipping in the US.  IL residents, please add 8% sales tax)

Late Spring brings about beautiful blooms.  And this small landscape boasts a field of red as poppies dance in the wind.  This painting is created in a long and thin format that lends that sense of wide open spaces. 
It is ready to send and will bring a bright spot of color with a touch of Old World charm.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Sunshine and Blue

Sunflowers in Cobalt, 7x5" Oil on Gesso Board
©2017 Helen Read
Ready to Frame
(Please add $10.00 shipping in the US,  IL residents please add 8% sales tax) 

Color!   Beautiful color all around us - in the simple things - in the everyday things - in creation.
And not just 1 color can be seen in a particular thing, but a whole world of colors!
To me, this is a joyful thing - a celebration for the eye.  (And for the spirit, too!)

I've always been attracted to the bold beauty of sunflowers, and here, they are off set by the deep blue of a cobalt pitcher.  They seem to have been made for each other!  

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

February was a busy month!

It's always fun to look back a little bit and see what has happened in the past few weeks.  I've done some smaller paintings on gesso board.  Working out some new ideas in color and in brushwork.  Here's a little sampling of some of my explorations

I love the brilliant colors and experimenting with new ideas...  What do you think?  Do you love color too, and a painterly effect? 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Spring is on it's way!

Spring Tulips, 12x9" Oil on gesso board 
©2017 Helen Read 
(ready to frame)
(Please add $20 shipping in the US, IL residents please add 8% sales tax) 


Ah... spring time.   In the northern part of the country, it can be a long wait.   The beauty of spring flowers reminds my heart that spring will soon be here in all it's beauty.  Tulips are one of the first messengers!
I love their soft colors and the simplicity of a simple jar of flowers.   This composition is clothed in soft colors of spring time, with luscious passages of texture in the brushwork.
It is ready to send to it's new home! 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Coffee Anyone?!

Last summer.... 

I was contacted by a design firm in San Francisco.  They were interested in the drawing you see above, Curvature. 
I did this colored pencil drawing about 6 years prior...and had sort of forgotten about it!
They thought it would be just right for a coffee company to use on their packaging -
was I interested in selling the rights to it's use? 

After some discussion, that's just what happened - and now, these months later, the bags have been printed.
You can see the background of the coffee bag is a how they used my work.  (And, I've been told that they are using the image on boxes too, but I haven't seen those yet)

It was only after our agreement that I found out it was Peet's Coffee that was the buyer! 
I couldn't be happier!  They also bought the original work. 

All of this came about rather unexpectedly, but most happily!
I think that's called Serendipity! 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Flowers for Valentine's Day!

Give Your Valentine Flowers that Never Fade!

For my friends who are on my newsletter list, I'm offering a special 20% discount on these floral paintings until Valentine's Day.  Now would be a great time to join my list and get a little Valentine's Day love! 

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Winter Blossoms, 8x10" Oil on canvas panel
©2017, Helen Read

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Sunspots on a Summer Afternoon

Sunspots,  12x9" Oil on linen panel
©2017  Helen Read

Ready to Frame
(Please add $20 shipping in the US,  IL residents please add 8% sales tax)

On a warm afternoon in late summer, most of the terrain is in shadow ... except for those few brightly lit spots of sunshine that seem to beckon.  I was drawn to the beautiful reflective water with those distance spots of warm sunshine being the perfect complement to the shadowy greens.
Peaceful, serene and yet quite alluring. 

Have you ever wondered how a painting gets started?   

You can see the beginning steps for this painting by scrolling down a few entries or just click here!
The research and the preparatory steps may surprise you! 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Getting started on a new painting

I always find it interesting to see the process an artist uses in their work, don't you?  My process is always being re-evaluated and perfected, so I don't feel like I have "arrived".  But, these first steps do seem to work well to get a new painting started.  

I start with a few thumbnails sketches: 

Thumbnails are quite rough ~ they are a true sketch.  In a thumbnail, I check out the composition - rearrange things if necessary, simplify a little, and see which format I think will work best.  Here, I've tried a horizontal and square format - and below, I have used the vertical format.  This is the format I think will work best, so I've made a few field notes here as well - mostly noting where lights and shadows play an important role. 

When doing a value study, connecting the darker values is also important.  This will help tie the composition together and allow the eye to flow along.  Isolated dark values need to connect somehow to other dark values.
This is where artists may want to use a notan drawing to see that this is happening.

My next step it to work out values with a value study.  It is a little more detailed than a thumbnail sketch, and I'm paying much closer attention to values.  What I've found to be true is that values play an absolutely essential role in a believable landscape painting - well - probably ANY painting!!   You can see below that I made some notes about values and I've used a value scale to match them. 
Also, notice that I've been pretty careful to do this value study in the proper ratio for the canvas I will be using.

There's quite a bit of sketching in preparation for the beginning of a new painting!  But, all this will pay off as you get started! 

 I have decided on a 12x9" canvas - and I'm using a linen panel for this.  The linen is a pleasure to paint on - it has some tooth, of course, but a wonderful surface for the paint. 
In the photo below, I've made a few little marks to note where the convergence of thirds is on the canvas.

Keeping the "Rule of Thirds" in mind will help me compose an interesting arrangement.  I'm not really diverging too much from the actual scene, but I'm looking to arrange things so that the eye moves through the composition and doesn't get lost or bored or move out of the picture completely. 

The Rule of Thirds essentially says that the eye would like to see something interesting, compositionally, where the 1/3 segments of the picture plane converge.  So, there are 4 such spots on the plane.  Utilizing one of them will be a good thing to do.  There's much more to compositional rules, of course, but this is a relatively easy one to observe.

Using a light touch, I've drawn out a very simple and very minimal line drawing of the composition.  It's a little hard to see, but if you look carefully, you will see that there is a tree lying along the 1/3 marks on the left side.  I've used a 5B pencil to do this and am only marking the larger shapes.  

Now,  I'm ready to start the under painting!    Not every painting starts this way, but I like the effect and I think it helps resolve the whole idea of correct values.   I've used a combination of thinned Transparent Earth Yellow and Chromatic Black (both are Gamblin colors) to get a very neutral tone to start laying in values.  This will be a monochromatic under painting, so I'm only looking at values at this point rather than local color.

Because I'm working with thinned paint, its pretty easy to correct shapes - and even values - if I put something in the wrong place or I need to lighten values.   You can see my start above.  And a little more work on proper values in the photo below.

Now, I will let this dry and check again for proper values.  Once I'm satisfied that I have gotten the values down correctly, I will start working with color. 
That will be another post!   

I hope this has been interesting to see a process!  And it truly is a process! 
I don't really know of any artist who just sets up their canvas and palette and paints successfully without proper preparation.  And - the several hours that this has already taken to work through is just the beginning!  There will be more hours of analyzing color, mixing proper values of those colors, and applying the paint. 

Check back in a few days to watch the progress of this one.  There are some lovely passages of blues and greens that just capture the imagination and stir the heart with the beauty of God's creation! 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Winter Blooms

Winter Blooms,  8x10" Oil on canvas panel
©2017  Helen Read 

(Ready to frame)
(Please add $20 shipping in the US, IL residents please add 8% sales tax) 

Winter is unrelenting.  Gray, cold... the colors of our world seem to recede, which is why a painting of vibrantly colorful flowers seemed like just the thing to paint (especially, when weather does not permit getting out to paint landscapes!)   This color filled painting in warm tones of red, peach & yellow is ready to ship and hang!   Let me send you a little spring time this winter!   

Saturday, January 14, 2017

January's Blooms ~ still in progress

If you look backwards a couple posts, you'll see the beginning of this painting .  It's still
not completed, but I'm making progress. 

It's been quite awhile since I've done a floral still life - and it's interesting to me that even though I've done many florals, it feels a little rusty on this genre.   Nevertheless - these are joyful blooms and that's just what is needed in this bleakly cold time of year!  

I will be posting the finished work soon!
And, I'm already thinking about my next landscape...  I miss the beauty of bigger vistas, I think! 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

3 Sisters

Three Sisters,  4.5 x 6.5" Watercolor on Yupo Paper
matted in white and ready to frame in a 10x12" frame 

$48.00(Please add $10 shipping in the US, IL residents please add 8% sales tax) 

This lovely painting and many others are available in my Etsy Shop
priced at great prices!  

Several years ago, I visited one of my favorite gardens in the US ~ Descanso Gardens in California.  What an inspiration!  On this particular morning, shortly after a short morning rain shower, the white lilies were turning their faces to the sun with a few rain drops still remaining.  So lovely!      In fact, several paintings came from that visit.  This one is done on Yupo paper, which give such interesting effects.  I love how the paint pools and blends in an almost abstract way, just as the rain drops left their trails on the flowers.   

I'd love to send this painting to it's new home.  Perhaps you have just the perfect spot for it! 


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Oh... bleak January.

We are in need of warmth and color!  

... and flowers! 

I've just started a new painting - this time a floral.  It's been awhile since I've worked with florals, yet they remain an interesting subject.    At the top, you see a value study.  I actually began with some thumbnail sketches - and then created a value study from the one I decided to use. 
The lower image is an oil sketch - showing the general shapes and values.  
 I'll post my progress soon!  

Monday, December 26, 2016

Looking Back - Thinking Ahead

What a busy year it has been!  
From tattoo designs to packaging designs to developing my landscape repertoire... my year has been varied and interesting and actually quite productive. 

You can see from the images above that I've concentrated almost entirely on landscape painting this year. 
I've wondered what it is about painting the landscape that is so inviting to me.  And I think it is where I so easily see the handiwork of God - I see much about His character - I see the intricacies and the care with which He has created and sustains His creation.... and this is where my spirit feels such a deep connection.  Perhaps that is inborn - I'm certain it has much to do with being raised in the rural and beautiful southwest - or perhaps that is just where I sense His presence very easily.   Whatever the reasons, my heart is stirred by a beautiful sunset, or the quiet flow of water, or a field in bloom and these are the things that find their way onto my canvases. 

What else has been notable this year? 
It was a completely unexpected surprise to be contacted by a design firm in San Francisco this past summer - they were interested in using one of my colored pencil drawings for a "coffee company" on the west coast.   While we were in discussion I only knew that it was not a start-up company, but well established.  They were interested in using my design for packaging, and perhaps other uses such as on menus, etc.   It was pretty exciting when I found out that the company who bought my work was Peet's Coffee.  At this time, all I know is that my work will be used on their People and Planet product - and that production has begun.  I'm looking forward to seeing it in use soon - the art they purchased is seen above ~ the green leaf in the center of the collection. 
I also worked larger again this year.  The largest painting that came from my studio measures 2 ft x 3 ft.  It's a different kind of challenge than working small.  Another milestone was putting together an individual exhibit of 11 landscape works, which I called Prayers from the Field.  Along with the paintings, I included personal reflections in the form of short prayers.  I have long hoped to be able to use my visual work as a means of worship and this was a great opportunity to realize that goal.  

.... and....I continue to teach high school full time.  This year, I have taught a variety of  Drawing classes (both entry level and second level), Metalsmithing and Jewelry Design (also entry level and advanced levels) and Interior Design.  This year I began my 15th year at Wheaton North High School.  I have also thought quite a lot about how to bring my teaching experience out of the classroom and make it available to people near and far.  I'm still developing that idea, but I think there's great possibilities with that idea!  

I hope that 2016 has been a year of great milestones and interesting adventures for you.   I'm reminded of the blessings this time of year brings: the wonder of Christmas with a small Savior coming into this world on my behalf, the beauty of artistic expressions of that wonder,  the delight of being with family and friends  to celebrate and reflect, and a short time of rest from the regular schedule. 
Wishing you peace and joy now and a blessed 2017 ahead. 

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