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Monday, June 30, 2008

Continued progress ...

Sunflower triptych, still in progress 14 x 48" (collectively), Oil on canvas

Its been a little while since I've updated you on the progress of the sun flowers. Unfortunately, this photo is a bit washed out - but you can see what I've gotten done. I've been working each day - usually several hours a day. And - I'm beginning to see where I need to go with this. The flowers are done for now - I'll begin to work on background and foliage next. No doubt with that done, the flowers may need a bit more tweaking!

Hopefully more to come in the next few days!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

FYI - Still Life at Auction

Traditional Still Life, Red and Green
5x7" Oil on canvas


This is an older painting, which I've reposted for auction.
It is starting at 99 cents!
Obviously, this is well below my costs for materials,
but never the less! If this would be perfect for
a need at your house, then this is the perfect time!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I'm terribly sorry about the quality of the photo..... (I took it.) Its blurry - and the lighting is just weird. But - the point of posting this is so that you can see some of the progress I've made on this set of 3 paintings.

Yesterday, I blocked in darker values, but wasn't too happy with some that I put in - this is where I just feel like I'm flying blind - so those decisions are still out there. I also started working on the petals of the flower and have added most of the greens in a general way. (More refining will be necessary)

The other 2 panels are blocked in with the greens - and that's about it. The bud behind the flower is some distance behind... and I hope to make that more obvious as I lay in additional values.

Its easy to feel overwhelmed as I begin - so I try to focus on just an idea at at time to execute - and then move on. But, with the 3 panels it is important to work on them simultaneously so there is a sense of cohesion between them.

More to come!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Work has begun!

The sunflower triptych
The left & right sides measure 14 x 14"
The center measures 14 x 20"

Day 1 - The making of the canvases.
I really like to make my own canvases. For my small paintings, I don't. But for larger ones, I almost never buy ready made ones. I use a very old method, which makes a beautiful stretched surface. These canvases use purchased stretcher bars (although I've done plenty of buying lumber strips, attaching quarter round, and mitering the edges, then gluing and nailing.) I use unprimed cotton duck and attach with staples loosely. I usually staple everything behind so that the edges can be painted.

The next step is to dissolve rabbit skin glue in cold water. When completely dissolved I heat it, to a little bit warmer than warm, but not boiling, and I paint the surface with the glue. (The proportions are available by manufacturer.) As I paint, the canvas begins to shrink and creates a drum-like sized canvas. When it dries, it is ready to prime. I use gesso primer - either clear or white, depending on the look I'm after. Usually 2-3 coats of primer are needed. If necessary, I sand between coats. When the last coat is dry, I'm ready to paint.

Day 2 - As you can see from this photo, I have now sketched in my images. I sketched free hand, using a HB pencil. Then I oil sketched in light layers to lay in values. Depending on my subject matter and size, I may just oil sketch - or it is possible to use charcoal. If using charcoal, I suggest a coating of gel medium so that charcoal is not incorporated into the paint.

One of the reasons to stop and look at what I've done is to make some assessments about shape and proportion and placement. After looking at where I am now, I see that the center panel has some proportional problems. The small folded over flower at the bottom needs to be enlarged considerably. This wasn't readily apparent to me until I stepped away, made a digital photo and looked at it with "new eyes". Sometimes I can see things in a new way just by stepping back or by looking at it upside down or by going away for a bit and returning to it with a new outlook. Regardless of how, its an essential step!

Check back in a day or two for progress!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The full set!

Sunflower 3, 5x7" Oil on canvas

Here is the 3rd in my series of sunflower studies. This one was a sunflower laying on a surface, which cast a shadow... I showed the shadow in a cool violet blue, which is complimentary in color to the flower colors. Overall, I'm pleased with the results of these 3 paintings. I have now started laying out the larger series I'm working on - which will also be 3 canvases measuring 14 x 14" on the 2 ends and 14 x 20 in the center. These 3 larger canvases will feature larger sunflowers (of course) and a few more than are shown in these bottom 3. I'm off to a good start - and look forward to revealing the end result!

The full set! This week's work in the studio. I really like these as a set of 3, the dimensions of
which are 5 x 17"


Friday, June 20, 2008

The second of 3

Sunflower 2, 5x5" Oil on canvas

This is the 2nd in my small series of sunflowers! Also a study of sorts before beginning my larger set. Once again, the background is still in question. Again, I like the way the petals seem to twist and have a sense of motion and fullness. And this time, you can see the dark center. Its a little harder to see here, but the center does have some nuances of shade within it.

Oh, you probably noticed! I made some changes to the way my blog looks.... the content is still the same - just the colors are a little different! Sometimes its good to update!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The first of 3

Sunflower 1, 5x5" Oil on canvas

As I mentioned, I've been working on sunflowers this week. This is the first of 3 ... the rest to come this week as paint dries!

I like the values and hints of complimentary colors in this one. This is a preparation painting for some larger paintings of sunflowers I'm just beginning. I learned a lot about this flower as I did a smallish painting. But, I'm still working out the background colors - I'm not 100% sure about what the background should be, yet.

I also like the things this painting shows about sunflowers. The back seems almost prickly - and the flower itself seems like it is turning and twisting in the light. It is a thick, wet into wet application of paint. The style is a bit reminiscent of VanGogh's style as well, though I didn't plan it that way.

What I hope this painting reveals is something of the intricacies and structure of the flower - but also the way that it has been "clothed". When you think about it, its pretty amazing!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Preview - while paint dries!

If you have been following my blog, you know that I enjoy painting flowers.... sometimes just because they are beautiful - but - I also am working on some other purposes for my paintings.
I'm working on ideas having to do with Matthew 6 - the passage where we are told that if God clothes the flowers of the fields in such glory, when they are here today and gone tomorrow, how much more he values and cares for us! (quite paraphrased!)

Sketchbook drawing - graphite

This graphite sketch has led to several small paintings of sunflowers, which I'll be posting when the paint dries. I may do another one or two in preparation for a triptych of sun flowers I am planning in my studio - a much larger version. Here, you will see, I'm trying to work out the shapes within the flower, but also looking at values and where those values occur. (Value meaning lights and darks). Color will come into the mix - but not yet... before color can be dealt with well, value has to be addressed and (for me) understood.

Its been a little overwhelming to think about working large again. (I used to work much larger than I have been lately! ) Composition needs to be thought through carefully - and then the physical task of laying in paint takes much longer ... with a little different way of thinking about painting! Well there you have it! This is what is happening in my studio this week.... actual paintings to be posted soon!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Black Calla Study

Black Calla Study - approximately 5x7" - Watercolor/acrylic on paper

As I've mentioned, these last few weeks have been crazy! But, I'm coming back to reality and here is a small study I just completed. This flower - a black calla lily - (who knew they came in this color?) - is actually more in the dark purple tones. This was one of the flowers in the bridesmaid's bouquets in my son's wedding last weekend. [I could go on and on - it was held in beautiful S. Lake Tahoe ... so, hopefully, from photos I'll be doing some landscapes soon!]

I started this small study there - and finished it back at home. The water color paper - I don't know what kind it is :( - isn't the best paper. In fact, I don't like it very much at all! It works more like blotter paper - with everything soaking in immediately rather than sitting on the surface a little bit so it can be moved around. Also, the pigment seemed to want to soak in in splotches, so it took quite a bit of working with it to make it even. I know - I'm no help at all - (to you or to myself) since I don't know what kind of paper this is.

The composition changed a bit too. I started it as multiple flowers and decided to focus on one - and to emphasize the shape of it. Therefore, it is abstracted somewhat. Everything seemed to rotate around the central "eye". It is not a realistic representation - but rather something of an interpretation of the shape and movement of this flower!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Crazy Days of May and June, 2008

Purple Petunia - 8x12" Oil on canvas

It's been crazy around here these last few weeks! And the craziness won't be done for another week or week and a half! All kinds of things are happening here with my children, including a high school graduation and a wedding! (2 of my 3 children). Throw in my own activities with finishing our school semester as a teacher and the finish of a graduate class I took ...(what was I thinking trying to do 1 more thing with all the rest of this going on?? But, thankfully, it is done now too.) Needless to say, I haven't been painting as much as I'd like to be... but I have been working on a larger painting. I hope to have it finished and posted soon after things settle down here. So, I'll be taking about a week away from blogging ... for my son's wedding - and a little recuperation! Look for new work by mid June!

Meanwhile these 3 little paintings found a new home together this week! They will be living at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin! As an artist, it's always fun to know that your creations have found a good home where they will be enjoyed and appreciated!

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