Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Portrait of the Artist. As a Zombie. Ew.

This was my favorite DPW Challenge so far, and my favorite painting ever in my entire life.
Behold: me, zombified.

Oil on board
Not for sale, but you can view it here.

This is based on a photo my husband took of me last summer, with his phone. He's got some kind of app that zombifies your photos. It's actually pretty amazing technology - a free (or maybe 99¢) app that performs the kind of digital effects that IL&M used to have rooms full of computers and programmers to do. My, how times have changed...

I had a wonderful time with it. I employed a bunch of weird paint colors that I rarely use — Gamblin Radiant Green, which is a fabulously beautiful color, but it's very unnatural looking. It looks like the color of Frankenstein's Monster's skin in a cute cartoon version. I mixed that with white for my skin, and with some Cad Orange for the darker (rottier) skin tones. I used it in the background too, with some Lukas Green Umbre, another weird color I've had no use for.

This was a situation where my propensity to over-use Titanium White was a bonus — it really helped me get those chalky, dead colors right.

I haven't painted a self-portrait since high school! This one is a keeper.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tippy Tuesday: Clean Skies

It's Tippy Tuesday! A collection of tips I've gained through experience or learned from other artists.

Sky Brushes!

I've been meaning to do this for FOREVER.

I hate getting mucky-looking skies because I haven't cleaned my brush enough. That little bit of green or brown or purple leaks out into the nice, fresh, cobalt blue or turquoise I'm using for the sky. Especially if I use any medium or Liquin with the sky color, it wicks the old paint right into the new.

First I tried disciplining myself to take the time to clean the brush thoroughly, but it's not a practical strategy. It just takes too long to get a brush completely clean, and I'm not that patient.

Then I tried dedicating a specific brush to skies, which was a step in the right direction, but of course I kept overlooking which one to use, and used whatever was in my hand. Dirty skies.

Finally, I wrapped some white drafting tape around a couple brand-new brushes, to designate them as sky-only. I can feel the tape when I pick it up, as well as see it (I can't avoid seeing it...) so I have hopes that this time I'll keep them separate, and have clean skies!

The next step is probably designating brushes for light/dark, warm/cool, etc. I don't know if I'll ever be that organized.

Also, I've decided that "Tippy Tuesday" is pretty silly. From here on out, "Tuesday Tips." Much more dignified.

FYI, those are Silver Bristlon Flats, #2 and #6.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Giant Year-End Sale

It's time to clear out my inventory of paintings to make way for a new year, so I'm offering ROCK-BOTTOM prices. This is a great opportunity to acquire original artwork inexpensively, for yourself or as a gift.

Click here to view or purchase.

Let me know if you need your purchase delivered before Christmas or other specific date. Prices are good through December 31, 2012.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Start 26 - Experiments

I've been messing around with black gesso — just as I was on the verge of giving up colored grounds entirely, I decided to try a few with the jar of black I've had lying around.

They're just quickies, painted on cardboard, but I really like how they turned out. The paint has a more glossy look to it than usual. I don't see how the gesso itself could have affected that, but possibly I'm putting the paint on thicker in order to be opaque enough over the black.

I think sometimes by trying something as "an experiment" and painting on cardboard or a material that I know I can't sell, it lets me take the pressure off enough to try something new. Letting go of expectations give more room. 

Yesterday I saw an artbyte on DPW about painting on black gesso! There have been too many coincidences in my life lately... apparently the universe is telling me something. Something like, "Hey why not use some black gesso."

Monday, October 15, 2012

2013 Calendar now available


I'm really excited to have 12 of my best paintings displayed in a calendar! 11" by 17" open; spiral-bound. It's available at Lulu Press for $17.49.

Click here to preview or buy.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Register for a chance to win this painting

8" x 6" oil on hardboard
My mailing list is a vital marketing and networking tool—I always like to get new subscribers so I can reach more people. Help me increase my subscriber base, and you get the chance to win this original oil painting.


If you are already a subscriber of my "Painting of the Week" email, encourage your friends to subscribe as well. Follow the instructions below, and you'll have a chance to win the painting.

If you're a new subscriber who found this offer via my blog, I'll enter you in the referral drawing. If you then refer other people, you'll be entered into both drawings.


1. Tell your friends to send me an email with "Subscribe" in the subject line. In the body, they should tell me who referred them (your name).

(You might want to forward them a link to this page so they have the details)

2. Each time you refer a friend, I'll put your name in the hat.
1 referral = 1 chance; 4 referrals = 4 chances; etc.

3. On October 31 at noon, I'll draw a name randomly from the hat to choose the winner!

4. I'll also draw a name from among your friends who subscribed during this time period. So your friends get a chance to win a painting too!  (painting to be determined.)

IMPORTANT: the "subscribe" email must come from your friend—please don't sign anyone up without their knowledge! They should understand that they are subscribing to my weekly email.

PRIVACY POLICY: "Painting of the Week" is a private mailing list. I won't share your email address or other information with anyone else for any reason. Unsubscribe at any time by emailing me with "unsubscribe" in the subject line.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The best plein air paintbox ever

Tippy Tuesday:

If you're in the market for a durable, well-designed paintbox and panel holder, check out the model Mike designed and is selling. A very good price, too.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Definitely better

This composition really needs something on the right; it did look empty when I took out the awful little house. I looked for some photo reference of boatyards, thinking I could maybe put part of another boat in that corner, but I didn't find anything really suitable.

However, I found some photo reference for a very simple building, which was mostly in shade —that's one of the tricky parts of this painting, it's a very low morning light coming from the right.

I had to raise the horizon to allow room for the building to sit farther away and fit into the scene, and also returned to the turquoise color for the water.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Better... or NOT?

I've retouched some old paintings recently— identified where they went wrong, and improved them (hopefully). So the other day I brought out something I painted at the beginning of 2011. This has always been one of my own favorites, and it's been a mystery to me why it didn't sell immediately and garner a bunch of critical acclaim.

The original
It seems to me that the weak spot is that little building on the right. This painting was done in one of Mike Rooney's AOC workshops, and we worked from photo reference. The house was not in the original photo, but Mike painted it in, to improve the composition. And, it worked great for his painting—but I'm not Mike :-)

My version has always looked cartoony and not-real. So I attempted to repaint it with somewhat crisper edges and better-defined shapes, but without over-illustrating it. Didn't work so great; I faced the same problem as the first time I painted—not having any real reference.

I didn't document that step, because it looked about the same as the original. Ultimately I decided to remove the house and trees altogether.

Revised version
Was it an improvement? I don't know. It's good to remove an eyesore, but now there seems to be a hole in the composition. But—is that simply because I know the history of the painting and know that something used to be there? Or does the space now give the boats room to breathe? Would it sit better if I went back to that more turquoisey color for the water?

I suspect I'm not done "fixing" this painting. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Birch Trees

oil on hardboard

Click here to view/purchase

Remember what I wrote yesterday about squinting and not standing too close?


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Chavis Park

oil on hardboard
Click here to view or buy

I'm really happy with the way this one turned out. The other day I was reading S.P. Goodman's painting blog, and he mentioned SQUINTING and NOT STANDING TOO CLOSE.

It's not like I've never heard that advice before—only about ten thousand times. But somehow it really clicked with me, finally, and I did both things. I squinted to see the shapes/colors, and I put a piece of tape on the floor marking where I am allowed to stand when painting. Which is exactly one arm + one paintbrush length away from the canvas.

What a huge difference. It was like everything went right with the painting from the very start. Not that it's perfect; there are some areas* I'm dissatisfied with, but it was such a different experience from the way I start a painting so hopefully and then spend the rest of the painting time trying to fix everything. This approach eliminated most of those problems. Basic value and composition problems, which just aren't fixable later. Much better to not have them to start with.

*Specifically, the sunlit trees behind the little bridge. I couldn't quite get that color how I want it to be—it shouldn't be so green, but I couldn't seem to hit just the right value and color combination**. Another brilliant painter once said "Fix your mistakes on your next painting," so I'm going to leave it alone.

**I'm starting to question why I paint on a colored/toned ground, because it makes it almost impossible to get those bright, light colors. 

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