October 12, 2012

Green Bowl with Fruit: Starting to paint again after show

Green Bowl with Fruit, 8 x 10 still life
Watercolor on Canvas
Getting ready for my show and the Lancaster ArtWalk last week while hosting guests was so time consuming that I didn't post -- or even paint.  Yesterday, I realized that I needed to start painting again.  We had run out of fruit, and I found that this is the time of year that Costco starts carrying persimmons.  I love their orange color and their shiny surface (as well as their taste), so when I saw them, I realized I wanted to get them -- for painting and for eating.  So, this painting was created.

Once again, I've worked in watercolor on canvas, and I love the vibrancy of the colors -- particularly after I sprayed the surface with clear acrylic to preserve it.  The acrylic spray acts as glass does for watercolors on paper; when you place the painting under that shiny surface, the work gets another, wonderful dimension. 

If you are interested in buying this piece, you can go to my gallery on Dailypaintworks.com and bid on it.  I included a number of pieces (that didn't sell at auction) in the show, and several of them sold.  I had started their bid price at noticeably lower than I priced them at the show because there wasn't going to be any bidding on them at the show, and I framed some of them.  It inspired me to keep producing works for the auction because now I know that even if they don't sell there, they provide some good entry-level priced works to help me build my collector base.  That's what all the "How to Sell Your Art" books say is a good idea.  So, once again, I'm offering this little work at a starting bid of $35.00.

September 23, 2012

Of Show PR and the Art Biz

Art is a creative endeavor and a business.  Like so many creative people, I am so much more comfortable with the former than the latter.  That is why designing these show invitations for my At Home & Abroad Show weren't too much of a problem. However, doing what I need to get them distributed is harder, as is doing the other PR work.

For the last couple days, I've gotten a lot of help in changing my web site and getting my show poster, etc. on this blog. My sister Danni, a graphic designer and illustrator, has been helping.  She designed and maintains my website.  I want to take this opportunity to thank her. Find out more about her design work at www.dobriendesign.com.

 Please check out my web site www.tracyfeldmanartist.com to view some of the art that will be featured in my At Home & Abroad: Recent Works by Tracy Feldman. Please stop by the Pemberley Tea Shop & Gallery,  443 North Mulberry Street in Lancaster if your in the area.

If you want me to send you an invitation to the show, contact me at arnytracy@yahoo.com, and give me your name and contact details -- don't forget to include your email address if you want to find out about future shows, etc.

September 20, 2012

Squash and more squash

Green Acorn Squash, oil on canvas, 8 x 10"
Circus Acorn Squash, oil on canvas, 12 x 12 "

Last week I talked about starting a 3 painting series when I painted some acorn squash that I bought at our local Amish farm stand.    What drew me to the subjects were the circus colored acorn squash.  I initially painted Awash in Fall Produce multicolored acorn squash in 17 x 7" format, along with some cute little peppers. As I had been doing for a while, that piece was created in watercolor on canvas; but I decided to go back to painting in oil for the other two pieces to see how that changed my painting experience.

What I found is this. There is a learning curve that takes place when I go between media -- even if I am very familiar with the "new" medium.  Circus Acorn Squash was my first attempt to go back to using oils to create my little painting of this squash.  Although the canvas size I used, 12" square should have made it easier to paint, it wasn't. In fact, I took several days to get an effect that I liked pretty well.  

I was unhappy enough with the painting at the end of my painting session, I may have left the piece unfinished.  But, then the voice of Andy Smith, a wonderful watercolor artist with whom I've studied in the past, came to mind.  In each class he would routinely share with someone who was very frustrated, "All paintings go through an ugly stage.  Keep going and keep focused and it will get better."  I am so glad that I chose to follow his advice and return to the painting the next day.  Not only had the surface got less oily -- so it was easier to continue painting, but the time distance helped me focus better on the moment and rescue it.  "Thanks, Andy!"  

Green Acorn Squash, on the other hand flowed much more quickly on to the canvas as I painted. I remembered another painting teacher, Scott Wright, advised me to glaze the surface with a 50/50 combo of Gamsol and Galcid (an odorless mineral spirit and a painting medium made by Gamblin), so the surface was much more welcoming of the paint.  I also allowed myself to work in a much more limited pallet, so the beauty of the shape shone through much more easily.  In fact, the piece came together in a small fraction of the time of either of the other squash pieces.  If you notice, I used an 8 x 10" canvas when painting this Green Acorn Squash, and that is different from the shape of the other two pieces in the series (Awash in Fall Produce and  Circus Acorn Squash).  I did that because I thought their size differences would create an interesting visual relationship between them.   I hope you enjoy.

I hope you enjoy both. Like Awash in Fall Produce, these two paintings will be offered in Auction on Daily Paintworks.commy gallery @ Daily Paintworks.  I'll put them up for 2 weeks and then withdraw them if they don't sell by then because I want them available for my show, At Home & Abroad: recent paintings by Tracy Feldman, that will be at the Pemberley Tea Shop and Gallery in Lancaster PA.

September 19, 2012

Avast me Buckos...Talk Like a Pirate Day

 Today is national "Talk Like a Pirate Day", and friends of ours invited us to help them celebrate the day with their family -- including their two seventh graders.  I made some Haitian Red Beans and Rice, but being an artist, I thought it would be fun to create and bring an artistic object to mark the day.  Being practical, I also thought if I made it out of a pumpkin, and didn't pierce the shell, it would have a better chance of serving a double purpose for them: Halloween as well as "Talk Like a Pirate Day."

If you want to make your own pumpkin character soon for Halloween, here are some items that helped me inexpensively create my own buccaneer.

I shopped at the Dollar Store to cut down on expenses.  The hat, the earring,  and patch were packaged together. The tinsel wig cost $1, too, and I was able to cut it to make room for the face.  The round guy's pirate knife, little chest, and dubloons cost another dollar.  Along with a black magic marker, I used black and white duct tape to make the eyes and ears (to hold the pirate's earring), and teeth, and to use some of the left over tinsel to give my pirate a snappy little beard. Finally, I used hot glue to keep the "hair"', the knife, the hat, and the nose in place.   One of the most fun things is the nose.  It is the top of an eggplant I had that was getting a little past its sell-by date.

If you make your own character, I'd love to see it.

September 11, 2012

Recharging my creative battery on my 40th

This weekend was our 40th Anniversary -- we married at 20 and 22.  We had a limited time to travel, and Baltimore is both far enough and close enough to be a good choice: far enough to not seem totally ridiculous  to spend money to stay the night; and close enough to not be exhausted by the travel to and from there.

Saturday was a day to recharge our physical batteries.  We chose a place where we could have fun and eat without having to go out if we didn't want to do that.  That was fortunate because the weather after we arrived turned wild, and because we were even eating at the hotel, we saw the rain and wind as a source of entertainment, not a cause for concern.

Then, on our anniversary, we went to the Baltimore Museum of Art.  I love that place, and it is much less well known than Baltimore's Walters Museum.  What I like about the BMA is that it has a number of wonderful collections within it -- including a surprisingly good collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works.  They were largely donated by the two Cone sisters from Baltimore. They were friends of Gertrude Stein who were turned on to collecting by Gertrude.  Since they didn't have children, they donated their whole collection to the BMA.  Sort of contemporary with the Cone sisters was another Baltimore woman, Saidie Adler May. She amassed and donated a smaller, but also impressive, Post-Impressionist collection that she apparently selected to complement the Cones' collection.  These women's gifts allowed Baltimore to have a wonderful public art museum -- a real treat to find outside of New York, DC, Chicago, and the West Coast's big cities.  

The only disappointment of the day was that the space housing the collection with the museum's most modern pieces is under renovation, so we couldn't see those works.  Even so, just being surrounded by art like that always helps charge my creative batteries.  Not a bad way to spend an anniversary.  Go to  the web to see the photo journal I made on our iPad  to see pictures we took at the BMA (and other places) on that iPad. If you click on any picture in the journal, you'll also be able to see the pictures in a slide show format.

P.S.  If you've never been to the BMA, I'd recommend it.

September 5, 2012

I got myself a show -- eek!

Well, I am continuing to work to do what I need to to get better at the business side of art.  Fear of rejection, of failure, has always made doing that hard for me.  But, today I kept myself in the moment, and made calls, and I have arranged both to have a one-person show at a local tea room, and to participate in Lancaster's Fall ArtWalk.

I'm going to call my show, At Home & Abroad: Recent Works by Tracy Feldman, and it will be at the Pemberly Tea Shop, 433 N. Mulberry Street, in Lancaster PA for the month of October.  And, on the 6th and 7th of October, my show and the Shop will be one of the featured places on the ArtWalk.  I know this is only the first step of many to make the events successful, but a first step is a step: one I needed badly.  So,  yea!

 I'll keep you posted as the time nears.

September 4, 2012

Making Something Old "New" Again

Arny Feldman by Nancy Cornett
pencil sketch on paper
Recently, I discovered a bunch of family photos that we had stored away two years ago when we spent the year in Ireland.  It was a delight to see images of loved ones, and be reminded of how much I cared.  Among the photos was, however, a pencil sketch done decades ago by my younger sister, Nancy, of my husband Arny.  I love it.  It reminds me of how cute he was with a full head of dark hair.

 But, when I rediscovered this lovely little drawing, I found the glass and frame had gotten broken, and during the two years it was in storage, the matting had gotten dirty.  There was no way I was going to show it when it looked like that.  Today, I finally found  a new frame.  It's teak with a creamy white mat that I was able to put over the old, problematic mat; and the result was wonderful!  The new mat, and modern frame took something that seemed old and outdated, and made it seem fresh and modern.

I realized as I looked at it how often we create, are given,  or buy, pieces of art like this that we initially love, but as the frames age, and the mats deteriorate (or just are an outdated color), the lovely pieces we loved lose their appeal.  However, if we took the time to reframe them in a more modern frame, or at least re-mat them, many of these pieces would once again become something we enjoy displaying.  I know frames can be expensive, but if you shop well (this teak frame with mat was on sale for only  $5.99), you can often have "new" art for a much more reasonable price you would have spent for new.

I challenge you to look through pieces you own, and look for things you used to love, but now seem shabby, and/or outdated, and try doing what I did.  I'm guessing you are likely to be delighted by the result.  If you are, share your own picture of the new (and the old if you want to, too.)  I'd love to see them.


September 3, 2012

Working from Life

Vegetables in Sun - wide,
Oil pastel on canvas board, 17.7 x 9.7"
The three paintings in this blog were all done from life.  In the past,  I've not generally worked that way.  I usually work from photos.  I've often felt a little guilty (a little less than) for doing this.  Why?  Because most people I've talked to -- artists and non-artists alike -- assume that paintings made from life are better, more-dynamic, than those that use photos as a resource.

Vegetables in Sun - tall,
Oil Pastel on canvas board, 12.3 x 16.5"
When I look back on my early works, I have to admit that some of  my paintings had a stiffness about them.  This was because, like a lot of beginning painters, I assumed that my paintings got better the more slavishly they duplicated their photo resource. While I've let go of that mistaken approach, I still often rely a lot on photo references because freezing an image at a moment in time preserves the way the light and shadow influence the shape, color, and depth of field. Working outside in the sun complicates that because natural sunlight changes all the time.  However, over the years, I've loosened up the way I use photos.  Now,  I am happy to edit the images and composition (in my own head and the final painting) to create the visual story that I want to tell.  In fact, it isn't uncommon for me to go so far as using elements from several photos in a single work.

      Vegetables in the Sun -  wide, and Vegetables in the Sun -  tall, are two works I created on a single piece of canvas board, and  that I later cut up to create the final pieces.  I worked in oil pastels and set up each still life on my porch using some of my favorite late-summer vegetables from Lancaster County farms.  I played with dramatically changing the point of view and the composition to add an unexpected element  to the works.  I have to admit that rushing to capture the light does add a dynamism to the way I laid down the image.  I love that -- particularly the more-realized Vegetables in the sun - wide.

Which Came First ....?,
watercolor and acrylic on canvas, 8 x 10"
    The final work I have here is a more-standard still life, set up under studio lights.  It's a topic I normally wouldn't do, but I was working to complete a Daily Paintworks Challenge  about painting a broken egg.  I have decided that one way to get back into painting is to do more of these challenges.  I chose the broken egg challenge because I knew it would really test me -- since I had no idea how I was going to do it.  It took me a couple of days to come up with the idea of breaking an egg on an image of a chicken so I could call the work Which Came First ...?  This work was my second attempt to complete the challenge because painting egg shells is ... challenging.  If you look at the original watercolor of the chicken, you'll notice I simplified and darkened the tail a lot so as not to compete with the main subject of the painting -- the broken egg.

       You can go to my gallery on Daily Paintworks.com to participate in the Auctions for the two larger works (bidding starts at $35 because they are larger, and will be priced higher after the auction), or you can pay $15 for the challenge painting.



August 28, 2012

I'm Back!

The More Things Change ... 1,
watercolor on canvas, 8 x 10"    
 This summer I accomplished a lot:  my husband and I went on a 4000 mile road trip to see loved ones and attend a math conference; I completed some major home improvements, including re-doing my studio; I helped my husband organize and run a math conference;  we also hosted numerous guests; etc.. The thing that I let fall by the wayside, however, was my art.  I was so busy "doing" that I let creating and blogging slide.

My husband has just started back to school, and that has given me the final push I need to get back into art and blogging.  I started with this two- painting series of banana peppers called, The More Things Change ... 1 and The More Things Change ... 2.  They are painted from life in my newly re-done studio.   ... 1 is a watercolor on canvas, and ... 2 is acrylic on canvas.  ... 1 is a landscape view of the peppers and ... 2 a portrait view.

I decide to do a 2-painting series to recapture the joy I get from adding texture to paintings.  In the spring, I had been painting exclusively in watercolor. I love the luminosity possible with those paintings, but the nature of watercolor paints means that textures in watercolors are only created using illusion. However,  I was reminded of how much fun I sometimes have adding a real textural element to my paintings when I was choosing which works to display on my walls before our many visitors arrived.  Thus, I've decided not to limit myself to watercolors for a while. That is why The More Things Change ... became a two-painting series -- one in watercolor and one in acrylic.
The More Things Change ... 2,
acrylic on canvas, 8 x 10"

The title of these paintings was inspired by a conversation I had with the little Amish boy who sold me the subject of these paintings.  I asked what was the heat difference between the peppers.  He patiently explained that  all the banana peppers I had chosen came from same plant.  However, he went on to explain, as each pepper matures, its color changes and the pepper gets hotter.  That idea that things so apparently different could really be the same underneath fired my "reality with a twist" passions, and gave me a title for these paintings: The More Things Change .. which I assume the viewer will know is an an expression that ends with, "the more things remain the same" and which is true of these peppers that seem on the surface to have morphed into entirely different things, but in reality remain the same vegetable.

If you are interested in buying the pieces, they available on Daily Paintworks.comhttp://www.dailypaintworks.com/Buy/Auction/73270. For a couple of weeks, I'll be auctioning them -- minimum bid starts at $15 plus shipping.  The price will go up when the auction ends.

Wondering about the green you see in the side of  ... 2's photo? It is paint from the side of the canvas. I painted the sides the green of the bottom pepper, and really liked the way it looked peeping over the side, so I decided to leave it.

March 4, 2012

Second in Series of Lancaster Central Park Pictures

Library in Late Winter
Watercolor on Canvas
10 x 8"

Library in Late Winter -- This little watercolor on canvas is the second in a series of paintings I’ve done based on feedback I got about photos I posted on my blog.  It’s of the winterberries against the Shuts Environmental Library on the grounds of the Lancaster County Park.  In the 1700’s, the original owners of this federalist style farmhouse probably owned the land on which the county’s Central Park now sits.  I believe the home was derelict for many years, and I am so glad that that instead of tearing it down, they turned it into the environmental house in 1991.   You can see a distant side view of the same building in the background of my previous painting, “Oh, You Nut ... hatch.”  
I’m also going to post it on my gallery on the Dailypaintworks site. 
 Hope you enjoy it.

March 2, 2012

Daily Painting -- Oh, You Nut ... hatch

Oh, You Nut ... hatch
Watercolor on canvas
10 x 8"
 Late this winter, I took a number of pictures while on a day out in Lancaster County, and I posted them on this blog and on my Facebook page.  I asked people what they wanted me to paint some day.  I got a number of responses about what people liked, and then promptly got too involved doing business-related things on the web to remember to do that.  Yesterday, I was thinking, "What to paint today?", and I remembered my commitment.  So I looked over the pictures people said that they liked, and this is the result.

This picture is of a white breasted nuthatch hanging from a pine limb at the Lancaster County Central Park. I love watching these natural acrobats zip up and down, and around and around a tree. They're easily distinguished from other small birds because they hang upside down as they quickly circumnavigate the tree to unearth bugs underneath the bark.  I think this behavior of acrobatically arching away from the tree is their way of getting a general look around.

Shuts Enviromental Library
Lancaster County Central Park
For people who are interested in how I make compositional decisions when I paint -- particularly starting with photo references, I've provided the two photo references I used to create this piece.  I'll share the process I went through with this little painting.

I looked over what people said they liked and thought would make interesting paintings.  I also considered comments they offered.  A couple of people liked the pictures of the nuthatch, but when looking at it, I agreed with one comment that said the background was dull.  If you look at the photo of the nuthatch below, you'll see what I mean. The colors are dull and their values too close to that of the bird to be as eye catching as I wanted.
Original of nuthatch

   I quickly realized that a logical alternative background   would be one located within the Lancaster County Central Park where this nuthatch shot was actually taken.

I chose the long view of the park's environmental library (pictured above) as the new background because it was interesting, but also distant enough to remain secondary to the nuthatch in the painting.  If you notice, I chose to paint building and its surroundings in softer focus, and with paler hues than the original to keep viewers focused on the bird.  I also slightly altered where the little evergreen branch was in the foreground, and placed my signature in a way that visually linked the tree limb and the little branch.  In so doing, I provided a visual path down the limb, along my signature, up the branch to the nuthatch.

I'd welcome any comments or suggestions about this -- or future work. If you want to look into purchasing this piece, go to my gallery page on Dailypaintworks.com

March 1, 2012

Daily Painting -- Little Ball of Fur

Little Ball of Fur - Watercolor on Canvas, 12 x 12"
I'm posting it as a "Buy It Now"  option
on my Daily Paint Works Auction for $60
This painting started out as something else.  I had an image of my nieces' black cat that we took on this wonderful cushion.  However, as I painted it, the color I got wasn't a black I wanted, but it was a chocolate brown that I liked.  So, I decided to go to make the animal that color.  However, after a little while, the painting seemed to beg to morph into an image of a puppy.

It's strange.  That doesn't often happen when I'm painting.  Normally, I have a pretty clear image of what I want when I start a painting.  But, this painting's "call" came to me made me remember hearing something various authors have talking about.  Writers said that sometimes as the wrote, certain characters just forced them to change how they, or  the story evolved.    So, in the name of artistic flexibility, I lengthen a leg here, lighted an shadow there, added a highlight on the puppy's snout, and out came this cute little ball of fur.  Enjoy.

Later today I'm posting it on my DPW gallery page as an experiment, I normally post works as part of an auction.  However, I'm going to try the "buy it now" option and price it for $60.00 to see how that works.

I'd welcome any comments or suggestions.

February 29, 2012

Daily Painting -- Hammers of the World, Unite!

Hammers of the World, Unite! 
Still Life, Watercolor on Canvas
12 x 12"
 I did this daily painting to enter into one Dailypaintworks.com painting challenges.   The challenge was called, "You Know the Drill". The tried was to create a still-life using things that you found in your shop. I loved that idea because in my family I am the handy one.  I shop in home improvement stores like some women shop for shoes, so I had lots of "subjects" from which to choose.   When I spotted these hammers, the image of them in an arch in the strong light on our wooden floors popped into my head because I knew how much deep shadows would add to the image.  I quickly realized that my normal 10 x 8" format would not do it for this topics, so I chose a square, 12 x 12" format.

When I did the sketch for the piece, and noticed how the cup hook looked like a sickle, the title for the piece also popped into my head: Hammers of the World, Unite!  It appeals to my "reality with a twist" sensibilities.

A number of artists wrote me with questions about the process of doing watercolor on canvas, and their questions prompted me to experiment with the way I approached this piece.  For instance, a couple of people asked how I prepared the canvas to work; others asked about how I handled glazing (painting in layers) since paint lifts so much more easily from the gessoed surface of canvas than it does from the more-absorbent watercolor paper.

My first experiment involved playing with how I prepared the painting surface.  I normally don't do anything, but this time I used a Kirkland wet wipe on part of the surface to see how that later affected how well the watercolor stayed on the surface.  I noticed that while the wipe was great for lifting the watercolor sketch lines, where I used it sometimes did seem cause my watercolors to have a harder time grabbing the surface than normal.  Thus, in the future, I won't be routinely wiping down the surface with a wet wipe before starting to paint.

Another experiment I did when working on this piece dealt with glazing (creating layers) on the painted surface.  For that, I went to one of my the watercolor instruction books, Building Brilliant Watercolors by Judy Treman.  Judy creates beautiful, dramatic watercolors in a somewhat unusual way: she created an underpainting in purples before adding local color to her pieces. While doing a value underpainting is a classic technique in oils, it is not standard in watercolors where people need to worry about their colors getting muddied if their under-colors lift when glazes of other colors are placed on top of them.  Treman's works, however, don't have the problem because purple tends to be so staining. Thus, the layers of purple underpainting tend to stay put as she glazes the final colors over her underpainting.  Treman's "trick" for doing this involves not only the use of staining purples, but assuring the underpainting is dry throughly before she begins her final glazes.  The neat thing about the color is that after the final colors are glazed over her purple under paintings, the purple "disappears" -- but the values established by the purples remain.

When I finished my research, and got down to painting, I started out by doing what she suggested.  I created pools of purples of varying intensities and temperatures each in their own bowl, then I used them to create an underpainting for this piece.  However, I adjusted how I applied the underpainting colors because I realized that I the color's normal staining properties wouldn't make them stick more to a gessoed surface.  Thus, I tried out something I suggested to one of the people who had written me in response to a piece I wrote for  Empty Easel.  This woman wanted to know how to create glazes/layers in a watercolor on canvas.  I suggested to her that dipping one's brush in a little matte acrylic glaze (along with the water and the paint) might both help the under-layers of color be less vulnerable to lifting when other colors were worked on top of them without also interfering with ability of the later glazes of watercolor to adhere to the canvas.  I told her I'd experiment to see what I discovered.  This piece is the result.  I used my various purples (with matte acrylic graze) to create an underpainting.  I then grazed, and lifted, and glazed again and again over the underpainting until I got the image I wanted.  The intensity of the underpainting was maintained, so I'd say this experiment was a success.

 I'm entering the piece in the Challenge today, and it will be available in my Dailypaintworks Gallery for auction.  I'm going to make the starting bid $35 (instead of my normal $25 or $15) because it's a larger piece. I'd love to hear your comments, questions, suggestions.

February 27, 2012

Daily Painting: The Dark Side of Sweets

Dark Side of Sweets, watercolor on canvas,
10 x 8"  
This piece was done in response to a painting challenge on the Dailypaintworks.com website.  The challenge was to do a picture of something yummy that you might want to eat before you finished the work.  I loved the idea of that, but as a compulsive over-eater, sweets are something I've given up eating because I know they could trigger a bout of over eating sweets, and savories, or whatever was around.  People in my program warn against eating such things by reminding ourselves that for us, "One bite is too many, and 1000 is too few.  Thus, when I think of candy, etc., this dark side of enjoying them helps me not choose (no matter how yummy the sweet looks) to avoid that first dangerous bite.

That idea gave me the concept for the piece: presenting candy mostly cast in shadow, so their "dark side" was featured.

I'm also including this piece in this week's auction on in my Gallery on the  Website.  Check out my Gallery, and bid on it if you want to.   I'd love to hear your feedback on this piece.

Oops -- about comments & responses

I am still learning how to blog, and I want to apologize if it looked as if I wasn't responding to the comments posted.  They can forwarded to my email, and I'd been responding to them, and assumed that my response would automatically get posted on my blog.  WRONG.

Fortunately, one of my sisters pointed out gently that I hadn't been seeming to respond to comments, and that helped me realize what was going on.  (Thank you, again, my sweet sis.)

So, I have found and reposted my responses.

February 22, 2012

"Daily Painting" 5 -- Lovey Dovey

Lovey Dovey
Watercolor on Canvas
10 x 8"
As you can probably tell, I painted this little still-life from life on the run-up to Valentine's Day.  It contains the bag I used to give my husband his little Valentine's gift.  A heart shaped container that housed a previous year's gift and a wonderful, ceramic craftsman-style trivet given to us by friends one Christmas (I think because the think of us as love birds.) I placed them all on a tablecloth we have in our kitchen because the old-fashioned lightness of the design was consistent with this old-fashioned homage to V day.
Hope you enjoy.

Even though it's not Valentines anymore, I'm including it in the auction this week on my Gallery on the Daily PaintWorks Website.  Check out the Gallery, and bid on it if you want to.   I'd love to hear your feedback, and if you want, I can do a tutorial on using these watercolor crayons to create paintings.

"Daily" Painting 4 -- Mmm ... Spicy!

Mmm ... Spicy
Watercolor on canvas
10 x 8"
This little still-life plays with how to create the feeling of depth in the picture plane when there in very little physical distance.  I chose the topic when thinking about our niece-in-law's mother. Aparna's mom, Kappu, is a great cook of Indian food and a wonderfully generous hostess.  Whenever we visit them in Toronto, we can always count Kappu serving us great food, no matter how busy she is.  She knew I also enjoy cooking for others, so she asked me if I cooked much Indian food.  I had to admit that I didn't know how to do that.

In response,  she made up a beautiful-designed packet of individually wrapped spices typically used in Indian cooking. I was told that she hoped it would inspire me to have the courage to try some Indian dishes.  They did, but I found the look of her spice grouping so appealing that I could never really bring myself to use the actual spices she gave me.  Instead I just move them from one container to the next, so I can look at them and think of my creative, lovely Canadian/ Indian friend.

I chose to place my spicy still life on wonderful table runner I have because the cloth feels exotic and its colors compliment the spices.  I also liked the  challenge playing with how not to have the complicated design of the cloth totally overwhelm the main subject of the piece.

I'm also including this piece in this week's auction on in my Gallery on the Daily PaintWorks Website.  Check out my Gallery, and bid on it if you want to.   I'd love to hear your feedback on this piece.

February 21, 2012

"Daily" Painting 3 -- Loneliness of a Whiny Goose

Loneliness of a Whiny Goose
watercolor on canvas
10 x 8"
This small painting is a type of a watercolor on canvas, but I used artist grade watercolor crayons to paint him.  I saw him on a trip we took to Charlestown, MD, on the Delmarva peninsula.  He's a Toulouse goose. I'm very fond of this type of geese because their slightly tubby shape and white underside remind me of toddlers in diapers.  That day, this guy's normal crew (OK flock) weren't with him, and the way he was squalking for attention and snacks so reminded me a whiny 2 year old that I knew I'd have to paint him some day. It still makes me smile when I see this image and I think of that day -- and that goose.

I used Caran D'Arche Neocolor II Aquarelle Artists Colors on this piece.  They are artist-quality watercolor crayons from Switzerland.  Finding these crayons was serendipitous.  My sister Nancy (a hand-crafted jewelry maker) was scheduled visit us when we were in Ireland last year.  Since she and I spend time making jewelry when Arny and I visit her, I had offered to show her oil painting when she visited me. She told me that she instead wanted us to work with this type of watercolor crayons.

Nancy had seen some jewelry pieces that incorporated designs with watercolor crayons and was intrigued by them for her own art. I, however, had never used watercolor crayons, didn't have them, and didn't know how to find them in Ireland.  But, being a good sister and hostess, I spent a long time trying to find them, and going on websites to learn about how to use them.  Unfortunately, we didn't work on them together because she didn't come, but it wasn't a waste because these crayons are a great  add-on to my artistic toolbox.

These watercolor crayons can be used alone or with other watercolors, acrylics, and/or ink or markers. A wet brush turns a few swipes of a crayon into a color wash.  Colors can be placed to create a varied,  layered effect.  They can be applied in a more impasto fashion, and they can even scraped to create more effects.  Like with other watercolors on canvas, paintings made with watercolor crayons also need to be sprayed with  clear acrylic to preserve and protect them.

I'm including my whiny little guy in an auction on in my Gallery on the Daily PaintWorks Website.  Check out my Gallery, and bid on it if you want to.   I'd love to hear your feedback, and if you want, I can do a tutorial on using these watercolor crayons to create paintings.

February 15, 2012

The Advantages of Producing Large Watercolors on Canvas

Catching the Post-Season Sun -- watercolor on canvas, 28 x 40.5" 
A few days ago, I said that I'd give some examples of large works that could be produced using watercolor on canvas.

Although it is possible to produce large watercolors on paper, I've always found that there are a few problems that arise when working on too large a scale that have to do with the nature of paper itself.  First, paper of any kind is relatively soft, so if you reach over it when working, you run the risk of marring the it in a way that isn't easy to take back.  For instance, if you push down too hard when you are drawing, lifting color, or erasing, from then on, you have created a spot that will grab on to more pigment than the flat areas (because water flows to the lowest point) -- whether you want that effect or not.  And, since you tend to need to work essentially flat  when doing any kind of wash or wet-in-wet work in watercolor (unless you are really fond of the drips of Jackson Pollock) it's hard for someone of my height (5'5+") to NOT lean over a piece that is that large while painting.

Comrades in Fishing -- watercolor on canvas, 32.5 x 42.5"

Another advantage of using canvas as a painting surface for a large watercolor is how much easier it is to frame the finished pieces.  Watercolor paper is absorbent, soft, and thin and the paper tends to bleach in the sun.  Thus regular watercolors need to be framed under glass or "acrylic glass" to protect the paper from harm, and the paint from water and sun.  You also have figure out some way to keep the paper away from the "glass", as well as to provide a subsurface (like foam board of some sort) to fit under your watercolor paper.  All of those things add significant cost and weight to the final piece.
The Gourmet Capital of Ireland -- watercolor on canvas, 24 x 36

     However, when you paint on a properly-prepared surface (with acrylic gesso, not oil-based gesso) and then later coat the finished piece with a clear acrylic spray, framing becomes much easier.   You can present your watercolor as you would an oil painting: as is or with a frame (as I've done with both Catching the Post-Season Sun and The Gourmet Capital of Ireland) or unframed with a prepared edge (as I did with Comrades in Fishing.)

In the next week, I'll update my website with more information about these pieces for those who are interested in finding out more about them.   If you have any questions or comments about this blog, or the pieces, I'll be happy to hear from you.

February 1, 2012

#2 Daily Painting: Evie ... now Evelyn, etc.

Evie ... now Evelyn -- 8 x 10" watercolor on canvas
This is my second daily painting.  It's also an 8 x 10" watercolor on canvas, and is called Evie ... now Evelyn.

Although  I now normally paint oils, I'm starting out doing watercolors for my daily paintings because I exclusively painted in watercolor for years, and I miss the vibrancy that medium offers as the surface shines through the layers of largely transparent colors.  I'm doing the watercolors on canvas, because painting on primed canvas offers a number of benefits over painting on paper.   For instance,  the steadiness of the substrate (canvas vs. paper), they don't have to be framed under glass to be protected from moisture and wear. Also, since my watercolors on canvas are coated with clear, gloss, acrylic spray -- which has UV-protective characteristics -- the image isn't as prone the fade as old-style watercolors when displayed in a sunny place.  That said, I still feel it still is probably a good idea to not hang one of these paintings in a place where they will be in direct afternoon sun for long periods of time.

For the 17 plus years, I  exclusively on watercolor, however, I only painted on paper, because no one believed it was impossible to paint on canvas.  Then, Frederix developed an archival "watercolor canvas," and artists starting experimenting with it.  I learned about the technique while checking out my local art association's (the Lancaster County Association of Art) class catalog, and I jumped at the opportunity to learn the technique.  It was taught by a great teacher, named  Karen Frattali.  I so loved doing it that I quickly produced a number of really interesting large works in it.  However, my exploration of watercolor on canvas was interrupted last year for a silly-seeming reason. We spent the academic year in Ireland (my husband was on sabbatical there),  I couldn't find the clear coat acrylic paint I needed at my local DIY store.  Thus, I decided to go back to painting exclusively in oils until I got home.  I'm so grateful that someone encouraged me to do this daily painting project for myself, because it's so much easier to experiment when working on small pieces.

The topic of today's painting is dear to my heart.  She's my niece by marriage.  The image is from a photo her parents took around 30 years ago when they were on sabbatical in France.  When they sent the photo to us, we immediately framed it - but unfortunately directly under glass.  I so loved the image that we periodically would take it out and display it again for a while (despite the fact that she hadn't looked that way in years.)  A few years ago we got some great old photos of my husbands family, so  I decided to take out that picture, but re-frame it to go with the other photos we got. To my horror, moisture had welded the photo to the glass, so removing it to re-frame it was no longer possible.  My niece, who  now has two little girls of her own, saw it and  asked me to send her a copy of it, but because I couldn't remove it from the frame, I had to tell her "no," and  I felt bad.  Thus, it is not surprising that when  I decided to do this daily painting project, one of the first images I wanted to paint was this one.  I call it Evie ... now Evelyn because at around the time this picture was taken, my niece decided that she was too big a girl to go by the name of Evie, but that name still holds a place in my heart since that's what we called her when I first met and came love her.

If people are interested, tell me and I'll post some of the large watercolors on canvas I've done so you can get a better idea of what big works in this media can look like.  Also, I'm thinking of doing painting tutorial(s)/tip(s) on watercolor on canvas -- comments/questions?

January 31, 2012

Day 1 of Tracy's Daily Painting Project

Welsh Landscape 1 -- watercolor on canvas 10 x 8" (20.3 x 25cm)
Before I started doing this painting project, I reviewed lots of other artist's work to get a better idea of where I wanted to go with this, and how I wanted to handle things.  I saw a lot of great work, and realized,  when looking at different people's sites, I came to understand
that there are many ways to do daily painting "right." 

For instance, some painters truly clearly felt compelled to produce a painting each day. Others were comfortable, instead to commit to creating a fixed number of paintings a week.  Some restricted themselves to working only from life. Others also looked to  photo reference and/or their own imaginations for inspiration.  Some marketed their work on one source, and other's took a broader marketing approach.  Some limited themselves to 30 minutes or less to paint: , others didn't.

No matter what their commitments about how they would work, the daily painters had something really important that united them:  a belief that submitting themselves to the discipline of producing work so consistently over a long period of time would help them grow as artists.  

Craig Nelson, the author of one of my favorite painting boos,  60 Minutes To Better Painting, called doing this giving yourself "brush mileage."  Like Nelson encouraged his readers to do, daily painters see these little daily paintings as serving a purpose different from their larger, finished work.  The process used to produce them is at least as important as the look of the finished works themselves.  I love that idea.

I look forward to using this year to increase my observational, painting, and composition skills as each painting increases my own personal brush mileage.  However, I'm following the folk who produce 3 to  (ideally) 5 new paintings a week.  I'm not committing myself to a set time to do the work because I accept that working quickly is a skill that I'm still in the process of learning. I am, however, going to restrict the size of these pieces I produce.  The works I create must be able to fit in one of the USPS priority mail boxes.  Doing that will make shipping more affordable for buyers and myself.  Thus, none of the pieces will be larger 12 x 14" (30 x 35 cm), and most will be smaller.   For instance, today piece is 8 x 10.  Finally,  I'm planning to produce work in a variety of media because that is something I've always loved to do, and I've been restricting almost exclusively to oil painting in the last year.

Although I really like the idea of working from life,  I'm going to be one of those folk who uses a variety of inspirations for my paintings.  I'm doing this because I have all types of photo references, etc. that I've gathered over the years that I would have loved to tackle.  Now, I have an excuse to do that, and I'm thrilled.  That being said, I'm going to do at least one painting a week from life also because since I normally do paint from photo references, I know can use practice working from life.

Today's painting, Welsh Landscape 1, is based on a watercolor sketch I did years ago when we first visited Wales.  Wales holds a special place in my heart because an English travel agent tried to discourage my husband and me from visiting there -- dismissing the Welsh as unfriendly and strange. As Americans, my husband and I decided that we wanted to make up our own minds, and we are so glad that we did.  We found the people to be warm and friendly, and much of the landscape beautiful and dramatic.  For that reason, my earlier sketch held a special place in my heart.  However, I had just starting to paint, so the materials I used weren't as archival as I use now, and I'm thrilled by the opportunity to revisit the topic.  I'll probably revisit again later in the year as my skills doing fast, small works grows.

I'd love your feedback on this piece and on the way I've decided to approach my own daily painting project.

January 29, 2012

Fine Day Out in Lancaster County

We have been having January thaw weather -- blue sky & clouds and temperatures topping out in the high 40's (about 8 or 9 C). We finally decided to take advantage of it, so yesterday we attended a winter birding program at Lancaster County Central Park. 

It was great and we were so charmed by seeing things like snow drops (that shouldn't be out for about a month at least) that we decided to continue the fun by taking a ride.

Arny asked where I wanted to go. At first, I said north, and then I looked at the clouds moving in and said, let's just follow the sun. He thought it was a great idea, and we had a wonderful couple of hours drifting through the county, choosing each new turn after consulting the sky. If our direction of travel started to move us into clouds, we turned towards the most sunny place. 

What we saw on our ride reminded us of how beautiful our county is even in the more-subtly-hued times of winter. By the end of the trip, we were pleased and surprised to find that our drift had led to one of our favorite natural places, Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area, and that it already had a large population of swans and geese.

 Check out a selection of the photos we took below and 
tell me which ones you think I should use as subjects for my "painting a day" project.

Fox Sparrow on Christmas Tree

Sparrow on Feeder

Nuthatch on Pine

Chickadee Hanging From Feeder


January Snow Drops

Seed Pods in the Sun
Dried Grasses Glowing in the Sun

Winter "flowers"

Sycamore Against a Winter Sky

A Spiral of Swans, Middle Creek WLMA

Middle Creek Swans & Geese in Late Day Sun

Swans Trough Late Day Trees

January 27, 2012

Thanks for the head's-up about spelling errors, etc.!

I am not a naturally good speller nor a great typist (or proof-reader if the truth be known.)  Thus, I am one of those people for whom the invention of the spell-checker was a remarkable boon.   However, that great tool alone can't protect me from all errors in my posts, but fortunately, lovely people also have my back.  They point out my error(s), so I have the opportunity to correct them. I welcome those corrections, so if you notice an error, I'd love to hear about it so I can correct it as soon as possible.  I even value hearing other's opinion's on what I post, and am happy to update my blog if I think that what was pointed out is of value.

     For instance, this morning my younger sister and pointed out an error that I've fixed with my last post.  And, a couple of people posted about my first tutorial, and pointed out problems with using black tape to give the sides of one's paintings a more-finished edge.  I thought I had made it clear in the post that it was a quick and easy thing to do, but one that wasn't a professional-looking as either painting the sides of the painting black or just continuing the image on to the sides. After reading their shares, I realized that wasn't as clear in my post as it should have been.  Thank you both for altering me to that.

    The first person who wrote lives in a warm and damp place, and she pointed out that duct tape in such weather can eventually loose it's grip and then fall off.  Not only does loose tape look unsightly, but the getting the tape residue off the side might be hard.  I thought about what she said, and I realized that freezing and very dry weather also undermine the integrity of the glue on duct tape.  So, dear readers heed her warning, black duct tape does eventually lose it's grip, and unless you plan on replacing that tape with MORE duct tape, it may be difficult to get the tape residue off the side.

    The second person to point out a problem with the duct tape is an artist of long standing who also worked in a gallery setting.  Using black duct tape on paintings was a particular peeve of her's as a gallery person because she saw the problems it caused to restore the painting to a presentable condition when it did come undone.  She thought that using such materials should even be discouraged even in a student setting because doing such things can lead to lazy/poor work practices that would haunt them all their lives as artists.  For instance, she said that sometimes she got works in her gallery were the artist was demanding as much as $15,000 for work that incorporated duct tape.  Seeing duct tape on works now is a reason for her not to show the work.

   I was so impressed with their reasoning that I want to state clearly here that using black duct tape has lots of problems (even if it is so easy and fast to do.) Thus, it should be avoided in most situations. In fact, I was so impressed by their reasoning that you might notice that my little  "painting a day" canvases all have black sides painted with acrylic paint.

   As I said, if you have any comments (or corrections) about this post, I'd love to hear them.

January 25, 2012

Art musings, art tip, and a "painting a day"

5 little canvases prepared for week 1 of  PAD
 (note black painted sides) 
Since coming back to the States (from Ireland) in August, I've been in landing mode: getting the house back into shape, sitting in on a painting course, and (of course) starting this blog.  However, the Fall was dominated by my painting in class, and on my own in the class studio when classes weren't on.  It was great.  I got lots of "brush mileage", but not doing much from the professional development arena. For instance, I hadn't arranged to have a show of the work I produced in Ireland.

Thus, when Franklin and Marshall College's Fall Semester ended, I decided to forgo sitting in on a Spring class as an act of commitment to once again doing more to get myself  better known as an artist.  For instance, we didn't do our normal traveling on my husband's break from college.  Instead, we stayed in town so  I could work with my graphic artist sister, Danni, to created this blog.  She also helped me get over some of my fear and loathing about updating my website.  She was great, and I feel more grounded, but as we all know that feeling only lasts as long as we keep doing what helped us feel better.

 If you didn't notice, that's an art tip:  if you are like me, techno classes you take (or help you get) will only move you to a better place in the long run if you choose to use the use the things you learned.  Otherwise, in my experience the term use it or lose it will be the rule of the day.  I know this is true for me because I've taken great business of art workshops that our local art college, PA College of Art and Design, make available to folk in the arts community as part of their Lancaster Artist Initiative program.  I left each class stoked to do what I learned about, but fear led to my putting things off long enough that I never got comfortable with doing the new things I learned.

Tomorrow, I'm going to start talking about something else I'm doing to keep my focus on the work -- while working on the business part of art.  I'm exploring the "painting a day" movement.  It will push me to do work each week day.  It also will push me to explore using e-bay or other marketing tools. Wish me luck.

I'd love to hear your input (thoughts/advice) on the painting a day program, eBay or whatever.

January 17, 2012

I've got a tutorial on EmptyEasel

I've always loved the site, EmptyEasel.  It's a great resource for those interested in painting and those interested in finding ways to market the work they make.  I loved looking at the tutorials that people in the art community make sharing things they have learned that have helped them as they grow as artists.  I thought it would be great to become part of their art community, so I submitted the first tutorial I produced for my new art blog, and Dan (the EmptyEasel man) accepted it.  Click here to check it out.  So cool!
Hey, Everyone,

        I've been thinking about participating in one of those sites that challenges on to do small paintings on a regular basis.  I've looked at the "painting a day" sites, and they seem good in many ways, but I was wondering if anyone knows about any good painting a week sites.  It still would improve my "brush mileage", and give help me challenge my creativity and compositional/color skills.  Does anyone out there have any suggestions of sites they like, or they've found useful?

January 10, 2012

Paying Attention to The Sides to Get A Step Ahead: 5 tips for Making This Easier.

Unfinished sides
If you paint on canvas -- either in acrylics, oils, or watercolor -- you probably have noticed that your unframed paintings look much better from the front than they; do from the side.  The raw canvas looks startlingly white against the painted front.  Worse yet, during the painting process, bits of the colors that you used on your painting get on the sides and create a “design” element that is jarring against your carefully planned and executed front. Throughout this post, I’ve included some examples of works where I did and didn’t “pay attention to the sides” to help you envision what I’m writing about. 
In the past, what the sides looked like didn’t matter as much because everyone assumed that a finished painting was a framed painting.  Framing works is still great, but having to find frames that fit and really complement your work adds a layer of complication and expense. Today we have more options that can save us time and money, and will allow even our unframed works to feel more finished and professional.  

Here are 5 tips to do just that:
  1. The quickest way to make your paintings’ sides look more finished is to use black duct tape (it’s called Gaffer’s tape in Ireland & England)  to cover your canvas’ sides. Ideally, you'd do this before you start painting, but you can use this technique on a finished painting whose sides you left white.  Its downside is that the tape I’m recommending here isn’t acid-free -- which upsets some collectors, and museum folk, but it’s a good choice for studies and in works you're planning on showing in your home or more casual settings. Several things to keep in mind when doing this: 
Black sides
      1. You don’t have to use one continuous piece of tape, but the fewer seams you have, the better.
      2. Your tape should be somewhat wider than the side of your canvas so you can wrap the tape over the canvas’ back edge.  However, don’t overlap the canvas’ face -- or the tape will interfere with your painting’s look and, if you later choose to remove the tape, leave a jarring white place on the painting itself.
      3. Finally, to ensure the tape looks its best: use a hospital fold (like you do when you are stretching a canvas)  on the corners; make sure to press the tape down firmly; and be diligent as you paint to clean off any stray paint that gets on the tape.
2.  The cheapest way to finish your painting's sides is to paint them black before starting your painting. Three things to keep in mind if you do this:
    1. Acrylic paint is best to use for this, no matter what medium you’re using to create your work (acrylic, oils, or watercolor.) It dries quickly and cleans off easily. However, if your canvas is stapled on the side, first gesso the sides -- to prevent rust problems later.
    2. Avoid letting the black paint get on the canvas front.  If it does, wipe that paint off immediately to prevent a ridge line showing though your paint.  A rag is OK with oils and acrylics, but if you’re planning to use watercolor on canvas, use a Mr. Clean Magic Sponge on the wet paint to ensure that all residue of the acrylic paint is off the canvas front.
    3. Diligently clean off any stray paint that mars your black sides.  Dry paint is harder to clean off, but if that happens sand the dry paint and carefully touch up the marred area with your black acrylic paint.
    3.    The most interesting way to finish your painting's side is to continue painting onto the work's sides (best done on wide gallery-stretched canvases.) Three things to keep in mind if you do this:
        Painted sides
      1. Don’t forget the bottom.  It’s tricky to do this because your canvas sits on the bottom, so you might want to wait until the top is dried enough to flip the painting safely on the top edge so you can work on the bottom edge.
      2. Use a sketchier painting style on the sides.  The sides aren’t the star of your work, so viewers aren’t concentrating on them. Thus, you just need to have enough detail to have viewers’ eyes “fill in” what they expect as they scan from the front to the sides. 
      3. You can also choose to paint the sides of a narrow depth canvas, but it won’t look as good as if the sides are deep.  Further, if the sides are stapled, like with the black-painted sides, you will need to first gesso the sides to prevent rust problems later.
    4.  Resist the temptation to skip using hanging hardware and bumpers when displaying your work with finished sides.  The top of your canvas really isn’t designed to carry the weight of your painting over the long haul. Instead, place hangers on the canvas’ side bars (about a hand’s length down from the top.)  Why should you place the bumpers on the on the bottom edges of your work?  They help your work stay straight on the wall.

    5.   When using a shadow-box style of frame for your work, do finish your painting's sides in some way. Yes, the reveal won’t allow the viewers to see much of the edge, but finishing the edges still creates a more professional, finished look.
    I’d love to hear any comments or further suggestions about this topic.