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

 Please check out my web site 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, 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 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.