July 26, 2014

Being Inspired by Summer's Bounty

July Onions, 8 x 10", Acrylic on Canvas by Tracy Feldman
One of the things I love about living in our area is the number of local farms that include a "truck farm" section.  In that section, the farmers grow a larger variety of crops that they grow specially to sell on a retail basis to individuals.  Sometimes they truck the bounty of these gardens into town to sell at larger farmers markets, and sometimes they sell them right at the edge of their farm, so individuals need to come to them.

     Lancaster County has the richest farmland in the US, and the nature of our farms is greatly influenced by the "plain people" who farm around here.  The ones who depend on horses to plow their fields have to keep their farms small (for example farms here average 78 acres vs 241 acres in Indiana and 433 acres in Oregon).  Another difference is the commitment to diversity of what is produced, even in the farms' cash crops. On one farm, you might see a cornfield next to a soybean, and/or grain, hay,  melon, pumpkin, or potato field.  It is also typical for farmers to include among their cash crops tobacco, orchards, and fields left in grass so that their dairy cows can graze.  And we don't have the only rich farmlands in this part of the country.  Maryland and southern New Jersey are also famous for their truck farms.

    In summer, therefore,  I'm able to stop by many different farm stands to see what is good -- knowing that what I get will have been picked that day.  These lovely onions are from such a road-side farm stand in Maryland, just over the border from Pennsylvania.  I bought them specifically to paint -- my Arny is NOT a big onion fan, but we will eat them in some form.  I loved their vibrant colors and shape.  I even loved the fact that the dried roots were left on the onions.  It reminds me of their (and all of our) dependence on the earth for sustenance.  I felt a little "bad" buying these lovelies in Maryland, instead of my county. I didn't feel "bad" because our farmers are doing badly -- they are actually thriving.  But, because we in PA are prohibited from bringing certain types of consumables into our state.  It's actually alcoholic beverages because liquor here can generally only be sold in state stores,  Many ignore that rule, going over the state line and avoiding paying PA taxes by buying booze in stores as close to the border as the farm stand I went to.  Vegetables never were protected in that way in PA, but it still felt a little like I was being bad when I got my veg.  It kind of gives you a good picture of how rule-following I tend to be :).

     When I got my non-contraband onions home, I realized that I wanted the painting I created to have a somewhat modern vibe, so I placed them on vivid warm and cool placemats and took a lot of photos to determine the best composition and lighting for the piece.  I love how the colors of the shadow marry the elements of the piece (the onions and the placemats).  Hope you enjoy.  I'd love to know what you think.

    As usual, I'm putting this little piece up for auction in my Daily Paintworks gallery.  Check it out here, after July 27th if you might be interested in it.

July 24, 2014

Doing More Artwork With Young Friends

Accidental Petroglyphs, 12 x 12", Acrylic on Canvas, by Tracy Feldman
Wednesday, I had another painting day with a young friend.  She's the 7-year-old daughter of my husband's colleagues that I mentioned earlier.  I noted that for a while she's been a devoté of Pollak, but she had taken a painting class this summer that opened her to doing other things.  She particularly liked the technique using tape that her instructor had called the stained
Untitled 7/22/14, 16 x 20", Acrylic on Canvas
 by Catherine W.
glass window painting.  I suggested that to make the piece more interesting that we start with one of my old paintings that I didn't want to keep, tape a pattern over that, and do the stained glass technique over that.  While doing it, we had her experiment with using different brushes and a palette knife and creating texture.  I could tell that she got more and more comfortable as we went along because she became willing to go to my paints and choose new ones that she liked -- without waiting for me to get them for her.  We then went to have a snack, she finished up the last few "panes", and took the tape off.  We worked together on that too and we both stood back and looked at the resulting piece. I asked if she thought she was done, or if she wanted some paint dribbled on the piece. She loved that idea and we searched for what color she thought would be best.  We chose one, and I got it ready (not too thick or too thin to dribble).  The resulting pattern combines dribbles, and spatters, and drops, and I really thought it turned out great.  Thank you guest artist, Catherine.

    I also worked on a piece while Catherine painted.  I chose another piece that I realized I didn't want to keep, a smaller 12" square one and used the same tape technique as I did with Catherine. I liked it when it was done, but decided to show Catherine that you could use your fingers as brushes to dot paint on a piece.  As soon as I did that, I hated the result, so I tried to wipe it off.  However, I didn't realize that some of the underlying "pane" paint was still wet, so everything smeared.  So I had to wipe off as much as I could; unfortunately the result was a muddy mess.   I worked harder to dry the mess, and then I started again with the tape, and did a much simpler over-painting technique; I used a single color to define the "panes".  The result was OK, but it needed something more, something of a much lighter value.  Thus I laid simple geometric patterns on the stripes left from the earlier underpainting.  The value ranges were better and I liked that my geometric patterns created the impression of being  petroglyphs.  That is why the I call the piece Accidental Petroglyphs.

   As usual, I'm putting my work up on my DailyPaintworks Gallery site.  Go to it by clicking on its icon to the right). So, if you are interested, check out the auction for it.  I'm afraid that Catherine's lovely piece will stay in her own private collection for now.

July 17, 2014

Summer's Bounty as Models

Mmm ... Tomatoes, 6 x 12", Acrylic on Canvasboard by Tracy Feldman
We are going down to visit with our niece and her family for a few days.  Since it is full summer and we are coming from the place in the US with the richest non-irrigated farmland, we asked them if there was anything we could bring.  My niece asked for tomatoes, and so I went to a roadside stand to get them.  They had lovely, red beefsteak tomatoes, and green tomatoes, and I decided to get both in case they thought it would be fun to make fried green tomatoes (made famous in the movie of the same name).

       After I got home I realized that I also had some low-acid (oranger) tomatoes and some cherry tomatoes that I had just gotten at our favorite Amish farm stand, and looking at all their luscious colors, I thought about what a beautiful painting it would make.  I was particularly pleased because I realized  with the addition of a paring knife and a yellow-green cutting board, these lovelies would make perfect models for a painting.  Thus, I went out onto my deck and set up the still life.  I really love the the way the glass top of the table I was sitting them on created the impression that my still life is floating on water. I also love the idea that my tomatoes will have a career before they come to a tomato's typical end (on the top of a fork).  I hope you enjoy viewing it as much as I did painting it.

     As usual, I'm placing this little work in my Daily Paintworks gallery for sale. It will be initially place on auction -- starting out less than I'll sell it for at a show. So if you are interested in checking it out and bidding on it click here.

July 15, 2014

Painting abstracts with Young Friends 1

Organized Chaos w/Metallics, 10 x 8", Acrylic
on Canvas by Tracy Feldman
This is another in my series of abstracts that rescued earlier works that I didn't particularly like.  As with an earlier painting in this series, Layered Levels of Cool (posted on June 24, 2014), I started out creating this abstract by using tape to preserve colors from the original representational work and then splashing colors in an abstract pattern over it.  Then, I lifted the tape to reveal the reserved colors.

       As with Layered Levels, to increase the visual excitement of the piece,  I chose to use colors in my initial abstract layer that were visually opposite from those preserved from the underpainting.  However, when I lifted the tape, I still wasn't happy with the piece, so I decided to swirls thick layers of metallic paints over the rectilinear "lines" created by the tape. I used different items to deliver my paint swirls and squiggles. I also chose to use metallics from different color families for each of my linear calligraphic elements.  Those two decisions combined to help the viewer distinguish each calligraphic layer from the next, and to create more order and depth in this seemingly chaotic abstract.  That is why I call this piece Organized Chaos w/Metallics.
Delia's Ghost Eye on my Studio wall.

     A fun fact about this  little abstract is that it started out being something I did while working with my 7-year-old niece, Delia. I had promised her we'd do art together.   I suggested that we might want to take one of my old representational pieces and use tape and paint to create an entirely different, abstract painting.  She wanted to paint a piece that was more representational, and so I was the one who did the multilevel abstract.

    Delia created two pieces when we worked together -- an etherial abstract, and a work that started out as representational, but evolved into something that also has a fairly abstract quality.  She worked hard that day, and seemed to have a good time.  To the right is Ghost Eye.  She only used black and white over a light blue ground to create her piece, and used a brush technique that I really like because it added lots of texture and depth to her piece.  I don't have a picture of Delia's first piece, because she took it home, but   she gave me Ghost Eye, and as I promised, I hung it in my studio.

      Next week I'll be painting with another young friend, Katherine, who is the daughter of a couple of my husband's colleagues. She's also about 7. She's been painting for a while and originally was a Pollock follower, but this summer she participated in an art program that introduced her to realism and pointillism. It will be interesting to see what she wants to work on when she's here.  I'll post what we do then.

    As usual when I produce a little work, I am making it available on auction in my gallery on the Daily Paintworks site.  If you think you might be interested in it (or just want to check out the gallery) check it  by clicking here.