May 31, 2014

Strutting His Stuff

Strutting His Stuff, 10 x 8", acrylic on canvas,
by Tracy Feldman
This is a little painting I did inspired by some old photos I found.  Like with "Barnyard Bully Boy",   I didn't believe that the setting in which I captured this great blue heron showed him to his best advantage.  So, I pictured him, as I would have preferred to see him: purposely strutting along the edge of a body of turquoise water whose hue would make his warm body visually pop against the background.  I've always loved these large birds.  They remind me of officious clerks in a Dickens novel -- looking purposefully elegant, but sometimes behaving in the most ridiculous ways.
     I can vividly remember one time that I and a large crowd were captured by the site of a great blue who seemed intent on suicide by fish.  He was in the process of trying to swallow a huge fish he had just speared. It was much wider than his neck.  He tossed it up in the air, expecting it to slip right down his gullet.  Unsurprisingly, it stuck like a cork in a bottle. But, our blue was not deterred from his task.  He spent at least a quarter hour trying to swallow that behemoth -- seeming to almost kill himself in the process.  In the end, all the bird's inelegant gyrating did have a good effect.  He downed the fish and lived.  We all cheered.  I hope you enjoy this picture of his brethren as much as I liked painting it.

       As with all the small paintings on this blog, if you are interested in buying Strutting His Stuff, You can bid on him on my Daily Paintworks gallery and auction site, or buy him directly on the site.  I hope you enjoy and would welcome any comments.

May 28, 2014

Barnyard Bully Boy

Barnyard Bully Boy, acrylic on canvas, 10 x 8",
 by Tracy Feldman
Years ago, when we were visiting Bunratty Castle Park in Ireland (by Shannon Airport), we saw this remarkable rooster strutting around. I loved his look -- so puffed up -- and  I had always wanted to paint him, but I lost the picture I took of him.

    Just the other day I found a group of old photos and there he was.  I still found him visually compelling, but the dusty farmyard in which he strutted his stuff was uninspired.  So I painted him, but simplified the background to let him shine.  As I worked on him, I realized that he had protrusions under him that looked like they were made of claw material -- which made him look even more like a tough.  Thus, the name of the work was born: Barnyard Bully Boy.  I hope you enjoy it.

   Tomorrow I'll post another small work I did based on the old photos I came across.

    As with my other small works, I'm putting my bully boy up for auction in my digital gallery on Daily Paintworks.

May 22, 2014

Glass House Dervishes - Longwood Gardens

Glass House Dervishes -- Longwood Gardens, Acrylic
on Canvas, 10 x 8" by Tracy Feldman
This painting continues my Longwood Gardens series of paintings.  I don't know what these wonderful plants are called, but in my mind I always have called them Dervishes because of the way their spiky leaves seem to whirl out from their centers and the tops arch one way and then the next.

   These plants don't move in the breeze in Longwood's Glass House.  But from the first time I saw them, they brought to mind photos of a religious ceremony that I saw as a child.  In the photos, the "Whirling Dirvishes" (the dancers) seemed to embody total freedom and joy.  My web research to do this blog revealed that the Divishes are part of a Muslim sect that teaches followers to love everything, so I guess that was what I was supposed to get from it.

   If you wonder what the human Dervishes look like whirling, you can Google them.  Here is an image of the dancers that I got from an official tourist website for Turkey:

     I hope you enjoy my Dirveshes as much I enjoyed seeing and painting them.  I took another image of them from afar with an Orthodox Jewish couple standing to their left that I want to paint some day.  It will be a hope that peaceful coexistence between the people of the Middle East will seem as natural as seeing these two people next to these plants.

    As usual, if you are interested in purchasing this piece, you can check it out at my gallery on  I will put it up for auction, starting at $25, but if you want to buy it without going through the auction, the price will be $60.

May 18, 2014

A Fine Day Out -- Drawing with Friends

Great painting book
 Saturday morning I joined some friends who I'd gotten to know better at a drawing class I took at Lancaster's Pennsylvania College of Art and Design.  It was on creating a travel journal, but most of us treated it like a great sketching class.  The instructor, Kurt Aspland, was great -- a good teacher and so much fun.  As part of the class, Kurt had us join him on a Saturday morning to spend 3 hours sketching at Lancaster's famous indoor farmers' market.

Melissa concentrating on her drawing
        We had so much fun doing that together, that when Kurt suggested that we start a once a month painting group and call it "the Lautrec Society", we all thought it would be fun.  Saturday was the first meeting of the group, but because Kurt was moving that day, just two friends and I attended. We originally were going to draw at Lancaster's very cool dog park -- it was created by a TV crew because one of our local residents won a contest to have it done for the town.  However, the weather was cool and windy so we decided to go to the central court of our oldest indoor shopping mall, Park City Center.

Florence concentrating on her drawing
    Since Kurt wasn't able to attend, I brought along a great book with instructions/tips for creating believable simplified images of people to add interest to your paintings. We spent a little while checking out the tips and then started drawing.

Quick impressions in pencil
Under the big mall "tent"
     As you may be able to tell by my drawings of fellow Lautrecians concentrating on their own drawings, to me they seemed much more comfortable drawing in that very public setting than I was feeling.  My shyness comes out in such situations, so you can see that I spent a lot of time working on subjects that didn't intimidate me. But one of the great things about working with other artists is that they can inspire me to be more comfortable than I would have been otherwise.  So by the end of our three hours I began feeling much more comfortable than I was at the start of the day. Will that positive outcome last beyond this one time?  Only time will tell, but I'm guessing that continuing to create each month with my fellow society members will keep that growth process alive.  Hope you enjoy some of my more presentable little drawings from the day.

Impressions of mall loungers

Mall walkers at rest

May 15, 2014

Glass House Astilbe & Happy Accidents

Glass House Astlibe, acrylic on canvas, 10 x 8",
by Tracy Feldman
I painted this little acrylic painting today. It is part of my Longwood Gardens series. It is called Glass House Astilbe.  I have always loved astilbes for their shape, vibrant color, and because the are one of the few really colorful plants that thrive in shade gardens.  They even are perennials -- which appeals to my fantasy that perennial gardens are trouble- free once you plant them.  Of course, as with anything in life, if you want things to continue to be in good shape, maintenance will always be required.

Before I found recovery from compulsive eating, that fact seemed like a cheat, and that used to really bug me.  Now it's just a fact I accept, which frees me to enjoy the good things about a perennial garden -- even if it will always need work.  Thus, maybe I'll even get around to planting some of these beauties in my own back garden some day.  But at least I've finally gotten around to painting them.

The expression "happy accident" is used by artists to indicate that an unexpected thing happened during the painting process that could have been a problem, but when you look at it, you realize, "Hey, I like it even better this way".  The "happy accident" with this piece occurred because I too quickly sprayed a thick coat of clear glaze over the painting, and so some of the edges in parts of the painting got softer (less sharp) than when I originally painted them.  When I initially noticed the softening, I though "Oh NOoooo!"  But then I took a breath and placed the work on a flat surface -- to prevent any dripping/shifting. After a couple of minutes I looked back at the piece and thought, cool, it looks even better.  Yea!"  Hope you enjoy and would welcome any comments.

  • This work is also up for auction on the Daily Paintworks site.  Bidding will start at $25.  If it doesn't sell at auction, I'll include it in the small works section of my next show, for considerably more than the starting bid. Click here , or on the Daily Paintworks icon to the right to get to my gallery and bid.

May 13, 2014

Of Living Walls and Painting

Living Wall Ferns, Longwood Gardens, 10 x 8",
Acrylic on Canvas, by Tracy Feldman

 This little painting is of ferns that are part of the  living wall in Longwood Gardens' glass house.  The living wall covers three walls in a specially built annex to the main glass house. I believe the gardens designed the annex to test out what would be needed to have the type of living wall that so many science fiction movies pictured as being part of long-distance space colonization ships. The reality with a twist part of me loves the fact that not only is this annex beautiful to look at, but it also has a practical purpose: as a set of bathroom "pods" for the gardens' many guests.  Behind each  door below hides an individual, space-age looking bathroom stalls.

     I'm going to paint the hall some time because it appeals to my quirky sense of humor, and it has a historical tie to my artistic past, too.  One of the first large watercolors I ever painted was of wisteria draping down over the trellised walkway of a stuccoed bathroom building at a California winery.

Living Wall in Bathroom Complex,
Longwood Gardens, Kennett Sq., PA
I painted the close-up of the ferns because I love their shapes and as an exercise in creating an interesting, depth-filled painting in a monochromatic color scheme. It was fun to figure out how to do that only using greens of different intensities and color balance.  Something else that appealed to me about creating this image is that normally the rules of atmospheric perspective work because the hues and details of background objects fade in intensity, and get "bluer" as they recede.  Thus it was fun flipping those rules this time.  Notice that the main subject fern is much bluer and lighter/faded in parts than the deeper ferns, but the contrast still makes the painting "read" correctly.  I hope you enjoy, and will be interested in hearing your comments.
  • This work is also up for auction on the Daily Paintworks site.  Bidding will start at $25.  If it doesn't sell at auction, I'll include it in the small works section of my next show, for considerably more than the starting bid. Click here, or on the Daily Paintworks icon to the right to get to my gallery and bid.

May 11, 2014

Honing the Saw and Taking Flight

Cardinal Impressions, Acrylic on canvas, 8 x 10", Tracy Feldman

Good Mothers Day, all.  I'm not a mom, so since this day celebrates others, I thought I should at least do some painting, or painting-support activities today to keep my art momentum going.  I started out by working on another painting in my Longwood Gardens in Spring series, but then realized that it is not practical for me to paint seven days a week, so I decided to suspend the work on the Longwood-inspired painting until tomorrow.

5 little canvases waiting for some paint
Instead, I decided to spend some time today doing some of the work that Steven Covey would refer to as "honing" activity that will make it easier to work when I return to painting my "Longwood" series on Monday.   Covey is the personal effectiveness guru who wrote, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

"Honing the saw" was one of those seven habits that people often mistake for being a waste of time because they aren't officially doing what they consider their "real work".  As I remember it, these activities are things that might on the surface seem less worthy of spending time on because they don't actually have measurable work outcomes.  But because these activities help you  be more effective when you do sit down to do what you consider "real work", they actually are very important in helping you be as effective as possible at work, as well as in life.  These activities hone  (sharpen) your overall effectiveness in the same way as sharpening (aka honing) a saw makes the saw more effective when you actually get down to cutting wood.  Some of these activities keep your mind sharp, others center you, and others just set the groundwork to make future work possible.

The "honing" activity I chose was to paint the sides of the canvases I'll be using this week: mindless work, but I'm pretty sure that seeing the crisp little black edges will make doing the work seem just that little bit easier.

Why am I also displaying a new little painting of a crazy looking cardinal?  Because as I was painting those sides, my eyes strayed across the photo that Arny took recently of this little bird. We couldn't figure out whether the bird was an unusual female cardinal, or a young male on his way to getting his fully adult coloration and form.  Either way, I love the bird's wild-looking eyebrow.  It made it seem kind of like a punk rocker.  And as I looked at the crazy eyebrow, I got an irresistible urger to paint the bird.  Hope you enjoy it. I'd love to know what you think.
  • Cardinal Impressions was up for auction on the Daily Paintworks site.  It sold, so it's no longer available.

May 9, 2014

Impresssions of a Realist --

Impresssions of a Realist - Longwood Gardens In Spring,
8 x 10", Acrylic on Canvas, Tracy Feldman
This is the third of my Longwood Gardens in Spring series of paintings.  The day we went to the garden, we had a great time seeing the flowering beds in the main ornamental area.  Lots of folk were having a wonderful time absorbing the beauty of the day and the plants.  But we realized that the real area reserved for painters and photographers was at the opposite end of the gardens.  Huge, colorful beds of spring flowers were surrounded on all sides by painters and photographers recording the plants.  This little impressionistic piece is of two sets of such "realists" -- a painter in the foreground and a couple of photographers in the background.  Either one could have been me, so it was even more fun to capture them for posterity. Tell me what you think.

Since I've written this blog post initial, this piece has sold on auction -- to the realist (whom I didn't know). Her friend spotted the piece on Daily Paintworks, and called and told her about it.  How cool is that!?!

May 8, 2014

Longwood Series # 2

Spring Impressions -- Longwood 2014, 8 x 10"
Acrylic on Canvas, Tracy Feldman
I love the patchwork feeling of these tulip gardens at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA.  They reminded me of a patchwork quilt.

As with the first piece of this series, the small scale of this work helped me be willing to move away from wanting to paint a totally representational rendering of what I saw.  But I couldn't resist adding more representational versions of the dark linear branches that spread over the near floral patch because they added another needed dark value and their thin linearity beautifully complemented the shapes within the tulip and daffodil beds.  I'd love to hear your impressions.

This work is also up for auction on the Daily Paintworks site.  Bidding will start at $30.  If it doesn't sell at auction, I'll include it in the small works section of my next show, for considerably more than the starting bid. Click here, or on the Daily Paintworks icon to the right to get to my gallery and bid.

May 7, 2014

Back In the World of the Sharing!

Back in the World of the Sharing!

Spring Abstract 1, Longwood Series, 2014, 8 x 10",
Acrylic on Canvas, by Tracy Feldman, May 2014.
It's been months since I posted on my blog, not because I wasn't doing work, but because I was having a sharing block. But, I've been working on that, and have recently committed to doing work and getting it out there.  Yesterday,  Arny and I went to one of the premier ornamental gardens in the US, Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA.  We had a wonderful day, walking in the sun, taking in their wonderful spring plantings, and as I started taking pictures, something broke free.

     The chronicling morphed into something more than just taking snaps of beautiful things.  I realized that I wanted to create a series of small paintings for my Daily Paintworks gallery.  So, I consciously worked to create compositions, capturing images that would be worthy of becoming part of this series: my Longwood, Spring 2014 series.  In painting lingo, I wasn't merely taking photographic images, I was creating source material.

I love the strong diagonals and vibrant tones of this little piece.  Initially, I considered creating a totally representational piece; however, I soon realized that on such a small canvas, a true representational rendering of the image would distract from those strong diagonals that I loved when I first composed the source material.  Thus, I chose to adopt a more abstract approach: one that got more abstract as the viewer's eyes went up and to the left in the painting.  I'm really pleased with my decision.  I believe the softening of focus did what I wanted, and I hope that you enjoy it.  I'd welcome comments.

         As part of my "getting my work out there", I'm going to put the piece up for auction on the Daily Paintworks site.  Bidding will start at $30.  If it doesn't sell at auction, I'll include it in the small works section of my next show, for considerably more than the starting bid. Click here, or on the Daily Paintworks Icon to the right to get to my gallery and bid.

        Since writing this blog post, Spring Abstract 1 has sold.  It's so nice to know that my work is going home with someone to be enjoyed.