October 6, 2015

Another Batch of My Self-Portrait Sketches

Me, On a "Fine Soft Day"
Me, My Pretty

Me, Right Profile
Me, With Glasses

Me, Left Profile
         I've been busy continuing to work on my 30 days of self-portrait sketches.  To keep it interesting, I've been challenging myself by choosing poses and situations that are different.  In this batch of drawings, I thought about different ways to see me that just head-on.  So in Me, On a Fine Soft Day, I painted  myself at a distance, hiding my face under an orange umbrella on a gray and damp day.  In Me, My Pretty,  I thought it might be fun to play with perspective (and give myself an opportunity to draw hands in perspective.  I was thinking me as a Brobdignagian (from Gulliver's Travels), but what I got seems to me to be closer to the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz -- maybe I was unconsciously inspired by the fact that this is the month of Halloween. 

           The final three sketches are normal portrait type of sketches, but they capture me from a different angle than most photos of me do:  specifically from the side or with my glasses on.  I normally wear contacts instead of glasses, so most people don't see me in my glasses unless they are overnight guests at our home, or I'm sick or have a problem with me contacts.  Me, With my Glasses  is that view, and while I like the sketch as a sketch, I have to admit it's me minus 15 pounds and years.  I was feeling a little guilty about that, and maybe that's why another sketch I like, Me, Left Profile, ended up (I think) adding pounds and years to my normal look.  

      Doing this 30 day personal challenge has been good for me in a number of ways.  First, it is challenging me creatively.  Second, it's helping me hone my drawing skills.  Third, it's an exercise in self-honesty. What I mean is that normally when I look in the mirror, I see myself as younger that I am, but working to draw what I see (no matter how successful that effort is) forces me to look at me so much more closely -- which is useful, but illusion-shattering.  Speaking of creativity.  I'd love to hear any of your suggestions for poses.

September 30, 2015

Beginning the Exploration of Me on Paper

       This weekend, I decided to start something that combines two things that  I've heard are good for art artists.  For the next month, I want to do a sketch of me each day.  It will be good drawing practice, and will challenge my creativity.
        Since I want the practice to be interesting for me, I'm going to working from pictures and try to capture me at odd times and at different angles.  The first image I used was a selfie I took very close up, and from an odd angle.  Even in the photograph, I almost don't recognize myself.  I like the attitude I have and the unusual angle, as well as the face that the right side of my face is so heavily shadowed.  It adds a nice third major value to the piece.
                                                                                                     The second drawing is based on a picture my husband took of me when I was sitting in bed and texting a sponsee (I'm in a 12 Step program and I sponsor).  Arny has pictures of me talking to sponsees at monasteries, castles, beaches, etc., so he thought it would be neat to take a picture of me at home doing the same thing.  

         The third day's sketch of the challenge to myself is of me at a mid distance.  It's from a picture Arny took of me at Longwood Gardens.  (It's a world-famous ornamental garden within an easy drive from us -- I LOVE I can do that.)   I am in a watercolor sketching group, and I decided to try out a technique I learned there and applied to a floral sketch I did yesterday.  After I laid the basic shapes with pencil, I used washes to define and add depth to the piece.  I then went in and used a Bick fine-line marker to give some final definition to the piece.  I discovered something important for the future if I use that technique again.  I did realize that the paper was still wet in the area of my face, so when I went to define my mouth, the ink ran --making me look as if I were trying out for the role of "Joker" in a Batman movie.  I thought about the material I had and made a great discovery -- a combination of the the white (and later the orange) "Inktense" pencil covered a lot of the offending run areas.  Yea!   I like the wash and pen combo, but from now on, I'll either wait for the washes to totally dry or use a permanent marker.  I'll periodically post my self-portraits over the month. Check them out!

September 29, 2015

Flowers for Betty, WC on sketch pad
by Tracy Fledman
I'm working on sketching more, and here are two watercolor sketches that I did yesterday.  I had committed to bringing a meal to a friend who was getting an operation. As I shopped for ingredients at Costco, I ran across these flowers, and I thought, "how nice to bring some flowers to cheer her".  Thus, I bought some to give to her and draw.  After buying, them, however, I realized I didn't know if she or her family had flower allergies, so I split the bunch in two, figuring 3 blossoms would cause fewer problems than I whole bunch.  That gave me the opportunity to sketch "Betty's flower" and "My flowers".  I experimented with this putting down color first and then adding ink from a marker to better define the shape.  I love that when people do that.  It was neat, but I realized that using an ultra-fine tip marker would have worked better.  
Flowers for Me, WC on sketch pad
by Tracy Fledman

    The funny thing is that after I left the meal and flowers on my friend's stoop, she called me and explained she wasn't going into surgery until Wednesday. Oops!  I feel a little like Winnie the Poo when he did all that work to build a home for Eeyore -- only to later discover that the pile of sticks he found to build it were already the "home" the donkey had built for himself.  Fortunately, like Eeyore, my friend appreciated the outcome -- even if the effort was a little off in some ways.   I used my inexpensive sketch pad to do the drawings, and used watercolors, a Bbic marker, and a white gel pen.

September 4, 2015

Oil Sketch #2 for the Dahlia Commission

Dahlia Sketch from the front -- 16 x 20 Oil on Gallery-wrapped canvas
 This is the second of the Dahlia oil sketches I created as part the process for my last commission. But because I wanted to focus on the large commission, as you can tell (by comparing the sketch to the left to the painting below),  I decided to put aside this piece until now.  Creating the piece wasn't a waste of time --even at this stage of its development, the work helped my client realize which version of the image most appealed to her.  

Dahlia of My Heart (commission)
 I'm really happy I kept the unfinished sketch at the studio to inspire me as I worked on the final piece. It also proved very helpful when I met with my client near the end of the painting process.  The meeting's purpose was to find out how she wanted to have me finish the work-- specifically how she wanted me to handle the 1.5" sides of this gallery-wrapped canvas.  

I explained to her that I could go two ways. If she wanted the work to have a more traditional presentation when hung, I could paint the sides black and she'd have the painting framed.  If, however, she wanted to have the work have a modern feel, I'd wrap the image around the sides and put a hanger on the back of the piece.  I explained that if she wanted the latter,  she'd be able to have a beautifully finished piece -- without needing to think about framing. And I was able to use the sketch to show her what I meant.  She quickly decided on the more-modern look; then we went on to talk about why this type of Dahlia held so much meaning for her and her family.  But as we spoke about other things, my eyes kept on returning to this sketch.  I couldn't understand why until it dawned on me.
Dahlia Sketch from the right side 

If you look that this photo of a side view of the sketch, you may be able to spot what it took me a while to notice.  The petals wrapping around the right side of the painting were wrong.  I had truncated them -- as if the flower ended long before it would in real life.  Thus, when viewed from that side, the image felt wrong.  I pointed that out to my client, and assured her that that wouldn't be the case on the finished piece, and it wasn't.

After the Labor Day weekend, I'm going to be working on this oil sketch again.  It will stay a "sketch" so I won't dilute the uniqueness of my client's piece. Because it is a sketch, I'll be able to sell it for about half of what I'd charge normally for a work -- which will be great for some lucky buyer. 

As I said earlier, the piece will cost substantially less than I would a standard work on my site.  If you are interested in buying this piece before I put it up on my gallery on dailypaintworks.com, email me at tracyfeldmanartist@gmail.com.


Yum ... Late Summer Veggies!

Yum .. Late Summer Veggies! - 10 x 8", Watercolor on WC Paper
I'm in a watercolor sketching group, and I have not been contributing much to it for much of the summer.  Today, I went to our local Amish farm stand, and found these beautiful peppers and tomatoes.  I particularly love the look of the heirloom ones.  They remind me of gigantic gooseberries.  I placed them on blue-green placemats I have because I knew the color contrast would make the veggies pop.  I used ultramarine blue for the shadows, and love the water-like impression it creates.

It is so neat living so close to where this food is grown.  And, it is neat to have gotten to know the family who run the farm and the stand.  Our sales girl today is a favorite of ours.  We've know her since she was 11, and she is smart as a whip.  She not only can easily do calculations in her head (a dying art since the advent of calculators), but she's feisty and a natural saleswoman.

Living in an academic family for so long, part of me aches to think she's already left school: she had to or be shunned for getting too much education. But, she seems happy, so recovery has helped me realize that she can be quite happy living a life with her family and in her community.

I haven't put an unmatted watercolor on paper up for auction in my DailyPaintworks gallery for a long time, so I'm going to do that with this small piece; and I'm going to make the starting bid a real bargain: $10.  If you are interested in it, check it out.

September 3, 2015

Oil Sketches for Dahlia Commission #1

Oil Sketch with Dahlias in Vase,  30 x 24", Oil on Canvas,  by Tracy Feldman
 As I mentioned yesterday, I created two oil sketches as part of the process of producing my last commission.

The works were based on images and  ideas I had discussed with my client.  When they were done to  a medium point, I sent her images of the works and asked her to choose which one she wanted me to use as the basis for her final piece.

She chose the piece I'll feature in an upcoming blog post.  There were two reasons that I abandoned working on either of these  oil sketches.  I wanted to focus on making sure I did the work to complete her final piece. Also, I discovered that the brand of white I used that I got on sale (it was Bob Ross's Warm White) didn't dry enough to push past my original alla-prima (wet on wet style of painting) for months.  At first I worried the problem was that I applied the paint too thickly (I used a painting knife to do the work).  But after a short while, I realized something else was to blame -- that's when I figured out it was the paint.

       When the paint finally dried enough that I could work on the pieces again, I was able to make needed adjustments to Oil Sketch with Dahlias in Vase in the down times when the final commission was drying. Although the design wasn't chosen by my client for the final piece, I love the energy I was able to bring to the piece because I used a painting knife and let myself use a faster, looser painting style than I normally use.  I also really like the formal style of the composition.  It reminds me of a compositional style that an early impressionist might have chosen.  And,  it may seem a small thing, but I love the way I was able to suggest the stems in the vase.

     Because it's a sketch, on September the 4th, I'm putting it up for sale in my DailyPaintworks.com gallery, and I will be making it available for substantially less than I would a standard work on my site.  Normally, I calculate the price to be $12.50 (w+h) (which means a 30 x 24" work would cost $675), but I'm going to make it available for half that -- $338.00 -- plus applicable tax and a nominal shipping fee.  If you are interested in buying this piece, check it out in my gallery on dailypaintworks.com.

    Check out tomorrow's blog to see the other oil sketch I produced when working on my most recent commission.  It's still a work in progress, and I'd love your input as I finally get down to finishing it!

September 2, 2015

Delivering the Commission -- Thank Goodness!

Tracy delivering Dahlia of My Heart -
a Commission to Cindi D
For Christmas last year, the Mathematics and Computer Science faculty at Franklin and Marshall College (in Lancaster, PA), gave their department coordinator a gift she had specifically requested: a painting by me!  I was touched and excited to be working with her, and foolishly assumed that I'd be able to get it to her in short order.  I just delivered it on Monday -- after clearly miscalculating how long the process would take.  My miscalculation was caused by a number of factors:  Cindi had to decide the topic of the work, and we had to decide on the image of the topic chosen that would make her heart sing.

       That was a more involved process because of me.  I had just seen an article featuring Ann Rea, an influential landscape artist who specializes in commissions and whose website was featured on theabundantartist.com as one of "9 Great Artist Websites".

I love the collaborative way Ann works with her clients.  She often travels with clients to the place they want painted -- to see exactly what they loved about the place.  She then creates two small works based on that research and has the client choose which of Ann's interpretations best match their own vision.  While I can't afford at this time to travel in the way Ann does, I did do research and did follow Ann's lead  -- producing two small pieces for Cindi to choose between before starting on the final piece.  And, through the process I sent pictures of the work in progress and asked her for her input.
Cindi's Bonus Painting

As I was wrapping up my work on the piece, Cindi was able to visit me at my studio, and I found more about the reason she loved the type of Dahlia I was painting.  It was named for a family member she loved and lost too soon.  She showed me a picture that included this person, and I was so touched that I created a small watercolor of the picture that I delivered at the same time as I delivered Dahlia of my Heart. I didn't know how she'd react, but fortunately she loved both pieces  -- as you can tell by her smile.

  Tomorrow I'll show you the two sample oils I created for Cindi before starting on the final version of her commission. One is completed, but one is still in progress.  Both will be available for sale.

July 11, 2015

What I'm Working on Now!

This is a glimpse of the commission piece I'm working on now. Finishing up this 24 x 30" gallery-wrapped commission in oils.

June 24, 2015

Even Unwanted Kittens are Cute

Can You See Me? 10 x 10" Watercolor and Inktense Pencil on
Canvas by Tracy Feldman
Yesterday, I looked out my front door to see this cutie asleep in one of my hanging planters.  He's one of the new crop of feral kittens that have been born in our community this summer.  Like all of his brethren, he is adorable. But ... he's squishing the succulents I put in that hanging basket, and he's going to present another danger to the local birds and other fauna.  Even so, I couldn't resist photographing, sketching and then painting him.  

    Painting him also gave me a great excuse to play with the new Derwent Inktense Pencils my sister gave me.  Derwent describes these pencils by saying, "Pencil to ink in just one wash!".  I knew from my sister that the colors would get very intense when you put water on them, so I started with laying down a light watercolor wash and then added the pencils for intensity and precision.  Although they are in theory permanent after they dry, they're not really intended to be put on a primed canvas, so I wasn't sure how permanent they would be. Also, watercolors definitely are NOT permanent on canvas without being treated, so like with others of my watercolors on canvas, I gave this little painting a quick spray of a clear coat to protect it from water, wear, and the fading effects of sun.  I hope you like it as much as I did painting it.  I'm going to put it up for auction in my DailyPaintworks.com gallery.http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/403123

June 17, 2015

Sketching Newport (Rhode Island)

Newport Door, 5 x 8" sketch by Tracy Feldman

 I admire people who can sketch in situ.  They seem so relaxed and focused, not nervous about people looking over their shoulders.  I am not one of those people most of the time.  Not only am I kind of shy, but my sweet Arny is a guy on the go when we are traveling.  And the truth be told, I too like seeing what is around the next corner (on foot or in my car) too much to want to sit a lot when we are in a place we know we won't be for long.

Thus, I take pictures to sketch when I get home (or to our room at night).  Sketching still is a useful exercise to do because it works my drawing and composition skills and allows me to play with different media that I may be reluctant to try out in a "real" painting. Sketching also is a good spiritual exercise in that it is an act of being willing to let go of the illusion of perfection and embrace what is good and fun about working on paper that is too thin not to buckle some when wet, and too absorbent to feel as good as working on good watercolor paper.  The edges tend to be softer, the colors are more difficult to lift, and it's harder to achieve the brilliancy  I usually love.

All that being said, I like the energy and looseness of my sketches -- even if it sometimes takes me a while, and several layers of material to achieve the balance of looseness and detail/vibrancy I want.
For instance, to create these pieces, I started with a pencil to do a basic sketch, then added watercolor crayons, then marker, then regular watercolors, then white and walnut ink, and white gel pen in these pieces.  So, like life, these "simple" sketches in reality have a pretty complicated back story.

Churchyard Irises
Churchyard View

June 15, 2015

Sketching Local Americana in Hellam, PA

Haines Shoe House 5.5 x 8.5", w/c
and ink sketch by Tracy Feldman
Art can come in many forms – from the serious to the goofy, and today’s sketches are of a piece of commercial art that definitely falls into the latter category.   It is the Haines Shoe House. As with similar American commercial art, the Shoe was designed and constructed specifically to attract attention and promote a product or location.  Not all these building look like shoes, of course. Over the years I’ve seen giant snow cones, coffee pots, frying pans, tires, fish, and even the Longaberger office building, built as a 6-story picnic basket.

We have driven past the Shoe for over 30 years. It reminds me of the children’s nursery rhyme that starts out, “There was an old lady who lived in a shoe”.  We’ve always wondered about its history, but never took the time to find out.  Yesterday became the day because Arny had read an article on a new owner buying, refurbishing and re-opening the Shoe to the public, and we wanted something small to do on a hot, hazy, humid day.   I’m glad we visited the Shoe.

We learned that Mahlon Haines, a natural promoter, built the Shoe House after World War II to attract
Sketch of stained glass entry door
attention to his chain of shoe stores. Some initially thought that was a crazy risk.  But by running a contest all over the area his stores covered, he proved the doubters wrong.  The contest's prize was a free week’s vacation in the Shoe -- with paid servants, a chauffeured car, free tickets to shows,  free shoes, and clothes, etc. for the winners.

According to our guide, Haines brilliantly increased the newsworthiness of the contest (and the shoe/shoe store chain) by partnering with the mayors of all the towns, who submitted the names of their town's newlyweds and golden anniversary couples. Thus the mayors sent out press releases when one of their couples won the contest. In the first year of the contest, the stores' revenue increased by about two and half times what the scheme cost Haines.

When Haines died, he passed the Shoe on to his employees, and its fortunes went up and down over the years.  The current owners run a bakery/ice cream shop.  (We got sugar cookies for Arny that he really liked.) They also conduct paid tours of the Shoe.  The tour isn’t inexpensive for the size of the attraction, but the personal attention is excellent and the atmosphere is very friendly.  We hope these owners have success because it's neat to see a piece of Americana being preserved.  I hope you enjoy my sketches as much as I enjoyed our tour and visit.

June 13, 2015

Day Two of Binghamton Hillside

Binghamton Hillside, Day II, Oil on Canvas, Tracy Feldman
The other day, I posted my initial underpainting for my newest piece, and I said that I'd post images in progress.  Here  is the second one.  Putting down the macro-pointillist dots to create the shadow areas looks interesting.  I needed to stop, however,  to allow the paint to dry before adding the next layers.

June 10, 2015

Binghamton Hillside In Watercolor

Binghamton Hillside in Watercolor, 13.75 x 10" Watercolor on Paper
 by Tracy Feldman

For the last 20 years, almost every summer begins in our household with us attending a group theory conference (my husband is a math professor).  This year it was held at  Binghamton University in Vestal, New York.

 It might seem like I'd find it boring to tag along to such events, but we've been going for 30 years, and so we've made a lot of friends over the years with whom it is fun to visit in the evenings.

Sometimes the days can be less interesting. This year wasn't -- partially because I brought some art supplies so I could do some plein air painting.

This is one of the pieces I created.  It's an abstracted, almost macro-pointillist painting of the view from our window as the sun rose behind the building.

Underpainting for
Binghamton Hillside in Oils

I love the bands of dark and light and color. I think it unifies the painting and gives it movement.

 I like the image so much, I'm using it as a basis for a larger oil I've started  today.

The underpainting for the oil is here, and over the next little while, I will include images of it as this new Binghamton Hillside (but in oils this time) comes to completion.  

In case you are interested in purchasing the watercolor, like with many of my small works, I'm making it available to buy at auction in my Daily Paintworks gallery.  And, as is typically the case, I'm going to start the bidding at much less than I'll charge at a show or on my website ($25). So, check it out.

May 7, 2015

Crown of Crocus -- Springtime in my Garden

Crown of Crocus - 10 x 10" Watercolor on Canvas board by Tracy Feldman
This little watercolor on canvas board is a celebration of spring --when it finally decided to grace my garden.

The fall before these lovely little flowers emerged from the winter soil, I had rearranged the planting bed they were in. Clearly, I hadn't realized that the crocus bulbs were under the rearranged rock border.  What a delightful surprise then when they pushed the rock aside just enough to emerge.

This image really appeals to my Reality With a Twist sensibilities. The oval rock reminds me of a stylized head, and the crocuses (and their vegetation)  look like a crown (and hair) gracing the rock.  As soon as I saw it, I knew I'd eventually paint it, and knew too what it would be called. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did painting it.  I'd love to know what you think.

Like with many of my small works, I'm making it available to buy at auction in my Daily Paintworks gallery.  And, as is typically the case, I'm going to start the bidding at much less than I'll charge at a show or on my website ($35). So, check it out.

April 29, 2015

Peaceful Day for Lucky & Techno Troubles for Tracy

Peaceful Day For Lucky - 11 x 14", Watercolor on Canvas by Tracy Feldman
I'm so glad that I'm I'm back to posting on my blog.  I have been working for months to change my art website: converting it from a pure gallery site to a sales and gallery one.  Boy, does that take more work and knowledge to do it well than I ever imagined.  Fortunately I had gotten some initial advice on doing it from Cory Huff of the Abundant Artist, and my graphic artist sister, Danni O'Brien has been working with me and holding my hand as I've faced various challenges.

As a newbie to website design, I assumed that getting on a hosting platform and buying the services of a website building program (I'm using iPage and Weebly) would allow me to get a great site up and running in no time. How wrong I was.  Perhaps I would have been correct if I only had a few pieces, or worked in a very limited range of standard painting sizes. But my sister helped me realize that without first figuring out a logical organizational structure for the site, the galleries, the pages, etc. would have resulted in my site being a confusing, hot mess to visit.  And that is a formula for scaring visitors off, not for converting visitors to buyers.  So, I've worked with her to better the techno aspects of doing things.  I also have had to write descriptions of paintings, and work on figuring out all of the techno details, hoops that one has to jump through before selling online is even possible. I've had to learn new terms and to think about how to get paid, and what to do about shipping works that can be very large.  Boy, that involved more techno details than I originally thought. And, when it is done and up, I'm going to have to get much better than I am at the techno details of art promotion. Thank God there are people out there to help, like Cory, and Danni, and my friends,  Deb Watson and Tony Crocamo, and all sorts of helpful web advice about doing that.  I'll keep you guys posted about where I am on this.

During the months I've been doing this work, I've actually  been painting quite a bit, but not even posting the small pieces on my Daily Paintworks website because I felt guilty taking time to do that when the website still wasn't done.  Recently, I've come to realize that was not a logical thing to do.  So, on April 19,  I decided I needed to start posting on my blog and putting my small works back up again on the Daily Paintworks site for auction. That will give folk, I figure, a chance to get my pieces for maybe less than they will pay when I finally post them in the Small Works Gallery of my website.  But, when I went to do that, I ran into techno problems because I had converted from a personal to business PayPal account (in order to do sales on my website).  That required me to reauthorize Daily Paintworks to register sales for me.  I worked with the folk at PayPal and David Marin at Daily Paintworks for over a week to solve the problem, and I discovered something important that I want to share here.  Pop-up windows may be a pain when unscrupulous sellers hijack your monitor.  However, they are key to enable if you want to take full take advantage of the features of sites you actually do want to deal with.  So, if you click on a button in a site and it doesn't seem to work, do this before calling the site's techno support.  Check the preferences in Safari (or whatever browser you use) and if pop-ups are blocked, authorize them and go back and check on the faulty-seeming button.  I humbly can share that that might save you lots of time I wasted for myself (and others) this week.

What about today's painting?   I started painting "Peaceful Day for Lucky" at my friend Deb Watson's house.  She's a wonderful watercolor artist.  I hadn't remembered to bring anything for reference material, and she suggested I search through some of her reference photos, and one of those images evolved into this work. I loved the peaceful feeling I got from the scene.  It reminded me of scenes I'd seen many times in the west of Ireland. but the contrast and coloring were too similar in the photo.  So, I simplified the composition and adjusted the lighting and coloring to make the horse stand out.  I am very happy with the result, and I hope you are too.  I'd love to hear what you think.

As usual, I'm going to put the piece in my Daily Paintworks Gallery, so if you're interested in it, check out the auction there. I'm starting it at $50, but if it's still around after the auction I'll raise the price to what I"d normally sell my small works for ($100+ -- the actual price will depend on the work's size, media, and whether it is framed or not).

April 19, 2015

Litchfield Birds

Litchfield Birds - 11 x 14" - Watercolor on Canvas by Tracy Feldman
Boy, it's been a long time since I've posted on this blog.  I've been  working on a big commission and redesigning my art website.  The latter has turned out to be much more complicated than I thought it would be. But I realized I missed blogging, and posting things on my DailyPaintworks site, so I have been working on small pieces to post here and there.

This painting was inspired by our March trip to the Litchfield Beach Resort in South Carolina.  Not only did we have a place overlooking the ocean, but the resort grounds were beautiful and filled with wildlife.  On one of our evening walks we ran across this pelican and Snowy Egret taking in the evening sun.  For compositional reasons, I added a Great Egret landing on the lawn behind the pelican.  As in the past, I'm  going to post it on the DailyPaintworks Website on Auction.  I'm going to start the bidding at $50, and if no one buys it at auction, I'll raise it to its normal price ($150) and put it in the Small Works gallery on my new website.  Hope you enjoy it.