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.