Friday, July 31, 2020

You paint sunflowers just like Van Gogh!

I get that frequently. And really it is a compliment! Someone is giving me the best sort of comparison they can think of and I appreciate the attention and the kindness from the viewer. I greatly admire all the work of Vincent Van Gogh, I could write another whole blog post about his paintings that I have studied for years. I have gone to many museums just to view his brushwork and passionate images up close.
I don't think I paint just like Vincent Van Gogh and although his painting is amazing I don't think he has the last word to say on the subject of sunflowers. I like to think I have a few more ideas to share.
This painting was made on commission, and yes I will gladly take on a private commission. It was also painted in oils, and it's even larger than the others of the previous series. It is 36x48 oil on canvas and is displayed above the piano in the collector's home.This collector is an accomplished musician and composer as well.
Another interesting part of this story is that the lovely person who commissioned this work wanted to make sure that I had a lot of freshly picked sunflowers to model for my painting. She had a cousin living nearby who had huge sunflowers growing in her garden and a bucket full were delivered to my door.
I had an art show of my work in 2014 at St Marks Episcopal church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. This painting had a lovely spot to display.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

The subject or the process?
Link to a post I wrote 10 years ago about painting flowers but not just flowers.

A quote from Armand Cabrera, an artist whose writing is of interest;
 Finding a Personal View  "The question about what makes good subject matter for a painting always comes up in my classes. In my view painting breaks down into two basic philosophies that are polar opposites with many variations in between them.

One idea is the Subject with a capitol S this is usually something grand, dramatic or very complex. In these types of paintings everything is in service to the subject and handling is secondary. You see realists mostly in this camp. Their focus is on illusion and not so much stylistic interpretation in their mark making. Even though this is the case it is still a personal view and the individuality manifest itself in other ways.

The opposite idea is the handling is the goal and the subject is secondary. The handling takes an ordinary subject or no subject at all and makes it interesting. You see looser representational painters and nonrepresentational painters fall into this category. These painters like leaving visible marks that call attention to the process not the subject. The complexity is in the abstract arrangements of surface quality and color and edge.

Of course these are the extremes and there is everything in between too. Most people fall somewhere toward the middle of these ideas, where either subject or handling dominates but both are integral to the paintings success.

 The importance of understanding this is to help the artist decide what kind of painter they are and guide them to what they love to do. To help them find where they fit between those philosophies if at all?  Finding a personal view makes a better painter because a painting that is heartfelt and honest in its approach and interest will find some aspect of the truth of a thing. In my mind that is where all good painting comes from."
Armand Cabrera is a fine artist who exhibits landscape plein air painting  and who writes on all manner of interesting topics concerning art.
Here is the link to his blog:
All of these images are from my original acrylic painting. Janice Skivington 2009 size 30x40 acrylic on canvas. Titled "Joyful, joyful".

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Are you going to paint Sunflowers all the time?

To that question I say... Why not?
Here are a few of my earlier paintings, all of them now in the homes of collectors.

Some of these go way back, I had a fascination with the way sunflowers look when nearly dead all shriveling and curling in various directions. I was also into a period of experimenting with acrylics, oil pastels, pencils and what-have-you on heavy paper with painted borders on canvas. I'm done with that now, I think, got it out of my system.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Opening to the sun above

Janice Skivington 2020 Opening to the Sun Above
This is the last painting which I only finished a month ago, 11 years after the start of the series. (See this post)  I painted this one with oils, the only one of the series.  30" by 40" oil on canvas
And this is because I am now, 11 years later, using oils primarily and finding myself completely fascinated with the medium. I don't know if anyone can tell a difference between the medium I used from one to another, but I am committed to the luminosity of oils now.
Here is the original sketch idea from so long ago.
This painting is also promised to a collector. I need to let it cure for a while and use some damar retouch varnish on it. Another learning curve for me with oil paints is how to overcome deep colors sinking and how to varnish.

Here is my photo of it resting on a bookcase, I am using my iphone as a camera these days. And here are a couple of closeups with a pretty fair color catch.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee

Joyful joyful we adore thee, Hearts unfold like flowers before thee. 
I finished this painting, the fourth in the series in 2013. 

Here it is outdoors on the porch getting final touches on a summer day.

This painting was sold and has been in the home of an art collector in Michigan.
And here it is hanging over the couch with a disinterested feline art observer.

And I think this is the current placement, over the piano in the living room.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Do you always paint flowers?

My 5 year old grandson asked me this question yesterday. Here I am in a rare personal appearance on this blog painting my heart out, and yes it is a flower painting. I am not holding the paint brush correctly, I am nearsighted and attempting a detailed bit. One should hold the long-handled brush balanced on the fingers at the end of the brush. I am still learning! Also I usually paint standing up at the easel, except for when I don't.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Hearts unfold

I titled this one "Hearts unfold" although that is not what I wrote on this little sketch. I must have changed my mind as I developed my ideas.
I painted the flowers first, enjoying the line and movement captured in my lively ink drawing. Line, shape, design and the play of background shapes, positive and negative were my main focus.
When the flowers and leaf shapes were finished, instead of blending pink orange and red into the background I went for a bolder almost flat statement in red. I was very happy with the finish, almost a silhouette statement, or an oriental type flat design.

Here are two photos from the One of a Kind Art show in Chicago from 2009.
I sold this painting shortly afterward and have not seen it since. I believe that the owner lives in Florida and has quite a large art collection.
Three of the finished sunflower series can be seen here. Each are acrylic on canvas 30x40 framed in a floating canvas matte black wood frame.

Friday, July 24, 2020

We adore Thee

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee
God of glory, Lord of love
Hearts unfold like flow'rs before Thee
Op'ning to the Sun above
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness
drive the dark of doubt away
Giver of immortal gladness
fill us with the light of day

"The Hymn of Joy" (often called "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee" after the first line) is a poem written by Henry van Dyke in 1907 with the intention of musically setting it to the famous "Ode to Joy" melody of the final movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's final symphony, Symphony No. 9.

I am sorry, I got it wrong. I said here that Ludwig van Beethoven wrote these lines but it was actually Henry van Dyke writing to the Ode to Joy music composed by Beethoven. "Ode to Joy" is best known for its use by Ludwig van Beethoven in the final (fourth) movement of his Ninth Symphony, completed in 1824.

Well that was awkward! I should have looked it up before I went off on my inspiration blogging. I have always loved the Ode to Joy and those poetic words. We sang this hymn at my wedding!

To the left is my original sketch, I am glad that I used the idea of a golden hued background. This is probably my favorite painting of the five I planned and finished. The green and gold color scheme, the movement of the shapes and lines, and the upward thrusting composition is still satisfying to look at. This painting has not sold, it is hanging in my dining area. 30x40 acrylic on canvas, framed in a floating canvas frame, matte black.
"We Adore Thee" by Janice Skivington 2009

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Joyful, joyful

"Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;

Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above."
Ludwig van Beethoven 

I painted both of these in 2009, planning to have them finished in time for display at an art show in December. here and here are bits of memories from that show in 2009.

Neither one of these paintings sold, they are acrylic, 30x40 canvas, framed in canvas floater frames, matte black.

I have them both hanging in my house right now and the family is rather sentimentally attached to them where they hang.
(I will sell them! send me an email if you are interested.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2020


"Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above."
Ludwig van Beethoven wrote the music for these words, it doesn't get any better than this.

Years ago, eleven years ago, I planned a series of sunflower paintings from a large bouquet I had bought at the local farmer's market.

My first ambitious step was to take five large canvases, each 30x40 inches, to draw my flowers directly on the canvas using ink and drawing from life. Those were a couple of very exciting and intense days. After completing the drawing, I tone the canvas with a warm red.
(left, a detail from the drawing process)

My second step was to make these color sketches using colored pencils. I based each composition on a line from my beloved hymn.

I think the first canvas that I finished is the Joyful2 and the last canvas that I finished is the Joyful1 shown below.

Monday, July 20, 2020

“How long did it take you to make that painting”?

Why do we take the time?
To make value studies and color sketches?
As I teach about the art process to young people, I must constantly explain about the need to plan, to sketch and make studies ahead of the finish.
And also that they must slow down,
take their time and not rush to get the final project done.
I have often watched a student prepare a fairly nice watercolor wash and then ruin it with a hasty blobby brushstroke, just because they wanted to finish fast.
Here are my color studies of the sunflower series that I am working on now.
November 2009 

The link above is to a post that I wrote back in 2009. Here are the preliminary color studies (using colored pencil) that I made back in 2009 of a series of sunflower paintings that I had planned.

So the answer to that question posted above?
Apparently about 11 years!
The finished painting shown at the top of this post is the final one in the series and yes, I did start it 11 years ago. Finished art oil on canvas 30x40. It is the finalization of the sketch above titled "joyful1".  I will show all the sunflowers in this series in another post. I have two of these paintings hanging in my home, still for sale, the other three are sold and in appreciative collector's homes.

Friday, July 17, 2020

the neighbor's garden

diamond hour

Summer living lakeside in a Michigan vacation house is so sweet. And this is the hour when the sun is hovering a bit above the horizon, not sunset but moving that way. You pour a drink and sit back to enjoy the glittering sunlight across the lake.
From my sketchbook last week as I was a lucky guest at the lake house.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

two Philosophers and best friends

choicest treasures

So extraordinary is Nature with her choicest treasures, spending plant beauty as she spends sunshine, pouring it forth into land and sea, garden and desert. And so the beauty of lilies falls on angels and men, bears and squirrels, wolves and sheep, birds and bees. John Muir