Monday, August 31, 2020

driving force

“Water is the driving force in nature.”
― Leonardo da Vinci

Saturday, August 29, 2020

sweetest fruit

 Still life of fresh peaches.

My setup on my studio desk, and I had to keep working while they were fresh! I picked these from a neighbor's tree, they were tempting me hanging low over the fence in the alley where I walk every day. Every time I passed by I thought about what an interesting painting subject and finally I brought these home, the rest were rotting and falling off the tree. I guess no one else was interested in them. Hot summer days make the sweetest fruit. Oil painting 9x12 peaches observed from life. 

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Sunflower on the job

I wrote about finishing this oil painting a couple of months ago.

And here is this oil painting displayed in a collector's home above the study area shared by a 1st grader and a 2nd grader.
Although we must observe 2020 pandemic restrictions and stay-at-home remote schooling, these two have a bright spot to get the online school work done!

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

day after day

Nature is painting for us, day after day pictures of infinite beauty. . .  - John Ruskin 

Sunday, August 23, 2020

we have Art

"We have art so that we shall not die of reality."

Friday, August 21, 2020

en plein air

Here are the first three of my beach paintings from the beginning of August. I painted on location, or "en plein air".

En plein air just means "outdoors".
Because it is a French word it does sound fancy and because French painters, notably the French Impressionists favored painting outdoors to get the most immediate light and color effects on canvas, it has become an entire movement and way to paint. 

I spent a week painting en plein air recently, just like the fancy French impressionists I so admire. I carried my easel and art supplies to a beach on Lake Michigan to paint out in the fresh air capturing the color, light, and immediate sensations of sand and surf.

There are a few problems with painting outdoors on the spot compared to comfortably working in my studio, or my kitchen table as often happens. A really perplexing problem is how to  locate my outdoor setup close enough to a bathroom. I wonder how other plein air artists manage this, in all the advice blogs and books I've consulted, no one mentions it. Well, the good thing about the public beaches in Michigan where I set up to do direct observation and paint, there were some very fine public facilities. 

I carried a folding easel and chair, oil paints, brushes, and six 8x10 linen panels across the sand and set up as close to the waves as I could get. On one of the days I miscalculated and got drenched by a big splash. Fortunately nothing was ruined as oil paints stand up to lake water, and it was warm and sunny so my clothing dried quickly.

Monday, August 17, 2020

white flowers and bright blue

"Once a woman told me that colored flowers would seem more bright if you added a few white flowers to give the colors definition. Every petal of blue lupin is edged with white, so that a field of lupins is more blue than you can imagine."
EAST OF EDEN John Steinbeck

Saturday, August 15, 2020

free summer days

 Three siblings enjoying that freedom on a summer day. Remember this!

August days summer memories

Three of my grandchildren playing in a stream on a summer day.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

tiger lily

'O Tiger-lily,' said Alice... 'I wish you could talk!' 'We can talk,' said the Tiger-lily: 'when there's anybody worth talking to."Lewis Carroll

Saturday, August 1, 2020

maybe Alphonse Mucha and not so much like Georgia O'Keefe or..

...Or, maybe not like a Vincent van Gogh either.
(shown left, Twelve Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh 1888 Philadelphia Museum of Art)

When I was in art school back in the
late 1970's, I was most fascinated by the Czech painter Alphonse Mucha. Here is a wikipedia article. His work and the period of Art Nouveau is not in style any more but in the 70's it was seen in typographical design, illustration, advertising, and product design. 
I could go to much effort showing examples of the style but I won't do that here because I am discussing my style and influences. 
In art school I LOVED to draw. Life drawing from a model was my favorite class.

(right and left, Alphonse Mucha 1897)

I would rather sit on an uncomfortable wooden art stool drawing from a live model than eat or sleep. And I did that for several years, depriving myself of food or sleep, Yes really!
Not an exaggeration. I think I loved the work of Alphonse Mucha so much because I wanted to emulate his graceful line work. His figures, nature backgrounds, fabric drapery and graceful design were all the rage in illustration art at the time. What has remained with me is the love of line and shape. Art Nouveau style sinuous lines and negative positive play of shapes became part of my innate style. It's a very commercial style and I admired it in my early illustration days. I think I am moving away from it now but it has heavily influenced how I compose and draw flower paintings.

(Below is Maggie's Sunflower by Georgia OKeeffe 1937)

I will show an early sunflower painting of mine, I think it maybe dates back to 2006 but it does show that influence that I still have from the Czech artist working in Paris in the late 1800s, Alphonse Mucha.