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Monday, December 17, 2012

Original Art vs Copies/Prints/Reproductions

The Spirit Within Your Art

by Keith Bond

An original creation emanates something from within that is felt. Not by your fingers, but within you. Felt by your spirit. I don’t know how or why, but somehow, through the hands of labor and through the labor of love, you imbue within your artistic creation a portion of you. Not your physical self, but in a way part of your spirit self. [...]

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This excerpt appears courtesy of FineArtViews Art Marketing Newsletter by FASO,
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Friday, December 14, 2012

Arts in Harmony 2013

Sending paintings off to art competitions always feels like a shot in the dark. Artists share so many stories of wonderful paintings being rejected, and less than wonderful paintings being selected for awards. It's like the allure of gambling: maybe my painting this time! 

The process to apply is not standardized. Some applications are by email, some by CD, some with the actual work, and a few hold-outs with slides. Send in the image, the entry form, the fee, and hope for acceptance into the show. Will my work be rejected of accepted? If rejected, well, it must not have been the right piece for that show. If accepted, there is always a flush of happiness that someone appreciated the work. That's how far I am now for the Arts in Harmony 2013 sponsored by the Elk River Area Arts Alliance - ACCEPTED.

The exhibit will run from February 4 to March 28, 2013, and it is always an interesting show.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Portraits in Pastel-Redheads!

Print media still seems to have a wide readership, at least with the people I know. It is amazing how many people have told me they have seen a recent article. It happened just a while ago while I was making an appointment. The woman on the phone said, "Oh, Michelle Wegler, the Artist! I saw you in the magazine!" You can see it, too -

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Painting vs. Painting

My husband and I recently bought a new house while still owning our "old" house, making us a two-house family. That translates to 7 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, 2 kitchens and an acre of lawn! Much of my summer has been spent painting one house to get it ready to sell, and the other house to get it ready to move into. Not the kind of painting I prefer to do! I have been keeping up with commissions and participated in the Plein Air Grand Marais, but I miss my studio!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Member Exhibits

One of the benefits of being a member in an art association is being able to exhibit work in member shows. Member shows give an artist a chance to exhibit in venues that may not be possible as a solo artist, especially a beginning artist. Also, it is educational and inspirational to see the work of friends and peers. Viewing the variety of styles and subjects at the show is always a joy to experience.

Sometimes awards are granted by a judge to work of merit. One of my recent paintings was awarded an Honorable Mention, "Too Cold to Snow," at the recent Lake Country Pastel Society exhibit.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Portraits in Pastel - Red Heads!

The exhibit is down and was a great success. A collection of the finished paintings is being added to my website devoted to portraits: More will be added in the future. Stay tuned!

I'd rather be painting.

Part of a modern artist's job is keeping up with social media. I'd rather be painting. And doing paperwork. I'd rather be painting. Entering competitions. I'd rather be painting. But in order to meet the financial obligations of an artist, it must be accomplished, so I may paint. Monday's are my paperwork day, so I'm just whining :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Portraits in Pastel - Red Heads!

A year of work came to a delightful peak at the opening reception for "Portraits: Fair to Fiery."

Gathered together were all the paintings, family and friends, many of the models, and well wishers. It was a delight to have such a nice crowd at the event. 

Non artists have little idea how important it is to have people attend reception events. Why paint them if no one is to view them? I also enjoy watching others enjoy the paintings and learning which are people's favorites. 

What looks like more fun - the room with the paintings, or the room with the paintings and all the attendees?! Who do you know?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Portraits in Pastel-Red Heads!

A question I was frequently asked about the red-heads was, "How do you find your subjects?" Finding people to paint for this project was part of the adventure. It seemed almost everyone knew someone who has red hair. Lots of adorable little girls! How to choose?!

 For the exhibit I wanted to include a variety of ages, males and females, child to adult. A nine year old boy was a little difficult to track down, but an acquaintance of a man my husband talked to put me in contact with his mother. I met a beautiful woman at a party, and she kindly agreed to pose. I drove to Cambridge to meet with the granddaughter of a friend of a friend, who was visiting from the Chicago area. There was a young man I sat next to at a charity dinner a few years ago who I knew I wanted to paint when I was ready to work on this project. I connected with him through the wife of one of my husband's coworkers. She also modeled for  the project. There is the roommate of my son at the Naval Academy, a local celebrity, the husband of a fellow artist, a dog, a shopper at a farmers' market, and today's model, a friend's sister's brother-in-law! I also had several photos emailed to me, but I wanted to limit the subjects to people I actually met in person.

The last touches go on the last painting TODAY!


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Portraits in Pastel-Red Heads!

Putting the finishing touches on the last tow portraits! It's going to be a beautiful show.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Portraits in Pastel-Red Heads!

Not all red-heads are human - there are birds, fish, and dogs also. I met this dog while visiting a woman for the red-head project. Their hair was the same color! The breed is called a Pharaoh Hound, thought to be like the dogs depicted in Egyptian paintings. They are not a common sight here in Minnesota, as their fur is very short. I liked the way the dog looked and it did pose nicely for me. The backlit profile was especially striking. The other elements were added for fun!

Pharaoh Hound

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Portraits in Pastel-Red Heads!

Show time is coming soon! Enjoy a sneak preview and learn more about the sponsor of the exhibit in an article p20-21 in The Woman Today.

May 9, 2012!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Plein Air Painting in Every Season

This barn is a favorite of mine and has been featured in several paintings. This is the most recent, painted on location at Gibbs Farm Museum during their Apple Festival. There are three white buildings on the site and I've painted them all! Each one has its own personality. The prairie that they are set in changes with the seasons, and on this gorgeous day the fiery maple, golden grasses and blue sky really set this barn off well.

Autumn Farmstead

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Portraits in Pastel-Red Heads!

Every new painting has to have a beginning and a completion. What happens between "start" and "finished" is totally unpredictable! I have been painting portraits intensely now for almost a year to get ready for the exhibit in May 2012, but each painting is new. Some paint themselves, the image forming on the paper beautifully and without angst. Not this one. The subject just tickled me - what could be better than a ten year old with red hair, freckles, and new teeth?! Same paper, same pastels ....... not working. Much time was spent wiping away a feature and doing it over, and over, and over, working to get it right. I'd think I have it, then, no, not quite.

Take a look at the almost finished painting. I hoped I had it, but knew I didn't. What was wrong????? So I wiped away the eyes (again), and really looked at the subject and at the painting. Sometimes I turn the painting upside down, or on its side, or look at it in a mirror to help "see" an error. Not having the eyes to distract me helped me to see the other small areas that needed tweaking. Lastly, I repainted the eyes. This time ........ got it!



Monday, March 19, 2012

Portraits in Pastel-Red Heads!

My father was an inspiration for the series of portraits of red-heads that I am in the midst of painting. It seemed only fitting that a portrait of him should be included in the exhibit. The photo that I found most interesting for the painting for this series looks like he was in his later 20's or early 30's, maybe taken by my mother. No color film then, so I worked from a sepia toned photo. There was an added challenge of the low resolution and small size of the photo. A look through other family photos included a picture of Dad in color, with hair! I used that photo as a reference for his hair color in the painting, imagining that 20 or so years earlier his hair was a touch redder, without the gray.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Portraits in Pastel-Red Heads!

Todd is known as the Paper Crane Guy. He folds menageries of origami, in a variety of colors and sizes (checkout his website). He also happens to have red hair! He kindly agreed to model for me for the red-head portrait project.

We were able to meet while he worked folding origami flowers. I enjoyed watching him at work and was able to observe his amazing skill at folding. The camera was set up as he worked and I was able to take some photos of Todd while he folded and I sketched: the artist observing the artist.

Back at the studio, I decided on a square format on UArt paper, no underpainting. See how the image emerges? Now, to finish the painting...... .

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Portraits in Pastel-Red Heads!

Underpainting a paper for a pastel painting is always an adventure unto itself - you never know what the dried underpainting will look like until it's dry. The underpainting for "Alison" was more concerned about light and dark than color, so the dried paper looked as I had hoped. Ugly, but accurate. Visitors to the studio who see a work at this stage are usually at a loss for words! I usually assure them that it's just an awkward stage.

Then it's time to apply pastel and bring out the image in full color! One of the most exciting parts of painting a portrait for me is watching the person emerge from the flat surface of the paper. The image gradually comes into focus, and suddenly there's someone there!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Portraits in Pastel-Red Heads!

One of the first pastel papers to offer a waterproof and gritty surface was invented by a pastel artist named Kitty Wallis. The paper she now makes is called Wallis Paper, and it comes in a grey color and white. I started a red-head on the white version of this paper, with a toned underpainting. While designing the portrait, I had decided on a dark background, to show off her translucent skin. Toning the paper covers the the harshness of the white surface while allowing me to leave it lighter in places to allow to radiate through the skin. To tone the paper I covered it in pastel, dark where I wanted dark, and lighter where I wanted it lighter. I taped the paper to a firm surface and then brushed the entire surface with rubbing alcohol and a cheap brush (the sanded surface really eats the brush bristles). The paper is allowed to dry and is ready to be worked on.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Portraits in Pastel-Red Heads!

Paper selection is an important step in the planning and design of a pastel painting. Pastel painting is unique in that there is such a variety of papers that can be used to create the paintings. Each of these surfaces have a texture, or "tooth", that the pastel pigment particles adhere to. Some are smoother than others, some are very gritty, much like sandpaper. I tend to enjoy working on the grittier papers, as those papers hold many more layers of pigment and offer me more options for creating the color and mood I am trying to create. The papers also come in a variety of colors, from white to neutral tints to bold and bright. For portraits, I tend to work mostly on a gritty but fine-toothed paper in a neutral tint, UArt 600.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Time out for camp!

Painting red-heads for the exhibit had been the focus of my painting recently. But it was time for winter camp! Winter camp is a plein air painting event that's part of the Grand Marais Winter Festival. Artists gathered at a wilderness camp, not accessible by road, and painted, outside, for up to a week. We hauled our camping and painting gear across frozen West Bearskin Lake to beautiful Camp Menogyn. Once our stuff was stowed in our cabin, out to paint we went! Happy for us, there was plenty of snow for our paintings. And so much beauty and quiet. Camp has been one of the highlights of my winters for three years now.

Outside? All day? Painting? Yes, until, of course, the bell rang announcing a meal was prepared for us and ready to be served. It always amazes me how much time can be spent outside, no matter the weather, and how enjoyable it can be. I even painted outside one evening. This year the temperatures were very mild, with overcast skies. I didn't even have to wear gloves while holding the pastel sticks.

At the end of each day it is such a pleasure to see the finished paintings of the other artists. We line the paintings along a wall and spend time admiring each other's work. On the last day we frame our favorites, take them into Grand Marais, and participate in an exhibit. The opening reception to the event was well attended. One of my paintings was purchased, and I bought a painting!

The exhibit and sale continues through Feb 12 at the Grand Marais Art Colony.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Portraits in Pastel-Red Heads!

When faced with a major project the question is, "Where do I start?" No different with a painting project! The idea of painting red-heads had been brewing in me for a long time, so I had a collection of photos of possible subjects. First step was to look through those, compare them to my ideas, and plan that first painting.

Before I start any painting, I spend time designing it. The first painting was created from a photo taken outdoors, candidly, so I didn't need to pose the model. The photo already included what I was looking for from this person (freckles!!!). Design considerations for each portrait include: How large will the piece be? Will it include more that the person's head and shoulders? What kind of background, plain or detailed? What colors in the background? How am I going to portray the feeling I want? I do a series of sketches trying out the different ideas before committing any pastel to paper.

I hope you feel how she hasn't quite grown into her beauty yet.

12 in x 16 in

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Portraits in Pastel-Red Heads!

When viewing my paintings people often ask what the medium is: clearly not watercolors, but not oils either. Viewers are frequently surprised to learn I create the paintings with pastels.

Pastels are sticks of compressed pigment, the same pigment that is used in watercolor or oil paints. Pastels are made by mixing the powdered pigment with a small amount of binder and water. They are then formed into sticks, and allowed to dry. Many companies roll and shape the sticks by hand, making the pastel a work of an artist from the beginning! The resulting pastel is the used to "paint," but without the liquid or brush, just by direct application with the artist's hand.

Pastels' colors are often thought to be, well, pastel. The 20 or so manufacturers of artist grade pastels offer many hundreds of colors, ranging from bold and brilliant to soft and subtle. I have hundreds of colors myself, plenty of options for capturing beautiful red hair! The sticks are organized in special trays. Smaller boxes contain colors selected just for specific painting uses: a box each for summer, autumn, and winter landscapes, and a box for portraits. This is my portrait box. It's from these sticks that the red-head portraits will be created.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Portraits in Pastel-Red Heads!

My father had red hair, I am told. By the time I was old enough to really notice him, he was mostly bald and grey. Photographs were not in color until his hair was well peppered, and there were few photos of him. So, to do his portrait as a red head for my exhibit, I will be using a favorite photo I have of him. I'm not sure who took the photo - if it's one of the self-portrait shots he took, or whether my mother or a friend of his took it so long ago. It is very grainy and with limited information. I do see that he is wearing a signature plaid shirt. (I'm sure it's orange!) Creating a painting in color will be a challenge!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Portraits in Pastel-Red Heads!

My father had red hair, so I thought I had a good chance of having red-haired children. Two blue-eyed blondes and a blue-eyed brunette were my little blessings. Red-heads continued to intrigue me, though.

For a long time I felt an urge to celebrate these beauties in paintings, but I felt I lacked the skill to pull it off. I took portrait classes from some of the best pastel portrait artists in the country - Daniel Green and Leslie DeMille. I practiced, went to "life" class, and practiced some more. Finally, I felt ready to pursue this aspiration!