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Monday, January 28, 2013

Memories of Home

When I was initally consulted about painting a beautiful garden scene, I was torn between portraying the garden and flowers or portraying the garden and the river scene. It was decided between my client and me which painting I would do for her - the flowers. Once the painting of the garden with flowers was finished, I decided that I still had to paint the river scene. Water scapes and clouds are some of my favorite subjects to paint, so I knew I could find a home for the river scene painting.

I decided to make the river scene the same size as the flower scene. The flowers were kept to a minimum to emphasize the clouds and their reflections on the water. I also wanted to give this painting more of a feel of standing on the water's edge, so the flowers were included as a fringe at the viewer's feet.

The woman who originally contacted me to create the first painting purchased this painting. That was a pleasant and unexpected surprise! Now both she and her sister-in-law have memories of home in their own custom painting. I feel blessed and am thankful that I am able to use my skills to create paintings such as these that will stir memories and bring joy to the owners for many years.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Memories of Home

The paper for this garden painting was under-painted with watercolor. The watercolor added a depth and glow to the finished image. When dry, the pastel was stroked over the watercolor.

The pastels are sticks of pure pigment. The pigment is the same pigment used in oil paints, watercolors, and acrylics, except that it does not have oil, water, or acrylic added to it. It is the pure pigment, pressed into sticks, held together with a little binder. The pigments are very small crystals of color, with facets that reflect the light, much like diamonds do. Learn more about pastel at the website of the International Association of Pastel Societies .

Slowly the image emerged as the pastel was added to the paper. Fine tuning happened along the way, changing the shapes of the flowers, adding more sunshine, even moving the plant better, finished!

But was I finished? I felt another painting of this beautiful scene needed to be created. Hmmmmm.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Memories of Home

While preparing to create a commissioned painting for my client, I visited the garden, looked at the client's photos, took photos of my own, and did on-site color studies. Continuing to work in the garden would have been my first choice, but the weather had turned cool and the flowers were long gone. The gardener had already cut many plants back, and she kindly took me around to identify what was where.

Back in the studio, it was time to do some designing: a painting is not just a copy of a photo. It was important to use the reference materials to capture the feeling of the garden as well as the view. In order to do justice to the garden, I decided to down play the view of the river and emphasize the sweep of flowers. There were also considerations such as the type of paper to use, the size it was going to be, and whether it would be horizontal or vertical.

Garden sketch

The final sketch was done on a piece of white pastel paper that has a texture like sandpaper.  The grit of the sanded paper allowed me to add many layers of pastel. For this project I decided to do a watercolor wash to reduce the stark white of the paper.

Watercolor underpainting

When the watercolor dried, it was time to add the pastel!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Memories of Home

This summer I was asked to create a painting of a home, to be given as a gift. The house had been in the family since 1946, and the current owner, the brother and sister-in-law of the person commissioning me, were selling it.

People have many memories connected to their homes, and I have completed paintings for homeowners in the past. Most often the paintings are requested when there is a move pending, but occasionally I have done them much later. Paintings are usually completed from both visits to the home, if possible, and from photographs. For this commission, I was able to both visit the property and use the beautiful photos taken by the owner.

Visiting the home was a real treat - it was a beautiful home situated on grounds with a lush garden overlooking the river. The owner decided that what she would like was a painting of the gardens as they would be on a June morning. This was on a drizzly day in September. Luckily, she had a nice collection of photographs with the flowers in bloom that I could use.

Next step was to visit the home on a more June-like day. During that visit I was able to paint in the garden, getting a feel of the scene, do color studies,  and take some of my own reference photos.

Next, working in the studio.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Plein Air Landscape Painting

Sometimes a painting and the artist need a little time away from each other to make things work.

This painting was started last August. I was driving along the North Shore looking for a painting spot. When I found the place I wanted, it started to rain, not hard, but hard enough to keep me under the hatch of my station wagon. It was a painting day, so I painted. As I painted the sky cleared. I grabbed a piece of pastel paper and worked to portray the beautiful cloud formations. Clouds move quickly, and so did I!

The little painting was put into a box and forgotten until this week when I discovered it while looking through unfinished work. Hmmmmm, not bad. All it needed was a few touches, and it's ready to be framed.

After the Rain II

Very similar to another painting I did from the back of my station wagon, After the Rain.

They will make a nice set hanging on someone's wall.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Pet Portraits

This Christmas I had the opportunity to do a painting of "Gus" for his owner. The painting was commissioned by the owner's wife.

My favorite way to start a commission is to meet the subject, whether it's a person or an animal. I frequently go to meet the pet, or have a visit to my studio. I was unable to meet Gus, but was able to meet with Gus's owner's wife. She provided a photograph I was able to work from.

Gus's owner received the painting for Christmas. He wrote to me, "You have done a terrific job of capturing his soul and spirit. Now Gus is immortal!"

Pet portraits make loving and memorable gifts. Call or email to set up an appointment to discuss your portrait!


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Plein Air Landscape Painting

Not all paintings started on location are finished on the spot. Many factors can keep me from finishing while outside. One of the main ones is a change of the weather, or the simple fact that the sun has moved so far across the sky that the scene is totally different from when I started it. The sun's movement is most noticeable in the winter, dawn, and sunset. Sometimes I'm just not sure what else the painting needs to be declared finished, and I think that's what happened with this little beauty.

It was a beautiful March day, with about a foot of fresh snow. I was painting with a fellow painter, and we had set up by an open stream. Things really heated up! Check us out:

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Plein Air Landscape Painting

The New Year in the studio started with my selecting a painting to be exhibited at the Duluth Art Institute's Membership Show. It is always a dilemma to choose which painting will be best matched with which exhibit. There can be many paintings out at various shows at any one time, and events overlap, so it's important to know which painting is where and for how long.

This little painting was created during the 2012 Plein Air Grand Marais. It had been an overcast day with periods of rain. Part of the day was spent under the overhang of my car's hatch with my pastels, trying to keep them dry. Toward the end of the day, the clouds broke up and the sun shone through, giving me an opportunity to get out from under the hatch and paint standing up!

Clouds are an exciting challenge to paint: their form constantly changes. Look up, paint, look up, different! Repaint, look up, different! And so it goes until the right combo of paint/look up comes together in the completed painting.

After the Rain

For more information about:
Duluth Art Institute's Membership Show
2012 Plein Air Grand Marais