Feb 28, 2012

The same old barn, but in a different color since you’ve been gone.

Old times, 10x8" oil on panel
I just found something crawling on me that looked like an ant with wings. I choose to think of it as the world’s smallest angel. Absolutely nothing could ruin my day once I’ve been out to paint in the country. An hour ago I came in from an amazingly beautiful day of plein air painting. The piece above is one of many oils I did last week. You’ve seen this same barn twice before, but under different skies and from a different perspective. The beautiful clouds on today’s otherwise blue-sky-day were impossible for me to resist painting. Old times is the title I came up with after so many old high school chums responded with their tales of tobacco fields the last time I posted this barn.

The painting below may have been my first painting of the barn. Clicking Tobacco barn 209, or Can you find the tobacco barn in this picture? will take you to previous posts featuring the barn in other paintings.

Late day shadows, 9x12" oil on panel

Feb 26, 2012

A disgruntled America

Please forgive the lack of a painting above. The painting that accommodates this blog can be viewed by clicking Hot Off the Easel. Three of these photos I took yesterday near the encampment of Occupy Raleigh. The last one, the one of me (in pink boots) painting, was in a video taken by an ABC News 11 camera person.

Feb 23, 2012

Tobacco barn sundial

Tobacco Barn 209, 9x12" oil on panel
Here I sit under an overcast sky on a perfectly warm winter’s day. The sun is due out at noon; we’ll see if I can resist going out until then. Yesterday I managed to do two paintings. The temperature was 70º on my return home. Since the window of opportunity to do a plein air painting before the light changes is no more than two to three hours, doing two paintings a day is not over ambitious.

Tobacco Barn 209 is the same barn as was posted in Grrrrrrrrr . . ., my January 21 blog post. This time I named the painting after the date on which I painted it.

Feb 11, 2012

Royal mail

Hand in hand, watercolor painting
Last spring, my dear friend Ellen invited me over for a Royal Sleepover at her beautiful home in Walnut Creek, just outside of Goldsboro. We had tea and quiche, dressed up in our best pajamas and wore hats. I painted the Royal Wedding from the television on Ellen’s kitchen counter. The island there was just the right height, so this is where I preferred to view and paint the wedding of the year. It had been my dream to paint the Royal Wedding, so this was as close as I would come. Click Painted from Live Telly to review the blog post I did shortly thereafter.

At the suggestion of Ellen’s husband Jack, in December I sent one of the paintings to Prince William and his new bride. I’m including the painting I chose, as well as the response I received this week. I’m still trying to digest the fact that I’ve actually received an envelope postmarked Buckingham Palace.
Note EIIR on the envelope. My family moved to England in 1953, the same year of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. On a trip to London, my mother, brother and I saw the Queen and her sister in the rain on a boat on the Thames. They were both in raincoats. I recall I couldn’t tell which was the Queen and which one was Princess Margaret. At the time, I somehow thought this was important. Oh well.

Feb 8, 2012

Drawing from life

Blind contour of Kate, 1 or 2 minutes.

Someone recently asked me, “Yeah, but do you really want to do portraits?”


Heck yeah. Does a bear do his business in the woods? Does peanut butter like jelly? In my opinion, the mastery of portraiture is the ultimate mastery of painting and drawing. Not only to capture a person’s likeness but to capture the essence of a person is what I believe to be the ultimate painting challenge.

My college degree required three years of drawing and two years of painting. Freshmen in the arts program at Virginia Commonwealth University were quickly emerged in figure studies of nude models. We did two types of short poses, blind contour (really funny looking) and fast gesture drawings (see Kate’s 1-minute yoga swan pose below). On large newsprint pads, we probably did hundreds of gesture drawings. Now, fast forward forty-five years….

I still paint from live models, sometimes clothed, sometimes not. Kate’s poses were all done during a Thursday Chambers Arts! Live Model Open Studio session. Last Saturday I began a session of long pose figure studies in downtown Raleigh. I decided to ignore the body of the nude. No, boys, I’m not kidding. My concentration was on the face. The African American woman below took me maybe three twenty-minute sessions. You bet, I can paint tight. Please click to see a commissioned portrait I did recently of a mother and her two daughters. Yes, I can paint like that. However, who I want to paint like is John Singer Sargent. And boy! Do I have a ways to go! It’s about practice. God chose our parents. He gives us our time. It’s up to us to do the work. (Just another one of my opinions ;-)
Kate again, 15-minute pose

Beginners and experienced artists serious about drawing might consider a workshop soon to be offered by Jillian Goldberg at Chambers Arts! in Cary, North Carolina. A one-day workshop In Your Right Mind will be offered February 11. Click on this message to be on your way to better seeing and drawing.

20x16" oil study, three 20-minute sessions

Feb 2, 2012

Missing birds

Swan pond, 8x10" oil on panel
There were actually two swans in this lake. I took several decent photos of them, but including them would have ruined the painting. They would have become the focal point in a hurry, ruining the overall impact and abstract qualities in this landscape. It was intentional that I painted all the sky in the water rather than above. I haven't looked at the painting upside down, but it might be fun to.

It’s the exception when I can appreciate wildlife in a painting. Unless it’s a bird perching motionless, I think the lack of movement in a painting of a wild animal is a contradiction. The only successful painting of a bird in flight I can remember seeing was a cardinal, indicated only by a red streak of paint. It was so much more convincing than a bird stopped dead in mid-air. Imagine a plein air painter saying to a bird in flight, “Okay, freeze!” Or even better, “Twenty minutes, and then we’ll take a break.”