After four years of drought, it looks like were finally going to get a decent El Niño! This was the second day of heavy rain and I delighted in keeping my studio windows open to hear all of that rolling thunder!
I love how cozy and inviting the studio is in the midst of all that rain!
It always amazes me how the rain makes everything look different!
The beginning of a new week…. and although I made some major headway in working out the image I’m going to be doing for a commission, I was not able to start work on it as my client and I still need to decide on the appropriate scale. I couldn’t let the day pass without using my paintbrush so I painted this little 4×4″ oil of a Western Bluebird which is destined for the painting tree at the Los Gatos Museums Gallery. I wonder if I can whip up some more tomorrow – or should I do teacups? Hope they’ll dry in time for the exchange this weekend!
The Triton Museum of Art has a new exhibition up, What the Triton Means to Me, which features the work of five artists, Patricia Bengston-Jones, David Middlebrook, Leroy Parker, Nabeela Sajjad and George Rivera. The careers of each of these artist have been substantially enhanced by their relationship with the museum in different ways, which the artists write about. The show runs until January 3, 2016.
George Rivera was the Executive Director and Senior Curator at the Triton for many years, he’s an Associate Faculty Instructor of Art at Mission College in Santa Clara, he has juried some 400 exhibitions and competitions and has mentored and counseled countless artists (myself included) all in addition to making his strikingly beautiful and deeply introspective art (I mean, while not riding his motorcycle or playing his guitar)!
Having touched the careers of so many in the artistic community with his warm generosity and sage advice it was no wonder that the there was a huge turnout of artists, curators, friends and family for his opening reception!
OK, here’s what his oil painting triptych, The Precipice, looks like without all the people flocking about.
Rivera’s paintings have such a bold, commanding presence, there is a strong dramatic flair but also a quiet introspection, they can all across a room but also draw you in with these lovely, symbolic details like the bird and the flame. FYI – those are my hands in the photograph taken by Ron Dell’Aquila – not in the painting.
To see more of Rivera’s work (after you visit the Triton) you can visit Sandra Lee Gallery in San Francisco where he is represented.
Now that I have my reference material all composed, I am able to precede with my Pansy Tea painting.
I like to sketch out my outlines with thinned oils on a white ground. I feel it helps me to maintain a clarity and vibrancy of color.
I begin to block in a bit of color as I feel more confident about the way the drawing is going.
Since the bird is the primary subject, I wanted to concentrate on it first.
The next goal I had was to work the entire canvas (all twelve inches of it).
Here I’ve built up highlights, shadows and details.
I will continue along this path, adding glazes to tone down areas until I feel it has enough depth and presence. Speaking of presence, I see my little finch is looking more like a chubby chick! Taking pictures as you go along is a great way of seeing your work in a new way. Let’s see what I can do about that tomorrow!
I love starting the week with a new painting and I’ve been eager to work on this one ever since I did that photo shoot at Bunches last summer! It’s part of my Los Gatos Shop Girl Series – (or least that’s what I’m calling it for now, there are only two so far). There are a lot of good things going for this image to begin with. My subject, for instance, is as beautiful as the dahlias are – her lips are even the same color and shape as the petals! I love the texture, color and pattern that give this piece so much exuberance but which is tempered and grounded by the broad swathes of black and taupe. I’ve laid down all my paint thick and loose and I feel like a sculptor as I try to paint the light and shadow that play throughout the scene. Can’t wait for tomorrow!
So I found I was only spinning my wheels, painting her face over and over, ironically laboring over the freshness in her expression. I hid her away over the holidays and was able to come back to her this week. While she may have lost some of the freshness of the first approach, she has gained a poignancy to her expression and a radiance I’m thrilled with.
Today was the first day I had to turn the heat on, painting this little ( 4 x 4″) rose bud in the cool morning fog.
I painted out a loose gestural outline of the rose on a prepared pink ground.
I blocked in some major highlights and shadows with color.
I blended the tones in the base of the rose and built up the highlights , curving my brush stokes to echo the shape of the petals.
I played up the color reflecting in the shadows which helped to develop a sense of volume and refined the details until the point where I felt there was a balance between lights and darks, angles and form, depth and volume, detail and negative space. A lot going on in 4 square inches!
It’s like a breath of fresh air to whip up a little rose painting after laboring on a larger work!
Here is how Rose Mandala IV came together – with only a few mishaps along the way.
Opps! Easels often have an adjustable top bar that secures the painting in place but with a painting this small (6 x 6″), I just rest it precariously on the edge and an unexpected jiggle or vigorous brush strokes can send it tumbling. I was relieved it landed “peanut butter side up”!
You’d think I’d have learned my lesson the first time round but not too many minutes later the painting was on it’s second tumble but I caught it quick with the side of my gloved hand. Not the technique I was going for.
Quick – take it off the easel!