Friday, December 31, 2010

Keeping up with Technology

Every once in a while I let my inner geek come out to play.  I recently generated QR codes for my website and this blog.  Now, I don't have a phone with apps that can read these codes, but I know many of you do.  (Actually, I don't have a phone with apps, period!)
I feel like I now have the secret password to play with the cool kids.

I now need ideas for how to use these codes.  If I have paintings in an exhibit, I'll see if I can put little cards under the painting with these images. I'll try making mock-ups of my business cards to see how they look.  I'm open to any other suggestions.  Thanks!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Little Shop of Wonders - Anything Goes

Shopping in general is not my favorite past time; I guess I didn’t inherit that shopping gene.  I love to I find the perfect gift, but it is not always easy.  During the holidays, I vacillate between spending the tremendous amount of time finding that perfect gift and just buying gift cards.  I loathe the crowds and traffic. 

There is one special place where I don’t mind spending time or money.  Anything Goes is a little gem in Rhode Island.  They sell hand-made, hand-crafted giftware, fine art, photography and so many one of a kind items.  The variety of products and designs are quite amazing.  They always have a cheery “Hello”, let you browse at your leisure but will tell you what is new in the shop (for repeat shoppers as myself).

Now I might be a little biased, as they also sell my smaller paintings.  From the perspective of an artist, they are the best gallery managers, too.

I encourage my local followers to check them out.  Not just for my work, but for the beautiful work of all the artists.  You might just finish all your shopping in one stop.  

Anything Goes
1161 Main Ave (Across from Crowne Plaza)
Warwick, RI 02886

Sunday, December 19, 2010

More Mini Masterpieces

Beached Canoes
Sunset Glow
I've been painting a lot more "minis" lately, for a number of reasons:  1) I'm taking classes at Rhode Island School of Design and there isn't much time left after homework, 2) they help me work out some color and designs that will help should I want to do a larger scale painting, 3) I love that feeling of accomplishment when and painting is done, 4) I can try different techniques and not have to scrape down the painting if it fails and 5) with tough economic times, more people can have original art hanging on their walls.

Here are some paintings that I'll explore on a larger scale.  I've already made notes as to what I'll do differently next time.  If you are interested in purchasing one of these mini-masterpieces, send me a note.

Late Day Sparkles

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Art Appreciation – Thomas Kinkade

A recent NPR story “Dark Times Befall 'Painter of Light' Thomas Kinkade” made me think about Kinkade paintings in a different perspective.  If someone mentioned how much they loved his paintings, I’d smile and nod, but think to myself “Are they kidding?”  I thought they’d make great backdrops to a Disney movie.  But, he has a tremendous following and, as any large successful company, he also had his critics and those who would like to see him fail.

Central Park in the Fall
Art appreciation is an evolving process.  In high school, I thought Renoir was the best painter – ever!  Now, I think so many artists are more talented and creative.  I enjoy abstract art more than before.  As my painting skills improve and my exposure to art broadens, so does my taste in art.  The reactions of friends and family to the paintings I have in my home are so diverse.  People think I’ll be offended if they say something disparaging, but I really don’t mind.  Some people intellectualize paintings, but I can’t.  I listen to my soul when looking at art.  Does it make me feel happy, calm, anxious, uncomfortable?  Only good reactions make it into my home.

There is a tremendous variety of art in the world.  Buy what you like.  If Thomas Kinkade makes you happy, Great!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Digital Painting and Rodney Dangerfield

A couple of years ago I purchased my favorite software program; ArtRage.  The infatuation started even before the download.  The modest $25.00 price immediately captured my attention (I love a bargain!)  The ease of use and how beautifully the program simulated the actual media (oil, pastel, etc...) was like sweet talkin’ and copious wine.  I was swooning. 

Like many early relationships, we just had so much fun together (Yes, I actually used the glitter in one of my paintings!)  We then transitioned into more serious work.  I painted a number of small still lifes, some portraits and started using ArtRage to create studies of future oil paintings.  We just go together like peanut butter and jelly.  (o.k., enough of the schmaltz)

Gerber Daisy

So, I created a few nice paintings, but now “I get no respect”!   I wanted to submit a painting to a local art club, but these are considered “prints”, not original art.   I spent a lot of time on these images and incorporated the same knowledge and skills used with traditional media.  I don’t feel like I fit in with digital artists creating beautiful graphical images.  Our styles and subjects probably attract very different audiences. 

I guess my masterpieces will just have to be happy in the print bin.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gallery Night and Champagne

Providence has a wonderful event the third Thursday of every month.  On Gallery Night, over 20 galleries and Providence buses open their doors to art lovers of all types.  This Thursday is a special night for an artist I recently spotlighted in my blog, Mary Jane Cross.  There will be a champagne reception for Mary Jane at Royal Gallery. 
Yes, I’ll say it again - Champagne.  If that doesn’t get you out, then perhaps the location on Atwells Ave. will help – the heart of fabulous Federal Hill food.  Or, the fact that a number of other galleries, each with their own personality and focus, are just a short walk away.  This area is a great spot to start (or end) your Gallery Night tour.
If you enjoyed Mary Jane's work or looking for a nice evening out, mark the date (Nov 18th, 2010) and time (5-9pm)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Art and my Computer

Some people have a gift for seeing color, but I’ll admit it does not come as easy for me.  I use pieces of cardboard with a hole punched in the middle to block out surrounding areas and focus on just one spot of color. 

I’ve also developed a technique for doing the same thing using Photoshop.  This has an added advantage of being printed - I can put dabs of paint on the printout to check if I’ve mixed the right color.  You will need to know/learn how to create layers for this technique.
  • Identify the major areas of color.  Create and name a layer for each color.
  • Move your original image layer to the top.
  • Using the Color Picker tool (eyedropper) click on one of those major color areas.
  • Fill that layer with the selected color (Menu: Edit/Fill,   Keyboard: Alt+Backspace)
  • Using the Move tool, I shift the layers so I can see a little of each one.  I give the larger masses of color more exposure as I rearrange the layers.
Also, looking at just the final layers is a good way to assess color harmony.  You may decide one of the local colors in your photo needs to be replaced by a different color, for the sake balance of the painting.

Hope you find this helpful, too.
Towels on the Line

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Art for the Recession-ista

Last summer I started creating a few paintings using a 5x5 gallery wrapped canvas.  Because they were small and had deep stretchers, they easily stood by themselves.  As they dried, or always.  I realized there are so many other advantages of these little works of art.  

For the collector, they are affordable, make great gifts, and you don’t have to worry about having enough wall space (or walls).

For the artist, it is a great way to hone your skills, work out color harmonies, and easily create a series.

Many other artists work in small formats.  My friend Dianne Webb’s work can be seen at Voila Gallery, Wickford, RI   

Erin Spencer - Aquidneck Fields

If you have your own mini masterpieces, leave a comment with a link to your site (Google likes these links).  If you don’t have a website, just leave a comment.

Also, if you’d like a chance to win a 4x4 by Erin Spencer, you can visit her blog by clicking on the link below. 

Monday, November 01, 2010

From My Collection: Mary Jane Q. Cross

In my last From My Collection post I mentioned most of my paintings were purchased after making a connection with both the artist and the art work.   My spotlight today is the best example of this connection.

Mary Jane Cross first caught my attention when she donated one of her “red apple” paintings to the RI PBS Art and Antique auction.  I was awestruck by how she could convey so much emotion, innocence and spirituality in the face of her beautiful young subject.  She also captured a split second moment in time that kept me wondering what was on her mind and what had just happened.  Later, I met the wonderful woman behind the painting and found a soul with the same emotion and spirituality.  
Noonday Lull

I followed her work online and in local art shows.  One day I received a postcard with an image of ”Noonday Lull”.  This painting captured delicate sunlight, in a way very few artist can, and a sense of peace and contentment.  I propped the card on my desk because that contentment could sometimes drop my blood pressure a notch or two.

Weeks went by and I unexpectedly found Mary Jane’s booth at an exhibit.  And there was “Noonday Lull” in person – so much more beautiful than the postcard.  Mary Jane had once said to me “If a painting haunts you, you need to own it.”  I had been haunted for a while, and it now hangs in my living room. 

There is a fabulous story that goes with my purchase, but I’ll tell you in person if you are interested.  Below is a link to Mary Jane's bio and her  story of how she pushed through her disability (lost ability to hold a brush)  to produce beautiful art.

Mary Jane’s work can be seen at Gallery on the Green in Woodstock VT. 
Her website is below. 

The painting continues to instill a little bit of peace and contentment everyday.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Anthropology of Color Theory

I’m taking a course in Color Theory and never thought it would incorporate history, biology, and physics.  One of the sites below shows a time-line of color, from prehistoric times to now.  I never realized how much the availability of color and the media (oil, egg tempera) impacts art.  It makes sense that art would be influenced by the available tools, but I had not made the connection.  Yellow ochre has been around since prehistoric times but cadmium red became available in the early 1900’s. 

I have a BS in Biology, so I knew how Rods and Cones allow us to see color and shades, but just learned there are three different types of Cones, each react to different wavelengths of color.  Also, we cannot perceive the edges of objects where object and background have the same luminance.  The third link has a nifty tool that shows how this works.
This stuff may not be as fascinating to others, but I’ve always been the type of person who likes to understand the “why” and “how” of the world around us.  Hope you enjoy the links.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Artist as a Salesperson

The focus of my painting has shifted over the last couple of years from a hobby to a career.  I've expanded the scope of my knowledge in many directions; technique, composition, color, and of course MARKETING.  One art marketing article reminded me of brochures I was given after being laid off.  (UGH)  Those brochures talked about practicing my "30 Second Elevator Speech" which quickly described the job I wanted and why someone should hire me. 

I realized my paintings may not always sell themselves and they might need an "elevator speech" to help them along.  I could provide insight to the technical or creative process of the painting, the mood I was trying to capture or perhaps just ask some open ended questions to get their first impressions.   I guess being an artist is just a constant job interview.  And I now need LOTS of elevator speeches.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

My Collection - Alice Benvie Gebhart

I realized today that every room in my house has at least one piece of original art, even the bathrooms.  Most are not mine.  Most are local artists and most are paintings, but also stained glass, art glass and sculpture.  I decided to share my collection, one piece at a time, and also share the artists.  Today's artist is Alice Benvie Gebhart.

Cold Nights City Lights
I usually buy art because of the connection I've made with the artist, as well as the art.  Alice was an exception, in a number of ways.  I had not met Alice and never saw the piece in person.  I've seen her work in various galleries and liked everything I saw.  I decided to visit her website and found a piece I liked more than those I saw in person.  With an email and a phone call, and my trust in people and intuition,  I was well rewarded.  The piece was more beautiful in person, as was the artist.

Alice is a Fused /Kiln Fired Glass Artist
If you would like to see more of Alice's work, her website is:

Monday, October 04, 2010

Flawed Process

Some of my art teachers have told me art is often about the process.  Here is the process for my latest work.  I found a bargain! Lovely little 4x6 silver frames for only $8.00 each, so I couldn't pass them up.  I searched through my stash of photos to find images that might look good in the frames and then bought little canvases.  My work area is set up and my inspirational T-shirt is on the back of my chair.  It reads, "If you get out of the way, the art will make itself."  Well nothing is happening, so I'll just need to sit my butt down and make art.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Face to Face

Marten Jansen
While watching an accomplished portrait artist paint, I was amazed how quickly the painting looked just like the model.  No details, just the lights and shadows indicated.  This started me thinking about how the brain works, when it comes to facial recognition.  How does a baby learn to distinguish family faces from strangers?  Why do some faces “all look the same” when they are not the same race as you. 

As you could guess, there is a very complicated science relating to facial recognition. There is also a condition called congenital prosopagnosia where the person does not recognize faces easily.  While my research was very technical, I did not find the answer I was looking for.  I remember hearing many years ago that our brains have the ability to remember minute details of familiar faces.  This is why commissioned portrait painting is quite unsettling for me.  I fear they are looking for some subtly that I may not have captured in the painting.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I'm at the mercy of the weatherman!

Providence Clouds
In preparation for my first outdoor exhibit, I've postponed much of the work waiting for a 7 day weather forecast.  Just this once, I really, really, really hope they get it right.  Predictions are for a mostly sunny day in the upper 70's - just perfect. 

Now for a week of finishing a few more paintings, framing many more paintings, assembling my display board, and figuring out how I'm going to get it all there.  I'm so excited, though!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I could...

I'm a big fan of great design.  These folks have some innovative, as well as humorous, products and proposals.  
At artisan type fairs, I often find myself thinking "Why didn't I think of that"  or the ever popular "I can make that."  The response is:  "I didn't" or "I don't."  A few years back, I was laid off and finally took action on the "I can make that" list.  
I hope it doesn't take losing your job to jump start your creativity.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Take my breath away...

Some artists create work that simply takes my breath away.  Below is one example.  The artist is Dieul Marina and the painting name is "Le Defi."  I am humbled and inspired by the exceptional skill, the vision and design of works like this.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Back To Basics

If you are like me, you have accumulated tubes of paint in a myriad of colors.  The instructor of every painting class I've taken has a preferred palette.  And of course, I go out and buy the colors I'm missing.  Developing the skill to create the "correct" color is my current quest, but I think all these tubes of paint are just a source of confusion.  So last weekend, I went back to the basics.  Cad Red Medium, Cad Yellow Light, Cobalt Blue, Black and White. 

My homework was a self portrait and I did all the skintones using these colors.  My decisions were simple;  make it warmer, cooler, darker or lighter.  Usually, my decisions were more complicated; do I add Cad Yellow Light or Naples Yellow.  As a side note, many of you were probably taught to remove black from your pallete and to make a chromatic black.  I don't know the chemistry behind how all those Windsor Newton colors are made, but I bet some are made by mixing black!!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

"An artist sees what is significant..

A painter sees only what to paint."  This quote is by David Leffel from a book I'm reading, Oil Painting Secrets From a Master.  Just because you have been blessed with the sense of sight, it does not mean you have the ability to see as an artist.  When you think about paintings that hold your attention or inspire you to push your skills, it is probably not the details, but what was left out, that inspired.  It may have been the planes of light, the ability of the artist to capture the predominant features of an object, how the artist kept you focused on what is important in the painting.

A great way to eliminate some of the complexity of painting is to practice with just white objects.  This will take the challenge of capturing accurate color out of play.  It helps you focus on the composition, emphasizes how lights and darks guide the eye, and, of course, the importance of strong values.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Don't be So Negative...

Art is one place where we always want to be thinking "negatively."  Negative space, that is. Getting a good composition means being sensitive to the negative space, the shapes it creates, how it frames the key subjects, and how it keeps the eye flowing back into the painting.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Drawing 101

In an effort to get some "street cred", I enrolled in a certificate program at RISD.  At first, I regretted not waiving the Drawing 1 class, but not now.  Learning how to really SEE your subject is so important and the techniques had gotten a bit rusty.  I read about Richard Schmid and a painting he did of salt/pepper shakers.  He was so focused on understanding the shapes in these objects, he didn't realize he had painted a small self portrait in the reflections, until he finished.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Never had a diary...

Blogging will be a unique experience for me as I never had the discipline to keep a diary. I want to take my art work more seriously, but this blog may be a bit less serious.