Just finished the under painting for a new landscape commission. I love this part!
Bit by bit I’m moving along on this painting. I’m loving it, but my little one has decided naps are for chumps so I’m not getting to work on it much. That’s ok. Next week she starts pre-school so I’m trying to soak up every sweet, frustrating, fun, non-work productive, bonding, silly, frivolous, educational, and mundane moment with her. I have the rest of my life to work. Here and there, though, I have made some progress on it.
Last post I showed you my rub-out underpainting:
Now for the fun part- color! Here’s what I’ve done so far, plus a couple of detail shots.
Don’t you love skin tones? Look at all the colors in there- greens, pinks, violets- and I can promise you there’s not a bit of pre-mixed “Caucasian Flesh Tone” on my palette. Where would be the fun in that?
Last post I showed you this value study I did in preparation for my next painting-
Now I’m ready to start on the real deal. First, the drawing:
Next, the rub-out. I’ve found that my initial little value study helps with this step. The more familiar you are with your subject and your values, the better.
Next up: My favorite part- the magic part. Painting. Stay tuned.
A while ago I showed you this in-progress picture:
with the promise that you would see it transform along the way into a finished painting. I lied. I didn’t mean to! Sometimes I just can’t finish a painting. There’s certainly something to be said for committing to a project; working until your idea comes to fruition; pressing on until the bitter end. But there’s also something to be said for stopping when you realize that what you’re working on just isn’t “you” anymore. That is not to say the same attitude should apply to every situation that bores you, or even to every painting, but of all the commitments you could flake on in life this is one case where the earth will not shatter, hearts will not break, and jobs will not be lost (unless, of course, it’s a commission- which this was not so I’m free to do what I want. So there!).
Now, let’s try this again with a painting I know I’ll finish- in part because I’m much more more in love with the subject matter. A portrait of my daily life.
To start I did a value study:
A quick laying down of the lights and darks of my composition. This is done on a small scale (in proportion to the size and shape of the finished painting) quickly and loosely, with no gridding, no drawing, and no blending. The purpose of this step is just to help you check the balance of lights and darks in your painting. For example, this composition stands alone because it is primarily dark with a bright white center of interest. When paintings edge too much toward mid-range in value, they get dull no matter what your colors or subject. Value studies are helpful, though because you don’t get distracted by the pretty colors or elaborate patterns and you can really see the bones of the picture. So far, so good. And I’m not a bit bored.
There’s a certain pleasant tension, a pressure of life that’s seems palpable in Spring. Moist air weighs on tender new grass, which in turn stretches up toward the sun. Buds push their way through branches’ fingertips and unfurl into fleshy leaves. Tulips and daffodils press their way upward through soft, fresh dirt. It feels like all of nature is pulsing. Can you feel it? Whether you realize it or not I bet you can. Is your step just a little lighter? Do you long to shed un-needed layers, whether of clothing, flesh, or sadness? It’s Spring. Get outside and soak it in.
Those of you who have been following me for a long time may remember a post that I wrote on my former, blogspot blog. The post was entitled “Pockets of Joy” (click to read it). It was a sad post, and a happy post – A post in mourning of my dear dog Shag (aka The Shagster) who had recently died.
Now, around a year after the anniversary of his death, I painted his portrait. It was therapeutic and a celebration of the best dog ever. I present to you, The Shagster:
My cousin Chloee (really she’s more like an aunt to me) started a tradition years ago. She spends all year searching for a recipe with a crazy, unexpected ingredient. Then, she bakes up these unusual goodies and sends them out to family members, always timing it so that they arrive on April Fool’s Day, and challenges us to guess the secret ingredient.
These are not mean April Fool’s pranks… oh no! These are delightful. They’re always delicious, despite (or because of?) ingredients that may not otherwise seem very appetizing. Pinto beans in your muffins? Velveeta in your brownies? Rose petals in your cookies? Hey, don’t knock it til you’ve tried it.
So, this year when I received my April Fool’s treats, I couldn’t wait to open the box. Tiny muffins awaited me. I looked carefully. Hmm… green slivers. I sniffed. A hint of citrus. I took a tiny nibble and held it on my tongue.
Nutmeg, maybe…not too surprising. What else? Pecans? That’s not unusual either. Orange peel. Delicious, but not weird enough. What was that green? Zucchini? Not broccoli… chives maybe? Wheatgrass. Finally I settled on chives. There was a slightly herbal taste. I peeled back the label on the back of Chloee’s note, beneath which she had hidden the answer. Asparagus!? I don’t even like asparagus. But I like these muffins! Just goes to show, you never can tell.
What I love about this tradition isn’t just the fun of it, or the craziness of it, or the effort Chloee puts into finding recipes and making sure they get here on just the right day. It’s the attention it requires on my part. It’s permission to take my time and notice every subtle detail of my food from the smell to the texture to the nuances of flavor. It’s the reminder to savor and enjoy.
Hello all! There will be a special art event this Thursday at Four Seasons Gallery in Homewood. The event will feature artwork by Birmingham Art Association members and 20% of the proceeds will benefit the BAA.The reception begins at 5 and the first 50 guests will be entered to win a free work of art!
The day did not look promising.
Mother’s Day Out (along with all other schools) had been needlessly cancelled due to the threat of “inclement weather,” which in the end, presented itself only in dreary rain. I had a to-do list a mile-and-a-half long, restless energy, and a two-year-old who wouldn’t even let me check my email without destroying things in a bid for my attention. Frustrated and focused on “not wasting the day,” I buzzed around her, attempting to check items off my list, snapping and sighing in annoyance. And then little arms wrapped themselves around my legs. And then a little voice said, “Mommy, can you hold me?” And then I got smart and stopped wasting my day.
Instead we snuggled up on the couch and watched a movie. We made a dozen marker drawings.We used up all her finger paints and created a mural on the wall of the bathtub. Then we rinsed it away and used up some fancy bath gels I was saving for a rainy day (What better opportunity?) and splashed around in the foam.
And the wasted day became a success.