My nephew for the win!

For a while now, I’ve been trying to make the leap from local exhibitions into regional ones. Seems like a logical progression; right? But after a deep discussion with my mentor, I concluded that jurors were much the same at any level of show.

I gave myself “permission” to go ahead and enter a national juried show. I suspected I might be ready.

But which show to enter?

I’ve learned it’s important to pick shows that are compatible with my work. Many shows favor abstracts and unconventional media these days. Totally legit artwork and also totally their right to choose whatever they prefer. Just not what I do.

Also, it couldn’t be just any show. There are hundreds of national shows, many not that hard to get into. It had to be a show that was worth getting into, otherwise I wouldn’t find any satisfaction in it.

A look at the previous catalogs of the American Impressionist Society, one of the top artist organizations in the United States, told me they would be open to my style of painting. I entered the impending AIS show.

Woohoo alert!

Yesterday, I received notification that I was accepted. Very honored to be included in a showcase with some very prominent and talented artists.

So, hey, y’all. My first national show is under my belt. It feels good.

Thanks to all who’ve helped and encouraged me along the way. Accepted painting is of my nephew. “Imp,” 12×9, oil on Arches oil paper.

Welp, guess I’ve joined the club.

Some paintings just tend to draw people in … they have a quality that is hard to define. I did this self-portrait a few months back, when I found myself not wanting to get out of bed because the pandemic was wearing on me. So far, it’s been juried into several shows, and included in the Portrait Society of America’s quarterly journal. It is one of two paintings I submitted to be considered for membership in The Oil Painters of America. Choosing paintings for juries is always an esoteric crap shoot. It’s impossible to predict what any particular juror might like. But I made the right choice this time, evidently. Happy to be notified that I was accepted. 2021 seems to be looking up. “Wake Me When Covid is Over,” 12×16, oil on linen. This painting is currently for sale; contact me for info.

The Case of the Meandering Tulips

Anybody who knows me well, knows I read all the Nancy Drew books as a kid, hence the title. And they also know my favorite flower is the tulip, particularly ones that are white, because they sometimes have fragrance. Tulips are so casual, simple and unassuming. Effortless beauty. The Coco Chanel of flowers; less is more. They are, however, a challenge to paint. They bend and grow and droop significantly within a couple hours, so I had to work fast and loose. Sounds dirty, but … the description works, lol. Can’t help but associate this with my feelings as we start to emerge from the long winter of Covid. Much as I hate to part with it, this little beauty is available. 14×11, oil on linen panel. Shoot me an email if interested. Prices on my still life page.

“Tulips in Ball Jar,” 14×11, oil on linen.

Acquiescing to the dogs.

One of the few tribute portraits of any kind I’ve done. I hesitate doing them, because I feel a lot of pressure doing them. So many beloved memories to live up to. Not to mention, I’d never painted a dog before. But I just tried to focus on things not painting stuff and not drawing too tightly, following Charles Webster Hawthorne’s stellar advice (the perfect spot of color, in the perfect size in the perfect place). In the end, the client was thrilled with this commemoration of her beloved dachsund. This painting was awarded second place by master artist Kathleen Conover in our monthly Palette and Brush Club jury. “Bitsy Wants Out,” 12×12, oil on linen. Arf.

“Bitsy Wants Out,” 12×12, oil on linen.

This just in. Or just juried in, lol.

Despite the Covid-induced funk currently affecting sales in the art world, I decided to give this in-person show a try. Happy to have these two works accepted into the bi-annual Small Works Show at the Northville Art House. Prices at the show are reasonable and visitors traditionally do some holiday shopping here. Show runs November 11th through December 12th, 2020. The Northville Art House is located at 215 W Cady St, Northville, MI 48167. Social distancing enforced and masks required.

The power of sticking with it

One of the things that I’ve learned to do in a live session is just to keep plugging away at it, even if you think it’s going badly. At least half the time, that work will pay off and the painting will turn the corner. This one started off with my trying a background color on my canvas and being shocked at how much it affected my transparent colors. I also had trouble deciding on a composition, then just couldn’t get the balance right between the space the guitar took up and the figure. There was a lot of commotion in the session that was distracting me, and it was hot in the room, too.

But perseverance has its rewards, as does belief that you might be able to pull it out of the bag. And after a couple hours, suddenly, BAM!, the painting started to come together. This is just a quick study (2.5 hours), but a few minor tweaks like toning down those shoes, and this is a keeper.

“Guitar,” 20×16, alla prima sketch, oil on canvas.

Ever had an experience like this yourself?

30 Paintings in 30 Days, arrgh!

I’ve been wanting to challenge myself for a while, so this month, I decided to take the plunge. I signed up for the Strada Easel 30-Day Challenge, which has an added twist in that you must draw or paint from life each day (not from photos or imagination). Well, it’s been hard, but here’s what I did. It should be noted that many of these are not finished, nor ideal. The point of the challenge is to discipline yourself to paint every day. Even if you don’t feel like it. Even if you think you don’t have the time, because you can almost always find time. I probably made it a little harder on myself than it had to be, by painting more complex subjects every day. I also painted more paintings than are show here, lol. What can I say, I’m a glutton for punishment! What are you doing to challenge yourself artistically?

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Day 3. Oil on linen, 11 x 14

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Day 2, Oil on linen panel, 10 x 10.

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Day 1, Oil on canvas, 12 x 12.

Internal plein air monologue

Truth be told, most every plein air painting I’ve ever done has been a struggle. Even though I spend a lot of time painting figures, I do feel like plein air is worth doing. For realist painters, plein air (painting “live,” directly from observing nature, rather than in a studio) is great for learning composition and also for learning how to carefully observe, because the brain does play tricks on us. Side benefit? Painting plein air means you get to hang out in the fresh air on a sunny day. But it’s hard. Damn hard. Usually my internal mental dialogue has gone something like this:

What a beautiful day!

Should I paint this? Or this? Is there shade?

Maybe this.

Is there a bathroom nearby?

Make a decision; you’ve got to paint something.

Okay, this.

Wish I could set up faster.

Horizontal, vertical or square?

Forgot to get the paper towels out. 

What am I looking at? Am I going to be able to draw this?

Forgot to get my glasses out.

No room for my glasses on my setup. Top of the head, it is.

Maybe I need the umbrella after all. 

Hope the umbrella doesn’t tip over.

What am I looking at?

How am I going to simplify that?

What color is that? Why can’t I mix that green? 

This painting sucks.

Why are other people so good at this? Will I ever get good at this? Why am I doing this to myself?

Oooo, the light just got brighter. So pretty. Let’s capture that.

The light changed. Keep going or quit?

Keep going. 

Oh, man, people are approaching. I hope they don’t stop. This painting sucks right now.

Damn, they stopped.

They must be so disappointed. I’m so embarrassed.

Will I ever get good at this? 

Keep going. Light is back. Besides, you’re here already.

How come I can’t mix that color? Why is paint so inadequate for light?

Is the shadow as blue as I am seeing?

I’m sweating. I need another shower.

My canvas is in full light. Gonna affect the color.

Move the umbrella. Again.

Warm or cool?

Is that a bee????? 

Contemplate if I can Epipen myself. If not, wonder how long it will be before anybody finds me.

Outrun bee.

Fresh look at painting. How is it possible for that tree to have too much detail and, at the same time, too little? Amazing.

Am I getting sunburned?

Out with the crazy lady flap hat. Protects my neck and face, but looks batty.

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“Overlook at Cranbrook,” 10×10, oil on linen, Cranbrook Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MI.

What am I looking at? What color is that? How do I separate the greens?

Titanium or flake white?

Flake white replacement. 

Shoo mosquito. Get bit anyway.

The Liquin is getting sticky.

That green. Cad yellow and cobalt? Viridian and cad red? Why can’t I mix the right grey? Is that shadow really that blue?

Too much detail. Scrape.

Better. But still awful.

Maybe not totally awful. I like some things about it.

Why is everybody else so good at this? I feel like such a failure.

Why don’t the other painters I know struggle with this?

Okay, most do. 

My feet hurt.

Values. Are they right?

Of course not. Fix.

I feel like someone is watching again. Should I turn around?

No, sir, painting is not relaxing.

Hope that dog is friendly.

Wait. The couple who’ve decided to make out and are blocking my view, will hopefully move. I was here first.

Stand back; assess.

Light is going. 

Panicked last few strokes to capture the light. Am I ruining it?

Light is gone.

Sigh. Time to pack up.

Better scrape the palette and clean the brushes now. I won’t feel like it later.

I hate this painting. Why do I do this to myself?

Should I scrape it out now? 

Wait. Sometimes I change my mind later.

I’m sweating. I do not look attractive right now. I hope I don’t run into anybody I know.

It’s a beautiful day.

Carefully stow wet painting.

I’m hungry.

Where’s the bathroom?

NEXT MORNING …

Guess I should look at yesterday’s painting to see if I can learn anything.

25% OF THE TIME:

It’s so bad. I suck.

49% OF THE TIME:

Hmmm. It’s not as bad as I thought. Put aside until I decide if it’s salvageable.

20% OF THE TIME:

Huh. This might actually be good with a few tweaks. Who knew?

5% OF THE TIME:

Shocked. Good as-is. Why do I beat myself up so much?

1% OF THE TIME:

When I finish, I think it’s decent.

What’s your process?

Fellow painters, weigh in. Does this sound familiar, or is your plein air experience different?

 

 

The perils of plein air: Light is fickle. 

Out again, trying to get used to my new plein air setup. Belle Isle was packed, so I headed to the lesser- visited side of the island. Something about this tree, with its patchwork bark, and the picnic table, completely neglected and overgrown, spoke to me. Started plein air, but unfortunately, the light abandoned me after about 35 minutes. Finished in my studio.

“Overgrown Picnic Table,” 12×9, oil on panel.