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.

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.

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?

 

 

WIP. Value challenge. 

img_4705-2Struggled with this session. Model’s skin, her dress, and the cover on her chair were all similar tones and values. Plus she was sick and kept saying she might hurl, which was distracting to the big sister side of me, as I ran round trying to get her mints, Coke and a bucket in case she lost her cookies. Other challenges:  room was hotter than hell and glare on my palette made it hard to tell what I was mixing. The beauty of painting live, I guess. First world problems. Still, one of my favorite models and the painting does look better than the photo was able to capture. This model reminds me of Ophelia, an idea which I tried to incorporate into the painting conceptually. Looking forward to refining this study further. 11×14, oil on linen. Painted at the Scarab Club of Detroit. 2 hours. 

Back to painting. Finally. 

Forced to take a couple months off due to that all-encompassing life drain known as moving. I’m a bit rusty, but happy to be getting back to what matters: painting. Great pose yesterday but difficult because lighting sources were not well controlled and she was lit all over. Still, there are things about it I like. 12×16, oil on linen. 

Yesterday’s output

Trying to share the journey as honestly as possible. That includes paintings that are not always the best I can do. Yesterday, we had two models who moved a lot. I don’t quite have the skill level to compensate for that. Yet. Something to work on. Still, I think the costumed one (14×11) is a decent start and I rather like the nude (12×9). Both oil on linen. 

Just. Keep. Painting. (I.e., today’s output)

It’s important to paint a lot. Some studies I throw in a drawer forever; others I finish later. Working at it is what matters most, not the result. I will likely finish these, though the nude will be hard since there’s no reference photo. There rarely is for nudes. Most models, understandably, do not allow photos for nude sessions. Great model today; it makes all the difference. I do not envision taking these paintings much tighter; I rather like them the way they are.

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She was wearing a boa, which I eliminated. Notes to self: Must work on that arm a bit more. Maybe lengthen the dress?

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