Friday, December 26, 2008

Peaceful Moment

Winter Study
oil on canvas

The week between Christmas and New Year's is my favorite time of the year.  It feels delicious and decadent to relax after all the hustle of entertaining, cooking, socializing and taking care of hundreds of little details in preparation for Christmas.  

Suddenly it's all over.  After the cleanup, there's a hush that takes over the house as everyone takes extra time to snooze or relax.  Finally there is time to putter around, do things slowly and really notice all the beauty.  The decorations will be up for at least another week.  Now there will be time to take a leisurely stroll outside.  This is when I take my camera to scout out winter scenes for new paintings.  The colors in winter are subdue and elegant.  It takes me more time to study and record the subtle nuances than at other times of the year.  But that's okay because now the days stretch further.

I plan on doing lots of small studies in the next few months.  Transparent colors will be on the agenda this year.  I've experimented with glazes in the past but now I'm going to go further in this direction and see where it takes me.  

That's the extent of my art goals for 2009.  Ahhhh.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Preparing for Christmas

I've been busy preparing for the Christmas holidays, like everyone else.  Even though I would love to be painting right now, real life is happening all around me and is too sweet to miss.  Painting is always in the back of my mind, though.  It's such an ingrained habit of mine, that when I can't paint, it just doesn't feel right.  So maybe I'll sneak in a little glazing or final varnish, just to stay in touch with the artist in me.  

Our cat is sitting on the dining room table because the tree is in the way of his usual vantage point.  I don't think he minds too much because he loves to lay under the tree where it's all snuggly and warm.  And our yellow lab, Lucy, thinks that snow is the best thing in the world.  She goes outside to roll around in it every chance she gets.  She can't understand why we aren't doing the same.

I'll be driving my son to the airport today and hopefully he'll get out of Chicago since we're expecting snow and icy conditions again.  He's flying to London and staying with an old college room mate, so he won't be here this Christmas.  But he left us presents to open on Christmas morning.  So I'll forgive him.  Actually, I'm a little jealous.  Merry olde England on Christmas!

My daughter starts a new job today.  Christmas miracle.  And to top it off, while enjoying the fire in our living room the other day, I looked out the window, and there was Santa Claus.  Honest!  I even took a picture just to make sure I wasn't hallucinating.  He just kept walking back and forth in front of our house until someone finally picked him up.  

So the painting can wait, for a little while.  Merry Christmas to all!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Workshop with my Brother

Sister Bay Sunset

This is a scene I painted while I was on a workshop with my brother in Door County two years ago.  It wasn't a "real" workshop, it was more like we decided we would create our own workshop.  My brother is an amazing watercolor artist. But due to the fact that he needs to make decent money, he is a chief creative director at a major advertising firm in Chicago. I decided I needed some plein air time and he decided he needed some time to create some real art, so we decided to go up to Door County and paint for a long weekend. 

We stayed in a tiny rustic cabin with barely enough room to turn around, but it was right on the harbor and there was beautiful scenery all around.  We went in late October, so most of the tourists were gone and the weather was cold, almost dreary.  But we didn't care.  We went all over the peninsula, scouting places to sketch and photograph.  We ate in a few of the restaurants that were still open and visited the art galleries open for the last stragglers of the fall colors crowd.  These are memories that will last a lifetime, although I would love to do it again.  

The painting I did of that trip was Sister Bay Sunset.  I painted it after I got home in colors that were vibrant and happy.  Because that's the way I felt after that short getaway. 

Monday, December 1, 2008

Painting in Vibrant Colors

Brown County Path
Oil on canvas

Two years ago I attended the monthly meeting of an art league I belonged to at the time.  That evening the members were expected to bring in a painting  for critique night.  So I brought this one in.  It's not my best work, but I always liked it for the vibrant colors I used.  It was painted on a trip my brother and I took to Brown County, Indiana for a workshop.  I was influenced by the purple haze in that part of the country.  When we looked out at the beautiful rolling hills, one could actually see violets, pinks and periwinkle colors.  

The artist doing the critique was actually an award winning watercolor artist.  I admire his work even though it's totally different from mine.  Now I'm  the kind of person who is usually described by others as being private, reserved ... you get the picture.  Mostly my work reflects my personality.  But with this particular painting, my feelings for this scene seemed to spill over onto the canvas.  I used cobalt violet in the sky, trees and ground.  For me, it was "out there".

The funny part about it was when it came my turn to be critiqued, the artist doing the critique told me I should "tone it down".  Of course, I didn't say anything.  But later, I thought "tone it down?"  That evening was kind of a break-through for me.  I had never been told to tone it down.  So therefore, since then I've been toning it up.  And it's been so much fun.  So satisfying.  This is probably why I'm so drawn to art making.  I'll never tone it down again.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Gratitude in Turbulent Times

Early December
Oil on Canvas

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, I'm reminded of all the bounty in my life.  It's been a turbulent year for this nation but not one without hope.  Some days it's hard getting through the morning newspaper reading about the stressful economic pressures that people are experiencing.  Of course, this affects the art world too.

My husband and I are not wealthy, by any means, but we have our health, close relationships with family and friends, a cozy modest home and a certain degree of stability in our lives.  Our children are at a point in their lives where they are trying to establish themselves in their chosen careers.  My son has a good job.  My daughter decided she needs her Master of Library Science degree to get the kind of job she wants, so she's going back to school.  

The point is...we have have more than enough.  

I plan on putting in a lot of studio time in 2009.  I'm grateful to be an oil painting artist.  I can't imagine wanting a different career.  Lately, there has been all kinds of advice to artists on how to survive the economic downturn we are all experiencing.  Mostly the advice has been to use this time to improve on the art we are making.  I believe this is sound advice.  Because when things get better, the world have have even more beautiful art to view.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Monday, November 17, 2008

Moving On

"Single Lily"  
Oil on Canvas

This year my goal has been to get out of the studio and share my paintings with the world.  It's been a steep learning curve for me.  And at times, it's been uncomfortable.  I've achieved some important goals:  updating my website, having business cards printed, having postcards to my show printed, sending out invites and showing up for my first show, sending handwritten thank you notes out and jumping into the blogosphere.  Whew.  

I'm happy at this point.  And I'm deeply grateful for all the support from family and friends during this process.  But now it's time to get back to work.  Get back to the original reason for painting oil on canvas.  It's time to listen and reflect.  What shall I paint next?  What new direction ?  That will take a little bit of time.

In the meantime, I enjoy reading other artists' blogs and visiting their websites. It gives me inspiration.  I appreciate the generous souls who share their knowledge of the arts and give tips on how they achieve their own goals.  To them, I say thank you.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

November Show

The opening last Friday night went well.  I was deeply touched by seeing my family and friends attend, showing their support.  It was a warm and intimate crowd and people I had known for years were surprised at seeing what I've been doing behind closed doors.  I felt that it was time to expose my art to a wider circle.  This is marketing, but it's also sharing an important part of who I am.  

The shows runs through the end of November and I'm hoping many people come through the gallery to view my work and the work of the other artists.  The experience, so far, has been extremely positive and has shown me what I still need to learn.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Getting Ready

I'm getting ready for my first real show this weekend.  I've invited family and friends even though it's open to the public so anyone can come.  Painting is the fun part, this is the other part.  I've been busy putting my paintings into frames, applying backing paper, inserting hooks and wires and then gluing my business card to the backs.  This photo shows how the paintings will be arranged on the wall at the gallery.  I have a 12x12 space to call my own, so there are 15 paintings going up.  

This whole experience has been a learning experience for me.  I'm starting to understand the scope of having a show and how it affects the whole household,  human and animal.  My dog seemed to understand that she should avoid the dining room but most times the cat just plopped right down in the middle of the canvases.  The paintings definitely need to be dusted for cat hair before hanging.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pumpkin Day

Here's Nicky, John, Ann, John and Me
All aboard for the hayride

Every year we have Pumpkin Day at my brother-in-law's farm.  He owns a 200 acre parcel of land and at one time it was actually a working farm.  All that's left of the original farm is the old farmhouse and barn.  We still call it the farm.

Picking pumpkins in the garden

On Pumpkin Day, everyone comes out to pick pumpkins and gourds from the garden.  The young kids love it and so do the adults.  For the past two years my husband and our friend, John Failla, have been running a hayride.  No actual horses.  They use a beat-up van to pull the trailer with bales of hay.  They pull their passengers down the roads and trails of the farm.  Everyone loves it.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Waterlilies Series

Lily Dance  Oil on Canvas  16x20

After many years of painting, I decided to paint the subject of waterlilies.  I've always been a big fan of Claude Monet and have probably been influenced by him more than I realize.  I began with a couple of waterlily paintings, then found that I enjoyed painting the subject.  So I painted a couple more.  Now I've painted nine.  I suppose that constitutes a series.

I started out painting from a few reference photographs of my own.  The subject is endless fascinating to me and I see hundreds of possible compositions.  So, do I continue?  At this point, I'm not sure.  I've taken a short break from painting, since I'm getting ready for an art opening.  All the framing takes a lot of time.  I'll see if the waterlily muse is still there after the show.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Searching for Zen

"Zen"  24x30  Oil on Canvas

I must admit that I'm new to this whole blogging thing.  Even though I've always loved to write my thoughts down on paper, the blog  is somewhat of a foreign concept.  Is it like a journal?  A letter? It seems that it's a little of both.  I get to write my thoughts and you get to read mine. And it's out there for everyone to see.  

Painting has been my passion for a number of years now.  I love holding the brush and and scooping up globs of oil paint.   Applying the paint to canvas, as any artist knows, can seem almost like a religious experience when you are in the zone.  Time flies by and I'm not even aware of how hot or cold I might be feeling.  It doesn't seem to matter.  Painting can become so engrossing.  I've heard it said that every painting requires two thousand decisions for the artist to make.  I believe it.

"Zen" was just such a painting for me.  I enjoyed every moment of creating this piece because I felt at peace with the subject matter and color combinations.