Monday, December 22, 2008

bass and gilt chair

Refining today - changed the curve of the bass, finessed parts of the gilt chair, added the red behind the sheet music, began the woodgrain of the door (lower left so far). A good, steady day. I was explaining to my husband that this is the part of building that takes a long time and very little seems to show - like adding the quarter round and molding in a new house - but the cumulative effect is substantial.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Double bass and All Small Redux

Working along on the double bass and gilt chair. I am starting to push the values of light and dark.
Yesterday I gessoed two new canvases with burnt sienna. I started drawing the bust of Anacreon in the library of the Palais Lichtenstein and worked on the books - 62 of them so far- this morning.

I'm very happy that the six paintings I submitted for a juried show at the Dalton gallery in February have all been accepted. I found just the right frames as well - fine line black aluminum.
Here they are on a cookie tray - it's for a show titled All Small Redux and each of these works are 5x5"

Monday, December 8, 2008

Delft, updated

Finished the Delft, Updated group. I'm the one holding the doll. Daughter Emily. a creative geyser, is drawing with sidewalk chalk, son Parker is on the swing, and daughter Robin is blowing bubbles. It's been interesting to explore something outside my usual interests - like line paintings in classic Delft blue.
Also I started putting together a new a postcard with some of my latest works, this blog address and my gallery contact information.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I've turned in the six small (5x5") works for the audition to be in the Dalton gallery's All Small Redux show. I'll know by Dec 16 whether they were accepted.

I'm now working on the four small (8x8") paintings that are a twist on 17th century Delft tiles that feature children at play. The thing that hooked me is that the pastimes then and now are the same - swings, skating, dancing, archery, dolls. The other intriguing element is the figures are very small and centered on a pale neutral field.

Instead of tiny Dutch children, I wanted to use contemporary American figures. First I pulled Dick and Jane (of the eponymous beginning reader books) images off of the Internet, then I looked through old childrens' books. I kept making drawings, but something, some personal spark was missing.

I had an aha moment a couple of days ago. I have thousands of photographs of children. I am using my own children (and one of me, at age five).

I spent many hours sifting through our photo albums and shoe boxes of photos. I found maybe ten to twelve good references to work with. I took the finalists to Kinkos and made copies reduced or enlarged so that the figures were approx two inches high (that's the ratio in the original Delft tiles of figure to tile size). Today I edited down the choices to four - it may change again, but right now it's Robin on the swings, Emily rollerskating, Parker with a bow and arrow and me cradling a doll.

Having a wonderful time with the subtle neutrals and the cracked, chipped, and worn surfaces of the tiles. I have a couple of layers of nicely mottled paint and two canvases have the crusty grouted edges painted. I was able to do considerable detail wet-on-wet. I'm working on distilling the figures into simplified shapes in two shades of Delft blue. I'll start taking photos tomorrow so I can post them when at least one is far enough along.

I hope to have them finished Monday-ish.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

three shows in three months

Since I last posted, I've been working on an unplanned series paintings that have me so juiced up and excited that I hate to waste time sleeping.
Here's what happened-
I made up my mind last week to throw something into the MOCA GA (Museum of Contemporary Art, Georgia) pin-up show that opens tonight. I took a sheet of papyrus paper and gridded it with chalk and did a small oil painting of Rembrandt's staircase. It's all dark earthy reds and honey colored woods rising into the dark, with a thick ship's rope for a handrail. The limit of size for the show is 12x16," I left the edge of the papyrus raw. Working on an unfamiliar surface was really freeing. And it's doing something that's completely from my heart, and which carries three meanings for me - Rembrandt (art), steps (progress) on Papyrus (writing).

Another small works exhibition is going to be at the Dalton Gallery (a local non- profit college museum) and the deadline to submit work is Monday, Nov 24. Up to ten pieces, but nothing larger than 6x6." I bought 6 5x5" panels and am doing a series. These will be tiny, like a pages from a book of prayer. I've painted four and have two more to finish, photoshop, burn to a disc and get over to the gallery by Monday. Exhilarating to work this fast and this hard. No time for doubts or second guessing though, so in some ways it's easier.

Meanwhile my gallery, Huff Harrington Fine Art asked for some 'smalls, ( 8x8") for their December show. I am thinking about a wall of Delft tiles I saw in A'dam of children playing games. I'd like to do a set of four and somehow update the central figures while keeping old cracked and mottled 17th century cream background, and the Delft blue. Most of the fun will be in creating the surface textures of a three hundred year old cracked and chipped tile. Due the end of the month or as soon as I can send them over.
So - that's why I haven't blogged and that's why I'm headed into the studio right now.

Monday, November 10, 2008

paintings in progress

This is a cherry red velvet sofa in the hallway by the grand staircase of Kunsthistoriche museum. I spent today working on the whipped cream- colored view out of the window. There will be a drawing of one of Rembrandt's self portraits on the open page of the sketchbook. Working on the patterns in the marble, and have blocked in most of it, but there another layer or three of paint to come. The big challenge will be convincingly rendering the wall mounted sconce light behind and to the left of the sofa.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

three on an easel

Since I've been home from my trip I've started three paintings:
•a shelf of vellum-bound sketchbooks in Rembrandt's studio
•my sketchbook propped open on a red velvet sofa in the Kunsthistoriche museum
•a cello lying on its side behind the gilt chair of the musician in the ballroom of the Palais Leichtenstien
The first is nearly finished, the second is halfway done and the third is barely started, but paint is on the canvas.
They each have companions waiting to jump on the easel - an image of books in the Leichtenstien library goes with Rembrandt's shelf. The cello speaks to two other images - a gypsy band's instruments (two violins and two guitars) leaning against the wall of San Paolo's in Venice, and a battered violin for sale in a market in Amsterdam. The sketchbook on the red velvet sofa connects with the sketchbook next to the San Marco chair.
It feels so good to have this well of inspiration to dip my cup into.

'Rembrandt's Shelf' in progress.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


1.People zip out of nowhere on bicycles, often texting on their phones while pedaling at manic speeds. Jump out of the way, or die.
2. Rembrandt. Vermeer. Jan Steen. Hals.
3. It's a young town. About half the people look under forty and 90 percent of the street population looks twenty-ish. The other 10 percent is pregnant.
4. Sausage plus croissant makes a brodje, the national food. Unless you are into raw herring.
5. Staircases are carpeted spirals that go straight up - or down, if you are unwary.
6. You can cross without warning into the red light district. A clue – street level picture windows that feature a metal kitchen chair with a handy stack of towels and bored looking women wearing lingerie. The red neon light overhead was another tip off.
7. The tram conductor that piloted the tram to Central station called out the various stops along the route using different voices and sound effects. At the end he sang a little Frank Sinatra ('My Way'). He was either a man happy in his work, or one who took his break in the local "coffeeshop." Fortunately he didn't have to steer, just stop and start.
8 At a local street market I bought a set of cards, drawings done of the canal row houses. The artist who made and sold them, a big, burly guy with a full beard, wore a lumberjack LL Bean type shirt, tights and a denim skirt.
9. Vermeer's maid pouring milk painting absolutely glows. It is in a room with nothing but masterpieces, including other works by Vermeer, and it is radiant. It shines. You can't take your eyes off it because you don't want to.
10. The Dutch have their own style. Nothing like the sleek, slightly sinister Italian bella figura. More Oilily than Armani. Colorful, cheerful, practical. Good for pedaling bikes and painting. I like it.

Seeing Rembrandt's studio has changed my life. And I'm in love with Breughel.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


10 things about Vienna

1. If it moves, paint it cream. When it stops, slap some gilding on it.
2. This town runs on caffeine and nicotine, making the quaint cobblestone streets one big ashtray.
3. The Kunsthistorishe museum is paradise. It is like hanging out in a palace covered in wall-to-wall masterpieces all day long for ten measly Euros. There are plush blue velvet sofas in every gallery room, eight in the big rooms.
4. The Germans have a different philosophy about photography in churches. They are methodical and businesslike; as long as you pay, you can play.
5. Breugel! Durer! Vermeer! Rubens!
6. Einschlammer is an espresso under a pile of whipped cream...a double espresso
7. An amazing number of women have hair exactly the orange red color of Bozo the clown.
8. You can ask directions from Mozart –or a guy dressed just like him in a white powdered wig, buckled shoes and a blue silk frock coat.
9. Leaving the Albertina museum one evening, I heard a black southern woman singing the title song to Cabaret in German.
10. Sunday at the Liechtenstein palace offered the royal art collection, a special exhibit on their family estate gardens, and a Bach concert on antique instruments. I sat on a gilt chair in a ballroom and sketched away. They threw in lunch and a melange (espresso with whipped cream) Pretty much heaven.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Home at last, with so much I want to paint. But I'll start by updating this blog, one city a day.

Ten random things I like about Venice
1. Hearing church bells strike the hours.
2. Getting very very very lost, but always able to find my way at last. Getting lost meaning finding things you otherwise would miss. I got lost, ended up near a church, turned left, and walked into a gallery filled with original Tiepolo drawings.
3. Drawing lions, because stone lions, especially winged ones, are everywhere.
4. Having an espresso in the campo San Barnabos, then riding the vaporetto down the Grand Canal to the Rialto, where a fish market has been in continuous business for 1000 years.
5. Eating luscious figs and jam croissant for breakfast.
6. Sitting on a bench in San Polo, and drawing the church façade (badly) for three happy hours.
7. Watching the crowds of tourists come through, wave after wave, like fish in shoals.
8. Having risi & bisi for lunch and then taking a three hour nap.
9. The city smells like an aquarium - not bad exactly, but pungent. The tourists smell worse - lots of hot people sweating perfume.
10. The masks Venice is famous for comes from a day when the city spent six months of the year in revelry under the cover of masks, doing things that they otherwise might not. I thought how the internet offers a similar veil of anonymity today.

Two stories

Nephew William took me for a boat ride. The boat he uses is a loaner and an old wallowing clunker, kind of like rowing our old black Volvo station wagon, if you can imagine. The oar looks like a Yule log. Gondolas are like Ferraris. If you collide or scrape one, the fine is 60,000 euros, so the objective is to never never touch a gondola. Drowning is preferable. William manned the oar, and his fiancée Elsa and I sat perched on the boat’s right side so it would go straight. William assures me it’s all physics. He moves the oar with a motion like stirring turtle soup, or folding in egg whites. We went down canals so narrow we could touch both sides. We pulled over when any other sort of boat came by. We yelled ’oy’ at all the canal intersections, kind of like golfers yell ‘fore’. Gondoliers had no problem maneuvering past us without touching, their dexterity is amazing.. We even went down a stretch of the Grand Canal which seems as big as the Mississippi when you see it from the vantage point of a small boat.

Walked into the famous San Giovanni & Paulo church. Noticed about halfway down the aisle that organ music was playing – ah, I thought, a concert, how lucky. A little farther on I saw a seated group in the pews, and a priest wiping the rim of a chalice. Oh, I thought, a mass. I slipped into a side chapel out of respect. More music, lots of incense and a violin solo of Ave Maria later and the congregation stood. That’s when they rolled the carnation-covered coffin down the aisle and I realized I had crashed a funeral. All the time other tourists in cargo shorts and backpacks and maps had wandered around. It must have been someone important to rate a funeral in the second grandest church in the city, but not powerful enough to stem the tide of tourism.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

latest profile

Usually I post images of my works in progress or on their way out the door to the gallery.
This time my other half - the writer - takes a bow. Here's what I do when I trade the brush for my key board.
My latest profile. Find out what happens before, during and after Robert Spano waves his magic wand.

Friday, August 29, 2008

writing in the morning, painting by afternoon light

I try to do it the other way around - paint in the morning light, edit in the aftrnoon, but today I had to cut my time to suit my clock.
Worked on the right side and bottom edge of the wood bench. Layering grain, exercising patience.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

shine up your party shoes

Look at what will be in Huff Harrington Fine Art's New Works show in September. If Frari Candles was for sale, it would be going too. Instead I'll be searching for another candle image to paint from among the hundreds of photos I (stealthily) took on my last trip.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

you may already be a winner

I've been honored with a Kick Ass Blogger Award ...
I think this is the bloggy version of 'tag, you're it!'

Kick Ass Blogger Award
It is my duty, as the recipient of the Kick Ass Blogger Award, to anoint five lucky winners.
Jocullum - an erudite and original voice of diffident passion, sometimes art-related.
John Sugg - farewells to print journalism on the CJR website.
Paul - at learning to see in the UK, started with the goal of reclaiming his artist's soul one painstaking exercise at a time. I followed him for a couple of years, and missed him when the site went quiet. He's back.
Stephanie - aka yarn harlot. The title speaks for itself. It's all about chicks with sticks.
Emily - a bold young voice of art, and a creative geyser.

I'd like to thank the academy, that is Nancie, for bestowing this honor upon my blog and then patiently explaining to me via email how to embed links, knowledge I was shamefully lacking.
Okay, it's your turn. Awards come with responsibilities. First, you have to read the instructions and follow the committee rules. Then choose some of your favorite bloggers to pass the award on to.

the numinous

One of the great pleasures of being a painter is choosing to paint what tugs at your heart and your eye.
I was seeking a way to make visible the point where the spiritual and physical intersect. The most difficult part was figuring out how to convey the feel of immensity.
These three sky and sea scapes were the result. They are a gesture gratitude for the chance to be a witness in the world, a valentine to 'being itself', to quote Thomas Merton.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Beauty shots

Back in the day when I was a working model, close up photographs for hair and make up ads were called beauty shots. It was all about the lighting.
Here are four of my Table For One series, carefully lit and photographed.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

updating images

First a confession. My earlier paintings were photographed on the floor in uneven light at an angle that turned some rectangles into wonky trapezoids.

Every painting needs a sharp, well-lit photographic image, a jpg to post on a gallery website or send to a potential patron.

I will be photographing my inventory of paintings over the next couple of days. I'm glad to say I've made progress in photography along with with painting skills, and I've learned enough photoshop so I'm able to crop the image cleanly and size it properly for juried show applications.

As I work through my inventory I'll post the images here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

As usual I'm bouncing between two paintings. This is the beginning of a painting that comments on our drought and contemplates the innate, undeserved beauty of crumpled plastic in sunlight. It's like painting dozens of neutral abstract squares, and there is something about working on a chalk gridded mid-value gray canvas that is like taking a long drink of cold water.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Loving painting this. Photobucket

I'm blocking in the slatted seats, arms and legs. I thought it would be really challenging but it seems natural. I'm drawing with paint, instead of painting a detailed drawing, new territory to me. I feel so in the zone that I am thinking about making a sketchbook series part of my upcoming trip. Sketch what snags me then take a photo of the sketch and the scene. I usually figure out why certain images hook me afterwards. At the time I'm working by instinct and hunch.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

the art of travel

Not all canvas is stretched. Some zips and rolls.

This is what I did today (beside book cheap flights from Venice to Vienna, and Vienna to Amsterdam). It's acrylic on -- whatever the heck they make luggage out of.
When my suitcase hurtles down the ramp it looks like no one else's.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

a friendly nod from the blogosphere

Industrial strength good news / random act of kindness
An editor who is a pop culture blogger posted this about me today

I'm basking and blushing!
If you've found this blog through her, welcome. Isn't she a terrific writer?

Amanda - thanks!

TCB art day - gesso'd a new canvas gray, and worked on the top of the chair. This painting is so incredibly satisfying to work on. I think I like the physicality of the gestures as well as the emerging images.

Worked on Venice Laundry the last two days - excruciatingly slow and tedious until I fall into it and then time elapses, my mind is quiet and absorption total - then it's pure pleasure.

Deliver the varnished Isle of Palm II to my gallery, Twinhouse, and had the thrill of watching it go straight into the window. I hope it finds a good home.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Gessoing edges

Isle of Palm II, done. Gessoed the edges of the canvas a mid-value gray. Tomorrow or Monday I'll varnish and the darks will deepen and the lights will glow.

Friday, July 18, 2008

TCB day

Did adult artist chores today - like wrote two artist's statements, filled out juried exhibit application forms, reviewed call for artists sites for shows of interest.
Yesterday I finished the Isle of Palm II. Tomorrow I'll gesso the edges of the canvas dark gray, Monday varnish it, and Tuesday drive over to my gallery, Twinhouse. I'm also scouting for the right frame for the Priest's Laundry. I feel it needs something simple, wide and black. Classic and sleek.
All this and turned in a piece to the magazine, and scouted venues for another department. Perhaps most important, got a crisp new edge to my basic bob. Nothing like a precise haircut to convince you that all could yet be well with the world.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Back from Black Mountain NC, and back at the easel - laid in the bench today.
Found out I've been accepted for another juried show - Metropolitan Strozzapreti is going to the Atlanta Artists Center Annual National Juried Exhibition (opens Sept. 6 in Atlanta's Buckhead district). I'm psyched!
Working on the big San Marco piece, the detailed commissioned view of Venice and the sweeping sky scape of Isle of Palm II makes me feel wonderfully stretched and supple. It's like running, swimming, and yoga each use muscles in a different way.

Friday, July 11, 2008

An acceptance letter came today from the SCAA - my painting, Lamott Tomato is accepted for the 2008 21st National Juried Exhibit. I'll put together an artist's statement and drive my work over to the venue for the August 18th opening.
Let me confess. I am not cool. I am thrilled. Especially since there will be an exhibit book and my painting will be in it.
I'm just saying.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

San Marco

I've been distracted with travel, pitching freelance, and working on a commissioned piece I don't want to post until it's done. But today was one of the best days of painting ever.
It's a big canvas for me- 30x40. I'd primed the canvas with gray acrylic gesso weeks before. it's a new thing, starting from a midtone value and I wasn't sure I'd be able to see my grid. I ended up using chalk which worked like a charm. Tuesday I did the drawing and it turns out I love drawing on gray. This morning after my run and shower I went straight to the canvas. Painting from 9 to 2-ish I did some of the strong vertical bands on the left, and blocked in the sketchbook.
After lunch I came back and worked on the floor tile and some shadows cast by the high-backed wooden bench and the Savonarola chair. Washed up my brushes at six. I can't wait to get back to it tomorrow. My daughter likes it 'as is. I think it looks like the bench and chair are wearing gray pinstripe suits. But I'm looking forward to laying in the wood grain.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Third day running I've worked on the Venice Laundry 2. So minutely detailed and I drill down until the world is the size of the end of my brush. I'm always surprised when I look up at 5pm and see there's more canvas covered.
Planning a trip to Vienna next fall and the thought of a week devoted to all the lustrous, detailed northern Renaissance paintings is incredibly enticing. Not to mention everything you eat apparently comes 'mitt schlag' (whipped cream). I'll be back in Venice for a few weeks as well. I guess this will be the V-towns Tour.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Working on another view of the Isle of Palms. This one has more of the sense of enormity that I was trying for. I think the silhouette of part of a beach house in the lower right is what gave it the sense of proportion.

The rest of the day I worked on the second Venice Laundry. It's so much specificity and and I still don't have paint on all of the canvas - but I'd say two more days an I'll be able to start layering in the subtleties and detail.

Went back to the first one (Priest's laundry) and worked on a door that wasn't quite right. I'm going to add a touch of detail to the doorknob and then I'll finally be able to let go of it.
I toned a canvas and gridded it with white conte and will start the drawing this week. I like have three balls in the air.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Four new paintings in the gallery

The painting are up in the gallery and I've sent out my own email notice. I've already had some kind responses and many of them cite the dawn painting as the one they want to see the most. The gallery has it, but did not hang it as they are concerned about how different it looks from my small, precise, detailed works. My instinct says it will find the right buyer, and be loved and appreciated.
We'll see how it works out.
Here's the email, with brevity as its chief virtue:
Four new works by Virginia Parker
Now showing at Twinhouse Gallery, 2815 Peachtree Road, 404-233-3433,
Two more in the Table for One series and two cloud-inspired works

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

three new canvases

There's something provoking and mesmerizing about a fresh canvas. To have three in various states of beginning is ticklish and galvanizing.
Painting has commenced on the first one - two rounds so far. It still has a third or more of the white gessoed canvas visible, but I work steadily and patiently. It's the second in the Venice Laundry series, a commission, and the elements are familiar to me from previous works; crusty brick and stucco walls, boats and reflections in water, shifting sliding water, iron railing, laundry like prayer flags, sky.
The second canvas is drawn, and the initial paint is mixed, but I haven't started. Tomorrow looks promising since the Venice canvas will be too wet to proceed without extreme caution. Better it has another day to dry. This is a larger canvas of ocean and skyscape that requires different brush work, lavish motion, melting edges.
The third canvas is the biggest - 30x40" - and I am experimenting gessoing it a mid tone of a neutral gray before I do any drawing. The reference photo is gridded into 5" squares in one half and 2.5" squares on the other. It's an image from Florence of a bench and a chair and an open book. Quite simple and for some reason indelible. I'd like to start drawing on it, but I have a deadline looming.

I worked on ithe copy for the article today, but I need to buckle down and get a sizable portion of completed by Monday. I'm distracted by a possible opportunity to go to Venice.

The Twinhouse show will open soon. Must focus on the here and now.
Life is good.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Spring Show at Twinhouse

These continue the Table for One series.

A new direction - sky and sea - I have three planned, one on the easel.

Getting ready to be party of a late spring show at my gallery. Turned in these paintings and hope to have two more - the dawn sky and the priests laundry ready in time. It's exciting! Plus, I love a deadline. Finally, two small works from the Swan House show.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Back to the Table

I finished the tomato - signed it on the vinegar bottle. Did a few small adjustments to the salt & pepper. Next week I'll varnish it. And in a couple of days I'll paint the sides with a dark gray color I plan to mix.
Spent the rest of the day working on the Met. All over it, but notably the glass, a few more layers on the pasta, the table edge, a reworking of the salt and pepper, the fork got an upgrade, as did the knife and bread, and the chairs. Actually the only things I didn't touch were George Washington and the sketchbook. In a few days I'll tackle the lettering on the museum map.

It was so good to devote a day to the brush. I did check my email periodically and fax an invoice. But this was a sweet, sweet day.
Tomorrow I'll work on the new Venice drawing. After I check it carefully I'll probably spend the whole day mixing my start-up colors.