Thursday, December 31, 2009

Spin takes shape

The last day of 2009 found me in front of the easel, and the painting going quickly. Of course it will be different when I'm painting the strands of corn silk.
First I blocked in the background with mix of Asphaltum, Burnt Umber and Ultramarine blue.
After a nap and a pot of tea I did some work on the wheel. Iron Oxide, Burnt Sienna, Ocher, Indian Yellow, Cad Orange and Titanium white.
I'm using three references; one for the shapes, another for the color along with looking at the same photo on my computer, which is brighter and more detailed than the print.
It's a lovely spinning wheel, an antique from Canada on loan from a friend.

Since pretty much everything is variations of reddish brown. I'm saving the green of the husks and yellow of the corn silk, yarn and gold coins for dessert.

This was a good day.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A good end to a good year

Finished a 24x24" drawing of the spinning wheel making gold thread out of corn silk. The background is three yards of brown velvet, and the wheel is old polished wood, so the overall effect is very chiaroscuro, all dark with the gold of the corn silk and thread picked out. The wheel is cropped in to weight the focus of the painting to the silk. I don't think the drawing will show up very well, but here goes.
Did a smaller corn in the grinder drawing - 12x16 - that I'm okay with but not as excited.

Figured out what was wrong with another composition - a basket of vegetables - peppers, squash, tomatoes - in front of tilled rows of a garden with espaliered trees in the far background. The garden photo was taken in October and has cabbages ( I think - maybe broccoli or Brussel sprouts) in the rows, whereas the basket of vegetables came from a group I shot this summer. The garden and the produce clashed - wrong season. I've made a list of October vegetables - cabbage, onions, carrots, Swiss chard, radishes and kale for example - and am going to reshoot it. It's funny, I couldn't tell what was wrong, but something kept nagging at me. Then, all I once, I saw it.

Went for a walk in the park with Robert & Parker, came back, and after a nap I did a little more on the Harrow.

Had an email from HHFA, saying I'd sold the painting of Moochie, 'In the Kitchen.' A good end to a good year.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Some days peanuts, some days shells

This morning I bought 16x18 and 24x24 canvases and gessoed them a warm, mid-value taupe. It's a task I enjoy - mixing the gesso and acrylic color, painting it on, then wiping it off with a towel until there's an even thin coat on the front and sides of the canvas. I went through my photos (which are in various sizes - 5x7, 4.5x6, 6x8 and 8x10) and tried to match the right image to the right canvas. It's a mostly intuitive process, and again, one I enjoy.
Then comes (insert sounds of shrieking and gibbering here) math.
I grid my photos and canvases to transfer the image. When photographs and canvases don't divide evenly I have to figure out whether losing or adding some inches will work with a given image. And that depends on the specific image and is not predictable. Hours of painful, fumbling use of a calculator and ruler later, I have three pairs of gridded photos and canvases, including an 18x24 canvas I already gessoed.
Now the drawing begins.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Hambidge Harrow

Here's the start of the harrow painting from yesterday. It was a misty morning up in the North Georgia mountains. In fact, I think low clouds were passing through. I like the out of focus, hazy feel.
Most of the background blocked in. The foreground is long grasses, knee deep. Once upon a time I would have painstaking painted each blade from the very start. Now I've blocked in some areas and will be going in to pick out darks and lights on top of this, and specific blades in the foreground and across the wheel of the harrow.
I'm going to start another drawing tomorrow. Everything is wet. I remember why I need to have several going at once. Being able to turn to another painting is all that saves me from turning good, clean color into muck, when what it needs is for me to wait.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Art Trifecta

The little telephone painting at the Swan Coach House gallery's 'Little things Mean A lot' show sold. Don't know who bought it yet. Glad it found a home.

There's a nice four page spread of my work in the January issue of American Art Collector. Come New Year's Day try their site, It's a thrill to see my work in this context. The writing was very well done too, a particular pleasure for this ex-journalist to read.

Best of all, my new website is live, the result of a month of emails winging back and forth between myself and a tech savvy friend. Everything you admire is her work, all errors my own. May I present for your viewing pleasure...
Insert celebratory handspring here!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

the start of the new series

I've been working on the story behind the next series of paintings, which helps me with the way I combine elements.

This period of genesis requires some groping around, feeling my way along the walls, being open to inspiration and unexpected left turns.

The last few days I've been putting together various set ups. Not much actual painting but several drawings. Moved the set up from the dining room (steady north light) to the studio where I can get strong, bright sunlight, aimed and controlled by a series of flags and screens.

Everything seems malleable, still wet and warm, with no guarantees.

Good times.