Tuesday, September 29, 2015

New Work at J Petter Gallery

 "Fruit Lineup", 12x9"

 "Two Oranges", 12x9"

 "Pears With Stacked Bowls", 10x8"

"Red Daisies, Blue Vase",  14x11"

A couple of weeks ago, I dropped off a new batch of paintings to the J. Petter Gallery in Saugatuck, Michigan.  I am so happy to have my work in such a beautiful space.  Each of these pieces is hanging in the gallery now.  If you're in Michigan to do your last minute boating, or peeping at the beautiful leaves, I hope you'll stop in for a wine tasting and an art stroll!

And now it's time to pack my things and head to the south of France!  I'm meeting a group of artist friends for an intensive ten days of painting, indoors and out, led by the world famous Jeff Legg.  I'll have so much to report after painting oversees for the first time.  Just packing an easel and paints has been a learning experience so far.  I will try to post photos and maybe even some paintings while I'm there. A bientot!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

"Blue Bowl in Sunlight", 36x48"

The last half of the summer, I put my head down and got to work, getting an inventory of paintings ready for the J. Petter Gallery in Saugatuck (formerly the Button Petter Gallery).  If you are in the Midwest, and you're looking for a great destination in the fall, I recommend making the drive up to Saugatuck.  The leaves will be beautiful, the shops are great, and when you arrive at the gallery, you can have a wine tasting!  Wine and art-- what could be a better combination?

This piece is one of my largest, at 3 feet by 4.  I'm so happy to have a gallery which believes in my work and is willing to promote it!

And look who stopped by the gallery to see my work-- the Stanley Cup!  Any Chicagoan knows that now that Oprah has moved away, our biggest celebrity is Stanley.  It was so wonderful to have this visit, even though he seemed somewhat unmoved by my work...

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

"Summer Shadows", 40x30"

Another very large painting has made its way to the Button Petter Gallery in Saugatuck.  I enjoyed painting this one from an aerial perspective to change things up a bit.

Last week, the two Ann(e) Feldmans (my sister-in-law and I share a name!) made their way to the Santa Barbara Museum to take in the Armand Hammer Impressionist collection.  Oh my!  This exhibit knocked our socks off!  So many beautiful pieces that I'd never seen before.  Here are just a few to give you an idea of what's there.  I hope you'll have a chance to see it someday, if you haven't already.

Berthe Morisot, "View of Paris From the Trocadero"

Vincent Van Gogh, "Lilacs"

 Claude Monet, "Villas in Bordighera"

Edgar Degas, "Three Dancers in Yellow Skirts"

Thursday, June 25, 2015

"Floral Impressions", 16x20"

It is such great fun to pick flowers from the garden and set them up on the screen porch to paint. I like the way the light filters through the screen and lights up the flowers from behind.  I painted this one several times, destroying what I'd painted when it seemed that things were getting too tight.  I'm hoping the third time's the charm on this one.  Time to put down the paintbrush!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

"Framed Rendezvous" 30"x40" And Thoughts on Going Big

I've become seriously addicted to Pinterest this year.  One of the things I like looking at the most on this site is photos of artists in their studios.  It struck me that so many of the artists were working LARGE, and I started to think, "well, why not?".  I managed to wedge a few gigantic stretched canvases from the Dick Blick art supplies store into my car, and I was off!

"Framed Rendezvous" is the second painting I completed during this phase.  It's really not more difficult to paint large, it just requires more of a commitment.  Lots of time and lots of paint are required.  Beyond that, it's not any different than painting smaller.  The biggest benefit of a larger scale is that it makes much more impact on the viewer, just because it's taking up so much more space.  Add some red to it, and it pretty much shouts "Hey look at me!".

This painting is in Saugatuck at the Button Petter Gallery.

 William de Kooning

 Jenny Saville

Michelle Doll

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

"The Faces of Barrington"

"Grace", 12x16"

Since September, the Barrington Cultural Arts Center has been meeting on a weekly basis, asking residents of Barrington to sit for a portrait.  The result of all this effort (and fun) is a wonderful exhibit of this work, numbering nearly 150 portraits!  If you are in the Barrington area this Friday, I would love to see you at the opening of this show at the Ice House Mall from 6:00 to 9:00pm.  Many of the models and artists will attend, and food and drink will be supplied by Barrington businesses.

I will have four portraits on display.  It would be so wonderful to see you there!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

"Resilience", 16x20"

It's been quite some time since I've posted to my blog-- I miss being in touch with you!  For the last month or so, I've been traveling to see friends and family from coast to coast and trying to see as much art as possible at the same time.  I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Chelsea gallery district in NYC, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and finished up with the wonderful "Boticelli to Braque, Masterpieces from the Scottish Museum" at the De Young Museum in San Francisco.  All this art can be inspiring, and it can also be intimidating!

It's actually kind of tough coming back home and facing the blank canvas after seeing so many master works.  After a few deep breaths, I tell myself that even the masters had several "clunkers" along the way-- not every single piece they created ended up in a museum.  Any time I flip through a book of an artist's works, I end up loving a few, and feeling rather lukewarm about many others.  And that's OK!  If I am to explore new expressions, I have to be comfortable with the clunkers that might result as part of the process.

"Resilience" was painted quickly during this intense period of travel and observation.  I decided to leave her rather unfinished.  I thought that if I finished off every bit of the painting, it would loose some of its spontaneity, and I enjoy seeing my thought process under the paint from time to time.

This painting is for sale at the Button Petter Gallery in Saugatuck, Michigan.  Click here for more information.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

"Selena", 16x20"

Earlier this month, I had the great fortune of taking a workshop with Daniel Gehartz.  To say that there were a few "Aha Moments" during my time with him would be an understatement!  I especially came away with new understandings about turning form using temperature control and making my portraits more powerful through edge variation and value separation.  I know that's a lot to take in, so I will elaborate on these concepts more in future posts.

Selena came to model for us on the first day.  I experimented quite a bit with "warm and cool" temperatures in this piece.  Notice the warm red tones in the shadow side of her face.  That was new for me.  Dan encouraged us to really squint and see that these tones were actually happening, so it's OK to go ahead and put them in.  

I guess all this squinting and experimenting paid off.  Selena's grandma purchased the painting!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

"The Value of Charcoal" 24x20"

Last week, I made a presentation to the Art Association of Elk Grove Village.  They had asked me to demonstrate some methods in charcoal on paper.  I set up a little still life, shined a light on it, and got to work.  As I was drawing, I talked a bit about the benefits as well as the techniques involved with charcoal, and I surprised myself how many benefits there actually are.  Here are a few that popped up as I was drawing:

          It takes color out of the picture.  If you are switching from one genre to anther (let's say from landscapes to portraiture), charcoal allows you to focus on drawing and value (lightness to darkness) without being confused by color.  This can be especially helpful when you're feeling challenged by the subject matter.

          It's easily erased and cheap.  Mistakes can be made and corrected without much fuss or investment.

          It forces you to see in simplified values.  When you are working in black, white and gray, you must make value decisions without the help (or confusion) of color.  Strong values strengthen your art in any medium, and charcoal can help you develop this skill quickly.

          You can take time to get the drawing right.  I spent a lot of time during the demo showing everyone how to measure to get proportions correct the first time.  In the drawing above, I used the base of the pitcher as my guide to measure everything else in the still life so everything was proportionally correct.  Many people resist measuring (I know I used to!), but if just a little bit of time is spent on it, it can save hours of misery later in the drawing, when you ask yourself, why doesn't this look right?

          Edge work opportunities become pronounced.  When two shapes of similar value meet, there is an opportunity for a lost or softened edge.  In my drawing, you can see these opportunities where the bottom of the pear meets the shadow, and where the light side of the pear meets the lighter part of the table.  I could soften these edges like this:

Sometimes I think that the difference between a good painting and a great one is found in the edges.  Charcoal drawings can help us develop that skill too.

          Charcoal can be beautiful!  Here are two examples of exquisite charcoal drawings:

 Armin Mersmann

Richard Young

Makes me wonder why I don't spend more time with charcoal.  It's definitely a medium worth the time!

Friday, March 20, 2015

"The Rancher", 12x16" And A Lesson From Carolyn Anderson

"The Rancher", Ann Feldman

Last year, I took a workshop with Carolyn Anderson, a phenomenal impressionist painter.  I've admired her loose, interpretive style of painting for years, so I was thrilled to be able to see how she approaches a painting.  One of the things I came away with was that sometimes a small brush can be used to add some "air" and mystery to a painting.  Seems counterintuitive, since we are often told to reach for the largest brush possible when we try to loosen up our paintings.  

In "The Rancher", I used a #2 filbert brush (which is pretty darned tiny) for the entire painting, using the point to draw and fill in with scratchy strokes, then I used the side of the brush to flatten out the paint in areas such as the hat.  I call this style of painting "Drawing with Paint".  In Carolyn's workshop, once I started with this style, I couldn't stop!  She would come by my easel and encourage me to pick up one of my other brushes to finish the painting, but I wanted to see how far I could go with one brush.  A little is good, so a lot will be great, I thought…

Here is an example of Carolyn's work.  You can see why I have been so taken with her!

"Girl With Curls", Carolyn Anderson

Monday, March 16, 2015

"Vesna's Daughter", 12x16", And Some thoughts from Qiang Huang

"Vesna's Daughter"

I read in Qiang Huang's excellent blog that he believes that artists tend to group into two categories: still life/portrait painters and landscape painters.  The still life/portrait folks enjoy painting the forms of things, while landscape painters look for the patterns in their surroundings.  When I read this, it was as if a gong sounded in my head-- I'm a form painter, and always have been!

I started to think about other artists through history, and they did tend to settle in one or the other of these two categories.  Qiang went on to say that after an artist has mastered one type of painting, he or she often starts to look for challenge in the other genre.

I love a beautiful landscape as much as the next person, but have had a dickens of a time painting my own.  It's good to know that there is a challenge out there on the horizon, waiting for me to put my toe into new waters.  But maybe not today.  Tomorrow's not looking good either!

Still Life by Qiang Huang

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

"Resolve", 12x16" And Inspiration from Robert Henri

Last week I taught a workshop at the Northlight Studio in Arlington Heights on painting the portrait with palette knives.  "Resolve" is the painting that I started as a demonstration and finished in the studio.  Portraits have a way of getting very detailed, and the character of the model can start to drain away as we strive for the perfect likeness.  A palette knife in hand will not allow this to happen.  Color and shape have to be laid in boldly.  The final product can be more a piece of art than just a likeness of the model.

An artist must first of all respond to his subject, he must be filled with emotion toward that subject and then he must make his technique so sincere, so translucent that it may be forgotten, the value of the subject shining through it.” 
― Robert HenriThe Art Spirit

Robert Henri (1865-1929) was an American artist and teacher who was extremely prominent in the Ashcan School of American Realism.  His book, "The Art Spirit" is always close at hand in my studio.  I can open that book on any page and find new inspiration to create art, no matter how flat or lost I'm feeling that day.  Here is an example of Henri's work.  It is evident that he is striving to portray the character of his model much more than concentrating solely on a likeness. This painting captures a feeling I think we all can respond to.

"Dutch Girl Laughing" Robert Henri

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

"Deepa/Palette Knife Portrait", 12x16" And Some Upcoming Events

A few weeks ago, I painted Deepa using only one color (Burnt Sienna).  I brought this painting home and decided to add color to it using a palette knife.  Using the underpainting as my guide, I covered the painting again in thick color.  The process was made easier since my values (darks and lights) and my drawing were already worked out.  It was a bit like putting pieces of a puzzle together, and it was actually pretty fun!

I'll be teaching this method at the Northlight Studio in Arlington Heights IL this coming March 6th.  In other news, I'll be giving a demonstration on Painting Impressionistically for the North Area Arts League on March 3rd at the Woodstock Opera House at 7pm.  Admission is free!  I hope you can be there.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

"Early Autumn, Paris", 20x16" And Thoughts on Light With Claude Monet

"Early Autumn, Paris"
The light in the city was much cooler than the light in Provence

"Sunday Morning, Aix en Provence"
I tried to capture the warmth of the sun in southern France

The Impressionists are famous for their attention to the light in their paintings.  A viewer can often tell the season, time of day, and sometimes even the geography of a scene when they look at an Impressionistic painting.  When I was in France, I could see for myself how the light changed when we moved further south.  I tried to convey the difference in the light in the two paintings above.  I even went so far as to put a bit of a blue "halo" around the light on the Parisian sidewalk to make it appear cooler.  In Provence, yellow became a dominant color for the light.

Monet spent close to a year in Rouen, panting the front of the cathedral there at different times of day and seasons.  He set up camp in a women's clothing store across the street, much to the dismay of many of the store's patrons!  He didn't see why a male painter in a women's shop should cause any disturbance for a few months.

Here are three versions of the cathedral, as painted by Monet.  Each one is lovely in its own right, but they convey very different feelings through the colors he chose.  

As a painter, I could take a page from Monet's book and paint the same scene over and over again in different seasons and times of day.  What better lesson could there be in conveying feelings about a scene through color?  

The facade of the cathedral today.  

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"The Character Portrait", A Lesson From David Hockney

"Focus"Ann Feldman

A friend asked me the other day if I ever find a model session uninspiring or difficult to paint because the model is not what you'd call a "classic beauty".  My short answer is no.  For the longer answer, here's why.

A few years ago, I took an afternoon in Los Angeles to see David Hockney's portrait exhibit at the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art.  At first glance, these huge paintings appeared strong and somewhat characateurish, but as I spent time there, they became so much more.

"Mumby", David Hockney

I could feel the relationship between the sitter and Hockney, and I imagined what it must have been like in that room the day the model sat for him.  Faces were not made beautifully, but I felt that it was the personality he was after, much more than the likeness of the face.

I made a mental note that day that sometimes the most beautiful portraits are much more than "skin deep".  There are indeed many beautiful portraits of beautiful people out there, but a portrait of a beautiful unique character can be much more difficult to achieve, and it may say much more about the model than a simple likeness.

Ever since my time with Hockney's portraits, I approach model sittings differently.  I take a few minutes to observe the model in silence.  I consciously take a few deep breaths and I wait for something about this unique person to introduce itself to me.  I want my portraits to communicate how I felt about the model that day, beyond an accurate likeness.

 "Friendly and Open"
Ann Feldman

Saturday, February 14, 2015

"Signs of Spring", 8x10" and Inspiration from CW Mundy

There are times when a piece of art seems to paint itself without much effort on the part of the artist.  Sadly, this is a very rare occurrence in my life.  In fact, it hardly ever happens, but like the crack of a great golf swing or a perfectly risen soufflĂ©, the rarity of the occasion and the rush of satisfaction I can feel keep me coming back for the promise of more.

This painting did not paint itself.  In fact, there may be five layers of other iterations underneath this one, and I finally decided to call it a day.  I'm not striving for perfection after all, just a comment on something that happened that day with the light or my mood, or perhaps just the glimmer of hope that Spring will come someday soon.

CW Mundy is one of my favorite teachers in the world.  I've learned from him that a painting can be lost and then found many times in the painting process.  The painting below is a landscape that he labored over time and again, yet the final piece is near perfection, with no sign of struggle.  After spending time with CW, I've learned to keep returning to the canvas until the painting says something worthwhile. 

CW Mundy
Creek Bed at Story, Indiana  

oil on linen

Thursday, February 12, 2015

"Deepa, Monochromatic Study", 16x20"

When I only have a few hours with a model, I will sometimes limit my color choices so I can concentrate on getting my drawing and values (darkness vs light) correct.  Yesterday, I used only Burnt Sienna to make a map of Deepa's face and shoulders.  I used a rag to lift out the lighter areas, so there was no need to even add white.  I may decide to let it dry and go back in with color, or I may leave well enough alone and be content with a nice study of a beautiful model.

I will be teaching this technique at my upcoming one day workshop at Northlight Studio in Arlington Heights on March 6th.  If you would be interested in attending, please drop me a line.

Monday, February 2, 2015

"Blue Jar/Winter Day", 8x10" (And Breaking Rules with Picasso)

Pablo Picasso was a prolific artist, both in his art and in his philosophy on creativity.  I've drawn so much inspiration from him when it comes to "breaking the rules" in art.  Here is one of my favorite quotes:

When I started today's painting, it was textbook good, but boy oh boy, it was boring.  I put it in a sunny window to dry, and forgot all about it.  It was THAT boring!  I pulled it out this morning and armed with some Picasso inspiration, I went to work on it again.  I decided to make this painting more about the BACKGROUND than the objects in it.  I threw on paint with abandon and then scraped away with palette knives and a spatula.  Once the rules were completely broken, I felt more satisfied.

"Girl Before A Mirror", Pablo Picasso