Thursday, April 12, 2018

April Class Recap and May Class

Before I recap our April class, I'll announce the date of our next class at the BCAC studio in the Ice House Mall in Barrington, IL:

May 4th, 2018

(Thanks for the pun, Kimberley!)

Please email me to let me know if you'd like to attend this class, from 9:30- 3:30pm.  The topic for this class will be "Painting With Abstraction"

And now for our recap:

Four Apples, Four Application Techniques

Artists tell me that sometimes, it's hard to know which brush to use to get the effect that they're after.  We focused in our April class on brush selection and technique.  Each of the apples above were painted with the same color palette, but you can see that they appear very different from each other.  Application of the paint is everything!


The Filbert Brush

This apple was painted using a filbert brush, which has a semi-oval top. This brush gives us very soft edges and a somewhat thinner paint application because it tends to dig in to the underlying layers if the paint is still wet.  In my example, the wet Burnt Sienna wash blended with the other paint colors, giving it a more subdued look.  Filbert brushes are wonderful therefore, for painting soft things and subjects with softer edges, such as portraits, furry animals, and clouds.


The Flat Brush

Flat brushes are great for crisp edges and thicker paint application.  Notice the left side of this apple and the defined edge there.  And even though I used the same colors as the example above, the colors didn't blend as much with my underlying tone and they remained truer.  I use this type of brush for most of my work.  It's a great choice for all subjects requiring hard and soft edges, as well as straighter lines.  I reach for this brush when I paint architecture, still life subjects with defined edges such as plates and glasses, trunks on trees, furniture, etc.


Palette Knife

For the thickest paint application possible, you can't beat a palette knife.  And although you can get some nice hard edges, they probably won't go exactly where you think they will.  But that's the beauty of the palette knife-  since the paint and the knife have ideas of their own, we're forced to give up on our need to be exact or perfect. Any subject can be painted with a palette knife, and be prepared to use a LOT of paint, and allow the painting to surprise you!


Round Brush

Round brushes are usually used when we are drawing in our initial shapes before we start really painting.  In this example, I used a small drawing brush to "scribble in" layers of paint, one on top of the other.  This method gives an airy, soft appearance to your paintings.  If you'd like to try to make your paintings appear more impressionistic and loose, you may wish to try this method.

I hope you have a chance to try each of these methods to help you discover which one you'd like to try on your next painting!

Monday, February 19, 2018

"Back to Basics", and a New Class

"Back to Basics", 12x12", Oil on Gessoboard

Whenever I'm feeling a bit rusty, I like to go back to my art school days, and paint the basics.  Fruit, elipses, and cloth are wonderful subjects to sharpen my focus and observation skills.  And I never tire of painting a still life setup, no matter how simple.  Even though the cloth may be orange, I challenge myself to find other colors to describe the cloth without going too bright.  And pears almost always have cool colors (green, blue) and warm colors (red, orange, yellow) wandering around in them.  Even the bowls are painted with many underlying colors to make them appear more complex, and to give the painting some atmosphere.

I'll be teaching an all day class at the BCAC Studio in the Ice House Mall in Barrington on April 6th, and we'll be talking about brushes and brushwork.  Beginning, intermediate, and advanced students sometimes need to "brush up" on what brush to use when!  Filberts, flats, brights, rounds, and palette knives all have their jobs to do.  Let me know if you'd like to join us in April by sending me an email, and I'll supply you with the details.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

"Cassidy", A Portrait From Life

 "Cassidy", oil on linen,  9.5" x 15"

I've been away from the easel for a few weeks, and was feeling rusty when I went to my friend Bill's studio to paint Cassidy last night.  I decided to make things as simple as possible for myself, spending time on carefully drawing the underlying shapes and finding my darks and lights with a neutral color before adding any color.

I used Burnt Umber, thinned with a bit of mineral spirits to lay down the drawing and find my darks and lights.

Gradually, I built up the color in thin layers, using the initial drawing as my guide. Approaching the portrait in this measured step by step approach kept me on track and in control.  

Monday, January 22, 2018

Class Announcement Feb 16th

First, Here's What We've Been Up To:

Our ongoing class at the Barrington Cultural Arts Center Studio in the Ice House has covered a lot of ground this fall!  The last several classes focused on portraiture and figure painting.  Here are a few examples of the demos from these classes:

Painting the Features

Painting the Form of the Head

Abstracting the Head

Abstracting the Figure

Painting Hair

And Here's What's Next:

Our next set of classes will focus on brushwork and paint application.  Many students have told me that they would love to get back to basics and learn about which brushes to use for different effects, and how to use brushwork to make their paintings more interpretive.  This is my favorite subject!  I can't wait to dive into this new area.

If you'd like to join us, please send me an email to reserve a spot.  Our next class will be on February 16th at the Ice House Mall in Barrington, IL.  We start at 9:30am, and class continues until 3:30 to give everyone plenty of time for painting.  I'd love to see you there!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Silent Night, Colorado

"Silent Night, Colorado", 8x6" oil on panel

The holiday season is upon us, ready or not!  This time of year, I reflect on how fortunate I am to have fellow artists, students, and friends who have embarked on this art journey with me.  I want to thank you for following me, viewing my art, and perhaps for sending me a word or two now and then.  Just knowing that you're out there means the world to me!

For those of you in the area, I've scheduled a class at the BCAC studio in the Ice House in Barrington on Friday, January 12.  If you'd like to join us, please send me an email.

Friday, November 3, 2017

A Palette Knife Portrait

Oil on Gessoboard, 11x14"

Last Friday, I taught a class on portraiture, and I gave a demonstration on how to set up and draw the foundation of a portrait.  After the drawing was in and the shadow areas were mapped out, I wanted to show the class that finishing the portrait can be very interpretive and fun.  As long as we follow the drawing and shadow/light areas that have already been established, anything goes-- even paint applied thickly with a palette knife!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

"Tabasco Time", 6x8"

Since I originated in New Orleans, it stands to reason that there's always a bottle of McIlhenny's Tabasco sauce on our table at home.  The other day, I decided to do a quick painting of this constant friend.

This got me to thinking about recognizable brands, like Heinz ketchup, Smucker's jelly, and Wonder bread, and how fun it is to raise them to new status by painting them.  Much as Andy Warhol did in his day.  

I wrote to the wonderful artist  Carol Marine about this, and she thought it would be a good idea to make this project the weekly challenge for Dailypaintworks.  Click here to see the challenge, and to see what other artists have done with it.  And maybe think about entering the challenge yourself!  I'd love to see what you would do-- what brand deserves artistic recognition in your life?

Friday, August 11, 2017

New Class Schedule at the Ice House



September 22, October 27, and November 10, 2017

Fall is just around the corner, so it's time to mark our calendars for some upcoming classes at the Ice House!  Classes start at 9:30 until noon, then we break for an hour lunch and resume at 1:00, ending at 3:30.  We have a demo/lecture from Ann in the morning, then everyone works on their own projects or on a project suggested by Ann.  The fee is $65 for the full day, $35 for a half day.

This fall, the demonstrations will focus on portraiture, in keeping with the BCAC's "Back Nine" Project.  The basics of setting up a portrait, mixing realistic color, and painting the features will be covered.  Students should feel free to work on portrait references during class time, or any subject they would like (landscapes, still life, etc).

Please bring along a portable easel if you have one, and all your usual painting supplies.

Please email Ann at: to sign up. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Mancini Challenge, continued

"Forgotten Teacup", 9x12"  oil on canvas mounted on board

The second half of the Dailypaintworks challenge was tougher than I thought it would be. After copying a master work, we were to paint an original painting with the master work serving as inspiration.  I set up a still life, put the Mancini copy on my easel for easy reference, and got to work.

I started painting with the Mancini copy in sight for inspiration

My mantra as I painted was, "Lots of paint, Keep it loose".  This part of the challenge was difficult, because now it was up to me to decide which edges I should lose, which highlights to hit the hardest, and what areas I could abstract entirely.  Mancini wasn't making the decisions anymore!

A few hours later

One of the most interesting parts of the challenge to me was that no matter how hard I may try to copy the style of a master, when it comes time to paint my own rendition, the painting won't look like it was painted by Mancini.  My style surfaces, no matter how hard I try to mimic someone else's.  It's my "fingerprint", and while I can absorb the influences of other painters, my paintings will always look pretty much like my own.  And I guess that's not an entirely bad thing!

I learned so much from this challenge.  If you'd like to see what other people painted, here's the link.

Monday, July 31, 2017

"Mancini Glassware", 9x12"

Do you have a favorite painting?  One of my favorites in the world is "Resting", by Antonio Mancini.  Every time I visit the Art Institute of Chicago, I make a beeline for this painting to marvel at his loose treatment of shapes, thick paint, and rich color.  But what always gets to me the most is that glassware on the table!  How on earth did he do that?  I stand in wonderment while my companions drift into other rooms.  I can never tear myself away.

Dailypaintworks had a challenge last week, to copy a master painting.  Julie Ford Oliver, a painter I've admired for years, decided to copy a Mancini painting, and she inspired me to swallow my fear and take on the challenge of a Mancini myself!

I started out with a flat brush and quickly found out that I couldn't get his haphazard patterns this way.  I switched to a palette knife, and I was off to the races.  Most of my time was spent on the background.  I couldn't proceed to the glassware until the background was well established.  I didn't want to put in a lot of work on the objects if I had to go back in and fuss with what was behind them.  

To really get a loose effect, I had to stand back from my easel and let my whole arm move with the knife.  At times I was terrified, and at times I was elated.  The second half of the challenge is to create a new painting inspired by the painting we copied.  I hope I can find the energy to tackle it.  For now, I think I'll raise a toast to Mancini and thank him for the lessons he taught me today.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Editing a Setup

"Harmony", 8x8"

Artists are lucky.  We can instantly "photo shop" anything to suit our vision as we paint.  I did exactly that with the setup I was using when I painted "Harmony".  Here it is:

As I started to paint these hydrangeas, I realized that the colors in the setup were very cool-- all I could see was blue, green, and a little blue-green, even in the flowers!  I wanted to introduce some interesting colors, so I imagined my setup without color at all:

When I looked at the reference without any color in it, my mind started to add some colors that weren't there.  As long as I stuck to my values (dark, middle, and light), I could add any colors that came to mind, and the painting would read correctly.  I also decided to simplify my shapes by using a very large brush.

In the end, my painting isn't a "portrait of flowers", but an "interpretation of flowers", which I felt happy with.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

"Glad To See You"

"Glad To See You", 8x8" oil on cradled 2" gesso board, $135
At the J. Petter Gallery

I was so "Glad To See" so many friendly faces at the Petter Gallery this past weekend for the artists' exhibition.  Nine artists set up around the gallery to show their techniques while a guitarist played in the background and wine and appetizers were passed.  This is the little painting I worked on during the exhibition.

One of my favorite moments of the evening was when three brothers, ages 4 to 8 stopped by to watch me paint.  They lined up like silent soldiers and seriously studied every move I made.  To break the ice,  I showed them the particular flowers I was looking at for my painting, and I asked them, "Do you think my painting looks like the flowers?".  The middle brother flatly said "No".  Ah well, can't win them all, I thought to myself, and went back to work while the brothers huddled together and whispered.  A moment later, the oldest brother stepped up and said, "Excuse me, we don't think your painting looks like the flowers, because we think it looks better".  They turned on their heels and marched off to find their parents.

I took a moment to smile and think that perhaps we experienced together what it means to interpret a subject in a painting.  Maybe it doesn't look just like the "thing", but after passing through our eyes, our minds, and our hands, something even more descriptive can be the result.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Will You Be in Michigan?

Hi Friends, if you're planing to be in Michigan this weekend, I'd love to see you in Saugatuck on July 8th!  I'll be at the J. Petter Gallery from 4:00- 7:00pm, painting and chatting with whoever stops by.  I'll also bring along some small paintings like this one to show and sell.

I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

New Palette Knife Video

I've just uploaded a new video to Youtube, titled "Palette Knife Painting Techniques in Oil".  This video takes you step by step through my palette knife painting process.  It's a labor of love; I hope you enjoy it too!  I'd love to hear what you think.

Click on Ann Feldman Youtube to watch it now!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

"Abundance", 16x20"

I bought a small bunch of peonies from a farm stand last week, brought them home and put them in water.  The next morning, they had exploded into the most beautiful blooms you could imagine.  I couldn't let another minute go by without painting them, so I whisked them up to my studio and put them under lights.  They remained glorious for days while I labored away, trying to capture their beauty without overdoing the details.

After scraping my painting away three times, this is the iteration I was most happy with.  I hope you like it too.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

"Kelly", 9x12", oil on gessoed canvas

I could title this one "Youth and Idealism", since Kelly is leaving soon to study lions and elephants in their habitat in Africa.  I loved spending a few hours with someone so motivated to make the world a better place.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

We Have History

Jen With Glasses, May, 2017

I've been painting portraits from live model sittings for many years now.  Heaven knows I don't do it for fame or fortune; I rarely sell one of these paintings, and I have dozens of them stacked high in my studio.  On the evenings when I get together with my fellow artists to gather around a model, it's often snowing or raining hard, and I don't get home again until around 11:00pm.  

Painting Jen in the Studio

So why do I do it, week after week, year after year?  Because no other subject gives me a thrill the way capturing a person's likeness, and sometimes even their personality on canvas does. I can paint a really wonderful apple or bunch of flowers, or even a sunset and be happy with it, but I'm never as fulfilled as I am after a session with a live, breathing human being in front of me, surrounded by like-minded artists who are my friends.  

We are all after the same thing-- to describe and translate the uniqueness of the person sitting before us onto canvas.  And when we come close, we feel that thrill.

And we will be back next week!

Jen, 2013

Jen, 2016

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

"Fairy Dance", 24x12"

"Fairy Dance", oil on gesso board, 24x12"

You might not believe this but I actually stumbled upon this very scene last summer!  John and I were poking around the shops in Telluride and came outside to see this little group of fairies putting on a performance for their parents in a tiny park.  I couldn't have posed them any better if I had tried.  I loved the way the sunshine lit up their wings.

So often, fairies are idealized in paintings to represent the most beautiful and graceful creatures that we can imagine.  Another reason this scene grabbed my heart was the coltish awkwardness and innocence of the scene.  These fairies were dancing with abandon for those who love them best.  

And what artist could resist painting a scene like that?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Starting with a Transparent Wash

"Meditation on Joy"
9x12", oil on canvas mounted on hardboard
The Hildt Gallery, Chicago

I thought I'd try a completely different approach with this little floral abstract painting.  Instead of setting up a floral arrangement to paint from, I thought I'd let the painting "create itself" this time.  

I started the painting with a little bit of paint and a whole lot of Gamsol (a paint solvent) to make my oil paint behave similarly to watercolor paint.  I dropped the different colors on the canvas and let them run together and spill right off the bottom.  All the while, I was observing what parts of the painting were speaking to me.  I wanted to develop the areas I liked with just enough detail without ruining the spontaneity of the abstract underneath.

Little by little, I snuck up on the painting, adding small dashes of color wherever I wanted to.  This was a pretty long, drawn out process.  After every few brush strokes, I stepped back about six feet and asked myself what I should do next.  To me, the process of abstract painting is much more intensive and tiring than painting from a reference.  In abstract painting, it's just you and the painting, without any outside guidance from reality.  

After this painting is mounted and framed, it's off to the Hildt Gallery.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Spring Class Dates

"Transparent Wash" Demonstration


I have some new class dates to share with you for the spring and early summer. If you’d like to join us on any of these dates, please send me an email so I can put your name on the class list, and I will confirm with you a week before the class.  Prepayment will confirm your spot.  Classes have waitlists, so to avoid disappointment, please sign up early!

April 7th June 9th
May 5th June 30th
May 26th

We meet in the studio at the Ice House Mall in Barrington.  Class starts at 9:30 with a demo/lecture from me, then everyone works on their own projects, or a project suggested by me.  We break at noon for lunch, then resume at 1:00 until 3:30 for more painting time.  

For the morning only session, the fee is $35.  The whole day fee is $65.  Participants have enjoyed having the entire day to devote to painting, and we get a lot done. I hope you can join us! 

“Painting on Black Gesso” demonstration                                                           "Fracturing" demonstration

                                                                      "Painting Glass" demonstration