Thursday, January 15, 2015
My obsessive nature is getting the best of me. I repainted my last painting YET AGAIN. It's heavy from all the layers of paint underneath. I kept going back to it on my easel, and it just seemed static to me. It needed life and it needed even more color. I loaded up my brushes and went at it again.
A new blog follower (Hi Phyllis) told me that an artist friend of hers would share other artists' works on her blog, along with her own paintings. I love this idea, especially since I often have someone else's work on my mind as I'm developing my own paintings. Recently, I've been admiring Joan Mitchell's work, and I think it impacted today's piece quite a lot. Here is an example of her work:
As you can see, Joan Mitchell was an Abstract Expressionist. She painted nature in such a free and colorful way, I never get tired of looking at her paintings. She once said, "If I could paint like Matisse, I'd be in heaven". For my part, if I could take a drop of the excitement and spontaneity of her paintings and put them into mine, I'd be in heaven too.
Sunday, January 11, 2015
I don't know about other painters, but I often paint many versions of a painting underneath the final layer. The painting may appear to be spontaneously done, but oftentimes, there are layers of false starts, frustration, and anguish underneath.
I thought it might be amusing to share with you the underlayers of "Abstracted Flowers II". Here they are:
With the next layer, I brought all those twigs together, but went overboard with the darkness. I started to paint in some white roses, but it was starting to feel too stiff and formal.
When things aren't working, I grab some vivid tubes of paint and pile it on. I have to smile when I see the difference between my first and final versions. I'm in love with color, so I should just follow my instincts in the first place. I'd save a lot of money on paint if I did.
Friday, January 2, 2015
Creativity can be very fickle.
Since coming home from the holidays, I've been in my studio every day, struggling to bring a certain painting to life. It refuses to budge, and I leave the studio every day frustrated and down. Seems the harder I try to get this painting to work, the further it gets away from me.
Today, I decided to try a new course of action. I put the old painting away and took out a floral that I had started months ago but never finished. I started to paint with happy abandon, and this painting cooperated with me! It may not be to everyone's taste, but I was able to let the paint flow without over thinking it. I feel like I'm out of my creative rut, and that is indeed a good feeling.
Monday, December 29, 2014
My good friend Jayne brought back a photo from England of this gentleman walking down the street, and I couldn't resist painting him. She tells me that it is a rare sight these days to see a man shopping with a basket. I imagined him picking up a few things for the holidays.
I used very thick gesso on top of a hardboard to achieve the textured look of this painting.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
Just as a musician practices scales before launching into a complicated piece, I like to practice simple still life setups from life to keep my observation skills sharp. I always ask myself, what colors do I see beyond the obvious? Where can I lose an edge or where can I sharpen one? Is the composition balanced and pleasant to look at?
Every completed painting, large or small, informs the next painting. Questions or problems that pop up will look for resolution in the next piece. When the painting is smaller and the stakes are lower, I can explore new territory and push myself a little further.
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
What has stayed with me the most after our trip to France? Cezanne's still lifes and his ability to capture color in such a complicated yet seemingly simple way. I can see his struggle in his paintings, and it touches me.
Detail from a Cezanne still life
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Why are the French so elegant in everything they do? Even when perusing a tourist board-- they do it with flare. I should have been photographing architecture, but found myself constantly drawn to the people in France. And now that's all I want to paint!
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Old things CAN be new again, sometimes. I took this old painting that had been hanging around since about 2007 and threw some new paint at it. As long as I stayed in the correct value range (light to dark), I could add any colors that I wanted into all areas of the painting. Here is a closeup of the area on her cheek and neck:
Friday, November 28, 2014
Another series of my Impressionism Workshops is coming to a close, which means it's time to try our hands at fracturing some paintings! You can hear a pin drop when everyone is concentrating on this technique. It isn't easy, but the results can be surprising and fun.
Next week, for our last class, everyone will be bringing in an old painting that just didn't go anywhere. We will fling some paint at them and see if we can bring them back to life. I'm looking forward to pulling some duds out of the closet and giving them another go!
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Aix en Provence was full of surprises. We were walking along a narrow cobblestone street when all at once, our path opened up into a town square filled to the brim with flower stalls. The light, the color, and the fragrance caught us off guard. A few steps further and we were back on the quiet cobblestones again.
Friday, October 31, 2014
I think I could paint for a year using all the references I got in France over the last two weeks! I was there with my mom and my niece to study the works and workspaces of the Impressionists. One piece of information that stuck with me is that the Impressionists were quite scientific about their use of color. Complementary colors were used especially effectively by all of them.
In this piece, I used the complements purple/yellow to mix my grays, and I used red/green for the more vibrant colors. I hope these lessons stay with me!
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
This past month has held a bumper crop of classes and workshops to be taught. The palette knife painting above was created as a demo for one of my knife painting workshops, and I titled it "Tuesday Morning" simply because that is when it was painted!
Last month's marathon was culminated with a two day Color Theory workshop at Mainstreet in Lake Zurich, IL. We pared our palettes down to five basic colors plus white, then got to mixing. People were very surprised to learn that most of the "premixed" paint colors that we buy can be mixed using a simple palette-- including Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, and Viridian. I still don't think they'd believe me if they hadn't mixed all these colors and then some on their own!
The last afternoon of the workshop, participants painted from black and white references and had to choose a color scheme: Monochromatic, Triadic, Complementary, Split Complementary, or Analagous. Below are some of the paintings they created. I was so excited to see the beautiful color harmonies they achieved!
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
I was getting ready to teach a Painting Knife workshop this weekend, and stumbled upon a couple of Oldies But Goodies that I thought I'd pull out of the archives. Both were painted thinly at first, using a brush, then I got out the trusty knife and laid down thick paint over everything I could. They are still among my all time favorites.
And now for a little news-- I've started to teach art in the continuing education department at Harper College in Palatine, Illinois. So far, so good! Still teaching at Mainstreet, too.
If you get Southwest Art magazine, you'll see an ad with some of my paintings there this month. It was part of their American Impressionist Society feature.
Lots of teaching, not much posting! I hope to get back to the easel very soon!
Friday, August 29, 2014
Early morning on my sunporch has the most serene filtered light. Even a bunch of haphazard flowers from my garden plopped unceremoniously into a milk bottle have a wonderful glow about them. I want to hold on to these last summer moments before they disappear into fall.
For purchase information, please click on Ann Feldman Sunporch.
Friday, August 8, 2014
This is a commission that I had to smile through as I was painting it. It's a wedding present (sshh!) and the bride and groom met as actors at this theater near Kalamazoo, Michigan. I hope they enjoy owning it as much as I enjoyed painting it!
Monday, July 28, 2014
Sometimes, when I'm feeling "stuck", I'll pull out a completely new shape of canvas to shake things up a bit. This long rectangular shape allowed me to focus on the abstract shapes of the flowers without having to go into a lot of detail on the vase or the background.
Friday, July 25, 2014
"Three Pears" has been selected for the 15th Annual American Impressionist Society national show. I hope that if you will be in Denver in the fall, you'll try to stop by and see this amazing show. Here are the details:
American Impressionist Society 15th Annual National Juried Exhbition
Event Dates: 10/2/2014 - 11/1/2014
Reception: 10/2/2014 5 to 8pm
Monday, July 21, 2014
"All real works of art look as though they were done in joy." - Robert Henri, The Art Spirit.
This past week or so, I've been searching for the joy, to no avail. Days on end were spent painting, and each day ended with a thorough scraping. I had nothing to show for my efforts. I looked at my work at the end of the day, and saw no joy in the painting before me. Rather than waste more time (and paint) trying to make something joyless look less so, I decided to scrap it all and start again. And again. And again.
Today, I pulled out a painting I had started months ago. I started to fling paint at it with a palette knife, then I scraped through it and started again. But this time, I'm happy to say, I saw the joy start to creep back in. Instead of throwing it on the scrap heap, I'll post it in the hopes that you see a bit of joy in it too!
Monday, July 7, 2014
I've been asked many times if I have tried to translate my loose style into portraiture. Until recently, I haven't dared to, since I was afraid that when I loosened things up, I'd lose the likeness of my sitter. I watched two of the best in person-- Jeff Watts and Carolyn Anderson as they painted portraits from life that were loose and interpretive. "Nice for them", I thought. But I'll never be able to do that!
Then I tried something completely new. I painted these two portraits using only a very small round brush (#1, can you believe it?). I scratched the poor thing down to the nub, but I learned that I can use paint in much the same way I can use a drawing medium, such as charcoal or pastel. If I started to get tight, I'd use the brush to scratch away at the hard edges.
As for the likeness, I found that as long as I have the eyes, nose and mouth in the right place, I could be pretty interpretive with the rest of the painting. It's a baby step, but it was fun, and I'm ready to do some more!
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
My Fall Workshop Schedule has just been finalized, and I wanted you to be amongst the first to know. All of these workshops will be held at Mainstreet Art Centre, Lake Zurich, IL.
PALETTE KNIFE PAINTING, September 12 & 13, 2014. Bring your palette knife, lots of paint, and a bit of courage to this workshop. We'll be creating paintings together using only our palette knives. Participants will learn how to manipulate paint and keep control of the process, ending with vibrant, exciting paintings.
COLOR THEORY, October 2 & 3, 2014. This two day class will include lectures, demonstrations, and class projects to help to demystify color mixing and theory.
IMPRESSIONISTIC PAINTING TECHNIQUES, November 3-24, 2014, Weekly on Tuesday Mornings. Loosen up your painting style and explore new techniques to unleash your creativity. We will be working with techniques such as "Fracturing" and "Destroy and Rebuild", as well as exploring different surfaces to give our paintings new life and atmosphere.
I'm excited to tell you that I'll be traveling to France in October to visit the studios, museums, and landscapes of the Impressionists. I'll have so much to share when I'm back. I cannot wait!
I hope you'll be able to join me for a workshop or two!
Monday, June 30, 2014
Well, I nearly fell for the latest scam out there, and I wanted to warn my artist friends about it. I was contacted by a very nice "woman" named "Mary Collins" who wanted to buy three of my small pieces from me. She loved my art! Couldn't wait to see it on her wall! Could I tell her my inspiration for each of these pieces? I was happily reeled in for awhile, loving her compliments and enthusiasm for my work (what artist can't resist that?). Then things got interesting.
"Mary" was in the process of moving to a new home. And she was attending her sister's wedding, so she had her husband's private assistant make out a check to me. When it arrived, it was a whopping $1,200 more than I had asked. She told me that her husband's PA made a "terrible mistake", so could I please send the difference to her along with the paintings? CUE THE ALARM BELLS!
I sprinted to my computer and looked up ART SCAMS. Sure enough, these people are able to produce very authentic looking checks that get deposited into your bank account. Your bank accepts the check at first, and puts the money in your account. In the meantime, you cut a check back to the crooks. Five days later, the bank finds out it's a phony and deducts the amount from your account, leaving you high and dry.
The only thing I lost was 15 minutes of my time, describing my paintings. Not too bad. If you're reading this "Mary", better start packing. The authorities are on their way!
And now for something a bit more pleasant: "Homecoming" is a scene from Nantucket, and it is in the East End Gallery in Nantucket. I will not let the crooks get me down!!!
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
The highlight of a visit to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston is the central courtyard. She designed the walls surrounding the courtyard based on the architecture of Venice, and when the sun filters down through the tree branches and rests on the priceless statues that are scattered about, the feeling can be quite transcendent!
When I arrived home, I went right to work. I didn't want to forget the colors that I had committed to memory.
My first "go" looked a bit lifeless, so I took a clean brush and destroyed it a bit to lose some edges and put a feeling of energy into it.
I calmed it down and adjusted the color. I'm not sure that it's a perfect replica, but it is what remained in my imagination.
For purchase information, please click on Ann Feldman Gardner Courtyard.
Friday, June 20, 2014
I'm on my way today to visit daughter Emily in Boston. I've convinced her that a trip to the Isabella Gardner museum is a "must" on our itinerary! I will show you highlights of our visit, if I'm allowed to photograph there.
"Windsong, Nantucket" is in the East End Gallery in Nantucket.
Friday, June 13, 2014
If you've had a chance to check out my Youtube video, you know how much I love to fracture and destroy my paintings as I create them! This painting is about as close to complete abstraction as I've ever come. The world hasn't ended as a result, so I think I'll do some more of these.
"Turnip Tempest" is available through the East End Gallery in Nantucket.
Friday, June 6, 2014
And now for a little exciting news: I have just finished my very first Youtube! It is titled "Impressionistic Painting Techniques with Ann Feldman". I hope that if you have a few minutes, you'll take a look. Click on Ann Feldman Youtube to visit. And please feel free to share it with other artists and friends!
Here's a little story behind this painting. A few months ago, I was playing tennis with my usual vigor and abandon. All of a sudden, the ball was coming straight at me, and I had a "deer in the headlights" moment. At the last instant, I put my hand out to block the ball and ended up breaking my finger and knuckle in several places. Naturally, it was my ring finger, so the wedding ring ended up getting sawed off in the ER. After forgetting the ring in the examining room, I was reunited with it again later that day.
To say that my tennis friend felt bad for what I went through that day is an understatement! OK, so here's where the painting comes in: she sent me these beautiful flowers to speed my recovery, so I decided to paint them. And here they are! This painting is available through the Button Petter Gallery in Saugatuck, Michigan.
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Volkening Heritage Farm in Schaumburg, Illinois is an artist's dream locale. The farm is kept as it was in the 1800's, and all the workers do their jobs in period costume. I feel just like one of the kids that arrive in droves in school buses when I'm there. When I catch a scene like this one, my heart skips a beat and I feel very lucky indeed.
This painting is in Saugatuck, Michigan at the Button Petter Gallery.
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Last week, I taught a two day workshop in Huntley, Illinois on Color. We worked with a limited palette of red, yellow, and blue to really learn the properties of the colors and how to mix them effectively. On the evening between the two classes, I went to open studio to paint. All I had on my palette were my three colors, so I decided to put my theory to the test and paint only with what I had. This portrait is the result.
Paulette is a student of mine who has just graduated from high school. We will miss her so much when she leaves to go to college. An accomplished artist who will go on to do fabulous things with her life.
Below, you can see the color wheel that we mixed in class. (My students were MUCH neater than I was). Three colors can go a long way, and can eliminate a lot of confusion along the way. Once we have a really good understanding of the primary properties, we can go on to add other colors to our palette.
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Once again, I took a perfectly fine and "normal" looking painting and fractured it to make it more interesting (at least to me). This one is on its way to the East End Gallery in Nantucket. I hope it's happy there!
Tomorrow, I'll be giving my very first workshop on Color in Huntley, Illinois to the Pencil and Palette Club. I've been having many requests for this workshop, and will be offering it in the fall at Mainstreet Art Centre. The first day of the workshop, we'll concentrate on mixing pure, vivid colors, and the second day, we will be working in the "mud". I'm looking forward to it!
Monday, May 5, 2014
Over the weekend, I spent some time at Crabtree Nature Preserve with some intrepid landscape enthusiasts. Our mission: to paint a predominantly green landscape with interesting color and solid values (like us!).
We started our very green project with a bright red wash. Red, as we know, is the complement of green, so we had a nice color vibration underneath our painting from the outset. We then drew in the major shapes of the landscape using the same bright red color on our drawing brushes.
It's hard to see the forest for the trees! In order to see the major value areas and shapes, we turned our reference photos upside down. This forces our minds to quiet down and stop commanding us to paint in a certain way. We can more easily observe our subject as puzzle pieces of value and color.
Instead of painting our landscape in green, green, and more green, we asked ourselves, "what other colors can be used in this value area?" Out came surprising combinations of purple, orange, and blue, just to name a few.
A few of the finished products! Way to go, artists!!!
AND NOW FOR A PROGRAMMING NOTE:
I'm putting together my teaching schedule at Mainstreet in Lake Zurich, IL for next year, so I'd love to know if there is a workshop or class you'd be interested in. So far, I've had requests for Palette Knife, Fracturing, and Color Workshops. The Portrait and Impressionism Classes have also been popular, but I want to offer what YOU are interested in, so if you have any thoughts, shoot me an email or leave me a comment here.
And thank you!