Sunday, November 22, 2015
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Last week, a friend of mine from the Grameen Foundation gave me this little bottle filled with coffee beans from a farm in Colombia. As we chatted, I thought it would make a nice little painting subject. I couldn't wait to get it home and put it under the lights!
For purchase information, please click on Ann Feldman "Little Something".
Sunday, November 1, 2015
Les Mandarins, 9x12"
During our first few days in Limoux, we would stroll by huge cement walls that lined the sidewalk near the river. Our hosts told us that there were some incredibly beautiful gardens behind those walls, and what a pity it was that we would never see what treasures were there.
And then our fortune changed! A neighbor couple befriended us one day as we were painting the river behind their house. They invited us to come to their home a few days hence to paint their garden. From the elated look on our host's face, this was indeed going to be a rare treat.
Painting "Les Mandarines" in the secret garden
The view from our neighbor's window
Winding paths led from one garden treat to another
Persimmons weighed down the branches of this tree
How fortunate we were that our neighbors opened their door to us. We were able to see (and paint!) a secret part of Limoux that very few get to see.
Monday, October 26, 2015
"Tiny White House, Limoux", 7x5" oil on linen
"Early Fall, Vineyards of Limoux", 7x5", oil on linen
Painting in the vineyards near Limoux was so easy with the help of our hosts at Montfaucon. Penny and Nicolina knew which vineyard to visit in the morning, and which in the evening, because the light was best at those times of day. They made arrangements with the landowners for us to set up amongst the vines, and plopped us down in the most incredibly picturesque areas we could imagine. From there, we would hike about and eventually settle on the view that spoke to each one of us.
These two studies were painted on the spot, and I'll be using them to develop some larger paintings. I tried to capture the feeling of the light hitting the vineyards in the foreground and the misty foothills in the back.
More to come, mes chers amis! Next, I'll tell you about painting in a secret garden...
Monday, October 19, 2015
Hello Everyone, I am safely back from my painting trip to France. Our group was led by Jeff Legg, the extraordinary artist from Estes Park, Colorado. Before I tell you about our painting experiences, I thought I'd give you a sense of where we were based. The photo above shows you the bridge that leads into the town of Limoux, and if you step out of our backdoor, this is pretty much the scene that greets you everyday.
We would cross the bridge to shop, take photos, or have lunch in the town square and people watch. I kept going back to the same little bistro that made a lasagna with fluffy white French cheese and a huge salad on the side. The waiter there knew that I wanted a Coke as soon as I sat down, and that we wouldn't be staying for the typical 2.5 hour French lunch. We were here to WORK! (Ah, typical Americans, I can hear him thinking).
Here is the view from our bedroom window at Montfaucon, the name of our house. It was originally used as a toll house for boats coming down the river.
One French tradition that I adapted to very quickly was having blanquette, a bubbly wine made from the grapes in the region before every meal, along with a selection of cheeses from the market and sweet jams.
And then came DINNER. Here is the dining room in our house, where we often sat for our three hour, many coursed dinner. After the first couple of nights where we squirmed in our seats and eyed the door, we settled in to the dining experience and actually enjoyed chatting with friends and our hosts. I thought we would run out of things to talk about, but that never happened! Silence always descended upon us when dessert was served. Our focus was turned elsewhere during that course!
Here we all are, with Jean Francois, our chef. Do we look happy? Oh you betcha!
Monday, October 5, 2015
This is a palette knife painting that I just completed for the "Uncorked" event benefitting Breast Cancer Research at the Citadelle Gallery in South Barrington, Illinois. I will be there tomorrow evening from 5:30 to 9:00 with a new group of paintings. If you're in the area, I hope you'll stop by to say hello!
The display at the Citadelle Gallery
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
"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
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
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
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
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
Tuesday, June 9, 2015
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
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
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
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:
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", 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
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
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 Henri, The 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