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!