Sunday, September 30, 2007

Adventures in Still Life

Still life painting is an adventure, too. Even though it's indoors, and I can control the light, visit the bathroom and refrigerator whenever I like, and don't have to deal with bugs, sun, rain and wind, it's still an adventure, and a challenge. For me, the challenge is to arrange meaningful objects in an interesting way, and to paint them in an interesting way. I am trying to integrate some of the technique I am developing in the landscape to my still life work - the feeling of immediacy and the dynamic handling of paint. So here are some still life paintings, oldest to newest.
"Mr. Peanut Cup", oil on canvas, 12"x14", 1978, SOLD. Done during art school, my first forays into still life. I fell in love with thrift store objects. I try not to go into thrift stores or antique shops, because I always have to buy something to paint. I recently bought a bunch of Mr. Peanut cups on eBay, so they'll be showing up in future still lifes, I'm sure.

"Egg and Glass", oil on canvas, 8"x8", 1983, SOLD

"Coffee and Doughnuts", 11"x14", oil pastel on paper, 1999

"Hot Sauce", oil on canvas, 20"x26", 2000

"Green Bowl", oil on canvas, 24"x30", 2000

"B", oil on canvas, 24"x24", 2001

"Oranges", oil on linen, 12"x14", 2003

"Peppers", oil on linen, 12"x12", 2003

"Red Perch", oil on linen, 12"x14", 2003

"Thai Peppers", oil on linen, 10"x12", 2003

"Sweets", oil on linen, 10"x10", 2006

"Peonies and Roses", oil on linen, 14"x12", 2006

"Hydrangea", oil on linen, 18"x14", 2007

"Linda's Plant", oil on canvas, 36"x36", 2007

"Rhododendron", oil on canvas, 24"x18", 2007

Adventures in Figure Painting

Painting and drawing the human figure is one of my favorite activities. I don't paint from the figure as much as I would like, because models are expensive, but I sketch people in public places as much as I can, and from time to time I splurge on a model. Here is a sampling of my figure work.

"Figure Study", ink on newsprint, 24"x18", 1973. This was my first nude model. It was the fall of my senior year in high school, and I was visiting Carnegie Mellon University to see if I would like to apply there. I was invited to sit in on a Saturday morning figure drawing class. A student gave me some newsprint, a brush, and ink. The model led the class in calisthenics around the room, and then the teacher had the model take short poses, beginning with 2 seconds (!) We were instructed to make one or two fast strokes on the paper to record the gesture of the pose, and then it would change. Two second poses became ten seconds, then thirty seconds, then two minutes. Brushes and paper were flying! By the time the model sat for a twenty minute pose, it felt like we had a very long time. This drawing was the result.

"June", pastel, 19"x25", 1994

"Reclining Nude", pastel, 19"x25"

"Eric", pastel, 25"x19"

"Dennis", oil on canvas, 38"x30"

"The Letter", oil on canvas, 56"x42"

"Shane", oil on linen, 14"x12"

"Model", oil on canvas, 26"x20"

Friday, September 14, 2007

Adventures in Virginia

"Walney Pond", oil on canvas, 20"x20", SOLD. I believe this was my very first plein-air landscape painting, done over a few visits to a pond near my house, probably in the summer of 1999.
"Great Falls on the Potomac", oil on canvas, 28"x36". This was done from Overlook 2 over the course of a month in the fall of 1999, in four visits. I started painting this in early October, and the river was very high and the color of chocolate milk. A couple of weeks later, the water was lower and much bluer, so I repainted it. You can see the high water mark on the rocks.

"Broad Run", oil on linen, 10"x12", SOLD. The railroad tracks for Amtrak and VRE ran right behind me, and every time a train passed by it blew its whistle and made me jump out of my skin.

"Fredericksburg Street Corner", oil on canvas, 12"x12", SOLD. A very pretty, historic town south of Washington, DC.

"Western View with Silo", oil on linen mounted on board, 12"x14", SOLD. Looking west toward the Blue Ridge Mountains from Centreville. What struck me about this view was how suburban it was, but the silo remains as a reminder of the farming past. The distant mountains can be seen because Centreville is on a ridge.

"Bluebells", oil on linen mounted on board, 12"x14". This is one of the largest tracts of wild bluebells, in Bull Run Regional Park in Northern Virginia.

"Oatlands Lavender Garden" oil on panel, 9"x12", SOLD. Oatlands Plantation is a favorite place to paint. Situated on over 270 acres of land in Loudoun County, Virginia, it is interesting in any season, with beautiful old buildings, a large formal terraced garden, and gorgeous panoramic views. They invite artists in to work, and hold a juried exhibition every fall in their carriage house.

"Early Spring at Oatlands", oil on linen, 18"x18".

"Oatlands Smokehouse", oil on linen, 8"x10". Painted from the lavender garden. The mansion is the yellow building on the left.

"Oatlands Oak", oil on linen, 10"x12". This was done in early spring, when the cherry tree in the background was blooming, but before the oak leafed out.

"Oatlands Barn", oil on linen, 8"x10". A view from the back of the garden.

"Oatlands Oak Grove" oil on canvas, 18"x31". This was painted from the far side of the mansion, outside the garden, near the property line. Early spring with no leaves yet. I was concerned with the space and distance.

"Aldie Mill", oil on linen, 14"x11". This is actually the granary, a building next to the mill. This was the place where all my brushes fell into the water! I was standing on a bridge, and I had my canvas brush holder with about a dozen brushes in it propped up on the railing beside me. I was engrossed in the painting, and a sudden wind gust forced me to grab hold of my easel. It wasn't for several minutes that I went to reach for a new brush, and they were gone! I looked down at the water about eight feet below me, and saw no sign of the brushes. I went to the other side of the bridge and looked down, and there they were, floating in the mill race. It was too far down to reach them, and the walls were vertical, so there was no climbing down. Then I remembered the fire department next door. I walked over and asked the fire fighters if they would like to rescue my brushes for me. Two cheerful fireman came over with a long hook, lay down on their bellies, and fished every last brush out of the water for me!

"Sheds at Aldie Mill", oil on linen, 14"x11". Done from the far side of the granary building in the previous Aldie Mill painting.

"Middleburg Street", oil on linen, 24"x18". I liked the pink building and the shadows on it. I painted it over three days, standing in front of a tack store. Middleburg is an historic town in horse country, and is only about 1/2 hour from the suburbs where I live.

"Multicolored House", oil on linen, 11"x14". This is an old farmhouse near Sperryville whose owner is an artist. She is painting each plane of the house a different color. I liked looking at it through the branches of this scraggly bush. Painted in early March, before anything leafed out.

"Warrenton Backyards", oil on linen, 16"x16". Warrenton is an old town southwest of the Northern Virginia suburbs, which are creeping outward. It has a nice historic district. I walked around until I spied this view behind some houses of different colors.

"Merrifield Cranes", oil on canvas, 20"x20". This was a departure from my usual bucolic scenes. I had driven by this scene a couple of times while running errands, and was struck by the drama of these huge cranes. I thought it was really interesting how the presence of these verticals and horizontals defined the space of the sky.

Adventures in Maine

"Somes Sound", oil on canvas, 16"x20". This was one of the very first paintings I did in Maine, done while we were camping at Mt. Desert Campground on Mt. Desert Island back in 1999 or so. I stood on a small platform at the end of the floating dock where the campground's canoes and kayaks are tied up. The tide here is about 4-5 feet. As I painted it, I didn't notice that I was slowly descending as the tide went out. When I finished the painting, I looked at the scene and was upset that I had gotten the drawing completely wrong - the top of the rock was now higher than the shore line across from me. It took a few minutes before I realized how my perspective had changed because I went down with the floating dock. I also dropped a brush into the water during this painting, but luckily it landed on the dock's pontoon and I was able to fish it out. Another funny thing that happened to this painting was a chipmunk ran across it when I left it on a picnic table while we drove off somewhere to go hiking. I had hung it from the clothesline in the campsite, but it had gotten windy, so we took it down before we went. We came back to find little chipmunk footprints across the painting, but I was able to fix it.

"Campground Dock", oil on linen mounted on board, 12"x14". In the previous painting, "Somes Sound," I was standing on the little platform at the very end of this dock. The tide is lower in this painting, so more of the rock is visible.

"Somes Sound, Fog", oil on linen mounted on board, 12"x14". This was my first experience painting Maine fog.

"Jordan Pond and the Bubbles," oil on linen mounted on board, 12"x14". A very popular and crowded site in Acadia National Park on Mt. Desert Island. Behind me was the famous Jordan Pond House, a restaurant with outdoor seating and the best popovers!

"Schoodic Point", oil on linen mounted on board, 12"x14". About a half hour drive up the coast from Mt. Desert Island, on Schoodic Peninsula. I dashed this off in record time, as it was pretty windy. Waves kept splashing straight up as they crashed into the rocks.

"View of Mt. Desert from Little Cranberry", oil on linen mounted on board, 12"x14". The title explains it all. Those two little hills on the left are the Bubbles, as seen in my Jordon Pond painting above.

"Indian Point Sunset", oil on linen mounted on board, 12"x14". It was interesting, as well as blinding, to paint looking directly into the sun. No permanent damage, however.

Oil on gessoed paper, 6"x8". Done on our most recent trip to Maine, summer of 2007. I got away from my husband and boys for two days to visit my friend, Robin, who lives right on the coast. This is the beach right behind her house!

"Robin's Yard", oil on gessoed paper, 8"x10". The second painting I did when I was visiting Robin. I want to work on this a little more.

Oil on gessoed paper, 9"x11". The second day of painting with my friend Robin. We drove down to Beall's Island, a very pretty place. I'm posting this, even though I consider it an unsuccessful painting. The composition interested me, but I could not get the color of the garage-type door right. I spent a couple of hours struggling with it, and finally gave up.

Oil on gessoed paper, 9"x12". Also on Beall's Island. I'm not too happy with this painting, either. I think it's a little muddy.