Saturday, August 26, 2006

August 26 - An Old Work Resurfaces!

"A Swish and A Wash" I'm never more astonished than when I uncover something that I could hardly remember creating, and moving is really uncovering an interesting array of artwork. Since this is Saturday night, and I'm tired from a long day of moving and cleaning the house for people to see on Sunday, I thought you might enjoy a journey into the past. (Why do people want to see the house when it is in such disarray? These people better buy it!)  
  The story behind this watercolor (!) is that I painted it 38 years ago while enrolled in a figurative painting class at Ventura College, on the coast of California.  Watercolor was how we learned to do quick studies, and I must have done fifty of them. This one was the best of the lot. I gave it to my aunt and uncle, and they had it professionally framed under glass in the gold you see here.  
  The work itself shows youthfulness, no color sense, and yet the proportions on the figure are better than one would expect.  I went through a period of doing quasi-abstractions, mostly to cover a lack of the pure knowledge that comes with time and practice.  I can remember putting in the squares on the lower right, exploring my new knowledge of negative space. I thought that they would add interest and movement.
  As you look at it, I hope you realize that making art is all about growing, not about arriving.  This work is signed in ink with the name I used at that time (Patricia Thomas), lower right, with a number 1/20 as though it was a print. I didn't know squat about print runs, and numbering this original is a splendid example of my ignorance.  20 x 13.5 inches, in gold frame, $300 for a piece of history.-

Friday, August 25, 2006

August 25 - Silly Socks

Every once in a while I find myself painting something totally silly.  Silly sock subjects.  As I was folding laundry this afternoon, I started to see these ordinary socks in a new way.  The character of the socks became more important than their utilitarian purpose.  Arranging them to reveal that character took almost as much time as the creation of the painting itself.  No master piece this, yet I found the painting of socks to be sublimely rewarding and funny.  I'm chuckling as I look at the painting attached, and almost feel as though the Aflack duck is looking back at me.  Who would have thought "Silly Socks" would have such character?  What makes a good painting?  Is it is the subject, or how it is painted, or the story it reveals?
  There's a question for the ages.  5 x 7 Original oil, $100 for a silly painting of silly socks! Good for a laugh anytime.
Available from the web site for this date at

Thursday, August 24, 2006

August 24 - Garden Tomatoes

"You Say Tomato" Today's image contains more of the tomatoes that ended up in the salad du jour, but paused for a while on the taboret. I enjoyed painting these fellows because of the need to make them step back in space.  You see, I knew that was my focus before I even lifted a brush. We have tools at our hand to make distance appear on the flat planes of our canvas--saturation, focus, value.  I'm really pleased at how the edges change from tomato to tomato, and how the colors decrease in both value and saturation as the illusion is made to "fall back" in space.  As I sat and looked at their luscious form and color in the studio, that distance and space was not apparent. As artists, we make reality more beautiful.  7 x 5 oil for $100. -

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

August 23 - Afternoon Lit Pear

"Afternoon Pear" One of the handiest tools for teaching is to have an example/sample visual for students to handle when grasping new ideas. Last year I did a series of red pears in all types of light, and since that time, have sold a few of them. Now I'm replacing those missing ones with some new ones. This is the example I'll use to explain the shadow behavior on afternoon light. I've enhanced the shadow a bit for clarity. $100 from the web site for today's date.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

August 22 - Problem Painting

"Problem Child Revisited" Remember this one? It was a couple months ago (June 17) that I was on location and painted the first version of this 6 x 6 oil. Now, what with moving and chaos abounding, I decided to pick this one up and make some serious surgical changes. Call it a face lift! Compare the prior image to this one, and see if you can see how many design changes I did. Don't say, "you removed the water edge," but rather, "you increased the shape of the water and mirrored the land's shape to create repetition that intrigues the eye." When you make corrections to paintings, use design terms to describe what you did, and that will go a long way to help you know WHY what you did worked. Just saying that I put in some branches only states the obvious. Saying that I keep the viewer's eye from going out of the top of the painting by the shapes of the leaf clusters, says a whole 'nother thing. This one may get more work, but I'm loading the horse trailer with dog kennel panels early tomorrow, so I'm due to do some serious checking of the eyes for light leaks. 'Night.

Monday, August 21, 2006

August 21 - Pack Mule, Stepping Out

"Stepping Out"  Now is this appropriate for moving, or what? Ho ho!  Here's a PACK MULE (and I sure can relate as I sit here with aching muscles and unmoved loads!) with a full set of panniers going out on the trail.  Those first few steps are full of resistance to forward movement... like me in the mornings lately!  I do have to say that every day it is getting better--the studio boxes are getting unpacked, plans are unfolding for the canvas and frame storage areas, and I'm even getting ready to dismantle the Hughes easel and send (carry) it over to the new place of honor.  Along with great thoughts like that are ones of today's work.  I spent a good portion of it hacking with a machete at cactus that has been around for fifty years, harboring all sorts of vermin way too close to the house.  Temps in the mid-90s.  Hooked the diesel pickup with a logging chain to one of them, and almost pulled some of it out with great excitement, at least until the chain snapped.  Tomorrow, more of the same.  Painting seems so civilized and genteel compared to machetes and logging chains.  Visions of the rat who stole my digital camera go through my head as I swing the tool.  Makes for efficient slicing of a moist and thorny spindle of green, opening up new views and creating room under the pines.  Maybe I'm a bit "mulish" about it???
SOLD to the collection of Charlotte McDavid of Birmingham, Alabama.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

August 20 - Moonlight Horse #2

"So what's with the moonlight, Elin?" Most probably I'm trying to escape into the darkness from all the issues surrounding the new house.  So busy, every day... 
This 5 x 7 oil is the "other one" for the moonlight explanation in the upcoming workshops.  Note the muted colors!  This one conveys the same feel for moonlight, but is done with very muted colors in the system, following the cool palette completely.  There are no cadmiums in this painting!  Compare it with yesterday's strong colors, and you can see how knowing the system requires time to learn to tone it down.  I've had some nice emails from former students whose work is getting to this new level.
  I wanted to hide when I found some anatomical issues with yesterday's piece and today's already gives me the golly-wobbles when I look at it, but I keep reminding myself "this is a quick study" not a carefully crafted piece destined for some museum somewhere.  Hey, teachers need to make an instructional point sometimes at the expense of drawing accuracy.  Don't shoot me.  I'll fix it.  Last year I used pears.  You can make a lot of anatomical mistakes on pears and nobody cares.  Do a horse wrong and everybody notices...