Saturday, April 21, 2007

April 21 - The Commission Finished

Finished up this portrait of Meg, and the individual who requested this commission is just thrilled. I'm really pleased with it as well, since it not only allows me to do something meaningful for someone, but it also allows me to think through the puzzle of solving the issues unique to the task.

Sorry about the flub-up on yesterday's subject line. That happens when I type in a date--last year's subject automatically slips in, and I just forgot to update it. Been to Hawaii, not going back any time soon.

Tomorrow is Earth Day, and Betty and I will be heading over to a special event at Dos Lagos near Corona to paint "en plein air'. I will be saying goodby to her next Wednesday, and she already knows how sad that will make me. It's been great fun having such an accomplished artist and friend to interact with, and I'll miss her conversations and good heart.

So tomorrow's painting will be one of the two or more I'll do while on location. See ya then!

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Friday, April 20, 2007

April 20 - The Jack Russell Terrier Commission Continues

Interesting evening. Saw a movie "Big Fish" and it made me think about reality, and where I may be as an artist. We are all at some point on the road to artistic expression, and tonight's movie just helped me to explore my perception of where I am. It isn't a static, no-change location, which is reassuring. As I continue to practice my art, I get better. I learn, I make fewer mistakes, and what I'm doing is very personal and expressive of who I am at this particular moment in time. And moments in time change, so no matter how I feel at the moment, change is inevitable. Perhaps these thoughts are what keep me painting.

I had a wonderful afternoon with Judy Johnson, an artist from Michigan, visiting my studio and meeting her for the first time. Some people are as comfortable as an old sweater--familiar and warm. Judy's that way--and we thoroughly enjoyed one another's company.
And today's work on the commission continues... Now I'm putting in the lighter values, covering the canvas with the shapes and hues of the dog, the patches of snow(!) and the tree trunks. Each element of these added pieces are carefully thought out to enhance the design and keep the viewer's eye within the composition. I minimized the heavier weight of the dog by putting the lower torso in shadow, and having late afternoon light coming in from the right to illuminate the head and chest, keeping the focal point in that area. More work tomorrow!
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Thursday, April 19, 2007

April 19 - Laying in the Background on the Commission Dog

This is where the fun begins--not with the focal point, the dog, but with the background, laying in all those interesting thin color layers, using more transparent pigments such as sap green and burnt umber. I'm starting to get those big shapes in place that will be "noodled" later on to be more interesting. Work on the dog? Nawww, not time yet!! I wait, knowing that if I get the background to look interesting, then it will be my goal to make the dog even MORE interesting. If I get the background too important at this stage, then when I go to work on the dog, everything will be screaming for attention. So I lay in the background areas, making them "nice" but not "TOO" nice! These areas you see today don't have the details yet, that also comes later, as I bring the design to a crescendo for the ultimate finish. Hmmmm, a lot like music. By the way, my muse is imaginary. My hubby would never come in scratching himself and saying I could do better!

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Tomorrow a collector from Canada is coming by for a visit--I plan tea and enjoying meeting Judy, whom I've only known through emails and shipping paintings. It will be a joyous visit to the Two Trees studio!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

April 18 - Meg the Dog Commission, Beginnings

Many wrote with preferences for picking a sketch from yesterday's choices for the upcoming comission, and I appreciate the wonderful reasons for your selections. All are valid. However the muse came in, snorted in disgust and said I could do better. Knowing he was probably right, I got out the pencils and went back to work. The final sketch loosely done with brushwork shows up on this 11 x 14 inch canvas as I begin the work for Marti's memories of Meg. I drew the dog, compositing her from many other dog images, a background from one of the submitted images, and also from having a terrier myself. Nothing like rubbing a hand over a dog to give you ideas on muscles and structure. (Wonder if I can deduct her as a model? Hmmmm.)
This first pass is over a quick removal of the white canvas with a mixture of Australian Red Gold (Artist Spectrum, manufacturer) and Sap Green (Classic Artist Oils). This under layer was wiped with a paper towel, and then the drawing of the background and dog was done with burnt umber. I've started to do the large dark shapes when I remembered, "Elin, take a PICTURE!!". So here ya go! My muse is back on his tuffet, too, hoisting a brew.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

April 17 - Learning Opportunity, Jack Russell Commission

I'm starting the planning stages for a commission of a Jack Russell terrier, and have been given some free rein to do what I like with it. The dog is gone, and it always touches a place of sadness when I am asking my abilities to give the gift of a memory to someone. But I cannot not do it, because I have been so touched by the love of dogs and cats, and their memories are precious to me, too.

I'm working through some ideas for plotting the placement and activity of this JRT, doign what she loved (chasing squirrels) and yet capturing the bundled up energy of this breed. She's mostly white with a tan head. While I work out the design issues, I am thinking about the dog, and studying the three images I have been sent of her. They are small, and don't show a lot of detail. I'm going to have my work cut out for me. AFter I figure the pose, I'll get to working on arranging the background.
Here's one of the source photos:

Monday, April 16, 2007

April 16 - Sharing the Joy, Betty Billups Mural in Progress

In my outer studio (which measures 28 x 22 feet), Betty has set up the mural commission she's doing for Mt. SAC (Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California), and I thought it would be fun for you to see it at this stage--about sixty to seventy percent finished. The mural measures six feet tall and sixteen feet long. The image only shows about fourteen feet of it--couldn't get the camera to take in the right side! Each panel (from 1x4 feet to 4 x 4 feet) is assembled separately, and the final presentation will be with a 1/2 inch gap between the separate pieces, with charcoal gray in between. Makes transporting them a bit easier!

Betty does these murals as commissions and has given me permission to share with you her web page for these beautiful projects! I'm so tickled to have her stay with us while this unfolds. A great opportunity to see a pro do her stuff. I hope you enjoy it. You can go here for her mural page.

OK, so I didn't send one of mine! I'm working on a commission though, which I'll begin to share with you tomorrow as a lesson painting. Another beloved pet, recently gone over the Rainbow Bridge. (This is a particularly nice version of the poem. Anyone who has lost a pet might enjoy seeing this one.)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

April 15 - Leaving with Mr. Ugly

Like after a long night in a bar, when everyone looks a whole lot better the later the hour, I woke up this morning and looked at yesterday's painting and said, "Yeow!! Who hit you with the ugly stick?"
OK, all right, so it wasn't that bad, but finding a need to "finish" it made me grab up the brushes and add one more layer. I sought softer desert grays, and made one of the palms shorter for better design (not like two equal eyeballs looking at you!). It's still just a 7 x 5 inch acrylic, but a nice one for $100, soon to be on the ebay store.
On another note, there are still some spots in the next workshop in June, at Shaker Village, near Pleasant Hill, Kentucky. You get to stay, eat and paint an historic town, and it promises to be a fun-filled acrylic three-dayer. I'll hope to meet some more of you in person! Check out the link for information!
Congratulations to new collector Denise Gutnisky of Covington, Louisiana, on her purchase of two paintings today from my collector's web site, "Evening at the Santa Rosa Plateau" and "Canyon Sunset". Thank you!