Thursday, April 25, 2013

Week 12

Unfinished Boat, acrylic on board, 12"x 12"

The unfinished week. Life interfered with painting this week. Tonight as I was working on the boat, I realized I'd better stop before I dropped. Will post finished boat soon. This series is the first time I've worked on board and I'm doing so because of STORAGE. My series of the 36 views of Mt. Tamalpais and the 36 birds (all painted on canvas) took up a lot of space in the studio.

Cows on Road, acrylic on board, 14" x 11"

Again, not quite finished. Almost, but it needs an hour or so more. 
This is a scene I came across just off Highway 5 on the way to Los Angeles.

Obama, acrylic on board, 10" x 8"

It amazes me how one small brush stroke can change an expression. He's smiling more broadly in the photo I used, but I couldn't capture it. Maybe he's just more subdued for me. Obama is the reason I started on this path of painting portraits, I was doing studies of eyes, noses and mouths with my students and I used Obama's mouth as an example. It really looked like his teeth and I thought, hey I can do portraits! 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Week 11

Empty Hill, acrylic on board, 10"x 8"

A hard week. I usually do most of my painting on Mondays, but this Monday, my sister and her husband ran in the Boston Marathon. I was excitedly tracking them all morning and tuned into a live feed to watch them cross the finish line. The bombs had just gone off. From the amazing electronic tracking the race provides, I could see right away they were still approaching the finish line and not there, but after that the day was pretty much finished. After finally hearing from them in person, I went outside in the sun and weeded the garden. I painted this in the evening, a simple image, and somehow appropriate. Also to the history of the photographer below—he and his assistants took photos of many fields filled with another sort of emptiness. 

Mathew Brady, acrylic on board, 10"x 8"

Water Glass, acrylic on board, 14"x 11"

Perfectly imperfect. 
I feel that a painting is never perfect unless it has an area that is not quite right.
I've been citing the Greek myth of Arachne, (who got in trouble with the gods for 
creating too perfect a weaving) when my students get fussy about their work not 
being good enough, but looking up the myth I remembered I learned this from 
Navajo weavers and came across this lovely passage: 

Weaving was a trait passed from mother to daughter. You can still find that the designs on true Navajo rugs will always have a flaw in the pattern. This flaw is intentional, and the Navajo believe that this flaw allows the spirit of the blanket to have the freedom to roam, and for the blanket to never truly end.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Week 10

Pears II, acrylic on board, 12"x 12"

I painted four paintings this week... the pears twice. I did the painting below first (it's a possible donation it to an auction). I was tired at the time and got very timid about the painting. I have been missing a more simple style I was working with a while ago (other examples can be found at So after feeling very dissatisfied with Pears I, I did the painting above. It's done with my favorite three paint colors: 
titanium white, raw sienna and paynes grey. 

The pared down paintings somehow hold my interest more, 
I can spend a long time looking at them.

 Doing this assignment, I have to paint no matter how tired I am, but I am finding I can't be 
too tired, otherwise I am not fearless about the paint.

I realize that 18 weeks will be a good time finish this series. 18 is a sixth of 108, and at 18 weeks I have to get started working on my summer camp.

Pears I, acrylic on canvas, 8"x 8"

Landscape, acrylic on board, 12"x 9"

Another landscape from the train. I am pretty sure this is from the high plains east of Glacier.

Martin Luther King, Jr., acrylic on board, 8"x 10"

One of my most admired historical figures. Coincidentally, as I was touching up this painting, I happened to be listening to Bill Moyers on NPR and the subject was King's multiracial fight for justice. It was an amazing experience to be working on intimate details on his face as I was hearing his voice on the radio. Moyers played excerpts of King's speeches on how racial equality is linked to economic equity. King's remarks were completely current to what is going on in this country today, 45 years after his death.
I am in awe of this great man, flaws and all. 
This entire country should be taking his words to heart.

The people keeping me company in my studio.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Week 9

Camera, acrylic on board, 12" x 12"

This week I have been working on the fine line between a painting being too literal or too messy. I prefer paintings that are one or two steps back from being finished or too polished. I find it happens a lot with the painters I see on television, they'll be working a piece and it looks really good and then they add in those finishing touches and it looks hokey! 
I am always trying to stay as loose as possible, however with a subject such as this camera, 
the details are so interesting that I get caught up in trying to render them accurately 
and the details make the painting tight. 
This painting is a little too finished for my taste, but I like it anyway.
The love of all things camera runs deep in my family.... my father started me early with a box Brownie, already quite an old camera at the time.

Woman, acrylic on board, 8"x 10"

The portraits are engaging me the most because I am such a beginner at portrait painting. 
I decided to take Sargent's advice this week and paint someone I had no connection to. 
This is an anonymous photograph from the internet. 
The portraits are coming along.... at some point the painting is just done and even if is not quite right and I should do as Sargent says and start again from the beginning, I haven't left myself time for that. I am hoping starting again each week will be the fresh start I didn't allow myself the week before.

Wyoming from the Train, acrylic on board, 12" x 9"

Those of you who know me, know I have hundreds of photographs taken from trains. 
Enough that I could just paint landscapes taken from trains for the rest of my life. 
This is taken from the back car, although it looks as if it's a view from the front. 
They've never let me on an engine yet.