Monday, March 17, 2014

Alla Prima

I'm practicing for another Face Off live painting demo. This time at Principle Gallery's Charleston location, April 4, 2014, 5-8pm. I'll be painting alongside Rachel Constantine and Alia El-Bermani from the same model. The event is free and open to the public. Please stop by and see us!

This is a painting I did last week. I thought everyone might enjoy seeing a few shots of the piece in progress. This is an alla prima process which means that it was painted in one sitting. Alla Prima is Italian and literally means "at once." I apologize for the less than adequate iPhone images.

This was after one 20 minute session. I try to get the head the right size, decide the placement of the features and notice the areas of shadow and light. I'm blocking in with burnt umber slightly thinned with my medium mixture of linseed oil/OMS in a 60/40 ratio.
Next I continued working on the umber shapes. I rubbed out the reflected light with a T-Shirt. I blocked in the light areas noticing the peculiarities of the shapes, and varied the color slightly where I saw big changes.
During this session I continued making adjustments to the shadow and light shapes. I brought the hairline down and worked on the shape of the face. Between this step and the final I had one more session that I forgot to shoot :(
Meghan in a Cool Mood, 20x16, oil sketch on canvas board.
All told, it was a 3 hour model session. With breaks, we had five 20 minute sessions of actual time with the model.

Alla Prima Pros:
Alla prima painting is an entirely different style of painting than my studio work. I highly recommend it. I think it's fun, exhilarating and it has made me a better painter. It improves confidence with a brush and decision making, because, let's face it, there's no time to ponder a particular shade of pink! Just get something down that is close and move on.

Time Distortion:
One very strange thing I've noticed about these sessions is that the first 20 minutes seems very long, and with each successive session, time seems to go faster and faster. It's a very strange phenomenon because the feeling is so pronounced. I'm used to getting "in the zone" while I work but it feels different. Maybe it's because the timer's interruption causes artificial breaks rather than times when I'm naturally coming out of the zone, like bathroom or food breaks or some body part or another has gone to sleep.

The time passing faster is a lot like life, isn't it? Time seems to pass faster all the time as we age and it's the same with the life of each of these little sketches.

Other tid bits:
~The canvas is Frederix Belgian Linen Paint Board.
~It was stained with an acrylic wash in burn umber.
~I use almost exclusively Rembrandt oil paints, and Silver & Rosemary brushes.

I invite you to follow me on Tumblr and on InstagramClick Alla Prima to see my other posts on the this fun subject.

Enjoy! See you in Charleston. 


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Art Facts That Makes You Go Huh?!!!


Yeah, this happened.

The painting (bottom image) is The Night Watch, by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1642, Oil on canvas, 142.9"×172.0", located in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

The top image is a 17th century copy with indication of the areas cut down in 1715.

According to Wiki:

In 1715, upon its removal from the Kloveniersdoelen to the Amsterdam Town Hall, the painting was trimmed on all four sides. This was done, presumably, to fit the painting between two columns and was an all-too-common practice before the 19th century. This alteration resulted in the loss of two characters on the left side of the painting, the top of the arch, the balustrade, and the edge of the step. This balustrade and step were key visual tools used by Rembrandt to give the painting a forward motion. A 17th-century copy of the painting by Gerrit Lundens at the National Gallery, London shows the original composition.

I discovered this Art Fact That Makes You go Huh?!!! while researching for a previous blog post, Tableau Vivant.  Enjoy!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Correct Lighting for an Artist's Studio

We can’t all be lucky enough to have huge, custom built studios, complete with a wall of north light windows. Here's a White Stripes video to explain how we all have fell at some point about needing a bigger, better room!




So what do you do when you you are working in a spare bedroom, (where my old studio was) the basement, a garage, a corner of the kitchen (I've also had one there) or a converted family room? That's where my current studio is and I love it. I've had many different light solutions but this is the best yet for my space.



Things to consider:

Size of the studio:


My ceiling height is 9'7" and the floor space of the area where I paint is 14.5"x20". The corners of the room are a little dark, but there is plenty of light over my easel area. The ceiling are tall enough that I don't get a glare on the painting.

What kind and how many light fixtures do you need:

We replaced the standard family room ceiling fixture with two kitchen fixtures. Each holds 4- 48" florescent lights. We had two switches in the room, one for the light and one for a ceiling fan. We wired one switch to each light so I have the flexibility of having only one light on at a time. This is useful for still life set ups or lighting a model.

Choosing bulbs:

Color Temperature or K-When choosing lights we looked for daylight bulbs, 5000k which is considered horizon daylight. Bulbs below 5000k tend to be too warm, and 5500-6000k is considered vertical daylight and equivalent to electronic flash. Those bulbs are too cool blue for my taste. 

CRI or Color Rendering Index of the bulb- The CRI measures of the ability of a light source to reproduce the colors of various objects faithfully in comparison with an ideal or natural light source. Bulbs with a number close to 100 are the best, preferred for use in print businesses and anywhere color accuracy is important. This Philips bulb (F32T8/TL950) is one with the highest CRI of 98 that I found.



Where to get bulbs:

I found them on Amazon. Other place have them cheaper but most sell in bulk of a minimum of 25 bulbs.

I have a few GE Sunshine F32's mixed in which are also 5000k but have a color rendering index of only 86. When those go out I'll probably replace them with the F32T8/TL950 bulbs.

More about CRI:

You can make yourself crazy researching this because much has been written about CRI and color temperature of lighting, but my solution seems to be working really well. 

With my old lighting, pole lights with color corrected bulbs placed at different places throughout the studio, I would have surprises when I looked at the painting in different light. I was constantly moving paintings back and forth between the studio and up to the kitchen which had better, natural lighting, to check the color. I was constantly moving the light around to avoid glare on the paintings. Happily these bulbs corrected that.

Most of this information first appeared in my email Newsletter, that you can sign up for here!

Good luck and happy painting in whatever little room you call your own!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Tableau Vivant

Tableau vivant (plural: tableaux vivants) means "living picture". The term is French and describes a group of costumed actors or artist's models, carefully posed and often theatrically lit to replicate a painting or photograph.

Throughout the duration of the display, the people participating do not speak or move. The approach thus marries the art forms of the stage with those of painting or photography.
The Three Fates Tableau Vivant, by Nele, Eva, Kato of Belgium.
Last year I was contacted by Nele, Eva and Kato, 17 year old art students from Belgium.

"First of all we want to say that we really like your work. That's why we've chosen to imitate 'The three fates'. Our teacher of art at school gave us an assignment: turn a painting into a 'living work' ('tableau vivant' we call it). And that's what we did with 'The Three Fates'.

Wow, I was amazed at what a great job they did capturing the essence of the painting and honored that they'd choose my painting. There is poignancy in the fact that my painting, which is of my artist friends; Diane Feissel, Sadie Valerie and Alia El-Bermani, are founders of the Women Painting Women movement, has inspired young women artists on the other side of the world! Thank you Nele, Eva and Kato for sharing your work with me!

The Three Fates, 30x40, oil on panel 

In 2012, I heard from Tami Ross

"I am a film student at SCAD (savannah College of Art and Design) in Savannah, GA.  This quarter I am taking a lighting class and our first project was to take a painting that inspires us and re-create it with a little narrative. I used 'Power Struggle' and wanted to share my short film with you."



Awesome! Her male model even has a cleft chin like Pete. She did a great job creating her own narrative for the painting.
Power Struggle, 30x40, oil on panel
Inspiration for posting this now, is an amazing video of a Night Watch tableau vivant sent to my email inbox this morning.



And here is the painting.

The Night Watch or The Shooting Company of Frans Banning Cocq (Dutch: De Nachtwacht),
1642 by Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn.
Enjoy!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Vive La (R)evolution Press Part 2!

More press after last fall's Women Painting Women shows came down,
here is Round 2! See Round 1 HERE.

Some artists involved in the shows have been blogging about their WPW opening experience, different aspects of what it means to be in a Women Painting Women show and how women artists approach this theme, possibly, differently than their male counterparts. Their insights are well worth reading!
Carly Strickland's blog (catalog designer), Self Portrait at Work, vector illustration
Linda Tracey Brandon,'s Blog  A World With Stripes,  24x36, oil
Lisa Gloria's Blog,  Victory, 24v18, oil on Maple
Ilaria Rosselli Del Rurco's Blog, Girl From Virginia,  24x32,  oil
Candice Bohannon, oil on mounted linen, 13.25x44.25


There is an eloquent and thought provoking review of the show by Gail Leggio in the
very well respected American Arts Quarterly in the Fall 2013 issue.


Individual back issues are $3 each (shipping included). Please be sure to indicate the number of copies, Volume number, and issue number for each order. Checks should be made payable to: Cultural Studies Center, 915 Broadway, Suite 1104, New York, N.Y. 10010.
For further information contact: dschultz@nccsc.net

American Arts Quarterly, Fall 2013, Cover. That's Sadie Valerie's self portrait
If you click on the images of the pages below they should be large enough for you to read them. The article is not online.  



Times Free Press, by Barry Courter, a review of the Townsend Atelier show.
Women Seen by Women Seers, (I like that title), in The Pulse, by Michael Crumb,
a review of the Townsend Atelier show.
catalog is available for the Townsend Atelier show.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Samson and Delilah, Trust and Betrayal

My painting, Samson and Delilah, Trust and Betrayal has been used in National Geographic's television documentary Lost Faces of the Bible, episode: Delilah Revealed. It is a biblical archaeological series.
The director came across the painting online and asked for permission to use it at the end of the episode for a montage of various depictions of Delilah over the centuries. I've been told it would be on screen for approximately 2 seconds. I have yet to see it but if you do let me know!
Samson and Delilah, Trust and Betrayal, 36x52, oil on canvas over panel
The painting was a way for me to explore a moment of choice.  What we do and how we spend our days defines us. Even small daily choices have long term ramifications on the rest of our lives. I wanted to capture that moment when Delilah is deciding whether or not to cut Samson's hair. 
It's also about his trust and her betrayal. Each of those behaviors are choices consciously made.
This painting is in a private collection in Homewood, AL. Thank you Mary Lee and Kevin for inviting it into your home!

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Art Innovation of the Year Award!

Women Painting Women continues to be an inspirational movement!

The group received two awards from Katherine Tyrrell's Making a Mark Blog. If you don't know her massively popular blog check it out. It is listed as #14 in the top 75 art blogs. Katherine recognized the WPW and the innovation of print on demand publishing as being game changers for the art world.

The Art Innovation of the Year Award is for the group's production of the Women Painting Women: (R)evolution catalog produced by Matter Deep Publishing and designed by Carly Strickland for the WPW show at Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA in Sept, 2013.
The Art Innovation of the Year Award is awarded to highlight those artist bloggers who experiment and/or create and/or share innovations which help the practice of other artists.

The sharing may be through:
the invention of a new tool or art medium to aid artists
testing and reviewing a new art medium or material
experiments with existing or new art media, materials or equipment and the creation of                           a new way of doing things 

Making a Mark writes:

The Women Painting Women group... used HP's Magcloud to enable potential collectors to buy either print and online versions of their catalogue for the Women Painting Women (R)evolution exhibition. It's a novel way of enabling people to access a catelogue without having to spend a lot of money - because MagCloud works on the basis of a call off production.  They priced the digital catalogue at $5.99 - a figure which won't phase most collectors. 

Of course, we at Matter Deep Publishing are very excited to hear about the award!  Print on demand and digital publishing are great business tools and formats that we whole-heartily embrace.
Catalog available in digital or print.
The second award for the WPW is:

Making a Mark writes:
What the women had planned for 2013 fell only a little short of world domination! In the end, in 2013, the project organized and held SEVEN concurrent exhibitions and went international. Where do they go from here? Some National Portrait Gallery has got to pick them up at some point surely?

"This is an art blog project which started with an admirable set of values, achieved its goals and then changed up a gear and created a significant movement amongst painters. In all of this the art blog has proved a valuable tool for showcasing the work of various women artists and providing a place of reference and an accessible identity for their work.

Thank you Making a Mark again for recognizing the Women Painting Women and Print on Demand as being game changers for the art world!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

From Our Family to Yours
May your 2014 be filled with people to love, work to do and something to look forward to. And when something goes wrong in your life, try throwing your arms up in the air and yelling "PLOT TWIST" then move on! 


Monday, October 21, 2013

Alla Prima Still Life Demo

Last Saturday, Oct 19, 2013, I did a painting demo at Forstall Art Center in Birmingham, AL. I teach oil painting there on Tuesday mornings. Here a quick video of the demo!

"Southern Still Life", 20x16, oil on linen.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

All in the Family-Shelby Living Magazine

Our little family enterprise, Matter Deep Publishing has a lovely article in the Shelby Living Magazine October 2013 issue. You may read about how we got our start, what it's like working with family members and find out about the different hats we all wear.

Thanks so much author Linda Long, photographer Jon Goering and all the nice folks at the magazine!







Monday, September 16, 2013

Daughter of Thought, Women Painting Women:(R)evolution

Here's my third painting in the show at Principle Gallery, opening Sept 20, 2013.

Daughter of Thought,  47x32, oil on canvas over panel.
My model was Philadelphian, and fellow Women Painting Women artist, Rachel Constantine. She is a stand-in for each of my Athena like WPW sisters.


Click Read More below to see more details and links to all the artists in the show.

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