Saturday, January 28, 2012

One more curve of the Horseshoe Falls

I seem to never tire of this view. Two years ago, at my November open house, Marian & Bob Granfield purchased a pastel with a similar view and later another customer was also interested. She asked if I would please copy it for her.

It was a plein air, painted in midsummer heat as I scrunched myself and art supplies under my big white umbrella attached to the guardrail. It would not be possible to recapture the same heat and energy of that day without returning to the falls in hot sunshine.

It remained on my 'to-do' list, but the light or time was never right and two summers passed. However, during the Worldwide Paint Out in September 2011 I had set up on the state park lawn with a friend, Joan, to capture the Saturday afternoon light over Canada. Without thinking about it, the curve beckoned me and this is the result. A little closer view than the first painting, I was surprised that it was similar in colors to the first painting and sure Jennie would be pleased when she returned to the studio. Well, this past November she came in and liked this painting but went home with another view. That was fine with me, I was not quite ready to part with the first one and now this is on my gallery wall for a while and we are all happy.

September Energy, pastel 12x18 2011

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Original Artworks that were purchased as gifts

Christmas was an opportunity for gift paintings to take up new residences and leave my walls. Each January I start new art files on the computer but I still have a few paintings listed in multiple years. It depends on when the photos are taken and sometimes I forget when a particular piece was completed. If I really love it, it seems more recent than ones that have less of my love.

As a result of this filing system I may discover some photos that still need to be shot - it is not easy to catch up because when I shoot my own the weather and light has to be just right, morning with no wind, not too bright out but not cloudy either. (Yes, I miss the amazing setup I had with strobes and a darkroom) I sometimes find that a picture has entirely evaded the camera and this post is to honor those sold paintings that went out silently to live on new walls. I had planned to post a series of paintings that were sold late Fall for December gift giving, but I missed the final shot of one pastel lovely. Good thing I know where they live!

Time to get ready for the Spring gift season, all made in USA.
American Falls from Secret Garden, pastel 12x18, collection of Jennie Henderson

Listen for the Loon, oil 8x10, collection of Mr & Mrs. Alex

Olympic Ice, oil 12x24, Linda Koester, gift to Nebraska family

Return to Serenity, commission, pastel 15x12.5, Emily, gift to her California family

Above the Clouds, oil 5x7, collection of Alan Hastings

December 10pm, oil 24x24 collection of Mr. & Mrs. Glen Altman

A tale of two house portraits.

Several years ago, I painted a newly landscaped DeVeaux home (shown below) for Michele Altman, she wanted to surprise her husband for Christmas.

She called me this Fall to paint it again, same size, same view, this time a night painting and with snow on the now grown trees and bushes. Of course, this was the year that the first snow came in January, so I had to fake it. Having lived through 40 1/2 winters here I did not have difficulty with the snow, its colors or reflections, but I was challenged mightily by the colors of night, what happens to white as the lights go on, the trims and wall colors of a building that is light in daylight.

It took about 6 night trips to establish the values by sneakily sketching from my car and the last time I went I thought the jig was up. Glen had sauntered out of his house, very slowly, then sat in his car in the driveway for a long time as I guiltily waited in my car across the street. Since my car was off, I thought I was safe, but realized the headlights had remained on with a key in the ignition. Finally, he drove away. SLOWLY. Then showed up driving right next to me, I didn't look up, just pretended to be writing instead of drawing, but it really spooked me. His car went back in the driveway and Michele hurried out to the car, head down. They sat in the driveway longer than you can imagine with the engine on, finally backed out and verrrryy slowly drove down the block. Seconds later, their car was stopped next to mine. I didn't look up as she should probably recognize what I was doing. Adrenaline racing, vigilantes gathering, pistols drawn, police called, my imagination was racing and I was more than stressed. I was a stranger in their neighborhood, looking in people's windows, watching for...

They turned left and I went right, to head back home, obviously upset, when I realized the car was following me. I waited for the sirens as I followed every traffic rule and tried to casually race myself home and lose the tail. Hooray for red wine and a sympathetic husband at home, hours later I was finally composed again with that bad memory.

Finally. I spoke to Michele who said "Oh, then? We were admiring our Christmas lights."

WIth a little research I gingerly added the correct constellations for December in the night sky. The wet painting was delivered on December 24 and made a great Christmas more special for all of them. And I am promising myself AGAIN, not to paint any more surprise commission paintings from my customers.

December 10pm, oil 24x24 2011
Altman Home, oil 24x24 2007

Friday, January 6, 2012

The eye sees more than the camera

Why I do not like to paint from photographs.......

Painting outdoors sometimes brings the weirdest comments, the worst of which is 'What are you doing?', followed by 'What are you Painting?' and 'Do you know my aunt in Ohio, she likes to paint, too.'
More often, people are respectful, interested and pleasant to talk to. Observers will sometimes ask about the composition or notice details that they missed in nature, but some commentators ask about a concept known as local color. It has to do with the actual colors that things are, what one sees. The best example is to look at tree trunks, I have yet to see a really brown bark, it is often greenish or yellowed or gray, yet ask someone what color a trunk is and hear the answer 'brown'. Since I tend to use fairly bright colors and contrasts there are questions. I can show them my view and the colors of my inspiration and they easily see why I choose my colors.

On a quiet November day, after all the Maid of the Mist boats were in storage I painted with Jacq Baldini  near the Canadian docks. I took this photo of my painting on the easel in progress. The near images are fairly accurate, but the camera was unable to record the colors in the weeds, Fall foliage beyond the waterfalls or the depth of the gorge walls. The light shining in the plume of the Horseshoe mist did not create shadows in the photograph, but in real life they are rich and colorful. If I painted from the photograph the canvas would be nearly gray and white while in nature my eyes could see so much more variation and color.

Being an artist allows me to study rich contrasts and details and record them better than any camera. It is a bonus to spend hours in nature, appreciating and recording the feel and sounds of the land.
Niagara Plume in progress, 18x24 oil