"Paintings have a life of their own that derives from the painter's soul." Vincent Van Gogh

Monday, March 27, 2017

Anders Zorn and the Zorn Palette

There is a silver lining to every cloud. With my current back issues making it impossible to stand at the easel for any length of time, I have had plenty of opportunity to devour some of my art books from cover to cover. I have spent the most time looking at my incredible book on Sweden's Master Painter, Anders Zorn. The color plates are of great quality and it is easy to see that his portraits are nothing short of magnificent. His brushwork is virtuoso while his colors are so so subtle and real.

I was intrigued by his limited palette. It is said that he only used four colors - referred to as the Zorn Palette. He worked his magic using cadmium red medium, ivory black, yellow ocher and titanium white. How could this be possible? I decided to find out for myself and spent time today creating a color chart using just those colors. I always learn so much about color when I take the time to do an exercise like this.

The first photo shows the color chart next to the book open to a page showing  two of his portraits.

The next photo shows the actual chart - I will remove those blue tape strips when the paint is dry and position this in my studio so I can reference it while I am painting. I will definitely try out this palette one day. And I do recommend the book - not only are the plates clear and crisp, it makes for great reading as he was a bigger than life character and became a much sought after portrait painter among the wealthy in  late 19th century America.

Hopefully, it wont be much longer before I can get back to painting.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Fraught With Possibiity

Fraught With Possibility /Oil on linen panel / 24 x 18 / 

Close up of upper body (the color turned out strange in this shot for some reason).

She fits on the canvas!

Fitting her on the canvas using my sketch as a reference
In this painting, doing a preliminary sketch helped me to decide what size canvas I needed and also helped to place the figure on the canvas. Unfortunately, my back went out in the middle of this endeavor. I powered through it but think I will take a few days rest now. :(

Monday, March 20, 2017

Back to the Drawing Board

Ballerina / multi-media - graphite, charcoal, pastel on newsprint / 24 x 18

Close up of upper body
I rarely do a preparatory study for a larger painting but having, tried her in oils twice without success, I thought I would try sketching her. When I was painting, she kept demanding a larger and larger canvas. I may try her again in oils one day.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Matter of Degree

A Matter of Degree / oil on linen / 12 x 9

Her enthusiasm is showing although she may pay for it with a backache later tonight!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Rekindling Enthusiasm

Rekindling Enthusiasm / oil on linen sheet / 16 x  12

A return of one of my ballerinas. She emerged from my brush when I stood in front of a white canvas wondering what to paint.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Portrait Practice as a WIP

Portrait practice, alla prima, oil on linen sheet

Loose oil sketch directly on canvas establishing light and shadow

Mostly done but I decided to add a quick pinkish background

Finished - oil on linen, 12 x 16
I did this portrait today as I am having a crisis of subject matter - nothing seems to be catching my imagination and demanding to be painted. When that happens (and it does from time to time) I tend to fall back on the basics and wait for inspiration to hit.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Hounds, Horses and Jockeys

 This little painting was inspired by the hounds of Chateau Cheverny in France - hunting hounds that are a cross between English and American Foxhounds. They are incredibly beautiful animals!

Hounds / oil on canvas panel / 12 x 12

 And some doodling on newsprint - perhaps this fellow will show up in a painting some day.

Sketch of a jockey astride  his mount / graphite on newsprint

 And an experiment using pink drawing paper toned with burnt umber essence (highly thinned oil paint). I just love this grouping of horses and riders.

Racing / Oil sketch on paper

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Having Reached the Turning Point

Yesterday afternoon was spent sequestered in my studio, under my wonderful LED daylight lighting, completing the painting begun during our stay in Stanford. It felt wonderful to be in the comfort and security of my studio, immersed in painting and letting go of all stress and worry as the artistic spirit overtook me once again.

Here is the completed jump racing picture, a photo of it in an intermediate stage and a photo of the start of the painting in the hotel room. Even though I began this painting only about a week ago, it feels like a century has passed!

Having Reached the Turning Point / oil on linen panel / 14 x 18

Intermediate stage

Hotel room beginning

Friday, February 24, 2017

Snowy Trip Through the Mountains

My husband and I were delayed returning to home by a major snowstorm in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The freeway was completely closed for a while so we had to hunker down in our hotel a little longer than expected. Finally we got a sunny day, the roads were cleared and we made it home. I give a heartfelt thanks to all of you who commented on my blog while we were traveling and for sending your best wishes for my husbands recovery. We are both so happy to be home, he is well on the way to a complete recovery and I have learned how much I appreciate the little things - like my very soft pillows, our English teacups, the way the afternoon light moves through our house and the wonderful people who support and sustain me here in cyberspace. A very deep and heartfelt thanks to all of you.

Here is a short photo chronicle of our drive home through the rugged and snowy mountains:

The I-80 is the main road from California into Nevada

This photo shows a glimpse of the Truckee River at the bottom. It is the only river to run out of Lake Tahoe and tumbles down through the mountains into my home town of Reno.

Finally we are back in civilization!
And some imagination and fun at the easel - I don't know what to call this creature with the upper half of a man and the body of a bull!

Oil on linen panel / 20 x 16

Friday, February 17, 2017

Man in a Yellow Suit and Various and Sundries.....

Man in a Yellow Suit / oil on masonite / 16 x 12
Hotel room setup

Steeplechase in progress

Sketchbook page

Sketchbook page
The light in my hotel room is providing me with a great challenge - you can see the garish color in man with a yellow suit. I admit I was experimenting with some new paint colors (rose madder in particular) but was surprised at the intensity once I moved the painting away from the fluorescent light in the bathroom. I long to return to the overhead daylight LED lighting that I have in my home studio. For the work in progress steeplechase painting, I am trying to place my easel close to the window and away from artificial light. However, its raining again and very dark and dreary outside.

If all goes well, my husband and I will pack up our things and head back to Nevada on Tuesday. He is recovering slowly but steadily from a major surgery that he had last week at Stanford Hospital (the reason for our trip) and it will be good to get him home and back to a normal routine again.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Man in a Red Suit

Man in a Red Suit / oil on canvas panel / 16 x 12
Close up

My husband and I are unexpectedly traveling and spending time in California for family reasons. We will be here a bit over two weeks and I decided to bring my plein air painting supplies along with me. This morning I set myself up in the hotel room and found some time to paint. It's a little awkward and cramped but so far, is working out fine. The weather has been rain, rain and more rain - good for California and good for staying inside and experimenting in oil paint!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Neptune's Court

Another oil sketch done from a photo of the Neptune's court Fountain outside the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. You can find the first one here: Neptune's Court I

Neptune's Court II / oil on linen panel / 16 x 20

In the meantime, my daughter's wanderlust has taken her to Milan, Italy where she was lucky enough to go have the opportunity to tour the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie and to view Leonardo da Vinci's mural painting  the 'Last Supper'. It was painted in 1495 and she tells me it took her breath away to see it in person.

Here is the photo she took while there:

Monday, January 23, 2017

Some Figurative Work and more SNOW!

I took a few photos while hanging out in a waiting room recently and had fun doing this graphite sketch and quick oil study of the same man. 

Graphite and white charcoal on newsprint /  18 x 14

Waiting Room Blues / oil on linen panel / 14 x 18

And a few photos of our wintry  landscape....

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Another Hound Dog....

Oil on linen panel / 14 x 11

Done on a toned linen panel, this hound and his loping gait intrigued me. He is a Treeing Walker Coonhound - a type of dog I had never heard of until someone asked me to paint him! Such a beautiful animal!

Below is a close up crop to show the brush work in a little more detail:

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Late Start to 2017 Blogging

Some new canine paintings to begin 2017 - untitled as of this moment.

Oil on linen panel / 18 x 24

Oil  on linen panel / 16 x 20

And a graphite figurative drawing on some old wrinkly newsprint. It's been quite a while since I did any figure drawing and this was a difficult pose. I am not displeased with the results but wish I had drawn it on better paper.

Graphite on newsprint / 24x18
We had a white Christmas and several storms these past few weeks.  Lots of rain resulting in flooding of the Truckee River. It was quite a sight to see and I certainly learned to respect the power of Mother Nature. Reno had been in a drought for the last 5 years (since we moved here) and this past summer, the river was down to a trickle. It's the first time we have seen it in all its raging glory! The rain storms were followed by snow storms - up to nine feet in the higher elevations. The ski resorts nearby are having a wonderful ski season and my husband and I are getting good use out of our shovels and snowblower!

And my five favorite Christmas gifts - four wonderful art books to devour cover to cover and add to my library and a porcelain tea service from my dear friend in the UK! What a nice surprise that was and it has led to a rather civilized new habit of my husband and I sharing a pot of green tea each afternoon!

Art books for Christmas!

Wedgewood tea service from England
Plenty of snow!
We are expecting several more storms by this weekend - the local meteorologists are calling them "atmospheric rivers". Apparently the storms originate far out over the Pacific Ocean and pick up huge amounts of moisture while generating fierce winds. The storms rush in succession over California (which has also been drought ridden and is benefiting from all the rain) then they soar over the Sierra Nevada Mountains where they become colder and change over to snow.  We have a wonderful view of all this energy from our back yard. It's amazing to watch!

Off to relax with a cup of tea and my new David Curtis book -  Painting with Impact. He is a wonderful painter - both oil and watercolor and this book is mostly about his philosophy of painting. I can't wait to read it!

Hope everyone is having a terrific start to this New Year!