Friday, February 24, 2017

Lunaria or Honesty?

Here is another recent one --of dried "Lunaria".  Do you call it "Lunaria" or do you know it as "Honesty" ? This plant self-seeds in a dry area under the big evergreen in my front garden. It has purple flowers and heart-shaped leaves and then develops flat seed pods with brown outer walls. When they fall off, or are removed, the silvery interior walls are revealed. I wanted to capture a bit of the magical quality of this plant when dried. You can see why it is also called "Silver Dollar" plant - although I have also heard it called the "penny plant". I think you'd have to spray paint it copper to be a penny plant!  Lunaria is its proper Latin plant name , no doubt because it is a bit moon-like That is what I was aiming for with the darker background and the silvery gleam. I started with a dark under-painting - although it got modified afterwards in parts. I lightly painted in the seed pods with transparent white before working in other colours and eventually some Titanium white to intensify some areas. It ended up just a bit magical after all.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Teddy Bears' 114th birthday

     According to today's  newspaper, teddy bears first appeared in a store window on February 15, 1903. The inventor was Morris Michtom who named his stuffed toy after the then-U.S.President Theodore Roosevelt. Teddy Bears are now a $1 billion industry in the United States. This well-worn bear would be close to 90 years old as Teddy was sent from England around 1927. It belonged to my husband and was obviously well-loved to the point where he needed patched paws and feet as well as  trousers for his worn legs. I thought it would be fun to paint him with an old bank that belonged to me as a child - and then he needed some marbles to play with. I think he turned out well and shows his true personality.
    I painted this a short time ago - before the current "City Evenings" series, one of which was the last blog.  I am still continuing them but this seemed a  good day to feature Teddy. Modern bears can have quite different features and colours as well as safer eyes. I'm sure these eyes are the dangerous stick-pin eyes but I think it is fortunate that he does have the original eyes and I like the definite old-fashioned snout. The bank features columns for different coins and pictures of industriously saving children with coins and bags of money.

Monday, February 6, 2017

City nights

This is the painting (16 x 20) that I have put on my February newsletter - fresh off the easel!  I'm working on a series of "city nights" paintings because it is an interesting challenge . I enjoy looking at other artists' city scenes and city night scenes so I want to see what I can bring to this subject area. For mine, I prefer to be at street level - not high up- and have people in the scenes. To me. there is something a little eerie to a deserted street scene. Buildings fading into darkness have a certain mystery and I love reflections of all types. I start with a dark blue" imprimatura ", or base coat. First I sketch in the scene with transparent white, put in some of the darkest darks (no actual black was used in this) and then start building up in layers. It takes some time to build up the effects so that it becomes a painting and not a photo-copy. Sometimes people want to know just where the scene was - but I don't this this is really important - it can be anywhere the viewer visualizes it to be so that the viewer's experiences become part of the enjoyment. I'm giving this series all "time" titles so I'm calling this one "Five Forty-five" - closer to home than "Five-fifteen" when everyone as just leaving their offices. in my mind, the story is that they have bought something at the store with the unclear (deliberately) sign and are now going home with it. I know what I had them buy - and why- but someone else can bring their own story to this. What's your story?

Friday, February 3, 2017

Picture Perfect

     I used this painting on my December newsletter as it was in the December Men in Hats show about Harold Steves that we had in Gateway Theatre but I hadn't used it in a here it is. I wanted to show Harold out in the field with some of the Belted cattle. I have sketched Harold a few times when we have been at a meeting but, considering that he is a very busy man, this was done mostly from photo references. Some artists are very against using photographs at all for portraits. I think, for this, an artist would have to be very very well-known and the portrait would have to be commissioned. At that point, it would be easy to arrange for five or six sessions. For most of us, this is not going to happen and we are glad to be able to get a photograph of someone seen casually and then work it up into a painting, With our "long poses", we have around two and a half hours to work on a painting and then it is sometimes possible to get a photo  of the model (some don't like to be photographed) so the painting can be finished at home. I have just been doing pastel or watercolour work for Long Pose so as to avoid adding more canvases to the stack - so I have not being doing additional work from a photograph, as I am finished in the length of time we have.
     The history of portrait painting is a long one - portraits of princesses sent to prospective husbands for one. Think of Henry VIII feeling that the portrait of Anne of Cleves  was not a true one as reality was different from the flattering painting. In 17th-century Holland. social status was reinforced by portraits by prominent artists of the times. This continued with CEO's of business and important academics having portraits painted for display in their realms of influence. Then photography became better and society turned to studio photographs until that became mainstream.  Then it was back to painted portraits for those who could afford it. Curators at the Art Gallery of Ontario say that a successful portrait captures "what a person wants you to know about them and what the artist sees beneath the surface."  Lucien Freud was a master of letting the viewer see beneath the surface of his subjects. Brenda Bury,  an outstanding Canadian portraitist, says: "Looking at the portrait the viewer should recognize a fellow human. Machines, such as cameras, don't know the difference between the living and the dead. Painters are required to." Brenda has even painted the Queen and her paintings sell for $15,000 to $30,000. Drawings or pastels range from $3,000 to $6,000. I'd be happy  to work for  much less! There is something particularly interesting in the human face. I haven't heard if Harold has seen this painting but a lot of the people who viewed it at Gateway felt that it captured his personality.