Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Old Warrior

It was getting a little late in the day when I started this painting and I was on the side of the road, trucks whizzing by and honking, my arm in a sling, painting with my left hand "like a one-armed paper hanger," as they used to say. I was racing the setting sun and sweating and swatting mosquitoes and some invisible biting bug: not having fun. I thought of myself as a painting warrior of sorts. Plein air painting is radically different than studio painting. It's extreme painting.
That said, I must add that I went over this painting in the studio once I was able to use my right hand again.
Anyway, Warrior was old and Ike-damaged but was not saying "Die" yet. His owner is planning to reburbish him; I was pleased to record his proud, pre-make-over visage.
The rigging was done with my friend's credit card: a little shrimp-boat-painting trick she taught me.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Morning Marsh

This painting is just behind Plein Air Judy. On our Louisiana trip, we visited the site of a house that had been swept away by Ike, leaving the 2 storey deck behind. I painted Judy from beneath it one afternoon. This painting was done from the top of the deck the next day, looking out over the marsh right after sunrise.
I was painting so small because of my frozen shoulder (this is 6x6), but I wanted to convey the vastness of the scene in spite of the limited canvas dimensions. Painting tiny is pretty tricky; it's hard to stay expressive. 
Anyway, this was a beautiful morning and I hope you enjoy this tiny glimpse of it. (This painting was selected for the first 6-Inch Squared Show at the Higbee Gallery in California.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Plein Air Judy

A group of artists went to Louisiana last month to paint shrimp boats and local scenes, and sometimes each other! This is my very dear friend Judy, working on a painting under the cover of a deck that belongs to a house that blew away in Hurricane Ike. There was much devastation still in evidence there, but the people are resilient, rebuilding and very friendly.
This is a tiny painting, 4x6, same size as the Drake Paul painting. It took me as long to paint my tiny paintings as it took my friends to paint 9x12's, and to be honest, I was glad my arm was in a sling. The truth is, on my best day with no gimp-card, it would take me a long time compared to them. I'm a slow painter and then I spend even more time with the paintings once I'm back in the studio!
Judy is wearing a neat hat, same kind that my friend Marty is wearing in the San Leon painting. It collapses into nothing so it packs well, then springs into action when unfolded: the perfect plein air accessory!

The Drake Paul at Home

This is a Louisiana painting, originally done left-handed, now painted over. It may be a tiny 4x6 painting, but you'd be embarrassed for me to know how many hours went into painting this.
The shrimp boats are very challenging as there are no straight 90 degree angles anywhere aboard. The green nets draped over the superstructure add a softness to all the lines. These boats just pulled up at the end of the day, right in front of their houses. We saw wives walking across the street with beers for their men to drink while they dealt with all the critters. One of our group bought several pounds of fresh shrimp from one of them and we took them back and cooked them up that night for supper! No starving artists in our group.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

San Leon Jetty

I am now having some fun going back to the paintings I did with my left hand and painting "corrections" over them with a little more control. I never got really good at being a south-paw. I was told that it might open up a whole new genius, but I'm still just me. What it did do was force me to do much of my thinking on the palette because I could not finesse it at all once it hit the canvas. This is a pure and simpler way to paint and I hope I retain that.
I still see some things on this that I could correct...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Workshop Article

The article that I wrote for American Artist's Workshop magazine can be found in the Summer Edition, or a shorter version may be viewed on line by clicking here. I really love to write and Qiang is such an interesting person, the article kind of wrote itself in many ways. It just took awhile to get it onto paper!
As I was interviewing him, I couldn't help but reflect on how often Qiang, a representational painter, focuses on abstract qualities of artwork. It's interesting when one remembers how China and Russia, in their curtained cultures, were uninfluenced by modern and post-modern art. Western art advanced and experimented, pushing the envelope of creativity to remarkable lengths. Old-fashioned, academic art training is, ironically, scant in the western art schools of the last century, giving birth to the explosion of representational painting workshops. It did, however, survive in the schools of countries where creative artistic experimentation was not encouraged. Qiang was not exposed to abstract art at all, until he came to the US. He now incorporates it into every facet of his representational paintings. Someday he hopes to return to China to learn what they have saved and share what he has learned.
I hope you get a copy of the magazine because there are many side-bars and a demo + student critiques and samples of Qiang's artwork. It's worth a peek.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Angel of Bethesda

This is my first right-handed painting in so long.
It fulfilled my dream to paint in NYC's Central Park. I was so blessed to be with my good friend, Bob, who planned the trip, who led me to the fountain, and whose gear I used. He completely set me up, making sure the easel was waist-height so I could keep my elbow at my side, then adjusting everything just so. It was a complete joy.
Here are some things that have special meaning to me. This angel was sculpted by Emma Stebbins in 1868. She was the first woman to be commissioned for a major work of art in NYC. I'm honored to record another woman artist's contribution.
More important, symbolically, this is the Angel of Bethesda, spoken of in the Gospel of John (5:1-9), who, tradition said, would stir the waters in the Pool of Bethesda and bring healing to whomever would enter the water first. This was my first right-handed painting after a time of inability and I was moved to tears and had to sit for a moment when I realized that I was being healed as I painted it. The angel herself is extending her right hand in blessing.
I extend this painting to you, with my right hand, and hope that it's a blessing for you as well.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Important Moment

This was a most important moment. Richard Schmid is one of the most important masters in our generation and I am extremely privileged to have met him at his recent opening in NYC.
I am back to my post in the blogosphere after months of skipping. Did you miss me?
I have had quite a trial with my right shoulder. I've been painting with my left hand and have been too embarrassed to share my efforts with you. I saw a doctor last week and he told me that painting caused it; it was frozen though and not torn, thank God. He gave me a massive shot of cortisone and pain medicine, and now I'm trying to paint with my right hand again. It'll be slow and steady but I'm coming back.
Also, during my absence, I wrote an article for American Artist's Workshop magazine, which I'll tell you about in a couple of days. And I have been traveling on painting trips, too: A week in DC for the Portrait Society of America conference, a week in Virginia where I saw family, a week in Louisiana painting bayous and shrimp boats (left-handed), a trip to the coast and 2 trips to Austin. I have learned a lot and painted a lot but I missed you and I'm glad to be back.