Developing a "studio practice"

I am working on spending time in the studio every day in order to get better at painting The only way to improve is to practice, as you know, and you can't practice painting while you are reading or even cleaning house! Therefore, I "go to work" everyday for several hours. I enjoy painting so much that it seems strange to call it work, but it truly is. At the end of two or three hours I am tired-I have been thinking and working things out for about as long as I can without a rest. Sometimes I go back in the evening, but I think that will happen more when the weather is better and the days are longer. 

I am working on abstracts right now. In some ways they are harder than painting from objects or landscapes and in some ways they are easier. Many abstracts are painted but not all of them are good and I want to become someone whose paintings are good -all of them.

Let me know what you think and if you would like to receive an e-mail about the paintings and the stages they go through, please comment on this and send your email address. I won't send you anything unless I have your permission to put you on the list. Your friends are welcome to add their names also if they are interested in painting. 

Here is a picture of my pallet today. I had already cleaned it off once.

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Now the Green Grass Rises

This is a field between my house and my daughter's house that I photographed on one trip or another and have looked at many time, trying to decide whether or not to paint it. Yesterday I had a 30"square canvas all prepared and ready so I decided to give it a whirl. 

I started by drawing a line across the canvas, making sure that I did not accidentally put it right square in the center, then I began with the tree trunk on the right. i was painting with a brush. As I began adding leaves I went from brush to painting knife, quickly and rather thickly applying paint, loading the knife with several greens at once, just enjoying putting paint to canvas. 

Adding the blue for the sky required some concentration and it might need some touch-up, but for right now Hurricane Nate has blocked access to the studio as the path is a mud wallow. The foreground was the last area to be added  and it was done! 

I like the energy in this painting - more evident in person than in this image, and the look it has of some paintings from the early part of the 20th century. I hope that you like it also. 

Walking Each Other Home.

As we drove home one noontime, I saw a number of cows coming from a corner of a field. A closer look showed that they were crossing under the road and going toward a distant barn. They walked with purpose but did not seem to hurry or dawdle. I was struck by the lack of competition - no pushing or shoving, each just intent on going where she needed to go, each a member of the group, all on seemingly equal footing, patient and purposeful. 

This has become one of my favorite paintings. In fact I have painted it twice, the second being a little better and a little larger at 8"x8". It reminds me in some ways of a painting I did of my grandchildren walking together and of the saying my friend shared with me that "our purpose in life is to walk each other home. "

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The Alley in the Sunshine

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s you can see, painting a subject is not the same as photographing it - it is the attempt of the painter to catch what made the subject attractive to them. In this case it was the blue sky, the yellow stripe and the white building. After studying the photograph, making a value sketch and a notan(black and white only), I was ready to begin painting. I try to start at the top and on the background so the lovely blue sky was the first thing I painted. The lines of the buildings are important to try to give some feeling of depth, so I sketched in the roof lines and the lines of the pavement. Then, breaking my own rules, I just had to get the yellow stripe in!

The benches, and they are all over town and in nearly every painting of the town, are difficult for me to get properly so that it appears as if someone could sit on them and this one took some fiddling before I felt that it was finished. You can see from the photo that there are many other wires, boxes, etc., in the alley, but they aren't important to what I wanted to tell you so they were left out. I am not a photorealistic painter - my paintings are realistic, but only to a degree. 

Come to Cleveland and go to Second Street and Ocoee, look for this alley, and if it is a sunny day, you might feel a sense of dejà vue.

The making of a painting

There is lots to do before the first stroke of paint goes on the canvas. First I try to keep my eyes open for things that are interesting to me - simple and beautiful in some way, or things that I find intriguing. Thank goodness for iPhones because my trusty phone means that I don't have to lug a camera around everywhere I go. I sometime wander around town which is only two blocks from my house and just a few block square and photo buildings and corners. Sometimes I snap photos out the car window.

Once I have a photo I have to study it and see if it will make a good painting. Is it really as interesting as I thought? Does it have interesting contrast, colors, something to draw you into it? It is too complicated and it so, can I simplify it? Sometimes this all requires using the computer and a photo editing program. I only paint from my own photos (except for a few roads from some of Mary Gilkerson's photos that she shared in class and gave permission to use) so I can edit them as I please. 

Here is the photo for a painting I am working on. It is an alleyway behind a cafe. I can see the kitchen staff taking a quick break here on a busy evening. 

Take care - talk to you soon.

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