For many years I had dreamed of going back to Italy to spend dedicated time painting plein air. This June 2017 I attended an artist residency in a tiny village in Umbria where I was free from any other obligations and painted daily. This experience filled my tanks in so many ways. I can't wait to go back, sooner not later!Read More
Filtering by Tag: oil painting
A primer on the benefits of varnishing an oil painting.Read More
Painting "en plein air" as a collegial experience is energizing and inspiring. A few days on the CT shoreline this past summer with two painting friends was a welcome relief during a very hot summer in Brooklyn.Read More
I've been meaning to write this post for a long time, a few years actually. After a painting session at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden the other day which entailed many interactions with passers-by, I thought it was time to do this. And, maybe consider getting a t-shirt made of these Q's and A's!
1) How long does it take you to finish a painting? This has to be the #1 question I am asked - ALL THE TIME. I find it to be kind of an odd question. Why would that matter? Maybe it's the easiest one to ask?
Not to be snide, but "It depends" is the answer. Mostly it depends on the size and complexity of a painting. However, there are some paintings that seem to paint themselves with hardly any effort from me; almost as if I had known all along about this painting and how to put it together. Then there are some which are agonizingly time and energy consuming. These often involve multiple composition and/or palette alterations, and occasionally I might even give up. Yes, there are paintings that I've either painted over or are sitting in a storage shelf never to see the light of day. But, I manage to resolve most of my paintings to my satisfaction. Probably the most extreme example of this is the 72"x48" Lily Pads with Two Trees. I worked on that one (on and off) for almost three years and it underwent major changes.
2) How do you decide when a painting is finished?
That's a hard one to articulate. Technically speaking, I'd want a painting to have a good balance of light and shadow, an interesting composition (although that needs to be nailed down early on, it's not something you can easily correct), and it's captured the original excitement I had when I first saw the view. There's always the tension (for me anyway) of having a painting looking done, but not over-worked. Often, I seek the input of a trusted artist friend (usually my studiomate!). Usually, I just know, partly from not knowing what else could be done and partly from liking what I see.
3) Why did you pick this scene to paint?
Now that's a good question! Also, a very hard one for me to articulate. I am attracted to a lot of different views - landscapes to close-ups, but I suppose the things that matter the most are the existence of: an interesting composition, created by or complemented by an interplay of light and shadow, juicy colors, and often the interaction of man-made and nature. I look for patterns, angles, proportions, and then the time of day and season can have a big impact on an outdoor scene. Some days I'm in the mood for urban and gritty, other days I want peace and a lot of nature. Inevitably, I find "beauty" in every scene I paint.
These are the most common three. Let me know what questions you have for me!
Fortunately I've been able to escape the city a few times this summer. Here are two paintings from a trio I painted on-site by a wonderful stream in the Catskills. The third is on my easel getting some touch-ups.
Once the third one is finished I'll add them to my website.
I finally gave in and bought myself a new toy - a pochade box, aka a tiny all-in-one painting kit that can hold a 9"x12" canvas or panels, brushes, paints, palette, solvents & medium (but not paper towels), and unfolds into a mini-easel. A painter's version of a laptop! I can't wait to take it out for a spin; perhaps at a local coffee shop or ....?
Meanwhile, I dropped off my painting, "Lehigh Valley at Red Hook," at the Salmagundi Club this afternoon for the upcoming "Contemporary New York Harbor" exhibition, Jan 26 - Feb 13.
Don't miss this show which will be in conjunction with another big exhibition, the "History Panorama: Celebrating the 400th Anniversary of the Dutch Discovery of Manhattan". The Salmagundi is at 47 Fifth Avenue @12th Street, NYC. For more info, visit my website's "News" page.
I started a new painting yesterday afternoon, which is always the most exciting part of the process. So much possibility, the excitement of laying down the first brave colors. I worked some more on it today, before heading out to an opening reception for an exhibition at the Salmagundi Club. I've added it to Works in Progress. The painting of the view from my studio is still too wet to go back into it, especially where there's a lot of white, e.g. in the clouds. Titanium White is one of the slowest drying colors.
As a painter who prefers to be outside painting from life on site, late fall is always a tough time. Now it's been two months of winter, and I've adjusted to my winter rhythm. It's actually a lot easier in some ways to work in my studio. I don't have to unpack and pack for every painting session (my car trunk is nearly empty and the baby stroller I use to haul around my so-called portable Julian easel is pushed into space next to my storage shelves), I can bring food that can be heated in my old microwave, and best of all I have more social interaction with my studio-mates (including neighbor's dog Mingus). I paint a little more slowly and don't worry as much about what time of day a painting depicts. I can use my large glass palette and muck around with larger quantities of paint. I work from photos of views that I've taken the last season. I just prepped three new canvases today, meaning I toned them with diluted paint so that I won't be starting with a stark white canvas.
This 22"x28" painting is of a historic 10-story building on Madison Avenue near Grand Central Station. Unfortunately because of high rise buildings built around it, the sun rarely hits it. Let's just say that I used artistic license (couldn't say "historic perspective" because of the yellow cab and SUV) to have sunlight drenching the Madison Avenue side of the building! I worked from several photos that I took, as well as archival photos and architectural drawings that were made available to me. Can anyone guess what business is in this building?