Thursday, February 25, 2016

Practicing My Scales

"When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else."
                                                                                               ~ Georgia O'Keefe

Making art is definitely a juggling act. So many things to remember! Sometimes when I try to paint an entirely new subject, it's as if I've forgotten even my most basic painting skills. I don't remember back to taking piano lessons as a kid (except for hating to practice) so I wonder if when I tried a new technique, sometimes I forgot what I had already learned.

That's certainly what happened when I attempted to paint this orchid. We've had it for about two months now and I've been really admiring it. Last week I finally pulled out my moleskine sketchbook and did the pencil sketch above. Today, the afternoon sunlight slanting over the orchid inspired me to try painting it. I was so focused on figuring out the leaves and the orchid bloom that at first I forgot my color-mixing skills, and I botched the shape and shading on the cylindrical pot. Luckily cropping took care of most of the problem. It's one advantage of painting on canvas rolls rather than on a stretched canvas or canvas board!

It's just a little study, but I see elements that I'm surprisingly pleased with, given my lack of floral painting experience and I am eager to try again. I was not destined to be a piano player, but I don't mind this kind of practice!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Finally Something To Say

You have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself.
                                                                           ~ Miles Davis

Tea - oil on canvas, 8" x 8"

I can't tell you how many times in the last few months I've sat down at the computer to write a blog post and ended up just staring at the screen. I had nothing. If you are here now reading this, thanks for sticking with me.

Some of you may know that I collect Hall china, particularly pieces from the 50's and earlier, and use them in many of my still life paintings. I just love their styling. Two weeks ago I went to visit a friend at his antique store in town and he had a new Hall piece to show me - something I hadn't seen before: a Hall china coffee pot. I bought it on the spot, knowing that the color and shape would inspire many paintings. I've already done a few 5 x 7's of the coffee pot, and then a few days ago I got the urge to try a more elaborate and slightly larger painting.

Once again, I'm using a very limited palette - alizarin crimson, azo yellow, ultramarine blue and titanium white. All my other colors are mixed from those. I really like the harmony that a limited palette brings to a painting. Plus it's easier on the budget.

I got to this point in the painting (above) last week and kind of lost interest. I was planning on just chalking it up to practice and starting over, but I let it sit for a few days and when I went into my studio this morning, I found that I had the desire to finish it.

Nearly there!

Although the china piece is a coffee pot, I was envisioning tea, especially with those two ceramic mugs, hence the title "Tea".


Overall, I'm quite pleased with the piece. It's not the most dynamic of compositions, and I overworked a few things, but I'm glad I completed it. My ellipses are improving, and I'm really tickled about the rendering of the orchid bloom. The last time I tried to paint a flower it was completely unrecognizable as anything but a paint blob, so I'm thrilled to see improvement there. Now if I had just bumped it up to overlap the pot...