Moving along…

Thank you, FedEx guy — I’m now in possession of the painting materials for UNLIKELY DANCE – six large Premier Studio canvases and a box full of paints and varnish, from Blick Studio! Now I just have to choose and buy a camera, and I’m set to get started. Very exciting! I was hoping to start shooting dancers (photographically, I mean) this last Saturday at the Binghamton Contra Dance, but have been sick all weekend.

Bungalow Tour
Bungalow Tour
Girl in a Tutu
Girl in a Tutu
Day at Bretton Woods
Day at Bretton Woods

In the meantime, I’ve helped hang a small downtown Binghamton storefront exhibit with three other artists — we’re all members of the Fine Arts Society of the Southern Tier, but this little show is independent of FASST. Many thanks to Rich Nolan for pulling it all together, and Mary Robertson for including me. The fourth in the group is Richard Henry. Will try to get a photo to include here — please stop back to see. It’s at 97 Court St., a great location, next door to the new nightclub, Loft at 99, right off the new downtown roundabout. My body of work is stretched a little thin right now, so the pieces I’m showing are older work — “Bungalow Tour,” “Girl in a Tutu,” and “Day at Bretton Woods”. (For more information on these pieces, see their listings in my online shop, GreenBoat Gallery.)

97 Court St. exhibit
97 Court St. exhibit – photo courtesy Richard Nolan

I was planning to include a small new still life titled “Flowered Kettle,” but after I’d started framing it, decided it wasn’t quite finished after all. But what was wrong? Seeking answers, I dug back into a book called “The Simple Secret to Better Painting,” and decided to do a value-level analysis on the reference photo (I’d started the painting from life, then photographed the set-up for further work). The author recommends doing value-level sketches before starting a painting, but I think it’s a good diagnostic tool as well. Opening the reference photo image file in Photoshop, first I cropped it to match what I’d done in the painting (noting a linear flourish, bottom right, that seems to have been a mistake), then converted it to a greyscale, and ran it through the Cutout filter with 3 value levels. Then I ran the filter on the original greyscale at 5 levels. And now I see what I need to do: level out the bottom edge of the tablecloth, for compositional stability, and better delineate the value levels in the reds of the tablecloth and bottom book. I’m also wondering if I need to add another element to the right side of the painting, but first I’ll do the value and line work, and see how it shapes up. This is the third rework of that tablecloth, but it’s gotten better each time so I have hope. Moving along…

Flowered Kettle - not finished after all
Flowered Kettle – 12 x 16 in. – not finished after all
Flowered Kettle value analysis - 3 levels
Flowered Kettle – value analysis of reference photo, at 3 value levels
Flowered Kettle - 5 value levels
Flowered Kettle – value analysis of reference photo, at 5 value levels
See this painting finished, here

Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl: finished at last

It’s always so hard to know when a painting is finished.

Have I overworked it? Have I left it before I should have? If I ju-u-u-ust tweak this bit here… will I ruin it? Should I completely re-paint this passage that keeps nagging at me? If I’m holding my breath while I make “final adjustments,” does that mean I’m overdoing it? I don’t know. By the time I’m nearly finished I can hardly see the thing, but I can’t tear myself away.  I remember my New Hampshire mentor, June, hissing — as I ju-u-u-st tweaked the stained glass window  in Luna in Stairwell — “Get AWAY from that window! NOW!” No one was about to shoot me through the window <grin> — worse; I was about to overwork my painting. And this for the once-upon-a-time college student whose drawing professor told her she had to spend more time on things…

Be all that as it may, I’m declaring Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl finished.

Here are my last tweaks, yesterday and today.

Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl - stage 4
Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl - stage 4: finally figured out what was going on with those books - thanks to my handy-dandy Color Isolator* - and greyed them down. *a 1.5 x 4" piece of white cardstock with a hole punched in it on one end
Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl - finis!
Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl - finis! Some reflections refined, a bit more grounding on the far left, some weight added to the right-hand cruet foot... I hearby declare this painting finished.

Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl: a long story about to be finished

Back in September 2011 (according to the dates on the photos I took) I started what was to be the first of a series of blue egg still lifes. My husband was bringing home these eggs from the Binghamton farmers’ market last year, and they are beautiful — the softest of blues ranging from aqua tint to a pale sky blue, natural to the breed of chicken that lays them. So I set up and photographed some arrangements of the eggs in natural light — after saving them in the fridge for at least a week, maybe more, thinking of a “live” still life — prepared three smallish 12 x 16″ canvases with an acrylic wash of cadmium red, and chose and cropped three of the photos, experimenting with various color saturation settings but otherwise leaving the photos unedited. As usual, I printed out versions with overlaid grids and without.

I like “gridding up” as a means of transferring compositions to final substrate, as it gives my hand freedom for happy accidents and surprises, but helps me retain basic proportions and layout.

So, I did the underpainting, blocked in the colors, then hung it on the studio wall to dry… and moved on to other things. Now I’m putting together art for my upcoming show, Feathered and Feline, and the egg pieces were a natural for inclusion. Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl has been hanging dormant all these months, so while I was letting Cat, Owl, Pussycat dry, yesterday I took Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl down off its nail, put it back on the easel, and made real progress. It’ll be ready to show in March. (I used one of the other egg compositions for Eddie and the Blue Eggs. What, you thought Eddie actually posed with the eggs…? <grin>)

Here’s my progress so far.

Blue Eggs, SilverBowl - stage 1: cad red underpainting
Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl - stage 1: cad red underpainting (oils on acrylic-tinted canvas)
Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl - stage2: initial color block-in
Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl - stage2: initial color block-in ...and there the work stopped, until now
Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl - stage 3
Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl - stage 3: the white speckles at center bottom are light relections, from a still-wet blue glaze I applied over eggs and bowl.