River Watcher

River Watcher
River Watcher: oil on canvas, 40 x 30 in.

I worked on River Watcher and Night Watcher (see the previous post) concurrently, switching off as one dried enough to work on, and then the other did. Each time I switched – rolling my taboret cart from one to the other, shifting the left-hand easel (River Watcher) to fit the taboret between or beside each piece – it was emotionally difficult to leave the one I was quitting. But I’d gamely work into the current piece, and eventually be reluctant to leave that one! Guess I’m a bit obsessive.

GreenBoat Studio
Working concurrently in GreenBoat Studio

I have a penchant for the 19th-century visual sense, both the popular esthetic and the experimental high art of the time, and it’s showing more and more in my painting. Maybe it’s hokey, but it’s me – at least for the time being. The figure in River Watcher is from the same photo shoot, same cemetery in Manchester, NH, as the one in Night Watcher – another muse-like beauty. She’s placed beside the Susquehanna River in Endicott, NY.

This is the first piece I’ve done, since childhood, which features an expanse of water, and I’m quite pleased with it. A lot of the underpainting is left to show, and I like the resulting depth.

River Watcher presented more challenges than the previous piece, as you can see in the progression below.

Click in any of the tiled photos below, to switch to a slide show of progressives. To exit the slide show, click the small X in the upper left corner.

 

A fun group show opening, a gallery membership, and a new look

Unfinished underpainting for the first painting in an as-yet untitled series of nudes
Above: Unfinished underpainting for the first painting in an as-yet untitled series of nudes: oil on canvas, 24 x 36 in.

What a breath of fresh air — for me, anyway, and I hope for you: a new design for my website! It’s still not fully functional with all the capabilities of the new template, but it’s at least as functional as the last. All things in good time.

Cooperative Gallery 213, 213 State St., Binghamton NY
Cooperative Gallery 213, 213 State St., Binghamton NY

This week I got some good news, following my application and interview for exhibiting (full) membership at Cooperative Gallery 213 in Binghamton: I was accepted! I am SO looking forward to working with this group of serious and highly skilled artists to show our work in the heart of the Binghamton Arts District. Also eager to get involved in some of the public arts projects connected to the gallery, with friends old and new who are already members.

BeethovenOaks_Melusina_TheGrove
My pieces in Members Only: clockwise from left, Unlikely Dance: Beethoven Oaks, Melusina. and The Grove
Still life by Linda Ciallelo
This wonderful still life by Linda Ciallelo is in the Windsor Whip Works members’ show. © 2015, Linda Ciallelo. Used with permission.

Last night, Sweetie and I went to the opening reception of the Members Only group show at Windsor Whip Works Art Center. It’s an unjuried show, so the quality varies widely, but there’s some stunning work there. (The show runs through March 1.) And it was a fun party — a full house, shoulder-to-shoulder, a really nice refreshment spread, and a really fun bunch of people, several of whom are my new colleagues at Cooperative 213.

So while a forecast major snow storm envelopes us over the next couple of days, I’ll be getting further into the first of a new series of paintings — top of this page — so far untitled. Looks like this will be a satisfyingly productive year for me; hope it is for you as well!

Now showing at the Lost Dog Cafe

Three Musicians -- oils on canvas, 16 x 20 in.
Three Musicians — oils on canvas, 16 x 20 in.

It’s been a couple of years since I last showed at the Lost Dog Cafe in Binghamton, NY. Although it’s awkward for people to look at the art when there are diners at the tables (and there are always diners at the tables in the Lost Dog!), it’s a lovely space, with three distinct exhibit areas, each with a nice hanging system. So this morning I parked my car full of art in front of their door, hauled my goods in, and set to work. This is the last time I’ll exhibit my Unlikely Dance series for a while, I think. But it looks wonderful in the Lost Dog space, as I knew it would, along with a couple of studies for the series and two new dance-themed pieces — The Grove and Three Musicians.

This First Friday night I’ll be in the Lost Dog Lounge holding forth at Meet the Artist (or so I imagine; this will be my very first Meet experience). And this month I’ll have a good excuse to have lunch and perhaps a dinner at the Dog — yummy!

I also have a few pieces in a November group show with the Fine Arts Society of the Southern Tier, at the Krembs Gallery, UHS/Binghamton General Hospital, not shown here.

 

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My painting class: I’m loving it!

Some of my students in Introduction to Oil Painting, at Your Home Public Library
Some of my students in Introduction to Oil Painting, at Your Home Public Library

What a wonderful time I’ve been having, teaching Introduction to Oil Painting at Your Home Public Library in Johnson City, NY. Originally a class of ten students, one failed to show from the first day, and another dropped out after the first day, citing time conflicts. The remaining eight have been enthusiastic and eager to learn — even the more experienced artists among them — and so positive about my teaching. For my part, I’m feeling like I really do have a lot to give when it comes to painting, and that I’m balancing the talk/demo/work factors pretty well.

What I’d like to do better, if we run this course again (and with a waiting list of five more, for this course, I certainly hope we do!) is the still life set-up. I placed the light badly, and made the still life too complicated — a visually busy drape, no backdrop, a difficult glass jug, and rather uninspiring artificial fruit and flowers are not best for beginners, I think. The trick is to build the still life in such a way that it can be put away for a week and then brought out again, since the room is used for other functions in addition to my class. I think also, if I can enlarge my collection of student easels to ten (I borrowed some table easels for this go-’round), I’ll set up the easels on the floor with legs extended, rather than on tables. They’re not tall enough for standing work, but table easels are awkward to reach and interfere with sight lines to the still life.

A student's-eye view
A student’s-eye view
The still life set-up
The still life set-up

Nevertheless I’m really impressed by some of the work coming out of this class, and just delighted that I’ve had some influence in these productions — and I do love sharing what I’ve learned.

After a period of frustration, I’m also coming along well with the commissioned dance painting — I’ll show that in stages after it’s finished, or you can Like my Facebook page (see the lefthand column of this page) to follow along!

Arts festivals, classes, and commissions — oh my!

038

Binghamton JulyFest has come and gone once again, and I’m seriously considering skipping it next year. It is So. Hot. It is So. Exhausting. (If they decide to move the “Artists in Action” section back to the shady courthouse lawn, from the brick oven of Washington Street, I’ll look on it more favorably.) It takes me almost a week to recover. It was fun, of course — not party-city with Mary Robertson & family, as I’d expected, but there was good company all around. I spoke to some lovely people, shrugged off the inevitable idiots (“Did you paint all these by hand yourself?”) for the most part, and made some sales — enough to pay for admission and a little more, though nowhere near what I made last year. That may have been partly due to skipping Sunday, however — violent thunderstorms were forecast and Ron Sall, the super-hospitable festival coordinator, told us we were free to go if we felt the need. I felt the need, as did many others. Of course the thunderstorms didn’t materialize until late afternoon. Of course. This coming Saturday is Johnson City Carousel Day.

The class list for my  Introduction to Oil Painting course, at Your Home Public Library in Johnson City, was filled more than a week before the class starts, due partly to the handouts I distributed at JulyFest, and also to the distribution of the class description to the FASST (Fine Arts Society of the Southern Tier) membership, for which I’m mightily grateful — also, I presume, to the Library newsletter, events calendar, postings, and Facebook event.Intro to Oil Painging So looking forward to it (it starts a week from today) and a bit anxious — having to rein myself in so I don’t spend all my earnings on class materials I didn’t think to include in the initial price!

Meanwhile, I’m about ready to start on a commission — a piece ordered through the “Custom Order” function on Etsy. (See my shops at www.greenboat.etsy.com, and www.GreenBoatVintage.etsy.com .) I am so psyched about this painting. It started out vaguely enough, with a request for “a painting of a contra dance,” and I rather expected it to disappear when the client saw pricing and started answering hard questions… but that didn’t happen! She’s made a down-payment, signed a commission contract, and for the most part approved the initial composition sketch — some minor changes forthcoming by request — and I can’t wait to get started painting. It’s a very ambitions composition — will post progressives here and on my artist/designer Facebook page (click “Like Me on Facebook” in the right-hand column) — and a real challenge. You know how I love a challenge!

My eyes are still not working right and it looks like I’ll need to fit in retinal surgery sometime soon — and perhaps vision therapy to re-train my brain — but that will be as it will be. I just need to see better.

On with the show!

Coming up in August!

Stillness and Motion
Apples in a White Bowl, by Mary Robertson – 30 x 24 in., oils on canvas
Unlikely Dance: Beethoven Oaks, by Glenda Blake – 48 x 30 in., oils on canvas

Throughout the month of August 2014 the Broome County Public Library presents “Stillness and Motion,” a joint exhibit of still life and dance paintings by artists Glenda Blake and Mary Robertson.

Artist and designer Glenda Blake received a grant from the Community Foundation for South Central New York’s Artist Fund for the series Unlikely Dance, featured in “Stillness and Motion.” She began painting as a teenager, and, after a hiatus of thirty-plus years, resumed under the guidance of New England impressionist June Latti. Traditional dance is a frequent subject of her work in both oils and colored pencil. She has exhibited throughout the Northeast, and is currently teaching oil painting at Your Home Public Library in Johnson City, NY (July 28-August 25).

Taking up painting later in life, award-winning fine artist Mary Robertson has been painting for over thirty-five years now, studying locally with both William Grausgruber and the late Michael Tanzer, and teaching her own workshops on painting. Oils are her primary medium, along with watercolor and acrylic, and still life a favorite subject. Mary was Artist-in-Residence at Riverfront Antiques in Binghamton, NY.

Both artists have exhibited their work with the Fine Arts Society of the Southern Tier, at the Community Foundation for South Central New York, and at the Broome County Arts Council as well as in other regional venues. Their common ground is a love of clear colors and dramatic light.

Study oil painting with me at Your Home Library

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a notice that an artist and teacher I know was offering an introductory drawing course at Your Home Library, my hometown library here in Johnson City. Soon after, I stopped in at the library to inquire as to whether they’d like to offer a course in painting: it seemed that they would!

Your Home Library, Johnson City, NY
Your Home Library, Johnson City, NY

Andrea Tillinghast, the new library director is full of new ideas, and was excited about adding a painting class to the library’s growing list of course offerings. She graciously showed me around the building. It’s beautiful, a historic building from the late 19th century with additions from the early 20th, and what a lovely second-floor classroom space it features. Originally built as a dining room, with a large original kitchen attached, it features a wealth of windows. (Unfortunately, the building has no elevator, so the classes are will not be handicapped accessible.) Now the questions are scheduling, and whether the space is viable for a late-spring/early-summer class. The one window-mounted air-conditioning unit in the room needs to be adequately wired before we can find out.

Andrea has verbally approved my proposed course budget and, I have to admit, I’m eager to get this project in gear, to start teaching. I’m delighted that, as the local community college offers fewer and fewer non-credit art courses in favor of job-skill and professional certification training, local libraries are beginning to pick them up. As the forms of literacy change from hard-copy to electronic, what a wonderful form of human face-to-face knowledge-sharing classes like these are for libraries.

To learn when my course will run, please click the “Follow” button in the right-hand column, and I’ll let my followers know as soon as Introduction to Oil Painting at Your Home Public Library is scheduled. Or “Like” my artist page on Facebook (left-hand column), and I’ll publicize it there too.

In the meantime, I’m going to be visiting the library more often. I hope you will too — and ask about my painting course while you’re there!

Another painting started in a paint-together

KwanYin with Flowers 01
KwanYin with Flowers 01 — 16×20 in., oil on canvas, unfinished

Actually, I haven’t renewed my membership in FASST, the Fine Arts Society of the Southern Tier. I think my membership dues were due this last summer, but I haven’t been happy with the organization, with its muddle of amateur and professional affiliations, and its largely amateur exhibitions. But I have made some wonderful friends there, including Mary Robertson, mentioned in my last post. I’m thinking of renewing now.

Today we painted together at the temporary FASST gallery in the Oakdale Mall, in Johnson City, NY. Jan Wood, president of FASST, joined us. Thanks to Mary’s husband Rudy, who fetched her forgotten canvas and her clamp light, we set up a simple still life with the flowers and pots that Mary brought and the KwanYin figurine that I brought, and did our underpaintings. We also took photos for use in finishing our paintings. It was a very happy couple of hours.

Mary Robertson - Still Life at the FASST mall gallery
Mary Robertson – still life at the FASST mall gallery. My underpainting at right.

Meanwhile, a couple of days ago one of my singing partners from Diamonds in the Rough brought me a copy of last week’s Ithaca Times newspaper, which included an art critic’s review of the “Joy of Dancing” show at the Tompkins County Library. I was flabbergasted and delighted by what he said about my work. Wow! Thank you, Warren Greenwood!

Re-entry!

Still Life at Mary's studio
Photo of still life set-up at Mary Robertson’s studio

It’s been one heckuva winter. Felled by first one virus and then another, I’ve been doing pretty much nothing for about two months while it snowed and froze outside. Still have the residual fatigue and cough, but last week I started painting again, thanks to my artist-friend Mary Robertson, who invited me to a still life session at her studio a few blocks away.

Cutler Maples_03
Unfinished, stage 03: Cutler Maples, 16×20 in., oils on canvas*

I’m not happy with the underpainting I did that day, but the activity has spurred me on to work more on a figural landscape I started last summer, which has been sitting on a shelf in my studio since July.

And that’s what I worked on when Mary came to my studio this week. Painting is such a solitary occupation, it’s great to occasionally have someone nearby to bounce things off of.

Study for Demeter 01
Unfinished, stage 01: Study for Light Within/Light Without: Demeter, 16×20 in., oils on canvas*

I’ve also done a couple more underpaintings for 16×20 in. oil studies for another large-ish series of 24×30 in. pieces, this time underpainting in burnt umber rather than cadmium red. I wasn’t sure at first what the unifying series theme would be, but as I worked in Photoshop composing the pieces, it came to me that all the pieces are explorations of interior figures in indoor light modified by outdoor light from windows. The figures are variously live or statuary. The series is tentatively titled Light Within/Light Without.

Rebecca_01
Unfinished, stage 01: Study for Light Within/Light Without: Rebecca, 16×20 in., oils on canvas*

But the first two underpaintings are not drying, and I’m wondering if that’s due to the citrus-based solvent I used for the first time, Turpenoid Natural. Has anyone else had this problem? I’ve learned, since buying it, that citrus-based solvents are actually more toxic than plain old unscented mineral spirits. I use solvents only on underpaintings, so toxicity’s not a major concern, but after this first experience with TurpNat I’m switching to the mineral spirits. In the meantime I’ve tried spraying the first piece — Demeter — with touch-up/damar varnish, which I’ve read somewhere will help it dry. If it works — fingers crossed — I’ll try it on Rebecca. Any advice/suggestions welcome! [UPDATE: I’ve done some online research, and sure enough artists are complaining about excessive drying times when Turpenoid Natural is used as solvent or medium in a painting. An advisory group on art media suggests using it for only brush-cleaning. And the damar varnish has just lain sticky and wet over the wet parts of the Demeter underpainting. Looks like a re-do on these two pieces.]

Have to take it slowly still, but it’s sure good to be painting again.

*”Like” my Facebook page at left, for access to the ongoing progress on these pieces — see my photo albums for each piece as it develops.