Exploring Oil Painting

I’ve got another painting course scheduled – this one is at Your Home Public Library in Johnson City, in October-November. It’s similar to the previous course, but we paint from a still life in the classroom, and get a little further into the whys and wherefores of oil painting.

Information is below, and you can always check the Classes and Workshops page of my website at https://glendablake.com/welcome/classes-and-workshops/

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Exploring Oil Painting
Mondays, 1-4:00 p.m., October 30 – November 27, 2017
Your Home Public Library

$15 one-time fee for supplies, for five 3-hour sessions
Enrollment limited to 10 students.
015Explore the fundamentals of oil painting in a fun and informative setting with artist/instructor Glenda Blake. Together we’ll paint from a still life in the classroom, learning as we go about composition, under-painting, light, shadow, and color mixing. If you’ve always wanted to paint in oils, now is the time! If you have painting experience already, come to learn new techniques and paint with others. If you have a portable standing-height floor easel you like, feel free to bring it — sitting-height easels are provided by the instructor. Please wear a work apron, and/or older clothing to paint in.

You MUST attend the first session, and all sessions thereafter if possible. Lessons are sequential; each builds on the previous session. To sign up, stop by the circulation desk at Your Home Public Library, 107 Main Street, Johnson City, NY or contact Natassia Enright at YHPL, 607 797-4816 / jc.natassia@4cls.org.

Feel free to contact me for information about class content.

PLEASE NOTE: The second-floor class space is beautiful, but due to the historic nature of the building there is no elevator.

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A fine first class in Exploring Oil Painting

Session 1 - Exploring Oil Painting, 7-20-15
Wish I’d photographed the underpaintings later — what a strong showing.

The conditions were not perfect — a scorching hot and humid day, so the blinds were closed, limiting natural light; the window-unit air-conditioner making that low humming noise that makes chat so difficult — but what a strong group I gathered for this rendition of Exploring Oil Painting at Your Home Public Library014 The underpaintings were wonderful, and everyone was so helpful in helping me clean up at the end. There were lots of questions, including a request towards the end for a full critique. I did my best in all of this, and in return got hugs, thanks, and promises to come back next week. I do love teaching this class. It’s so varied in enrollment, and filled with people who really want to learn. I do my best to oblige. Thank you, YHPL, for this teaching opportunity! And thanks to the students, who continue to challenge me, and grant me such rewards.

Another chance to paint with me…!

ExplOilPainting110114

Exploring Oil Painting

Mondays, November 3 through December 1

1-4:00 p.m.

Explore the fundamentals of oil painting in a fun and casual setting with artist/instructor Glenda Blake. Together we’ll paint from a still life in the classroom, learning as we go about composition, underpainting, light, shadow, and color. If you’ve always wanted to paint in oils, now is the time! If you have painting experience already, come to learn new techniques and gain confidence – there’s always something more to learn! Please bring a portable floor easel if you have one (available on loan from the instructor, if you don’t) and a work apron, and/or wear older clothing to paint in.  Classes will be held 5 Mondays, 1-4:00 p.m., November 3 through December 1.  There is a limit of 10 students per class.  A one-time $15 fee is required to cover supplies.  To sign up, stop by the circulation desk at Your Home Public Library, 107 Main Street, Johnson City, NY.

I love teaching this class — please join us if you can!

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.

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.

Binghamton July Fest 2013 — what a hoot!

The original art side of my booth
The original art side of my July Fest booth (not shown: cards, prints, and earrings). Photo thanks to Angela Cook.

It’s Wednesday, and I’m just now recovering from last weekend’s July Fest, the 51st year of Binghamton, New York’s downtown music, art, and community festival. What a hoot it was. Not a terribly profitable year for me or for many of those around me — though it was wonderfully so for a couple of my artist friends. But for many of us it’s as much a social and networking occasion as it is a sales venue. There were people from my high school class (FAR too long ago), Facebook friends I’d never actually met before, people who’d bought my work before, and many who hadn’t but loved it.
Artists in Action
“Artists in Action” booths on “Gorgeous” Washington Street – my booth was the third one down on the right. Photo thanks to Patti Schwartz
There were artist-friends and “neighbors” old and new who were both good company and mutually supportive. Dogs and children I adored and/or pitied. An appalling number of very fat people. Stressed-out but accommodating and helpful organizers (including Ron Sall, July Fest coordinator, who is every July Fest artist’s best friend).
Ron Sall (right, in orange shirt)
Ron Sall (right, in orange shirt) is the guy who pulls it all together. He well deserves the 2012 Heart of the Arts Award he received from the Broome County Arts Council! Photo thanks to Patti Schwartz.
The weather was hot, on Friday and Saturday, but brutal on Sunday. I had to leave early on Sunday anyway, due to a timing conflict with the Opening and Awards celebration of the Roberson Regional across the river, and although I hated abandoning my friends and the show, and disappointing Ron as well, I wouldn’t have been able to take the heat for much longer in any event. Thanks again to my volunteer “porters,” a lovely last-minute customer and two old dance friends who helped me haul all my stuff to the car, and of course to my sweet husband who leapt up at my last-minute phone call to come downtown and take my largest painting home separately so it wouldn’t get damaged. That large painting was Unlikely Dance: Entry Hall (visible at right in the photo at the top of the page), which got some rave reviews — including one from Marion Simpson, who is not known to give praise lightly, and another from Nancy Goff, whose own work I so admire. Pretty heady stuff!
Strollers on Court St.
Strollers on Court St. — the city closes three blocks of downtown Court St., plus a block each of cross streets Washington and State, for July Fest. Photo thanks to Patti Schwartz
It was altogether exhausting, and on Monday I was apparently still running on adrenaline when Mary Robertson and I met to re-do our storefront exhibit at 97 Court St. We were — almost literally — bouncing off the walls with laughter and fatigue.
On Tuesday afternoon I fell over for the rest of the day.

Next post on the Roberson Regional opening and show — a remarkable exhibit — but I’ll wait for that until next week, when I’ll have some photos to post.

Finally finished: Blue Glass and Teapots

Blue Glass and Teapots
Blue Glass and Teapots

It was supposed to be a three-day project, for the still life exhibit in Johnson City. Instead, Blue Glass and Teapots took five weeks. Or was it six? But it was worth it, I think. Whatever possessed me to think it was a simple still life?

It features two of my teapot collection, a favorite glass vase of my husband’s, and a long-lived houseplant, in our sun-filled family room, on one of my vintage tablecloths. The nested spoons were left in my car by my friend Judy, after our trip to Philadelphia (they’ve since been returned). Sunny, warm, and convivial is the feeling I was after. Though I’ve published some of the progress in an earlier post, I’m showing the whole progression here.

I used a lot of semi-transparent and transparent glazes in this piece, as opposed to solid, opaque colors, due largely to the larger proportion of Liquin dryer I used in my medium, and I think that helped with the luminosity of the piece.

Blue Glass and Teapots – in progress

I’m really enjoying this new still life so far. Very exciting to work on the different reflections and forms, the perspective, the color harmonies…

Blue Glass and Teapots_step1
Blue Glass and Teapots_step1: starting the cadmium red underpainting

Blue Glass and Teapots_step2
Blue Glass and Teapots_step2: finished cad red underpainting

Blue Glass and Teapots_step3
Blue Glass and Teapots_step3: overpainting in colors, corrected perspective on left-hand teapot

Blue Glass and Teapots_step4
Blue Glass and Teapots_step4: two color layers on leaves, articulating more of the forms in the blue glass vase

Okay, so it’s running a little later than I’d hoped (like, maybe a month later), but I think it’ll be a nice addition to my body of work. I’m using a lot of Liquin — an alkyd dryer — in my medium, since this one was initially meant to be ready in a couple of days. (What WAS I thinking…?!) Generally I use a 1:1 mixture of stand oil and walnut oil, with just a little Liquin mixed in, but I think I mixed this batch 1:1:1. It’s an interesting texture to work with, and I’m working more in the direction of transparent glazes than opaques. I like the way the cad red underpainting shows through the first layer of dark green in the leaves of the plant. Thought I had a photo of that first layer of green, and will add it later if I find it.

Jim Mullen, printmaker, at the Fine Arts Society of the Southern Tier
Jim Mullen, printmaker, at the Fine Arts Society of the Southern Tier
On Monday I attended my first board meeting of the Fine Arts Society of the Southern Tier (FASST), as secretary — woof, it’s been a while since I had to take notes! Next time I’ll set my iPhone to record the meeting, I think. Later that evening, the program for the general FASST membership meeting was a talk on miniatures, printmaking, and the solitary process of making art, by Jim Mullen, professor of art emeritus at SUNY Oneonta, and now a Greater Binghamton resident. I know Jim from the weekly drawing group in Windsor, but hadn’t seen his finished work close-up or heard him speak before. What a wonderful presentation! His manner and dry wit reminded me a great deal of one of my favorite professors from SUNY Oswego, his old friend George O’Connell.

Meanwhile I’ve been contacting the various dance groups of Binghamton Community Dance — Contra, English, Scottish, with a possible connection to Sword — about photography for Unlikely Dance. As I expected, some are enthusiastic, some not, but I think I should come out of the dealings with some good dancer shots to work into the landscapes and cityscapes I’ve already captured for the project. Also planning to photograph the Binghamton Morris Men, the B.F. Harridans, and their guests during their Harvest Home event in October. The leaves are turning now, so here’s hoping for some autumn pieces for the series! Should it be seasonal, I wonder…?

A successful festival, shadowed by sad news

My booth at Window on the Arts
My booth at Window on the Arts

Saturday’s Window on the Arts Festival was a smashing success, both for the festival itself and for me personally. I was a bit concerned about how large (or small) a crowd it might draw, with this year’s relocation away from the central town square to a nearby but not-so-central park; and the night before, the winds and rain came crashing down on the early set-up gazebo tents (mine amongst them). However, the local Binghamton newspaper had given the festival the front cover of its Thursday “Good Times” supplement, the Friday night storms stopped in time, and all began — and continued — well.

Parade of the Puppets opens the Festival
Parade of the Puppets opened the festival, just before the sun came out
End of the Festival Parade
End of the Festival Parade

I showcased my “Feathered and Feline” series of art about birds (mostly owls) and cats — along with a few other pieces, and had matted art prints and art cards of most pieces, as well as many not hanging at this show. I was so busy selling prints, cards, and earrings that I never did have time to set up for on-the-spot portraits. It was so gratifying the way people responded to my cats and birds, and I even sold a larger print of The Flood,

The Flood
The Flood: 10.7×8.3 in., pastels over ink underpainting on fibered buff paper

a pastel piece of last year’s flooding Susquehanna River.

And beyond the sales, everyone wanted to interpret and discuss the art. I just love hearing people’s interpretations of some of my images, especially when they’re not speaking directly to me. “Oh, look,” said one man to his wife about Window, “it’s a cat looking into a mirror, and he sees himself as an owl.” Wow. That’s the one that’s stayed with me.

Window
Window

In the early afternoon, Sweetie brought food, the dog, and a break (after calming me down and packing the car for me in the morning — not to mention helping me set up the gazebo tent the night before). We were both impressed by the quality of the arts and crafts there, as well as the quantity of fifty artisans… and Sweetie is not easily impressed!

Alan Crabb 1942-2012

As I walked around the festival on my break, he took over the sales for a while but called my cell phone, after checking Facebook on his phone, to tell me that Alan Crabb had died. It was not unexpected; Alan had been in the UPenn hospital for a couple of weeks, suffering open-heart surgery and severe complications after a risky heart procedure, but it was still a shock and a sorrow. He was friend and maestro to so many, a beloved high school music teacher in his working years not so very long ago, a gifted world-class tenor, and one of a kind. He was a manic, maddening, arrogant, rude, distracted, and self-centered Welshman with an aura a mile wide: a demanding but gentle mentor to all who sang under his direction, a warm and loyal friend — father of two adult sons from his first marriage (to the first — and so far only — woman mayor of Binghamton) and of a two-year-old son from his recent second marriage to a lovely young violist. Sunday, I felt consumed by exhaustion and grief, and laid low for a day. Rest in peace, Alan Crabb — 1942-2012.

This week I have several projects to start or continue: finish unpacking the car (and clean it), mat and frame my two entries for the upcoming Rude and Bold Women show, get back into the new still life (calling to me now from its easel across the room…), replace the traded-out still lives in the Acme exhibit, design and build the Acme business window, photograph contra dancers for Unlikely Dance, sing Diamonds in the Rough‘s “Eldercare Tour,” and — as if that’s not enough — start a call for images of Alan, with which I plan to build a commemorative/interpretive painting of him. More on that next.