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.

Arts festivals, classes, and commissions — oh my!


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!

Unlikely Dance: Fresh photos, fresh paint

The Ballyclare Irish Dancers, in the bandstand at Recreation Park
The Ballyclare Irish Dancers, in the bandstand at Recreation Park
Last evening, in the heavy summer heat and humidity that’s settled over the Binghamton area, I photographed a women’s dance group called the Ballyclare Irish Dancers. What fun! It was all I could do to not start jigging myself, though my jigging experience — what there is of it — is in the English Morris tradition rather than Irish. All shapes, sizes, and ages these women were — and all of Irish descent/heritage — and how wonderfully they danced, in their simple dance kits of black knit skirts and tops, black stockings, and Celtic-pattern neckscarves. This is the real stuff, to me — not the costume-y children’s competitions. The joy of dancing was contagious, even in that oppressive air, and I got a lot of material to work with on my next Unlikely Dance piece.

But here’s a dilemma — the current piece on the easel, Beethoven Oaks, is set in Recreation Park (though I photographed the dancers in Gilbertsville, NY), and the neo-classical bandstand is visible in the background. Last night’s shoot was IN the bandstand, and the setting is lovely. So far each piece in the Unlikely Dance series is in a different Southern Tier location — Green Skirt in The Forum, Golden Clouds on the street in Johnson City, Entry Hall in the Phelps Mansion Museum, and Beethoven Oaks in Recreation Park. (See the first three together at the bottom of my Unlikely Dance page.) WHAT shall I do with the Irish dance piece?

Beethoven Oaks, stage 10
Beethoven Oaks, stage 10 (unfinished) – 30 x 48 in., oils on canvas
Speaking of Beethoven Oaks, I’ve been slowed down a bit lately in pulling it together, but I’m very happy with it so far. Hoping to have it finished in time for Binghamton July Fest, July 12-14.

The “Unlikely Dance” project was made possible by a grant from the Artists Fund of the Community Foundation for South Central New York

To follow my progress in Unlikely Dance, just click on the “Unlikely Dance” link under TOPICS, on the left of any page in this blog.