I decided to do a small still life this afternoon, spur of the moment, taking the apples from my fruit bowl and arranging them in the new red bowl I bought to use for Thanksgiving. I haven't been able to paint for a week, so this was the perfect subject to cut loose on and splash a bit of color around. I love the warm color palette, and the chance to loosen up my brushstrokes and just have some fun.
After this, I have two commissions to do before Christmas, which should keep me out of trouble for a while. It's good to keep busy!
Backtracking just a little, in August of this year I entered the Portsmouth Arts Guild's It's Your Masterpiece exhibition, which challenged artists to interpret a masterpiece of their choosing - not to merely copy, but to paint it in their own style and/or add a little something extra.
I chose Edward Hopper, being that he's one of my favorite artists, and his painting "Chop Suey", which I've always admired. I love Hopper's rich color palette and the mysterious, somewhat solemn atmosphere that pervades a lot of his work. I attempted to capture that with my interpretation, albeit with a twist - I wanted to modernize it and....well, I also added my cat Bob, just for a bit of fun.
I guess I did something right, as I won the Peoples Choice Award with my attempt, which was rather awesome. But judge for yourself...
In early October this year, on a trip to Westport (as chauffeur for hubs who was having sedation dentistry), I found myself at Horseneck Beach, early in the morning, and on a weekday. I thought perhaps I would take a few pics, enjoy the sunshine, kill some time, but I ended up hanging out there for quite a while, digging my toes in the sand, watching the seagulls and the funny little birds who ran back and forth with the tide, and taking photos until the battery in my camera ran out. It was such a gorgeous day, and there was hardly anyone around, so I had the beach practically to myself, apart from a few early morning risers catching the last rays of summer or getting some exercise. I ended up with a tonne of photos, mostly of the waves, the dunes, the long stretch of beach, then over the proceeding weeks I did a series of small 8x8" paintings. I also took a few pics of the wetlands across the road from Horseneck, so I painted one of those too. Loved the golden colors of the marshland, as opposed to the cool blues of the ocean.
So now that Christmas is nearly upon us, I've entered my mini-paintings in various holiday shows around Aquidneck Island. Four are at the Portsmouth Arts Guild, and three each at Spring Bull Gallery and Gallerie Ellipsis, both in Newport. Here are some of the paintings being exhibited.
"Horseneck Beach" - 8x8"
"Horseneck Clouds" - 8x8"
"Horseneck Dunes" - 8x8"
"Waves" - 8x8"
"Waves II" - 8x8"
"Westport Wetlands" - 8x8"
"Seagull" - 8x8"
I don't think I've had this many paintings exhibited all at once before, in different galleries. It's kind of exciting.
The Portsmouth Arts Guild show runs until December 22, and the Gallerie Ellipsis and Spring Bull shows open Thursday, December 5 and Saturday, December 7 respectively.
I finished my last polo pony a few weeks ago. I had one more to get out of my system, and now I'm done! Maybe I'll paint more if I go to another polo match in the summer (if it ever gets here), but for now I think I've exhausted my subject matter.
If there's one thing I've learnt from these paintings, it's not to be afraid of getting close to your subject, or of trying something different. Getting rid of the background was the best thing I did, and it's a little surprising that I didn't think of it myself. It seems so obvious now. But that's one of the benefits of having some great artist buddies. A little suggestion like not having to paint the background exactly as it was in the photo, or just leaving it out altogether and sticking with the red, made all the difference.
I'm now working on a few pieces of New York, a subject I haven't tackled since 2009. Wow, how time flies! My current piece is a sunlit New York building. I love the old architecture of New York. The detail and skill involved in creating these works of art in their own right is amazing. Unfortunately, I have no idea what building this is. Could be any where in New York city. I walked around so much I got blisters. Ouch! But wherever it was, aside from its obvious beauty, it was probably the light and shadow (my favorite subject) that first captured my attention.
The painting's obviously in its rough stages at the moment. I'll make corrections along the way. Getting the dimensions and perspective right, and everything lined up, is pretty important when you're painting any kind of structure. Otherwise it just doesn't work. Buildings need to have solidity and balance, or when you start simplifying and taking artistic license the painting won't work.
This piece has been somewhat slow going, but I'm making steady progress. I'm chomping at the bit to get more painting done this afternoon.
Finished the portrait of Buster last week, the kitty of a friend of mine, and gave it to his bereaving Mum on Friday, who thankfully loved it. She also, unfortunately, burst into tears upon receiving it, not something I want to make anyone do, but that's one of the hazards of painting portraits of our furry babies that have passed away. This is the third portrait I've done of this kind, and while sad, it's also extremely gratifying to help with the grieving process. As an animal lover myself I know how hard it is to lose a furry child. They're your kids. Not "like", they "are" your kids. They're also your best friends, so it's always hard to lose them.
Buster, as I understand it, was a pretty cool cat. I only met him twice, but I did get that impression. He was pretty smart, which I think you can tell from his face. He was one of those cats who looked you in the eye and you could swear was human. I have one of those. Well, actually, to be fair, all four of mine are pretty human, but Bob, my youngest (see, I talk about him like a person), looks at me sometimes and I'm sure if he could speak English he'd be telling me to get my lazy butt off the couch and feed him. He's quite the character, and I love him to pieces. I hope he lives as long as Buster did.
Not sure what I'm going to paint next. I might just do one more polo pony, or get onto that painting of a coffee shop, but my brother has asked for a painting for his birthday - of Paris of all places - so that may be on the agenda this week. I asked my husband if we could go to Paris for a holiday so I could take some snaps, but somehow I don't think that's going to happen. I'd much rather work off photos I've taken personally, but if my brother can find something decent, then we'll just have to work with that.
I finished my bunny paintings this week. They were surprisingly tricky, partly because their fur is made up of so many different colors, but I think I managed it in the end. Whether they're sold separately or all together, I just hope the bunnies appeal. I think they'd be great for a kids bedroom. The main objective is to raise money for the Potter League.
As for my next project, it's back to the polo ponies. I plan to do one more, probably 16x20", then I'm thinking about switching to interiors, something I haven't done in a while. I've been inspired by a song by Landon Pigg called "Coffee Shop", which I absolutely love, and is obviously about a coffee shop, so now I'm trying to find a great little coffee shop or cafe to paint. I'm thinking I might visit a little place in Bristol that I found a few weeks ago which, if I recall rightly, has the sort of ambiance and charm I'm after, just as long as they don't mind me taking photos. Guess I'll just have to ask. Some people are downright antsy about their properties being photographed, though I can't fathom why.
So, as I mentioned in my blog yesterday, I'm doing some paintings for the Potter League for Animals Have a Heart Cocktail Party & Auction, which is basically what it says it is, a cocktail party with a silent auction, all the proceeds of which benefit the animals at the Potter League in Middletown, RI. There are usually lots of great items to bid on - weekend getaways, tickets to the theater, gift baskets, and of course art. I've only been once, but I've donated a few pieces over the years, although this is the first time I've ever done paintings specifically for this event.
I decided to do four small 6x6" pieces, and sticking with the animal theme, I've chosen to paint bunnies. I've never painted rabbits before, and they're actually much more of a challenge than I anticipated, but that's good. I need to challenge myself. The tricky part is in trying to simplify the form while depicting the softness of the rabbit's fur without getting too cutesy. They're adorable little animals, but I don't want it looking "pretty" or too detailed. This is my first piece. I think the small scale doesn't help, but it's fun to do small pieces that I can finish in a few hours. That means if all goes well I can get all four paintings finished this week, then start on my last polo pony painting. My only problem now is coming up with a name for the little guy. Thumper, perhaps?
I wanted to blog about this separately, as this painting was a little more special to me than my other pieces. Cayce belonged to some good friends of mine, and sadly died just before Thanksgiving 2012. Sadder still, he was a young dog in his prime, and he was such a sweetie. He had a big personality to match his big heart, and of course, being a Weimaraner, he was a very big dog. It broke my heart to hear he was gone, especially as I knew my friends loved him so much, so I decided to give them a surprise and do a painting of their beloved puppy. I've done a few paintings like this now, and it's incredibly rewarding, and even a little therapeutic. I'm not a particularly religious or spiritual person, but it often feels like I can sense them when I'm painting their portrait, but then maybe that's because I knew them in life, and it's my way of grieving. I also did a painting of my husband's cat Corrina after she passed away, and he told me it helps him to see her picture every day, so hopefully my friends feel the same way. RIP Cayce.
I need to do a bit of catching up. I've been painting continuously, but I haven't been blogging as much. I finished my third polo pony, and my fourth, which are below. I'm feeling a lot better about how they're turning out. I really like the red background, which I think makes the horses pop. Plus, I'm getting closer to the looser brushstrokes I like. It's hard not to be so controlling, but the more I loosen up, the easier it gets, especially with the larger paintings.
I'm now contemplating my next project. I have one more polo pony to paint, but before I do, I want to do some smaller pieces for the upcoming Potter League Have a Heart Cocktail Party and Auction on Friday, February 8. I'm thinking some small bunny paintings. I've never painted bunnies before! And it's for a great cause. This awesome shelter does so much for the animals, and this event is always a bit of fun. Check it out.