Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pears - the Personality Fruit

"The Crush"
8" x 10"

I first fell in love with pears as a still life subject many years ago after seeing Martha Alf's work. Pears have remained my favorite fruits to draw. Their shape gives them a greater ability to pose and take on a personality.

I showed this to my husband last night after I finished it. I said, "Look - I drew a portrait of you and me. Can you guess which one is me?" He correctly identified the left hand pear as me. See - you just couldn't do that with two apples!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

When Dark Gray Becomes White

"Dream of Gardenias"
oil on canvas
10" x 8"

This is my newest oil painting. I took this reference photo way back last summer and have been meaning to paint it. I got the neat reflection of the flower by using a black cloth for the foreground and background with a glass panel on top of the cloth. I wanted a nice dark subtle reflection instead of what a mirror would have produced. It always boggles my mind on how dark the reflection really is in a situation like this. Those lightest "whites" reflected in the glass are really quite dark.

Just to show you what I mean, I made this little color swatch below in Photoshop.

The two gray rectangles are the same color. In fact they are the color of the lightest gray in the flower's reflection in the painting above. When I first painted this the other day, I didn't go quite dark enough on the reflection. The painting looked alright, but not what I was hoping for. I went back the next day and repainted the reflection, pushing the values even darker. I'm glad I did - the end result was certainly worth the extra time I put in. I gotta admit it - I'm very pleased with this one!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Gouache Made an Oil Painter Out of Me

Apple Pyramid
oil on canvas
12" x 12"

I'm having a little break from drawing. Recently, I had the good fortune to come face to face with a Daniel Tennant gouache painting, "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow". It was absolutely gorgeous. It got me to thinking about gouache, which is an opaque watercolor medium which is know for it's ability to produce brillant colors and fine detail. So, I up and ordered some to see if I'd like it better than oils. After one afternoon with gouache, I'm feeling a renewed kinship with oils. Yeah, I know Rome wasn't built in a day - I'll keep playing around with gouache. Half a day should certainly not be the basis for throwing out what, in the hands of many other artists, has proven to be a wonderful medium. I just couldn't get the right amount of water in my mix. Either it was way too runny to cover the paper properly, or when I had a mixture that covered well, it simply dried in 15 milliseconds. On looking back, I admit part of my problem was probably my frugality. I was just not squeezing a goodly amount of paint out of those expensive little tubes to properly work with.

To comfort my self esteem which had taking a slight beating that day, I pulled out my oil paints the other day and painted the apple painting shown above. I'm starting to think about holiday small work shows that will be coming up in December. This painting is on a gallery wrapped canvas which I didn't want to frame, so I painted a little black and gray border to give it a more finished look.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fried Green Tomatillos?

"Two Tomatillos"
6" x 8 1/4"

We left our vegetable garden at the old house when we moved. We've had a garden every year for the last 15 years, but no garden at the new house. I don't think that we'll start one next year either. I've got to admit it - the weeding and watering, not to mention the chiggar infestations were getting a little old. I'll miss my asparagus bed come next spring I'm sure, and I have been missing my fig trees. I'll definitely try to get some new fig trees going here, but I think that the farmer's market will be able to supply all of my fresh vegetable needs from now on.

Each summer, I usually cook fried green tomatoes every so often. With no garden and therefore no green tomatoes on hand, we haven't had fried green tomatoes all summer. So, when my husband spotted some usually large tomatillos at a local grocery store, he got the idea that we should see how fried green tomatillos would turn out. When the tomatillos didn't get fried right away, I carried them off to the studio and did this little graphite drawing. This afternoon, I finished the drawing and so fried tomatillos were back on the menu. We fried them tonight, and I just have to say I'm glad I drew them first so it didn't end up a complete waste! Just for the record - fried tomatillos are much more tart than tomatoes and pretty much turn to mush on the inside when you fry them. Maybe I can find some green tomatoes at the farmer's market next summer.