I love listening to podcasts with interviews of artists, especially painters, who talk about their process and practice, their lives, studios, challenges and successes. In the list below I share with you the ones I’ve discovered and what I like about them. Let me know which ones you like and if you know of any I’ve missed, please leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list. Read More
I found this wonderful old crock set out on the curb, adorned with a “Free” sign so I carried it home for my “Found Stuff” painting series. One handle had broken off but the owner had thoughtfully placed the pieces inside and I glued it back together. I love the way the flowers are reflected and shadowed on the crock. The painting is available here. Below are photos of the work in progress.
It takes two to paint. One to paint, the other to stand by with an axe to kill him before he spoils it. William Merrit Chase
My biggest painting goal is to stop what I call “unauthorized painting” — I finish part of a painting, like it and write my plan for that area: “Don’t touch it!” Later I decide to just do a little “touching up” and the next thing I know I am wishing for a “REWIND” button as I try to wipe off the “unauthorized” paint. Where’s the guy with the axe when I need him? I need to draw him, axe and all, and stick it on my easel!
If you’d like more details about each session’s goals, my thoughts, missteps and corrections, click Autumn Sunflowers and Found Crock (PDF) to open the chart. As promised in my last post, here is a Session Template (click to DOWNLOAD Word file), for anyone who would like to use or modify it to track their own work. I’ll also post it on my Resources Page.
I am happy to say that the excellent new book Urban Sketching: The Complete Guide to Techniques by Thomas Thorspecken, includes this “Urban Animals” page (above) featuring my sketches of cats. When the publisher contacted me to request the use of the images, I was delighted. I was even happier when they sent my complimentary copies of the book and I saw all the really useful information and wonderful sketches it contains.
Field Guide to San Francisco
Then I got an email from an art director from the San Francisco office of the national advertising agency, Ogilvy. They were moving and she was designing a “Field Guide” to the new SF neighborhood for their employees. When searching for sketches of the area she found mine, and as she looked through my blog she found sketches to illustrate most of the pages in the guide.
(This would be a good time to point out to fellow art bloggers how important it is to tag or attach categories to your images and your posts. WordPress makes it easy; the feature is a little hidden in Blogger but it really helps to find posts or images with specific content.)
In the end, they licensed 18 of my sketches for use in the printed field guide. Above are a few of the pages, brilliantly composed by the art director.
What I’m working on now
I am honored to be working on a commissioned large watercolor painting for a couple who live in Europe now, but were married in a lovely building in a Bay Area park. The wife wants to give her husband the painting for their anniversary. I visited the venue and took photos and we agreed on a composition. The painting is underway and so far is going well, but because it is large and has many details, it is keeping me very busy (and happy) in the studio.
(I’m leaving out any identifying details about the locations to make sure there’s no way her husband will find out. I know that seems unlikely, but when working on a previous commissioned painting of a house for a surprise anniversary present for the husband, their daughter found the work-in-progress painting I’d posted of her parents’ house when she Googled “Oakland Federal Building,” landed on my sketch of the building, scrolled down and the next post was her home. She was so surprised to see it she called her parents!)
I like to spend New Years Day reflecting on the past year and looking ahead to the new one. While last year’s review post was full of artistic accomplishments, 2013 was a mixed year. It started off about art and ended with diversions, digressions and Dog. And in the middle I spent the summer studying Flemish oil painting technique with Alex Zonis, resulting in the painting above. (I took photos of each step along the way in this painting and will post about the process very soon.)
January 2013: Urban Sketchers show and painting dogs
The year began well. I completed this commissioned dog portrait (one of five I did in December/January) and my Urban Sketchers group had an exhibit of our sketchbooks and hosted a sketchcrawl for the community.
February and March 2013: Sketching and Painting
I continued having fun sketching and completed several oil paintings (a decent portrait and some mostly unsuccessful sunflowers).
April 2013: Spring sprung; creativity flowed
April was a creative month, with several oil paintings completed including my favorite above. I started sketching in an 8 x 11 Moleskine (see bus sketch below) and attended a sketchcrawl, several museum shows, and the Codex Book Fair.
May 2013: Every Day in May
May was the best month of the year because of the Every Day Matters “Every Day in May” project. I had so much fun doing daily sketching!
A UK publisher asked to include a couple of the May sketches in a 2014 book on sketching.
June 2013: Started Flemish painting class and more dog portraits
After completing another commissioned dog portrait I began studying the Flemish oil painting method with Alex Zonis over Skype. The result was the Apricot painting at the top of this post, with more than 10 layers of paint, and three months work. I will post about the process soon.
July 2013: Hosted First West Coast Sketchcrawl
My Urban Sketchers group worked hard for much of July to prepare for hosting the first 3-day West Coast Urban Sketchcrawl in San Francisco and Oakland which was a great success with nearly 75 people each day. Meanwhile, I continued working on the apricot painting.
August 2013: Show at the Collector Gallery
August was a month of many successes: after a lot of prep work for the show at the Collector gallery, I sold 5 paintings and a print (4 at the show, 2 from my website, 3 of which went to France and Switzerland). I continued working on the Flemish method apricot oil painting with Alex; still the only oil painting in progress in the studio.
September 2013: New York Art Adventure!
I bound a new sketchbook and shopped for things I needed for my trip to New York City after deciding my funky, frumpy Berkeley visage wouldn’t cut it in NY. FINALLY finished the Flemish method oil painting of apricots!
The NYC trip was fantastic! I had a blast, visiting with New York artist friends, going to museums and sketching the city. I didn’t want to come home!
October 2013: A sketchcrawl and the flu
I did very little sketching or painting in October as I was sick nearly the entire month from a bug I caught traveling that lasted three weeks and finally required antibiotics. I did manage to get to a sketchcrawl at Jack London Square.
November: Thanksgiving and surgery
I recovered from the October illness just in time to have a planned surgery on Halloween to correct a long-standing problem. The supposed 2-3 week recovery time took nearly 5 weeks. I was very grateful to be well enough to attend Thanksgiving dinner, my first real outing all month. I did very little sketching and no painting in November, due to limited mobility and energy.
December: It’s all about the DOG
I’ve wanted a dog for years and finally, just as I recovered from surgery I found my perfect pup. I’ve had 5-month old Millie for one month and she is so much fun. We’ve been walking 3 to 7 miles in nature every day. She’s a 20 pound Formosa Mountain Dog, who was rescued with her litter in Taiwan and shipped here by a rescue group for adoption. When I met her it was love at first sight.
I’ve done very little artwork or blog posting while working out a routine with the dog and my two cats in December, recovering from surgery in November and October’s flu bug. Now it’s a new year and I’m finding my way back to painting and sketching again (and hopefully more regular blogging)!
Looking ahead in 2014
My goal for 2014 is to continue to explore and focus on how (and what) I most enjoy drawing and painting, and then work more consistently with that approach and subject matter. I also want to focus on being more present and connected to nature, the seasons, weather, and the calendar, and reflecting that connection in my art.
This post is a happy update on recent successes, sales and celebrations. First, the opening of the (ongoing) show at Collector Gallery was such a wonderful celebration of art and friendship. So many people came to the opening of the group show and I felt so honored by all those who came to support me. This week two of my paintings there sold to a couple from France who were flying home with them the next day: Tea and Lemon and Tea and Butter (below, and as licensed on a book cover—two sales of the same painting!).
That makes my third international sale in the past couple months. The painting Romanian Winter Hayride (below) painted from a Google Streetview picture sold to a gentleman in Italy who bought it for his home in Switzerland.
And continuing the international theme, a British publisher asked to include some of my sketches in their soon-to-be-published book on urban sketching! Then a Canadian couple bought a print of the sketch View From Dolores Park, saying that park has special meaning for them. And yesterday, Cafe Le Bateau Ivre’s web designer asked to use the two café sketches I did there (below) on their new website. (OK, they’re in Berkeley and only their name is international, but still…)
Here is a peek at my wall in the Collector Gallery in Berkeley’s Elmwood district showing 12 oil paintings. I have more small paintings displayed off the wall in the gallery. The largest painting on the wall (Happy Boy Farms Tomatoes) is 12×12 inches and the smallest is 6×6 inches.
If you’re in the area please stop by for music, refreshments and to see these and the interesting work by the other four artists in this show. And for further enticement, it doesn’t hurt that Berkeley’s most popular ice cream shop is right next door.
Above is the postcard for the reception Friday night from 6-8 at the The Collector Gallery in Berkeley at 2950 College Avenue. (Download Collector reception flyer pdf).
I hated doing performance reviews at work but was always glad when I’d finished mine and could see all I’d accomplished. This year I had to do my last review at work because I am leaving to paint full time next month!!! I think that’s my biggest news of the year and something I’ve been working towards, finishing up projects since September.
Since I know how valuable performance reviews are, I assign myself to do a review of my art/life too. So here are my reflections on the past year and looking forward into 2013.
- In early 2012 I moved into my new studio which I’m thoroughly enjoying and have continued to modify to suit my needs, including building Carole Marine’s still life “stage,” and adding a hula hoop for fun warm ups.
- In December 2012 Katherine Tyrrell’s Making a Mark blog named it “Most Gorgeous Mouth Watering (MGM) Studio of the Year.” I’m not sure it’s mouth-watering but it’s my favorite place in the world!
PUBLICATIONS & PRESS
- The Art of Urban Sketching: Drawing On Location Around The World was published in February 2012 and I was so honored to have my sketches in the book with such amazing company.
- My painting Pile of Persimmons was licensed for the cover of Mills College literary journal Persimmon Tree.
- I was interviewed for this article about Urban Sketching that was published in the local paper.
- The biggest life change: I’ve reduced my day job hours to one day a week and in another month will leave to paint full time!!!!
I continued work on a series of 16×20″ portraits of people at work in my community. One of these, UPS Delivers at Night was the runner-up in best Portrait of the Year on Making a Mark. It is being purchased by the “model” and UPS corporate wants to do a story about it.
- Last year I said I wanted to learn to relish and appreciate imperfection and that has helped me to begin to learn to stop before a painting has been perfected (otherwise known as overworked).
- I’ve made it a priority in 2013 year to find that magical point of balance between painting, blogging, and everything else like healthy eating, exercise and sleep. I’m already making progress.
TECHNIQUE AND MATERIALS
Feeling more confident with my oil painting technique, I’m often able to paint with conscious competence now (see this post for explanation of the 4 steps from unconscious incompetence to unconscious competence) which is way better than the conscious incompetence I was coming from.
- Last year I decided to do watercolor sketching instead of oil painting at plein air paint-outs. This year I will start oil painting plein air again to see if what I’ve learned in the studio with oils in 2012 will allow me to enjoy and succeed at taking them outdoors.
- I experimented with Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks but found I prefer the paper of Moleskine Watercolor Notebooks to S&B when I’m not binding my own.
- I began using a limited palette in oils, working with just 4 to 6 colors. It’s a great way to learn more about color and helps create harmonious paintings. In watercolor it seems more difficult since I usually want to control not just color but transparency/opacity /sedimentary and other characteristics of watercolor paint.
- I fell in love with oil painting on oil-primed linen panels for smaller sized work (I use regular stretched canvas for anything bigger than 11″x14″). I’ve been using relatively inexpensive Centurion panels and they’re wonderful!
- I took a week-long Alla Prima Portraiture class with Rose Frantzen at Scottsdale Artists School in February 2012. It was intense. She takes her teaching very seriously and we worked hard from 9 to 5. After class hours she entertained us with wonderful stories from her life and the art world. I learned a lot but would have benefited more if I’d come to the class more skilled at portrait drawing and alla prima painting. I spent too much time just trying to get my darn drawing (with paint) right.
- I did a lot of work and study to improve my drawing skills in 2012 and it will continue to be a major focus in 2013.
- Although I expected to start up my watercolor classes again in 2012 I didn’t. I plan to start teaching again in the spring, once I’ve completed my last day job assignments.
SKETCHING AND BOOKBINDING
- Continued to sketch every Tuesday night with my Urban Sketchers group as well as on our “field trips” and independently. Our group is having a show this month and has started hosting a monthly sketching event for the public the first Tuesday evening of each month.
- Stopped bookbinding to make more time for studio painting but will return to it again in 2013.
ART BUSINESS/SALES and LICENSING
- Last year I decided to concentrate on painting and wait until I left my day job to put effort into art biz/marketing. Despite that plan I did sell a number of paintings, sketches, prints and commissioned works including a large watercolor of a corporate building commissioned as a gift to a retiring CEO, as well as portraits of people, cats and dogs, and landscape paintings.
- Whole Foods Oakland bought my sketch (below) to use in their employee lunchroom.
- Licensed work, in addition to those listed under Publications above, included a sketch of carrots for Canadian Carrot Community Arts Coffeehouse’s Facebook and a police car sketch used by Fayette County, Georgia’s Public Safety Department for a brochure. It’s amazing the way the web gets our work seen by people in such diverse places such as….
- The French advertising agency for Hermes (yes that Hermes!) contacted me to do a series of illustrations for them for a new website
campaign. They wanted the drawings to be in the funky brush-pen style I used for some antique industrial equipment sketches like this old typewriter. They sent me story and concept sketches my drawings were to follow, which they were going to animate. In the end I turned it down for a variety of reasons but it was an amazing opportunity.
- A local gallery invited me to have a show in 2013 of my still life paintings. I am honored by the invitation but not sure I want to spend the money on framing everything. Am I being silly? It seems easier to sell online but I know it’s important to “get the work out there” locally too.
BLOGGING & WEB
- WordPress sends its members an annual blog report. Mine began: “About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 220,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein it would take about 4 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe.” Cute.
- I celebrated my six-year blogging anniversary in 2012 with 220,309 views from 188 countries. I wrote 102 new posts (total 1,118) and uploaded 430 pictures in 2012. My highest views on a day in 2012 was 1,763 on October 29, 2012 and total views on my blog from inception May 2006 through 2012 is 1,213,061.
- Started and maintained my Facebook Artist page.
- Posted regularly and administered the Urban Sketchers S.F. Bay Area blog as well as starting a Facebook and Flickr page for Urban Sketchers. Some of our group below.