Tuesday, September 13, 2016

"Friends - A Collaborative Exhibition" - Opening Nite and more about working a Duo Exhibition Oil Paintings and Colored Pencil Paintings

 For Arts Sake Gallery - Sept. 1 thru Oct. 3rd, 2016
Garlic - 4" X 8" WS Oils on cradled board
Scallots - 4" X 8" WS Oils on cradled board
 Opening receptions are great to walk into when you know you already have sold paintings!  Which does not normally happen!  So having sold 2 pieces within hours of delivery (One was still wet!) before they were even hung is a special treat.  The two oils on cradled board are oil paintings I created for this show.

My exhibit partner, oil painting friend Kathy Scott, also sold a painting before the show was hung, which had us both off to a great start.

I've participated in many opening nights, group shows, solo shows but it's great fun to be in a Duo Show.  As my regular readers know I am primarily a colored pencil painter who also works in water miscible Cobra oil paints. (Due to sensitivities I have to solvents and the aroma of most oil paints, even other brands of water miscible or soluble oils.)

The slow nature of 20-25 layers of colored pencil paintings makes for a less than optimum output to create in a year's time.  Galleries and shows generally need well more than 20-23 pieces to hang.  Especially if you work in sizes 18 X 24" and smaller sizes.  So working with another artist to create a show in a shared space is a great solution.  It doesn't hurt either when you have a friend who's palette compliments your own,  even in another media.  Kathy and I frequently paint plein air (in the open air) and her use of the Cobra oils enabled me to spend the day painting and traveling without the migraines I would have had if she hadn't.  Now that's a good friend!
The photo at the left is Gallery owner Diana Robinson, Kathy Scott and myself. (left to right) Thank you Dave Oxley for the great photo!

Kathy Scott's Oil Painting Don't Fly Away
Kathy's use of oils without consequence to my health gave me the hopes that I could once again pick up a paint brush!  Acrylics and watercolors had been media I used in the past which I left for my beloved colored pencils.

Her work and wonderful bird paintings can be found here at Kathy Scott Art.   Having a friend who's work compliments your own and who's working style is unique into itself makes combining efforts for a show much easier.

What we planned for in advance:
-A show title is a must, and we knew from initial talks about what we wanted to produce, that nature would play a big part.  Plein air work in both my mediums as well as hers was part of who we are, after all it's what we do together to have fun!
-Framing for our work, had to compliment the work but also be of a certain quality, check!
-Playing on both your strengths, enhances each other's work.  This is not the time to complete, support and encouragement is the power of all friendships and should be respected.
-Plan on a location that will showcase your work combined.  For Arts Sake Gallery was the perfect location for us both, convenient and appreciative of our Duo approach!
-Working in sizes similar to each other also helps for a pleasing exhibit.

Now since I teach Colored Pencil Painting Classes at For Arts Sake Gallery, so I wanted to showcase the many different surfaces colored pencil can be worked on.  Travertine Stone Tile, pastelboard, mylar, suede mat board -  I'm always trying to convert new artists to the medium!  If your curious about the gallery you can find their website here!
My model for Shauna - Mona Lisa's Smile posed for photo's at the opening.

And of course two additional sales on opening night were so appreciated.  My focal point painting: "Peaceful Skies - Poppy Collection" 18 X 24' Colored Pencil on Ampersand Pastelboard SOLD that evening to a favorite collector!  See my previous blog post to read about the "two medium series".  As well as another oil painting, Fleurs 6 X 8", below.

Working together to help each other's collector base grow and providing a cohesive exhibit presents artwork without waiting until you can fill a show.  We each had 23-24 paintings, that were able to fill the gallery's available space.  Thank you Diana Robinson, from For Arts Sake gallery for hanging and selling our work.  We both appreciate the hard work your gallery does on our behalf!

Now back to more color!


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Getting ready for a Duo Exhibit - And starting a new series.

Peaceful Sky - Poppies
12 X 24
 WS Oil on Canvas
     Two Media - One Series                    

Peaceful Sky - Poppy Collection, 18 X 24, Colored Pencil on Ampersand Pastelboard

For a while now I've been MIA from my blog and I'm sorry about that.  I really appreciate my readers and hate to have disappointed anyone with the lack of posting.  I wonder how many of you have the same issue as I do?  Finding it hard to multitask as well as I used to.  I seem to be dropping balls more so lately.  

Getting enough work accomplished for a solo or duo show can be daunting when you have had only 10 months between shows.  Especially when combining that with the slower medium of colored pencil painting and representational oils.  My solo show last November required 17 paintings, my Duo show opening September 1 required 23-24 for each artist.  My friend, oil painter Kathy Scott and I titled our duo show at For Arts Sake Gallery "Friends, A Collaborative Exhibition", by artists Gloria Callahan and Kathy Scott. Opening reception is on Friday, September 9, 2016, 5-8pm. Free and Open to the public. Exhibit runs August 29, 2016 through October 3, 2016. 

Me demoing the CP Poppies at a local art event in Richmond

Since I have been working in two media (my beloved colored pencil and water miscall oils) in the last year and a half, I wanted to combine them for this show.  And I felt they would blend well with my co-exhibitors work.  An important consideration when your doing a duo show.  I also had a specific style and series in mind for this show.  I've termed it Peaceful Sky but eventually some Stormy Skies may show up in the series.  Stay tuned.  

As you can see from the vertical piece above on the left, the poppies are in oil and on canvas.  And the Poppy Collection (on the right) are in CP and on Ampersand Pastelboard.  I do not enjoy working on canvas when oil painting, I think it's the bounce of the surface and the texture of canvas.  But I knew I needed some larger pieces and could not find board in the dimensions I wanted.  I much prefer working on board no matter the medium!
Backlit Poppy  5 X 7 Colored Pencil
 on Ampersand Pastelboard

Two of my favorite things - Skies and Flowers. I love Poppies, always have, they remind me of the ones my grandmother grew back home which originated in her hometown in Italy.  Brought to America by seed and nurtured thru the years by she and my mother.  In PA they always bloomed around Memorial Day.  Here in VA, the heat and humidity seem to challenge them to growing for more than an annual.  So planting them in my art seemed to be a splendid idea!

The Backlit Poppy was done as an study for whether the poppies would look good on a dark or light background.  As much as I do love backlighting, and I may explore this more, I wanted to combine the sky and flowers instead for my larger pieces.

Developing the Poppy Collection

If your me, somedays it's hard to pay attention when driving when the sky is so fascinating!  I wanted to capture the clouds in volume and lighting.  I wanted the lit backsides to shine and glow as well as capture the softness and sometimes crisp edges.  Placing the flowers on such a sky in a view from underneath, looking up was exactly what I had in mind.  Almost as a child looks up thru a flower field.  Innocence and bright color.  

There is one more Oil Peaceful Sky piece in the works, but alas the drying time of my Cobra Water miscible oils 
has me on a learning curve, so it did not make the show deadline for turning in.  Check back as it's a big one!

Colored Pencil classes moved in June from my home studio to For Arts Sake Gallery   804-740-1400, 9770 Gayton Road, Richmond, Va  23238  www.forartssakegallery.com  and will continue in an ongoing monthly schedule for Thursdays, in two sessions 9:30 - 12:30 & 1:00 - 4:00.  Please contact Diana at the gallery if you are interested.  

In the show are Plein Air Paintings in Colored pencil and in Oil, as well as several Studio still lives and other work, I will highlight more in my next post.  

Enjoy the last of summer and stop to look up and enjoy the summer sky!


Friday, April 1, 2016

"Shauna Lily - Mona Lisa's Smile", A Portrait Finished - And the snapshots taken along the way.

Shauna Lily - Mona Lisa's Smile, 16" X 12"
Colored Pencil on  Ampersand Pastelboard

Well she's finally done, and submitted as this years 24th Annual CPSA International  (Colored Pencil Society of America) entry.  A portrait of my youngest granddaughter Shauna Lily.  The story of this portrait is tied to my CP art classes in a way and to the portrait of Cora, her older sister.

A few years back I taught a class to my students for recreating a master in colored pencil.  You can see that image below of "My Girl With A Pearl", my personal tribute to Vermeer's "Girl With A Pearl Earring" and my post of that painting here.

And of course when you do one grandchild's portrait you know your going to want to do all of them eventually.  As young Shauna watched me do Cora's piece she asked about which Old Master her portrait would be?  And with her coloring and the influence from my own mother's favorite painting we came up with a plan.  It had to be the Mona Lisa. And she liked that Mona Lisa and Shauna Lily kind of sounded the same.  While I didn't want to do her as I did Cora in the same clothing and setting, I did want the feeling of Mona's gaze and eyes that seem to follow you.  And of course the notorious smile had to be there.  Thus the title!

Next we had to take a photo as reference for her portrait and that meant a photo shoot!  Now what little girl doesn't want to model?  So we set up on a very rainy winter's morning to snap some pictures.  Below was the one I chose to work from.

Reference Photo

I always start a portrait with completing the background first so that the fine hairs which surround a person can be brought out and over the background.
Initial layers of pale skin tones defining the features.
I first lay in the pupil and iris, as adding them first help me decide the values of the skin tones better*.  The initial layers of pale skin tone colors are added to lightly define the features.  I continue adding layers of skin tone colors, varying degrees and going darker as I am contouring the features.

*Since my reference shot did not capture the warm colors that make Shauna's eyes so lovely I could not go dark enough until I had my son send me close up photos of her eyes in better lighting.  I find the eye color to be crucial in capturing a likeness as well as expression.   So I continued with the skin  a little before finishing the pupil and iris areas.

The photos below shows how I develop the skin tones further going into more detail as I go.  The shadowy right side of her face needed soft edges and working in that area one has to be cautious to not "dirty or make mud".

Excuse the iPad shadow here, oops.

Feeling like the skin tones are working well I need to get her dark hair in so I can see how the darker values in this portrait will influence the skin tones. 


 Completing the hair takes a while and I'm working in clumps and groups of strands as I go.   I ultimately wanted to keep the light blue highlights from the window light on her hair.  They look a bit white here but in the finished piece they are a bluish.

Now I'm happy with her skin and hair at this point but small tweaks and more softening of the right side of her face are going along as I begin her clothing.

At this point "knitting" her sweater has to happen and although I knit in real life I'm not sure I really want to do it in pencil.  But at the time this was a favorite dress for her so here goes.  I started to lay out the shadows and rumples in the sweater.

Purl stitches on the shoulder cap, stockinet stitches below.Knit 1 purl 2.  etc.  on and ooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn! 

I wanted to get the garment finished because I knew that the pencil crumbles that always appear as you work (and especially on sanded board) would get onto her arm colors.  And speckles of teal/turquoise do not look good in skin!

As it was a few managed to get there anyway after I finished her arm.  !!$%&!!

Well there you have it she's finished! I hope you enjoyed a small example of the over 6 weeks this piece took.  I had shared the progress photos with Shauna and she was pleased.

Finished Piece "Shauna Lily - Mona Lisa's Smile"

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Playing Catch Up With Small Details - To finish up a couple older Plein Air pieces.

"Andre's Garden" a Plein Air Study, 5" X 7" Colored Pencil on Ampersand Pastelboard

The delays that life brings to an artist's schedule have kept me from posting new work and updates on my Blog.  I hate to just post a picture and not let you know about the process, inspiration and possible difficulties in the completing of artwork.  Rest assured that my absence has not been due to inactivity but on the contrary.  I have been working on a colored pencil piece which I will reveal soon, along with photos in progress, as my entry into the 2016 International CPSA (Colored Pencil Society of America) show.   Stay tuned.  

The small plein air works in this post were started on a previous plein air outing season and set aside since they needed a few last minute tweaks and touches before I could call them complete.  They can be seen or purchased, currently at Crossroads Art Center in my exhibit space.   The first, "Andre's Garden" above, is the home of popular nurseryman and national call in talk radio personality Andre Viette, a local icon known for his gardening expertise, in Fishersville, VA.  My intrepid Plein Air partner in crime Kathy, and I ventured there while out on a painting weekend and we found the gardens to be a pleasure.  Finding it hard to position ourselves in one spot as there were so many to choose from.  We eventually were rained out that day, thus the delay in finishing. Andre Viette's Garden.  

"Lazare Pond" a Plein Air Study, 8 X 6" Colored Pencil on Ampersand Pastelboard

The above small plein air works were started on a previous plein air outing season and set aside since they needed a few last minute tweaks and touches before I could call them complete.   The first, "Andre's Garden" was at a popular home of nurseryman and national call in radio persise in Fishersville, VA.  My intrepid Plein Air partner in crime Kathy, and I ventured there while on a painting weekend and we found the gardens to be a pleasure.  Finding it hard to position ourselves in one spot as there were so many to choose from.  We eventually were rained out that day, thus the delay in finishing.  Andre Viette's Garden 

The second piece, "Lazare Pond" was from a great Plein Air paint out with several Moscow School of Painting masters who schooled us in Russian oil painting techniques when working in the fresh air.  Located and hosted by Lazare Gallery in Charles City, VA.  If you haven't enjoyed the works of Russian contemporary painter's you really must look them up.  You can find their website here: http://www.lazaregallery.com/gallery/welcome.html

Kathy and John Wurdeman's gallery and home are on the scenic banks of the James River and do not disappoint.  Lazare Gallery is beautifully decorated and the wonderful collection of Russian painter's they represent here are a must see if your in VA.  Their son Jonathan is one of the Russian painter's who demonstrated his style and technique that day, and he acted as translator for us for the others Russian artists.  Experiencing the gorgeous lighting in the paintings of these Russian master's at the gallery brought warmth to the cold November Day we were painting in.  

Now at the time I had not started painting in water miscible oils, so I was working in "crayons de couleur" (the French term for CP), which is what they used when referring to my media.  All of the Russian masters looked and commented with a nodding head as they reviewed my in-progress work, not speaking very much English.  And I had to wonder what their impression was of my working in colored pencil..  

You see at the Moscow school of painting, children to teens work for 4 or more years copying and drawing only, not painting when they enter the school.  First mastering their rendering skills.  So I think they thought I was a newbie and student.  Not realizing I use this as my final media when working Plein Air.  They also seemed interested in the fact I was using my trimmed off bristle brushes to blend and fill the sanded surface of my Ampersand Pastelboard.  Well they we partly right as aren't we all life long students LOL ;))

It was a cold windy day so blending the wax of my Prismacolors was not easy.  Usually in warmer weather the wax blends easily and with little effort.  Which is one of the perks of doing Plein air work in colored pencils in my southern state of Virginia.  Use this link above to see Lazare's website and read about the fabulous work of the Moscow School of Painting as well as to see beautiful examples of their work.   

I hoping to post a little more frequently as life permit's, check back in for views of my current piece on the drawing board.  

Waiting for Spring's colors,

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