Varnishing Oil Paintings

Varnishing Oil Paintings

Anyone who's done any research quickly learns that there are some structural problems that can happen when oil paintings are varnished before the three to six month drying time.

Of course, as artists that sell work, this is somewhat problematic. We don't necessarily like storing pieces for that long. Fortunately, times change. New studies and experiments happen. While I'm not a chemist or materials expert, I am a researcher-type and I'll share some art "street talk" about it here.

Canvas or Panel?

Canvas or Panel?

Looking for quick advice on how to choose a panel or canvas for oil painters? Click blog post title to get to the video link!

Beyond Bob Ross- Relax with How to Paint Videos

So... I look up more about him, and sure enough, he was an art forger before he hosted his TV how-to show. I should have known. I have a "thing" for British art forgers, artists, and gardeners I guess. The accent, the paints, copying old masters, the flowers... ah... all so peaceful. And there's always Bob Ross:)

Using Lead White in Oil Painting with Cadmium Colors

Using Lead White in Oil Painting with Cadmium Colors

Old masters' oil painting techniques fawn over the creamy, textural properties of white paint that contains lead. It dries quickly, has dreamy body (yes, still talking about oil paint), and has a certain warm silver cast to the color that adds an old master's look to your work. I was taught to be afraid of the paint interacting with other, synthetic paints, like cadmiums, but...

Love Story, Love Art

Love, love, love.

In addition to painting, I love reading and growing plants.  I used to read

a lot

when I was young.  My backup career ideas as a teen were Library Science and English Literature.  Like some of you may have, I quit reading fiction when I got BUSY.  A few years ago, my mom gave me a hardcover copy of “I Capture the Castle” by Dodie Smith (who also wrote the original 101 Dalmatians story and hit plays for the

London

stage), and I got re-hooked!

I like romantic stories and classics and some poetry, and that overflows into my painting life and always has.  One important piece of being an artist is BEING an artist; that is living life as a story.  The things I can control-doing my best to make them beautiful- and the things I can’t control- doing my best to make the most good out of them.

I’ve always loved reading artist’s biographies and journals.  I’m fascinated by the connections between what they painted with how they lived.  The more I know of their lives, the more emotion I pull from the work.  If I have a real life encounter with an exhibition of paintings by Manet or Cezanne, for example, I am powerfully moved-even if their work hadn't been of noted interest to me before.  There is something about connecting the story of their lives with their original work that I find so moving.  

I do a lot of thinking about "why buy art?  Why watch art?  Why make it?"

There is much I could say about this topic and I’m interested in what

you

have to say about it, and today I’ll just share this thought: Art and the making of it and the living of it is part of a story, the story of the maker

and

the story of the person who collects it.  At that point our stories meet and mingle.  The art expresses something of the buyer’s taste and experience that the painter shares with them.  The artist’s accomplishments become part of the collector’s personal story.  I LOVE this tapestry.  Story is so beautifully human.

Still Life Inspiration from Sir William Nicholson (1872-1949)

Still Life Inspiration from Sir William Nicholson (1872-1949)

 I almost have the feeling that he would set about to paint something and honestly not know how he was going to pull it off. I don’t think he had any doubt in his ability to pull it off, it’s more that he was unafraid of different techniques and even rather unconventional points of view- odd angles, even including rather odd items or compositional elements. His unique perspective makes his work feel fresh to me.

High Cliff, Coast of MainebyWinslow Homer/ American Art

High Cliff, Coast of MainebyWinslow Homer/ American Art

(above link to image at the Smithsonian American Art Museum website)



I read a good article in the October 2012 issue of "The Artist's Magazine" written by Jerry N. Weiss, titled, "I cannot Do Better Than That".

The title quote is in reference to the oil painting, High Cliff, Coast of Maine,by Winslow Homer.  Apparently, he had showed this painting a lot for 9 years before it found a buyer.  It contributed to his frequent questioning of himself in his mid-life sales slump.  In his frustration he asked his gallery in Chicago, "Why do you not sell that "High Cliff" picture?  I cannot do better than that.  Why should I paint?"

The painting is very forceful and naturalistic, but beautiful.  Perhaps it wasn't a relaxing living room piece.



At any rate, I found the article interesting and can relate to Homer's struggle to equate sales of pieces that he felt were among his best with his sense of self worth.

Wet Paint June 2014

I think I'm still working on this piece.  I want to work in the foreground especially.  I'll re post an image when it's truly done.  I'd love to sell this one before I invest in the frame.  There are so many choices.  The one I like the best is a heavy, antique style gold.  It looks like a 200 year old painting in it, but that's not everyone's taste!

A plein air piece from last Friday.

Peonies with Green Glass and Apricots, 20x16 in. oil on panel, on hold

Beach Box Pastoral

May Changes

It's a good month for them.  For changes.

I decided to simplify my life and forget about a "website" for a while.  I have the worst luck building or having one built for me.  It seems too personal to have someone else do without having too many of my own opinions about the layout  And when I do it?  It

looks

like I did with all of the little technical know-how I have within me.

JUNE NOTE:  AH, DECIDED TO KEEP THE WEBSITE...IN SPITE OF ITS IMPERFECTIONS.  THE GALLERIES ARE PRETTY HANDY.

So more power to the blog and Facebook studio gallery pages!  

https://www.facebook.com/ThimganHaydenStudio

The painting below (speaking of changes) is a re-visit of a painting I did a year or two ago.  You can see the older one on the wall behind the easel and canvas.

Here's a pic of the original....will be getting a hand finished frame this year, by the way.

And now---with no website to fret over---I'm going to go paint!! or work outside in my fledgling cottage garden I'm attempting!!  Changes- hooray!!

Life on The Slow Setting

This past month, I was feeling really cheerful and thankful for the time I had to enjoy household tasks.

One morning, I was standing on a dining room chair with one foot on the table cleaning the little chandelier that hangs there.  Granted, the sun was shining bright on the snow and in

Michigan

that does wonders for the heart at this time of the year.

 Like a lot of other people, I really bond with my house and want to have the time to enjoy taking care of it.  Not that it always works out that way.

It’s those times when I’m in the moment that give me an emotional boost.

I consider myself a sensitive person (or a highly sensitive person!).  I’m often overwhelmed with the size and number of the world’s problems.  I try to live in such a way that I effect positive change and it’s these little tasks, the joy of family, and the beauty of art and nature that keep me from stumbling over the sorrows outside of my sphere of influence.

And did I mention?  Bring on the spring!!

Dreaming in Lead White

I'm sure a measure of you can sympathize with lead white addiction in painting (no, not eating).  When I discovered it years ago, I was able to walk around with a knowing expression...I'd found one of the secrets of the Old Masters.

However, as I ran out of tubes of my lead white, I found myself a little nervous about ordering more.  Some may argue that it's fine.  It's a heavy pigment and isn't floating around trying to poison me.  But, I work at home a fair amount.  I work in my kitchen fairly often.  I have children and a lap dog.  I just would rather avoid it for a while.

SO! I was excited to find this blog post.  I'm going to experiment a bit and see if I like the home brew lead white substitute as described.  

http://paintingperceptions.com/sounding-technical/the-great-lead-white-shortage

I'm really liking Oleogel and more recently Wilson's Medium from Natural Pigments.  Wilson't Medium gets sticky and rich quite quickly that can add some texture within one session.  Perhaps this lead white sub and Wilson's can get together and make something lovely!

Sharing Models

Sharing Models

My second day in Florence, I was stumbling about my new surroundings with jet lag in my head and surprisingly, I saw a familiar face.

Wallflowers and Wallpaper

I have once again fallen behind terribly at updating the blog.  There are so many things to juggle in life, not to mention actually painting!

After getting back from Italy, Joseph and I bought a little brick house that we fell in love with, our teenage daughter got Chicken Pox, and we had to have one of our dogs put to sleep.  Then of course we get to settle into the new old house and repair some things.

The big loss with moving from our former place was the big studio in-home.  Now I paint smaller pieces at home in any room I feel like using (usually the kitchen), and share AESTHETICS STUDIO with a couple of fellow artists in a local arts cooperative building for portraits and figures.

Why Wallpaper and Wallflowers? (the title of this post)

Well, the Wallpaper is obvious.

and "Wallflowers"

is the playful but woefully negative word I seized upon for my current work theme.  I think my work has a solitary sweetness to it that sort of resonates with the word "wallflower". Since I often paint portraits of flowers-it also has a bit of tongue-in-cheek mixed in there.  You can see more of the recent pieces that bloom under this theme on my website's Current Works page (obsolete link).

Living Above The Clouds In Montefiascone

1st painting of the trip, the view from the window

I am really late in blog posting....I am going to start where I left off and add a few more as I get to it.  This summer was a whirlwind of travel, house buying, Chicken Pox, and dachshund woes.  There was a lot of change in a small space of time- a lot of "living".  

My family and I went to Montefiascone in May for me to learn and enjoy a residency with Artegiro Contemporary Fine Art.  Our hosts and friends, Damien and Renata Summo-O'Connell and their dear children, were gracious to help with settling us in and supporting the project.  

Montefiascone is on a hill, a mountain.  The weather changes often and quickly.  Sometimes the clouds were far above you, and sometimes below you.  The people of Montefiascone are justifiably proud of their town.  We stayed right next to the Cathedral-the Cattedrale di Santa Margherita ( which has the 3rd largest dome in Italy) and just below the breathtaking view from the Rock of The Popes.  This tiny town had Slow Food member eateries and a wonderful enoteca called "Volo di Vino". 

Returning to Italy after a few years absence was exciting.  I'm always surprised that my Italian (such as it is) hasn't shriveled completely in the meantime.  I'm also surprised at how much pleasure I get from working on the language. I feel actually exhilarated when I am able to communicate successfully and build relationships- to understand and be understood!  I was happy to trade the initial shock of being in a different country for the slower, comfortable feeling of returning "home" in a way.  After living in Italy- part of me changed forever and not a day goes by that I don't think about it.  I think everyone who has spent a decent amount of time in another country has that same feeling.

This little painting is just under 8x10in. and is painted near the  center of town.

Outside Regula's stone studio

 One of the definite highlights of the trip were all the wonderful people I met.  The studio was out of a dream-complete with artists in and out and a talented sculptor owner-Adrianna.  She gave me roses from her garden which I painted one rainy day.

 Angelo, a photographer, 

www.artegiro.com

, took me on more than 1 memorable excursion, patiently hearing me out in Italian.  Simone and Gabriele are the owners of Volo di Vino and a talented duo of taste and writing.  Quinto gave us a book he's written about figures in a fresco in one of the ancient churches and enriched our experience.  Not to mention sculptor, Regula Zwicky,  who inspired me, Rosanna, who invited me to her home and took me landscape painting in a nut tree grove, and  Renata, my dear host, who is always an inspiration and herself an aesthete and cultural artist.

Painting Yindi in the studio

The night view from my window

Portrait of Grand Rapids Bishop

Bishop of Grand Rapids Commission

Below is the finished portrait of Bishop Hurley of Grand Rapids, Michigan.  He was an excellent sitter and was very gracious to come for 4 sittings so that I could paint the gesture and his face from life, and get good color notes on his clothes.

I kind of like this photo because it shows the amount of warmth and color in the middle values of the painting a little better than the more formal photo of it.  I'll try to get another image once it's in it's beautiful frame in a few weeks.

Finished painting of Bishop Hurley- right before delivery

Bishop Hurley finished with a portrait sitting

This second image shows the fourth sitting.  I asked to photograph the bishop full length because I was missing a reference for the bottom hem of his white vestment.  At this point I had added in a drapery in the background looking for a "naturalistic" way to work in the family crest in the upper left corner of the painting.  In the end it seemed too distracting and looked like Bishop was leaning away from the cloth so I took it out and the painting came together beautifully.

An image I looked at for ideas on portraits of bishops with family crests

Close-up of Bishop's face. The light didn't go into the eyes until the very end.  I had a hard time breaking eye contact with "him" after I knew that I had gotten it right!

Close-up of the sleeve and cross.  I'm using calcium carbonate to build up sleeve texture.

Close-up of lap and hand.  This pic is missing a bit of warmth in the fleshtones, oh well.

Thank you, Bishop Hurley and the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids, for permission to share these images of our portrait project.