Saturday, October 3, 2015

Greatest joys and sorrows, all sandwiched around the best of painting times...

Coming Home 
16"x20"x1" framed in gold
oil on gallery wrapped stretched canvas

Dare I say painting time is some of my most fulfilling time. I was just talking with another artist about this. Life goes on for artists though, just like anyone else. Our family has experienced some of it's greatest joys and deepest sorrows this summer, and they just happened to bookend some wonderful painting time for me.  
Earlier this summer, on the last day I was teaching painting in Ireland, my mother-in-law passed away in Atlanta.  My fellow painters were so supportive, and I am so grateful for those heartfelt emotions.  I flew home as planned, but immediately continued my way down to Atlanta for a funeral. 

Mid-summer brought a wonderful new experience for me, an opportunity for which I'm so grateful for. I was an "artist-in-residence" at the CT Audubon Society's Trail Wood property in Hampton, CT for an entire week. I did a collaboration with my writer friend Judy Benson, who is a journalist for The Day paper in New London, CT.  It was an intense week of painting, and much discussion in the evenings about what we both had discovered about Edwin and Nellie Teale (and ourselves in relationship to all that).  We came away with so much more than we had anticipated. What an amazing gift this couple of naturalists left to humanity through sharing this property with the world.

Early September brought one of the happiest times, my daughter Chelsea married her fiance' Ryan in a wonderful ceremony in Virginia. I'm still over the moon about that! Thrilled to have a son in my family now!

The last weekend in September, the volunteers for Trail Wood hosted the "Harvest Moon Festival" on the property to a great crowd.  Four of us presented our work that we did during our residencies - one painter (me), a photographer, and two writers. Since I've only shared these on Facebook, I'll share them here with you now. I'm excited to share the beauty of each day there!! It was so wonderful to rise early each morning, and head right out to paint as the sun crested the trees. Or as the day progressed....and the only interruption was a chipmunk or groundhog to cross my path. Birds would flutter by, or a humming bird zip by to check out who this person was. Any of my hiker friends will totally understand that wonderful feeling of being out in nature...just BE-ing. Listening to the rustle of the trees, the soft breeze blowing tall grasses, the light moving across tree tops in the morning...the clouds changing shapes. Ah, the intense wonder of it all! 

"6PM Glow Under the Catalpa Tree"
12"x12" framed in black with a gold inset, oil on archival panel
So - the house above is Trail Wood, the home where Edwin & Nellie Teale lived for the last half of their lives. He was a naturalist and writer of many books, his Pulitzer Prize winning book "Wandering Through Winter" being one of them. This couple endured the loss of their only son, (aged 19) to World War II. It was two years before they finally discovered what had happened to him, and where he was. They moved from Long Island to this place out in the country. Rather than become embittered with their loss, they remained connected to the world, protected and nurtured it and their relationships. Finally willing this property to the CT Audubon Society for the use of others to enjoy. I feel so lucky to have experienced this time, painting and exploring here; staying in their home, and using his personal library for reference material. 

I highly recommend the residency to other artists and writers, as well as a wonderful place to go for a day hike to all my friends! During all seasons this is a great place to go explore!

I'll share some more about this in the coming days. It was an incredibly productive time, completing 13 paintings while I was there. Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend spending some time in nature!! 

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Friday, August 28, 2015

So You'd Like to Commission a Painting?!

So here it is! This was so much fun ~ having the opportunity to collaborate with some one and make it special, just for them! Cindy had a large space to fill in a room that she was re-doing.  The large bank of windows to the right opened up onto her garden.  Each season, new colors and textures's so beautiful out there, a wonderful, private space. But she was not enamored with the colors and textures of winter. She wanted bright color in her room of soft neutrals, with a bright pop to really draw your eye to this focal point....and celebrate the garden that she enjoys so much in the Spring and Summer. 
When Cindy first came to me for a commission, she wasn't sure where to start. She said, "I love your paintings - I love looking at them when I receive your emails, but I'm just not sure where to begin".  This is a normal question! My job is to help you determine the colors and theme of what you prefer, narrow some choices, and hone in on a design meant for your space.  I have a list of questions for my collectors to help me determine what may fit their space.  If the collector is local, I can go to their house with sample canvas sizes, so they can "lay eyes" on how that size canvas fits the space...and if they prefer framing I can provide that as well.  
My prices are based on price per square inch.  I send the list of "price per size" immediately when someone first makes a commission request. That way they can determine what will fit their space, and their budget. Once the size and format is agreed upon, I write up everything we've discussed in an email - so the project is clear, beginning to end; and request a 50% deposit before I begin. That allows me to purchase not only materials for the painting, but the time to put into it that won't be used painting other paintings! 
Once a basic format is decided upon (square, or rectangular, and the size),  I will draw up to four various designs to help narrow down the selection.  Once I make a basic drawing, I'll work up a smaller painting as a 'color study' to scale, so that the collector can imagine the finished piece, make any color corrections, or design changes at that time. Only once those are finished, and presented we can discuss which might work best in the space for the painting.  
For this project - which was to be a 36"x36"x2" deep, I did the paint sketches on 8"x8" panels. Here's the four we considered:
Study for Cindy's Garden
Coral Begonias
Cherry Tree Fantasy
Blossoms in Shade
These gave us some various ideas to discuss. Mainly- a good idea of how color will look.  She knew she wanted a coral-orange color within the design to bring a big pop of color to the room, that she could repeat with various other accessories (pillows, etc). Each of these had the color in there to some degree. We both love florals, but to have this design (#2-begonias) as a 36x36 was just overwhelming. So that narrowed things down to 'just landscapes'- still a broad category!
Selection #3 (Cherry Tree Fantasy) was painted thinking of all the great shapes in her back-garden landscape. Each season something new comes into bloom...but here I played a "what if". What if the blooms of the cherry tree were a bit more coral, rather than soft pink?...and what if it bloomed the same time as the hydrangea? For gardeners of course this question is ridiculous, but from a purely artistic question- an expressionist/colorist question it begged to be asked.  
The fourth color sketch chose another area under the delicate limbs of yet another weeping cherry tree in their yard. Yes, their landscape has some wonderful shapes and textures in there! 
Finally, the first sketch was chosen and the next part of the work continues- onto the large canvas itself!  I always tell my collectors, the longest part of the time takes place in the planning.  Once everything is in place and the actual commissioned work begins, things come together rather quickly. Then it's time for a viewing! The final bill is due when the work is finished, prior to delivery. For local collectors, I can come and hang the painting for you. It's a special privilege for me to take part in these "collaborative commissions".  It brings me great joy to help collectors celebrate and commemorate a special time in their lives! 
 For the collector in our story above, there will always be a colorful reminder of the beauty that exists under all the snow during winter; a celebration of all her hard gardening work the rest of the year; and a joy to share with family and friends.   I am extremely grateful to be a part of that shared happiness!! 





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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Roses and Red Bowl

12"x12"x1" oil on cradled archival panel
For more information, or to purchase, click here. 
Roses from my garden in June, a red and ivory bowl from a visit to France, and an antique tea cup rimmed in blue and gold....just a few of my favorite things!

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Friday, July 31, 2015

Sun Over The Skelligs and Montbresia, Summer Skelligs View (Ireland)

8"x10" oil on linen/panel
For more information, or to purchase, click here. 

This one was painted plein air, from our host, Barbara Mastaglio's back garden. There's a fabulous view of the skelligs from there (among other things!).  The morning was bright yet quite windy for this demo, with the wind picking up gradually as I neared a finish.  Wind - for the plein air painter can be as difficult as rain (perhaps more so).  But painting out in the elements truly gives you an understanding of the colors you are seeing, and the sensations of the day.  That's the only way you can transmit these to an indoor studio painting.  

The second one of this view, is painted from a photo, during one of our indoor demo's from a photo on a very rainy day.  The other element in this painting that wasn't in bloom at the time we were painting were the 'montbresia' as they are called in Ireland (known as crocosmia here in the states). They are brilliant and grow wild in the hedges over there. They were just beginning to open when we were there. They are probably in full bloom right about now! And luckily, mine were still in bloom when I returned home.
"Montbresia, Summer Skelligs View"
8"x10" oil on linen/panel
For more information, or to purchase, click here.   

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Blue Door and Buoys-Irish Cottage, Pagan Graves-St. Brendan's Well (SOLD)

8"x6" oil on linen/panel - $200

So much has happened this summer, and I haven't finished telling about the Ireland workshop trip! Yes, being Ireland, we did have some rain. Usually it's not too bad. But there are days when it is inconvenient. Sometimes you can 'make the best of it', and sometimes, one must go indoors.  This began as a demo:
and as is often true, painting outdoors in Ireland can be a full contact sport! We thought we could outlast it, but the rain became relentless, and we packed it up to go into the studio. In Barbara Mastaglio's studio, one can paint from window views or work studies from photos to learn technique.The two prime windows hold views of the skelligs, out in the Atlantic, and the other window looks out toward the village of Portmagee, across the channel. 
Another view of the island, that is worth a walk down to visit, is the "Pagan Graves" down by St. Brendan's Well, this one is already claimed!

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Foxgloves on the Ring of Kerry - SOLD! & Glanleam Gardens

10"x8" oil on linen mounted on panel

Each year that I've been in the southwest of Ireland during the summer months, there is usually foxglove blooming wild, here and there. Usually there are just a few of them together in a small stand. This year, the wild blossoms were in rather huge groupings along the roadsides, edges of pastures, etc.   This demo was to show these same techniques from the day before in a floral grouping, all the while paying attention to composition, focal point, values, and edges. 

This was to be the day of our 'skellig excursion' to Skellig Michael, an island 10 miles offshore, with an ancient monastery site & stone beehive huts. Puffins are still nesting at this point in the year.  But, as it turned out, this was the first year we were unable to make the trip. It had been too rough to make the landing, so our boat did not go. We tried rescheduling twice for later in the week, but the seas did not cooperate.  Mother Nature had her way this year. 

There is no lack of things to see and do however. More painting time - with some lessons taught indoors due to rain, and an altered itinerary; flexibility is always highly valued! Lots of discussion among the group regarding social media for artists. 
Here are some of our social media mavens:

The rain cleared leaving a misty atmosphere and we were able to visit Glanleam Gardens, for a picnic lunch, painting demo & painting time & hiking (for the non-painters). It's an incredible property with quite an unusual rare subtropical plant collection.  On the front corner of the house was an Australian Manuka tree.
I knew that would be an interesting view for a quick demo on foliage and architectural details. 

10"x8" oil on linen mounted on archival panel
For more information, or to purchase, click here. 
I did manage a short hike while there on the grounds. Some of the largest fern species I've ever seen simply felt pre-historic!
 Some of the foxglove blossoms were taller than people!
Dark hidden paths through forest and glen were truly enchanting, with old iron gates, and sea views through standing stones.

Oh yes, and those stands of foxglove I mentioned earlier? I did see one near the grotto at the Valentia Slate Quarry. 

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Return from Ireland - a weeklong journey to paint & tour

6"x8" oil on linen mounted on archival panel
"Morning Fields, Valentia Island, Co. Kerry"
For more information, or to purchase, click here. 
View from the plane as we fly into Shannon airport.
After an overnight flight leaving JFK Saturday evening, we arrive at Shannon airport at 6am. 

This first day of our trip, we must acclimate ourselves to our new time zones (five hours later). No napping! - or you'll find yourself awake at 2am ready to start the day five hours too early! We gather ourselves for the drive out to the coast where our workshop takes place. A bit of 'purposeful sightseeing' will get us used to our new time zone & hopefully alleviate the jet lag.   Leaving Shannon, we stop in the town of Adare for a break & a bit of tea and scones. 

Bark of a cork tree at Adare manor house.

We make a short stop at Adare manor to stretch our legs and see this incredible place! One of the most fascinating things I've found is the oldest Cedar of Lebanon, there on the grounds. It is said to be the oldest in Ireland and Great Britain, planted around 1645!

The gardens were rather spectacular there, as usual!
 We also make a stop in Foynes, along the Shannon River, and then head over through Ballybunnion to Ballyheigue. We have a bit of lunch at a tiny bistro along the beach at Ballyheigue Bay. Then we continue to wind our way through Tralee, and down through Killorglin, Glenbeigh, Caherciveen, and Portmagee before crossing the bridge to Valentia Island. Mary and Jim Lane, owners of SheaLane B&B welcome us to our home away from home. We get freshened up for dinner, and our meet and greet at Barbara and Tom Mastaglio's cottage. Barbara operates "Art on the Ring of Kerry" and is the 'Queen of Fun', making these art workshops and retreats possible.  There are so many wonderful things to see and do in this area of Kerry. It's a lot to pack into one week! She has been cooking dinner for us while we have been making our way across the countryside. Cooking aromas greet us as we enter the cottage. 

We've had some time during our travels to get acquainted with each other, and now all get to meet Barbara and Tom, our hosts during the retreat. We go over our itinerary for the week and take a tour of her property. 
 Above, from the patio, over looking Portmagee, across the channel.
Going to have a look at Barbara's studio.

So, enough about arrivals day. On Monday we begin our workshop at 9am.  Yes, it does rain in Ireland every day...or almost every day, usually not all day long, and if you time it right, there's always a bit of every kind of weather.  We started out with a bit of rain, but we have a fantastic multipurpose room at our B&B. It's a 'solarium', with windows on all three sides, perfect for painting from life, when it's pouring outside.  There's a different view in each direction you look. "Morning Fields, Valentia Island" was painted inside Mary's solarium room, looking north, as the weather changed outside.
Our first lesson is on simple landscapes, skyscapes, landforms, atmospheric perspective, composition, focal points, SQUINTING as a painting practice, as well as dealing with rapidly changing views due to weather, while plein air painting. Each day we'll cover a new painting subject while covering these topics. 


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