Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sheep in the Meadow, Near Ballinskelligs-study

5"x7" oil on gessoed masonite artboard

"The secret of success is constancy of purpose."
- Benjamin Disraeli

I have been doodling, drawing, & painting masses of sheep lately. Yes, masses of them. Not so much as individual sheep, as I'm not wanting to do a 'sheep portrait', but instead a landscape with sheep! This is a tiny study of a larger work I am starting. I have been 'arranging' sheep - or rather, the shape of their mass. From a distance, you don't see certain details- yet the connection between your brain & eye will tell you what that shape is! The shape of sheep are quite distinctive - and being that they roam sort of randomly, it's interesting to follow the 'shape of the group'. Sometimes it seems there's a "look-out" or two for the group. Some lay down to rest, some are contantly eating!

This area of Ireland, over in County Kerry, lies along the Atlantic Ocean, near Ballinskelligs. It is usually fogged in when I go through there. But there is something so beautiful about this hill-side that leads to the sea!

I've begun the underpainting & 'draw-in' of the larger painting. I like to live with it a bit before proceeding to make sure it has all the required elements!

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Sheep in the Meadow, Near Ballinskelligs-study

First....I began with a doodle, sharpie markers and colored felt tip markers. My intent is to study the shapes of the 'masses' of sheep....not a bunch of individuals...but since markers are more aligned with 'linear work' and not 'massing in' as you do with painting....(follow along and I'll show you what came next!

Monday, September 28, 2009

"What-a-Melon" (sold) memories of Charles Sovek workshop

"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

I had promised to talk about some of my favorite workshop instructors that I've studied with - and Charles Sovek is right there at the top. This quote seems to be written directly for him - he had such enthusiasm for life, art and his students! You'll find his website (link above) very helpful, as well as his book, "Oil Painting, Develop Your Natural Ability". In his workshop he covered value studies, using a simple palette ( which he did both on our indoor still-life set-up and outdoors as well). His colors were cad. yellow light, cad. red light, permanent alizarin, ultramarine blue, & pthalo green, as well as titanium white. Indoors he stressed the importance of the still-life set-up itself, warm vs. cool light, having a strong sense of your light source in your painting. The painting "What-a-melon" is from that workshop.

The most helpful day of the workshop was painting outdoors on the Lieutenant River. There is an abundance of marshy area back there, and it was a break-through in painting 'greens' for me! He gave a very concise description of how to mix those greens for correct atmospheric effect...(or how to get the distance to stay in the distance?!). Also, I've included a photo of his plein-air gear, he keeps everything very light weight so that it all fits into one back-pack. In this photo of his gear, he was painting some of the gardens at the Florence Griswold Museum here in Old Lyme, CT.

My favorite part of the workshop, aside from all the wonderful instruction, was that he gave everyone in attendance, 15 -20 minutes or so of his undivided individual attention to critique finished works that we had brought in. The critique & advice given was a generous gift that was an encouraging turning point in my art-life several years ago. I was able to take this workshop the year before he passed away. I was hoping to get another workshop with him, but it was not to be. At that point I realized - when there is some one you want to learn from, do what it takes to go learn from them- it may be your last chance. I consider it one of my luckiest opportunities to study with him!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mystic Country Farmhouse, Late Afternoon; oil painting by Roxanne Steed CT artist

6"x8" oil on Belgian linen mounted on archival panel (Raymar)

"In Rome you long for the country. In the country you praise to the skies the distant town."
- Horace

Well that quote may be ancient, but it still holds true for some people! This scene is literally just around the corner from me. It's down a road where there is an apple orchard and farm. They have a farm stand all summer, where you can pick up some wonderful vegetables before cooking supper. Now that makes eating 'local' a lot of fun, having it so close by. This little painting is still available in case you've missed it.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Derrynane, View to the Sea with Cows, Ireland, Kerry County, oil painting Roxanne Steed Fine Art

20"x20" oil on deep gallery wrapped canvas

"Opportunities multiply as they are seized; they die when neglected. Life is a long line of opportunities."
- John Wicker

This is from a previous trip to Ireland, and a stop along the ring of Kerry. These cows grazing along these hills that roll right down to the Atlantic Ocean were so beautiful! I'm currently working on two commissions of coastal Ireland, but this one is still available - thought I'd re-post it in case you've missed seeing it!

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****Artists notes: In the coming blog-posts I'll be sharing some of the best advice from some of the best artists that I've had workshops with! These will be included in some highlights of my own upcoming workshops. The first one that I'll share with you is Charles Sovek. I had studied his books & web-site for years, then was able to take a workshop with him the year before he passed away. He was an incredible gifted teacher & artist and a very generous person! Please share this blog with your friends! I'd love to grow my readership! More in the next blog entry about Mr. Sovek!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sunbathing Cow in September's Golden Light, Tiffany Farms, Old Lyme, CT oil painting by Roxanne Steed

6"x6" oil on gessoed masonite artboard

"Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it,the road comes into existence."
- Lin Yutang

This is the second of my two little cow studies, this one done with a brush. As fellow Daily Painter Mike Rooney previously noted in his blog, there are just some paintings that lend themselves well to the brush & others the knife. One is not better than the other, they just manipulate the paint differently depending on the effect you aim to achieve. I believe it's great to have access to all the tools in the box - and know what you can get out of them!

Anyways, back to the scene- here in CT we are in the prettiest season- the weather is still nice, less humid than summer, a bit of crisp-chill in the air at night. The leaves are starting to turn here and there....and it lasts until roughly mid-October before it gets super chilly! Life is good in this beautiful corner of the state!

One of the things I wanted to try in doing this comparison between the two "little cow paintings" was in the simplifying of things - a limited palette, and ONE TOOL only. In the previous post, I've painted the cow with one palette knife (it's large, with a slightly rounded end - a Langnickel P-5 for you artists out there). For this painting done with a brush - I chose to use ONE BRUSH only! Yes, for the whole thing! It has to be big enough to hold some paint (I do like texture for sure) and be able to have one clean straight edge. The one brush that I really like for these small sized paintings is a Robert Simmons #6 Bright (it's shorter bristle than a flat). You can use the same one through-out the painting if...(and I figured this out by using a knife) when you are going to change colors, wipe the excess off of your brush onto the palette- chances are you can mix this into something else at some point, even if it's to neutralize another color. Then, after the bulk is off of your brush, wipe it firmly with a paper towel, DON'T dip into any turps or you'll have a runny mess and an mushy brush!! Lay the paint on, don't scrub it in. Think of frosting a cake, if you try to lay that frosting on too hard, you'll tear up the cake & all those cakey bits will mess up your frosting. Same with paint, you need to have enough on the brush to be able to lay it on, don't skimp and be cheap (you'll just end up with a muddy mess)- paint is to be used! That's my theory and I'm sticking to it! :-) Now I have the afternoon to spend on some sketches! YAY!

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Price: $100 USD plus $10 USD s/h
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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Yin/Yang Cow at Tiffany Farms Dairy Farm, Old Lyme, CT

6"x6" oil on gessoed masonite artboard

"The joyfulness of a man prolongeth his life."
- Proverbs 10:27

I did two small studies today, back to back. They are both paintings of Holsteins over at Tiffany Farms in Old Lyme, not too far from here. The sun light is so gorgeous in September - such a golden brilliance to it. This first one is done with a palette knife and the paint strokes seem to catch the light, giving such interesting edges. To work this small with a knife, a painter really needs to simplify!

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Price: $100 USD plus $10 USD s/h
Or, send me an email

Saturday, September 19, 2009

September in the Artist's Garden palette knife oil painting floral cottage garden by Roxanne Steed

10"x8" oil on Belgian linen mounted on archival board

"If you do not find peace in yourself, you will never find it anywhere else."
- Paula A. Bendry

If you've followed my blog this summer, you've seen the paintings of my garden & it's progression during it's first year. Everything has filled in beautifully - it's been a joy to paint. And the large plant on the left? Yes, that's the tomato plant, "Brandywine tomatoes". It's been such a cool summer though here in New England, we've only gotten 4 or 5 off of it so far. There's more on the plant, it's a race against the frost to see what gets here first, tomatoes or cold weather. My daughter jokingly said, I should hold a hair dryer towards them, to warm them up, perhaps they'd get red then! hehe, if I only thought it would work, I'd give it half a chance! But I think if it gets any cooler than today, I'll bring them in & see if they green up on the window-sill. So far, they are the best tasting tomatoes I've ever eaten! I DO like this variety!!

The little peegee hydrangea in the corner has gotten a nice - pluffy - droop to it, it's flowers hanging over the fence. The color has gone from a whitish-green-cream to it's end of summer mauvey-amber color - so pretty. The pale yellow nasturtiums that had taken over the rock wall had been cut back once, only to fill in nicely for a second round. And lastly, the cosmos is still blooming, it's pale lavender blossoms tossing around like a happy child! From the view I'm standing at, I'm below the upper fenced-in courtyard. It used to be a big slope and felt like "falling off the earth" when you walked out the front door. Now it is inviting, and makes you want to go further into each space as you leave the sidewalk. Next year should be even more interesting!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Down By The Sea, St. Finan's Bay, Ireland, Palette Knife Oil Paintings by Roxanne Steed (sold)

12"x16" oil on Belgian linen mounted on archival panel (Raymar)

"On some island I long to be,
a rocky promontory, looking on the coiling surface of the sea.

To see the waves, crest on crest of the great shining ocean, composing a hymn to the creator, without rest."
-St. Columcille (521-597)

This one is getting wrapped up to go to a new collector today. It's one of my favorite views in Kerry County....and usually has this wonderful 'mysterious' fog that settles over this area- it is so hauntingly beautiful to me.

Thursday, I did work on sketches for a commission...of a scene in Ireland, so the place has been on my mind lately!

****Another bit of good news I'd like to share; I have a painting in the "Twenty Years of Fine Art" 20th Anniversary Gala & Invitational at the Artists Gallery in Virginia Beach. It's a plein air painting done in Chincoteague, Virginia. Well, I just found out that a portion of the painting is used in the header on the gallery's website: (see the top left landscape image).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Boat on Hamburg Cove -New England September Palette Knife Oil Painting by Roxanne Steed- sold

6"x6" oil on gessoed masonite artboard

"There is not in the wide world a valley so sweet
As that vale in whose bosom the bright waters meet;
O the last rays of feeling and life must depart,
Ere the bloom of the valley shall fade from my heart."
- Thomas Moore (1779-1852)

Not too far "down the coastline and up the river" is a pretty little cove known as Hamburg Cove, just off the Connecticut River. There is a little marina there - and it's nestled among hills on either side. In September it's particularly pretty, as the leaves start to turn their blazing colors and reflect down into the water. What a delightful visual for an artist to record! This was a demo painting for a day long workshop called, "Paint Small Learn Big".

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ewes Fluffy, Not Stuffy mini (Ireland series) - sold

3"x4" oil on Belgian linen mounted on archival panel (Raymar)

"So simple is the earth we tread,
So quick with love and life her frame,
Ten thousand years have dawned and fled,
And still her magic is the same."
- Stopford A. Brooke (1832-1916)

This last of the mini sheep studies I chose to do with a brush...just for comparison sake. Some of my 'knife-painter friends' admit to picking up a brush now & then- "just because we can". It's fun, but I still love using the palette knife - I find a great deal of freedom of expression.

I spotted this sheep with the other two while we were walking out near Culoo rock, on Valentia Island (Ireland). While most of the flock had the "heads up- full alert" look on their faces, this one kept right on eating...couldn't be bothered with us people on his cliffs!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rock & Roll Sheep - mini (Ireland series) - sold

3"x4" oil on Belgian linen mounted on archival panel (Raymar)

"Geographically, Ireland is a medium-sized rural island that is slowly but steadily being consumed by sheep."
- Dave Barry

The second little study of sheep for the larger painting. I find it interesting that even on a small (okay- tiny) canvas you can still work with a palette knife - and in sheep's wool, you have such a variety of warm to cool greys. I just love watching these animals. This flock was down by the rocks at Culoo on Valentia Island. Sometimes they seem to bounce along(when they're in a hurry), big puffs of fluff on spindly little legs, almost cartoon-like to me. They always, always make me smile when I see them, bouncing along over the rocks and grass. Could hardly decide whether to call this little mini, "Rock & Roll" or "Bounce & Fluff"!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Over the Hill Sheep - mini (Ireland series) - sold

3"x4" oil on Belgian linen mounted on archival panel (Raymar)

"Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way."
- John Muir

I have a large canvas waiting for sheep on a hill. I also have three small panels (this 3"x4" size) and thought they would make a fun sheep trio, and the studies themselves of these various poses interested me. They were all painted Saturday, but I've only gotten around to posting these today! So you'll get to see the others over the next few days while I begin some commission work (of Ireland) that I've been looking forward to! :-)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Baby Beach Bucket (Beaches of Ireland series)- sold

10"x8" oil on gallery wrapped canvas

"You must have been warned against letting golden hours slip by; but some of them are golden only because we let them slip by."
- James M. Barrie

Oh, I'm enjoying these beach pictures! I feel like summer was really short up here in Connecticut this year. I wish it could go on just a bit longer. The days are getting shorter, chillier, and the leaves are starting to turn early. Painting this mom & baby at the beach fills me with such mental imagery - the time goes by so quickly, my brain is on the beach in the sunshine....I get interrupted and find I'm right here in my studio, with the wind picking up & the rain blowing outside. Just to be on a beach playing in the sunshine...being involved in a painting brings me back to all these places I love. I enjoy being surrounded by these paintings until they go to live with someone else. I hope they bring great pleasure to those new owners as much as they've brought to me in painting them.

The day of this picture were some of the warmest days I've ever spent in Ireland in June! So many people were out playing on Inch Beach, moms & babies, surfers, waders, swimmers, young & old out to frolic!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bee Charmer

6"x6" oil on gessoed masonite archival artboard

"Go on you ol' Bee Charmer, tell me a good tall tale."
- Ruth to Idgie Threadgood, in the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes".

That's one of my favorite lines, actually just one of my favorite phrases - bee charmer - spoken in an Alabama accent, with a slow melodic sound. I miss that like crazy! All it takes is to just read the phrase & my mind is all wrapped around it. I had been wanting to paint some bees & flowers after my last trip over to Harkness park. I've enjoyed their happy buzzing in my own garden this year, too. The last few days, they are moving a bit slower, especially with the chilly mornings we've been having. Could I talk them into staying around longer if I tell them a 'good tall tale'?

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Baby Beach Bucket (Beaches of Ireland series)- sketch

8"x10" ink on sketch book

"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom."
- Marcel Proust

Wow, does it ever feel good to be back home! (and off of the highways!). I did manage to do this sketch along the Jersey Turnpike...when it was NOT my turn to drive! But for the most part, it was a busy long weekend, getting my daughter moved in to her apartment. My back is reminding me how many floors up she lives! But all's well - and she even learned how to assemble furniture from IKEA (thank goodness for that place). I'm glad to be back in my studio that's for sure! Lots of new paintings in the works... and an interesting commission coming up, too! Got a painting mailed out today that sold while I was away. So all in all, a good way to start the week! Hopefully my vertebrae will get a bit less cozy with each other - and I'll get some long painting days in this week!

This sketch-book sketch is another one of the scenes from my trip to Ireland this summer. I can't recall when I've ever seen a woman wear a dress to the beach here in the states. But this young woman had on a pretty, colorful dress as she played with her toddler out on Inch Beach one brilliant sunny day this past June. I honestly think it was warmer over there in Ireland this year than any bit of summer here in CT this year. Brings a smile to my face just to think of it!