Saturday, November 01, 2014

Demo in Indirect Painting II

I recently took part in a group paint-out where over one hundred artists painted live and gave demonstrations on painting in every style, media and subject matter you can imagine.  Because I am an indirect painter I have to plan ahead for demonstrations and prepare several different panels showing the different stages of layering in oil.  

For a more detailed demonstration in glazing see HERE

I began my demo on a panel with my drawing already transferred and ready to be painted.  I started by preparing a glaze of yellow ochre over the entire panel and drawing.  Next I painted into the lights with opaque white, and added darks and shadows with burnt umber, keeping the shadows thin and transparent.

My second panel for the demonstration had the completed underpainting (above) dry and ready for the next layer of paint.  I began again by glazing the panel in transparent color and painting my opaque color into the glaze on the subject matter.  Now that I have switched to the first color glaze I still keep my lights opaque and shadows thin and transparent.  My values are close together so I can build up more light and shadow after this layer dries with more transparent glazes and opaque scumbles.


After several more passes of transparent glazes and opaque scumbles the painting is complete.

"Oriole and Pear"  11x14

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Workshop with Teresa Oaxaca & Demo

This past weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to study the portrait in charcoal with Teresa Oaxaca.  I have been spending a lot of energy this year studying figure drawing and when I heard Teresa was coming to Albuquerque I signed up immediately.  In my self-study I had been experimenting with different materials and papers and started to feel frustrated with the time limit in my usual figure drawing group. During the workshop we were only using charcoal and Canson mi-teintes papers and spending a full day on one composition.  It was such a luxury to have a so much time to concentrate on each portrait.  It was a two day workshop, so the class worked on a new portrait each day.  

Here is the model Malia on the first day of the workshop.  Teresa started the day with the following demo:

 my first day portrait

 portrait by Shana Levensen

David Jon Kassan's work for the day. It was such a pleasure to meet so many fantastic artists participating in the drawing session on that first day!

Here is Teresa's work on the second day. Teresa was a wonderful instructor and such a lovely person to meet.  She spent the majority of the time circulating the room and offering personal guidance and instruction.  She spent as much time with you as you wanted and answered every question with the utmost patience and respect no matter what level an artist you were.  Even though I've been painting for fifteen years I felt like a newbie, but by the second day something clicked for me and I felt really focused.  I was pleased with the work and happy because I felt like my self-instruction and practice over the year had finally come together.  Drawing on weekends and finding time in the evenings was worth it and I will continue to hone my skills during these stolen moments between painting and family.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What's on your palette?

 "Perch on a Yellow Pitcher"  10"x10"

In continuation of the previous post about making your own custom palette, I thought I'd share what I put on my palette afterwards.  My palette above has pretty much every color I use, except occasionally cadmium red and phthalo blue.  I only break those out on special occasions.  On this palette, the neutrals just right of my white are 'mud' mixes from a previous painting session, which I always keep to create bases for new mixes or to neutralize colors.

I use:
Titanium White
my personal mixture of naples yellow light
cadmium yellow
indian yellow
yellow ochre
Rublev's pozzuoli red
aliz crimson permanent
burnt umber
rublev's violet hematite
ultramarine blue
prussian blue
cerulean blue
chromium oxide greeen

my limited palette is:
ultra blue
burnt umber
yellow ochre
titanium white
indian yellow
aliz crimson permanent 

I found I can mix many colors with a limited palette, but for convenience I have started using a larger variety of paint.  My palette contains a nice mix of warm and cool colors along with a plethora of transparent oil colors which are perfect for creating glazes.

Making a Custom Palette

 "Little Muse"  9"x12" oil/panel

I made myself a new palette, it's so easy to make a great palette from a wood panel and you can custom fit your palette to your own personal tastes.  The most important thing I've found in making a palette is to have proper balance.  If the thumb hole is off it will feel unbalanced and that is definitely not good!  You can find inspiration for shapes off the internet and recreate different palettes until you find what works best for you.  Luckily, board is cheap and you know instantly after cutting whether the palette is correct and can make adjustments if you need to.  I start with a masonite board, the same that I use for all my paintings.  After I draw out the shape I want, I cut it out with a jig saw.  You can then give it a couple coats of varnish, you already have a great neutral tone from the masonite to mix colors on.  It is much easier to judge color and value on a mid-tone palette. 

I like to create my own surface a little differently though, after cutting it out I give it a coat of gesso.  I spend a few days layering my own leftover 'mud' paint and medium leftovers from a painting session on top which creates a great surface.  After setting in the sun to cure for several days, I sand it 'til smooth and add couple coats of varnish.  I've created the perfect slick surface that a palette knife can easily slide across.  The few extra coats of oil paint are more pleasing to me then the plain masonite and what I'm used to working on.  It may seem like a lot of work, but it suits me perfectly!  Below you can see my custom palette before a painting session. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

FIgure Drawing

I joined a figure drawing group over the summer and have begun to really concentrate on improving my figure drawing and portrait drawing skills.  Here are a few pics of the studio where we meet.  I am so glad to discover this resource so close to home, before I thought the only studios offering figure drawing sessions were too far for me to attend.  This studio is only 15 minutes from my house and a wonderful space for studying.  I've been enjoying it so much, it has been a great experience.

~ my drawing tools~

a cast drawing


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Finding Balance

I can hardly believe how fast time flies.  The past year has been a whirlwind for me and there has been a lot of growth in my art.  This has been a little overwhelming, I have always balanced my career with family life and now the family is adjusting to more responsibilities and independence and I am spending more time in the studio.  The house is a little messier, the dust gathers and stays a little longer, and meals have become haphazard to say the least.  I have many art events on the horizon and will post as they all get closer.  It is a very exciting time, and while it feels a bit crazy and out of control at times, (especially with two boys home on summer break, one preparing to get his drivers license and first summer job) I am trying to remember to take quiet moments to feel appreciation and say thanks for the wonderful events transpiring in my life.  I know from experience that life is full of ups and downs, high points and low points, and like the wisdom of the yin/yang--one must know that everything is a cycle and extremes will balance each other over time.  Summers are usually much more hectic for me than the rest of the year.  Right now I may be busier than ever, but it won't be like this forever and I must enjoy every minute of the ride!  Especially with my boys.

In the next few months I will be concentrating on sticking with a schedule and staying focused.  I have many new ideas for paintings taking form which have been swirling about in my mind for quite a while.  My mind is like the tea cup that is so full of ideas at times that it runs over and I become overwhelmed.  I have a hard time picking and choosing where to start and which idea is 'the best'.  Sometimes I get hung up here for a long time before I can start new work.

“Once, a university professor went to visit a Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked continuously about Zen, his thoughts, his ideas, his understands and his questions… As he spoke the master poured the visitor’s cup to the brim, but then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself “It’s full! No more will go in!” the professor blurted. “You are like this cup,” the master replied, “How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup.”"

Balancing so many responsibilities in life while pursing my art and trying to find time to 'empty the cup' and become still is quite difficult.  I know that things become clear only when my mind is clear.  I have to remind myself that life isn't going to slow down any time soon and only I can control what I give my energy and time to.  In the mornings I have been taking more walks and, before the boys are awake, I sit at my desk in my studio and just...  be.... still.  It is my favorite time of day and I love being in my studio in the cool, quiet light of the morning.  This is where I find my balance amid the extremes. 

"The most important thing is to have a studio and establish and preserve its atmosphere...  You must clean and arrange your studio in a way that will forward a quiet state of mind.  This conscious care of atmosphere is really needed to show respect for the work.  Respect for art work and everything connected with it, one's own and that of everyone else, must be maintained and forwarded.  No disrespect, carelessness or ego selfishness must be allowed to interfere if it can be prevented.  Indifference and antagonism are easily detected.  You should take such people out immediately.  Just turning the paintings to the wall is not enough."  Agnes Martin

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Guest Artist Show at Corrales Bosque Gallery

Swallow  10"x10"

I was invited to participate in an annual guest artist show at the Corrales Bosque Gallery by my artist friend Juan Wijngaard.  I recently wrote a post about an afternoon spent in his studio and you can see wonderful photos of his art and studio here.  I have a few pieces in the show including 'Swallow'.  There will be a variety of artists and all types of paintings, sculpture, pottery and wearable art and jewelry.  It's a great gallery in the lovely setting of the village of Corrales, NM--which I've also written about several times.  I love spending time wandering the bosques, bird watching and also eating at the local cafes and restaurants.  Just this week I took my boys for pizza there at Village Pizza and to the local library, one of my favorite haunts.  We love Corrales!

 Guest Artist Show
opens: 5-8 pm Friday, June 13
runs through August 19

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Southwest Art Feature, plus Win This Painting!

"Summer Song"  14"x14"  oil/board

The painting "Summer Song" is featured in Southwest Art Magazine next month along with an article about my work.  The article is located in the Emerging Artist section and is titled "Beauty and Balance".  It's very exciting to be included in such a great art publication and have my work recognized.  Here's a link to the article or click:

You can also win the butterfly painting below.  I used Reblev's Venetian medium which contains ground crystal glass. It creates a beautiful texture and brilliant luminosity.  This painting seem to glow from within.  You have to enter before June 15th, the day the winner will be drawn.  Click the painting to enter now!

~Win this painting~

Friday, May 09, 2014

Still Life show and Passport to the Arts

 "Ruby Crowned Kinglet and Cherries" 10"x10"  oil/panel

Tonight is the opening for a group still life show I am participating in at Sage Creek Gallery in Santa Fe.  I, along with other gallery artists, have several new works available including my "Duet" and "Nest".  I particularly love Kevin Gorges still lifes for the show.  Check out the link to see all the works available:

The opening coincides with Passport to the Arts, the weekend event that takes place on Canyon Road every year in May.  Happenings include special openings and exhibitions, art auctions, demonstrations and live music.  More than 100 artists participate in the events, many of them produce work in the Quick Draw which is later offered in a live auction on the Santa Fe plaza.  Various tents are set up where patrons can visit and watch artists create works of art, it's so exciting!  The list of artists creating work live is amazing, click on the link to see a full list and get more info on this great weekend of art in Santa Fe:

"Nest" 10"x10"

Friday, April 11, 2014

Update: Egg Tempera

 "Golden Pear" 8"x8" egg tempera with oil glazes and gold leaf on board

I finished my first egg tempera painting, "Golden Pear".  I chose a simple subject since I had never worked with the medium before.  To see the beginnings of this new adventure in painting click Here.  In the previous post I have info on my pigments and support.  Painting in egg tempera is unlike anything I'd ever tried before.  It is thin like watercolor, dries faster than acrylic and looks like oil as you keep layering.  For some reason I thought the paints would be transparent, but they were quite opaque so I added more water to make glazes.  It was hard to remember that I had to apply the paint thinly--like a whisper of color, and I wasn't able to manipulate the paint at all after it was brushed on.  Every stroke showed and after a bit of floundering I realized why crosshatching really works for egg tempera.  I started blotting my brush on a paper towel after dipping it in the color to remove excess liquid and then slowly cross hatched across the subject matter and built layers in that manner.  When I had struggled with it long enough I left it to dry and then sealed it with shellac.  I added a couple oil glazes to brighten it up and give the painting more depth which took no time at all!  Usually my glazed oil paintings take weeks to complete because I build up many many layers of paint, this painting took just a few days start to finish.  I have plans to start another more detailed painting soon.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Egg Tempera and a Beautiful Studio Visit

I am starting a new adventure in painting, egg tempera.  As with all things I find an interest in I have been researching, reading and obsessing about this new medium for weeks now, when I learned about the glazing properties and luminous quality of egg tempera I knew I had to try!  I also contacted several artists with knowledge about the technique and I can't say enough about the generous nature in which they shared information with me.  One artist sent me New Techniques in Egg Tempera by Robert Vickrey via USPS, which was a very good read and quite inspiring.  Koo Schadler, master egg tempera painter, sent me several e-mails with detailed information answering my particular concerns about the medium.  I am a huge fan of her work and it was amazing to converse with her!  I had read several posts by her on various art forums about egg tempera and she is so passionate about painting.

 Grinding pigment

I also had a memorable visit at local artist Juan Wijngaard's home and studio.  He graciously invited me over to learn about egg tempera, his space is the picture above--his 'daily grind'.  We spent the afternoon talking about painting and drawing, viewing amazing artwork and I left feeling so inspired.  His studio is a dream, filled with his figurative oil paintings, landscapes and charcoal drawings from life.  All the photos here are of his amazing space.

~*~*~Juan Wijngaard's art studio~*~*~

I soon placed an order for dry pigments through Natural Pigments, I use several of their oil paints and knew I would receive the highest quality supplies.  There's something about art supplies that I find so luscious, it's hard to describe.  When I get a box of paints in the mail I really take my time savoring the new packages and containers.  The colors are so beautiful!  I also ordered true gesso, a mix of rabbit skin glue and marble dust.  I have never used traditional materials to prepare my panels, acrylic based gesso has always worked fine for my oil painting, but I was excited to try out something new and was curious about the different quality of the primer and it's application.   

I use regular masonite from the hardware store and always coat it with PVA size to isolate the surface from my primer.  These had a coating applied already, they had a slightly tacky feel to them.  I'm not sure if it's necessary when using the mixture I was about to apply, which has rabbit skin glue in it already, but I figured it wouldn't hurt.   After soaking the gesso, (which was RSG and marble dust together in one mix), I placed the mixture over a pan of hot water which immediately liquified the gel to a milky consistency.  As it cools it thickens up quite a bit.  It was tricky to apply in smooth even layers.  I realized the trick--lots of sanding to create a super smooth plaster-like finish.  I felt like I was sanding half of the gesso off, but from what I understand that is normal.

Next I decided to grind all my pigments to prepare them for painting.  I saw how Juan kept his in jars with water over the surface to keep them from drying out.  Out here in the dry Southwest tempera paints can dry out incredibly quickly.  I used distilled water and mixed the pigment until I got a nice smooth consistency.  Most of the pigments were already quite smooth, which surprised me.  I had expected there to be a grainy texture--hence the 'grinding' to a smooth paste.  I breezed through most of the pigments by just using my palette knife and glass palette, then I got to the blues....  I had ordered Prussian blue which was a very fine dust and incredibly grainy.  I worked it and worked it on the palette and switched over to my mortar and pestle.  It was a disaster, if you think prussian blue invades everything on your palette when painting in oil, try manipulating the dusty particles w/out contaminating your whole studio.  It was everywhere, thank goodness I was wearing gloves and a dust mask!  I gave up on a getting a smooth paste and moved on to ultramarine blue which was slightly less grainy.  Both the blues had a peculiar odor compared to the other natural colors.


My basic palette is complete.  As soon as my panels cure a few more days I will attempt my first egg tempera painting.  I'm nervous about the fast drying time, which is also what attracted me to the medium in the first place.  I also read it can be tricky to get the proper proportion of pigment to egg yolk.  I'm expecting a challenge but ready to try, we will see what happens!  I will post my result soon.