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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Portrait Of A Little Girl: Elena Running/ 4th Session

Elena Running
oil on canvas, 16x20
4th Session

I must admit that I was very excited to paint in Elena's striped headband with the pink satin roses. I love details and color!
My next challenge, her arms and hands. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Portrait Of A Little Girl: Elena Running

One of the things I love about the Dutch artist, Johannes Vermeer, is that his portraits were often of people doing something. With this new commission I have the opportunity to paint a contemporary portrait of a little girl doing what she loves to do, run!

Tonight I finished the rough sketch with a thin wash of transparent oxide red oil paint. This is always a challenge for me, getting the subject on the canvas with the overall composition in place. I painted the sketch free hand (without the use of drawing aids) and have found that the more I do it this way, the faster and more confident I become.  Necessary adjustments and corrections will be made as the painting progresses. 

I am excited to begin adding color and detail. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tibetan Pole Painting

I can't imagine a better way to be greeted on a cool fall morning than with a cup of freshly brewed coffee made with a special blend carefully chosen from distant lands.

And though my reason for this visit was not the latte, it was certainly a nice way to start my work day.

My job, this time, was far removed from my usual portrait or landscape commissions that I create in my studio. This was, by far, a calling to do something I had never dreamed of: to paint, on a beam, a Tibetan prayer pole. I love projects that create unusual challenges and this one fit the description

When Mark and Carrie called and said they would like me to come to their home and see this pole, I had to laugh inside. Who calls someone and asks them to paint a Tibetan style pole in their living room? I guess outrageous, creatively original people do. And since I love to push the boundaries of what I can paint and where, this commission was a perfect fit.

To make my job easier, Mark had prepared the wall with a base coat of a lightly tinted primer.

Mixing the acrylic paint is fun. It also is a time to mentally prepare myself for what I am about to do.

Since I had to climb a six foot ladder and balance precariously at times, I decided it would be best to start with the highest, most dangerous part while I still felt fresh and rested.

Next came the sky blue paint that I painted right up to the edges of my clouds.

Starting at the top, I painted the blue with a slight gradation from dark to light to imitate a Colorado sky.

This photo was taken at the bottom of the stairs which is the way it will appear to anyone who looks up from the living room.

I had an art instructor once tell me that a good painting entertains the eye from a distance and then draws you in and entertains the eye close up.
In this instance, I was happy to complete the Tedder's vision of this Tibetan pole (and apply my instructor's theory) by painting a verse that they had chosen from Psalm 19:1 - something that can only be seen upon closer inspection.

Mark and Carrie visited Tibet and then fell in love with the Tibetan people; a love so deep that they wanted a visual reminder each day to pray for the country, the people, and its leaders.

Oftentimes, after a commissioned work is completed, I walk away in awe at the experience and the privilege it was to be a part of something much bigger than myself.  

Monday, October 3, 2011

Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area Plein Air Painting

If someone ever asks you to backpack into the wilderness of Colorado to catch the last of the summer's wild flowers, eat freshly caught trout, and sleep under the it! For the past couple of years my husband, Robert, has been asking me to go. I have always been hesitant for numerous reasons (bears, mosquitoes, and the lack of flushing toilets, to name a few) but when he lured me with one of the amenities being incredible views for artists who enjoy plein air painting, I finally agreed that I had to try it. I could no longer ignore the beautiful photos that he and my son, Adam, took each time they went that were taken miles from the familiar and more accessible Colorado landscapes.
Since we did not set up camp until it was almost dark, I knew my opportunity to paint at our campsite would come first thing in the morning. After a delicious hot breakfast of oatmeal and tea, Robert set off to fish at the lake down below our campsite and I excitedly got out my acrylic paints, painter box and brushes to record this breathtaking view with the early morning light.

My little French easel was perfect for this adventure. It comes with leather straps and  has its own built in palette and space underneath to store small paintbrushes.

I settled in and began to paint quickly.

This mountain range before me was absolutely breathtaking. At that moment I knew that the five hour car ride, the additional two hour four wheel drive to the trail head of this remote area, and then the two hour hike to our campsite was all worth it.

I quickly painted in the shape of the mountains,

and then began working on the middle and foreground of trees, the lake and the the mountain side.
Once I had all of the major shapes and colors in, I relaxed and knew I had time to add some details.
I had only one direct encounter with the local wildlife. It was this brazen jay bird who decided that she would investigate what I was doing and examine all that I had. She landed on a tree stump nearby and then squawked and flew at me. I jumped up to get out of her way and she boldly flew down to my paint supplies. She picked up my painting towel and then dropped it, grabbed my extra painting panels one by one and threw them down, scattering them around, and then perched on the edge of my can of water I was using for the paints and looked at me. For the love! 
After that little painting break, I added some details: the snow on the mountains, the hint of yellow wildflowers on the mountain side and the rocks jutting out here and there.

Two exhilarating hours later it was time to pack up my paints and head back down the mountain. I felt satisfied and happy. 

This experience has changed my perspective. In my journeys to other parts of the world, planet earth has always seemed smaller. But when I traveled to this amazing place right here in my home state of Colorado, the world seemed like it had grown so much bigger.   
"I will lift up my eyes to the mountains..." Psalm 121:1

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”
John Muir