I’m impatient about doing value studies and thumbnails sketches to get my visions organized, but on this large triptych, taking the time made a difference. My final color decisions are still a process of layering color after color until it looks right, but the underlying composition was successful (in my humble opinion) because I took the time to work it out before ever getting to the easel.
Starting in Photoshop Elements, I sketched a general plan for a large floral composition. I had Georgia on my mind. O’Keeffe’s large florals have an abstract, sensual quality that won much much acclaim and are exciting to behold. I wanted something of that nature in my work.
First, a line drawing to create the composition, making sure that no two flower shapes were on the same level and no two looked the same. These were fantasy flowers, so that was easy.
Next, still on the computer, I began dropping monochromatic color into the shapes to develop a value study of lights, mediums and darks. Later, there was refinement in the process, but the basic values are pretty close to the finished work. When satisfied, I moved on to try actual color combinations, using PSE’s paint bucket function to fill in the areas.
And then, the exciting step, setting up the canvases and putting those first shapes, lines and colors onto that big white surface. My heart skips a beat every time. For this painting, much of the time was spent at the Morean Arts Center where I could get continuous feedback from the very talented class group there.
Back in my studio, I layered color over color, as is my style, preserving some edges of each previous color in places, losing them in others. At some point, everything comes together and you feel it. I also had the advantage of informal critiques from various artists who visited my studio during the creative process. The “cold eye” of a professional artist friend can see possible problem areas quickly that I have overlooked in my reach for the big vision.
As the painting progressed, my partner Ed came in to have a look and simply said, “There’s a little too much Georgia on your mind.” I reconsidered and agreed.
The finished painting involved some dramatic color shifts and a periwinkle blue that may never be duplicated, but the original value study remained fairly true.
And then it happens. You go through your mental checklist of all the things that make a good painting and you’re there. The painting now hangs over my bed.
When the time was right I moved into a carefree, turn-key loft condo with concrete ceilings and floors, a workspace more than a living space. High ceilings and a 43-ft. length of floor-to-ceiling windows give me good light for painting and a dramatic gallery space.
I bought my loft pre-construction and was lucky to have a developer willing to work with me to combine two units into one and make some alterations that made it work better for a studio and gallery space. (You can see more of the layout of my space and some of the rooms in earlier posts).
Every room, even bathrooms, act as gallery space for art parties and yet are comfortable for living as well.
The kitchen was moved to the center of the expanded space and the enlarged island serves well as the hub.
One end of the space is a living room and the other end is the workspace. The kitchen island and counters, even the dining room table, serve as expanded workspace when needed.
Every artist’s greatest needs are exposure and work space. I’m very lucky to have both.
Life is never dull. Paintings are constantly moving in and out, up and down, and even close friends and family always want a “tour” when they arrive, to see what’s new. And except for routine bouts with bursitis and arthritis from climbing up and down a ladder, it keeps me stimulated and feeling, dare I say, even a bit “cool” in a city that has recently become one of the coolest, St. Petersburg, Florida.
“The Shaman” one of my three paintings done in Mexico this summer, is all dressed up and lookin’ good after a real “find” in Leslie Curran’s frame shop and gallery, ARTicles. I’m always amazed at what a great frame can do for any painting and this one was already made up in the right size.
Personal chef Suzy Johnson and her sidekick Elizabeth worked seamlessly together to prepare a scrumptious dinner. I co-hosted the party with Marcy Person of Raymond James. You might have seen my earlier post about painting the little clay plates Marcy made for each guest.
Maybe it’s the Spanish Colonial architecture or the warm, earthy hues of the landscape, or the spicy cuisine, but creativity thrives in Mexico.
This past summer, I worked with Victoria Pierce, a long time resident of San Miguel de Allende, in her studio to learn some of her techniques that so beautifully reflect her love of Mexico.
Vicki works abstractly and in many layers of hand made papers collaged onto boards or canvases, often in combination with the hot bees wax method of encaustic.
I made these three works under her guidance and then, when I returned to the States, covered them with a faux encaustic layer using matte gel medium, Azo Gold liquid acrylic and Interference Gold Fine to simulate the warm hue of bees wax.
It doesn’t compare with the subtle beauty of real encaustic, but it has it’s own appeal without the mess. Some of my future work will be incorporating this technique.