Friday, August 24, 2012

Spring Flowers

White Tulips

I finished this painting last spring, but have taken my time in posting it. While I was working on it I wasn't feeling very well and had been back and forth with different Doctors, going through a lot of testing trying to figure out what was wrong. They had put a stint in the day after Christmas, but I was still slowing down. Not enough energy or stamina to walk from room to room or sit and paint for very long. This painting was finally finished in mid March, I was scheduled to go in for another test where they shoot dye through the arteries to see if there are any blockages. The put me out for the test and the next thing I knew I was in an ambulance being taken to another hospital for emergency surgery. An amazing Doctor did a triple by pass and I am still here today to tell the story. After a week in the hospital I had to spend a month in a rehab facility, not a bad place but not home. I missed Albert and Elvis terribly, they are after all my family! Time passes slowly when you are recouperating, the mind is willing but the body is unable to comply. This painting was one of the things I asked to be brought to me for my room. It hung on my wall in the facility for most of the month, I painted and repainted it in my mind, changed colors and composition. It was my focus point for the bad times and encouragement for the good days. It made me look forward to the day that I could start to paint again. I am feeling great, I am home with Albert and Elvis, the sun in shining and all is well!

A little more information about this painting. My friend Rick found the milking stool and porcelain watering can at an estate sale. Both probably date back to the 1930's. Someone at some point had painted the watering can a matt white but the rust was coming through in places giving it a wonderful color and the places where they had painted over the chipped porcelain gave it even more texture. Same thing was done to the stool, only they used an off white color. Absolutely wonderful shapes and texture on both items, but what to put with them to make a great composition. I really didn't want a lot of color to take away from the shapes. I found a pot of white tulips, not open, just the buds peeping out from the green foliage. Perfect!! I wanted just a touch more green so added a primrose in the back. This was a really limited palette, I used titanium white, sap green, dioxazine purple, and some cad yellow light. I was delighted with the very rich browns I was getting from the sap green and purple, something I had not tried before. I used the green in pure form in three areas to compliment the composition. Even though it took me longer than usual to paint this picture I am very happy with the results.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Outhouse 1

You don't see many of these anymore. I remember when I was a child going on vacation in Wisconsin. These were always fishing vacations since my Dad was an avid fisherman, off we would go to a lake that boosted "modern" accomodations. That did not mean indoor plumbing however. Up before dawn and into the boat, my Dad would row us out to the perfect spot, I would put the worm on and throw in my line and watch for my little red and white bobber to go under. I remember the sounds of the water rippling against the small wooden boat, the birds chirping as the sky lightened, fish jumping, the mist rising from the water, and my  toes wriggling in the cold water in the bottom of the boat. Catching just enough fish for breakfast, cleaning them and watching them cook in the big black frying pan. Great memories of time spent with my Dad. But you ask what does that have to do with the painting of the outhouse? None of the places we stayed at had indoor plumbing. There were no fancy resorts, mostly just little one room cabins with a bed. Now I didn't mind getting hosed off outside, and brushing my teeth outside was actually kind of fun. Couldn't do that at home! Using the outhouse was something else again, kind of scary for a skinny little kid. My first visit made me sure I could "hold it" until we went home a week  later. Visions of monsters under the bed are nothing compared to what was living down in that black hole! We are talking snakes, spiders, wolves, bears, mountain lions at least. Although thinking back now, no respectable animal would go near that smell! Of necessity I  became quite adept at getting in and out of the little houses quickly with only a few slivers to show for my haste. The old outhouses have been replaced by modern indoor plumbing in most situations and if outdoor accomodations are needed the blue plastic "Port-a-Pottys" are there. I don't think there were ever two outhouses that looked the same. Some were quite fancy. At Lincoln's home in Springfield Illinois the little house out back was a "three holer". Now what kind of a conversation would you have with someone using the adjoining hole. Hmmmmmm, makes you wonder.  Depending on where you are the building change in appearance and in the material used to  build it. Some have been kept up and used as garden sheds or just conversation pieces. Once in a while you will see one of the old ones sitting out in a field, overgrown, uncared for, abandoned. A joke to some, an eyesore to others, for me, memories of special times with my Dad.

This painting is the first in a series of paintings of old outhouses. I wanted to show age, the old outhouse, the old horse and dog, even the hills are old and bare. My palette stayed in the  purple and mauves, in the shadows of the outhouse, horse and dog and repeat in the distance. Not too much background to show the isolation of the area and still keeping the painting light. I enjoyed doing this painting and decided that doing a series of outhouses would be an interesting thing to do.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Albert and the Sunflowers


These beautiful sunflowers were a gift from a friend, he bought them for me, I thought they were for me, but Albert had a totally different idea! He absolutely loved these flowers and would not leave them alone. He wasn't trying to eat them he would just bury his nose in the brown centers and take deep breaths. I know my smeller is not nearly as refined or sensitive as his, but I couldn't smell anything. This painting came about when he learned to quickly turn away from the flowers and sit down like he had no interest at all in them when I would walk into the room. He really is quite the actor!! As soon as I would leave the room he was back with his nose in the flowers. I finally gave up trying to find a safe place to put the vase and just left it on the counter in the kitchen. They looked great, brightened up the room, and Albert was happy with "his"  flowers in a place he could keep smelling them.

The subject matter for this painting was easy, painting the flowers and Albert went well, but the background was really problematic for me. I had a blue background first, prussian blue grayed with a bit of cad orange, and it was horrible!! Then I used a sap green-olive green mixture, not as bad as the blue but it really did nothing for the subject matter. The final results was created by using the same colors that are in the flowers and adding olive green for the dark areas. I haven't used olive green a lot in my paintings but found it as a nice addition to the yellows and oranges. It blends well and compliments without overpowering.

This is Bad Albert in his favorite spot overlooking my drawing table. He knows when I am working on a painting of him and "oversees" my work to make sure I do him justice. If it is a painting that he is not in he faces the other way! He does have a very high opinion of himself, but what cat doesn't?