6″ x 6″ (15 x 15 cm) – oil on gessobord – commission
Just finished Giselle yesterday. The painting is commissioned in honor of this client’s mother who worked as a seamstress for a dance company. In my mind I painted it for all workers toiling behind the screen-stage-platform with no spot light on them, but never-the-less indispensable. Just have seen Oscars, at least in movie business makeup people, costume people, hair people get recognition. I don’t believe in theater they do.
I learned an interesting technique while working on Giselle – painting translucent fabric. Really neat! I did quite a bit of work on transparent stuff, reflective stuff before – yes! But never translucent stuff until now. Apparently you can just physically mix the hue from underneath and hue from above and it tricks the eye just enough for “willing suspension of disbelief”. But then you still have go after it with glazes or dry brush or both.
This painting also was under a self imposed deadline as I am holding tickets to go on my yearly trip to Israel to visit my family. The painting had to be finished at least 10 days before my departure to allow enough drying time to be able to varnish and ship it. Yikes! Now it better cooperates and gets dry and ready to varnish by March 7 or I am in trouble.
Each: 6″x6″ (15 x 15 cm) – oil on gessobord – commissions
These two are commissions. The client saw them and approved, so I can show them to you. The two paintings were commissioned together to work as a pair or a diptych.
It turns out painting a pair is a fairly special project. Right away during the drawing stage I realized that blocks have to match in size – not a problem, but not something that you need to consider when painting a single painting.
When I started painting it quickly became apparent that I have to treat them as one painting. When I worked on surface of the mirrored table on one painting and then tried to match the color a few days later for the second painting – it turned out to be very VERY hard! It is much easier to do the mirror and the background for both paintings at once using the same color mix. Same goes about painting the visible wood of the blocks. Also if I painted blocks’ faces for 9-Rabbit on a sunny morning and faces for e-Bird on a overcast day – the color harmony would not work and I had to make adjustments in my lighting.
It is a rare opportunity to work on a pair and I am forever grateful to J.D. for it.
Oh, see this really cool block with a skull on it?… I invented it. I don’t have a block with a skull. But J.D. collects skull images so I made up one for him.
6″ x 6″ (15 x 15 cm) – oil on gessobord – commission
It took a lot longer than anticipated, but I finished it this year! This is a very important painting for me and I wanted to do it right and took my time. This is my first commission. And an international one at that.
With this year almost gone I see many of my artists friends doing a recap. I read them with great interest – people have accomplished great things, painted significant works, showed work in important places, taught numerous students, and thought up amazing innovations. I thought to myself I must do a year-end post as well.
The whole time I was painting Fiddlesticks I was remembering “Odessa Tales” by Isaac Babel. If you haven’t read this, hurry – you are in for a treat … you can thank me later. It is better in Russian, that being the original language, but the English translation is very good too. I bought the English version for my husband who does not speak Russian and he laughed his head off from cover to cover . He is still quoting from it all these years later. Anyway, “Odessa Tales” was the originating influence for this painting.
I did not have any major painting discoveries during this work. I did confirm for myself that my homemade medium recipes work better for me than various readymade mediums from the store. I make a Lean medium for my first color pass and a Fat one for my second and later passes. Now I have a collection of fancy brand mediums that I don’t use anymore.
Something was right about this idea, or composition, or colors, or whatever… because it painted like a dream. Easy and smooth, without difficulties or usual anxiety, the colors and shapes just played along agreeably and it was all finished before I was ready to make a conscious decision about that. Ha! – it was ready to be signed.
But then I realized that I don’t have a title. I did not panic… so it would take me a day or several to think of it. But a good title was eluding me… I made my family think of the title… no, it was not happening for them either. After a few days of struggle with something that is usually so easy I made a decision – I would crowd-source it. So I put the painting on Facebook and called out to my friends.
In 8 hours I had 23 gorgeous titles! I had titles from as far as Australia, Singapore, Ireland, Israel, Canada, East and West coasts…. In the end I chose the title that came from two blocks away. Mary Lanigan Russo, my friend and neighbor and an urban sketcher from Chicago, suggested “Yesterdays”. A couple of hours later Jim Bumgarner, an urban sketcher from Tri-Cities WA, suggested ”All My Sorrows Seem so Far Away” and thus settled any doubts. I have amazing friends!
Some thought that I gave up painting… I don’t blame them! I’ve been posting sketch after sketch for months… but I’ve been painting too. Remember after “Unwrapping” I promised myself to avoid painting crinkled paper unless it is a commission? Well, I could not stay away – crinkled paper is addictive. I must be a glutton for punishment… It took this long and was a major pain.
This little painting had the longest “ugly” stage I can remember. Until three days ago it looked like the best candidate for recycling bin I’ve ever seen. I am not sure why I did not give up. My daughter says that I go through this with every painting. I think she is right, it is always a pain, uncertainty, major self-doubt, anxiety and confusion. I hear from my artists friends, writers friends, musician friends that it is the same for them too. So much for happy bohemian life style. I hope you like the painting though.
Remember how it sounded when Pavarotti sang it? It is hard to come up with something sounding sweeter than that. And of course pear shapes invoke certain associations. Anyway, pears are so easy to anthropomorphize… they are so much like us. I have no trouble imagining them serenading each other or singing a duet.
Of course, painting a music score is a lot less sweet. It’s pretty much a pain in … wherever. In oil while keeping perspective… I hope I did it correctly. If you can read music and see a mistake – don’t tell me, I don’t want to know!
Just apples to try a different technique. And a tongue in a cheek joke as an afterthought. Coming up with a title was harder than painting it. As sure as god made little apples… an apple a day… All of this was so trite that I was very tempted to title this Untitled. Every self respecting artist has something called Untitled. But then my husband came up with A Garden of Eve, and I loved it, and of course took it a step further.
It’s been almost three months since my last oil painting. There are several reasons why. I’ve been away, and painting not in my own studio is slow somehow. I’ve been organizing the Chicago chapter of Urban Sketchers, and that took time and effort. But the real reason it took this long is that my subject was so damn hard! I can’t believe I actually got it to the end! It would be a while before I paint crumpled paper again .
Oh, the 90′s… Shelly was perhaps in the first grade when Beanie Babies became all the rage. We succumbed – they were so cute. Irresistible, really. And their names were so clever, like Speedy – the turtle . We collected them for several years, and now we have a box full. A few have peanut butter or other food smears on them, some are dirty from being loved too much, but all are still perfect props, wonderfully colorful and posable. Here, for you, are Rover the dachshund and Bessie the cow – a dear memory of my daughter being little.
In other news:
I will be going on my yearly trip to Israel to be with my parents. I am leaving in 2 days and will be staying there for a month, back in April. So, if I don’t have a good way to scan/photograph images while on the trip – there will be no posts until I return. Or perhaps technology will oblige, and I will post sketches and paintings. I do plan to paint, am bringing two panels with just prime and drawings on them. And I plan to sketch a lot. In fact, I connected with Urban Sketchers Israel and hope to do a sketchcrawl with them if logistics cooperate.