Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What I Did 2008

Challenging year for many artists. Still, we managed. Never missed a meal and somehow paid the bills. It was a terrific year for the creative and ambitious to build up inventories of artwork and reassess goals, restructure business plans, sharpen skills and now focus intentions for 2009.

I'm doing okay!
  • Twice featured in Art Business News. With gallery owner Terry Lindsey at Equidae Gallery in Saratoga Springs, NY in January. I was then highlighted as an "emerging artist" in the November issue which attracted multiple opportunities from differing sources. The most attractive is a licensing deal with a couple of large, respected companies - contracts pending...
  • I applied for and was accepted into the 2008 Developmental Workshop in St. Petersburg.
  • Participated in a group equine art exhibit at Gallery Central in Hot Springs, Arkansas. My artwork was featured on the cover of Springs Magazine, a local hip/happening monthly. Gallery also used my artwork for advertising in the Springs Magazine.
  • Participated in my first museum exhibits, the first at the Museum of Florida Art in Deland. The second was a group exhibit with several of my Out of Hand Artists salon members at the Elliot Museum in Stuart, Florida.
  • Speaking of Out of Hand Artists, my salon is stronger than ever and entering it's third year! Most members have benefited from the mutual support and encouragement. Some have demonstrated exciting leaps in their professional careers. Like attracts like.
  • Lisa Wilson wrote a great article about my artwork in the Hot Springs Travel Host Magazine.
  • Recipient of a Florida Division of Cultural Affairs Artist Enhancement Grant.
  • Began exhibiting with the Alec P. and Louis H. Courtelis Equine Teaching Hospital at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
  • Exhibited at Great Art and Frame in Tampa at their group equine art show to benefit Bakas Equestrian Center.
  • Exhibited at Equidae Gallery in Saratoga Springs, New York.
  • I finally installed my nine-canvas project "Diagonal" in the Florida Thoroughbred Charities Equine Art Exhibit 2008. It hung 15' up the wall and was a show stopper at the opening reception. Featured on the front page (and center) of the Star Banner's Sunday Arts & Travel section.
Here's the biggie that I'm most jazzed about:
  • My biggest coup and most exciting accomplishment was acquiring an audience with NYRA's (New York Racing Association) marketing department at Saratoga. With Michael's help and persistance, I was able to present an impressive promotional package. The powers that be have expressed a genuine interest in my participation as a backstretch vendor at the next meet. There has even been mention of of a long sleeve t-shirt designed by moi.
And of course I couldn't realize any of this without the support of my friends, family, galleries, investors and collectors. Those of you who have faith in my abilities and ambition (even dreams!) are a blessing in my life.
Thank you.

"The spirited horse, which will try to win the race of its own accord, will run even faster if encouraged." - Ovid

Monday, December 29, 2008

Farm Painting Almost Finished

thoroughbred farmUnfinished painting, oil on canvas, 30"x40"

Back in the studio today after a mini vacation to work on this painting for a few hours. I increased the value and contrast on the moss at the top left to make it belong to the foreground tree. I'll also make the horses sun-dappled under same tree. And that horse on the left...you've seen the classical pinned ears of horse portraits by George Stubbs? Just standing there, ears pinned, eyes wild and nostrils drawn back in a sneer - what did Stubbs observe, what was he thinking? An artist after my heart.

george stubbsHollyhock by George Stubbs, c. 1765

Working on the accomplishments list and promise to post before the new year. Stay tuned.

A vacation is over when you begin to yearn for your work” - Morris Fishbein

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa or however you choose to celebrate this time of peace.

I'll be tending my organic vegetable garden today, something I'm really looking forward to while Michael smokes a turkey breast. We've chosen to stay home this year and it's a lovely blessing. So quiet and restful. Should hit 80 degrees, a great day to be out in the sunshine.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Painting In Progress

I've never met Elin Pendleton but I've been a fan of her paintings for years. It seems she burst onto the "scene" as a equine artist but lately has transitioned into landscapes with horses - beautifully. I found her blog (to the right in my blogroll) by accident. It inspires me.

A few years back I was asked to jury an exhibit of equine art sponsored by the Black Stallion Literacy Project. Elin entered a tiny gem of a horse headed to the paddock at the race track. I recall lots of vibrant grays and energetic brush work. I voted her piece "best of show". The other jurors agreed.

Elin sells these nifty flash cards of eight that represent various times of day. I couldn't resist. The cards illustrate not only the time of day but are also packed with information and suggestions for color, value, and ideas to capture the corresponding light.

I don't paint landscapes nor do I enjoy them. A client has a certain "request" and has granted me plenty of creative freedom. This beginning piece is the farm of my good friend Julie K. here in Ocala. You'll recall that I painted a rare plein air sketch a few weeks back at her place while horse sitting.

thoroughbredBeginning oil on canvas, 30"x40'

I'm using the flash card "late morning, early afternoon" as reference (it's late morning). The flash cards really simplify getting the "feel" of the atmosphere and light. It suggests adding a cool yellow into the sky which makes it greenish. When I read that I thought, yuk, but it really works in a subtle, cohesive way. This painting is progressing quickly.

"Occasionally, I like to select a mentor, a master, and let him guide me through a revision of one of my paintings... I try to move into his terrain, bringing my own ammunition... I do not believe... that this belittles my own personality." - Rico Lebrun

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Year in Review

Last year I wrote a commentary on every goal I set for 2007. I'll not bore you with another long-winded treatise as we are all well aware of the state of affairs in 2008. I will, however, post my accomplishments next week and they are surprisingly many. During the downturn, many of my artists friends as well as moi took advantage of the time to re-focus, re-organize and build up an inventory of artwork. Bring on 2009.

Of course sales were down but my overall spirits and intentions remain optimistic. I learned to shut off the media naysayers and their dire predictions that can invade your psyche on a cellular level. Michael created a "no news zone" to help maintain my concentration. I'm grateful.

I learned to say "no". Wisdom and experience are finally manifesting in my decision making. Galleries and corporations who exploit the over-eagerness of desperate artists are legion. I weeded the non-productive galleries, maintaining strong affiliations in Hot Springs, Lexington, Saratoga and of course here in Ocala.

I learned to say "yes" to the "stepping out of the box" concept. Listening to the wisdom of my feelings has provided wonderful, intuitive assessment of opportunities that reveal themselves from the most unlikely sources. It's all good if one just stays alert and pays attention. I still make stupid mistakes, but I no longer beat myself up over them. There is some truth to the saying "there is no bad publicity". In other words, something positive could actually come from my old bull-in-a-china-shop race track temperament. Be brave.

Gratefulness became a priority throughout the year. Observing loss suffered by others enlightened me to the multitude of gifts and blessings I possess.

Non-judgment informs me that we're all in this together. We cope with our lot as best we can, some being stronger and more resolute than others. Anger and blame is fading from my experience. Oh, I still get pissed off but that outburst is quickly countered with forbearance. Finally. There really are some positives to getting old...

"So, why would I be optimistic about the year of 2009? Because someone will survive this mess and continue to paint, so it may as well be me." - Linda Blondheim

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tree Ornament

I'll try anything - once.

Michael and I are attending a party this weekend for a young engaged couple. The invitation asks that we bring a ornament for their first tree. A light "bulb" went off in my head that a hand-painted ornament would be personal, special.

Christmas tree ornamentAs an artist who generally paints large canvases, this was a challenge. I sat stooped over my drafting table wearing white cotton gloves, shoulders cramping, all the while wondering what the heck has happened to my eyesight.

mares and foalsOh, and of course acrylic paints where in order. Those of you who paint with acrylics, well, I applaud you. As I mixed a perfect color and began to meticulously brush it on, the rest was quickly drying on my palette into a gooey mess.

Ocala, Florida
I'm pleased with the results though. The foals represent the young new love and there are oak trees draped in Spanish moss representing our beautiful Ocala .

"Christmas is a time when you get homesick - even when you're home". - Carol Nelson

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Finished Painting

I started this painting a few weeks back. With all the holiday commissions, it was relegated to leaning against the wall of the studio. I'm glad it leaned, I was able to see it with fresh eyes when I returned.

thoroughbred paintingUntitled as yet, 18"x30", oil on canvas.

The two powerful, muscular hindquarters were my focal point, therefore I modeled them meticulously. The rest was painted in single, intentional strokes, provided I loaded up my brush with enough paint. I contrasted the deep neutrals of the horses with intense greens of the turf, repeating the strong color in the saddle towels and a bit of silks in the upper right corner.

horse artThis detail illustrates the one stroke technique. While the paint was still wet, I used the end of my brush to score in the texture of flung grass.

"Art that wants to be felt does not have the need to be admired". - Darby Bannard

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Running with Scissors

When we were kids, my dad would yell at my brothers and I: "Stop that running! Somebody's gonna lose an eye!"

As a grownup, here's how you lose an arm:

gatorIt's called: let's see how close we can get to the very big alligator.

As the one who usually sits in front of the canoe, you could say I'm the very willing sacrificial lamb. Before you dismiss me as a whacked out danger junkie, let me say that I'm morbidly fascinated by these prehistoric holdovers.

For your mild amusement, a couple of very lame shorts. I am just not convinced that I'm actually recording, therefore you'll always get a sky shot early on. Turn on the speakers.

"Don't taunt the alligator until after you've crossed the creek." - Dan Rather

Monday, December 08, 2008

Doggie's Done

The corgi's are finished and yes, I repainted the ears on the right side dog to the correct actual size. Well, mostly. Maybe a schootch smaller.

welsh corgiCorgi's, oil on canvas, 16"x20"

I made the background a grayed-down violet to pop the many tones of ochre in their coats. Uploading to Google loses something in translation - it doesn't accurately represent the brushwork. The piece is looking somewhat graphic although that could be my lame photography skills. Anyway...

Getting an impression of the personalities of the dogs I never met, I realized a type of intuitive feeling that begins to evolve as the painting progresses. I can say that the dog on the left is friendly, laid back and affectionate. The pooch on the right is the watchdog, nervous and hesitant yet willing. He's intense.

"Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car, in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing right in your ear". - Dave Barry

Friday, December 05, 2008

Season of the Dog

I'm generally protective of my client's privacy, but this commission is for a friend who granted me permission to post. I've received several commissions for dog portraits this year. Actually, more than ever. Doggies rule in 2008 .

The dog on the right has huge ears. I've painted them smaller, however, that may be his endearing quality.

welsh corgiThe start of two beloved corgis, 16x20 oil .

I would rather see the portrait of a dog that I know, than all the allegorical paintings they can show me in the world” -- Samuel Johnson

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Coating for Giclees

For those of you who produce giclee fine art reproductions, I've discovered a textured coating that you may find interesting. For the last few years, I've dabbled in various coatings but most have been so-so with mostly cons. But I love this one: Bulldog Impasto. You simply brush it on over the giclee (after applying a UV protective coating) . I must mention, almost all my giclees are on canvas, so I can't speak for other substrates.

giclee reproductionsOkay, my photography is to be desired, but I'm attempting to illustrate the texture. It really adds another dimension. Not requiring that much time, you brush it on and follow the original brushstrokes. Repeat applications are also an option to build up more texture. The product goes on milky (like acrylic mediums) but dries crystal clear. So far, my clients have enthusiastically embraced it. Makes those affordable reproductions further mimic an original piece of art.

The Bulldog Company may or may not send you a sample. They did for me but I an a client of their canvas and coating products. Worth asking for anyway.

"Texture adds variety and visual stimulus to the surface of a painting". - Britton Francis (and giclees)

Monday, December 01, 2008

My Brief Foray into Plein Aire

This past weekend Michael and I had the pleasure of horse sitting at our friends' beautiful little farm here in Ocala. Two retired thoroughbred runners take up chief residence, along with cats, myriad birds, squirrels and raccoons, all of which we were most willingly required to attend to.

Several plein aire artists comprise my salon group, Out of Hand Artists. These painters are fully engaged in the activities of landscape painting - jurying into exhibits, winning countless awards, participating in paint outs, etc. So, to a studio painter such as myself, this is a major curiosity. Am I tempted to test the waters? Indeed, but with utmost respect and reverence to my peers.

I packed up my gear to participate after a morning feed. Standing on a three foot tall wash rack overlooking the horse's day paddock, I dove in. First, I realized that I hadn't applied a ground to the canvas paper I chose as support. Glaring white beamed back at me. Second, I realized I had forgotten my Liquin - no medium other than turps to use.

Working quickly, I covered the canvas paper with a neutral tone. Horses are awful models, and as rapidly as I sketched them, they rapidly moved about. I tried to paint them from memory, however, their continuous movement was such a distraction that my canvas paper quickly turned into a muddy mess.

There is a love/hate thing going on between these two horses who are half brothers. Oh, and did I mention the light that changed drastically every five minutes?

ocala thoroughbred horse farmPlein aire painting (sort of) oil on canvas paper, 8.5"x 5.5"

I admit that I worked on the horses back in the studio. They stood statue still on the easel.

"Do console your poor friend, who is so troubled to see his paintings so miserable, so sad, next to the radiant nature he has before his eyes"! - Jean Baptiste Camille Corot