Monday, June 7, 2021

What color is fog?

This spring I have been working on eleven paintings for the Louisa Gould Gallery in Vineyard Haven on Martha's Vineyard Island, Massachusetts.

On one piece in particular, I procrastinated. I had a vision of how I wanted the painting to feel but couldn't see the steps. I wanted fog. Usually one would think of fog as whitish gray. That would not work for this painting. I thought sleeping on it would help. It didn't. Giving it another day of rolling around in my head also failed.

 It was time to just dive in and start mixing paint. The reference photos I took had lots in the background: trees, other boats, and a few houses. I needed to ignore all of that.

Starting with a consistent (mostly neutral) color for the background, I painted from the top toward the lower half. As I moved down, I began adding more texture and then more vibrant color. 

In painting water, I work with it until it looks wet to me. Some stray colors add to the believability.

Tranquil    27" X 18"   Oil

This painting (along with 10 other paintings of mine) will be in the Louisa Gould Gallery for the July 1 Opening of the gallery's Icons of Summer Show.

Friday, June 4, 2021

The Spreadsheet

 If you are an artist and your eyes started to glaze over at the title of this blog, The Spreadsheet, I understand.

We usually think of numbers with the word spreadsheet. Years ago I found keeping track of entry/competition/event deadlines difficult with just various folders and scraps of paper. There was the added complication of figuring out which paintings to enter. When would I hear from this show so I would know if I could enter a certain painting in another show?

That is when I created my Competition Spreadsheet. Of course, being an artist, the spreadsheet had to have colors!

The next step was to figure out the layout, what categories, and in what order.  Rather than get fancy with it, I opted for the basics in this order:

Date Due, Date Results, Name of Application, Submitted Date, Paintings submitted, and two additional info lines. The info might be size limitations, which gallery, whether the painting must be for sale, which painting was accepted, or when the painting needed to arrive.

For colors I use blue for submitted, green for accepted, tan for not accepted, yellow for did not enter, and neon pink for an upcoming deadline. 

For the next year I save the file with a new name, change all the backgrounds back to white and erase the details except the Name of Application entries. As dates become available, they are added and the process begins again. In the past few years I have added a number of shows/events/competitions.

Here is this year's current spreadsheet.

You might ask, why bother? I have a number of reasons.

  1. So I do not miss a deadline
  2. So I do not submit the same painting to two events at the same time
  3. To keep track of what was entered last year
  4. To gain exposure to galleries hosting various shows
  5. To gain exposure in various online formats or magazines
  6. To win cash or prizes 
  7. To sell paintings
  8. To participate in shows
For instance, last year for the first time I entered two paintings in the American Academy of Equine Artists. Both were accepted and Range Runners won the Jean Bowman Award. Also last year for the first time I entered the National Oil & Acrylic Painters Society Spring International Online Competition. My painting Ice Bear won Best of Show. I have since joined NOAPS and have been in their 2020 Best of America Show, the 2021 Best of America Small Works Show, and the 2021 Spring International Online Exhibit.

This might seem like a lot of work but setting up this spreadsheet has made the application process so much easier and clearer for me.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Social Harmony


Social Harmony, 14.5" X 23", original oil

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Sociable Weaver nest cont'd

 For the sunlit side of the nest on the left side of the vertical branch I used some of the deep orange for the shadows and a mixture with naples yellow and cadmium yellow deep for the highlights.


    While I could use a bit of freedom in creating the nest, detail needs to be painted for the structure of the supporting branches before I can add in the greenery.  Without compromising the careful balance created by the birds in crafting their architectural wonder, I have "moved" and modified some of the outlying branches for a better balance in the painting.

Above is a detail photo of the first perched sociable weaver for the painting. I decided to have five birds in the piece. Four are perched and one is flying. I could have painted dozens or just one. When I was fleshing out the composition, I tried numerous positions and placements and the five seemed to work the best.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Sociable Weavers

   It has been a while since I have posted. My apologies. My brush has been busy and I will be sharing those paintings from start to finish.

  Sociable weavers are master builders. Living in congregate groups, their massive nests are impressive in large trees and are unbelievable when suspended in smaller ones. A particular nest in the Namib Desert of Namibia caught my eye for its miracle of engineering.

   With some editing and some strategic placing of some of the birds I was ready to start on the painting.

   One often thinks of a desert as a yellow mass of sand. The Namib Desert, considered by some to be the oldest desert on earth, is filled with color. Its age has contributed to the oxidation of iron in the sand. The color of the sand in sunlight is a warm orange and in the shadows it is a stunning blueish purple.


   The nest had sticks and birds everywhere. The trick was to capture the texture of the nest without painting every twig. On my palette I mixed four different colors for the rusty orange nest on the right side of the vertical branch. Using a small flat angled brush I started at the bottom.

   To give the nest that layered feeling and reflect the weathered condition of the outermost layer, some of the upper part of the nest was painted with splashes of the cooler background color.


Monday, March 22, 2021

Finished and scanned


Squabble    Original Oil    16" X 24"

 It has been a while since I posted. For this piece, I wanted to wait until I could scan the painting. My camera was not catching some of the nuances which my scanner was able to capture.

Much of the "pink" was painted with a mixture containing Michael Harding Crimson Lake. I have been having fun exploring my "new" oil colors from both Michael Harding and Richeson. Though many of my choices could be created from my Rembrandt standard palette, I am playing around with bolder selections of color.


Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Starting the birds


For this piece, I decided to start on the heads first rather than completing a bird and moving on to the next.