Sunday, August 30, 2009

Alaska Trip

I just returned from a 17 day trip to Alaska. This was a special trip because it was with my husband and my parents. Dad just turned 85, and he and Mom have been married almost 52 years. What great fun we had.

We started in Anchorage, then headed down to Seward, "catching" the Exit Glacier before grabbing the ferry in Whittier to Cordova. We arrived in Cordova just in time to catch a day when it officially rained 5.5 inches. Some would bewail their bad luck. Not this foursome. The heavy rains meant that the rivers and waterfalls were wildly exciting.

I’m sure you don’t want all the stories from the trip, but I’ll share a few highlights. We drove about 2000 miles the first 10 days. Dad and Jim climbed up to and on the Worthington Glacier.... in the pouring rain. It rained parts of every day EXCEPT the 2.5 days at Denali when our main trip into the park was crystal clear and the mountain, magnificent.

Jim and I followed a very nice family group of ptarmigan in the tundra through the mist and low clouds. Some of the birds came within a few feet. I envision some moody paintings from that encounter.

Fortunately, we had a number of good close views of caribou (especially fun as Mom and Dad had not seen them in the wild before.) Several times we were close to cow moose with calves, and we saw some particularly large bull moose at Denali.

Birds included Northern Harrier, Bald Eagle, Short-earred owl, Great Blue Heron, Tundra Swan, and Grouse.
And, mustn’t forget the grizzlies. Our sightings make for some fun and dynamic stories. (And, future paintings!)
My folks, Alden and Barbara Besse, at Denali

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Laumeister Fine Art Competition

Held at the Bennington Center for the Arts, Bennington, VT, this show was judged by internationally recognized artist Albert Handell.
What an honor to have my painting, Leaving the Harbor, juried in. The show runs from September 19th - November 29th, 2009.

When I saw this fishing boat leaving the harbor in the late afternoon, it had such a nostalgic feel. The nets, the warm sun on the deck, the rigging, all the contributed to a sense of timeless purpose. Men gathering bounty from the sea.

13" X 20"

The subject matter is a bit of a departure for me, but every now and then, I feel called to do something different. (I have noticed that most non-wildlife pieces I paint include some aspect of water.)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Inspiring and Humbling

I recently returned from the Oil Painters of America Western Regional Show. It was refreshing, inspiring, and humbling to have a painting among the chosen. Very few wildlife pieces - you could count them on one hand. The show consisted of 150 paintings, most were still lifes and landscapes.

A wonderful landscape is Calvin Liang’s Gondola, Venice. The subtle lighting and brilliant use of oranges and yellows is unfortunately not apparent in the image on the web.

The still life which caught my eye was Elizabeth Pruitt’s Lilacs and Lace. The soft edges were masterfully handled.

In addition to the show reception, we had seminars throughout the day including an insightful oil painting demonstration by judge, Jeff Watts.

Friday, August 7, 2009

OPA Regional Exhibition

The Oil Painters of America Western Regional Exhibition opens tomorrow at the Howard/Mandville gallery in Kirkland, WA. Located near Seattle, this show will run at the gallery from August 8th to August 30th. The gallery is located at 120 Park Lane, Suite D.

I am thrilled that my painting
The Return - Whooping Cranes
was accepted for the show.

In August 2008, I was accepted as a member of the Oil Painters of America. Since then, I have had a painting accepted for the first regional and national shows I have entered.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Finishing and Choosing the Title

For the leopard, I painted the spots first. The surrounding color was next and then I went back and touched up the spots. Putting in the "black" spots first helps me get a feeling of how the underlying muscle structure can be portrayed which then aids in the shading. With a leopard this small, it was inevitable that my background shading on the leopard’s body would cover the edges of the spots I had just painted. Hence, the spot do-over.

Sometimes I have a title and an idea for a piece years before I paint it. Other times the title will come to me during the painting process. And lastly, there are paintings, like this one, where I struggle for a title once the painting is completed. Yesterday afternoon it came to me. I was thinking of the fact that the painting is a silhouette. Serengeti Silhouette
Original Oil by Linda Besse
22.75" X 27"

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Wet on Wet

One of the problems of working wet on wet is that, well, it is wet. How do you paint detail in the center of a painting when resting your hand on the board will smear your work?

This problem was solved was by my ingenious husband who saw me struggling to paint with my right hand while it was steadied in the air by my left. He built me an easel and the best feature is that my hand now rests on an ergonomic board which can be moved vertically to any position.
(You can see the edges of the clamps on either side.)

On to the painting. I have finished the haunch of the zebra.
I saw this leopard coming down the tree in the Serengeti and there was no zebra. But, I really like leopards and I thought I’d give him dinner. Also, I liked adding an element which enhanced the story.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Confession

I am not the only artist who has heard that it must be "so much fun" to paint. Many times it is. But there are times when it can best be described as tedious drudgery.

A professional singer does scales. A football player runs drills. A student works on his calculus. None of these activities could be considered "fun."

But, they are necessary to achieve the final result. The perfect pitch aria, the touchdown, the.... well, maybe calculus was a bad example.

A "this is no fun" mantra accompanied painting some of the foliage and smaller branches. I couldn’t just blob on the green if I wanted that airy feeling of the acacia. So, it was slogging through it, bit by bit to achieve just the tone I wanted.

Detail of painting.

The next step is to paint the zebra and leopard.