Snowed-In

Soup's On
Soups  On

Like many in the eastern part of the United States where snow measurements were 25 to 35 inches when all was said and done, I was snowed-in.  But, the silver lining was that all that white snow inspired me to paint a “fantasy in white.”

I study Portrait and Figure painting at the Art League School in Alexandria, Virginia, with a well known portrait artist and teacher, Danni Dawson.  Danni is a fantastic teacher who feels that in order to achieve the necessary skills to be a good portrait artist, students need to paint everyday and paint everything and anything.  We have a weekly assignment, often a simple color study and sometimes complete paintings.  Coincidentally, our assignment for this past snowy week was to paint white objects.  One was to be done in natural north light and the other under warm studio lighting  using every color on the palette for both assignments.

Have you ever studied a white object carefully or taken a good look at the snow?  It is amazing how many colors you see.  You may see warm colors, yellows, oranges, pinks, greens, or you may see cool colors, blues, violets, greens, browns, depending on the time of day and sky conditions when you make your observation.  Painting with studio lighting will tend to warm the subject you are painting and can also pick up many reflective colors that surround your objects.

I have a north facing window near my easel so for my homework assignment I arranged a set-up of white dishes in front of the north light window.  I painted “Soups On”  each day at the same time, about 1:30 pm until about 5:00 pm in order to keep the light the same.  I didn’t want to turn on any artificial lights so by 5:00 pm I was pretty much in the dark.  I was able to observe not only the variations of cool colors in my set-up  but in the snow outside the window as well.  Although the light was not strong as the sky was cloudy, I managed to pick up a variety of colors on the objects.

Dessert Anyone?
Dessert Anyone?

To prepare for the study under studio lighting, “Dessert Anyone?”, I first had to bake a cake because I wanted to use my cake holder which I thought would add interest to the composition.  Luckily, I had all the necessary ingredients on hand.  Although natural north light is the preferred lighting for most artists, being able to paint at any time of day in the studio is an advantage and the lighting was much better.  Observing the warm colors on the dishes and the cake frosting was an interesting study.  Even though both are white, the frosting seemed to reflect a stronger, brighter white.  Perhaps because the dishes were picking up the reflective light of their shinny surface or I was eyeing the cake with more concentration because I couldn’t wait to eat it!

Being snowed-in is not so bad if you can find interesting things to do that you love.  I love painting and after two sessions with “Dessert Anyone?” I was able to eat the cake…..not a bad reward after a good day of painting.

Scenes of Frederick Ornaments 2015 — Right and Left by Winslow Homer

Holiday Ornaments
Holiday Ornaments

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Two years ago I began painting scenes of Frederick and other significant memorabilia on holiday ornaments.  These ornaments have been very well received by the public and have become a valuable imagepiece of one-of-a-kind artwork for many collectors.  This year I’ve added additional scenes and have created some commission pieces of homes and pets.

The ornaments of Frederick landmarks as well as blank note cards of winter scenes in Frederick are available for sale at The Candy Kitchen, 52 N. Market St., Frederick, MD  21701 (301) 698-0442, and at the Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center, 40 S. Carroll St. Frederick, MD 21701 (301) 698-0656.  For special orders and commissions, please contact me through the SALES AND COMMISSIONS form on this web-site.

 

Right and Left – Winslow Homer Original and copy in progress

Right and Left, a 1909 painting by American artist Winslow Homer, is the copy I’m currently producing at the National Gallery of Art. It’s quite a change from the Impressionist gallery where I painted for the past three years. It is a substantially different style. Also, I am physically located in a different gallery within the museum, one in which quietness and tranquility rule so I can concentrate with fewer distractions although I miss the hustle and bustle of the Impressionist galleries.

Homer painted  Right and Left a year before his death and is a culminating achievement of an extraordinary career.  The title, provided by a viewer during the works first public showing, refers to the act of shooting the ducks successively with separate barrels of a shotgun.  Scholars have suggested that the diving posture of the duck on the right indicates it is the one which has been hit by the hunter’s initial blast.  Its mate is attempting to escape the second shot which has just been fired, the flash of the shotgun barely visible within the gray smoke at the middle left.

This painting makes you want to stare at it and wonder what thoughts were on Homer’s mind as he worked.  Perhaps he wanted to convey an ambiguous message deliberately, in order to illustrate that crucial moment of transition between life and death.  Not ever being interested in hunting, I find this painting a bit sad but it is magnificently painted and although void of the brilliant colors of the Impressionist, it is filled with beautiful paint strokes and emotion.

I will be at the National Gallery of Art, gallery #68, working on this piece every Tuesday until mid December when I expect to complete my copy of Right and Left.