Friday, June 25, 2010

How I See Lady Agnew

How I See Lady Agnew, 16x12, Oil on Birch Panel, 2010

Like many artists, I am often asked to donate paintings for various fundraisers. I don't mind doing this, although after the first auction I was in had no minimum bids set and my painting went to someone for ten bucks, I quickly became much more discerning about the events that I participated in. I have also narrowed it down to no more than 4 donations per year and those are mainly for local events at an arts organization and our school's annual fundraiser.

I also usually donate a painting to the annual auction and gala sponsored by NYSHA from which the proceeds benefit educational programs at The Fenimore Art Museum and The Farmer's Museum here in Cooperstown, two organizations that mean a lot to me. This year's big exhibition at the Fenimore is John Singer Sargent; Portraits in Praise of Women and I have always LOVED John Singer Sargent's work. So when I was asked to participate in the auction it occurred to me that maybe I should donate a portrait rather than the usual landscape.

Kinda risky decision though, because, well I want the piece to be sold (hopefully for more than ten bucks!) and I am mostly known for landscapes around here. But the portrait thing just kept nagging at me and finally I decided to do what I really wanted to do; paint my version of one of John Singer Sargent's paintings.

In college I had several assignments that included copying (mostly) old master's paintings, I did a Rembrandt (here is my copy of Rembrandt), a van Gogh, and several illustrators which I can't recall anymore. The goal then was to COPY the paintings, the composition, the brushstrokes, color, everything.

This time I wanted to reference the image but paint it in my style. I settled on Lady Agnew, mostly because I felt it had similarities to some of the portraits I have been doing lately; a seated woman, very straightforward pose, the colors and patterns. However, after I finished the underpainting I noticed that the body structure in mine was more compressed than in the original, which I have decided to attribute to using a different scaled panel (vertical instead of squarish) rather than my iffy observation and drawing skills. heh. And as I got into the painting of the details, I SO wanted to copy everything about the painting and I had to wipe out more than a few areas because they were looking more like a bad version of Sargent than the good version of me.

Anyway, overall I am very pleased with this painting and it was a fun and yet rather challenging diversion. I am also crossing my fingers that someone at the auction will bid on it.........

PS. I would like to add that really, there is no comparison between Sargent's painting and mine. His Lady Agnew totally rules in every single way possible!

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Sky is the Limit!

Flashy Little Bugger, 6"x9", Oil on Birch Panel, 2010

Each year our local arts org has an invitational small works show with a theme, this year it is "The Sky is the Limit". I have participated each time that I am invited because it's always a fun theme plus it's a great chance to stretch out and do something different.

At first I was thinking black paintings, with some random stars, lights, etc. but then one evening in the garden I was swatting bugs away and it occurred to me that I should use the bugs as subject matter. They qualified, what with all that flying in the sky and dive bombing me, hehe.
Flying In From New Guinea, 6"x9", Oil on Birch Panel, 2010

And actually, I have done some paintings of insects before. During the first year that I had started painting again, I was playing around with different imagery, having not conclusively decided to focus on landscapes. I did several bug paintings and one or two were kind of interesting but the rest were pretty dreary. I was still experimenting with the color of the underpaintings and how to get the glazes to work with the underpainting instead of against it. I also recall being unsure about how technically correct to get with the insects, I didn't want them to look like scientific illustrations yet I did feel that some accuracy was important. In general, I was still searching for the balance then, between accuracy and expression (actually that is an ongoing search) and insects were maybe not quite the place to explore that. In addition, my painting skills were just plain out rusty, so I gravitated back towards more simplistic subject matter in order to relearn my process and skills.
After looking through my jpegs, this seems to be the only bug painting that qualified for photography AND inclusion in the 2004 image folder. I believe it is painted on hardboard and is about 6 inches square. I guess the painting didn't qualify as one to keep either, because I can't find it anywhere!

Anyway, I am not so sure that all those issues are resolved concerning the bug paintings here although I think my painting skills have improved, and my color sense has certainly evolved too. But whatever! Mostly it was just a lot of FUN to paint these bugs! I would like to do more; for now though, they have been a lovely diversion for me before I settle down to prepare for an upcoming solo show.
I've Spotted You, 6"x9", Oil on Birch Panel, 2010

Anyway, after posting a few of these images on my Facebook page, I had a number of requests for more info, like prices and availability, so I am going to include all that here, even though I rarely post prices on this blog. I have six bug paintings (the firefly crashed and burned, unfortunately;)) and only four of them will be included in the show. I have not decided which ones yet, but if anyone is interested in ANY of the 6 paintings, I am going to support my local arts org here and they will be handling the sales for all of them.
Fluttering Moths, 6"x9", Oil on Birch Panel, 2010

So. Details.

Cooperstown Art Association
Exhibition Dates: June 11-July 9
Opening Reception: Friday, June 11 5-7pm
Each panel is 6"x9" and are priced at $225.
If you are interested in buying one please contact CAA AFTER Saturday, June 5th. I have to deliver them first!

And PS. I will post the last two here on Saturday, not quite finished with them, oops!