Monday, March 9, 2015

A Dock in Paris

My version of Luigi's "Quai Bourbon, Paris"
In October of 2009, I came across a photograph of a painting in an art book.  The painting is by Luigi Loir titled "Quai Bourbon, Paris".  The misty golden hue immediately caught my eyes.  It depicted a street scene by the Seine at dusk - perhaps in an early autumn evening.  There was such a quiet beauty in his work.  I knew nothing about him until then.  He quickly became one of my favorite artists.  Luigi Loir was a French artist. (1845 - 1916)  The height of his artistic expression was in the Belle Époque period.  He painted scenes of his beautiful city of Paris caught in fleeting moments of majestic light.  All his paintings were powerful in capturing the ambiance of its time.

In 2014, I was fortunate enough to spend some time in Paris.  Walking along the Seine, I suddenly stopped in front of a street sign.  "Quai de Bourbon".  What synchronicity!  I recalled years ago I had taken notice of Luigi Loir's work and painted my own version of it.  And here I stood at the very setting of that painting.  I looked up the meaning of "quai" which means dock.  It was also an autumn day but early evening on a clear day.  Of course, it was also a century later.  I tried to feel for the Paris of Loir's time.  And imagined it in the golden light at day's end.  I touched the stone wall.  It was here when Luigi was here.  I looked up to the trees.  Most likely the same trees that were sketched in the painting.

"Merci, Monsieur Loir."  I was able to see and experience the beauty of Paris, now and then.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"Watching Over Them"

   On April 15th, 2010, a co-worker died very suddenly at work from a heart attack.  Minutes earlier, he was at the blood drive donating blood.  Within half an hour, he passed out and was gone.  He left a wife and a little boy whom he talked about often and much.  You could tell he was one of those guys that never grew up and was not complete till he had this little boy.  Not having children of my own, I can't say I know and understand the love of being a parent.  But reflecting on his sudden death, I somehow knew that Matt would want nothing more than to be able to continue to keep his boy happy and safe.

   Around that time, my manager's milestone birthday was coming up.  She has three lovely kids.  I painted a very small painting for her which I named, "Watching Over Them".  While the children run and play, hand in hand in a field of flowers, two birds swirl over head, guiding and watching over them.  I told her how I came up with this picture.  She understood right away. 

Friday, December 31, 2010

Inspiration Never Came

Back in late summer, a friend of mine and I met for lunch.  We got talking about food, travels, family, work ... you know, life in general.  Then we got onto the subject of art and paintings.  He said he loves Venice and asked if I can do a painting for him with a Venetian scene.  I told him I would be happy to and was excited for such a project.  He bought me lunch as my "fee" for the commission.  What the heck, he's an old friend.  We left lunch promising to email each other with pictures of Venice and to select the one he would like as a painting.  In my mind, I saw two small frames.  He told me he is remodeling his bathroom and he would display them there.  I am cool with that.  A bathroom gets a lot of traffic and is a key room in the house.  I have one of my favorite little paintings in my bathroom to brighten up the room.  And it does a fine job of it.

Unfortunately, weeks turned into months, and the inspiration of Venice never came.  I don't know why.  Could it be that I have never seen it?  Not familiar with it?  Never thought of visiting it or just not love it as much as my friend, Steve?  Hmmmmmmm.?  Inspiration did come to paint a peaceful sailboat scene.

I wrote to my friend and attached a photo, "Steve, I painted you this instead.  I am still working on the inspiration for Venice.  I hope you like it."  He wrote back, "OMG,  I absolutely love this painting!  It's ok.  Artists are temperamental and unpredictable.  I can't believe this is for me and can't wait to get it."

Epilogue - Just a couple of weeks ago, another friend of mine wants to travel to Venice.  I said I'll go along.  We added a few more destinations to our tentative itenarary like the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Louvre in Paris.  Wow!  Venice.  I bet you I will surely get my inspiration then.  "Steve, you will get your Venice paintings, I promise."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Chance Meeting and Painting Clear Glass

One day, I attended a training class for my job in another office building. This was prior to my taking up oil painting. The security guard was painting in the security booth. It was not a very high traffic building, so I supposed his employer saw no harm in him doing that. After my training class, I stopped to talk to him. The combination of his security duties and oil painting worked well together. What a nice way to be able to enjoy your hobby at work! Good for the employer for allowing it.

We talked about how he started and what he enjoyed painting. At the end of our chat, he opened up a little drawer in his paint box and handed me a card. It was a picture of a clear glass vase with flowers. "Take this. It's a picture I painted and I printed it on greeting cards."

Not long after that day, I took up oil painting. 

I was intrigued by the image of the greeting card. It prompted me to ask how do you paint glass? I experimented with it. The principle is actually based on optical illusion. Here's my simple explanation - since one sees what is inside the perimeter or through the object, one’s perception automatically concludes that the perimeter shape must be transparent, and therefore, made of clear glass. The mystery of painting glass is solved.

I have long forgotten what I learned in that job training class. But not this chance meeting. The event and the simple gift of a card came together like a stepping stone of sort which eventually led me to my blissful hobby and journey of self discovery.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

That Special Bond - #37

My inspiration
From their eyes you can see -
we are their hero, protector, friend.
But I wonder if they know, that
our homes and hearts would be empty,
and our joy diminished
if they were no longer with us.

The gratitude is mutual.
A bond formed deep from within.
Small as they may be,
their love for us is vast.
The love and care we give them,
is really so that we can last.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Challenge Myself - "Jackie #2"

Painting is supposed to be fun.  But somehow I wanted to test my artistic abilities. If I want to think of myself as an artist, I needed the proof - at least to myself.  If I pass the test, I can go back to thinking that I just paint for fun.  I challenged myself to paint another portrait of Jackie Kennedy.

I started this in the beginning of 2010.  But I wasn't able to finish it.  Somehow I lost my inspiration.   Half way done, I put the canvas aside and worked on other projects.   Jackie had her hair, some of her eyes, her pearls, and neck.  The background was painted also.  But that was it.  She had no nose and no mouth.  Fast forward - driving home from work today, I thought of the unfinished painting.  A surge of energy came upon me.  I set up my easel and got to work.  I was a bit nervous.  The kind of nervous you get when you take an exam in school - without having studied the night before!

Well, I finished my test!  Here's my report card.  "Good job" for returning to finish and learned some lessons and techniques during the process.  My husband gave me a high score - he said he was happy to see Jackie now has her nose and mouth.  As far as thinking of myself as an artist - nah, it is more important that I don't think of myself as a quitter.
(Jackie wore this peach dress and her Channel pearls when she visited India in 1962.)

Monday, May 10, 2010

My First Panoramic of Van Gogh's Park at Asnieres - #27

Here's my attempt to do a panoramic painting.  For the subject, I turned to my favorite artist once again, Van Gogh's work titled - The Park at Asnieres.

I love painting trees. And there are plenty of them in this one. The original has six figures in it. I was only able to get five in my version. A couple by the park bench, two walking, and a lady sitting on the slope. "Sorry lady - I left you by yourself.  I couldn't quite get your sailor looking friend in there."  This is what I love about Van Gogh. The little characters that probably took him all but seconds to paint are difficult to mimic. I have so much to learn!

Lessons Learned and Hindsight - It is difficult and expensive to get a frame for panoramic canvas. Panoramic starts at 48" X 24" or any dimension where the length is twice as long as the height proportionately. From my research I learned that I cannot get ready-made frames because of the odd size - has to be custom made. E-framers are less expensive and I can get custom size online but there is an extra charge for shipping larger frames. I decided to bring it to a local framer. But the painting wasn't perfectly straight and it required taking the canvas off and having it restretched. I didn't want to take a chance of affecting the image and left it unframed for now. Next time I will check the canvas before I start painting to make sure everything is squared.



Thursday, April 1, 2010

Jackie's Van Gogh - #9

     I painted this painting for my long time friend, Jackie.  She's the one that turned me on to the work of Van Gogh.  I like the way she and her husband are displaying the painting.  If you read my previous blog, "Selecting and Displaying Art", you will know that this is my favorite way of showcasing your art collection - a wall full of what you love.  People can look at the wall and learn so much about the owner.
     I met Jackie in college.  She was the roaming photographer on campus - friendly and adventurous.   Circumstances brought us together eventhough we were never in the same class nor were we roommates.  We managed to stay in touch through the different stages of our lifes and remain friends for thirty plus years.  I am glad that I am able to give something to her that expresses how dear her friendship is to me.
     This one is from his quite popular "The Poet's Garden, Arles" series.  Van Gogh painted four in this series and this is known as III.   I followed pretty much every brushstroke of the painting.  Even the colors are very close to the image in the book.  I will, however, never know how closed I got to the original.  I was hoping I could see the real thing in a museum but upon research, this one is in a private collection.  The original is listed as 28 x 36 inches.  Jackie's version is smaller, aprx. 16 x 20.   I know Jackie values her personal Van Gogh, and I am so pleased that it is in her "private collection."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"Bev's Tuscany" - A Small Painting For A Grand Hair Stylist/Friend.

Bev is my hair stylist.  Any self-respecting woman knows that having a good hair stylist is more important than having a good doctor.  Doctor appointments can be cancelled but never hair appointments.  They are made months in advance.  Not only is she a talented hair stylist, Bev is so much more.  If you are lucky enough to have this happen to you, you will understand what I mean.  Someone comes into your life, not by chance but through destiny.   The person makes a profound difference in your life by sharing her wisdom and life experience with you.  Bev's wealth of knowledge surpass most people.  And I have benefitted from it everytime I sit in her chair.  I make it a point to bring my questions to each hair appointment.  Home improvement, landscaping, lawn care, insulation, women's health, cooking, herbs, politics, aging, nature, weather patterns, car buying - just to name a few.  Our home is warmer, the garden prettier, and my body less achy because of her.  There is even a saying at our house when we are not sure about something.  My husband would say, "Well, why don't you ask Bev."  For all the horror stories about having hairdresser problem, I am most fortunate.

I was flipping through a magazine during one visit and she commented on a photograph of the rolling hills of Tuscany.  That inspired me to paint "Bev's Tuscany" for her.  I chose a small 5 X 7 canvas.  Something small enough for her station at the salon.  Hair stylists get a lot of chocolates for Christmas.  This was a nice change for her.  She loved the painting and didn't want to leave it at work - hair spray and pieces of hair everywhere.  She displays it on a shelf in her home.  I made the frame for the painting too and painted it to match. 
Just a few days ago, I was at the garden store looking for organic weed control.  I was confused with the myriad of brands and products.  I pulled out my cell phone and called the salon.  "Hi, May I speak to Bev for just one second?  I have a quick question for her."  : )

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Selecting and Displaying Art

There is no science to choosing a painting. When you find something that brightens your day, or makes you happy, or speaks to you, you simply want it nearby. You find a home for it in your own home.

Some art work has the ability to draw you in while others may carry you far away. It is not true that we haven’t achieved time travel. Some paintings are time machine. I can stand in front of a painting and be transported through time and space. It can carry you to a great distance at a glance.

My favorite way to display art is a wall full of frames – all different sizes. They are hung randomly without first being measured. The wall gives you a very interesting background to explore as your eyes hop from one image to another.

I remember going to an outdoor art festival once. There must have been over a hundred artists exhibiting. I visited each and every booth looking for something I had yet to know what it is. It turned out to be a small 4 X 6 oil painting of an outdoor café in Paris. I think because I painstakingly seek it out as opposed to buying on impulse, it remains one of my favorites today. I knew it would be the moment I took it off the hook and said to it, “You are coming home with me”.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

"Spring Once Again Soon" - #34

Every year about this time, we have braved through most of what seems like another endless winter.  Cabin fever sets in.   Some surmise optimistically that only a few weeks of cold weather remain.  While others justify the cold days with the hopeful thought that at least each passing day stays brighter later.  No matter what method of choice you chose to get to the finish line, the icy chill continues to wear us down both physically and spiritually.  To refuel, I daydream about spring.  I plan my yard projects.  Each and every year, the first thing on my list in welcoming spring is to fill two window boxes with flowers for the garden shed.

I am an impatient gardener.  As soon as pansies are available at the local garden stores, I am there.  I haven't decided, however, whether I buy them every year because I truly like pansies or because they are usually the first flowers available each season.  I like lots of different colors and I mix them in each pot.  I often wonder why there aren't any red or pink pansies.  Maybe the botanists and growers will surprise me one day.

Once these boxes are up, there will be no guessing that spring, once again, is here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Room Built Around A Painting - #23

     In 2008, it was clear to both my husband and I that our little house was indeed too small for us and our cats.  The thought of moving made me sad.  The idea of having an addition put in was exciting.  We started to shop for a builder. 
     I imagined a spacious family room with minimal furnishings.  Windows carefully planned to catch the best light.  Wall space that would work well with furniture placement and still have ample room to display art work.  At that time, I was not necessarily thinking about my paintings but the ones collected.  Then it dawned on me, why not paint a big painting for the room?  We both wanted something modern and simple.  Surprisingly, I found a Van Gogh painting to copy that is a departure from his usual style.  We both agreed that it would look nice in the new room that isn't built yet.
     In May that year, we contracted with the builder.  The painting was completed sometime in June.  The builder and his crew started the foundation end of August and finished their part end of October.  To save on costs and to experience the joy of doing it ourselves, my husband and I did the finishing work of the room - painting, flooring, wood trim and lighting. 
     Finally, in mid-November, we moved the first piece of furniture into the new room and hung the painting above it.  The feeling of accomplishment words can not describe.  As if we were in our private gallery, we quietly admired the painting AND the room for quite awhile.  Both were exactly what we had envisioned.

("View of Paris From Montmartre")

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Stone Mansion in Provence - #5

     Having my blog has brought me back to visit some of the paintings that I have given away years ago.  This time I traveled to my friend Karen's workplace. Painted in 2002, this was painting number 5.
     In 2002, Karen wanted a painting for her office.  She had just returned from a family trip to Provence and its vineyards.  She told me she loved the rustic landscape and the stone architecture.  Everything is old but solid.  The villages “aged” like robust red wine.  I looked through a book of photos from France and found one I think she would like as a painting.
     Revisiting some of my earlier work is a fun experience.  When I saw it, I didn't even remember having painted it.  I did remember, however, that to personalize it for Karen, I changed the house number to reflect her actual - 52.
     With our busy schedules, we don't get to see much of each other these days. But my painting keeps her company at her hectic job.  She has the painting for eight years now and it has traveled with her from office to office.  It has always sat on a stand by a window.  Why by a window?  Karen said she accidentally discovered one sunny day that the light from outside came through the sky of the painting and brought it to life.  Wow.  Very cool.  It faithfully sits by the window waiting to come alive.

Monday, January 11, 2010

"Susan's Home in Maine" - #16

Being in the middle of winter, Maine may be covered in snow and ice right now.   But I thought it would be nice to look at a painting that reminds us of spring in Maine's picturesque waterfront.

     At one point in time, I recall my girlfriend Susan had dreams of moving to coastal Maine.  She and her husband would buy a historical Victorian and turn it into a bed and breakfast when they retire from their "city jobs."   They would make great innkeepers - both are well-read,  interesting and very hospitable.   (Although I never had it, I heard she makes a great Apple Crisp that would be a great B&B menu item as well!)  That was years ago.  I don't think they are leaning toward that plan anymore.  But they still love Maine and continue to visit and vacation there every year.  
     One magical thing I find I can do is that I can grant my friends' wishes via paintings.  So for one of Susan's milestone birthdays, I painted "Susan's Home in Maine" for her.  It was inspired by one of Paul Landry's paintings.  It hangs in the studies of her Connecticut home.
     I hope no matter what season it is, she is reminded of the happy memories of their many Maine vacations and that all dreams, may still come true.

Monday, January 4, 2010

"BFF" - Luigi and Baby

You hear stories of bringing a new cat home and the introduction to the existing resident cats may be slow and difficult.  Well, that was not the case with Luigi.  The moment we brought Luigi home from the cat rescue, he won our hearts, including Baby's, our dainty little long hair cat.  As if they were litter mates, they played well together immediately.  No hissing, no fur flying.  We had two other cats then but Luigi and Baby formed a bond.  I jokingly called Baby as Luigi's BFF - best friends forever.  It's been a year now since Luigi joined our family.  Occasionally, I will not see either one of them and then, they would appear together.  Well, they were probably just hanging out in their secret hiding place, like best friends do.

Lessons Learned and Hindsight - The first time I did a cat portrait, I actually painted her while she sat next to me.  As if she was posing for me.  That was difficult because she moved around quite a bit.  This time I used photos of Luigi and Baby.  Much easier.  Especially true for tabby cats, their individual markings are their "facial  features".  And like people, cats' eyes are their windows to their little souls.  So those are important in capturing who they are in a painting.  Baby usually is puzzled and Luigi is a mischievous little chubby boy.  I hope you see that in them.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

"Sun Sets For A New Day" - #30

     This was painted as a "special" request.  Special because Stacey and Ashley are big supporters of my paintings and Ashley, is a promising artist at age 10.  I asked them to give me an idea of what they would like in a painting.  Stacey emailed me two photographs, both of beautiful sunsets and told me her preference.  I was so inspired by that photo that I got to work right away.
     My enthusiasm was faced immediately with "how do I paint life-like clouds"?  It was indeed a challenge for me.   I "erased with paint" on the sky about three times.  I asked my husband for his critique.  He said the clouds were too heavy and not enough contrast in the sky.  After more experimentation, the paint got too thick that I had to start with a new canvas.   Cognizant of the need to be light, I started to use less paint and blended more.  The result, fluffier puffs of blue and shades of purple, blue, and white for the sky.

Lessons Learned and Hindsight - Since I painted this painting, I learned to look upward.   I don't think I would look at the clouds and sunsets ever the same again.  There will be much analyzing of the clouds and light and admiration of the beauty.   I am proud of myself for struggling through this painting.  The kicker is that no matter how purposefully one tries, mother nature's random and unintended brushstrokes will always produce a far more superior and original work of art.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"Waiting For Me to Come Home" - #13

Not every painting I did was a challenge or an attempt on my part to copy the work of a famous painter.  This simple painting was inspired by my cat.

In 2003, I was working long hours.  As I approach the house every evening, like clockwork, I could see one of my cats, Minnie looking out of the office window.  Seeing her brought me such comfort and love after a long day at work.  By the time I park my car and open the front door, she would be there to greet me.  What touched me the most was that she had to really hustle to get to the door that quickly!  It got me thinking of the many cats out there that sit by their windows, waiting for their owners to come home.  As a result, I came up with an idea for a painting.  I wanted to try something abstract - very simple. I painted the silhouette of three cats in one of the high rise buildings.  I didn't want the sky to be dark, so I painted it a relaxing soft blue.  This canvas is bigger than the ones I normally use - 24 X 30.

Lessons Learned and Hindsight - Like poets are moved to write poetry, painters are moved to paint.  Minnie passed away in 2007.  Maybe she is looking out a different window, waiting for me to come home one day.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

"Sunflowers" - A gift for my new friend

When I first met Laurie, I knew she would become a good friend for life.  She is sunshine in a room.   Not long after we met at work, I was inspired to do a paintng for her.  I showed her a picture in the book, "The Captain's Garden, A Reflective Journey Home Through the Art of Paul Landry."  She liked it - the decor in her house is nautical country and it would fit in nicely.  I like Paul Landry's work.  Very old New England - lots of misty waterfronts, sail boats on calm water at dusk, and cottages with flower gardens and white picket fences.  All the images of what I thought New England looks like before I moved here.
     Laurie is a considerate person.  She insisted on giving me a gift in return.  I said no but made one request.  "Just get me a blank canvas to replace the one I used."  Hey, you never know when a new friend will drop into your life.
     Lessons Learned and Hindsight - When the people you give your paintings to frame them, you know they like them.  But when someone not only frames the painting but installs a picture light over it, then you know she really likes it.  Laurie loves her painting.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"Karen's Paradise" - In Loving Memory of Velvet

     I wanted to paint a picture for my friend Karen.  She loves nature and spends every possible moment outdoors.  She also loves her animals - her dog, Tele, and her three cats, Velvet, Spooky, and Willow.  I wanted to put her in a beautiful and serene setting with her favorite friends.  During that time, one of her cats, Velvet, was ill.  She was a senior cat and getting up in years.  I wanted to capture her spending precious time with them, especially Velvet.  I named it "Karen's Paradise."   After a few weeks, the oil paint dried and I sent it to Karen.  Velvet was nursed back to health.  That was in the summer of 2008.
     This August, I received an email from Karen that Velvet passed away.  Her little body was too weak to fight anymore.  Karen was overcome with grief.   I talked to her recently.  She said the painting reminds her of Velvet whenever she looks at it.  She said that without any sadness.  That's good.

"In Karen's paradise,  she is surrounded by prestine beauty and accompanied by her beloved babies, forever."  (on a card I enclosed with the painting)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Road in St-Remy

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     The paint on this isn't even dry yet.  But I thought I would play around with a slide show presentation.  I saw this painting in a small art book, "The Life and Works of Vincent Van Gogh" by Janice Anderson.  Van Gogh painted this in 1889.  Not a good year for him.  It was after his mental breakdown.  Like many of his work in this period, his brushstrokes are heavy, abrupt and almost angry.  Poor fella, if only he had meds of our time.
     In the original, it is difficult to see the houses in the distance.  The colors are so busy.  More difficult to see is the lady with her shopping basket making her way down the stone steps, maybe on her daily trek to the market.  I tried my best to follow the details.  I did, however, added something.  I gave the lady a hat.  I just thought she was missing something.  Maybe Van Gogh forgot.  He had more things to worry about living in an asylum.
     Lessons Learned and Hindsight - Know when to stop.  The last picture in the slideshow is labeled "I think I am done".  That's because I said exactly that to myself.  I can go on and on, add a stroke here and there.  You can get carried away with a scene such as this one.   I sign, date, and label on the back of the canvas once I am done and that's it.  All brushes down.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Paint Brushes

The paintings are taking a well deserved Thanksgiving break.  So I am going to write about my paint brushes instead. 

Paint brushes?!!!  Who cares about paint brushes!  Oh contraire - I do.  Like the carpenter with his favorite tools or the chef with her own set of knives, painting with just any brushes won't do.  Won't do for many reasons.  You would not get the correct effect of the brushstrokes.  The wrong brushes would fatigue your hand.  And some brushes leave lots of annoying bristles or hair on the painting for you to pick up after.  To me, painting is like spreading warm butter on the canvas.  With the wrong brushes, it is just not as much fun.  My favorite are my Isabey mongoose and Kolinsky sable brushes.

Once, I Googled what type of paint brush did Van Gogh use for his signature brushstroke - the thick, dash-like strokes often seen in his skies and ground.  I did not find a definitive answer.  Experimenting on my own, I think it is the "round."  I was able to mimic the swirls and dashes a lot better with the round brushes.  I wonder, why did he lay on the paint so thickly?  Paint was expensive back then.  And he was broke.  Maybe for the effect?  Well, I digress.

I clean my brushes every time after use.  Because I paint with water mixable oil paint, the clean up is easy.  Taking care of the brushes is a discipline.  I use the Mona Lisa's Pink Soap Brush Cleaner and Preserver and The Master's Hand Soap.

  Lessons Learned and Hindsight - If I were to copy any artists' work, I try to remember to pay attention to the brushes used.  How to know - experiment before hand.  Also, I remind myself to change brushes.  It is easy to just keep painting with the same brush already in your hand. 
Just last week, my husband and I were at the art supply store for me to pick out a brush.  I couldn't decide between the two.  He gripped both and said, "If I were painting, I would pick this one.  This feels good in my hand."   He is not a painter, but he knows his tools.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Introduction to Van Gogh - "Cafe Terrace"

     If you ask me what is my favorite painting so far, I think I am supposed to say I haven't painted it yet.  But if I really look around the paintings I kept, meaning the ones I haven't given away to my friends, it would be "Cafe Terrace, Place du Forum, Arles at Night." 
     The idea of painting a Van Gogh came from my girlfriend Jackie who now lives in Texas.  Back in 2002, I asked her for a painting suggestion and she simply said, "paint a Van Gogh."  I got a book on Van Gogh and picked this very colorful night scene.  The thought was that if it came out half way decent, I was going to give it to her.  Somehow, after it was completed, I found it hard to part with.  I never told her which Van Gogh I picked to paint, so I painted another Van Gogh for her.  She loved her painting and it was framed and displayed in her home in New York and later, traveled to Texas with her.  I get to keep this one.  : )
Lessons Learned and Hindsight - At the time I painted my version of Cafe Terrace, I did not know much about Van Gogh's troubled life nor how much I would learn to love his work.  My sense is that in 1888 when he painted this, he must have had an optimistic period to paint with those wonderful bright colors.  I read that he was enthused by the idea of night painting.  It must had been a crisp clear evening to be able to see all those stars!  Just like the town's folks, you can't help but get drawn into the painting toward the open cafe for a drink and conversation.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Painting #10 - "Jackie"

One day it dawned on me that Jacqueline Kennedy was most beautiful and interesting. So, I had to paint her. I bought a black and white photo calendar of hers and picked out the image I wanted to paint.

I really didn't have any experience with portrait. But I was inspired by her face. What I did noticed most were her eyes. I knew they were deep set and wide-spread. If I were to capture her in a painting, I have to get her eyes right. Then I noticed her thick lips and the arch of her strong eye brows. Then I noticed the 1960's hairstyle. She had a thick head of hair. Almost helmet like. Out of her whole face, her nose was the least noticeable.

I think I did ok. At least when people see the painting, they recognize it to be Jackie. (from the White House era) I recently heard that the reason Jackie wore those large sunglasses she made famous was because her eyes were so far apart and that regular sunglasses would not fit her. Interesting.

Lessons Learned and Hindsight - What makes a face unique? I remind myself when I paint a portrait - always look and "see the parts" of the face. What stands out the most? What stands out next and so on. Try to capture them all.

"Jackie" was painted in October of 2002. Since then, I have finished another portrait - that of my husband, Jonathan and penciled a self-portrait which remains unfinished. Hummm, I wonder why???

My First Picture - "Orange Chair"

As they say, the first is always special. May it be a baby, a car or a kiss. Well, my first painting is special too.

Years ago, I was single, divorced, and looking for something new to do. I had a week off from work and said to myself, "I am going to try oil painting." I bought some brushes, a small oil paint kit, and a small canvas from Michael's. I figured I need a space to paint. I turned a closet into "my studio". I had a white table and I put it in that space. Hung some shelves and sat down to paint. As I stared at my blank canvas, I looked around the rest of the room. A few weeks ago, I had picked up an old arm chair which I attempted to reupholster. It was finished to the best of my abilities and was sitting in the room. That became my inspiration because I thought the fabric I chose was so cheerful and I was proud of my "rescue". I imagined it in a much grander room with French doors. Always wanted French doors! Then one of my cats, Smokie came into the room and laid near the chair. So I put her in the painting too.

Lessons Learned and Hindsight - The little picture didn't mean much to me then. But looking at it now, I took my first step into challenging myself at something totally unknown to me. Smokie looks flat like a pancake laying on the painted rug! I haven't learned to paint with perspective!! But I am glad she came into the room and that I added her to the painting. Smokie has since passed away and it was sweet to have her as my first model. And those French doors - if you want something bad enough, you will have them. There are French doors in our small home now. (Our because I am remarried now.) The room isn't grander - just prettier.

I numbered the painting #1 and named it "Orange Chair in My Room". For those starting to paint, sign your work and date it. Also, number your work and give it a title. It makes it more interesting to look back. Also, anything can be an inspiration to you. Just look around!