Monday, July 29, 2013

Sunset at the Capitol

Sunset at the Capitol, 20"x20" oil on canvas

I guess at this point it's pretty safe to say that I have unintentionally found myself working on a study of the Capitol, as this will be at least my fourth painting of this majestic building.  Besides all the architectural detail, I love how different it looks in each season and time of day.  The palette (read: colors) ends up being so different each time and the visual and emotional impact ends up being unique as well.

Going off of the painting above, now that we are in the thick of summer (yay!), how beautiful are the sunsets right now?!?  I am always looking for beautiful skies to paint, so what better way to find it than to look outside the window?  My mom always jokes when the sky is really beautiful that if it were painted it would look fake.  That's why I say that God paints skies prettier than anyone else! :-)

Here is a picture of the sunset a few days ago.  It was a really hot day and the clouds were just gorgeous.

So taking a turn from summertime sunsets, I am finishing up my last Capitol painting (for now!), which is currently on the easel.  This time, though, I'm going back to snow!  Two Capitol's back to back, and then we'll see where to next!  Stay tuned!

Monday, July 22, 2013

A "Hot Letter" to My Canvas

Image Credit:  Gary Larson

I sit here, not on a Monday, my newly minted posting day, but on a Thursday, writing for my Monday post because I, like the artist above in Gary Larson's hilarious cartoon, am struggling with a brief bout of artist's block.  I guess you could say it's similar to writer's block, or in the corporate world, the 3 p.m. lunch hangover.  You know what I'm talking about...lunch is over, you're nowhere close to the end of the day, and you sort of wish you could pull a George Costanza and put a mattress under your desk and take a nap for awhile.  You WANT to be productive, but you just can't bring yourself to it. 

It all started yesterday, when I finished a painting I had just labored through.  I mean labored.  I picked the photo, the size, the palette, everything, so nothing was forced.  Until I started painting it.  At first all was good and moving along, but slowly it morphed and then quickly spiraled downward.  The brush just didn't flow, I lost patience, forced my way through it, and a week later, I am staring at it thinking how I never want to look at it ever again.  If I were the guy in The Far Side cartoon and my painting were the headless cow, I would have painted a chicken head on it.

While I don't especially want to even post the picture above, I think it's only fair to show you at least what I was attempting, when it was about halfway complete.  The final product is now hidden away in a dark closet.

So what now?  I put down the base layers for two new paintings, but both are still wet and therefore untouchable.  I could start another, but I'm stuck.  I don't know what I want to move onto and paint next.  What do I paint next?!  And I could just pick up a brush and just choose something, but I can't bring myself to it.  And I don't know why!  I just don't feel like it!  Argh!  Thus, artist's block.

My mom, full of sage advice, suggested I do something that totally refreshes my mind, even if it's a guilty pleasure (in the corporate world, this is called Facebook, or in some cases, Starbucks).  Being that I work by my lonesome, I decided that maybe I would take a little time and sit outside, since I love summer and sunshine.  It was great.  That is, until a massive yellow jacket saw me.  I am pretty convinced that most yellow jackets recognize humans as "those things that drink soda," and then wait for the opportunity to crawl into the can undetected, unbeknownst to said human.  Being that I don't really drink soda, we had a standoff for a couple minutes.  I thought I was fine, until I looked down at my seat and realized that a fuzzy spider had decided to make his webby home on the arm of the chair.  He was all curled up, and I could tell he was as bothered at my presence as I was at his, given that we had invaded each others rightful space. 

With that I decided to go ahead inside, and channeling my inner Abraham Lincoln (known for his "hot letters," emotional notes addressed to those he was upset with that he would never send), decided to put words to my frustration with my canvas.  I think when I started painting full-time, I assumed I would be constantly nose-to-canvas, hand-to-brush, no room for a tired mind or body, or creating anything less than a masterpiece.  Now I realize that it's not quite like that all the time, and that's okay, and part of the process.  

And when all else fails, make a hot letter.  Indoors, of course.

Artist friends, do you get artist's block?!  And to the rest, what gets you blocked sometimes?!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Wentworth Gallery: Elena Bond Show

In addition to painting, I love appreciating good art.  So this past Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending a show at Wentworth Gallery in Tysons Galleria for Elena Bond, a beautiful palette knife artist based in Miami, Florida.  Elena works on both canvas and paper, and her subjects range anywhere from colorful, rainy street scenes to beautiful ballerinas (her youngest daughter is a dancer).  I personally love her work because she uses color impeccably well to evoke emotion and her paintings just transport you.  And to top it all off, she is just incredibly kind as I inundated her with questions about her process as an artist and she answered everything gladly.  It was such a joy and made my weekend!  Here are a few pictures below of the show, I hope you enjoy!  And if you're in Tysons Galleria, be sure to check out her works at Wentworth Gallery, located on the third level near Neiman Marcus.  It is not to be missed!

Elena (left) and I with one of her beautiful ballerinas.  I love the contrast of the red against the neutral background.  This particular piece was painted on paper and was (not surprisingly!) sold to a couple that night.  

So many pieces to admire.  On the easel is one of her gorgeous street scenes.

My dear friend Natrisha and I picking Elena's brain.  Her disposition is just as gorgeous as her paintings, what a wonderful artist!

Okay so in the studio, I am continuing a study of paintings of the Capitol.  Below you can see the base layers for both...one a very light blue, the other a very warm sunset.  Two very different backgrounds for similar subject matter, you have to love DC for its diverse weather!

Stay tuned to see the final product!

Monday, July 8, 2013

New Pieces up at Washington Technology Park!

This past week I helped hang a show at Washington Technology Park in Chantilly, Virginia, with my local artists group the Northern Virginia Artists League (NOVAL for short).  I had never hung a show before, so it was a great lesson (and workout!) in learning how a show gets put together.   For a quick tutorial, there is moulding near the ceiling that holds "S" shaped hooks, that can slide back and forth depending on where along the wall you want to position the painting.  Clear wire is strung through rings on the back of each painting, the string is then tied at the top, and hung over the "S" shaped hook.  Voila!  A painting is hung.  See below, it almost looks like they are floating, and all without a single nail!  

But wait, the tricky part is getting them all to sit level with one another, and for the larger pieces to hang at the right height so that it looks positioned well next to a smaller piece.  And for the spacing to be correct in between the paintings (and take into account a little extra spacing in between each artists set of works as you can see above).  And all of this while going up the ladder to adjust, and down the ladder to check it out, then up the ladder to readjust, and on and on.  Let's just say a lot of up-downs were had, and there were several of us working on hanging the show!

Forty pieces later, the show is up!  You can see at the end of the hallway the ladies still readjusting the artwork.  As Carly Fiorina so eloquently put it, at some point you just have to say, "Perfect Enough!"

So after many, many up-downs on the ladder, I decided it was best to spend the Fourth of July like this.  Ahhhhhh.  I love the pool.

Hope you had a wonderful holiday...see you next week!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Happy July!

I can't believe it's already July!  Summer is my favorite time of year (besides Christmas of course!). I love being able to go outside in shorts and go to the pool and keep the windows open and smell the fresh air.  I am not a cold weather person whatsoever, so even DC winters, which are admittedly not typically that bad, are sometimes a struggle for me.   I think I am just not made to wear coats! :-P

So as I relish in the warm, sunny weather, I have to force myself to stop every now and again and just soak in the summer.  That's always my best piece of advice for people on their wedding day...take a moment and say to yourself "this is my wedding."  I did that on my big day and it's one of a few memories of that day that were so clear and vivid and I cherish that.

Okay so now that I've had my nostalgic summertime moment, what's new in the studio?  Well, first, the studio has moved.  Not dramatically, just to the next room over.  It's a bit bigger and also has my desk, so it's now an office/studio space.  Better light, more room, less paint on the carpet, ha!  Just better all around.  Above is a picture of both my easels in their new home, right next to a window.  This might move back a few feet once winter rolls around!  I am currently working on a scene of Washington Harbor in Georgetown...it's on the easel above and about halfway done.  I will be sure to post when it is!

Photo Courtesy of Ryan Dunn

So summer kicked off with the dedication ceremony for ArtSpace Herndon's Art in the Windows Project, of which I served on the advisory committee.  Vinyl prints of art were selected to go up in each of four boarded up windows along the side of the ArtSpace building to help to promote the various arts that go on inside the building.   

The dedication was really nice, each artist whose work was selected talked about their particular piece.  Above, artist Christine Lashley is about to talk about her piece, which you can see in the upper left hand corner.  Gorgeous!

Okay I guess that's about it for this week, be sure to check out the Four Seasons of Oatlands Show that runs through the month of July at Oatlands Plantation in Leesburg, and NOVAL's show at Washington Technology Park in Chantilly!

Georgetown Law

I love going on photo safari's in DC, feeling like a tourist and getting shots of places that I've seen but never have really taken in if that makes sense.  I guess it's easy to take for granted the things in your backyard!  Below are a few photos I took of Georgetown Law School...so picturesque!