Friday, October 29, 2010

Zen Stuff

My friend Kate shared a wonderful post on The Creative Block that I hope everyone will read.

Having found my lost sketchbook (scary days), I found the note I made about about our conversation that day. "There is no way we can avoid being who we are... even if we try to erase or subdue our 'self'."
(Zen stuff) ala Kate.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Morning Traffic

10x12 oil on panel

Soon to be at Charleston House in Montgomery.

Finished this one last week. And so far, I haven't painted this week. I guess it is only Tuesday! Yesterday's model session was put off owing to my having a meeting to learn how to be cookie coordinator for my daughter's Brownie troop. Tomorrow I will be prepping for her Destination Imagination meeting - for which I am team manager. If I don't sound overwhelmed, I am. Trust me.
But on a high note, I just caught up on my stack of bookkeeping today!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wedding Reception - The Corinthian

28x22 oil on linen

Today is somewhat of a recovery day. This party ended very late! Late for me - I am not worth much after 7 pm. But the band was fun, and the wedding coordinator, Ann Whittington, always takes care to have a nice spread for the vendors so I had a good salad, chicken and a couple brownies to sustain me!
This was a surprise for the bridal couple. She apparently had wanted me, but was told I was booked and unable to paint her wedding. I saw her when her mom pointed me out at work - on the upper level. I hope they are as pleased with the final product.

To be honest, I'm still ambivalent about these gigs. Sure, its great exercise for me, its maybe a nod to traditional impressionism, and its very special for the family. BUT, is it good for my career? And I always feel like the work is left unfinished... which is the nature of it, but I wonder if that is best? I could do so much better by bringing the work back and completing it in my studio. Most of the live event painters do not do this. And there are drawbacks to it...when in my studio, I need to be focusing on gallery work. And there are only so many hours in the day. Seeming to be fewer and fewer too. This morning I went to a meeting to learn about being "cookie coordinator" for our Brownie troop. Please, somebody stop me next time I volunteer!

Friday, October 22, 2010

East Enders

12x16 oil on panel

Gallery info to come.

Here is my finished product from the demos below. Frankly, I am not sure I am thrilled by it. Maybe the figures turned out too small and don't draw the eye. And its a soft light illuminating the scene - something I always have trouble with. I like the puddle in the foreground the best!

Loading my stuff up to go to Houston for a wedding reception painting event this weekend. Been a busy fall for those!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

30 Minute Start

If you haven't guessed by now, I am becoming quite the advocate for using a timer in the studio! I thought I'd share an example of my using it to start a painting. With only 30 minutes to get as much in as I can, my brush moves quicker, I mix paint faster and more intuitively, and use more of it. It stretches my observation skills.

This is a 12x16 panel* and in the first 15 minutes you see my drawing set and the bones in place.

Then in the next 15, the whole panel is covered with masses blocked in. Now all I have to do is model my forms and play with highlights/shadows. I can also decide at this point if its going to work. The colors and composition are balanced. The focal point - the figures - are in an interesting spot and from the viewer's point of view, we are going to meet in the crosswalk.

Now, I'm working from a photo in this case. But I've been doing it when painting the model from life. And I think it would be an ideal way to approach plein air landscape painting. Think how fast you could get in your masses and determine the sun/shadow before it changes.
Granted, this doesn't appeal to everyone. Its not for the realist or the person who likes to render objects. My buildings will be left as masses of obscure shapes, for instance. But it works very well for the impressionist. Try it!!
(and wish me good luck not messing up from here!)

* note: the diagonal lines through my panel help me locate objects in my sketch. While I am being loose and gestural, I do want my figures to be the right size relative to their environment, and I want the right perspective. This is a trick I learned from Jeanette Le Grue (great painter!) and I do it both with photos and from life.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Gusty Day

12x16 oil on panel

Available at Edward Montgomery Fine Art, Carmel next week.

This scene is from one of our Monday figure sessions (scroll down to see the study I painted that day.) I tried to finish the study today but felt constrained by having to work around what was already there. So I started a new one. I have this dreadful habit of not being able to continue work on an incomplete painting. I can't tell you how many I have sitting around the studio now. There is going to be quite a few more now too since beginning our model sessions. Like the one below. I used the same panel to paint a second study of our model in fact, knowing it is just for exercise and I won't complete it. I'm definitely an "alla prima" painter.

9x12 oil on panel - study from figure session

Friday, October 15, 2010

Moses Botkin Monthly Challenge

Our challenge this month was to paint anything we liked, but on a 6x8 support and only with a half-inch brush! Diabolical! Actually, I paint every painting with just one brush, but use a smaller one - a 6 instead of an 8. I think I am just lazy. The artists I paint the model with on Mondays were surprised to learn that. They were aghast when they heard that I don't clean my brushes either. I use OMS (Gamsol) and just swish my brushes in there until they look good and lay them down and walk away. I don't use expensive brushes and they get a lot of abuse I suppose. Using one at a time until it flays out finally or the ferule loosens. I like a synthetic too actually, with a crisp edge.

Now, on to my painting. This horse was turned out one morning during our visit to the dude ranch two years ago this fall. The background was very Texas hill country. Dry scrub. And when I was flying in this past weekend and looked out the window, I was momentarily surprised because the ground looked almost like snow. The colors were so pale and muted. Lovely in their way.. and I wanted to try to capture that in my background here.

Facing the Morning Sun

6x8 oil on panel

©2010 Robin Cheers


6x8 oil on panel
©2010 Aaron Cordell

Bright Bales

6x8 oil on hardboard
©2010 Diana Moses Botkin

Bling Pouch

6x6 oil on canvas

Suzanne Berry

Still Life

8x6 oil on canvas
Vicki Ross

Monday, October 11, 2010

Oheka Castle Wedding Reception

Took a very quick trip over the weekend to go and paint at a lovely young couple's wedding reception on Long Island. The site was Oheka Castle - a beautiful private home built in the early 1900s by one of those fabulously wealthy "robber-barons." It was a beautiful setting. I am exhausted...and no honeymoon to look forward to!

early stage - the light from the setting sun inspired me, though the party was going to be at night.

ready for populate the scene with some wedding guests

no time for pics in between - this is the final painting. I hope the family is happy with my results!

Thursday, October 07, 2010


30 minute study

I've been in the habit lately of just cutting off a piece of linen and taping it up when I need a certain size. Haven't had the right panels available or something. Makes for a bit more work later gluing and mounting things, but its convenient when you want to get right to work.

I'm about to hand my computer off now to get a new smokin' fast (big?) hard drive installed. Lots of tech upgrades lately. Some unplanned too.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


16x16 oil on panel

Available at Tidewater Gallery next week.

Remember this study from a couple days ago? I am so thrilled with how the big version turned out. I started the same way. I set my timer for 30 mins. and massed in, sketched, scrubbed and placed as much as I could, covering most of the canvas. After a little break, I set the timer again and kept going the same way. The final touches took probably an hour also, but getting the bulk of the scene painted under the time constraint made me stay loose and work all over the canvas. I didn't get bogged down with defining all the details of the buildings or cars, but found that after I'd massed in, all that was needed were some highlights and a few other strokes to suggest form. The only thing I am not totally sure of is the tree shadow just in front of the figure. I think it needs some editing. Overall, a great day at the easel! (not so much in the rest of life... laptop died, spilled water on my debris-strewn studio floor, forgot to eat, min. schnauzer shaved, glued my fingers together...)

Monday, October 04, 2010

Figure Session

Spent the morning with a model and several other artists enjoying a beautiful morning outside at Mozarts. Mozarts is this really lovely coffee house with lots of decks overlooking Lake Austin. Its really a great setting for painting and we are so glad they tolerate us!

My first painting, below, I did for the first 2 hours of the pose - in 25-30 minute sessions with breaks. I tried hard to apply my recent play with "30 minute sketches" and worked quickly at the beginning. The light moved very quickly too.

I moved to a new spot to get a different angle for my second painting but didn't have much time to work on it. I like my start - colorful at least. And I don't like, or get confused by the background anyway. That is one way pencil sketching has an advantage. With paint I feel obligated to put in the background or setting. Though one of these days I want to put my "live event" skills to the test and paint a large cafe scene (mostly) on location.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Sidestreet Study

30 minute sketch

I love this exercise! It seems almost unfair to spend so short a time, but get such good results. Truly, a few more minutes could refine this to a gallery ready painting. Its about 7 inches square on a loose piece of linen. This week, more of these and I'm going to start "gallery" works with a 30 minute "flash dance" as a friend commented! Love that. First thing for Monday though is our weekly figure session at a coffee house. Can't wait for that for many reasons.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Laundry Sketch

30 minute sketch

This is such a great exercise. I needed it today. My week turned out to be very busy and I had spent two days (I think) working on a larger, more complicated piece. So I wanted to just paint some simple scenes and thought that to break them down to their simplest shapes would be ideal. I set my timer for 25 minutes and went to work. Its wonderful to just look at the big shapes, shadow and light, and mass in. When the timer went off, I allowed myself just a couple minutes more to make final touches - hit the lights harder. I'm always trying to capture the sunlight. Aren't we all?

btw - the model is me. I wanted a scene, so I set up my tripod and camera (using the timer) and hung some laundry in the backyard. More on that later.
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