I took photography in college but now I mostly snap pics on my IPhone. I can compose my shots in the camera giving me good reference to paint from later. Painting outdoors is great, but as I’m painting one thing I see a dozen more things around me I want to paint.
I have friends who are photographers and who are generous enough to allow me to use their photos from time to time as reference for my paintings. They have more patience than I do to get some fantastic shots. This “White Iris” was shot by my friend, Deb Drew Brown, which I turned into paint.
I grew up in the suburbs and I enjoy drive in the country, but I was born in the city. I only lived in Detroit for 4 years but we visited my grandmother there for years.
And I went to art school downtown right behind the Art Institute.
Maybe I’ve read too many novels or seen too many movies. When I’m in a large downtown I get a feeling of mystery. I want to know everyone’s story. Especially on a gloomy day the intrigue seems intensified. A perfect time for a painting of an urban landscape.
My birdfeeders in my city neighborhood attract a lot of brown Sparrows with a few Blue Jays, Cardinals, Woodpeckers, and when I’m lucky, the brilliant yellow Goldfinch.
My photographer friend, Deb Drew Brown has a backyard that is much more woodsy that attracts a larger variety of birds. She has given me permission to paint from some of her photos including this Baltimore Oriole snacking on an orange on the railing of her deck. This is a brilliant delight against the neutral background of the Michigan winters.
I took photography in college so I know how to compose in the camera, which is an advantage when gathering photo references for my painting. I also am skilled on the computer so I can crop and make adjustments when necessary to enhance the photos.
Guest photos can also be delightful.
My cousin took a photo of 3 baby birds demanding to be fed and posted it on Facebook. I immediately asked her for permission to use it for a painting. I think I smiled the entire time I was painting.
Webster defines patron as “a person who gives money and support to and artist, organization, etc.” and patronize as “to give money or support to (someone or something)” OR “to talk to (someone) in a way that shows you believe you are more intelligent or better than other people.”
My niece came over to buy a painting of mine (what higher compliment is there than a relative parting with their hard earned money to buy my art?) she saw on Facebook and as she was leaving I said, “Thank you for patronizing me.” Y e a h…somehow it didn’t sound quite right. We just laughed.
Now the holidays are over, that rush of relatives is warm memory, Michigan grayness settles back in and its time for a cup of tea. Maybe today a bit of honey and lemon will be just fine.
I was driving home from the artists’ breakfast that we have every Saturday morning and in my neighborhood the sun was hitting this tree in full fall colors. I got a couple blocks down and knew I had to go back and snap some photos with my iPhone. I went home and began painting. It’s not often I get to use Cadmium orange and Cadmium yellow right out of the tube. I must say I did get too thick too fast though. I guess I was too excited. It was going so well and then it wasn’t! I was getting picky—painting every leave. So I wiped out the tree and began again, slowly layering the paint. Much happier with the results.
The neighborhood is full of trees in all stages of color and falling leaves. I had a plethora of streets to shoot my photos. This one with its deep shadows complimenting that fiery color activated my “OH!” factor.
Long ago when I learned to use a computer I quickly got used to the UNDO command. My thumb and middle finger became ingrained in this keyboard motion and I found my fingers repeating this motion in spite of myself whenever I make a mistake whether I was on a computer or not!
There is no such command in painting. I think I’m done with a painting but…maybe…that one area might look better if it were a bit lighter…noooooo. It doesn’t. UNDO. UNDO. UNDO. Sigh…
If the paint underneath was dry I might be able to wipe it off, but that is not the case. So I scrape it off and repaint, telling myself how stupid I am. But, frustrating as it may be, it always turns out better than it was to begin with. Wow. And I’m happy again.
A friend of mine confessed that her thumb and finger try to expand pictures in magazines to make them bigger. Ha!
When I lived in California I was lucky enough to take a week-long portrait and figure painting, watercolor workshop from world famous artist Mary Whyte. One afternoon we ventured out of the studio to the beach (we were right on the coast in Crescent City) to take some photos of the model. Let’s face it, you don’t normally come across young women dressed like this strolling the beach.
It was a foggy day and the light was strange. The ocean and the sky was a strange, muted yellow green. I painted it once true to the photo, but after the online course I took this past winter, photos are just a reference and I have broken free from trying to reproduce them—a very big breakthrough for me.
Some people don’t like people in their art; others love the human, lively element people add to a painting. Which do you prefer?
When my friend invited a group of us to go to the sand dunes, I was thinking hiking the dune and some nature trails by Lake Michigan.
As she parked the car I saw one large dune and a public beach. She unloaded a blanket, towel and beach chair and headed for the beach. I was not prepared. I was not dressed for the beach. I did not bring a blanket, towel or chair. Luckily I had a hat, sunscreen, sketchbook and camera.
It was near the end of summer and I then had shoulder surgery, then it was fall and then the holidays, yada yada yada. I have been wanting to paint this beach scene (and others) since last year.
Finally! This little girl gets to go swimming!
I definitely would frame in a floater frame or edge-to-edge frame so nothing gets covered up.