If you live anywhere near the northeast, you are probably wondering if spring will ever arrive. At least that is how I've been feeling lately with one nor'easter after another. A brief vacation to a warmer place gave only temporary respite from this downright cold and dreary weather. But, all is not lost as I step into my studio each day, I can forget about the snow covering my windows and just escape by living vicariously through the places I paint.
When I am not painting work for shows and exhibitions, I'm hard at work creating memorable house portrait paintings for my clients. Most, if not all of my house portrait paintings are from reference photos I take during the warmer months that showcase my clients homes in the best light, both literally and figuratively. I enjoyed painting this home because of its beautiful yellow color and lots of green grass...just what one needs to see everyday during the dead of winter. Roses in bloom, full foliage, and of course, some beloved pets as well. So, as I wait for spring to make its official entrance, I will continue to paint the things I love.
As we enter the week of Thanksgiving, it becomes time again to remind ourselves for all we have to be thankful. As I look forward to being surrounded by family, friends, and of course lots of food, I would also like to reflect on the many blessings I have had throughout the year...as a full time working artist!
I was honored to have achieved Signature Member status with the Pastel Society of America. This sets the bar very high for an artist and I will continue to work hard at my craft to honor this distinction.
I had the privilege of working with many new clients this year through commission work and found each one to be a rewarding experience. House portraits, travel portraits, and other projects have been in abundance this year and for this, I am thankful!
This year offered many opportunities to show my work in prestigious shows throughout the Northeast, including New York, Connecticut, and Cape Cod, as well as with national organizations such as the American Artists Professional League, Audubon Artists, and The Salmagundi Club.
Another exhibition to be held at the Butternut Gallery where several of my pieces will be exhibited from November 25 - December 23, 2017. This will be the last exhibition for the gallery at its current location and I have been fortunate to have had them represent my work.
At a recent outdoor art show that I participated in, someone approached my booth, pointed to one of my paintings and said “I know that place…is that a house in Maine?” When I told them that it was actually a painting from my neighborhood in Pennsylvania, they seemed perplexed, almost certain that they were familiar with that home and its location. Someone else stopped by and said of another painting, “That painting feels like New England.” It was actually from the Jersey Shore, but it resonated with someone, and that is the goal behind my work as an artist. It’s not about where the painting originates so much as how people feel and react when they view it.
It’s no secret that I love painting architecture in the landscape, especially when sunlight and shadows allow me to create more dramatic effects. It’s a common theme in much of my work, and what I enjoy the most, are the connections that people make to the work. Be it old homes or buildings, inspired locally or from my travels abroad, there is something for everyone to relate to. For some, it makes them think about a place they visit often and for others, it reminds them of home, wherever that may be. An individual that purchased a painting at the show said that they feel like they could “walk right in” to my paintings and feel at home.
I have enjoyed the connections I’ve made this summer with all the new people who have taken an interest in my work, and with so many places yet to discover and nurture my muse, I’m doubtful that I will ever get bored with this subject matter.
"The Colors of a Summer Day."
A summer afternoon on the Island of Burano, Italy. Quiet, lazy, and full of natural sunlight shining down on pastel colored homes. The doorway curtain folded back makes for a warm entryway.
It was nice to be featured in the Business Spotlight this month in the Avalon Chamber of Commerce monthly newsletter. It highlights my House Portraits with a link to my website. Painting the homes at the Jersey Shore is something I LOVE doing and this feature came along at just the right time...in the heart of summer!
I am always excited when I complete a commissioned painting and share it with my clients. It is even better when I get to deliver it to them in person. Because of distance, it is not always possible and I have to rely on shipping.
This summer, I was fortunate to have several clients with homes in Avalon and Stone Harbor, and was able to deliver their paintings AND spend some time at the beach as well. This beach community is such a beautiful place and I am blessed to have met so many wonderful people through my commission work.
I was able to stop by this clients lovely home to see how she framed her painting and see it hanging on the wall. Because I see so many homes from the outside only, she was happy to show me the inside of her home...and it is beautiful!
There is a term in theater called going off script, when an actor begins to add lib their character and goes where his or her creativity takes them. I liken that term to my use of photographs when I paint. I generally don’t paint on location (en plein air) so I rely on my library of photographs that I've built over the years. I’ve made it a point to always have my camera with me so I can snap a photo of the things that inspire me, no matter the time of day or where I might be in the world.
But the goal of the photograph for me is to have a reference from a moment in time that made me stop and stare for a bit, to wonder if I could possibly take what moved me at that moment, and create something visually interesting for others to enjoy. Along with the photograph, I keep copious notes on the subject so I can relate to both when working on my composition. So as I begin to paint, with my reference photo near by, I find myself going off script and letting my senses take me where I need to go with the painting. Perhaps it means exaggerating color to make something pop or adjusting the location of some rocks to draw your eye into the composition.
It's not always necessary to paint every blade of grass, or every tree leaf, and we can make a path turn left instead of right. Some artists refer to this as being in the zone...that place where creativity and concentration take over and the painting begins to come to life without the tedious details of the reference photo. It's a liberating feeling and one that demonstrates the limitless possibilities of ones own creativity. The end result is a composition that gives meaning to the artist’s interpretation, and moves away from simply being a recreation of a photograph.
Anyone who lives here in the northeast, knows how cold and sometimes unforgiving the winter months can be. As an artist, being cooped up inside can seem daunting at times because sketching and taking photo references outside are important aspects of my studio practice.
But before winters grip took hold, I had the pleasure of working on a commissioned house portrait in the fall, and was able to add some colorful foliage into the composition. A beautiful lake location, sunlight, and shadows were all present to capture the essence of this lovely home.
A short time later, the subject matter of my next commission was a bright, warm, and well lived in kitchen. With much of my work focusing on the outside, I was delighted with the opportunity to paint an interior composition.
This kitchen is home to "Gail's Cupboard" a local business owner with a passion for educating others on the benefits of healthy eating.
While only a snippet of a much larger area, I wanted to bring the viewer in for a closer look, not only at the focal point which is that magnificent AGA stove, but at the little things that make this a special place for the owner...including sunlight coming through those big open windows.
All weather complaining aside, I am fortunate to have plenty of projects to keep me busy as I look forward to warmer months ahead. As a matter of fact, I have a beach house portrait on my easel right now...so I'll be getting a glimpse of summer ahead of schedule!
I recently had the privilege of being included in a published article by Carolyn Edlund, founder of the online blog Artsy Shark. The topic focuses on how we acquire our commission work...and why we enjoy it. Read the entire article here.
I recently had the pleasure of painting a portrait of the club house at Glen Oak Country Club, which also features part of the front nine of the golf course. If you've spent any time looking at my recent artwork throughout my website, you'll see a common thread...architecture in the landscape. Be it a commissioned piece or something that catches my eye while on a bike ride in our beautiful region, I enjoy painting this subject matter.
When I remember to have my camera handy, I like taking progress shots of some of my work to have ready to share the process that takes place behind the scenes. Some will look with wonder and others may think, wow, that's pretty ugly...which it can be in the early stages. I do this standard for all of my commission customers so they can see their painting come to life. Below you'll see a few images that I took while painting this piece. You can see the pictures of the framed painting being installed on my House and Business Portraits page.
I am often asked the question, "is that really pastel?" by many people that admire my art. I enjoy going on to talk about the medium and why I love working with it so much.
For starters, it most definitely is NOT chalk. Pastel is pure powdered pigment, which is ground into a paste with a small amount of gum binder, and then rolled into sticks. It is the same pure pigment used in all fine art paints and is the most permanent of all media. It does not contain oil or liquid, and therefore won't darken, crack, fade or blister with time. Pastels from the 16th century exist today as fresh as the day they were painted.
An artwork is created by applying the sticks of dry pigment across an abrasive ground, embedding the color in the 'tooth' of the paper. If the ground is completely covered with pastel, the work is considered a pastel painting, where leaving much of the ground exposed, produces a pastel sketch.
I think my preference for the pastel medium stems from my love of drawing; I like the control I have with the pastel sticks...they're so versatile and I love the tactile nature of using my hands to draw fine lines or lay in large blocks of color. Not to mention the infinite color palette available is like eye candy!
They are also a favorite medium among many artists because it allows a spontaneous approach...there is no drying time. I can essentially leave everything I'm working on and return to it at a later time, picking up right where I left off. So for me, it's the perfect medium.