Today’s Painting

“Tomatoes”
Oil on linen on panel, 5 1/2″ x 8″

This daily painting idea is terrific! I have always done something in the studio nearly daily. This just confirms my belief in compressed experience. This was a fun one!!

The Value of Blogging

A few weeks ago I dug through the archives of Jeff Hayes’ blog (link in the list). Jeff had photos of a shadow box he built for the purpose of painting still life.

This was a revelation to me!! I could not believe I had never heard of one of these tools before. I looked very carefully at his photo and tried to find out more about the tool . . .but, alas, all he had was one post. Another artist also picked up on it and set up a temporary arrangement with foam core boards ‘n stuff. I was fascinated.

After looking carefully at Jeff’s set up, I made an emulation from a cardboard box painted flat black. Here’s a photo.

Mind you, this is not intended to look like the Taj Mahal. Its purpose is to regulate light . . . . . . . . . ..especially reflected light and light coming from other sources. My studio has can lights in the ceiling and track lighting . . . .thus providing MANY shadows and no discernable pattern of light. As you can see here, the flood light shining into the slots above the subject and the ceiling of the box (and walls) make for one source of light and shadow. The recessive darkness into the back of the box gives the subject more depth and interest. Above is a photo of how the subject looks from my easel.

You can see that the subject receeds nicely into the dim light and the portion of the subject that I wish to emphasize is lit up like a Christmas Tree. Wow! No guessing here.

All I need to do is move the flood light (you can see the lip of it in the upper left corner of the shadow box photo) to the side, or the rear or forward to gain the kind of light I want.

I have spoken here of making the mundane extraordinary . . .and this tool does it! Thanks, Jeff, for being so generous with your information. Apparently, other artists have used similar arrangements if they paint still life paintings, but I sure had no clue!! There is a ton of vital information about almost any subject in the blogshpere. . .art in particular. Aren’t we lucky to be granted this privilege of these accesible resources on the internet?!

There Are A Few Of Us . .

“Sourdough”
Oil on linen on panel, 6″ x 8″

I am one of those guys who has had multiple jobs and careers in my life. Most recently, teaching art / painting and being a realtor. Before that it was business owner, hi tech manager, salesman, marketing guy . . .all kinds of stuff . . .most of which had nothing to do with art. At a late age, the bug bit me. Age 46. And now, 18 years later, the bug still chomps down on me. Art is the only thing that has ever held my interest for any length of time beyond 2 or 3 years. Or, should I say that art is my compulsion.

A while ago, I had my studio on the same floor as my office and bedrooms are. . . .near the bathroom. If the door to the studio was open, it was a rare thing to pass that door without entering the studio to fiddle for a minute or two. Time stood still in that room. And often to the detriment of everything else in my life. That sort of access fed my compulsion and taught me much. What I learned over time is this: There are only a few of us who can even tell the difference in two colors of red . . .there are only a few who study value patterns, or shape design, or who feel that it really DOES matter to be concerned about what is going on in the world of art. There are only a few who really ‘get’ why people paint or make art. There are even fewer who will give painting a place in life that has priority.

And when someone else recognizes the compulsion . . .and sees it as honorable (ahem!) . . . .it seems that someone becomes a lifelong friend. That someone knows our heart . . and knows how much art really does matter.

I celebrate those who paw a keyboard daily in search of good art . . .or make it their business to find artists and see their work in some other way. They may not be the reason we do this, but they certainly provide validation. They, along with the few of us, really do understand that bread alone does not nourish us!

What Would I Do If I Hadn’t Made It?

“Red Onion”
Oil on linen on panel, 6″ x 8″

Today’s post is a painting of a red onion and shed skin. Nice.

My wife, incapable of much movement sits watching TV. I paint when I am not taking care of her. Usually in the late evening. I wonder: What would I be doing if I had not commited to doing a painting a day. It seems rather simple now that I am in the habit. Beforehand it seemed like a monumental decision. Paintings actually go a little faster now. Familiarity and being in the zone help tremendously.

Can’t write much today, since I have to be ‘on call’ shortly.

My next project is to begin offering these paintings on EBay.

Till tomorrow . . . .

Mike

Look Only As Far As . . . .

“Red Bells”

Oil on linen on panel, 6″ x 8″

I am one of those people who begins to get a little shakey if I don’t create something. I don’t know why or how that is. It just izzzz. That means that if I find myself getting irritable or grouchy, I probably need some time with a paint brush. When it seems the world is getting too close or crowding me or my time, I go to the studio for a while and schmear paint. If I read about it and don’t do it, then the itch just gets worse.

People ask me constantly, “How do you find the time?” or “How do you do it all?” I suppose the answer is something to the effect of “How could I not?” This morning I awoke at 3:30 AM with my head buzzing with ideas. By 4 AM I was in the studio painting. Done at 6:30AM, my mind is now settled and I am ready to get on with the day while completely satisfied that all is right with the world. Nice ! 🙂

I experience similar feelings about getting outside to paint, but when circumstance dictate otherwise, I look no further than my studio and the produce drawer in the refridgerator for something to paint . . . .or deep in an old cupboard, or a drawer, or my workshop. There is always something waiting for the honor of being promoted from ‘ordinary’ to a treasured piece of art.

Coping With Confinement

“Papaya”
Oil on linen on panel, 6″ x 8″

Sometimes we have to do what’s best for others. And right now, it seems that is what is called for. My wonderful wife injured her achilles tendon and is due for surgery in a day or two. Obviously, she can’t move around, so I am the one to maintain life as we know it . . .cooking, cleaning and taking care of her.

In spite of the the confinement to the house, my studio is right downstairs. So, when she is resting and not in need (and the chores are done), I am in the studio fooling around. Well . . . . . . . .fooling around might not be the word for it . . . .would studying and experimenting be better? . . . . .I suppose that is what any artist would call it. Cuz, that is precisely what every movement in the studio is all about: trial and error and learning.

Thanks to Jeff Hayes and his archives, he developed a shadow box in which to control light in still life set ups. I cut up a cardboard box, painted it black and proceeded to paint little stills. What an amazing tool that is! Thanks to Jeff!! The light comes alive!

So, unless I can get out of the house for a few hours and Diana is cared for, I will be in the studio making these little wonders.

Please excuse the glare on the canvas. I haven’t yet figured out how to avoid that while photographing a wet painting.

Every Attempt Counts!

“The Scent of Surf”
oil on linen on panel, 8″ x 10″

Here is another of the plein air adventures. Caught near sunset, the light was bouncing off the white foam of the breakers behind this tree. What a terrific thing to paint! I can see I have much to learn about how edges behave in back lit subjects . . . .learn? Heck!! I am fascinated . . . . . . . .read: obsessed! . . . .by this stuff.

One thing I have learned in years of painting in another medium is this: While every painting doesn’t show up at the end as perfect, every one counts! That is, each piece contributes to the success of subsequent paintings. It is all an accumulation of occurances, challenges, solutions, failures and successes.; Every painting matters . . .the results of that significance just doesn’t show up every single time. And THAT is the reason for painting daily: to quickly accumulate experience and to stay in the learning zone.

Some Days I Get Two . . .

“Tanner Heights Grove”
oil on linen 12″ x 16″
SOLD

Oh, Yessssss !!!! Some days it just works out to paint more than one!

On the day it rained, my painting buddy and I (Bill) had to call off our get together to paint. And, as you see in my last post, I painted in the studio. Later, while at the office, the sun came out and I had the itch to be out painting. So, I cleaned up my work and started out the door at 5PM . . . .and Diana (my wife) called to tell me we would be eating at her mother’s place. Perfect! I’ll find a spot around her house and paint. Diana was surprised that I didn’t need a big “scene.”

So, I stood behind the house, looked down into a eucalyptus grove. . . . . and painted fast cuz it was getting late. I had to hurry . . .a spot of color here, a blotch of color there to set off the other color, a dark here and a light there . . . .a little atmospheric perspective . . . .next thing I knew a painting was taking shape and I was amazed that it came out like this!! Some days just about everything goes right !!

I am having a wonderful time!!

Mike

Some Days it Rains . . . .

“Eileen”
oil on gessoed masonite 6″ x 8″
SOLD

I have read about guys huddled on their knees in the pouring rain under a poncho holding it up to let the light in on their canvas while they paint with their free hand. That is NOT what I do when it rains!

I work in the studio . . . .or go to the office . . . but if I have planned to paint, I paint. What’s more, I have a commitment to paint daily. That is every day except Sunday.

So here is a little studio study. I have been watching intently while others paint. And I am surprised at how quickly I can see how they do what they do. A lady by the name of Karin Jurick (she is one of my links here) paint (most of the time) on black gesso on masonite. I could see it subcounsciously . . .then one night, I awoke with a realization that she paints on black . . .and the paintings look entirely different. So, never having done that before, I grabbed a little something mundane to paint, set up a spot light and painted it on black gessoed masonite. Kinda fun, doncha think? Let’s just call this painting “Eileen.” (Wait a few minutes and you’ll get it! 😉

This brings up an interesting point about painting. Choose anything! Yup! Anything for a subject. Then take the challenge to make it look interesting . . . .even extraordinary. So, here is a common ball point pen used as an advertising piece. Plucked out of a jar on my wife’s desk, it flew to the studio ready for its mission to become extraordinary. I had fun with it!

By the way, It looks wonderful in a frame!

Mike

Stop the Hunt and L O O K !

“She Waits”
oil on linen on board, 8″ x 10″
SOLD

Last week, while in the fray of a few exciting days of painting outdoors, I had decided to go down to the beach (about 10 minutes away from the house) . . .and it was on a weekend. I should know better than to try the beach on a weekend. Every tourist with wheels is there!

I did get there, however, and found the wind to be blowing a gale. Impossible to set up an easel of any kind . . .it would be a sail! So, I began looking for places to paint . . . .driving here and there all the while searching for a place “that would look good in paint.” Whoops!! I could have gone on all day long!

What I really needed was a place that was wind protected ! I didn’t necessarily need a fancy schmancy place that was pretty to look at . . .and probably already in hundreds of paintings! . . . . . . . .I just needed to set up my easel in a good, well protected place and find something there to paint. That’s right. There is ALWAYS something. It just takes a little effort in LOOKING and SEEING.

This beautiful tree with silver bark was waiting all the time. I loved the light on its branches. It was a struggle (still unused to the techniques of oil painting!) But here it is . . .with her arms outstretched, “She Waits” . . . .