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The Daily Paintings and Postcard-Sized Sketches in Oils and Acrylics

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May 2007

1 I'm sending a smaller image to see if the folks missing the emails might get this one. It is "just" one of the pages of my sketchbook, covered in Springbok sketches, as I work out the positions of the herd that will soon be coming across the top of the small ridge in the foreground of the 48 x 60 inch canvas I started yesterday. When dealing with animals, I like to do these kinds of sketches, loosely, to get the "feel" of the movement rather than the details. I can always paint details, and who wants to do them over and over? Called "gesture drawing", this is one of the foundation skills developed in most life drawing classes. Comes in REAL handy when planning imagery!

Those collectors who wrote asking how to get one of the Turf Club cards, I asked the representative if anyone can buy them. He said, 'Absolutely not. These are for the VIPs, the press, the owners and trainers only." I was told that cards can be purchased after the close of the racing season--September 5. Since he was comfortable with the question, I am thinking these are sort of a collectors' item!
2 I'm sending this from the dailypaintings at googlegroups, since I just cannot figure out why some aren't getting the emails through blogger. (If that was Greek to you, don't worry!) I know it isn't a problem for everyone, it's just frustrating not to know what to do!

I was able to take the oh-so-wet painting out into the sunlight and get an accurate color photo of it, so far. Today's work was spent in planning and plotting the locations of the Springbok. I have scraped the extra paint from the canvas in the area where they are to go, and sketched in the general position of each of the animals. Now, the sketches I sent out yesterday had them all going to the right! But as sometimes happens, a change was in order to help the composition.
By making them go "stage left", I see the composition with more continuity and less weight in that sunlit area. Better design! There will be vegetation and trees in the lower third of the canvas as well, coming tomorrow.

However, tomorrow is our tenth wedding anniversary, so we'll see just how much or how little I get done! Beloved husband already came in with a bottle of Wilson Creek's Almond Champagne, a dozen roses and a card! I'm so lucky to be in his life!
3 OK, anniversary and my beloved took me away from the easel for an evening out to celebrate ten years last night, so I didn't post my work until this morning. Priorities!

This is a detail shot of the Springbok as I am working on them. The ones on the right are more complete than those on the left side, and I'm starting to "marry" the foreground to the sky with the addition of a mid-ground off in the distance behind the critters.

Some have asked why they aren't hopping like popcorn, but that's a characteristic of the Impala. I didn't choose to paint Impala for two reasons--one, the Springbok were almost wiped out by over hunting at one point, and I'm concerned about such issues, and second, I liked the dark stripe separating their fawn topside from their white underbelly.

In other news, I have two demonstrations for art groups coming up in So. Cal. next week, one in Murrieta, and one in Upland. If you can come to either (daytime for both), let me know. The only workshop I'm doing in California in Murrieta on the 15th already has applicants. Full day of color for $45!!

I am going back to blogger postings, as it just is easier on me..and I need an assistant!
4 Remember my mention of the roses brought to me by my beloved spouse of ten years? Of course I needed to paint them! Picking subjects that are near and dear to one's heart is a good start for a good painting. One must remember, though, that the painting and the subject are not as important as the learning that takes place when you do the creating! Many times artists put 'way too much of themselves into a work, erroneously measuring their total success against the success of that one painting. Bad idea. If the painting doesn't work out, learn from it and move on (and paint it out at the first opportunity!)
So paint with joy, and choose meaningful subjects to create. Just remember that the end product ought only be a stepping stone on your progress as an artist.
5 Do you have those days when your work just seems to not be "good enough"? I'm going through one of those phases, common to all artists, wherein the work one does just doesn't seem "good enough". It doesn't mean quitting. It doesn't mean I hate what I do. It doesn't even mean that I'm stuck! What it means is my head is ahead of my hands. Happens all the time. My brain knows a whole bunch of stuff, but my brain-to-hand connection doesn't know how to get it out on a canvas.

So what to do? I go to my library, and start studying various chapters and parts of books I have there. Over nine shelves of art books have been welcomed to my studio over the years, and in them I can find answers. I seek bits and pieces of knowledge from them. I invite them to come sit on my taboret, and then I paint. I paint with new knowledge and renewed vigor for the task of creating truly "good" art.

This 12 x 16 oil is a start for a painting for the Harness Tracks of America auction, one I enjoy entering with up to three pieces each year. You can find out more about it here. This one won't be for sale when it is done, but will be up for auction in October of this year.

I've laid in the larger darks and some of the mid-tones on this piece, and will be adding the horse, cart, driver, bridge and bushes tomorrow. Very pastoral. Oh, the Springbok painting is on hold while I absorb more knowledge.

Congratulations to Louise Mellon on her addition of the oil "By the Stream" to her collection!
6 Being an artist is not something I chose to be, rather it evolved from not fitting in as a kid of about nine. I had a good hand-eye coordination, and was really poor at dealing with the teasing that comes of that age. Drawing was an outlet to gain acceptance. ("Draw me a cat, Elin, can you?")
Now art is inherently a part of my daily life, and to cease creating would be equal to having my hands tied. There is one advantage to being an artist--it is in one's head. I found out that i can paint with my brush in my toes, showing that the mental control is the delivery system for creating, not the facile handling of a brush.

Train the mind, the rest will follow. Today's work on the start of yesterday covers the canvas, and puts in the major areas of color for embellishment later. Big fields of color are easier to break down into harmonious pattern than just trying to paint the pattern alone. Tomorrow this one will be finished.
And tomorrow I have a demonstration in Murrieta from 2 to 4 pm, in oils, for an art group. There is also a one-day workshop the following week on the 15th.

Life is full!
7 I still have some minor detailing to do to finish this one, but at this stage I'm quite pleased with it. What appeals to me is the division of space, and the nice harmony of greens and blues complimenting the oranges and reds. Double complimentary color scheme!
On another note, living in the nature preserve means wildlife, and I came home from the art painting demonstration for the Murrieta Gem of the Valley art group to find not one, but two rattlesnakes as a welcoming committee. One was in the outdoor cat pen (our cats come and go outside, but don't get to roam beyond the "cage" to get to the wild birds), and the other was between the trash bins. Sigh. One knows that the warm weather is upon us when these guys appear. No more walking around after dark without a flashlight! One was a Mexican Red and the other was the more common Western Diamondback. Both were about 30". I have a snake stick to deal with such visitors.

"Out for a Workout" will be auctioned at the Harness Tracks of America auction.
8 I realized that it has been quite a while since I've done a cat, and since I'm kind of running out of time before anohter art group demonstration tomorrow, I did this quick study of a green-eyed feline before getting ready for sleep.

Then it will be off to Rancho Cucamonga in the morning for the demo.

The Murrieta workshop on May 15 is filling, and for a one-day workshop, there's just a whole lot to share. It will be fun, and a long day!

Now back to the final bits and doings for tomorrow.
9 This painting was done this morning during a demonstration for the Associated Artists of the Inland Empire, over in Rancho Cucamonga. What a great drive, to a grand location, with a warm and welcoming group of artists in attendance. I started it about 9:45, and finished up the talk at 11 with a break in between.

Some of the ideas I shared were about painting as a process, not an individual product, and to think of your work as stepping stones to a distant destination, rather than putting too much of your emotional self in the current work. I also shared vestiges of my Color System, and also a joke here and there. Even though i say I won't do as many demonstrations now, when I get in front of a group like today's it is tough to think of not doing it any more!

This one is an oil, and might get a bit more tweaking before it goes up on the daily paintings web site. My goodness, I need to update that!

The workshop in Murrieta, California, is full now, with 15 people ready to paint up a storm on May 15. Directions and other information will be forthcoming to the attendees.
10 I started this 16 x 20 oil painting for the Gem of the Valley art group in Murrieta last Monday, and thought I'd have it finished by now. But this escrow business is filling up niches of time, and I just haven't been able to get into the studio. I'll be really happy when escrow closes on the other house and it is in their hands. So I though You'd enjoy seeing it at this stage, knowing I am going to finish it tomorrow with about two hours' more work.

It is similar in many ways to others I've done recently--I'm on a sky kick! This painting lacks a mid ground in the clouds and also on the ground. Good paintings have all three--the distance, the foreground and a middle ground. Take out or forget to paint any one of these, and your viewers will have discomfort when they look at it, but perhaps won't know why. Tomorrow I'll do the major mid ground of the clouds and the details on the horse/cart/driver and pull it to a finished state. Can you wait?
11 I took the time tonight to put the more finished touches on this 16 x 20 painting scheduled for the Harness Tracks of America auction in Lexington (October). You can see I've added the midground trees and the midsky clouds to bring it together, and also defined the horse and driver with more clarity. I just had a fun time working on this one!

Next week is the one-day workshop in Murrieta, and it is full, with a waiting list started. I do hope to teach a longer one in the early Spring here at my studio, as I can see that there is a need.
If I can share what I know, I will be most happy!
12 Ho ho! What fun preparing for the workshop next Tuesday! Since we'll be working with my Color System, I pulled out this 7 x 5 acrylic I did partially many years ago, and partially after I learned how to manage color. You can see the difference with the upper left corner done "before" and the lower right "after".
To more clearly see this in action, put your hand over one or the other triangles, and see whether you can almost feel the harmony in the lower side, and not quite so in the upper left. Now many nice paintings are made with the colors used in that upper left corner, but there is almost something magical in the way the lower part looks more in focus somehow.
I know how it works, based upon the wavelength of the colors' spectral reflectance curves, but for most of us, it is just "reads right".

OK, I could have made the grass greener. Hey.
Tomorrow off to the other house for the (hopefully) last time. I'll be so happy when all of this is finished and I can get back to making art videos, finishing the new pond here, and releasing my tadpoles into it. They're currently in the smaller pond and several tubs with my water plants. These are native Western Spadefoot toad tad-babies, and I'm adamant about sustaining a good population wherever I go. They eat TONS of bugs! At the old house we had as many as 35 toads coming to those ponds at night, and each year they bred new generations. I have little hope that the new owners will not use bug sprays and kill the remaining ones because of fear of a few creepy crawlies.
13 This morning my husband says, "Have you seen Pesto?" and I reply no, but she was probably in the studio asleep on one of the cat tower beds. He said that he keeps hearing her plantive cry, but can't figure out where it's coming from. A short while later we find her in the storage closet where she'd been since last night. Total curious kitty getting in there when I put a jar away!

Right now she's living up to her Pesto name by being upside down wrapped in my shirt with her paws on my face. So what to do but this acrylic on cold-press watercolor paper of a plantive meowser! This measures approximately 8 x 6 inches, and is available for $100
14 Getting ready for the workshop tomorrow--all the gear is packed up and sitting by the back door. I have 18 students in this one-day, intensive color workshop, and it promises to be exhausting and hopefully full of validity for the students attending. They will get to choose which time of day they want to do, and I'm providing images and originals for resources. I'll hopefully remember to get a group photo before the day is out to celebrate our successes with brush and mind!

I bring to you one of my older demonstration paintings tonight, as I don't have time to do any canvas justice. This one was done for an art group some years ago, showing the Color System working to depict moonlight. This painting is already in the hands of a collector, so it is not available. It was a 16 x 20 oil. When painting a non-daytime image, one just drops four of the colors from the palette, and being careful with the range of values, it is quite possible to give the illusion of moonlight! Now, don't ask me which ones! I'll hint and say that they are all in the warm family!
15 The workshop was a great success, with 18 people exposed to the Color System and learning new things. I took a picture of the group (minus one) holding their different paintings. Each attendee chose a time of day to work on, and painted from their own material or from mine. I'm so very pleased with the new knowledge they gained, however I'm a bit bushwhacked on the floor in front of the happy group! All in all, a great day. I'll be doing a three-day workshop in February in Riverside as a continuance of the process for new and returning students.

The painting is the little demonstration piece I did in the morning to present the basic concepts about the Color System that I shared while I painted the grapefruit and tangelo from life. Later both fruits were part of lunch!

16 The second of the paintings done during the workshop, this one to emphasize the ways one can handle color in moonlight. It is a relatively small painting, only about 6 inches square, but I think I effetively captured the fog and moonlight on this icon of Morro Bay and environs.

Today was the first day that I can say I have an office assistant/personal assistant working for me. What a relief! He will be working on the printing of multiples of selected paintings and also filling orders for the DVDs. Eventually I hope I will have more time for those things I enjoy, and just between you and me, putting together covers/inserts/DVDs isn't one of them! But I still write the personal notes on the orders....
17 It is a lot of fun to open one's eyes with new knowledge and find that your knowledge was spot on "back then". When I first encountered the color system in 2003, (before I processed it into the easier to understand system of today), I painted this 12 x 16 landscape. I was trying to pull out all the stops on color, and yet still create something very pleasing to the eye. I do see some rash boldness of experimentation in it, which today pleases me! So older work can continue to inspire, to motivate and to reassure. I do like it when I find an older work that has the spark of what was yet to come!
18 Finally was able to finish this huge canvas, and get the values right on the focal points of the Springbok. They were too light in the earlier posting, and I had more work to do on the foreground. I hope you like it! It is on display through November 18, 2007, at the Colony Theater in Burbank, along with the other large paintings in the African Moments series.
19 I'm beginning a new painting, a 12 x 16 oil, and thought you might enjoy the thinking process that goes into creating the art I do. In this image, you can see the source material--a photograph I took many years ago in Temecula, of the Percherons that were destined for the Rose Parade that year. I always liked the position of the man, and that the morning light was coming over my shoulder--those interesting linear shadows intrigued me. Now it is time to do the painting.

This email might be a bit long, but the thought process in the development might be helpful, so here goes: The first thing I do when planning a painting is to figure out the proportions of the focal point to the size of canvas. I have a 12 x 16 canvas underneath the photo, and the proportions of the horses in the photo are too large to the dimentions of the edges of the photo to please me. So I am making the horses and men smaller in proportion to the edges of the canvas--the sketchbook drawing shows that more clearly. There is a LOT more area above and to the left of the animals than what is in the photo. I find that my reference photos are taken closer in for detail capture, to the detriment of the environment of the piece. That environment is an important part of the sense of place in a painting, and ought not be overlooked. Many paintings done while we learn are planned without regard for this aspect of the creating process. I wanted to be sure you see it here.

In a nutshell, don't copy the outer dimensions of the photograph exactly! I'd suggest expanding the backgrounds to a good balance between the focal point and the environment in which the action takes place.

And finally, at the request of several folks, I've put up a special page for my workshops on my web sites. The September workshop is full, but the fantastic Acadia National Park Color Boot Camp still has a few spaces. Imagine staying on the ocean for five nights and painting all day! And getting a week's worth of the Color System! I can hardly wait! There's a link on the page I've put up for registration and information.
Here's the page:
http://www.elinart.com/pages/workshops.html
20 I spent a few hours as a participant at the "Primavera in the Gardens" fundraiser for the University of California Riverside Botanical Gardens. Combining wineries and restaurants, the ticket holders were able to sample many regional and California wines as well as cuisine from area restaurants while strolling the beautiful grounds. I painted this 16 x 12 oil sitting next to the last area where the wines were being served and fnished it in about 45 minutes. I did another one, with fewer values, of the vista over to Box Springs Mountain, with the rose gardens in the foreground that I'll post later this week. The draft horse painting from yesterday is still "fomenting" in my head.

Thank you to those who are going to sign up for the workshop in Maine, a comment from my sister is that this is one of the most beautiful National Parks to visit, and with a place to stay right on the water, well...she's not an artist, but her comments made me appreciate what's coming up!

"Color Boot Camp in Maine"!!
21 A 12 x 16 oil, this is the first painting I did on Sunday afternoon, on the 40 acres of the University of California Riverside's Botanical Gardens. A lovely place, the rose gardens are in full bloom, and those beds were the focal point for my work. However, you can see the "C" up high on Box Springs Mountain.

This painting is quite high key, which means there are not many low values (1, 2 or 3 on a 10-level scale). Keeping the values high was partly due to the lighting situation, because it was midday and the light was behind me a bit, not creating many shadows. The other reason is because the warmth and beauty of the day is conveyed by keeping to the upper ranges of value, unlike the deep coolness of yesterday's shaded bridge.

Another person joins us in Acadia National Park in August! I've been looking over the Acadia Park site, and now wish I could spend another week there--the scenery is absolutely gorgeous! Workshop info here.
22 This is the first pass on the 12 x 16 canvas, showing you how I'm picking out the large dark shapes to create the focal point and those very important lines of shadow and roof that collect up the viewer's eye direction, bringing them right where I need them to be.
This underlayment is done with a wash of cadmium orange and burnt umber. The drawing at this stage is done with burnt umber and untramarine blue.

Note again how I've moved the folks and horses down into the picture plane, expanding the background for better design.

Congratulations to new collector Linda Douglas on her purchase of "Easter Morning" from my web site.
23 Aha! The first thing I need to do to any painting, once I get the abstract structure in place and the location of the major design with that line/mass drawing yesterday, is to make BIG areas of color without much interest in edges, except to NOT make them hard.

I find that students learning and afraid to let go of the need for control end up with so many hard edges that the painting appears tight and unforgiving. To prevent that, I paint in large fields of the color in that area, and mush through to the other areas, not being concerned about where one color starts and another stops. I can ALWAYS tighten up later, but once it is tight, it is a tough call to loosen it back up.

So here you see the affectation of all that morning light (yellow, mostly cool yellow mixed into the lights), and the values staying true to the original abstract structure of yesterday. Yup, the Color System at work!

Now it is time for bed--busy day. I spent a good part of today "rocking" in the pond! I will share a picture as soon as I have some more plants in it. The water is still "seasoning" before I can add any fish or tadpoles that I brought over from the other house.

Last call for the Color Boot Camp workshop in Maine! June 17 will close the doors on this one, so if you're thinking about it, please contact me or the Acadia Workshop Center.
24 Now that I have all the larger areas filled with the general color and value, I go back in and start adding the details, going from biggest to littlest. The man's hat was the last thing I added before photographing it at this point.

But don't look there, look at the rest of the canvas. Hey, there's a truck in the shed now! The trees have undergone some modification to give them a fullness of form, and the shadows across the ground have been made far more interesting than in the earlier painting. I have worked on the horses' anatomy and positioning, and adding to their form by varying the lights across the hides. No details of harness yet. That comes later! Rushing to the details can derail many a well-started painting! I also want to keep in mind that the hierarchy of edges also works for the hierarchy of details. Nothing should be as detailed as my focal point. Therefore, details of leaves on trees would be too much for the details on the man's hand and that horse's head.
As an artist, I always want to give a specific target for the viewer to see first.
25 Finished! At least for this evening's work. Details, and more details. The entire painting process today was with a 3/8 inch brush and a small round. These are the calligraphic marks of line that create the visual tension between the larger areas and the linear quality. Also some edges are added with these lines. Look at the harness now, and the contrapunto of the red wagon tongue and the majority of greens. Yet your eye still goes to the thalo blue of the man's jacket in sunshine, and from there, up the arm to the horse's head. Delivering the goods, that's the ticket!

If you have any questions about disappearing edges, just ask yourself, "How important is that area?" Knowing which areas are focal points, or directional markers will go a long way to making good design, no matter what the subject.

Now I'm really happy with this one--an original oil, 12 x 16, for the good price of $400 directly from me.
26 Working out ideas for a book cover job that came my way means getting out the pencil and poking around some of the ideas from the book. It's a story about two brothers, and they have special skills. I've read some of the text, and it is a good one, and I'm honored to be asked to do the cover.

As I work through submitted ideas, I play around with positioning of objects, and thinking hard about where I want the viewer's eye to go. None of these are set in stone, and as you already know, I'm likely to change my mind after working up the concept (remember the Springbok from a week or so ago?). So rather than do a small acrylic, I thought you'd enjoy seeing how a cover in its necessary vertical format comes together.
27 The bird has it by vote of the author. So I'm working out some of the issues with the trio of figures (bird, two boys) and the environment in which they will be (water, moonlight). And as I do this simple exploratory line drawing, I am mentally placing the large values in place, to convey the mystery and the interest and direction that cover art needs to generate to grab the reader. The design will be a large "S" curve, and backlit (my most favorite value situation--small light, large dark in mid-tones), yet still have the secondary lighting of the moonlight off the raging water on the breast of the bird and the two boys' faces. I can see that in my head, but simple line drawings don't do much to show you what is planned.

The bird will be reduced in size and given more importance by his color contrast rather than size. Darn it! Now I have to go to sleep, and I'd rather keep working on the planning!

However, I do have some back-logged commissions to tweak and get off the board before I leave for Kentucky this Friday.
28 I've done some serious homework in trying to find a definitive representation of a phoenix, and all the leads come up with firey red and gold/yellow, and with long tail feathers, among other things. Fun to look for something that doesn't exist!

I've started the lay in for the 20 x 16 canvas, with an extra margin of one inche all around to take into account the cropping that might happen. Plus, the spine of the book will have the tail feathers wrapping around to carry the design and color onto it.

Although the figures are not in the composition yet, they will be below and to the right of the legs of the bird, looking up as the shadow comes toward them, and partially in the rushing river water. I love the contrasting red and yellow against all of the fantasy blues, red-violets and greens of the background!
29 Here we are again, with this 16 x 20 oil, at it's next phase. Since I saw you yesterday, I've spent some time putting in the water big shapes in the foreground, and added two of the long tail feathers to create that all-important arc to bring your eye around where I wnat it to go. I've started to paint the wings, tail and head, but will hold off on the feet until I am sure of the position of the two brothers in the maelstrom of water below. The small dark line below and to the right is the proposed position of the guys, who are connected by the older holding the younger.

I've also delineated the top area, with pines and cedar trees that seem to point to the action, and grasses and rocks starting to take shape (middle ground) behind the phoenix. The boy's expressions and the implied line between them and the bird are yet to come! Now off to bed and much to look forward to tomorrow!
30 Continuing on with the progression of the cover art, I have now completely covered the canvas with the basic values and colors. The lower right corner is darker than it really is, the lights weren't on the painting very well. You can see that I've punched up the conrast more behind the left wing of the phoenix, and put the two brothers in the water. The drama is in place, now all I need to do for a finish is detail out the phoenix with the addition of tail plumes, eye, feet and the heat of his existence--these mythical creatures come from fire. I'll finish this one before I leave on my trip.

On another bit of news, if you'll go to this link (cut and paste, if you need to)
http://tinyurl.com/27to22, you'll have the first chance to see 17 of my paintings as prints--the ONLY prints available for purchase through the Monarch Collection. The Monarch people handle the prints for the orignals kept at the Los Angeles Museum of Modern Art! These are currently the only prints available of my work. There are a few of your favorites there, including "Two Trees".

Now I need to think about leaving for Kentucky and all the days ahead of painting and travel. I do hope you'll be along with me!
31 After all the work and thought, I'm about 99 percent finished with this one. Even signed it! I really like the added glow around the bird to show his magical power and the vertical drop as he comes in to rescue the two boys. Although I recognize that paintings for book covers might be passe, what with places like Amazon showing these teeny little images...that's why the titles on books now are so HUGE--so you can see them when they are only an inch tall. Yet with all of the digital and 3D art out here today, I still just love the look of a painted cover.
To show you all how it will look in a mock-up of the title, and spine, I've added this image with some digital type from Photoshop as well. All of the artwork was planned to allow for that title and info. This is not the final look, but it sure helps to see it with some wording!