Thursday, December 6, 2012

Holiday Exhibit of my work...

"HOT to TROT" 12 x 16, Oil on linen panel.
"STANDING GUARD" 20 x 24" Oil on Linen

Jewel Spiegel Gallery will hold a special holiday exhibit  from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m., Saturday December 8, 2012. 10 of my paintings, including "Hot to Trot" and "Standing Guard," will be on display. All are welcome. Address: 30 N. Dean Street, Englewood, NJ  201/871-3577.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A brush with History...

A sampling of Kinstler's sketches and portraits grace his studio at the National 
Arts Club in New York City.  He has painted more than 50 U.S. Cabinet 
members, seven U.S. presidents and countless celebrities and business leaders.
One week after Everett Raymond Kinstler's successful March 2012 opening of his Pulps to Portraits exhibit at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge Massachsetts, I had the opportunity to interview the master portrait painter at his Grammercy Park studio in Manhattan. 

Still riding high from the celebration of a 70-year career that has taken him from an inker's apprentice to illustrating books and magazines to painting over 2000 portraits of a veritable who's who in the world, the artist/teacher shared some intriguing anecdotes about the joys of being a painter of people. 

The January/February issue of the Artist's Magazine includes the full article (8-pages) and highlights some of Kinstler's celebrated portraits of such luminaries as: Tom Wolfe, John Wayne, Christopher Plummer, to name but a few. 
I took this long shot of Kinstler's studio, which was once occupied by the
artist's early mentor, Frank Vincent DuMond, an American Impressionist
painter and prominent teacher. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Just off the Easel

"BREAKFAST with SABRINA"  9 x 12 Oil on Linen
A presentation of my latest painting
 took place at Design Domaine Gallery,
 Bernardsville, New Jersey 

Just off the easel...  my latest commission through Design Domaine Gallery, which  is on its way home with my newest patrons.

Working from a treasured family photo of grandfather and granddaughter, I was inspired by the intensity and intimacy of the scene.

The real standout, though, was the beautiful stream of light that cut across the young girl's body, placing a glorious glow on her face before connecting with her grandfather's arm and side pocket then settling on a portion of the table. 'Twas both a joy and a challenge to paint!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

"Magical Night" chosen as cover of new Vivaldi CD

"MAGICAL NIGHT" Oil on Linen. 16 x 16
Thrilled to announce that my painting, "Magical Night" was chosen for the cover of a new Vivaldi CD entitled, "Venetian Dreams.” This latest Bridge Records' offering features Rebel, a New York-based Baroque ensemble that has been hailed by the New York Times as "sophisticated and beguiling." 

The 16 x16 painting is one of a four mask series that I included in my "For love of Venice" exhibit. Along with a sample of the CD and eight of my other paintings,  it is now on display at Design Domain Gallery, 67 Mine Brook Road (Route 202), Bernardsville, New Jersey.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Creating the Soul of a Vision!

I well remember a Van Gogh exhibit that I attended back in college, and in particular, his painting entitled, "Pair of  Shoes"(1886.)  Van Gogh's work often expressed sentiments that he felt about his subjects, and in this depiction of a workman's well-worn, seasoned boots conveyed a moving portrait of their owner. Transcending a simple arrangement of inanimate objects, this painting communicated much more--a sense of family, belonging, humility, character, and perseverance—human qualities.

"Pair of Old Shoes" Vincent van Gogh
I recalled “Old Shoes” again today when a talented artist friend (Kate) asked me to critique some of her newest work. It happened to be a series featuring shoes—all types, from work to casual to dancing, and each painting spoke volumes about the people who wore them.

Kate wondered whether she had become a little obsessive about her theme, and that got me to thinking about the role of theme in art. As a writer, I aim to weave it into a piece in such a way that the characters or subjects, the setting, storyline, events, direct the readers to interpret a theme for themselves.  Similarly, art presents the same challenge; accomplished through composition, lighting, color, brushwork, etc., and it’s always gratifying when, without the benefit of words, a particular painting successfully conveys my intent visually.

I have always been inspired to paint still life and make it anything but still. In the same way that a poet crafts his work with precision, incorporating metaphors that make you think, associate and subsequently be moved in some way, and like Van Gogh and my artist friend, I especially enjoy giving simple objects human qualities; creating something of beauty that people will respond to emotionally, visually, intellectually.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Light Fantastic...

John P. Osborne never fails to amaze audiences at his demonstrations by laying in a conception on a huge blank canvas without any reference material at all. Working from imagination and recollection, he produces the most convincing scenes, depicting accuracy of time of day and place and conveying a powerful sense of mood.
 John P. Osborne Demonstration. Photos: Imagery by Kate

A master landscape painter whose artistic roots hark back to the 19th century French Barbizon School, Osborne is senior instructor at the Ridgewood Art Institute (RAI) in Ridgewood, New Jersey, where he teaches teens and adults and twice yearly gives standing room only painting demonstrations that attract artists from the New York/New Jersey Metropolitan area and as far away as Maine and Virginia.

I recently interviewed my former teacher for a feature and step-by-step illustration of how to paint using a prismatic palette and understanding the principles of light.   Says Oborne: "The light is always prismatic, no matter what time of day. There is always just one light source, which must be taken into consideration whether painting outdoors or indoors in a north-lit studio. I strive to get the prism under control with the subtle atmospheric progression of colors and values." 

Here are a few key stills from  Osborne's instructional progression, which is highlighted in depth in The Artist's Magazine-June, 2012 issue.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Just off the Easel....

"SATIN & GRACE" Oil on linen. 18 x 24.
My latest floral. Just off of the easel. Haven't really tackled satin before, but I had been itching to do a still life with these two beautiful Oriental table runners for a long time.  They have graced a small sideboard in our home for many years, and their rich, jewel colors called out to me.

I  placed an elegant sprig of white orchids center stage. They are a favorite of mine and add a delicate touch in juxtaposition to the heavy fabric backdrop. Rounding out the setup are a small Cloisonne egg and a small lacquered table. I thought the table enhanced the color of the floral centers; the egg accents the cobalt in the material.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Still Life Composition: A Demonstration

Strong, incisive compositions have the capacity to entice, involve, provoke and inspire. Build your paintings on such a foundation and you'll set the stage for portraits of life and expressions of the soul. 

Some time back, The Artist's Magazine asked me to do an article demonstrating how I designed my award-winning painting, "Cheers!" For a link to Artist's Network, which highlights all the steps involved in setting up this composition along with insight into my choice of props, placement and intent, click on the link below.

Here I have included two photos from that series. One is of my original set up; the other is the resulting painting. Note how I took some artistic license with the finished piece. Despite having designed what I thought was a pleasing and moving composition as my inspiration, once I began massing in the shapes,  I realized  that if I  tweaked  a few things, (the height of the silver vase, the viewer's eye level and placement on the canvas, for example)  my painting would be much stronger. I hope you agree!


As the saying goes: "The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement!"

"CHEERS!" Oil on Linen 11 x 14. Private Collection
oil composition demonstration image
Set up for "Cheers!"
Note the differences in my painting and  set up
I enjoy the entire creative process, from concept to completion. Still life let's me do just that. And given the freedom to arrange elements what visually speak to and for me in an interesting relationship to one another, it allows  experimentation with lighting, mood, storyline and other key facets of individual taste.
Tips for Creating Moving Still life

1.      When setting up, create a sense of unity & harmony by overlapping a few objects.
2.      Start out loosely at the block-in stage. Paint large masses, then work toward finer details. Be careful not to lock yourself into a tightly rendered drawing, which often leads to filling in the lines.
 3.      Learn to look at your subject with fresh eyes, as if for the first time. Relish in its form, color, inadequacies, uniqueness, and paint what you see.
 4.      When painting under natural light, it’s a good idea to take reference photos for backup in case the light begins to change.
 5.      Always photograph setups that include perishables such as fruit and flowers.
 6.      Use an assortment of compatible shapes that are varied in size and texture. If your props are too similar, they will vie for viewer attention.
 7.      Fruit is always a good subject because of its beautiful, natural shapes, rich colors and interesting textures.
 8.      Put some distance between yourself and the canvas. Take breaks. Stand back to view your work from a fresh perspective. If you find yourself mired down with details or losing enthusiasm, set the canvas aside for a few days. Work on something else. When you return, it will be easier to spot errors or areas that need adjustment and get motivated again.
 9.      Include various levels of interest by leading the viewer into your canvas toward your focal point, and from there around and through your composition.
 10.      “Instantly paint what you see. When you've got it, you've got it. When you haven't, you begin again.” Edouard Manet

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Art from the Heart

"BRANCHING OUT." 24 x 24. Oil on Linen.  Louise B. Hafesh
One of 10 florals  on exhibit through March 7, 2012 in Wyckoff,  NJ

Valentine's Day fast approaches! In keeping with that hearts and flowers theme, my friend Paul at Mane on Madison suggested that I exhibit some of my florals in his salon.  I have chosen 10 paintings for this display, which will be on view through March, 2012 at: Mane on Madison. 238 Madison Avenue, Wyckoff, NJ 201/848-6969. 

Happy to note that a portion of all work sold from this exhibit will be donated to the Make a Wish Foundation of New Jersey. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Master Class...

 Douglas Flynt goes in for a close up.
This past summer, I had the pleasure of attending a Douglas Flynt workshop at Grand Central Art Academy (GCA) in NYC and along with 13 other participants, explored classical techniques for painting still lifes.  

 Using a hand-held palette, Flynt showed
students how to mix color strings
A fellow student works on her still life
Flynt, whose  style is greatly influenced by the principles of order, structural clarity and plasticity, breaks down his process into manageable, defined stages that include: blocking in;  utilizing an oil transfer; creating a monochromatic underpainting and an Ébauche and premixing color strings, to name a few.

Set up and work in progress by Cynthia Farris, workshop participant 
For a step-by-step demo of the artist's technique and an in-depth overview of his workshop, check out my article, "Slow & Steady" in  The Artist's Magazine (March 2012.) Flynt's next GCA workshop is July 30 - August 10, 2012).