Abstract Figures

Last week I took a 3-day workshop on abstracting figures. I’ve been wanting to really loosen up in my work and have this idea of just slapping on paint, stepping back, and voila, I’ve created a masterpiece! While I know that’s a pipedream, I’d like to work towards it anyway. So, this workshop was exactly what I needed to push me in the right direction.

Our instructor, Leslie Masters, is a wonderful older lady whose been around forever and styles herself in the most quirky bright-colored clothing; all shades of pinks and oranges! She tough but sweet at the same time and you can tell she really knows her stuff!

The first day we talked about Picasso and Matisse and started with contoured line drawings of faces from magazines. I chose a beautiful Asian model and copied her face onto tracing paper starting with simple line, more detailed line, straight lines, and curved lines. From there, we chose one to paint, using bold blocky strokes focusing on the value and shapes. Below are my classmates works from the first day:

(Side note: most everyone in my class worked in acrylic or watercolor. Acrylic lends itself to these exercises very well – working in oil was much more difficult.)

The following day we began with looking at Pop Art especially Peter Max. I was not familiar with his work and didn’t really care for his style; flat, colorful with black outlines – very cartoony, 70’s psychedelic; think Beatles Yellow Submarine.

Our task for the morning was to work with a partner and transfer an outline of our profile onto a canvas, then create a bubbly landscape in the background that followed the curvy lines from our portrait. I must have missed the memo, because I used straight lines to create my background. I didn’t get too far with the painting and I’ll probably gesso over this one and use the canvas for something else. However, I loved the way some of my classmates turned out. Here is my partially finished design/painting.

In the afternoon we created figure collages based on images from magazines focusing on the large shapes. Next, we painted the figures in an environment – channeling the abstract artist Richard Diebenkorn.

The third and final day was really fun!! We were channeling de Kooning and our task was to create a large, loose, messy, abstract figure painting using house paints and large brushes. I chose to paint from a favorite picture of my young son when he was about 4 years old. Below is the original picture and my abstract interpretation: my pièce de résistance!

In the afternoon, we each took turns showcasing our works from the three days and gave a brief synopsis of what we learned, what we liked / didn’t. It was a great foray into abstraction; I learned several ways to approach the subject without feeling overwhelmed, great techniques to get started, and about several abstract artists. Now, I can take what I learned and hopefully approach my paintings a bit looser. We’ll see, stay tuned!

Hey there, Dahlia

A few months ago, my friend posted a beautiful picture of a Dahlia flower on Facebook. To date, I hadn’t painted a close-up lone flower – the fear of all that detail – but I have seen many artists accomplish the task beautifully and I felt up for the challenge. What could be more perfect for Spring?

The Dahlia originated from Mexico and was discovered in the 16th Century by Spanish adventurers. There are over 20 known species resulting in thousands of hybrids. The Dahlia is unique because it has six genes rather than the standard two found in most flowers; therefore it can take on a myriad of shapes, colors, and sizes.

Volkswagen Beetle

When I was just a baby, we had a Volkswagen Beetle. It was 1970 and side-burns and “Bugs” were in fashion. Of course I don’t remember the vehicle, other than seeing it in photographs and hearing that my Dad smashed the front-end not too long after he bought it. I have the small original photograph of the two us in the driveway and thought it would make a great Christmas gift for my Dad.

Having just completed the commission piece for my friends, I didn’t have long before Christmas and we were getting together just prior on the 23rd. I had just over a week, so I went pretty small and fast; 12″x 12″ on Ampersand Gessoboard. It was my first time using the board and it was quite different from the usual canvas. The surface is smooth with very little tooth so the paint just glides on which definitely takes getting used to. The paint seems to dry faster which was a bonus given my short time frame. I was a bit rushed at the end, and wanted one more day to smooth things out and add a couple of details, but all-in-all, I was very pleased with it. And best of all, he loved it!

Baby Jenna and Bug
Baby Jenna and Bug

True Love

The finishing touches have finally been applied on the large commission painting for my friends. I am very pleased with the final outcome. I’m hoping they will ♥ it! I’ll ship it in a couple of weeks – just in time for the New Year! Since it’s not a surprise, I’m sure they won’t mind if I share it with you.

As I had mentioned in previous posts, I began the painting in September and had to take a bit of time off and work slowly due to my new elbow and nerve injury. Painting once again proved my saving grace, and although difficult at times, helped my mental state during the healing process.

Shiela and Leo - True Love
True Love

Baaaaaa

Hello again. It’s been a while since I posted. After my last few paintings for others, I wanted to create something for our home. We have a large yellow-golden wall in the living room that begs for an equally large colorful painting. I like to change up my decorative pictures depending on the season and I needed a large spring / summertime image to fill the space.

After weeks of scouring my own pictures and the internet, I discovered this one on Flickr taken by a German photographer; a herd of sheep grazing the hillside at dusk. The vibrant colors and quirky composition grabbed me the moment I spotted it. The colors would match beautifully with our interiors. I know they say Art doesn’t have to match, but I guess I haven’t fully bought into that notion.

The number of sheep became overwhelming for me and I wasn’t convinced that I could get away with the angle. The more I stared at the “gaggle,” the more I saw them standing on their heads! I couldn’t leave it like this — it would drive the OCD in me crazy. I pared down the heard to a manageable size; one that I could have more control over.

Grazing
“Gaggle of Sheep”

Less sheep became even fewer sheep. At one point, my son commented that they look like elephants! Yikes! I love elephants, but that was not the goal! On to yet another reiteration of sheep.

Baaa
Refining

Finally, once I had a much more manageable group of “sheep-like” animals; I began detailing the faces. It was surprising to me if you change one little line that indicates bone structure or move the placement of the ears upward, they look like a completely different animal — think female lion. Below shows the finished painting on our wall. The yellow fields match perfectly!
Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…

Baaa
Baaa
mini

Traditional Ojibwa Girl

Young Ojibwa Girl

This painting was done for my beautiful niece Brianna. She and her sisters are part Cherokee / Ojibwa on their mom’s side. I hope she loves it.

I knew going into this, it would be a challenge, but one that I needed to tackle head on (literally and figuratively). I really haven’t painted a face in oils, let alone a Native American.

Ojibwa Girl
Second Attempt

The first step was to locate images of Ojibwa Indians. I discovered this one of a young native girl on the internet, only it was in black and white. Next, I searched for color images of the traditional clothing and was able to find what I believe matched her outfit.

Once I got the clothing blocked in, I went back on to work on her face. I had to consult my books on proper facial structure and Google painting combinations for Native American skin pigmentation.I must have revisited her poor face and neck at least ten times before I was content enough to let it go.

I admit she was headless a few times in the process; looked like Pocahontas; looked too Caucasian; too African-American; too old; and had a broken nose. At one point (about 3 in the morning) I swear she even looked exactly like Ryan Gosling!!

Young Ojibwe Girl
Ojibwa Girl

Airbus A380

The Airbus A380 is the world’s largest commercial airplane and my 12-year-old son is obsessed!  Now that his “mature” bedroom remodel is complete, I offered to paint a few of his most favorite things to hang on the walls. First up is the Airbus.

Airbus A380
Airbus A380

This double-deck, wide-body, four-engine behemoth began its service in 2007 as part of Singapore Airlines. As of October 2015, 173 aircraft have been delivered, with 317 more on order. The upper deck extends the entire length of the fuselage and its width is equivalent to a large-body aircraft.

The cabin has just over 5,900 square feet of usable floor space, that’s 40% greater than the next largest aircraft, and can carry between roughly 500 to 800 passengers depending upon configuration. The A380 can fly nonstop from Dallas, Texas to Sydney, Australia.

In order to truly appreciate the massive scale of the A380 you really have to see it in comparison to a typical size aircraft. I’ve included a couple of images from the Internet that show you the enormity of this flying machine.