Thursday, June 24, 2010

Framed: In Search of Framing Vendors

With my friend opening her new counseling office, I have been thinking more about framing my work and what options are out there. Fleisher Art Memorial is offering a 6-week class in July called Framing Basics, but funds are short.

So, I'm going to go the way of purchasing ready-made frames. Anybody have recommendations regarding frame vendors? I've been using A.C. Moore (and their helpful little 40% off coupons) and Michaels for my short-term needs, but I'd like somewhere reasonable with bulk rate options.

The places I have looked into at one point or another include:

Click Here to Visit the Official Web Site of Jerry's Artarama. Online Leader in Art Supplies and Discount Art Supplies online During a recent frame search for my high school art show, I also discovered the awesome values at Jerry's Artarama. A gold 8x10 Plein aire frame is $13.99 on sale right now (regularly $19.99). This frame style also comes in black, mahogany and silver.

Though not as good, Dick Blick does better than the online vendors above.

What ready-made frame sites do you use? 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Blessings of a Friend

Friends are a blessing from the Lord.

Last week, Tricia Elliott, a therapist friend, opened a new office for her counseling practice and wanted to use my artwork to decorate it. She knows about my desire to paint more regularly and start selling my work. Plus, she admires and enjoys my art. How could I refuse such an offer, right?

So, I gathered together the following three pieces for right now:

Fruit with Vessels
Oil on Board

Yellow Speaks
Oil on Board

It's Not Easy Being Blue
Oil on Board

I have another 9x12 that I'm reworking and three 8x10 pieces that I'll post once I get frames.

The next things on my list include :

  • Mounting tags with title and price for each work
  • Printing a business card
  • Writing an artist statement
I have been reading up on artist statements online; however, I earned some Borders Bucks from and purchased I'd Rather Be in the Studio by Alyson Stanfield for some more specific help with this and other art-sales strategies. It has gotten good reviews. Perhaps I'll do a review next month.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Naylor's Run Park, alla prima painting

Naylor's Run Park, Lansdowne, PA
At left, is the last painting I did during my weekend en plein air oil painting workshop.

Unlike my previous two paintings, I decided to work like I normally do by starting with a loose value sketch. Since I was experimenting with the limited palette that Kevin Macpherson uses (i.e., ultramarine blue, permanent alizarin crimson, cadmium yellow light and white), I didn't know what to expect. I mixed the ultramarine and alizarin together to form a dark neutral value that I massed in the background.  I used a towel to pull out lights and scumbled in more paint where middle values and shadows were needed.

As I tell my high school students, when you get a chance of seeing your work as a monochromatic composition, then your transition to color should be easier because you worked out key elements of the composition. Well, things progressed faster than my other two paintings.

When my instructor, Fred Kaplan, came around he recommended some changes which I was about finished with when he popped up again. He asked to work on my piece a moment. After he introduced some more middle values to the foliage in the back, we talked a few more minutes and then I readjusted areas where I didn't agree with him (nobody's perfect, right?).

My number one complaint? I wish I had taken photos with my cellphone so I could post more process-related pics; see things step-by-step. But, I didn't (duh, Phillips, right?) It would have been interesting to hear comments on what I started with versus what I ended with.

Therefore, I'm going to hold off with my additional commentary right now. I'd like to get some feedback on what you see.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Glenolden Park, Another View, alla prima oil painting

Glenolden Park, Glenolden, PA
In my last blog post about plein air alla prima painting, I spoke of the frustration that I felt as I struggled with my initial experience painting outdoors. Fortunately, as the day went on, I felt my groove come back and this piece came together better.

Unlike my previous piece, this view has a much stronger sense of space with subtle yet definite demarcations leading your eye back into space. The colors aid that perspective as well, much more successfully than my first plein air painting.

The intensity of the pale green leaves on the bush in the front isn't as intense in this photo as it is in my original painting, but you get a sense of its "bushiness" which was my intent.

I also let go and explored more active brushstrokes as I rendered this piece. I think the top of the painting, where the brushwork is most active, is balanced well with the smooth grassy areas. It would have been interesting to see how the composition would "read" if I were to moderate my brushwork so that smaller brushstrokes detailed the background and larger, bolder ones were reserved for the foreground.

Lastly, I more earnestly pushed the use of cool colors in the background to moderate the sense of space as your eye moves from foreground to middle ground to background. As I rendered the overall composition, I became more aware of the importance of seeing what was in front of me and then tweaking specific areas of it to focus the viewer's attention.

When I submit my third (and final painting) from the weekend, I will also take time to address how this plein air experience will impact my teaching high school art. So, check back. I encourage your comments.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Glenolden Park, alla prima oil painting

Glenolden Park, Glenolden, PA
As I indicated in my previous blog post, I took a plein air workshop over the Memorial Day weekend. The painting at right was my first of the weekend. I met the instructor, Fred Kaplan, and the rest of my fine group at Glenolden Park in Glenolden, PA.

This was my first foray into the outdoors to paint and I have to admit that I found it initially unnerving. I've been used to the controlled lighting within a studio environment. On top of that, I have not painted in months so I was resting on my previous experience to get me through. (That was a poor choice for many reasons which I'm not going to pursue at this moment.)

In addition to gaining some experience in outdoor landscape painting, the other primary purpose of this weekend for me was to rekindle my spirits after this month's difficulties at my high school teaching job. Sadly, I found myself bordering on despair as I struggled to find my grove while working on this painting.

Overall, this is not a successful piece for a few reasons. First, there is significant value confusion going on. The background doesn't recede properly and the shapes in the distance aren't resolved well. Part of the issue is that the middle ground is somewhat nebulous. The foreground fairs better though the tree on the left is too dark and lacking in interest. The piece was painted around 11:00 and I feel a sense of light but not the degree that I should (having been there and experienced it).

I'm going to rework this piece to experiment on strategies to resolve the tensions I see in the painting. I'll repost it after I make the changes.

I'll post my second painting (and commentary) tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Plein Air Painting Workshop

I took a plein air painting workshop this past weekend in Pennsylvania with local artist, Fred Kaplan. The class was offered through the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Sadly, I have been out of things for over a month. Go figure, you set up plans for yourself to schedule time to paint and establish short-term and long-term goals only to be sidelined right from the get-go. With the end of the year fast approaching, my responsibilities at school sapped much of my energies and when you add the wifey and kids, well, I just didn't have much of anything left for my art.

So, I had high hopes for this painting workshop. I'll be posting photos and discussing what transpired in my next post.

What materials do you use?

I was originally trained with traditional oils. I moved on to alkyd oils because I liked the fact that they dried more quickly but still pro...