Monday, December 29, 2008

Weekly Studio Update

With the holidays and my birthday, it has of course been a less productive week. Last weekend I had to skip out early on my weekly painting class, but came back this week and got as far as above. There is not a real likeness, but I might be able to work on it some more in the near future.

Today I finally got back to work on "Sloth." I've added another layer to the legs, but they still aren't close to where I want them hue and value-wise, and also darkened the shadow behind the figure. It will be a slow week for this painting, too, since the holidays really aren't yet over!

I've done a couple more little sketches in my sketch book, and will hopefully do more on the days I am not able to make it into the studio. If I don't post again in 2008... cheers and have a great New Year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Studio Sketch

Today I went into the studio, did a bunch of cleaning, and then got set up to get to work on "Sloth." But, I just wasn't feeling it. I only had an hour and a half left to work at that point, and I didn't have a particular plan of attack. So, I opened up my folding table and put a varnish layer on "Woe and Joy." With even less time left, I debated between finding some other task that needed doing or heading home early to sneak in a nap. I decided to get out my new mini-sketch book that was in my purse and do this quick rendering of my studio. When you click on the image to view it full size, it will be the same size as in real life.

You can see my varnished painting drying on the table all the way at the right. Against the wall behind it are a desk and a blank canvas leaning against the wall. Then you see "Sloth" and my painting cart with the faux walls and chair set up from the weekend's class. Now in the left-hand corner is my canvas/painting storage thing, and then a couple of carpet-covered panels to use as model-stands. I didn't draw what was on the other side of the fence on the left because I ran out of time. Tomorrow I will have more time and will come up with a plan for the painting tonight so I am ready to go in the morning.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

January Class at ARTichokes

This could be the perfect gift for the artist or aspiring artist in your life, or for yourself! Contact ARTichokes to sign up.

Painting From Life
Thursdays, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
CLASS DATES: JAN 8, JAN 15, JAN 22 and JAN 29

Discover the tricks of the trade when it comes to painting from life (a live model)! While, to many, the human form is a difficult object to tackle, Lacey will help to calm all your uncertainties. In the first class, students will focus on composing the figure from a live model and building value. During the second class, students will learn how to prepare a flesh toned palette, in order to quickly block in the figure. For the final two classes, the model will stay in the same pose in order for the students to achieve finer details.

All levels of experience are welcome.

All art supplies are provided by ARTichokes & this cost is included in the enrollment fee.

Instructor: Lacey Lewis
Cost for 4 classes: $185.00, plus tax

Paintings Update

I got the canvas covered on "Sloth!" Of course, I was in a rush to get it done before I had to stop, so the values (on the knees especially) are off and up close it's a bit sloppy, but the base coat is down and I am happy about that. With the holidays this week, I will have limited time in the studio but plan to make the best of it.
Mid-week my apprentice and I also had the model for this painting come in so we could work, but the light was quickly fading so we only really got another hour in. The next day I did something I really never do: I worked on it with no reference at all, just my memory. Considering that I never do that I think it came out pretty well! I really didn't touch the hands and feet because I don't remember those details, and the legs aren't as solid as I'd like, but this has turned out to be a pretty good little study. The face is a real challenge because it is so small, so it's not a very good likeness. The picture above at full size is about the same size as the painting in real life, 12" x 6". That makes the head less than 1.25".

Today I am off to my weekly figure painting class and then will be at the studio all day tomorrow. I'll update on my progress in a couple days.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Today I was back in the studio working on "Sloth." Another day and I should have the whole thing blocked in. I forgot to take a picture, but I acquired some awesome new studio furniture last Friday from some kind souls at a school that was getting rid of said furniture. They came just in time as one of the pieces works great as a painting cart while standing.

Saturday, I continued working on the above painting from life during the weekly figure painting class I've been holding in my studio. Unfortunately, I'm a slow, slow painter, but it looks like I might get the model to come back again this week.

Finally, I thought I'd repost this painting since the color on the previous picture of it was way off. It's still not the best piece ever, but it was fun and I look forward to breaking out the knives again some time soon.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Kansas City, KS Arts

There is a growing arts community in Kansas City, KS, though I admittedly have a hard time putting my finger on just what and where it is! I'm one of those people that due to family commitments and my busy schedule am not generally able to get out to lots of real-life in-person meetings. However, I am somewhat tech-savvy and have therefore created a Yahoo group to connect and unite artists and those involved with or interested in the arts in Kansas City, KS.

I just started it up last Friday, and already we have almost three dozen members, as many messages, and several files, databases, and even a poll! There are opportunities listed for getting involved with non-profits, business workshops for artists, and several meetings and gatherings. There's a lot more happening here than I realized!

You need not be an artist, be directly involved in the arts, or live or work in KCK in order to join the group. You need only to be interested in what's happening. Check it out and sign up!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sloth - The Early Stages

I just started the largest-scale painting I have ever attempted. This canvas is 4ft high by 6ft wide. For the first time ever, I have used a large gesso brush to apply oil paint. (Anyone know a great way to get paint out of such a large brush, by the way?) It was crazy; there was paint everywhere! Psst: There's no paint on the figure yet, if that wasn't obvious.

This is where the canvas stood yesterday before I left the studio, with my composition lines and cartoon sketched in charcoal. When I arrived this morning, I made a couple changes to Woe and Joy (wait, did I say that was finished?) spent an hour cleaning my palette and then got started with the big ol' brushes. I also had a chat with Steve Curtis of S2 Studios, which is in the Kansan building as well, and we have some ideas brewing. More on that later tonight or tomorrow.

The other day I also felt like taking a picture of my desk. For some reason it just made me happy. All the way to the left you can see a teeny painting that was started from life last Saturday. The figure is maybe 9 or 10 inches high. Not an intriguing composition, but I will work on it again this Saturday and hopefully wind up with a good figure study. Just trying out a few ideas with it.

Tomorrow yet more changes with be made at the studio. I am finally getting some curtains put up, and I am also getting some way cool flat files. Then, in the evening, feel free to stop by the open studios from 5-8pm. I'm in the Pressroom Studios at 750 Armstrong in KC, KS. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Woe and Joy

"Woe and Joy"
Oil on Canvas 40" x 30"

Woe and joy indeed! I am so happy this painting is finally finished. In a couple weeks when it is dry enough, I will varnish it so that the deeper shadows in the hair and flesh tones really blend well with the background.

The name for the painting came from the title of a blog post by the above model when she announced her baby had been born. Originally, I had a more dramatic title and theme for this painting, (face paint was involved, I'll just say that) but after the image and message became more subtle I started trying to think of a new title. As soon as I read the posted announcement on her blog, I knew I had my name! Of course, she is a writer, so what better source for such things?

I finished this painting off today during a seven hour session in my studio. It was awesome. I am not sure I have had a day that long at the studio yet! Not only did I complete this one, but I got started on my next big project and tidied up a bit, too. Good times.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Bowman Class

Today I attended Richard Bowman's landscape painting class at ARTichokes, and it was everything I'd hoped for! (That's Richard above with his cloud demo.) Actually, I am not sure I had a particular idea of what I wanted the class to be like, but I knew I wanted it to be different than anything I usually do. It was!

We all started off watching and listening as Bowman explained and demonstrated how he mixes his palette and his thought process behind it. The picture above is my palette mixed up in a similar manner to the way he did his. Certainly different than any way I've worked before!

After that, Richard started a demo of a cloud on his own canvas before we sat down to our own work. I took this picture in the beginning stage of my own cloud. I felt like I was trying to paint with my left hand (I'm right handed) when using the palette knife, which is all we used the whole class. I also used many paper towels wiping off my knife and numerous times got paint on my hands. Don't worry, I didn't panic. At least not on the outside.

The above 'Cloud/Blob' thing is the result of my first go with the knife. I think this may have taken about an hour, and even though it is ultra-blob-like and not so much cloudy, I'm happy with the result because it was so much outside the box for me. Sometime towards the end I started to figure out how to use the knife. It was difficult for me to figure out how to spread the paint without laying down too much paint nor scraping through to the canvas.

Here's my attempt at a sunset done during the 2nd half of the class. I started off at the top intending to do the whole sky in a higher key with lower chroma, but then as I got lower in the painting I got darker and brighter. Now I wish I would've kept it lighter at the bottom or darker at the top, but oh well. I can always grab another canvas and give it another go, right?

Richard Bowman is an energetic teacher, very helpful and has a great sense of humor. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about knife landscape painting and it was a welcome break from my usual grind.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Back to Painting

I've gotten a couple painting sessions in now, and I am feeling much relieved. The above painting I started, um, quite some time ago. More of the panel is covered now, and as I started back up I noticed that since I started the piece, something about my painting has changed. As I looked at the dry paint (hip, back, upper arm) compared to the wet paint (forearms, hands, lower 2/3 of the legs) I thought about the former, "Gosh, that's chromatic!" I remember exactly what I was thinking putting those stronger chromas in there and I wonder what will become of this painting and how will it be different than the if I'd finished it two months ago. I put a 2nd layer on the face while I had the flesh tones on the palette.

I'm also closing in on this one. I may have finished up the sitting person's hands, and have moved on to her shirt. Our left side of her shirt is almost there, the other side has hardly been touched. Then I started going into the background with another layer of black, and am really trying to lose those edges that are in shadow; the back of the sitting woman's head and everything beyond the lit part of her arm, and letting all detail fade until we hit a lit part of the standing woman. I will do the same all over the canvas, carefully choosing which edges will be completely lost in shadow, which will be softly visible, and which will be more crisp.

Tomorrow, I will not be painting on either of these canvases. I've decided to treat myself to a day long class tomorrow at ARTichokes with an artist I've admired for several years, Rich Bowman. This will be completely outside the box for me. I haven't attempted a landscape since maybe high school, though I have envisioned landscape paintings often. Work in this class will be done exclusively with a palette knife, which is a tool I completely lack experience or comfort with when it comes to painting. Finally, I think we're going to be working from *gasp* our imaginations! As an artist who is, ironically, completely uncreative, this all sounds really intimidating. I really am looking forward to it, though, because I have often thought about including all these elements in my work but just haven't attempted it or really known how to approach it.

Don't forget that I am also teaching two classes at ARTichokes this month! Portrait Drawing on December 11th and Figure Painting on December 18th. See my classes and workshops page for more info.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Painting, Teaching, Etc.

It's kind of a bummer that I haven't been able to update this blog more regularly. This is also reflective of my frustration with not being as productive in the painting department as I'd like. There's always something else that has to be done! I'm doing my best to clear my schedule this month and next, yet I still need to pay the bills. I've gotten a couple things out of the way, though. After this week I will have a vacation from private lessons during the work week, and I just delivered the final design for a children's CD I've been working on. I still have some classes and such going on, but I just might cancel all classes after the New Year. I desperately want more studio time!

Regardless, I have still made some progress. Since the last post about this painting, I've completely gone over both bellies, added some warmer, lighter pigments to the sitting woman's face, put another layer on her hands, and started on her clothing. You can see the difference in the white skirt, though I don't know if I will keep that the way it is.

There's still so much to do. I almost want to cry I am so frustrated with the fact that this is taking so long. I wanted it done in November! I have other paintings to paint! Meanwhile, I still need to get curtains up at the studio since the sun this time of year is too direct...

OK, enough of my pity-party! Last Saturday I held a figure painting class in my studio, and we will continue this through December. Today I moved my big canvas/supply holder, which is on the left with a green fabric draped over it, out of the way to hopefully accommodate everyone better. In the above picture, you can see my easel way in the background on the right.

I experimented with using color strings in my painting during this class. I pre-mixed a series of neutral grays, a flesh tone, and an earth red and yellow. There were certainly benefits to working this way, and I plan to actually tube color strings in the near future. I've been getting some of these ideas from a certain group and their application of the Munsell system, which is something I've been spending a lot of time reading about over the past several months. Interesting stuff.

Here's my palette set up, already part way through the painting. The lighting wasn't very good when I took this and I wanted to avoid flash, but I will take a better picture next time I set up my palette this way.

Anyway, I wanted to really just focus on the above as my composition. However, I only had an 11x14 or 5x7 panel to choose from, and I felt stretching that to 11x14 would be too big. So, I did focus on that area, and then at the end of class rushed to sketch in the rest.

Even though I am not totally happy with the paint outside of the cropped area, it was a good session for me. I took a picture to use as reference since this model is *on tour with his band* and thus will not be available to model again soon. Perhaps I will get a chance to bring this one up to a finish.