Friday, February 16, 2018

Figure Painting Wrap Up

Marci I

Last session of the three week course at the Worcester ArtMuseum, Portrait and Figure in Watercolor with Randy LeSage (I did paint in week 2, but haven't got photos done).

Our model for the evening was Marci, who is also a blues singer. I am trying to be more forceful and adventurous with color, as well as looser with brush work.

Marci II

Preliminary quick sketch

Still doing a sketch before painting, in order to familiarize myself with the subject through observation, and find out the areas likely to cause trouble in the painting, since watercolor can be difficult, if not impossible to correct.

Marci III

As with many things, practice, practice, practice.

Next course is the same, but in oils. Hope I'm able to sign up for that one as well.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Let's Face It

Over the past few years I have tried honing my skills at figure drawing, primarily through the Worcester Art Museum's life drawing sessions in the galleries. Since they have been discontinued, I have signed up for a watercolor portrait and figure class with instructor Randy LeSage.

The experience with drawing has been helpful, as this is my first attempt at portraits and figures in watercolor. The model was Kate, and her fair coloring and delicate features made it a struggle for this first week's attempts.

In any event, onward and upward with the arts!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Like Day and Night

View from Fort Hill Street in Wiscasset

There are scenes that you may walk by frequently, and always "meant to take a photo" or think "that would make a good painting subject". It can take a long time for these inspirations to come to fruition.

The owner of a property near mine in Wiscasset, Maine, has been converting the hillside into an almost vertical landscape. When viewed from my street, you would see very little as it is at the edge of the hill. In addition, a number of trees blocked the view. With the removal of some trees, he now has more light for his yard, and it has opened up the view of that section of the village.

The inspiration for the painting came from seeing this view on a daily basis while out walking the dogs, although it took me a couple of years to get around to it. Looking down on the buildings from this vantage point made it seem more toy-like and whimsical than most of my other scenes. Rather than be technically realistic, I did take some liberties with placement and color to create a fun and colorful view.

Overlooking Wiscasset Village, Acrylic, 24 x 30

Painting finally completed, and won second place at the Artist Guild of Shrewsbury's annual show in November, 2017.

Second Place winner

Looking down from my street to the other side of the village, I was taken by the view of the food shop and bakery on the next street. Yes, while walking the dogs, at night this time.

Bad, fuzzy photo

I did a small watercolor sketch, with the idea of making a more finished painting at some point. Again, a hiatus of  two years before completing the second painting. Again, liberties were taken.

Watercolor, 8 x 10

Baker's Moon, Acrylic, 18 x 24

Monday, November 13, 2017

Does this artist's name ring a bell?

I happened to come across these two paintings listed in a Skinner's  auction catalog. The paintings, while pleasant and competent, might not seem that striking. The name of the artist, Edward Darley Boit, may not immediately ring a bell with most people.

Lot 1016Edward Darley Boit (American, 1842-1916) Hillside Landscape

Lot 1362Edward Darley Boit (American, 1840-1915) Villa, San Remo 

What makes them of interest is the connection the artist has to a very well known painting, possibly the most famous painting in Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Yes, those are his daughters in the famous Sargent painting.

The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit (1882)
John Singer Sargent (American, 1856–1925)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Swept Away in the Flood - of 1938

"How high's the water, Momma?"

More than the lobster or lighthouses, your trip to Maine should include a stop at the Miles Hospital rummage sale. Years ago, these were enormous three day affairs under large tents. Merchandise was collected all year, and dispersed in one weekend. This was quite a fundraiser; by the time the ended a few years ago they were taking in over 100K  - amazing, when you consider that you could pretty much fill your car with purchases and not spend over $20.

They now have monthly sales at their collection center. I usually find some household stuff, books, glasses to replace the ones that get broken, etc.

This time I also found a painting. It is definitely an amateur effort, made appealing by the label on the back with the name of the artist, the date (May, 1938) and the person to whom it was given.

No "regifting"

I couldn't quite figure out whether the scene was accurate. Trees seemed to be growing out of the river - was this intentional, or a failed attempt at depicting snow? I knew there was a hurricane in New England that year, but that was in September, and this was clearly a winter scene. A quick search turned up stories of major flooding in March of that year due to extremely heavy rainfall in Maine. Aha, she was probably painting the effects of the flooding rivers.

While not in the category of Grandma Moses, it is still a fun souvenir of Maine history.

Label Text: Painted by Mamie Paine, May 25, 1938. Town name blacked out, but faded enough to make out "Plymouth Maine".

Given to Vera Tasker. Town name blacked out, but faded enough to make out "Dixmont Maine".

This seems logical, as these two towns are close to each other.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Free Chairs?


When I say I am taking care of some long-dormant projects, I really mean it. This pair of chairs is finally finished. 
I realized when looking over the old pictures that I have had them since at least 2012.  These chairs were originally donated to a fundraiser, and no one wanted them. The owner didn't want to take them home, and asked me to take them. I did so reluctantly. After various peregrinations between garage, cellar and attic, 

I felt a start would be to at least repair and prep them. This caused somewhat of  a dilemma, as described in an older post:

This type of chair, common in the Pennsylvania area, have various names: Yoke back, plank seat, lyre back and fiddle back (depending on the shape of the splat). Among one group they are called "Schnader" chairs, due to a collection of designs painted by a Mr. Schnader of Pennsylvania in the 1940s.

Typical chair design (source unknown)

Base coat of salmon pink

I always liked the bold colorful designs, and had some patterns to work from. But when it finally came time to start painting them, I simply went my own way, creating an original design by building up element by element.

Start of banding and striping

Building up a design (you can see I multi-task)

An original design!

While the design is not an authentic re-creation, it does provide a colorful pair of chairs ready for use, rather than incomplete and nagging at me. Note to self: don't be too willing when someone offers you free furniture!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Mystery of the Windmill Mirror

As purchased

I purchased this large mirror at auction. Federal style, but I suspect, based on the construction and some other clues, it is from the 1890-1920 period. I have seen other Federal style mirrors made during this period, and the workmanship is usually of high quality, and there is an adherence to the original that can make them difficult to attribute to a specific period. I have seen some, by the Boston firm "Foster Brothers" that are particularly good reproductions. Another, with a Wallace Nutting label, had some of the best reverse glass painting I've seen. I think these "second period" mirrors intrigue me, since at the time, it would not have been difficult to obtain a period piece. Perhaps the fad of "Colonial" during that period made them in demand, and, like today, many people like "antiques" (as long as they are not old).

Back construction indicates late 19th or early 20th century

Nicely done panel

I appreciated the workmanship on this one, in particular the nice eglomise panel with a diapered pattern on the sides, and a central scene of a windmill. Since the price was reasonable (due to damages), I wasn't concerned with the age, and felt that it may have been a replacement. One day, as is my habit, I was looking on-line at houses for sale, and one in the next town had photo showing my mirror in the living room. Since the house was on the next street over from a well known painter of early American decoration, I wondered if she was connected, and/or executed the glass panel.

Damage detail

The damages, while distracting, were not as difficult to fix as they might appear. One leaf ornament was missing, but this was a common composition ornament, and I already had a mold from another mirror project. A quick casting, and it was ready to gesso and gild to match the others.

The colonnettes and their bases had gesso cracking and losses. Since this was systemic failure of the gesso bond, I took off the gesso and re-applied new gesso. They were then water gilded. As usual, I want my antique mirrors and frames to show wear (which will be more pronounced on the delicate water gilt areas than on the oil gilded sections).

When I get a space to leave this out, I might disassemble the backing and see if there is more information or clues. But for now, with repairs done, it will get packed away out of harm's way.