Friday, February 27, 2009

Goodbye, Rocky!

"Coffee/Crossword" .. oil .. 10" x 10" .. SOLD

Long time followers of this blog may recognize this still life. I thought of it again last night when I learned that one of our cities two daily papers would publish its last issue today. Like many papers in the country, it fell victim to lost ad revenue and declining subscriptions as the internet becomes more popular with the modern crowd. The Rocky had been up for sale and I thought surely they'd find a buyer in time. I, for one, am very sad to see if go. They had some really great writers.

I never thought I'd be a painter of historical memorablia, but if newspapers continue down this road, the great-grandniece of the woman who owns this painting may some day say, 'Auntie, what is that a painting of?'

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Painting for the Day: "Tea and Tangerines"

"Tea and Tangerines"..... oil .... 10" x 10".... SOLD

I've been working on a new set of still lifes... which includes trips to the thrift stores, import markets, and cooking boutiques looking for interesting and sometimes very specific props... and also going through my ever growing collection of little bowls and plates that I pick up all through the year. Yesterday I think I may have really scored with a set of yellow green arc-shaped plates that make an open circle when put end to end.

I enjoy doing these still lifes, my only wish is that I could find a way to do them faster, as there are so many in my head.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Painting for the Day: "On the Vine"

"On the Vine" . . . . . oil . . . . . .20" x 20" . . . . . SOLD

I've read that Tueday is the most productive day of the week...
let's see if that's true. It's a beautiful mid-sixties day here and yesterday we had our first crocus blooms. Makes me hopeful and giddy to think about spring... and summer, and tomatoes from our own vines, like in this painting. The background is an almost flourescent cutting board that displyed these saturated lemon-lime colored shadows... couldn't resist.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Painting for the Day: "Your Artistic License Has Been Revoked"

It's Still the Weekend and I'm Still Dancing.

"Your Artistic License Has been Revoked" oil 21" x 21" SOLD

The title is from the button on the left shoe. I still love my Vans.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Painting for the Day: "Shut Up and Dance"

It's the weekend!
Anyone feel like dancing?

"Shut Up and Dance" oil 10" x 10"

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Quotes for the Day

Frustrating day?
Does your expression look like Ren, here? (oh wait, that's MY picture).
Call in syndicated characters to act out your emotions in a far more amusing manner than your own tantrums.
That's what I do.

But first give yourself a daily affirmation:

"I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me." ~ Stuart Smiley

Then just let it all out:

"You Eeediot!!!!"
~ Ren Höek (of Ren and Stimpy)

Disclaimer: This is not in any way meant as political statment of any kind. It's a sad little attempt at humor on a ...'challenging' day.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Painting for the Day: Tahitian Bouquet

"Tahitian Bouquet" - oil 30" x 40" - SOLD

I guess I'm in a tropical mood today... must be the chilly weather.
In Papeete, Tahiti, there's a huge two story open air market that covers an entire city block. Along the perimeter local vendors sell native flowers out of big white plastic buckets. This painting is from one of those buckets on the street.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Illustration for the Day: Jungle Goddess

"Jungle Goddess" watercolor 4.25" x 6"

As promised, another one in the 'goddess' series... actually the use of 'goddess' was from my good friend Synetta. I did many of these with her in mind and she is truly a goddess to me. At the time I didn't realize how imbued with symbolism and all that the word was or I would've used another term (though I don't know what). This lovely in the jungle no doubt owes some kind of debt to Henri Rousseau.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Illustration for the Day: Domestic Goddess

Back in the early days of the web, before Etsy and other online stores were available and cost effective for small merchants, I self-published a small line of postcards under the name "Goddess Greeting Cards" and sold them on a very rudimentary system (a buyer would print off the order form and mail it to me with a check).

"Domestic Goddess" watercolor dyes, original approx. 4.5" x 6"

The watercolors of these little full bodied women were inspired by "goddess" figures down the centuries (such as the ancient figurine Venus of Willendorf, 'Birth of Venus' by Botticelli, even Jean-Auguste Ingres' ' La Grande Odalisque' (which if you squint just right shares some pose with 'Domestic Goddess'), and also by good friends in my life. I liked including humorous details: in this one, the goddess delays her arduous chore of ironing lingerie so as not to miss Oprah, which she enjoys with grapes, strawberries, fruit filled cookies, red wine (antioxidants, y'know!) and scented candle; tucked under the coffee table for later is a box of chocolates. She luxuriates on her all-cotton futon in the good company of her two contented cats. Her stack of reading material includes the latest issues of 'Spin Dry' and Vague'.

It was an interesting* experiment and I think over time I made my printing investment back and broke even (maybe just). With the new year looming and seeing a fair drop off in graphic design work, I'm wondering if this venture might be something to try again, this time perhaps as blank greeting cards. Any thoughts from my art comrades out there?

*(a footnote on 'interesting'-- what was most interesting was that comments left to my little website were either wildly enthusiastic, or sputtering in outrage. I had women AND men thank me for portraying fun, loving images of women who were not held to a model-thin ideal; and others directing me to the 'fires down below that await sinners' such as myself, apparently, for portraying such evil decadence!?!?! (ummmm.....because they were 'nekkid'? Or because they were relaxing and enjoying themselves)? The most outlandish of which said something to the effect of I 'should get down on my knees and pray for eternal salvation'.

And, oddly, from the other side of the spectrum, a note from a self-proclaimed 'goddess-woman' who thought it was inappropriate that I make a meager profit on the name of the (nameless) goddess-- I wrote back and pleaded that surely the goddess would not want me to suppress my talents and thus starve? ?

So. Given that, as much as I still like these images and might enjoy rounding out the collection, I will ask my fellow bloggers:

  • Is It Worth It?
  • Am I just asking for trouble?
  • Or is it just the use of G-word??

P.S., I'll probably post a few more of these watercolors this week, if anyone's curious.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose

"Spiraling Into Control" oil 36" x 36"
The underpainting on this canvas is all in pale shades of orange, as in the lower right hand corner. All the deeper shades of orange and orange red were made with multiple glazed layers of yellows, reds, and magentas.

In honor of cupid's day...
A Rose Is A Rose (as written/sung by Poe, off the Loungeapolooza compilation album)

Jezebel...from Israel...
Who never read a book
Charmed the literati
And a smile was all it took...

I was laughing with Picasso
When she first entered the room
But Gershwin, Tristan Tzara
And Man Ray saw her too;

There was never any doubt
All would try to take her home
But she refused their every move
Preferred to be alone

And a rose...a rose is a rose

Zelda had a breakdown
Fitzgerald hit the bar
His hand was broken, words were spoken
Didn't get too far
Hemmingway was smoother
More debonair and fun
But he would say her repartee
Was meaner than a gun

And a rose...A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose
Said my good friend Gertrude Stein
She knows that I go to the ol' Deux Magots
And I drink Pernod through the night

Before her Joyce will babble
And Pound has gone insane
Eliot is paralyzed by
Thoughts of April rain
When she refused Lenin
He vowed to start a war
Stravinsky beat
The Rite of Spring
Right there on the floor
And a rose...a rose is a rose

A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose
said my good friend Gertrude Stein
She knows that I go to the ol' Deux Magots
And I drink Pernod through the night

And then one night she's missing
A riot soon began
No one could stand the thought of
Jezzie with another man
I raced down winding streets
I broke into her house
You'll never guess who Jezebel
Was kissing on the couch...A rose...a rose is a rose...
Hi Jezzie. Hi there Gertrude
Am I interrupting something?
A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose...

Happy V day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Close up on Strawberries

Here is a closeup of yesterday's post; clearly a painting....I think.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Painting for the day: Strawberries and Grapes

"Strawberries and Grapes" oil 18"x24"

From a market in Rio Maggiore, Italy

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

In progress: a crate of strawberries

Originally I thought I might run a step by step on this painting, but I wasn't that thrilled with the photos I took. Here's a couple shots, though, of the underpainting in progress.

Above, the initial underpainting is about half completed.
I use very thin paint at this stage, just enough to lay in basic values and colors.
Below, the completed underpainting, ready for final paint.

The box has been laid in with a second coat of paint.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Stop the Presses: Photoshop Tip 10 Rewritten!: Correcting a Black and White Image with Set Point in Levels.

HUGE THANKS to Carrie Jacobson who emailed me her photographer-husband's Photoshop Tip today-- This is the coolest Photoshop Tip I've seen in Years-- This is going to change lives! (Well, I feel as though it's changed mine!)

This tip is WAY FASTER and WAY more accurate than what I wrote before.
I'll add right here, as I have in the past: I really do Not consider myself a Photoshop expert by any means; the tips I post are just things I've picked up over the years on my own, or when I'm lucky enough to have someone look over my shoulder. So if you see something in these posts and you know a better way: Please send it and help us all! Full credit given to you.

Carrie writes: "When you are in levels, you can use the little eyedropper things in the lower right corner of the box to set your black and your white. Just click on the "white" eyedropper, and then click on a place in your photograph that you know is white... then do the same thing with black... and it virtually color-corrects for you."
Diagram A.
Here's the step by step: I've opened the original dark file (as you can see, the same funky sketch from last time), and made a copy of it for on screen comparision.

To begin, Click on Ctrl + L (Cmnd+L for Mac) or from the top toolbar, Image Adjustments/Levels to bring up the Levels dialog box.

Note the eyedroppers in the lower right hand corner as shown in Diagram A above. Click on the farthest right one, the 'Set white Point' dropper. Choose an area on your image that you know to be (in life) true white (in this case I clicked on the lower lefthand background), and click on that area with the dropper. Voila!

If the image didn't turn out quite how you wanted, click Ctrl + Z for undo, and try the step again with another 'white' area of the image. (Notice the middle graph, called a Histogram, and how it changes in these steps. The histogram measures the relativve amount of light and dark across your image).

As Carrie pointed out, do the step again using the left hand dropper to set your black point; I've done it here, using the shadow under the babushka's lower lip.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Quote for the Day: Alice Neel

"You should keep on painting no matter how difficult it is
because this is all part of experience, and the more experience you have, the better it is... unless it kills you, and then you know you have gone too far."

~Alice Neel, American artist, 1900-1984

I like to think she said this with tongue firmly implanted in cheek...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Photoshop tips: 10. Correcting a black and white image.

Photographing Black and White images, or color images with a primarily white background can present challenges. Often your first try at a photograph can be dark or discolored.

As a first step, take you best shot by setting the White Balance on your camera before shooting; see the White Balance for Color Accuracy tutorial. This will help avoid some color cast and darkness issues.

To correct the raw image:

Astute reader
Carrie Jacobson sent her husband's tip for correcting black and white photos that is SO superior to what I posted here that I am removing mine. Click here for the updated version.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Two Gloves in 3 colors.

Writing about Digital Color Space (RGB vs. CMYK), and about how to set White Balance on your camera in previous posts got me to thinking about how variable color is in so many ways.

In the experiment above, two gloves were painted, each with Cadmium Red Light and white. In the first one (NYC) the 3rd color was black; in the second (Milano) the 3rd color was the complement of the red; in this case a lovely shade of blue green, Schminke's Cinnabar Green Deep. I find it interesting how changing just one color can change the whole composition.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Photoshop Tips: 9. CMYK vs. RGB: knowing which color space to use

The two basic color spaces, or Modes, that you'll most often encounter with your digital images are RGB and CMYK. Each has a specific use, outlined below.

RGB (Red-Green-Blue) is the color of the light emitted from your computer monitor, and from TV's. Use RGB if you are taking photos specifically to be viewed onscreen, such as the internet, or for a CD or emails. RGB usually also works well for printing from your home or office printer.

CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) is the color of inks used in the offset printing process. Use CMYK if you are sending your photo to be printed, such as preparing a postcard to be professionally printed for a gallery invite.

What color mode is your photo? In most cases, right off of your digital camera, the mode (or color space) will be RGB. You can tell in Photoshop by looking at the blue bar at the top of your open image (see the red arrow).

If you need to change the mode of your image, from the top toolbar click Image/Mode/CMYK.
Changing mode can affect the appearance of your image.
If you switch to CMYK from RGB, you may need to adjust your color. You may notice, as in this exaggerated sample, that the colors in the CMYK sample on the right have become somewhat subdued, especially in the blue range.

For a more thorough explanation of CMYK vs. RGB try this link:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Feb 4- Tagged again!

Okay, so I've been awarded and tagged by Sheila Tajima and Dominique Eichi this past week. This is my second round of tagging; I was tagged as a pretty young blog last year. As I was a virtual unknown (and likely the same is true now), I think I'm fairly safe to use the same list again this time. At that time I was asked for 7 Unusual Things about myself; Sheila and Dominique asked for a list of 7 things I love. I think there is some crossover here; also I've added a few more quips, in turquoise.

Here's my list of "Seven (not so) Unusual Things About Me":

  1. I love a good pun and a pithy witticism, a good laugh and a funny joke.

  2. I alphabetize my spice rack obsessively; and my closets and drawers are always arranged in chromatic order.

  3. I was nine years old when I was hired for my first 'art' job. A real estate company wanted a "kid's drawing" of a house for a billboard. I got paid $35. Ultimately the illustration was never reproduced, as they thought it was "too sophisticated".
  4. I've been collecting cartoons for as long as I can remember, especially cartoons about art and artists.

  5. Others suffer from my occasional dyscalculia (like dyslexia, but only affecting numbers).

  6. I was so poor (money-wise) in art school that one morning I woke up and realized I had nothing to eat in the house except shredded wheat and red wine (the really cheap kind in a box). Which got me through the week. (Which I think is on the menu again this week.)
  7. My favorite movie of all time is still Buckaroo Banzai ("Wherever You Go, There You Are"), and I've always wished they'd released a soundtrack.

And now for my seven artists picks to tag. I've tried for the most part to choose other 'untagged', newer to blogging artists so they can join the game and play too. In no particular order:

  1. Nathalie Davis, San Marcos California
  2. Steven Conrad, Texas

  3. Brett LaGue, Roanoke, Virginia
  4. Stephen Dell'Aria, NW Virginia,
  5. Carole Baker, Alaska
  6. Cheryl Anderson, Littleton, Colorado

  7. Connie Pride, Tennessee
Thanks in advance for playing!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Blog award!

Thank you to Sheila Tajima and Dominque Eichi who simultaneously awarded me this little 'Love-Your-Art' Blog' award (or maybe it's 'kiss'-'hug' your blog).... I'm TRULY not worthy, but thank you both!

Along with the award comes a "Tag" to list 7 things you love, and then tag seven more artists. I promise I will get to that soon.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Camera Tip: White Balance

If there is only one special setting you should get to know on your camera, it's the White Balance. Particularly if your painting style leaves a lot of white paper or canvas showing through, White Balance will save you tons of grief in the photo edit stage. I actually avoided painting any pictures with white backgrounds for YEARS...knowing how difficult they were to photograph.

Your digital camera has a built-in AWB (Auto White Balance), but sometimes you'll need to override it. Usually this means simply checking the manual for how to bring up the setting, and then taking a sample photo of a blank sheet of white paper.

The photo from my studio below illustrates the kinds of variation you might get from photographing an all white still life. You can see by learning one small camera tip you can save yourself a lot of big editing headaches.

White balance can also come in handy for monochromatic and full color images.

Here's a couple good internet sources for the basics of White Balance; what it is, what it means...

  • "Normally our eyes compensate for lighting conditions with different color temperatures. A digital camera needs to find a reference point which represents white. It will then calculate all the other colors based on this white point. For instance, if a halogen light illuminates a white wall, the wall will have a yellow cast, while in fact it should be white. So if the camera knows the wall is supposed to be white, it will then compensate all the other colors in the scene accordingly.

    Most digital cameras feature automatic white balance whereby the camera looks at the overall color of the image and calculates the best-fit white balance. However these systems are often fooled especially if the scene is dominated by one color, say green, or if there is no natural white present..."

  • "White balance (WB) is the process of removing unrealistic color casts, so that objects which appear white in person are rendered white in your photo. Proper camera white balance has to take into account the "color temperature" of a light source, which refers to the relative warmth or coolness of white light.
    Our eyes are very good at judging what is white under different light sources, however digital cameras often have great difficulty with auto white balance (AWB).
    An incorrect WB can create unsightly blue, orange, or even green color casts, which are unrealistic...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Basic Tips for Photographing Art for the Technically Challenged

Digital cameras have been a revolution, and revelation for artists in particular. I'm sure you remember the film days; pay for film, and for processing, waiting sometimes days to get your slides back...and then crossing your finges, hoping, hoping, that the exposures were good, that the camera was in focus... that the lab didn't lose your film right before the big art show entry was due... (happens)!

There are times you will want and need to take your work to a professional photo studio. I trust you'll figure out those times. For the Daily Painter, though, who wishes to post a photo a day, there's nothing faster and more cost effective than taking your own. I've been shooting photos since my teens but I still consider my style 'point and shoot'. A true professional photographer would be appalled by my lack of camera knowledge. Still, after decades of hining my 'non-method', I may have some useful tips for the non technical among you-- and you know who you are!

Getting the most of out of your 'raw' photos
  • Photoshop can work wonders on many photos, but the better your original image is, the less editing, headaches and better final results you'll have.

  • Unless you have the luxury of professional photo lights set up somewhere in your studio, you'll probably get the best photos outdoors. You'll have to do some experimenting to find what works best for you, and it may vary somewhat by each painting.

  • If you're shooting watercolors, drawings, pastels, etc.: Photograph before framing with glass! You will save yourself so many headaches.

  • Try photographing in a variety of light settings; I'm fond of middle of day (that is, around 10 a.m. and again around 2 p.m.) 'bright shade'-- to minimize glare and 'hot spots' from brush strokes.

  • Try angling the painting into, and conversely, away from the sun; see which works the best to reduce glare. You might also experiment with the positioning of the canvas; lay it face up on a table or on the ground, hang it on a wall, or at an angle leaning on something-- all will provide somewhat different results-- and the background gets cropped in the end anyway.

  • Do try and square the edges of the painting in your viewfinder to minimize straightening issues in the editing phase. Take at least a half dozen images of any artwork and choose the best one to begin editing. Remember, there's no film to waste here-- go crazy.

  • Check the manual on your digital camera for ideas; while I'm not one to read cover to cover, there is always useful information that can be located through the index. If you are fortunate enough to have a camera with some built in settings*, try several of them on any single artwork and see which has the best look. *(mine has built color settings for Portrait, Landscape, a combo of the first two, Macro (close-up), Museum (very handy if you must shoot indoors), and a number of others.) Over time you'll discover which setting works best for your kind of artwork.

  • If you have a new camera or haven't experimented much with it, try shooting at every 'preset' it has. You might be surprised at what variety you'll get, and the perfect camera setting for you may be lurking somewhere in the presets.

  • Once you've gotten a good starting photo, check back to these tips for easy ways to make your photo the best it can be with Photoshop. A good photo WILL help you sell your art.

(note: if you have anything to add, or a link to your favorite method of photographing, I'd be happy to post it.)