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Showing posts from September, 2014

What I Have Learned - Wilted

From 2005, a gallery stretched painting titled "Wilted (Taco)," a larger than lifesized portrait (24" x 28") of a beefy chihuahua. Before I became a daily painter, I often painted really, really big.  I held onto this little big guy for 9 years, but he's spent the last couple in storage. I think he deserves a new home. Ask nicely, and he can be yours for rollback-to-2005 pricing of $700.
I couldn't think of a better piece to end my week of critiques than with Taco.
Because sometimes, even if we can't articulate it, a piece comes together and shocks us. These are the special ones, the "ah-ha" paintings, that we take special pride in.
So what does work here? I'll tell you:
1. Taco isn't centered, but he's firmly rooted. This guy isn't budging one bit, and the composition is structured to send that message.
2. Look at all the color here, even though he is a (mostly) white dog! The form is modeled with shifts in color, not just sh…

What I Have Learned - Pleased to Meet You

From 2005, a gallery stretched painting titled "Pleased to Meet You (Introductions)," a lifesized portrait (20" x 18") of three labs. 
All week long, I've been sharing older paintings, talking about what I would do differently today. It's been a great process - really reminding me that, despite my own feelings that I don't know much about painting, I actually do know quite a bit more than I did just a few short years ago.
Today's painting, well, if I were to tackle this one again, I simply would choose not to paint it at all. The composition is so bad. The idea is fantastic, but I allowed myself to fall in love with the idea instead of the execution. That's impetuousness for you!
But I'll critique it anyway:
1. Compositionally, there is a nice central point, but the yellow dog's head is a tough read, and the chocolate's front leg is awkwardly cropped. Furthermore, the black dog's back mimics the chocolate dog's head and neck…

What I Have Learned - Pippen

From 2004, a gallery stretched painting titled "Pippen," a lifesized portrait (20" x 34") of a miniature horse.  I heard 3 or 4 years ago that this painting was for sale in northern Michigan, although it initially sold via a gallery downstate for a horse crazy little girl's bedroom. I do hope that Pippen has a home now......
Continuing our walk down memory lane, I'm sharing older pieces and talking about what I would do differently today. Just because I would do things differently does not reflect poorly on my initial effort (well, not always - yesterday's painting was a really bad one!). Pippen here is a nice example of a fun and successful painting.
However, there are still things I would do differently.
1. Hello, photo reference!! How can I tell? well, the darks and inky blacks are even, regardless of their distance from the viewer's eye. And the highlights are all evenly white, regardless of the local color. And that shadow? dang but it's h…

What I Have Learned - Bellyrub

From 2005, a gallery stretched painting titled "Bellyrub," starring one of my original studio muses, a rescued and timid calico named Turtledove. I couldn't find a record of how large this piece is, but I honestly didn't dig for that long. I'm guessing it was approximately an 18" x 24" gallery stretched canvas.
Continuing yesterday's walk down memory lane, this week I'm sharing old pieces and talking about what I would do differently today. Here is a rather shockingly bad painting, and a few thoughts about how I would improve upon it. 
But oh boy, does It burn my eyes to look at this one.
1. Can you tell this was a flash photo reference? Hard shadows that do not indicate a light source, a "hot spot" of white on her belly, large unnatural reflections in her eyes, and no detail/depth in the shadows. And look at how flat the colors are - there is very little modeling inside her markings.
2. It is dangerous to allow your love for your sub…

What I Learned - The Red Collar

From 2007, a gallery stretched painting titled "The Red Collar." This piece has been in a private collection for many years (THANK YOU!). You can read about Harley, my muse, and the painting's seed of inspiration here, and then this post includes the story behind the painting's unveiling.
Artists are always learning and growing, and it's sometimes hard to remember that those who might be considered accomplished started out learning the same basics as everyone else. So, as requested, this week I'll share a few older paintings, along with a checklist of what I've learned since then.
First off, let me say that The Red Collar is a strong painting with a lovely mood as is. However, given the things I've learned the last few years, were I to paint it again (and I'm very tempted to!), I would change some things up.
1.  A direct light source would help accentuate the dog's beautiful form. He is very flat, and his lines are so lovely that I could have…

To Flash or Not To Flash

This is Finnigan, a cattle dog mix, keeping an eye on our front yard from the comfort of his club chair. Both photos taken within seconds of each other on an evenly lit day with the same camera. The upper photo is a flash one, the lower photo was exposed using natural light.
I ask collectors to send me non-flash photos for portrait work. Oftentimes they don't understand what I'm asking or why. Here is a little explanation:
1.  Flash photos cast unnatural shadows, often masking the actual edges of the animal. Look at the space behind Finnigan's ear and head - see how his ears appear larger and harder in the flash photo because of the shadow? See how the space on his chest, between his legs, is equally shadowed as that foreleg reaching towards up? 2.  Flash photos reflect off the surface of the subject, and do not allow for coat texture, nuances of color, or skeletal structure to be visible. There is far more information in the lower photo, and I can see clearly how his dou…

Back to School, Day Two

"Orchard II," 10"x12", acrylics on museum quality panel, a study created plein air my second day of Vianna Szabo's Plein Air Workshop at Millers Big Red Cider Mill this past weekend. This is an extra special painting because it's really two different pieces all in one (see below) AND it has a dinosaur - it's only $250 if you are the first one saying please.


Like you learned yesterday, I got to paint with none other than Vianna Szabo this last weekend!  
Day two brought about conversations of atmosphere and color, drawing and painting depth, and allowing the viewer to step INTO our paintings. 
We made value sketches, committed to a compositional idea, and set up our gear.
I lost my composition, though, as the sun moved - my left to right shadows, including an awesomely menacing claw shaped shadow! - disappeared with the noon sun. And I hadn't captured them adequately.
I tried to fake it, but didn't have the visual memory to pull it off. I angril…

I Went Back To School!!

"Orchard I," 8"x10", acrylics on museum quality panel, a study created plein air while shivering majorly at Millers Big Red Cider Mill this past weekend. I don't do cold, but I ventured into the chilly great wilds this weekend for the opportunity to paint plein air with one of my mentors. You can snag this painting for $200 if you are the first one saying please.

I HEARD A PLEASE, so this one's SOLD! THANK YOU!
I got to paint with none other than Vianna Szabo this weekend! I was part of her landscape painting workshop. She took 8 of us on a whirlwind immersion to the joys - and realities - of painting plein air.
The first day we focused on composing and editing the landscape. Plied with donuts and warm cider, we then ventured into a wet and cold orchard to create value studies that solidified (or should have) our concepts.
My first ah-ha moment came while working on my color study. I was tracking my brushstrokes on a value scale (I thought to better underst…

Nabu, all done!

"Nabu," 24"x24", acrylics on museum quality panel, a larger than life commissioned portrait of a border collie, private collection (THANK YOU!). I can do something similar and work from your photos - just ask!
Nabu's been on the easel for a bit each day this week, and today I'm calling him finished and asking my client for her thoughts.
I have another large painting in the wings which should take up the bulk of next week. It is super top secret, so I won't be able to share a peep about it. 
Which means I have no blog material lined up! I'm open to suggestions as to what to post - what do you want to see? 
Thanks, as always, for following along with my artwork, Kim
PS In process photos are  here.

Meg

"Meg," 6"x8", acrylics on museum quality panel, a commissioned portrait of a little Maltese who is loving her second chance at life, private collection (THANK YOU!). And but of course I can paint like this for you - just ask!.
Meg was adopted into her new home last fall. She joined two older brothers, and didn't take long at all to leave her pawprint on her new Mom's heart.

Who knows what her previous circumstances were? She is timid and remains fearful of men, but she knows how to snuggle and love on those who are kind.

And that's pretty much how the rest of her life is going to play out!

Thanks, as always, for following along with my artwork,
Kim
"Nabu," 24"x24", acrylics on museum quality panel, a larger than life commissioned portrait of a border collie, private collection (THANK YOU!). I can do something similar and work from your photos - just ask!
Ok, so the kids are back in school and also back en force with their afterschool activities. This means I have the luxury of regular studio days and larger blocks of time to paint! and to market, and to do paperwork, and to clean, and to volunteer.
And to fully enjoy the fine art of the 2nd Breakfast.
What is your fall routine?
Thanks, as always, for following along with my artwork, Kim
PS In process photos are  here.

Austin

"Austin," 11"x14", acrylics on museum quality panel, a memorial painting for a good friend starring her one and only special guy). I can do something similar and work from your photos - just ask!.
Artist Michelle Grant was one of my earliest mentors and supporters. Over a decade ago, she relentlessly answered my questions and I spent hours studying her paintings, trying to figure out her particular form of magic. 
Michelle also generously shared photos of her Austin, a gorgeous sighthound with one amber and one shockingly blue eye.  I painted him larger than life (I think his head was about 30" tall), sent him off with her blessing to an exhibition, where shortly thereafter the painting sold to a collector. In typical fashion, Michelle was thrilled for my sale. And then earlier this summer, she let on that she regretted not having Austin's painting for herself.
He he he. Merry Christmas, Michelle, just a little early. Consider it a very small token of my …

Elvis

"Elvis," 8"x10", acrylics on museum quality panel, a commissioned memorial painting for one heck of an awesome dog, which means this one has a home (thank you!). Inquiries may come here .
My heart breaks with these sorts of projects. I remind myself that we say goodbye way too soon to each of our pets, and that I am giving collectors something extraordinary that they didn't have before, a wonderful touchpoint for sharing memories and commemorating their family member.
But it's still hard. My heart is just a wee bit too big, I suppose.
Thanks, as always, for following along with my artwork, Kim
PS In process photos are here.

Tucker

"Tucker," a small commissioned sketch, done in paint on paper, of a spaniel. Tucker will be heading home tomorrow.
In May I offered painted sketches (simple, lower cost, commissioned portraits done loosely on paper) - originally only 10 of them - but as you may know, it's hard for me to say no. Especially when I heard all your stories and saw all the faces. I ended up accepting over double that, and have been working on them over the course of the summer months. 
Tucker's here represents the last of those.
Next it's on to some pretty exciting exhibition and gallery pieces, along with a couple large scale commissions. 
Thanks, as always, for following along with my artwork, Warmly, Kim ksantini@turtledovedesigns.com