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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Good Morning from Maui

Erik and I are on assignment in Hawaii. This is this mornings view from our balcony in Maui. I have been sent here to photograph the island for a painting commission. I feel extremely blessed to get a job like this! This place is amazing...the perfect amount of humidity, and the sounds and smells are wonderful. I hope to inject that into the painting.
This is the back view over the golf course area:

We even saw our first rainbow from the balcony, too!

More to come!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Meet Betty and Joan

I thought you might like to meet my two lovely leading ladies-
Here's Betty Draper and Joan Holloway. Betty is in gray and Joan is wearing red. I have known Betty for a while, but Joan is a new friend from Etsy. I think she will come to good use this year for making costumes for the curvier lady.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Collection Highlights Series-Antique metallic laces

I want to share one of my collections with you. Most people have a tendency towards collections of some type. We artists appreciate the ones that collect artwork! I enjoy collecting antique textiles. This began as a way to embellish my costumes with real pieces from the past. There is nothing like antique lace and fabrics to form a bridge to past traditions of craftsmanship. We move so fast today, and our clothing and decorations are almost of a disposable quality. The amount of work and toil that went into the creation of one item of use 100+ years ago really shows in details. As they say "God is in the details." I like to think of these things when I sit down to do a painting. Everything was a work of art, and everyone had a role to play in the creation process. Today I share some of my antique metallic laces. These add that crowning touch to an ensemble.
In the 18th century, metallic trims were used to display a person's wealth.

Many were made from precious metals. It is rare for these examples to survive, as most were melted down during the Revolution, and times of recession.

The heyday for metallic trimmings peaked during the 1920's. Lame' fabrics were all the rage, with shimmery golds and silvers woven through the fibers. In the low-light opium dens, and smokey bars, these flickers of metal cast an ethereal glow about the person.

Lovely silk flowers were embellished with golden lattice lace and added to everything.

This is a length of bullion trim. It has a wonderful old gold patina now, and is long and swingey.

Shorter bullion trims were used for army officer's coats, and for awards:

Various examples of turn-of-the-century trims:

These are often seen edging heavy velvet drapes and vestment robes.

Wonderfully aged roaring 1920's gold and black silk lace:

My oldest lace-this is from France, hand made and a very aged patina

I hope to add this to the front of an 18th century corset one day!

Are you still awake? Thanks for reading...I will share more collection highlights down the road.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

New 18th century colonial dress

I just finished this new colonial dress. It is made from silk taffeta with black silk gauze and ribbon trim.

It's going into my etsy shop. I made it a two piece ensemble, so one can mix and match with other colonial dress.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Oil Painters of America

I received a very exciting letter from the Oil Painters of America yesterday. I am now a Signature Member. If you have not heard of the OPA, they are a great organization of oil painters. To become a member you can join as an Associate artist, or a Sponsor, if you are not art inclined. This allows one to compete in shows and join paint-outs and artsy events. There is a wide range of subject matter and styles, but all is of skillful quality. After an artist competes in three gold medal shows, or two gold medal shows and two regional shows, they can apply for Signature status. This has taken three years, and now it is official- I feel a part of something really cool. I am not a big "joiner" type...but some groups are a great way to get involved in a movement you believe in. Artists tend towards the solitary in habit, and need to get prodded out once in a while!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Getting a head start next semester...

As many of you know, I have cut my teaching down to two classes per term at the Watts Atelier. I aim to pursue my studio painting at a full-time level. This means more painting posts down the road, with step-by-step tutorials. Next semester I am teaching a class on painting facial features. This is a good class for all levels. We will work on each feature for two weeks, incorporating studies from reference, masters, and life. This is a good opportunity to slow down and finesse the features in a painterly way. Here are some examples of studies from this class.

This class runs tuesdays from 10-1pm.
I am also teaching head drawing on friday mornings from 10-1pm. This is a model based class for each of the 10 weeks. These are some demos from the last couple of semesters.

This is a head-lay-in, which is a way of mapping out the features and the shadow pattern together.

This is a tonal demonstration, which occurs after the mapping process.

This is a demo of an Abe Lincoln impersonator, he is a lot of fun to draw.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dueling Santas

A client who saw my Tiny Claus painting in my Etsy shop asked me if I could paint two 12"x12" Santa paintings. I have done some double pieces in the past, and the difficulty lies in trying to compare and re-do your exact strokes. I asked if I could make one a slightly different angle than the other. Thanks to my awesome easel, I can paint two smaller pieces at the same time. I worked one painting up to a certain level, and then switched over to the other one and brought it to the same finish. I had some problems with these Santas...I looked at the Haddon Sundblom book "Dream of Santa," and wanted to paint my guys like him.

I had to put the book away and not look at it anymore. Erik said it looked like I was trying to paint my way and his way, and they were not meshing together. In my mind's eye, I was thinking of those old vintage St. Nicks from the Victorian age, so I went with that vision a bit more in the end. I would like to do a couple more along that theme one day-the old St. Nick/Kris Kringles. The Victorian age of art is one that interests me, and I wonder how to merge that theme with a brushier more painterly technique?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tutorial-how to make canvas panels part 2

Okay, we are ready to make our canvas panels. For supplies and tools, see the previous post. To begin panel making, I sand one side of my tempered masonite, and wipe down with damp towel. This helps the glue bond into the panel. Place your masonite or birch panel on top of the good side of the canvas and trace around it.

When you cut your canvas, you need 1/8 to 1/4" of overlap. This is very important. Less than 1/8" does not allow for shrinkage factor, and more than 1/4" causes the canvas to pucker when it draws in and shrinks to the board. Some canvas types shrink a bit more or less than others. After cutting to size, flip the canvas over so the good side is down, and lay on the newsprint. You will want the old newsprint or some old paper to lay the panels on when you are working, this will keep glue from dripping on your floor. If you are a slob, you can skip the newsprint step. Lay your panel on top of the back side of the canvas piece. Drizzle the glue over the side you sanded, and use the spatula to make a nice even coat....this can be tricky-gauging the right amount of coverage without glue running everywhere, or not enough glue and dry spots.

I aim for light coverage, and drizzle a bit extra on all four edges .

Carefully flip your board over and lay on top of your canvas panel, keeping centered.

You may want to trace with a colored pencil on the back of your canvas where to place your board. Flip over so the good side of the canvas is looking at you, and the masonite is on the newsprint. I check for glue drips too-they manage to get on the paper when I am not looking, and you don't want to lay your panel on them. Begin to roll your panel starting in the CENTER and working your way to the edges.

Firmly roll, but try to not "grab" the canvas and drag with the roller...this will make your canvas position uneven with its original placement. Every time you roll to the edge, check the rolling pin for glue...wipe with damp rag before starting to roll again. Go over entire canvas 1-2 times. Flip over and check the back, is your canvas still centered? If mine moves, I put panel masonite side down, and try to push canvas back to proper guidelines by using my hands and body pressure. That is what moved it in the first place, the glue can float the canvas out of place if you drag the pin across it. Try to think of downward pressure, not sideways pressure when rolling if that makes sense.

Wipe all edges with damp rag, you want to see a little bit of glue on all sides....if it is totally dry, the canvas will peel up at the edge.

I will gently peel back the side that is dry (especially corners) and put a little bit of glue there. Re-roll that spot. Place your glued panel face down on a pad of paper, newsprint, etc. I find that the cushion of the paper gets a more even distribution of pressure on the panel while gluing. Lay a larger book than the panel on top, and perhaps a heavy weight on top of that. In my case, I use these awful 1970's glass bookends-who thought these were a good idea? They cut your hands when you handle them, and look like they would go with a fishtank-themed decor...So, they are official canvas panel weights at our house. If your books are too small for the panel, use a couple of books side by side. The idea is to have all edges covered. Allow to dry overnight. I have a cutting board just for panels...lead canvas and cooking don't go so hot together. Use a razor and trim canvas overlap flush with edge. . .

Check your panel out...are there any edges unglued?

You can fix that, a bit of glue, and clamp the edge to a straight bit of wood to remedy those edges.
Remember the table saw I got one year as a gift? It comes in handy for panel making. If you do not have a table saw you can have your panels cut at the hardware store...some of them charge a little for the cuts. You can also get pre-cut panels at Blick and other art stores.
Happy panel making!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tutorial-how to make canvas panels part 1

Friends-get your tools ready! You can make your own canvas panels/boards. There are many great things about doing your own...canvas choices, custom sizes, and lower costs than most store bought panels. The drawback? It's messy, and you need the proper tools for best results. Here is a list of the tools I use for this procedure:
primed canvas-I am using Fredrix oil primed linen, from Art Supply Warehouse
tempered masonite-from Lowes, or, you can use 1/4" birch handy panels from Home Depot
rolling pin-from Home Goods store, has silicone on outside, metal on inside
spatula-home goods store
Elmer's white glue-anywhere
old newsprint, scissors, pencil, damp rag, heavy books/weights

Why the rolling pin? I used to use an old brayer for inking etching plates to roll over the canvas. This would smooth out the bubbles. The brayer was only 4-5 inches wide and about an inch in diameter. It dawned on me that I needed a giant brayer if I wanted to speed up the phase, and get better results. I had an old marble rolling pin, and tested that out...a definite improvement. One day while wandering around Home Goods, I spotted this pink Breast Cancer Awareness rolling pin, with that lovely sponge-y silicone coating. I thought that it would bond the canvas better to the board, especially considering that most boards are not perfectly flat. The outside of the rolling pin has more "give" and gets into the nooks and crannies better than a hard rolling pin. It was only 12.00, so I was sold on it. If you do not know what Home Goods is, well shame on you! It's a big housewares type store, but with cheap goods like Marshalls or TJMaxx. A good place for still life stuff and cooking tools. There is a store in Encinitas on El Camino Real.
So, get your stuff, and I will post the next step soon...

Monday, December 6, 2010


Oh, I forgot-if you can't make it to the show, there is an awesome book for the exhibit! It is a very nice hardcover, with quality images and great information on the collection

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Trip to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

I took a long drive to Los Angeles yesterday to see the new exhibit-"Fashioning Fashion." This show runs through March 6th, and is a must see for any costume enthusiasts. The premise of the collection is clothing from the early 18th through early 20th century. This collection came together as a result of two people collecting articles of amazing clothing. They found they were competing with each other for the best duds at auctions and such. After years of warring, they decided to collaborate their pieces and sell them to a museum. This traveling exhibit is a result of several years of planning. Custom mannequins were made to showcase each outfit!
I imagine Erik and I would have looked like this couple back then:

I know Erik would have worn this plaid in the Victorian era:

Kim Kardashian has nothing on these ladies posteriors!

This "outfit" surprised me the most...who knew the fetish crowd existed during the prudish Victorian/Edwardian age!

Think of all the time and craftsmanship involved in the execution of one garment-every piece of lace, trim, and woven silk done by hand, and then hand stitched into gorgeous pleats, frills, and ruffles.

Not to be missed, in the same Resnick Pavillion, is a complementary show of highlights from the Resnick Collection. The exhibit ends January 2nd. This painting caught my eye from a distance...of course, the great Joshua Reynolds:

There were a male and female set of lovely sculptures-my female shot was too blurry. I did not catch the name of the artist, but love the dark material-

A beautiful color scheme in this Italian work by Giem Battista Crosato dated 1740-

Don't miss the chance to see two amazing shows! Tickets are 15.00, and there are several buildings of art to see for the same ticket. Bring a camera, but you can't use the flash (duh!) It's a very easy drive up the 5 to see this show if you are in San Diego.