Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What is it about Lighthouses, Anyway?

Lighthouses are popular. They’re iconic. They’re collectable. There are lighthouse calendars, lighthouse statues that have real lights inside, lighthouse salt and pepper shakers, and lighthouse designs on socks. Why? What is it about these flashlight-like buildings? They’re not even being used much anymore now that ships have more technical gadgets than a Best Buy Sunday newspaper ad.

Some old things are never reminisced over. You don’t see little ceramic salt and pepper shakers that replicate old black and white tv’s much. Nor do you find pictures of butter churns on socks. And those were both as useful as lighthouses.
Lighthouses are symbolic for lots of folks. People think security and safety when they see lighthouses so insurance companies and the like might choose it for their logo. Lighthouse International is an organization for the blind that chose the lighthouse as their symbol. Wikipedia informed me that lighthouses are “often interpreted in dreams as beacons of truth or as male fertility and influence.” It always comes back to sex, doesn’t it?
I can’t even tell you exactly why I chose to paint the lighthouse near Port Townsend except that I simply wanted it and that windswept tree rising above the horizon. Perhaps all or none of the above reasons are why. It’s been framed and up for a year and just recently, I’ve been illuminated as to what wasn’t quite right in the painting. My original sky and sand were too dark. Here you see the brightened up version- a little light shed on my painting.
Enjoy it in person while it’s up at Kirkland Fine Art Gallery, 122 Central Way, Kirkland, WA 98033. The gallery is open every day Dec. 4- Dec. 24.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Composition and the Crossword Puzzler

Composing a group of figures is to painting like a crossword puzzle is to a puzzle-maker. It's a matter of fitting all the pieces together in a pleasing manner that makes logical sense with a bit of fun added in. It has to feel right as well as lead the eye around the painting. Some crossword puzzles have pretty simple layouts like a single person portrait; a head somewhat centered on a canvas. Then there are the New York Times Sunday Crossword puzzles which are the hardest of the whole week--that would be like composing a whole army on a battlefield!

I really like painting small groups of people which must be like the Wednesday crossword puzzle; challenging but do-able. I like feeling the relationship between the people and then trying to portray that in paint. I remember when my own sons were young. When they entered a new group of kids, there was an initial period of "circling around" the group, watching for an "in". I felt like this tentative boy in the lilac shorts is looking for his in-road. Aren’t we all?

My boys are big now and I've found myself circling around the subject of youth, painting kids more often than I intend! Competently fitting together parts of a painting and creating crossword puzzles can give us in-roads to our psyches and great satisfaction when we master a skill.

http://www.joanneshellan.com/, www.facebook.com/JoanneShellanFineArt, http://www.kirklandfineartgallery.com/

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Commissions; Pleased to be Working, Working to Please

Artists have a love/hate relationship with commissions. Truly, we artists are thrilled to be working and it's lovely to know you'll be paid for your efforts but sometimes things can go wrong in commissions. Here are a few ideas that might help your commission work go smoothly.

• Decide ahead of time the size/ price/ framing/ expected delivery date/ who will do the delivery/ etc. In other words, decide every detail ahead of time and make sure it's all written down. Emails work fine as written back up. The more expensive the piece, the more details you want to write down.

• Be a good observer and a good listener. Look where the piece will be placed, look at the other colors nearby, talk to the client and listen carefully to what they say. Learn to re-state what the client says back to them. It's a great skill to accomplish and helps people feel they've been really heard.

• Don't bite off more than you can chew. Make sure you can do the work you're asked to do & make sure you can fit it into your schedule. Sounds simple but lots of people either procrastinate or don't have good grasp of how long things take. Things always take longer than you think they're going to! That's my motto.

• Figure out the best way your customer likes to communicate. If they don't answer emails, try texting or phoning. People seem to have a preference. Figure out which one is your customer's and use it.

• Say yes. Always find ways to answer yes and be positive. No one likes a negative, complicated answer. If you need to, sandwich what you can't do in-between two sentences telling what you can do!

Above is a 30x40" oil on hardboard of a recent commission. My clients had been on a trip and held dear memories of this little beach bar. They wanted spots of greens and oranges to match their living room and gave me photos of the beach bar and from around the area. I noticed how tickled they were with the handmade furniture and knew they would have a place in the panting. I went to their house armed with tape measure and comers to see exactly where the painting would hang, what kind of light it would have on it, and what frame would match their furniture.

There is nothing more gratifying than delivering a commission to a satisfied customer. Sometimes you even get tears which is really, really cool. The customer of the beach scene sent me an email a week after delivery that said, "We absolutely love it! I see something different each time I look at it and when the lights are out and the moonlight shines in, I feel like I am there at night. Thank you for all the effort (and talent) you put into the picture."

Check out my webpage or http://www.joanneshellan.com/
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Friday, October 8, 2010

Talk about Trying New Things

We love to snuggle into a routine where we know what is expected of us, what the time frame is, and when dinner will be served on a regular basis. We love to drive the same old drives because we’ve already figured out the most efficient route. So what happens when we’re in a new place and the food comes at unexpected times and we don’t even know how to get from point A to point B…we’re all shook up! Things that were settled become unstuck and mixed around. And, oh my gosh, we’re forced to look at things in new ways.

It’s hard to step into the new but it’s the way to find different answers and creative ideas. What happens when I do this? Does this new thing work? Let’s try it!

I’m answering an itch to move beyond representational painting. What happens when I mix real and abstract? This is the first painting from this new mix. I pre-painted four abstract paintings in acrylic using four basic composition structures. It’s not too hard painting real and painting abstract; it’s super hard making them work together as one unit. Out of the box, beyond the routine, trying new things! It’s open season in the studio now!

Now on Face Book and the Web

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Do you buy art or crafts?


Do you buy art or crafts? What were your reasons for choosing those certain pieces? If you never buy art, what is up on the walls of your house? Are there family pictures or posters? Perhaps inherited art?

I am so curious to hear your responses. You, yes you. You in particular.  People have been putting art up on walls since our relatives, the cave man starting painting on cave walls over 32,000 years ago. What's your art story?

Free hand-painted bookmark to all who respond and send me their email address (and mailing address so I can send you your gift! I'm looking forward to reading your ideas and I would like to add your email address to my mailing list)

About this painting; it's still wet- just finished it this afternoon. I painted this scene of the mountains in the Methow Valley, Washington State, from the porch at Dave's lovely home. When I was there visiting last summer, there were fires over in Eastern Washington that saturated the air with a smoky haze. The colors were all muted and the distant mountains were hardly visible. The painting I did while there looked awful, of course, muted and hazy~! Today, I took artistic liberty and painted over that haze with rich, intense colors.

http://www.joanneshellan.com/- WEBSITE
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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Do Well and Repeat

The story of Monet painting the lilypads on his pond a zillion times is a great big, fabulous example of why we should all repeat doing things over and over. Usually by about the eight millionth repeat, we finally get it. Athletes talk about their muscles having “ memory”. If they repeat a motion enough times, the muscles will automatically remember how to do something, usually pretty darn well too. If I’m so smart that I know I should repeat things over and over to move towards getting them right, then why am I always looking for new subjects for my paintings? Shouldn’t I be re-painting the same subjects another hundred times? By 99, I’ll be pretty good at it, won’t I? The problem is, it’s boring to re-do stuff over and over. People seem to like and need change. We choose new routes to drive to the same old places just to keep ourselves amused, alive and alert. Not even a dog must like getting the same dang dinner every night. We like variety.

This is the second time I’ve painted this subject. It’s standing at the top of Dave’s driveway looking across the valley at the hills above Winthrop, Washington. It’s so incredibly pretty there. It was not boring to paint this a second time and I actually think it’s better than the first piece. So tell me, why don’t I do this every time?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

5 Reasons Why You Should Always Have Your Customer's Back

Much has been written on the subject of backs. There is back-stabbing, backward thinking folks and back-by-demand shows. Backs can be strong or weak, slouching, upright, and sometimes stiff. The phrase, “I’ve got your back” is new to this decade and refers to standing by someone through thick and thin. They will be there for you no matter what. “Hey bro, I’ve got your back” means you can count on me.
Well, customers need to know that too. We all have customers, of course, even if you don’t work. The appliance store treats me as a customer. The machinist must treat his boss as a customer. Just about everyone is a customer or serves customers. It means customizing yourself to make sure someone else’s needs are going to be met. Why bother to adjust yourself? Why should you make any effort at all to adapt to someone else? Here are five reasons why you should consider this approach in dealing with all the customers and people in your life;

1. Adjusting yourself to someone else means you’re watching and listening to them carefully. That’s the way to really begin to hear their needs. Everyone talks and so few listen. Be the person who listens better. Be the person who leaves a gap in the conversation and lets someone else fill it in.

2. When you’re in a good listening and hearing mode, that’s when you let your compassion come forward. Usually it likes to hide a few layers back. Let your compassion come forward and be the first part of you that your customers and friends meet.

3. Adjusting yourself to fit to someone else means you’re the one who is more flexible now. You’ve in adjust-mode already. You’re able to shape yourself to fit your customer thus catch their nuances better than the next guy who wants to also sell them something.

4. When your compassion is the first part of you someone meets, when you’ve truly heard the other person’s needs, when you’ve softened yourself into a shape that fits theirs, then it’s time to follow through on their needs.

5. Write everything down so both parties have a copy. Then do more than is expected of you.

Customers and friends will then say, “That painter/realtor/friend/teacher/whatever you are—that guy really has my back”!

“Karen’s Back”, oil painting on panel by Joanne Shellan, by commission, copyright 2010
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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Jessica's portrait

I’ve been having terrible insomnia lately and complain bitterly to all who will listen but there is an upside; you get time to think that is unplugged, focused, and reflective. Last night I tried to decide what I would put in a letter to my own kids, nephews, nieces and all those who are of an age where they’re trying to decide what to do with their lives. My big epiphany was that self-knowledge is primary. The more you know yourself, the more you can decipher what you really like to do more than anything else (I love skateboarding, I love drumming, I love math). The more you know yourself, the more you understand your temperament (I hate being told what to do, I love managing others, I want to include being creative in my career). And lastly, I would tell those kids to know that if you have a passionate interest, what you don’t know, you can learn. You love movies now and may not have a clue how the film industry works but you can learn it.

When I came out of college, my minor in art taught me nothing about the industry I wanted to go into nor did it teach me many drawing skills. I felt I couldn’t be a graphic artist because I couldn’t draw very well. Now I know different. You can learn it.

Jessica’s Portrait was painted Sunday on the last day of a four day portrait workshop. I know it’s not great but I also know that with lots of practice, I’ll get much better. Be aggressive about learning and you will be amazed at where you’ll go.

See my paintings now on Face Book at Face Book Joanne Shellan Fine Art and on my website Joanne Shellan Fine Art

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Kirkland Arts Center

There are times in life we are given something so important that we need to continually pay homage to the source of that knowledge. I believe in honoring those origins. Although I've done art all my life, I first learned to paint at the Kirkland Arts Center. My first class was with a terrific teacher, Carol Stretcher Jones, who taught watercolor in a way that made you feel you could probably do it. What a feeling! Falling in love with painting was as easy as falling off a log. Painting is now the core and passion of my life. So now the Kirkland Arts Center is a place that I like to support. I give with money and I give with art. This painting will be auctioned off at their auction called Redux which takes place in October. The theme this year is architecture so it made sense to me to honor the cool old building that now houses our own local arts center. Stay connected to what powers your life.


Friday, August 6, 2010

The Road Less Taken

We were sitting on top of the world--at least that's what it felt like. When Dave lent us his house in Winthrop, Washington for a painting weekend, we had no idea what an incredible house we would be staying at and what a view we would be spend all our waking hours savoring. We just got home last night so today as I stood before my easel, I still carried with me the wonderful feelings of unhurried solitude, dry, warm air, and the vastness of uncluttered spaces. This painting, still wet as I write, is going to be auctioned off a local art store (www.bellevueartandframe.com) and the proceeds will benefit local schools. Feelings that artists carry inside them come out in their work and if they’re lucky and produce good work, those feelings translate to the viewer. That is always my intent.

Find me on Face Book now too at Joanne Shellan Fine Ar

or my website http://www.joanneshellan.com/

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Making Tracks at the Train Yard

These handsome fellows were found loafing around at the Snoqualmie Train Depot. It's a historic spot so I suppose they've earned their retirement. I do appreciate a model that holds still. I tried very hard to keep my colors brighter than normal since I lean towards paintings that are a tad too grayed out. Here is a trick for keeping paintings bright; don't use very much white. White cools down anything it's added to and drains your painting of vibrancy. Making sure the perspective was correct was another challenge. Here's a trick that can help though; using your brush as a straight edge, hold it up "next to" the angle you're trying to get. I say "next to" because you could be standing twenty feet away. Keep holding that angle and bring your arm slowly down to your painting and put the straight edge on the canvas. That's the same angle you need to paint now! Make tracks to share the tricks of your trade. Everyone benefits.

Find my work at http://www.joanneshellan.com/ and now on Face Book http://www.facebook.com/pages/Joanne-Shellan-Fine-Art/138562789499178?ref=ts

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Beaver Lake and the Story of Light

Outside, sunshine, birds chirping...for some painters, there is nothing better than being outdoors with brush and canvas. Or is there? What about the ever changing light? Artists are always fussing about light- which direction it’s from, is it warm or cool, what kind of shadows come from this kind of light? Herein lays many potential problems; if you haven't analyzed the light, your picture can look pretty weird! You should know where the sun is and where it's heading, shadows are darkest and clearest nearest its source, and that morning sun is cooler than late afternoon sun. But it gets way more interesting than that. Honestly, there are whole, detailed books written on the subject of light and how to paint it! Fortunately most people don’t need to know any of this but you do need to know it if you're a representational painter. Enjoy the summer, get outside and paint knowing the light.

To the new galleries I have added to my blog, please know that you were added because I adore your gallery and would like to introduce you to my art. If you prefer not to get my blog, just send me an email.

Website; http://www.joanneshellan.com/
Facebook; http://www.facebook.com/pages/Joanne-Shellan-Fine-Art/138562789499178?ref=ts

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Art in the Garden

Art in the Garden; many gardeners describe laying out plants in a garden like an artist placing colors on a palette.

To others, Art in the Garden means finding interesting outdoor art like ceramic garden flowers, sculptures or tinkling wind chimes that add another layer of interest to the foliage and color.

My version of Art in the Garden means going to a fabulous place like Bassetti's Crooked Arbor Gardens in Woodinville Washington, setting up my paintbox and spending the day with other artists trying to capture the cacophony of colors into a cohesive composition. I hardly know a daisy from a Daphne but that doesn’t stop me creating my own garden out of creamy oil paints and brushes- a garden to last the ages. Summer may fly by at an unbearable speed but painters aim to stop time for a moment, to imprint their impressions onto canvas and to place that impression in your midst through all the seasons.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

American Landscape

There are many a person who can't imagine a better way to spend a day than meandering through endless isles of botanical delights. Fungi and fuschsias, herbs and apples trees, and novels of dahlias all displaying their fronds to entice the grower inside of us all. For me, the better day is one spent painting pictures of the  nursery rather than buying out the plants. We makes choices in our lives every day as to how to spend our time, our most precious commodity. I let the weeds grow in my flower beds and always choose to spend my time at the easel where I can leave the deadheads and ill-pruned tree out of the picture and focus on what is beautiful in my life's composition.
Flower World is located in Maltby, a tiny town east of Seattle, where acres of plants are housed in charming plastic encased greenhouses and are lovingly cared for by energetic people whose thumbs glow green under their gloves.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Oh Baby!

Oh baby! Oh dear! That’s what my painter friends said when I told them I had a commission to paint a five month old. Wait till he’s older, like three, when the face is more developed. But it was a commission and by now it was sounding like a real challenge as well. My interpretation of a commission is to make the painted face look as close to the real person as possible. Another friend of mine calls this type of commission “Lick Lick Lick” meaning you use a tiny brush and you lick at the piece till you get it right. And as I neared the end of the painting, that’s exactly what I found myself doing; tiny brush, my nose practically in the painting, using my dozens of reference photos to try to understand certain areas better. It’s not my favorite way of painting but you’ll do just about anything, short of giving the devil your soul, to get the painting just right. That’s one way to be satisfied. When I delivered the painting to the mom, she said, “Oh baby!” and she was very happy. That’s another way to be satisfied. And I am.

Friday, June 4, 2010


After finishing two commissions where it was hugely important that the painting look exactly like the person, I had a real need today to cut loose. I love painting all prima more than anything...alla prima means doing the piece in one setting and painting wet paint on top of the already wet paint you just put down. It's a similar method to the way I painted in watercolor. I love going loose and juicy with the paint and had wanted to do a gray cityscape with yellow lights for a while now. I guess it felt right painting a rainy scene today too since its pouring cats and dogs out right now. The artist is never the same exact person two days in a row so her paintings shouldn't be either.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bellisimo Venice

It matters little whether or not you have ever been to Venice or seen the Atlantic Ocean or viewed the Dead Sea. What matters is that most of us are drawn to water. We love it as a spectator, sitting on the porch of a beach house watching the crashing waves. Some are desperate to be on it in a snug little boat. Others simply can’t get wet enough in the surf and swim. The point is that we are pulled towards water and hence, there is an abundance of water themed paintings. Painting the wet stuff has been the bane and highlights of many a painter. We all attempt it over and over trying to get it just right. And because water is reflective, it often offers up amazing distortions of real life. Even wet pavement reflecting brake lights on a dark evening can be a fantastic vision. The challenges for me in this painting were to make the reflections on the canal look real enough but also more interesting than they really were. I also attempted to put into practice atmospheric perspective which, if done correctly, makes the far buildings and canal go back into the distance. Living in Seattle, a city surrounded by lakes, bays, canals, Puget Sound, and the Pacific gives ample opportunity for painters who too want to take on the challenge of painting water. 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Poolside Dining

One of the jobs of a painter is to only paint what moves them and not to paint what looks it'll sell. It's vital that something in the imge moves the painter to want to capture it. If the artist feels an excitement about the subject, it will show up in the painting. This all sounds really obvious but it's amusing how often people are surprised by it. Friends are always suggesting subject matter to me; musicians at a festival, a particular valley view, etc. What they're saying is that that image moves them and they wish it moved me so I'd paint it! Commissions are another story. Hopefully the artist is painting commissions in a certain field, pets perhaps, that they specialize in so they can get exctied about painting another dog. It's no news that we do what we like to do though. I wanted to paint Poolside Dining because I loved the pattern of the umbrellas and their shadows. Giving a reasonable explanation for what moves me is not part of this blog!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Yellow and Red Tulips

When it rains, hails, snows and is sunny and blue skies all in one day, you know it's time for the tulips to be up in the Pacific Northwest. Don't like spring weather in Seattle? Then wait a minute! For those of us inclined towards playing with paints, we stay inside and paint tulips. Choosing a canvas size is part of the painting process. You can choose a canvas shape and then choose the subject or choose a subject and choose a canvas shape that fits your image. I have one more tulip painting to paint before completing my triptych--a wonderful word meaning three paintings that go together as one unit. Purple tulips on a yellow background will be the finale. Choosing 6x24" panels are a perfect venue for a skinny vase and tall flowers. What would you choose to paint? Email me your ideas--I'd love to hear them!

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Poolside was painted using a photo reference. I would guess most representational painters use photographs from time to time and you might think that would make things pretty easy. Simply copy the photograph. But the problem lies in that photographs lie. My teachers have told me this and I believe them! Shadows in photos are always a terrible, ugly dark colors. Everything is on one plane. There is no mid-ground or far-ground to be seen. Every single detail is showing and none of these things make for a beautiful painting. So the photo is a reference and only that. You have to work as hard when you paint from a photo as you do from real life to create a beautiful painting. Leave out all the unnecessary so the necessary can tell their story. Paint shadows as beautiful as the lights around them. And push back the background using fuzzy edges, grayed out colors or lumping details into masses of unidentified but interesting shapes. You simply have to outwit your photograph so it’s lies don’t spoil your painting! See Joanne Shellan's website at http://www.joanneshellan.com/.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Adirondack, Apple, and Abridgment

Just like a good story teller, a painter wants to tell a story too. She saw a certain something that moved her and she wants to share that with the viewer. A superb story teller captures you with the first sentence. Each word and pause counts. Talk too long or say too much and the story is spoiled. It’s very similar with painting; tell your story with a limited number of strokes. The example is this painting of the Adirondack chair, an apple and a mug. Abridge the elements so it says enough without telling too much. No need to show every part of the chair to know it’s an Adirondack chair. No need to show every blade of grass or the title of the book. The viewer is perfectly capable of filling in any blanks. Abridge, condense, and shorten. All words for good storytelling and good painting.  http://www.joanneshellan.com/

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Taking stock of Critique Groups

As a relatively new user of critique groups, I'm practically evangelical in my praises for them. I have found it extremely useful to have all those fresh eyes examining my painting and telling me what works and does not work on my painting. By fresh eyes, I mean other than the artist’s eyes which are somehow veiled to the truth of their own painting. It’s like an umbilical cord links the artist to their work and till that cord is severed, which sometimes takes months or even years after the work is completed, most artists are unable to objectively see their work. The trick with critique groups is to find or create one with artists near or above your ability. Take notes on all the comments about your work, listen instead of defending yourself, and then sort through the comments later. Through experience, you’ll begin to figure out what comments to discard and which make sense to incorporate. I brought this painting of the stockpot and vegetables to my current teacher and to one of the critique groups who, of course, had opposite things to say. Now I get to look inside myself and decide which direction to take it next. It’s my decision but made better by all those fresh eyes. http://www.joanneshellan.com/

Monday, March 8, 2010

Tulips and Cake- in a painterly fashion

Painterly. It's a term that only painters use and perhaps made up as well. But it does mean something to painters. It's when you're not house-painting; another term painter’s use but always in a derogatory way (no offense to real house painters who do a fine job). House-painting is when you've drawn out your picture and you simply fill in each little section with color. What, you say? That's not how you do it? No, dear. Not at all but it's sure as heck how most of us started out! As you mature as a painter, you begin a dance with your paint brush every time you paint. Its a little love dance done on canvas. You twist and scumble, push paint and alight like a butterfly all over the canvas. To watch a master painter paint is a bit of a miracle, almost like watching an Olympic athlete. Some add to this act of putting paint on canvas the layering of paint with big, juicy gobs of paint that leave beautiful textural strokes. This usually happens when the painting is nearly complete. You lay down strips of light on the canvas with often large, directional strokes of paint. The way the light falls on the subject is practically physical for the painter. Like laying a comforter on a sleeping baby, it follows the form.
This 16x20" still-life oil painting was done in the studio from a live set-up and yes, I ate two huge slices of cake when I was done dancing with my paint brush.

Friday, February 12, 2010

We Take the Hill

Joanne's Website    I had a recent conversation where a good friend seemed surprised when I said I would only paint from photos I had taken*. I added that it was very important to me that I had been there, had the experience and felt a strong emotional tug about the scene. So that led me to think that I bet many people who are NOT artists might think that artists choose what to paint by what sells, what's popular or hip in colors that are this year’s biggest hues. They might think artists simply scroll around the internet or magazines for images they like and then paint them exactly as they are presented. But you know what? That isn’t how most artists work. Most are compelled to paint what they paint. They might start with pulses of images or ideas that flash through their heads right before sleep. Then perhaps they sketch it around a bit or set up a photo-shoot or still-life. Some paintings are spurred by photographs like this one of women heading to work at a hotel at a tourist town in Mexico. Certain strong images are sort of burned into your head- whether you get them by sketches or photographs. And when they don’t go away, you work it into a painting. A painting is as much about the artist as it is about the subject matter—and if you can see that in the painting, then it’s a keeper. "We Take the Hill", 18x24" oil on cradled hardboard by Joanne Shellan

Exceptions being commission work

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cabo Boats

Joanne's Website    Every once in a while, if you're really lucky, you hit on a teacher or mentor who is just right for where you're at right now. Other teachers may have had the right message but you weren't ready to own it yet. Or you wanted to learn one set of things and the teacher seemed to be heading up a different path. I count my lucky stars every day because I have a great teacher right now in Liana Bennett. Before I started this boat painting, she emphasized to me how the very beginning stage is the MOST important part. Spend loads of time coming up with a solid composition & lightly block it in so you have little invested in the drawing—then when you need to swab the deck clean with turpentine, you won’t cry because your gorgeous drawing is getting wiped out. Take time to thinly block in the correct values and colors. Stand twenty feet back now and look at it. Test how the eye is led through the piece. Figure out the problems and fix them before you get into the depth of the painting. So three hours later, I brought home only the beginning scratches of this painting but I had done as my teacher recommended. Her advice is great and I hope you can use it too. Get lucky!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Good Cherry Pie

Joanne's Website   Be dogged. Be persistent. Stick with it and you might yet get it~! That's the carrot that always keeps me going. I went back into this painting a third time and finally I'm satisfied. What do you think? Isn't it better than the last post? Let me tell you a little painter's secret; the absolute best part of a painting is at the very, very end when you get to put in your lightest lights and highlights! Oh joy! The painting comes to life under these final but important strokes. The difference between last week's cherry pie and this re-do is that this one has unified strong light and dark areas. The last version was muddled and less defined. Clearly defined and persistent are our words for today.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Not so good Cherry Pie

Joanne's website    Every painter has his day; there are good days and not so good days. Good days mean you painted a great painting and you know what happens on the not so good days. My painting buddy, Phyllis Ray, came over so we could both paint this appealing cherry still life that I had set up in my studio. BUT we had limited time so instead of relaxing and really working out the problems before beginning the painting, I dove in and now it doesn't work. When you paint alla prima which means "freshly done, all at one time", it's no fun to go back to a dry, half done painting the next day and try to bring it to life. I'm as persistent as they come so I'll keep working this till I get it right but hear my Message for the Day; Always carefully plan out your paintings and never rush. If you're short on time, paint a smaller canvas...or you'll be eating crow instead of cherry pie.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Oranges and Blue

Joanne Shellan Fine Art    Getting objects to glow is a single skill in an artist's big bag of tricks. It comes after you've covered the big guns part of a painting; creating a solid composition, making sure you have a strong value pattern of lights and darks, choosing a star or focal point, etc. The list of big guns isn't short but if you get that basic list down, you've built a structure upon which to paint a successful painting. Too often I've rushed in to paint and my painting falls apart. My chosen star in this painting is the orange slice that is standing up. It glows because its super warm, light yellow rim is the highest area of contrast in the painting against a very cool, super dark background of blue/purple. Tricks...and you thought only politicians used them! This painting is oil on a 12x16" board.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Humble Eggs

The humble egg takes the stage as food still-lifes continue to end up on the canvas. We see the egg but do we really "See" the egg? In my humble opinion, you only really see it when you try to draw it. Then you figure out it's hard as hell to draw that weird eliptical shape with the slight point on one end. I intend to try this subject several more times in an effort to make it look wetter, to clearly show the eggs as uncooked, to work on making the egg shells appear luminous. Unlike taking a math test where there are actual right answers, painting is ambiguous with many roads to doing it right and twice as many ways to do it wrong!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Fried Eggs

   Still lifes have a justifiable spot in the world of 2-D art. Within the parameters of four sides of a board, the artist can highlight a group of items that can are usually passed over quickly. The artist has the challenging job of elevating the features of our daily lives to something to stop and examine. Look closely. See the beauty of a fried egg. Notice how a pleasing composition can pull you into the painting. What are you quickly passing by by that might deserve a closer look? Just drawing out what is in front of you is challenging enough. I often draw it out on the board with a piece of pastel chalk then draw it out again with my paint brush and a warm color paint. There are always corrections to be made on the second drawing! Another life lesson-
measure twice, cut once.