Friday, December 30, 2011

Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing

Mixed media drawing on cotton rag paper. This is what I did for fun after finishing my commissioned pieces last night. Something is clearly not right in my brain, but ... as still life goes, it's more interesting than Ye Olde Wine Bottles and Fruite, yes?

Granddad, Granddaughter, and Horse

Some of you may recall this commission from earlier. It is now hot off the easel after a very busy holiday rush. Click to enlarge. Photo has some glare on the horse's lower neck, chest, and front legs, so I'll have to try again for photos in different lighting.

And you may or may not recall my source photo. You can see here how much I edited out the "noisy" background trees to put the focus on the figures, and the adjustment I made so that the horse could have his feet back!  

Monday, December 26, 2011

Bichon and a Dachshund

Sketches from owners' snapshots, both 8 x 10" mixed media on cotton rag paper.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Lounging like a Christmas Greyhound

Okay, technically Christmas Eve Greyhound. Hugo is a big old gentleman, well-seasoned and kind, looking stylish in his brindle coat. I sketched him last night as he napped through the second half of a party. I felt he had the right idea, with the napping; I've been dead on my feet, myself, but the party was a joy.

Today of course is the holiday and I am not supposed to work, but chances are that I will, because there's something I want to do and it won't feel like working. I'll post the results, probably tomorrow night.

At the moment it is one of the more beautiful mornings I've ever seen, and I am going to get my shoes on and go walking in the clear December sunlight.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

More Winter Painting at Hopkins Honda

These were done before Thanksgiving, but I just got photos yesterday afternoon. All are acrylic (water based) paints directly on plate glass, and will be removed sometime in spring. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Things on the Horizon?

Several days ago I got a call about an opportunity to be part of a nationwide community-level campaign for a product I happen to enjoy.

I won't know for another two or three weeks whether I've made the chosen team of artists for the Twin Cities, and until then, I won't be talking too much about this project or naming any names, but it feels really good to be in the running at all.

Meanwhile, I am making dog portraits like a madwoman, due to the rush of Christmas commissions! Here, in progress, is a 12" square drawing that'll be shipped to the UK on Tuesday. Yellow Lab puppies, so adorable. This is pastel and carbon pencil, watercolor, and pastel on Rives BFK Tan paper.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hopkins Honda

Once again, I have decorated the interior windows at Luther Hopkins Honda for the holiday season. This is my fourth year doing this job, and I still love it.

The guys in the Service Department adore their deer and pheasant this year. I enjoy making them smile.

  The pheasant was a last-minute decision for me, as a way to add more life and color to the snowy scenes.

This work is all in acrylic paint and flat interior white latex, for the snow. At the end of the season, it gets scraped off; that part is not my job. The paint adheres well, but only as long as it stays dry, so I imagine they wet it down before razor-scraping it off.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Painting a Custom ... Dog Kennel? Yep, Dog Kennel.

So this is where I was tonight, finishing this project for Pawz and Rest. It's a beautifully crafted hardwood dog kennel/bed, and I had the honor of designing an Arts and Crafts style pattern to enhance the top.

Inspiration came from various stained glass patterns and from the seeding plants I've been finding in my walks around town -- reminding me that spring will be back soon enough.

It's rare that I'm asked to do more graphic work like this, and I enjoy the process very much.

This took about fifteen hours from design to completion.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Happy night at Home For Life's "Fall Fancy Feast"

My finished fast-and-loose portrait of little miss Audrey Hepburn, which raised $350 at silent auction!  

The whole evening was splendid. I'm currently getting ready to head out for an appointment, so I have no time to write much about it, but I had a wonderful time and learned a lot more about the outreach Home For Life does -- just how much difference they make for the people, as well as the animals, that they help.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Home For Life fundraiser tonight

I'll be helping out at Home For Life's annual fundraiser tonight. Painting a quick, bold portrait of Audrey Hepburn on site at the event. Here's my beginning sketch on the canvas.

Audrey is a star, as her name suggests. An adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who lost the use of her back legs in an accident years ago. I can't wait to meet her! And of course I am taking my camera.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Millie the Glamour Dog

This is a commissioned drawing of one of the softest, sweetest dogs I have ever. Seen. Millie is a Cocker Spaniel/Longhaired Dachshund mix.

She has the most amazing eyelashes I have ever seen on a dog.

This drawing is 10 x 8", in pastel pencil, watercolor, and pastels on buff-colored cotton rag paper.

I often say that I fall a little in love with each animal I draw or paint, and that's true. Each one has something special. In Millie's case it's not just that she's so delicate and gorgeous, but that she has an expression of utter confidence in how much her people adore her.

Next up on the commission roster: a portrait in watercolor and pastel of Zug the Cat, for whom I will have to switch gears completely, because Zug was a bold, affectionate trickster in a black-and-white suit.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Catching Fall

These are both about 10 x 8", mixed media on tan Stonehenge paper, from life today in the studio.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Not everything can be about money

Yesterday afternoon I put down the two commissions I had in progress, poured myself some red wine in a plastic cup, took that and my camera (in its bag along with the Tiny Moleskine Sketchbook and a pencil) and went out walking.

On afternoons like these I don't know how old I am or what year this is. There's just now: sunlight, the rhythms of tree branches and railroad tracks, the very last sunflowers hanging on, the maples red like hot embers. There were little birds out gathering seeds.

Sketch from a cleared lot near Wabasha. Two pages of my Tiny Moleskine Sketchbook, about 5 x 7" total
 Some people think it's either/or: take pictures, or draw. I prefer both/and.

Last light on the treetops
Today, I feel better for the hour I spent wandering and sketching and photo-taking just because I could. Chances are I won't profit from it monetarily, but not every moment of life can be about paying the bills. Even artists (sometimes, I think artists especially) need to remind ourselves of that.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Flash the Haflinger at Blackshire Farm

I went to Blackshire Equestrian Center today for their schooling show and to draw some gorgeous Friesians. And ... the Friesians are gorgeous, yes, but none of them stood around long enough for me to sketch them, whereas this adorable fellow did. He's a Haflinger named Flash and he's just awesome. 

It was my first visit to Blackshire and it was great. Very welcoming and relaxed, a lot of people and horses just having a good time.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hidden Falls Park, St. Paul

Hidden well enough, as it happens, that I still haven't found the falls. I didn't make it that far today, my first visit to this lovely little park. There was a tree and the sunlight was hitting the leaves in a way I really liked, so I grabbed my field kit and set to work.

The painting is an 8 x 10" oil on canvas. In the photo at top, you can see I'd lost the sunlight by the time I was done; there was a high layer of clouds moving in. And boy were my fingers cold!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Small works for the Holiday Sales

Last Petunia and First Berries, both 5" x 3" pen and watercolor. I'll have these matted to fit a standard 5 x 7" frame, and they'll be for sale at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts Holiday Sale starting on 11/17.

The Commission Continues

Here's the earliest stages of paint application. These are oil paints, thinned with a lot of mineral spirits, and I'm not being ultra-careful or accurate with them yet; that will come as I work the painting toward a finish. You can see that I'm not using much color yet, either. Instead, I'm establishing the light/shadow contrasts which are really the most important thing about the picture, and form its foundation.

Oh, and those blacks aren't black. They're a mix of raw umber with dark blue and alizarin crimson. It gives something a lot closer to the color of the black on the horse's legs. 

I'll update this again tomorrow or Saturday (tomorrow, with teaching at Michael's, is going to be a very busy day; I may not have time).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How a Commission Begins

In this case, it's a memorial. The gentleman in this photo has passed away, and -- as so often happens with portrait commissions -- this is the best picture available. And it's a great picture, but it's small, and fine details aren't visible. I scanned it and enlarged it to an 8 x 10" print, which is the photo you see on the left here:

On the right is the 8 x 10" panel I'll be painting on. What you're seeing is the first stage. I've applied a one-inch-square grid to the print and a corresponding grid to my panel. The grid system dates back at least to the Renaissance, and is a great way of getting accurate proportions down. 

You'll notice that the photograph "cut off" the feet of the horse, and that I've compensated for that. I allowed extra room at the bottom, and then sketched in the hooves before I did the drawing on the panel. 

Not obvious yet: I will simplify the background of this image a LOT. All those busy, busy tree trunks? They're not helping the picture, so most of them are going to go away, and the ones I do keep will be soft-edged and their colors greyed down so that the focus is where it should be, on the people and the horse.

For the drawing, I'm using pastel pencil, which is delicate and will simply vanish into the oil paint. Anyone who's ever tried painting over standard graphite pencil lines will know why I don't use graphite!  It bleeds through like mad and the grey color tends to muddy up the paints.

If you have questions about any of this, do ask. Most people never get to see a painting in progress and it's fun for me to talk about how it works.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Tiny Landscape with Bridge

Kellogg Overpass, 5 x 7" oil on canvas board
This was yesterday afternoon at Bruce Vento Nature Reserve in St. Paul. That bridge is Kellogg, just south of 94.

It's an equally gorgeous day today, so I'm heading out again to see what I can capture, while I can.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Painting at Bruce Vento again

Still having a lot of fun with the Guerrilla Painter's Box I got at Wet Paint. It got windy and cold out that day, as the clouds moved in, but I finished this cute little 5 x 7" landscape. Oil on canvas board; it'll be for sale at one of the three (!) Holiday Sales I've signed on for in November. Yes, three. This is because I am insane.

The Holiday Sale items are mostly quite small and priced to make nice gifts. I'll provide more details as well as information about which pieces will be in which place, as the dates approach. Meanwhile I must paint like a madwoman so I'll have enough inventory!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sketching on the spot

Last night, I attended the TOSCARs event with Twin Cities TOSCA and the delightful Gail Weber, who, if she ever becomes Truly Organized, will lose most of her impromptu comedic material; fortunately this seems unlikely to ever happen. Gail, you are wonderful; never, ever change.

It is my habit, at TOSCA events, to make at least one little drawing while I'm there. Last night's was a rough sketch (necessarily rough: I had no eraser!) of singer Alyssa Anderson as she performed for us -- a performance that kept giving me goosebumps despite my not considering myself an opera fan. Drawing a human being while they are moving is not an easy thing to do, so I was concentrating pretty hard and thus unaware that Nina Bliese was watching me, in turn.

The result is that I'll have a few small pieces of original art -- including this sketch, which is much prettier in person than in the scanned version here -- available at Nina Bliese Gallery's Petits Trésors sale in November.

Artists, if you're reading this: if you want to meet people, carry a sketch book and use it. People who like art will get curious and talk to you.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

More Tiny Goldfish

Again, just 4" square, oil paint on canvas. Priced for the holidays at $45 each. More to come!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tiny Goldfish Paintings!

These are from Josephine Geiger's studio -- or more accurately, the little fish pond outside the studio. Painted from life during Art Crawl last weekend, these are 4" square canvases, available at $45 each or $80 for a set of two.

I'm back! And so is Jack.

So, what with Art Crawl and having a cold and all that, I've been away from the blog a while. I am now baaaaack with new things to post, because while at Crawl, I painted seven little goldfish paintings, and then three more yesterday, so those are coming up shortly.

And here is the third of the three drawings I did of Jack. 10 x 8" like the others, carbon pencil, pastel pencil, white pastel, on my usual brown sketch book paper. I'll miss drawing Jack, dapper model that he is.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Come watch Goldfish hatch! Art Crawl today.

Okay, here's where I'll be again in about two hours: At Saint Paul Art Crawl at Josephine Geiger's studio, out in the yard by the goldfish pond, painting more of these tiny 4" square goldfish canvases. Come watch it as a demo -- I love talking to people while I paint -- and if you like, take home a hot-off-the-easel original Goldfish for just $45. I've got three finished from yesterday and hope to make three more before the event ends this afternoon.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sunlit Little Landscape

Back at Bruce Vento this afternoon, I did a quick oil sketch while the sunlight disappeared all around me. Low Branches, 5 x 7" oil on canvas board, is below.

The larger canvas on my easel in the top photo is an 8 x 10" that I had just enough time to roughly block in before it got too dark to keep working. The "skeleton" of the painting will help me remember what I had in mind next time I go back, which will likely be Tuesday, if the weather's all right.

I'll have this little piece for sale at the Saint Paul Art Crawl this weekend. I'm showing at Josephine Geiger's stained glass studio.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Crows are Geniuses

Today I'm using the birds in this video as references for the Crow Series piece I have in progress. It's worth watching, though, just for the ingenuity of the crows, who have figured out what stoplights are for.

Crow in progress. This 7 x 5" oil on salvaged aluminum is the heart of a new piece, the full design of which I haven't worked out just yet, but that's normal for these things. They develop on the fly.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Painting While the Sun Shines, Part 2

Rail Cars and Red Grass, 8 x 10" oil on canvas board
There are several tracks running through Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary, where I painted this, so if you can imagine the clanging, and squealing, and the track-rhythms, and the roar of those big diesels -- four in a row, sometimes, black red yellow like a coral snake -- then you know where I was.

I'm drawing trains more and more lately, and I hope there are enough people out there who like both trains and art to make this worth my while. Because I'm not likely to stop any time soon.

Painting while the Sun Shines

Above, yesterday's little panel with the freight train. This was at the end of the session. I didn't stop painting long enough to take a photo until the sun was gone and I had to stop anyway. 

Later, in the studio, I finished the piece but didn't have good light for photographing it. I'll do that today. It took me a long time but I have finally accepted that it is simply not possible to truly color-correct a photo of art taken under artificial light. I always end up re-shooting in daylight anyway.

And here's the finished Path with Dry Goldenrod, 8 x 10" oil on canvas board.

Are there places in your world that you think would make good paintings? I think most of us have them, even if they're just particular stretches of highway we see on our commute. I invite you to take photos (um, preferably not while driving) and post them on my Facebook page. Or tweet me, @TracieTheArtist.