Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog. It's a journal of sorts. It gives me a place to show my work-in-progress for my painting and photography. Comments are welcome --- add one at the end of an entry or email me at BarbBlumer@gmail.com.

Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

"Red Figure on Beach" Oil Painting

" Red Figure on Beach"
14 x 18 Oil

Framed another painting this week.   It is a 14 x 18 oil of a subject I had been wanting to revisit, and finally got around to doing over the winter.

The original version of this painting was 16 x 20 and painted back in late 90's when I was first taking painting classes with Marty Poole at 171 Cedar Arts Center.

I remember how excited I was to have created a painting which had a mood.  Up until then, most of our paintings had been subjects he had chosen, but this particular session we brought in our own subject matter.  In my case, I brought in a photo of a women in red I had passed on a beach in Maine.

It makes a difference.  I learned that the more you can relate to the subject, the more you will enjoy the painting experience.

Back then, I put it in the student show under the title, "Solitude", which I have since learned is one of the most overused, most generic titles for a painting.
The original is on the left and the new one is on the right

So, the new one's title---until I come up with something better--- is "Red Figure on Beach."

The new one is brighter and has a cloud formation in the distance. The figure is moving into the light. Overall less stormy.  Probably says something about my outlook these days.  


Monday, May 18, 2015

"Out to Dry"

"Out to Dry"
8 x 10 Oil

Re-framed this older painting entitled "Out to Dry."  This year I am trying out new looks for my work.

It is interesting to see how different frames bring out different aspects of the work.  In this case, the black frame brings out the rhythm of the laundry hung out to dry on the porch.
Here is how it was framed before.  And it picks up more of the farmhouse.

I am learning that everyone has different decorating tastes, and that sometimes they like a painting, but not the frame.    So, I will be offering collectors a choice of frame as much as I can.


Friday, May 15, 2015

"Cindy's View" Landscape

"Cindy's View"
12 x 16 Oil
On Hold

This week I received a delivery of frames as part of getting ready for Glassfest which is a 4 day festival taking place here in Corning over the Memorial Day weekend, May 21 - 25, 2015.  

I consulted my frame advisor (thank you, Ellen!) and selected a warm silver one for this 12 x 16 oil landscape.  It is a view of Keuka lake which I painted at the end of last summer.  That's when the grapes will be harvested, golden rod is in bloom, and there are hay bales in the fields.  And it is still humid.


Thursday, May 7, 2015

"Pink Fog" Landscape Painting

"Pink Fog"
6 x 10 Oil

This is a small painting --- 6 inches tall by 10 inches wide.  Last fall, I was ready to toss it, but this spring I decided to try again, after getting input from the Whine & Critique group and others.

After many iterations, I decided to make the red barn the focal point, even though the pink morning fog was what originally attracted me to the subject.

In our area, we often have morning fog over the lakes and the rivers but then it burns off as the sun rises and the day gets warmer.


Thursday, April 30, 2015


Little World No. 2
1 5/8" Round Oil Painting 
(10 x 12 framed)

 "Sunrise" is a young woman standing on a rock celebrating the sunrise.  This is the second "Little World" oil painting.  (The first was "Remote Island.")

It is a small round oil painting mounted on a collage of origami and invalid currency from past travels.  These little worlds are places I have invented to take the viewer on imaginary trips and experiences.

I put "Sunrise" in the window in the "NEW" spot.
And moved last week's "Spring Narcissus" to another place in the window.

It is nice (and a relief) to have some new work to show.


Friday, April 24, 2015

"Spring Narcissus"

"Spring Narcissus"
10 x 10 Oil 

Trying to get "in the now" instead of always working on my backlog.  Hence, the Spring flowers.  I felt much better working on something in season instead of something I hadn't finished and "should have."  It was good for my sense of well-being and attitude.  A good lesson learned.  

I used a photo reference from last year.  Spring is so late this year that the narcissus haven't even bloomed yet in our backyard.  

fyi -This weekend is the Arts in Bloom open studio art trail in our area.  I am going to be open and painting (after I go to the library used book sale.) Please stop by and say "hello."


Friday, April 17, 2015

"Mechanically Minded"

"Mechanically Minded"
20 x 16 Archival Print

Beginning to create some new work.  Printed and framed this image as a special request.  A collector had seen a small "proof" version of it and wanted a full-size framed one to give as a gift. 

In case you are wondering, these are the working wheels of a grist mill, looking up at them in the rafters.  


Friday, April 10, 2015

Sculpture Garden Inspiration

Future Generations by  William Zorach
As part of my Spring migration, I have been thinking about what inspires me.  And what can get me out of my funk and back to work at painting and printing. 
Hakone Open Air Museum
Sculpture gardens are high on my list of inspiring places. One of the best ones I have ever been to was the Hakone Open Air Museum, in Japan near Mt. Fuji.
Recently, we ran across one when we took a trip in March to New Orleans, when we took the street car to the end of the line to NOMA, which is the New Orleans Museum of Art.
It is adjacent to the museum on 5 acres of mature oak trees, draped with Spanish moss and nice landscaping.  And has 64 sculptures donated mostly by Sydney and Walda Besthoff.
by Robert Indiana
It has a "greatest hits" of sculptures from many popular 20th century artists.  Mostly post -1960.  There is a Henry Moore, Jacques Lipchitz, Louise Bourgeois, Rene Magritte, Rodin, Joel Shapiro, Barbara Hepworth, just to name a few.  And Louisiana-born George Rodrigue.
by Deborah Butterfield
Including Deborah Butterfield's "Restrained" from 1999 which stands near the rear entrance to the park.
by George Segal
But what I really enjoyed was the interaction of the people with the sculpture.  Some sitting on benches integrated with the art.
Or having conversations with kinetic sculptures moving nearby.
by Do Ho Suh
And the finger pointing by people and children when circling the works.  The amazement exclaimed about some of the works, especially this one of an "infinity" of men standing piggy back on each other's shoulders as it reaches towards the sky.
Side 1 of George Rodrigue's "We Stand Together", 2005
And how you get to wind around the path and see them from many views. Experiencing them from many viewpoints.  Large and small.
Side 2  of George Rodrigue
Here are a couple of my favorites:
by Jaume Plensa
This sitting figure is constructed completely of letters of the alphabet.
by Arman
And a water sculpture which upon closer inspection is made up of a tower of metal cello parts.
by Anish Kapoor

But this one was amazing, and hard to capture in a photograph.  It is a highly polished large cube, sitting among the trees.   You don't know until you reach the front of it that it has a deep, time-warping cavity, which reflects back to you, in a kind of Edvard Munch ooooohhhhh-way.   The reflections of the opening vary with the conditions.  It is super cool.

"The feeling of awe, wonder and beauty promote healthier levels of cytokines suggests that the things we do to experience these emotions--a walk in nature, losing oneself in music, beholding art-- have a direct influence upon health and life expectancy, " Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner, a co-author a recent University of California study published in the journal Emotion magazine in January 2015.  (source:  Huffington Post)


Friday, April 3, 2015

Mary Oliver's "Wild Geese"

April is national poetry month.  Over the years, I have gotten out my poetry books during April and tried to read a poem a day. Out loud. I enjoy poetry and find it complex and inspiring.  And reading a poem out loud to yourself is a great way to bring a poem to life.

This week I pulled a book of Mary Oliver's poems from the shelf.  The first poem I ran across was her popular " Wild Geese" poem.

I thought to myself -- what a perfect poem for my own "spring migration."

She is a very popular and not avant garde poet.  Mary Oliver is American, was born in 1935, and has won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.  She has published at least 20 books of poetry.

Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees 
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body 
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain 
are moving across the landscapes, 
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, 
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place 
in the family of things.

This poem was originally in 1986's Dream Work  but I have a 2003 book called Owls and Other Fantasies.  In fact, I have two copies of the book.  

I thought it would be a great art project to work in tandem with other artist, to create a show, inspired by her poems in this book.  But, after corresponding with her publisher, I realized that nothing is simple.  There are copyright laws and I would need special permission to use her poems if they were shown in conjunction with the show.

For years, I kept holding on to the extra book, thinking it was still a good idea, but now I have decided to let it go.  Take that idea off the list.  So,  I am going to give away the 2nd copy--- to someone who comes into my studio or maybe to another artist --- as part of celebrating poetry month.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Creativity Quotes -- Studio Windows

My Studio Window (view from the street)
with creativity quotes
and "Straight from the Tube" paintings from the past

I have been feeling bad about not having any new work to put in my studio windows.  So, I decided to accept the fact that I wasn't going to be able to fix that problem any time soon, and came up with an alternative.

"You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have." --- Maya Angelou

I put creativity quotes (which I find inspiring) on the two easels, and put up two of my older works that have never been shown in my studio before.  These two paintings are from my "Straight from the Tube" phase, when I was using pure color and channeling Matisse and Peploe.

" Painting is ultimately about completing spaces.  In many ways, the beauty of one's life is also about completing spaces, if having breakfast is considered a space, or a walk in the woods, all the way to the attention one gives to a lifetime.  The more attention or beauty one gives to those spaces, the more depth and meaning the entire space may have."  --- Quang Ho

If you go by the windows, let me know what you think.  


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Spring Migration

3 minute video of  Snow Geese migration
(if you can't see the video in your browser, click here)

I have been in a funk lately --- for more months than I want to count. Not painting  --- nor posting here on my blog.

But yesterday I heard honking overhead, and looked up to find a flock of snow geese flying north.

If you haven't seen snow geese then you won't know why it was so memorable.  They sound like the common black and brown Canadian geese but they are all white.  And gather in huge groups when they migrate.

The first time I saw them they were in the farm fields north of Seneca lake, close to where the above video was taken.  (for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology by Gerrit Vyn)  We thought they were seagulls, but as we got closer, they were too big for seagulls, and then we realized they were geese.  Lots and lots of them.

But I never expected to see them flying over our house here in Corning.

It was such an unexpected treat that it really jolted me into remembering how there are rhythms to life.

Including my own.

And that it is time for my own spring migration.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014


16 x 20 framed

I am donating this framed image to the Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes for their fundraiser. It is a good cause, as the arts, especially orchestras, are barely getting by these days.  We are lucky to have one in our area.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

"Storyteller" Photograph


Recently re-framed this image and gave it a new title.  It is a very old maple tree on the Buechners' property.  They are both no longer with us, and their house has since been sold twice but the tree still remains.


Monday, October 6, 2014

"On the Road Again" Oil Painting

"On the Road Again"
14 x 18 Oil Painting

Spent a nice weekend in my studio and enjoyed working on this painting while talking with friends and visitors.  Lots of people were in town for the Wineglass Marathon.   The finish line is right outside my window, so we have a great view and enjoy cheering on the runners.

For this painting, I used a Persian Pink background and left lots of it showing.  And kept the colors bright (high chroma) ---

and the painting very loose.  So loose that it makes me nervous  --  I don't want it to look unfinished.

Wanted to provide the least amount of information as possible and still have it look believable and interesting.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

"Daffodils" Make-up Painting

20 x 16 (frame size)
Make-up Painting

I completed this make-up painting a while ago, but had trouble photographing it due to glare on the glass. Yesterday, I removed the glass and was able to make a good image of it.

It is the 5th of the make-up paintings I have completed.

These are daffodils from our backyard ---  in a glass milk bottle which I found in an antiques shop down the street from my studio.  I set up the still life and made some good photos of it, then turned it to black and white to use as my reference for this project.

I painted it with Bobbi Brown eye make-up which I applied with brush and water, using warm and cool grays and browns.  The whitest whites comes from the white of the watercolor paper left untouched.

This time I used pencil to help me with the drawing and edges.  And, I worked carefully and diligently to get as much contrast as I could, i.e., a range of tones between a darkest black to a lightest white.

Here it is at an earlier stage side by side with the reference.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

New Oil Painting : Purple Sky

"Purple Sky"
6 x 4 Oil

Here my latest oil painting:  "Purple Sky".  It's small --- only 6 x 4 -- but looks like bigger in its handsome 10 x 8 black wood frame with a gold inset.

The sky turned purple and dramatic as the sun set on this particular summer evening.  The water reflections were my favorite part to paint.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

"Lake Cows" Oil Painting

"Lake Cows"
6 x 9 Oil

Here's the latest painting from my easel.  fyi  -  It's on the small side -- 6x9".

On Monday, I made a fairly detailed drawing using a graphite pencil from a photo I took a few summers ago, then fixed it so the drawing wouldn't smudge.

Yesterday, I painted it in one session.  I left it loose and let the orange ground peak through.

I used bold, saturated colors and applied the technique of massing values, which means to avoid painting too many details and to look for where there are big changes are in lights and darks.  For example, paint a tree, not the leaves on the tree.  In addition, look for where is the sunlight the brightest, and where are the shadows the darkest.

I really enjoyed painting the cows.  I used the least amount of detail as I could by focusing on where the light changes direction and the essence of their bodies.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Matisse Cut-outs

Coming to NYC in October 

Henri Matisse's Cut-outs are very inspiring.

I recently saw the show at the Tate Modern in London, and the good news is an expanded version of it is coming to MoMA.

In New York City, the show will run from 12 Oct 2014 until 5 Feb 2015 at MoMA.  Here is a link:


The Matisse Cutouts are impressive and the show includes some of his most popular works like the Blue Nudes.
Henri Matisse Making a Cut-Out

The cutouts are so much bigger in person than I imagined they would be. The work is covers entire walls!  They seem to be overflowing with energy.

Unfortunately we weren't permitted to take photos.

Why was it so inspiring?

Matisse never seemed to lose his passion, even when he was old and debilitated physically.  Most of this work was created after he was 72.

I have always enjoyed them as reprints as photos in books, on notecards.

We even had a dinner party last fall and made mini-cutouts to scatter on our table and as a party motif, based on this book cover.

But to see them in person was fantastic.  If you like his work, then I highly recommend you see the show if you can.

Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs’ is at Tate Modern, London, from April 17 to September 7, tate.org.uk, and at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, from October 14 to February 9 2015, moma.org. 


Thursday, July 17, 2014

National Portrait Gallery in London and the BP Portrait Award 2014

The 10 Million Pound Acquisition:  Self Portrait by Van Dyke c. 1640 

With my new interest in the world of portraiture, we checked out the National Portrait Gallery when we were in London in June.

The museum is free. I recommend that you check it out, if you have any interest in portraits, history or famous British people.  It covers the late Middle Ages to the present day.
In a weird way, it was liberating.  We saw such a vast variety of styles and levels of techniques --- almost anything goes.
A John Singer Sargent Portrait

The main purpose is of a portrait is to immortalize the subject.  The painting styles and techniques reflect the trends of the period when they are completed.  Portraits can be drawings, paintings, photographs or sculptures.

The BP Portrait Awards for 2014 were going to be announced on June 26 the day after we left.  A few days ago, I remembered to go to the website to see who won.

A prize of 30,000 pounds (about $50 grand) goes to the winner.   Of the 2377 entries, 55 were chosen to be shown.

Here is an example, but not the winner:
Engels by Patrik Graham
Here are the 55 chosen:  55 BP Portraits

Here are the winners:  Top 5 BP Portrait Winners 2014

There are three interesting short videos showing the selection process:  3 minute videos

I watched the videos first and then went through the individual images of the portraits.

One of the judges said that "you can tell incredibly quickly which portraits are more about the person who painted them than about the person who is sitting for them."



Monday, July 14, 2014

"New Hat" Oil Painting -- almost finished

"New Hat" Oil Painting

In June, I was procrastinating.  I was telling myself I should be doing a portrait.   It had been 3 months since I had gone to Lea Wight's portrait workshop --- and I knew that if I didn't try soon I would not remember what I had learned.

One of the barriers to attempting a portrait is the "rule" that we are supposed to paint portraits from life.  I was too chicken to do it, i.e., ask someone to sit there in my studio for hours while I practiced my new skills.

I have always had an issue with the making of portraits ---photography or painting --- because you have to actually interact with your subject.  (I prefer street photography where the subject doesn't know you are observing them.)

Then I saw that a painting friend, Molly Preston (click here to see her colorful work)  posted a photo on FB of her husband who had just bought a new hat.

I liked the idea of being connected to my subject through Molly but not actually knowing him--- I have never met her husband-- and because it was about the new hat.  This painting would not be about capturing a likeness, per se, but the pride of owning a new hat.

So, I printed out a copy of the photo and taped him to the wall as if he were sitting there.
as of June 9
I made myself do the underpainting and then add the facial skins tone before we left on vacation.

In the workshop we had learned how to use the shadow side to create form.  I was happy to start to see him come alive.  Nonetheless,I am still painting too small.  His head isn't life size.  I did this in the workshop and it is a habit I'll have to break.   But I was able to create reasonable colors for the skin tones.
as of July 7
When we got back, I fixed the drawing of the hat, tweaked the grin, and added his shirt.  Next I am going to work on his eyes and try to add the twinkle in his eyes.

The visitors to my studio were very interested in the progress of this painting  People have lots of opinions on portraits, I learned.  It was fun to hear their advice.