Welcome

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.

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:

http://museumviews.com/2014/04/henri-matisse-the-cut-outs-coming-to-moma-autumn-2014/

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. 

BHB

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."

Interesting.

BHB









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.

BHB














Friday, June 6, 2014

"Leslie" Portrait by Tom Buechner


"Leslie" by Tom Buechner
50 x 30 inches
Gift of Howard Kimball to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987

Yesterday, Herb Dann surprised me with a visit.  I haven't seen him in many, many years.  He was head of design for Corning's Housewares division during the time that I worked there.

His visit to my studio gave me the opportunity to thank him for something he may not have even remembering doing.

I said that on my list of most memorable experiences ---one is the time that we were in NYC on business to visit Smart Design or do something which I don't remember now --- when Herb said that he wanted to make a side trip to see something at the Met.

I will never forget climbing the staircase, entering the gallery and seeing Tom Buechner's portrait of Herb's daughter, Leslie.  

Herb reminded me that it was the new American wing and a special exhibit.  Probably 1987.

Wow!  It made a huge impression on me.  It was beautifully painted.  It was wonderful to see a painter from Corning in the Met and that it was Herb's daughter who was the subject.

Alice Tully, 1987 by Thomas S. Buechner

Thomas S. "Tom" Buechner completed over 300 portraits, including Alice Tully which hangs in Alice Tully Hall, in Lincoln Center, and over 3000 paintings in his career.  Sadly, he passed away four years ago around this time.

BHB


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

"Pretty in Pinks" Oil Painting

"Pretty in Pinks"
24 x 32 Oil

"Pretty in Pinks" is now finished and hanging in my studio awaiting a new home.  It took me quite a few iterations to complete it.

It is larger --24x32-- one of the biggest I have painted so far.  I used a reference of floral arrangement in our kitchen, prior to its renovation.  We had an antique sewing table and ladder-back chairs in front of a window with a light overhead.   This floral arrangement was a take-home gift from an event we attended, and the tulips opened and stretched in different directions, creating interesting shadows on the sewing table.



This free tube of Persian Rose was the inspiration to challenge myself to make a painting based on pinks; hence, the name, "Pretty in Pinks".

BHB


Saturday, May 31, 2014

"Billowing Cloud" (Barnegat Bay) Painting



"Billowing Cloud"
8x8 Oil

Over the winter, I re-worked this painting then put it in the window of my studio.  I sanded off some of the layers to make the transitions softer, and the surface more interesting.  I thought the colors and the reflections were working, so no change to them.

Yesterday, I have to admit, I was debating whether or not to add an element of human interest to provide scale, like a boat, when a client came in and said he wanted it because it reminded him of sailing on Barnegat Bay, NJ in a regatta before a storm.  

He said that the bay is very shallow (only 7 to 12 feet) and the waters can be flat with big clouds in the distance.  When I looked up photos of the bay, I can see why he made the connection.

It was good to learn (once again) that "less is more" and I am very happy that this painting will have a new home.

BHB

Thursday, May 29, 2014

"Ask The Moon" Painting - Updated

"Ask the Moon"
12 x 9 Oil 

I reworked and re-titled this painting to make the moon glow more.  And I think "Ask the Moon"  is a better title than just "Moon."  Like someone is up there...a friend you could talk to.

This painting is almost impossible to photograph well, so please stop by my studio to see it in person. I put it in the window for passersby.

BHB

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Drawing Tip

Comparing the painting-in-progress to my photo reference

I thought I show again on of my favorite drawing tips.  I photograph the painting-in-progress alongside my painting reference and then turn them both to black and white.

By eliminating color, you can quickly see if you are on the mark, and where to make changes to your drawing.
Color Comparison

In "Country Road" I thought my drawing was a lot worse than it actually was.  When I turned it to black and white, I could see that I should quit fussing with the road and fields, and concentrate more on the sky and the clouds.  

The black and white comparison step helped me push through to the end.  

BHB

Sunday, May 25, 2014

"Lamoka Layers" Painting

"Lamoka Layers"
12 x 16 Oil

Lamoka is one of the lakes between here and our cottage on Keuka lake so we pass it frequently under many different lighting conditions.  One of my favorites is when there is still fog and low clouds lifting up off the lake against the sun when I am driving back to Corning in the morning.
I also wanted to experiment with Chromatic Black, a color developed by Gamblin.  It is actually a mix of Phthalo Emerald and Quinacridone Red.  My brother-in-law had it in his studio when we visited last November. I had never seen or used the product before.

Blacks (such as Ivory Black) are often avoided because they can make your paint colors look dirty (ugly).

Gamblin says their product, Chromatic Black, can be used to darken and de-saturate paint colors without dirtying the color.  Normally, I do this by adding its complement, its color wheel opposite, such as a little red mixed into a green.
For "Lamoka Layers", I used a very limited palette of zinc buff, instead of white, the chromatic black, a turquoise I bought over the winter to try also, and a cool red-orange(vermilion) and a warm pale yellow (Naples).

Yesterday, my "framing consultant", Ellen, came to the studio and we settled on silver (versus gold or black) because it brings out the layers.  So, I finished up the foreground, and signed it and hung it on the wall.

It quickly found interest and is now on hold to be picked up.

Today is another day of Glassfest and I am looking forward to spending time with all of the visitors who have come to town for the event.

BHB





Saturday, May 24, 2014

"Country Road" Painting

"Country Road"
12 x 16 Oil Painting

I really enjoyed working on this painting of a back road near our cottage on Keuka lake.  It was fun to develop the deep sense of space through the use of the road.  I used bold warm colors.  And I worked a little larger.  It is 12 x 16.  (My grid landscapes were 8 x 10.)

I had recently signed it but had yet to decide how to frame it or name it.  A very nice visitor, new to Corning, came in yesterday and solved both.   She wanted it without a frame and helped me name it.  It is now on its way to a new home.

BHB

Thursday, May 15, 2014

"Approaching Storm" Painting

"Approaching Storm"
16 x 20 Makeup Painting

"Approaching Storm" was completed a few months ago, but it has been very difficult to photograph so I have postponed posting it until now.  

This week I used the new camera Tom gave me -- a Lumix GF6--  and I think I have found a way to eliminate distracting reflections and get the colors fairly accurate.

I painted it using warm and cool versions of Bobbi Brown eye makeup which I applied with water and brushes.

BHB

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

"Summer Trio" Painting

"Summer Trio"
20 x 16 Watercolor

Thought I would show you how the watercolor from the workshop I took over the winter at the Burchfield-Penney Museum in Buffalo looks once it has been matted and framed.

It is now hanging in my studio among the other work.  And it fits right in.  It is my first official watercolor painting.

BHB



Thursday, May 8, 2014

The 1893 Chicago World's Fair and Joaquin Sorolla

1893 Guide to the Art Pavilions

Yesterday I found this book, a 110-year old guide to the art pavilions at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, at the used book sale at the fire hall which benefits our local library.

I have recently begun reading Erik Larson's book, The Devil and the White City, about the architects and the serial killer at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.

I thought it would be fun to have something from the actual event while reading the book.  I was curious about the notes that the owner of the book, Eva Scramsburg, had written about what she had seen.  She had marked certain paintings that had made an impression on her.

Plus, when I looked for Joaquin Sorolla in the "Spain" section,  he was listed with 5 paintings, and I thought that was pretty cool.  I have Sorolla on my list of artists to learn more about.
 Another Marguerite (Otra Margarita)
When I got home, I was looking up what paintings he had shown, including one called Other Marguerite, discovered that Sorolla had won the equivalent of "Best in Show" at the fair!
Sorolla's Portrait of President Taft
He became very popular afterwards, made many connections, one of which led to a portrait of President Taft.

Two months ago, I didn't even know who Sorolla was, I will admit.  Lea Wight had raved about him at her portrait workshop, and showed us a book of his work.
Hispanic Society of America 
She also talked about going to see his work at the Hispanic Society of America and how fabulous it was.   I put going there on my mental list of "Things to Do" the next time I go to NYC.

So, today I googled him to learn more.  He is known as the painter of sunlight.  A contemporary and friend of John Singer Sargent.  He was wildly popular in America and in Europe during his time.  He died in 1923.

 link to Sotheby's description of Sorolla 
It was exciting to learn that he studied with a photographer and that is one of the reasons that they think he was an extraordinary painter of light.  (Click about to hear a short video about him.)
There is an upcoming show on him at the San Diego Museum of Art, from May 31st - August 26.  (which is on my I'd love to see that show! list)   This video does a good job explaining him, and how he handled paint to capture the effects of sunlight.
(Click on image above)

I look forward to seeing his work in person someday.  And I am glad I bought the art catalogue from the World's Fair.

BHB

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Annie's Suggestions and "Keuka Sunset" Painting




"Keuka Sunset"
6 x 9 Oil

Our neighbor, Annie, gave me some good advice last week when I was lamenting about my struggles with procrastination.

First, she said to make a list of 5 things to do for the day, and then put two things on it which you have already done!  Now that made me laugh.  A laugh is always good to improve your mood.

But it worked.  I looked for something that was almost done, instead of focusing on what I hadn't done.

 "Keuka Sunset" is a painting I worked on over the winter.  It is very loose.  I played using with lots of color and obvious paint strokes.  I used a photograph I took of the sunset through our willow trees, but I also exaggerated this information with feelings/memories of what the colors might have been.

Annie's other suggestion was to go for a walk.  "It always helps."  I took that advice, too, and it did help.

Thanks, Annie.

BHB

Thursday, May 1, 2014

"Barn" Painting



This Week's Effort:  "Barn" Painting

Procrastination is my nemesis.  It has been a lifelong struggle. 

If too much times passes, I lose my mojo.  It becomes very difficult to get myself started again.

Recently I read that the cause is the overwhelming aspect of the total project and not breaking it down into smaller pieces.

The solution is to do persuade yourself to work on it for just a few minutes.

Then, the Zeigarnik Effect kicks in.   The Ziegarnik Effect says our brains hold on to unfinished tasks.  In other words, we like to finish what we start.   http://sourcesofinsight.com/why-do-we-procrastinate/

So, that's what I did this week.  I convinced myself to try another make-up painting and to do a little on it each day.

It's not perfect but it is progress.

BHB


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

New Additions to Studio

My new taboret (work station)

Over the winter, I added a nice quality taboret.  A taboret or tabouret is a rolling storage cart used to help organize painting materials and provide an additional work surface in conjunction with an easel.

I researched many options and retailers. In the end, I chose Madison Art Shop and I was very satisfied with how quickly and proficiently they handled my order.  My taboret is made by Best Studio.

My new extra large, extra smooth palette made by Amish 

On top is my new extra large palette from New Wave which I ordered from Cheap Joe's.  It is made of furniture-quality maple in Lancaster county, PA by the Amish. 

Studio Incamminati 

I purchased it so I can use the expanded color palette recommended by Studio Incamminati.  I took a portrait course with Lea Colie Wight and she creates beautiful paintings with these colors.  
Not your typical book case
And my favorite addition is my new book case, made by SEI,  for my references.  
Now I have a reading corner, and can peruse my books, as needed.  

The water damage last Fall forced me to get everything up off the floor and to get more organized.  The forced upgrades have been good for me.  

BHB

Monday, April 28, 2014

Where have you been?

My aunt's stool and a landscape I've started

I have been getting lots of questions:  where have I been and what am I working on now?

Well, I wish I had more to show but I have been busy doing other things --- which I also enjoy --- like traveling to see family and friends, doing genealogy research, and catching up on my food blog, Feast Everyday.

In addition, I have been helping my cousin clean out and sell our elderly aunt's condo in Pittsburgh.  Very time consuming.  And you can't help but think about your own mortality and the meaning of stuff (and how we are often weighed down by it.)  Nonetheless, my studio has benefited by getting this cool, adjustable stool from my aunt's office. (see photo above)

I remember the writer, Andre Dubus III, saying that "just because you aren't writing [painting], it doesn't mean you aren't working."  Early on in his career, he was a carpenter to pay his bills and thought about his writing all of the time he was doing carpentry.  So I think (hope) all of these other activities are going to enrich my art work.

We'll see.

BHB








Monday, February 24, 2014

Watercolor 101

My Watercolor Painting at the End of Class

Yesterday I took my first watercolor class --- and I was lucky to be able to take it at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center in Buffalo (New York).

I received the class as a gift from my family for Christmas, so I was there to cash it in.

I chose Watercolor 101 because I want to do a better job on my make-up paintings and thought that learning how beginners apply watercolor would help me.

WOW!  I was so surprised to learn how watercolors are supposed to be done.  You use LOTS of water and very little paint.  The water is the vehicle for getting the paint to move.  Jeff Watkins, our instructor, says that it is 90% water, 10% paint ---or even less paint.

For example, we drew a pear, then painted the inside of the pear with water only to get it wet, then applied a wash of paint. The paint stayed inside the outline of the pear and did not migrate to where the paper was dry.

We learned how to blend (soft), to draw (smooth), to use the paper for texture(rough) and how to use gravity to help move the paint, and how to remove the color completely by using our brushes as erasers.  We learned to splatter. And how to work the surface when it is still wet and when to let it dry completely before proceeding. And how to make straight lines by dipping the edge of a card in the paint and stamping.

I learned that watercolorists draw their subject first with pencil and then erase their marks if needed.  And that they do lots of planning before they begin, especially planning where the highlights and white areas should be protected, i.e., the paper is left white.
Jeff Watkins led the workshop and this is his painting

Then, we took a break and came back to make a floral painting, following along as he demonstrated.

All in only 4 hours!

I thought it was an excellent class, and the facility is new, very well appointed and the staff was enthusiastic and friendly.  There were 20 in the class and it was fully booked.

I can see why their courses are popular.
A Museum dedicated to the art and artists of Western New York
and specifically, the work of Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967)


Now I want to go back and spend some time in the museum.  They just opened 4 new exhibitions on Feb 14.

B

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Bunny Saga

"Bunny"
5 1/4 x  8 1/4 Oil

This little painting is the outcome of an experiment, a failed one, earlier in the year. 

I was trying to use a technique which Marty Poole talked about during his artist's talk at West End Gallery last summer. 


Somehow he separates the pigment from the emulsifier and then creates spooky surfaces on his paintings. 

I used an old, unfinished painting (from the Jim Mott workshop in Ithaca) to try to do what he did, but I failed miserably. 

So, I got out a palette knife to scrape it off, and was playing with the paint, when I saw a rabbit, of sorts, appear.


Intrigued, I stopped and let it dry.  Another day, I teased out the outline of the body, the cottontail and the feet.

From there, I could see where I wanted to put the face-- but chickened out--- until I found some rabbit photos. It amazes me what you can find online if you are specific about what you are looking for.
 
 

So, then I gingerly placed the face.  And, felt confident enough to order a custom frame for it. But, I was still trying to figure out how to make sense of the body---there were too many "ears"--- so I unified it with a scumble in similar colors and value as the background.

That's how it looked when I was started working on it during Sparkle, our community holiday event.  I received numerous suggestions --- from all ages --- which was lots of fun and part of why I enjoy having a studio on Market Street--- from it looks more like a hedgehog or friendly rodent (?!!) than a bunny --- so I really worked on making the ears pointier, and overall, warmer and fuzzier.

Here is how the bunny looked by the end of the Sparkle event.


Now, the frame has arrived, so I have pushed to finish it. (It needed a custom frame because it is 5 1/4 by 8 1/4 inches, an odd size.)


And that's the saga of the bunny painting.

BHB