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, 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.


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.


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".


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.


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.


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.  


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.


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.


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.


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.