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.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Book Update

Gathered reactions to my Blurb book of Cottage Quiet this week and decided to reprint the first version with some improvements and also design a larger version.

I retitled all of the images so they will be more evocative than descriptive, e.g., "Escape" versus "Row Boat View."   Titles are hard to think up, but I was able to get them done (with Tom's help and my college Thesaraus) and update the existing smaller version of the book.  It is supposed to be shipped by April 6.

Then, I started working on a larger version. This is not as easy as I thought it would be.  You can't just push a button and resize it.  Had to start over from scratch.  It is going to Landscape 8 x 10.  And I am going use traditional grayscale black and white images versus the warm brown of the first version. 

As a result, I have to take each image into Photoshop and redo it.  I have mixed feelings about shifting my images to a cooler black and white look, but I got quite a bit of feedback that the brown versions sort of looked like a printing mistake.  Which is kind of true.  Instead of a warm brown black, then look heavily sepia.  In the preview above, they look good, but in the printed version they look too brown.

So, I also started researching how to make get Blurb to print my images better.  The first thing I learned is that Blurb prints in CMYK and not RGB, so I have to adapt everything to that color space.  This requires more adjustments in Photoshop. 

When I work on this kind of project, I realize that my computer set-up is not good for photoediting.  I really need to invest in a good monitor which I can calibrate properly, and start to profile properly, too. 

At any rate, even with the limitation of my monitor, I hope to get the larger, black & white version of the book completed over the next few days. 

Also, the Red Cross fundraiser took place on Friday, and it was fun to get reactions to my print and book.  It was well received and I felt good about giving Cottage Quiet some exposure. 

I like the theme enough to consider doing another series based on the same mood.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

"Baby" Blurb Book Arrived

My Cottage Quiet book from Blurb finally arrived today, a Saturday delivery from FedEx Ground.

Unlike my Feast Everyday book, which arrived in just a week start to finish, this book took two weeks.  After researching why, I discovered that it was printed in Washington state, not in Rochester, NY, as was Feast Everyday.  As a result, it took an extra week to travel across the country. 

Cottage Quiet 7 x 7" hard cover versus In Their Studios 9 1/4 x 9 1/4" soft cover with film

My first reaction was, "Look how small it is!  Yikes!"  7" x 7" is a baby size compared to my 9 1/4 x 9 1/4" In Their Studios book.   But it is a cute book.  Almost precious.  More coffee table, than art book perhaps.  Glad I made it a hard cover version.  I like the graphic layout I created.  And the colors I chose.  The images look okay.  I wish the printing was a tad better.  There are many more printing dots showing than I expected.  But, I think my images are strong enough, even with less-than-ideal printing.  I feel like I got my story across.  The only thing that I really might want to change is my intro on the front cover panel.  I used the word "place" too many times.  Self-editing is hard.  Luckily, I didn't find any typos.

Next, I am going to donate this copy of the book along with an 11 x 14" companion print of "Calm" to the Red Cross auction fundraiser, which takes place next Friday night, and see what reactions I get.

In the meantime, I can't wait until Tom gets home from the basketball tournament to show him, and to show Lin on Monday when we paint.  I will get their input, too.  Then, I'll decide if I want to do a redesign, i.e., make it larger and/or soft cover.

7 x 7" versus 8 x 10" Blurb books

Friday, March 19, 2010

Portrait Practice --Curly Haired Model

After completing the portrait, Lost in Thought, I wanted to practice painting a face some more, so I got out this old sketch. It something I did in a Marty Poole class, probably in 2002 or maybe earlier. We used two colors, ultramarine blue and burnst sienna, a warm and a cool. As usual, I left the face unpainted. Nonetheless, I remember enjoying drawing her. I think we had a time limit of 45 minutes, and I remember thinking that capturing her body language was fun.

My sketch from Marty's class
Here's the reference Marty handed out:

The 4 x 6 reference
Since working on her, on an off, for the last month or so, this is where I am at. I haven't been able to capture her likeness or the angle of her gaze no matter how many times I have tried. Which is too many times to admit. So, today I am giving myself permission to call it quits on her for now, and move on to something new. After it dries, I will glaze the dark side of her face on more time. I can see that it is still too yellow and light. Sorry about the photo -- it has lots of reflections. But I really want to be done with her and move on.
Curly Haired Model, 6 x 7.5, Oil on Canvas on Masonite

Also, I need to practice on a larger canvas. This is too small for my stage of experience. And, I really want to paint my own subject, instead of Marty's. I think I will do a better job if he or she is a subject I am more motivated to paint and/or someone I know.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Peacock on Chair, Oil on Masonite, 21.5 x 24"

Finished the peacock's beak and eye yesterday, so I framed it ---finally.  I was stuck in limbo about this painting for a long time. 

I started it a couple of years ago, just because I was intriqued by a photo I cut out of magazine.  I wanted to see if I create a background color that instantly read as "peacock," even from a distance.  

I remember being in painting class and realizing that other people were more interested in painting the actual peacock and all of his glorious details, and I wasn't even excited by that. (I also remember getting nervous and second guessing myself because I know I am not into detail, and that I could never become a hyper- realist. Someday I want to be about mood, and the bare essentials.) At the time, it was all about the color for me.  Plus I have this thing for chairs.  I like to photograph them and paint them and own them. 

Anyway,  it was a stock photo associated with a quote in Real Simple/May 2007 which read:  " Remember that the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless; peacocks and lilies for instance."  --John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice.

When I stopped the painting it looked like this  --- I didn't have much time put into it.  I remember enjoying painting something larger.  It's 21.5 x 24.  

It got put in the pile with the rest of my half-finished paintings -- until last fall--- when I started working my way through all of my old stuff. 

However, this time I had to confess that I felt awful about this painting.  It wasn't even my idea or my reference --- am I plagarizing???  How did I let myself do that?  How would I feel if someone used one of my photos without permission and painted it?  Should I just paint over the peacock and erase the guilt??

After numerous conversations with Lin, I decided not to paint over it, but I would

  • research who the photographer is, and

  • give her credit on the back of the painting, and

  • I wouldn't sell it.
So, my thanks go to Catherine Ledner, who is represented by Getty Images.  http://www.catherineledner.com/  She is a very successful commercial photographer, living in LA, with a specialty in animals. 

And I have vowed that I am only going to use my own references going forward. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

More Landscape Practice --- Chemung River View with Bridge

Latest revisions  - 11 x 14 Chemung River View

Note:  I am having a heck of time getting good images of my paintings in progress.  Even though I try to take photos in natural light, I keep getting glare and the colors are off.  Nonetheless, I think it is good for me to record my work along the way.  Eventually I want to create a good set up for photographing paintings.

What it looked like when I started revising it

Here's another old landscape that I have been reworking.  It was started in a Marty Poole "Sky" two- day workshop back in 2002.  He passed out the same photograph to everyone to use as a reference.  It is a classic Marty view.  Low horizon.  If you know his work, he can take a photo reference and make it something very special.  My attempt fell woefully short.  It was high contrast ---too much like the photograph-- the earth is basically a silohuette and my sky is very warm and it doesn't have much visual interest or magic. Incorrectly, I thought that adding texture to the sky would make it more interesting.

So, a few weeks ago, I sanded off the sky. I was left with a warm, yellow underpainting. 

I painted the sky cooler to make it recede.  Relative to each other, warmer colors come forward, cooler colors recede.  This was good practice.  It is clear that the sky fell back.  But it also became too boring for my taste.  So, I eventually put back in the yellow sunset and  worked to create a cone of end of day sun falling on the valley. And added more warmth to the valley where the sky might be shining through the tips of the trees, and across the hills, and up under the clouds. 

I connected the hills to the sky by painting them in purples instead of greens. I repainted the foreground with a range of greens to create land with a few trees, and defined the river water with reflections.

The last thing I have done is to remove the big cloud from the top of the painting  It wasn't helping.

Here's what the reference looks like: 

4 x 6 photo reference

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Door Knob In Progress

Yesterday's revisions
Here's a painting I have worked on, on and off, recently.  It's 8 x 10, Alkyd on masonite.  I am debating whether or not to put the filigree detail on the doorknob.  I like the door latch part now.  And the contrast in textures between the old wood and the metal of the knob.  What is my center of interest?  It is still the door knob?

The second time I worked on it

The first time
When I started it I erroneously put the door knob on the left, but realized that I had it backwards.

All of the other things I am working on are projects from the past.  I think I am getting ready to start some new work and this is a warm-up.  Fingers-crossed!

At any rate, I still have to decide if I want to paint the filigree.  It was one the elements that attracted me to the reference to make me want to paint it.  But now that I am this far along, I don't know if it needs it. 
My reference

Friday, March 12, 2010

Frames Are More Important Than I Thought

I am finding that having a frame for a painting makes a world of difference in how I feel about painting.

It really helps me when I pop something I am working on into its frame, step back, see how it looks, then make adjustments.  Somehow it gives me a fresh perspective and a boost to keep going.

A blocker:  I did not have a resource for frames that was reasonably priced, of good quality and fast.  But now I do!  It's Franken Frames.  http://www.frankenframes.com/.    My favorite frame from them is this warm silver slope, no. 6910, if I remember correctly, shown below. 

8 x 10 Farmstand Flowers
Here's an example.  I like the farmstand flowers painting better now that it is framed.  I can now move on, e.g, hang it at the lake or gift it. 

Boots, 14 x 15

Ditto for the boots painting I did last year.  I finally ordered a custom Franken Frame for it.  It is a non-standard size.  One of my stumbling blocks in completing work was the odd sizes of masonite I had been painting on.

I also ordered one for the peacock.  It, too, is an odd size, but now that the frame has arrived, I will be motivated to tweak the peacock's beak and finish it for good.  I will post it next.  The peacock has another big learning for me associated with it ---
So, going forward, I am going to have the frame on hand, or planned, before I begin something new.  It may sound expensive to do it this way, but it means that the work has to be frame-worthy and I am less like to just goof around and/or procrastinate finishing something.

The frame, strangely, is a motivator for me.  I am glad that I figured that out over the last year. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cottage Quiet Book Prototype

Prototype for my new book

Today I finished a 7 x 7 inch square, 40 page, hardcover version of my Cottage Quiet book on Blurb, then ordered one copy, so I can see if I like it or not.  Love the fact that I only have to order one.

I just can't get over how cool the on-demand design and printing process is.  If you want to see a preview of the book --- you can flip through about 10 pages of it and see both the front and the back here at my Blurb page.

I hope the printing is decent!  I am worried that black & white photography won't replicate very well, but I know that photographers are making books on Blurb, so there must be a way.

We'll see.  The book should arrive in week or two.