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.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Figures in the Landscape: Grace's Gardens "Grid" Painting

Grace's Gardens
8 x 10 Oil on Masonite

This is our last weekend at the lake, so I am under the gun to finish the grid paintings from this year.  I will be putting this one in the mail to Sarah on Monday. 

Grace's Garden is an impressive lily garden, open for sales to the public, on the west side of Seneca lake, near Geneva.  Grace is a master gardener who I met through The Windmill where I used to sell Two Sisters Studio jewelry.

Over the winter, I got interested in painting figures in their environment.  Full figures, not just heads.  This led to Grace's Gardens, the Museum Note Taker, Catching Rays, and In the Park.  Previously, I had painted cows, but not people.

Based on the reactions to the work, and my enjoyment in doing them, I am going to do more figures in the landscape. 


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New Marc Rubin Painting Class at 171 Cedar Arts

Last night I joined at new class at 171 Cedar Arts taught by Marc Rubin, a very talented painter, who paints gorgeous still lifes.

I, and his fans, are amazed by the beauty of his surfaces and the thoughtfulness he gives to his still lifes.  His interest is in luminosity.  Checkout his website:  www.marcrubin.net  (He is one of the artists in my In Their Studios book and show.)

I have always wanted to know how he makes his magic. How the heck does he do it? 

Well, the first thing that surprised me is:

He paints directly on masonite without gesso!  He uses untempered, thick masonite.  Then, preps it by sanding it lightly and wiping off the grit with a paper towel.  The masonite is now thirsty. 

Next, he mixes a slurry of half turpenoid, half Liquin and paints it onto the masonite, and lets it suck into the surface.

We are ready to start the underpainting.  The first objective is to get the drawing correct.

Our still life is a little pumpkin sitting on a pillow.

There are 7 of us, a mix of painters I know and as well as some I don't know, making a total of eight including Marc. The perfect size for a class. He set up two still lifes, exactly the same. We huddled around them.

He had us use a palette of burnt umber (warm) and raw umber (cool), burnt sienna, ultramarine blue, alizarin, yellow ochre, cad orange, cad yellow and white.  I added cad yellow pale.

Using LOTS of turpenoid, we painted the still life, to get the drawing laid in, not worrying about lights and darks, but just looking and looking at the still life and drawing what we saw.

The surface SUCKS up the paint, and dulls it down, but it is really fun and easy to do.  Correcting your drawing is not hard as you are working thin.

The goal is to cover the whole surface quickly, including the background.

He recommends that you mix a big pile of your background and keep it for the whole time you are working on the painting.  (Didn't do this, but will next time.)

Once we got the surface covered, which means we got the initial design and drawing done, he pushed us to add color, especially the local color (the actual color of the pumpkin) and then to lay in the highlights, even though they will dull down.

Tips for working with still lifes from Marc:
  • Set up and get as close to your subject as you can.  He sits, about 2 to 3 feet away at eye level because he tends to like that perspective.
  • He paints 1:1, which means that he paints exactly what he sees, the same size on the canvas.  As a result, he can measure the height and width of things in the still life and then translate it directly to the painting.  If the pumpkin is 5 inches wide in life, then it becomes 5 inches wide in his painting.
  • He works in daylight and adds a color-corrected spolight(i.e., a special bulb)  to pump up the contrast.  Unfortunately, our class is in the evening so we will be struggling with the light.
I am reminded how painting is just like handwriting.  We can all paint the same subject and no two look alike due to our unique approaches to life.
Here's how mine looked the morning after the class.

Our homework assignment is to let it dry, then put a thin, smooth layer of Liquin on it before we go back again next Tuesday.

Note to self:  Especially with still lifes, it is hard to pick out what angle to paint, and to decide why I am doing this painting.  In this case, I think I am interested in the strong curve of the pillow in the light, swooping across the picture plane, and the idea that the pillow is cradling the baby pumpkin.  It is a small pumpkin. A baby.  I am thinking of it as a baby and the pillow as the cradle.  "In the Cradle" could be a title?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Grid Update

The Grid at the End of the Summer 2011

In case you are new to my blog and don't know what "The Grid" is, I thought I'd give an update. 

A couple of summers ago, my sister suggested I use a window frame to prop up my lake paintings while they are in-progress.  It's in the guest room.  I expanded the concept to use it as motivation to keep me painting.

I had a habit of starting work but not finishing it.  This project really helps me move forward.

Here's how it works:   If you stay as a guest with us at the lake, then you get to pick your painting-in-progress from the "grid."  You also pick your frame at that time. Then, I finish the painting and deliver it to you.

It just so happens that horizontal 8 x 10" masonite panels fit perfectly in the grid, up to 15.  I am aiming to fill the grid each summer, but I haven't gotten to the goal yet. Too many other fun things going on. But I know it is keeping me painting more than I would if I didn't have the grid project.   


Sunday, September 11, 2011

"Boots" Oil Painting

14 x 15" Oil on Masonite

Well, I broke the "rule" for selecting a grid painting, and let Colleen, my sister-in-law, pick this one, because she loved it so much. It was on my wall in my studio, and not actually in "The Grid."  I am happy to see it to go to someone who really appreciates it.

It's my prerogative.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

"Farmstand Flowers" Painting

Farmstand Flowers
8 x 10" Oil on Art Board

After much debate, the Spina family chose Farmstand Flowers as their pick from the grid.  They wanted a gold frame, so I switched it out and will be delivering it when we next go to Syracuse, probably this weekend.


Friday, September 9, 2011

"Big Cloud, Little Lake" Oil Painting

Big Cloud, Little Lake
8 x 10" Oil on Masonite

My sister, Christine, chose "Big Cloud, Little Lake"  from the grid during her visit this year.

I framed it and will be putting it in the mail to Colorado later today.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Lazy Afternoon" Landscape Oil Painting

Lazy Afternoon
8 x 10 Oil on Masonite

Our summer is almost over so now I am working on finishing up the paintings that were selected by guests from the grid.

Our niece, Charlotte, chose this painting, "Lazy Afternoon."

I put in the mail to California yesterday.

Hope she likes it when she gets it.


Monday, September 5, 2011

"Yellow Tulips" Still LIfe Oil Painting

Yellow Tulips
18 x 14" Oil on Masonite

Last Friday, I dropped off my painting, "Yellow Tulips," at West End Gallery in Corning.  It will be part of their upcoming show which opens officially next Friday, Sept 9th. 
It's a little larger than my other still lifes: 18" x 14".   I enjoyed painting the cloth underneath the vase  -- it was a first for me.

Friday, September 2, 2011



I named this abstract iPainting "Flight" because it reminds me of hot air balloons and airfields and clouds and I feel like I am looking down from above.  I used the palette knife feature for the first time.


Thursday, September 1, 2011



When I start to paint on my iPad, I really don't know what I am going to end up making.  This time I knew I wanted to experiment with skin tones and "building" a head but that was about it. 

And I wanted to try a new background.  Bright pink hasn't been leading me where I have been wanting to go, i.e., believable skin.  I know that the painter Tom Buechner used a green he called goop for his underpainting, so I thought I would start there.

I selected the green of hospital scrubs.  I read somewhere a long time ago that they use green in surgery theaters because it is the opposite of  blood red.  (For this post, I looked it up and found that they also used green to prevent eyestrain.  White was too bright.  Another reason was to prevent theft.)

Subconsciously, I must have been dwelling on the scrubs connection because this surgeon with his half-glasses began to emerge. In addition, I have had the Henrietta Laks story on my mind, too.  So many ethical issues in medicine.  (In retrospect, I don't think a lot of surgeons have beards.)  I am trying to let myself go and explore whatever comes up and not do too much censuring at this point.