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, December 19, 2013

The Bunny Saga

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.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"Snowy River" Oil Painting

Propped up to finish drying before hanging

"Snowy River"
16 x 12 Oil on Panel

The frames I ordered finally arrived!  When they do, it pushes me to finish what I have started.  Today I tweaked this one, then signed it.  Now I just need to put the hardware on it, so it can be hung.  Feels good to have one finished. 


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Water Damage -- Turning a Negative into a Positive

De-humidifier drying out the studio

Last Friday, I discovered that the heating/AC unit had leaked on to the hardwood floors and into my work area, damaging the rug and the canvas panels I had propped up against the wall and creating an awful vomit-like smell upon entering.

Luckily, the water didn't ruin any work that I had completed.  Nonetheless, I felt emotional about losing all of the potential work the panels represented.  And I was complaining about the disruption. And the smell.  It was a mess and I was, too. 

Reality check:  My damage is a thimble-full compared to what the people in Superstorm Sandy experienced a year ago.  Helped me put things in perspective. 

Also, my landlord is also being very responsive and sympathetic, which I greatly appreciate.

I was able to salvage about half my blank panels --- and they are the bigger ones.  I have been wanting to paint bigger --- so this is going to force me to do it! 

I have been procrastinating about ordering storage to get my things up off the floor, and now I will. 

Ditto for creating the inventory records and photos of my work that I should have been keeping all along. 

Plus I had to clear out that side of the studio, which has really forced me to start anew, with a fresh, clean workspace. 

So, there will be many positives in the end --- even though it is a lot of work and is keeping me from painting this week. 

I am trying to make lemonade from lemons --- my dad always used to say something like that.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Little World Oil Painting No. 1 - "Remote Island"

Little World Oil Painting No. 1 - "Remote Island"
 Little Round Oil Painting in an 8 x 10 Frame

Finished the first of my series of oil paintings which I am going to call Little Worlds.  They are small round oil paintings (about 1.5 inches in diameter) which are mounted on a collage of ephemera like origami paper and dead currency from my past travels.  The little worlds are places I have invented for the viewer to take imaginary trips. 


Saturday, August 10, 2013

"Long Barn" Oil Painting

"Long Barn"
10 x 28" Oil on Panel

Here's how this painting looks in its new frame.  It is a custom size--- 10 inches tall and 28 inches wide --  so I had to special order it. 


Friday, August 9, 2013

"Keuka Sunset" Oil Painting

"Keuka Sunset"
9" x 6" Oil

I have been meeting very nice people this week in my studio.  Lots of visitors in town this time of year.  And it reminds me just how beautiful our area is, and how special it is. 

This is a small oil painting which I recently framed.  It is a view of the sunset on Keuka Lake including the bluff.


Monday, July 15, 2013

"Barn Window" Oil Painting

"Barn Window"
8 x 10 Oil on Panel

This painting was a little wet when I photographed it so unfortunately there is some glare, but it gives you the general idea.

 It was fun to paint the variety of textures -- the red roughness of the barn against the green mound of morning glories, and the hardness of the glass against the softness of the old curtain inside the window.   And to create the warmth of the sun hitting the top of the plant but indicating coolness in the shadows.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

"Reaching" Oil Painting

18" x 12" Oil on Panel
This painting is based on a favorite photograph, entitled "Reaching".  Now that I have basic painting laid in, I am debating whether or not to make it tighter or just leave it as it is. 

I am getting more used to showing my work in progress.  I put things in the window to dry. 

And collect comments  --- some of which I listen to, and others that I don't.  But it is helpful to hear what others are seeing and how they are reacting to what I am doing. 


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Large Floral Oil Painting

Large Floral As of This Week
24 x 32 oil on panel

I am on the home stretch with this painting.  It's intended to be bright and loose.  Yesterday I put it in its frame and hung it on the wall of the studio to see how it is going to look.  It's quite large -- 24 x 32 inches --- which is big for me. 

And here's how it looked along the way.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Crazy Quilt on Display at My Studio

On Display in My Studio at 11 West
Since I last posted, I have secured my studio space --- at 11 West Market Street here in Corning  --- for 2 years -- until June 2015. 

I am very happy to know that I can settle in and tackle some of the projects I have put off because I just didn't have enough space at home. 

Enough space to hang the quilt under my name on the back wall

One of these "I need a bigger space" projects is to photograph a crazy quilt that my late mother had stored in her cedar chest. 

The crazy thing is she never told us anything about it, and now that it is up on the wall I don't recognize any of the names.

It has a date on it of 1894.  There is an L in the center and the initials RCL, and about 20 names, including Lizzie, Davy, George, Blanche, mamma, papa, and Anna M.  The maker appears to be M.S.

It is a mystery to solve --- and I will enjoy figuring out who these people are and how they are connected.

Also, I thought it appropriate to post here on the blog because it symbolizes all the energy I have been putting into collecting and distributing information and photographs about family and friends recently. 

Some would say I have been obsessed with genealogy.   But, to me,  it has been a rich and rewarding experience  --- and I know it is going to show up in my art one way or the other ---


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Weekend Open Studio

Long Barn Oil Painting In Progress
10 x 28 inches
Spent the weekend supporting Glassfest here in Corning.  It was windy and cold, so not as many people as last year --- but I really enjoyed opening my doors to the public. 

I painted while people browsed. 

Here's what I was working on --- an elongated panel--- fairly big --10 x 28 inches --- of a barn with the focal point being the light hitting the silo.  I am using a palette of warm and cool browns, oranges, reds and yellows.  I've started to add color --- the green in the foreground --- but I am moving slowly and using thin layers to see what effects I can create. 

It was fun to meet so many nice new people.  And to chat with friends who stopped by to say "hi."  I appreciated the interest and enthusiasm.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

"Pansies" Oil Painting

6x6 Oil on Panel
Took a photo before I left my studio today of this painting of pansies I just finished.  It's small  --- 6 x 6 inches --- so I have to pin it to a piece of foam core to be able to fit in on to my easel. 

I was excited to see these pansies survived the winter, so I decided to paint them now, while I am able to take a close look at their colors.

Still wet but done

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

"Moon" Oil Painting

12 x 9 Oil on Panel

Now that our house projects are mostly over, I am looking forward to painting this summer.  I have been gesso-ing surfaces in anticipation of a prolific period.  We'll see if my optimism pans out!  In total, I have 26 Masonite panels and 6 stretched canvases ready for painting, in a variety of sizes from small (6x6) to quite large (30x40). 

The "Moon" painting is one of the "winter" paintings I finished up last week.  Like the "Apple on the Windowsill," I painted it from a black and white film photograph taken years ago.   It's a view from our front porch through the trees.  The moon was irresistible that night.

I enjoyed making up the colors and figuring out how to use "dashes" as paint strokes to create a sense of broken moonlight.   


Friday, May 3, 2013

"Cool over Dark, Warm over LIght" Lesson

After - Warm over Light --the background receded and enhanced the flowers

After re-reading Tom Buechner's book, How I Paint, I decided to repaint the background of this painting to test what he says:

"All colors look cool over dark, even red and yellow:  all colors look warm over light, even blue.  It is the secret of the old masters, maybe the most important thing in this book."

Before - background was cool blues, purples, pinks and somewhat chalky
I don't think I did it correctly, but what I did do definitely helped the painting.  I will continue to experiment with this principle until I really understand it well. 


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"Golden Day" Oil Painting

"Golden Day"
16 x 20 Oil on Panel
Donated to the Fund for Women

I am donating this recent painting to the Fund for Women for their fundraiser on May 21.  I enjoyed painting the clouds and experimenting with the bright yellow underpainting to achieve the feeling of a sunny summer day.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"Apple on Windowsill" Oil Painting

"Apple on Windowsill"
8x10 Oil on Panel

Haven't posted in a while because we have been consumed with home improvement projects for the last 12 weeks.  Haven't had much time to paint. 

Needed something I could do in a limited amount of time, so I pulled out this painting to finish.  I thought it would be fun to look at it in its various stages. 

I painted it from a black and white film photo I took when we were in Portree, on the Isle of Skye, in Scotland in 2003.  It was Fall and the bed and breakfast where we were staying gave us apples upon arrival.

I remember getting my camera out because I was excited by the patch of light being created on the windowsill.  The light was beautiful there, especially in the late afternoon. 

Monochromatic underpainting

Fast forward to 2011 and I am looking for something I want to paint.   Could I capture the feeling of the apple basking in the sun in the patch of light using the black and white photo and memory?  In retrospect, it isn't a great composition.  But I am the kind of person who want to finish what I start, so I kept trying. 

Adding color
I couldn't remember what kind of apple it was, so I bought a few apples and tried creating a Granny Smith.  The painting became too cool.

Then I tried creating a McIntosh with a stem.  And warming it up.  It became discordant.  So, put it away for months.  I painted it blue again, but forgot to take a photo of it. 

Here's what I did last month and popped it into a frame after working on it. Getting closer to what I remember it looking like, including the glow on the windowsill. 

And here's how it looks finished and signed, after warming the curtains and the shelf, and putting a highlight on the stem.  The photo makes it look a little yellower than it looks in person (iPad photos seem to make colors more saturated), but it still represents the piece. 

Now I just need to come up with a title. 


Friday, March 22, 2013

New Work: Going Bigger & More Colorful

In Progress -- Drying in the Studio Window
24 x 32 Oil on Panel

I've started some new paintings.  This is the first -- which is drying in the window of the studio.  It's bolder. It may be hard to tell at this point, but it is a floral arrangement on a table in front of a window in our kitchen. 

This is the gold frame for it.  And how it looked before I worked on it yesterday.  
And it's larger -- 24 x 32  --- when compared to my usual work.   It was one of my goals for this year --- to paint bigger.

I chose the subject because I was interested in the shadow under the flowers and using the square tabletop to create space.  Now I am kind of hooked on making the vibrant colors work.  It it starts to fall apart I can always use it as underpainting.  That's the beauty of oils. 


Friday, March 15, 2013

"Three Fruits" Still Life

"Three Fruits"
8 x 10 Oil on Panel
This is the last of the still lifes to post.  And it is the most difficult to accurately photograph.  It really depends what light it is in.  This photo makes it look too vibrant even though  it is taken in natural light on a cloudy day.  In person, it looks more like the bottom photograph. 
It may have to do with the underpainting which is a very bright rose pink.  You can see it showing through the background on the upper left.  And in areas under the pear. 
To me, it is interesting that it is the same color underpainting as "Snapdragons" which I posted yesterday, and they came out so differently. 

At the beginning this is how it looked, if you recall.  I painted if from a black and white photo so I had to make up the colors. 

Here is how it looked for most of the winter.  I put it in this "old master's" type frame and had it hanging in my studio, and would work on the apple from time to time. 

Last week, I tweaked the apple and put it in the simpler black frame  -- the one I used for "The Barletts". 

So, that's it for the still lifes --- I have finished them all and put them in frames.  I am now working on three large panels -- a 24x28, a 30x40 and 32x40. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

"Snapdragons" Oil Painting

10 x 8 Oil on Panel

Finished this painting on Monday.  It is softer than some of the others --- probably because I let the edges drift away and made up passages instead of trying to be exact.  This is the painting that was supposed to be a throw away --- just play --- the ground I used was slick and wouldn't hold paint at the beginning -- but I am glad I stuck with it.  I've grown attached to it.  Feels like we have been through a lot together. 


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Anemones II Oil Painting

"Anemones II"
14 x 10 Oil on Panel

I popped this painting into a frame to see if it looks finished.  I want it to be.  It isn't quite dry, but I hope the anemones (windflowers) look like they are dangling but graceful now.  On Monday, I worked at separating the blossoms so that you can see them individually and I made the open faced one the crispest, and brightest , so that it would be the focal point.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tom Buechner's list of "Why I Paint"

From Tom Buechner's book, How I Paint, he says in the chapter Why I Paint, he made this list of what painting means to him:

  • being alone with myself
  • being part of an enormous family of painters, living and dead
  • being amazed by reality
  • seeing how strong or weak I can be
  • seeing the evidence of passing time
  • just seeing
  • facing infinite possibilities
  • mastering a medium or failing to do so
  • showing and telling
  • bringing pleasure, making money
  • thinking
  • transcending myself(very rarely)
  • plus I get to travel, paint with friends, visit museums and buy art books as legitimate business expenses!
Still wish he was around so we could go up to his studio to paint with him as Lin and I were doing on Wednesdays.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

"Heather Basket" Oil Painting

10 x 8 Oil on Panel

I let the charcoal drawing show through in parts of the basket.  Not sure if it was the best decision, but I am putting this one in a frame and moving on to something else.   Working on a title for it.  Suggestions welcome. 


Saturday, March 9, 2013

"The Bartletts" in a new frame

"The Bartletts"
10 x 8 Oil on Panel
Tweaked The Barletts and put them in a new frame, to provide more contrast. 


Friday, March 8, 2013

Sunflower in Art Glass Vase Painting

12 x 9 Oil on Panel
I have been toying with this painting for months --- and I have decided to stop. Will order a frame now. And work on a title for it. Suggestions?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Acrobats Still LIfe Oil Painting

10 x 8 Oil on Panel
Here's how the apples painting turned out in the end.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Anemones I - Still Life Oil Painting

Anemones I
Oil on Panel 10 x 8
This week I am putting all my household and genealogy projects on hold, in order to give myself time to focus on painting and photography. 

Thought I'd start by posting the work which I have completed.  This is a still life of anemones (wildflowers) from our garden last fall, in a vase that I bought from a fellow vendor, during my jewelry selling days.  I used to trade jewelry for pottery, and have some nice pieces as a result. 

Although it's not really coming across, I am trying to find ways to personalize what I paint.  And to think about it from the perspective of the viewer. 


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Winston Churchill was a Painter

Did you know Winston Churchill was a painter?  I didn't until I ran across his little book, Painting as a Pastime,  last week in a used bookstore. 

He wrote the book -- it's really just an essay --- to describe the joy he derives from painting and why it came into his life at a time when he needed it most --- as an escape from the pressures of his life as a civil servant.  It was written in 1932. 

I came across his words just at the right time.  I needed to remember why I love to paint ---and to forget all the politics and pressure that come along with showing what you paint.  Here are excerpts from his book which struck a chord with me. 

A Vase of Flowers by Winston Churchill

"Everyone knows the feelings with which one stands shivering on a spring-board, the shock when a friendly foe steals up behind and hurls you into the flood, and the ardent glow which thrills you as you emerge breathless from the plunge."

The Blue Room, Trent Park, exhibited at The Royal Academy, 1948

"Just to paint is great fun.  The colours are lovely to look at and delicious to squeeze out.  Matching them, however crudely, with what you see is fascinating and absolutely absorbing.  Try it if you have not done so, before  you die.  As one slowly begins to escape from the difficulties of choosing the right colours and laying them on in the right places and in the right way, wider considerations come into view.  One begins to see, for instance, that painting a picture is like fighting a battle; and trying to paint a picture is, I suppose, like trying to fight a battle.  It is, if anything, more exciting than fighting it successfully.  But the principle is the same.  It is the same kind of problem as unfolding a long, sustained, interlocked argument."

The Goldfish Pond at Chartwell, exhibited at The Royal Academy, 1948

"And I had lived for over forty years without ever noticing any of them [colors and details in the landscape] except in a general way, as one might look at a crowd and say, 'what a lot of people!"" 

 "I think this heightened sense of observation of Nature is one of the chief delights that  have come to me through trying to paint." 

St. Jean, Cap Ferrat
"The whole world is open with all its treasure.  The simplest objects have their beauty.  Every garden presents innumerable fascinating problems.  Every land, every parish, has its own tale to tell.  And there are many lands differing from each other in countless ways, and each presenting variants of colour, light, form and definition.  Obviously, then, armed with a paint-box, one cannot be bored, one cannot be left at a loose end, one cannot "have several days on one's hands."  Good gracious!  what there is to admire and how little time there is to see it in!"

"One cannot go back day after day without the picture getting stale.  the painter must choose between a rapid impression, fresh and warm and living, but probably deserving only of a short life, and that cold, profound, intense effort of memory, knowledge and will-power, prolonged perhaps for weeks, from which a masterpiece can alone result.  It is much better not to fret too much about the latter.  Leave to the master of art trained by a lifetime of devotion the wonderful process of picture-building and creation.  Go out into the sunlight and be happy with what  you see. "

"Even if you cannot portray it as you see it, you feel it, you know it, and you admire it for ever....The painter wanders and loiters contentedly from place to place, always on the look out for some brilliant butterfly of a picture which can be caught and set up and carried safely home." 

  --- Winston Churchill