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Posts tagged ‘representational’

Solo Show at Vintage Artists Gallery

My older (2000-2011), mostly representational, watercolors will be on sale during the month of July at the Riverdale Senior Services Center, 2600 Netherland Avenue, Riverdale, NY, 10463. RSS is open M-Th 9-5, Fri 9-4.

Since I have not really tried very hard to sell my work over the years, there still are many very good watercolors available. All are matted and framed, ready for hanging. I’m hoping this will free up some space for my newer acrylic on raw canvas paintings, which look very different.

This painting should show many Riverdale residents a familiar sunset view.


So if you’re interested in good but affordable paintings, come to the RSS Center in Riverdale in July.

Thanks to everyone who came, bought or donated.

Well, the Gifts of Art fundraiser for Memorial Sloan Kettering cancer research was a success. A lot of people showed up, art sold, raffle tickets were bought and claimed, and a number of people who couldn’t make it to the event made contributions online.  Many, many thanks to everyone who came, bought or donated.

Among the sales were my two watercolors:


Croton     14×10

Croton grows everywhere in Florida, but notably around my mother-in-law’s house in Delray Beach, FL. Rose died in 2009 and this painting will forever make me think of her. Like the plant, she was bold, varied, colorful, and always interesting.


Elephant Ears

Elephant Ears     14×10

While in Florida recovering from cancer and waiting for my hair to grow back, my husband and I visited the orchid place (can’t remember the name) near the Morikami Museum in Delray Beach.  The large leaves of this plant caught my eye and they told me it was called Elephant Ear.  I loved the colors and the name made me smile.

I am so thrilled that my two paintings that made me happy while I was recovering from cancer will now make someone else happy.

Italy is an inspiration

Just back from a two week trip to Italy and what an inspiration! Wonderful art everywhere. We were in Venice, Florence, Siena, Rome and Sorrento. Good food, great weather, friendly people and the art is spectacular.

Took a lot of pictures, but I didn’t have a lot of time to paint.  Just two quick sketches, both of Venice.

Venice I

Venice I    8 x 4.5    $350

Venice II

Venice II    8 x 4.5    $350

As soon as I get my 2,000+ photos organized (another week or so?), I’ll be creating more “Italy” paintings.





If at first you don’t succeed, crop

I know I’ve admitted to this before, but it bears repeating: if a painting doesn’t quite work and you can’t figure out how to fix it, consider turning it upside down. Or, if all else fails, crop it. I just checked and the last time I mentioned this was back in a December 2012 blog post. (So I guess I haven’t overdone it.)

Here’s a perfect example. On a recent visit to Cooperstown, the rainbow formed as the sun hit the fountain spray in the pond in front of the Glimmerglass Opera House.  I snapped a few pictures and came back to my studio in NYC to paint.



It’s much more representational than I am happy with and I don’t like the way the painting is almost split into blue and green halves. And the yellow and pink colors don’t completely make sense since you can’t see a full rainbow. And I included those few weeping willow leaves in the upper right corner to try and create more interest up there, but they don’t really work.

So tried looking at it from another angle: upside down. No, I didn’t stand on my head; I turned the painting upside down.

Glimmerglas Upside Down

Glimmerglass Upside Down

Well, that’s interesting … almost like looking at the sky from underwater.  But those dark green things hanging from the top don’t make sense now, although I do like the fact that there is more to focus on in the upper right corner. Oh, but the weeping willow leaves really look stupid.  And the yellow and pink still don’t make sense.

Since I still don’t like the division of the painting into blue and green halves, I turned it back right side up and cropped out most of the green (at the suggestion of an artist friend).

Glimmerglas C

Glimmerglas C

Much better. Why didn’t I think of that myself?!?  I’ve eliminated the blue/green division, eliminated those stupid looking weeping willow leaves, eliminated the reflection of the green shrubs and grass in the pond at the top which wasn’t quite realistic enough to really make sense … and I’m left with the water reflecting something and the reeds in the foreground.

Still too representational for my taste, but it works.  The cropping made a huge difference.

Now I’ll have to try a really abstract version.




I’m a Sucker for Sunsets

Somehow, wherever I go, I end up with many (I mean many) pictures of sunsets.  There is something about the vibrant colors that just gets to me and says “paint me, paint me.”

But the problem is, what I often then paint is not abstract, because I seem to just paint what I see, and that is a real sunset, not an abstract one.  And what I want to do is paint an abstract sunset.  Aargh!!!

So, a friend recently came back from Socotra with some great photographs (she’s a very good photographer), including several sunsets.  I decided to do a representational painting of one sunset, and then try to create an abstract of the same photo.

Well, I haven’t been doing too many representational paintings lately and I’m a little out of practice.  It took me three tries to be happy with a painting of her Socotra sunset.

Socotra Sunset

Socotra Sunset

So, I finally had a representational version I liked.  But now came the really hard part: abstracting it. Two tries later I had something I liked. It’s actually painted on the back of one of my earlier failed Socotra paintings. (I do that a lot:  if something doesn’t work, I just turn the paper over and start painting on the other side.)

Socotra II

Socotra II

I’m happy with Socotra II, but I’m going to keep trying … maybe bigger.  Who knows?

Sueño del Mar: evolution of a painting

On Playa Langosta, Sueño del Mar (I Dream of the Sea) is a lovely, romantic little inn which has become a regular breakfast stop every time I go to Costa Rica.  The food is delicious, the people are very friendly and if you’re planning a honeymoon, this is the place to go.

This time, I just happened to take some pictures of the bird of paradise plants growing along an outside wall. While I was in Costa Rica, I did a quick sketch. Not bad, but too representational for my current taste.

Birds of Paradise

Birds of Paradise

Back in New York, while I was thinking about how to make this more abstract, it hit me that the flowers and leaves in my sketch reminded me of fish swimming among the seaweed.  So I did five larger sketches … but they looked too much like the original, even though they also now looked a little more like fish.

Stumped, I took them to my abstract watercolor class at the Art Students League and asked Frank O’Cain, my teacher, for advice.  His suggestion: pick the painting I liked the least and use a bigger brush to paint over the red flowers with big broad strokes, establishing a rhythm.  OK, much better, but no cigar.

In the meantime, the palm tree trunks in the background were reminding me of how Asian artists paint bamboo, which in turn reminded me of the huge Chinese brush I bought at the Shanghai Museum.

So I started over, using my big Chinese brush for the first time to paint the two pink palm tree trunks/seaweed.  Wow!  I loved the effect. So I added the big rhythmic strokes for the red flowers/fish. Now we’re getting somewhere. The green leaves are looking more and more like smaller fish. A little transparent yellow in the upper right and lower left corners feels like sunlight shining down into the water. Very pale blue strokes here and there feel like currents in the water.  Oops.  The leftmost red fish is too strong so I wash it out a little with a wet paper towel and then add just a hint of the alizarin of the other fish. Now, a couple of the fish/leaves at the bottom look too strong, so I wash them out.  Then I soften the green center fish/leaf a little and add some transparent yellow.

Sueño del Mar

Sueño del Mar, Dream of the Sea 18×24 $1,400

What a difference. I can’t believe how much I like this now.

Sunday Reception for 4 Women Exhibit, March 16, 2:00-3:30

Please join me and the three other artists (Gloria Karlson, Joan Levine and Aija Sears) at the reception for the 4 Women Exhibit at the Riverdale-Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture, 4450 Fieldston Road at the corner of Fieldston Road and Manhattan College Parkway in the Riverdale section of the Bronx.  For directions:

Moving from representational watercolors of landscapes and nature into abstraction has been a two steps forward and one step back process for me.  I sometimes have a hard time banishing the realistic, recognizable image in order to create something less immediately understandable but more intriguing and, when I’m lucky, more powerful.  A useful tool in this process is collage:  going through old paintings that were not quite ready for prime time, cutting them up, rearranging the pieces, adding other pieces from other paintings, and something new is born.

Blue and Green

Blue and Green, 17×23, $925

Blue and Green is one such collage.  Looking at it now, I can no longer completely remember what my original painting looked like.

If you’re in the NYC area, I hope to see you at the reception on March 16, 2:00 – 3:30.

Evolution of a painting

My painting process, especially if it is a representational painting (one where you recognize the subject), usually involves a series of light washes (often many of them) to create a painting with real depth and intensity.  And there are many adjustments along the way as the painting speaks to me and tells me what it needs.

I spent the recent Christmas holidays visiting my brother in Cooperstown in upstate New York. I described my visit and showed two of my quick sketches in my previous blog.  It’s taken me this long to create a painting from one of those sketches.

This was the initial wash:

Winter v1

Winter v1

You can see the light pencil sketch — not very detailed — and the preliminary light washes, blue for the snow shadows and sky and blue-green for the trees and far mountains.

Winter v2

Winter v2

Here I’ve left the sky and snow shadows alone and focussed on the trees and distant mountain.

Winter v3

Winter v3

Here I’ve added some of the tree trunks and started to indicate the tree branches.

Lots still to do:  make the far trees stand out from the further mountains, continue to define the midground trees and, most importantly, expand the snow shadows. Finally, I added purple to the trees and shadows in spots and then the occasional stroke of red. The last thing, even after I put my name at the bottom, was to add the two hawks cruising in the far sky.

So here is the final painting: Cooperstown Winter.

Cooperstown Winter

Cooperstown Winter

It really does convey the isolation and beauty of winter in Cooperstown.

Exhibition coming — It would help to be organized

When I was working in Publishing I always thought I was pretty organized.  And I just reorganized my studio so I have room to work on large paintings (large, for me, is 18 x 24).  Everything looked so nice and neat and organized.

Well, less than two weeks later, my studio is no longer so neat and organized.  And I guess I’m not either.  In putting together the price list for Fall Exhibition 2013 for the 1100 Watercolor Society, it suddenly dawned on me that I still hadn’t scanned my large painting for the show.  Yeah, the one I matted and framed three weeks ago in a burst of energy and, I thought, really good organization.

So now I have to take it out of the frame to take a picture of it so I’ll have the image even if the painting sells.  And then put it all back together again. What a pain!

Oh, and while I’m at it, I just noticed I can’t find another painting I want to put in the exhibit.  I know I scanned it, because I have the image.  I was sure I’d framed it … so how hard can it be to find a framed painting in my studio?!?  Of course, if I’m wrong about having framed it ….  Aargh!!!

My scans are how I keep track of what I’ve done: how many paintings, what size, what price, what subject ….  It’s how I can see where I started and how far I’ve come.  It’s how I can track my transition from representational landscapes to non-representational abstracts, and everything in-between. And the scans and the accompanying spreadsheet are what give me the feeling (illusion?) of being organized.

Fortunately, I have a week before the exhibit to really get organized.

Oh, here’s the image of the painting I can’t find.

Language Is Leaving Me

Language Is Leaving Me

Representational but abstract

I went to the reception at Ethical Culture Society on Sunday and saw my painting Elephant Ears for the first time since I finished it late last year.  I really like it but more importantly, I saw it for the first time from across a room.

A friend of mine who is a really good artist with a Fine Arts degree and who really knows art-speak, proceeded to take ten minutes to explain to me how abstract Elephant Ears really is.  And I got it, though I didn’t fully understand everything she said and certainly wouldn’t have thought of it myself.  The effect from across the room is very different from up close and personal.

Elephant Ears

Elephant Ears

Up close, I see the details of the leaves, their varied colors, their veins…

From a distance … Among other things, she talked about a series of L-shapes starting with the pink tiles which move from dark to light to dark, moving to the lighter green leaf and other leaves with light edges, and then  to the L formed by the darker leaves and then to the final light leaf at the top right.

But I still think my painting is pretty realistic so we’re probably using the words differently.  After we finished painting together today at Wave Hill, I asked her about realistic, representational and abstract.   She said that my painting is representational but with abstract elements.  Twenty minutes and a lot of art history (on her part) and questions (on my part) later, I’m left with a continuum from photo realistic at one end, through representational (you still know what it is) and on to completely abstract (no clue what it is) at the other end.  Don’t know if that’s really right, but it’s my current state of understanding.

At this point, representational with abstract elements makes sense as a description of Elephant Ears.

I wonder how long it will take me to really understand and be comfortable with these kind of art discussions.  It’s definitely a work in progress.