Twisted Lemon

This is one of the first paintings I did and it’s my favorite, but I haven’t blogged about it yet.  The way the lemon was cut, was a happy accident, and I just played with the placement taking lots of pictures till I found one I liked. I traced a few basic outlines from the picture using carbon transfer paper right on the canvas to get the basic dimensions just so and painted the blocked areas in.  Sometimes I would touch the paint to my photo printout to make sure the value and color was right.

The bowl was at Goodwill for $4 and had the brand “Tiffany & co.” primly printed on the bottom.  I thought, “What’s a bowl like you doing in a place like this?”  Even though the representation of the bowl would still be abstract because of the small size of the canvas, none of my brushes could get detail I wanted it to be so I used a toothpick for some of that part.

I just love this one because it embodies some of my life philosophies like cooking from scratch and buying used items which is healthy for the body and for the earth; and yet these things take more energy, something of which I have much less than the average person and, therefore, most often can’t live by example.  This painting is romanticizing the simple tasks of cutting lemons on a cutting board and finding used items at Goodwill because it’s making them look pretty.

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“Twisted Lemon” 6×6 inches oil on canvas

Not for sale

Instagram Baby

The other day, I was lamenting my low energy and missing photography.  The awesome thing about photography is that when I take pictures of people, there is a built in sentimental element.  Even if my composition is off, people will still love pictures of their cute kids.  That makes me feel amazing about my photography even if my clients were simply ogling about their kids.  It could get me through a tough patch of low moral.

Thinking about how I don’t have that with painting, I though it would be fun to see if there are any cute pictures of friends on Instagram that I might want to paint.  I grabbed this adorable picture of a friend, and thought, “I haven’t done so well with people yet, but this will be good motivation to try again.”

While painting, I imagined how awesome it was going to turn out, but something a little terrible happened.  After finishing the first layer and taking a break for a few days, I couldn’t remember which colors I had used.  Going back in the second time, I still had a lot to do and my color balance started looking very off.  I tried a different color harmony and that wasn’t it either.  I tried a third and that wasn’t it either.  Now the colors looked totally out of sync and I didn’t want to start over, but I learned a lot.  I was happy with the likeness and the values.

Here it is.

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Oil on gessoed watercolor paper

Not for sale

Body by Ryan

In my family we are a little crazy, a little goofy, and we channel that into doing a little of our own thing.  It usually ends up being some kind of ugly face making contest, ten minute film, Funny Movie Maker, or the like.  We quote each other more than we quote cult classic cinema.  I need to write up a better background story on Petunia, my first painting, which is the character my sister made up to entertain the family.  I was laughing the whole time I was painting Petunia which probably gave me more enjoyment that it did the family when they were surprised I made an oil painting of something so-not-serious.  The bidding started at two pennies and ended at $17 with lots of interim family banter which was almost as fun as the painting itself.  Okay, fine, the banter was more fun, but anticipating the banter was pretty fun, see?

Feeling a little bored and antsy with the doing still life art and wanting to use my art to connect with the family, once again, I asked two of my brothers which family classic I should paint next.  My brother Marshal instantly knew he wanted me to paint Ryan as the personal trainer of our family video “Body by Ryan”.  We laughed so much as we watched the movie together again, grabbed still shots from YouTube where we had it posted, and visualized which ones I might use.

It brought me so much joy to be painting the base layer and I posted the this in our family group on Facebook just to tantalize everyone.  Some immediately recognized the character and others could see it once it was pointed out, but I was shocked that Jessy’s fiance, Chris, and my brother, Marshal, immediately started bidding while the painting was still in it’s preliminary stages ($10 and $15 respectively!).  It was barely started, but I just couldn’t keep the secret very well.  Here is what the painting looked like at that point.

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It looked more like Voldemort than Ryan, right?  He became human after the second layer and I showed everyone in the family group the progress.  Again, I couldn’t keep any progress a secret, and was rather too excited for show and tell.

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And then I was working on the final layer.  I wanted it to be perfect.  I wanted to blow everyone away.  Although the family had seen progress all along and I worried that took something away from the finished product, I had a surprise, inside joke garnish that I was determined not give away till the very end.   I spent a few hours doing the third layer and some of the colors ended up totally different, but It was looking good.  It was getting to the point were each brush stroke was starting to look worse rather than better, and I thought, “I think I have done the best my skill level can do.”

There was just one more correction.  Ugh!  This latest attempt to fix his stubborn eyebrow which was being mistaken for hair didn’t work yet again, so I used my paintbrush and some paint thinner to undo my attempt and without realizing what was happening, the paint thinner was dripping down the entire canvas! Gasp! No! NoNoNoNoNo!!  Hours lost! No!  I thought of wiping the canvas and, thankfully, decided better of it once I imagined all those colors rubbing together and starting from scratch.  Instead, I pressed the paper towel on the canvas and held it there hoping to absorb the paint thinner and preserve as much progress as possible, yet knowing in my heart that I had ruined most of it.

When I peeled the paper towel away, it was as if the image, looking more ragged, but surprisingly preserved, yelled, “Horrible!” right at me.  Of course, I laughed and laughed because that was his famous tagline in the family movie.  The painting now had more character and it was his character.  This painting just came alive and it was perfect, and it was finished.

The next day, I added the garnish of kissy lips and lipstick exes.  You had to see the family movie to fully appreciate this one….oh, wait, you can!  It’s on YouTube.  The movie is embedded below.

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“Body by Ryan” 6×8 inches oil on canvas

SOLD!

 

Funky Apple

This is actually the first painting I did from life (completed before the tremor painting).  Since I am not confident in my drawing skills though, I thought, “What if I embrace this and lean into the poor drawing of the apple, make no corrections, and try to paint realistically even though the proportions are off.”  I kept the first stroke, effectively warping the apple, made no corrections, and went for it.

Another technique I tried was under-painting.  Wanting to finish with a white that had a slight bluish tone for the table, I started with a complimentary yellow to outline the apple and shadow on the table with the intention of letting the yellow show through in places.  This gives the apple and shadow a glow that I like.  You can see a thin strip of the yellow I used at the very bottom of the painting on the left side.

Something that I noticed later, after looked at it for a few months while it was curing, wondering if I liked it overall or not, is that the shadow is too light.  In the art world, it could be said, “the value is off”.  This gives the feeling that the apple is separated from the background.  I wanted to say ‘floating’, but the shadow would have to be disconnected from the apple and placed lower on the table in relation to the apple.  In addition, that really wouldn’t solve the value issue anyway, so maybe not.  It’s a funky apple.

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“Funky Apple” 6×6 inches oil on canvas (cured and varnished)

Sold!

Tremor Painting

I painted this in the summer while I was having some MS symptoms flaring up.  Thankfully, my latest MRI showed no progression of the disease for that last year (hooray!), but I hadn’t experienced such a typical clinical symptom previous to this last summer when my right hand developed an intentional tremor.

“What is an intentional tremor?”  You may wonder.  Well, I wondered exactly what was going on with my right hand before I found out that it was called an intentional tremor.  My hand would be minding it’s own business acting all normal-like and then when my arm moved my hand to complete a specific activity, such as writing or drinking a glass of water, my hand would begin to shake uncontrollably.  When relaxed, it would be fine, but whenever I had the intention of using my  right hand, the tremor would say, “hello”.

Thankfully, the tremor is almost totally in remission.  I get to use that word since I have relapsing-remitting MS.  While having the tremor in full force, however, I painted this crummy little painting.  I am actually pretty happy with it because even though it looks sloppy, the values are okay and when I look at it from afar or blur my eyes it looks great.  I chuckle at the low bar that is set for this one.

Seriously, though, I painted each stroke with both hands on the brush hoping my left hand could stabilize the right.  It worked most of the time, though after annoyance grew into acceptance, I was somewhat amused when my right hand would lose control which resulted in a spastic brush stroke.  It was just so unpredictable!

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On another note, the last painting I posted didn’t get any bids even though I have been told it’s a favorite by a few different people.  That leaves me thinking that I don’t have enough traffic yet for this format to work.  I am toying with the idea of saving up 30 crummy little paintings and purchasing a one-month membership to sell at an auction site that allows me to post one a day and get a lot of exposure.  While mulling that idea over in my head, I am wondering if I should just keep posting completed paintings and let people shout out if they want one.  I always want to make a forever plan (“From Now On, I decree…blah..blah…blah…”), but it’s just too early to be consistent with anything yet.

Tomatoes and Cheese on Toast

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Painted from a set-up at my friend, Helga’s, dining room table with her food and dainty dishes.  I was experimenting with a looser painting style and didn’t love the result; but this painting has been listed as a favorite to some of my friends and family, so rather than recycle the canvas, I figured I would bid it away.  If anyone following wants to start it at $5, it is up for bidding this week only using the comment section.

Summer’s Up

Finally back home from this summer’s extensive travels.  I didn’t get to paint as much as I would have liked, but other great things were happening.  I hope to post another painting that’s ready to make available.

Anyway, here is all I have been able to do in the last couple months. These two paintings were created using the same still life set-up.  The one on the right was painted by my sister who is a drawing wiz (minus the smudge on one apple made by a curious child).  The one on the left was my attempt to get something at all.  My right hand has developed a bit of a tremor, so I thought, “If I can at least get the values to look right, maybe it could pass as abstract and it will be called ‘painterly’.” It might look good if you blur your eyes 🙂

Here’s to hoping I can get a grip going forward.  Get it? “Get a grip”?

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