work in progress

Creative Process: Bittersweet, 32 x 40 inches

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Bittersweet by Elizabeth Floyd, 32 x 40 inches, oil on linen

Bittersweet

The idea behind this painting had been floating around in my mind for more than two years before I was finally ready to begin in November 2015. I knew the subject matter would require a large painting surface and I must admit I was a bit intimidated by the idea of painting a life-size painting in the level of detail I imagined.

I am glad I allowed the idea to percolate and develop, because I am so happy with how this painting turned out.

I wanted a painting that was as big as possible while also maintaining the intimate feel of the delicate vine. By my nature, I am drawn to intricate patterns and details, the more delicate and nuanced, the more my mind wants to engage. So I wanted this painting to be an exploration of layering the textures and patterns created by the setup. Included in this painting is a Turkman rug that has beautiful deep reds, blacks, and blues, where some of the reds almost shift into purple tones. I was drawn to include it as my background because it complements the yellows and oranges of the bittersweet. The split-oak basket was an object I have wanted to paint for along time, I had just never found a place for it in a composition. So overall this painting came together and I began painting it.

For the first two months that I worked on this painting, I had several fits and starts where I would have to scrape down everything I had worked on because it was just off. I do not have any photos of this era because I was so wrapped up with the painting process that I would forget to take photos. Around Christmas I took some time off from the studio. During this break, I thought about how I wanted to move forward and what I might have to change in order to accomplish my painting goals.

20160202-002 Bittersweet WIP-01 This is where the painting was when the new year rolled around, and I was now energized to tackle this painting.

The big change I incorporated into my studio habit to help me overcome the painting obstacles I previously encountered was to move my easel away from my viewpoint spot. Each time I actually painted, I needed to step 3-4 steps forward to paint, and then I would step back and compare the painting to actuality. This is similar to the sight-size painting method, but not really. I have really fallen in love with this method and have been using it on other paintings I am working on now.

Once things began to come together it was just a matter of working on the details and moving forward. The painting then came together rapidly.

20160202-002 Bittersweet WIP-02

20160202-002 Bittersweet WIP-03

20160202-002 Bittersweet WIP-04

20160202-002 Bittersweet WIP-05

Here is a detail of the finished painting.

20160202-002 Bittersweet 32x40 detail

WIP: Still Life with Amaryllis and Pomegranates, 24 x 30 inches

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Still Life with Amaryllis and Pomegranates by Elizabeth Floyd, 24 x 30 inches  - oil on linen

Still Life with Amaryllis and Pomegranates

This is a painting where the idea of its basic composition was established in late 2014. I had worked on a vertical configuration of this compositional idea in November 2014, but in December 2014 I came down with pneumonia and let the original painting get put aside. Also the orchid that had been a part of the original composition had lost all its flowers. Then as the New Year (2015) came into being, all of my various amaryllis bulbs began to bloom. And with the blooming of my “apple blossom” amaryllis, I decided to revisit the composition. In assessing the original painting, I decided to change to orientation from vertical to horizontal.

After the initial block-in of the painting, I decided to focus on painting the amaryllis bloom. The other areas of the painting would last, while the flowers needed my immediate attention. As I have shared before, I prefer painting from life, even if this puts me under a bit more pressure in the race of completing the floral sections before they wilt and die. So on the first full day I had in the studio I dove in.

In fact, I worked on the amaryllis bloom for the time that Naomi was in preschool, typically I get 2-3 hours in the studio during this time and I had to stop mid-day to pick her up and deliver her to the babysitter so I could have the rest of the afternoon to paint. When I returned, I was able to look at my progress and setup with clear eyes. In analyzing what I had accomplished that morning and how it affected the composition, it came to me, that the painting would display the amaryllis bloom best if I turned the flower 180-degrees. So I scraped down what I had laid-in that morning and began again.

20150302-002 WIP Pomegranates-01

{the amaryllis bloom in its first position}

20150302-002 WIP Pomegranates-02

{the amaryllis bloom in its second and final position, with my initial colors laid down}

20150302-002 WIP Pomegranates-03

{the amaryllis bloom with some of its surrounding background}

One of the truths of being an artist I hold is it never hurts to scrape down and begin again. Invariably the next go-round will be better and come more easily than the previous try, and I will feel better about the final outcome of the painting.

After revising the orientation of the flowers, I worked on areas of the painting choosing to jump around depending on the amount of uninterrupted studio time I had to dedicate.

Here are some detail images of the final painting:

Still Life with Amaryllis and Pomegranates by Elizabeth Floyd, detail of 24 x 30 inches  - oil on linen

Still Life with Amaryllis and Pomegranates by Elizabeth Floyd, detail of 24 x 30 inches  - oil on linen

Still Life with Amaryllis and Pomegranates by Elizabeth Floyd, detail of 24 x 30 inches  - oil on linen

...................................................................... Framed Painting {24" x 30" – oil on linen} ......................................................................

WIP: Created with Love, Final Phase

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Created with Love

Created with Love

Created with Love, my first painting of 2015 is officially finished.

To me, a painting becomes complete when I take down its still-life setup. No longer can I take the painting back into the studio to putter and fine-tune areas, in truth I can always return to a painting and add to it and change it some, but I like working from life and if my setup comes down I hesitate going back into a painting because I do not want to lose the connection I had with its setup. I get concerned about diluting my visceral connection with the inspiration of the painting in some way.

At the end of January when I finished phase two of this painting, I brought the painting into my living room to contemplate in a different environment than my studio. And in doing so, I realized I needed to make the background behind the red amaryllis more defuse and softer. When the paint was dry to the touch, I began exploring ways to soften the background some, and to make the flower stronger.

WIP-20150121-2A created-with-love-36x24

 

The left image was before I began to experiment with softening the background some, and the right image was taken after my first experiment.  I liked it so much that I quickly began applying various glazes over the background, some where light in value and others were dark, I did not use the same tint mixture but shifted the tints to warm and cool depending on what seemed the best solution.  This phase went quickly.

Here are a few details of the finished painting.

20150226-001a created-with-love-detail

20150226-001b created-with-love-detail copy

20150226-001c created-with-love-detail

 

Okay, the biggest thing I learned about this painting is that I love diving into the details...

...................................................................... Framed Painting {36" x 24" – oil on linen} ......................................................................

RELATED POSTS: Work in Progress - Created with Love: Phase 1 Work in Progress – Created with Love: Phase 2

Work in Progress – Created with Love: Phase 2

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In the first phase of completing this painting, I focused on the amaryllis bloom.  As soon as I got to a certain point, I was ready to tackle the quilt in its entirety.

WIP-20150115-1 created-with-love-36x24 {first day working on the quilt background}

I knew this would take A LOT of time and effort, however I LOVE painting drapery and fiddling with the minutia of shifts in value found in painting cloth.

My decision to tackle the quilt in a somewhat organized manner, working in adjacent areas most of the time was helpful in making sure that the overall continuity of the colors and values would read as a whole, even thought it took almost 9 long painting sessions to get the first layer of the quilt completed down.

WIP-20150115-2 created-with-love-36x24 {moving forward with one section at a time}

WIP-20150115-3 created-with-love-36x24 {At the end of a session}

After working for two long days on the quilt, I needed some immediate gratification in the last hour of my painting session, so I moved down to the lay-in the antique suitcase I got from Steve's grandmother.

WIP-20150122-1 created-with-love-36x24

{moving a bit further along}

By the end of this session, I had figured out about how long it would take to complete one of the four sides that make up each double wedding ring, and was able to estimate how much time I would need to cover the entire canvas.

 This type of hyper-intensive attention to detail also takes a lot of mental energy.  And the best way to remain fresh over a long day of painting is to plan on only focusing on one area at a time, and when your brain starts to turn to mush and you no longer care if you are getting it right.  This is the time when you take a break.  Deep work is mentally fatiguing and to stay on top of your game, means listening to yourself.

The type of breaks I like best to take when I want to mentally refuel my mind is to get on the yoga mat and complete a series of stretches.  I think this type of break is the best for resting and recharging, for me it usually takes anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes of resting my eyes and stretching to be ready to start again.

WIP-20150129-1 created-with-love-36x24

{Almost all covered}

WIP-20150131-1 created-with-love-36x24

{first pass of the quilt completed}

At the end of this painting session, the canvas was finally covered and I could begin to plan how to further refine the painting and make it read a bit better.  For this painting I used a lead white with a walnut oil binder, so it was taking a while for my white layers to completely dry, which, was fine with me because I needed some time to map out the next and hopefully final stage.

 

Work in Progress - Created with Love: Phase 1

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This year it is my goal to work on a few large and more complex compositions and I thought you may enjoy reading about my process. So today I want to share with you a still-life I began in early January 2015, this post discusses the first phase – focusing on painting the amaryllis flower from life.WIP-20150131 created-with-love-36x24

{Created with Love - 36 x 24 inches - almost finished}

This past December when I was finishing up my double wedding-ring quilt, I began thinking about how fun it would be to paint this quilt in a still-life painting. Then I began pondering what to pair it with… knowing that it would have to be something strong to counteract the bright colors and complexity of the quilt. As I was thinking about possible compositions, one of my large “red dragon” amaryllis bulbs came into bloom, and all was settled. I knew I could begin the painting I was pondering right away.

As an artist, I prefer to paint from life and in natural light. This being said, in the winter months I must rely on winter blooming flowers, which typically involves forcing a variety of bulbs inside. My favorite winter blooming bulb is the amaryllis, a tropical bulb that prospers in our warm interiors.

When painting flowers, painting from life is my preference because I feel my work captures the gesture and essence of the flowers I am working on. I try to stay away from relying too much on photo references, I think it is because photographs are one more filter away from my own personal relationship I have with the flowers. Being an avid gardener and that I typically am nurturing and growing the specific flowers I am painting, it is like I have a deeply felt relationship with them, and I want the flowers to be there while I am painting and trying to convey what I am feeling in paint.

Because of this desire to paint from life and knowing a flower only has so long before it begins to fade, I have to plan the sequencing of how to paint every given floral still-life composition. Typically I begin every painting with a drawing painted in with burnt umber, then I begin to immediately paint the areas with the most limited lifetime, in this painting it was the amaryllis flower.

Work in Progress - Created with Love

{first day: end of burnt umber block-in}

By beginning with a burnt umber drawing, I make sure that I can get the scene onto the canvas as I want, establishing an accuracy in proportion and scale. I always try to get the drawing as correct as possible, even knowing that once I begin to paint the under-drawing is going to be obliterated. I view this phase as a very important step because I feel like it helps me engage a level of muscle memory and mental connectedness I want to have with my compositions.

After the under-drawing is finished, I will take a small break (15-30 minutes) to get away from the painting, so when I return I will have fresh eyes and will be able to identify any errors in the original burnt umber drawing. If all is well, I dive into painting the most important and ephemeral subjects.

WIP-20150108-2 created-with-love-36x24

{first day: at the end of the painting session}

I began painting the amaryllis flower right away.  Blocking in color masses, keeping the shapes large and descriptive of the total structure of each flower.  When I paint flowers I am also trying to gage how long each flower will keep fresh and bright.  I knew from watching how the flower opened that the flowers on my right were the ones that would fade the quickest.  So they were the first ones tackled.  Leaving the two flowers on the left to be partially laid in.

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{first day: end of painting session}

Because when painting you make decisions based on the adjacent areas, I also began laying in the values for the neighboring background areas.

WIP-20150109-1 created-with-love-36x24 copy

{second day: a few hours into the painting session}

Upon returning to this painting the next morning I realized I needed to spend some more time laying in the adjacent background areas.  So I began to tackle more of the double wedding-ring pattern and the white areas.

WIP-20150109-2 created-with-love-36x24

{second day: near the end of the day}

After the adjacent areas were laid in, I went back into the amaryllis flower and began refining.  I also took out the back of one of the flowers that had wilted overnight.  Sometimes I will keep a wilted flower in my painting even after it has ceased to exist, however with this painting I realized the void left by that one flower, now wilted, made for a more dynamic shape of the overall flowerhead.

WIP-20150109-2a created-with-love-36x24

{second day: end of painting session}

WIP-20150110-1 created-with-love-36x24

{third day: a few hours into the painting session}

On the morning of third painting session, I realized that this would be my last day to work with the amaryllis flower before it totally wilted.  So I worked almost exclusively on it.

WIP-20150110-2 created-with-love-36x24

{third day: end of painting session, detail of the flowers}

As the end of the day drew near, I had just about finished with painting the amaryllis, so I began to focus on painting the quilt.  I still stayed close to the areas of the amaryllis because I knew that I would need to use this area to key to as I worked on the quilt when the flower would not be there to help me judge for correct color and value.

For me, painting is the experience of slowing down and absorbing what I see, and by painting objects that have a fleeting life, such as a flower, I feel like I am making their beauty more permanent, something to be admired for a long time to come.

Thank you for stopping by and I will be back with another post that describes the next phase of this painting.

 

Stretch – Evolve – Rest, My words for 2015

20150130 slim-on-quilt{Resting is easy for our kitty, Slim}

Every year I try to select a few words that will be my overarching mantra for the year. These “words of the year” help me stay focused on the main values I want to promote, and as always each word has a special meaning to me and all I hope to accomplish in 2015.

Stretch

In that when I am working, I want to spend a lot of my time in unfamiliar territory, I want to stretch my skills through applied deliberate practice. Deliberate practice is a special type of work that is designed for the sole purpose to effectively improve specific aspects of an individual’s performance. This is a concept I learned about last year while reading Cal Newport’s book “So Good They Can’t Ignore You”. In this book, I came to realize that if I want to grow as an artist, I cannot continue to repeat my painting practices but instead I must become more dedicated to pushing myself and aiming to dedicate more of my time to going outside of my comfort zone.

This is one of the reasons I accepted the Principle Gallery’s invitation to participate in the 2014 FaceOff portrait painting demonstration. In the past, I focused a lot of my art time to figurative and portraiture, but in the past 3+ years I had gotten away from it. Preparing for the FaceOff and then painting alongside Mia Bergeron and Cindy Procious was a BIG step outside my comfort zone. However in looking back at it, it was a wonderful experience and I now feel a lot more comfortable with returning to figurative subjects.

My goal in 2015 is to spend several hours a week in stretch mode, and hopefully it will lead to new opportunities. (You can read more about deliberate practice here and here, and of course in Cal Newport’s book).

Evolve

Is included this year to help remind me that nothing in life stays the same, that change is the natural path of life and I want to be open to change and all it brings in 2015.

Rest

In that I need to be more mindful of the need for REST and recharge time in my schedule in order to maintain a consistent level of creative output. This year I really want to foster a healthier attitude towards my physical limitations. In 2013 and 2014, I suffered from a few severe bouts of fatigue and illness that would sometimes sidetrack my plans for a month or more, so in 2015 I am going to break this cycle of over committing myself and burning the candle at both ends.

Sleep and down time will have equal priority with regards to my more active art career and mothering responsibilities.

And I plan to keep these three words in mind as the year goes by…

Stretch – Evolve – Rest

My dedication to resting and getting better after being sick for all of December and the first half of this month is one of the reasons this blog post is only being posted now, on the last week of January. So I know I have been applying the ideas with a level of intention I hope to maintain through the year. ;) ;)

Along with getting some much needed rest time, I have also started a new painting… something more involved than my recent work. It is 36 x 24 inches and the quilt in the background is one I pieced together and hand quilted in 2014.

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Here's to a great 2015,

Thank you for stopping by,

Liz

September Dahlias, 24 x 18 inches

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September Dahlias

September Dahlias

Painting is my outlet for expressing my joy in living and seeing. Following creative inspiration is my way of responding to nature and the beauty I find in it.

The day I began this panting (mid-September 2013) I remember how I had been gathering flowers for a totally different composition I had in mind. I was using canning jars to gather flowers from my garden, in a sorta willy-nilly fashion, when I looked down at the arrangement of pink and purple dahlias that had naturally morphed into being.

I was struck by the simple beauty of it, with its lush flowers, and the random leaves and flower buds, so I brought the arrangement inside and began this painting. The painting just flew out of me, in a matter of days.

It was the last week of September, and I had a ton of deadlines to work towards. I should have been painting a bunch of smaller paintings for an upcoming event, however I didn’t paint the smaller paintings, which would have been the pragmatic and practical thing to do, instead… I followed my inspiration.  The one rule I always try to follow is...

... to always follow what has captured my heart.

And so far, this rule has not failed me. Because to me, being an artist is about finding expression in what stirs me, and this means following the muse, wherever she may wander and lead…

...................................................................... Framed Painting: SOLD {24″ x 18″ (61 x 45.7 cm) – oil on linen} {30″ x 24″ (76.2 x 61 cm) with frame} ......................................................................

Here are some work-in-progress photos of this painting.

I really covered a lot of territory on this painting in just a few days.  I only worked from life and in natural light. Luckily the days were still relatively long so I was able to put in some really long days... I love it when the weather gives me several days of great light, making it easy to keep my concentration and complete a painting quickly.

20131001-093 september-dahlias-WIP-1 {day 1}

20131001-093 september-dahlias-WIP-2 {day 2}

20131001-093 september-dahlias-WIP-3 {day 3}

20131001-093 september-dahlias-WIP-4 {day 4}

20131001-093 september-dahlias-WIP-5 {day 5}

20131001-093 september-dahlias-WIP-6 {day 6}

Work In Progress: Ode to Fantin-LaTour

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WIP ode-to-fantin-latour-1{detail of Ode to Fantin-LaTour}

Today I have been thinking a lot about inspiration and follow through. I think the creative process is essentially both of these ideas put into action interspersed with times of lull... in that you get inspired, begin painting, and then follow your inclination to follow through and see the inspiration to completion with the inevitable breaks to let the painting breathe and cogitate.

With this work-in-progress painting, I initally had several days of being totally full and brimming with inspiration.

WIP ode-to-fantin-latour-2 {day 1}

WIP ode-to-fantin-latour-3 {day 2}

I worked on it feverishly before leaving for the UK, and since getting back from that trip (almost a month ago now) I have thought a lot about the painting but have not been inspired to return to it.

Not really sure why... it may have to do with the weeks of rain we have been having, which TOTALLY changes the quality of light in my studio, thus making everything more gray and dull.

This painting is all about the sparkle of light on the flowers, the glass vase,  the dish, and the antique sherry glass. I am hopeful that later this summer the sun will come back out for a 4-5 day period so I can return to this painting....

This week in the studio…

… I am finalizing lesson plans for the next online class that begins next week Thursday, May 2nd. This class is all about learning how to make dynamic paintings by highlighting the important color passages with lesson on:

  • How glowing color is supported with partnering grays
  • How to get the most out of your darks
  • How to use different whites for subtle but powerful results
  • How to make color pulsate with simultaneous contrast.

This class also includes an extra pre-class lesson and assignment, Using the Color Wheel to Establish Your Paint Palette (which is available for free on my website). I am offering this extra class because knowing the color wheel intimately will help in making the most of the lessons in this upcoming class.

…and…

20130424 WIP-foxglove

…I am re-working this painting for an exhibition next month at the Workhouse Arts Center, where I am a featured artist and will have 8-12 still-life paintings on display in the Vulcan Gallery of Building 16.

The reception will be held on the second Saturday of May, May 11th from 6 to 9pm.

And to find out more about the upcoming online class, Color Luminosity with Neutrals, Darks, and Lights, visit the webpage, or register now for the 4-week class, May 2, 2013 to May 29, 2013.

Thanks, Liz

Work in Progress: Irises

{an in progress painting and the setup beyond}

This year as I continue working on this series, Bountiful Observations, I still have the goal to post a new painting every Monday, however I have also decided to allow myself time to absorb and slow down if the composition I am working on seems it would benefit from extra time to contemplate and dive deeper into the ideas that are informing the process.

With this painting of irises, I was drawn into the idea of creating a painting that bridged two schools of thought, that of the impressionistic bravado of Sergeant and that of the scientific and deliberate realism of Dutch still life. I am grappling with this idea on this painting, should I develop some areas while leaving other areas more sketched in and untouched and to what level of refinement to I achieve overall.

All of the objects in this painting are specially selected, and play a crucial part in how this painting is being developed. First the palette is based around the complementary colors of purple and yellow. The pewter plate and lemon is in homage to the Dutch artist, Pieter Claesz, the books support in color as well as in the ideas of the different schools of art. The top two books are volumes 1 & 2 of Sir Charles Lock Eastlake’s Methods and Materials of Painting of the Great Schools and Masters, and the bottom book is Albert C. Barnes book on The Art of Henri Matisse.

These ideas informed my decisions on what to include in this painting.  However, it is the love of what I see that has kept me captivated on this subject and continues to draw me in, the beautiful nuanced notes of light, how the window is reflected in the glass vase, how light gets refracted onto the wall beyond, how shapes within the painting overlap and interact with each other.  All details that keep my senses activated and energized, and inspires me to keep painting.

On sunny days in January, I am also learning that there is a brilliancy of golden notes in the light that is not present any other time of year. This may be influenced by all the brown notes in the landscape outside, lack of green foliage in the trees, and also a lack of humidity in the air.

I am not sure, but I am discovering it this is a special time of year.

………………………………………….

This painting was completed last year at the same time and was the first time I really began to notice and appreciate the special quality of light on a sunny day in January.

I cannot help but ask after sharing my thoughts on this time of year.   Is there something you think is particularly special about January?

Work in Progress: Last Flowers of the Season {Bountiful Observations Series}

11 26 2012 naomi-baking-31.jpg
{on the easel}

Last week before the flurry of preparing for Thanksgiving began, I went out into the garden to salvage the last flowers of the season, to my good fortune I was able to gather a few bachelor buttons, snapdragons, and alyssum.

The painting is far from complete, but I was lucky to get the flowers mostly in before I had to quit working on it. As a whole, I try to always work from life and avoid working from photos when painting flowers because it seems to me that the colors are so much more nuanced and accurate when working from the real thing. When I began this painting I knew it would not be complete before I had to stop, so I left the nonperishable items for later…

I believe finding large chunks of time to paint this December will be a bit difficult because I am now in full holiday mode, baking like a maniac and crafting to my hearts delight. I am especially inspired with the holiday spirit this year because this is Naomi’s first season where she can really engage and interact with all that is going on.

{Naomi helping me bake}

Naomi’s engagement is both a blessing and a challenge because she also has some very severe food allergies, which is difficult to keep her from eating foods that could cause problems. As a result, I have been scrambling this season to alter and come up with recipes that are free of dairy, soy, and tree nuts. Which means no butter, cream, milk, margarine, or nuts can be present in the foods traditionally found in abundance during this yummy season…

Here is my first attempt at making a pie for Thanksgiving… I still need to work on the crust as the special soy and dairy free shortening does not quite work like regular butter or shortening would… luckily it was still a hit, and Naomi couldn’t help herself from grabbing a bit of crust when I was trying to snap a photo of it.

{caught in the act of grabbing for some pie crust...}

I hope your Thanksgiving holiday was wonderful and a good kick off for the rest to come. In this spirit of the holiday season, this month I am going to be trying something new on the blog by sharing some of the baking and craft projects that Naomi and I work on.

So please stay tuned as I interweave some of these posts alongside those featuring my artwork.

Have a good start of the week, and thanks for reading,
Liz

Work in Progress: Petunias Triptych {Bountiful Observations Series}

20121021 WIP Petunias triptych1.jpg
{what is on the easel and the current setup}

Have you ever started a project, and once you were in the middle of it you realized it would require a LOT more time to complete? This happened to me last week when I began to work on the next painting in the Bountiful Observations series.

The DC region has been having such warm weather that my petunias have just been fantastic, and I wanted to paint them before a freeze occurs and kills them off. So instead of setting up one composition for a single painting, I was inspired to create three setups. All coordinated around three vases and some bowls I have from the cool shop, Anthropologie.

The first two paintings of the triptych are in different stages, somewhat near completion but not quite. And the third painting has been blocked in but I am still not satisfied, so will probably tweak it some more as this week progresses.

Next Monday I hope to have the first of this series ready to offer. So please stay tuned...

Work in Progress: Echinacea Still Life

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{WIP Still Life - 24" x 18" (61 x 45.7 cm)}

Hello,

It has been a long time my friends and I have missed sharing thoughts about art and new work with you. Now that Naomi is seven weeks old and I am starting to get the swing of this "motherhood" thing, I am hopeful that I will be able to stop by more often.

Today I want to share the progress of a still life I began a few weeks before Naomi was born. In fact I worked on it the day before I went into the hospital...

When setting up this composition I was enamored with the flowers, the bird's nest and the symbolic meaning of the robin's egg, and how I was holding onto my own little one while painting. I worked furiously to complete this painting before my little girl would arrive but fate dictated something different, and it turns out it also gave me the breathing time I needed to get away from this painting and to come back to it with new eyes.

A few weeks after Naomi was born a good friend sent me a beautiful card with an image of one of Mary Cassatt's mother and baby pastels. I fell in love with this image and soon decided I wanted to incorporate it into the still life I had been working on, and so that is what happened.

Over the past week I have been re-working the painting to include this image as if it were a poster I had pinned up on the wall behind the still life setup of the echinacea and the bird's nest. I still need to work on getting the flowers to pop more forward and to then go back into the bird's nest and repaint it where I took it out to change the background.

Because of how this painting has progressed and evolved the tentative title is "Contemplating Motherhood". What do you think? Is this a good title or should it be simple like "Still life with Echinacea, Robin's Egg, and Print"? Please share with me what you think, I am waivering about what to name would work best.

It is nice being back.
Thanks for reading and stopping by.

Liz

PS. Here are a few photos of my seven week old :)


{Naomi in her supergirl pose}


{Naomi's baby smiles make me so happy}

So far I have been lucky in being able to grab a few hours here and there to paint. I am hopeful that as time goes by Naomi and I will get into a nice pattern of caring for her needs while also feeding my creative desire to get some time in the studio. Keep your fingers crossed that this is able to work out!

WIP {Echinacea and Bird Nest} & taking a bit of a break, maybe...

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Work in Progress {Echinacea and Bird Nest}
Still Life with Echinacea and Bird Nest
{24" x 18" (61 x 45.7 cm) – Oil on Linen}

Hello,

Here is the second still life I have been working on, it is of echinacea and a bird nest with a robin's egg. The echinacea are from my garden and they are the only flowers that are thriving in my neglected flower garden this year. With the pregnancy I have not been able to keep up with the weeds and mulching that is needed, so only hardy and established flowers are doing well this summer.

The bird nest was given to me last autumn by my loving husband, he found it in the yard when he was raking leaves. I had been gathering bird nests with the idea of eventually incorporating them into some more still lifes, I had really enjoyed working on this painting with a bird nest last summer. The robin's egg came from a nest we had been watching for a bit this spring that a rascally fox attacked one night, I know it was a fox because the nest was in the hedge right outside my window and the night before the nest was destroyed that darn fox was making a racket under my window sill! We left the egg untouched for a week to see if the robin would come back and reclaim it but alas it was abandoned by the bird.

This painting is being completed on very rough linen, the texture is almost that of burlap, so it has been fun playing with this texture and learning how to adapt to this different surface after working on such a smooth texture with the sunflowers.

And as of this blog post I am going to be taking a bit of break from blogging. The pregnancy is coming to an end and I think it would be nice to reserve the option of check out for a bit.

I may stop in and post some drawings or progress on this painting or others,
but then maybe not. So thank you for stopping by and visiting, I do so enjoy hearing from you.

I am looking forward to the start of the adventure of being a mother to a little girl and know it will contribute lots of inspiration to future artistic endeavors.

Have a wonderful afternoon.

Liz

WIP {tabletop still life}

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WIP {tabletop still life}
{tabletop still life - 18" x 24" (45.7 x 61 cm)}

Hello,

I am back painting!

This was the painting I was focusing on before getting sick and having a forced two-plus week studio absence. The painting was started last summer but was put on hold until recently... sometimes this happens, the inspiration goes away or I just need some more time to think about it more. With this painting is was a little of both, I switched my focus to other paintings and then later on I just was unable to give it the attention it needed.

So far in 2011 I have been painting floral still lifes, and after finishing several such compositions I realized a change of focus would be a good idea. After nine months of being on the shelf I came back to this painting, and I am really glad I have.

The reason is because in getting back to this painting I realize that my painting style has really evolved and changed over the time. The painting today is essentially a whole new painting where I am re-painting every aspect of the composition and further developing and refining each area. If I had never put this painting on hold I would not have such concrete evidence that painting technique and skills are growing and evolving.

Because of this experience, I encourage others to sometimes take a painting and put it on hold for several months while pursuing other projects. The results can be very surprising!

WIP {Oriental Lilies}

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WIP Lilies Painting 18x14 20110225
{work in progress - Oriental Lilies}

Hello,

I am still working on this still life that was begun in January. Some paintings come to fruition with greater ease than others. With this painting I have been experimenting some, and with some experiments they land you in a pickle! Sigh. The last time I worked on this painting I made a real mess of it because I was trying out different colors for the background, playing with layers of paint and seeing how they combine. It is only paint but sometimes it takes awhile to figure out how to dig out.

When this happens to me, I end up hanging the problem child on our living room wall so I can observe it under different lighting conditions and moods. This gives me time to pause and contemplate what I want to achieve.

After about five days, I understood enough to start tackling the issues and move forward. {I did not take a photo of this phase, it is better for that period to be part of the past and not saved for future viewing...}

A few things I have decided to do:
. simplify the composition some.
. work on the main grouping of lilies and the larger glass bottles that appear in the background. Once these are pretty much laid in and resolved, I will then add a few more flowers to the front of the composition and then unify the composition.
. switch between sable and bristle brushes more often to vary the paint texture. Initally I was painting only with sable brushes like my NGA copy.

I am now feeling hopeful about this painting. It has been my main focus this week and will probably be the main focus of the weekend, and I anticipate that it will still be several weeks before it is completed. However now that I have overcome the initial hump, I am becoming attached to this painting more and more because it has requiring so much contemplation and problem solving. Two aspects I love about the creative process of painting.

Until the next time, have a wonderful weekend! And thank you for stopping by and reading.

Liz

PS. have you seen this video of Daniel Sprick? I watched it earlier this week and @10:23 where he shares how every piece of the painting must work out and how there are timese when something in the painting that should take one day to complete will take him a whole week to work out has been replaying in my mind since then. Hearing this reinforces the idea that even accomplished artists like Daniel Sprick also go through similar experiences when creating art as I experience.

WIP {a new floral painting}

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WIP lilies ptg
{third session - mid-day point}

Today was spent in the studio working on this painting. I began it a few weeks ago and I have been letting it sit on the easel while I figure out how to go forward. Finally after about a week of contemplating how to tackle the sequencing I am now ready to get back into the game and start painting.

The major thing thathat has made this a difficult painting to proceed rapidly is the very smooth surface of the linen. Because of the smooth surface the first layer of paint must set up and dry before I can apply subsequent layers. Once the first layers are down and they have dried it is much more easy to apply the next layers of paint, which is helpful because I paint wet into wet and use the underlayers when painting.

The original flowers that were blocked in on the first day are no longer around, instead I am using new flowers to cue for color and working from a photo for the shape and form of the flowers. So far it is working.

I beleive this will be a long project to complete because of all the effects of the glass bottles, so I will occasionally share an update of progress as I go along.

Have a nice evening and thanks for stopping by, Liz

In the Studio

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Slim in the studio
{Slim sharing the morning with me}
Like the model stand? I have thought about getting something that is dedicated to just that, one that adjusts in height like what Carol Marine has, but then I realized that stacking various boxes works just as well, and the boxes double as storage for various studio supplies....
I am still working on paintings that will be unveiled later, keeping my busy and happy :) However I miss sharing new work with you, so here is a partially complete still life that has been on hold for the past three weeks.

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{work in progress}

This mid-point phase is a good example of the new method I have been using, it entails working on specific areas of a painting and refining to a certain level before moving on to a new adjacent area. I plan on finishing the initial lay in of the painting and then go over it again, refining and adding greater detail and depth to the painting. A fellow classmate of mine asserts that for a painting to really gain the luminous quality that only oil paint can provide it must be worked on a minimum of three different times where the paint has had an opportunity to dry between each session.

I have been chewing on that idea a lot over the past few weeks, and have come to agree with her. Because there is something special that happens when you come back to a painting after a break, apply a fine layer of linseed oil to bring out the color and then lay in new paint. The painting begins to glow. I also think that the mind continues to ponder and work on the idea of the painting, so the subject matter becomes understood to a greater extent, and I feel the emotional harmony that first inspired me is more able to be translated into the painting.

Have a wonderful weekend, Liz

Week 2: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem

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For the past week I have been busy preparing for the upcoming Suffolk show {more to come after I deliver the paintings to the gallery} and then before I realized it Monday was upon me and it was time to return to the National Gallery of Art (NGA).

Week 2: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem
{at the end of the day}
Between last week and this week I thought about what method would be best to use when copying the painting, finally I realized that using a medium to thin the paint and to apply layer upon layer of paint to resemble what de Heem created in the original painting. For this week I really focused on the lower portion of the painting, trying to capture the affect of the marble table, and refining some proportions of the glass vase. I made the decision to paint the entire table surface and then to later paint on top of this with the details of the pea pods and such. I used a medium of linseed oil with a few drops of damar varnish and a #2 filbert bristle brush and sometimes a #2 sable filbert brush. During the day it became clear that next week I will need to bring a maul stick to stabilize my hand.
This painting is full of detail -- insects, thorns, and subtle highlights -- it will be a pleasure seeing how this experience unfolds...
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{detail of the de Heem painting}

Thanks for stopping by and reading,

Liz

Copyist at the National Gallery of Art

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Dutch, 1606 - 1683/1684
Vase of Flowers, c. 1660

At the beginning of the summer with the help of a good friend, a former professor, a former boss, and a few current art instructors, Danni Dawson, Kurt Schwarz, and Robert Liberace, I began the application process to be a copyist at the National Gallery of Art (NGA) here in DC. They all kindly provided letters of reference for me, and I am eternally thankful for their effort, as I know this is going to be a great learning experience.

Monday was my first day at it, and I chose the de Heem painting above as my first painting to copy. Here is a photo of where I was at the end of the day. By 4pm I was dog tired and admitting to myself that I had bitten off more than I can chew, especially as I cannot see all the detail of the painting because we are required to stand 4 feet away from the painting… This is by far the most complicated painting I have ever attempted! Danni is always encouraging me to slow down and really observe what I see, so hopefully this painting will teach me to have the patience required to complete a painting with this much detail.

Week 1: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem

{my setup in Gallery 50}

So for the next several weeks, I will be going to the NGA to paint and I will share my progress with you, or lack of it…

Have a wonderful evening, Liz