Thursday, August 26, 2010

An Accidental Note of Encouragement

This morning before starting work, I happened to be flipping through one of my "idea sketchbooks." I was looking for a free page to add a new sketch for one of my *brilliant* ideas...when at the very back of the book I happened to see a sentence written in my husband's handwriting. I had never noticed the little note before, nor could I remember a time where he saw my sketchbook (much less knew I had it!), but there it was. The note read, "It's a wonderful day to wake up in the morning and know your calling."

Thank you, my love! What encouraging thoughts for today (and for the rest of my life!). :-)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Updates from my August trip to Wisconsin

There's always hope that I'll have a chance to see my family in the Midwest at least once or twice a year, but I had no idea I'd be making the drive twice in one summer! Steve and I had two-week long vacation up there, beginning the first weekend of August, to attend a wedding, visit family and friends, and spend some time at his family cabin (a place that is very dear to both of us, because that's where we got engaged). We drove because we wanted to take our puppy with us to experience some unleashed fun up north.

I don't have a lot of time to write (too much painting to do!), but I thought that I'd at least mention some of the highlights of our trip before my next post, which will no doubt be about the upcoming Nicaragua Art Show at my church.

Here are some pictures from our week at the cabin. We saw some amazing sunrises...

Sunrise over Pine Island

...Sunsets... (this sunset was so incredible, I look like a cutout! I was there - honest!)

Sunset at the cabin

...and even a bald eagle flying so close that you could hear his wings beating.

Eagle snatching a fish

I got some painting time in, while Bella kept me company.

Painting plein air 1

Painting plein air 2

And of course it wouldn't be a true cabin experience if we didn't go fishing.

I wasted a worm on this??

A peaceful canoe ride

Bella usually rode in the canoe with me, but occasionally she'd decide to jump ship for Steve.

Bella rides with Steve

Steve even modeled for me, sitting in the beautiful natural light that always comes in through the cabin windows. Hopefully I'll be able to finish this little head study some time next week...

Beginning of Steve head study, 8x10

After our time at the cabin, I had the opportunity to visit one of my closest friends from college, Laura Nehlsen. Laura was one of the best art models I ever drew or painted during my time at Hillsdale College. She was the *famous* model for my charcoal portrait that was featured for a long time on my website and business cards:

Laura - 5x7 - charcoal and chalk on toned paper - 2004

Now a proud mother of two, Laura is as beautiful as ever, and still a great model. We didn't have much time, but she sat for about 45 minutes for me, enough to start a portrait, which I will eventually finish from photos. She's one of those models who never has to try hard - she naturally exudes a subtle sensuality and grace. I only wish she lived closer so she could model for me all the time!

Here are the results of my hurried first efforts:

Beginning of Laura portrait, 8x10

...and here I am with the beautiful model.

Laura and Anna

I've come back feeling refreshed and excited about my many ongoing projects. I'll post more pictures soon!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Completed Twin Portrait

Okay, so by now I've had "Twin Arts" finished for a couple of weeks, yet failed to post it on my blog. Like most other painters, I tend to move ahead to the next project once I've finished a painting, no matter how invested I've been in it. My apologies! You can view detail shots on my official website.

Twin Arts - 48x40 - oil on linen


Drawing from the Past - Sorolla's Beach Paintings

One can't be a classical artist without looking frequently to the past for inspiration. We all have our favorites, and most any portrait artist will tell you they worship the likes of J.W. Waterhouse, William Bouguereau, Anders Zorn, and of course J.S. Sargent... if you want me to talk about my favorites and which ones have shaped my painting style, that's a subject for another post. But I do want to mention one particular artist whose work has helped me with some of the challenges in my current portrait commission.

Spanish artist Joaquin Sorolla (1863-1923) is perhaps best known for his renditions of fishermen, sailors, and bathers on the beaches of Valencia. His sunlit whites are usually drenched in color so bright and convincing that you squint as though you are right there on the beach. Sorolla's renditions of naked young children playing in the water look so slippery and wet you can almost feel the salt water on your skin, and you find yourself thinking about moments from your own childhood when you played so long at the beach that you had sand covering every inch of you. This is the convincing and powerful nature of Sorolla's work. I've been studying his beach paintings to help understand the qualities of light and water which I've just mentioned, for a family portrait I've been working on. First, here are a few samples of Sorolla's work:

Finally, here are a couple detail shots of what I'm working on, a portrait of a family of three. They wanted a bright, happy portrait on the beach - it was their 2-year-old son's first time seeing the ocean. You can see I wasn't quite as bold in my highlights as Sorolla, but the family wasn't immersed in the water, either. :-) Still, I had a wonderful time capturing all the color in the lights of their clothing and the glow of their skin.

I will post a picture of the finished painting once it's been delivered to the client.

Family Beach Portrait Detail

Family Beach Portrait Detail 2

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