The New Love of My Life

My new double masted easel with a sneak peak of my current work in progress, a painting of my son entitled “Independence Day”.

My husband better get used to being second fiddle, as my newly assembled Cappelletto “Aquarius” double masted easel is sure to become my new love. It is hands down the coolest easel I have ever owned. After languishing in a box for months on my studio floor we finally put it together last night–without the aid of instructions as none came in the box (big pat on our backs). It can hold 2 canvases at a time up to 69 inches in height or one really long canvas. And I am extremely impressed with the craftsmanship of this light weight,  Italian made easel. It easily glides into any position and is not difficult to adjust. In addition you can change the position of one of the masts to accommodate two artists painting on each side which would be perfect for students. {A note to my students–don’t get any funny ideas. I don’t plan on sharing it.}

Interested in getting one of your own? Here is a link to the Capelleto site to view their product selection and link to Jerry Artarama where I bought mine for 61% off!

Notes from David Kassan’s Drawing Class @ PSoA Conference

Photo taken during David’s impromptu drawing demo in front of the General’s booth at the PSoA conference in Philly.

Alright dear blog readers (said in a Stan Lee kind of voice), do I have a treat for you! Out of all of my art heroes that I got to meet at the Portrait Society of America’s (PSoA) conference this year, I found David Kassan to be the most eloquent, generous with his advice and genuinely likeable guy. And because he talks almost non-stop while demoing, I got a lot of great tips to share with you all.

Here they are in all their glory:

David’s Pearls of Wisdom

-“In the block in be as expressive as possible.”

-“My first Impressions are always ok, but never exact. Don’t lock it in in the beginning. Be more organic- let it evolve.”

-“Everything is accumulation. Most expressive brushstrokes are in the beginning and get more refined as it goes along.”

-“Keep it blurry in the beginning, like getting to know someone. The longer you are with the model the more you get to know him and the further you develop your drawing or painting. By the end it should feel like you are shaking his hand.”

-“The only measurement I lock in are the eyes. Everything else is based on that.”

-“Everything is a guidepost – a milestone. Is this too long or too short? How does it fit in?”

“All are guess-timations in the beginning.”

-“In the beginning I think about squinting a lot and basic shapes.”

-“Its a 99% concentration on a blind contour drawing and 1% concentration on the drawing itself (constantly observe the model).”

-“Think about negative & positive shapes & angle, how steep is it? How do the shapes interact?”

-“Drawings begin on grey paper and get transferred to grey toned canvases.”

Personal Observations

-David will rub out the initial gesture if it is not to his liking.

-He adds dry white chalk to his black to create infinite midtones.

-When he draws he hatches, when he paints he hatches.

-David will often go over the entire portrait with white in a uniform stroke (very lightly) to knock back a little bit of the grey toned paper and create a foundation for the midtones & highlights.

-Often uses binoculars – even with a block in to “shore things up”.

Portraits and “Derecho-geddon”

“Jordyn” 2012
Colored pencil on paper. 5.75″ x 10″.

What do portraits and “Derecho-geddon” (the severe storm system that ravaged a path from Chicago to the East Coast on June 29th) have in common? Nothing! Except that I drew this portrait as a thank you for the wonderful hospitality shown to us by good friends during the many days that we were without power. I want to officially thank Don & Arlene for our little “stay-cation”, and especially for Don’s killer Daiquiris. Your portrait is on its way.

PSoA’s “Art of the Portrait” Conference–Art Camp for Grown Ups

So I am finally getting around to blogging about the Portrait Society of America’s annual “Art of the Portrait” conference that I attended back in May. Why now you ask? Well I have a ton of excuses for why I haven’t gotten around to it sooner including; summer break for my 6 year old, having to get work done for my local studio tour and a vacation in FL. But what actually made me think about the conference this morning was dropping my son off at art camp and thinking to myself  “Humph, wish I could go to summer camp” and then suddenly realizing that I ALREADY HAD!!  And it was by far the most enjoyable & inspiring conference I have been to yet!

If you are an artist, with a passion for figurative work and portraits AND have a pulse–you should be attending these conferences. The following is your typical artist reaction upon running into their art heroes, all at once at the PSoA conference. At least I know this is how I behaved.

Seriously–where else do you get to rub shoulders with David Kassan, Alexandra Tyng, Casey Baugh and Casey Childs (think Corey Haim and Corey Feldman of the art world), Rob Liberace, Rose Frantzen, Bart Lindstrom, Mary Whyte, Burt Silverman, Ellen Cooper, Daniel Greene, Nelson Shanks and the WPW gals? I mean the list goes on and on. And here’s the thing some of you many not know–they are actually people and will talk to you. I know, blows your mind right? OMG!!!

So the socializing & networking are some of the best reasons for attending but there are other reasons like learning from these amazing artists who are so generously giving of their time & expertise during workshops, “Lunch & Learn” or just drinking a beer with them at the hotel bar.  And one of the coolest events you must experience is the highly anticipated “Face Off” where the “faculty” paint from live models during a 3 hour period and you get to walk around and soak up everything before you.

Here are a couple of photos I took to make you envious that you did not go. And I will be making subsequent posts about all the tips, tricks and fairy dust these magical artists shared so stay tuned!

“Face Off” demos during the opening night for the PSoA’s 2012 “Art of the Portrait” Conference. On the left Stephen Early, on the right Rob Liberace.
Casey Baugh “Faces Off”. Bart Lindstrom working just behind Baugh’s easel.
David Kassan being mobbed by his fans (me among them) during the 2012 “Face Off”.

2011-2012 Art Renewal Center “International Salon”

Oil on birch panel. 16″ x 20″. 2010

So it is now official! The finalists of this year’s ARC “International Salon” have been announced & posted on the ARC site and I am beyond thrilled to say that my name is among them. My painting “Conner on Summer Break” was chosen as a finalist in the very competitive figurative category. I first got word of its selection at the annual Portrait Society of America’s conference in Philly in May (more about that to come) when artists that I know and admire kept congratulating me for the honor of having been selected. It was both a very surreal and humbling experience. To have my name included among so many of my “art heroes” is still hard to wrap my head around but I am so very grateful it happened. To be sure it has done one thing above all else–it has given me a burning desire to paint, paint, paint & push myself harder. And that to me is the greatest gift and the most unexpected.

To view my painting and those of the other artists selected as finalists in the figurative category click here.

Love/Hate Relationship With My Power Company

Photo reenactment of the “Derecho-geddon” that hit my house this weekend. And no, I do not live in a cornfield. Only near one–there is a big difference.

On Friday night while I was minding my own business, just chillaxing after an enjoyable day of copying at the National Gallery of Art. This brutish storm came along suddenly and crashed in on my otherwise very ordinary Friday night.  I have never in my life experienced a storm quite like this. As far as the eye could see were bolts of lightning touching the ground. So many bolts of lightning and so frequently did they appear that the entire sky was flashing like an eerie lightbulb about to go out . Then of course there was that tremendous wind that battered my house for about an hour which left us screaming like sissies and running down to the basement to hunker down alla Dorothy and Toto style. That evening we lost our power. And it did not return for almost 4 DAYS which ended–oh, just about 5 hours ago! And thus began my love/hate relationship with my power company, NOVEC.

But two wonderful things happened that are the direct result of my power company. 1). My power is back on – Woo Hoo! and 2).  I found out that 4 of my painting and drawing students (whom I teach in my studio) placed as finalists in the NOVEC Cooperative Living Magazine’s Youth Art Contest! And 3 of them SWEPT their entire Third Grade Division placing 1st, 2nd & 3rd!

My hearty congrats go out to Brooke Connolly, Claire Troiano, Anna Kelly and Eve Brown. Click on the link below to see their artwork on pages 15 & 16 of the current July 2012 issue of NOVEC Cooperative Living Magazine. I could not be more proud of you girls!

And NOVEC–I am big enough to say I was wrong in doubting you.

And yes, I take it all back.  Sheesh!