I had a wonderful time showing some of my work at Art Around Town in Chappaqua, New York. My paintings will be up at Noelle Marie Photography at 140 King Street until the end of June. There are more than 30 other artists of the Northern Westchester Artists’ Guild showing at merchants about the town.. Do stop by and see our work.
Have you ever finished a painting, loved it and couldn’t wait to photograph it to share on social media? But after you photographed it, it had shadows, glare and all sorts of blips and blobs highlighted that made it look awful and nothing like what it looked in life? Recently I finished a painting that was textured and had a number of layers of glazes that gave me that problem.
I want my photographs of my art to look like the painting, not better, not worse. If I were to sell a painting online or submit it to a show and the painting looked substantially different than the photograph, it might cause disappointment or even (horrors) the thought I was trying to put something over on them or hide a flaw.
There are a couple of quick fixes for photographing a textured painting that has a glaze on it or a varnish. The easiest is to take the painting outside and photograph it in natural light. Try to light your painting at an angle and visually adjust for glare.
OK, so you tried taking outside and playing with that angle and this angle and it still didn’t work. Then do the following:
Use two lights at a 45 degree angle to the painting and try some filters.
I paint using artificial light. Specifically, I use 2- 2200 K lights on stands with diffusing umbrellas, in studio with the walls painted white. Which gives me a nice soft daylight. The benefit of this, is as the sun rises and gets stronger or as it sets in the afternoon, my light doesn’t change, so I don’t change my pigments in intensity because they look different under different lights.
A good link talking about lighting, color and temperature, can be found here.
The next thing is to orient your light at 45 degree angles to the painting. But there is still a lot of light bouncing around. You then need to add polarizing filters on your light, or camera or both as done in this article on documenting art.
Take a moment to look at your setup as if you were the camera. Is there light bouncing off an area causing a highly visible glare? Play with your lights. I use a liner polarizing filter and manually adjust the focus on my camera. If you plan to use auto focus use a circular polarizing filter. I am not, at this point, using additional filters on my lights. A circular polarizing filter may bend the edges of your painting a bit.
This is the first time I’ve used a filter. The one on the left is filtered and on the right is unfiltered. I felt I lost a little of the line definition on the filtered. But I lost the glare and the tones show up better. But once again, a photograph never quite looks the same as the painting viewed by the eye. So I leave it up to you, to filter or not. My goal is to make the photograph look as much like the original painting as I can. I also manually focused as a linear polarizing filter works better that way.
You may be one of those people who buys a fancy camera with all sorts of bells and whistles fully intending to learn how to use each and every one, but after a brief time with it you find leaving it on auto and auto-focus suits you just fine. And you go to buy a filter for it and search for “polarizing filter for my brand of camera”. And you can’t find a single one, only packages with prices you can see might be a bit of a rip-off. Look on your lens, take off the lens cap and look at the area directly around your lens. Somewhere there will say what mm the lens is. My Cannon 60D is a 67 mm lens. So when I went and searched for 67 mm polarizing filter I found a much larger array of choices. I know, “duh”, why include this? I figure if I wasted time doing it, someone else might and I could save them some time.
Another alternative, is to scan your art. If it is just for your own records and the work is small you can probably use your in-home or in-office scanner. If it is a larger work, you plan to make and sell prints, you may wish to take it to a facility that has large format scanners and experience in scanning work of your type.
Dan bought me several books on art for Christmas. One subject really surprised me. Winston Churchill as a painter! At the end of a book detailing his work, was a wonderful poem by Rudyard Kipling. I must share it with you.
L’Envoi To “The Seven Seas”
When Earth’s last picture is painted and the tubes are twisted and dried,
When the oldest colours have faded, and the youngest critic has died,
We shall rest, and, faith, we shall need it — lie down for an aeon or two,
Till the Master of All Good Workmen shall put us to work anew.
And those that were good shall be happy; they shall sit in a golden chair;
They shall splash at a ten-league canvas with brushes of comets’ hair.
They shall find real saints to draw from — Magdalene, Peter, and Paul;
They shall work for an age at a sitting and never be tired at all!
And only The Master shall praise us, and only The Master shall blame;
And no one shall work for money, and no one shall work for fame,
But each for the joy of the working, and each, in his separate star,
Shall draw the Thing as he sees It for the God of Things as They are!
I love little books. Pretty little books for writing notes in, books with thicker paper for drawing and silk and art covered books I always plan to fill with wonderful poetry but never quite do. I love filling them cover-to-cover and I’ll share some of what I put in one of them below.
I was quite inspired by this little book I bought in Katonah, NY yesterday. I love the cover, the fertile Goddess figure inviting me to embrace my art and fill it with wondrous views of my world.
But usually I find the plans I make for a little book usually turn out differently than what I first imagine. This is my little book I started doing sketches in for 2014-2015. I find when I am stuck waiting somewhere, rather than moaning how my time is being wasted I pull out a pen or a pencil and start scribbling. I keep a mechanical drawing pen and a drawing fountain pen filled with scribblers ink in my makeup case, in my purse. Time then flies, and I find sometimes my scribbles are just scribbles but sometimes they crystallize a memory. None of these are meant to be great drawings. Some only took 30 seconds to do. I’ll share a few I like below.
It’s nothing particularly special, it’s about 5 x 7 inches so I can fit it in my purse or hold it and sketch wherever I go. Such as,
30 second drawings at an art gallery:
Or a moment when housebound during an icy winter storm:
For the next I must introduce you to my dog, Gwyn, a wonderful energetic English Shepherd that usually looks like this:
Yes, that is all four paws not touching the ground!
So when I spotted a rare moment of repose:
But sometimes life drives art, when I saw this of course I had to draw it:
My new book will be filled with wonders. Some will just be playful scribbles, that I won’t share with anyone, but I will enjoy in the moment. I will crystallize moments in time that should not be forgotten in a way more personal and lasting than a social media selfie. And with every line I make, I get just a little bit better as an artist.
I encourage you to get a little book. Fill it with doodles, sayings, quotes, poems, or lists. It will become something more than the sum of its parts when you have filled it cover to cover.
Meanwhile, I have a request to go out and find some inspiration outside.
As the holiday season approaches, more then ever before, am grateful for the peace and plenty that I have. I feel very lucky to have been born in the United States. These thoughts and the turmoil that has been occurring in the world were on my mind when I painted this. This is a large piece, 36 x 48 inches, acrylic on canvas. I titled it ” Reach for Peace”. The constellation in the corner is Columba, which is Latin for Dove. And the white poppy has been a symbol of peace that was first used after World War I.
I’ve been trying to buy local lately, and buy things made in America. I sometimes find what I need isn’t available, or if available, visible. The go to place used to be Etsy but that has grown from a community of local artists and craft people, to re-sellers, and too many items to effectively sort though to find things. I often even find what they are offering is shipping from China.
So what to do? The solution I believe is to become a maker. Make something, scarves, candles, soap, dishcloths, accessories for painters, knitters, cooks or whatever your heart desires. As much as you can, buy things from local sources. I’m not talking about the big box craft stores either. Then find an outlet to get it to market, local holiday craft shows, farmer’s markets, or another local storefront.
I decided to make beeswax candles and sell them via my local Putnam Arts Council Holiday Craft show. The truth of the matter is that even if I sell them all I won’t make a lot of money. But I will have circulated a few of my dollars through beekeepers (and we all know how important bees are to our food supply). The Arts Council will get a cut and people who I know and like will get something beautiful. Beeswax is a healthier wax to burn in your home as well. So this supports good things in my community.
So this season, let’s put beautiful things out there for the eye and the soul, and interact with those groups we want to support. And let’s not buy things that are made that pollute the environment, and ignore the rights of creatures great and small.
Recently I’ve been working in two styles, one is the egg tempera based one I’ve discussed in previous posts and also a more abstract one, that I’ve been working with in acrylic. I find it very hard to settle down and just do one style. So I’ve decided to try and focus on just two for a while (if I can). I’ve been playing with drawings that I draw to convey some sort of motion and then I add color. I find that these are best expressed in acrylic, that dries fast so I can keep my shapes clean and sharp. I greatly enlarge the small sketches and start playing with the images I see on the canvas. Some sort of magic happens when I make the initial images larger and I start seeing new shapes and images arise in the negative space. Here are two that I have finished in that style. So for the winter, let it flow and let it grow.
The top one is entitled “Reach for Peace” and the next one is “The Power of Nature” and both 36 x 48 inches in size, the third one is “The Mating Game” and is about 24 x 30 and the bottom one “Ride the Wild Seahorse” and is 18 x 24 inches in size.
I recently finished this painting on the Kleshas. In Christian philosophy, we have the seven deadly sins, that might keep you from finding a state of grace. There are both yogic and Buddhist approaches to the Kleshas and the flavor is slightly different and they define them a little differently.
I came across the Kleshas during studies with my yoga teacher. They are: abhinivesha (fear), asmita (false identity), raga (attachment), dvesha (aversion) and avidya (ignorance).
There are many images for the Kleshas but of not in a Western cultural context. I wanted to create something that those studying yoga in the West could use to understand and meditate on the Kleshas. I did this painting as a gift for my yoga teacher.
The figure is standing on one foot to represent that if the Kleshas are not addressed she remains off balance. I tried to make the figure a healthy looking woman, rather than a model or a magic goddess throwing off sparks, but the you encountered in the mirror every day. The figure is not clothed, as you must take away the outside masks of costume and artifice to overcome these obstacles and know your inner self.
Each hand is in a mudra that is associated with the chakras of the kleshas. The icons for each klesha have the color of the chakra they are over. From top to bottom, they are ignorance, avoidance, false-identity, attachment and fear.
Why do you paint? Why do you make art? To what purpose?
I’ve been thinking about that a lot since I read The Mission of Art, by Alex Grey.
I first started painting to amuse myself, but I quickly found myself doing a couple of paintings to be given away to help fund raise. These paintings were better than the exercises and still life paintings I was attempting.
I don’t know whether I tried to reach a higher standard or I just was more disciplined because I had a purpose.
Recently I did the following painting as a gift. It was a variation on Lavender in Provence, for someone who really liked that painting. I had followed her pictures on Facebook where on her small farm she grew 100 pound pumpkins, had ducks that bonded to her dogs and goats that roamed and probably got into trouble. This inspired me. I did it for fun, because I knew it might might someone happy.
I think it is better than some of my other ones lately. Perhaps, because it came into being with a purpose.
Dan took a wonderful picture of Tila making a snow angel. Dogs have an amazing ability to live and enjoy the moment to it’s fullest. It’s the sort of thing some people strive for with so much effort in meditation and more. Snow! Joy! Roll! Sniff! Roll some more! I must make a note to enjoy each moment as it comes. Here is the painting that inspired.