Friday, January 30, 2009

Good Bones

something a bit different.........
I think the drawings, the sketches, the Good Bones beneath a beautiful painting might be me, and this is simply my old fashioned, classicist opinion...a painting is only as beautiful as the drawing beneath it...otherwise it is akin to draping a sadly askew skeleton with Armani..the akimbo elbows cannot be disguised with beautiful paint.
Posting a bit about other illustrations ( other than pet portraits ), the process of book illustration..... the wonderful Uri Shulevitz in Writing With Pictures, wrote about the text and pictures in a picture book being like pearls strung into a necklace....words, pictures, words, pictures...that words needn't describe what pictures show.....and if the words are especially delicious and perfect, one needn't illustrate them. Each adds to the entire story. I love this. This is so much harder to do well than it may sound.
Neither words nor the pictures stand alone well to tell the story. In One Monday Morning by the delightful Mr Shulevitz, the book begins.....One Monday Morning......just that, and the only way we know that it is a rainy, dreary Monday morning in New York City is by the illustration. I always knew I wanted to draw and paint but Mr Shulevitz, by explaining picturebooks in this way, has influenced me more than any professor may have done. I am self taught and hope that my education as an artist and an illustrator has been serendipitous, that I have found my teachers when I need them. Thank you Mr Shulevitz......I think of your words as I work on every book, I only hope that I am slightly more successful with each book.
I am working on a story I fell in love with immediately, it has been edited and changed here and there since I first read the initial manuscript but the Good Bones remain and have been improved upon and I am about to begin painting.......the fun part. The drawing is the work, the labor! Painting, sloshing about with color is pure joy. My father, no longer with us, a philosophy professor, was also a sculptor, and a Fanatic about draughtsmanship. He instilled in me that any piece was only as good as the drawing beneath it. As a child I spent hours drawing at his feet as he carved tree trunks into horses and women and children. I would tire and let him know I was going to bed and he would look at my drawing and, on occasion, insist that I stay and fix the foreshortening, the foot, the length of the arms...until I got them right. Thank you Daddy wherever you are. I only hope that you would think well enough of my drawings that I might go to bed, finally......

The drawings here are from the picture book Pobble's Way by Simon Van Booy, to be published by Flashlight Press.
These drawings are the hopefully good bones beneath what will be paintings for this wonderful children's book.
Check back for a finished painting......soon.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Flyer and Worthy!

Flyer & Worthy
Yes, another Pet Portrait! Here are two beautiful Australian Shepherds, a brother and sister from different litters.
.......I am actually working on several art projects that I can't show before I am really happy to have these little love poems to show.
Painting these Odes to Joy, I am reminded over and over of the traits that the animals with whom we share our lives bring out in us because they love us so unconditionally.
Painting them is a meditation on openness and vulnerability, fidelity, sweetness and trust, playfulness and honesty and love.
Lucky me!

As soon as I complete a portrait, I email my client who commissioned the portrait a scan, before I mail it off. I sent this one of Flyer and Worthy off late last night and this morning I received this:
"This couldn't be anymore amazing and awesome.
You do incredible work and it must bring you so
much satisfaction that your talent brings happiness to so many people.
Thanks you so, so much!
...........thank you, L.M., and yes, you're right.......your happiness, and the happiness others have expressed brings me ENORMOUS satisfaction.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty

How fun to paint a portrait of a cat after painting 5 dogs , with another 2 dogs waiting in the wings.
Kitty, kitty.....this seems so casual, so completely lacking in a certain je ne sais qua that this particular cat has in spades...the antithesis of this literally awesome Maine Coon in the snow.....
This is Sherlock in Winter.
Not much more I can say, what a handsome CAT!..... what fun to paint!

"It's perfect! I opened your email at work and when I saw the portrait a huge smile came over my face. That's our Sherlock.... the look you captured on his face is classic. We will enjoy this very much."

thank you so much for that D.D.! The satisfaction that I feel when I hear that I have been successful not only in painting something pleasant to look at, or well executed...but that I have succeeded in capturing the essence of a particular animal for their human family, and in touching something intangible in a heartfelt way......that is an enormous pleasure for me.

I am longing for Spring.......cold COLD again, saw some snow flurries today.
Dreaming of Angel's Trumpets, Mandevilla vines in glorious shades of PINK,tender pale green sprouts and shoots poking their sleepy cotyledon heads up out of rich, chocolate cake earth into the new Spring sunshine.
Waiting, kitty, kitty.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Two Journeys

Here are two more portraits of well loved animal companions, two more testaments of love to four legged friends of the doggie persuasion.
With each "portrait" I paint I am allowed access to the depths of spirit and loyalty, faithfulness and love between these creatures and the humans that share their journeys here and now. I feel so fortunate to be allowed in, to share in the sweetness and unadulterated purity in these animal eyes and to do my best to render them, as they were, in that moment.

At the same time, I am experimenting with a mixed technique of watercolor and acrylic, a new medium for me. I am trying to take what I find the best in both mediums and I am finding the journey exhilarating!
Watercolors are marvelous in their transparency and well, liquidity.....but one must work, always from light to dark. Acrylics are more forgiving in that respect , one can move from dark back into light but once colored is laid, they are unable to be lifted or lightened. I am finding that one can lay down watercolor washes as under-painting, then when all the basic colors are laid in, I spray the painting with workable fixative, to prevent any colors from bleeding or lifting up. I then coat the entire painting with a thin milky layer of diluted acrylic gloss gel medium.
Once dry I can move on to finishing the painting in acrylics. I am using Golden liquid acrylics and a marvelous additive from Golden, Acrylic Flow Release......something akin to Oxgall, a wetting agent for watercolor washes, a drop of Acrylic Flow Release in 10 drops of water added to the acrylic paint loosens it so that one can paint fine detail like blades of grass or fur with sharpness and precision, similar to painting detail in watercolor but with the positive attributes of acrylic and also extended the "open" time, retarding the drying time just enough.
I can use them in transparent layers to gradually build and deepen form, or I can lighten highlights with opaque acrylic.From this point on, I never use watercolors again from this point on in the painting.
The gel eliminates the absorbency of the paper and enables the development of fine detail and hard edges, and it enhances the dark values and intensifies the hues. It also allows for the maximum opacity and value range of the acrylic. Painting on its slick, smooth surface is a delightful and mesmerizing experience!



adding to my great pleasure in the experience are these comments from the human companion of these two beautiful dogs:
"These portraits. These took my breath away. Seeing these perfect renderings of my kids brings tears to my eyes, and I can't thank you enough."
In every way, painting these have brought me great happiness.

next....stay tuned, a magnificent Maine Coon cat!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Here is Simon, the most recent portrait.

I had so much fun painting him, I was sorry when I was finished!

and......this brought tears to MY eyes, what Simon's human wrote me:

"Thank you so much for the puppy portrait. I was in tears after I saw it as it is so wonderful. You did capture his personality.
Take care and know that you are very good at capturing the essence of your subjects, not just replicating them...what a talent you have."

Thank you for that!

Size 5 X 7, acrylic, watercolor and colored pencil.