Monday, November 1, 2010

More Information on "Painting The Plein Air Portrait"

This excellent DVD series simplifies the process of capturing the true light effect out of doors, both with colored blocks and when painting a portrait. Utilizing the method of painting taught by The Cape Cod School of Art, every plane change is not only a value change, but also a color change (not just darkened or lightened with black or white) when painting with this colorist process.

Ms. Baumgaertner is an excellent teacher who explains everything you need to know about painting a portrait "en plein air", from the materials to how to set up your model to shocking new ideas about color - did you know blue turns pink in sunlight? Sounds crazy, but it really works!

There is now information about how to purchase this unique instruction here:

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Age and Gender - Does It Matter?

I just read a very interesting post by artist Alexandra Tyng, who is represented by a New York Gallery, about discrimination women face in the art world. Go here to see what she has to say about contemporary figurative work:

One of the issues she discusses is age discrimination by galleries, asking, "doesn't age bias eliminate many female artists whose career trajectory takes a different path?"

Shouldn't choosing artists to show in a gallery be about the art?

Food for thought.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

New DVD from Margaret Carter Baumgaertner - Painting The Plein Air Portrait

I have wanted to view this DVD for months, but have been so crazy busy (selling my house, moving to a smaller place and subsequently spending hours hunting for things on a daily basis) that it has taken a back seat until now!

In the photograph above, you can see a rundown of the contents of the DVD, filmed by Baum Squad Productions. The footage I have watched so far has been clear and well edited.

This DVD fills a gap in the market for art instruction videos by addressing painting outdoors in a colorist/impressionistic fashion, following in the footsteps of artists such as Monet, Sorolla and many others.

Ms. Baumgaertner (also known as Peggy) trained with Cedric Egeli, whose teacher was Henry Hensche of The Cape Cod School of Art in Provincetown.

In this DVD series, she explains how to capture the light key, initially with colored blocks and then by painting a little girl in sunlight.  The beginning of the painting process, after a charcoal drawing is dividing the subject into areas that are in the light and shadow. Peggy, an accomplished painter and teacher, uses an extensive palette (over 20 tubes) and does all her mixing (other than to match value) on the canvas rather than the palette.

For more information, here is the website to peruse:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Plein Air Festival - A Brush With The Highlands

I have been doing way too much thinking about painting and not enough doing lately. I just managed to live through a rather stressful period of time wherein we listed and tried to maintain a perfectly tidy home while still living there with two active kids. After way too many weeks of this, the place finally sold and then we had the fun task of getting rid of stuff, packing up the rest and moving. Ugh. I do not recommend it.

Anyhow, I have been doing a lot of painting in my head these days. Everywhere I go, I see paintings that just haven't happened yet, whether I am driving down the highway or walking in my neighborhood. I keep telling myself, "I would use a combination of ultramarine blue and burnt sienna for that", or "I would have to really compress the values for this", and asking myself "Is the ground really darker than the sky in this instance"?

Even without a brush in my hand, I am always creating something in my head. Time now to get to work and actually do it! Fortunately, I am going to be participating in an outdoor plein air painting festival at the end of July. It is called A Brush With The Highlands and participating painters will be guided to scenic areas in and around Wilberforce, Ontario. I am really looking forward to immersing myself in painting in the company of other plein air enthusiasts, including a number of people from the newly formed Ontario Plein Air Society.

I hope everyone is getting out there and enjoying the beautiful warmth and color of summer - there is no better way to improve your skills as a painter!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Everett Raymond Kinstler at The Players Club

I just stumbled upon the most wonderful interview with artist extraordinaire, Everett Raymond Kinstler, shot in March 2010. In this six part short film by Sharon Littig, Mr. Kinstler gives a tour of The Players Club to a group of artists and tells some very interesting stories about the paintings, the sitters and the painters.

Mr. Kinstler gives a tour of the club, including the Sargent Room and also talks about his own work that hangs there. Sadly, one of the Sargent paintings (which had been custom fitted above a mantel) was sold and a copy hangs there instead.

Here is the link to the Kinstler video:

Sharon Littig has also posted videos of Cedric Egeli, Joanette Egeli and John Ebersberger demonstrating the Hensche method of painting here:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

More Jewelry and Hands by Sargent

From the same painting as the previous post - here are some lovely hands and rings for your perusal!

Monday, May 10, 2010

How To Paint Jewelery by Sargent

What we can learn from Sargent's treatment of jewelery is: don't spell everything out! Suggest things.

This is a close view of his painting of Elizabeth Winthrop Chanler. I am actually quite surprised this photograph turned out, as I took it with the camera propped on my forehead to avoid distortion. Aren't digital cameras the best?

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

There is some amazing art here! First, a couple of close up images of Rose Frantzen's work. I thought her older people were done with particular sensitivity.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Portrait Society of America - More From The Art of the Portrait

It is so great to get together with a bunch of other artists who are obsessed with the same issues and talk shop. There are demos by many of the top portrait painters in America, portfolio critiques, art materials, books and DVD's for sale. It is fun to network and see old friends.

Here are some images of Michael Shane Neal painting Dot Svendson.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Two Alla Prima Paintings by Rose Frantzen

Alexey Steele, painted by Rose Frantzen

Tony Pro, painted by Rose Frantzen

Portrait Society of America, Art of The Portrait Conference - April 22-25, 2010

I recently returned from a few days in beautiful Reston, Virginia, where I attended The Art of The Portrait, the annual convention organized by The Portrait Society of America. I was planning to post a bunch of photographs I took of the opening night "Face-Off", where a number of artists paint a model from life, but I discovered that someone else (Matthew Innis) beat me to the punch and did a fabulous job of photographing and posting the work, so just click here to see all 15 paintings of 5 different models:

It was intriguing to see how each artist saw things differently.

Rose Frantzen, a master of alla prima portraiture, ended up being chosen by those in attendance to give a demo on Saturday morning. During her opening night demo, she quickly whacked in her dark background and proceeded with a very vigorous technique involving an oil stick crayon. She speedily captured the likeness, light effect, and character of her model. I would have to say that she was the star of the show and was a little bit mobbed by her compatriots. She ended up painting 2 more portraits during the weekend, of artists Tony Pro and Alexey Steele (shown in the photograph), and she was entertaining throughout the process, which is not an easy task to accomplish!

Rose Frantzen also has a very prestigious show in progress at The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and many of those in attendance at the conference traveled by bus to see her 12x12 plywood panels, unframed with edges painted black, of the 180 heads of people from her hometown of Maquoketa, Iowa. Rose Frantzen opened up a storefront in her hometown and anyone willing to pose was painted from life in 4-5 hours.

It was quite an emotional experience to see all the portraits grouped together and the impact of the show imparted the eerie feeling of being acquainted with the town and the people who reside there. The exhibit runs until July 5, 2010 so if you are anywhere near Washington, D.C. don't miss it!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Must Have Book: How Successful Artists Study (Effective Learning Ideas and Knowledge for Artists)

When I first flipped through this fascinating and unique new book, by Samuel Adoquei, I was so excited to see how much valuable information was packed into it. The book contains essential advice from someone who knows how to achieve the goal of having a successful career in fine art. It is a fantastic resource for any artist, with Mr. Adoquei serving as mentor, and is destined to become a classic.

Not only is the volume chock full of relevant information, the chosen paintings that illustrate the book are absolutely wonderful and include colorful samples of the work of past masters (including Sargent and Sorolla, two of my favorites) and contemporary artists.

This is not a book to be read and then put back on a shelf, never to be seen again. I plan to keep it on my nightstand and I believe it will become a treasured source of guidance, inspiration, advice and encouragement.

Some of the many topics covered in the book include: getting the right education, artistic growth and the pursuit of excellence, the practical aspects of drawing, different painting methods, color and paint handling, issues around photography and technology, dealing with art competitions, the value of still life as a learning tool, finding your own style, developing good taste and what to have in mind when preparing your portfolio and approaching galleries. Mr. Adoquei writes in a friendly and accessible style, with many anecdotes and personal stories to enliven his teachings.

The book is available online here:

You can also contact the author directly to order the book:

Whether you are already a working artist or dream of earning your living this way, this book is a must have resource.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hands - Close Up of Raeburn Painting

I neglected to write down the title and date of the paintings I photographed at The Montreal Museum of Fine Art, but I am pretty sure this is by Sir Henry Raeburn, a recent addition to my list of favorite painters.

Just look at the economy of detail for these hands - amazing how they can be represented by only a few strokes of paint.

I just love the relationship between the man and his dog too.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sir Henry Raeburn - Sargent's Predecessor

Most painters like to get their noses right up next to the canvas when examining work in museums, risking the wrath of museum guards, so I tend to photograph small areas of a canvas so I can study the painting later at my leisure.

Given the fact I only had my teeny point and shoot camera along for the ride during my trip to The Montreal Museum of Fine Art and very dim lighting, I am amazed that some of the shots actually turned out, so I am going to share them with you.

Isn't this wonderful?

Friday, March 5, 2010

J. W. Waterhouse: Garden of Enchantment at The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

In December 2009, I traveled to Montreal on the train with my youngest son (the other art enthusiast in our house) and visited this exhibit. My son, being a bit of a Greek and Roman myth aficionado, was able to enlighten me about some of the subject matter, so we both enjoyed the show very much, stopping to sketch a few details and noting the thickness of paint and lush color harmonies.

My initial impression of the exhibit was the brilliant, jewel-like color and thick paint in the pieces - even in the darks. The scale was smaller than I expected, with figures being significantly less than life size even in enormous paintings like Mariamne. He appears to have used a bluish/greenish underpainting, at least some of the time, which shows through the flesh in some areas. The values are massed and carefully planned to emphasize the area of interest. For instance, in Ulysses and the Sirens 1891, Ulysses white robe really pops and the values of everything else is subdued, with the faces of the sirens being the next lightest value.

Three of my favorite paintings in the exhibit were:

1. The Lady of Shalott - in the boat, absolutely breathtaking and riveting.
2. Mariamne - a masterpiece, great feeling, striking composition, brilliant value massing, color, and texture - the highlight on the medallion at her waist is a huge, very thick glob of whitish paint!
3. Circe Invidiosa - gorgeous blue green color, intense expression, value massing, very modern feel.

I also love all the other Lady of Shalott series, one of which normally resides in our very own Art Gallery of Ontario.

The June 10, 1907 Royal Academy of Arts Visitors Report, found displayed in a glass case, was rather amusing, ". . . work of the students . . . not quite so good. They seem to have no idea of setting a palette and are too much addicted to the use of small brushes." Seems not much has changed when it comes to students of painting!

All in all, the overnight trip to Montreal was well worthwhile to be able to see this amazing group of paintings.

Sadly, photography was not permitted in the special exhibit, but after we finished with Waterhouse, we visited the regular collection and found some really great work including Bouguereau, Rembrandt, Tissot and Raeburn.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Your Studio - Better at Home?

The Canadian painter Robert Genn recently sent round an article wherein he strongly recommended that a young man have his studio in his home in order to overcome his procrastination. His argument for this stance is that everything is right there so you have no excuse to not get to work. Mr. Genn spoke of how, while his house was full of company at holiday time, he escaped to the garage to paint.

My reaction to this story was a mixture of envy and longing. I tried to picture myself doing the same while entertaining company. Nope, I don't think I could get away with it. Is this a gender divide or am I just not brave enough to put my own desires ahead of my perceived responsibilities to other people?

Mr. Genn did have the good grace to send a reply to my reaction, and I quote, "You got me there Laurel, men do get away with murder". So I think my suspicion that men have an advantage working from home is correct. The dust bunnies and piles of dirty dishes just don't call out to them in the same way. I am sure I am generalizing somewhat and there are male artists who also have trouble ignoring the other tasks at home and women who are better at using their time, but I don't think I am alone in my difficulties working at home. When other jobs are not the issue, my own inherent laziness sometimes surfaces and I find myself making a sandwich or calling a friend or trolling the internet.

I recently decided to rent a studio outside my home. I am not sure whether this will improve my productivity, but I suspect it will. Maybe it is just me, but I often find myself putting in a load of laundry or cooking something when I had every intention of working on a painting. My feeling is that having a space solely dedicated to my work will mean more painting gets done.

Don't get me wrong, I love my work and spend hours and days happily immersed in it, but interruptions are sometimes frequent, especially when the three other people I live with are around.

How about you? Do you have a studio outside of your home, or do you create your art at home?

By the way, if you do not already receive the really terrific twice weekly letters from Robert Genn, you can subscribe at and be sure to search through the backlog of clickbacks from the past as there has been some terrific information discussed.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Avoiding Perfectionism

Recently, I was excited to finally meet and have a photo shoot with my very first famous person. I wasn't so much nervous about meeting a celebrity, but I was anxious about getting all the reference information I would need and thoughts about the potential benefit to my career were buzzing in the back of my mind.

I had worked long and hard to first contact and then convince this person to agree to pose for me. You would think, given the importance I had assigned to this painting, that I would immediately and unceasingly work on it. However, I have had a surprisingly hard time with the progress of this piece and have found all kinds of excuses to do anything other than work on it.

Fortunately, since the holiday season has ended, the kids have gone back to school and external demands on my time have decreased, I have finally gotten into the groove and back into the studio most days of the week, with the painting progressing well.

How have I overcome the perfectionism that was stalling my progress? I have decided to do an adequate job and just enjoy the process. Once I start painting, I am in the moment, and no thoughts of grandeur interfere with the process.

Procrastination due to fear of failure is at the heart of most avoidance behavior when it comes to artistic endeavors. I had built up in my mind the extreme importance of creating a masterpiece with this commission. Telling yourself that this painting must rival the work of Rembrandt is a sure way to become frozen with indecision and fear.

So, get into your studio and just do it. No one can predict whether the end result will be amazing or mediocre, but getting in the flow and letting the magic occur will guarantee that you enjoy the process and isn't that really what painting is all about?