This project has been occupying a lot of my summer painting time, and has now come to a happy completion!
The Wabash Valley Community Foundation will be celebrating its 30th Anniversary this year and wanted to celebrate by obtaining artwork from local artists, illustrating in some way their work and impact on the community over the past 30 years. In April they put out a call for submissions of ideas and current work. I made a proposal and was one of 15 people selected to complete a piece of art. The plan was to select and purchase six of those completed.
I visited their offices and studied their history and work. I was drawn to those people who had used their wealth to set up educational scholarships. I chose to focus on this couple, both now deceased, who were successful local, family business owners. (The business continues in the hands of their son, who was very helpful in giving me access to photos of his parents).
They were both keen pilots, owning several of their own airplanes (one is pictured in the back right of the painting) and they established a scholarship for students in the aviation program at Indiana State University, administered by the Community Foundation.
I learned last week that my painting was one of those selected to be purchased and will hang in the offices of the Wabash Valley Community Foundation in Terre Haute.
I had a painting like this in mind for several months, ever since I took the photo last fall of my granddaughter staring at parachute jumpers exiting an airplane. I liked the lighting on her, her position, and her look of interested wonder.
It seemed a fitting start for a painting for a group Show connected with our local library’s Fall Big Read–World Of Wonders, by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. The book is intended to increase people’s interest and wonder in the natural world. I read the book over the summer and appreciated many of the author’s thoughts and insights.
In my painting I made the object of her vision and wonder a Monarch butterfly, the subject of a chapter in the book. I enjoyed researching the butterfly and adding it to my painting.
The art display is up in the Terre Haute library for the month of August 2022.
In April I attended the Annual Conference of the Portrait Society of America, in Atlanta, Georgia. I had a wonderful time!
Before Christmas I did not even know about the Society, but when my husband gave me (for Christmas) the book by Michael Shane Neal, ‘Portrait Painting–My Point of View’, I read about the Society and then looked it up online. I found that there was an annual Conference and I surprised myself by thinking, ‘I could go!’
I met so many great people, attendees and faculty. The demonstrations were fascinating, instructive and inspiring. I went to the free critique sessions on both lunchtimes and obtained advice from four different artists. The evening free drawing session was thoroughly enjoyable; having faculty there to ask for help was a wonderful benefit.
There were so many different styles of painting represented and so many approaches, which was very reassuring! I came home with new ideas, fresh inspiration, and increased incentive to practice and branch out.
I painted this picture of my youngest granddaughter from a photo taken and sent by my daughter-in-law. Besides loving the subject, I loved the light on her face. The photo was actually taken in their bathroom without the toys. I adjusted the background and requested a photo of the toys to add to the foreground.
This painting is currently on display at the Link Art Gallery in Paris, IL. I was delighted to find that my painting was chosen as the one used for the promotional cards for the Show. It will be up until July 15, 2022, along with other works by members of the River City Art Association, including two more of mine.
As part of the annual Library Big Read program (by NEA and Arts Midwest) the River City Art Association provided a visual display of works related to the theme of the book. They are on display at the Vigo County Library.
I read the book in January, and chose to represent the passage where Denver describes her birth story to Beloved. There are several aspects I find beautiful about this story, one being that a white woman helped the escaping slave, Sethe, give birth to Denver (on a boat in the middle of the Ohio River), and it was ‘done appropriately and well’. Another inspiring aspect is the description of the blue and silver fern spores in the river, each one containing information for promise of the future.
The display will be up until Friday, April 1, 2022.
One of my major painting goals for 2022 is to paint from life as much as possible.
After my enjoyable sessions at the live portrait group in Pennsylvania, where I simplified the process by using only the Zorn palette (yellow ochre, cadmium red, ivory black and titanium white) plus transparent red oxide, I decided to concentrate on using the Zorn palette for more portrait practice this year.
I returned to photos that I took in Nov 2019, when I asked family members to sit for me for an hour at a time during the week of my birthday and I painted 11 x 14 portrait sketches using water-mixable oils:
Now, in 2022, I’ve repainted from these photographs using a 3-step process:
I decided to apply the lessons I’d learned from the live portrait group to some work at home.
Sadly, I did not have a live model anymore (working on ideas to find some!), but I revisited the time when I did have live models sit for me, during my birthday week of 2019 (one of my birthday wishes).
At the end of the session, the model inspected the various representations of himself, with generous comments to all!
The group plans to continue painting veterans every other week, and in Nov 2022 have a display of all the year’s portraits of veterans at the VA hospital. At that time each veteran may choose one portrait of themselves to keep. I thought that was a great plan!
Several months later, I painted the same subject again (from my photo), on a larger canvas and with a more expressive background.
During our fall stay in PA, I went to a couple of two hour live portrait sessions at a local art center. On one occasion we painted a class member and on the other, a veteran. There were 6-8 artists present, using a variety of media.
On the first session I attended we painted a class member. I started in charcoal, and was pleased to find I could make a decent likeness in about half an hour.
Then I painted the sitter again using a very limited palette of oil paints. This was yellow ochre, cadmium red, ivory black, titanium white and transparent red oxide (a modifed version of the palette used by Swedish master artist Anders Zorn).
I started with a very rough block-in, then painted all the shadows with transparent red oxide for the face and ivory black for the clothing. I found the limited number of colors easier to manage and mix.
I was very happy with the glow that the red oxide gave to the face. The other class members had useful comments to make about my efforts and said I’d captured his likeness exactly. It was all very enjoyable and satisfying.