New Gallery Show

I’m happy to have two of my most recent pieces on exhibit at the Studio 630 Summer Show. The opening reception is Sunday, June 9th, 1 to 3 pm. The Gallery is located at the National University of Health Sciences, Bldg B, on Roosevelt Rd. at Highland, Lombard. The show will be up for 2 months, and is well worth a visit.

Scherzo, mixed media, 24 x 24

I Hear a Symphony

Music inspires me and I always listen to it when I’m working in my studio. I like all different kinds, depending on my mood: Classical, New Age, Broadway show tunes. The music helps the paint flow. Here are a couple of new pieces I finished recently to show you what I mean.

Sonata, mixed media, 30 x 30 and Scherzo, mixed media, 24 x 24

To Frame or Not to Frame

That is the question. Most of my paintings are done on gallery-wrapped canvas (1 1/2 inches thick), so framing is optional. They’re large enough to have a presence all on their own. My smaller paintings, the 10 x 10’s or the 12 x 12’s, are on 3/4 inch canvas and need frames to really set them off properly. Therein lies a dilemma. Do I want to spend the money and put in the work needed to frame the pieces, or should I just leave it to my customers to recognize that the paintings look good as is but will look fantastic in frames?

Since I’m planning to participate in an art fair in July, I decided to invest the time and money. Here’s an example – framed vs. unframed. What do you think?

Cream ‘n’ Sugar, 10 x 10, unframed

Cream ‘n’ Sugar, 10 x 10, framed, ready to display

I think the simple black frame sets off the image nicely and helps the completed painting make a nice statement.

Playing with Paint

Rhapsody, mixed media, 16 x 12

My paintings have been leaning more and more towards the abstract in recent years but now I’ve finally leaped over the edge. It’s amazing what paint can do when you pile it on with palette knives, move it around with brushes, add fiber for texture, and pour it on to a canvas laying flat. I always work to music and this new technique (new to me, anyway) lets me just go with the flow. Time to order some larger canvases and paint in larger quantities. I’m so looking forward to exploring this next step in my artistic adventure!

Learning by Teaching

There’s a line from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I,
that goes “… as a teacher you’ll be taught.” I’ve learned that
lesson many times as I’ve taught classes in History or various health
strategies or painting and drawing. I’m learning it again now that I’m
‘officially’ a writer. I’m in the middle of preparing a PowerPoint presentation for my writing group on how to write a mystery novel, and the process of creating the presentation has forced me to consider all the steps involved withcreating a book.

It’s not that you can follow a recipe and arrive at a novel. No – but there
is a structure to a novel. There’s plot and characters and setting and the
mysterious connections that mix them all up and result in a story. Hopefully,
one that people will want to read! If you understand the elements of a novel
you have the tools you need to put it all together, if only you can think of
some ideas to set the whole thing in motion.

I hadn’t planned to do anything like this but when the moderator of our
writing group asked what sorts of topics we’d like to see presented this year,
I raised my hand and said, “How about a discussion on how to write a
mystery novel?” He looked at me and said, without missing a beat, “Great.
I’ll put you down for May 11th.” That’ll teach me!


Painting Classes for Adults

I’ve just finished teaching a mini-course called “Let Your Inner Artist Out.”  I so enjoy teaching these courses.  It’s very rewarding to me to be able to help aspiring artists to express themselves in paint.  People very often know what they want to say, but don’t know how to make their vision come out on the canvas.  With just a few pointers on how to tweak their composition, use color effectively, and an exploration of the some of the many mediums available to the artist, I can help my students turn an amateurish painting into something that gives them a lot of satisfaction.  So much fun!  And as an added bonus, I get re-inspired myself.  Happens every time.

Framing Paintings

Sometimes framing a painting makes all the difference in the world.  I like to use very simple floater frames, which let all of the painting present itself.  This one, titled “Bananas”, is ready to hang, and the simple white frame complements any decor.  

Oil, 16 x 20, framed in simple white floater frame.

Oil, 16 x 20, framed in simple white floater frame.

A Short Course in Color

A Short Course in Color
by Barbara Lipkin

In applying paint to canvas, there are two separate basic issues: value and color. (There are other issues, too. This is the short course.) Value is how light or dark something is in relation to any point on your canvas, or in your subject. A painting can be created using only different values of gray, which is a good way to concentrate on accuracy of form and perspective, without having to also worry about color.

The Old Masters originally always painted a grisaille study first. When they were satisfied with their results, they added thin layers of color, glazing, to complete the painting. The grisaille showed through, so the values were automatically correct. This is a very slow method of painting, because the grisaille, and then each layer of color, must be completely dry before proceeding. But it’s a really good exercise to learn how colors work together. If you learn some color basics, you will be better able to make informed decisions about color in your paintings.

Primary colors: red, yellow, blue. All other colors are derived from these three colors.

Secondary colors: orange, green, purple. These are derived by mixing any two of the primary colors together. (Mixing all three primary colors together results in a muddy gray.) For example, red + yellow = orange; yellow + blue = green; blue + red = purple.

Tints: adding white to any color will make a tint of that color.

Shades: adding black to any color will make a shade.

You should have a color wheel to look at as you read these explanations.

Complementary colors: Those opposite each other on the color wheel. Example: red/green; blue/orange; purple/yellow.

Analogous colors: Those next to each other on the color wheel.

Complementary colors (think “opposite colors”) intensify each other when placed next to or near each other. For example, a red stroke placed next to a green stroke will make both seem brighter. Complementary colors create a gray when mixed. For example, red and green make a brownish gray. In glazing, if you paint a thin layer of red over a dry layer of green, you will darken and “gray down” the green. It will still appear green, not red. (Here we get into color temperatures, warm vs. cool. This leads us into using color temperature to create the illusion of distance. For now, let’s keep it simple.)

Analogous colors calm each other down; so placing a blue stroke next to a green stroke makes an area seem calmer. Mixing analogous colors changes the hue, but doesn’t make a gray. Mixing purple and red makes a redder purple or a purpler red, depending on how much red or purple you use. Mixing blue and green makes a bluer green or a greener blue, again depending on how much of each color you use.

A painting which uses a lot of complements will seem quite lively, especially if you use saturated colors. (Again, this gets us into temperature. As you can see, this is a large subject. Let’s stick with the basics for now.) A painting which uses lots of analogous colors will seem calm and serene.

The best way to learn about color is to experiment with your paints. Your basic supply should include a warm red and a cool red (cadmium red, alizarin crimson); a warm blue and a cool blue (cobalt, ultramarine); and a warm yellow and a cool yellow (cadmium yellow, winsor lemon). These are only suggestions. You can chose other specific shades.

You also need a basic white. Titanium white is most opaque. Zinc white is more transparent and better for mixing, or you can also buy a mixing white. You need a black in your palette, but use it very sparingly, as a little goes a very long way.

A word about gray. Black and white make gray, but you can also make gray by mixing complementary colors, and these are much more satisfactory. They are richer and more interesting, and have more subtle effects. However, black and white grays are fine for your gray (grisaille) painting.

This is just a brief overview of a very large subject, which basically requires a lifetime of study. But it should be enough to get you started. Happy painting!