Swimming to Dutch Island

Because of my Paint the Bay project, 21 Months-147 Miles-Painting the Bay, I have had the opportunity to dovetail two of my favorite pursuits into a single event, Think, Triathlon or the Nordic Biathlon. I decided to call it Swainting! Continue reading

Advertisements

The business of procrastination takes a lot of time!

Seriously, it can take me all day to avoid working on a painting that I find daunting.

Take my wave painting.
(this is the sketch)
Wave composite GapAbout a year ago I thought….”Wow, it would be so cool to paint a 24 foot wave for my Narragansett Bay Show.” It seemed like a great idea for the “future me” to do.

Dryden Gallery’s Grand Gallery is a huge space, perfect for a huge piece. I’m an open water swimmer so I know waves (right?). “This is going to be easy!” I thought. “Paint the wave in fog, keep the palette very limited, it will just flow off my brush” I thought.

Flash forward to reality. Waves are not easy to paint, even foggy waves. They are deceptive little buggers full of varying angles and forms that flow into or against each other. There is reflected light and translucency within the form light. There are wind, wave and foam patterns all dancing a complex choreography. Add to that the size of my endeavor. What was I thinking? 24 feet is…. well… t w e n t y-f o u r feet!

The planning part of working large has been kind of fun. For instance, check out this behemoth brush I bought!
IMG_1752
And these tremendous tubes!
IMG_1755
Then, there is the surface…
IMG_1750I am opting for 5 separate aluminum panels to make the piece more transportable. Even so, they are too large and heavy for my easels, and my studio was not designed for producing 24-foot paintings. How and where will I support and prep these bad boys for painting? This seems to be where planning has turned into procrastination.

The future “me”, who I had imagined singing a happy sea shanty while a 24-foot wave flowed off her brush, has turned into a present day “me” who needs to take a nap.

After all, tomorrow is another day.

Celebration to Conservation

170922-0453© A Bofill

A painting of mine called “Perched” is currently showing at MEAM, the European Museum of Modern Art in Barcelona Spain. The show hosts winners of two international competitions for realistic fine art. I am thrilled to be included in a show representing contemporary realism at its best. Perched is a 36” x 48” oil painting of a pear, quite different from the many gouache and oil sketches I have been doing recently along the Rhode Island waterfront.

Perched,48 x 30, Oil-2Artists may become known for a particular subject matter at which they are adept, or they may have a unique and exquisite approach to their medium. Once an artist has achieved a certain level of mastery, it makes a lot of sense to continuing doing what works so well. What interests me, however, is discovering what I can take from that past success and use in a new area.

At one time I was known as an animal portrait artist. I mostly painted dogs and had a business selling limited prints of my paintings through my company, Purebred Editions.
rapturousI received a number of national and international awards for the paintings and prints and at the time, to some, I was considered one of the top artists in the field. I could have kept painting dogs, but I didn’t.

flameInstead, I became interested in organic form and translucency. For years now, the pear in a produce wrapper has been my muse. Like my dog paintings, these are essentially portraits. I find the pears to be a lovely way to paint sensuality and explore light. Happily, I have enjoyed a positive response to these works, as the recent show in Barcelona attests.

This year however, Narragansett Bay is teaching me to be a landscape painter. It feels so freeing to simply paint what is there in front of me, designed by the sun, wind and water.

I love our bay, and I love exploring and discovering ways to share my experience of this RI treasure.

IMG_1535

As wonderful as it is for me to show my work internationally, I feel it is just as important, perhaps more important, to have my paintings leverage some amount of appreciation and conservation for Narragansett Bay.

To reach that goal I hope to fill the Grand Gallery at Dryden Gallery in Providence with works that range from 4 inches long to 24 feet long. Part of the proceeds from sales will go to Save the Bay to help them continue the fantastic job they have been doing for decades.

Is your brain tricking you?

What we see and what we perceive are two different things.

According to Donald Hoffman, a cognitive scientist, our brains filter out everything unnecessary for our survival. The things we think we see are more like icons on your computer screen; representatives of things we have encoded in our brains. There is an interesting Ted Talk about this: Do we see reality as it is?

IMG_6545

I have been aware of this phenomena to a certain extent for years. As someone who paints realistically, I know that once my brain has labeled what I see, I can no longer see it without bias. If I know a chair, which is in shadow, has four legs for support, I might paint what I know to be true and not what I am actually seeing, which is part of only three legs that reflect some of the light. There is the need to identify  individual objects with clear delineation of form, even  when they are grouped in such a way that in reality, you can not distinguish them from their surrounding. Equally true are issues around perspective. We just want to paint that desk as a rectangle even though to our eyes it’s a trapezoid.

Artists use tricks to see more accurately what is in front of them. We blur our vision to see the values better. We look at our paintings in a mirror or turn the canvas upside down to see it fresh and new.  But I have found that the best way to render something correctly is to have no idea what it is that you are painting!  Simply observe the color shapes and the changes in the edges and the values of those shapes. If you record that accurately,  voila! a perfect painting!, or at least a painting that mirrors what your eyes are seeing.

You can try this without painting. Look at something near you or look at the whole room. If you can, pretend you were just beamed here from another planet. You have never seen it before. You have no idea what it is. Look at the colors, the values, the edges and let what you see just be, without any explanation or identification.

Were you able to do this? Did you see something new or something that had been unnoticed before? I’d love to hear back from you!

Maybe not knowing can get us closer to the truth.

The deep dark woods

 

IMG_5110 The other day I was reading about how coyotes have been spotted all over my neighborhood. They are nomadic and travel in groups. Today’s coyotes are considerably bigger than the little 35 pound variety that lived here 20 years ago. These new coyotes are closer to 60 pounds. I never thought twice about a walk in the woods at dawn or dusk in the past, but after seeing a few of these big boys in recent years I have taken pause.  Hearing their frantic and fearsome howling prior to “the kill”, the screaming of the victim and finally the silence of the feast,  I have reconsidered my evening strolls. You see, I don’t run as fast as a deer and I’m smaller…. I know coyotes have not yet attacked people….but there could be a first and I would rather not be it.  I can see the headline now, ” Breaking News: World Famous Artist Eaten by Pack of Hungry Coyotes”   artists are known to have active imaginations….

FullSizeRender-5

But then, dusk is a lovely time to paint. The low warm light is just beautiful on the bay and surrounding areas.  So on the same day I heard news about coyotes in the area I went to a spot along the bay I have been wanting to paint…in the evening.  That area is only accessed by land though the woods, about a fifteen minute walk. About the same distance Little Red Ridding Hood had to travers to get to Grandma’s. I was late too. Trying to finish up some studio work before heading out. I know the area is popular with dog walkers, so I had expected more people to be around. Maybe they had read the same article I had.

As I sat on the beach painting , my mind kept wandering back to the woods; to the sun getting lower, to the lack of human company; to that headline.

At least I got a start on the painting, slapped down some base colors and shapes and started thinking about bribes to get my husband to come with me on another evening to finish it up. Then I packed up and beat feet back though the woods all the while looking for climbable trees. The only wildlife I spied on my trek out was this lovely lady who apparently has no worries about coyotes, or me for that matter.IMG_5138

Since I didn’t see a single coyote, let alone get attacked by a pack of them, I felt pretty silly about my concerns. Not silly enough to avoid sharing them with the world however.

Who knew that painting required such intrepid fortitude?

Look for the next installment of Adventures from the Imagination of a Bay Painter coming soon!