Saturday, February 21, 2015

Never Give Up

I was utterly delighted to receive an email from the Fine Arts League of Cary that began as follows: "I am happy to inform you that your entry was juried in to our Annual Exhibition." After receiving so many juried show rejection letters over the past year, I had pretty much given up on ever getting an acceptance. So when this one arrived, I almost couldn't believe my eyes and had to re-read the email message and even have a friend confirm that I had read what I thought I read! I am absolutely walking on air right now. As the selected paintings are due at Page-Walker Art and History Center on Tuesday, I spent the past few days getting "Riversong" custom matted and framed so it will be ready to go for the exhibit.

Show Details:
Fine Arts League of Cary 2015 Annual Juried Art Exhibition
Page-Walker Art and History Center, 119 Ambassador Loop, Cary North Carolina
February 25 - April 18, 2015
Opening Reception &  Awards Sunday, March 1, 2015, 2-4 pm
© 2014 Tammy Kaufman - Riversong - soft pastels on Sennelier La Carte Pastel Card 9" x 12"

Saturday, February 7, 2015

It's Caturday!

Venus is my purrfect painting companion and studio cat. She curls patiently around my feet, keeping me company while I paint, never bothers any of my painting supplies and as a bonus, makes a beautiful subject to paint. After spending the past two weeks working on still life homework for my pastel class, I decided to take a break last evening and paint something just for fun and just for me.
© 2015 Tammy Kaufman - Catticus Finch - pastels on Uart 600 7" x 7"
I'm please with how this one turned out for a variety of reasons. First, it's a huge step outside my comfort zone as I painted it using only value and temperature to choose my palette, instead of relying on color hue. It is from my own photograph, as most of my paintings are, but for this one, I cropped it down much tighter than I usually do to achieve the final composition and greyscaled the reference image it so I wouldn't be distracted by color.
Original Photo Reference in Greyscale
Additionally, I made a conscious decision to avoid drawing all the details and then "coloring within the lines", instead choosing to let the big value shapes define the subject. So after cropping and greyscaling my photo, I used the Picture Perfect 3 in 1 Viewfinder's red filter to help me determine the values. I drew only the general location of the eyes and nose but nothing else in order to avoid that "coloring inside the lines" appearance and set to work. Once I had my values mapped out, I selected pastels from the corresponding value compartments with no real regard to the color itself, although I did try to consider temperatures based on my light source when choosing which pastels to use.

All this was a bit scary for me, but I want to learn to trust my instincts, as well as what Addren has been teaching me. During our initial lesson, she had helped me arrange my pastels by value and sort them into the six compartments in my pastel box - dark darks, light darks, dark mids, light mids, dark lights and light lights. So for this painting, I made no conscious decisions about color hue, selecting my pastels solely based on value and temperature. I realize I'm still very early on my path to becoming an artist, and very possibly a year from now I'll look back on this painting with embarrassment, but today I'm happy enough with this little experiment that I decided to mat it - in a mat I cut myself! - pop it into a frame (please pardon the glare and reflections from the standard glass) and hang it on my studio wall. :-)
© 2015 Tammy Kaufman - Catticus Finch - pastels on Uart 600 7" x 7"

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Practice in Patience and Perserverance

Well, it only took less than two weeks before my impatience kicked in! I've been working exclusively on still lifes as part of my values and temperature in color theory pastel lesson, and a dozen or so of those things are already starting to try my patience and make me look forward to eventually hopefully returning to my beloved landscape and animal paintings! But I'm not giving up, and will figure this out no matter how long it takes! A big hurdle for me at present is actually getting the still lifes set up. I use a small spare bedroom as a "studio" so am quite limited on space, and setting up the painting subjects appropriately is a challenge in and of itself, to say the least. Currently I'm using a tiny computer table with a clip-on lamp, and hinged cardboard to serve as a backing. I have several of those brightly colored presentation folders to use as various surfaces when I don't want to use just the white table. One of my biggest challenges is the fact that I have to paint in the evenings after work, so must use artificial lighting on my easel by which to paint. This can sometimes interfere with the shadowing on my still lifes, even though I try to shield them as much as possible from all but the lamp. Then add to all that my amblyopia visual distortion, and it can occasionally make for a bit of stress to get the homework studies even close to correct! So far in the past couple of weeks, I've painted several objects in greyscale, including an egg, a cowbell, shaving brush and razor, fruit (apple and pear), coffee mug and spoon, bar of soap and a shaving bowl.
Greyscale Still Life Homework Assignments © 2015 Tammy Kaufman
And I've done several color studies as well of the cowbell, shaving brush and razor, fruit (pear and apple), shaving bowl, and coffee mug and spoon.
Color Still Life Homework Assignments © 2015 Tammy Kaufman 
Most of the homework has been much less successful than I would have hoped, and I've had more than a little difficulty "seeing" all the values and temperature changes within the objects and shadows themselves, not to mention the reflected light and color in the backgrounds and surfaces. Who would have thought still lifes were so tough?! But I'm still pressing forward, fully intent on "getting" this color theory thing one way or another.