Friday, September 28, 2012

Living Above The Clouds In Montefiascone

1st painting of the trip, the view from the window
 I am really late in blog posting....I am going to start where I left off and add a few more as I get to it.  This summer was a whirlwind of travel, house buying, Chicken Pox, and dachshund woes.  There was a lot of change in a small space of time- a lot of "living".  

My family and I went to Montefiascone in May for me to learn and enjoy a residency with Artegiro Contemporary Fine Art.  Our hosts and friends, Damien and Renata Summo-O'Connell and their dear children, were gracious to help with settling us in and supporting the project.  
Montefiascone is on a hill, a mountain.  The weather changes often and quickly.  Sometimes the clouds were far above you, and sometimes below you.  The people of Montefiascone are justifiably proud of their town.  We stayed right next to the Cathedral-the Cattedrale di Santa Margherita ( which has the 3rd largest dome in Italy) and just below the breathtaking view from the Rock of The Popes.  This tiny town had Slow Food member eateries and a wonderful enoteca called "Volo di Vino". 

Returning to Italy after a few years absence was exciting.  I'm always surprised that my Italian (such as it is) hasn't shriveled completely in the meantime.  I'm also surprised at how much pleasure I get from working on the language. I feel actually exhilarated when I am able to communicate successfully and build relationships- to understand and be understood!  I was happy to trade the initial shock of being in a different country for the slower, comfortable feeling of returning "home" in a way.  After living in Italy- part of me changed forever and not a day goes by that I don't think about it.  I think everyone who has spent a decent amount of time in another country has that same feeling.
This little painting is just under 8x10in. and is painted near the  center of town.
Outside Regula's stone studio

 One of the definite highlights of the trip were all the wonderful people I met.  The studio was out of a dream-complete with artists in and out and a talented sculptor owner-Adrianna.  She gave me roses from her garden which I painted one rainy day.

 Angelo, a photographer,, took me on more than 1 memorable excursion, patiently hearing me out in Italian.  Simone and Gabriele are the owners of Volo di Vino and a talented duo of taste and writing.  Quinto gave us a book he's written about figures in a fresco in one of the ancient churches and enriched our experience.  Not to mention sculptor  Regula ( who inspired me, Rosanna, who invited me to her home and took me landscape painting in a nut tree grove and  Renata, my dear host, who is always an inspiration and an artist of many facets.
Painting Yindi in the studio
The night view from my window

Monday, April 16, 2012

ARTEGIRO Residency Is Coming!

La bella vita- the beautiful blend of fresh sunshine and kitchens, image courtesy of Artegiro on Facebook

Hooray!  I am so honored to be chosen as an Artist In Residency by Artegiro Contemporary ART Artegiro Website.
I have the opportunity to stay for a time in a country I love-Italy.  I have the freedom to paint or draw what I wish.  To experiment if I want to, and explore.  Another exciting aspect is that my host and dear friend, Renata Summo-O'Connell, will arrange for me to meet art scholars or painters or craftspeople to talk with during my stay.  At this point I'm looking forward to painting a little of everything subject-wise and experimenting with mediums a bit (I still don't know what I'm in love with), visiting art museums and eating:).  I will be bringing some pieces back with me to the States, and plan on a slow food evening Open Studio linked with Artegiro to share the project with you.  I also hope to be a good little blogger.
Montefiascone-image courtesy of Artegiro on Facebook

Portrait of Grand Rapids Bishop

Bishop of Grand Rapids Commission

Below is the finished portrait of Bishop Hurley of Grand Rapids, Michigan.  He was an excellent sitter and was very gracious to come for 4 sittings so that I could paint the gesture and his face from life, and get good color notes on his clothes.
I kind of like this photo because it shows the amount of warmth and color in the middle values of the painting a little better than the more formal photo of it.  I'll try to get another image once it's in it's beautiful frame in a few weeks.
Finished painting of Bishop Hurley- right before delivery
Bishop Hurley finished with a portrait sitting
This second image shows the fourth sitting.  I asked to photograph the bishop full length because I was missing a reference for the bottom hem of his white vestment.  At this point I had added in a drapery in the background looking for a "naturalistic" way to work in the family crest in the upper left corner of the painting.  In the end it seemed too distracting and looked like Bishop was leaning away from the cloth so I took it out and the painting came together beautifully.
An image I looked at for ideas on portraits of bishops with family crests

Close-up of Bishop's face. The light didn't go into the eyes until the very end.  I had a hard time breaking eye contact with "him" after I knew that I had gotten it right!

Close-up of the sleeve and cross.  I'm using calcium carbonate to build up sleeve texture.

Close-up of lap and hand.  This pic is missing a bit of warmth in the fleshtones, oh well.

Thank you, Bishop Hurley and the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids, for permission to share these images of our portrait project.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Black Mirror For Painters

Oil Painting Tool: How to make a black mirror

Assuming you know how to use a black mirror to check your values in painting from life- here are simple instructions on how to “make” one.

Purchase a narrow, empty black frame with glass….like you’re going to frame a family photo or certificate.  You’ll also need matte black spray paint and newspapers or a messy work area.

Take the backing off the frame and lay the frame and glass face down on a sheet of newspaper. With adequate ventilation, evenly spray the back of the frame and glass- or remove the glass and spray it on one side only.  Use several thin coats- not 1 thick one. Try not to spray thickly enough for the paint to pool.  Check between newly dry coats to see when the glass reflects darkly but no longer has transparent spots.  When you can't see through it- and you see a good, but darker reflection in it, you are finished.  Put the backing on again and use it!