Sunday, November 7, 2010

Some thoughts on Oil Painting Mediums

There are so many combinations and options for painting with oil, and then of course there is the newer water-soluble oils (which I have never tried).  When I paint alla prima (wet on wet, completed all in one sitting) in a small format (see my small paintings blog for examples) I like to use walnut oil. It's very fluid and keeps the paint thin yet still buttery, making it ideal for mixing color right on the panel, which is what I like most about wet on wet.  Poppy seed oil can also be used. The bonus is it's non toxic and has no odor like linseed oil.  I also clean my brushes with vegetable oil so I can keep my studio toxin free (no turp)...especially good for working indoors in the winter. Vegetable oil is also very kind to your brushes...a natural conditioner.  One word of caution:  keep walnut or poppy seed oil in a cool place as it will go rancid in the heat. 

However, when I work large I have to confess that I prefer the poisons. Using galkyd mixed with oil and mineral spirits is just fabulous for thick, buttery paint and smooth application.  I paint on panel mostly and really like NOT having bristle marks in my strokes.  Galkyd does the job. It's also is great for glazing too!  The larger the percentage of galkyd to mineral spirits, the faster the paint dries.  Downside? Mineral spirits have odor...even low odor and so-called odorless smell, so you MUST work with ventilation. Gamsol is the least toxic alternative to MS. It smells too though, but at least it is not absorbed through the skin.

These are the two avenues I've experienced and like. I welcome thoughts of others about oil mediums.

Velvet Ground: 7 x 9" oil on panel

Friday, November 5, 2010

Visit My New Small Painting Blog

Part of my studio practice is doing small, mostly 6" x 6" oil paintings on panel, almost every day. These have become so popular, often as gifts, that I've decided to start a blog to make it easy for interested buyers to see what is new and available.  All paintings are $100 unframed, and I do have a small inventory of contemporary float frames customized for these works.
Visit often as I try to upload new works several times per week. 
Click here for  Small Painting Blog

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Maine Land & Light-Seven Painters - Boyd Place, Bangor, Maine

I am please to be part of a group show at the lovely gallery space at Boyd Place in Bangor, Maine, now through January 2011. Other artists exhibiting include  Ragna Bruno, Jill Hoy, Paul Thibodeau, Judith Leighton, and Tim and Thea Flanagan 
The work is quite diverse and makes for a stimulating exhibit.  There will be an opening reception on Sunday, November 14 from 3-5 pm.  Boyd Place is located at Boyd and York Streets in Bangor, near St. John's Catholic Church.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Gathering Textures for Monoprints

Autumn in Maine is all about color and texture. As I work on putting my gardens to bed, I'm gathering leaves, dried blossoms, stems to store away and use as textures in my monotype prints this winter. I use a gelatin plate which is very receptive to the finest of textures which transfer easily to the paper with simple pressure of hand rubbing. So, I don't need the use of a press.  I will make the gelatin plates the day before and spend the entire day, sometimes two days, printing with abandon and without intention. Then the next few days are spent assessing what prints work best. The most pleasing are almost always result of happy accidents.  Those that don't work as stand alone pieces, I will cut up and use in collage.  The first piece below is an example of one of those wonderful happy accidents.  The second one is a collage made from combining elements of several different prints.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Emily Mason, Abstract Expressionist and Colorist Extraordinaire!

I just read an Art in America review of Emily Mason's recent show at LewAllen Galleries in Santa Fe. One of my very favorite colorists and abstract painters, Mason is not as well known as some of her more famous contemporaries such as Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler. I've never figured out why that is. Her work is so exciting and bold, and as she approaches 80 years old, it's great to see new works as vibrant and luscious as ever.  To read the review, follow this link:

Photo: Emily Mason: Everything Unknown, 2003, oil on canvas, 40 by 38 inches; at LewAllen.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fall studio clean-out sale

About a month ago I had house guests that had never visited before and they were eager to go up to my studio and look around.  It's a mess. I had a lot of things on easel, but they took to poking through piles of work that had been set aside, most of them had never been shown for one reason or another. They kept coming up with pieces I had forgotten about that they really liked, and they even went home with a few. It gave me the idea that I should do an inventory of these works and have a studio clean-out sale this fall. So, that is what I'm doing. Images are being posted  as I get the chance to photograph them. There will be an open studio in November, I will sell them directly from the website gallery, and I will also welcome appointments to look at a specific work.  Everything from oils to charcoal sketches.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Power of Now

A couple days ago I posted about fear of art... that feeling of negativity, a resistance, a tentative approach to the work. A teacher told me that it's visible in one's brush strokes. One needs to "get out of one's head" and into the Now to release that tension and resistance. Quiet the negative thoughts in one's head that zap the confidence. Be present. Mindful. Zen.

I have recently returned to The Power of Now.  I think it is one of the best books for learning the art of being present and sustaining the practice in everyday life.  Tolle articulates, with clarity and insight, the process and why it is important to achieving true inner happiness. Definitely an ongoing process, this work, but it gets easier with practice! I highly recommend this book to left-brains and right-brains alike.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Leaving the camera at home

This summer I decided to leave my camera behind while on painting excursions, leaving only sketching as an option for recording the experiences. I did this for a week on Monhegan Island, a week in Stonington, Maine, and several day trips. Some sketches were more detailed, but here's an example of thumbnails I did on location in Stonington. Doing sketches really makes one look carefully at the landscape. While only recording the essentials, and doing some serious simplifying, one can set up the structure of a painting, while totally absorb the experience of the place.... color, atmosphere, light, temperature. The painting above the thumbnails was done later, in the studio, directly from the sketch on the right.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Art and Fear

"Truth and reality in art do not arise until you no longer understand what you are doing and are capable of, but nevertheless sense a power that grows in proportion to your resistence."

I love this quote by Henri Matisse. The resistance or the fear seems to almost always be there no matter how much I paint. My best work always happens when, for some strange reason, on a given day, I go forth with abandon—fearless and clueless.

This painting is from one of those glorious days.  From the Salt Pond. Pastel.  5.5 X 5.5"

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Getting back to it.

Yike, it's hard to believe it's been since June since I've posted. This fabulously beautiful summer went by so fast and now I've got a fire in the fireplace tonight. I spent one wonderful week on Monhegan with painter friends, then another great week in Stonington, for Stonington Painter's Workshop. Both weeks were heavenly and painterly. Much of the remaining summer painting time was spent fulfilling orders for little 6 X 6 paintings which have become very popular for wedding gifts and experimenting with new techniques and approaches that I learned at the Painting Workshop. I will do upcoming posts about that and Monhegan.  For now here are a couple of the 6 x6" works that were commissioned for young Mainers leaving home...special places for them to remember.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The value of waiting....

This is a piece that I started many months ago. It wasn't going well...the colors were more blues and violets and it just wasn't working. The painting didn't speak to me. Then a few weeks ago I decided to just attack it in a whole new way, simply responding to the marks that were there with new marks, shapes and a whole new pallette—no real intention. There is a lot of paint on that canvas now, but it takes me to an imaginary place that I would love.
Fern Wood.  Oil on canvas.  20 X 16"

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Alla Prima oil painting

On May 15 I held an all day workshop in alla prima oil painting. Alla prima is a style of painting where, instead of building colors up with layers or glazing over an underpainting, the painting is completed while the paint is still wet—wet on wet. Strictly defined, an alla prima painting would be started and finished in one painting session, but the term is also more loosely applied to any painting done in a direct, expressive style, with minimal preparation. This is the method I use in my daily paintings on masonite panels, so I had loads of these little panels on hand for people to try.

We had six participants, about half had never painted in oil before. We had a great time and all went home happy with successful paintings.  I'm posting two here by Terri Sanzenbacher. They are so alive with color and energy and I thank Terri for sharing them for this post. They are both 6" X 6".

The next workshop is Saturday, June 19. Email me for details:
lrpackard at yahoo dot com.

Pastel Class

Our pastel class is taking a break for the summer, but the work from these classes is on display for the entire summer at the Hammond Street Senior Center in Bangor. We had a wonderfully attended and fun opening reception on May 13.  Class member Sue Roberts has posted photos from the event on her blog:   Check out her blog AND the class show. The show will also be open during the Downtown Bangor Art Walk on June 18 and many of the artists will be on hand.

During the break the class continues to get together and paint on Thursdays at different Maine locations. Sue also has photos of them painting in downtown Bangor last Thursday:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

On teaching....

I've really been neglecting my blog, working diligently in my studio. One thing that I've not mentioned on this blog is my classes. For nearly two years I've been teaching pastel painting at the Senior Center in Bangor. This class has become the highlight of my week, with 10+ of the most vibrant, energetic and creative "seniors" I've ever known. They defy the age that gains them membership to the Center. The class has evolved into more than pastel painting (that just happens to be the medium we use). It is about color, composition, mood, light, and creative growth. And the growth part is the most exciting as each individual is finding his and her voice in this incredibly supportive group.

In the last class of the winter session, we did a class project. Each person was given a printed segment of a larger photo to paint. The segments were divided in such a way that it was nearly impossible to identify what the subject was. It was a fundamental drawing exercise in the art of seeing. So often when we draw a subject that we know, we editorialize and draw it the way we know it to be rather than exactly what we are seeing. This focus was to draw/paint exactly what each person saw on his printed segment: exact colors, shapes and lines. At the end of the session, I fitted the segments together like a puzzle to show the completed painting.

Here is the illustration of the reference photo, and the resulting composite. We were all giddy with delight when we saw how perfectly everything fit together!
With no frame of reference but what was in front of them, they rendered what they saw to near perfection!

This pastel class will be exhibiting work at the Hammond Street Senior Center  in Bangor during the month of May. A wine and cheese reception will be held on Thursday May 13 from 2-4. The class project featured above will be on display during that time.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

7 February 2010 - Now Showing

These two pieces are currently exhibiting at the Bangor Art Society's Members' Show, at Bangor Public Library through February. The result of several very loose gouache sketches that I did this past autumn at a friend's farm. Working on canvas this time, the work feels very different from those I've been doing on panel. Looser and lighter, with a more conservative use of paint. Leaf Peeping Time I and II. Oil on gallery wrap canvas. 18 X 18"

5 February 2010 - Small and bold

Another unintentional work in the continued series. A landscape suggestion but mostly just about bold rich color. I'm calling it Velvet Ground. 9 X 8" oil on masonite panel.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

27 January 2010

My small daily paintings serve as kind of a warm-up exercise for me when I start in on my painting day. Most of what I have posted on my blog have been these little paintings which provide a very nice little cash flow for me while I work on a new body of work. In this new collection of work I have been focusing on abstracting the landscape. Working with less intention and allowing myself to respond to the marks, colors, and shapes as they appear on the canvas or panel. I have found this simplification of the landscape makes a much more powerful statement, and the experience of being in the moment with the painting has a spiritual quality to it. The painting here is one of my first successes, in that I achieved that experiential purity for which I strive.  I title it Dream Work, as it really feels as though I created it outside of myself.
Oil on panel, 18" X 24"

Saturday, January 23, 2010

January 22, 2010 - Iris

Continuing on with my garden paintings, this is a larger piece, 8 X 10 of my purple iris. The first real showcase of color after the spring bulbs are finished blooming. Wish they lasted longer.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

January 17, 2010 More blooms

The newest garden paintings, blue delphinium and thistle-like somethings...I've never known the proper name for these little magenta blooms but they grace my garden in many spots.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

January 15, 2010 - Thinking spring

Those who know me know that I don't "winter over" very well. So, to battle the winter blues I've turned my daily painting focus to blooms from my cottage garden. This garden is an art project in itself, and I spend lots of time working in it from as early as April until November. These paintings are oil on panel, all 4 X 6" and are available on my Etsy site.