Monday, December 24, 2007

Have been neglecting my blog, and my art!

It has been a while since I last blogged! Or, for that matter painted.

This time of year there are a lot of things to distract me from my pledge of painting daily. I painted regularly up until about two weeks ago. I finished the three small paintings of my oldest grandchildren, scanned them, and have packed them up for delivery Christmas day to their other Grandmother. And, I have started a new painting - a Mexican beach restaurant scene with a group of Mariachi players.

My first distraction was to take time out to design, compose, and publish our annual Christmas Letter. The decisions of choosing photographs and selecting stories is quite lengthy. The stories must be interesting, but not boastful. There are too many annual letters talking about "we did this, we did that," perhaps more to impress the reader than to just bring our far flung friends and relatives up to date with our own and our family's going's on.

We had to get them out fast (we were already very late) because many must be sent to relatives back in England and Wales by regular mail. So many of our older relatives do not have email.

But quite a few were able to sent by email to our "younger" and more mod friends and a scattering of relatives.

In the middle of this rush, my trusty printer stopped printing. We had to take the letter to FedExKinko's to prepare color prints. And hand write all the envelopes.

But, perhaps the primary distraction is that we have decided to upgrade several things in the house. The principal item of which is to install a big screen TV in our den.

Everything has to be done in stages. First the older TV had to be moved to another room. Then we had to dispose of the old wooden cabinet. Then the room had to be emptied so that the carpet could be cleaned.

While this was going on we had to choose the new TV and accompanying sound system. Plus select a wooden stand to put under the TV. The big items were coming across country from New Jersey. The smaller items from local stores.

Then when they arrived I had to assemble the wooden stand, and install the new sound system (which involved a lot of running hidden wires around the room). When the TV finally arrived and was unpacked, I had to ask a neighbor to help me lift it into position - I am getting to old and feeble to do all of these physical things.

Now all is done. Peace reigns again around the house. The new TV is wonderful. Very soon I will get back to painting again - every day!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

New Painting and Consequential Issues

At long last I got my recent painting of "Marty and Diane" back from my photographer. I immediately shipped it off to them as an early surprise holiday gift.

A few days later I received a phone call Marty expressing strong appreciation and thanks, and then tentatively asking if I could alter Diane's nose.

My wife, my resident critic, never liked the way I had painted Diane's nose. I had struggled with it, but thought I had got it right. One of the troubles of painting portraits of friends, family, and of course commissions, is that the likeness has got to be good.

After the phone call I blew up in Photoshop the original photograph to show Diane's nose, and also the same area of the painting. The comparison was not so good. The photograph showed the nose both shorter and softer. I wish I had done this before I completed the painting. I guess that is how one learns.

Marty (a really old friend) and his recent new wife Diane, live in San Diego, and are planning to travel up to see us in January. They will bring the painting with them, and I promised to apply my painterly skills to adjust the offending nose.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Artist Statements

Alison Stanfield in her recent Art Business Blog talked about the importants of artist's statements. Particularly she referenced an article by Dane Stickney of the Omaha Herald-Tribune entitled " Artist statements shed light on artists ideas," and her e-book and short podcast linked to her Blog.

I have always had problems with my artist statements. They have been almost a bio/resume or sometimes just a story, and not the kind of statement that Dwain and Alison talk about.

Each painting on my website and everywhere my paintings are shown online there is a statement that probably is not doing what it should be doing to let the viewer know what I was thinking when I painted that painting.

Now is the time when I should revisit all my active statements. It is a project for the new year.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

More New Paintings

At last the latest 10 x 8 inch oil color on canvas paintings of my Grandchildren were dry enough for me to scan them. These are "Kevin 2007" and "Diane 2007."

I will be giving them to their other grandmother tomorrow when we get together for Thanksgiving. I have made full size prints on paper for their parents and ourselves.

They will be soon posted to my website and to my Imagekind art print website.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Catching up once again

Time goes by so fast. I had not realized that more than a week has gone past since I last blogged.

I have been painting regularly each morning. But somehow in the afternoons, when I have been doing my blogging, I have family tasks to do, and have not been thinking too much about painting. Still, I now come to the task with a fresh mind.

I am continuing to work on the last five small (10 x 8 inch) portraits of my grandchildren. They are all to be Christmas presents for their respective Grandmothers. I have to finish the paintings of the two youngest, Diane and Kevin, by this coming Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. There is our usual family gathering for Thanksgiving, and their other Grandparents will be visiting us that morning, and we will not see them again before the holidays.

Actually the these two paintings are finished, except for labeling and scanning for my records (and reproduction). Diane's portrait has been finished for about a week. Kevin's I coated with medium last night and am waiting for it to harden enough to handle for the final labeling and scanning. It should be OK by Wednesday.

The other three portraits, Sara, Megan, and Dana, are progressing somewhat in parallel. Sara's will require another few days of work. The others will take a little longer. These can wait, for we will see their other Grandparents at Christmas.

Last Wednesday I was sitting once again at Gallery 113. Before arriving at the gallery, I stopped by Scott Mclaine, my photographer, to drop off recently finished the "Marty & Diane" portrait for photographing. It is too big for my scanning.

Scott was telling me about his task of photographing the items at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art Chinese Clothing exhibit I blogged about last week. He is their official photographer. Many of these items had never been out of storage before and had not been documented. He said that it took almost two months.

The show at Gallery-113 was very big. It was hung Salon Style from floor to ceiling. My piece was in a good place, high up near the door, and well lit. But there had been very few sales. There was very little traffic that day, even though it was a nice outside.

I have decided to discontinue my small advertisement in the local weekly CASA Magazine. Though it has given me a lot of recognition amongst the local art community, it has not brought any sales. It costs $65/month, cheap as advertising goes. But I think it is time for a change.

For some time I have been thinking about publishing a book of my single person portraits. Self publishing with online print on demand has become very inexpensive. I have all the software and digital images to do the job. So I will give it some more thought, and study the situation for a while.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Opening of two exhibits at the SB Musum of Art

Yesterday (my birthday - 78) we went to an Opening at the Santa Barbara Museum Of Art. As Members we had a special invitation. They have two new exhibits: "Everyday Luxury: Chinese Silks of the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911)," and "Identities." Of these, for me, the Chinese exhibit was by far the most interesting.

The Chinese exhibition showcases selections from the Museum's collection of Chinese costumes and textiles from the last three hundred years. The exhibit is beautifully staged and curated. There are extensive and informative signage describing the exhibits. Unfortunately the aisles were packed with people and it was not easy to spend the time the exhibit needed to take in all the details. I will be going back at a quieter period to have a second look.

The "Identity" exhibit is a rather mixed collection of items expressing various artists' feelings about racial, sexual, and cultural identity. Many of the exhibited items I had seen before. It seemed a letdown after the brilliance of the other exhibition.

Took a few days off!

We took off for a few days and went up the coast a hundred and fifty miles to the small coastal town of Avila Beach, California. It is hidden from the main highway and missed by most travelers.

Actually there are two neigboring communities: Avila Beach and Port San Luis, about two miles apart. For many years they were an oil processing and fishing community. A long oil rig servicing pier still pokes into the nearby ocean, servicing the occasional boat. A few years ago the oil industry decided that the location was no longer needed for major oil storage and processing and closed down and removed much of their operations.

Unfortunately, the oil processing had contaminated much of the ground below the small town of Avila Beach. The oil company was required to dig up much of the town and then pay for it to be rebuilt. Most of the quaint old stores, small hotels, and homes were torn down and the ground beneath them dug up.

We have visited the community several times over the years, both before it was torn down, and since. Our last trip was three years ago when the rebuilding had just commenced. At that time (and again this time) we stayed at an older hotel that is on the beach front, but halfway up a hill, and just above the oil containation.

Today the hotel is old compared with much of the new community. But the owners have played on its old fashion features to make it unique. Each room is different and provides some special ambiance. We stayed in the same room as on our last visit; a suit overlooking the beach. We were able to go to bed with the ocean waves crashing outside our window. It brings back memories of our youth when we lived on the beach at Malibu.

The weather was not the best, which we had expected, cold and a little damp. But there were few other visitors around and we shared the beach front and pier mostly with locals. There were many new places to explore and the long fishing pier to walk along. Mostly we just lazed around and read.

On the Thursday evening we drove into the nearby university town of San Luis Obisbo. That night they have a large street fair and farmer's market. The main street is blocked off and filled with stalls and milling people. Unfortunately, at this time of year it is dark and not too suitable for photography.

I had intended to look for new material as we wandered around. I took some photographs but was not much inspired. Twice we went to the nearby tiny community of Port Saint Luis. It is a tiny fishing port with its own pier and a fish processing plant. The whole bay with both communities is a natural harbor with many fishing boats and a big boat repair yard at Port saint Luis. The photography opportunities were better, though scarce on the interesting characters for portraits I usually go for.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

More Work Needed.

Tuesday morning of most weeks is the meeting day of my critique group. Yesterday I took in what I thought was my completed painting "Mart & Diane," and the latest small portrait of my Grandchildren series.

From both I received some good feedback requiring that I make some small modifications. It always amazes me how blind I am to obvious elements that are easily seen by others. A little softening here. A little mellowing there. And so on.

I try always to get each painting seen by someone else. None of the items will require more than a few minutes work. The need for each change stares me in the face after it has been pointed out. I still have a lot to learn.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

My Website Updated.

Over the last few days I have reworked the galleries of my paintings on my website. Before I had them broken into just web pages of "Portraits," "Groups," and "Crowds." Also, the Menus were very brief and not too descriptive.

Now I have expanded the Menus. Hopefully they will lead a visitor to explore more fully the many things offered at the website. Also, the "Portraits" pages has been broken into "Male Portraits," "Female Portraits," and "Friends and Family" page sections. The "Friends and Family" pages are mostly paintings I given to, as it says, family and friends.

I will be watching the page statistics to see if visitors explore the website more deeply.

Another Finished Painting.

Today I finished up another new painting. This is to be a gift to our good friends Marty and Diane who live in San Diego. A short while ago we went to their wedding and from the many photographs I took that day, I have composed a painting to commemorate their wedding.

It is on a 16 x 20 inch canvas and shows head and shoulder poses of them looking at each other. As is common for me, the image was derived from several photographs. No one image had exactly the expressions that I needed to capture. One of the advantages that an artist has over a photographer is that he may improve on nature. Or at least choose the best parts of several shots.

Hopefully this coming week I will be able to drop it off at my photographer for him to take the usual high resolution image, and then I will mail it to them.

Heal The Ocean Exhibit - I Am Juried In!

Last Monday was the ingathering for this month's special juried exhibit at Gallery 113, benefiting the local charity "Heal The Ocean." My wife and I had to go to Los Angeles for the Monday night to look after some of our grandchildren. A neighbor artist friend was kind enough to enter my new painting "Sunset Stroll," and it was accepted.

The annual show is hung salon style with paintings crammed in from floor to ceiling. So I do not know where my painting ended up hanging, but it will be part of a wall of art. I will be there in a couple of weeks for my monthly duty of "sitting" the gallery.

Friday, October 26, 2007

I Have Started Six New Paintings

Today I started work on six new small paintings. Five are 8 x 10 inch canvases for portraits of my five remaining grandchildren. The remaining one is an experimental miniature 2 x 1-1/2 inch canvas as a gift to a friend.

I purchased 10 of these miniature canvases at the recent Art Materials Show. They are so small that they will require a lot of manipulation with my tiniest 0000 size brushes.

To learn more on how I paint visit "On Painting Portraits" at my website.

Monday, October 22, 2007

New Painting

Have recently finished another painting "Sunset Stroll." It is a hybrid between a Landscape (which I have not painted for several years) and a Group of people. This painting shows two people walking on the beach at sunset, and is different than what I have done lately.

My intent is to enter it in a new show at Gallery 113 next month, a benefit for a local charity "Heal The Ocean."

The image was created by scanning the painting in four sections on my scanner. And then using Photoshop Element's Panorama photo-merge feature to knit the four images together. I found several problems. The scanning of the painting directly on the glass table produced many highlights where the surface of the paint touched the glass. These had to be edited out by hand. Also, the brightness/contrast of each scan had to be closely balanced to reduce color banding between the knitted sections.

The knitting process takes quite a while on the computer, and the result is very effective. But the preparation is very time consuming, and the result is still not perfect.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

More Rejection

Yesterday was jurying day for an opportunity to have a solo exhibit in any of three small meeting rooms at the Santa Barbara Central Library. This process takes place about once a year.

It is a mixed blessing to exhibit in these rooms. One room is in the basement of the Library and does not get many visitors. All the rooms have scheduled meetings which both means exposure and limitations of access for the general public. One of my friends had holes stabbed in a canvas.

The jurying process requires bringing in five paintings to be reviewed by three judges, often drawn from the local colleges art departments. There is no charge for submitting. The whole thing is run by the Santa Barbara Art Association as a community service. (As added irony, the day before I was asked if I would like to be a judge, but had to decline since I was planning to submit work.)

I took in five of my portraits. And was asked to return in the afternoon. There were many others bringing in paintings as well.

Upon returning I found, in company of many others, I had been rejected.

As background, I was told that only three artists were chosen by all three judges. The rules are require only two judges to agree for an artist to be accepted. With some thirty time slots to fill, they could only agree on twenty-eight!

As I have written several times before, an artist has to have a tough skin. Their art will be rejected time and time again. But luckily, often, someone out there will fall in love with the most disregarded painting.

New Paintings

My photographer emailed me yesterday, to indicate the digital images of my recent paintings were finally ready for pickup. When I went to pick them up a week or so ago, he was not happy with the sharpness of one image.

This time they were just fine. He must have lost money on that project. For some time I have been having digital images instead of slides. He has better lightings and a much better camera than myself. The images come out about 30 MB for each image.

The two paintings are "Annie" and "The Story Teller." They are up on my website for all to see.

Monday, October 15, 2007

My Labor Weekend Studio Tour Revisited.

Yesterday the Santa Barbara Studio Artists group had a meeting to dissect the recent Labor Weekend Open Studio Tour, and to plan for next year. Some dozen or so artists (out of 44 open studios) showed up.

They reported that the number of visitors who bought maps (the map was the key to knowing where the studios were located) was up a third from last year, and the total sales was about the same.

As I have reported in my 4 September 2007 blog, my experience from the tour was dismal. The general and my own publicity was great, but I had few visitors on the Saturday and Sunday. I put that down to the intense heat of those two days.

Though there were many out of town visitors (as reported by several other artists) they did not travel beyond the downtown core area. My studio is about four miles away, just too far for most to travel. Other outlying artists reported the same story.

The group is planning to do a similar three day event next year, though they now plan to cut off Monday at 2:00 p.m. Also, the gala opening will be back to Friday evening, not Saturday as was this year.

Another change is a move for both the gala and the exhibit of member's sample works from the Corridan Gallery to another venue close to downtown. Several people felt that the Corridan, located on the East side of town was a location where some people felt uncomfortable due to the recent gang related unrest. The Faulkner Gallery is under consideration.

Also, they indicated that they expected that the artists in the Santa Ynez valley would not participate, since they have another group forming in that area.

Next Labor Day Weekend is a long way ahead. Nevertheless, at the moment I plan to go forward with the same routine for next year. I have signed up to help them with the publicity,as I did this past year.

Art Materials Trade Show

Last Friday we took the day off from our usual routine, and went for our annual visit to the Art Materials Trade Show, this year in Pasadena, north east of Los Angeles. For us, it is quite a journey, 230 miles round trip. For the last few years it has been in Burbank, before then at the Pasadena Convention Center, to which it has returned this year. We have been visiting the show for many years (at least ten). In the past I have bought much of my materials for the upcoming year.

This year the Convention Center is under a major reconstruction. We had to park across the street at the shopping mall, and then walk all round the building to enter it from the rear. Actually this saved us money, as parking was less than the usual convention center parking (which was full when we got there).

The show seemed smaller than last year. I think it has been shrinking for several years. Gamblin
was not there, a manufactuer who's products I often use and who's representatives I have found helpful in prior years. But the area was packed together with no open spaces. It was hard to tell who was missing.

This year, my main mission was to buy brushes, and I found plenty of good buys. But I saw no new materials or vendors to explore. The prices are always good, with most vendors offering show specials. The aisles were packed with buyers and curious artists, more than I remember from prior years. And this was the first day of the show, which runs through Sunday.

With the show are many classroom style demonstrations (at an extra charge), and several simpler demonstrations in or near the vendor's booths. I did not see anything there in which I was interested. After lunch across the street, we headed home.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sitting at Gallery 113

Yesterday it my turn for my monthly sitting day at Gallery 113. The rule is that if you hang something in the gallery, should should volunteer to open up the gallery and sit to attend to visitors.

I have been doing this for years and enjoy the contact with the visitors who stroll by and occasionally come in to look at the paintings. Unfortunately, yesterday there were very few visitors who came by. I guess it is the time of year. Maybe not too many visitors in town. The Gallery is positioned in an excellent area where many visitors come to browse. Usually I will have many stop by, from all over the world.

In addition to sitting the gallery, I have also volunteered to train new Santa Barbara Art Association members in the opening, sitting, and closing procedures for the gallery. Those who make the arrangements look on the schedule when I have signed up to sit, and schedule new members to come in for training. This month was as usual, and I had one person to train. It takes about half an hour.

The training consists of showing them where the lights go on and off, how to work the combination lock on the door. How to consummate sales, and keep the records straight.

A slow day is not a wasted day, for I take with me my laptop computer and either work on my website or read an accumulation of articles I have taken from the internet and saved up for such times. Unfortunately there is not an internet connection in the gallery, so I have to save up my internet issues until I get home.

Another Critique

Tuesday morning is the meeting day of my critique group. This week I took in the landscape painting I am developing for next month's Heal the Ocean Show at Gallery 113. I have painted a silluette of a couple walking along the darkened shoreline of a bay, with the sun setting in a cloudy sky.

They did not say much about the painting itself, but did not like the dark blue sky I had put at the upper edge of the painting. The wanted the orange of the sunset to bleed off the upper edge.

I have since painted out the blue sky and I must say it looks better. I will keep working on the painting for a few more days.

On Rejection

Sunday was the day of the silent auction at the Santa Barbara Art Fund. I went along to see who and how much would be bid on my little "Sofia" painting. The bidding went on all the afternoon while the small crowd could browse on food between their viewing the paintings.

The minimum bid on each painting was $100. Additional bids were in minimum increments of $25. There was a slip of paper for the bids beside each painting. The bidders were identified by a number. The artists and the painting's title was obtained from a little booklet given to each bidder (with their identification number) as they signed in and forked over their $65 entrance fee.

The paintings of artists with well known names got a lot of activity. The others gradually got a minimum bid - except me (and just a few others). The paintings were spread over several walls of the little gallery. They closed off the auction for each wall at about 20 minute intervals. The bidding sometimes became frenzied as the closure time became close. Except for my painting which continued to get no bids.

I have yet to find out what happened to my painting. Did one of the volunteer's buy the painting after event? Will the painting be returned to me? In a few days I will email them and try to find out what happened.

Artists live in a world of rejection, interleaved with the euphoria of someone wanting one of your works. Like most artists I have been rejected many times - but I still feel it.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

More catching up on what has been happening.

Yesterday I wrote about my art activities on Monday and Tuesday. Below are some things that occurred later in the week.


For some time, after painting many portraits and groups, the urge is upon me to paint once again a landscape. It has been several years since I last went down that path - long before I began painting in oils. As always, I began by searching for starting images in my large reference file.

My inspiration for this change in direction is an upcoming open show at Gallery 113 during November supporting "Heal The Ocean," a local charity. Though open on topic, ocean and beach scenes are fav
ored. Yesterday and today I looked through my file (now about 10,000 images) and chose about ten candidate images for further review.

Surprisingly, I have very few suitable images. I want something strong, eye catching, and salable. The show is juried and the painting must pass scrutiny within a show dominated by plein-air images. After some thought, I chose an image of a diagonal shore scene, curving into a distant bay, with a silhouetted ridge against a sunset sky.

Certainly it is strong with bright sky colors and bold warm darkness over nearly a third of the surface. There are walkers on the beach, also as silhouettes. To put them is a question still to be decided. I have chosen a 12 x 24 inch canvas. Another decision yet to be made, should this be my usual painted edge unframed format, or will it be better accepted by the juror when framed.


Santa Barbara Visual Arts Alliance, of which I have written earlier, is a non-profit which long ago I helped co-found. I am still active on their Steering Committee. Today we had a Steering Committee meeting at my house.

This is also
an opportunity for me to show off my art as the committee members, including several local gallery owner/managers, have to walk to the meeting (in my dining room) through areas of the house where I have my private gallery with my paintings hanging. I deliberately kept back from being rephotographed my "Story Teller" painting, to have it available for today.

Thursday evening is the First Thursday, the Santa Barbara monthly art walk run by the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization, to promote their local merchants. It is a fun time. This month it seemed extra crowded.

To be different, we started our exploration at the south end of the gallery area.
At each place there are refreshments available for the grazing, often demonstrations, and nearly always music. Our first stop was the new downtown gallery developed by our locally based world famous Brooks Institute of Photography. The Brooks show was dozens of blown up head and shoulder naked portrait images of male actors and models. My wife particularly enjoyed this exhibit!

From there we stopped by the Dan Merkel Gallery of surfing photographs. Then on to Studio 3 East with a way out show consiting of pieces of net and various found objects. This was followed by the Patty Lo
ok Lewis Gallery with large minimalist bright colored paintings. And then on to the brand new gallery of Frameworks and Caruso-Woods - for another collection of minimalist abstract art.

From there, around the block was the offices of Casa Magazine with a show of rather weird Latino style large paintings on long wide strips of silk. Finally our last stop before dinner was Santa Barbara Frame Shop and Gallery with half a dozen artists on show with a wide spectrum of more conventional styles of variable quality.


After lunch with some friends, I finally dropped off my new painting "The Story Teller" with Scott, my photographer. We then went on to the Art Fund Gallery to view the upcoming silant auction, which includes my painting "Sophia."
It looks like it will be a great exhibit.

Once again I had been asked to donate a painting to a silent auction. This time it is for a hospis organization known as Sara House. They are having an Artists Ball in December. I chose a nice 20 x 16 inch gauche on clayboard painting titled "Dress Up Day." It has been i a lot of shows and has drawn many favorable remarks, including an award some years ago, but has never sold. Our last stop today was to drop it off.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Time goes by so quickly - catching up.

It is almost a week since I last blogged. There has never been time to sit down and write. Below I catch up with part of the week's highlights of the arts side of my life.

This day it was necessary to change my painting hanging in Gallery 113. As I have written earlier, this gallery is a great selling venue for local artists since it is situated in Santa Barbara's high traffic tourist area. Members of the Santa Barbara Art Association may hang their paintings there for a Month at a nominal charge of $12 a painting.

I try to always have one of my paintings hanging their. Occasionally I even manage to sell a painting. On or about the first (or sometimes the last) Monday of each month each artist has to show up to pick up their hanging painting, recycle that painting for another month (for another $12), or exchange it for a new painting. This month (and most months) I exhanged the hanging painting ("Party Hat") for a new painting "Bella," show here.


The Adult Education program in Santa Barbara is wonderful, with many opportunities for attending classes
on almost any topic you may wish, for little or no expense. This quarter has about seventy classes on the visual arts. Some go on from quarter to quarter. Others are only for a single session.

For many many years a very dedicated artist, Jim Armstrong, has lead an advanced level art critique class. Some artists have been attending the critiques and showing their art for years. I have been going for several years. I have missed several weeks of this quarter, since I tend to go only when I am able to show some new work.

About a week ago, I took some paintings to Scott McClain, my paintings photographer, to obtain digital images of my two latest paintings "Annie" and "The Story Teller." At the same time, I wanted to show them at today's critique. I had arranged to pick them up early in the morning, before the class. Unfortunately when I arrive at Scott's studio, I found him still working on the images. He tolld me that the "Annie" image was fine, but the focus on "Story Teller" image was not good, and would have to be reshot.

I decided to take both paintings with me for the critique and to return "Story Teller" to him on Friday.

At the critique, the comments on the paintings were mostly very good. They (the whole class chips in with comments) felt the "Story Teller" would be better cropped in. I agree. If I were doing the painting over I would have cropped in by either reducing the canvas size, or making the image larger. But the painting is going to stay the way it is. For my print images I may crop in to make a stronger composition.

Also, I took along the three little pictures mentioned in earlier blogs, of my Grandchildren and the little painting of the "Muni & Ronnie Blitz." They felt that the "Taylor" composition was a little weak due to the green background that made the painting a little washed out. The "Muni" painting, like all my recent paintings, is unframed and has a wrap around of the image onto the painted sides. The group felt that the distortion this created when viewing the painting at an angle was not good, and recommended black edges for this particular canvas. Upon reviewing their comments, I agree, and have repainted the edges accordingly.

More on the following days events later.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Gallery Visit

Yesterday evening, we stopped by the gallery Santa Barbara Art Studios. This is a very small, relatively new gallery in Santa Barbara's south eastern funk zone, surrounded by an automobile repair facility, tiny homes, and big industrial buildings and work yards. This was my first visit to the gallery.

They had a great exhibit of paintings by a local artist Benjamin Brode. He paints colorful landscapes in a nice impressionistic style. We had a chance to meet with the artist.
Well worth the visit.

If this is the caliber of their showings, I will definitely be back.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Santa Barbara Visual Arts Alliance

As many local residents and knowledgeable visitors have found, Santa Barbara County, California, is an art lover’s paradise. It is thriving with painters, sculptors, printmakers, and assemblage artists – some world-renowned and others are just emerging. In addition, many galleries, studios, museums, and art events feature the work of both past and present local artists.

I am a co-founder and Steering Committee Member of a local non-profit organization known as Santa Barbara Visual Arts Alliance (SBVAA). It has been around since 2001, and has a mission to promote, locally, nationally, and internationally, the rich local visual arts resources.

Funded in part by Membership fees, it is supported also by a small grant from the Santa Barbara Community Events & Festivals Program, from funds provided by the City of Santa Barbara in partnership with the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission.

Today, its principle contribution is a website with a database recording much of the visual arts activities in the County of Santa Barbara.
There are recorded most local visual arts related events, galleries, museums, art venues of all kinds, organization, and many individual artists, many with their own studios. Thousands of visitors to the area, as well locals, use the listings to plan their explorations of the local art scene.

The organization has until now been run by volunteers. For a long time I have acted as manager and moderator for the website, supported by outside contractors who do the actual online posting of the hundreds of emailed art stories that arrive each month.

For the last few days I have been taken away from my painting to write a grant solicitation to obtain funds to bring on board our very first employee, an Executive Director.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Today I Updated My Website

Today I updated my website by adding five small paintings I have recently completed. I also changed the the name of "Interesting People" section of my Portraits Galleries to "Family and Friends." This new name more correctly describes these galleries.

It takes a surprising amount of time to do these updates, even when cloning one web page from another.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

ImageKind Print Gallery

I have just updated my ImageKind Gallery. ImageKind is a place where you may order framed and unframed prints of my recent art.

Todays update was to include a new Gallery of paintings of "Friends and Family." Also, I added the little "Sofia" painting to the "Interesting Strangers" Gallery.

Since they need very large files of each painting, it takes a while to upload the image files. The update process is slow.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Finished A Painting

After lunch today I delivered my new little 8 x 10 inch painting "Sofia" to The Art Fund for their upcoming "Wish You Were Here" fund raiser. It was still a little sticky and soft, but they understand and will protect it for a few days.

I am donating it. I look upon such donations as good PR. I was able to scan it so have good documentation for my files and for my website.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Making Progress

Yesterday afternoon I searched the internet for ideas on Blog Promotion. One lead took me to Feedburner. This useful site was full of ideas and I spent my usual blogging time adding their suggestions to this blogging site.

You will note that you may now more easily subscribe to this blog. When subscribed you maybe automatically notified of new additions and updates.

This morning I finished up "The Story Teller" painting. I decided it did not need another coat of medium. I stapeled my printed card (a business card sized label with basic personal contact data) on the bottom stretcher, and added my painting serial number.

A long time ago ( at least several years) when I was planning an open studio, I decided that I needed to number my paintings to set up some sort of records control. That day I just went around all the paintings in my storage area and hanging on my walls, and wrote a consecutive number on each. The numbers were just as they came starting from one.

Consequently all my early paintings bear numbers that are somewhat random and have no bearing to when they were painted. Any painting sold or given away earlier than that day was not numbered. Also, I missed all my shrink wrapped watercolors in various bins, plus a few other framed paintings.

Many of these paintings were added later and now appear on the list totally out of order. This not how I would do it again or recommend to others, but that is the way it is.

Most of my more recent paintings are in sequence of their creation. Though I still have several boxes in storage of sketches and charcoal renderings that are many years old and unnumbered.

Getting back to this morning's work, I signed and coated with medium the little 10 x 8 inch painting that I am planning to donate to the Art Fund next Monday. I will scan it before I take it in, so that I have a record image.

I decided to call the painting "Sophie." In searching for a name (for usually I do not know the person's name) I came across a useful website with Spanish girls and boys names. I wanted a "soft" feeling name to go with the wistful look of the girl in the painting.

Also, I began the wedding picture of "Marty and Diane." As I mentioned in Thursday's blog, I have selected the primary image, prepared the usual B&W high contrast image, and projected it onto a 16 x 20 inch canvas Thursday evening.

This morning I enhanced the graphite sketched image with dilute paint (a mix of burnt sienna, ultramarine, medium, and turps). Added a little tone to show the lighting on the faces. and roughed in an abstract background (pale blue and a more muddy color for the sky and distant ground level). I used medium in the mix so hopfully it will be dry enough by tomorrow to allow work into the faces.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Time For Another New Painting

My two paintings in progress are almost finished. "The Story Teller" was signed this morning, and given an all over coat of medium. It looks as though it will need another coat Sunday.

My as yet un-named small Art Fund donation painting is still very sticky and will need some minor
touch up before signing off and coating with medium. Just heard this morning it has to go to the gallery Monday. It will be tight, but doable.

So it is time to select the next work.

We went to a wedding in San Diego about a month ago. A long time friend and a widower, married a lovely lady. I took a lot (over a hundred) of photographs at the wedding and am planning to develop a painting of them both. I liked the way the "Muni" two person painting came out and am thinking of another two person head and sholders painting.

So this afternoon I went through all the images and chose several that look good as raw material. There is one pose that looks particularly great, though the man's eyes are shut. So I searched out several other of his face images and will fill in the eyes as appropriate.

I put the basic pose image through Photoshop Elements, and cropped the image to approximately the painting format. And then I made a high contrast, sharpened, black & white image, and reduced it to approximately two inches tall. This I printed out on paper and will use tonight to project an outline onto a 16 x 20 inch blank canvas using my opaque projector.

Hopefully the canvas will be ready to begin painting tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Online Galleries

Having a gallery on my own website is one thing, but there are alternatives such as having my paintings on any of the many online galleries.

A long time ago (2000) I sold several paintings through an early online gallery Rising Artists. They no longer exist, though there is a unrelated website with that name. Soon after these successful sales they went through a low time, and I never heard any more from them.

Also, I have tried as a Preferred (which means paid money) member without any success.

Several bloggers, particularly Empty Easel, have reviewed many online galleries and have published evaluations of what they believe are the leading online galleries of the moment. Of these I have put my paintings up in Imagekind and RedBubble. These both offer digital art prints and cost nothing for me to post my paintings. Though I paid to upgrade my listing with
Imagekind. If they sell a print I get a percentage of the sale price plus part of their framing profit. I have had lots of traffic, but so far no sales.

Empty Easel also provides good reviews of several online galleries that will offer my paintings for sale. One "Boundless Gallery" looks atractive and I have spent part of today uploading several paintings images. It is quite slow due to the size of the images. I will have to see how it goes. They have several levels of listing from free upwards. At this time I have gone for the free listing. I will review in a while when I examin the activity.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Website Mysteries

Coming from a technical background and having a lot of inherited stubbornness, a long time ago I decided to build my own website. The current website is the second or even the third generation. That path is a whole story in itself.

I read a lot about good website design, mostly on-line. Hopefully it looks good to you and is easy to navigate.

For some time I have used Adobe GoLive application (
I am now on version 9) to construct and modify the actual website. I not much of a html/source code person, though sometimes I have to delve into the inner workings.

Most days I spend just a little time to adjust some small part of the website in the hope of making it easier to use, to to add a feature, more information, or to add a new painting. This afternoon went by trying to chase down a non-functioning link. Not a very productive effort. Lets hope tomorrow goes better.

Monday, September 17, 2007

New Painting

The new painting mentioned in yesterday's posting was dry enough today for me to mount into my scanner. It is of a long time friend Muni and his wife Ronnie. And was derived from some photographs I took at a recent party.

I moved their images closer together to make a stronger composition and slightly changed their clothing. I felt the dark background and rear lighting increased the dramatic effect and showed off their hair and characteristic profiles.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Special Painting Project

I have just coated a finished painting with medium. For me this is almost the last step when completing a painting. When the coating is dry, I will scan it (it a small 10 x 8 inch painting - otherwise I would schedule it for photographing), and staple a printed label with my contact data to the stretcher bars. It is already stamped with my copyright statement, titled, and wired for hanging.

When it is scanned I will show and talk about it on this blog page.

Including this painting (a tiny portrait of a good friend looking at his wife) I have three paintings in progress. This is about typical. The others are a large 40 x 24 inch three-quarter length portrait of a man and another small portrait of a young woman.

The young woman is a bit of a rush job. A few days ago I realized that a painting was due to be submitted towards the end of next week.

For some three years I have promised to donate a painting to an annual October silent auction to help fund a worthy local non-profit, The Art Fund of
Santa Barbara. They ask for a small 10 x 8 inch painting on almost any subject.

Two years ago I did a gouache on paper postcard of a young lady in a swim suit lying on the sand (that year there was a postcard theme - "Wish You Were Here.") Nobody bid on the painting, and I never did find out to where it disappeared.

Last year I submitted a rear view full length portrait of a very young boy standing at the edge of the ocean titled "Thomas." Several people bid and the painting sold for $250.

For this year I wanted the subject to be a young female child or young woman. Plus it had to have some special appeal to draw the bidding. As usual I started to scan my reference images and finally selected on a teenage young woman with a waif like expression. I had captured her during my trip to
Patzcuaro, Mexico early last year.

Hopefully I can continue to bring out this lost sole feeling that I see in the original image. I have been working on it for a couple of days. You will be the judge when I have finished the painting and show it here.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

California Art Club

The Summer 2007 issue of the California Art Club Newsletter was delivered by mail today. The newsletter has unusual and interesting articles and I enjoy reading each issue.

It comes to me because I am a Painting/Sculpting Patron Member. This is a category containing most artists members, since the real artist membership is limited to an exclusive 300. Only a handful of new full members are accepted each year to replace those who have fallen by the wayside for some reason.

Each year I have an invitation to submit artwork
(together with a substantial check) to be juried in to full membership. Last year I filled out the form and applied. Later I received a letter saying only three new members were accepted - as might be expected, all were winners of their annual competition shows. This year I let the opportunity go past.

Patron Membership is $65/year, and once again I paid my fee for this year.

Another problem is that nearly all of their events are in the Pasadena (California) area. Pasadena is several miles to the Northeast of Los Angeles and some 125 miles from Santa Barbara.

We have a local branch here in Santa Barbara, but it is limited to periodic paintouts. Why do I remain a member - well the newsletter is a plus. But sometimes I wonder!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Documenting New Paintings

Today I completed the final step in finish up a series of paintings of three of my Grandsons. I am fortunate to have eight grandchildren and hope to complete paintings of all of them over the next few months.

These today are small oil paintings on 10 x 8 inch canvases and were completed last month. But after completion of all my paintings, the next step is to document them by photographing each.

Usually I have them professional photographed. For years I had my paintings recorded as 35 mm color slides. Also, in addition, the very best work I had shot on to 4 x 5 inch color film.

Recently I have them photographed digitally with a 10 mega pixel camera. I use a professional photographer, because no matter how hard I try, I cannot light the canvas as evenly and as well as my professional friend.

Smaller work I scan on my recent acquisition, a professional flat bed scanner. The bed will take a up to 8-1/2 x 14 inch material, both reflective and transparent. With a resolution up to 6,400 dpi, even slides may be scanned in to digital files. The scanner has elaborate calibration procedures allowing both reflective and transparent material to be accurately scanned.

Even with the calibration, I find it necessary to tweak the file for the on screen image to match the original art. Of course also I have to calibrate the screen. To ensure that the color display of the image is correct, I use a Panatone Huey light compensation tool.

The Huey sensor sits beside the computer display and measures the room light falling on the screen. It automatically adjusts the displayed image to compensate for the changing light level in my studio.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

No Painting Today!

Most days of the week, my routine is to paint in the morning, take a nap after lunch, and then work through the afternoon on promotion, this blog, and my website.

Today was different because
this morning I had to have my pacemaker changed. The battery was becoming exhausted. These are some of the things that come with aging. I am not grumbling. Only a few years ago I might not have made it to be this old.

This afternoon I am going to add some illustrations to my On Painting Portraits article. I am always thinking of a better way of getting over my thoughts.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Jurying Art

As I said a few days ago, yesterday I was scheduled to help jury the artwork submitted by artist applicants who want to join the Santa Barbara Art Association.

Each applicant has to submit five ready-to-hang artworks (there are different requirements for sculptors and jewelry makers - though none applied yesterday). The artwork is stacked one in front of another for each artist, in rows against the wall of a large room. Each artist is identified by only a number.

There are three judges - two from outside of the association, and a Past President (this time me). One judge was the owner of a local gallery. The other an art instructor at a local University campus. All are unknown to the applicants.
I have helped with these affairs many times over the years. But this was the first time that I had been a judge.

Each judge was given a clipboard with horizontal columns identified with the numbers corresponding to the stacks of artwork around the room. Also, we were each assigned three assistants. Two hold up the artwork, and the other makes notes of the reasons that the judge may reject the art.

This step is new, and seems to me to be a good idea. Only a small number of artists are successful, and these notes are helpful in councelling the rejected candidates as to how they might improve their chances if they try again. (It took me five times to get accepted, many years ago.)

The judges operate seperatly. We start at different points around the room. My assistants held up the paintings of each applicant so that I may view them all at the same time. For each candidate, I have to decide yes or no for acceptance. Later the results are tabulated for all three judges. Two or more yeses and the candidate is in. Two or more noes and they are rejected.

The applicants have been able to read guidelines that are available online at the Association's website and as a printed leaflet for pick up at the Association's nearby Gallery 113. The guidelines emphasize the need for consistency in the submitted paintings.

The judges want to see repeatability, not how diversified the applicant's skills maybe. I always tell candidates that their work should like a set - similar framing, matting, and style.

A lack of consistency was the biggest problem. One or two paintings may be similar, and then the rest would be wayout - different framing, different styles, and so on. Other common problems were lack of drawing skills, sloppy framing, lack of hanging means, sometimes the work was not even mounted.

When the judge's decisions were compared it was surprising how much we agreed. Three noes or three yeses were common. Thirty-five applied and eleven were accepted. This is a low number of applicants. There were eighty-five submissions one time when I was President. The one third accepted is about usual, or even high.

An interesting afternoon. The rejected candiadates may try again in six months. The next time will be in March 2008.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Paintings As Gifts And Donations

We went to a Sixtieth Wedding Anniversary Party yesterday evening. As we and our friends get older, such affairs are becoming more frequent.

We gave the happy couple one of my older framed watercolors. They had admired it when seeing it hanging in our house (my private gallery).

It is a small plein air painting of a local urban scene - shoppers walking along a sidewalk mall passed a vendor's kiosk and some Mediterranean style buildings (this is pretty common view in the Santa Barbara area). I painted it as a demonstration at an outdoor exhibit over five years ago.

The painting has been shown at many local exhibits and has hung in my gallery for several years. I have been very happy with that scene. One of my better urban scenes of that period. But no one had fallen in love with it enough to buy it.

Over the years I have had mixed feelings about giving away my paintings. As they have accumulated and storage has grown to be a serious problem, I have given away or donated more and more paintings. My feelings today are that it is better that someone else may enjoy a painting than it should sit in my storage rack where nobody sees it!

And who knows, someone may see it and ask about me enough to look me up on my website or at a future show. They might even buy something for themselves!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

New Website Article - On Pricing Art

I have just posted a new article to my website. It is about how I price my paintings.

The pricing of a painting is an emotional step for both the artist and the prospective collector (buyer). By declaring my approach, I hope to make my buyers more comfortable.

This only one of several articles to be found on my website:

On Buying Art

On Decorating With Art

On Collecting Art

On Commissioning A Portrait

On Painting Portraits

On Painting Crowd Scenes

My Color Palette

On Painting With Gouache

Friday, September 07, 2007

First Thursdays In Santa Barbara.

Yesterday was the first Thursday in September.

In downtown Santa Barbara each first Thursday evening of the month is a celebration of art and culture. That evening, participating galleries stay open from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. offering the public free access to art in a fun social environment. In addition, the main drag, State Street, comes alive with performances and interactive exhibits.

My wife and I, when ever possible. tour the area on this special Thursday by joining the crowds along State Street. Yesterday we parked behind the Art Museum and visited some six galleries, as well as several street events. There were about 30 events available to explore. But our hunger for dinner caused to limit our time.

Much of the fun is visiting with friends and acquaintances who are also out joining in the fun. After the recent hot weather, the evening was cool and brought out the sweaters and scarves for the women.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Santa Barbara's Gallery 113

Yesterday I spent most of the day sitting at our local collaborative gallery - Gallery 113. If you have a piece of art on show, you are supposed to sit for the equivalent of one day (11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.).

The Gallery is affiliated with the Santa Barbara Art Association, a 55 year old, 600 member organization where new members are juried twice a year. (Next week , as a Past President, I am assisting with the jurying of the latest batch of new member applicants. It is quite hard to become a member - I tried 5 times before I made it!)

If you are a member you are allowed to submit pieces once a month.
The monthly gallery ingathering is unjuried. Essentially you are renting a piece of wall (for $12/month for each piece of artwork for the group part of the show).

There is a group show area, and seven various sized featured artist areas. The featured artist areas are offered on a sign up basis and cost more. But you have the freedom to arrange your solo show in your area pretty much as you wish.

The Gallery has been active for some 35+ years and is situated in a high tourist traffic area, right in the center of downtown Santa Barbara.

As a retired huckster, I enjoy sitting there and talking with the visitors. At this time of year there are a lot of tourists, and plenty of traffic.

I take along my computer and between the visitors, update my website and read a collection of downloaded articles that I accumulate on on a flash memory stick that I plug into the computer. Unfortunately there are no open WiFi connections. so I cannot browse the Internet.

Yesterday was pretty busy, but I managed to do quite a few thing. After I uploaded this morning, this blog is now linked from my website.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Open Studio Tour

Have just finished a three day Open Studio over the Labor Day Weekend. It was part of the Santa Barbara Studio Artists 6th Annual Open Studio Tour. Some 44 artists participated. The publicity was just great.

Unfortunately the weekend was the warmest of any time this year in Santa Barbara, with temperatures even close to the beach, near to 100 degrees Saturday and Sunday. Monday it was in the high eighty's.

For me the turnout was disappointing. I think the heat had a lot to do with it.

Each of the first two days we had about about ten visitors. Though Monday was much better with about 30 visitors.

Did not sell anything, but there were several interested people.

On other earliar tours, I have had the same sales experience, but following with people coming back and resulting in sales over the next week or so.

Most visitors on the tour days are in a hurry as they want to get around as many studios as possible on each day.