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.