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Subject Matter and Venue... Does it Matter?


Blue Mesa Sunset 8x16

 

Last Saturday was the opening of the show of our Canyon de Chelly paintings.  The show, "Canyon de Chelly:  Spirit of Land and Light" is a terrific exhibit.  My painting, "First Light" is in the center of the main wall in front of the gallery.

 

 

The six of us who traveled and painted together have been working on our studio paintings since April and we all did a great job creating a great show.  The paintings were all from the trip but they were varied and interesting and well done.  We advertised with post cards, through Facebook, email and through our own individual networks.  We purchased a page we all shared in Southwest Art Magazine about the show and the editor even did an editorial.  It was all great.  There were inquiries from as far away as New York as a result of the ad.  It was quite a thrill!

We knew that perhaps Monrovia, CA was not "the" venue for our Canyon paintings, but we had a connection so we took the opportunity and we were hopeful.  All in all I'd say that the show is a success.  We have sold a few paintings already and we certainly had some great fun at our opening.  A wonderful crowd came and it was gratifying to hear the nice comments and to see the faces as they contemplated the work.  I enjoyed talking with so many people I hadn't seen in quite a while and also met many new people.  I will follow up with as many as I can in the days to come.

 

However, the show didn't sell out on opening night. ( Not surprising, perhaps, but somewhat disappointing. )  -- and yes, the show will hang for several more weeks, so more work could find great homes hear in sunny California.

After reading many articles and listening to several recorded information / instructional sessions with people like Jason Horejs, owner of Xanadu Gallery, about finding the right gallery, approaching galleries, and selling artwork in general,  I think I am learning some valuable and practical lessons.  I am getting my work out there to be seen and I'm proud of what I'm producing, but perhaps it's time to consider taking a show like this with the canyon theme to an area more in tune with canyons. 

 

Before the show opened we had already decided to take the show on the road.  We took stills of each of the paintings and I made a little video of the show after we hung the show and before the show opened.   I've been practicing using I-Movie and came up with a rather hilarious "trailer" for the reception, but hopefully I'll be able to develop a more professional presentation to use for our future prospects.  The plan is to market the entire body of work to galleries in the Southwest.  Just like Goldilocks, we need to find a gallery that is "just right" for us and for our paintings and which believes that all of us and our work is a good match for them.

 

If any of you have any suggestions, we'd all love to hear your recommendations.

 

In the meantime, we'll all keep on painting.  I'll let you know about several other shows which will include my work in future posts.

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Where will YOU be this Saturday from 5-7 pm?

 

I hope you'll be at Segil Gallery in Monrovia, CA for the opening reception of our show this coming Saturday:

 

Opening Reception:  Saturday, October 11, 2014, 5:00 - 7:00 pm

 

"Canyon de Chelly: Spirit of Land and Light"

 

Golden by Marian Fortunati     Dancing Skies by Marian Fortunati

"Golden"  18x14                                                 "Dancing Skies"  12x16

 

On Sunday we spent the afternoon hanging the show at Segil Gallery. 
There are six of us and we each did our best to share the spirit of our adventure in Canyon de Chelly with you through our work. 
It is a gorgeous show which does well to honor a very special place in our country.

****

 

The PAC6 artists are Linda Brown, Marian Fortunati, Nita Harper, Debra Holladay, Laura Wambsgams and Sharon Weaver.
Each of us has a unique style and outlook and this provides the show with wonderful variety, vision and vitality.

 

Dawn by Marian Fortunati     Chasing Sunlight by Marian Fortunati

"Dawn"  8x8                             "Chasing Sunlight"   18x24

 

Sixteen of my paintings will hang in this exhibit. 
The almost eighty paintings in the show will present you with a teaser of the wonders of Canyon de Chelly.

 

Segil Fine Art Source
110 West Lime Avenue
Monrovia, CA  91016

 

www.SegilFineArt.com

 

Gallery Hours:  Tuesday-Saturday 1-6 pm

 

I hope you will come on Saturday evening to enjoy the show and meet all of the artists.  Please make sure to find me and chat for a while.  I'd love to hear about some of the special places you save in your heart.

***

 

If you cannot come to the opening reception to see the show and meet the artists, please plan to spend some time with the paintings during the month the show is hanging.  Perhaps it will help you get your adventure on for a trip of your own to this magical place.

 

October 11 through November 8, 2014
Tuesday through Saturday 1-6 pm

 

I'd love to hear your thoughts about the show.

 


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Peaceful Pride


Peaceful 10x10 O/L

 

Group Show
I am sitting here on my bed tonight surrounded by the paintings I have been working on for the last several months in anticipation of our group show,

"Canyon de Chelly: Spirit of Land and Light".

 

I've purchased the frames and now have all the paintings leaning against the walls as I go through the process of installing the canvases and panels into the frames and wiring the frames so they can be hung.  Aside from the relief I feel at having almost completed 16 paintings for this show, I realize now several other emotions.   Hopefully, I won't sound arrogant or boastful, but darn.... I feel proud of myself!!

 

I have to say that the women I traveled to Canyon de Chelly  with are amazing people and wonderful artists and I was feeling a bit intimidated.  When I was at the canyon, I was afraid I couldn't paint a thing, but heck, it turned out that I did just fine.   Then when one of the gals was able to arrange a group show for all of our paintings, I was thrilled, but I also almost panicked! 

Goal:  Don't Embarrass Yourself
Initially, my one aim was to paint some studio pieces well enough not to embarrass myself.  I really worked hard to use color and texture and design which is unique, interesting and different from that of my talented colleagues.  Of course, we're all painting the scenes we experienced together from the same canyon, but I was hoping to differentiate myself a bit -- (and not in a bad way). 

 

We all went together to arrange an ad in Southwest Art Magazine and the editor decided to write a piece about our show.  I was really pleased when we got the "collector" copies of the magazine and I discovered that she had chosen one of my paintings for the editorial!!   (She selected "First Light" which was painted from a small study I called "Dawn".)

Whoo Hooo!  What a thrill!

 

 

 

 


Right now I am surrounded by my Canyon de Chelly paintings and they make me feel proud. 

 

And that gives me a sense of peace.


"Peaceful"  is the last painting I created for the show and it's fitting that both the painting and my state of mind are in sync.

 

 

If you're anywhere near Monrovia, please consider coming by to see the show!!!

 


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Mystic Ruins -- "Canyon de Chelly: Spirit of Land and Light"


Mystic Ruins 14x18 O/C

 

I wonder how many people realize how much thought and time and work goes into creating a single artwork.  I know I really never did.  It's not always about sitting in front of an easel with a paintbrush in your hand.  There are so many facets to it:

  • You need to go on location to get impressions, sketches, small paintings, photos, gather feelings and notes about the place.
  • You need to pour through all of that to decide which sketches, notes, or impressions to use if you're going to create a studio piece.
  • You need to decide on what you want to feeling of the piece to be... the story.
  • You need to decide what size it will be -- what aspect (horizontal or vertical).
  • Will you sketch it out or will you let the final image emerge as you paint? 
  • Will your painting be more about the paint or more about the scene?
  • Will your painting be imaginative??  If so, in what way will you push it?   (pushing color, adding clouds, not including shapes which don't add to the story... )
  • How can your painting escape the mundane... stand out?
  • Are your values right?   Are the colors playful and interesting?  Do your edges help the painting read?  And what does the brushwork say about you?
  • Can you have a painting that is about the scene but still be mysterious, painterly and playful?
  • How will you frame it?   Where will you get the frames?
  • Where will you show the work?
  • How will you market or advertise the work?

Seriously, those of you that are painters know these things, so I'm sure you could add many, many more thoughts to it.  Actually I'd love it if you'd add some of the things I've left off.

 

I've been working hard to get paintings ready for our upcoming show, "Canyon de Chelly: Spirit of Land and Light" which will open on October 11th at Segil Art Source Gallery in Monrovia.  It is a culmination of the work of the six artists called the PAC6 Painters who traveled to Canyon de Chelly to paint last April.  We all have different styles and visions and we know it will be a great show.  I would love it if you would come!

 

Canyon de Chelly: Spirit of Land and Light
October 11-November 8 2014
Segil Art Source, Monrovia, CA

 


"Mystic Ruins" is one of 14 or 15 pieces I have painted for the show.  I wanted to include at least one painting depicting the ancient Anasazi ruins which still remain in the canyon.  We were able to see them from the canyon edge as well as closer up when we rode into the canyon.  The Navajo, on whose reservation the canyon sits, are proud of their heritage and our guide, Irene, told many stories about the People (The Dine') who lived and struggled to survive in these lands.

 

If you are in the area, please put this show on your calendar.  I'd love to meet you and share all of our work.

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Malibu Moonrise (Working On The Night Moves)


Malibu Moonrise 9x12 O/L


Diane Nelson-Gold
and I headed out to paint the August Super Moon as it rose over the coast.  We headed up over the Santa Monica Mountains, but as we neared the coast all we could see was a thick blanket of fog.  So we decided to paint the moonrise over the Malibu hills off of Mulholland Highway.  We got there while it was still light and weren't really sure where the moon would rise. 

 

It was sure beautiful when it began to peak out over the top of the mountain!

I got my block in and then realized I was standing on an ant hill.  As I slapped my legs and stomped my feet, Diane came over to help and what did she see?  --a scorpion at my feet!   It hadn't bitten me, but it certainly was worse for wear after the fright it gave us.

 

Such is the life a a plein air painter!

**********

I've been working on several low light painting...  evening, like this one where the values are very close together.  I haven't been really satisfied with my efforts, but I really do know that the more often I work at it, the more likely it will be that I WILL be satisfied with how it comes out.  Sometimes painting is just a struggle.  I think that's true especially when you are trying something new or different. 

 

Sadly, I think I'm a pretty slow learner.   I do, however, seem to keep at it and I'm ever-hopeful that, like the tortoise, I will cross the "finish" line a winner.

 

Actually I've come to the conclusion that just BEING ON THIS JOURNEY of learning and growing as an artist makes me a winner.

 

In addition to my Venice nocturne from my last blog post, here are a few other nocturnes/ moon rises  I've attempted lately (and one from a while back that I've always liked).

 

Malibu Moonrise   9x12     O/L                     July Moonrise   8x10  O/L                  
                   

 

  Good Night, Moon  12x12  O/L                 San Pedro Evening Sky     9x12     O/L

 

                   

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Salute A Notte (One of several experimental nocturnes)


Salute A Notte 11x14 O/L $600

 

 

Experimenting

When my brother-in-law last visited from Italy, he suggested that I should paint pictures of Venice.  He told me he could sell them easily when he returned back home.  Well, I didn't jump on it for quite a while and I'm still not convinced that it's a good idea for any number of reasons.

  • The first reason is that there are a lot of bad paintings of Venice and I didn't want MY work to be among them.
  • Those paintings I HAVE done of Venice have seemed stiff and not where I want to go with my work.  I've gotten some awards for them, but... most just weren't "me".
  • The next reason I've hesitated is that I think of myself as an outdoor painter first.  I haven't been to Venice in a while.  (Lately Gastone goes alone so that he can spend more time with his Mom and Dad who are in their 80s.)  So if I paint, I have to rely on my old photos not current field studies.
  • Finally... well.... Venice is a city... and that involves architecture which I haven't painted much.  I'm trying to work looser and I fear I'd get tighter rather than looser if I focused on an architecture-rich environment.

Inspirations

The other day I decided to try a Venice painting anyway.   I've been experimenting with nocturnes and low light paintings for a month or so now ...-sadly rather unsuccessfully.. and I decided to try a Venice painting inspired by a photo I took about 10 years ago across the basin of Santa Maria della Salute at night.  I researched so many artists' work:

 

Of course there is John Singer Sargent:

 

    

 

And Claude Monet:

 

 

 

 

 

       

 

Then I found some contemporary artists' work I liked... some on Facebook (Michael Anfinogenov) and another artwork I really by Andrew Gifford, ("Southbank Towards the City")

      

 

 

 

 

At first when I painted the scene it was awful.  The colors had too much blue.  There was no subtlety and no interest.  When I saw this last painting, I tried to paint the Venice nocturne of the Salute in the spirit of it.  It's so beautifully full of color, but there is no real line.  The buildings emerge out of light and shade.  I love it. 

 

I will keep working on my own paintings to achieve that loose "nothing" where you know exactly what is being painted without being "told".

 

In the meantime, I did have a bit of fun with my "Salute a Notte"

 

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Beach Play


Beach Play 10x10

Another fun day at Mondos Beach.

 

 


 

I have mentioned many times before that I take a regular weekly class from artist, David Gallup.  I always enjoy the critiques, the many challenges he throws our way, his demos and his advice.  I started studying with him years ago during a weekly plein air class which I loved.  However, because of conflicts with my schedule and several changes in his schedule, I moved to his Master class.

 

One of the other students in the class, Julie, always brings in the most interesting questions complete with photos and research.  Because David had started doing his plein air class at Mondos, I learned about the surfing classes for Tyler.  David's emphasis at Mondos had been to challenge us all to add figures to our work.  This is not an easy thing to do en plein air when people are moving all over -- the interesting ones are always moving.  After several questions from Julie and an ensuing class discussion, it becomes clear that the key element is composition.  Finding a pattern of light and dark that attracts you.  Manipulating the scene, -- the placement -- the values and the color to create a pleasing story.

 

After my first attempt, I wanted to go back and try it again.  Tyler, however, was off at camp.  But I decided to go anyway and join the group.  It was a gorgeous day... bright and sunny and lovely.  I'm glad I went.  We all had a nice time painting.  Mondos is just past Ventura and so after I packed up, I drove up to Santa Barbara to visit with my daughter and her family.   -- A perfect day, I think!

 

The plein air sketch had some good bones, but as I said, everyone moved, so after I got home, I used the photo reference to clean up and jazz it up a bit.  (I was initially drawn to the light on the back of the girl's leg and the way it pointed at the light on the forearm of the little girl sitting in the water.  I hadn't even remembered the red of her wet suit or the way the turquoise in the other wet suit blended into the water.  Then when I looked at it at home, I realized that the foam had formed a bit of a heart around the children...  I hadn't consciously noticed that, but I liked it so I kept it.)

 

Hope you like my little plein air piece,

"Beach Play"

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First Light


First Light 20x20x2 Oil/Canvas

 

A few posts back I wrote about how I wanted to paint a larger version of scene I had done while I was in Canyon de Chelly.  It was a fairly hilarious scene.  We got there when it was still pitch black and it was quite the comedy to see us trying to set up our tripods and pochade boxes in a hurry to get set up before the sun came up.

 

I don't know what I expected, but it was pretty hard to get anything down that resembled a sunrise.  I did a little 8x6 just to put some notes down before the sun was high in the sky.  I definitely need to practice more nocturnes as well as sunrises and sunsets. 

Painting at dawn

 

Since I'd had several disappointing efforts making paintings with dark foregrounds, I had decided to do a small study of a dawn painting before creating a larger version.  I wrote about it in a earlier post which I called "DAWN".

 

I was very happy with my little 8x8 study called "Dawn". 

 

I shared the post on Facebook and several of my friends reminded me that making a larger painting is entirely different than painting a small one.  Brushwork isn't the same... scale is different... nothing is really the same.

 

That's one of the reasons it took me a bit of time to even begin the larger painting.  - I was afraid I couldn't.  But I finally realized that it wasn't supposed to be the SAME painting.  I wanted to paint the dawn over the canyon.  I had created a nice practice painting.  I had learned by doing the smaller painter. 

 

So I started playing with color and paint and had a great time.  It may not be totally finished....  I'll let it sit for a while to "rest".

 

I hope you like my larger painting "First Light".

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Surfing At Mondos


Surfing At Mondos 8x8 O/L

Tyler went surfing at Mondos.  He had a blast!
While he surfed, I painted a few of the kids on the beach in front of me.
It was a fun day.

 


 

INFLUENCES

 
There is an exhibition of some of the body of work of Joaquin Sorolla, who has long been among my favorite artists.  I never learned about him in school.  Frankly my art education was rather dismal.  I learned of Sorolla's work after I began taking classes from John Paul Thornton at Mission Renaissance about 12 years ago.  John Paul taught me the basics -- drawing, values, and oil and helped me learn to love painting and art history.  I owe him an immense debt of gratitude.

 

If possible, I plan to go several times to see this wonderful exhibit down in San Diego.  Sorolla's work is an inspiration to me.   Joaquin Sorolla's work is masterful in catching light and color and freshness.  It is joyful, enriching and influential.

 

Children On The Beach   1917

 

 

Sorolla and America

Now through August 26, 2014

The story of Sorolla and America begins in 1893, with Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida's prize-winning submission to the World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago.

 

                                                                                                             Sewing The Sail  1896

 

 

Many of my favorite artists were influenced by Sorolla and I have been too.  Those that immediately come to mind are John Asaro and Dan McCaw's early work.  Here are some examples:

 

   On the left is "Watchful Eye" by Dan McCaw



   On the right is "Sisters" by John Asaro

 

Both of these artists have moved on and are exploring somewhat different styles, but it is clear that Sorolla's work tremendously influenced both artists.

 

And I am hoping all three will influence me.  I know I was thinking of their work as I did my plein air sketch at Mondos.  I was there watching Tyler on his first attempt at surfing.  He did a GREAT job.  I am hoping to go back and paint at the beach again... always with the beautiful work of Sorolla in my mind and heart.

 

I enjoyed painting Tyler and his friends at the beach a while back.  (It was called "Boys At The Beach" )   Perhaps after I've done several plein air sketches like this one and the other one, I'll try a studio piece with Asaro, McCaw and Sorolla as my muses.


"Surfing At Mondos"

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Dawn


Dawn 8x8 O/L

Dawn at Tsegi Overlook in Canyon de Chelly.

 


 

 

I had decided that I might want to paint the dawn over Tsegi Overlook in a larger format studio painting.   First, however, I thought I'd better work out some of the issues by doing a smaller piece.  As I mentioned in my last post, I often have trouble dealing with the low values and close differences in value inherent in sunsets and dawn foregrounds.

 

I used my original 8x6 study and several bracketed photos of the scene.  One showed the sunrise and another showed the canyon more clearly.  (Still trying to avoid the "black" foregrounds that David Gallup always tells me are indicative of using photos.)   I was also inspired by several low light sunset paintings... one by Jennifer Moses and another by Stephen Mirich.  You can see some of those inspirations (among others) beside my 3 value block in of my little painting on the easel in the photo you see on the right.  The original plein air sketch is above, the canyon image on my iPad is on the left and a photo of a moonrise by Steve Mirich is on the right.

 

Because I was attempting to put color into what might have been a black foreground, I layed out an array of mixed secondaries.  You can see the palette in the next photo.  This is what David Gallup often demonstrates for us.  I was hoping to introduce playful color into the darks.


 

I layed in the color of the canyon, leaving the sunrise for later.  That would prove to be a mistake.  When I finished adding in the sky, the canyon looked way too bright.   I needed color in the darks, but I had put in too much chroma.  It just looked wrong.  I was frustrated.

 

After giving it a lot of thought and a bit of time, I decided to glaze over the canyon over to bring the bright colors down.... Keeping the color, but dulling them.

It was a lot better after I dulled down the canyon.  (I forgot to photograph that one... sorry.)

However, then I took it in to class and David did what he so often does with the work I bring in.  He decided he wanted to paint the scene for himself as a demo.  This is always helpful to me, of course, and the other students seem to feel it helps them as well.

I asked David why he so often does this with the work I bring in.  He told me it was because my work always had so much potential.   (I'm taking that in a positive way to indicate that I'm on the right track.)

Anyway, after watching him create his own beautiful demo, I came home and made a few changes to my own painting.... not many... but a few.  What I mainly changed were the clouds... (lightening them) .  I also bent the river a bit more as he had and built up the way the light shown down from the rising sun to hightlight spots along the river.   

 

I think I learned a lot doing this little version of     

"Dawn".  

 

I also made more changes to the painting in the last post.   I took it in to class and when David was gone, asked the class what they thought.  We all agreed it was still too dark, so I brought it home and worked on it some more, lightening it up quite a bit in the foreground.  I like it a lot better now.   Here is the latest version of     

"Blue Mesa Sunset".

 

It's always a great thing when you have colleagues you trust who can critique your work honestly -- telling you what they think works and what doesn't.  Then you can take what you agree with and leave what you don't.

 

 

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