Delicious Details


In painting, it is said that "God is in the details...."



The Old Dutch Still Life painters knew how to delight the eye...and I imagine that they had a lot of fun doing this.



This opulent display of delicious details are all from one painting, Jan Davidszoon de Heem's 


Each detail is lovingly rendered. It is "realistic" but "not real." 



The artist has created a fantasy where all the plants and flowers mature at the same time and tiny insects are willing to peacefully coexist in order to pose long enough for the artist to paint them.

HA!


Another saying about what makes a good painting is "that the artist made every square inch interesting."


As one of the greatest painters of still life in the Netherlands, I'd say that de Heem was successful in doing just that.

The Czar and I




Peterhof is a series of palaces and gardens, laid out on the orders of Peter the Great, and is sometimes called the "Russian Versailles". 



It overlooks the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea.



Peterhof, which became the most lavish of the Czar's summer residences now hangs some of my work - thanks to miracle of Photoshop.



I've always wondered how my paintings would look in an opulent, lavish, over-the-top setting.


Those Russian Czars had a seriously fussy flair for decorating.


Seriously, Photoshop is an invaluable tool in my studio. 


The manipulation of photo reference can save me a lot of easel time.

Dancing with the Universe


I heard Barack Obama's Speech in Berlin today before a crowd of 200,000. And it was as if Abe Lincoln, JFK and Martin Luther King, Jr. were speaking in unison.


In part, he said, "Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity. 

That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another.

The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down."

And then I saw Matt's video below and it so beautifully illustrated Obama's call for global unity. (After sniffing paint fumes all day) it is a breath of fresh air in so many ways.

14 months in the making, 42 countries, and a cast of thousands, Matt Harding got the entire planet dancing together to the same song. 



Here is a translation of the poem "Stream of Life," by Rabindranath Tagore, which Siddique adapted for "Dancing":

Stream of Life
by Rabindranath Tagore

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day
runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.

It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth
in numberless blades of grass
and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.

It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth
and of death, in ebb and in flow.

I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life.
And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.


Off the Walls


It isn't just paintings that hang on my studio wall.



I'm one who tacks up things on my studio wall that delight me. It's an odd collection of things and here is a peek at a couple of things you'd find on a stroll through my studio.







This is one of my favorite cartoons and makes me smile each time I see it.



I got this windup wristwatch from a street vendor in China. It is a loud ticker and Mao waves  as the red star circles, counting the seconds. The minute and hour hands glow in the dark - if it isn't too dark for too long.

It doesn't keep good time and stops frequently but a little tap in the center the back will usually get it running again.

I love this thing.

Edges


An accomplished painter knows how to manage edges effectively.

Edges occur wherever shapes meet.

They can be hard or soft, lost or found.


Hard edges are clean and crisp and draw attention. They can be the center of interest as shown by the hard edges in the face in this portrait drawing by Ingres. 

The "less important" edges of the clothing and chair at the bottom are soft and do not draw the eye away from the face.


Soft edges can help integrate a background and foreground objects. Where does the hair end and the background begin in this portrait by Ingres?


Edges get lost when adjacent shapes are similar in color or value, i.e., the boundary between the coat collar and the portfolio "get lost" in this portrait by Ingres. 

Other edges of the collar and portfolio can be "found" again when it becomes dissimilar in color or value. Can you see how the manipulation of the edges here is a huge compositional element that makes this painting so successful?


My apologies to Vermeer for writing on his painting of "The Milkmaid." But in each of Vermeer's paintings, you can so clearly see how his hard edges "spell it all out." and his soft edges merely - but beautifully - "suggest."

Painting Drips and Drops - Part #1


How to paint water drips on a vertical surface in four easy steps.



This little 8" x 10" painting has a lot of water drops. I add these details to a dry painting surface at the end.

I posted the largest file allowed for this so you could see better detail if you click on the above picture.

Here's how to do it when the light source comes from the upper left:



DRIP STEP 1

I use a dark color - raw umber works for me but any transparent dark will do. You are making the shape of a drip. A drip will occur on a vertical or slanted surface. A cast shadow will be on the lower right (i.e., Darker).



DRIP STEP 2

You will be looking through the water and it creates a soft shadow on the top left and the harder, sharper cast shadow on the lower right side of the drip.



Detail (above)



DRIP STEP 3

Light will be reflected on the top right and will define the top of the drop. I use Zinc White so the original color shows through. The light does NOT touch the shadow and we want to see the untouched color of the surface between light and shadow.


DRIP STEP 4

Lastly, add a highlight in the shadow area. I use Titanium White for this as I want it to be clearly defined and opaque.



Detail (above) from Apples Still Life (below).



Apples Still Life, 8" x 10" Oil on Linen

Painting Drips and Drops - Part #2


How to paint water drops on a horizontal surface in four easy steps.



This little 8" x 10" painting has a lot of water drops. I like to add fun (and fast) details to a dry painting surface at the end.

I posted the largest file allowed for this so you could see better detail if you click on the above picture.

Here's how to do it when the light source comes from the upper left:



DROP STEP 1

I use a dark color - raw umber works for me but any transparent dark will do. You are making the shape of a drop. A cast shadow will be on the lower right (i.e., Darker). 

This particular view is from the side on a horizontal surface. If you had a top view, for example, you would draw it differently of course, but the principle is e
xactly the same.



Detail (above)



DROP STEP 2

You will be looking through the water and it creates a soft shadow on the top left and the harder, sharper cast shadow on the lower rig
ht.



More detail (above)



DROP STEP 3

Light will be reflected on the top right and will define the top of the 
drop. I use Zinc White so the original color shows through. The light does NOT touch the shadow and the color of the surface shows through between the light and shadow.



DROP STEP 4

Add a highlight in the shadow area. I use Titanium White for thi
s as I want it to be clearly defined and opaque.

Painting drips and drops is really a piece of cake, isn't it?



Above detail from Cherries Still Life.


And bugs are fun too.

You can see a lot of drips and drops in my Still Life section.
Above detail from Strawberries Still Life.


Fourth of July - New Hampshire Style


"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.
Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."

- Ben Franklin



This is Doris Haddock. In 1998 she decided to walk across the country in an attempt to galvanize attention toward the importance of campaign finance reform and the rampant corruption in the electoral system. She trained for a year before starting her walk from Los Angeles.

In the year 2000, after 14 months and 4 pairs of sneakers, she arrived in Washington DC - greeted by thousands of supporters - including over a dozen members of Congress.

This 92 year old grandmother was later arrested at the Capitol Building for reading The Declaration of Independence. (Go figure what a Patriot is these days - maybe she wasn't wearing a flag pin on her lapel?)

Anyhow, this is how we celebrated the 4th of July in downtown Keene, New Hampshire.



It wasn't a large crowd, but it was a passionate one. If there were any pro-war enthusiasts celebrating here, they managed to keep a low profile.



Bob Bowman said that:
"There is no longer Republican nor Democrat, conservative nor liberal, hawk nor dove. There are only Patriots demanding accountability, speaking truth to power, and exercising our Constitutional right to save our Republic."



This is Dr. Bob Bowman, Lt. Col, USAF, ret. A National Commander, he flew 101 combat missions in Vietnam as fighter pilot. He is a PhD in Aeronautics and Nuclear Engineering, (Caltech). He directed all of the DoD "Star Wars" programs under the Ford and Carter Administrations.

Bob has terminal cancer as a result of Agent Orange (from his duty in Vietnam) and is spending much of the time he has left on earth, traveling this country and trying to "wake us up" to what is happening to our democracy.

Dr. Bob Bowman has earned the right to speak with authority - and the crowd paid attention.

Bob's commentary was published in the Keene Sentinel on Saturday July 12 under the title "The Constitution and Iran." Especially addressing those who currently serve in the military, his remarks began with:





Uncle Sam was here too.



At age 98 she is as feisty as ever - speaking at our local 4th of July Celebration.

Granny D Quote: Do you want big money out of politics? Public funding of elections will do just that. To take back our government and have our legislators represent us instead of pandering to special interests and corporations, join the public finding effort! Democracy is not something we have, it's something we do."

Granny D's email: grannyd3 (at) verizon.net

At the age of 90, "Granny D" laced up her sneakers and walked across America to rally against the influence of big money in elections. Her epic journey galvanized popular attention to a political system gone awry, but for Doris the walk was a warm up.

Marlo Poras made wonderful a Documentary Movie about "Granny D" called "Run Granny Run."

She spoke eloquently (as usual) at our local gathering and I am reminded how lucky we are to celebrate the 4th of July with her and Bob.

Politicians and pundits alike have lauded the work of this indefatigable great–grandmother, now age 98 who lives in the woods between Dublin and Peterborough, New Hampshire.

Bipartisan quotes about Granny D:

“I believe she represents all that is good in America. She has taken up this struggle to clean up American politics… Granny D, you exceed any small, modest contributions those of us who have labored in the vineyards of reform have made to this Earth. We are grateful for you.”
- Sen. and current Republican presidential candidate John McCain

“Doris Haddock is a true patriot, and our nation has been blessed by her remarkable life.”
- Former President Jimmy Carter

“The problem with Granny D…is that she makes the rest of us look like such schlumps.”
- Writer Molly Ivins

video

OK, so I realize that politics probably don't belong on an art blog. And that I'll probably have to pay an awful price for not pretending to be "neutral."

But I love my country and sometimes I have to stand up and be counted for what I think really counts.

-Karin Wells