Sunday, August 2, 2020

tiger lily

'O Tiger-lily,' said Alice... 'I wish you could talk!' 'We can talk,' said the Tiger-lily: 'when there's anybody worth talking to."Lewis Carroll

Saturday, August 1, 2020

maybe Alphonse Mucha and not so much like Georgia O'Keefe or..

...Or, maybe not like a Vincent van Gogh either.
(shown left, Twelve Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh 1888 Philadelphia Museum of Art)

When I was in art school back in the
late 1970's, I was most fascinated by the Czech painter Alphonse Mucha. Here is a wikipedia article. His work and the period of Art Nouveau is not in style any more but in the 70's it was seen in typographical design, illustration, advertising, and product design. 
I could go to much effort showing examples of the style but I won't do that here because I am discussing my style and influences. 
In art school I LOVED to draw. Life drawing from a model was my favorite class.

(right and left, Alphonse Mucha 1897)

I would rather sit on an uncomfortable wooden art stool drawing from a live model than eat or sleep. And I did that for several years, depriving myself of food or sleep, Yes really!
Not an exaggeration. I think I loved the work of Alphonse Mucha so much because I wanted to emulate his graceful line work. His figures, nature backgrounds, fabric drapery and graceful design were all the rage in illustration art at the time. What has remained with me is the love of line and shape. Art Nouveau style sinuous lines and negative positive play of shapes became part of my innate style. It's a very commercial style and I admired it in my early illustration days. I think I am moving away from it now but it has heavily influenced how I compose and draw flower paintings.

(Below is Maggie's Sunflower by Georgia OKeeffe 1937)

I will show an early sunflower painting of mine, I think it maybe dates back to 2006 but it does show that influence that I still have from the Czech artist working in Paris in the late 1800s, Alphonse Mucha.

Friday, July 31, 2020

You paint sunflowers just like Van Gogh!

I get that frequently. And really it is a compliment! Someone is giving me the best sort of comparison they can think of and I appreciate the attention and the kindness from the viewer. I greatly admire all the work of Vincent Van Gogh, I could write another whole blog post about his paintings that I have studied for years. I have gone to many museums just to view his brushwork and passionate images up close.
I don't think I paint just like Vincent Van Gogh and although his painting is amazing I don't think he has the last word to say on the subject of sunflowers. I like to think I have a few more ideas to share.
This painting was made on commission, and yes I will gladly take on a private commission. It was also painted in oils, and it's even larger than the others of the previous series. It is 36x48 oil on canvas and is displayed above the piano in the collector's home.This collector is an accomplished musician and composer as well.
Another interesting part of this story is that the lovely person who commissioned this work wanted to make sure that I had a lot of freshly picked sunflowers to model for my painting. She had a cousin living nearby who had huge sunflowers growing in her garden and a bucket full were delivered to my door.
I had an art show of my work in 2014 at St Marks Episcopal church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. This painting had a lovely spot to display.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

The subject or the process?
Link to a post I wrote 10 years ago about painting flowers but not just flowers.

A quote from Armand Cabrera, an artist whose writing is of interest;
 Finding a Personal View  "The question about what makes good subject matter for a painting always comes up in my classes. In my view painting breaks down into two basic philosophies that are polar opposites with many variations in between them.

One idea is the Subject with a capitol S this is usually something grand, dramatic or very complex. In these types of paintings everything is in service to the subject and handling is secondary. You see realists mostly in this camp. Their focus is on illusion and not so much stylistic interpretation in their mark making. Even though this is the case it is still a personal view and the individuality manifest itself in other ways.

The opposite idea is the handling is the goal and the subject is secondary. The handling takes an ordinary subject or no subject at all and makes it interesting. You see looser representational painters and nonrepresentational painters fall into this category. These painters like leaving visible marks that call attention to the process not the subject. The complexity is in the abstract arrangements of surface quality and color and edge.

Of course these are the extremes and there is everything in between too. Most people fall somewhere toward the middle of these ideas, where either subject or handling dominates but both are integral to the paintings success.

 The importance of understanding this is to help the artist decide what kind of painter they are and guide them to what they love to do. To help them find where they fit between those philosophies if at all?  Finding a personal view makes a better painter because a painting that is heartfelt and honest in its approach and interest will find some aspect of the truth of a thing. In my mind that is where all good painting comes from."
Armand Cabrera is a fine artist who exhibits landscape plein air painting  and who writes on all manner of interesting topics concerning art.
Here is the link to his blog:
All of these images are from my original acrylic painting. Janice Skivington 2009 size 30x40 acrylic on canvas. Titled "Joyful, joyful".

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Are you going to paint Sunflowers all the time?

To that question I say... Why not?
Here are a few of my earlier paintings, all of them now in the homes of collectors.

Some of these go way back, I had a fascination with the way sunflowers look when nearly dead all shriveling and curling in various directions. I was also into a period of experimenting with acrylics, oil pastels, pencils and what-have-you on heavy paper with painted borders on canvas. I'm done with that now, I think, got it out of my system.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Opening to the sun above

Janice Skivington 2020 Opening to the Sun Above
This is the last painting which I only finished a month ago, 11 years after the start of the series. (See this post)  I painted this one with oils, the only one of the series.  30" by 40" oil on canvas
And this is because I am now, 11 years later, using oils primarily and finding myself completely fascinated with the medium. I don't know if anyone can tell a difference between the medium I used from one to another, but I am committed to the luminosity of oils now.
Here is the original sketch idea from so long ago.
This painting is also promised to a collector. I need to let it cure for a while and use some damar retouch varnish on it. Another learning curve for me with oil paints is how to overcome deep colors sinking and how to varnish.

Here is my photo of it resting on a bookcase, I am using my iphone as a camera these days. And here are a couple of closeups with a pretty fair color catch.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee

Joyful joyful we adore thee, Hearts unfold like flowers before thee. 
I finished this painting, the fourth in the series in 2013. 

Here it is outdoors on the porch getting final touches on a summer day.

This painting was sold and has been in the home of an art collector in Michigan.
And here it is hanging over the couch with a disinterested feline art observer.

And I think this is the current placement, over the piano in the living room.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Do you always paint flowers?

My 5 year old grandson asked me this question yesterday. Here I am in a rare personal appearance on this blog painting my heart out, and yes it is a flower painting. I am not holding the paint brush correctly, I am nearsighted and attempting a detailed bit. One should hold the long-handled brush balanced on the fingers at the end of the brush. I am still learning! Also I usually paint standing up at the easel, except for when I don't.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Hearts unfold

I titled this one "Hearts unfold" although that is not what I wrote on this little sketch. I must have changed my mind as I developed my ideas.
I painted the flowers first, enjoying the line and movement captured in my lively ink drawing. Line, shape, design and the play of background shapes, positive and negative were my main focus.
When the flowers and leaf shapes were finished, instead of blending pink orange and red into the background I went for a bolder almost flat statement in red. I was very happy with the finish, almost a silhouette statement, or an oriental type flat design.

Here are two photos from the One of a Kind Art show in Chicago from 2009.
I sold this painting shortly afterward and have not seen it since. I believe that the owner lives in Florida and has quite a large art collection.
Three of the finished sunflower series can be seen here. Each are acrylic on canvas 30x40 framed in a floating canvas matte black wood frame.