Monday, March 28, 2016

Museums, Tulips and Seattle

Pike Place Market

Seattle in the springtime, the tulips are in bloom and art is in the air. Seattle is one of the places I frequent and enjoy writing about. I Have written several articles about trips to the greater Seattle area about several museums and art happenings. Recently while planning a trip to to the northwest and before finalizing my schedule, I checked the Gage Academy of Arts website. 

Female Nude with Skeleton

While looking at the Gage Academy of Art's schedule of events, I saw a workshop offered by Colleen Barry. She normally teaches at the Grand Central Atelier, in NY.  The timing was a delightful coincidence and I was able to join the workshop before it was filled. I am particularly excited about this workshop because last year I had the opportunity to interview Colleen Barry  for the Portrait Society of America. You can see the article re-posted here. Of course I look forward to sharing my thoughts about the workshop in an article in a few weeks. 

Leon Gaspard

Soon after arriving, I visited the tulip fields in Skagit Valley. It's was a few weeks before the peak season however, the fields were looking beautiful. Later, I visited the Pike Place Market and the Frye Art Museum. The Frye Museum had several current exhibits. One exhibit was Fechin, Gaspard and Repin, Russian Paintings exhibit and the Frye Salon. The Frye Salon is the recreation of the collection of Charles and Emma Fry as it appeared in their home gallery. 

Ilya Repin

The Russian Paintings: Six paintings by Fechin, Gaspard and Repin

These painters lived more than 150 years ago. In 1870 these painters created the Society for Traveling Art Exhibitions and are in the permanent collection of the Frye Museum. These painters would become known as the Peredvizhniki or the Itinerants or Wanderers. This group of artist wanted to establish a national art. One they felt would be more accessible art that reflected the lives of ordinary Russian peoples. 

The Frye Salon

The Frye Salon - The paintings in this exhibition are from the permanent collection and arranged in the same manner as when the paintings hung in the home gallery of Emma and Charles Frye.

Harbor Tripoli, Felix Ziem

Hanging paintings salon-style, can be a dramatic way to decorate a space. In the Frye Exhibition, we can see the range and styles of frames that are used. Frames are diverse, with varying dimensions and the placing of the artwork next to one another creates an interesting effect.

Here I Am, Leopold Schmutzler

Salon style dates back to 1670 and the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. Salon style hanging grouped artworks in large halls where paintings were displayed side-by-side and stacked one on top of the other. This style of exhibiting paintings began as a means to display all of the works of the recent graduates. To fit all of the paintings into one room, the curators arranged the paintings in this manner. 

This painting is one of my favorites!

To read more articles related to this trip please click on the these links.
Colleen Barry
The Frye Museum of Art
The Gage Academy of Art

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Artfully Yours,

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Annette Goings Fine Art Website

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Portrait of Sophie Claire - A Step-by-Step Approach

Sophie Claire

Recently I completed a portrait of a beautiful and energetic young girl Sophie Claire. In her family, it's a tradition to have a portrait made around a certain age. The mother and father both had their portraits painted around the same age as Sophie Claire. In a couple of years, I will create a portrait of Sophie Claire's younger sister, Emily. 

When the parents were presented with the portrait, they were extremely pleased. When Sophie saw her portrait she opened her arms wide and wanted to give her portrait a big hug, we let her have a small one. For me, this meant a job well done. Having portraits made is a wonderful way to honor those you love. For me and it's a pleasure to be a part of the process of creating a cherished keepsake for these and other families. 

It's been about a year since I've published a step-by-step article. In this article, I'll share with you a few photos of the Sophie Clair portrait in progress, the materials I used and my overall approach.

Graphite reference portrait

On my initial visit with Sophie Claire, I first took quite a few photographs of her. It's best to take as many pictures of your subject as time and patience allow. The is a primary advantage of the digital camera over film cameras, the ability to take copious photos. With numerous shots, you have a better chance of obtaining and working from good reference material. This is especially true with younger people who are so often full of beautiful energy. It's hard for them to maintain a pose for very long, so having multiple poses is important. 

Typically I will work from life and do an initial drawing. However, with children, I work primarily from photos. One of my first steps is to make many sketches and then do an initial drawing based on the reference photo. The preliminary portrait is drawn with graphite and not intended to be a finished piece. 

Drawing a preliminary portrait allows me the necessary time to study the person's face, compare their features and work through my thought processes. When I analyze the initial drawing, it will serve as a guide and reference. It will help me focus on the areas that might need more attention in the finished portrait. 

Tools of the Trade

As you can see the shelf area of my easel is where I keep my tools handy. For this portrait, I used Conte, Pitt Pastels, and charcoal. I also use many different erasers, a good brush, an Exacto knife, sandpaper and old t-shirts cut up into smaller pieces. This pre-drawing is on 300# drawing paper. After the reference drawing is "complete" I begin the finished portrait. 

The paper used for this finished portrait is BFK Rives - Tan. The paper is mouldmade in France and is 100% cotton and acid-free. This paper doesn't hold up well to overworking or a lot of erasing. Too much erasing will pull away the fibers.

Easel shot
My easel is arranged to allow the 1/2 to 3/4 size reference portrait is on my board and in full view as I work on the finished portrait. By this time I have determined what needs to happen in the finished portrait. So I am using my initial drawing to guide me. 

The newsprint taped in the middle of the two portraits acts as a guard for my hand - a resting place as I work. It also serves to keep the edge of my hand from picking up the material and or smudging the paper.

Because the paper will pick up any lotion or natural oils on your hand it's best to touch the paper only when necessary and only then after checking to ensure your hands are "dry".


During the process of the portrait, I took photos with my cell phone which doesn't quite represent the true color of the paper and drawing materials. The finished portrait was professionally photographed

I hope you have enjoyed this step-by-step description of a portrait painting. 

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Artfully Yours,

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Interview Article with Artist Marc Dalessio

Marc Dalessio, Self Portrait
Marc Dalessio is a naturalistic painter who is equally adept at painting portraiture and landscapes. I first saw his landscape paintings at the Ann Long Gallery in Charleston, S.C. While visiting the gallery, his work instantly caught my attention. Marc's paintings give the impression of effortlessness and spontaneity. His colors have a sense of clarity, freshness, and aliveness. You feel as if you are standing in the scenery. 

Marc an accomplished artist who studied at the University of California at Santa Cruz and the Charles H. Cecil Studios in Florence Italy and currently lives in Croatia. He has taught at the Florence Academy of Art and teaches workshops abroad.

This summer Marc taught two workshops in Boston, and I was able to attend one of those workshops. The one I attended was held on the banks of the Charles River on the Esplanade. Prior to the class, I contacted Marc to see if he would agree to an interview, and he kindly agreed.  

What do you feel is an integral component to the work of an artist?
Marc:  I believe great art is a combination of technical skill, having something to say, and having a strong emotional response to the subject.

Greguric Breg, Marc Dalessio
What role does the artist have in society?
Marc:  I think art is pretty fragmented today in regards to the artist's place in society. There are lots of different arts which accomplish different goals. For me, Plein air landscape painting holds an important place in society as it shows the viewer the beauty in the natural world around them.

Which style of art do you most identify with and why?
Marc:  Late 19th-century Naturalism is probably my favorite style of art. I love the way the artists looked at the world around them and captured it with such empathy and honesty.

Which artists inspire you? What is it about their work that draws you in or pushes you further?
Marc:  Isaac Levitan and Telemaco Signorini are the two artists who inspire me the most. I love the religiosity of Levitan's work. There seems to be something greater than just the view in his work. Signorini also seems to have a real reverence for his subjects, but I love the wit and the politics in some of his best work.

What personal narratives or intentions do you translate into your paintings?
Marc:  Sometimes I try to show parts of the world with a balance and harmony between the man-made structures and their natural setting. In other paintings, I try to show people the beauty in the seemingly mundane world that surrounds them. We don't always stop to realize how miraculous even our little neighborhoods can be. The artist can show people that beauty where they hadn't noticed it before. 

In the Face of All Aridity, 47"x59" Marc Dalessio
To date, what’s your favorite painting that you have created and why? 
Marc:  My favorite painting is a large painting of a small vegetable garden in the Tuscan countryside. I titled the painting ‘In the Face of All Aridity’ after the line in the poem ‘The Desiderata’

The painting shows the garden at the height of August, when the grass has died all around. It’s a little parable on the energy, love and dedication needed to keep the things we need and love alive through dry times. It’s a painting that’s over six feet long and was done entirely on site at the garden. 

Technically, it was a great challenge to capture the various plants over the course of the weeks it took to paint the piece. It also has a lot of meaning to me as I’ve spent many summers on that wonderful property and it has been an integral part of my growth as an artist and a person.

Compression of values. You talk about this in one of your videos. Would you please expand on this topic?
Marc:  Compression of values is the idea of having minimal value changes in a similar area of the painting. Beginning painters will often key their values by looking at one value and then the value just next to it. Compressing the values is really about looking at any two values and then comparing them first to each other and then to a third value.

In Plein air landscape painting, we often use the sky as the third value. So a good example of this would be to look at the shadow of a tree then the light part of the same tree and compare the two. Then, the two values are compared to the sky, and the painters will see that the light and dark of the tree are actually quite close in relation to each other, especially when compared with the light of the sky. So the light and dark of the tree will be 'compressed' to be quite similar to each other. We do this, in part, because the full value scale in nature is impossible to recreate with oil paint.

Wheat Fields Along the Clitunno, Marc Dalessio
How do you approach your work, techniques, materials, and processes? Has your practice changed over time?
Marc:  For my plein air work, I usually do a lot of scouting with a pencil and sketchbook first. I can move from subject to subject faster and find the best compositions. Once I’ve decided on a location, I’ll go back with my paints.

I use a limited palette of ten colors (titanium white, cadmium yellow light, cadmium yellow medium, yellow ochre, cadmium orange, cadmium vermilion, cadmium red medium, cerulean blue, cobalt blue, and ultramarine blue) and a medium based on a recipe from a student of Anthony Van Dyck. I use a method called sight-size, whereby I see the view next to my canvas at the same size.

My practice has changed surprisingly little over the years. Charles Cecil first trained me in these methods 23 years ago, and I find they work very well for my purposes. I’ve honed down the limited palette he originally showed me as I found I never used some of the colors (an earth red, Naples yellow, and viridian).

What advice has influenced you?
Marc:  An early teacher I had, Hardy Hanson, used to say that one should always be improving. He would say that our last brush-stroke, as we lay in bed dying, should be the best brush-stroke we ever made. I think that always influenced me, this idea that we should constantly strive to better our work.

Via San Agostino, Marc Dalessio
Do you have any advice to share?
Marc:  From my experience as a teacher, I see that painting students don’t draw enough. My advice to painters starting out would be to get in the habit of keeping a sketchbook and drawing all the time. It is really essential. One can only paint as well as one can draw. 

I would also say to slow down. I see students trying to finish paintings much too fast. Speed should be secondary to accuracy. If one paints an accurate painting slowly, they will later get faster. If one paints an inaccurate painting fast, they will never get the accuracy later.

Are you involved in any upcoming shows or events? 
Marc:  In 2016 Marc will be showing paintings with Constantine Lindsay in London and Laura Grenning in Sag Harbor, NY. In May 2016 Marc will be showing at the Ann Long Gallery in Charleston, S.C. Marc will be at the Gallery on May 27th for the opening day. The show will run until June 10th. 

Marc will be doing workshops in Europe in 2016 and he has retained an association with the Florence Academy of Art and will hopefully work with them again in the future.

Thanks to Marc for such an insightful interview. To see more of Marc's work please visit his website. Marc's website is home to his gallery as well as his blog, articles, and videos. He provides information on grinding your own paints, as well as the various materials and methods he uses and videos. 

Note: I spent a week in Boston first going to museums and then attending Marc's workshop. Leo Mancini-Hresko of Waltham Studios hosted the workshop. Leo offers ongoing classes and workshops at his studios in Waltham, MA. To read more on my trip to Boston please click here. 

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Thanks for joining me, and please continue to send me your comments. I enjoy receiving your emails, comments on the blog and Facebook. If you like this article, please share this post with your friends or on Facebook.

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Artfully Yours,

Please click to visit
Annette Goings Fine Art Website

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Interested in reading more articles on Artist's? Just click on the artist's name.
Paula Holtzclaw
Chris Saper
Colleen Barry
Robert Liberace
Olena Babak 

Louise Jopling - coming soon