Friday, December 28, 2007

Beach Scene, After Dan McCaw

This painting is taken from a painting in Dan McCaw's wonderful book, A Proven Strategy for Creating Great Art. He confesses in the book that he just made this composition/color study up on the spot. Strategy is a book I look at again and again, and always recommend to my students. You can tell it is cold and rainy here--hence all the indoor painting.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

I'd like to share an exercise with you. On the left is my version of a composition by Sargeant, on the right is the original. He completed this sketch on a trip to Morocco in 1880. I enjoyed the composition so much that I did a version of it with warmer tones and a palette knife, rather than using Sargent's cool colors and soft brushwork.

This type of exercise raises the question of forgery... is my version of the original a forgery? Does it only become a forgery if I have tried to reproduce the painting stroke for stroke and color for color, or is just quoting the composition enough? Would it be forgery if I went to Morocco, found the same spot, and painted there? Or would it now be a pilgrimage dedicated to a great painter? Lots of people have painted the Grand Canal in Venice or the same local barn, and some of those paintings look remarkably similar.

Maybe it is only a forgery if I try to pass it off as my own idea, or as a duplicate of the original. Occasionally, people offer to buy these "experimental copies", but I always feel like they are just exercises, not authentic Ann McMillan paintings.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Pears and Persimmons 18 x 24 inches, pastel

The El Camino Art Association in Arroyo Grande invited me to their meeting to do a demonstration. Here is what I came up with. It was a fun demonstration with an audience very interested in pastel and enthusiastic for the way I use the medium. The next day I gave a mini-workshop in the organizer's lovely garden. It was a very fun visit to the San Luis Obispo area.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Strawberries, 8 x 10 inches, oil, available, 800.

I have posted this one before, but just wanted to send it out again because it just received some very nice recognition. Strawberries won a very nice prize from the SmallWorks North America Show at the Greenwich Workshop Gallery in Connecticut. I am glad the Director there likes it as much as I do! When I was painting it, I felt that it is small, but mighty.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pescadero Triptych, 3 panels, each panel is 24 x 36 inches.

I have been working on this large painting for quite a while now, and still can't decide if I am happy with it, or if it needs more work. I find that my sense of "doneness" fails me when I work in unusually large sizes... it is hard to tell where the overworking point has been reached.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tangerines, 6 x 6 inches, oil on canvas, available from ebay, starting bid is $150.

Photo - Charles Sovek

March 23, 1937 – June 8, 2007

I never got to meet Chuck, but his books (amazon link) were among the first I read about being a serious oil painter--I always meant to take a workshop from him, but just heard that it is too late. Mr. Sovek maintained a brilliant Web site as well, which is still up thanks to his kind family. It is one of the most comprehensive sites about painting that I know of. Here is one of his paintings from last spring.

Painting - "Back Porch Blossoms"
"Back Porch Blossoms"

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Monday, November 05, 2007

Plum Trees, 11 x 14 inches, pastel, available.

Maybe I have been looking at Wolf Kahn paintings a little too much lately, but here is another color experiment/abstract inspired by his work.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tangerines, 14 x 14 inches, oil, available.

Tangerines just arrived in the market next to my studio. This painting is done as a partner to the previous realism painting Two Pairs. I varied the method this time, though. Two Pears is done with lots of thin glazing, in the best classical tradition. This one is painted much more alla prima.

On another topic, I just returned from the bookstore with a new classical techniques textbook by Virgil Elliot called Traditional Oil Painting: Advanced techniques and concepts from the Renaissance tot he present. The book is dense and data rich--a true pleasure and reference for the scholarly artist, or artistic scholar.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Morning Barn, 24 x 36 inches, pastel, available.

Last week Kim Fancher and I went to Napa and Sonoma for a day of plein air painting. This painting, unfinished as it is, is done from photographs that I took of a decrepit beauty. We stopped by the COPIA center to see a fine exhibit of some of my favorite painters... Nancy MacDonald, Kevin Courter, Kim Fancher Lordier, Keith Wicks, Randall Sexton and someone new to me...Kristin Pallas--very nice paintings. Here are links to their work.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Orange Landscape, 18 x 18 inches, pastel, available.

I just noticed that my blog features the color orange quite a lot must have something to do with fall. This painting is entirely made up, and painted on an used piece of paper. Working on a paper with the grain already partly filled resulted in an interesting scumble effect.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Plums and Persimmons, 18 x 24 inches, pastel, available.

This painting results from a demonstration I did at the Frank Bette Center for the Arts. As always, the less time spent rearranging the still-life, the better the painting.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Winter Squall, Sierra Buttes, 9 x 12 inches, pastel. available.
This painting was done mostly onsite at Sardine Lake in the Gold Lakes Basin north of Truckee. Below, you can see the painting as it was before I tidied it up a little. The original sketch was soaked by snow melting off of the lodgepole pines I was sitting under as I painted. I took a look at it in the studio and tightened up the shapes a little. I kind of like the result--it captures the dusting of snow the high country was getting that day.

Winter Squall, Sierra Buttes, 9 x 12 inches, pastel, before finishing.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sierra Fall, 20 x 30 inches, oil with palette knife, available.

Here is another product, done from memory and photo reference from my recent trip to the Sierra.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Persimmons, 8 x 10 inches, oil on panel, available.

Here is another painting in the classical realism mode. As usual I went over to the produce section at the market, and stared at the fruit until I found something interesting to paint. These persimmons made me think of a very famous sumie-e painting called Five Persimmons that I just love. The persimmons ripened as I worked on the painting, each day they had become a richer color.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Sierra Aspens, 11 x 20 inches, pastel, available.

I just returned from a few days in the snow-frosted Sierra. It is fall in Hope Valley, all the aspens are in full blaze. I spent some time painting with Anita Wolff and her congenial group of students, including my pastel buddy, Susan Levitsky. It was very fun to paint with different people, with a very different approach to painting outdoors. I tether my paintings to a very strong value structure. This group are pure colorists--very fun to watch at work.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Shimmer I, 20 x 20 inches, pastel on gold-dusted paper.

My blog posts have been veering all over the artistic landscape recently, here is yet another sharp right turn. These is one of two abstracts I have done that I call "shimmer" paintings. Each takes a very long time to accomplish, but I like the effect. I will probably do one more of them. The picture does not do anything for the artwork--photography robs the art of all its iridescent qualities--but I thought to post it any way.

By the way, I will be exhibiting at an art sale in Moraga this week--here is some information:

Preserve Lamorinda Open Space Art Show

A benefit to preserve the remaining natural environment . The exhibit will feature artists from the Bay Area whose works depicts the beautiful rolling hills and marine estuaries, artists that are all making an effort to keep these places safe from development. A portion of the sales go to that effort.

Date: Sunday, September 30
Time: The show will open to the public from 10 am to 5 pm
Location: The Art Show will take place at St. Mary’s College in Moraga. Set up on the lawn next to the Hearst Gallery.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Red Pears (finished), oil, 14 x14.
I am not certain if anyone beside myself can see the difference between this finished work, and the one in my previous post. I shined it up a bit, and blended some brushstrokes, but the changes are not major. It is, however, done--I have composted the pears, which need it.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Red Pears, 14 x 14 inches, oil on canvas.
Here is a departure for me. My sweetie asked me if I can do the classical realism look. I said "I don't know, it has been a while since I tried", then bought these pears. The pears come wrapped in the tissue paper. I did this on our anniversary, so maybe there are some fidelity or partnership overtones to the painting.
I don't consider it to be done yet, I need to go over to the art store and buy some blending brushes. My kit is just not set up for fine glazing work. I may not be particularly good at this, but it is quite fun in a meditative sort of way. If it changes radically, I will post it again when I consider it finished.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Flower Market, 12 x 16, pastel, available.

This is one of the paintings that I completed last week during the Sonoma Plein Air Festival. I had a wonderful week of painting barns, tractors and the lovely scenery of wine country.

I have just updated my website with information about my october plein air workshop. If you are interested, please give me a call or write to me. More information.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

By the Sea, 12 x 12, oil with palette knife.

I will be in Sonoma this week painting for the Sonoma Plein Air Festival, so my blog will be fairly quiet. On other news, I will be teaching another workshop in Alameda this fall.

October Workshop, Saturday and Sunday, 20 and 21

Contact Erica or Debra at the Frank Bette Art Center, 510-523-6957, for more information.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Tomatoes and Basil, 12 x 12 inches, oil with pallete knife.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Strawberries, ~10x10 inches, oil with palette knife.
Because I was tired of sitting in my studio trying to imagine something to paint, I walked over to the grocery store and bought some summer strawberries. Somehow the act of painting something that I am actually looking at and observing closely is always liberating. After painting something real, I usually feel freed from whatever funk I am in. Real, rather than imagined or designed or altered subject matter always serves as a good touchstone for me.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Apricot Jam. 12 x 16 inches, pastel.

My mom and I made apricot jam for 5 hours last weekend. I loved the color of the jam and included it in a demonstration still-life that I created for the Frank Bette Center Plein Air paintout. What a wonderful reason to use orange!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cottonwoods, 23 x 26 inches, pastel.

Here is a work in progress done from a photo taken at one of my favorite painting spots in Bolinas. I do not think it is really done yet, in spite of having signed it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Alameda Crane, 9x12 inches, pastel.

This painting was completed as a demonstration for my workshop in Alameda. The color harmony of the painting is really the point. I was pleased with the fairly original color harmonies in the painting.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

For the first time on a trip to visit family-in-law in the Netherlands, I was able to get some painting done! Yay! I also visited the Mauritshuis in the Hague and viewed the Girl with the Pearl Earring among other wonderful paintings.

Here are two sketches from the trip.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Allow me to present one of the two paintings that I entered into the Auction show at the Carmel Art Festival. We painters had a great time painting in the sun and each other's company. To See a few more paintings done during the festival, please visit my Web site's landscape page.

Yellow Barn
, 18x24 inches, pastel, sold.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Study, 5x5 inches, oil, nfs.

This rather comic-book style small painting is just made up by me. I start with a backbone and then treat the painting as if it were a sculpture, adding and scraping paint off until the painting looks fairly "right". I can tell though, that I was not looking at a real person... it just does not have the veracity of true observation.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Green-eyed Blonde, 5x5 inches, oil, nfs.

I have been finishing up each day's painting with a small quick sketch done on a five by five panel. A square format always seems to lead me to an unusual composition. After a year and a half of only pastels painting, painting in oil is a challenge--I went to the art store and bought new brushes today, so I must be serious.

(I am not self-fixated, I am just the cheapest model I know--really. I work for cookies).

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Rose Worship, 11 x 13 inches, pastel, available.

I was done painting for the day, and this scene caught my eye so strongly that I unpacked my kit and did a quick study. The pastel strokes here are put on the paper almost like sumi-e brush painting. Each stroke tries to convey the gesture or gestalt of what it is describing.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Riotous Spring, 11 x 14 inches, pastel, available.

This composition is a strange one, I was pleased with its success. I had to crouch down on the pathway in order to see the painting I wanted to paint. I like the right inside the flower garden result.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Just One tree, 10x8 inches, pastel.
Blossoms are springing out everywhere in California, and the days are warm and long already. This is a painting I did at the Saratoga Library at the peak of the orchard bloom. I tried to do this painting as fast as I could. You will notice that the strokes are spontaneous, which gives the painting a sense of the freshness of spring. I put down so many strokes that the pastel was falling off the paper.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Woodland Barn, 14x14 inches, pastel.
This painting was just awarded first place at the IAPS 10th annual juried show!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Copy of Monet's Water Lilies, 1907, 12x12 inches, pastel.

Here is a painting where I literally copied a Monet water lily painting from a calendar. I like it, but it is just a bit of silliness. I certainly had the opportunity to reach for color combinations that I do not usually use--I think that therein lies the appeal of such an exercise.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Spring Light, 8x9 inches, pastel.

This painting is a study in duplicating the actual light conditions and shapes that I see in the field. I went out for the day yesterday with some friends and painted along highway 84 close to San Gregorio. The daylight had a lovely white haze filtering the greens of early spring. I so often rearrange shapes and manipulate colors while painting en plein air; this painting is a fun exercise in not doing that at every opportunity.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The force that through...

The Green Fuse, 24 x 36 inches.

Here is another abstract along the same lines as the triptych I posted here a few day ago.

I read some Dylan Thomas last weekend, and so was thinking of his poem as I worked on this painting.

The colors here are more accurate, because I took this photo outdoors.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Evening Harmony, 11x14 inches, pastel.

Ocean or mountain or mesa? I am not sure, but I liked the gentle contrast of deep blue with soft yellow.