Art & Audiences - An interesting article

Emerging photographer Ed Hahn (website here) shared the following article by Alain Briot with us.

photo by Alain Briot


Ed -Thanks for sending the article! Let's see what everyone thinks ... maybe someone will comment on it.


Art Festivals 2009

Hello Artists & Art Lovers:

Happy New Year. During this time of planning for 2009 activities, goals and dreams you might be thinking about shows and art festivals that you either want to enter or attend. For your enjoyment here are two websites that list a large number of festivals accross the US.

The first site is a great place to find fairs:


The second site makes it easy for artists to register for a fair:



A Painting A Day - Porcelain Globe

Daily Painting - a Series of porcelain globes with blue hand painted designs. I'll be using a project like this to teach my students basic glazing. 

Study with Vicki Blum!

Opportunity to Study with VICKI BLUM!

Taught by Artist Vicki Blum
7 weeks, Thursdays 7pm-10pm
ArtSpace Herndon
Starting January 22nd – March 12, 2009
(no class February 19, 2009)

Class Description: Learn classical methods of painting. Work will be done from your photos or a still life set-up. This class will focus on how to begin and finish a painting. Starting with toning the canvas and drawing your subject, students move quickly into painting thick alla prima layers of light and shadow colors. This will be followed with refinements to value and color in a series of thick and thin glazes. Come ready to paint your favorite person, place or still life. Recommended for beginning and intermediate painters who want to improve the realistic appearance of their work. $187

Location: ArtSpace Classroom 1 @ 750 Center Street, Herndon VA 20170

To register: Contact Vicki Blum at 703-618 6070 or email her at info@vickiblum.com.

Visit Vicki’s website, www.vickiblum.com and www.mosaya.com/vickiblum.


St. Nicolas Icon - Happy Christmas Eve

Walter has an extensive knowledge of icons (among an amazingly long list of other things) - today, he a this study of icons of St. Nicholas.

Artists would have begun painting icons of St. Nick in 300AD. Examples of these icons were combined/morphed with the skull of the guy buried in his tomb to yield this result. (The computer generated image of St. Nick is the one with the black background.)

For more info visit the following website: www.stnicholascenter/Brix?pageID=743 


Margaret Bowland "Murakami Wedding"

Upon entering Klaudia Marr gallery, this detail of a painting and the others by Margaret Bowland (website) with it drew my attention. Immediately, I connected with the investigation of our ideas about women, femininity, beauty and other themes. In particular the obvious idea of the bride in a white dress uncovered in white makeup ... a play on the elizabethan/victorian holdover was illustrated so objectively as something the viewer might reconsider. But, that's only a superficial glance - There is obviously so much more!

Noting the complexity of deeper themes, I went home and looked up Margaret's artist statement here and found more detail.

Painting by Margaret Bowland, Murakami Wedding, 2008

One of the reasons I enjoy these paintings is that they don't attempt to demonize society but instead seem like an attempt at objectivity. While the artists own feelings are captured in these stories, they ask us to face our own assumptions in full view without judgement.

The images are so engaging that I found myself lost in study of the paintings on her website 4 or 5 times while attempting to write this post. I even struggle with calling them paintings because I'm experiencing them as stories.


Possible Change in Tax Law impacts artists

Artists, Museum Curators and Collectors, you may find the following article interesting. It illustrates that a new tax law is being considered which would allow Artists to donate their work for it's value rather than the cost of materials. My association with the new ArtSpace Herndon art center (gallery and event space) in our town has made me more aware of the issues that Arts organizations face - including different types of limitations on cheritable contributions that might help the organization. I'm curious to know your thoughts. Drop me an e-mail after you read the article from "The Art NewsPaper" (click this link)

My husband quickly photoshopped this image as I mentioned needing a photo of people donating art and was laughing the whole time. Good thing I married for love =) 


Yikes! - Charles Pfahl

My husband Walter - who is the adventurous type - has no interest in even  hanging out in the same room with Charles Pfahl's newest work. We saw it in the Altitude gallery recently where Pfahl's "Archetype" is hanging prominently by the entry of the main room. 

When I saw it, I reared back my head with a brief but grotesque movement of my face and started laughing as the sheer size of the image ... respectfully of course because anything that gets such a strong reaction is a curiosity. Walter grinned with what I know was hidden laughter as he left me in the room with the gallery docent explaining the painting to me. It illustrates the idea of a mother god archetype that is considered in many traditions to be responsible for birth, death and renewal. 

While studying the paintings, I also studied the reactions of people entering the gallery. Many raised their eyebrows or seemed to intentionally withhold a reaction before promptly leaving the room unless the gallery docent maintained their attention. Others specifically approached the docent for deeper inquiry. I sincerely wish it had occurred to me to catch their reactions on my blackberry - it would have been good for a few laughs later. 

Walter joked "I wonder if people who work there go home with a touch of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder". 

Neither of us are easily offended so we sent about 4 or 5 different curious people to the gallery to check it out. 

Today - Walter sent me this note:
My old Experimental video professor Gene Youngblood once told the class when asked to define art "Who cares it it's 'art' as long as it makes you crazy."
So, take a look ... enjoy a good laugh ... be traumatized ... or ponder the deeper meaning. (That's a real corpse of an infant that Mr. Pfahl imported during a trip overseas) 


TOP 5 Artist Blogs

I love to visit artist blogs - they are a great way to learn, see what others are sharing, find great paintings for our home and enjoy fresh artwork. I think of blogs as a simple art movement. Just as the invention of the box easel and tube paints changed painting by making plein air sketching popular - I think blogging has made quality, miniature, original fine art available to everyone. But, that's only one impact. Blogs are also a sincere way to share our "favorite" discoveries with friends who enjoy art. There are so many - it's hard to keep track. So, I've selected different kinds of blogs that I enjoy visiting and find most useful. 

Favorite: TOP 5 Artist Blogs

Little People Blogspot (consistently brilliant ... on street level)  
Jeff Hayes (In addition to buying his artwork, you can easily reach about 50 other great blogs) 
Katherine Tyyrell's Making a Mark (Art news and support for pastel, drawing, pen&ink artists) 

And, a new blog I just learned about today: 
Art News Blog (Unusual, educational and possibly food for thought) 

Feel free to reply with a comment on your favorite art/artist blog - I'm interested! 


Jill Banks ... a new blog worth viewing

Jill Banks of Great Falls Virginia has been blogging for a few months and I enjoy her content because it's informative, colorful and she is transparent about sharing both her recent work and her experiences as an artist. Check it out and let me know what you think!



Gallery Styles

The style of the galleries is as much of an artistic exploration to an easterner as the paintings themselves. After our first year, I didn't notice the architecture and interiors as often but looking at these photos I realize you might enjoy seeing the different southwest details and gallery styles.


Plein Air in the Winter?

Yes - particularly in the high desert. This gentleman was painting a few blocks from the front door of our bed and breakfast.


Etching & Sketching Suprises

A funny play on the historic art of etching ... and sketching. Here is an "Etch a Sketch" artist:

Apparently Etch a Sketch contests (related article) are a whole subculture. 

"Walk-In Bloggers" whatever that is

Eli Levin picks up the phone and relates to the caller"... Hey Joe, guess what I'm doing, I'm giving a demo of all things ... yeah ... they're walk-in bloggers ... whatever that is.."

Eli is an artist / printmaker working in an open studio on Canyon Road today. When we wandered into his studio, we discovered him laying down paper to print an etching and continue work on an area he is slowly adjusting to perfect the image. Here, he's turning the wheel to press a print onto paper. Follow by photos of him studying the print and making changes.

One of my secret admirer readers, "Joe Pilgrim" was kind enough to send this link >> to Eli's bio. THANKS JOE~!

Apparently, he has also published a book ... view the comment below for more info about both. 


Canyon Road - Santa Fe Vacation

We're relaxing in Santa Fe this week and have plenty to share over the next few blog posts. Here is a shot of a fraction of the hundreds of galleries in the canyon road and plaza area at twighlight. It's always a pleasure to visit this area because one can see so many different styles of fine art within a few blocks. Even after spending all day here - we always run out of time!


Something to look forward to

Each season I look forward to the subjects it brings to paint. For those artists who are enjoying pumpkins, colored leaves but looking forward to spring ... here's a reminder


Atelier Classes (Great Falls / Herndon / Reston )

Seeking high quality art classes in Northern Virginia?

Call 703.593.6444

- Drawing
- Oil Painting
- Realism
- Still life, floral, figure / portrait and landscape



Painting of the week

Hi Everyone,
I'm painting so actively this year that it's hard to keep my website up to date. So, if you enjoy seeing the "latest", please visit my new blog and see weekly (or even daily) paintings as they come out.

Tricia Ratliff's Painting Blog: www.TriciaRatliff.Blogspot.com

- Tricia

Detail of John in color


Portrait of John in Color - A La Prima

I've done a few portraits of John Irvine in different styles - this one is an A La Prima color portrait from Rob Liberace's class after his color demo. He's a wonderful model with interesting features - a pleasure to paint.


After Sargent's Fume de Ambre Gris

Well, copying Sargent's Fume de Ambre Gris (Select this link to see original) turned out to be a great exercise. I hope to find time to do more copies because they are an excellent way to learn from prior artists


Sketches from Rob Liberace's Class

Friday was my last day in Rob Liberace's class until Spring semester. Rob taught me a lot about drawing and and tonal painting ... here is one of my last paintings from class.


Lunch Bag Daily Artist

Here's a guy who makes a new lunch bag every day for his kids. It's great - he just found something artistic to do every day. Click through the pages and you can see how he's improved as an illustrator since the beginning of the school year.


David Leffel Quote on Learning

As I've been reading a bunch of books and watching videos of David Leffel's technique, I felt an intense desire to put down the books and get back to the easel. But I'm dedicated to absorbing this material as soon as possible. So, I felt a sweet relief when I read the following quote at the conclusion of "Oil Painting Secrets From a Master." Leffel beautifully sums up one of my core beliefs about learning:

"Talent is the willingness to figure it out. It's not a mystical or metaphysical thing. It's the ability to relinquish al of your assumptions and conceits in order to learn."


Teaching Private Art Lessons

After much encouragement from peers - I've been teaching private (and very small group) art lessons and love it! The students are all doing so well and I enjoy the peaceful time in the studio. It's most satisfying to see them making such dramatic progress in a short period of time. The transformation in their work is often so surprising that I've decided to start taking pictures at the end of their first lesson day so students can see how far they advance.

I understand as a life-long learner myself that looking at how quickly they've advanced gives students the courage to take another leap. So, I encourage them to keep that first drawing/painting as their best inspiration to keep growing.


Mini Still Life: Cheese Board and Juicy, Sweet Red Bell Pepper

I love the way red bell peppers make a kind of "flower" when you cut them in half. They are perfectly sweet with crackers and cheese which resulted in this quick sketch 8"x8" painting on gallery wrapped linen.

I'm beginning to understand why there are so many "daily painter" blogs out there. It's so much fun to create these little, mini paintings and blog them right away. Instant gratification for the artist.


Transmitted light through transluscent globe

Today, I was just researching something I heard on David Laffel's video about painting the translucent objects not by painting their color but by painting the "transmitted light" on the other side of the grape. Robert Liberace just mentioned a similar principle about painting the iris of the eye in class the other day. (At least I think it's the same/similar principle). Rob explained that we can see the color of the Iris best on the opposite side of the highlight. (You know that little round dot of light that often reflects off a model's eye because we set them up in a spot and the shape of the light is round with a flash of color on the iris - that's the one I'm referring to).

Well, I'm teaching students to draw and paint glass right now ... So, here is a painting that illustrates this point. The paintings by Carol Thompson of grapes with the lemons below (or grapes and peaches above) emphasize the color of the light on the right (from the viewer's perspective) side of each grape and the highlight on the left.


David A. Leffel Video(s)

Some friends have taken David Leffel's workshop in 2008 (two of them took it at Andreeva Academy in Santa Fe New Mexico if you're wondering where to take it) and were very pleased because he spends a lot of time teaching even advanced students "To Paint". So, I borrowed these videos to find out exactly what my friends meant by that.


I really enjoyed the video demos and learned from them. The videos also gave me a lot of confidence to recapture some of the paint handling I've been avoiding in classes. You might want to take my recommendation with a grain of salt because I haven't watched a lot of painting demo videos but tend to learn in person. For what it's worth - I enjoyed the video even though the video quality and sound were not great. But frankly - even in person it can be hard to hear and see a live demo. This way you can rewind and take notes at your own pace.


Oil Sketch

This oil sketch sold the other day before I had a chance to put it on the website ... but I would like to share it with you here.


Rob Liberace's Class

Last Friday, in Rob's class - he did a few demos of features. Here is the "eye" and the ear. I could try to describe everything he reviewed but I think it would lose something in the translation. Instead ... I'll just remark that his detailed knowledge of anatomy is remarkably useful!


Fearless about the use of white

Copying one of his early paintings has given me a lot of respect for Sargent's use of whites together. This is a another nice example.

In addition to this post, go to http://www.30dayartist.com - where I'm the 30 day artist for November.


Decorating the House - John Singer Sargent's "Fume de Ambre Gris"

One of our recent guests pointed out that we have *a lot* of empty wallspace. I guess we've been enjoying the minimalist lifestyle so much that I stopped noticing how empty our "just moved in" look might feel for our guests.

So, that kind of inspired me to start working on something for the parlor which is totally empty now that my studio has been moved to the basement. For months, I had been hoping to take a little time to learn by copying the work of prior artists ... enter John singer Sargent's "Fume de Ambre Gris". Here's the reference photo I'm using. I hope to follow with photos of my copy ... which I'm pretty confident won't hold a candle to his work ... but hey, this project more about learning than having fun ... if I get a painting that has any redeeming qualities for the parlor, I'll be happy.


Adding Physical Texture to Oil Paintings

A few students and peers recently asked about different options to create *physical* texture in your 2d visual art. Of course, the most obvious option is the use of a palette knife but there are many more. You can build up a foundation before painting (modeling) or mix products with your paint (aggregate). A few are included here with a few links to help you start your research:

- fullers earth
- Light modeling paste (use for acrylic when weight is a factor)
- Ground Glass (Venitians added glass when grinding/mixing pigments technique)
- Resin Sand (alkyds contain resins - like with like)
- Natural Sand / Fine Sand (make sure it's clean)
- Black lava to give sparkle to transparent colors
- Liquitex makes a fibrous gel that creates a fiber effect when it dries
- polyfilla to thicken paint
- Plaster (Fresco) or Venetian Plaster
- Sawdust on wood foundation
- Paper Mache or cloth bound to bear cloth
- Encaustic (mixed with pigment)

Each of these can be an entire art form in it's on right and might be worth researching or taking classes in a given medium that you love.

The most important thing to keep in mind is cohesiveness. Like sticks to like but unlike products (or laying medium in between coats or trying to lay a slick synthetic product over an oil based product) can create a weak bond that will cause peeling and other problems later. Basically, read each product to understand how it bonds. I don't allow many of these products in my studio and suggest researching their health and environmental attributes.

On a Funny Note: If you know me personally, ask me the next time you see me what my father taught us to mix in order to make projects glow in the dark.


Gallery Talk: This Friday September 19th 7:30pm

Gallery Talk on Plein Air Painting
This Friday September 19th
7:30pm - 8:30pm
@ ArtSpace Herndon
750 Center Street,
Herndon VA 20170
Free to the public
Collectors & Gallery managers welcome

Come enjoy this light, interactive talk and the beautiful work of 12 professional Plein Air artists at ArtSpace gallery. Hear about the artists and their work. Learn how painters overcome challenges during Plein Air competitions and enjoy their experience while painting outside.


L. Diane Johnson - QuickSketch Place Winner

Artist L. Diane Johnson one of the Quick Sketch winners created one of my favorite rain paintings at the show. Her old wood sailboat in a neighbor's yard with striking raindrops across it captured that day perfectly along with the sense of this old boat which is constantly being renovated against the efforts of the elements.

You'll have to click on the photo above by Charles Neenan to see the bottom painting more clearly.

L. Diane Johnson knows that I have a lot to thank her for. When we were first organizing this show, we started by making a lot of big mistakes ... easily about 20 by my count. Diane humored me and kindly accepted my phonecalls seeking advice - she (along with a few other advising artists who didn't participate) helped us avoid serious pitfalls.

I was so pleased to see that the Jury accepted Diane into the show because I knew I'd have a chance to meet this amazingly generous artist in person. Thank you Diane - And congratulations on your Quick Sketch prize!


A photo to remember: Competition Judging

I love this photo of the private session where judges were given time to privately view the competition artwork 2 hours before the opening of the "Reveal" exhibit last Monday. This photo captured the many contemplative and working stages of the artists during and after judging. From left to right:
- David Diaz and Denise Dumont discussing how the judging point system works
- L. Diane Johnson looking up the titles of the artwork she chose
- an officiant in blue dress waiting for final ballots
- Morgan Samuel Price chatting with Ned Mueller as he holds her book and looks at her new Plein Air paintings for the first time
- Christine Lashley considering the work of David Diaz (off Camera)


Morgan Samuel Price: Quick Sketch Grand Prize Winner

Morgan Samuel Price is a picture of grace and professionalism. She seemed to be traveling to other events from the day her manager applied for this competition until the day she arrived in Herndon. She never even had an opportunity to print the Artist's Notes or the events schedule. Yet she kept her cool and rolled with the activities like the pro she is. Every time I saw her, she was relaxed, supportive of the other artists, productive and seemed sincerely joyful. Clearly, with so many important things on her schedule, she could have declined to come to our first annual show. But, I think it demonstrates a lot of class that she decided to a risk on us and be part of the first group to exhibit at ArtSpace Herndon.

But, before I focus too much on who she is ... I'd love to tell you what she does!

Morgan's work reflects her personality: Subtle, strong, graceful and you know upon studying it that you'll enjoy it for a long time. She has a very sophisticated palette which many of us (artists) might find difficult to handle. Her cool greys, blues and soft greens are always clean and balanced with an amazing use of strong outdoor values/contrast. Her brushstrokes are confident ... even precise ... but fluid. Her whites are so pure that I had a dream one night that Ned Mueller told me "Morgan puts coconut powder in her white paint". Of course - that's ridiculous but those of you who love the pure white of coconut might understand why I would have such a dream.

The effect is that she creates work which is distinctly hers, exciting to study but easy on the eye. We put one of Morgan's waterfall paintings at the entrance of the show because rather than jumping off the wall, it draws you in and engages you in conversation. Looking at Morgans work gave me the most wonderful feeling of assurance that beautiful, enduring things exist in our transient world. (photo by Charles Neenan)


Trisha Adams - Selling like hotcakes - as usual

Sold within hours of the show opening ... The First Plein Air painting to sell at the ArtSpace exhibit was created by Trisha Adams. I'm not surprised - Trisha seems to be a top selling artist everywhere she goes and her Plein Air work created this weekend was as strong as her studio paintings.


Judges Pondering and Gallery Wandering

Here are some of my favorite photos of judges wandering and later, people wandering around the gallery enjoying art.

photos by Charles Neenan


Denise Dumont - Prize Winning Artist

Federal St. Middleburg Virginia - award winning painting by Denise Dumont

photo by Charles Neenan

Denise is an up-and-coming artist in the Plein Air community - and definately one to watch. She has been seriously painting for only 4 years and is already a strong competitor at Plein Air competitions with work rivaling that of people who have been painting 20 years. Her winning artwork is in the center frame in this photo. It won the "
The "HFCA, Appreciation of Excellence in Plein Air Painting" sponsored by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.

Interestingly, all three of the winning artists from this exhibit had backgrounds in illustration.


ArtSpace Grand Opening (Photos)

photos by Charles Neenan
The photographers shared more photos today of the ArtSpace Grand Opening day. It looked like about 75 people signed in during the day and over 100 people showed up to see the new space, inquire about programs/classes/workshops/events etc. and see the first exhibit. With great photos arriving daily ... My next few blog posts will be on the September exhibit.