Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"Pink Cupcake" (oil on linen; 5" x 4")

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As always is the case with the second painting of a series, this painting of a cupcake with pink icing went faster than the one I did yesterday.  Doesn't it look looser and yummier?

"Pink Icing" (oil, 5" x 4") sold

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"Pink Icing" (oil on linen; 5" x 4") sold


I don't usually paint as small as 4 x 5", but as I had so much fun painting Kisses, I decided to do a series of small food paintings.  The cupcake with pink icing is my second subject.  I bought a package of six cupcakes--three with pink icing, the other three with blue icing.  Somehow the blue ones didn't grab me, so I kept the pink cupcakes to paint and allowed my family to eat the rest right away.  There is something about the pink color which brings out the little girls in many of us.  It makes us happy!

The moment I started painting, I knew I set myself up for a challenge.  It was a lot harder to paint the icing or  the grooves in the paper than the foil wrap or the paper strips of the Kisses.  But who said that painting was all fun and games?  It took almost two hours to finish this small painting!  I am going to work on one more of the same subject, this time with sprinkles.

Monday, January 28, 2013

"Dark Kisses Confetti" (oil on linen; 5" x 4") sold


Okay, you've seen my Kisses paintings and want to move on.  But I had to explore the theme further, at least one more time.  The little dots in the Kisses in "Love is in the Air" reminded me of the confetti thrown at weddings.  So I put the Kisses closer and formed a diamond shape between them.  I exaggerated the little shapes in the Kisses like confetti; the reddish pink ground has confetti-like brushstrokes all over too.  The Kisses are getting married!

"Love is in the Air" (oil, 4" x 5"; sold)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

"Love is in the Air" (oil on linen; 4" x 5") sold


I had so much fun painting Kisses yesterday that I decided to do another.  I chose a different Kisses with the paper strip standing kind of upright.  I put it in such a way that it still pointed toward the Dark one. Unlike "Dark Kisses," I pushed the ground toward pink.  I think there is a more color harmony in the second painting.  What do you think?

"Dark Kisses" (oil, 4" x 5")

Saturday, January 26, 2013

"Dark Kisses" (oil on linen; 4" x 5") sold

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I bought two bags of Kisses while back, thinking that they would make a fabulous Valentine's paintings.  I finally got around to paint them before they disappeared.  When I told my husband what the title of this small painting was going to be, he said "naughty"!

Friday, January 25, 2013

"White Tulips and Daffodils" (oil on linen; 10" x 8") sold


Aren't the intense shadows of the white tulips and daffodils on steps delicious?  A classy arrangement of white flowers in white concrete planters!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

"US Capitol Rose Garden" (oil on linen; 10" x 8") sold


Last September I went downtown to take pictures of the Capitol.  It was too early for the trees to change colors, but crepe myrtles still in bloom more than compensated for my mild disappointment.  I squatted down to have the pink roses in the foreground.

The new painting looks similar to the one I did last summer--"Capitol Hill in Summertime"--I guess, because of the floral foreground.  It's just that the white architecture of the Capitol alone can be a bit severe without something to soften it and add color interests.  Which painting do you like better?  For me, "US Capitol Rose Garden" seems to have a more feeling of space.

"Capitol Hill in Summertime"
oil, 15" x 8"

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"Spring Woods" (oil on linen; 10" x 8") sold


When trees start budding, they turn yellow green.  Leaves are not yet big, so they don't cast heavy shade. Walk in the early spring woods.  It's airy and bright.  I see a red bridge up a small stream.  Ah, what a wonderous place to be!  This is a real place--a Virgina native plant trail in the Green Spring Gardens Park in Alexandria, VA.  I haunt the park in early spring, which has always been my favorite time of the year.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

"Primrose Season" (oil on canvas; 10" x 10") sold


Siebold's primroses are blooming under a canopy of a tree.  What a bright, cheerful sight it is! Obviously it is not the primrose season yet.  I took the reference photo for the painting last April at the Green Spring Gardens Park in Alexandria, VA.  It took almost a year to get around to paint these lovely flowers because I was intimidated by the look of the lettuce-like leaves.  Yes, I often get stymied by my own timidity!

Yesterday I decided to go for it.  Why not?  I am pleased with the result.  I am even more pleased with the fact that I painted on a day that started out rather lousily.  I had waken up feeling tired and achy.  I was tempted to take a day off.  In the end, I thought better of it and started painting.  And it happened again.  Almost immediately I felt more energetic and alive.  I really don't know how I lived before I discovered art.

Reference photo

Monday, January 21, 2013

"Spring Orchard" (oil on linen; 10" x 8") sold


Pear and apple trees are blooming at an orchard.  In the distance, tall, budding trees look pinkish.  There is so much hope and anticipation in the air.  I love this time of the year!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

"Smithsonian Castle" (oil on linen; 8" x 10")

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I have painted the Smithsonian Castle before, as you can see below.  The old painting from the last fall was also titled unimaginatively "Smithsonian Castle," I apologize. From the moment I finished it, I didn't like it, but didn't know what to do.  So I did another painting based on a different photo taken on the same beautiful autumn day. Of course, you cannot tell from the paintings whether it is spring, summer, or fall.  Hey, I was going for a timeless beauty!

Please tell me which painting is better.  I am voting for the new one.  I have a tendency of preferring new paintings to old ones, perhaps based on the delusion that I am improving by the day.  But this time I am hoping that everybody will agree with me.

The new painting is more painterly, reads better, and compositionally superior. The mock Gothic castle is in shadow, so it is dark.  Don't the sun-struck slivers in the clock tower sing?  I didn't really need all the foreground either.  Even without it, the castle in the new painting sits back, doesn't it?  I guess the morale of the story is: if a painting of your favorite subject doesn't turn out well the first time, do another and another until you nail it!

The old "Smithsonian Castle" (oil, 14" x 11")

Saturday, January 19, 2013

DPW Spotlight Interview with Kim Stenberg and a Painting Giveaway

The following is my interview with the Daily Paintworks Spotlight Interview.  I am very excited about it!  By the way, I am giving away "Morning after Snowfall."  If you have bought a painting on DPW in last 30 days, you are eligible for the giveaway.

DPW Spotlight Interview: Kim Stenberg

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings. 

To enter to win Kim Stenberg's painting, "Morning After Snowfall," go to Daily Paintworksand click on the link at the top of the page announcing her interview.

From Kim's DPW Gallery page:
I received a PhD degree in British history at the University of Minnesota in 1993. Taking art classes turned out to be a life-changing decision and I have been using both sides of my brain ever since. I retired from teaching recently and now paint full time.

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I had always admired people who could draw and paint. When I finally had leisure time after receiving my PhD, I checked out Betty Edwards's "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain," tried all the exercises, and realized I could draw! I got hooked. I started taking art classes at The Art League School in Alexandria, VA in 1994. The rest is history.

Morning After Snowfall
(click here to see original image)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the home page announcing Kim's interview.

Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

The only time when I didn't paint was when I had my daughter. For a year in 1999, I didn't paint. Obviously, it was tough for me to live without art! After years of hesitation and self doubt, I finally found courage to quit my job as a college professor in 2011. I now paint full time, living my dream.

Glory of Iris
(click here to see original image)

What mediums and genres have you experimented with? Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away? Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I first started out with colored pencil, as it seemed the easiest. It was, however, too time-consuming.  So I switched to watercolor, which many beginners choose somehow, thinking that it is easier than oil but isn't in reality. Anyhow I was successful as a watercolorist, received many awards, and was published in a book and magazines. Eventually, I fell like I hit the wall and decided to try acrylic, first on paper, then on canvas. My then art teacher told me that oil was easier than acrylic for the reason that the latter dries so fast that it makes blending difficult. So at a whim, I tried water-mixable oils about four years ago. That is when I found my true path! I am done exploring, although you never say never again. I have a brand new box of Holbein oil pastels lying around in my studio!  One of these days....

Many of your paintings have this wonderful, sun-washed glow to them. How are you capturing such a beautiful, but elusive quality?

Oh, thanks. As so many artists say, we are in the business of painting light. I can't say honestly how I do it. I guess I go for a subject with a strong sense of light and try to capture it as best as I can. I learned that, in order to paint light, I have to paint rich, luminous darks and mid-tones. Does that make sense?

Bishop's Garden at National Cathedral(click here to see original image)

What does procrastination look like for you? What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?:

How do I dawdle? Suddenly I feel like cleaning my studio! If I paint everyday, or almost everyday, painting becomes a routine. Then I don't dawdle. Besides, it's now my job. I have to show up.

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?:

I usually work from photographs, although I go outside to paint when the weather is too good to stay inside. I have a stack of pictures--mostly landscapes and florals. I go though them from time to time and set aside a pile of let say 10 pictures. When I come to my studio, which is at home, I pick one from the pile.  My decision depends partly on what kind of mood I am in and partly on how much time I have that day because some subjects require more time for drawing.  I don't spend hours trying to figure out what to paint. This also answers the above question of how to avoid procrastination. When you know what to paint and are excited about it, you are less likely to procrastinate.

Happiness of Donuts(click here to see original image)

How do you keep art "fresh?" What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?:

They say that you have to find your brand, your niche. That is a good advice, but I would also argue that one has to have several interests so that you don't get bored or burned out. I paint landscapes, architecture, florals, still lifes, animals, and occasionally figures. I paint en plein air, I paint from life, I paint from photographic references. I paint snow, I paint water; I paint tulips in the garden, I paint peonies in a vase; I paint birds, I paint dogs. I go back and forth. This way, I avoid boredom. Boredom would be the death of a daily painter!

What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?:

Last year I took a still life class for a year, which taught me a lot about composition and color mixing. Through my own experimentation last year, I learned to use more paint in my work. I continue to learn to mix better grays, mid-tones, and clean bright colors. As long as I live, I will be aspiring to become a better painter.

Sunset Over Marshland
(click here to see original image)

What makes you happiest about your art?:

Selling my paintings give me a momentary pleasure. But ultimately, the act of painting makes me happy. I recently came down with shingles over the holidays, which put me out of commission for a couple of weeks. When I started painting again, I still had lingering pain. But while I was painting, I didn't feel any pain. How about that!

Thanks, Kim!

Friday, January 18, 2013

"Cherry Blossom Tunnel" (oil on linen; 10" x 8") sold


I was driving in my neighborhood on a beautiful spring day.  I saw these double cherries in full bloom.  I went back to my house to grab my camera and returned to the scene.  When I pulled over to take pictures on the sidewalk, it was even more enchanting than I imagined.  A cherry blossom tunnel!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

"Tidal Basin in Cherry Blossom Season" (oil on linen; 8" x 10") sold


The Tidal Basin during the National Cherry Blossom Festival in early spring is the mecca for tourists.  In this painting, I nestled the famous Jefferson Memorial in a circle of cherry branches.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

"Pampered Life" (oil on linen; 6" x 8") sold


Ethel the beagle leads a pampered life with two layers of satin pillows and all.  "If only someone would play with me, it wouldn't be so dull around here.  I am going to take another nap."

Monday, January 14, 2013

"Winter Woods" (oil on linen; 12" x 12")

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Take a walk in the woods on a winter day.  There is a light cover of snow on the ground.  The late afternoon sun casts long, blue shadows over the snow and fallen trees.  Dry leaves still dangling on bare branches catch the sun and glow.  A magical moment to savor.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

"Pink Peony Garden" (oil on linen; 7" x 7") sold


Peonies are, in my opinion, one of the most joyous flowers.  The flowers captured in my painting have just started opening.  They will keep unfurling until the heads become so heavy that they will droop to the ground.  Such abundance, such profusion, such lavishness!

This fits my current mood too, as I continue to recover from shingles and feel like myself again despite the throbbing pain that comes back at night.  The weather in northern Virginia has been unseasonably mild.  The potted geraniums out by my front door are still blooming.  I am in a mild state of spring fever!  In last December I was in the mood for painting autumnal and snow scenes.  Not anymore.  I want to paint spring flowers!

Friday, January 11, 2013

"Seagulls at Sunrise Sea" (oil on linen; 12" x 8") sold


Wake up early in the morning.  Take a walk at the beach.  The sun rises.  Its glow envelopes the world.  The moment doesn't last long.  While it lasts, you feel warm, safe, and hopeful.  "Seagulls at Sunrise Sea" would have been the perfect painting to greet the dawn of the new year.  But, hey, I wasn't well then and nobody's perfect.  So here we go belatedly.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

"Pink Phlox" (oil on linen; 8" x 10") sold


Original state, then titled "Rock Garden Phlox"

I am feeling better.  Yeah!  Yesterday I cleaned up my studio, then went through my photo stash looking for inspiring pictures for about two hours.  My stamina wasn't yet quite up to speed unfortunately, so I took a rest and decided to work on an old painting instead of starting from scratch.

"Rock Garden Phlox" is a year-old painting, which I once thought was one of the best florals I have ever done.  Well, that was then.  The tiny florets of the phlox, which I had found blooming at the rock garden at Green Spring Gardens Park in Alexandria, VA, were actually cool pink, not warm pink as in the original state.  I wanted more paint on the painting.  After all, these things are called oil paintings, not oil washes, right?  I also thought that I could strengthen the feeling of light striking a few petals and dead stems here and there.

So I got to work.  An hour and a half later, I came up with "Pink Phlox."  What do you think?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

"Winter Shadows" (acrylic on canvas; 24" x 18")

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In case you are wondering why I haven't been blogging often lately, here is why.  I came down with shingles over the Christmas holidays.  Yes, shingles.  Yes, it really hurts!  So I have been taking it easy.  Yesterday I felt a little better and overdid things.  Boy, a big mistake.  There is no reason, however, why I should always talk about new paintings.  I have plenty of old paintings to share with my readers.  Today I am going to share one of my all-time favorite paintings.

In northern Virginia, where I live, we get very little snow in some winters.  2012-13 seems to be such a winter as well.  Anyhow, this particular winter was one of those disappointing ones.  So when we had a little snow overnight, I was eager to take a walk in the neighborhood park.  There I saw this scene of the mellow winter afternoon sun casting long shadows over the fallen logs.  You wouldn't believe from the painting, but on top of the hill were suburban homes, which I edited out.  The painting was juried into The Art League show in Alexandria, VA in 2007.

"Winter Shadows" hangs proudly in my living room.  I don't paint this big very often, which is a shame.  I could play with subtle changes in color temperature and soft/hard edges throughout the canvas, while maintaining the mood of a brilliant light pouring through and uplifting the viewer.  Do you feel like you are standing in the woods and looking up?