Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Madonna and Child, Saint-Remy, Step 2

4" x 6", egg tempera on Kelmscott vellum (in progress)

When I work on an image of Mary, I call upon her in prayers, 
as part of my effort to capture her spirit in paint.  The same is true of Jesus as a baby.  The painting has been going very smoothly, and I have been meditating also on the gold of the dress, which I feel makes this Madonna particularly special.  I really enjoyed capturing the lights and colors within the gold. Another darker blue layer has been added to the background to increase the contrast and bring the figures out more. 

Next I will go back to the faces, hands and flesh tones to fine-tune them some more.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lynn & Kristy

Kristy (hand at lower left) making a wish 
& sending off her balloons

Kristy & Lynn, Washington Square Park

It was very special for me to have a visit this past week from my cousin, Lynn, especially since we haven't seen each other for 21 years!  She came to NYC with one of her daughters, Kristy, to celebrate Kristy's 16th birthday.  We had fun, and before our celebration lunch I treated Kristy to a balloon launch for turning 16.  Thanks for coming all the way from Utah, Lynn.  Loved having you here.

I will return to the portrait soon.  I've been working several days on another miniature I started.  It's elaborate, but I'll post my progress on it tomorrow.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Portrait, Step 2

3" x 3 13/16", egg tempera on panel (in progress)

Here is the portrait after further work.  I may want to use this one as an entry for the MASF show, so I am working it through to see how I like it.  Next I will bring more definition to certain areas, such as the lips and teeth, and some objects on the counter; but I need a day to allow the layers I have applied to dry thoroughly before further work, so I will start another piece today, and come back to this one tomorrow.

I will post some photos of my work process later, but when I am working on tiny aspects of a miniature, such as facial features, I use a gooseneck magnifier to better see what I am doing.  
This is a good idea not only because I need to position fine details, but because during the judging in competitive miniature shows, a magnifying glass is held up to the work for greater
scrutiny of the brushwork.

I am looking forward to sharing my story about this portrait with you once it is finished. 

Sunday, September 14, 2008

How a miniature looks, mid-process

3" x 3  13/16", egg tempera on panel (in progress)

Here is a mini in egg tempera on panel that I am working on, to show you how it looks at a mid-stage of the painting process.  By this time I have put down several layers of paint. Some areas are more worked up than others, but overall I am still blocking in color and values.  Egg tempera paint is uniquely translucent, so in working with it I create color and value by building thin layers of paint on top of each other, alternately glazing and scumbling areas as I go.  I will post the final version of this painting later.  Along the way I'll describe more about how I work with egg tempera, but in the meantime a great resource of information about this wonderful painting medium is to be found here:  Society of Tempera Painters

For the next three weeks, I'll be posting my progress on preparing miniatures for three gallery shows.  First is the Miniature Art Society of Florida annual show, but since I am preparing simultaneously for three shows, expect announcements as I go over which painting will be directed toward a specific show.  Every other day or so I will be sharing with you how I prepare, from selecting subject matter and painting surfaces, to deciding, the case of MASF, what passes muster for competition.  If it sounds intensive preparing for three shows, it is!  But I love doing it, feel grateful for the opportunities I am being given, and I hope it brings some inspiration, just by sharing it with you.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

"Two September Berries"

1" x 1", egg tempera on Kelmscott vellum
dailywork miniature - Happy Birthday Hilda!

My sister's mother-in-law, Hilda, and I have the same birthday on Sept. 7.  This year Hilda is visiting from Barcelona, and we were both treated to a wonderful birthday dinner at Sequoia on Pier 17 in Manhattan, which overlooks Brooklyn's skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge.  Today's miniature is Hilda's birthday present.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Two pet portraits, both 1/6th scale, but are they both miniatures?

"Jack", 1  3/16" x 1  1/16" (nfs)
egg tempera on Kelmscott vellum

"Max with Cosmos"  7" x 9"
egg tempera and oil on panel (commission)

Here is a comparative example of two pet portraits.  "Jack" is a portrait 
I painted in just a few hours today.  It has less detail.  
But click on the second portrait to see the greater detail in Max.  
The first is a dailywork; the second is a masterwork.

The dogs in both of these paintings are portrayed at least 1/6th of life scale, but are both miniature paintings?  If you know the answer, please submit your comment.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Avalon Madonna of the Yellow Flowers"

1 3/4" x 2 5/8", egg tempera on Kelmscott vellum*
(see my note below on this English vellum painting surface)
(see my update on this painting in a later post on 11/18/08)

Every summer I spend some time at the seashore in Avalon, N.J.  Summer vacation in Avalon was a family tradition for my family and for my father's family, and it is a quiet place where I can truly restore my soul.  Last year while there, my mother and I discovered this wonderful Madonna statue which stands in front of Maris Stella Catholic Church.  
I feel pleased with the mood this painting evokes, and feel satisfied with it as a dailywork, but haven't decided yet if I'll keep going with this one for a competition, or sell it as a daily.  Will post more on it when I know for sure.  I plan at least two more miniatures of this Madonna because I enjoy her so much.

* More about Kelmscott vellum:  Because I teach about what I do when asked to give a lecture or workshop, one of my goals with this blog is to share information with others interested in learning more about miniature painting and egg tempera as a medium.  For painting smaller miniatures my surface of choice is a special variety of vellum obtainable in small sheets only from England.  (If you know of any U.S.A. resource, please email me.)  Kelmscott vellum is genuine calf skin vellum that is coated with some type of thin gesso coating that has a little dusty feel on top.  If you get the surface too wet when you paint, this gesso picks up a little bit, but overall, there is no finer or smoother surface that I know of for luminous miniature paintings, whether in egg tempera, or watercolor, or a combination of both.  Here is a link to my resource for Kelmscott vellum: Polymers Plus also features exquisite miniature frames for framing the miniatures in your collection.

Monday, September 8, 2008

"Just Peachy"

1 5/8" x 1 1/8", egg tempera on Kelmscott vellum, 
dailywork miniature, (revised in a later post on 10/8/08 & 10/15/08 )

I really enjoyed painting the highlights on the teal satin in this piece, especially since teal is a favorite color of mine! 

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Difference Between a Miniature and a Small Work

"San Diego Freedom Flag," 4" x 6", 
egg tempera masterwork miniature on Kelmscott vellum - SOLD
Masterwork miniature, Third Prize for medium, MASF 2008 annual show
a small work of the same flag with a cloudless sky 
7" x 9" egg tempera on panel, masterwork (in progress)

Do you know the difference between a miniature and a small work?  Shown first is my miniature painting called "San Diego Freedom Flag," which is now in the collection of Joan Christie.  The second piece is an example of a "small work" in progress which I am preparing for a show called "Almost Miniatures" at Francesca Anderson Gallery in Lexington, MA .  

One of my goals with this blog is to share information about miniature painting and about the definition of a miniature, since currently there exists some confusion about appropriate use of the term 'miniature'.  The "Almost Miniatures" show will feature an interesting mix of both miniature paintings and small work paintings.  A small work differs from a miniature in that it does not necessarily portray a subject at 1/6th scale of life size, and its format is small, but still larger than 25 inches square, which typifies a mini.  A small work will generally range from 5 in. x 7 in. to 12 in. x 12 in.  For more information on how various miniature painting societies around the globe define the parameters of a miniature, please click here.

I am progressing on several miniatures, and hope to post at least two of these tomorrow.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Different Strokes From Different Folks: Check it out, it's new!

"Solace" by Karin Jurick

Please be sure to check out daily painter and professional artist Karin Jurick's new blog, "Different Strokes From Different Folks - One Photograph Painted by Many," which you can access from her blog site, karinjurick.blogspot.com.  Karin's beloved dog, Jack, who passed away this week, inspired this wonderful daily painting of Jack by Karin.  Her reference became the photo of the week on her newest blog challenging everyone else to paint Jack too, and submit their jpeg for posting on Different Strokes.  I did it too, and I plan another miniature version of Jack in the week ahead.  If you have appreciated Karin, and received inspiration from her wonderful daily answers over the past three years in paint, please consider joining in the fun of this first weekly challenge of painting Jack too.  I'd love to see at least 30 or 40 paintings of Jack come Karin's way!  

Future French Madonna

Important work is taking place in my studio this month in preparation for the Miniature Society of Florida 2009 annual show competition.  Check back later to see my miniature painting from this photo of a lovely gold Madonna, taken in St. Remy during my trip to France in April.

"Amma's Eyes"

1 3/8"W x 1 3/4"H, egg tempera and 24 karat gold leaf on Kelmscott vellum in Venetian glass frame, Available

This is an eye portrait of a world-famous Indian guru and avatar who I love and admire, Amritanandamayi Ma, known as 'Ammachi', or 'Amma'.  Jai Ma! (hail to the Divine Mother!) This is the third of three masterwork miniatures I am sending to Weatherburn Gallery for "It's a Small World - World Class Art in Miniature."  Please contact Weatherburn Gallery directly for purchase information.

"The 'Mary' in Karen"

6"W x 4"H, egg tempera on gessoed panel, Available
Third Prize, Miniature Art Society of Florida 2006 Annual Show

Here is the second of three miniature paintings being sent to Weatherburn Gallery for sale.

"Ruby Slipper Wishing Shoes in the Ship's Casino"

3/4"W x 1 3/8"H, egg tempera on Kelmscott vellum in Venetian glass frame, Available

Here is the first of three miniatures I am sending to Weatherburn Gallery in Naples, Florida for inclusion in "It's a Small World - World Class Art in Miniature," Nov. 29 through Dec. 22, 2008 featuring award winning artists from the Miniature Art Society of Florida.