Friday, May 28, 2010

What's Next / An Important Update on My Summer Workshop

My next post will be my next completed miniature, a portrait drawing in silverpoint, graphite and white on toned gessoed panel. Until then, an important announcement regarding my next egg tempera workshop:

I will need to hear from five or more definite participants by June 10th in order to hold the opportunity of the private summer workshop in egg tempera in position for early August. To help you decide if you are considering attending, here is some additional information:

The location in Brooklyn, NY is within driving distance from most neighboring major cities and approx. 30 minutes from mid-Manhattan via subway. PLEASE NOTE: the dates have moved slightly to Tuesday through Thursday, August 3, 4, and 5. The cost is $300 for two full days of instruction 10 AM to 6PM with a one-hour lunch break, and $400 for three full days, excluding accommodations which are running approx. $200 and up per night, BUT only if booked now at the Holiday Inn Express and and at similar locations very near the venue in Brooklyn. The workshop fee also covers a gesso panel to paint on, and a few basics (like eggs!), but not all of your art materials, so please plan to bring paints and brushes with you, and a reasonable supply list will be provided to guide you on what you will need.

For those who wish for it, and because I have included the optional of three days instruction: if it is the group's desire to spend part or all of the additional day out on a field trip, it is also my personal delight to take you to one or more possible locations: The Bronx Zoo, the New York Aquarium at Coney Island, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, or a New York City Cathedral tour including St Patrick's Cathedral. I hear that an exciting new version of the musical "Promises, Promises" is returning to Broadway this summer, and there are many exciting ways to spend your evenings in the Big Apple during your stay.

Your $100 check holds your spot in the workshop, but I will need to at least receive your email responses by June 10th (please email Inquiries also welcomed.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Miniatures and small works for direct purchase in my Etsy shop

"The Bluebird of Happiness," $400 (miniature painting)

"Heaven is Like a Rose in Bloom," $700 (small work)

"San Diego Freedom Flag, Version II," $1500 (small work)

As promised, here are some examples of the items I have for direct sale in my Etsy shop. There is a range in both the items and prices being offered, and there will be a few surprises from time to time too! :-) To see more, or to make a purchase, you can visit my shop here:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

One of my favorite supports for egg tempera and for miniature painting

At left is a 3/16" thick birch ply panel from Pandora, and on the right is a 1/4" thick masonite panel from Chester Gilder

Certain types of surfaces, or supports, are important to use with the medium of egg tempera. Egg tempera requires a painting surface that is both rigid and very absorbent. Some of the popular miniature painting surfaces such as drafting film, mylar, polymin, and ivorine would not ideally meet either of these requirements. The surface most universally preferred by egg tempera painters, which oil painters also still enjoy is traditional gesso, sometimes also called true gesso, which is the gesso that was produced prior to the advent of acrylic gesso. Traditional gesso recipes vary, but are usually composed primarily of rabbitskin glue and some form of whiting.

There is a fundamental incompatibility between the plastic content in acrylic gesso and egg tempera which can be risky for long-term adhesion. The greater absorbency of true gesso compared to acrylic formulas is an additional reason why it is so nice for egg tempera painting. It's piano-key smooth surface also makes it ideal for the refined details in miniature painting. Egg tempera painting superimposes many thin translucent layers with glazing and scumbling as the primary method of paint application, and traditional gesso can absorb these thin layers.

The labor involved in producing a true gesso panel, which involves cooking the gesso, painting at least four to eight layers on a wood or masonite panel, avoiding air bubbles and sanding it smooth, (combined with the difficulty of doing smaller cuts in the case of miniature panels) accounts for the cost of purchasing pre-made gesso panels. In fact, some artists actually prefer to make their own, sometimes doing "panel-making week" once or twice a year to produce the supply they will need.

I prefer to buy mine pre-made so that I can spend more of my time painting, and there are a number of panel makers out on the market producing quality panels. It's easy to see how True Gesso got it's name, and their panels come highly recommended, so I look forward to trying them too. My suppliers so far have been Pandora, which also produces icon panels, and Alexandra Hadik of Chester Gilder (*click on 'custom framing') who airbrushes the gesso on. Pandora will cut to custom sizes, and Alexandra has been willing in the past to cut me a batch of small mini panels to approximate sizes for my workshops, or for my own use, which for a flat fee gives me an ongoing supply.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

my lecture/demo at Kingsborough

One of a series of large spiritual portraits in progress which I brought along to my lecture/demo for the illustration class and Art Club at Kingsborough College. The dark red area is red clay bole painted over the gesso in preparation for water gilding. At right are two patches---one of burnished gold leaf, and the other of a mother-of-pearl tile, which will border the gold leaf area of the portrait.

Right on the heels of my lecture/demo at Kingsborough Community College and producing an article on my work in miniature, I travelled to help and support my family at two graduations in New York and North Carolina. It felt wonderful to be present on these special occasions in my niece and nephew's lives, but it's great also to finally have time to share with you in more depth my experience at Kingsborough, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I'm told that the article I wrote for Small Talk, the Miniature Art Society of Florida's newsletter, will be published in the next issue, which comes out very soon.

For the lecture/demo at Kingsborough I covered highlights on three topics: miniature painting, egg tempera, and water gilding. I wish I had a picture to share with you of the enthusiastic and attentive illustration class and Art Club in attendance! (If anyone present took one, I hope you'll email me at I talked with this group about the world of miniature art competition, sharing four of my miniature paintings along with some favorite show catalogs and books on miniature art. Among them were Wes and Rachelle Siegrist's Exquisite Miniatures, Love and Loss, American Portrait and Mourning Miniatures, by Robin Jaffee Frank, and The Monarchy in Portrait Miniatures From Elizabeth I to Queen Victoria, by D.S. Lavender Antiques, Ltd.

Next I demonstrated how I prepare egg tempera medium, and mix my egg tempera in several different ways, both in advance and on my palette. I showed them where I was in my progress on the egg tempera portions of the large panel painting above. I explained how with this spiritually-toned portrait I am borrowing aspects of icon painting to echo a spiritual feeling, such as working on a traditional arched icon panel with it's niched edge, and the inclusion of water gilding.

Having painted several layers of red clay bole on the background of the painting in progress, I demonstrated the laying down of one piece of gold leaf after moistening it with the breath, known in icon painting as "the breath of God". The professor who invited me to do this demo, Valerie Sokolova and I took lessons together in the past at the Prosopon School of Iconology, where more recently she has become a teacher, so in tandem with her I talked with the class a little about icon painting, it's spiritual significance, and how it involves both egg tempera and gold leaf.

I also brought along an actual icon painting I have in progress, and since Daisy, an Art Club member in attendance, expressed an interest in learning about icon painting, perhaps I'll do a post on this topic in the near future on my spiritual portraits blog,
Grander Joy of Spirit in Portraiture. Interesting questions arose on all three topics, and all too soon our time together was over. Delightful refreshments were served afterwards. Special thanks to my friend and colleague Valerie Sokolova, to dept. chair Judith Wilde, and to all the students and members of the Art Club in attendance. I really enjoyed meeting you!

Since I am catching up, tomorrow is when I'll cover just part of a topic that I will be including in this summer's Egg Tempera workshop: true gesso as a painting surface.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

An article in progress on my work in miniature

Today I am preparing an article on my work in miniature art for next issue of the Miniature Art Society of Florida newsletter. More coming soon....

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Parklane Miniature Show, Opening Tomorrow

The Parklane Gallery's 18th Annual Miniature Show begins tomorrow, May 4th, with over 300 miniatures on view, and will remain open til June 6th at 130 Park Lane in Kirkland, Washington near Seattle. Park Lane is open from 11AM to 6PM daily. I'm pleased to report that both "Madonna in the Leaves" and "Tulip Garden at Giverny" shown in my April 27 post, have been juried into this international miniature show.

I'm also preparing for a lecture/demonstration which Judith Wilde and Valerie Sokolova have graciously invited me to offer at Kingsborough College in Brooklyn this Wednesday, and I hope to have a picture or two to share from that experience later this week.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Two Miniature Shows Opening Today!

"Carribean Cruise Flag," (shown at actual size), 3 1/16" x 2 1/2", (framed size 5 7/8" x 4 7/8") egg tempera on Kelmscott vellum, at Seaside Art Gallery, Nags Head, North Carolina, or visit my art at Seaside to purchase this painting online

"Niche in Aix en Provence," (enlarged for detail), 1 7/8" x 1 1/2", (framed size 3 1/2" x 3 1/2") egg tempera on Kelmscott vellum, The Snow Goose Gallery, Bethlehem, PA (to purchase visit The Snow Goose Gallery)

I also have lovely items for sale in my new Etsy store online, which I'll introduce next post, but it's here too: Art by MonaDianeConner at Etsy