Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Painting # 57 , " Strong Accent"

Every time I finish a new piece, I'm trying to continue the story behind the painting  with the flashy, interesting, meaningful title. I love giving short but deep names to my babies ( my paintings) . So this painting I called "Strong Accent" and I really hope it tells it all...I hope it will emulate some emotions,  perspective and energy and you will create your own story of this beautiful, strong woman with accent ....
Strong Accent oil on linen, 12x16

Painting 56.. "Heart on a Sleeve"

Is it really silly, stupid, or even dangerous to wear your heart on your sleeve? 
Is it crazy to show vulnerability? To try new things, or invest in love and new relationships when there is no guarantee?  
What is the secret to leading life wholeheartedly? Where is a path to a deeper connection, empathy, a sense of belonging ... love?
Brene Brown is my hero. She has scientifically proven that in order to live life to the fullest we MUST embrace our vulnerability. It is not a weakness! In fact, it takes a great deal of courage to show vulnerability. Most importantly, vulnerability is a birthplace for love, renovation, creativity and change. 
Watch this:

In a meanwhile - my painting 56, "Red on Pink" revisited

"Red on Pink" oil on board, 11x10

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Painting 54.."Spring Equinox"

Almost forgot about my painting #54 - "Spring Equinox" which I painted alla prima in two sessions ..I found it really handy to start with a very quick and direct sketch to throw right colors on canvas. 40 minutes for the first session. Next day at the same light situation took me 2 hours to finish it . I'm happy with the result :)

"Spring Equinox" oil on board , 12x16

Day 55 " Ceramic and Bloom"

As my high key painting saga continues, so my personal life saga unfolds, bringing new interesting twists and turns...Someone said "At least your life is not boring!" Yeaa, far from it ...The truth is I welcome all those changes, shifts and twists ...I Love it ..It keeps me excited ..makes me feel so alive and energized ;) How I wish to write this blog in Russian, as it almost impossible to express what I really feel about my Art  and experiencing my Life in other language...
Anyway...it's all good, and here is another little piece and a demo for my class. "Ceramic and Bloom"

"Ceramic and Bloom" oil on linen, 9x12

Monday, March 23, 2015

Notes from Alexander Zimin workshop

So, I finally have a moment to put my notes together from the Sacha workshop.
A few artist friends asked me to act like a stenographer, and take down everything of interest from the lectures with Zimin.
Even though we had an excellent professional translator, oil painting vocabulary is often so specific that many things simply get lost in the translation. 
Here are some of the highlights from the lectures and private conversations with Sacha:
1. Before setting up your still life, think about the concept and plan, and set the tonal key of your future piece. What is a tonal key? There are four basic ones:
a. predominant white value, two mid-subdominant values and dark discord;
b. predominant light mid-tone, subdominant darks and white discord;
c. predominant dark mid-tone, subdominant black and white and light mid-tone discord;
d. predominant darkest, subdominant mid-tones, white discord.
2. After you have decided on your tonal key and are done setting up the still life, it is a good idea to make a small thumbnail tonal sketch and a small color sketch.
3. Alexander never starts with toning the canvas, or any sort of underpainting, washes, etc. He calls himself "Sniper". His concept is shoot straight and don't beat around the bush, find the right color and place it boldly and assertively (well, if only we all can do that!). He never maps the colors -- just through a right tone on the canvas. 
4. Sacha uses a mix of turpentine (the stinky one) and damar varnish -- well you can imagine the smell, but he feels that that exact mix never fails him, versus Gamsol or other mediums. He doesn't use any oils at all. He constantly reminded that it's just HIS way, and may not work for everyone.
5. The high key painting Sacha starts with is a neutral drawing of big masses and general shapes, or what we call "envelope". And placement of a big masses .
6. And right after that he mixes big piles of mid-tones for shadows.
7. It's all about temperature shifts -- not light against dark, but cool against warm, and vise versa.
8. He starts with 2, 3 tones to set up the whole atmosphere of the painting.
9. From general shapes, he transitions to more details, constantly paying attention to the relationship between subjects, background and foreground. But first he is blocking the canvas with his midtones.
10. When we asked about colors, we learned an interesting approach -- Sacha, although he uses lots of colors on his palette, almost never paints with fugitive colors like Alizarin, Veridian and Ultramarin. He still has Ultramarin on his palette. He prefers Cadmiums and Cobalts. He likes Prussian Blue and Golden Green that is "darker and warmer than sap".
11. Lots of big brushes, and lots of oil paint. ... Don't really clean the brushes between strokes. ... putting aside, taking a fresh one and so on. ... It keeps painting fresh and adds texture.
12. And lastly, he stressed that it all depends on "Setting the goal, planning and finding the tonal key''.

"Roses and Lemons" oil on linen, 18x24

"Day 53 -" Blooming"

Finally, a plein air... I'm posting  a second plein air painting of the season ...I took my class to paint in Arboretum last Monday.What a treat !!! Blooming cherry trees and sakuras are all covered in a pink majestic haze...

"Blooming" oil on linen, 9x12

Sunday, March 22, 2015

"Bounty" - painting 51

Im going to combine 2 days of painting in one post, as I"ve got 10 days to catching up.
Day 51, 52  - both paintings are  from Sasha workshop, but in  a very different tonal key...The "Tonal Key" is not really a high key, mid key or low key principles, as many of you think. It's actually more complicated than that! All details are coming up in my notes, so stay tuned ;)
"Bounty" is bold in color and contrast, painting - simply because it was a  plein air set up on a sunny, crisp day..."White Roses" is seemingly monochromatic , but has such a variety of nuances in a very subtle value shifts .
"Bounty" oil on linen, 18 x 24

"White Roses" oil on linen, 11x14

"Spring Romance" painting # 50

Still no notes on Zimin workshop ..Soon, guys :) and here is another painting from Sasha workshop, and my favorite. That "Spring Romance" turned out to be short lived, but experiencing life, learning from it, moving on stronger than ever is how I live and I won't trade it for anything . Knowing how precious, fragile and elusive  Love is, bringing me so much excitement, energy and curiosity...
Speaking of which .....I went to see Cirque du Soleil  "Kurious" IT WAS UNNNBELIEVABLE!!!!
I won't mind to fly to Las Vegas just to see that performance again...

"Spring Romance" oil on linen, 18x24

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Painting 49.."Roses and Lemons"

Yet another piece I created at the Zimin workshop. I finished it today and can have a peace now. Never mind the title :))))) I tried to come with something more original, but totally uninspired about yellow roses and lemons :)
Bare with me ..The next one will be more sophisticated..I think ....:)

"Roses and Lemons" oil on linen, 20x16

Painting 48 "English Breakfast"

"Back to saddle", or rather, to my usual routine of painting and posting promptly.  After  awkwardly strange, but interesting  10 days of "walking on eggshells", Universe came to the rescue and arranged it all the way it should be....
This painting I created, while still on the workshop with Alexander Zimin, an outstanding painter, very intuitive and skilfull artist. Im still working on the notes, trying to put together minutes, in my own artistic vocabulary, which is slightly different from the translation we received on the workshop.
Back to "English Breakfast" - I think it will be the last title where I will use word "English"  for quite sometime :))))
"English Breakfast" oil on linen , 9x12 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Day 47.."Airy Morning"

It's day 47 of my "365 in 365" challenge and it's a day one of Alexander Zimin workshop .
I will post tomorrow more information about this event..as for now it's
the painting from the workshop and "the painter's prime" by Irwin Greenberg ( every artist must read)

"Airy Morning" oil on linen, 16x20
Irwin Greenberg circulated this primer to his students at the High School of Art & Design and the Art Students League of New York. He died, age 87, in 2009.
Like a lot of realist painters, I started teaching as a way to stabilize my income. I was amazed to discover that it would be one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. Somehow, everything I have learned in my life found a place in the studio classroom. Teaching also forced me to objectify my thoughts and make them comprehensible to my students. But the greatest reward, by far, was getting to know that special kind of person, the art student. 
His hunger to learn and commitment to what Robert Henri called the “art spirit” has been a never-ending inspiration to me. I am sure I got the larger share in the exchange.

1. Paint every day.
2. Paint until you feel physical strain. Take a break and then paint some more.
3. Suggest.
4. When at an impasse, look at the work of masters.
5. Buy the best materials you can afford.
6. Let your enthusiasm show.
7. Find a way to support yourself.
8. Be your own toughest critic.
9. Develop a sense of humor about yourself.
10. Develop the habit of work. Start early every day. When you take a break, don’t eat. Instead, drink a glass of water.
11. Don’t settle for yourself at a mediocre level.
12. Don’t allow yourself to be crushed by failure. Rembrandt had failures. Success grows from failure.
13. Be a brother (or sister) to all struggling artists.
14. Keep it simple.
15. Know your art equipment and take care of it.
16. Have a set of materials ready wherever you go.
17. Always be on time for work, class, and appointments.
18. Meet deadlines. Be better than your word.
19. Find a mate who is really a mate.
20. Don’t be envious of anyone who is more talented than you. Be the best you can be.
21. Prizes are nice, but the real competition is with yesterday’s performance.
22. Give yourself room to fail and fight like hell to achieve.
23. Go to sleep thinking about what you’re going to do first thing tomorrow.
24. Analyze the work of great painters. Study how they emphasize and subordinate.
25. Find out the fewest material things you need to live.
26. Remember: Michelangelo was once a helpless baby. Great works are the result of heroic struggle.
27. There are no worthwhile tricks in art; find the answer.
28. Throw yourself into each painting heart and soul.
29. Commit yourself to a life in art.
30. No struggle, no progress.
31. Do rather than don’t.
32. Don’t say “I haven’t the time.” You have as much time everyday as the great masters.
33. Read. Be conversant with the great ideas.
34. No matter what you do for a living, nurture your art.
35. Ask. Be hungry to learn.
36. You are always the student in a one-person art school. You are also the teacher of that class.
37. Find the artists who are on your wavelength and constantly increase that list.
38. Take pride in your work.
39. Take pride in yourself.
40. No one is a better authority on your feelings than you are.
41. When painting, always keep in mind what your picture is about.
42. Be organized.
43. When you’re in trouble, study the lives of those who’ve done great things.
44. “Poor me” is no help at all.
45. Look for what you can learn from the great painters, not what’s wrong with them.
46. Look. Really look.
47. Overcome errors in observing by exaggerating the opposite.
48. Critics are painters who flunked out.
49. Stay away from put-down artists.
50. If you’re at a loss for what to do next, do a self-portrait.
51. Never say “I can’t.” It closes the door to potential development.
52. Be ingenious. Howard Pyle got his start in illustration by illustrating his own stories.
53. All doors open to a hard push.
54. If art is hard, it’s because you’re struggling to go beyond what you know you can do.
55. Draw everywhere and all the time. An artist is a sketchbook with a person attached.
56. There is art in any endeavor done well.
57. If you’ve been able to put a personal response into your work, others will feel it and they will be your audience.
58. Money is O.K., but it isn’t what life is about.
59. Spend less than you earn.
60. Be modest; be self-critical, but aim for the highest.