Thursday, January 31, 2008

The alphabet paintings

My alphabet series is made with 50 year old plastic letters. As you can see the challenge is to make them all quite different even though the letters are a constant: These two for Isabell have been made so that a friend can pick one to give to the little baby: Corey's Mimi got this alphabet for him when I was exhibiting at the Athen ARTSfest last May. Corey loves animals: Sometimes doilies are just about overpowering:
The alphabets are also a good way to compare different color combinations:

Monday, January 28, 2008

Pressed plants

Years ago I began experimenting with pressed plants. As a requirement for a summer college course, I gathered plants and pressed them in a simple, handmade press. I started spray painting the plants so that they would become strong, dark images in my paintings. The actual plant is pressed into the plaster: The letters in the following work stand for Nate, Lindsay and Corey (my son, daughter-in-law and grandson): I was unable to identify this plant and so it remains unnamed. These panels are 11" wide and 16" tall: Queen Anne's Lace make a sunburst pattern when pressed: I passed the course, but I am unable to name many local plants now:

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fine Arts & Wine

During my last years of teaching, I decided to try being a vendor at art shows. I was juried into a wonderful summer show at Dr. Frank's winery on Keuka Lake (one of the finger lakes of New York). My wife loved the wine and my work was received very well. Meanwhile Marna Wirth, a friend of mine, had collected many wine labels on wine tours. She asked me to make something with them. The following series was born. I then had paintings especially for that annual Fine Arts & Wine show. Unfortunately the show has ceased to exist after a seven year run.
Yes, actual labels are used in the making of these paintings. The paintings are 16 inches wide and 12 inches high.
Joe Serphillips, who works at Dr. Frank's, kindly keeps me supplied with labels.
I highly recommend the wine. Check out the winery either online or go to one of their daily tastings.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Two important links

Andy Wales is the elementary art teacher in Athens, PA. He convinced me that blogging is a great way to get on the world wide web. I have still not explored all of his blog, but I highly recommend it. He does some professional cartoon work. He believes that comics are a great way to teach reading. His blog covers a wide range of interests. Be sure to read his latest adventure of Girl Power - Enigma's Path.

Jack Herger is my cousin who has been in the advertising field for quite awhile. Visit his website to see some interesting graphics and to read some clever writing. We are anxiously waiting for him to post examples of his work. He recently clarified his stand on my use of doilies in my artwork - "... they (doilies) delve a little TOO deeply into one's feminine side!"

Monday, January 21, 2008

Fine tuning.

Because my colors are added layer after layer, my paintings get darker and darker as I try to get to the finished work. You might compare this with the previous version found under "The commissioned work is done?"

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The second 3 panel painting

This digital image quite closely depicts the colors in this three panel work. A color layer of a special red paint has be added to both side panels. The panels are dark.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Time to build a frame

To begin framing a piece, I first build a wooden frame for the back of the panel. That is necessary for two reasons: The masonite panel is 1/4" thick and the frame makes it sturdier. The frame gives me a surface to nail the slats onto the artwork:Here are some slats that have had the inside painted - the side next to the panel's edge. I generally use off-white, semi-gloss latex: The slats are 1 5/8" deep. The wire to hold the painting to the wall is in the space betweeen the back of the panel and the bottom edge of the slat: This new three-panel painting didn't quite work out the way I planned. For the second color layer on the middle piece, I used more red. As things turned out, it is quite a bit more red than the two outside panels. I plan to add a little red to them:

Friday, January 11, 2008

The comissioned work is done?

I think that I should stop here. I have added one more color layer of brown with a little blue. I tried to be subtle (me?) and used a small amount of color. Originally I had planned on brushing in some areas with a tan, semi-opaque color to create more contrast: The following photos show the colors of the panels in a somewhat different light. Actually our kitchen lights and the camera flash. I think that this might give a better idea of how the panels might look on a wall. I hope that these images give a better sense of the size of the panels. (My son Nate and Lindsay were married this past weekend! - you can see one of their wedding photos on the counter.) Next week I will be framing the panels with my slat frames that I make for most of my paintings. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


Not that... Because I use pressed board to paint on (called masonite or standard board), I can cut my panels any size I want to. I have chosen 4" x 6" for my smallest paintings. I have a large craftsman table saw that has made my life much easier. It helps with my framing, too. I usually cut them from scraps of larger projects (frugal). I mount the finished panels on a block of wood which is a little larger than the painting. Unmounted examples: The commissioned three-panel painting now has a third layer of color applied - a red and brown mixture. I think that I need a fourth layer to make more contrast and to get closer to the final colors that the client has specified. The finished work should be on my next post.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A heart-warming project!

When my friend Marie Henninger saw that I had begun using doilies to make textures, she got an idea. She had a doily that her mother had made before she passed away. Marie thought that I should make many paintings with that doily. She would then give them to her family, and they all would have a remembrance of their mother, aunt, grandmother. Some of the 15 paintings that I made: It was a natural for me because I typically make 10 to 20 paintings at one time. Because there is so much time needed for drying between color layers, an "assembly line" approach has proven efficient: As you can see by these examples, each piece came out differently from the others. It was a great opportunity for me to experiment with subtle differences in the color layers - and some not so sublte differences:
Marie H was once a kindergarten teacher in the elementary school where I taught art. She taught both of my children.
The three-panel painting has received another color layer. I actually rub the paint over the surface and into the textures with my hand. I use paper towels to smooth the paint and cotton rags to remove the paint from various areas:

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Time for color!

After the plaster sets up and after sealing the plaster with two coats of a water-based varnish, it's time to start applying color. I generally make three "color-layers" starting with lighter colors and working towards darker. The following photos show first a yellow layer of paint. You may notice that some of the yellow has been removed. Next red has been applied over the yellow. Because the paints are semi-transparent, you will notice the color orange where the red is on top of yellow. Some places I have erased the red to expose either yellow or white.
The final color layer is a brown/green mixture. More colors have been created where overlapping occurs and where the green color has been erased. The commissioned work now has a yellow/orange layer. Stay tuned to see the next color layer added.