Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Painting Commissioned Portraits

Painting commissioned portraits is always challenging. Making an interesting painting as well as representing an individual to his or her satisfaction can sometimes be tricky. My latest incarnation as a portrait painter seems to be painting beloved, but deceased pets. My dear friend and dealer, Peg Goldberg, of Longstreth Goldberg Art, Naples, FL, called me a month or two ago close to tears. Her neighbor's dog "Maxwell Smart" had passed away that morning and they were all devastated. It seems Maxwell, a huge, happy, old yellow lab was the center of their lives. Peg asked me if I would paint Maxwell with his "parents", as a surprise. This is when a portrait painter has to make a decision- do I make an attempt at it or not? My policy is to always say yes. And truthfully I have yet to paint a portrait from which I didn't learn something new or which didn't push me out of my comfort zone in one way or another. I always feel like I gain from the experience. So I said "yes, I would love to paint Maxwell and Family!" Then Peg started sending me the only resource material she had, which included a very blurry low resolution image of Maxwell, and a couple bad shots of his people. The only story I had to go on was that Maxwell liked bananas. So that led to a picnic- Dejeuner sur L'herbe avec Lab. Since they live in Naples I looked at a Winslow Homer watercolor I love of palm trees, and invented a picnic lunch, including a banana. Peg gave me some input on the general appearance of her friends-face shape, type of clothing, etc. which was helpful. She loves the end result and is giving the painting to her friends for Christmas. What did I learn from this one? I definitely figured out palm trees, and I got better at making something from almost nothing. As long as my client is happy, then I am happy to have painted it.

The painting of Maxwell Smart is oil on panel 20" x 24"

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Illustrations for Three Digital Picture Books on utales

Here are the covers of three digital picture books I illustrated.
They are available at www.utales.com. There is also an iphone and ipad app available on itunes. Paloma's Pie is written by my collaborating author Jean Heilprin Diehl.

I did all the illustrations on an ipad using Sketchbook Pro. I included sounds and animation in The Princess on the Pea and The Baker Dog, by utilizing the utales tools.

Any book you purchase on utales supports Pencils of Promise http://www.pencilsofpromise.org/who-we-are So you can read a picture book with a child while helping another child somewhere in the world!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Portrait of a Family

This is a portrait I finished recently for a family in Ridgewood, New Jersey. I used the repetition of a triangle, referencing the shape in the roof of the house in the composition of the three figures. This is a device often seen in Early Renaissance panel paintings and frescoes which anchors the figures to the foreground while creating a connection and harmony between the foreground and the background of the painting.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Two new interiors-"Girl in Chair" paintings

Beauty and Beast; a Donut on the Table (oil on panel 8" x 10")

Girl in a Red Bandana with Cat (oil on panel 11" x 14")

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Summer Mural Installation

The mural I have been working on all summer was installed on Tuesday. I spent yesterday, touching up the seams and adding a few things. The installer, Stefan Alexander did a beautiful job putting it up. It is not an easy task handling all that canvas in a small space and hanging it without a crease or a wrinkle. I painted the hinges in the little door in the wall to disguise it. And I painted the doorknob, adding a few ladybugs. I also added some vines and olive branches wound into the shape of an infinity sign, among the doves above the window. And I put a big rabbit right in the foreground. He will be a guardian to Nicole when she plays in her room. Here are some details:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summer Mural

This summer I am working on a mural for a private home in Washington DC. The subject of the mural is a tree house, a mystical garden and portraits of the clients' three children.(and their dog Sophie) It is a great project and challenging in certain ways. There is a window and radiator in the wall which I am working into the composition. Changes are being made along the way to accommodate the interests of the children. Today I added a mare and her foal in the field behind the tree house. The progression of the images in this post are the thumb nail sketch above, then the color gouache study below and the third image is the mural about half way finished. The mural is painted in Golden Matte Fluid acrylics on primed flame retardant muslin.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Young Girl and Two Dogs in Summer

I finished this painting the other day. The catalyst for it was a photo I took of my daughter when she was about 13. I have had it on my drawing table in my studio since then (eight years) and I have always wanted to incorporate it into a painting. The setting is Andy's Way and it is late in the day- my favorite place and time. The dog running through the water is Rembrandt, who discovered that he loves water last summer. I guess he has some lab in him deep down in his gene pool. The Springer was inspired by my friend's dog, named McDuff.
The painting is 18" x 24" oil on panel.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Portrait of a Relationship

This is the narrative portrait that I finished recently. It was commissioned by a woman for the man she was about to marry, as a wedding gift. It was presented to him on the nineteenth and they were married on the 26th! It was a great project because the client completely understood the concept of a narrative portrait and had so many ideas to bring to the painting. The picture tells the story of their first "meaningful" date as well as the story of the proposal. Elements in the painting tell of her interests and his interests and how they are bringing those things and melding them into their relationship. Their dog, who is a big part of the picture (real and metaphorically) is the narrator of the painting and makes eye contact with the viewer. The client didn't want to be very "big" in the painting but rather wanted to be secondary to the story the painting is telling. Thus they are the couple standing in the middle distance, on the bank of the Chesapeake. Other elements of the painting emphasize the concept of a twosome- two sailboats, two trees, two towers on the bridge, etc. Here are four images from the first thumbnail studies, to the composition on graph paper, to the grisaille with partial imprimatura, and the finished painting below. It is oil on panel, 24" x 36".

Monday, January 31, 2011

Children's Book Conference Notes

I attended the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators this weekend. It was fantastic and very inspiring. I knew when I went that I would either decide to give up writing and illustrating children's books or I would be completely absorbed in the whole process again. Well the latter is what happened. The speakers at the conference were great. I really enjoyed Jules Feiffer, illustrator of The Phantom Tollbooth. His drawings are absolutely amazing....oh the line!! I also loved the stories that Lois Lowry told about the inspiration for her books. I still feel like my ideas and goals for my books are way left of center, and definitely not mass market, but I will keep going anyway. I am also fascinated by the idea of designing children books apps and I intend to figure out a way to do that with Mr. Hubbard's Heart. Above is a sketch and a finished image for "Crazy Canes" by JH Diehl.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Looking Out Andy's Way

Looking Out, Andy's Way oil on panel 18" x 24"
This is another painting inspired by Block Island and the human- dog relationship. In this painting, three boys and two dogs make up a pack, sitting by the water towards the end of the day, just watching the tide come in.