The Salmagundi Spring Auctions are Here!

February 27, 2012

Kullaf_Anne_3_Twilight, Central Park South

“Twilight, Central Park South”, oil on canvas is available in the first auction which will be held on March 2 at 8 p.m., click on the image to bid online.

The Club’s auctions, held in the fall and in the spring, are its primary fund raisers. The historic brownstone which houses the Club is currently undergoing a large renovation project–the main gallery is being restored to its original design complete with domed skylight! As the oldest arts club in the US, it is important that the Club retain its status as a center for American art, remaining true to its historic roots in the 19th and 20th century.

The auctions are a great way for collectors to acquire quality art by some of New York’s popular artist members. Opening bids begin at 1/3 the retail value of the artwork. For example, my painting featured in the first auction, “Twilight, Central Park South” will have an opening bid of $375. I would not offer this piece in a gallery for less than $1200! Depending on the auction traffic and popularity of the artist, sometimes it is possible to acquire a piece for less than retail value. So why do artists participate in these auctions?

For me, it is an opportunity to introduce my work to new collectors while supporting an institution that I am proud to be a member of. I don’t do charity auctions on a regular basis, and I only do them if they are curated and for an art-related organization. In doing so, I know my work is hanging next to work of the same professional quality. Also, it is important to note that the Club shares the profit from the sales with the artists on a 50-50 basis. This ensures that professional artists, who rely on the income from selling their paintings, will participate.

The Club’s online bidding system allows collectors to place bids in advance or to bid live as the auction takes place. If you are going to bid in advance and cannot bid during the auction either online or in person because of other commitments, it is wise to offer the amount you are comfortable paying for the piece, rather than to just offer the minimum bid. If you prefer to bid live, you can do so at the Club or online from the comfort of your home.

Here are links to the 2 pieces I have in the second and third auctions, I hope you will take the opportunity to support the Club and to acquire some new artwork for your collection!

Second Auction, March 11 at 2 p.m. features “Work Horse”

Third Auction, March 16 at 8 p.m. features “Into the Park”

Next week I will have an update on the first auction!


Making the Most of Technology

February 20, 2012

Plein air sketch done in Art Rage on the iPad

I just bought an iPad! Having seen some amazing things done in an app called Art Rage ($6.99 via download from the App Store), I decided to give it a try. I’ve only played with it since Saturday and have completed 3 sketches, the two shown here plus a still life of some roses that is on my Facebook page.  I’m very pleased with the results I’ve gotten with it so far and plan to incorporate it into my process in the following ways:

Plein Air Sketching Tool – the iPad is a great tool for sketching in urban environments where you want to set up quickly and be fairly unobtrusive. Instead of carrying a knapsack of pastels or charcoal and getting myself dirty in the process, I can easily set up in a coffee shop or park bench and sketch in the city…relatively unnoticed. This is great if you want to avoid the distraction of people stopping by wanting to have a look at what you are drawing. It also means you can get some sketching done on the way to meetings or other events where you don’t really want to show up with your hands (or clothes) all dirty from charcoal or pastel.

Experimenting with a Bolder Look – I’m also hoping that experimenting with the technology will help me to make my work done with traditional materials (oil, acrylic and pastel) bolder and more graphic. I find that the sketch tools in Art Rage lend themselves to a bolder start (at least the way I work with it they do), having this type of sketch done on site in combination with my reference photos may translate into a bolder application of paint at the start when I’m working on canvas in the studio.

As a Teaching Tool – Not only will learning this app give me the opportunity to propose workshops and courses featuring the technology, but it will also allow me to use the app as a means of demonstrating techniques of blocking in darks and lights, mixing colors optically and getting a more graphic look even when I am teaching traditional media.

As a Commercial Illustration Tool – I am not looking to create paintings digitally, I can easily do that on canvas and want to keep my commercial design work separate from my painting. Working in a bolder more graphic style will allow me to promote my digital work separately from my painting, possibly creating a new stream of revenue from commercial projects.

I think it’s important to stay current with technologies that can help us grow creatively as artists. Many artists I know feel there is something romantic about only using traditional materials and methods in their work. That may be so but I believe it is more important to be versatile and to keep learning, learning ways to apply new technologies is no different than learning a new media. It forces you to experiment and to discover new ways of enhancing your existing processes and ensures that you continuously evolve as an artist.

Studio urban landscape study, also done in Art Rage on the iPad


Choosing the Course that is Right for You

February 13, 2012

Landscape demo from Beginner's Acrylic Workshop

How do you decide which art courses to take? Do you base your decision on your experience level? On a specific medium that you wish to learn? Or is the class you sign up for dictated purely by what is available during the time in your schedule that works? Here are some tips on how to select the course that is best for you, the one that you will get the most from attending.

Learn About the Instructor Before You Sign Up – All artists who teach have different styles of paintings, as well as different styles of teaching. Ideally, the instructor you choose to work with will work in a style that is of interest to you and will teach in a way that meshes with your learning style. If you are interested in abstract painting, sign up for a course taught by an abstract painter. While it sounds quite simplistic, it is always amazing to me the number of people that register for my courses who have not seen my work either online or in person. You should like the work the instructor shows, not because they will force you to paint in the same manner that they do, but because it is likely that they will teach from experience and that experience will be based on the style in which they work.

If possible, speak with other students who have studied with the instructor you are considering. Find out what kind of teaching style the instructor has, do they encourage experimentation and expression? Or, do they offer a more rules-based painting approach?  What type of critiques do they provide? Do they do demonstrations in class? All of these are things you should know before you register.

Be Honest with Yourself About Your Experience and Skill Level – This is another area that is very important. If you are a beginner, there is nothing to be gained by registering for an intermediate or advanced level course. Many art centers allow students to self-qualify themselves. If you are a beginner, sign up for a beginner level course. You will get much more individual attention, and will be less likely to get frustrated. An intermediate to advanced level student will have a strong basic knowledge of concepts such as form, value, proportion, perspective, color theory and composition, these won’t be terms they are hearing for the first times. They will also have good basic drawing skills and a basic understanding of the medium that is being taught in the class. For example, you shouldn’t sign up for an intermediate course in oils if you haven’t used them since high school and don’t know which brushes to use or what painting medium is used for.

Know Exactly What You Wish to Gain from the Course – When you sign up for a new course, you should set goals for yourself. What specifically do you wish to learn? How much time will you have to practice and attend classes? Let the instructor know up front what skills you are hoping to improve, bring in a sample of some of your current or previous work and be specific with examples of what you like and what you would like to do better.

Instructors want their students to succeed, we don’t want you to feel frustrated. Painting should be a pleasurable experience, otherwise, there is no point to doing it. There is a myth that all art has to come from struggle, that isn’t true. Yes, it’s hard work just like anything else worth doing, but it should be work you enjoy, not something that frustrates you or causes anxiety. Try to develop a detached and logical attitude toward the learning process. Don’t expect to leave class with a masterpiece, use the time to learn and experiment, you will get much further much faster if you do!


Capturing Form and Translucency

February 6, 2012

Clementines - demo in oil, 8x10 in.

There are 2 important things to remember when painting translucent objects that have textured surfaces such as clementines, oranges or lemons:

Form takes precedence over pattern; and don’t confuse bright with light.

When rendering a spherical or rounded object such as a piece of fruit, you need to make it appear 3 dimensional by focusing on the values that create its form, rather than any patterns that create texture on the surface. With a clementine, you simply ignore the dimpling in the skin and paint the shadow areas first, followed by the middle value sections and on into the lights. Block this in during the under painting stage and ignore the surface texture completely. When you are ready to go to color, you begin the same way, working from your shadow areas through the mid tones all the way through the lightest areas. This is where the light versus bright concept comes into play.

To make the shadow colors on the fruit above, first I mixed ultramarine and alizarin to create a violet-blue. I then mixed cadmium red light and cadmium yellow medium to make an orange the correct color of the medium value of the celmentine’s skin color. I mixed these two together (the violet-blue and the middle value orange) to create the shadow color, which I then blocked in. Next I took the middle value orange by itself and laid it in on the areas that were in the middle value range on the fruit, with a slight overlap where they met the shadows already blocked in. To create the lightest areas of the fruit, I simply added more cadmium yellow to the middle value orange. I did not add any white to the orange color of the skin, doing so would have made it lighter and duller, rather than brighter and more vibrant. White dulls colors down and can make them appear chalky, always ask yourself is it lighter or is it brighter, if it’s brighter, avoid the white!

To add a suggestion of the surface texture on the skin, I implied a few of the dimples with a few small brush strokes of middle value color into the shadow areas and few strokes of shadow color in the mid tones. You don’t need to paint every little dimple on the skin! Doing so would just cause confusion and probably diminish the 3 dimensional form you just worked so hard to create! Also, when applying the highlights, remember to add a little bit of yellow to the warm ones and some blue to the cool ones, rather than just white by itself, temperature is important. If you apply the highlights with a brush that is a little bit “beat up” you can actually imply even more of the skin texture, but don’t overdo it.

For the peeled segments of the fruit, you take the same approach as for the skin. Block in the forms first, work through the shadow areas and ignore the surface texture of the white membrane. When you are ready to paint the membrane (I’m told it is called “pith”), remember to only add the most prominent strands of it, just as with the skin, you don’t want to to overdo the surface texture. Keep the parts of the pith in the shadow areas cool in tone by adding some blue violets in the white, and the parts in light warm with some yellows added into the white.

Translucent objects are a challenge to paint, others you might enjoy trying include lemons, limes,  or onions (especially the skins). If you remember to focus on form and value and brights vs. lights, your fruit will look naturally translucent and appealing, good enough to eat!