Friday, December 2, 2011

Serenity on the easel

Layer 2 out of four. Here I've started using medium and I'm beginning to develop the detail, especially in the dress.
Here is my current piece. I just finished the block in stage, so layer 1 out of 3 or 4, although with the detail on the kimono, it will probably be 4. This layer is strait tube paint, with little detail. My model is a friend of mine, who has sat for me before. She is sitting once a week and then I'm using photos and the kimono, to work when she is not there. It's 24x36, I'll probably work on it through January.

This is from the last time Melissa sat for me, about 5 years ago.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

(IN)organic: oil on copper

Here's a fun one I did a while back. I took copper sheeting and nailed it to a 1x8 piece of oak. The copper is so soft that I just wrapped it around the edges almost like wrapping canvas. Then I took a scouring pad and went to town on it, roughing up the surface so the paint would adhere, and distressed the edges, pounding it with a hammer. I laid flake white down for the "paper", clouding it out as I went up. The technical drawing is a helicopter part, and then I placed the Lily over, going past the paper into the cloudy part to emphasize the natural/organic.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Place Setting

I should subtitle this one : "ellipses are hard to paint" Here is the still life I have going. I'm doing an entirely different set up from my normal work. It is in front of a window, so it's lit from behind, casting the whole scene in shadow. I have the underpainting and the first layer done at this point, with a lot of work to go. As I head into next week my primary focus will be getting my shapes right, and developing the airiness of the shadows. This is a neat challenge for me. 14x18

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bougereau Master Copy in progress

I started work on my fall paintings last week, and they are moving ahead rapidly. I've got three paintings on easels right now, a master copy, a still life, and a portrait that I'm doing from life. This is the master copy. I'm working from a poster-print of a William Bougereau painting. So far I've completed the first two stages of the painting. I did a tonal under painting in diluted raw umber on the canvas for my drawing, and then have done a simplified version of the painting, the block in , in straight tube paint. from here I will go on and continue to refine and fix in subsequent layers. The painting is 18X24.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Portrait of Dan Mitchell

I painted my father in law this summer, which was great because I seem to paint women most often, so it was a great change of pace. I'm going to have to re-post pictures, because I ended up fiddling with it a little more since I took this. It's 18x24, my usual oil on linen affixed to a board.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Master Copies

I've decided to start doing master copies to start learning more from master artists. I was going to order really high quality prints from The Art Renewal Center, but they ended up being really pricey, so I just ordered some from My first is a 12x12 copy of Bougereau detail.
I'm working with a limited palette of white, black, raw umber, cad red, cad yellow, and ultramarine blue.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Portrait of my mother

Here's one I did a while ago, but haven't posted yet. My dad, about two years ago asked me to paint a portrait of my mother for him. He paid me with a shed. Of course my mom is a very busy woman and so it was at least a year after the shed was built that she finally came to sit for me.

Her request was that I paint her looking straight at the viewer, so that "the eyes will follow people around" Also, I painted it to correspond a portrait painted by my great- grandmother of my great-aunt Hannah. ( shown above, sorry for the glare)It is 16x20.

Here are a couple videos that my friend Sharon took while I was painting

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Summer Atelier

This summer I attended the summer Atelier at The School of Representational Art in Chicago. The Atelier was two mornings a week, one with a model and one just to work on a still . I had attended there seven years ago and it was nice to see that nothing had changed and to reconnect with a few people.

Two unfinished paintings, each with approx. 15-20 hours of work into them. The zebra painting is 11x14 and the figure is 18x24. I should have been able to get it further along, but the model missed several days because of heat. The school is at the top floor of an old building and isn't air conditioned, not only that, the windows are closed and blacked out for light control and their is black fabric hung everywhere insuring that there won't be any air flow. But I'm a trooper and made it in every day and stood at my easel with sweat dripping down my back. Just to let you know how I suffer for my art, I also had to walk about 5 miles to and from train stations each day, uphill both ways barefoot,without a Starbucks in sight. Ok, not barefoot or uphill and I pass about a dozen Starbucks.

What I did on Summer Vacation

Well, it's been a busy summer, but a good one and I accomplished a number of things. I moved my studio, which I have mixed feelings about. I loved being in the artist community at Water Street Studios. It was great to be around other artists, to have people to talk to an lots of opportunities. However, my new place is a much more logical fit right now.

I've moved to a house that my husband and I own. It was the house we bought as newlyweds but then moved out of before our second child was born to a much bigger place a few blocks away. Anyway, for the past few years we've been renting it out since we were unable to sell it, but last year our tenants moved out and we decided not to be landlords anymore (since we kinda hated it). So rather than the property sitting empty and me paying rent somewhere else we consolidated.

The advantages are, hey it's a whole house, I have lots of room to spread out and the kids have plenty of room to run and play. Also, it is five blocks from my house, and Ty's school, which I really like.

My main studio area is 12x24, plus I have a room for storage, a room for all the kids play stuff, a reception/office room and of course a kitchen.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Leah's ramblings on Art

So, I'm being filmed for a little mini show, with episodes of a few minutes long, and just got a clip sent for me to look at. I thought it would be fun to post the link, some of my ramblings about why I do what I do.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Expecting Persephone

"Expecting Persephone" 24x30 oil and 22 kt gold and copper leaf on linen. This was a real learning painting for me. I struggled through a number of spots and even though I am not entirely satisfied with it (really when am I ever?) I am proud of myself for pushing through some big problems and I learned alot. To see the in progress photos:

Dragon Fan

Well, I've finally finished a couple of paintings. Here is "The Dragon Fan" 16x20 oil on linen. For all of the in progress photos look at

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Figure drawings

10x12 charcoal on toned paper 
19x25 charcoal on toned paper 
11x14 graphite
19x25 charcoal

So my 5 year old son says to me the other day: "Mom, you're really good at drawing naked people" Here are a couple figure drawings I've been working on. The top three are drawings from life that I did in school, the fourth is actually a drawing from a sculpture. I spent several hours at the Art Institute drawing one of the sculptures. The second is a drawing done from life a few years ago. Lately my opportunities to work from life have been pretty much non existent. The last one is a master copy.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Studio

My studio was remarkably clean this morning, So I figured I better document it. Even at its cleanest my studio is still pretty cluttery. It's a little over 300 square feet and half of it is dedicated kid space. My dad built a play loft for them so they have two levels of space. I have a stage that I move around to catch natural light for models. A light box area that fits 2-3 still life set ups and a desk area. Usually I keep 2 major paintings going at a time and do random small ones along the way. I generally work between 15 and 20 hours a week, and the kids are with me the whole time since they aren't in school yet. They are pretty good at entertaining themselves,they have a lot of toys there, but mainly they draw and paint and work with playdough. They also run around and visit the other artists in the studio.

I work at Water Street Studios in Batavia IL. It's a community art center that rents space to about 30 artists whose work ranges from sculpture and ceramics to painting, photography, and graphic design. We have classrooms for teaching and a gallery that is home to 3 juried shows a year.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Andre Reading

I asked one of my brothers to sit for me recently, he was on spring break from grad school, he agreed to do it, but had a ton of homework so he read while I painted it. It was a really comfortable time of reading and painting and chatting and I hope that comes through in the painting. It is oil on canvas, 22x28 (I think) and I spent between 6 and 8 hours on it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Painting of the Month Club

So I had an idea. You know all of those fruit of the month, cigar of the month, wine of the month etc clubs that you can subscribe to? The ones where you pay an upfront fee, and over the course of a specified number of months, usually 3, 6, 9, and 12 you get either one item every month, or one every other month. I was thinking I could do the same thing with art. Paintings would be originals, not prints and would range in size from 5x7 to 11x14 be of any number of subjects, still life, figurative, landscape, portrait, maybe even an abstract. It would almost be like buying a futures contract on art!

A 3 month subscription would be for 150.00, and you would get 2 paintings
A 6 month subscription would cost 225.00 and you would get 3 paintings
A 12 month subscription would cost 350 and you would get 6 paintings

What do you think?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Caroline in red

Here is a sketch I did on Saturday while I was live painting at the gallery. 11x14 oil on linen on board.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hanging the Wash

18x24 oil on linen. This Painting is currently in the winter show at the Water Street Studios gallery. I painted this one off a photograph Joe took of Verity and I hanging the sheets on the line while we were on vacation at my grandmother's farm. Don't worry it's not a self portrait, for all of you thinking "hey, isn't her hair darker and isn't she a bit heftier than that?" I've always liked genre paintings, especially mothers and children. Rather than try for a tightly rendered finished version, I did this alla prima and tried to keep a fresh feeling to the brush strokes. Available at Water Street Studios in Batavia: 950.00

Here's a link to the blog of another artist at Water Street who does wonderful vintage inspired mixed media work Rebecca Ersfeld for Vintage Living.

Still life "PEWTER" 5X7

This year one of my plans is to do a number of small still lifes (5X7 8X10) with just one or two simple items, in order to push my skills and require a greater attention to detail. This is one of those. I picked just a simple pewter pitcher that I worked a very limited palette on. Available: 197.00

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fastest Portrait Ever!

11x14 portrait. Just finished this commission in record time. It's small and not super detailed, but I was still pleased to finish it in about 6 hours. It's something I'm not getting paid for it so I didn't want to invest a huge amount of time, but I have to say, I impressed myself with this one!

Expecting Persephone (in progress)

Drawing and block in of my current painting, "Expecting Persephone" Long way to go on it yet, but I did get the canvas covered today so I can have a better idea of where I'm going with it. The gold background will be gold leafed, I just painted it in so I could judge colors better. The ideas behind it is the story of Demeter and Persephone, except I started it before Persephone is born. Demeter of course is the goddess of the harvest and motherhood, when Persephone her daughter is taken by Hades, she eats 3 pommegranit seeds and then has to return to Hades for three months of the year, Demeter mourns her daughters absence, plunging the world into winter. My painting is an allegorical portrait built around the idea that even as we expect our babies we do so with the knowledge that as sure as the seasons, they will grow up and leave, but the expectation of loss does not diminish our love.

Continuing work on this one. I took a couple of weeks off of it, which was good because I solved some problems. Her face needed to be lengthened both to be accurate to the model and to give the figure the maturity that the story needs. Also worked on the background elements to prepare for the gold leafing and solidified the values a little more.

Started gold-leafing and realized that I'm not really that awesome at it. I need to order more to finish.

EEP! I might be done! Going to let it sit for a week and see if anything else needs to be done.