Sunday, June 25, 2017

10 tips to get started painting when you are blocked

Facing a blank canvas or panel and not sure how to start?  Or you hate to mess up the perfectly prepped support with a misguided paint stroke?  Or you fiddle around doing everything BUT paint?  Here are some easy ways to get over the hump and get that first bit of paint on the support.  Once you start, you will be off and running.

1Set a time in your schedule to paint. At the appointed time, face your easel and pick up your brush.  99% of the inspiration is simply showing up.

2Set a routine of habits to get started.  When the scheduled time to paint arrives, have a routine in place where you set up your palette, prepare the work space and materials, get some tea or coffee or a snack next to your work station, turn on some music, and then get started.  Have a routine that leads to the inevitable outcome of starting to paint. 

3.  Work in a series.  If you work in a series, you don't need to decide every day what you are going to paint.  You already know.  Set a goal to paint ten flower still lifes or five boat paintings or six 12" x 12" summer paintings. Paint a series of plein air flowers or a series of animal portraits.  Pick a theme to explore or a certain place to paint on successive days. Paint a dozen still lifes of eggs with different lighting.  Or still lifes that are all white.  Find what excites you and explore it in depth. 

4.  Tint your support.  Experiment with different ground colors to see what you like best.  Try to select a middle value so that if you put down a dark mark, it is dark against the tinted ground and if you put down a light mark, it will read as a light value against the middle tone.  I like to tint my panels with a magenta color that works well for me.  Starting with a pre-tinted canvas gets you over that "white canvas" hump.

5.   If you know what you want to paint, try tinting the support with the complementary colors of the end painting.  Where you want a blue sky, tint your support orange.  Where you will have green grass in the final painting, use a red tint.  Complementary colors vibrate optically so small bits of the complement will create visual excitement in the final painting.

6.  Sketch out the basic layout of the painting using either pencils or a brush loaded with oil and some transparent pigment like alizarin crimson or primary red - magenta.  This gets something on the canvas, breaking that mentality of a "perfect surface", and gets the juices flowing.


7.  Start painting using the darkest of the dark values.  Whenever I feel intimidated about starting a new painting, I tell myself to just start with the dark values, working to the lighter values, and then the painting will take over.  This always gets me over the hump.  A dark value can always be lightened as the painting progresses but it is nearly impossible to darken a light value.  While you can scrape it off, it will never be as dark as the first marks you put down.

8.   Start with some quick, small, warm up paintings.  I like to paint some fast, small paintings to get back into painting if I have been out of town at a series of shows or tending to other tasks related to my art business that are not necessarily painting.  Small, warm up paintings get you back in the habit of painting without a big, emotional commitment or financial investment.  You can even use throw away, canvas pad paper for these.  

9.  I find if I have been out of the studio for a few days, gessoing and tinting panels helps get me back into the painting groove.  Just the action of slinging paint back and forth trains my hand and eye to get back into the habit of painting again in an easy, routine way.


10.  Sketch out your ideas on paper first and work out where you want the major color and value blocks to go.  Once you have a map, it is easier to start the journey.

Let me know if you have your own tips for getting past a "block".  
Thanks for following along.

Happy Trails!



Saturday, June 24, 2017

Shows Shows Shows!

June has been a busy month with three shows in a row.  The first was the Webster Groves Art Fair on the west side of Saint Louis, then off to Hinsdale west of Chicago, and then to the Art Fair on the Square in Bloomington.  Shows are always a blast to do!  I love meeting art patrons and artists, seeing old friends, both artists and collectors, exhibiting my new paintings, and being able to enjoy some fabulous art from all over the country.  

I have done Webster Groves for several years now and love everything about this show.   Most of all, the beautiful setting.  I mean, how gorgeous is this setting?

Webster Groves Art Fair, 2017.  My booth is on the far left.
  This was my first time at the beautiful Hinsdale Art Fair.  The keyword for Hinsdale is TRAINS!  The show is set in a park next to the train tracks and trains including freight trains, tanker trains, Metra trains(to Chicago), and Amtrak trains passed every five minutes -- sometimes two-three trains in quick succession.  I don't think I have ever seen so many trains in my life!  I was totally fascinated with the whole operation.  I began to understand my Grandfather's love of trains.  Hinsdale is a lovely, historic community with fabulous architecture.  Founded in 1873, Hinsdale is listed in the top 1% of wealthiest towns in Illinois.

Finally, I returned once again to the Art Fair on the Square in Bloomington, Indiana, a local show for me.  Favoring to stay closer to home, I turned down two other shows the same weekend to do this one.  Bloomington is sleepier in the summer when the university empties out but there was, nonetheless, a steady stream of engaged art collectors throughout this one day show.  

The only down side to three shows in a row means no time to paint!  But I am back in the studio now and back to work.

Thanks for following along!

Happy Trails!



Wednesday, June 21, 2017

052617 S 18x24 Rosy Sunset with Boats vs2

This version of the boat painting (and likely the last for awhile!) I created because I loved the one I did for a client with the rosy sky and decided to do another version of it.
I start with a drawing of the boats and then mix a black hue from Cadmium Red Medium and Ultramarine Blue with a touch of Cadmium Yellow Light and start blocking in the darkest values on the painting.
 I mix a rusty red color for the boat bottoms and the fisherman's shed.
Using Cerulean Blue and Cadmium Red Medium to mix a grey-blue, I block in the sides of the boats and the fishing nets.
For the light blue on the sides and rooftops of the boats, I mix a touch of Cerulean Blue with Titanium White.
I use the same Cerulean Blue and White mix to block in the top of the sky.  A rosy color is mixed using Cadmium Red Medium, Primary Red-Magenta and Titanium White and is blocked in starting at the horizon line and onto the water reflections.
The sky blue and rosy sunset colors are mixed to get the mid-section of the sky where the two hues meet and mingle.
Finally, I add the rigging and other details.  I keep fine tuning the lines and values and water until I am satisfied.
"Rosy Sunset on Boats", oil on panel, 18" x 24", Code #052617 S 18x24, c. 2017 Charlene Marsh.
Great news!  This painting is AVAILABLE TO PURCHASE  You can see a magnification, details, and purchase it HERE.

Thanks for tuning in and following along!
Happy Trails!


Thanks for tuning in and following along!

Happy Trails!



Tuesday, June 20, 2017

050417 S 18x24 Rosy Sunset With Boats vs1

I have a collector who wanted a boat scene with a rosy sunset.  He liked the earlier boat scenes I had done but preferred a rosy sky over a cloudy gray sky.

Here's one version of the boats with a gray sky:
And here's another version with some hint of rose on the clouds and water but still, overall, a gray, cloudy day. 
I pulled prints of some past snow scenes which may seem odd for a boat scene.  But I knew the rosy sky in the forest snow scenes would be perfect for the boats.  I had three past paintings that would serve for reference.
I knew I could gradate the sky from rose to cerulean that would work well in the sky and reflected on the water.  These two (top and below) were done "en plein air" on location in the forest.
This one(below) is a studio painting based on one of the plein air pieces.  I love all the color in this painting including the sky.
I made a detailed drawing of the boat scene on a pre-tinted panel.
I also set up a bulletin board with the snow sunset scenes and the past boat scenes that I would use for inspiration and reference. 
I started by painting in the dark values first, mixing a black with Ultramarine Blue and Cadmium Red Medium.
I mix up a dark red using more Cadmium Red Medium in the Ultra Blue and apply that to the bottom of the boats and in the water.
I added a small amount of Cadmium Yellow Light to the mix for some the colors I used in the water and nets.

I mixed up the white on the boats using Titanium White and a touch of Cerulean blue.  Okay, I'll admit, the photos were terrible here and really fuzzy.  When I work at night the photos just don't turn out too good.  I trashed two or three.  I really need to figure out how to get better photos when shooting at night!  I'll leave these in just you can see which values and hues were added next.

I mixed up a pool of light cerulean blue with lots of white and a pool of the light rosy color using a touch of Cadmium Red and/or Yellow and/or Primary Magenta.  I used each color in both the sky and the water at the same time.  I mixed the two to get the neutral color where the rose shifts to blue.
I even turned the painting upside down to add the color to the water.  I could also step back and see how the colors were gradating across the surface without the distraction of "seeing" the positive elements, i.e. the boats and masts. 
The sky sometimes crosses over the masts and then I pull the masts back out in front.  I am ready to start adding the rigging and other details.
Here's my palette by the end of the painting.  You can see the rose and cerulean pools of color for the sky.  And here's the finished painting:
"Rosy Sunset With Boats", 18" x 24", oil on panel, c. Charlene Marsh, Code #050417 S 18x24. SOLD

This painting really evokes the tranquility and beauty of the sunset on the water and on the boats. 

Thanks for following along!

Happy Sailing!



Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Hoosier Women Artists Statehouse Reception 051917

"Ice Cold Reflections, January 21, 2017", plein air oil, 12" x 12", c. 2016, by Charlene Marsh.
I recently entered a plein air snow scene, painted deep in the forest, into a competition sponsored by the Indiana Arts Commission to select work to hang in the Statehouse in the Lieutenant Governor's Office, Auditor's Office and Treasurer's Office

Entrants were only allowed to enter one piece so I entered a favorite snow scene that I am not ready to sell and was notified that my painting was selected to hang in the Statehouse in the Lt. Governor's Office!  The painting will be in the Statehouse for a year and then, afterwards, travel to the Haan Mansion Museum of Indiana Art, in Lafayette, Indiana for three months.  I won't get it back until November, 2018. 


Charlene Marsh with her winning entry.

This year, they staged a lovely reception and ceremony giving all accepted artists a frame-able certificate.  Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch and other dignitaries spoke during the presentation

Here is the beautiful reception hall in the Statehouse as people are arriving.  Our paintings were arranged on easels around the perimeter.


This competition was first held in 2009 and there were over 100 entries and only seven were accepted.  This year there were 208 entries and 34 accepted.  The first year, I dropped off my painting at the Lt. Governor's Office and that was it.   

Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch speaking during the ceremony.

So this year was quite a pleasant contrast to my experience in 2009.


Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch and Charlene Marsh with her plein air oil painting, "Ice Cold Reflections, January 21, 2016", Code #012116 12x12, c. 2017.
Indiana's First Lady, Janet Holcomb, also attended the reception with First Dog, Henry.  Henry, a Schnauzer, has his own Twitter account, @FirstDogHenry.  
Charlene Marsh and First Lady, Janet Holcomb, with First Dog, Henry.

As it turns out, Mrs, Holcomb grew up in Muncie, Indiana, my hometown, and majored in Fine Art at Ball State University.  Not only that, we both graduated from the same high school, Muncie Burris Laboratory School which is a really small school.  Only fifty kids in my graduating class.  Rare to meet a fellow graduate from my alma mater!  So we really hit it off.  And, of course, anyone who loves their dog enough to bring him to the Statehouse is my kind of First Lady!
First Lady, Janet Holcomb, and Charlene Marsh with her oil painting at the Statehouse.

I wore a vintage dress that had been my grandmother's, circa 1947, that the Lt. Gov. just loved!  The dress had a label that said "New York" which indicates it was very special to her because my grandmother sewed most all of her clothing.  

  Charlene Marsh and First Dog, Henry.
The reception and ceremony was held on May 19, 2017 which also happens to be my birthday and my big brother's birthday, same day, three years apart.  

So my brother and his wife came over from Bloomington, Illinois and we made a day of it in downtown Indianapolis walking along the canal and visiting the Eiteljorg Musem and Monument Circle all laid out in a very walkable fashion from the Statehouse.

Natalie Marsh and Charlene Marsh at the canal in downtown Indianapolis.

The Eiteljorg had a special dog exhibit in addition to all their fabulous galleries full of Native American and Western Art.  We had a delicious lunch in their cafe before touring the exhibits.  Having just completed a series of Homeless Shelter Dogs Portraits, I particularly enjoyed the exhibition featuring dogs and their role in our lives throughout history. 

Keith Marsh at the Eiteljorg Museum.

Usually I spend my birthday working at an art fair but I think I like taking the day off to have some fun instead!