Reawakening the Oil Painter

The desire to be an artist all through my school years was such a passion for me.  Unfortunately, my parents didn’t allow me to pursue that passion as a career.  I was always directed to the path they felt worthy, useful and lucrative – art just didn’t fall into those criteria.

Well, now that I am retired from a long career in the corporate world, I can devote as much time as I desire to my passions.  I am accomplished in the art of stained glass as well as Opus mosaic.  Recently I decided to sign up for oil painting classes at a local studio.  One thing I can say positively about Tucson is that it is “an incubator for aspiring artists”.  Every type of art class is readily available around town, all you have to do is sign up and pay your tuition and you can be on your way.

When I was in high school and up until the time I had my first son, I painted in oil and acrylics often.  I had never had any formal training on the techniques or principles of painting.  In fact the only art I studied in school was literature (which was not considered a waste of time by my family).  So I signed up for oil painting class, telling the instructor that I was a beginner.  A beginner was truthfully what I considered myself.

This instructor’s way of teaching was for you to pick out a picture from the vast collection of pictures she had and to replicate that painting.  She felt the average painting takes about four weeks to complete.  I picked a picture of a Tuscan Farmhouse with a Vineyard and immediately was corrected because I said I chose that picture because it went with the decor of my home.  Oh, she seemed like she might be a force to reckon with!  I began to paint following her tutelage and quickly became engrossed in the process of creation, I was painting a bit faster than she liked her students to paint.  I had to temper my speed down …….. remember I had told her I was a beginner.  The painting took the four weeks she required.  And it is now hanging in my family room. 

Okay, so since we have to replicate other artist’s work, I want to paint Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhone.  Unfortunately, this picture is not in her cache of paintings to be copied.  Her initial reaction was that his work was and is very schizophrenic but she relented and let me paint it.  This, too, took an arduous four weeks to complete.

This past weekend, I painted this sunset.  I had taken this photo a few months ago with the intent of painting it in oils.  I enjoy painting very much and at home I can paint at my own pace – this 16 x 20 oil took me a couple of hours to complete.  I absolutely love painting wet on wet!

The Horned Owl

I haven’t been working in stained glass much lately since I have been concentrating on adding more mosaics to my garden wall.  I had started this piece during the winter while my son was visiting. But for some reason the small tesserae tiles kept calling to me.  I have just completed the owl (finally) and it is now hanging in the window of my breakfast nook.

Actually, I needed to finish the piece because I will be using the bench to layout a commission just received – the mosaic will be 8 feet wide by 4-1/2 feet tall on completion.  It is a desert sunset quite unique to the view from my client’s home.  All the 3/8” tiles have been ordered – the shipment should arrive within the next week or so.  I still have to purchase the 1” glass tiles I use for bordering as well as the thin set and grout but that can wait for now.  The main focus of my attention for the foreseeable future will be on building the mosaic mural.

Stay tuned for updates on the progress of this new project.

The Desert Sunset

This morning I finished grouting my latest panel.  I am quite pleased with this creation, having this time used a different type of  mosaic tile.  This piece is 4 feet wide and 3 feet tall consisting of approximately 10,000 3/8 inch Crystal Murrini tiles.  I chose these tiles  for the multiplicity of color they provided and have been rewarded with the extra sparkle of light reflected.

My main purpose in creating this mural was to use it as an advertisement of my work.  I would like very much to be creating “art” for other’s yard walls and it seems to me that most desert dwellers gravitate to Southwestern Art.  I’m thinking the reason might be because so many Arizonan’s are transplants from other states, just like me.

So now, my next task is to contact a photographer to have him capture some images to create an advertisement for several local magazines.  I have several flowers, some replicas of famous paintings and now some Southwestern themes.  And then…….. Hope the commissions start rolling in.

The Kokopelli

I’m not much for kitschy Southwestern art, but most people living in the Desert Southwest are into this type of artwork.  I caved and created a kokopelli mosaic for garden wall.

My intentions are to have a local photographer create a magazine layout for the advertisement of my work.  If you follow my  blog, you know most of my work both in glass and mosaic, is nature inspired.  In glass, I particularly like creating wild animals; in mosaic, I mostly create flowers or replications of French posters.  But hopefully to attain outside work, I am adding to the gallery on my garden wall some of the more common Southwestern themes that so many desert dwellers seem to admire.

This winter brought three nights of 12 degree temperatures to my part of the desert.  Many plants were frozen and just did not return this spring.  I had to have the gardeners remove about 50 feet of vine that covered a good portion of the North wall in my garden.  I guess this was fortuitous because now I am left with significantly more “canvas” for my mosaic work.  The kokopelli is complete and installed on that wall and I am now working on a desert sunset for another section of the same wall.

The Budding Rose Mosaic

I haven’t been blogging for a while, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working.  Since my home is no longer on the market and I have decided to stay in Arizona at least until the real estate market picks up, I am back to prettying up my garden wall.

This winter brought several 12* nights to the Sonora Desert – most of the plantings in my garden did not survive those frigid temperatures. That is with the exception of my roses, they seem to have flourished.

Because I love roses and most flowering plants, during the winter I created several patterns of single flowers.  Included in that process was the design and creation of a budding rose.  The mosaic is now on the East wall of my garden and I am happy to share it. 

Le Chat Noir

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 

Le Chat Noir (French for “The Black Cat”) was a 19th-century cabaret, meaning entertainment, in the bohemian Montmartre district of Paris. It was opened on 18 November 1881 at 84 Boulevard Rochechouart by the artist Rodolphe Salis, and closed in 1897 after Salis’ death (much to the disappointment of Picasso and others who looked for it when they came to Paris for the Exposition in 1900).

Perhaps best known now by its iconic Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen poster art, in its heyday it was a bustling nightclub — part artist salon, part rowdy music hall. According to Salis: “The Chat Noir is the most extraordinary cabaret in the world. You rub shoulders with the most famous men of Paris, meeting there with foreigners from every corner of the world.”

I have an 11″ x 14″ of this poster framed and hanging in the hallway of my home.  One day I was sitting at my desk  with my mosaic software opened and decided to try my hand at creating a mosaic of this famous poster.  I was successful – here’s a picture of the finished mosaic.  By the way, it on the wall in my backyard along with all the others – I guess you could say it is hanging in my outdoor gallery.

The Sunflower Mosaic

This mosaic was laid out, put on the wall and grouted in a matter of a couple of days.  I was attempting to keep myself busy so I didn’t have time to think about Damian (my cat/companion who had to be put to sleep last Thursday).  I have to confess, keeping busy did not help in the least. 

As the cliché goes …. times heals all wounds.  And, that is what I am hoping for, but in the meantime I will continue to create more artwork until this house finally sells and I can move back to family and friends.

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