Sunday, December 29, 2013

"Afternoon Shadows", Pastel, 16" x 6 3/4"

This is something I painted two years ago. At the time I was very frustrated with it so it never saw the light of day. I pulled it out a few days ago to see if there was something I could do to "" it..... with fresh eyes and a new perspective, I let the painting tell me what it needed... I listened. This didn't turn out the way I had intended, but I am willing to accept what it wants to be. I am calling it "Winter Afternoon Shadows". It is painted on UArt 600 (which might have been part of the problem, as I really don't like 600 grit). I do remember using Mount Visions and Great Americans, anything else is a blur............

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Last Tuesday's Portrait workshop sketch, 15" x 12" painted on Canson MT

I belong to a local art group that meets every Tuesday. Two Tuesdays a month we do a portrait workshop (I wish it were at least three Tuesdays a month... oh well...). I ended up with something I liked this past Tuesday, so I thought I would share it here.
What I want to share is the success I think I had in capturing skin tone while keeping it loose. I spent at most an hour's time painting this, which for me is pretty fast. I'm finding (as I am sure you all know already, as do I) that the more I do this the faster I get, and the more confident I feel. The moral of this story is, "paint, paint, paint, as much as you can, it does make a difference"...

Anyway, here it is, my one hour sketch painted on Canson paper, (the color is Sand), using Giraults, with a smattering of old Grumbachers, and maybe a Rembrandt or two...... I started out with a charcoal value sketch, and went in with the pastels, working dark to light.

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

"Timberpoint Morning", Pastel, 7" x 10", Painted on Canson MT paper

Well, I thought I would do a quick sketch using a photo I took at a local marina. A few years ago I had taken a drive there early in the morning to capture the morning light. It's a simple composition, so I thought just a quick sketch to get me painting.... well, after two days of painting, I guess it doesn't count as a quick sketch does it?

It's small, only 7"x10", painted on Canson MT, felt gray, using Mount Visions, Unisons, Art Spectrums, Senneliers, and maybe one Great American. I am trying to work out simplifying grasses, as well as capture the light. 
© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Summer Light, "tweaked"......

After staring at this painting for a few days, I felt there were some small tweaks that needed to be done.  For me, it's about the whole package.  Design, value, and color all have their roles to play in a painting, and when something is off, it needs to be addressed.  Even the smallest of changes can make enough of a difference to be worthwhile doing.

Towards the center of the foliage there was a purple flower making an uncomfortable tangent with a green piece of foliage.  I took care of that, along with adding a cast shadow on the light spot on the rim of the pot on the right.  That light spot was too "regular" of a shape, and by putting in a cast shadow I was able to add some interest.  Lastly, I subtly adjusted the value of the pot in the shadow portion, adding some blue to create more of a rounded shape.  It was feeling a bit flat to me. 

This is a better photo of the painting, the colors and values are truer to the painting.

I do believe this is now finished.  It's at the framer, so I can't tinker with it anymore!

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Summer Light, Pastel, 17" x 11 1/2", Painted on Wallis Pro

I know it's been a while since I've posted a painting and I apologize.  I've been working on this one for a few weeks, and I think I am done.  I don't do many floral paintings, but this one caught my eye because of the light.  My goal was to both capture the light and paint loosely.  I believe when there are masses of flowers to paint it lends itself to a looser approach.

I started out with a Pan Pastel underpainting, sprayed it with Spectrafix fixative, and then went in with the sticks.

First is the finished painting:

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.
Here is the underpainting:

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.
As you can see I ended up extending the bottom of the painting to show more bricks.  That wasn't the plan, it just turned out that way.  I tried to let some of the underpainting show through and it does, though not everywhere. 
Here is a step mid way through the process:

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"Flowers at Meadow Croft", a Plein air, 5" x 8"

I apologize for not posting in quite some time.  I've been very busy this summer, and unfortunately I have not been painting as much as I'd like.  Things are quieting down now, and I'm looking forward to painting what's been in my head for what feels like a very long time!

Here is a little plein air I did this evening at a place called Meadow Croft Estate.  John E. Roosevelt lived there during Long Island's Cold Coast Era and President Theodore Roosevelt visited there regularly.  It is now a Suffolk County museum.

The light there this evening wasn't great, there are a lot of trees which keeps the sun out in the evening.  I chose to paint the flowers because at least I could get color if I couldn't get light.  I painted this on Wallis Pro, using Unisons, Mount Visions and Great American pastels.

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Another Robert Genn "gem"...... "The Trouble with Green"..... and my advice.... Listen to your Palette!

I enjoy Robert Genn's twice-weekly letter, and one of this week's is a subject most artists either struggle with or at the very least work extra hard at.  It's about the color green, and how to tame it (he is talking about the landscape, but it will work in still life and florals as well).  The approach he is talking about is something I've been doing for years, but I thought I would share his words as his explanation says it perfectly.

"July 2, 2013

Dear Christine,
Yesterday, Gale Courtney of Manson, WA, USA wrote, "I am not happy
trying to mix greens and want to know the secret!  Your twice-weekly
letters make me scurry out to my studio and begin to paint--except for
trees, grasses and leprechauns."

Thanks, Gale.  "Green" is a wide range of hues common in nature that have
been predestined to make painters turn to drink. To make matters worse,
green suffers from long-standing literary baggage; green trees, green
grass, green with envy, etc. These sorts of clich├ęs can colour our
greens greener than they actually are. A good way to overcome green
literature is to try to paint the sunlit and then the shaded part of any
number of green leaves.

The first law of green is observation. You need to look long and hard
at that green thing and try to figure out its makeup in pigment. A
broad hint--not to be taken as universal--in nature, greens are often
loaded with orange. A good rule is not to squeeze out any green without
squeezing out a decent dollop of orange.

Unless your work warrants it, or you happen to be actually painting
leprechauns, emerald, Phthalo green and all the outrageous "Kelly"
greens should be taken down to the bottom of the garden and given to
the fairies. A duller green such as sap green, Jenkins green, Olive
green deep or Chromium oxide green should be front and center on your
palette. Further, excellent greens can be mixed using various yellows
and blues. Like a lot of things, you need to keep looking and doing to
get the hang of it.

Purples and roses such as Ultramarine violet and Permanent red violet
light are excellent neutralizers of loud greens. When used neat in the
same stroke with a loud green they provide beguiling colour excitement.
The great colourist Merlin Enabnit used to call this effect

Many instructors will point you to the colour theory systems of Albert
H. Munsell (1858-1918), Wilhelm Ostwald (1853-1952), or Josef Albers
(1888-1976). Theirs is fascinating and highly valuable material, but
some of the best colourists I ever met knew nothing about these guys
until I started dropping their names. The art of colour mixing is mainly
a function of temperament and patience.

Best regards,


PS: "There is a logic of colors, and it is with this alone, and not
with the logic of the brain, that the painter should conform." (Paul

Esoterica: "Chromophobia" is not just a 2005 film featuring the Fiennes
family, it's actually a fear of colour manifested in some people and
most problematical when found in artists. I first became aware of it in
art school when I heard students and instructors say they "didn't like
red," etc. Green, it turned out, was the most offensive. For various
reasons, some of us hold prejudices about certain colours and these
prejudices may impede our use of them. Once identified as a prejudice,
a new and often exciting learning curve can begin. Even with green."

A few comments from me.....

As a pastel artist I find this approach to the color green both exciting and fairly easy to employ.  Because we pastelists don't have to "mix" our colors, but rather just have to select the color from our already available palette, it's not quite as cumbersome to have to "think" about the color, then mix the color, then paint the color.  We just have to think, pick and paint, and if it doesn't work, pick again, until we get the results we're after.  Often times a color just screams to be picked up, our palette talks to us.  Listen to your palette, sometimes it knows what it's talking about!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Robert Genn's twice weekly letter, "Make a List"

One more, this is an excerpt from Robert Genn's twice weekly letters dated October 30, 2012, and is titled "Make a List":

"Stepping into an environment with an open mind and no plan is possible.
Such a serendipitous attitude can surprise with joy and unforeseen
opportunities. But you can also be caught unprepared and blind to both
potential and problems. Just as walking right by a particular o...wl in a
certain kind of forest is possible, you need to know how to find what
you're looking for. Go out with a list.

A list from a recent mountain sortie suggests looking for:

+ Foreground design that echoes background design.

+ Large patterns of complexity and arbitrary abstraction.

+ Contrast of light and weather for potential drama.

+ Opportunities for neutralized and gradated grays.

+ Opportunities for high colour in counterpoint.

+ Authentic form, inside knowledge and specific detail.

Some artists may not find it necessary to write this sort of thing down
and keep referring to the items while shifting the easel. Beginning
artists, particularly, should write them down. For advanced and focused
artists, list items can be more automatic and burned into the creative
psyche. For all of us, self-briefing before going out or starting a
project sharpens artistic wit.

If you catch my drift, a list is the unseen backbone of passion. A list
gives work the appearance of effortless creativity. Make a list."

Wise words...

One more Robert Genn twice weekly letter "The Alchemy of Art"

Another excerpt from Robert Genn's twice weekly letters, this one is dated April 15th and is titled "The Alchemy of Art":

Painting is not a witch's brew. With applied curiosity and reason, a
dedicated student can grasp the processes. Often straightforward and
practical, the best processes are the ones you figure out for yourself.
Further, there are laws. They're not like the law of gravity, wh...ich
pretty well guarantees an apple will fall on the head of a Newton who
sits under it. The laws of art are conventions, and are there for the
breaking. Lots of them exist, both for practical and eternal reasons.
Here are just a few:

Too many colours mixed together make mud.

A poorly thought-out painting is almost always weak.

A beginner's scales lead to a professional's concertos.

Painting is easy, but painting well is difficult.

Most art is not improved by a committee.

Chance and accident are best guided by a knowing hand.

Good artists never blame their tools or their situations.

Doing it is better than talking about doing it.

Asking "What could be?" leads to what is.

Paintings are for all time. Quality is always in style.

You can't put in a nickel and expect a dollar tune.

The flame of uniqueness still needs regular stoking.

There's no such thing as an undiscovered genius.

In painting, drawing is still the bottom line.

Great artists know well the joys of studenthood.

Better work is made by workers who love their work.

Robert Genn's twice weekly letters.. they are real gems...

I am getting caught up on Robert Genn's twice weekly letters, and I found this to be thought provoking ( this is an excerpt from his May 17th email on the art of negative thinking):

"Success, it seems, favours rigorous self-criticism. Here are some other
interesting items I gleaned from the book (by former
Indiana and Texas Tech college basketball coach Bob Knight, aided by Bob
Hammel: "The Power of Negative Thinking: An Unconventional Approach to Achieving Positive Results."):

Never gloat. Don't talk too much. Don't seek praise. Failure is endemic.
Success is being hard to please. Be intolerant of failure. The easiest
person to fool is yourself. Know your weaknesses. Be tough. Never let
scanty positives override glaring negatives. Don't be a good loser.
Don't satisfy yourself by just knowing you can do it. Do it."

Yes indeed, food for thought.....
I know, I haven't posted an image and my blog is all about images, (art is visual)..... I just thought this was worth sharing with those that haven't seen it.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Maritime Museum Plein Air Painting on Canson Paper, 8" x 10"

It was a beautiful day today here in New York. Breezy, not too hot, sunny, just beautiful. I went out with a good friend to do some plein air painting. The last time I tried this (2 weeks ago), I trashed everything I did. Three paintings (and I use that term lightly...) went into the garbage. I used primed paper that I made, I think it was Golden pumice gel.

Back to basics. I like Canson paper, I don't have to think about an underpainting, all I need to do is select the color and have at it. That's what I did. This time I didn't use the ever popular tobacco, but instead I used an all time favorite of mine, dark gray. It's a nice cool neutral, and it proved to be an excellent starting point for this particular subject. At least for me it was, it felt right.

Here is a photo of my subject:

Here is what I ended up with:

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

Size is 8"x10" ish.... a bit shorter than 10" on the long side. I'm hoping the more I do this the better I will get.... I didn't capture all the colors I wanted to, I think more greens might have been nice. I also wanted to capture that redish color in the tree (the one with the light trunk), but I was having a hard time finding that right color. I sort of danced around it and never addressed it properly.... but I am a fan of blues and purples, so it works I think.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

One hour black and white pastel portrait study, done on Canson dark gray, 14" x 12"

I thought I would try to paint a black and white pastel at a portrait workshop that I attend. It definitely is different than using charcoal or graphite. I was still thinking pastel, yet no color... kind of weird. But... I did enjoy it, and I think I will be doing it more often. It's a neat way to just do something different, yet still do pastels. And it's a great way to concentrate on values, which are so important.

I know the size of the pupils aren't quite the same and need tweaking, but this is for learning's sake, I will just apply the knowledge to the next one.   Not perfect, just an hour's worth of pasteling, a good exercise.

I painted this on dark gray Canson paper, and I used black, white and gray pastels, both warm and cool. NuPastels, Giraults, and Grumbachers (very old...) were used. Size is 14" x 12" ish....
© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

Monday, May 20, 2013

"Lilacs", another painting without a sketch, 18" x 12 1/2"

The lilacs are in full bloom here, and they are beautiful. Last week I just had to paint them, but what's a person to do, there are sooooo many little petals. I tried the same approach as I did with the pansies, it was the only way I could manage these beautiful flowers. The last time I tried to paint lilacs was probably 20 years ago, and it was a disaster. I actually tried to paint all the little petals , not a good idea. Since then I'd always avoided painting them, as I wasn' t sure how to simplify. I'm more comfortable simplifying theses days, it's definitely the way to go for a subject like this. I may noodle a bit more with the background on the right, I used a really nice red violet in there and I may want to put a bit more in. I don't want to overdo it, but a little more might be nice.

My daughter likes this one, and she's asked if I can frame it and put it in her room. Of course I said yes .

This is done on Canson Mi Teintes, paper color tobacco. I used mostly Schmincke and Giraults, the size is 18" x 12 1/2". 

I am having a difficult time getting an accurate photo to post here.  It looks fine on my computer, but once I post it here the colors and values change.  This is the best I could come up with:

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

Here is the setup I painted from.  As you can see, I've worked on this a bit more, refining the flowers and playing with the background.  This photo is a bit washed out, it's difficult to get a good photo with lights on the painting, it tends to distort the values.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

"The Architect", Pastel, 16" x 18", Painted on Wallis Belgium Mist

I do believe I am finally done with this painting.  I thoroughly enjoyed the process, so much that I am fired up to do another portrait.  I'm not sure who my next victim will be.  I'm thinking about my daughter, maybe......

This is very close to the original painting, I think I got the colors and values represented accurately.  Taking photos of my work is always a science experiment, I keep on trying until I get it right.  Thank goodness for digital photography, it makes things so much easier.

I ended up with almost a square format here, and I quite like it.  I've always been partial to either square formats or landscape formats for portraits.  I know, it's not what most people expect, and I think that is what I like about it, the fact that it's unexpected.

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Painting without a sketch..... something I find very difficult to do.  I thought I would try painting some pansies today, taking a break from my commission.  Sometimes I need to do that to clear my head and relax. 

I painted with some friends this morning, I always appreciate the opportunity to do that.  My friend's wife had some pansies in a pot outside.  They were beautiful, but there were so many!  I figured if I got lost in the sketch I'd never get to paint, they'd die first!  So, I quickly put some abstract shapes where I thought the flowers should go, placed where I wanted the pot to be, and started painting.  Like I said, for me this is definitely out of my comfort zone. 

This one is painted with mostly Senneliers and Schminckes, such soft lucious pastels.  I had one green Girault too.  It is done on Canson Mi Teintes, the color is Ivy.  Size is  18" x 12 1/2". 

This first photo is just the painting:

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

This next photo is the painting with the set up, you can see my set of Senneliers on the table.  The colors in the painting here are a bit washed out, there was a light over my shoulder, and when I light up my paintings and try to take a photo, the colors get washed out.  You can see that even the paper doesn't look dark green, it looks gray.  This is to show what I painted from:

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

"Tulips for the Girls", Pastel, 8" x 11"

It occurred to me that I never shared this painting on my blog.  It is something I painted a few years ago, and it was around Easter.  So, in honor of  Easter and the promise of Spring, I am posting this painting.    I ended up giving prints of this to my Mom, my sisters, and my sisters-in-law, thus the title "Tulips for the Girls".

I painted this on watercolor paper, with Art Spectrum Colourfix primer.  I used pan pastels sprayed with alcohol as the underpainting, and various sticks from my vast collection.

Happy Easter!

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.