For about two years I've been featuring one of my paintings each week on my daricemachel.com website. Today I'm changing things up a bit. Instead of doing a featured painting I thought I'd show you one of my newest paintings along with the reference photo I used to create it. After visiting the sunflower field and taking about 50 photos I couldn't wait to paint sunflowers. This photo of a bee and his shadow really caught my eye. The color and texture was very appealing to me and I felt the challenge to paint it.
I used acrylics on a 9x12 gesso Masonite board for the painting. The smooth surface of the board allowed the paint to glide and blend perfectly. I always begin my paintings with a sketch, this one was no different. Once I was satisfied with the drawing I began painting the background of green foliage. Then moved on to the flower petals. The center of the sunflower was next. This section took quite awhile as you can imagine. I painted each seed on a dark background, shaping and highlighting as I went. The bee and his shadow were the final elements. I had the most fun painting the transparent wings.
I paint about 20 new minis every month. Some go to Village Gallery and some go to Kaukini Gallery. Below are five new ones I just delivered to Village Gallery this week. The Koi painting is 3x5 inches. The larger sunflower painting is 5x7, the smaller one is 3x4. In the bottom photo the Lahaina sea wall painting is 5x7, and the sunset is 4x6.
There is a new phenomenon on Maui that has tourists and locals going crazy, a field of Sunflowers. Every day this past week cars have been lining up along the highway for people to take a walk in the sunflowers. I've been seeing lots of posts on Facebook and Instagram and have been itching to go see these yellow beauties myself. Charlie and I made a trip over on Easter Sunday.
So what's so special about a field of sunflowers? Well for one, this is the first sunflower field planted in the Hawaiian Islands and for many Mauians this is the first time they every seen one. A Bio-fuel company planted 80 acres in February as an experiment to make bio-fuel. They planed for the flowers to bloom by Earth Day, March 23. But the blooming started Easter week. Who would have thought a field of sunflowers would draw such an attraction.
The rows of bright yellow flowers are really eye catching against the West Maui Mountains and bright blue sky. I took plenty of photos for painting references, I've already created my first mini painting of the field and I'm itching to get started on an oil painting. Charlie captured some amazing shots for his website and blog here is the link . I guarantee his photos are way better then mine, so keep your eye open for them.
Lahaina Harbor is one of my favorite places in Lahaina. Every time I go down to the harbor I have to take pictures. Sometimes I go down just so I can take pictures. I also love doing paintings of the harbor. The photo above was taken during a morning photo adventure I went on to get reference pictures for future paintings. Many of the cruise and fishing boats had already gone out, leaving quite a few slips empty. The yellow submarine in the photo above really stood out. It caught my attention and I took many photos of it from lots of angles. This photo also became the subject of my newest harbor painting.
I chose to do this painting in oils using a pallet knife because I wanted to have a lot of texture in it. The Pioneer Inn and lighthouse are two landmarks in Lahaina. The Pioneer Inn was built in 1901 and is one of the oldest operating hotels in the state of Hawaii. The Lahaina lighthouse was the first one built in Hawaii. It was built in 1840 to help guide whaleboats that were coming to shore. The original tower was built out of wood. The current one was rebuilt in 1916 out of concrete.
Originally my focus for this painting was to feature these two landmarks. However, the yellow submarine kind of took over. It's bright happy yellow color began to dominate the painting and the eye kept wanting to focus on it. To help pull more balance into the painting I added more yellow to the palm trees and added people with yellow shirts on the Trilogy ( boat on the far left ). The reflection of the lighthouse and tall mast also helped to balance the scene.
My original title for the painting was "Yellow Submarine". Every time I said the words I thought of the Beatles song and the lyrics would come to mind. I later changed the name to "Reef Dancer" when I discovered that was the name of the submarine. How I discovered the name was on Instagram. Heidi, the person responsible for running the Reef Dancer Instagram account liked my post I shared and began to follow me. She later followed me on Twitter and then sent me a message offering me two free passes for a ride on the reef dancer. I was thrilled to accept and told her I'd get in touch soon with our best day to do so.
Now here is where the adventure comes in. A few days later I received an email from a friend of Heidi's who lives in Philadelphia, wanting to know more about the painting and how to get a print for Heidi. After a few emails back and forth she decided on a canvas print to be stretched on a box frame. She also asked If I would personally deliver the print. I agreed I would and asked if she knew when Heidi would be working at the Reef Dancer. After getting the dates I used that as a perfect time to use my two free passes. I booked the ride for April 8th. This gave Charlie plenty of time to get the print made and mounted. Since the print was a surprise gift for Heidi I decided to wrap it up in a gift bag and wrote a card stating who the print was from.
The day arrived for our adventure on the Reef Dancer. I was pretty excited. Mostly because I couldn't wait to meet Heidi and give her her surprise. I had Charlie ready his camera so that he could capture the moment. When I walked up to the counter to check in, a young blond lady greeted me. I asked if she was Heidi and she said yes. I introduced myself and place the gift bag on the counter. After a few minutes of excited conversation about the history of Reef Dancer and the loss of her father ( the original owner of the submarine) I handed her the card and gift bag. When she unwrapped the print she became very excited. I was so happy and couldn't stop smiling. It felt so good to bring this sweet stranger a secret gift. Before boarding the yellow submarine, Heidi took the print to show the crew. Once I boarded I felt like a celebrity, all the crew members asked if I was the artist of the beautiful painting.
We couldn't have picked a better day to go out on the Reef Dancer. The weather was perfect, the ocean was calm and the sky was clear. The underwater cabin has air-conditioning and is completely surrounded by windows so you can see out both sides. The ride out to the reef took about 15 minuets. Most of that time we stayed on top to take in the views of Lahaina and photograph it. We watched as two lady divers got ready to jump in. It is their job to find sea creatures to bring to the viewing windows below. The kids on board had a great time seeing what they brought up from the sea floor. Charlie took a lot of great photos, you can see them and read his blog on his website, click here
So there you have it, my story of how I went from photo to painting to an adventure. I hope you enjoyed it.
The other day I received an email asking me to review an article about the best brands of oil paints. I was very impressed with the research they did and wanted to share it with you, my readers and students. You can find the article here.
I know how hard and confusing it can be for artists and students to know what brands of paint or brushes to buy. There are so many to choose from. The two brands of oil paint I recommend to my students are on the list in the article. They are Grumbacher Pre-Test and M. Graham. The reason I like these over the really cheap brands ( not on the list ) is because they cover well and you use less. I believe buying quality materials will help in achieving better results. It’s tough enough to get a good result when you are learning to paint without giving yourself a further handicap by using inferior paints, brushes and supports. Buying cheap is often a false economy and is likely to set you up for frustration and disappointment.
WonderStreet.com also has a great article on how to choose acrylic paints that are right for you. Take a moment to check it out.
Being interviewed by NY Clady for her "Be in the NYC Know" blog was a great experience. She put together some great questions that made me really think about my answers. If you get the chance read the interview, click on this link
Please leave a comment on the interview and share it with your friends on Twitter and Facebook. That's the best way to support my work. Thank you so very much.
While teaching I often talk about my parent's gallery, Lakeside Gallery in Kings Beach, Lake Tahoe. I share with them the rich history of it's beginning and the many wonderful art teachers I had the great fortune to meet and learn from. The most significant being my mother, Lola J Owen.
I put together the slideshow below of just a few photos of the gallery and some of the teachers. You can play the slideshow or click on each number as you read the description.
#1, The front entrance to the gallery. The main gallery was once a garage at my dad's sheet metal business, Sierra Sheet Metal. He converted the space for my mom to open the first gallery on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe. Dad built the little window box for my mom to plant petunias in each spring.
#2, These two photos show the side of the Gallery and the first Garden Art Show.
#3, The featured wall in the gallery was directly across from the entrance. The upper photo is featuring mom's paintings. I set up the display while she and dad were away on vacation. When the cats were away the mice would play. Mom didn't like to show off her work, but I did.
The lower photo is displaying Bela Bodo's paintings. Bela was a world class artist who showed in 24 galleries world wide. He was a master of French Impressionism and one of the many teachers who taught at the gallery.
#4, These three photos show how packed the art supply room was. I once had to do inventory on all those paint brushes, not a fun job to say the least. I didn't realize how spoiled an artist I was until I no longer had access to my own art supply store.
#5, The photo on the left is mom looking into the art supply room from the upper gallery. Notice the sign above her head and the books along the wall? At the time I took this photo I had no idea that I'd be a Walter Foster author. My book I co-wrote with 5 other amazing artist is called "The Art of Painting in Acrylic".
The photo on the right is the door way mom was standing under and was looking through the art supply room to the classroom.
#6, The frame shop was dad's domain. He could frame anything that came through his doors. He taught me a lot!
#7, The top photo in this set is me helping a young student. The bottom photo is mom and I showing off some framed art to the student who did it.
#8, In these three photos are some of the teachers who called Lakeside Gallery their second home. Upper left is Michelle Rielley who taught a sculpting class each summer. Lower left is Howard Reese who taught watercolor and oil. The photo on the right is Sally Seago, the red head. She came twice a year to teach her fun colorful impressionistic technique. All three of these teachers were quite popular and their classes always booked up fast.
#9, I did quite a bit of modeling for my mom and her Monday night portrait class. I lived just two blocks from the gallery. When ever a model canceled, I'd get a call. These two pictures are just a couple of poses I did. Neither of them made the cut for the final painting my mom did. I own the painting and will write about that another time.
#10, The top photo is a group of young students that would meet each Saturday for oil painting lessons with my mom. I'd get called in to help when she had more then 5 show up.
The lower image is some adult students with Bela Bodo' ( Bela is in the red shirt)
#11, 12 & 13 are all shots of the outside during winter.
I started a project a few weeks ago that I'd like to share with you. It's creating a 3D painting using sand mixed with gesso. This technique was taught to me by an artist friend who lives in Chico California, Debbie Chamberlin. Debbie, in my opinion, is truly the master of this technique and I'm very honored to own two of her beautiful paintings.
In the slideshow below you can see the progression of the painting from the beginning to the end. Feel free to stop the slideshow to view an image more closely. Photo number one shows you the sand, gesso and frosting bag I used.
Step 1, I first planned out my painting by doing a simple sketch. This helped me decide what parts I wanted to have in 3D. ( see photo number 2)
Step 2, I mixed sand with gesso in a disposable cup. I used a coarse sand I bought at an arts and craft store. The gesso I used is Liquitex Basics. Once I was satisfied with the thickness of the mixture I put it into a cake decorating frosting bag with a large round tip (See photo number 1). This allows me to control where I want the mixture to go. Next I squeeze out the mixture onto my canvas in the areas I've planned for, the coral, the belly and front flipper of the lower turtle and the shell and front flipper of the upper turtle. Using a pallet knife, I gently spread the mixture or separated it as needed. I let this dry for a couple of days until the mix is completely set.
Step 3, The dried sand/gesso is now hard as a rock and quite coarse, The texture is perfect for the coral but not the turtles. So I added a layer of just gesso onto the turtles. I also added gesso to the back lower flipper of the bottom turtle, both turtle necks, the under belly of the upper turtle, the outer shell of the lower turtle, the seaweed and the sea foam at the top of the painting (see photo number 4). I then let it dry a full day. The turtles were still to coarse so I sanded off some of the roughness and added another layer of gesso. I repeated this step twice more, until I got the level of smoothness I was wanting. In all I have one layer of sand/gesso and four layers of just gesso (see photo number 5). At this point I have five days into this painting.
Step 4, Time to start painting. The colors I chose for my underpainting are phthalo green, phthalo blue and titanium white. Starting at the top of my canvas I applied a light shade of the three colors and gradually darkened the mix as I came down the canvas. I used a 1 1/2 inch wash brush to apply the paint. ( see photo number 6). I dried this fist application with a hair dryer then added another layer of paint. Again I used my hair dryer to speed the drying. I then went over all the coral and seaweed with titanium white and started detailing the sea foam at the top of the canvas. ( see photo 7).
Step 5, Using cad yellow and cad red I painted the coral. This part is a bit challenging because it takes a lot of effort to get the paint into the tiny crevasses. I had to do a few thin layers, turning my canvas sideways and upside down to completely cover the coral. Then I painted the seaweed, But once it dried I didn't like the color I chose so I redid it in green. ( See photos 8 and 9).
Step 6, The turtles were next. I started with the lower one. I did his belly first using cad yellow, burnt sienna and orange. For the green area i used phthalo green and cad yellow. For the flippers I painted them in with phthalo green, phthalo blue and titanium white. The painted the spots with paynes gray. I painted his head last using all the colors I used for his body. ( see photo 10 ).
Step 7, On to the second turtle. For this one I started with his flippers and then shell. I left the head for last and I used all the colors that are in the first turtle. (see photo 11).
Step 8, This is my last step. I went over everything making sure all the crevasses were completely covered and adjusted highlights and shadows. ( see photo 12). It's now ready for varnish. I'm using a semi gloss varnish for this painting.
Those of you who follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram know I do a weekly featured painting on my www.daricemachel.com website every week. This week's featured painting is an oil painting of a Red Hibiscus. A few of my students in Chico attended the class where I taught this painting. Each student created their own version of it and found it to be quite chalenging.
In the slideshow below you will see not only the painting but also some products that can be purchased with the image on them.
In this step by step demo I'll show you how to create an interesting border for your paintings. This technique can be used for a variety of things, such as tree bark, barn door or an old clay pot, as shown in this picture of my painting.
What is hide glue? Hide glue is made from animal hides. It's used by wood workers and furniture builders. You can find it at your hardware store or home improvement stores. Here is a photo of the kind I use.
The supplies I used for this demo are all here in the photo below. The canvas size is 11x14 but you can use any size you want. I Purchased the hide glue and blue painters tape at my local hardware store. For this demo I chose yellow and red as my underpainting and lamp black as my top coat. You can use any contrasting colors for this technique.
Cracking paint using hide glue is a three step process and it will take two days to complete due to the drying time of the glue.
Step one. First measure and drew lines two inches from the edge of the canvas on all four sides. Then use the blue painters tape to protect the inside part of the canvas, this also creates clean straight edges. Next applied the yellow and red acrylic paint, allowing the two colors to blend here and there. Then let it dry completely
Step two. Now add the glue in a thin line all around the canvas. Then take a wet brush and smooth it out evenly until the entire painted areas are covered. Thinning the glue with water will create smaller cracks. Leaving it undiluted will create larger cracks. It will take 12 to 24 hours for the glue to dry.
Step three. Now that the glue is completely dry apply the last layer of paint with a 1 inch wash brush or larger. Thin the paint with water before brushing it on. Use varying brush strokes to help make interesting cracks. The cracks happen immediately and it's fun to watch. Cover the entire area quickly, let dry then remove tape.
I created a video showing how the crackling works and put it on YouTube. Click this LINK to see it. While you are there give it a thumbs up.
Here are a few paintings I've done using this techniue.
If you have any questions or like this demo post a comment. I'd love to hear from you. Oh and hit the Facebook and Twitter buttons to share this with your friends.
Art E Studio is located in Lahaina, Maui. Please watch for updates through this blog.