All about the inspiration behind the art. Acrylic Paintings, Impressionism, Art, Southern, Modern, Contemporary, Coastal, Flowers, Famous Places, New Orleans, Florida, Gulf Coast, Food, Expressionism, Fauve, Cityscapes, Architecture, Decor, Painting, Beach, Tropical, Seascape, Landscape, Still Life Mona Vivar Fine Art: August 2013

Friday, August 30, 2013

Labor Day--Who Knew?

This weekend typically marks the end of summer slow down for most people.  Students are back in school or are headed there.  Traffic on the road in my little town going to the beach lightens.  The air feels just a tad drier.
But I never knew exactly what Labor Day was about.  Something to do with labor and taking a break?  I learned some basic facts about it today (courtesy of Wikipedia).  It was a federally declared holiday in 1894 in response to the deaths of workers taking part in the Pullman Strike in Chicago.  This came at a time when labor unions were a growing force to be reckoned with in the United States.  Ironically, Labor Day is now one of the biggest retail shopping days of the year (second only to the Friday after Thanksgiving Day) and retail workers are hard at work on this day.  They also make up the largest sector of the job market in the United States with the least unionized labor force.   Strange how these things turn out.
I wish you all a relaxing holiday.  I will be painting.  That isn't a labor for me.

Copyright Mona Vivar 2013, "Jazz New Orleans", 14 inches by 11 inches, acrylic on canvas 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Small Paintings Lead to Better Painting Skills

I am always looking for ways to increase my artistic skills.  Every artist should strive for improvement.  The question for me is: what is the most efficient way to become a better painter?  The first and foremost answer to this question is to paint as many paintings as possible.  I mean A LOT of paintings.  Years of painting. 
When it comes to being efficient, however, the broad idea of painting lots of pieces needs to be broken down to a more focused approach.  For me, the answer came in the form of small paintings.  I first read about this idea in Kevin MacPherson's wonderful book Fill Your Oil Paintings with Light & Color (North Light Books 1997).  I whole heartedly embrace this concept.
I have begun to see progress in my own work through painting multiple 6 inch by 6 inch images.  The petite sized canvases are easy to line up as a group for quick brush strokes.  Harmony develops as I use similar color choices.  Subject matter becomes aligned.  Style comes out of hiding.  My mind focuses more quickly.  Spontaneity occurs.  Ultimately, a cohesive body of work appears.   A very good thing.

Copyright Mona Vivar, "Wave Dance", 6 inches by 6 inches, oil on canvas

Copyright Mona Vivar, "Oyster Blue II" 6 inches x 6 inches, oil on canvas  

Copyright Mona Vivar, "Wave Dance III", 6 inches x 6 inches, oil on canvas

Copyright Mona Vivar, "Wave Dance II", 6 inches by 6 inches, oil on canvas

Copyright Mona Vivar, "Oyster Blue III", 6 inches by 6 inches, oil on canvas


Friday, August 16, 2013

Summer of Clouds

Summer in Alabama is always hot.  We normally have at least a few days in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  If we are lucky, afternoon thunderstorms bring occasional rain.  This summer has been one big magnificent picture show full of rain and clouds and fresh green lawns.  Temperatures have stayed in the 80's even for us on the southern most tip of Alabama.  I have become obsessed with the summer of clouds.
I take photographs of the sky.


And I paint clouds.  My best images come from a weekend trip to Moundville, Alabama to attend a family reunion with my husband.  Oh, the clouds we saw along the way over Demopolis, Linden, Marengo and Highway 43!  Of course, there would be paintings.
Copyright Mona Vivar, "Clouds Over Moundville", 5 inches by 7 inches, acrylic on paper
Copyright Mona Vivar, "Sunday Morning (Demopolis)", 12 inches by 16 inches, oil on canvas 
I have savored this summer's clouds.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Enjoy Doing Commissioned Paintings that Customers Snap Up

Any artist who has been creating art to sell for any length of time will, at one time or another, be asked to do a specific painting for a customer.  This can be both a blessing and a curse because done right, the painting is sure to sell, but the image requested might not be what the artist normally paints and can cause frustration for the artist.  How can the artist make the process enjoyable for both parties?
First of all, each party needs to be as specific as possible to avoid confusion and dissatisfaction.  I have a valued customer who wanted a big painting of a photograph he took himself.  I made sure we both understood what the finished size of the painting would be before we did anything else.  I also told the customer I would use acrylic paints.  I studied the photo and determined that it was strongly composed, had pleasing color harmony, and would not need to be changed much for a painting.   The subject was boats and water which is one of several subjects I paint on a regular basis.  We agreed on a price.  I also wanted to engage my customer (who lived in another part of the country) with the painting process so I sent him images of each step of the painting as they occurred.  This was fun for both of us.
Here is the customer's photo on the laptop set up next to my easel.   This was a much easier method than using a printed photo to see the subject as I could enlarge sections if need be.  Nice photo, huh?

I put a base coat of yellow ochre on and loosely sketched out the boats, rocks and deck with a mix of ultramarine blue and quinacridone magenta.  I used white to highlight some of the lightest areas to better judge the value scale of the entire painting.  I had warned my customer that the painting would go through several scary, messy stages before it looked right.  Paintings in process are always a series of corrections!

The painting progressed through multiple stages of corrections, especially the angled dock in the right corner.  You can see my palette on the right.  I used the following selection of colors:  white, cadmium yellow medium, cadmium red, naphthol crimson, quinacridone magenta, pink, ultramarine blue, phthalo turquoise, burnt sienna and black.

I worked all over the canvas for unity, but the background came together first.

The colors of blue, green, brown and orange were harmonious.  Mixtures of those colors made lovely grays for the rocks and dock.

I kept the shadows in the water towards the rocks lighter than they were in the photo.  I wanted the rocks to look like they were in the background and I wanted to show the beautiful color of the water.  

The boats needed to be tied to the dock, so the ropes were the last thing to add.  I liberally edited the multiple ropes in the photo for a more pleasing composition.  I also left out the oar that was sticking out of the background boat in the photo as I thought it would be distracting.  I wanted to make sure the ropes were aimed at the correct angle and rather than risk repainting a whole section if I got the ropes wrong, I took a long piece of string, draped it from the top of the painting, and held it at different angles near the edges of the boats until I figured out the best placement.  Then it only took one shot per rope to get that finishing touch! 

Mona Vivar, "Lahania Small Boat Harbor", 30 inches by 40 inches, acrylic on canvas
Private Collection
The painting is now being admired in its new home.   Every commission should be so enjoyable!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Summer Dreaming

The rain comes every day.  Our yard is mushy and the most vivid shade of green.  I find it hard to get a lot (or anything) done this time of year as I look forward to the dryer, cooler weather of late September.
Even my painting slows down.  I have the patience for oils once again to depict the images of summer.  Fish.  Water.  Sky.  The world spins along.  We all need to slow down every once in a while....

Mona Vivar, "Mullet Trio", 11 inches by 14 inches, oil on canvas