Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cow just 5 steps

1. The first step is to simply block in (with thin paint) the overall shape and to clearly indicate the shadow and light sides.

2. Warm (red-ish) and cool (blue-ish) "local" colors are established--taking care to keep colors/temperatures clean.

3. Additional local color is added, by following the the photo reference (...but not "slavishly"..resist the urge to put in every teensey thing!).

4. Smaller details are now added, such as eyelashes and light in the eye. Background color is added (..could have done that sooner, but no real harm done).

5. A few more details and a darkened ear--Voila!...cow painting pretty much complete.

Celeste Bergin, Cow. Oil on 8x8 canvas. ©2010.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My day..........and how was yours??

PPASP implemented a new policy starting today that after each meeting we'll invest some time in some alla prima sketching. This is just to hone our observational skills and also simply for the fun of it. (We're finally jumping on the "sketchcrawl" bandwagon!) Carrie and I went downtown for a visit to the Portland Art Museum rental gallery (impressive!) and after that we sketched in a Starbucks inside of Safeway. We've also set up a new blog, Behind the Scenes, to "exhibit" results of these weekday sketch sessions.
New art was installed at O'Connor's today. My painting, Rush Hour Rain has a nice spot between two light sconces.

So, that was my day---how was YOURS?

(Photos, top to bottom, Starbucks patrons, color sketch 7x9, Meeting at OConnor's restuarant, "Rush Hour Rain", Acrylic painting, taxi cab sketch at downtown Starbucks/Safeway 7 x 9, Portland Art Museum Rental Gallery)

Enduring Forests, The City of Lake Oswego ..You are invited! (How to get there!)

Click image to enlarge
Reception: Friday April 2, 6:30-8:30 Lake Oswego Heritage House, 398 10th St, Lake Oswego, OR 97034 (scroll down for map/directions)

Monday, March 29, 2010

In the rain

I've never minded the rain in Portland much... I would even go as far as to say that I like it. Tomorrow members of "eight+" are installing the new April show at O'Connor's in Multnomah village. This painting is my contribution.

Celeste Bergin, Rush Hour Rain. Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 24 inches. ©2010.

You are invited, Enduring Forests ....Friday, April 2

Many of the beautiful trees of Lake Oswego are still standing where they stood 100 years ago.....because people care enough to protect them. "Enduring Forests" celebrates trees of Lake Oswego and the Pacific Northwest. The Public is invited to the reception from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 2 at the Oswego Heritage House, 398 10th St. Lake Oswego, OR. (MAP)
This is a juried show that includes distinguished Northwest painters Eric Jacobsen, Mitch Baird, Beth Norwood, Nicole Roskos, Lee Lauritzen, Nathaniel Praska, Susan Jensen, Shari Lord, Celeste Bergin, Jennifer Kapnek, Molly Reeves, Tedd Chilless, Stephanie Cissna, Laurie Svec, Ken Roth, Antonia Lindsey, Ron Ranson, Bill Baily, David McBride, Christine Helton, Janice Packard, Jean Thomas, Paula Carlson, Carl Laursen, Kenneth May, Theresa Andreas-O’Leary, Melody Cleary, Patricia Gifford and Sook Sienkiewicz.
(Click to enlarge)
Sales will benefit community forestry in Lake Oswego.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Roping cowboy

I painted this tonight from a photo reference.

Celeste Bergin, Roper. Oil Study on 9 x 12 canvas. ©2010.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Today, during my neighborhood walk, I came across an unexpected "mini-farm". it is not every day that you see a huge turkey in someone's yard! It stopped me in my tracks! A woman came out of her house to tell me that I was welcome to visit closer if I wanted. Ok! I took some photos and asked (gingerly)..."You're not going to eat your turkey....are you?" --"oh, no way", she replied, "he's a pet and very friendly. He loves to show off for the passersby". Well. Yeah. I see that.
Her "Red Jungle" rooster was similarly show-y..... and I knew he'd make an excellent subject for today's painting.
Oil on 8x8 canvas panel

Friday, March 26, 2010

A walk ......with Seaurat

What's one of your all time favorite famous paintings? I am very fond of A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Seaurat. I got to see it in person a long time ago..and I remember that I was bowled over by how my eyes "mixed" the painting. Seaurat's black and white drawings are equally eloquent. I did not have enough time for painting today..but I sketched out something based on one of Seaurat's drawings. Seurat often used the technique of "irradiation", where the dark tone seen against a lighter background will look even darker and a light tone against a dark tone will look even lighter. Irradiation is an important concept in painting too.
Just for fun I "pointillized" my drawing in photoshop Wouldn't Mr. Seaurat be surprised how quickly I produced a zillion dots?

I wanted to share an additional walk with you.. the sun came out this afternoon and I appreciated this neighbor's house..not only does it bravely employ complementary red and also has a smiling mail-drop.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Broken down barn in the mist

I've been looking at work by Sam Hyde Harris. Oh--those illustrators--what exceptional painters they are! In particular, I am drawn to Hyde's subtle colors. I've seen several of his paintings where he employs lots of atmospheric haze or fog. It is a challenge to paint close values on the light side--but I thought I would give it a whirl.

Oil on 5x7 gessoed board.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cowpunching ideas

I am thinking of painting a cowboy type I sketched this out very loosely in just three values. Sketching with paint is always fun! I may or may not go to the next step.

oil sketch on 11 x 14 paper on foam core

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My day..........and how was yours??

My friend Sondra is temporarily without a car, so I drove her to her medical appointment this morning. As I sketched a fellow wait-er in the waiting room another patient gave a loud speech at the receptionist window about how she felt about the passing of the health care bill. I felt my blood pressure rise as the woman complained. It calmed me to write down some thoughts about the event with my sketch. What was it that Anne Frank wrote in her diary...? " spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart". Yes....people are really good at heart..even that disagreeable woman!

After her appointment Sondra and I had lunch and then stopped at Bridge Fields Park in West Linn. It was surprisingly pretty there and I got to do another quick sketch while listening to the Tualatin River rush past. Apparently this area has something to do with a meteorite...we admired a to scale sculpture, but skipped reading the explanation in the interpretative center.
At the end of the day I made corrections to the fisherman/fisherwoman painting.... it's still not completely right, but improved. (P.S. my blogging friend hwfarber found out who the fisherman artist is! Information in the original post.)

I had a good day--! How was YOURS?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Study done from my "Mystery Painting" UPDATE: Thanks to hwfarber I know the identity of mystery artist: Arturs Upelnieks, Russian, b 1911

(<--This is my 9 x 12 copy/study from Mystery Painting. SCROLL DOWN: original 9 x 12 Mystery painting)

Several years ago I won an auction on eBay for an old expertly painted oil painting. I can't remember how I came across it to bid on it. (If you simply search for "oil painting" on eBay you get thousands and thousands of auctions to look at). However it was that I happened to find it, I was/am thrilled that I won it. I didn't pay much for it and I think I was the only bidder. Do you own anyone's art but your own?

To me this is an extraordinary painting (my copy has some problems....but cut me some slack, I kind of hurried through it*). The original looks to be somewhat old (but not ancient). I can't read the signature. It looks like Aupelvik or Allpeluak? The painting is super low key (dark) but with three judiciously placed bright light spots. The artist used a palette knife to create the bloody fish. I love how dark the painting is..both literally and figuratively. A huge hulk of a man has survived a turbulent sea and offers his catch to the woman whose turn it is now to clean the fish. Look what time it must be--it's late and maybe it is going to rain.

* I intend to make corrections to my painting..I really enjoyed doing this and learned a lot about how the painter handled the darkness.

So--experts..can you tell me when you think this painting was done and who did it? I imagine I will take it over to Matthews Gallery one day to find out what he thinks. (I met Matthew last year --he is famous in Portland for being able to de-mystify a treasure) --In the meantime....what do YOU think? (Update: thanks so much hwfarber--for sleuthing and determining the artist is Arturs Upelniek/Upelnieks).

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Me---in black & white

I was so impressed by a self portrait I saw on a blog recently* I decided to do one myself. I was kind of pressed for time so I opted to "be" black & white. What I know for certain is that half glasses belong on no one except Benjamin Franklin...and even he didn't really pull it off.
I spent some time straightening out my studio today. I still have plenty more to do, but I made a dent.
One of my studio clean-up projects is sorting through all my paints. I have lots of paint--cheap paint, expensive paint and everything in between. I finally know what brand I really prefer. This (pictured below) is my practice stash (red). I will likely never run out of practice paint. (and oddly enough....practice is just as rewarding to me with only black & white as it is with a complete palette).

* Check out Camille Olsen

Self portrait, cheap student grade white & ivory black on 9 x 12 paper/foam core

Upon further reflection, I believe my self portrait bears a strong resemblance to Granny Clampett:

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Saturday still life workshop (II) with Eric Jacobsen

Today I took the second still life workshop offered at Art on the Boulevard in Vancouver, WA with Eric Jacobsen. Just like last week, we discussed expressive still life and Eric did a demonstration. Eric showed us warm and cool relationships that made the painting read properly. His internal dialog is: "is that warm? Is that cool? What is that temperature related to that shape..?" (and so on and so forth...) Eric told us that in order to make a good painting these "incessant" questions are mandatory! He said, "if you don't like to have to ask yourself so many things....WELL. I'd advise you to find something else to do!" (This made us laugh).
When it came time for us to paint I selected a set up that was a large tin bucket filled with a big batch of greenery and white flowers. No one else chose what I did, so I had the opportunity to change the set up physically as much as I wanted. This is the challenge--moving things all around until it seems there is interest. I am pleased with my painting from the workshop--Eric helped me to realize that the initial green backdrop I had would be better changed to blue and he also showed me a bold stroke for the fallen petals. There's no need for timidity--if there is an error, scrape it off the mistake and put it back in with strength.
Lots of Eric's students asked if he'll be doing more weekend workshops--I hope he will too. He is a first rate instructor! (Eric normally conducts outdoor plein air workshops. Contact him here.)

Oil on 12 x 16 canvas panel

Friday, March 19, 2010

wide open spaces

A small painting of a big pasture.

Oil on 5 x 7 gessoed board

Thursday, March 18, 2010

odd fun

I started a painting over an old painting -- when I realized the books from the previous painting made a keen headdress on the person I had started to paint. Do you see the open book on the left side? Well, it was all so deliciously weird and odd I've elected to leave her here.

oil on 8 x 10 canvas panel

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Yesterday, when Katherine van Schoonhoven & I were at the Gardens we talked about scenes that are a challenge to paint (like "just trees"). During Eric Jacobsen's workshop he reminded us that the paintings we remember most have much fewer details than we think. Less is always more! All these things (plus St. Patrick's Day) were in my thoughts as I painted this predominately green scene today.

Oil on 9 x 12 canvas panel

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Elk Rock Garden at Bishop's Close

I visited Elk Rock Garden with fellow plein air painter Katherine van Schoonhoven today. We were smart not to take all of our gear into the garden...because we had just enough time to sketch a little before the sky went gray and it began to rain. The trees near the river have such interesting shapes from lots of years and lots of wind. Two big hawks circled around overhead. There weren't any lilies (to speak of) in the pond. We'll go back again another time.
(pencil drawing 8x8)

Monday, March 15, 2010

An encouraging word!

A new friend told me today that some of my floral paintings reminded her a bit of Manet's paintings. Whoa! First off, I do love Manet and secondly I respect her opinion... I know that she wouldn't say that if she didn't mean it. We painters can go through very long stretches without one honest word directed to us about what we do. Is it because people don't know what to say to us? I have a relative who sometimes says: "You still painting pictures?" When I respond affirmatively she moves quickly to the next subject. No problem, there are plenty of subjects that I am not drawn to...understood! However, from time to time I think one should make a point of saying something to a painter (or any creative type) that will hearten them! Art-making is a tough racket. Sometimes it takes a lot of mettle to keep going... I painted daffodils today... because I heard "your flowers remind me of Manet's flowers" reverberating around in my head.

oil on 9 x 12 canvas panel

P.S. In Eric Jacobsen's workshop handout there was a quote that reads something along the lines of: "Remember, you are never as good a painter or as bad a painter as you think."

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Saturday still life workshop with Eric Jacobsen

I attended Eric Jacobsen's still life workshop today. The class was located at one end of the courtyard at Art on the Boulevard in Vancouver. Eric began by by showing us some books and examples of "expressive" still life. He did a demo for us (that was great), talking throughout about a hierarchy of concerns that we should have... beginning first and foremost with composition. After the demonstration we selected our spot from several different still life set ups. I started with a landscape/horizontal orientation, but had trouble with float-y looking elements. Eric suggested I switch to a portrait/vertical format. Well, that made all the difference! I painted this fruit and vase and felt that I learned a LOT today (especially about integrating objects with other objects). An added bonus from the day was getting to visit Art on the Boulevard and Gallery manager, Kevin Weaver. I also ran into a favorite artist, Mike Rangner. He's having a solo show at Art on the Boulevard in November. There is a group that meets every Saturday for life drawing/painting in the center of the courtyard. Today was a day completely infused with art--and best of all, I get to repeat it in another Saturday workshop with Eric... same place, same station next week. If you get a chance to work with not pass it up!