Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Life painting session --"J"

Today's model "J" stood in high heels for three hours (she had breaks, but! I'm glad I don't have to do it). She wore a red dress and she had a black shawl around her arms. She looked Spanish (despite her fire-red hair)! I didn't finish her legs, but I was pretty happy with the outcome. That red dress was fantastic. I did a 2nd painting, a quick portrait, but this first study is the better of the two. "J" definitely had a Fandango look. 

Painting: Celeste Bergin, "J" in a red dress, oil on 16x20 canvas panel

(....need a smile? Watch this...yeah it is another Flash thing, but you will like it):

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

At the Chinese Garden

I went to the Tuesday meeting today (check it out HERE). "The meeting after the meeting" was different today...we usually sketch together, but today we each had other things we had to do. I still got in a couple sketches, however, when I visited the Portland Chinese Garden downtown. I stopped in the Tea House and drank some Chrysanthemum tea. This was a first for is served in a lovely single tea cup. The woman who served it had to explain to me how to drink from it. (You use the lid to hold the flowers back from your lips).

Monday, November 28, 2011


I'll have small works in two shows this coming weekend.  Saturday I'll be at the Cathedral Park Holiday Sale and Open House and on Sunday I'll be at Broderick Gallery's Holiday Show in Rainier. Come out and see the paintings, me and all the other artists!

Painting: Celeste Bergin, Daisies & Fire Lilies, oil on 6x6 canvas panel

Sunday, November 27, 2011

After! After!

I bit off a lot, beginning a copy of Sorolla's After the Bath  late this afternoon. This is my first pass and I'm considering it a good start. My objective was to do my best to achieve some of Sorolla's super-strong sunlight. (I say "some" because everyone knows no one but Sorolla can paint like Sorolla! It's almost silly for me to even say his name!) Still, many painters seek to understand by copying a great painting; I'm no exception. So, onward.

1. I am certain that my approach is nothing like Sorolla's, still I researched his palette and I found and put out as many of those colors I could find.  I used Gamblin Fastmatte red transparent oxide to mass in general shapes. (Sorolla had no Gamblin Fastmatte!)

2. I continue to place big shapes with the Fastmatte paint.

3. As with any painting, it seems smart to establish the lightest light first. I mixed white and cadmium lemon for the lightest light.

4. I place the lightest lights where they appear in Sorolla's painting. (Thanks, Joaquin.... for making those lightest lights very obvious for me).

5. The darkest parts of the painting seem obvious too (the shadow and the woman's hair). I put those darks in and place some middle colors where they belong ...(careful not to place anything darker than the established darkest dark or lighter than the established lightest light).

6. I continue to place warms and cools where I see them, making sure to keep the values where they belong. I made an error with value and color in the man's hat and I vow to fix it tomorrow. As I was working on this I thought geez...complicated!, but the more I kept with it the more I was glad that I gave it a go. Time for a reward cup of Joe...I'll give it another pass in a day or so!

Painting: Celeste Bergin, After the Bath (after Sorolla), oil on 16x20 canvas panel

Saturday, November 26, 2011


We used to use these Pantone pens (pictured below) mostly for storyboards. We would spend hours with these uncapped pens in a little unventilated room. "Irrk--- Irrrk---- Irrrk----" (pens squeaking) Dennis Pirello and I would slog away endlessly on projects--- deadlines looming----working through lunch---- and eventually we'd find everything hilarious...."It's 2:00" "hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha"! high on the fumes. Good times! Those were the days when safety wasn't a big consideration. It's sort of a wonder Dennis and I are still alive.

Sketch: Celeste Bergin, Do these Markers still work? Marker on gessoed paper

Friday, November 25, 2011


Tonight I ran across some pastel supplies I have from a few years ago (from when I tried pastel for the first time myself). Kitty Wallis showed me and some others in our art discussion group how she does an underpainting first, prior to applying any pastel. I thought I'd go ahead and see if I could remember some of Kitty's method and do a pastel study on Wallis Belgium Mist paper. Well, why not?!
(Progressive steps in slide show below)

I remember Kitty does a preliminary light charcoal sketch (with vine charcoal). She said "I try not to get too invested in the sketch, it is just for general placement". After the sketch the idea is to put in some values/colors with the liquid pigment (again, without worrying over it, because in Kitty's words: "It's all changeable and fixable"). After the paper is dry to the touch, dry pastel goes over the top of the foundation of the sketch and liquid pigment. Working in pastel is wonderful practice for considering...value...value...value!

(Kitty Wallis gives workshops, see her sidebar on her blog).

Pastel: Celeste Bergin, Pastel study, Pastel on 9x12 Wallis Paper

Thursday, November 24, 2011


After Thanksgiving dinner (and the ensuing clean-up) I wanted to spend just a little time on some painting practice.....I painted this floral on a printed page (and the headline seems suitable for today!) It is enjoyable to  paint on this "unlikely" surface.

(By the way, an interesting side note, did you know the uber-famous painting The Scream was painted on cardboard?)

Oil Sketch: Celeste Bergin, Floral practice, oil on printed magazine page

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My treasured friends & family... past and present

This is a polaroid photo of me and my brother Tom in the early 60's. I guess I used to fix my hair with curlers and hold them down with this "bonnet". It's a vague memory. I am certain Tom had to have made fun of it.  He teased me relentlessly from sun-up to sun-down. I would like nothing more than to pick up the phone today to hear him say something "affectionately mean" to me in his distinctive halting speech.      He         talked        like           this.  
My Mom loved this Nativity and she put it out every year without fail. She loved the holidays and especially Thanksgiving. Mom did wonderful impressions and she could gobble like a real turkey. No matter how much we would beg her, she would only gobble for us on Thanksgiving and no other time. In true show-biz fashion, she knew it was best to "keep 'em wanting more".

Here is a slide show of some of my family and friends whom I miss very dearly. (It is an incomplete list.... I am missing a few photos) I'll update it for Christmas!

I hope you have a wonderful Holiday. It goes without saying...(but I will say it anyway) I appreciate all of YOU.  Thank you so much for your friendship!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


It's Tuesday... so I drove through a downpour to O'Connors to meet up with the other artists and catch up with them about some of their current projects. After the meeting Carrie and I went to the "meeting after the meeting", where we sketched at Carolyn's table.

Now, here's a way for YOU to have some nonsensical sketching fun too...Go HERE!

Sketch: Celeste Bergin, Carolyn's Scissors, Pen on 6 x 9 paper

Monday, November 21, 2011


Just a little impromptu direct painting "night-sky" practice. My aim was to go with some simple shapes, limited colors and high contrast. I'm happy enough with the outcome, although I'll likely make a couple corrections after it is dry. Here are the steps:

1. General design

2. Placing the lightest light

3. Placing the darkest darks

4. Adding additional tones, both light and dark

Final "Night Sky"

Painting: Celeste Bergin, Night Sky, oil on 8x8 stretched canvas

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Leftover palette painting

At the end of the week the paint on my pochade palette is sort of a mess, contaminated here and there and fairly dried out. Before I clean up the entire palette in anticipation of the new week, it's always fun for me to try to paint something with just the leftover paint. Waste not, want not, frugality is "in"!  I painted this in my studio from a prior plein air painting. I learned this leftover paint/painting idea from the very talented Michael Orwick.

Painting: Celeste Bergin, End of the day. oil on 8x8 stretched canvas

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Spartan figure

Sometimes I like to paint the simplest things...the simpler the better! It's challenging to see if something "reads" with a minimum of strokes.  I enjoy the nothingness surrounding this simple person.  It's just an exercise and after it is dry it will likely go into the "11x14" box.

Painting: Celeste Bergin, Waiting, oil on 11x14 canvas panel

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday at Kat Sowa's

We met this morning at the Cathedral Park Kitchen for breakfast and then Kat Sowa hosted a modeling session in her studio (in Cathedral Park Place). Our model had a definite "Casablanca"look. I enjoyed the day! A big bonus was that George Broderick dropped by. My painting started off well...but then it went very sideways. Unbloggable! When I got home I sketched the model from a photo and from what I remember of the light...(Well, hey.."Play it again, Sam!")

Charcoal Sketch, Celeste Bergin, Model "H", oil on 20x16 canvas panel.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gouach-ing it!

I have this really cheap set of Gouache that I sometimes use on Tuesdays (when I go sketching with my pals). Someday I may make a concerted effort to learn how to use water media "properly". Nathan Fowkes sure knows how to use it!
("Gouache"!----I always have to look it up, because I never remember how to spell it).

Sketch: Celeste Bergin, Gouache tubes, Gouache & ink on 6x9 paper

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Life painting session --"K"

Someone gave me an Art Alternatives "natural linen" canvas panel a while back. I decided to use it today in life painting. The model was lit from above and to the right, throwing most of her into shadow. I liked the natural linen canvas panel for it's tone, but not so much for the feel on the surface. (The panel was commercially primed with clear acrylic and seemed somewhat "resistant" to paint). Weird! Well, nevertheless, I rate the outcome as interesting. "K" is a favorite model.

Painting: Celeste Bergin, "K"oil on 18x24 "natural linen" canvas panel

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


After the PPASP meeting today, we went to Carolyn's for sketching. Carolyn has a lot of objects to consider.... I especially like this "vee-sign" bronze-type sculpture that usually sits in her foyer. To see what we sketched today go HERE.

What about you, did you have an artful day?

Sketch: Celeste Bergin, vee-sign sculpture, ink on 9x9 paper

Monday, November 14, 2011


Glasses are an interesting element to paint in a portrait, but not many people look good in half glasses, in my estimation. No one really "rocks" a pair of half glasses.  I don't think even Benjamin Franklin really pulled it off.

Painting: Celeste Bergin, Portrait practice, oil on 9x12 canvas panel

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Yesterday my art friend Kimberly Kent delivered this great painting to a gift! Kimberly had put this painting into an eight+ show awhile back and I admired it. I learned today the whole story behind the painting. Kimberly and several of her friends played a game of "Pictionary" with paint and large canvases. (They each in turn added elements to the painting until the Pictionary word was guessed). Take a good look at the painting.....can you guess the word? (Answer at the end of the post).

Now here (below) is my practice from today. I had an idea to paint on printed paper again. Painting on any kind of paper is fun (gessoed or not); it frees you up..and you'll let go of so much attachment to the outcome. It was good practice for sure and as a bonus I saw in the end .....that the vase seems to be smiling! (Slide show below shows the progression).

Pictionary Answer: Litterbug

(Top painting): Kimberly Kent (and friends) "Litterbug" oil on 24x30 stretched canvas
(Bottom painting) Celeste Bergin, Floral practice, oil on 9 x 12 printed (magazine) paper

Saturday, November 12, 2011


I gessoed a few canvases in black awhile back. I wanted to use the last one that I have left today. I've been surprised that painting on black panels is not difficult....but what about a landscape...could that possibly work? Well, to quote the inimitable Fred Picker *: "Try it!"
(My blogging friend Don Michael has indicated that he paints on black all the time..."no big deal"!)

Here are the steps I used. (I used one of my previous paintings for reference)

1. First I just put down some basic marks to indicate where the major shapes are.

2. Then I established the lightest lights right away (This is extra fun on black!)

3. At this point I painted all the major shapes simply using only 2 to 3 values.

4. Here's a "move" I just recently learned from Craig Srebnik. I dragged a paper towel right through the paint all over the entire canvas. (This is done with a medium-light pressure). The object of doing this is to integrate the colors together. 

5. After the paper towel "treatment" you'll see that the sky and the water are contaminated...but don't fret, all one has to do is re-state the colors where necessary.

6. So... in the end I learned that a landscape can be painted onto a black surface. (Thanks for the advice, Fred Picker (RIP), Craig Srebnik and Don Michael)!

(*The famous story I heard about teacher Fred Picker was that one of his students asked him a super-complex-involved technical question (that went on and on). "If I do this and then I do that and then I do this...will that be ok?" ...after a pregnant pause Picker said: "Try it!")

Painting: Celeste Bergin, Reflection, oil on 8x8 stretched canvas

Friday, November 11, 2011


Today Carrie and I met up with the North Portland "chapter" of PPASP for breakfast.  We had a great day, complete with a tour of the proposed gallery space in the Cathedral Park Place building and Kat Sowa's new (fantastic) studio/teaching space. Afterwards, we walked down the street to Cathedral Park to paint.
Recently I saw an artist divide up her canvas panel into sections to do small studies. I vowed I would do the same at the next paint out. (It got too cold for me before I could paint something into the final square)!
To see what the other painters painted today go HERE.

Celeste Bergin, Oil sketches of Cathedral Park on 16x20 canvas panel

(PPASP-er's are being invited by Kat Sowa to participate in an upcoming plein air/landscape exhibit in the center "gallery space" at Cathedral Park Place...have a look at this slide show):

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I am happy today and grateful for my wonderful friends who know me.  I'll always paint and draw with the goal of improving every day. I will be back tomorrow and the next day and the next (and the next and the next and the next, etc). 

Top Painting: Celeste Bergin, Flowers in the studio, oil on 8x8 stretched canvas
Bottom Painting: Celeste Bergin, copy of Howard Sanden Hands from his DVD...I recommend it highly !)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Life painting session --"Roger"

Roger has to be one of the best models we have ever had. He posed as a cowboy. He had a shotgun across his lap and a lantern at his feet, very Marlboro man. I forgot my panels and had to borrow a couple. I had trouble with the whole figure and wound up concentrating just on his face. I love the new spotlight they have at the studio, the lighting was dramatic.

Painting: Celeste Bergin, Cowboy, oil on 20x16

Monday, November 7, 2011


I worked on my painting of the walker today...but it is so late now, I can't photograph it...(too dark).  Instead I will post a drawing I did at Hipbone Studio. I like the strong contrast. This was a three minute pose and I ran out of time before finishing.

Life Drawing: Celeste Bergin, Guy at Hipbone, charcoal on 16x20 paper

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Saturday the Japanese Garden

I wound up at the Japanese Garden today. It was raining, but a shelter provided a pleasant place for sketching. I also stopped into the Pavilion to see "Mottainai": The Fabric of Life exhibit .....and I recognized the author Ursula Le Guin taking in the show along side me. How's that for a "High Brow"Saturday?!

Sketch: Celeste Bergin, Stone lantern, ink (Elegant Writer pen) and water on 6x9 paper