Friday, December 28, 2012

Getting Ready for 2013

 My holiday travel is over and I'm getting ready to get back to work.  Earlier in the month I traveled home to Florida where I finished a teaching contract, delivered artwork to a gallery, finished consolidating the contents of two houses, rehearsed and sang a duet at my church, and spent some holiday time with my husband and family. It was  a busy two weeks! Now I'm ready to get the paints out again and get to work.

Usually, I work fairly large like this 30x40 of a spot close to my house. These larger paintings tend to take a while to execute especially if they're done entirely in the studio rather than plein air.
Sand Dunes and Fences -30x40 -oil on canvas
to purchase, contact Patina Art Gallery- 251 928 2718

 Lately I've been feeling the need to search for more in the process of painting. I can sense exactly what I'm looking for even if I can't quite articulate it. In addition to the larger pieces, I've started making smaller pieces so that the start to finish process happens faster and my eyes stay fresher.  More paintings means more freedom to try new palettes, different working methods and new ways of translating what I see and feel, into paint on the canvas.
To start the new year off, I'll be participating in a 30 paintings in 30 days challenge. Watch this space every day in January for the results. It's going to be fun and for the perfectionist I am, it's going to be a challenge to step away from each painting at the end of the day. For any artists wanting to join in, here's the information. Happy painting!

Monday, December 10, 2012


Is there anything more beautiful than the seasons? Each has it's own flavor. Each changes beautifully from week to week, every stage as interesting as the one before. My life has unexpectedly landed me up north this year and I'm looking forward  to the chance to paint snow. So, I'd though I'd share a few winter paintings I like.  

Claude Monet - The Magpie

I love this painting by Monet. It  perfectly captures the look of bright light on fresh snow. When I look into it, I can practically feel the sensation of breathing in crisp winter air. I like the way the violet shadows are echoed more softly in the roof top and trees. The color scheme is so simple yet so effective at  portraying the feel of a fresh snow on a winter day.

These two are by Alfred Sisley. The one on the left is one he painted several variations of. I like the heaviness of the snow and the closed in feeling of the sky still dark from the  storm. Look at the yellow in the sky and the way the blue greys and yellows are repeated throughout the sky, trees, walls and ground snow.

The one below has an entirely different feeling. It's still painted in shades of blue and yellow though the blue is a brighter greener blue. The scene is filled with sun and light and has a very open tranquil feeling compared to the hushed enclosed feeling of the other. 

This last one by Aldro Hibbard is only one of his many very beautiful snow scenes. I'd have a hard time picking my favorite among them. He was masterful at portraying the many moods of a winter day. Look at the different colors and temperatures of blue in the banks in the front. This painting has a beautiful quality to the light bouncing off the snow banks from the front to nearly the back of the painting, giving the painting total believability.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

In Thanksgiving

Hills Over the Bayou-oil-16x20
Purchase this painting!
I can't begin to count the many things I am thankful for. My good fortune includes my family, faith, and the mere chance to have been born in a part of the world where I can look forward to so much more than just a daily struggle to survive. One of the things I am thankful for every moment of the day is the gift of art. I'm aware that it's a privilege to see in a way different from most people and I'm grateful for that gift and for the drive that impels me to find ways to express the beauty I see.  
I'm thankful too for other artists, for camaraderie and for what I learn in their company. I'm especially appreciative for those artists at the top of their game who give their time and talent to pass on their knowledge. They could so easily sit back and bask in their successes.
I'm thankful for my students who teach me more than they know, especially the children.
I'm thankful for the supporters of art from the people who showcase the work of artists, to the gallery owners, to the collectors. Thank you to those of you who have purchased my art for their collections. I'm truly honored and grateful!   

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Anticipation of Discovery

Nestled in The Sugarbowl  - oil - 6"x 8"
Buy now!

Change is good, even necessary. When that small inner voice started getting louder and more insistent about the need for change, I listened. I headed outside with smaller canvasses and with a determination to study the light and color as closely as possible - to really look and see what the day could show me.
So far, the results are not what I would expect but that's part of the fun. I'm beginning to understand  that the path to producing the best work possible is an ongoing path that has to be traveled at it's own pace.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Beating Back the Demons

It happens to a lot of us.You're going along just fine turning out paintings you're reasonably happy with, when bam all of a sudden it's gone. Your flow, your confidence, your belief in your ability. You can argue with yourself, point to your accomplishments, look at all your successful paintings and happy clients, but when you fall into this morass, the demons have a way of countering every one of those affirmations.

Autumn Reflections-14x18 oil
Buy this Painting!

It's helpful to examine why these negative voices are suddenly so noisy. Sometimes the culprit is a poisonous relationship or even a poisonous encounter. Once seen, that's easy enough to fix.
 Sometimes it just happens from trying something new. Lately I've had to remind myself that it takes time to get a new thing to work. If I expect or demand instantly wonderful results I can pretty quickly convince myself that I'm terrible at my craft.
Lack of balance can also steer your efforts down a disappointing road. You're not likely to produce a high caliber of work if you push yourself to exhaustion, short yourself of sleep, or worry excessively about your business efforts or shortcomings.
But when I can't figure out why my muse has gone into hiding, I clear away all the  mental clutter and I go back to my very early days of painting when I expected nothing but was certain I was going to achieve my objectives.

How do you silence the demons?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Painting the Familiar vs the Less Familiar

Island in the Bay-oil on canvas-24x36-to purchase contact Patina Art Gallery 251 928 2718

I think most artists welcome the stimulus of painting in an unfamiliar placeThis recent painting is of the coastal area where I live in the Florida Panhandle. The coastal environment was new to my eyes when I moved here in 2003. I've always been a mountain and woods kind of person and initially I didn't like the wide open flatness and eye searing light of my new home. But I've come to love the quiet beauty of the beaches and dunes. When I want to paint water, there are rivers, bayous, bays and the Gulf. The familiarity I've gained with my new home, finds it's way into the paintings of it.
I also love my second home on the central California Coast that I visit once or twice a year. In all my travels, I've never found a land that appeals to me as much as the area around Big Sur. But when I paint scenes of Big Sur and Cambria and Morro Bay, it's with the unaccustomed eyes of a visitor.

 Painting the less familiar gives you the child like freedom of painting without the prejudices of knowing what it's "supposed to" look like. Still, I admire the easy familiarity people like Frank Serrano or Jeff Horn and many other coastal painters of California, have with their subject. Frank Serrano captures perfectly the veil of  atmosphere that hangs almost constantly above the rocky cliffs. I'd love  to spend more time there studying the softly colored haze to better capture it. Jeff Horn sees his homeland in the same jeweled tones that excite my eye when I see the coast, and states his vision with appealing clarity. I hope in the not too distant future to spend some serious painting time there learning the feel of the land as comfortably as I have my Florida home. In the meantime, I'll continue painting where ever my feet land!

Friday, July 20, 2012

How Artists Choose What They Paint

 Most of the time when I set out to paint, the landscape chooses me. The light, or the shape of the land, or the combination of colors calls out this is it - stop-  paint me! The truth is that there's no shortage of images in my mental file cabinet waiting to be painted. I'm also fortunate to live in a beautiful place with white sand beaches and turquoise water. It's a paradise that provides the material for the coastal paintings that seem to resonate with my collectors.

Gulf Islands National Seashore©Theresa Grillo Laird - oil on canvas - 22x36
Permanent Collection U.S. Federal Reserve Board

Sometimes though, I'll choose a subject just to explore and learn from. This past week I've gone no further than the back yard of a house in New Jersey. There's nothing remarkable about the scene of three backyard sheds with an immense fir tree towering over them, yet I'm working on my third version.

The first version I painted over a two hour period in the late morning.  I was attracted to the peeling blue and white paint on the middle shed and the deep darkness of the tree branches.

Backyard Sheds©Theresa Grillo Laird - oil on canvas - 11x14

The second version I painted late in the day. I forced myself to work much faster than I usually paint. It was finished in thirty minutes. I was surprised at how effortless this one was after the more thought through first study.

Backyard Sheds 2 ©Theresa Grillo Laird - oil on canvas - 11x14

The third version, still in progress, is an exploration of the mosaic of color and texture in the fir tree very late in the day.

Backyard Sheds 3©Theresa Grillo Laird - oil on canvas - 11x14

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Perfect Studio

How I envie those artists with studios larger than my house! I imagine myself in those glossy art magazine photos of huge gleaming studios with views of expansive vistas. The great works of art I could make in such a setting!

I'm currently working under unusual conditions in a corner of a tiny bedroom. If I step back, I'm likely to step on the cat who lives there. Yet I've managed to complete three paintings and even made a breakthrough discovery in one.

Toes in the Sand ©Theresa Grillo Laird - oil on canvas- 18x24

So, what makes a perfect studio?... the artist within it. More specifically, the mindset of the artist within it. If you can find within you the focus to keep working no matter what the obstacles, any "studio" is the perfect studio.

And yes, I'm still working towards that big beautiful hardwood floored gallery/studio high in the mountains overlooking the coast!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

There's Something About Warm Colors

 When I was in Kindergarden I thought something was wrong with me because my favorite color was orange when everyone else's was either red or blue. For a while, I even hid my color preference from my classmates. But those sunny colors wouldn't stay repressed. There is something about warm colors that makes me smile. They are "feel good" colors.

Sunset Over the Bayou - 30x40 oil on birch panel
contact me if interested in this painting

Yellow is now the color that sends me scurrying through art bins looking for every variety and shade. Yellow is also the color that there is the most difference in from brand to brand. One company's Cadmium Yellow Light is another brand's Cadmium Yellow Medium.

One of my favorite yellows is Old Holland Red Gold Lake. Straight from the tube it's a slightly dark subdued orange red. Depending on what colors you place around it, it can look screaming red. But when you start to add white, it changes until it becomes a very soft light yellow.

I love how it modifies greens. They turn olive without getting dark and murky. As an orange, it seems richer than cadmium orange.

It certainly isn't an essential color for anyone's palette but it's one I never get tired of. What is your favorite painting color?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How To Survive Artistic Rejection

Let me tell you about my first artistic triumph.

I was about 5 or 6 at the time. Turning the corner one day, I came upon my little brother happily drawing in crayon on the whitewashed surface of the back of our house. My first reaction was to gleefully tell him how much trouble he was going to be in. But then, I picked up a dark blue crayon, and joined him.  I can still feel the delicious drag of that crayon through the thick white powder.

I don't know what suddenly seized me- I knew nothing about portraits- but I turned to my brother and said "look at me so I can draw you". He cheerfully obliged and I began drawing. And boy, did I nail it!
That drawing had everything- his square face, and half moon eyes, curly hair and a striped tee shirt on his sturdy little body. Everything just appeared under my hand, perfect and utterly effortless. I was so excited I had to shout!
 "Ma! Ma! Come look at this!"

I'm sure I don't need to tell you how my creation was received.

The odd thing was that I knew I had discovered something absolutely amazing about the act of creating that no degree of disapproval could take away. I also knew the drawing was good even if no one else could see it.

And so I learned the first important lesson of my young art life: When in your heart of hearts you know you've found something good and you know you're right, it gives you a strength way beyond the actions of the most formidable critic.

Of course over time, with finer tuned eyes, I saw that blue stick figure with it's square head and fusilli hair for what it was. But I never forgot that I could count on whatever it was that resided within me, that had guided my hand and fueled my soul that day.

What is a Plein Air Painting?

"Plein Air" simply translated, means painted while out in the open air.

Artists have always painted and sketched outdoors but these works were traditionally thought of as studies for larger studio work. The French Impressionists were among the first to present their outdoor works as finished pieces. Their aim was to portray modern life in all it's immediacy.

I am a plein air painter... or so I thought. I've been painting outdoors for years. So, lately I've been surprised by a new and more rigid definition of plein air and by the vehemence of those who insist on only this definition. Plein air "purists" maintain that a work has to be completed rapidly outdoors with little or no revision back in the studio.
It's interesting that past artists both here and abroad who made the plein air movement popular, never imposed that condition on themselves. They didn't find it necessary to place limitations on their working method in order to feel that their outdoor work was valid. The point was to produce the best work possible.

The plein air movement is stronger than ever today. There are legions of artists who can paint a scene in 2 hours or less and some people would argue that this ability is a sign of their talent. Often, the results are beautiful. But equally often I'm left wishing for those further touches of paint that earlier artists had no problem adding if it aided their painting. I think the unique and recognizable styles of these earlier artists is partly due to the fact that they painted as well as they could indoors and out with no thought to what critics might say about how they arrived at their results.

What do you think determines what a plein air painting is??

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Letting Go

Years ago, I remember watching a documentary about the training of the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team. Bela Karolyi was coaching his young stars. One of them, a girl named Phoebe, was  throwing herself into her routines with such abandon, that Karolyi kept urging "Control Phoebe! Control!"

I recently had an interesting painting experience. For the second time this year, I am in the unsettling position of having to put my brushes aside except for a couple of short hours here and there. Normally I work every day and I try to maintain a pretty tight control over how I paint. After all, I have a responsibility to my galleries and my patrons to produce the caliber of work that they expect. Right? I can't mess up.

Snatching one of those precious painting hours two weeks ago, I squeezed the paint onto my palette and thought about how my production plan for the year was shot to pieces. Then I thought since I can't control  most of what I intended to do, to hell with the rest. And what do you know! I suddenly felt such a sense of liberation!
Instead of painting as I think I am expected to, I let the brush and paint go where it would while I just had fun and watched. This little painting was the result.

purchase this!
"Peonies" 11x14 oil on canvas

Amazing what you can learn when you let go of the reins.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

When Plans Go Awry

I've been painting for a long time but I'm fairly new to marketing. The great thing about being a novice marketer is that I can participate in a whole new world that the internet and social media have provided, where any artist can take control of how their work is presented and sold.

When France was the center of the art world in the late 19th century, the Salon was the place to show and hopefully win patrons. If an artist couldn't get their work accepted into the biannual Salon, they would likely remain unseen and unknown. The rise of private dealers and galleries gave artists an alternate means to present their work to the public. Now we're witnessing the next incarnation of the artist/art collector relationship. It's exciting stuff!

I started this year with two goals. The first was to produce a greater quantity of work while still keeping the quality up. The second was to jump in both feet first and take advantage of technology, to start to shape my own art future. But now, five months into the year, I find my plans turned aside while I take a couple of months to attend to a family issue. In the process, I've been watching my goals seeming to slip away along with my emotional and physical energy. So, today I set up a temporary studio in the bedroom that I will occupy for the next few weeks, where I will work as best I can. I also sat my harried self down for a heart to heart talk and gave that self 3 pieces of advice:

First, cut myself a little slack.This unplanned detour has slowed me down but I know it's only a temporary situation. Secondly,adapt to the situation and keep working even if conditions are far from ideal. But most importantly,don't lose sight of the fact that life here in this place is all about how we treat the people we've been "given". Ultimately, by comparison, all other endeavors are hollow.  

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Do You Live in A Painter's Paradise?

Let me introduce myself. I am an artist living and working in Gulf Breeze, which is a small city next to Pensacola Florida. This is my new blog where I'll write about the things that I think would interest other artists and collectors about art life.

I paint every day.One of my favorite places to paint is the Gulf Islands National Seashore.This National Park with it's white sand beaches and emerald water,is only a 5 minute drive from my front door.

                                                                                    "Dunes at Fort Pickens" 

Pensacola is a beautiful place to live and work. A painter never has to look far to find inspiration. From Gulf to bay to bayou, I welcome the challenge of painting water that looks different from minute to minute .

For a few short weeks during the last 2 years, I've lived in Templeton, California on a small peach orchard. It's a short and scenic ride from there to  coastal towns like Morro Bay, Cambria and San Simeon. San Simeon marks the southern edge of Big Sur, my favorite  painter's paradise.  I could happily live and paint for many years anywhere on the coast from Cambria to Carmel.  

click here to purchase
"Looking West" Julia Pfeiffer State Park  

Where is your favorite painter's paradise?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...