Wednesday, December 31, 2014

30 in 30 Begins Tomorrow!


Another year and another challenge!  Tomorrow is January 1st and so begins my 30 Paintings in 30 Days.  Deep breath! This will be the 5th month that I have done this challenge since 2013.

Each time I choose a different theme, usually something that gets me out of my comfort zone...a creative stretch. And this time is no different.  I will be painting from life again this month, like I did in September, but not plein air.  I will be painting still life.  Stuff.  Objects that tell a story.

As I was thinking through the month ahead, I knew what I DIDN'T want to paint.  I used to hate the still life set ups in my college drawing classes.  Random objects that were boring and dusty. Things I just couldn't get excited about. Lots of fabric draped about.  Even apples and pears.  I just can't imagine staying motivated and inspired to paint a month of them!

As I was thinking, I was absent-mindedly flipping through one of my favorite magazines, Garden & Gun.  A magazine of all things southern, chock full of beautiful photos, great articles on food and cocktails and music and dogs... (and of course gardens and guns:)).  Oh and the paper....I am a sucker for a magazine printed on good heavy luxurious paper stock.  Must be my journalism background.  Then the thought hit me... I will paint still life setups that I can relate to! Things inspired by my southern background, patterns and objects that are fun, quirky and tell a story.

So for the last week I have been assembling objects from my shelves and cupboards.  Scouring thrift shops, and grocery store and liquor store shelves for inspiration.  Such fun!  I am excited about the month ahead and hope you will join me to see what I put together!






Tuesday, November 11, 2014

"under the big yellow umbrella"

"under the big yellow umbrella"
20" x 16" oil on gallery wrap canvas
©2014dottietleatherwood

Another painting in my beach series.  I love the color and the softness of this one.  Can't you just hear their conversations?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Beach Series continued...

I wanted to share two more paintings from my Beach Series.  These to paintings actually work as a diptych or can stand alone.

 It was a fun idea until I tried to put it in action. I quickly discovered, two 24x24 canvases will not sit on my easel at the same time! I think Santa needs to put a larger easel in my stocking this year.  I paint large most of the time and it is a struggle sometimes to keep really wide canvases from wobbling. I ended up using a clamp to secure the canvases together as one as you can see below:



And here they are separately:
"salty afternoon air"
24" x 24" oil on gallery wrap canvas
©2014dottietleatherwood


"some beach somewhere"
24" x 24" oil on gallery wrap canvas
©2014dottietleatherwood



I think they work equally well together or apart.  I love the turquoise umbrella in the first one and the beach bags in the second.  Once again, it was so much fun to see how the figures appeared as I worked... and how little detail I could get away with and still have them read as people.  In the end, you can almost imagine the conversations they are having!

Monday, November 3, 2014

"the living is easy" & "there is a summer place"

I started a new series of beach paintings last month.  I wanted to focus on the figure in the landscape in an almost abstracted manner.
18" x 36" oil on gallery wrapped canvas
©2014dottietleatherwood

Pieces, Parts, and Shapes that in your mind create a person.  When you look at each of these paintings, your brain makes the random marks into people.  As I blocked the paintings in, I focused only on shape and color not on what each shape represented.

Here is the initial block in of "there is a summer place"


As you can see above, the shapes are all connected.  Then I start putting in lights and darks all over the canvas.  I pulled a little more detail out in some of the shapes and made those figures more complete but the remainder of the figures are just suggested.  It is continually amazes me how realistic some of these figures appear to be but how abstract they appear when you are close to the painting. And how your mind takes a stroke of paint and converts it into a face or an arm or leg when there truly was no intention when I  put that paint down on the canvas.

Here is a detail in part of the painting "the living is easy" below:

And here is the complete painting:
24" x 30" oil on gallery wrapped canvas
©2014dottietleatherwood

 These are such fun to do. Not to mention that the umbrellas are such fun to paint!  I also like the sort of "retro" feel that these paintings have too.  This series of work is found at the beautiful Atelier Gallery in Charleston, SC.  It is wonderful to be represented by a gallery that encourages experimentation and new work. So please check out my work on their website!  The Atelier Gallery

Thursday, October 30, 2014

"a spot for two"

I drove to Charleston, SC yesterday to deliver a new series of paintings to Atelier Gallery.  Actually two new series..more about the second series in the next post.  But I took some progress shots of one of the new paintings I delivered and I thought I would post them so you can see some of the stages of the way I paint. I usually get so involved in painting I forget to take photos...and I did that this time too but you will get the idea.


Here is the start:

I paint alla prima.... which means "in one sitting".  So I usually start and finish in one day. Sometimes, though, I will do this first part of the block in the day before and resume the painting the following day.  Often I do this so that I can have several paintings going at once.


Here you can see I have started adding the middle value colors to the darks.  I may revise this many times to get the right value and the right color.  I am trying different things to see what I like best.  But you can see my shapes are becoming more solid.


More color. Still playing around to see what combinations I like best.  I add in the sky and water so I can get an idea of how all of my color relates to each other. No details yet.  Just still big blocky shapes. Here is where I got so involved in my painting I forgot to take any more progress shots.  This is when I lose track of time and just get into the zone of painting.  And that is the most wonderful thing in the world. :)

Here is the finished painting.  Don't you love the way those two boats are snuggled up together!

"a spot for two"
18" x 36" oil on gallery wrapped canvas
©2014dottietleatherwood

Monday, October 27, 2014

Traveling Paints....

Excuse the brief hiatus in posting but I have been traveling :) .  I spent last week in Ventura, CA with several artist friends eating, painting, talking, strategizing, and drinking wine. (Oh, and lest I forget the darts....we played some intensely competitive games of darts.)

My dear friend Leslie Saeta invited me, Carol Marine, Debra Huse and Margaret Sheldon to come and stay a week with her at her beach house.  It was such a wonderful, energizing trip on so many different levels.  They have all been painting and selling longer than I have so the wisdom shared and the time spent with them was priceless for me.  I just truly can't put into words how meaningful the week was for me and how much I needed it.

Sometimes as an artist you feel like you are on a boat out in the ocean all by yourself.  There is no clear cut path to follow and while that can be a good thing, sometimes it is overwhelming and uncertain.  The camaraderie and ties to other artists are so essential in keeping you from drifting too far into yourself and just simply fills your tank and keeps you going.  I have so many artist friends that I just could not do without.  They are truly my anchors in this crazy business. I am a lucky girl!

A plein air painting I did one morning at sunrise looking down the beach at the houses and hotels glowing in that gorgeous early golden light.  And below is one of the many fantastic sunsets we were treated to each day. Life is good.


Friday, October 10, 2014

"business as usual"

Okay, I have recovered from my birthday.  Thanks to you all for the words of support, the laughs and the well wishes!  Truly warmed my heart and kept me smiling all day!

It is back to business as usual, which is the title of this painting.  I painted it for a show (fingers crossed it gets in). The people in this one are my favorite..you can just feel their seriousness.  I do love painting streetscapes.  They are so much fun.  I am also busy painting several series of paintings that are a little different for me....more on that later.  Have a lovely fall day!

business as usual
14" x 11" oil on panel
©2014dottietleatherwood

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Birthday Blog...the road ahead

I sit here on the eve of my birthday with a very generously poured glass of wine reflecting on the past year and wondering about the year ahead. It's been a mixed bag, the past year, number 48... just as all years are.  Joy, accomplishment, warm and abiding moments of friendship and love, all mixed up with sadness, anxiety and disappointment.  New things begun, old things let go of. Dreams taken hold of and other dreams dashed.  All very normal in the course of a life. 

I hate getting older.  Anyone who knows me well, knows that about me.  I can't fathom that I am going to be 49. It still surprises me when there's not a 20 year old looking back at me in the mirror every morning. I do love birthdays but I don't like the inevitable aging part of it.  I know that I'm supposed to make peace with it but I can't. Not when there's so much more to do. 

I feel like I am just getting started.  Like I've just figured out where I am heading. I feel as if one part of my life is ending and a new part is beginning.  I'm ready, or am I? Depends on the day, but most days I think I'm ready to fly. 

So, my 49th year is only hours away.  I hope I use it wisely but also spend it extravagantly as if I have all the time in the world.  I want peace and stillness in my soul and laughter and exuberance in my heart. I still want to be the first one ready to go anywhere and the loudest and the last one to leave the party.  I hope I'm never satisfied with where I am and continue to search for answers to all of my questions. I want to give more, love more and help where I am needed.  I want to fly.

Thanks for listening...for sharing my journey.  And I hope next year this time, I still hate getting older.

18" x 24" oil on canvas
©2014dottietleatherwood

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September Sojourn: Day 30!!!

Last day of the challenge!  I am so proud of myself for sticking with plein air everyday this month.  Even when the weather was awful, even when I was out of town, even when I was exhausted, even when my calendar was so full I couldn't see straight... I found time to go OUTSIDE and paint.

 If there was one thing I learned this month, it was that you can find a painting anywhere you look.  And some days I did.  It's amazing what a little creativity and cropping can do for subject matter.  Inspiration can be found anywhere.

Today was a beautiful day to end the challenge on.  Sunshine and 80 degrees...my kind of day.  I drove uptown looking for a place to paint.  I only had about an hour so time was of the essence.  I have painted this little chapel before but from another angle and much larger.  But I liked how it was framed by the trees and sky and the little evergreens in front of it.  Just like in a storybook. :)

Here it is in progress...as you can tell from how dark the picture is, I was painting with the sun in my eyes.  After all the rain we have had this month, I am not complaining!

I did have some friends to keep me company.  They kept flying onto my palette.  

Here is the finished painting!  
"storybook"
10" x 8" oil on panel - plein air study
©2014dottietleatherwood

NOTE:  I will keep the special pricing on these paintings up through October 15th and then the prices will revert to my regular ones, so if there is a painting you are interested in, get it soon


Monday, September 29, 2014

September Sojourn: Day 29

Guess what?  It is raining today.  AGAIN.  Here was my plein air set up for Day 29:

Yep, in my jeep.  It wasn't too bad.  I did stay dry but it was pretty cramped.  And there was no backing up to assess my painting.  My main objective, other than keeping paint off of the inside of my car, was to try and capture the grays in the sky and the feeling of the rain.  At first glance the sky seemed a wall of gray but just as I have discovered throughout this month of painting, the longer I painted and looked at the clouds, the more colors I saw.  If I could have stayed longer, I would have loved to have painted another one of just the sky. Such nuance in the colors of the clouds passing over!

Last day of the challenge is tomorrow! Stay tuned....I have no idea what I am going to paint but it's supposed to be sunny so I am thrilled about that!

NOTE:  I will keep the special pricing on these paintings up through October 15th and then the prices will revert to my regular ones, so if there is a painting you are interested in, get it soon!


"nuanced"
6" x 8" oil on panel
©2014dottietleatherwood

Sunday, September 28, 2014

September Sojourn: Day 27 & 28

Caught up today with my 30 Plein Air Paintings for September!  I have been on the road with every moment filled since the middle of last week, making painting and blogging difficult, if not impossible.  I have to tell you, I am exhausted!

I didn't get back into Charlotte till after 11:00 last night and I slept in this morning.  Confession:  It is now 5:30 and I am still in my pj's and on my back porch where I have spent most of today.  Sometimes it is good to listen to what your body is telling you and mine said STOP :)

However, I needed to do two paintings to catch up on my challenge commitment and even though I toyed with the idea of skipping it, it's just not in my DNA to do it.  Luckily, as I have discovered this month, you don't have to look far to have subject matter to paint.  And I looked no further than the table and chair to my left.



The first little painting is a still life on the table.  I loved the lights and darks and the reflections in both the glass table and the french doors behind the table.
"still life on a glass table"
8" x 6" oil on panel - plein air study
©2014dottietleatherwood

The second painting is of the chair to the left of the table.  Again, the lights and darks were compelling and I wanted to see how well I could capture the chair from the angle in which I was painting.  I'm happy with how solid the chair seems in the space.  I simplified both the background and the wicker texture on the chair because I didn't want it to distract from what I was trying to capture.  Both of these are full of color, too, which makes me happy.
"sitting pretty"
10" x 8" oil on panel - plein air study
©2014dottietleatherwood

Only two more days in the challenge.  It has been a busy month!  I will keep the special pricing on these paintings up through October 15th and then the prices will revert to my regular ones, so if there is a painting you are interested in, get it soon!

Friday, September 26, 2014

September Sojourn: Day 25 & 26

Woefully behind in my posting....  I am in Greensboro, NC at my first solo show and it has been a busy two days.  I am so excited to be here and still pinching myself!  Three years ago when I first started painting, I dreamed of this but it seemed so far in the future.  I have worked so very hard and given this everything I had to give.   I have had some setbacks along the way that shook my confidence in myself and my painting to the core, but I have never given up.  Some days it has been as simple as one foot in front of the other.  Some days that is all you can do.

Here are my two plein air paintings for today and yesterday....can't figure out when I am going to fit in painting today and tomorrow but we'll see!



"the garden"
8"x6" oil on panel - plein air study
©2014dottietleatherwood


"study of a home"
8"x6" oil on panel - plein air study
©2014dottietleatherwood

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

September Sojourn: Day 24

Ok.  Enough with the rain already.  It is not spring, it is FALL.  I need a sunny day.  If not to paint then just for my mental health! :)

More gloom today, more rain and I am tired of painting in it.  Actually,  I wouldn't mind painting in the rain if I was in a more exotic locale. Definitely eliminates the need to find a spot of shade to put my easel in.  I did a study of a tree today.  Here is an "in progress" shot.  At this stage, I have blocked in the darks and am just starting to add some variation in the greens.  It is really a challenge to end up with the colors that I want in this gloomy light.


You can see in the finished painting below, I used artist's license to brighten up things a bit.  A girl can dream of better weather...

"lean and substantial"
8" x 6" oil on panel
©2014dottietleatherwood

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

September Sojourn: Day 23

Rainy day again.  It seems like this month has had more than it's share.  Chilly, too!  I painted from my back porch late this afternoon.  The trees in my yard are just starting to show their fall colors.  I painted a small section of branches and leaves.  The more I painted the more abstract the shapes became....almost like a stained glass window.


See how gloomy! I brightened this picture up so you could see what I was painting.  I felt like I was painting in the dark!  Here is the finished painting:

"autumn in the abstract"
8" x 6" oil on panel - plein air study
©2014dottietleatherwood

Monday, September 22, 2014

September Sojourn: Day 22

A partly cloudy morning gave way to mostly cloudy before I finished with this painting.  Having had painted this scene before, I felt confident painting the light as I first saw it.


I haven't painted as much uptown as I had wanted to this month.  September has proved way to hectic and my "to do" list each day has proved way to long!  I am hoping to get some street scenes in next week.  For those of you that don't live in Charlotte, the title of this one is a play on Charlotte's nickname as the "Queen City".

"queen for a day"
8" x 6" oil on panel - - plein air study
©2014dottietleatherwood

If you don't want to miss a post this month..... please enter your email address in the upper right hand corner and you will receive all my blog posts in your email!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

September Sojourn: Day 21

Another day of blooming where you're planted or in this case..painting where you're planted.  I am keeping my nephew this weekend so my plein air has been close to home out of necessity.  But as I have found, this month, you can find a painting anywhere.  You just have to look.


I have been watching this maple in my neighbor's yard turn into a gorgeous orange day by day.  Each day it gets a little more intense.  From my driveway, the maple and the huge oak in their yard frame their porch so beautifully.  And the early afternoon light casts a dramatic shadow that is just perfect.  Everything around me has become fair game for a painting...watch out!  :)

"across the road"
6" x 8" oil on panel - plein air study
©2014dottietleatherwood

If you don't want to miss a post this month..... please enter your email address in the upper right hand corner and you will receive all my blog posts in your email!












Saturday, September 20, 2014

September Sojourn: Day 20

My paint box is starting to show the signs of painting everyday.....needs a good scraping off!

Had a hectic day today and didn't get much further than the back yard to paint.  But I didn't need to.  Sometimes the best subjects are simply right under your nose.
I started with a canvas panel toned in a dark greenish gray and worked on bringing the rose and leaves out of that. I find it fun to try and start different ways ...keeps me interested.   Here is a better view of the finished painting.
"simplicity"
10" x 8" oil on linen panel - plein air study
©2014dottietleatherwood

If you don't want to miss a post this month..... please enter your email address in the upper right hand corner and you will receive all my blog posts in your email!

Friday, September 19, 2014

September Sojourn: Day 19

Yesterday was a wonderfully foggy morning.  The kind that turns the distant trees that beautiful blue.  I knew exactly what I wanted to paint.  About a 20 minute drive from my house, there is this wonderful old barn in a huge field with a couple of old oaks around it and a line of trees in the distance.  I could already picture in my mind how cool it was going to look with the fog and mist around it. I was so excited!

I drive all the way out there, come up over the hill and look to my right to see just how awesome my painting was going to be and....... no barn.  no oak trees.  Instead there were bulldozers clearing away the debris of what used to be the barn and trees surrounding it.  You can insert a sad face here.

I was so bummed!  So I drove around for another 10 minutes looking for another barn but to no avail.  I finally stopped at the edge of a field that was quickly being taken back by nature and got out my easel.  The fog was starting to break by now but there was still plenty of atmosphere.  The longer I painted the more color I noticed in the layers of trees.  Golds and reds and purples were edging into the deep green summer landscape.


Like it or not, autumn is on its way.  The painting ended up being a bit of an abstract landscape but it is true to the impression of the setting that was in front of me.  Hope it takes you there too!

"a little early fall color"
6" x 8" oil on panel - plein air study
©2014dottietleatherwood

If you don't want to miss a post this month..... please enter your email address in the upper right hand corner and you will receive all my blog posts in your email!



Thursday, September 18, 2014

September Sojourn: Day 18

I went out to a different park to paint yesterday and spotted these two guys fishing.  I wasn't sure if I could pull off a figurative painting in plein air but I just couldn't resist trying.


You can see from the photos that I was standing a good bit away from them which actually helped me just focus on the shapes and shadows and not get caught up in any detail.  The guy sitting on the bucket never moved...maybe he was asleep!  The other man did walk around a little while I was painting but thankfully went back to his favorite pose.  I was able to capture their basic shapes quickly in several strokes and then go back in and refine them. I added the simple background after I was finished with the figures.  What fun!


"waiting on a bite"
8" x 6" oil on panel - plein air study
©2014dottietleatherwood

If you don't want to miss a post this month..... please enter your email address in the upper right hand corner and you will receive all my blog posts in your email!



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

September Sojourn: Day 17

Another lovely afternoon to paint in the park.  I wanted to focus on the sunlight and how it highlighted the roots in the path.  Once again, glorious color from the light shining through the leaves in the woods.  Here is a shot of my painting about halfway completed...



And here is the completed painting.  One of the things we focused on this past weekend at my workshop with Jim Richards was having clear light and shadow.  I tried to keep this in mind as I was painting.  Sorry about the shine... photographing a wet painting is a challenge sometimes.

"sunshine spilling down"
8" x 6"  oil on panel - plein air study
©2014dottietleatherwood

If you don't want to miss a post this month..... please enter your email address in the upper right hand corner and you will receive all my blog posts in your email!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September Sojourn: Day 16

Over the hump and past the halfway point of 30 Days of Plein Air...Yay!!!  Today's painting is a metaphor for plein air some days  :)

"brambles and barbed wire"
12" x 9" oil on panel - plein air study
©2014dottietleatherwood

If you don't want to miss a post this month..... please enter your email address in the upper right hand corner and you will receive all my blog posts in your email!


Monday, September 15, 2014

September Sojourn: Day 15

As I told you last Wednesday, I have been in the north Georgia mountains plein air painting.  What a wonderful long weekend! I had so much fun, learned a ton and got to spend time with old friends and meet new ones.  I also got to study for two days with one of my favorite artists, Jim Richards. He is such a wealth of knowledge and such a nice guy.

Here are some highlights of the week along with today's painting.....

These are two of the paintings I did in Jim's workshop on Thursday & Friday... Special thanks to artist Marsha Savage for letting us paint at her wonderful place on the Oconee River on Saturday.

 "clinging vine"

"oconee river"

Saturday & Sunday, we were on our own to paint and I got to paint at the beautiful Noontootla Farms (which is where today's painting comes from).  But a funny story first.  There are always challenges when you are outside painting.  Sometimes it's the weather, sometimes it's what you forgot to bring, people talking to you, all kinds of different things.  This trip it was the gnats.  I cannot even describe to you how unbelievable the swarms of gnats were on Saturday.  The biting kind.  One of my paintings was covered in hundreds of gnats in about a 60 second period.  Guess what happens when a gnat lands on oil paint?  Yep, he sticks.  Here is about a two inch section of a painting:
I felt like I was on Survivor:Plein Air.  I was determined not to let them chase me off but by Saturday afternoon when the gnats were landing faster than I could scrape them off, I realized I had been beaten.  Here is one painting I managed to salvage:

fields of goldenrod
10" x 8" oil on panel - plein air study
©2014dottietleatherwood

The painting below (and another one that I forgot to photograph) is hanging at the Blue Ridge Arts Association in their Plein Air Exhibition until the middle of October.  Thanks to my wonderful friend and artist Connie Gaertner for hosting us at her gorgeous mountain house all weekend.

"foggy mountain morning"