Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Paint, Plant, Knit


After a couple weeks of Christmas baking, gift delivery and Zoom Christmas gatherings, I'm back in the Studio. Well, this photo is actually outside the studio on a covered porch. I thought it might be interesting or helpful to others to learn how I photograph my artwork. This is a pastel taped to a black rigid board. Beside the painting I have taped a Kodak Color bar. This color bar helps me correct the color in Photoshop Elements after  I AirDrop the photo from my iPhone to my iMac. 

1. I place the painting outdoors in the shade and using my iPhone on Portrait Mode, I take a photo of my painting. In my iPhone I edit the photo by cropping to the black background. I keep the full art image and the color bar in the photo.

2.  I AirDrop the cropped image from my iPhone to my iMac. Open the image with Photoshop Elements and select Enhance from the menu bar. I then select Adjust Lighting, then Shadows/Highlights and lighten shadows to number 12. Based on where I photograph my work, this is nearly always the adjustment that is needed here. 

3. Next, using color adjustments and keeping my eye on the color bar to compare what I see on the screen to the actual color bar in my hand, I adjust the color as needed. Sometimes only a little adjustment is needed but sometimes this step is lengthy. It is very important to me that I represent my work accurately.

4. Once the color is correct, I crop to the image, cutting out the color bar. I resize the image to the correct ratio of the actual painting - sometimes the photo is a little off. Then I save 3 copies. One is full size at 300dpi x 8" wide or high, whichever is longer. The second image is 144dpi x 10" high or wide and the third has a square canvas in black or white added for Instagram. I label the images with a letter for the medium, then the year, month and day, title, size. Here are the labels for the art shown above.




A goal for 2021 is a more balanced life. I will be painting less but gardening more. This is my seed collection harvested from the 2020 flower and vegetable gardens. I also walk around at the end of the growing season with my notebook and make notes about plants that need moving to another location or removing permanently to the compost. After gardening this spot for 6 years, the only thing that ended up being removed permanently were clumps of Shasta Daisys. A few hydrangea bushes will come out in February for a relocate to my daughter's farm on Vashon Island to make room for some new, lower plants.. 

I'll also be knitting again. Forty years ago, in my First-Life, I lived on a 13 acre farm on Vashon Island, Island Farm and Gardens, Rt. 2, Box 176. I worked at K2 Skis, raised two children, bred sheep spent a lot of time at my spinning wheel. Today, I have an attic full of roving and handspun yarn that I hope to get back to in 2021. I'm warming up with a hat for myself of blue wool that I have been knitting for 3 years. It began as a sweater. At about 3/4 completion I decided it was too small so I ripped it all out and rewound the skeins of yarn into balls. I began again with a different sweater pattern and along the way got busy with art and lost interest. Now I am knitting a hat based on the Handspun yarn knit hat pattern I created so many years ago (and calligraphed the directions). Notice I am knitting directly from the previously knit sweater to the hat. This gives it an interesting extra texture to the knit/purl rib pattern I'm working.

Well, that's probably more than you wanted to know...if you got this far. In my interest of a more balanced life for 2021, I have started a new Instagram page titled Mill Pond Cottage. Here is the link if you would like to follow along. It's new. 

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Two paintings accepted

I'm happy to post the news that two of my paintings have been accepted into the Pastel Society of Eastern Canada (Société de Pastel L'est du Canada) for their 25th edition of "Les Pastellistes". There were 500 digital images from 17 countries to consider for this show. Many thanks to the PSEC judges. I am honored to be included. The show will be online December 15, 2020 at https://pastelsec.com

Boat House, pastel, image 17 x 22 inches, 
©2019 Barbara Benedetti Newton

Cedar River Picnic, image 25 x 18 inches,  
©2019 Barbara Benedetti Newton

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Gratitude Attitude

 This week I've been focused on gratitude. One thing I am grateful for is the opportunity to rework paintings that are not quite right. 

Gratitude, pastel, 11x14 inches
I brushed off all of a previous painting except the top three inches. Loved the sky and trees so they survived my rework.

Gratitude #2, 5x7 inches
I think this was a little pastel from my Super Summer Sale that didn't sell. As soon as the sale was over I completely brushed it off down to a ghost indication of color. Six months later, I added some Acryl Gouache to the ghost in these colors but the scene didn't come into being until I started with pastel over the gouache. 

Gratitude #3, 7x5 inches
This little painting of my Studio Garden was a demo piece for the last major workshop I taught in Fall, 2019. I loved lots about this one so only slight changes were made to help direct the viewer's attention.

Gratitude #4, 13 x 17 inches
Now this one has a long history. I painted it the first time in December of 2012 (the image at the bottom of this post) and it appears in my book, Art Answers Pastel Book. In January of 2015 I gave it a major rework with the blue sky (middle photo below) and it went to one of my galleries. It came back home and has hung on my wall for three years. Until this week. Now it has turned into Gratitude #4 and I'm happy. A special note: this is Wallis paper and I think I could probably rework it many more times because the paper is so durable. But I hope I don't have to.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Acryl Gouache

For years, you have listened to me complain that I have too many acrylics and that I have yet to bond with them (no pun intended). Well, I may have just inched forward to a closer relationship with an "acrylic" medium. Acryl Gouache. A compromise between acrylic and gouache.

Traditional gouache is opaque, matte watercolour – so like watercolour it is re-soluble, not water resistant. Acryl Gouache has characteristics of both acrylic and watercolor. It is opaque and matte, quick-drying, water-mixable and water resistant once dry (so multiple layers can be over-painted with no bleeding or streaking). 

I love the matte look of gouache and I love the water-resistant-once-dry attribute of acrylic. I tried Acryl Gouache recently when reworking an old pastel painting. 

This is "Woodland Path," 2018, one of my paintings in my "From the Heart" series - paintings done from memory, no reference photo used. I should mention that the paper is Wallis which can take tons of abuse. When a slight rework using pastel didn't work, I took the painting into the laundry room, held it over the sink and sprayed it with water until all I had was ghost image of the old painting.

I mixed acryl gouache into a dark blue/green color and indicated a new scene based on the little black and white photo reference.

Then using a very light blue (mostly white) I indicated the lightest areas.

Using these colors, I applied pastel over the acryl gouache. 

Backroad, mixed media, 13x12.5 inches
©2020 Barbara Benedetti Newton

I am typing this on Black Friday. Now there is Artist Sunday.

Great sale prices on selected art, go to Barbara's Holiday Sale

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Homemade Pastels

When I cleaned and reorganized my soft pastels, I ended up with a paper plate full of chips and small pieces to grind and roll into new colors.

1. Grind pastel chips using a mortar and pestle.
2. Pour pastel powder onto a surface and mash tiny chunks with a palette knife.
3. Form the powder into a little mountain with a crater in the top.
4. Drop in water and mix into a paste using a palette knife.

5. Form the paste into a sausage and place onto a paper towel and wrap and roll a couple times.
6. Hold each of the two ends of the paper towel and make a see-saw motion, letting the pastel roll across the surface of the paper towel under it's own weight. 
7. Set the paper towel with pastel still on it in a safe place to dry for a few days. 

Viola! New pastel sticks.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone. I have found that it is important to make note of holidays even though this year we can't celebrate as usual. Without holidays, my year becomes a time warp. I need markers of the passing of time. Take a look at special Thanksgiving pricing in my Etsy Shop, BBNewtonART.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Pastel Work-Station Update

 Remember all those pastels I discovered in my Studio? To have them accessible at my pastel work-station, I had to empty out and clean ALL my pastel boxes and even install a new wall shelf on the right side of my easel (thank you Jay!). 

Now I'm in business! The two framed pastel paintings hanging on the wall above my new shelf are awaiting rework. Next week: making my own pastel sticks from chips (see the lower left paper-plate of pastel chips in the photo above).

Update on my Holiday Sale
Yay! All the small oil paintings in my Daily Paintworks Holiday Auction have been shipped to their new homes. Also, three sales from my Etsy Shop BBNewtonArt have shipped. Thank you everyone! The Puget Sound Group of Northwest Artists Holiday Sale is in progress. I have five paintings in that sale (two are framed and ready to give as a gift to yourself or someone else). 

Saturday, November 7, 2020

A Happy Week

A HAPPY WEEK here in the Studio.

The first paintings from My Holiday Sale have been shipped. Thank you to my early-bird purchasers!

I have cleaned and rearranged my Studio. See the changes.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

My three Holiday Sales


Saturday, October 24, 2020

Hog Bristle Brushes and "Morning Light"


Yay! My Ultimate hog bristle brushes from Rosemary & Co. arrived today: long and short flats and filberts in sizes 8, 10 and 12. My old hog bristle brushes are an assortment of brands accumulated over the years. This is my first educated purchase of hog bristle brushes. They arrived when I was almost done with the 12x9 inch oil on my easel, "Morning Light." It looked like this...

With a #12 brush I simplified it to end up like this...

"Morning Light," oil, 12 x 9 inches
©2020 Barbara Benedetti Newton

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Oiling Out before Varnishing


Today is oiling out day. This procedure is done to dry paintings to even out the absorbency of the varnish. After oiling out, I can continue painting or wait a minimum of 3 days and varnish. 

How to Oil Out

  1. Apply a liberal coating of 1:1 Galkyd Painting Medium and GamsolOdorless Mineral Spirits to a dry painting. This can be applied to the entire painting or just to the area that needs to be enlivened.
  2. Allow the medium to be absorbed into the painting for approximately two minutes.
  3. Wipe off the excess painting medium with a soft, lint-free cloth.
    Continue painting. - Information from Gamblin.

Here is a  link to an Oiling Out YouTube Video by Gamblin.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Painting and Gardening

For the past couple weeks I've been putting the flower and vegetable gardens to bed for the winter and sorting out small oil paintings for a couple Holiday Sales that begin November 1.  

When I finally returned to the easel all my paint was dry and had to be removed. Once I got that far, I took the glass off and labeled paint locations so I could easily tell the difference between the dark blues. 

Two blobs of white: I recently discover T-Z (Titanium Zinc) White which is semi-transparent and added it alongside my usual opaque Titanium White. I used the last of my Archival Yellow Ochre and added a blob of M.Graham Yellow Ochre. I was surprised at the difference. The Archival is warm, the M.Graham is cool. 

I was able to put a couple more hours into the two paintings I posted last Saturday. Here is how they look today as I set them aside again. And now, I'm off to the garden again before the rains begin.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

A Fall Palette and Lily Bulbs


On the easel this week, two oils in "Fall" colors - yellows and browns. They are still in the first stages because this has been a busy week. Here are the reference photos to give you an idea of where I'm headed.

This is my favorite time of year. Making bread and digging lily bulbs. I've posted this easiest, yummiest bread ever recipe here before so here is a link to it again.

I have four big pots of lilies at the entrance to the garage. I planted them six years ago and it was time to dump them out, sort and replant. 

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Goodbye Summer - painting over an old painting

 In my last post I mentioned that I painted over a few old paintings to use the panels again for a new art work. Here is the first one completed - I used the last of the garden dahlias as my subject.

"Goodbye Summer," oil, 10 x 12 inches
©2020 Barbara Benedetti Newton

Finishing touches on "Goodbye Summer"
See the progress photos below.

This is the painted-over panel
with a sketch of the set-up

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Selecting, Reworking, Obliterating

I'm selecting artwork for my Daily Paintworks Gallery Holiday Sale and also for an online Holiday Sale with Puget Sound Group of Northwest Artists. If you would like to sell your work in the PSG upcoming sale, join PSG as a member before October 10. Membership info is in the link above. 

Five of these paintings will be in the PSG Holiday Sale; the rest will go on auction at super prices

Devotion II, oil, 10x8 inches
This one got a slight re-work and I'm happy with it now.

But some paintings just have to go. I painted over 5 paintings today with a mixture of all the oil paint on my palette. Love doing that!

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Are you a VIP?

Great news this week. I received the Pastelagram Award for my painting "Boat House" from the Pastel Society of America 48th Annual Enduring Brilliance Show. This is a big deal show with beautiful art! Many thanks to PSA and to the Jury of Selection: Duane Wakeham, Anna Wainright and Claire Shroeven Verbiest. My special thanks to the Juror of Awards, Marjorie Shelley, Conservator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. 

Boat House, pastel, ©2019 Barbara Benedetti Newton

On the easel today are peonies. At the midway point, I needed a mahl stick. I used to have one but I haven't seen it for years. Jay donated a vintage shotgun cleaning rod. I taped part of an old cotton T-shirt around the end. It is wood, old and beautiful. Yay!

My Summer Super Sale is over. Whew. Lots of work. I need a marketing/packaging/shipping assistant. This is yesterday's trip to the post office. The final two paintings will be shipped tomorrow.  Thanks to all who welcomed my small pastels into their collections.

I'm already starting to think about my Holiday Sale. If you want to receive a heads up about which paintings will be in the sale, sign up for my BBNewtonART News at the bottom of my contact page. 

I have 19 people who have reached the VIP Collector status because 3 or more purchases through my DailyPaintworks online gallery. VIP Collectors will get special discount coupons for purchasing art. Of the 19, only 4 people are on my official BBNewtonART News mailing list. So please, if you deserve VIP discounts, sign up on the link above.