Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"Eggs, Reflected"

Connie Kleinjans fine art8x8, oil on canvas board

I've been wanting to paint this silver egg for awhile. It's one of those eggs that, when you shake it, you hear chimes. But I never found quite the right thing to paint next to it. Then these brown eggs came along. I did learn something: Metallic colors reflect what's around them (duh), so it's hard to use them to gain value differences. Or is it? I see a lot of black at the top of the egg. Hmm. I might have to try this again on a lighter background. But dark as it is, it still isn't as rich as the original. Darn these cameras!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

"Did You Say Eggs?"

Connie Kleinjans fine art8x8, oil on gallery-wrapped canvas

Oh, you know. You see two items together and something makes you think you can connect them in some way. In this case it's egg and eggplant. It's lame, but they both have egg in their name. According to one online source, the eggplant got its name from the smaller whiter varieties that did, in fact, look like eggs.

But! Be that as it may, I like how this came out! Maybe it's the hot red background breaking through the green, or maybe it's the dimensionality of the eggs and eggplant. And, I swear, the eggplant's shadow did look like that! (Usually things don't throw shadows on both sides of themselves, but this did, probably because the light was close.) Also, this has a bit of a cartoon look, but this can be a complement. Whatever it is, I wish I could replicate it at will.

So today I pushed my comfort limit and did some sloppy abstracts. I tried to get out of my head and not judge, and go on instinct and impulse. It was interesting. We'll see if I post anything. I don't know. That will depend on instinct and impulse, too.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

"Choy to the World"

Connie Kleinjans fine art8 x 8 x 0.75, oil on gallery-wrapped canvas

What is it about bok choy that makes you want to crack puns with the name? (I'm referring to this and the prior piece.) Ah well, the title suits the season.

I'm finally starting to put some of my paintings up around the house. Granted, they're pretty small, but they provide a splash of color and liveliness. I find it interesting to see what I choose to hang, and also to listen to what others say about my work. What I choose points me towards what I want to do more of. Comparing notes with others reminds me how different people really are. A painting that I think of as merely OK, sparks a response in someone else. And that response isn't what you think it might be. For instance, someone might call a painting "cool" because it shows, say, glass that warps the shape of what's behind it (note the two stalks in this piece). When I get a reaction like that, I'm sometimes a bit put out at first; I kind of want people to be drawn to the composition, color, perspective, or other feature of the actual execution, rather than to something that's almost a parlor trick. Then again, it's an honest reaction, and might still indicate that I did something right.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

"I Want My Baby Bok, Baby Bok, Baby Bok"

Connie Kleinjans fine art6x6, oil on canvas board, NFS

You know, I saw some baby bok choy at the grocery store, and I had to paint one (well, two, since another will be showing up soon). I'd had it a couple of days before I started painting and it was starting to droop, hence the little dish it's in. I don't know if it helped revive it. But somewhere in there I started humming the music with different words. I think the original is for a steak house. (And for those of you who haven't heard it, the song is in 1950s doo-wop style, and it goes "I want my baby back, baby back, baby back... I want my baby back ribs!" OK, the joke is lame, but a few friends cracked up.

Also, I decided to try the outline technique. I remember art teachers telling classes over and over "Don't draw the outlines. Draw on the surface. Draw the volumes." But they sure made this painting pop, and I see it in other current painters. It kind of brings to mind Elizabeth Shippen Green, the great illustrator from early in the 20th century. She worked in charcoal, which gave her bold outlines, as you can see from this page. Ah well, enough history.

Friday, December 12, 2008

"Garlic Party"

Connie Kleinjans fine artAbout 14 x 17.5", oil on unstretched canvas

Like yesterday's blog entry, this one was painted with the idea of cropping it afterward. But I got a wonderful comment from Kim Vanderhoek about how yesetrday's looked the most powerful uncropped, and now I'm rethinking this one. Now, in an earlier piece, I really liked the splashy parts around the outside, and I pondered whether it would work to frame out the middle and paint the edges in a lower key to kind of attenuate their presence, but still keep them visible. So I experimented with this one using that theory. But it also occurred to me (too much caffeine, perhaps) that this might make two paintings. Take a look. I have no idea if this will make sense or not.

Connie Kleinjans fine artThe common element in both paintings would be the small garlic clove in the middle.

Anway, I'm not sure yet, but it's fun to play with.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"Three Persimmons"

Connie Kleinjans fine art
Oil on unstretched canvas, about 14.5 x 18

Every once in a while I'll tape a piece of canvas to a board, paint on it, and crop it afterward. I did a batch of these in February of this year. What it does is allow me to crop after the painting is done, rather than choosing the size by painting on an existing board or stretched canvas. It's fun. This time I painted these three persimmons.

So, above is how the painting currently looks. Next I get to play with cropping. I use my computer, so I can try options and undo them. But I also have a couple of L-shaped pieces of foam core, and I can use those, too.

I haven't played with a lot of options yet, but I do like how the persimmons are lined up vertically, and I also like the incomplete shadow at the very bottom. This suggests a tall, narrow cropping. And one reason I paint this way is so I can show the paint strokes at the periphery. Mix those together and you come out with this composition. I like it. Or at least, I like it today.

Or maybe it's too purple...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

"Blue Plate Special #3"

Connie Kleinjans fine art11x14, oil on canvas board

Here's the third painting using the see-through plate. I'm working larger, although I don't know why. But art is like that: You go a lot on impulse and but have to learn which parts to discipline. When I first called this finished and looked at it, I kind of didn't like it. It seemed too simple. But then something clicked and it began to look more graphic and more profoundly simple, if that makes sense. I love the work of Euan Uglow and, while I certainly can't compare my work to his, it's possible that what I like about his work is also what I like about this.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

"Blue Plate Special #2"

Connie Kleinjans fine art8x10, oil on canvas board

Another in my transparency series. I mean, not an official series, mind you. Just a challenge I want to learn from. And I'm still using the blood oranges.

Interesting recent posting by Aaron Lifferth discusses how to squint, or do something equivalent. Besides what Aaron does, which is interesting, a couple of the people commenting do interesting things, too. Check it out.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

"Blue Plate Special #1"

Connie Kleinjans fine art
8x10, oil on canvas board

I seem to be into backlit fruit these days. A couple of weeks ago I bought some blood oranges, since the to colors inside are so gorgeous. I also began to plaint the blue glass plate on different backgrounds (I used the matching bowl in an earlier piece). The glass colors were deucedly difficult to figure out! I'd use the little holes in my ViewCatcher to isolate the color in an area, paint that, then notice that it no longer made sense next to another area; something would be too dark or too light. So I'd adjust. Then that would shift something else. So I'd adjust again. It's a doozy. For instance: How do compare the red you see through the glass against the red in the shadow of the glass? So you gotta keep comparing. It's one of the truisms of painting.

Since figuring out the colors was so hard, I figured I needed more practice at it. :) So there are a few more paintings coming with the blue plate on different colors, hence the numbering in the title. For some reason, it felt right to go a little bigger, too. Go figger.

Monday, November 17, 2008

"Starfruit, Backlit"

Connie Kleinjans fine art9x12, acrylic on canvas paper

I was recently in Hilo, on Hawaii's Big Island. At my friend's house there was this beautiful starfruit. I found some fabric in the house to use as a backdrop and set up a lamp so the fruit was backlit (nothing like patient friends who let you use household items to jury rig a studio). I also bought a pad of canvas paper and borrowed brushes and acrylic paints from my friend. I think I did OK getting the glowing effect, and it was interesting to see how transparent some paints are and how opaque others are. But, wow, acrylics do dry awfully fast!

And here's the wikipedia star fruit page, which points out that it's closely related to the bilimbi.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"Last Hurrah"

Connie Kleinjans fine art6x8, oil on canvas board. Sold.

I did this one a few weeks ago. I like doing a bright underpainting and letting spots show through, and sometimes I like doing a bright underpainting and just not bothering to cover it. It works better on a larger canvas (I did a few like that in February of this year).

Saturday, November 15, 2008

"Shy Persimmon"

Connie Kleinjans fine art6x8, oil on canvas board

I so admire the blogging painters who can finish something every day and post it. Or even four or five days a week. I seem to go in fits and starts. I'll be on a roll for a few days and won't bother posting, or I'll do something I'm not that crazy about and won't feel like it, at least until I have more things I like. Recently I've found that the daily expectation has become a burden, which makes painting less fun. That's definitely not what I want.

Meanwhile, I felt I was getting too tight, so I painted this over something else so I wouldn't care so much about it. It's better. What I was going for was the sense of the persimmon being half in the shadow, and I also wanted to get the reflection in the tea cup. That's the object on the right (I'm not sure it reads well), and the hash marks are design elements on it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Connie Kleinjans fine art6x8, oil on canvas board

I did this one a few months ago, in August, after I painted my little white glowing vase (this one is aqua). While the flowers add a certain drama to the other one, I really like this one for its palette (especially the orange-brown against the purple), the reflection in the blue bottle (actually, another interesting color), and especially the way the beam of light coming in the top puts a spot on the side. And, like in the other painting, it had those bright spots in the foot of the vase.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"Eggplant and Pepper"

Connie Kleinjans fine art6x8, oil on canvas board

This was another one I did during our summer vacation. It was a challenge for a few reasons: vegetables with lobes (peppers, pumpkins) make you pay special attention to perspective (they're sort of like a series of rounder veggies), and reflections on a white dishes make you use your whitest color for the highlight, meaning you have to darken the white of the dish. Here I took them warm; cool might have been better. I assembled these because I love putting purple and green together.

Monday, October 20, 2008

"Asparagus and Water"

Connie Kleinjans fine art6x8, oil on canvas board

During our summer trip to Japan, I was so entranced with the blue and white dish towel I painted (it appeared in two prior posts: August 30 and September 5) that I wanted to look for more. While we were at Narita airport for our flight back, I found some Japanese fabric that I liked, and brought some home. This purple piece has a design on it called a hidari mitsu domoe (hidari=left, mitsu=three, and tomoe=the tadpole design). I was a little hesitant about painting this, since one sometimes sees foreigners using designs from another culture inappropriately. I mean, a lot of Americans might be upset if someone did a painting of the Statue of Liberty with a baseball cap on her head (although it's a pretty edgy idea). But my research showed that this design represents a lot of things, one of which is water, which seemed right for vegetables. And it looked great with the green asparagus.

You probably know that the Japanese are brilliant at fabric designs. Like, my prior post featured a furoshiki. So I went looking for more Japanese dish towels. It turns out that they're called tenugui (I lived there for 13 years and never knew this) and they can be used for anything. In fact, they're often sold as sweat cloths or head bands for martial arts. I found some online and ordered nine. Expect a few to show up in paintings in the next weeks.

Friday, October 17, 2008

"The Cherry Blossom Cloth"

Connie Kleinjans fine art
6x8, oil on canvas board

It's been way too long since I've updated. Busy days. Coming out of our summer trip to Japan (I grew up there), I did a few more small paintings with a Japanese flavor, and I'll be posting those in the next few days. I kind of like the composition on this one, up towards the top of the picture area. The red pepper -- they're so gorgeous! -- is sitting on a purple furoshiki (in case the colors don't show right on other monitors).

What, you ask, is a furoshiki? It's a colorful piece of cloth that you can use to carry things in. They come in a wide range of sizes. The basic theory is that you put the thing you want to carry in the middle, then pull up the corners and tie them. But you can tie a furoshiki in an amazing number of ways depending on what you want to do with it. Now that's recycling!

Friday, September 5, 2008

"The Kitchen Cloth and Tomatoes"

Connie Kleinjans fine art6x8, oil on canvas board

During our vacation in Japan, the house we stayed in had some cotton dishcloths hung up by the sink. Just normal, everyday, household items. But one of them was this simple blue cotton piece with a white design (also in the painting from two posts ago). So normal, but so gorgeous, and with what sure looked like hand stitching at the edges. I found some warm-colored tomatoes to contrast with the cool blue, and arranged them and, well, here it is.

Now, you have to understand that I was painting in a room with one central light. I put the items on a chair, closed the curtains (I couldn't see the lake!), and blocked the remaining light by hanging a jacket across the back of it (the chair). It was a bit dark, but fun. The wood of the chair (here masquerading as a table) was actually more gray and weathered than this. Isn't weathered wood beautiful?. But I couldn't seem to mix the wood color.

What I paint seems to be a combination of the intimate (which I love) and the graphic (which I also love). I have no idea if this makes sense or not. But, as I've said before, this painting thing is weird. For most of my life I've gotten by on the strength of my brain and logic. Painting makes me pay attention to internal urges shaped by what I want and like. It's just not something I'm used to. Cool!

When we left, I bid a fond farewell to the kitchen cloth and left it to live out its kitchen destiny.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Study: "Mount Myoko"

Connie Kleinjans fine art8x10, oil on canvas board

We just got back from vacation here. I swear, this mountain has been painted by millions of people through the years because she's just so photogenic. For me, it was a beautiful day, but also painting her was sort of Manifest Destiny, since my Mom had painted her many years ago. Very satisfying. I also took pictures and might try to turn this into a larger work.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

"Japanese Figs"

Connie Kleinjans fine art
6x8, oil on canvas board

[10.17.2008 update: Posted a better picture.]

We're on vacation in Japan, where I was born and spent my early childhood. I found this wonderful dishcloth with a traditional-style print on it, and thought it would be a good background for some delicious figs I found. You'll see it appear in another post soon. Sadly, we leave tomorrow.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

"The Square Vase"

Connie Kleinjans fine art
6x8, oil on canvas board

This is another of those setups where your mind fools your eye. The vase actually has a lot more foreshortening, so it tapers more towards the bottom. But when I painted it that way, it looked wrong. And, frankly, ultimately art must trump reality.

Also, it was a bit of a stretch to paint something that orange. I wanted to set the purpley-pink flowers against it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"Glowing Vase"

Connie Kleinjans fine art
6x8, oil on canvas board

I haven't been painting much recently because I've been doing too many shows. I'm still searching for that balance. I did this one a few weeks ago, though. I got several of these little vases in southern France, outside Avignon, at the glassery de la pape (I don't remember how to spell it). It was a magical trip, in a beautiful area of the country, and I'd love to go back. Anyway, I really liked the way the light shone through this one, but I couldn't get it to look like it until I added yellow. And those highlights in the foot of the vase really did look that bright. Sometimes it's hard to believe your eyes.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Connie Kleinjans fine art6x8, oil on canvas board

It's getting towards the end of the month and I have a few more paintings to post. I've been taking time off from painting, partly because I'm in my third show of the year and it's intense, but also party because I had required myself to paint daily, and it was becoming less fun. I'm looking for that balance in myself where painting is fun, and perhaps a discipline, but not forced. Nor do I want to wait for inspiration; that sometimes comes after you start. So I'm working on the balance: how do I balance my non-painting time among family, friends, dog, hobbies, home maintenance, exercise, reading, recharging? How about painting time if that includes setting up and managing a web site and sales channel? That's a lot, even without a pesky day job. I'm appreciating artists more and more. Imagine leading a painting studio and managing apprentices!

Now, this painting was supposed to be about the color of the flowers and of the apricots. They were identical, and it spoke to me. Then it turned into being about the shadows of the flowers on the apricots. Elsewhere in this blog, I've quoted David Leffel, who says that each painting needs to be about something. Maybe it's the emotion, if that's how you paint. But it can also be about looseness, or the color, or the light. Or the fabric texture or the perspective. Anything. I like the composition on this, and the shadows and the highlights in the glass. But I see a few things to work on.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Connie Kleinjans fine art6x8. Oil on canvas panel. Sold.

I love the way that the wildflowers have this leggy quality. Their stems are slender to the point of being thread-like, but they can still lift the flower way up. I'm also really enjoying some simple glass containers I bought recently. I bought a batch last year when I was enamored of the idea of painting pictures of cut glass. Now, not so much. The reflections and patterns are complicated enough to me without facets.

This palette is also a little different for me. The colors are kind of pastel, which I don't normally do, and there's a lot of green, which I also don't always do. Interesting. But the composition and shadows are things I love. Here's the in-process picture:

It's kind of cool that you can see the shadows and stems, and some of the flowers, but not the vase. I keep finding things I like about my paintings before they're done. I'm not sure what to do with this yet, but I should figure out what that's about.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

"Dappled Light"

Connie Kleinjans fine art8x10, oil on canvas board

I mentioned a few posts ago that I joined a local plein air painting group. I did this a few weeks ago (I've been busy!) and kind of like the serenity of it. I was going for the contrast of the sun through the wooden fence, and the shadows of the cross bars. But I rather like the patch of sunlight on the wheat grass (OK, the weeds) on the left.

And now that I've done this, when I go hiking (as I often do), I look at the trail and shadows with a funny little sense of recognition. Yeah, I know those colors and patterns. When our world becomes source material, we look at it differently. I've designed and painted some sets, and the same thing happened: I was always looking around to understand how to represent something. Ivy, urns, rock walls. I became visually aware of them.

Monday, June 30, 2008


Connie Kleinjans fine art6x8. Oil on canvas board.

Wildflower season is down to the very last few flowers around here. I wanted to capture a bit of that sense of explosion, the way wildflowers don't grow in neat, tidy rows with every bit just so. The challenge on this one, frankly, was painting around the flowers (leaves, stems) with the dark background color. I love cutting in and letting a little of the base color show through (if it's not white), but it can look contrived if it takes too much effort. Also, it took courage for me not to refine the pitcher more. I wanted to perfect the curves and the shadows, but decided to let go. So, no, this doesn't look polished, but there's a slapdask appeal to it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Connie Kleinjans fine art6x8. Oil on canvas board.

I haven't been posting much the last few weeks, but I've been painting. I think I've been desperately trying to fit in paintings of spring wildflowers before they go away, while in final rehearsal for a show (I also do theater).

In this piece I was trying to paint more loosely. Of course, so many artists try to do that that we should just make it an acronym or number it or something: Artist's Goal 21-A. :) This one does a fair job of it, especially in simplifying the reflections on the glass. Below is the work when it was part way through. As usual when I do an underpainting, there's a devil-may-care noisiness to it that I like.
Connie Kleinjans fine artI wonder how many artists have tried to figure out how to keep that freshness? The nice thing about this particular draft is that it almost works as a composition. Nice trick, and I wish I'd planned it.

In other news, I live in Northern California, and we have a fierce start to the wildfire season, with more dry lightning coming this weekend. There's a constant smell of smoke in the air, and that's likely to continue for another week. At first it was creepy and felt dangerous. Well, we are tracking the fire reports, thanks in part to a Yahoo group devoted to our area, and we're having our shrubbery cut back. But also, now that sense of danger has settled, I'm wondering if I can paint the amazing visual effects the smoke is adding to the landscape.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Connie Kleinjans fine art6x8". Oil on canvas board.

I did this a few weeks ago. I had painted a daisy and still had some growing wild in my yard, so I did a couple more. This painting fame out in two phases. The first was below, and I found the colors to just be uninteresting. So I took a picture of it and mucked with it in Photoshop. I didn't get exactly what I got in Photoshop, but the colors are more unusual and more interesting. I especially like how the orange shows through the green.

Connie Kleinjans fine art

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

First plein air and I forgot my red paint

Connie Kleinjans fine art6x8, oil on canvas board

I recently found a plein air painting group to hang out with, and this was my first work in a long time. Heck, I think I can count my plein air paintings on two hands. But I'm not displeased, especially since I forgot my red paint. I guess if you're going to paint outside and you need to forget one color, red ain't bad. It's better than blue or yellow/ochre, which you need for sky and plants, which features are very common outdoors.

I did this piece at the Baylands, a protected marshland in Palo Alto. It's a wonderful preserve where critters who frequent brackish water have a safe haven. The white structure in the distance is the Sea Scout Building, built in 1941 in the streamline moderne style (not that I know what this is) and it has a colorful history. The day was, as you can see, cloudy overhead, with puffy clouds over the mountains. I don't know that I nailed the scene (I'm not happy that the composition is split in half so evenly), but there is goodness in it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

"Peering," 6x8, oil on canvas board

Connie Kleinjans fine artThis is one of the best things I've done to date. I am really happy with it. (I hope this doesn't sound arrogant, but with most of my paintings I can see ways to improve them, or see that they need improving, but I'm not sure how.) This might look like just another floral, and it has its flaws, but to me there's a sense of physical weight and depth. Maybe presence? Naturally it almost painted itself. Like Tom Brown said in a workshop I attended, "I just held onto the other end of the brush."

How did I do it? Luck, I think. Well, that's not fair, really, given how hard I've been working, but sometimes things just come together. The interesting part for me is to look at what happened, so I can do it again (that's very important). After all, you consciously learn, then internalize:
  • The pitcher has a sense of heaviness to it. That comes from how thick the ceramic looks along the rim, as well as the fact that it's earthenware and people know how those feel.
  • The reflections on the lip and water edge add dimensionality. (That inner wall of the pitcher was the hardest thing to do.)
  • The flower shadow below the pitcher has a sense of sureness about it, coming from not fussing too much (a bad habit of mine). I must have gotten it pretty close to right in the first attempt. Also, the red underpainting shows through just enough. I did the shadow partly by cutting in , and I'm learning how powerful that is. And fun.
  • The daisy itself looks dimensional, partly because of the shadows. This yolk on this daisy stood out like a button, so it cast a wonderful shadow. A couple of other crossing petals cast shadows that add to the dimensionality. I've been experimenting with warm vs. cool shadows; these are warm and it works better, although I don't know why. But I just love the petal at 4:30. I guess I painted it in shadow, then did one stroke of white.
What else did I learn (or relearn)?
  • Sometimes an outline makes something look fuller. But you have to watch it a bit. A painting can look cartoonish in a good or bad way.
  • While I was working on this, I read somewhere that shadows should be full of color. I totally agree, and shadows were where I first started to add strange colors. But shadows also can have defined or fuzzy edges, and lighter or darker patches.
I'm not sure whether the blue reflected light works, but that's how it looked.

Anyway, I've done a couple more daisies since then, but not with as much luck.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

"It's Twins!" 6x8, oil on canvas board

Connie Kleinjans fine art
After all the recent hot colors, I apparently wanted to take a break and play with a neutral. I do like the way the red looks against the taupy background. I'm working on getting better at neutrals.

I have been painting but not posting the last couple of weeks. There are times when I feel like I just don't have enough time to paint. At times like that I'll sometimes just eliminate what I can and paint. Of course, then I have to swing back and take care of the things that got dropped. Anyway, I'll be posting more of the paintings I did the last week or two.

Also, I found a local plein air painting group! I've done a couple of outdoor paintings. While I clearly have lots of room for improvement, there's enough of a germ there to make it encouraging.

Monday, May 26, 2008

"Cots in a Bowl," 6x8, oil on canvas board

Connie Kleinjans fine artMore apricots. I'm afraid the bowl might actually be a spa-style soapdish, but the fruit fit in it so nicely! I did this last week, shortly after my prior post, and in between I sacrificed two of the 'cots to appetite. Below is the painting in process. I still think I'm covering up too much of the underpainting. And sometimes I like the underpainting more than the final. Maybe there's something about the spontaneity. Hmm.

Connie Kleinjans fine artLast weekend I was in LA and got to visit the Irvine Museum. It features work of the California Impressionists, whom I am only now coming to appreciate. I especially liked the work of Franz Bischoff. There's just something about the way he puts the colors down that I love. Maybe it's his background in painting ceramics that gives his work a graphic feel. I don't know. But I get breathless when I look through the book I bought of his paintings. I'm finding other artists like that, too: Euan Uglow, John O'Shea.

One fun thing about the California Impressionists is that I live where a lot of these painters worked, and there's scenery across the street that looks like their paintings. It's giving my hikes a whole new experience. Must. Get into. Plein air painting. . .

Thursday, May 22, 2008

"Scattered Apricots," 6x8, oil on canvas board

Connie Kleinjans fine art
I seem to be into hot colors right now. Maybe it's the season, or maybe it's the color of what I'm painting: fruit available in the season. Is spring fruit yellow-orange? I'm seeing a lot of that color and blue in recent paintings. Whatever! Apricots do that lovely blush thing, and I thought these would look good on an intense blue.

I shall wax philosophical for a nonce. I'm noticing an interesting factor in my painting: I'm having to use my emotions instead of logic to figure out what I want to do. And if I don't do what appeals to me -- what I want -- I lose the desire to paint. It becomes drudgery. And I refuse to let that happen.

I think that, in this society, using our emotions is not that natural. We're used to figuring things out with our brains, mostly, while using emotions for energy or validation. And the working world certainly is brain based. So this is an area of growth for me that I had not anticipated. That's actually kinda cool.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Orange Reflection," 6x8, oil on canvas board

Connie Kleinjans fine artI'm still playing with the reflections. It's an interesting challenge. Now, I have a lot of colors of construction paper, and when I create my setup, I often use sheets of it behind or underneath the item. In this case I used a sheet of aqua paper behind the orange and ultramarine paper under it beneath a sheet of glass. The reason I'm explaining this is that the backdrop sheet reflects in the glass and the colors go catawhumpus. It can make your eyes go wacky trying to figure out what the colors are, not to say values (as I mentioned in an earlier post). I have one of those neutral gray viewfinders with the slider that lets you change the aspect ratio. The viewfinder also has a couple of holes, and you can look at colors (or values) through them. This has proven very helpful.

Another funny thing I noticed about this piece is that the size of the items painted makes it look like this might be a much larger work. I think that in the smaller works we tend to do close-ups; it gives the work more punch. This works well in something small, but might be too much in something big. Depends. Many artists have made it work.

One thing I'm pleased with here, though, is that I let the orange underpainting show through more than I usually do. I like doing that, but often go overboard on covering the canvas. When I do that, another favorite tool is my little pencil squeegee.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"Floating in Glass," 6x8, oil on canvas board

Connie Kleinjans fine artThese are the same tomatoes I posted yesterday. I really liked their color, and was remembering how I enjoyed the combination of reflection and shadow from a recent post. That painting is leaning on some books in a bookshelf across the room, and even from here I like the depth, and the way that where the reflection and shadow overlap you get the darkest colors. So I used the same tomatoes as yesterday and set up another reflection+shadow. But apparently that wasn't complicated enough for me. I had to add a colored glass bowl, which introduced transparency. Then, while I was playing with the setup, what I fell for was the color combination.

But working this one out was pretty tough. As with the prior work I linked to, I really, really had to pay attention to values. Yes, they're darkest where shadows and reflections overlap, but other areas are more complicated. I also found that there was a shadow that reflected the red background, and in the setup the red was really bright. But that was terribly distracting, so I darkened it.

It was also fun how the tomatoes seemed to float in the glass. So I used that for the name.

Here's the piece with the underpainting in place.

It looked awful on my easel, but here it looks kind of geometric and decorative.

I have to say, this one looks like it would be interesting if I painted it big. These small pieces are often used as studies. I blew up another one recently. I'll post it soon, and think about this one.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"On the Vine," 6x8, oil on canvas board

Connie Kleinjans fine are
This is a great time of year for lots of painters. For those who paint outdoors, it's just gorgeous. For those of us who do still lifes, there's wonderful produce in the markets. Me, I found these tomatoes that were an amazing color. I put them on a complementary background then had at it. I'd still like to loosen up more, but I'm feeling in the mood for hot colors and this qualifies.

One part of painting that's always difficult for me is the drafting. I know it's a good idea to spend a half hour every day just drawing, but I can't seem to make myself do that. So recently I've been taking a picture of my set-up, cropping it to the composition I wanted, printing it, then drawing a grid on it. I divide each side in half, then divide each half again, so it's 4x4. That gives me the center for the entire canvas, as well as a center for each quadrant, if that makes sense. Eventually I assume I'll learn to just do this by eye, or with my view catcher. But I just looked at something I considered finished, and there are size problems, so even with the grid my eyes fool me.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

"Pas de Deux," 6x8, oil on canvas board

Connie Kleinjans fine artAs long as Becca's lemon was still ripe, I thought I'd paint it again. I love this little pitcher, and the two together made me think of making tea. Then I decided that they were dancing, hence the title. The process of coming up with a title can be pretty bogus, really. Maybe I should try harder to figure out what I want the painting to be about, then reflect that in the title. See this prior post.

Interestingly, I've also read that it's best to have an odd number of objects in a picture (and, personally, I think things like shadows are objects in a painting). Here, there are two, so I tried adding a tea bag on the right, but it wasn't happy about it.

In the prior painting I was also intrigued with what you can do with underpainting. And I've noticed that when I see a painting in process (think YouTube), I often like it better before it's finished. In the prior painting I really liked the block-in. It has something electric about it. So, for this one, I tried blocking it in with hot colors:

Blocked in painting Maybe this is too much like 60s psychedelic posters. I'm not sure, but there's definitely something interesting about it. I may have to play with it some more.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Becca's Lemon, 6x8, oil on canvas board

Becca's LemonMy niece just bought a house, and she has a lemon tree in her yard. So I took a lemon before heading home. When I was playing with the setup, I got intrigued with the intersection of shadow and reflection. It's almost like a Venn diagram; where they intersect it's the darkest.

And I'm kind of excited about this painting. Once in awhile I get the right balance of realistic and abstract, and this was one such time.

I took a couple of pictures in process. I worked on a red basecoat, in acrylic. In the picture below I was part way through, and I really like how the yellows came out. Maybe I should have stopped there. You know how there are times you're not sure you're done? Maybe I should have considered the the lemon to be done.

Halfway to finishedThis was earlier, and shows how I blocked in the image. You'll read that many artists like to block in the dark parts first. My problem with that is that I often end up with mud when I add the lighter colors. So I blocked it in in acrylic and switched to oils once the foundation was the way I wanted it.
Draft lemonThese photos actually make it look more neon than it was.

I think I'll have to paint this lemon again while it's still reasonably fresh.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

"Almost Breakfast (blue)", 6x8, oil on canvas board

Connie KleinjansThis is my next bowl painting. My attempt on this one was to have a warm white on a cool background.

I'm remembering how hard it is to paint white pottery (and if you've tried this, you know). The issue is how bright the white is. Now, the brightest white in a painting such as this is not the crockery, but the reflections. However, white paint does not get as bright as a reflected light. This means that you need to darken the rest of the whites so you can get a reasonable difference between the bowl and the reflection. The bowl ends up being kind of dark, as it is here. And yet I want it to look like a white bowl. It's the same as if you paint a portrait; the brightest white will be reflections in the eyes, and the artist might need to make the whites of the eyes bluish to allow for the difference.

I think the fun part of doing this bowl series (and maybe I'll continue it one or two more) is going to be when I use up all the standard combinations. I'll have to figure out something different to do.

I'm also reminded of this interesting bit from Conversations in Paint, by Charles Dunn:
The Campbell's soup can is a recurring visual theme throughout these pages. A while back, I decided to work on my drawing. The combination of curves and straight lines in the soup can appealed to me as a good starting place.

As it turned out, the familiar red-and-white can proved to be a remarkable object with which to study the underlying ideas in painting. For instance, it has darks and lights as well as darks within the light area and lights contained in the dark area. Because the Campbell's can is familiar to the point of being mundane, it presents the fundamental artistic challenge of trying to make the ordinary extraordinary, and permitted me to experiment and to explore the larger issues of painting.
It's not a new thing to take one object and do it over and over again. Think of Kevin MacPherson and his lake series. In February my friend Silvina Day did a series on a street person she met; her write-up is wonderfully emotional and charged.

We'll see what I learn from this. Could be dreck. Could be good. Probably won't last a year; it's not a pond or a human. It's a simple bowl and spoon.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Almost Breakfast (red), 6x8, oil on canvas board

Connie Kleinjans fine artI'm frustrated with myself these days. I started to paint again because it was time. But then I lost track of moving to my own desires for expression, for learning, for play or rest or whatever. Instead, I've felt compelled to create for the blog, or for what would sell on eBay, or to not miss a day of daily painting. As a results, I've been enjoying it less.

So I'm shifting gears. I'm going to to pay more attention to what's inside and wants to come out, be it in my painting or elsewhere in my life.

And, strangely, I don't really know where I want to go with the art. I have inklings, but I haven't given them space. I know I like still lifes and some abstraction and color play. I know I want to improve my skills. I think I'd like to expand my media. And I haven't done nearly enough plein air painting.

So this painting is for working on skills. I'm going to do a series of this white bowl on different colored backgrounds, and play with elements. This one is a cool white on a hot background. I have another variant in the works, too, and will post that later.

Meanwhile, if you have time to spare, hover your cursor over any of my paintings from the last few month. Heehee.

Friday, April 18, 2008

"Gears," 12x16, oil on stretched canvas

Connie Kleinjans fine artSold.

This was a commission for a friend. I posted it in progress last month, but now I deem it finished! Sometimes it's hard to tell.

Lessons learned? Lots, but two main ones:
  • If you are painting something that's precisely engineered, it really helps to have good drafting skills. Or use the grid method, perhaps. I got into some major accuracy issues on this.
  • Color temperatures can be a bear. I toned my canvas in blue (kind of loud) since it seemed to go with metal. But I worked from a picture I took of a picture of a family bike against a wall, in a patch of morning warm morning sunlight. Warm colors come towards you, and cool colors recede. I had to cool down the sunlit colors a lot.
I shouldn't admit this, but I keep seeing a shape like an arctic fox in the upper right corner.