Saturday, January 30, 2010

"Nosey Lemon"

Connie Kleinjans, Nosey Lemon, 6x6 oil on canvas
6x6x0.75", oil on stretched canvas

Another of the five-paintings-in-five-days-almost series. I guess if I used a similar subject a few days in a row, it might go faster. Now, a few weeks ago I did some mandarin oranges in a bowl. I wasn't aiming for realism with that one. With this one I was, at least somewhat more (I rarely do photorealism). So, you know how, for most paintings, there's something about them that's memorable to you? In this case it was the lemon texture. I hadn't used that tapping technique to get the bumpiness, and I like it.

I also enjoyed doing the shadow. There's something fun about painting a color and its shadow next to each other over pattern, like this fabric. Having done it, I'm impressed when artists can carry it off. Both colors have to darken the same way (warm or cool, usually), and the patterns need to line up so they flow. It's easy to get jumpy.

With this painting I tried doing the tonal underpainting, which is the picture below. I think that work if 1.) you let it dry first, so it doesn't infect the color you put over it, or 2.) you don't paint with a lot of strokes. I tend to futz too much (a constant battle), and that stirred up the color below. I had to go pretty impasto to keep the colors clear. I would rather have gone with fewer strokes, but that's an ongoing challenge for me. But maybe it was useful to really have to see the value shapes. Hmm. Maybe I should do that more.

Connie Kleinjans, Nosey Lemon underpaintingOh yes. The fun thing about stripes is that you have to get the linear perspective right, even on a small painting, close up. Lots of holding the brush handle and matching angles.

Friday, January 29, 2010

"The Shadow Nose"

Connie Kleinjans, The Shadow Nose, 6x6 oil on canvas
6x6x0.75", oil on stretched canvas

This was the first painting I did in my series of five still lifes in five days (or so). I've had some good luck with onions in the past, although I don't know why. Maybe it's the textures and the stem.

One thing I was trying to do in this series was to go more neutral in the backgrounds and also to do good solid darks. I tend to brighten up my colors, and then the painting can either lack depth, or you don't really highlight the main item. Of course, after I finished this, I noticed that I had put a focal point -- the tan part of the stem -- almost dead center in the image, which does not make for good composition. In this case I might have skirted the problem through smoke and mirrors: the onion is way off-center, and the shadow of the stem forms another focal point that's more compelling. I also noticed that the brush marks radiate away from the shadow, which is very dynamic (I should remember that as another way to direct the eye). I think that extra dynamism like that can work in small paintings, since they need to have more punch in order to be seen. But in larger paintings it's worth looking at resting places for the eye.

The title was for the crack-up value. (Hey, try hovering your cursor over the picture.) (Applies to most of my paintings.)

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Connie Kleinjans: Cozy, 6x6 oil on wrapped canvas6x6x0.75", oil on stretched canvas

This is the second in the series of five 6x6" paintings I did around New Years. (It helps to be at home, sick...) I think this is my favorite. While the scale isn't right -- the bowl is bigger relative to the eggs -- it has a cozy feeling to it. I also liked the lost edge below the spout on the bowl. By the way, I got this bowl and other gorgeous ceramics at La Honda Pottery. Bay Area folk are encouraged to look them up. They're up in the gorgeous mountains, like we are.

Here's a view of the same canvas from an angle. I had used the quinacridone gold as a base coat, and decided that I liked it on the edges. When I work on wrapped canvases I often extend the painting to the sides. This one I left as is.

Connie Kleinjans: Cozy, side viewIn other news, I've now put two layers of gesso on the boards for the show I'm in at the 20th Street Art Gallery in Sacramento. For the second layer, I played with the gesso on a few to build texture, since I'm submitting textured abstracts. I'll be using stucco patch, as usual, but I wanted to try this, too. I used heavy-bodied Utrecht gesso, and it holds a peak. Sort of like meringue.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Connie Kleinjans, Chirp!, 6x6 oil on canvas
Chirp!, 6x6x0.75", oil on stretched canvas

On New Years Eve I mentioned working on five 6x6" still lifes in five days. I decided to try this because some artists seem to be able to finish something every day, and I can't. I did manage to do 4.5 of them in five days. This was the final one, and it was really hard, so it took a few days (especially since we went out of town). It was the reflections. They're quite befuddling. At one point I had to stop and sketch the face so I could figure out what the reflections did. But it looks reasonably cute. Darker than my usual work.

In other news, my twenty-five panels for the 20th Street Art Gallery have arrived! They're 8x8x0.75" and ungessoed. So tomorrow morning I'll start gessoing them all. I have until March 26 to finish them all and deliver them, dried, to the gallery.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Connie Kleinjans: Ganglia, 8x8 acrylic on mixed media8x8", acrylic and mixed media on panel

In my last post I talked about applying to a show. I mentioned that I created two small paintings and chose the one I liked more. This is the other one. (I don't hate it. But on that day I liked the other better.) I did them at the same time, which is easier to do that if you don't have, say, a person posing. I think I was looking for a similar composition: brightness in or near the middle, surrounded by dark, more neutral colors. But, of course, creating a painting (or anything else?) is a dialogue, and this one came out warmer. I found myself thinking the green should be more neutral, more earth colored, then decided to stick with the bright poison color.

I guess that's all for today. Well, the art gallery shipped my twenty-five panels late last week, and I'm eager to get to them, eager to learn what it's like to work for a show, under a schedule. Probably a good discipline.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Connie Kleinjans abstract art8x8", acrylic and mixed media on panel SOLD

About three hours away from here, in Sacramento, CA, is a charming art gallery called the 20th Street Art Gallery. I took a Carol Marine workshop there a couple of years ago, am on their mailing list, and know someone who participated in a show there. That show was one of a series of shows in which artists create a family of small works. I applied to the upcoming show last week and -- woohoo! -- have been accepted! [Doing the happy dance, here.] This show will again feature small works, 8x8". They give you the panels and a time frame. And that time frame is from when the panels arrive until March 26. So I will create 25 small paintings in two months. And deliver them.

In applying to the show, I debated between submitting a still life or an abstract. I had been thinking of submitting a still life, since I seem to do small still lifes and large abstracts. I chose to submit an abstract. What convinced me was this strong motivator: They wanted the sample to be on an 8x8" panel, and I do not have such in a still life, and was running out of time. Now, I have some 8x8" stretched canvas still lifes, and many 6x8" panel still lifes, but no 8x8" panels. But, luckily, I found two blank 8x8" panels, created two paintings in short order (shorter than I want to admit), and submitted the one I liked better. Then I spent six hours on my butt in a car, driving to deliver the application material.

Now, all of that doesn't matter, really. I mean, it's not about convenience or feasibility, for heaven's sake. It's about art that has meaning for you. But I'm tickled by the vagary and whimsy of it all.

And even though I'm currently on a still-life streak, I'm happy to do the abstracts. They come from a more instinctive place in me, and, frankly, I'm more confident that I can create twenty-five that I like in the time frame. The still lifes are much harder. I think they come out of my head, and require more discipline. Maybe that's the yin-yang: gut and brain, instinct and thoughtfulness.