I did two house portraits on the same block this week. It's fun to be painting with the flowers out, and it's good to have sunlight to paint in again. I also enjoyed working for friends who know both me and each other. It felt neighborly.
Below is the first house portrait I've done that included people. My recent wedding sketches gave me the confidence to say yes when Rosemary asked. She and Sasha are leaving the house they love for a different school district, and it was special to be able to help them make a keepsake of a place they had been very happy.
I sketched my second wedding on Saturday. It's a kind of frantic thing to do -- I worked during the preparations and the photo sessions, and everyone was moving around quite fast. I ended up doing 22 rapid watercolors in about two and a half hours. The bride and groom posed a few minutes longer for me to finish the top one, which I was quite pleased with. All the others were even quicker and more calligraphic, but it was fun to catch the changing kaleidoscope of the day. It was also very special to be right at the heart of such a joyful, momentous day, and I appreciated the family inviting me into their midst.
Above are the couple with the groom's children. His daughter again and her niece and nephew are below, along with the bride's mother fastening her into her dress and the groom waiting for his first view of his bride.
My Cape May watercolors have been featured in the Concierge Magazine printed for the Cape Resorts group for use at all their hotels. It's fun to see them in print, and I'm especially pleased with the cover. That was such a fun Victorian house to paint. It's one of several cottages they rent out.
Seeing this makes me want to go back there again. I hope I get to soon.
I got tentatively back to painting this week for the first time in a month or so. Regular readers will have noticed that I haven't been posting here nearly as often as I usually do. Normally I wake up every morning thinking about what art I want to make that day. I feel lucky to be a happy painter -- I don't have to cultivate or channel angst in order to make my art. That generally makes for a happy life.
However, in times of trouble and grief, it means that I hit a point where making art is very hard for me, and sometimes I just have to take some time off. I'm in the process of getting a divorce, and it's been difficult to work lately. Fortunately I don't have any shows looming, and my clients for the above commission have been very understanding.
The only thing I've been able to tackle lately is the series of lament psalm prints. They're heartfelt, relatively small, and simple in just black and white. Hopefully I can get back to more complex printmaking soon. I miss it, but it's sometimes hard to dive into a more intricate project. In the meantime, I'm trying to finish this painting (it felt great to get back into it) and also keep going with the psalms, since one is due each Sunday in Lent for use as church bulletin covers. The whole set will be available in digital form for any church that would like to use it for future occasions.
Here's the first proof for next week's psalm.
I'm not sure if "landscape illustration" is a proper art term, but it's how I describe lots of what I do lately. This term for me includes house portraits, commissions of people's homes, but also paintings of businesses, hotels, or restaurants for use on websites or in brochures. I have really enjoyed branching out into this category.
The best ones for me involve either beautifully enticing travel (like my work in Cape May, NJ) or merely require me to stroll around the block with my chair, as was the case with the top painting. This house backs up to my block, and I love walking past it. It was fun to get the opportunity to paint it.
Sometimes commissions surprise me as well, once I get to the address in question. The house below belonged to friends of mine some years ago, and I used to babysit their daughter in this house. When I drove up to find the address on my assignment, it was fun to find an old friend to paint.
I got an email from Kevin Philip, the advertiser who brought me into the Congress Hall, Cape May work. He wanted a winter produce still life to advertise their Beach Plum Farm, which provides vegetables and other products to the restaurants up there. I hadn't done a still life in ages, and it was fun to cruise the produce section looking for interesting forms.
Here's the painting in process, with still life set out on my work table this morning. I love the morning light I get there.
I don't often take photos of my watercolors in progress because they go so quickly, but I had a request on my Facebook page yesterday, and it seemed like a good idea.
Above is the first pull of a new print of a gorgeous old house in my neighborhood. Below is the second pull. There are still a few things I want to tweak, but it's pretty close to finished. I'm getting faster at getting right in the neighborhood of what I want during the first real carving session. This is slowly becoming a more intuitive way to work.
I had a rare day where I didn't make any art yesterday (a series of other obligations and a little time just sitting in the park to drink up some winter sunshine), but the day before I put the sky into this painting. It felt great to play with clouds in oils again. The main thing I'm unhappy with in my watercolors is my handling of skies. It's fun to be doing a lush one in oils again.
Today I'll be back in the saddle.
All the work I've done for Cape Resorts Group in Cape May is being used by Stella Bean advertisers. They are building a new website for the group that incorporates my paintings, but Kevin Philip is also creating fun extras, like e-cards to send out for the holidays.
Below is the storyboard for the Congress Hall one, which uses three of my watercolors to make an animated card. You can flip through the document below to see the progression, and you can follow these two links to watch the full e-cards.
Several of my Christmas commissions were downtown, and it was fun to get to a neat part of town I don't visit that often. I did the above one perched up on a wide concrete wall at Butler Park, just by the old Goldcrest 51 brewery building I loved so much in high school. The neighborhood has changed greatly (and for the better), but the view is still amazing.
On my way home, I scored a parking meter just opposite the Fire Museum I needed to paint, so I worked in warmth and comfort. Perfect.