All images © Carol L. Douglas, Rochester, NY.
No reproduction or reuse permitted without
express consent of the artist.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday!

Dame's Rocket, 11X14, unframed, is a great reminder of Spring.
Today is my Black Friday un-sale.  This runs from 2-9, at 410 Oakdale Drive, Rochester, NY 14618. It includes plein air and studio work, framed and unframed, along with prints and notecards—everything 25-50% off.

That is—of course—so much better than being at Wal-Mart at 0:dark:30 this morning to buy some electronic toy you won’t even want by the time Christmas rolls around.

Spring Foliage, 11X14, unframed, features Rochester's lilacs.
Among my less-than-brilliant ides was having this event the day after having 20 people here for dinner the night before. But an angel in the form of my daughter Mary tidied and mopped the house in the wee hours of the morning, so it doesn’t look much worse than it usually does.

Plus, my tecchie kids are all home today, so they can figure out how to set up this Square credit card reader and make it work.

Durand Lake, 16X20. All these unframed works are 50% off.
Several people have asked me whether there are images online of these paintings. I’ve been kind of busy making pies, so I just got it started this morning. Here’s the album; I’ll be adding details as I can. No, it’s not set up for online commerce; you can call me or send me a text or email and we will finish the sale.


Happy shopping!


I will be teaching in Acadia National Park next August. Read all about it here, or download a brochure here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Queensboro Bridge

Queensboro Bridge approach, 9X12, oil on canvasboard.
Several years ago I got into painting under the Queensboro (59th Street) Bridge with my friend Kristin. This is a great painting location, because it has architecture, traffic, public seating, and a Starbucks with a restroom close by.

Under the Queensboro Bridge, 12X16, oil on canvasboard. 
I enjoy painting in Manhattan, and have sold a few paintings from my easel there, but I don’t paint there enough to have a body of work large enough for a dedicated show.  

Queensboro Bridge approach, 12X16, oil on canvasboard.
So it’s no surprise that these four paintings are going into my Black Friday un-sale this week. (In case you’ve missed it, this holiday un-sale is from 2-9 on Friday, November 29, 2014, at 410 Oakdale Drive, Rochester, NY 14618. It includes plein air and studio work, framed and unframed, along with prints and notecards—everything 25-50% off.)

Queensboro Bridge, oil on canvasboard.
Painting in New York City is different from painting in Rochester. There’s much more foot traffic and it’s far noisier. I am very extroverted, and I feed off its energy, but some painters would be annoyed at the constant interruptions.

I will be teaching in Acadia National Park next August. Read all about it here, or download a brochure here.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Er-i-e was a risin'


The Gasport lift bridge, 6X8, oil on canvasboard.
People frequently ask me if I ever work from photographs. Of course, since the winters in Rochester are long and cold. However, I almost never paint things from photographs that I haven’t investigated thoroughly in the field. Photographs really don’t interest me as a painting source.

Erie Canal at Gasport, 6X8, oil on canvasboard.
Photographs, of course, lie (or they wouldn’t be an art form). They change proportions, light, and color. Working from my own sketches gives me more reliable information about the atmospheric conditions, the angles, and—most importantly—the relative weight of things.

Erie Canal Bridge, 11X14, oil on canvasboard.
I spent yesterday flipping through and organizing field sketches in advance of Friday’s un-sale, and I noticed the many preparatory sketches I made for my painting, Low Bridge (Erie Canal at Gasport).

Erie Canal bridge, 6X8, oil on canvas
I was driving back and forth to Gasport at least once a week at the time. It was easy enough to keep my kit in my car and pull it out somewhere to paint for an hour. To me, these sketches are almost more interesting than the final painting (which I like very much). Their immediacy is what plein air painting is all about.

Towpath, 6X8, oil on canvasboard
I can almost always tell you something about the day on which I painted a plein air field sketch—who I was with, what the weather did, what odd thing happened—but I can almost never tell you things like that about studio paintings. (The exception, of course, being figure sessions.)

These field sketches are included in my Black Friday un-sale (details here).

The finished painting, Low Bridge (Erie Canal at Gasport) 40X30, Carol L. Douglas

I will be teaching in Acadia National Park next August. Message me if you want information about the coming year’s classes or this workshop.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Three paintings gone to good homes

Adirondack Path, 14X18, by Carol L. Douglas
This weekend as I sorted and labeled paintings for what is likely to be my first, last and only Black Friday Sale, I kept an eye open for a painting suitable for a friend and colleague from North Carolina. I’ve known her for more than 25 years. Although we haven’t lived in the same city for a few decades, through the miracle of social media I’ve watched her take up painting and develop into a skilled artist in her own right.

Hudson sunset, 12X16, by Carol L. Douglas
One painting kept speaking to me as being appropriate for her: a sunset over the Hudson. This very rarely happens to me; I usually stay out of the process of selection anyway. I sent her a photo, she likes it. I know she’ll love the finished work, and it will be wending its way south this afternoon.

My brother and his three kids just arrived for Thanksgiving. This complicates my sorting-and-labeling project, since it has to be confined to my studio.

Evening squall at 12 Corners, oil on canvas, by Carol L. Douglas
Still, there was (barely) enough room for another couple to sort through the unframed works on my table and find two that they liked. The first—a picture of a snowsquall in downtown Brighton—was just on my blog last week. It is a reminder of all the times I’ve spent waiting for my kids in the loop at 12 Corners Middle School. The other was a reverie painted in the Adirondacks.

Today and tomorrow, I’ll concentrate on getting images of the work in this sale up in an online folder. Yes, I’m happy to ship them, but if you’re able to stop by on Friday afternoon, that would be even better. As I may have mentioned, there will be wine.



The holiday un-sale is from 2-9 on Friday, November 29, 2014, at 410 Oakdale Drive, Rochester, NY 14618. It includes plein air and studio work, framed and unframed, along with prints and notecards—everything 25-50% off.


I will be teaching in Acadia National Park next August. Read all about it here, or download a brochure here

Friday, November 21, 2014

Holiday gift guide #4 (the gift of learning)

Sea & Sky Workshop

August 9-14, 2014 
Acadia National Park

Dramatic, inspirational Schoodic Point in Acadia National Park will be the base for my Maine workshop this year. This is the quiet side of Acadia, far from the hustle of Bar Harbor, but with the same dramatic rock formations, pounding surf, and stunning mountain views that make Acadia a worldwide tourist destination.


The Schoodic Peninsula is more secluded than the main body of the Park; only about 10% of park visitors ever get there. Its main feature is Schoodic Head, at 440 feet above sea level.

Open sea, stunning views of Cadillac Mountain, and veins of dark basalt running through red granite rocks are the dominant features of this “road less traveled.” Pines, birch, spruce, cedar, cherry, alder, mountain ash, and maples forest the land. There are numerous coves, inlets, islands, and lighthouses.


Of course, all skill levels and media are welcome. From beginner to advanced; watercolor, oils, acrylics, pastels — bring any or all with you.

Concentrate on painting

Your meals are included so you can forget about cooking. That’s five nights accommodation, private bedroom with shared bath at the Schoodic Institute in Acadia National Park.


There will be a lobster feast on Sunday evening, and all meals and snacks up to and including breakfast on the day of departure.

And of course there will be morning and afternoon instruction, Monday-Friday—or even a nocturne if you want to try it.


Rates

Private room with shared bath at the beautiful, secluded Schoodic Institute, with room, board and instruction is just $1150.

Non-painting partner sharing a painter’s room is just $500 including all meals.


There are limited family apartments available for a $500 upcharge plus $325/person for meal plan. Contact me ASAP if you want one of these; they go quickly.

All rates include 8% Maine hotel tax.

Discounts

$125 Early Bird discount if your deposit of $300 is received by December 31, 2014.

We’re offering a $50 discount to New York Plein Air Painters OR returning students.

To register

Space is limited! Email me for a registration form.

Refunds available up to 60 days prior to start, less a $50 administration fee.



Don’t forget my holiday sale, next week!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Clifford has a friend

Max, 2003, by Florentijn Hofman, from the artist's own website.
If you were born after 1963, you’re probably familiar with Norman Bridwell’s children’s book, “Clifford, the Big Red Dog.” Since 2003, Clifford has had a real-world double in the Netherlands, a large, red, eco-friendly sculpture of what we would call a German Shepherd, named Max.

Max, 2003, by Florentijn Hofman, from the artist's own website.
At 40X26X82 feet, Max towers over the village of Leens in Groningen province. He was built from locally sourced, low-impact materials like potato crates, pallets, wood, straw and rope, and bound together with wire. He was then wrapped in bright red shrink-wrap.

His creator, Florentijn Hofman, is a Dutch artist whose other work includes a rubber ducky floating in Hong Kong’s harbor and hippo in the Thames.

Max, under construction in 2003, from the artist's own website.
It took two months for him to build the dog, with assistance of local youth. “Max is the watchdog which guards the farm as a cultural heritage,” writes Hofman. Leens itself is a tiny village in a marsh which has been more or less occupied continuously since the Iron Age.

Max, under construction in 2003, from the artist's own website.

I promised details on my 2015 Maine workshop today, but they’re not ready. Still, don’t forget my holiday sale, or the workshop, which I promise to roll out tomorrow. Really.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Holiday gift guide #3 (accessories for the artist)

If you’re crafty, you can make wet canvas carriers using two painting frames glued face-to-face and some big rubber bands. That was my intention but, after I scoured all our thrift stores unsuccessfully for the proper size frames, I gave up and ordered PanelPak wet canvas carriers. For the sake of my car’s interior, I wish I’d bought them 200,000 miles ago. I use the 8X10 and 12X16 the most, but that’s an individual thing.


Another pricey but invaluable accessory is a stainless steel brush tank with a leak-proof lid. Yes, artists can use glass jars with tightly screwed lids, but they make a mess in the field. Get a small one for a plein air painter. Cared for properly, these last a lifetime.

In our house, Santa doesn’t bring presents but he does fill stockings. He always remembers sketch books. I like Strathmore’s Visual Journals with smooth Bristol paper and #2 mechanical pencils, but you can scale that up or down as your budget requires. You might add micron pens if your list includes teenagers who like to draw comics.


I have a Winsor Newton watercolor sketch kit, but dedicated watercolorists love to create their own pan sets. Anyone would be thrilled to get this Schmincke empty palette set, but if your painter is young and hip, get him just the empty half-pans, some double-sided tape and a few tins of Altoids. Pair this with a watercolor field book, and he will entertain himself for the rest of the year.

Every painter should have a set of grey-scale markers for value studies. A navigational compass and a cheap (because it will get dirty) business card holder are both useful field tools.


Every year, a million knock-off French box easels appear nestled under aspiring artists’ Christmas trees. Do me a favor and don’t buy one; they’re heavy, cumbersome, and discouraging. For the watercolor artist, see my post here about choosing an easel. For oil painters, a pochade box and tripod is a better option, although they can be expensive. Good with your hands? Here’s a pochade box I built for under $50; it serves me well and it can be paired with a less-expensive tripod.

If your artist really needs a studio easel, I think the Testrite aluminum mast easel is good value for money. It is what I use for my students. If your artist likes to work really big, go with their hinged professional model. I’ve been using one for decades.

And, of course, art lessons are always good.

Don’t forget my holiday sale, or my 2015 Maine workshop. Details on that are coming tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Holiday gift guide #2 (what you need is a painting)


About ten years ago, I realized I had purchased enough toys, appliances, and tchotchkes for a lifetime, and I gave up Christmas shopping. It’s not like anyone ever got sentimental over the PS3 game I bought, after all.

So when I decided to have a Black Friday sale of my paintings, I figured it’d better be an un-sale.

Evening squall at 12 Corners, oil on canvas, by Carol L. Douglas
It’ll be in my house. You can come over and buy nothing, if you want. Hang out on Clifford, talk to the family, drink wine. Or buy a painting. Or ten. It’s all good.

This holiday un-sale is from 2-9 on Friday, November 29, 2014, at 410 Oakdale Drive, Rochester, NY 14618. It includes plein air and studio work, framed and unframed, along with prints and notecards—everything 25-50% off.


This is a great opportu­nity to acquire an original work of art for a fraction of its gallery price. And did I mention there would be wine?


Can’t wait to see you on Black Friday!

I will be teaching in Acadia National Park next August. Message me if you want information about the coming year’s classes or this workshop.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tenacity

Cece and her self-portrait in progress.
Cece has been working on her self-portrait for two weeks; Jingwei  for a week. This is a laborious process of learning to measure, learning to model, and then assembling these techniques into an autobiographical whole. This is the hardest assignment I give to high school seniors, and their ability to buckle down into it says a lot about their future prospects.

Sandy's charcoal self-portrait of this week.
Since Sandy Quang was here and we weren’t painting, she decided to do a fast charcoal self-portrait as well. This gave me a great opportunity to compare her drawing to the one she did for her own portfolio in 2008.

Sandy's graphite self-portrait of 2008.
The biggest difference between a teenager and an art school graduate is assurance. Sandy whipped this drawing off in an hour, and her mark-making reflects that. Her measurement and transcription were painstaking in 2008; they’re automatic today. That reflects hundreds and hundreds of hours of drawing in the interim.
Jingwei's unfinished graphite self-portrait.
Every plein air painter is used to certain comments from passers-by. One that I’m sensitive to is, “I used to paint, but I don’t have time anymore.” Another is, “That looks like so much fun!” Yes, art is fun, but it rests on a solid foundation of instruction, learning and practice. If you’re not willing to do that, you’d be wise to choose an easier career path.  Most successful painters I know have spent years learning their craft. When youngsters come to me to study art, the first question is whether they have the tenacity for an art career.

Cece's unfinished graphite self-portrait.

I will be teaching in Acadia National Park next August. Message me if you want information about the coming year’s classes or this workshop.

Friday, November 14, 2014

On my bucket list



The superheated pyroclastic material from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD preserved Herculaneum, Pompeii, Stabiae, and Oplontis intact (including food, human bodies, and wooden superstructures). The historian Pliny the Younger wrote about the eruption to the historian Tacitus, so we even have an eyewitness description of the volcano. And they’re in the Campania, which is a fantastic tourist destination in its own right. No wonder so many students opt to learn about them.

One of three new mosaics unearthed this year at Muzalar House in the ancient city of Zeugma, in modern Turkey.
While they are famous and well-studied, they are by no means the only Roman mosaics in Europe, Asia Minor or the Middle East. Last week a Turkish news bureau announced that this year’s digs have unearthed three new Roman mosaics in the ancient city of Zeugma.

"Gypsy Girl," a fragment of mosaic found in the ancient city of Zeugma, in modern Turkey.
Zeugma was formally settled around 300 BC by Alexander the Great’s infantry general, Seleucus I Nicator. It was named for the bridge of boats (zeugma) which crossed the Euphrates River there. Its location was unknown until a few years ago, when signs of archaeological looting combined with plans to dam the Euphrates led to its investigation. Only a small number of its mosaics have been located and preserved to date.

Detail from a mosaic from the ancient city of Zeugma, in modern Turkey.
In its heyday as a Roman city, Zeugma was home to more than 70,000 people. The get-rich-quick hangers-on of the Empire built their usual sumptuous villas, distinguished by mosaics. But Zeugma was also one of those “crossroads of the Ancient World” places where civilizations cross-pollinated. The site includes pre-Hellenistic, Greek and Roman ruins and artifacts.

One of three new mosaics unearthed this year at Muzalar House in the ancient city of Zeugma, in modern Turkey.
Pompeii and its environs have been explored since the end of the 16th century. There is nothing new we could possible say about them. In comparison, Zeugma has been studied for 25 years. Since the mosaics are being removed to the Zeugma Mosaic Museum, future students will never examine them in situ as they do at Pompeii and Herculaneum. Still, Zeugma’s mosaics are sophisticated, naturalistic, and well-preserved. They should attract any student of ancient art.

I will be teaching in Acadia National Park next August. Message me if you want information about the coming year’s 
classes or this workshop.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Holiday gift guide #1—brushes for oils, acrylics, and watercolor


That Holiday is coming up. I am often asked for gift ideas. Brushes are expensive, and most students limp by with rotten ones rather than spend the money on good brushes. A gift certificate to an art supply store would give the most flexibility, but some people don’t want that.

The brush department is where most painters stand and drool in an art store

Oil and acrylic plein air painters should limit themselves—in general—to long-handled hog bristle brushes. These carry paint most effectively. Shape is a personal preference, but a decent mixture of sizes and shapes gives the greatest flexibility.

Oils and Acrylics

In general, painters are better off with fewer good brushes than a lot of mediocre ones. Sizing is not standard across manufacturers, but a variety between #2 and #12 should suffice for most field work.

Here are the fundamentals:
Brights are stubby flat brushes, useful for short, aggressive strokes and heavy paint application.

Filberts are oval brushes. They carry more paint than a round but the pointed end allows for greater paint-carrying capacity. People who like to blend their edges often like filberts best.

Flats have been my go-to brush for many years. They can be used on edge for fine work, but used on the flat they carry lots of paint and create a bold style.

Rounds are good for details, lines, and fills. I generally carry a few smaller rounds in my kit, but many painters swear by them in all sizes. 

Here are specialty brushes, for the painter who already has a basic kit:

Riggers: These are short-handled, pointed, long round brushes made of sable, and their main mission in life is painting boat rigging and other fine lines.

Fans: While you could use these to daub happy trees, they are really intended for blending. I have a couple in my studio kit, but I don’t carry them in the field.

The basic shapes
Egbert or Double filberts are long, squishy brushes. I have three of these. They are easily damaged and shouldn’t be left to stand in a can of turpentine. They are especially good for figure work, and give a dancing, prancing line.

Spalters are big flat brushes with either long or short handles. I use them to underpaint my studio canvases and as dry blending brushes.

Watercolors

Watercolor painters have the choice between Taklon, squirrel and sable. The latter costs the earth but has the finest paint-carrying capacity.

The three basic shapes are:

Round: this is more pointed than an oil-color round and is suitable for most detail work. Sable takes a point better than synthetics, and this is a place where spending the money would be appropriate. A #10 for regular painters, and a #16 for big painters is a good place to start.

Flat wash: Most painters carry a few of these. I have a .5” and 1”, both of Taklon. These often have an angled end for scraping and burnishing.

Mop/oval wash: This is a big floppy brush useful for laying in large areas. It is usually made of squirrel hair, and is very absorbent.

Hake: Also a wash brush, but of Asian extraction. I find a mop more versatile, but it wouldn’t hurt to have one to play with.

Riggers: These are short-handled, pointed, long round brushes made of sable, and their main mission in life is painting boat rigging and other fine lines.

Script/Liner: A detail brush for outlining and long continuous strokes.


I will be teaching in Acadia National Park next August. Message me if you want information about the coming year’s 
classes or this workshop.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Timing is everything


Yesterday would have been a perfect painting day, but I’m a native of these here parts. I knew it was probably the last day we had to winterize before Mother Nature dumps snow on us. So my laddie and lassies and I moved and stacked the seven face cords of wood we’ll need this winter, raked the turf and swept the driveway, rolled up the hoses, trimmed the roses, and put things away for the season. We get lots of snow here in Rochester, and not being prepared gums up the works.

Conversely (and perversely) the day we met to shoot my how-to-paint video was miserably cold and windy. Why can’t Mother Nature cooperate?

Serina Mo filming.
But Serina Mo did a GREAT job with it, and I've learned just how much of a Buffalo accent I really have. Enjoy!


I will be teaching in Acadia National Park next August. Message me if you want information about the coming year’s classes or this workshop.