Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you all have a lovely day.
I got my table setting in place a few days early. My husband bought a 27 lb. turkey for the five of us. People keep talking to me about freezing leftovers and I just laugh. They don't know my family. My stick thin son can eat 3lbs. in one sitting.

Have a fantastic day!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Shipping artwork

The question most asked of me by other artists is about shipping paintings. The task seems so daunting that it keeps some from selling their work online.
I will show you my method for shipping works in cardboard boxes and the supplies I use.

I start with a clean work surface and my supplies for wrapping the painting.
A tape gun is a must. They are less than $15 and replacement tape rolls are easy to find.
I also buy rolls of 4 mil plastic in the 36 inch by 50 foot size. The wider size sheets are often unmanageable. This is also easy to locate at hardware stores and Walmart.

Take the time to do the math before cutting to avoid waste.

I am wrapping an 18 x 24 inch canvas and the 36 inch width is not enough for a flat cut of the plastic so I double it to have sufficient overlap. This is the time to include any additional materials.

I wrap the canvas like a present and tape thoroughly but not so much that opening the package will be an ordeal.

The most complicated aspect of this process is choosing and ordering your shipping boxes. I order from and keep 4 or 5 sizes handy. I can't stress enough the importance of taking a basic inventory of the sizes you work in most and determining which box size will be the most useful.
The S-4553 that is 30 x 5 x 24 inches has proven the most useful to me. Knowing these dimensions in advance can help you give accurate shipping quotes and price your work accordingly.

I use packing paper and peanuts. I generally use the biodegradable peanuts (though not always) but I buy them all from a local shop owner who receives numerous shipments that are mostly peanuts. He saves them and sells them for a fraction of the cost of ordering them in bulk. 

After a layer of peanuts, I center the painting and keep it in place with packing paper tucked snugly along the edges. This keeps both flat surfaces of the wrapped painting away from the outside of the box.

Next I fill the remaining space with peanuts. It helps to gingerly tap the box on the floor or table to allow the peanuts to settle as they would during shipping. Be careful not to allow the walls of the box to stretch out and bulge with packing material while doing this.

All that is left is to tape her closed and whisk away to the shipper.

I hope that was helpful and hope to do a post on crate building soon also.
Questions? Ask away in the comments section.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Using my flower photos for inspiration

I have been working lately on floral abstract paintings and I often work from photos.
I use the photos to pull color and line but then work hard at not painting realistic flowers, just the reminder of what a flower is like.

"Tea with mabel" 36 x 36 oil on can vas by Kerry steele

"Lilies and lipstick" 12 x 12 oil on canvas by Kerry Steele

Pinterest can be a great source but I wanted certain flowers photographed in various but specific ways. 

These are the result of an afternoon with my Nikon 5200 and just one 85W CFL Full spectrum bulb.

My goal was to capture the gentle, curving folds of the petals, as well as, the edges and how they look from different angles. 

I am always inspired by the subtle color changes in leaves and petals. The shadows they create fascinate me too.

The ruffle-like carnation and waxy lemon leaf are interesting juxtapositions of texture. As I photograph the individual blooms I keep a mental note of colors I might use.

Some flowers, like this spider mum, don't appeal to my sensibilities in terms of color but do have me thinking about shapes. I use Adobe Lightroom to play with the colors.

Feeling sufficiently inspired by single blooms I moved on to other compositions of color, texture and shape. I like asymmetrical and angled compositions. They lead to paintings like "Delphinium", that recently sold.

I am really pleased with this batch of inspiration.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A cool collaboration

Several months ago, Lisa Mende contacted me about a painting for the room that she and Traci Zeller were designing for the Ronald McDonald House Long Island, I was thrilled.
First Lisa sent me an inspiration board.

and Traci sent me a memo sample of the fabric.

They added that this office was intended to be a quiet place for the parent's of sick children to take care of personal business. Lisa used the word "focus" to help guide me on what they were after. Something pretty but not too energetic.
Having this much visual information about a room with a clear purpose made my job easier and really enjoyable.
I took many of the colors directly from the fabric, a rare luxury to have a sample in my hands.
The result was "Cocoon".

Traci and Lisa even dubbed the room the cocoon after my painting.

Its a wonderful, cozy space and I am so honored that they asked for my help.

Monday, November 3, 2014

4 ways to choose a color scheme

I think many people get stymied on choosing color schemes for their houses.
 The two easiest ways involve using the color wheel and choosing either complementary or analogous colors.When you search either term on Pinterest a vast collection of  "over-produced" rooms appear (thank you LPC for that delightful term).

I am also including the split-complementary method that is a bit more sophisticated and my color plus neutral method.
To avoid the "over-produced", it is advisable to add a healthy dose of neutrals so that the colors do not scream and to tint or tone the pure hue with white or gray.

Complementary colors are opposite on the color wheel but that does not mean that red and green won't look Christmas-y. To use this method you need to tone the colors with added gray or tint with white. Think light blue paired with orange. Notice the amount of white added alongside the color.

Analogous colors are next to one another on the wheel and the same toning or tinting are helpful.

I personally gravitate towards analogous color schemes in very pale or very dark tones. The mid-toned rooms are tempting to me though.

What on earth does a person do if they love both warm and cool shades but nothing in the combination of opposites is appealing?

A split complementary scheme is one that the colors on either side of the complimentary are used.

Here the coral is a tint (white added) of red-orange paired with tints of yellow and green.

I must add that I do none of these most of the time. I think about what I have to use in the room, what direction I want the room to take, and what I can afford to buy to make it all come together. 
This generally involves a dominant color paired with a combination of neutrals and colorful accents.
In my formal living room I used the ivory upholstered pieces that I had and chose a dusty, very pale coral on the walls. The art and accessories are varied colors in jewel tones and a bit of black that stands out.

I used this method in my son's room and chose a navy wall and charcoal, brown and grays with a colorful gallery wall. It is quite a lot but 99% of the items are a variation of blue, gray or brown which keeps the look cohesive but interesting.

Which method do you prefer?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Making monoprints in my studio

"Nettle" oil on paper monoprint

Sometimes an artist needs to regain that element of play in work and monotypes are the way I have been playing this week.
Many people see the word print and think it is a reproduction and sometimes that is the case, but with monoprints they are a one of a kind piece of art where printing is part of the creation process.
I am going to show the method I used.

First I bought an 18 x 24 sheet of plexi-glass from Lowe's.

I grabbed some blank newsprint, art paper ( I used Arches oil paper for my oil prints and watercolor paper for an acrylic print) a ruler, a marker and brayer.

I traced the paper I was using on the newsprint and also the marked out the smaller area I want to actually print.

 I traced it with pencil and then went over with marker so it would be really easy to see.

I started with oil color inside of the printing area and chose two pale colors for the first layer.

Once I was satisfied, I carefully lined up my paper with the outside marks I made on the newsprint and went over the paper with a brayer.

The first layer had really soft colors so I continued with a few brighter layers without cleaning the plexi-glass.

I used the same process of lining up the paper and rolling.

I worked from light to dark on this one but sometimes you might want to do the reverse.
It is also fun to erase each layer after printing and before adding the next layer.

Here are a few other I made over the weekend.
The first was made with a sheet of acetate that I turned over onto the paper and it should be noted that I wiped it clean between each layer.

"Kelp" oil on paper monoprint

"Prairie grass" acrylic on paper monoprint

Are you going to give this a whirl?