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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Reflections on what I do

The Garden, the book, and Solitude
By Sally Rosenbaum

For over 30  years I have spent my working hours painting the figure at leisure steeped in the rich sanguine mood of reflection, imagination, and contemplation.  All of these occupations in addition to several others, I consider essential to my introverted soul. These are not limited strictly to the introvert…naturally. and are enjoyed and appreciated by many of us in the human race.  I DO NOT consider myself solely an introvert. In fact, the definition I like to apply to the label takes the form of a question. Are you inspired and energized by people, crowds and activity OR are you more likely to need to retire to quiet beautiful spaces to ruminate, nap, read or draw to replenish your spirit? I am in the latter category but like most of us I can spend time in both worlds easily.  After  a quarter of a century of painting the figure in gardens, in repose, with wine, tea, fruits, in the act of reading, reflecting, sharing time with a child and just plain zoning out, I recognize that my body of work as an oil painter is in celebration of the introvert who MUST make time for her/himself simply  in order to be him/herself.
I grew up in Atlanta during the days when only a few people in my Buckhead neighborhood had icy cold water air conditioning units ( boxes) hanging from windows and those that did were usually in the off limits area of the parents’ bedroom. We invented and found pursuits that kept us out of  the thick humid air and saved us from constantly wearing the gown of perspiration. Although we wore shorts and cropped tops everyday of the summer our skin showed no sun lines. The heat and the frequent threat of thunderstorms from afar quickly advancing on us in soft water downpours, angry thunder, and sharp whips of light in the sky fostered bedroom board games, pinocle and gin rummy, and even canasta in the kitchens, bedrooms, and swimming pool dressing rooms. Either the rain or the intense low sun would make staying indoors with the modern, overhead hallway fan a better alternative to the muggy daytime outdoors and it was during these times after the boardgames when all the friends went home that I formed long lasting relationships with the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, Scarlet Ohara and Jean Louise Finch, aka Scout. I read every biography I could get my hands on from the Buckhead library where my mom dropped me off for hours at a time while she shopped and ran errands. I picked up a copy of Lorna Doone entranced by the name knowing it was also a cookie. I read the young career section and shared the lives of nurses, graphic designers, department store “buyers,” and I occasionally ventured into the adult section in the front of the library looking for important “novels.” Though I was supposed to be on the steps in two hours waiting for my station wagon pickup, my mother frequently had to find me on the floor with all my collections piled high at my side already immersed in the first book where time was nonexistent.  
Knitting was another passion I picked up at an early age. I even tried knitting while reading. It didn’t work; dropped stitches, empty pages of understanding. It was a lose lose combination. 
I tried in vain to solicit knit buddies but unfortunately I could not find anyone to join my club so again I  found energy in isolation with each knit and each purl costuming garment after garment for every doll, bear, dog, cat and family member. My mother, forever the good sport with “I love it!” “Can you make one for me?”  She never denied me the “new project” buy. The colors, the textures, the imagination of what form it would become all fostered my introverted inner life. To this day I have an inner pang when I see a particular not quite coral pink leaning more to the middle of the value range very much like some shades of particular persimmons. This color captivated me at 9 years old. I had to possess the wool. Sixty years later I still use the silver size 6 needles with the ruler gauge printed on one side of the needle. I knit the pinkish sweater for my baby brother. I was 9 and he was barely 2. I knew small sweaters would be done quicker and I could start a new project that much sooner which translated to picking out a new color.  Most everything in those days was Bernat worsted weight.  Did a two year old boy wear a scratchy pink sweater? Of course not, but no superior parental voice broke in to tell me this was unwise. My mother could barely sit still; never indulged in a lengthy book or even a half hour tv show (and by my standards was most definitely an extrovert) but she allowed for  my creativity. This was introversion by process and I credit her with recognizing me for who I was and my cultivation and enjoyment. The joy was the process not the product.
The Atlanta Gardens were divine and made a lasting impression in my mind that I forever associate with the romantic and the peaceful harmony that all is well in the world. Our neighborhood had a garden club and every yard had a garden where camelias, dogwoods, gardenias and hydrangeas seemed to thrive like weeds.  The blooms were magical and predictable. They always were perfectly formed and arrived on time. They framed every pathway, veranda, and perimeter of the wide open yards. The scents were intoxicating as they mixed with the heavy droplets in each molecule of thick moist air. Everyone had a green thumb and the garden club became a beautiful social gathering and a perfect backdrop for the grown up cocktail parties.  These scents and the celebrations of the flowering season in the spring came to remind me of beauty, tranquility and bountiful prosperity. The dads wore suits; the moms were beautiful. The cocktail martini glasses were elegant and the laughter and friendly banter drifted through open windows where the babysitters played dolls and served fish sticks to the children. 
Though I no longer live in the south I am easily able to transfer the meditative moods and harmonious associations from the landscape of my youth to my current countryside, the California Napa Valley where the cultivation and tastings of fine wines replace the bourbon, tea or even coca cola of the garden party. 
Sometimes my lady, girl, or woman, sits with the perfect cabernet in the garden. Sometimes she sips tea and peruses a magazine and occasionally pauses for reflections.  Sometimes she shares the space with a child who is learning to read. The book is in hand or nearby, and in her face, shielded by a hat she has the solitude and privacy that is necessary for rejuvenation. The garden sometimes is the southern garden of my childhood and sometimes it takes the form of the Napa mediterranean type garden mixed with wisteria, fruit trees, and hundreds of varieties of flowering perennials. The scents are implied but now include the lavender and rosemary and grapes of the wine country of the preserved Napa Valley. The air is dry but warm and the feeling is still one of romance and possibility, planning and reminiscing past and future.

I have been selling each and every painting I have created for over 25 years. Some are large and some are tiny. Thousands of paintings exist on the walls of homes throughout the United States and the world. I think of them as unconscious visual reminders and cues to my co-humans to remember to replenish your imagination and to pass what you know on to the next generation. I hope they are reminders that time alone is never wasted and time doing “nothing” is actually a necessary “something.” My greatest joy in the accomplishment of my work is to occasionally hear that some child or adult has lived with my paintings on the walls of their homes and that these images  have become part of the visual landscape that has informed their lives. The introvert and the extrovert have much to share and teach each other and the garden and the book are friendly to all. We may all pass through stages of introversion and extroversion  on our roads through life and sitting still is a reminder of the time when you walk through the gates and inhabit the inner life of the great human experience.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

New work

 I started this some time ago and I was short of a few colors.  This is the beginning and I intend to brighten it up and make it richer.I started with a burnt umber wash.  It's 36 x 36 and is from a photograph of my second son when he was 5 or 6.  I staged a number of photos in my backyard out in the country where I had lots of filtered light, trees and sunshine. It was a gold mine for getting good photos.
     I have always maintained that the better the photo the better the painting. What do I mean? It's not generally what you look for in a photo for a photo's sake. The sun is important and even if parts are bleached out it makes for a good composition as you group the lights and darks.  Many photos do not have a distinction between the light and the dark and that makes it total invention on the part of the artist. With the sun shining from one direction, the images are lit uniformly on one side of the figure or still life or landscape.  It's easy to pick up reflected light which is, perhaps, the main area people are focused on when they appreciate a painting.
     I have found that a wide angle lens is superb for capturing a scene. I now am using digital but this was from kodachrome, an excellent source of perfect warm light.
     First I drew in the composition with alizarin crimson from the photo below

     Then I covered it with a burnt umber wash and started introducing sap green, burnt umber into the background. As I got closer to the face I made it a little warmer with some cad red light so the face would appear to be in the atmosphere of the garden and not just pasted on top of it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Book is Finished

Many years ago I sat down, inspired by the software, “Scrivener,” and wrote a book with photos of many paintings. At that time I was excited about the new downloadable books and kindle so I made it into a kindle book. The people that read it seemed to like it, but because it had information and charts and pictures it wasn’t conducive to looking things up or looking backward, so I said to myself that I would make it into a real book. I thought that would be easy sort of like I could just push a button and it would all reformat and I could publish it.  That was sort of true. The words would reformat but the picture resolution was way too small and as I got into the project I realized a better formatting and organization of chapters.  With the help (completely) of youtube I was able to learn INDESIGN (a powerful adobe software for layout) and have just published it on amazon. I now have such great respect for editors because I had none. So please excuse and or notify me if there are any glaring mistakes.   I have read and re read it so many times I just can’t bear to do it again.  If you want to take a look at it you can find it here HOW TO PAINT TENACIOUSLY by Sally Rosenbaum.  There are 164 pages with pictures of artwork.  A lot of anecdotal stuff about me and how I decided to make art a full time occupation and earn enough money to buy a house in the Napa valley and raise two sons, a german shepherd, a doberman, and little poodle as well as many cats and have a good time doing what I love.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Did I ever mention that I love reading? 

As far as painting goes, I like the up close and personal and the challenge of painting the face, the hands and the skin color and when I compose the scene I am leaning toward props and before I know it I have her seated at a table and handing her a book. I continue to pursue this theme over and over again. This was a painting that lived through a few transformations. I initially had in mind to have it be very graphic with lots of bright color glazing with very simple shapes almost like a turn of the century poster but it sat in my studio as a nag to me that I didn't like it and one day I just tackled it and clearly came back to my usual impressionistic style, losing edges, finding edges. losing the pose, finding the pose and I limited my palette. I noticed that her body was off in the original painting, so already having it down in oil and dried was a great way to harmonize and soften the edges as I reapplied paint to work out the contours.

I just spent the last 10 minutes going through my files to post the original but I must have clicked save as over the older one..what a dope.

I've been reading since my memory begins. I started with the Sunday funnies and pretty much figured it out from there. I had to endure the insult to the intelligence having to plod through the Sally and Dick and Jane books but at this late date in my life, it sure would be fun to own one. The reading
took me places that I never dreamed, with people who shared thoughts and feelings that I had and I got to know those with whom I had nothing in common. I identified with so many of them and aspired and anticipated the adventures and relationships and escapades that were surely ahead of me. 
It is certainly not a surprise that I combined the two into a vocation for my life. I read books and I now listen to them while I paint with the dramatic renditions from audible. Ah life is good. Sometimes I even feel I am running out of books!

I've said it before and I will mention it here that it gives me great pleasure to think that a painting of someone reading and perhaps someone reading to a child will find its way into the visual memory of someone who grows up remembering "the painting on the wall."       

This one is Large measuring 36 x 48 and probably would show larger than it appears in the photo below. To see more about it, the price and how you could own it, I have provided the link to my website.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Roses from Trader Joe's

When I really want to relax I paint a simple still life of roses. I was inspired long ago by the sweet simplicity of the roses painted by Manet and always go to this arrangement for a way to warm up or try a color scheme or harmony.  They are always very similar and always very different. Sometimes I tone the canvas with color! as I did here with orange, sienna and ultramarine blue. Sometimes I try a triadic color scheme of only three colors and sometimes I just want to use blue and burnt sienna. In other words, I like to play around with it and see what kind of uniqueness I can conjure up.  These, I did last nite and they are similar, but even painting with two different sized canvases can change it up a bit. You approach the canvas with a different brush or a different articulation of the wrist.
This one I drew in the outline with alizarin crimson/gamsol line and when I added the lights and shadows there was a blending that took place.  I have a very gold frame that I had in mind so I wanted to stick to the orange incorporation of colors

The second painting I did was larger and I was a little more controlled but not much.  I just let the colors take me where I felt I wanted to go without doing an exact copy. I wanted it to have it's very own presence.  I think the biggest variation between the two is the size of the brush strokes. This second one is 12 x 16

Monday, March 27, 2017

Tea in the Garden on Orchard Avenue

This is a painting I recently finished from a photo taken long ago though it really feels like last week.  I love the magenta and viridian harmonies and of course to complete the triangle the addition of the warmer colors of orange and yellow help tremendously .  This painting definitely fell into the 80/20 formula.  80 %  of the painting was done in 20% of the time and the last 20% of the painting took 80% of the time.  It's so easy to think things are brighter than they seem but the last 80% of the time is about getting the values and color harmonies correct. $495 unframed 
You can buy this 12 x 16 painting through paypal.  

I show it below in a frame so you can visualize the look

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Tea in Garden 30 x 40
I am experimenting with the technique of organizing my colors according to the "Fletcher Method." I am finding it very satisfying and a natural progression of hues and combinations.  I painted this from a posed model in a photo I took back in early 2000.  
The palette I worked from was yellow ocrhre/indian yellow, prussiian blue, cerulean blue, and grumbacher red or any napthol red, titanium white and ivory black..

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Design and color

Something about Red
it changes everything O happy day

I sometimes feel that I'd like to take the same painting and paint it 500 different ways. I'd like to change the color harmonies, change the technique, change the medium, do mixed medium, change the substrate, o my so many ways to change it up. The key, of course, is the design. Lots of style can hang on a good design. Every time I put my brush to the canvas I am keenly aware of having made a decision which ipso facto eliminates other directions I could have taken this painting.

As it happens with this one I was just messing around browsing on pinterest and saw a collection of work by Linda Arthurs who incorporates patterns everywhere in her design much like Vuillard. But that's not what I was taken was the pure red....I wanted to do red with a passion after I saw her painting of a silhouetted bed frame so I took my current "design" and layed out the red side on my palette and then put down pthalo green and veridian because, of course, they are the opposite on the color wheel and went to town working on this one. I had to add some blue, too.

I tried to paste the red painting that inspired me but it wouldn't work. There must be a copyright restriction so you'll have to look her work up. It's lovely and busy and colorful.

Now let me add a caveat. There are many times when I use pure color and then notice upon drying and looking at it a few days later I find it too bold and too harsh. I think this will work because it's over a burnt sienna and also I think because it's surrounded by modulated grayer colors. We'll see.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

I am absolutely loving today's technology. I've always wanted to write a book. I started a book about how I finished a certain painting a few years ago and never got back to it but recently incorporated it into a much bigger, more ambitious endeavor that incorporates a lot of my philosophy about the so called art life and the tenacity to hang on to it while still remaining a respectable, responsible parent and member of society. Anyway with Kindle being so easy, I recently uploaded it and published in the digital format. There are lots of photos of paintings and many chapters adding up to about 180 pages. Here is a link. I hope you're a kindle reader and get a chance to download it. Easy Peasy. It's incredibly easy to read on the kindle app for ipad and of course on the kindle. You can even get the kindle app from amazon for your computer to view it on a larger screen. I would love to hear what your thought and experiences are regarding the "art life," too.

Crossing over into creativity and How to sell oil paintings

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Custom 30 x 30 vineyard with eucalytpus on benjamin moore Revere Pewter.  I toned the canvas with the wall color and that I think helped me make choices that would harmonize with the room.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The hallways of our memories

I reflect back on farms.  I thought everyone's grandparents lived on a farm.   We were the city folks driving home during summer vacation over the rolling hills of Kentucky turning into the side road with the little bridge over the crick adjacent to the weathered old burnt  sienna barn full of upside down hanging tobacco.  Those days are gone now and having a red barn is kind of a yuppie lofty thing.  The old "HOME PLACE" that we called grandma and grandpa's is now a subdivision.  In my childish mind, I always thought they would remain; the crick, the bridge, the gigantic tree where the tire swing hung that we cousins played with for hours.  But bulldozers rearranged the earth and diverted the creek and tree lined streets with sewers, water lines, street lamps and asphalt took their place among the houses all in a row alternating with models a b c and d.  I wonder if the street sign bears any name with which I am familiar?  I always think of my maw maw and pawpaw and the multitudes of cousins when I see a red barn, especially with clouds and hills and corn on the cob. I do so wish I could remember the LAST day I was there.  Though only 10 I think I would have been melancholy to know not only that I would grow up but that it would disappear from the face of the earth.

"The joy of art lies in the spark of truth..
the quest fulfills the mind's desire to see.
The thing we make is not the same today
as lingers in the hallways of our minds."

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The content of life

Again, I must begin this post with the same refrain as the last one  way back in 2012; it's been quite some time since I've written on this blogspot.

I do enjoy writing so I am going to try and maintain a regular, but not daily, log of my thoughts and paintings. Though many aspects of life have changed and insisted on being lived, painting has remained constant on a daily basis due to two main factors; I love it and I need money. As most artists know who've made the commitment to live the daring creative life, there are no pensions and the good intentions of starting a 401 K or saving 10% of everything I make just didn't actualize. I look upon it as a fortuitous set of circumstances for who among us would paint every day for 3 or 4 hours if the wolves weren't barking down the door? It all adds up to experience and a substantial body of work which is what I wanted when I made the commitment some 25 years ago. So I am a happy camper.

My sons are grown and thriving! Between now and the last post in 2012 I've gone through some loss and some grueling anxiety but painted my way through all events. One might call it life itself. My most wonderful loyal funny canine girl, Ashby, went to heaven February a year ago and though I felt like a child, I proceeded with all the grownup decisions I had to make like a true stoic. What can you do? She was my gift for 13 magnificent years, a true loyal companion and I will always carry her in my heart. I knew the day would come. I am just now strong enough that I think I can look at her photo long enough to make the portrait I've always dreamed of doing and that puts a smile on my face. I'm a special kind of nut when it comes to the dog/cat relationship. It feels very human to me.

The anxiety of which I speak above is reserved for the horrendous experience of learning your child has cancer and the tortuous events that proceed after the diagnosis is made which was exactly a year ago to this day. My 33 year old beautiful son was diagnosed with the same tongue cancer as Michael Douglas and underwent a 12 hour operation two weeks before thanksgiving last year in which they removed half of his tongue, rebuilt it with his arm muscles (wrist) and used a peel of skin from the thigh to rebuild the arm. I am happy and relieved to report that his most recent scan has shown him to be cancer free. The magnificent doctors who rebuilt his tongue have given him excellent speech and he and his lovely intensive care nurse, wife, are thriving. A scar remains but lies on the wrinkle that passes from behind the ear down the neck and is barely visible, and with a scruffy beard  it is totally invisible. Aside from the three weeks we spent sleeping on the floor in the hospital watching over him at the Loma Linda cancer center, I have continued to paint most days and am thankful for the structure it brought to my life during trying times. I have visited him many times during the follow-up radiation in LA and carved out a little painting niche on the porch and with the marvelous technology of today, was able to make a creative income all the while. With this last set of results from the Pet scan I am settling back into the "non-hyper anxiety alert" mode and enjoying some experimentation and am longing for new material...I recently got a hankering to study Maxfield Parish and his amazing glazed paintings. While reading the book I discovered TRANSPARENT ORANGE. I get a particular joy from certain colors and their properties and this is a keeper that I will always be using in my palette. It happens to rest opposite another of my favorites, prussion blue, so that makes it the complement (completes it) EVEN BETTER!

 I'm not to going to ramble on so I can save some thoughts for the next post but wanted to bring you up to date on where these last two years went. We are human beings and live not in a vacuum. Our life experience can't help but influence us whether it's in style, subject matter, materials, or complexity

I post my most recently completed work measuring 24 x 36. I lost myself for weeks in the the simple rendering in black and white of this figure and then began to patiently apply glazing of transparent orange, alizarin crimson, Prussian blue and scumbles of a velute (SP) which is a glaze mixed with some white and gray flesh tones.  The first photo show a couple of layers of glaze and the second shows the more advanced version.  The color wheel is my friend and companion always and I have many of them posted in every room of the house.  You might say I am a color wheel collector!

Contemplative solitude is always a good thing whether you call it prayer, thinking, wishing or exercising the imaginations.  I like this kind of painting because it reflects one of my favorite activities of being quiet and still and letting thoughts come.