Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Iris Field, 7" x 5"

The last mini of the series. The whole garden is surrounded by tall trees, so I look some liberties with the reference and I decided to break the wall of green a bit.

I'm hoping to go there again this coming year, but this time to paint on location if the owners do not mind.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Garden Bed, 7" x 5"

This is the third of the Flower Farm small paintings series.

While working in such small format I had to keep reminding myself that the important thing was to convey the "idea" of flower beds. Although this might give the impression that doing so is liberating, it actually required a lot of effort on my part not to give too much detail to the irises in the foreground.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Daylilies, 7" x 5"

This is the second painting of the Flower Farm series, done also on Ampersand pastelbord.

A while ago I started a small painting from the same reference, but never finished it. Now I know why: I was trying to be too true to the photo and didn't know how to handle the mass of greens. With this one though, I just took a few ideas from the reference and asked myself what kind of day and atmospheric conditions I wanted to represent.

I hope the idea of a hazy summer day, with chirping insects comes through.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

When the Lilacs Fade 7" x 5" Sold

This is the first of a series of small paintings I started for the Plowshares fair this past weekend. As it happened, it got sold before the show took place.

It is based on one of the many photos I have taken at the Phoenix Flower Farm, my favorite place for buying irises. The place is beautifully landscaped, with ponds here and there, and the sound of birds and running water always bring a sense of peacefulness to me.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


My blog is a year old! It's time to focus and see what new direction I want to take with it, but I'm not quite ready for that yet. In the mean time this is what's new:

I have 20 paintings at Art Mart, City Hall Commons. It will be open until Christmas Eve.

15 paintings are on exhibit at Medusa Tattoo in Ithaca, until January 12th.

3 paintings at St John's Pottery as part of the CNY Art Guild exhibit, until Dec14th.

3 more will be at Fayetteville Free Library also as part of CNY Art Guild, during December.

And, I'll be participating at Plowshares Art and Craft Fair on Dec 5th and 6th, at Nottingham HS. The video below shows some of the small paintings I'll have for sale there. This is a major fundraiser for the Syracuse Peace Council, who sponsors the event. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Farm in Pompey Center, on location, 11" x 19"

This early evening scene was painted at the beginning of the fall season. I was able to work on location for an hour and a half before the light was gone, but by then I had almost finished it. Back at the studio I corrected the colors of the trees on the left, and added more detail to the stubble of cut corn.

I was hoping to have more fall scenes painted on location, but the weather is to be blamed for that, as most days had been rainy or cloudy ones. The few paintings I had attempted have not yielded good results, either because I'm not familiar to using reds or because I have not taken into account that light changes so fast at this time of year.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Flower Field, 13" x 19"

The weather has been rainy and cold, not conducive to painting outdoors... I have been busy doing some studio paintings for two upcoming shows, but deep in my heart, I cannot wait to be outdoors. I'm hoping for at least one glorious fall day while the leaves are still on the trees.

This painting was done on location, one evening in late August. My favorite part is the distant hill. I used a pale orange hard pastel, followed by pale blues and greens, and the mix set the tone for the rest of the painting. It was one of those experiments that turn out to work well. I finished the painting at home from memory, but all it needed was some adjustment in the color temperature of the shadow in the middle ground.

Contrary to what I would have done, one of my fellow painters suggested no to give much definition to the foreground sunflowers. I think the idea is to let the viewers look at the painting and spend some time figuring out what's in there. I'm still figuring out myself if that's the way I want it... I might even crop it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Otisco Farmland, en plein air 13" x 19"

This pastel was painted from the same location as the previous post, from Barker Street in Otisco, although the view looks more towards the west. The colors are so different because it was done in the morning. It took about two hours to complete, with the barest of tweaking at home.

As it often happens when I start painting on location, there is some concern involved. I wonder what to include and what to leave out. I ask myself if I will have enough time to complete the painting or lay down the basic features before the light changes, so I could finish it at home. I do not like to return to the same location to finish a painting simply because the conditions are not likely to be the same, and I might see the place with different eyes. Finishing from a photo reference is out of the question for me nowadays, because I have ended up with scenes that have lost the original feeling.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The View from Barker Rd, Otisco, plein air, 13" x 19"

Few places have inspired me so much like the area of Otisco, on Rt 80. So far I have been there only in the summer and early fall, but what has struck me the most is that everywhere one looks there is a scene worth painting.

This painting means a lot to me. It was the first time I tried a larger format and the first time I went painting alone after two plein air sessions with a friend in that same area. Sure, it's more fun when one could paint with others who could give you good feedback on the spot, but as often happens, weather or other events can wreck your plans and a good painting day is something that cannot go to waste. Painting in a larger format definitely keeps you from adding too much detail, and somehow having more room to paint gives you a sense of freedom.

This is the view looking south from the middle of a soybean field on Barker Rd. It was painted in the evening, in late August, with minimal work done in the studio. I had a good time because a woman who lived across from where I was came over and spend time talking with me.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Wheat and Corn, en plein air, 9" x 12"

This is a small plein air that I painted over a month ago. It took me a while to finally get a photo with the colors looking like the ones in the original.

This painting and the two previous ones will be part of several planned exhibits at local libraries, and possibly at the museum too, this fall. The Everson museum is sponsoring these events to promote the coming Turner to Cézanne exhibit in October.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wheat Field, 9" x 12"

This wheat field is located on Rt 80, at the intersection with Griffin Rd. I have often traveled on Rt 80 without being aware of this field, but it wasn't until a month ago that I reached it from Griffin Rd, and the view of so much gold captivated me. I didn't know that wheat was grown in the area. I had to paint it!

A week later in the evening, I asked for permission from the person I thought was the owner. He told me it wasn't his anymore but I was welcomed to park on his property. An hour later, when I was finishing the painting, he came out and told me that his family had owned the fields, and the name Griffin was his family name. I always think that a painting has more meaning when you learn a little bit about the place.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Field, 9" x 12"

Last weekend I participated in a plein air event sponsored by the Everson Museum, at the Stone Quarry Hill Park. This park is located in Cazenovia, 20 miles east from Syracuse, and it's an sculpture park with lots of acres where nature and art mix.

Only five artists showed up for the event, probably because rain was predicted in the forecast, but that was reason enough to get to work right away. I was able to produce two paintings, this one here and a panoramic view. But as it often happens when you work outdoors, the light changed so fast that it threw me off with the panoramic view. I might be able to fix it, but it'll have to be from memory.

The more I paint outdoors the more I realize the drawbacks of painting from photographs. This doesn't mean that I'll give up working from photos, but simply that I'm becoming more and more aware of their limitations.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Green Lakes 8" x 9", SOLD

The last couple of weeks have been very busy for me. For two weekends in a row I participated in local arts-and-crafts fairs, and in preparation for them I had to do a lot of framing.

One of the pieces I sold, Green Lakes, was started on location last year. In the rush of framing, I forgot to take pictures of the final painting, though the differences compared to the photo at the left (unfinished) are minor.

This is the second year I've participated in this kind of event, and so far it has been great. Every so often one hears that this is not a good time for artists due to the economy, yet for me and other artists I've talked to, sales have been good recently. I find this a bit disconcerting because as a business person, one would like to find a formula or something that would work most of the time. Places that I have thought of as being promising have turned out a total disappointment, and the opposite has been true too. So, I always end up with "you never know".
All I know is that I have to keep on trying, and find more ways to bring my art to the right public.

Setting up and taking down a tent and displays is bothersome to say the least--even if you have the process down to a T, but is well worth it if you want exposure and like to do a little PR. On the plus, plus side, I got a an invitation to sell at a gallery!

Friday, June 19, 2009

60/60 event at the Everson Museum

I participated today in the 60/60 fundraiser event sponsored by the Everson Museum. Sixty artists produced or finished work in sixty minutes and donated it to the museum.

The public was invited to buy raffle tickets and to deposit them in a container by the artist whose work they wanted to win. Although the weather did not seem promising at the beginning, it turn out to be a wonderful balmy evening that attracted a crowd.

It was a good opportunity for the public to see the steps taken in producing artwork in different media, and for the artist to have the chance to do some networking.

I told people who were looking at my work at the very beginning, to stop by later as my piece was in the "ugly duckling" stage (orange and red underpainting). It was nice when I reached the point where people started to recognize the place.

Moose River at Thendara (9"x12") was won by a woman who has been wanting to buy a painting from me for some time. Nice to know that my baby is in good hands!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

White Barn, on location 9" x 12" SOLD

On Monday morning I went painting with my plein air pals of last time. The location: a barn at the intersection of Tecumseh and Waring Rd.

Seeing how they had started the barn with complimentary colors, I decided to follow suit. I have used complimentary colors in the past, but not very successfully, as I invariably ended up completely covering the first layer. This time I forced myself to use the pastel sticks sparingly, and it worked out!

One of the things I like about painting on location is meeting people, not necessarily for business purposes. While we were working, two drivers stopped to see what we were doing and asked for business cards. Then, a lady from the neighborhood came to talk to each of us. She was so happy I had included her house in my painting (red brick). I learned from her that the barn had been fixed recently and that the widower had the garden done in memory of his wife. A touching story I can associate with my painting.

Friday, May 29, 2009

230 at Salt Springs Rd, 12" x9"- on location

Last Monday I went painting with two experienced plein air artists at the home of one of them. It was a beautiful evening, and the neighborhood offered several possibilities. I was very tempted to do a street scene, but because I had recently painted one with not so good results, I decided to paint something close up this time. Since I had made up my mind that I wanted to paint under the shade of a tree, the house next door to my friend's was the best choice.

It was very interesting to see how the light changed in a period of an hour: walls that were bright with reflected light became dark an hour later. For that same reason, it was also a little bit exasperating having to change colors.

After we stopped working we proceeded to critique each other's work. Mine was basically done so their feedback was very important to me. They were very free with their suggestions and I felt I gained so much from them.

I'll let this painting sit for a while before finishing it.
This coming Monday we'll be painting in my garden.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Island Pines, 18"x24"

Good news, my piece Island Pines, which had been juried into the 5th National Northeast Pastel Competition, received an Ampersand Art Supply award! I was thrilled enough for just being accepted, so receiving an award is like the icing on the cake.

The exhibit will be open to the public from June 13th to July 12th at the Arts Center at Old Forge, NY.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Farm, 9" x 12"

You cannot live in CNY and not like barns and cornfields! I do not remember exactly where this place is located; perhaps Rt 173 or Rt 20, but definitely in Onondaga County.

Although I've been thinking on painting this scene for a while, what decided me to do it was a frame I saw at a store! Somehow I though they would go well together. I'm hoping to have this piece ready for this coming weekend sale sponsored by the Onondaga Art Guild.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Best in Show

My painting The Stream at Leetonia (see Dec 08 blog entry) won Best in Show this past weekend at the Central New York Art Guild show and sale.
This show' sales and attendance was very good, and although I did not sell any of my paintings, several members did.

I was also happy that one of my paintings was shown in our local newspaper for promoting the show. I got a call before the show opened on Saturday from a previous customer who had seen the pic and had remembered my name. She showed at the event, and considering that the show was several miles away from the city, that left me with a gratifying feeling.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

More from the Adirondacks

I cannot believe it's been almost a month since last time I posted. I was working full time for a while and found it very difficult to paint when I was so tired and there were other things to take care of. My applause to all of you women who manage to do it all! Although I had had time to paint in the last two weeks, I found it very hard to get back to it. The reason it's not because I didn't want to do it but because I needed to find something good enough to motivate me to start again, and help me break the invisible wall that prevented me to get to my easel. Somehow I got there, but with not so good results at the beginning--good thing I worked in small format!

These two pieces are both 9" x 12".
The one on top is Bald Mountain Pond. It was done from a photo that didn't have much detail. The funny thing about this painting is that I didn't know the name of the location. All I knew was that Rt 28 basically touches the edge of the pond, and that the mountain on the left had bare rock. So I checked google maps and figured it had to be near Bald Mountain. To make sure I was correct I checked in googled images and found this painting titled Adirondack Silence by Michael Ringer,

The bottom one I think it's from White Lake, which is close to the Adirondacks. This is based on a photo I took while we were driving on Rt 28.

It's good to feel that I'm back on track.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The View, 9" x 11" SOLD

This painting is from a reference photo from the Wet Canvas library. It's supposed to be somewhere in Vermont, where I've never been.

It has been my intention to paint only from my own photo references, but with spring around the corner, making me feel a bit antsy about painting scenes with lots of green in them, I just couldn't help it when I saw the photo. I felt an instant connection with the place because it reminded me of the mountains in my homeland (minus the tall conifers) and the great views of the Central Valley below.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Irises, 6" x 8"

Last month, I got a commission for an iris, and as often happens, once I start painting something completely different from what I was doing, I get excited and continue in that other direction until I get tired of that theme. So, the commissioned iris led me to paint three more of them, and right now, I feel I've completed my iris quota for this year.

These are not the first ones that I paint; in fact they are #7, #8, #9, and #10. The first one I painted was so awful that I only kept it as a reminder that practice makes you better. The second one was a tad better. I remember feeling happy with iris #3, and even happier with #4, both of which I had painted as gifts to my sisters. However, when irises #5 and #6 were done, I looked at the two previous ones with a little bit of contempt. This rarely happens when I look at previous landscapes I've painted. This could be a matter of how I approach the subject, because I compare flowers to portraits, thus I feel bound to be more exact painting them than when dealing with a landscape.

With these irises I took a different course in the composition. I've tried to place them in an environment, whereas all previous ones were more like a flower portrait with a single color background. So it's no surprise that in each one of these, the flower itself was the easier part, but the background and the surrounding vegetation near the plant, the areas that gave me hard time.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Quiet Night, 9"x7" SOLD

This morning I got this painting out of the drawer with the purpose of photographing it for my records, but while I was at it, I noticed a few things that were bothering me. So I got to work and it's now officially finished. I have found that it's much easier to see what needs to be done with a painting if I take photos of it.

This is the view looking east from my backyard. The main street that bisects the city is on the other side of the tall houses. I worked from a photo I took a year ago, and remember being surprised at the time for having captured the color of the sky with my camera. I emphasized the color in the painting to convey a surreal mood.

I was going to title it Winter Moon, but considering that my neighborhood is truly quiet only when it rains or when it's a cold winter night, I thought the present title was more appropriate.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Orion, 10" x 13" - SOLD

Orion is my favorite constellation of the winter sky. As a kid I didn't know the meaning of the name, nor what it represented. All that mattered to me then, was that it was the easiest to recognize: three stars close together in a row, and bingo!

For this painting I use a photo of a field on Rt 80, South of Syracuse, taken a year ago during daylight. I changed the field's orientation from east to south, and the rest was observation.
I had to wait till we had a clear night to brave the cold several times in order to track the constellation's movements. This is Orion's position at 6:00PM.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Brook in Winter, 12"x9"

The last three days have been the coldest we've had so far (with temperatures at night in the single digits and in the 20's during the day), yet I've been working in my studio, and without a heater. I'm not whining nor complaining this time--totally the opposite, I'm surprised at myself for feeling compelled to paint despite the cold!
Once I get into the swing of things I tend to forget about the cold, and it's only when my fingers start to feel really clumsy and my toes are numb that I'm forced to take a break. I thaw my fingers in warm water, then drink some tea sitting by the stove, and back to work. If I can stand this cold, maybe I could paint outdoors when this freezing front is over...

This is another "happy" or sunny winter scene. It was worked from top to bottom in a loose way, but when I got to the sunny area in the stream I couldn't help but to pay attention to details.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Creek in Winter , 11"x14"

Winter is my least favorite season, not because of the cold but because of the limited greens in the landscape.
I'm from Costa Rica, where I spend one half of my life surrounded by varieties of greens all-year round. The other half has been here in Syracuse, and although I have learned to love the seasons and the changes they bring, I still resent winter for taking away the greens. It's no wonder then that I have painted only 3 winter scenes since I started with pastels eight years ago! However, because this past year marked my "half and half" life, I got to think that it's very likely that winter will continue being part of my future, and that it was time for me to fully embrace it. Thus, this painting, the third so far this season!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Panoramic View, 9" x12" SOLD

This is another view from Highland Forest Park. With this painting I was trying to learn some more about aerial perspective and about the different colors of the snow.

I posted it on Wet Canvas where several members shared interesting thoughts with me. One was whether a crop was in order or not. The almost half and half composition here is viewed as a no-no, so I was considering reducing the sky area. But then, other members pointed out a few things that made me realize the sky was a key element and that decided me to leave it as it was. I just hope no one will ever ask me to use this painting in a book in order to illustrate " Things artists should avoid."

I love panoramic scenes. The feeling of big open space is liberating and humbling at the same time. Invariably, while I feast on the view, I hear a voice whispering "you're just a tiny spec on this earth" , and I always reply, "but one who's enjoying the moment."