Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New and Improved

Bookish, Nashville Downtown Public Library  is an 18x14 oil by Shirley Fachilla.

Above is the new and improved version. The earlier version is below.

Bookish was first painted four years ago. I had liked it enough to frame and show it… briefly!  I pulled it out recently for a show because I was running low on both inventory and the time to create more.

I still liked it but I could see lots of room for improvement. The basic composition was okay, that and the figure in the distance. As a gesture, he worked. 

I remembered something Dawn Whitelaw said in her workshop, when “fixing” a painting, start with one thing that you know how to fix. Correcting that can be a key to the other things that might need help in a painting. I knew that in Bookish the value of the sky was too dark.

It was an easy fix, and it showed me where the other values were that needed to be changed: windows, corner of the building in the left foreground and the boring, but attention-grabbing, building in the back. After lightening the sky, these values were all easy fixes.

Here’s the original before it got its high key work-up.

[For the meanings of gesture, high key and value visit Artful Definitions.]

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"A River Runs Through It"

Okra and Zinnias is an 8x10 plein air by Shirley Fachilla.
The Chestnut Group, plein air painters for the land, is having another sale and exhibit for the Nature Conservancy’s work in preserving the Duck River. The show has a lovely name, A River Runs Through It. Above is one of my efforts for the event.
It's of a marvelous garden that perhaps could only exist in Middle Tennessee. The garden is enclosed in a beautifully crafted mortarless stone fence; inside, there’s a riot of zinnias on one side and orderly vegetable rows on the other. (The ones you can see are staked okra plants.) Where but in Tennessee would you find such a mix of elegance and down-home fixings!
A River Runs Through It is happening on May 18 from 10 to 7 and May 19 from 10 to 4 in the Parish Hall of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Columbia, Tennessee (one of the most beautiful old churches in the area).  My painting is one of 245! There’s a lot to see. I hope some of you can make it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Notion of "Notan"

The Big House is a plein air oil, 6x6, by Shirley Fachilla.

Back in the late 1800’s, the Impressionists discovered Japanese art. They loved it. They were captivated by the different approach to seeing that Japanese art presented. Today for me, the love affair continues.  Thanks to Dawn Whitelaw, I’ve discovered “notan.”  The Japanese notion of notan promises to be a wonderful method to navigate the difficulties of value. [For the definition of value, see Artful Definitions.]
Notan divides a painting into light and dark. Yes, only two values… what a concept!
In the West of course, paintings with only two values are few and far between. But tweak the idea a bit (allow a medium light and maybe a medium dark) and notan becomes a compass for navigating the shoals of value, especially outdoors, by limiting and coalescing.
Dawn Whitelaw introduced notan during a class for the Chestnut Group here in Nashville and gave me, along with my classmates, a marvelous tool for seeing.  She’s presenting the idea again. at workshops given by the Plein Air Painters of the Southeast.   Dawn’s a beautiful artist and a great teacher. I’m sure those lucky students will find her class as helpful as I did.   

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

"Almost Cheesecake"

Almost Cheesecake is a 24x22 open studio oil by Shirley Fachilla.

Almost Cheesecake was painted in a bit less than four hours in my Monday Open Studio. (I finished up the background after I got home.)
While I was painting it, I was working out several important things. 
1. composition: I had to alter the dimensions of my canvas to accommodate the design I thought best.
2. values: I wanted the form and shape of her all-white dress to read properly but also to retain color and life.
3. negative space: I had set up the composition to make the negative space a crucial element and I needed to fill it nicely.  
Only after it was done, did I realize her pose was a classic for beauty contestants modeling their one-piece bathing suits in the 50’s... thus the title, Almost Cheesecake.
For the rest of this month and until June 22, Almost will be on view in the national juried art show held in Nashville every year, the Central South Art Exhibition at the Tennessee Art League, 808 Broadway. Hope you can come and take a look.
[For a definition of value, composition and negative space, visit Artful Definitions.

Is it too early to send an invitation?

Pieces by (clockwise from left to right) : Susan Harlan, Janet Garner, Shirley Fachilla, Mike Martino and Topper Williams. So many ...