Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Bill Gilbert 1964 - 2008

"Portrait of Bill" , 28" x 36" ? Oil on Canvas, 1989

My dear friend, Bill Gilbert, passed away this Sunday, February 24th, after fighting a long battle with cancer.

Bill and I met our first day at RISD and became friends right away. We shared an apartment beginning our sophomore year and were pretty much inseparable. "The Frank and Bill Show". Bill was a Jewelry and Light Metals major and I was a Painter, but we always took pleasure in discussing each other's work and he always had something constructive and honest to say.

This is a portrait that I painted for Bill before I moved to Mexico. It pretty much says it all. He loved buying old cars and fixing them up. He loved old industrial buildings, later buying one in Philadelphia and converting it to living and studio space with his wife Maryanne. He almost always had on a brown leather jacket like in this painting of him parked in front of the old Providence Electric Company in Rhode Island.

Always up for an adventure or a road trip, Bill jumped at the chance to drive with me from Rhode Island to Mexico in 1990. He was always ready to hop in one of his old cars, put the top down, and just go "cruising".

Bill loved anything old and gritty. He was a big fan of flea markets, antiques and dare I say, dumpster diving and trash picking on those days when Providence households would put out larger items for the trash collectors. He was a Jeweler and Metal smith by trade. Besides making his art, he ran a business repairing antique metal of any sort. Always willing to help others, he taught jewelry and metal work at several Philadelphia area colleges. Bill's jewelery and sculptures had a style that was all his own. Isn't that what all of us artists hope to achieve? There was an honesty to his work, his personality shined through in everything that he made.

Bill and Maryanne have three children, Tyler, Max and Sofie. Although our lives grew apart over the years, I know that he was a great Dad and Husband. A talk on the phone with Bill would always last an hour or more. Dyslexia kept him from becoming a big email communicator like I have become, so a call from Bill was always a special thing. I am grateful to his wife for emailing updates on their struggle to all of us that live so far away.

Maryanne was a pillar of strength for Bill throughout his struggle. I don't know how anyone could handle all of the ups and downs of surgery, chemo, tests, doctor visits, caring for Bill plus caring for the kids, run a house, continue with her job and still keep a positive attitude. I see why Bill loved her so much.

How does someone begin to organize memories of someone so important in their lives? All of those burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches and fries in "The Pit" at RISD. Late night trips down to the "Silver Top Diner" or Sunday mornings spent with a big stack and coffee at one of the other greasy spoons around Rhode Island. There were late night drives up to Lake Winnepesaukee in New Hampshire at any time of year. Water skiing, driving on frozen lakes and hoping the car would not go through the ice, trips to Block Island. There are the ups and downs we had with assignments and crits throughout our years at RISD. The many late late nights of working hard to get assignments in on time. His stacks of Easy Rider and Heavy Metal magazines. There are so many more stories and so many memories. Is there a way to organize memories, or is the beauty of memories the way in which they just randomly pop into your head at the most opportune moments?

Bill had the biggest smile, and the biggest heart, of anyone that I have ever known. He was truly loved, and will be missed by all.

Friday, February 22, 2008

"Sock Monkey"

"Sock Monkey", 6" x 8" oil on board, 2008
Not For Sale

This is my second still life. I guess I can call it a series now. I don't usually take many commissions, but since "Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse" I have gotten a few requests that I just can't turn down. For the most part, I find that kids who are not actually "paying" for a painting are pretty easy to please.

There were a few issues with lighting that I struggled with. I don't usually paint at night so I don't have good lights. I just used one 60 watt bulb to light the monkey, the painting and my palette. The light from an incandescent bulb is pretty warm. That makes the paint look warmer than it really is. I adjusted pretty well for that, and the colors are actually pretty accurate when I look at it this morning. I had a hard time seeing into my values while I was painting it though. A good challenge I guess.

A still life set up like Carol Marine's is what I need to get for these.

I have added a few close ups as well. I've found that some people like scrolling on a large image to see details and others do not. I prefer to post an image that is closer to the size of the original on these small ones. Details are cool because they give you that feeling of getting up close to check out the brushwork.

detail 1

detail 2

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Untitled Work In Progress-Step by Step

I am about done with this 11" x 14" studio painting. It still needs a few adjustments. The main thing is that I want to put a little foliage back onto the main tree in the middle. I'll let it sit for a day or two before I mess with it.
Here are a few step by step photos from along the way. They are pretty self explanatory, so I am just going to post them without rambling commentary. I'll post the finished painting once I've had a chance to wrap it up.
Some people have ask about my painting supports. This one is on a Raymar, single oil primed linen, panel. I use these, or Sourcetek panels a lot. Sometimes I use gessoed masonite boards that I prepare myself. For anything bigger than 24" x 30", I use stretched canvas.

"Xotolar", 11" x 14" oil on linen, Frank Gardner © 2008
$950. Framed, Available at Galeria Gardner

Saturday, February 16, 2008

"Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse"

"Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse", 6" x 8" oil on board, 2008
Not For Sale

One goal of mine for the new year was to do some art that would push my comfort zone a bit. I have been putting it off long enough. Today I decided to shake it up.
I have not painted a still life in years. That was a good start, but I wanted to step outside of the box even further and go with a little girl subject.
Our daughter Erin will be five on Tuesday, so I decided to paint a still life of one of her stuffed animals as a present for her. The victim was a horse that her Grandparents gave her when she was little. I got a bunch of good hugs and kisses, and she says she really likes it.
There are a lot of blogging artists, that I really admire, painting still lives these days. I was inspired to try my brush on a few.
Some of my favorites right now are: J Matt Miller, Jason Waskey, Carol Marine, Qiang Huang, Aaron Lifferth, Duane Keiser, Michael Naples, and Simon Andrews.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"In Front of Arturo's Store"

"In Front of Arturo's Store", 8" x 10" oil on linen, 2008
$720. Framed, Available at Galeria Gardner

These women set up in front of my friend Arturo's store, in Atotonilco, to sell framed pictures of saints, prayer books, crosses and other religious stuff. Pilgrims that come from different parts of Mexico, to spend a week doing pentinence at the church, are their main customers.

The overcast day made it so there were no strong light and shadow patterns to work with.

"In Front of Arturo's Store" Detail 1

I don't like posting images that are so big, when clicked on, that you have to scroll to see them . I would rather post "detail" images. They are fun, because they are like little paintings in themselves. It also allows for a close up view of the brushwork. It's just colors and shapes in the right place.
Any opinions on this? Which do you prefer? Large images to scroll over or details like this?

"In Front of Arturo's Store" Detail 2

I tried to keep this painting simple. I wanted the gesture of the people to tell the story.

"In Front of Arturo's Store" Detail 3

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

"Boca de la Cañada"

"Boca de la Cañada", 6" x 8" oil on linen, 2008
Private Collection

The little white church in this painting is in Boca de la Cañada (Mouth of the Canyon).
There is not a lot of spring color around here yet. In a lot of places there is a fine white dust on everything. I had to rely on a simple value plan and not bright colors for this one.
(Side note added Feb. 13th) I meant to mention that this was done in two sessions in the studio from a recent photo. The first day I used the photo as reference. I found myself getting caught up in too much detail for this small size. I did not need every rock and branch etc... For the second round, I did not look at the reference at all, and I found that I could simplify the painting quite a bit.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

"Good Company"

I have been working on a large painting and a small painting, but they are not finished yet. I'm not feeling gutsy enough to post a work in progress today, so I would like to share this one that I painted last spring.

"Good Company", 30" x 24" oil on canvas, 2007
Private Collection

This woman sits in front of the church every day crocheting. Her cat often joins her. There is a special energy about this place that I can't really describe with words. I think the peacefulness of the place comes across in this painting.
I have included a few detail images. You can get a good feel for the original if you click on them to enlarge.

Detail "Good Company"

Detail 2 "Good Company"

I wanted to try the same scene with a little more of the architecture of the church. This one gives more of a sense of the location. "Good Company" is more about the woman and her companion.
"Good Company" has found the home where it was meant to be. "Sitting by the Church" is available at my gallery in San Miguel.

"Sitting by the Church", 18" x 14" oil on linen, 2007
Private Collection

Monday, February 4, 2008

"Las Sombras del Ranchito"

"Las Sombras del Ranchito", 14' x 18" oil on linen, 2008
Private Collection

I am happy with the way this painting turned out. My method is not always the same with each painting. An artist should be like "Felix The Cat" and have many options in their "Bag of Tricks". That way, the process does not become too much of a formula.
In this painting, I wanted to get a lot of color into the shadows without breaking up the strong pattern of light and shade. I decided to start with one basic value for all of the shadows with lots of color changes not value changes. There is a lot of reflected light bouncing around in this scene. That made this part even more fun. I linked everything in the shadow into an interesting pattern taking care not to vary the values too much just yet. I did not paint any light colors until I was content with this step.
Sombras, by the way is Spanish for shadows.

Step One - Shadow Pattern

Below is the step one photo turned into black and white in Photoshop to show how there is pretty much just one value at this point. The only darker value is in the trees to the left, which I chose as my darkest shadow to judge the rest of my values against.
I checked the values in black and white as I was posting this, but you could take a picture of your painting along the way and try this to check your values. There are a few strays, but most of the values fall into a very limited range.
The next step was to add the color into the light areas. Again, I did not want too much variation in the values. I also did not put as much color variety into the lights. I wanted the shadow color to remain the focus.
Adusting the colors and values of both the light and shadow, I added some highlights and dark accents. This unified the painting a bit and made certain areas "read" better.
When I felt like I was thinking about the details too much I stopped.

Step One - Black and White

Friday, February 1, 2008

Two New Paintings

"Chilis and Beans", 6" x 8" oil on Linen, 2008
Private Collection

These two paintings took me way to long to complete. I had a lot of trouble with "Chilis and Beans". Maybe it was the cool overcast light in a predominantly warm colored painting or maybe it was too much detail for the small format. I worked out most of the issues that were giving me trouble including some values that I was not getting right. After days of fighting with this one it seemed kind of picked at, so at the end I went back and simplified things a bit .

"Loaded Again", 8" x 16" oil on Linen, 2008
$930. Framed, Available at Galeria Gardner

"Loaded Again" went smoother than the other painting, but it is not as loose as I had envisioned when I started. I am happy with how it came out though. There was just the boy and horse at first. He looked like a man with nothing to compare his size to, so I added another figure a little bigger. You can tell how big the trees are because you have the people and horse to compare them too. Everything is relative.
I am feeling a little stressed about how these two were going, but they are done now and I am ready to loosen up a bit with my next few.