Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Michael Chesley Johnson - Tubac Orchard

What captured my eye in this scene was the sense of calm. The picture is full of horizontals - the plane of the ground, the roof of the adobe house, the line of trees. Even the large shape of the mountain in the background can be "averaged out" to be a flat band of color. However, its long, wave-like curve adds a sense of movement to the design to keep it from being too static.
I like the fall grasses in the foreground. Here, I laid the pastel on thickly, so much so that the tooth filled completely. The final stick of pastel slid around like a pat of butter in a hot skillet.

"Tubac Orchard"9x12, pastel, en plein air
Michael Chesley Johnson

Monday, December 29, 2008

Vince Fazio - "At the Edge"

"At the Edge" 24x30 oil on canvas $900

This work is on display at the "Sons of Sedona" exhibition at the Sedona Arts Center. I worked on this in the studio, enjoying as a painter the architectonic treatment of space that the Grand Canyon can inspire.
Please Email me for purchase information.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Michael Chesley Johnson - Rainy Day Still Life

Lately, if we have a rainy day for a workshop, I've been encouraging students to work from a still life rather than a photo.  One of my goals in teaching is to help students learn to observe better.  A photo has a very limited amount of information in it; the real thing has all the information you'll ever need, and provides lots of mining opportunities.

Although there are no rules for setting up a still life, there are certain guidelines that will help you make a more successful design.  These include:
  • When you choose objects, find something tall, something short, something dull in color, and something bright in color.  Contrasts (value, size, color, shape) keep the arrangement interesting.
  • But too much contrast can be chaotic.  Have a common theme that can relate the objects, such as "fruits of the garden" or color.
  • A tablecloth has more interest than a bare table, but pay attention to the folds.  Folds should be arranged to complement the "rhythm" in the arrangement, not conflict with it.
  • Make sure there's nothing distracting in the background.  Place the table against a simple wall, if possible, or hang a sheet behind it.
  • Finally, try to set up the still life so everyone has an interesting view.  Easier said than done, especially with a dozen artists!

Rainy Day Still Life
5x7, pastel
Michael Chesley Johnson -

Monday, December 22, 2008

Vince Fazio "A Sedona Morning"

"A Sedona Morning" 6 x 9.25 oil on board $85

This was a quick plein air painting at one of those spots you see as you are driving around and then have to find the closest place you can paint from that is not in the middle of the road. Sedona is one of those places that really wants to be portrayed a bit panoramic.

Please Email me for purchase information.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Robert Burridge - Clown Series/Juggler

This original acrylic painting on paper is a continuation of my Clown series, hopefully to show the soul of the people who are clowns. This is the Juggler on a unicycle. The color is based on my color wheel system. The dominant color is red (and shades of red), the focal point color is a blue-green (Compose Blue #1 - Holbein Acryla). From my color wheel I also use "spice colors" - these are my accent colors to visually support the focal point color. In this painting, my Spice Colors are Cad Green Light and Katsura Blue (dark purple-blue - also Holbein Acryla). 
I selected this color combination in the morning before I started my warm-ups. 
Original acrylic painting on paper, 9x12 inches - $275 + $20 shipping/handling.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Carol Marine - "One Hot Mama"

Carol Marine - 6x6in. - oil on panel - "Wide Open" - bid

After 3 days recently of not painting (because life does happen), I came back into my studio only to find that ... I had forgotten how to paint! This has happened many times, and somehow, after a bit, I always remember again. This time it was easier, and I'll tell you why. After the first bad one, I wiped it off. After the second one, ditto. The third one was easier. By the fourth I was back in the swing of painting and loving it (this given I had a whole day to paint). The idea here is not to struggle over paintings that aren't working, but to move on, and keep moving on, until things click again. I recommend it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Michael Chesley Johnson - Pink Adobe Dawn

"Pink Adobe Dawn"
9x12, pastel, en plein air

I taught a workshop in Tubac, AZ, a few years ago. One morning we had gorgeous, early-morning light. In this scene, it was just catching the top of the palm tree and the inside of the window and arch in the adobe wall. I wanted to play down the color to give a sense of "first light."

You'll note that the palm counterbalances all the things going on over by the adobe arch. If you block out the tree with your hand -- one of my favorite ways of seeing if an element is really necessary for the composition -- the design suffers. The tree is needed. What's more, the tree also puts some interest up in the sky, which occupies more than 50% of the painting. Without the tree, the image would need to be cropped in some way to make a satisfactory composition.

Michael Chesley Johnson PSA MPAC -

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Vince Fazio "Persephone Rising"

"Persephone Rising" 36 x 24 oil on canvas $750

This vertical diptych developed as a way of joining two unlikely scenarios, but then finding a gestalt experience through the integration. It was then included in an exhibition on Greek Myths as "Persephone Rising". I was thinking of it as "A Fathers Anxiety as a Daughter turns 16" (she, the daughter was originally depicted on a tight rope). It was the shows curator that identified the Persephone theme. Persephone rises in the spring from Hades where she is held captive all winter. This initiates the cycle of the seasons. She has to return to Hades each year as part of complex bargain struck between quarreling gods.

Please Email me for purchase information.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Robert Burridge - Painting with Black and White

There are some days in my studio where I want to give myself just another challenge, so I paint in only black and white. Using just black and white lets me work with pure shape, shadows, nuances, and composition.
Coincidentally it also helps me when I do color because I am more aware of values next to values, i.e. darkest dark next to the lightest light.
I did an entire black & white series based on the Letter C - this is Letter C series 2.
Original 12x12 acrylic painting on canvas - $625 + $50 shipping/handling.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Carol Marine - "Wide Open"

Carol Marine - 6x6in. - oil on panel - "Wide Open" - bid
I've been working on a series of these flowers. I asked on my blog if anyone could identify them (I didn't know). This is the great thing about having a blog for posting your art! I got lots of suggestions and finally the right one - it is a Clarkia (or Godetia), discovered by Lewis of Lewis and Clark. The art blogging world is such a supportive place - I recommend it to everyone. It also tends to keep us devoted to the practice of art as we now have people counting on us to post, even if it's just family and friends. And if you have the goal of completing one painting each day it adds an element of structure to our often otherwise unstructured lives (us artists can be a bit freewheeling, yes?)! If you want to start a blog just go to and get started. Good luck!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Michael Chesley Johnson - Dawn Glimmer

Sometimes dull photos are the best to work from. They force you to get imaginative with color and stroke. For this one, I kept all the features blocky and somewhat abstract. I was most interested in the play of the distant glimmer of light on water, the sense of warmth in the hills and the overall softness of the atmosphere.

If you're shackled by detail, doing this kind of abstract piece can free you. Keep the format small, the pastel sticks large and give yourself no more than an hour to play. It's also a great way to experiment with color without fear.

"Dawn Glimmer"
9x12, pastel
Michael Chesley Johnson -

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Aspen - Adele Earnshaw

I love painting aspen because of the wonderful colors I see in the trunks. In the shade, they are often warm; purples and pinks - sometimes almost orange in reflected light. This 7" x 7" oil is done on gessoed board.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Robert Burridge - Experimenting with Combined Media

This is an original 12 x 12 combined media on paper, mounted on canvas. 
I set out one morning to experiment and play as my warm up exercise. I started out just goofing around on 300 lb watercolor paper with gesso - building up thick layers, then scratching, scraping and imprinting shapes and patterns in the gesso before it dried. Then I painted with acrylics - building up layers of patina and also rubbing out areas, scratching thru the layers to reveal color "surprises." All the while, imbedding collage graphics and drawing back in with Derwent watersoluable pencils (my favorite is Black, 8B) while the painting was still wet. 
After I was satified with the result, I affixed the paper to a 12 x 12 canvas. The paper is slightly smaller so there is a 1/4" border all the way around the paper. 
Before I adhered the paper to the canvas, I painted the outside edges of the canvas purple - also painted the 1/4" border. The glue I used to adhere paper to canvas was Gel Medium. After letting dry (when weight on top) for a day or two, I varnished the entire piece. 
"Matinee" is very textured, combined media paper on canvas - no glass necessary.
$450.00 + $55 shipping.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Carol Marine - "Pig at Breakfast"

Carol Marine - 6x6in. - oil on panel - "Pig at Breakfast" - bid

I've been trying to slow down a bit and consider each and every stroke a little longer. It's too easy to feel the pressure and turn into a painting machine, epsecially with the economy the way it is. I paint so much better when I can relax, and I end up enjoying myself so much more.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Michael Chesley Johnson - Calvin's Boat

As much as I like to work outdoors, rainy weather sometimes forces me in to work from photos. This is one example. The photo has less color but just as much dark as shown in the painting. Although experience tells me that, in real life, the shadows would not be so dark, I kept them that way. I wanted to "punch up" the difference between the rim light on the boats and the background behind them. The effect of strong morning sun is a key element.

Also, in the photo, there was a good deal going on behind the boats. I may have taken the photo at the height of lobster season, when the docks are full of fishermen hauling out their catch. I wanted to simplify all that. So, although you get a sense of visual activity because of the broken, uneven strokes, you aren't distracted by it.

"Calvin's Boat"
9x12, pastel
Michael Chesley Johnson -

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Adele Earnshaw - "Day is Done"

I love painting little landscapes that have mood and a feeling of time of day. This 7" x 7" oil is done on Ampersand gessobord.