01 July 2011

Laurel Daniel

Reviewing landscape artist Laurel Daniel is kind of like nepotism because we both belong to the online group Daily Paintworks—we are fellow Daily PaintWorksians (it’s a stretch, I know, but try to work with me on this). Anyway... Back in the dark ages when I joined Daily Paintworks, she was part of the dominating block of artists from Texas (yes, 4 out of 12 constitutes a dominating block in my book). For courtesy’s sake, I will not mention the other Texans (Qiang Huang, Carol Marine, Virginia Vaughn). One key to landscape painting is composition and Ms. Daniel has a keen eye for it. Her background in graphic design surely influences her compositions. There is a certain logic to graphic design that helps an artist see a subject and manage it for their purposes—nothing is set in stone, not even the physical reality of the earth. This logic enables an artistic freedom to bend that reality, just like an artist’s knowledge of human physiology enables them to move on with their art rather than be consumed with doubts about their drawing being correct or not. For example, the anatomy of some of Michelangelo’s figures is just plain freaky, but the viewer doesn’t care because the work is so beautiful. Michelangelo had moved beyond the basics—bending and contorting his figures to his will. Oh my. I wandered off, didn’t I? Sorry. Let’s get back to Ms. Daniel. Not only are her compositions well thought out, but her brushwork is confident and lively as well. A straightforward palette of nine colors does her bidding, producing rich and engaging colors that marry well to the locations shown in her work. The work is displayed on two blogs. “Laurel Daniel Blog” shows her work in general, large and small, and it is where she talks a little about her journey as an artist. “Laurel Daniel Small Works” is a showcase for her smaller pieces. Her small work is done en plein aire and also in the studio, both serving as studies for her larger work. It is a bonus being able to see how the dynamic smalls spark the beautiful larges. Combine good composition with a deep and engaging palette and invigorating brushwork and you have the oeuvre of Laurel Daniel. Please go take a look at either or both her blogs: www.laureldaniel.blogspot.com and www.laureldanielsmallworks.blogspot.com.

01 March 2011

Julian Merrow-Smith

I can pinpoint the exact moment the validity of the modern incarnation of daily painting became real for me. A friend and fellow artist sent me an email topped with just these words, “This guy rocks!” Attached was a small sampling of the work of painter Julian Merrow-Smith. One of the photos was of a dead fish that took my breath away. Long have I wanted to review Mr. Merrow-Smith, but every time I sat down to write, my muse would sing in my ear something like, ‘If the daily painting world had gods, Julian Merrow-Smith would certainly be one of them.’ Well, that sentence would probably get me into some kind of trouble, so let me change it to this: Julian Merrow-Smith is a consistently high quality artist who is highly esteemed within and without the daily painting community. As a matter of fact, he is one of the most referenced influences in the daily painting blogosphere. There is good reason for this collective esteem; Mr. Merrow-Smith is ‘a painter’s painter,’ and as such, he may be viewed as a kindred spirit, as well as an inspiration. He has been producing and posting his beautiful little paintings for seven years now. His lively, but sometimes subdued, brushwork combined with an appreciation of the power of light and sound compositional powers, make his little paintings sing. He is, quite frankly, a great all around painter. Mr. Merrow-Smith started his daily painting journey with the introduction of his “Postcard from Provence” project in February 2005. Being a British transplant living in the South of France, he lists as his inspiration for his site as, “...the arrival deep in the French countryside of a high-speed internet connection and Duane Keiser’s pioneering a painting a day blog.” Seeing such a strong painter as Mr. Merrow-Smith take up daily painting and sharing his journey with the world via the internet has proven to many fellow artists the viability and promise of the exercise as an avenue for personal growth and development. You may view his wonderful work on his site “Postcard from Provence” at www.shiftinglight.com, or by buying his book (link) of the same name.

01 February 2011

Karin Jurick

Observation is an art in and of itself. We, as artists, try and try to master it. Whether it be a writer observing the folly of human relationships, or the painter finding themselves in the middle of the most beautiful meadow in the world, only to discover that most of the vistas just plain stink (for their purposes anyway), but then find that one that’s worth all the mosquito bites. In this review, I present to you an artist with great powers of observation — Karin Jurick. To many, Ms. Jurick is best known as the observer of observers of art. While she is not the originator of this genre, she has uniquely plumbed the depths of its possibilities with her painterly style, great compositions and keen powers of observation. And, that theme is not the only subject she paints. She paints people in all sorts of situations as well as animals, landscapes, still life and, at the time this review went to press, she is painting a series of 100 heads. Ms. Jurick is a success and one does not become successful unless one is good (at least, that is the delusion I choose to live under) and Ms. Jurick is good. Hers are engaging and vibrant paintings and her painterly application is joyous, giving one the sense that this artist paints with butter. Oh, did I type butter? I meant to say aplomb (sorry, just had to use a snobby word somewhere). Seriously, you get the sincere sense that this artist loves to paint and must paint. Ms. Jurick posts videos on YouTube, one of which shows her use of 35 colors on her palette (link to video). This, quite frankly, freaks me out a bit, but to each her own and it is hard to argue with the results, which are splendid. She seems to have a “More the Merrier” attitude about color and her humorous attitude can be infectious. If you want to be the disassociated, grumbling artist, I would advise you not to look at her work or read her writings. She might just break you down and make you smile. She is also a sharer, so when you go to her blog, which I recommend, the odds are you will learn something or at least get inspired. Go check it out at www.karinjurick.blogspot.com.

03 December 2010

Tony Allain

Lucky is the ether surfer who happens upon the blog of artist Tony Allain. Lucky because Mr. Allain’s work grabs the viewer and won’t let go—this is dynamic stuff. While he paints with both oils and pastels, the work on his blog is overwhelmingly in pastels, a wonderfully rich medium which he uses to full effect. His subject matter ranges from landscapes, seascapes, urbanscapes, interiors, to still life and a smattering of humans. Mr. Allain’s blog is entitled “Tony Allain: Colour and Light” with the subtitle of “A visual journal of small (and other) paintings in pastel and oil” and it has been up since January 2010. Color and Light are good keywords for Mr. Allain’s work, though I might also add Energy or Movement to the list. His use of a full and energetic range of colors and values, delivered via the beautiful intensity that pastel offers, show a deft command of medium and an intimate understanding of light. Combine that with his dynamic compositions and you have what amounts to mightily alluring pieces of art. His skilled drawing style and adroit compositions lend themselves well to pastel stickwork, or vice versa. Whichever. His painting technique and the angularity of his compositions function hand in hand, inviting you into and guiding you through the world created in his art. Mr. Allain’s work is loaded with wonderful abstractions and, while quite structural in nature, they are full of life and movement. Again, the abstractions he employs marry beautifully with his chosen medium. Pastel’s chiseled qualities and richly saturated hues amplify his strong shapes and the energy they impart. His blog’s address is www.tonyallainfineart.blogspot.com and I strongly recommend that you go take a look. Pay particular attention to his compositions and the movement — Oh, also his work with light and the intensity and subtlety of the pastels and the use of abstraction, and, and, and... You get the idea.

09 November 2010

Carol Nelson

Moxie is one of my favorite words. It describes a person with the verve or courage to do what they feel needs to be done. In the daily painting world, we have Carol Nelson, an artist doing her own thing. How is this evidence of moxie? Well, in the art world there is a constant struggle between the artist and the marketeer. The artist wants to do what the artist wants to do and the marketeer wants the artist to be consistent. To people in the marketing realm, this seems like a perfectly reasonable parameter. After all, they cannot advertise a thingamabob and deliver a whatchamacallit — they need to be able to succinctly define an artist to sell the artist. But for some artists, that limitation may be counter-intuitive, possibly to the point of being stifling. They may want or even need to change course, whether temporarily or permanently, it does not matter. This is not universal and I don’t mean to knock any artist who does one thing their whole career — if that’s what their muse dictates, the more power to them. All artists evolve and grow differently. What makes this continuing struggle even more bizarre is that in today’s digital age, the marketeer may be the artist themselves. How’s that for a head trip? Back to Carol Nelson’s audacity to be an artist who does what she wants, when she wants. From oils to mixed-media and from abstract to representational to whatever; she follows her own muse. If she decides to do 100 portraits, as she did a while ago, she does it. Whether it be animals, people, still life, landscapes, abstracts, diptychs, triptychs, or whatever tych she wants, she chases it. Now, that’s moxie! Her mixed-media abstracts are, in the humble opinion of this reviewer, particularly strong. Ms. Nelson’s blog, “Carol Nelson Fine Art Blog” has been up since February 2007 and it bears witness to her willingness to explore many different directions with her art. This diversity provides a great scan, so grab a hot mug of joe and check it out at www.carolnelsonfineart.blogspot.com.

01 October 2010

Justin Clayton

When I initially mulled writing about Justin Clayton, I was thinking of starting off with a declaration of Mr. Clayton being the Renoir of the current daily painting movement. This vague comparison was based on Mr. Clayton’s brushwork and edges. Then I remembered that I had kind of sworn off such inane comparisons (I am slapping my wrists as I type this. Promise!); an artist must stand on his or her own merits, unless they are intentionally copying a dead artist, which would make them not welcome here. Upon reflection, even Mr. Clayton’s brushwork, edges, lighting, and palette are his own, not some dead Frenchman’s. He has ultimately proven that he is his own artist — and a strong representational artist at that. How do I know this? Well, he is one of the first daily painters I have tracked over a good stretch of time. (Disclaimer: Sorry, I cannot track everybody, my sanity being somewhat important to me.) Having the advantage of this longish observation, I can attest to his growth as a painter. The above mentioned brushwork and soft(ish) edges are elements he has consistently worked on and developed over time into his own, identifiable style. Mr. Clayton’s blog, “Paintings by Justin Clayton,” which he started in January 2006, allows us to witness this development. Mr. Clayton paints in oils, and while he predominately paints representational still life, he also takes pleasant and “lucky-for-us” jaunts into LandscapeLand and FigurativeWorld. His more recent representations of water utilizing his painterly brushwork are particularly pleasing. Throughout this expansive oeuvre, his dreamy brushstrokes work in unison with his manipulation and application of soft lighting and his non-jarring, but deep, palette. Don’t take my word for it, go check out Mr. Clayton’s work on his blog: www.dailypaintings.blogspot.com. Scan it and see what you think.

01 September 2010

Halima Washington-Dixon

If you desire daily paintings you can really sink your teeth into, may I suggest the work of Halima Washington-Dixon. Her pieces are alive with direct, juicy-thick palette knife work. (“Juicy-thick” being a technical term I just made up.) Though she does at times use a brush, an overwhelming amount of this lush work is achieved with a knife. Her subject matter ranges from landscape, urbanscape, still life, to figurative work painted with oils on either canvas or panels. If you think about it, using a knife is a good match for daily/alla prima/direct painters. The wonderful energy of Mrs. Washington-Dixon’s alla prima experience has been spent in the one sitting and is there, in all its splendor, for us to admire. A knife, wielded well, can relate the immediacy of that creative energy and its handiwork does not always lend itself to being revisited the next day – the decisions have been made and executed – it is done and going back into knife work can ruin it. This is a good lesson for daily painters: Get it done and move on, discover and grow. In no way do I mean to imply that Mrs. Washington-Dixon rushes her work, a knife does not necessarily speed things up, it just requires a different set of decisions, and we all work at our own pace. There seems to be this fixation on the time it takes to complete daily paintings. It seems that the humans dithering about the time issue, an annoying hang-up, are often people who don’t paint. Whoops, I wandered off topic and possibly insulted somebody (yet again). Mrs. Washington-Dixon’s blog is simply entitled “Small Works” and was started in January of 2009. The pieces shown here are from her blog, but the blog does not contain all of her small work, so I would recommend also jumping to her website for more. Go look at Mrs. Washington-Dixon’s work at her blog: www.hwsmallworks.blogspot.com and her website: www.halimawashington.com and I think you will find your fix for wonderfully tasty work.

01 August 2010

Charles Pompilius

As it is with the amount of abstract expressionists in the daily painting world, so it is with strictly figurative artists—there are only a handful (I could list them, but please have mercy on me, I can only handle one review at a time). This limited number only goes to enhance the pleasure you feel when coming upon the work of Charles Pompilius. Already an accomplished figurative artist, Mr. Pompilius decided to join the ranks of daily painters in October of 2009 by posting small portraits, usually around 6” x 8”, to his blog “The Figure in Light.” Mr. Pompilius’ intimate portraits show us how fascinating light can be as it plays on the human form. While a few poses are a bit eccentric, which follow in line with his larger work (his dailies are in affect, smaller, simpler expressions of his larger work), he usually sets his models up in simple poses; anything from full body to just head and shoulders. And while these poses illustrate that he obviously knows how to compose a portrait, they also reveal his understanding and appreciation of light and form. One portrait shows a woman holding a rope dangling from who-knows-what or where, with her other arm up and across her face in an attempt to maybe shield herself from our prying gaze or maybe to show fear of something we cannot see. An interesting gesture, but quite frankly, I don’t care what she is doing—the pose, hues, and light expressed do not need reasoning, they are just beautiful as they are. The dance of light and figure is so important in portraying us humans in paint and Mr. Pompilius gracefully and beautifully wrangles the dance in a manner that is both pleasing and misleadingly simple in appearance. The arrival of Mr. Pompilius in the daily painting genre is both diversifying and welcome. For a unique and enjoyable daily painting experience, I suggest you go look at Mr. Pompilius’ work. His blog’s address is: www.cpompilius.blogspot.com.

01 July 2010

Kathryn Townsend

In regards to painting: If you were to say simple is easy, you may just be clinically insane. But, let me give you the benefit of the doubt by saying you probably have never tried it. Encountering successful simplicity in paint can be a mind blowing experience. Whether it be the complex simplicity of Giorgio Morandi or that chance encounter with a gorgeous Asian brush painting of a stork, only to later find out that the master who created it achieved all that beauty with just seven strokes. Some artists may spend their entire lives in pursuit of simple. I bring up the aforementioned diatribe because of Washington artist Kathryn Townsend’s dailies. They exhibit just such a quest for simplicity by an artist pushing the elements of painting to see where they will go. She started her daily blog “Kathryn Townsend Painting Studio” in December of 2009. An artist cannot achieve simple unless they already have the chops. Alright, there might be some naturals out there, but an artist seeking simplicity really needs to have their fundamentals down. If they don’t, the hapless simplicity falls apart, and the weak foundation peeks or sometimes screams through. The human form, in particularly, falls apart without this foundation. Ms. Townsend’s work tells us she’s got the chops (I love the word “chops”). The foundation is evident in the proper structure of her subjects, whether they be animate or inanimate, her sound compositions and willingness to experiment with them, her use of rich hues applied with straightforward and sometimes limited brushwork, her abundant use of abstraction, and in her control and manipulation of values. This control of values is even more important considering the artist’s direct application of paint, which removes the luxury of turning the form through blending. The human beast just seems hellbent on complicating things and I serve you Kathryn Townsend in the fight against it. Please go take a look at her quest at www.kathryntownsend.blogspot.com.

10 June 2010

Marc R. Hanson

Recently, landscape artist Marc R. Hanson did a redux, reposting a series of plein aire paintings he did back in April of 2009. His goal was to paint four pieces a day for a month. That’s right - four a day! After viewing this series and the rest of his work, I wish I was there, driving around the Minnesota countryside with him. I would want to see how he does it. How he captures those rich hues and the secrets of the light, how he picks his compositions and, and, and... well, just about everything. How he did it while standing on the side of a road or roaming onto a farm, being greeted by its canine denizens, and how he can also take that into his studio (not the dogs, the experience). Mr. Hanson’s interpretation of light in the landscape is particularly pleasing. Landscape artists, in a sense, chase light. Especially while painting en plein aire, time works against them, so they must capture that light and make it work for them. Mr. Hanson seems to have the knack, not only on the side of Midwest road, but in his studio – the ability to capture nature’s light at an exact moment. So much goes into a good landscape painting: composition, color selection and interpretation, values, etc. But, if an artist doesn’t interpret the light in just the right manner, the painting won’t sing. How an artist interprets light helps define them. By the way, I will probably blab on about light in painting over and over again in this column and that’s just the way it is, you will just have to suffer with it. We all see the world through our own mental prism and the light defines our view. Mr. Hanson paints in many different sizes, but the plein aire series from 2009 were all 5” x 7”. His blog is entitled “Painting My Way Through Life” and the address is: www.marchanson.blogspot.com. Please take a moment and check it out. There is something about Mr. Hanson’s work that makes you feel you are there with him. Sometimes, even happy to be sweating it out in Florida or freezing your toes off in Minnesota – it would all be worth it.

01 May 2010

Susan Abbott

One of the challenges in reviewing Vermont artist Susan Abbott is where the heck to start. Let’s start factual: She is a watercolorist. Well, not exclusively, her talents allow her to move through different mediums. Oils pop up here and there and she also shares her really cool drawings and notes from her sketchbook. Okay, how about the fact she is a landscape artist. Again, not really. She will post a stretch of landscapes, then she wows you with a beautifully detailed or wonderfully simple still life, and then there are those great sketches again. Sketches of people, places, things – even an illustrated version of her packing list for a trip (really). Take all of the variations above and you have Susan Abbott – a very skilled and accomplished artist wending her way through her artistic life. Ms. Abbott’s blog, “A Painter’s Year/Susan Abbott’s Visual Journal” is just that; a journal of her journey as an artist, complete with appealing paintings, notes, and sketches. She travels a fair amount (as I write this she is somewhere in Spain – lucky!) and many of her vibrant landscape paintings and sketch book entries pertain to those travels. Hers are dynamic and well composed depictions of locales from all over the world and her own backyard. She has an additional blog called “Let Me Show You Vermont” which does exactly what its title implies, containing paintings and sketches that celebrate the artist’s home state. Ms. Abbott is not shy with her use of color. Many of her pieces contain unabashedly brilliant hues. The use and variation of these exciting colors often brings extra life to her pieces making you anticipate the next beautiful and interesting piece as you scan her blog, asking yourself, “What colors will she use next?” Well, stop talking to yourself and go check out her blog at www.susanabbott.blogspot.com and travel the world with this talented artist.

01 April 2010

Jeffrey Hayes

What we have in Jeff Hayes is an unabashed champion of classical realism. I do not particularly like labeling artists, but I guess it is a human quality – this need to classify things and people. Ultimately, artists are individuals defined by their decisions, so I think a more accurate term here would be “Jeffism” or “Hayesism.” Mr. Hayes’ blog is entitled, Jeffrey Hayes: Contemporary Still Life Paintings and he has been posting to it since September 2005. He paints wonderfully luminous still lifes in oil. We can all learn by simply observing the work of quality artists such as Mr. Hayes, but he further aids us by posting about his experiences as an artist and human. He also occasionally posts pictures of works in progress. Work in progress shots can be incredibly annoying or nicely informative, depending on how they are done. I find his to be in the latter camp. An example of his generosity is how he openly shows the lighting of his set ups. This might be a nice teaching moment, but what is more important than what lighting he uses is how he interprets that light. Choices are key to defining an artist and Mr. Hayes interpretation of light is unique. His beautiful and intense colors are informed by the time and meticulous care he takes selecting and composing his subject matter. But again, just as with his lighting, what matters is how he interprets those colors. What is in front of an artist helps guide them, but how this information flows through their cranium to their hands, and is then expressed onto the surface is what matters. Disclaimer: While Mr. Hayes no longer aspires to the title of Daily Painter, I feel he is worthy – more than worthy of a review. His influence has been strongly felt in the online daily painter community and while we may split hairs as to what qualifies as daily painting; painting and posting everyday or painting everyday and posting when able, it is ultimately my column – so there. Please take the time to review his work for yourself at: www.jeffhayesfinearts.blogspot.com.

01 March 2010

Elizabeth Perry

The blog “woolgathering” has been in my “Links Outta Left Field” sidebar since I started this review site/thing. It recently dawned on me that the author of this blog is the consummate daily painter. The artist/author Elizabeth Perry started her blogging journey in March 2002. It was a standard blog with just commentary. Then, two days after Christmas of 2004, the gods landed a sketchbook in her hands and she began a whole new creative journey. She did what all artists dream of doing: she picked up a sketchbook and starting drawing and painting in it every day and has not stopped since. Actually, she gave herself that first sketchbook, whatever, who cares about the technicalities – I think it’s all cool. In the beginning, she decided to make three rules: 1) draw every day, 2) don’t erase, and 3) don’t criticize the result. These simple rules bore the fruit of an ever expanding collection of wonderfully varied little pieces with subject matter ranging from a little puzzle piece to full-blown landscapes to the artist’s toes. Ms. Perry, no matter where she is, cracks open her sketchbook, draws or paints something on a spread, dates it, and posts it to her blog. If she is waiting for a student concert, she draws the microphone; if she is at home, she’ll paint a saltine cracker; whatever’s there, she draws it. A year after she started, Ms. Perry bumped up against the limitations of the paper in the store bought sketchbooks she was using, so she started making her own. Here is the link to the entry on her blog where she talks about her homemade sketchbooks and other materials and innovations she employs, like how she modified an Altoid tin into a paint tray (cool!). Ms. Perry is an inspiration to us all. By challenging herself, she is also challenging and inspiring us to pick up a pencil, pen, brush, stick, or whatever is handy and start drawing. Go check out her blog at www.elizabethperry.com/woolgathering and get inspired.

01 February 2010

Stephen Magsig

Stephen Magsig started his blog, “Postcards from Detroit,” in August of 2007. The subject matter is mainly urban landscapes, but take a closer look and you’ll find it is more than just that - similar to good descriptive prose, he is telling the city’s story with his straightforward, honest brush strokes. This brushwork plus his strategic use of composition, hues, and values are showing you the soul of a city with all of its beauty and blemishes. This is a genuine representation using well executed, insightful passages with the artist not glossing over anything and his paintings are the better for it. In this ongoing tome, Mr. Magsig paints Detroit’s cityscapes, roadways and railways and waterways, derelict buildings, industrial buildings, graffiti, bridges, signage, city lights, architectural details, all sorts of flora - you name it. Yes, I used the word “tome”. At the time of me posting this, he has posted 855 paintings. The quality and variation of this staggering body of work proves that the artist’s beloved city offers him an endless amount of interesting subject matter, but it also gives a great lesson in keen observation that all daily painters could learn from. After all, finding subject matter is a major challenge of the daily painting process. Mr. Magsig paints his dailies in oils on linen panels, usually in the neighborhood of 5” x 7”. Some of his paintings run in series such as “Abandoned, Portraits of Detroit”, “City Lights”, “The Urban Alphabet.” The “City Lights” series contains wonderful abstractions of city lights at night. They are abstracts, but they feel realistic - familiar somehow, just as if you are standing in the street seeing the lights for yourself. Can you tell that I like them (and that I might just be daft enough to stand in the middle of a street staring at lights)? I could go into how Mr. Magsig’s large work is also mind-blowingly gorgeous, but that’s a whole other review. Go check out his work for yourself. His blog’s address is www.myartspage.blogspot.com. Happy viewing!

01 December 2009

Jinghua Gao Dalia

There have been times when I have wondered why I write these reviews. Oh, I don’t question the validity of bringing your attention to these wonderful artists’ work, rather I wonder about my writing about them. Several times while writing, I have stopped and thought, “Won’t my words just get in the way. Doesn’t this work speak for itself - should I just post the pictures and leave it at that? Why am I talking to myself?” When these thoughts cross my mind, I usually grab a cup of joe and plow on, typing away. But here I am again, looking at the beautiful work of Jinghua Gao Dalia and wondering how my words can possibly describe what is so obviously beautiful. Well, I’ve got my cup of joe, so here goes... Ms. Dalia uses traditional Chinese brush painting techniques to produce very well composed watercolor paintings of birds, flowers, landscapes, and/or figures. Her paintings can be either very detailed or they can be in an impressionist style which employs soft edged fields of beautiful hues to simply define a bird’s chest, or a branch, or a flower petal, or whatever she chooses to relate. Mind you, that even in her looser pieces, there can be so much going on in their little worlds, that they may appear to contain more detail than the artist has actually applied. These little paintings are very well composed, achieving a peaceful balance not only through traditional Chinese techniques, but also by employing Western sensitivities to values and perspective. (In the previous sentence, I really wanted to type the word “balance” in all caps. Maybe it’s the caffeine.) Ms. Dalia’s blog is entitled “Brush Magic - Jinghua Gao Dalia” and I think there might actually be some magic in her brushes. She started posting her work in December of 2007. Ms. Dalia’s blog address is www.brushmagic.blogspot.com. Do yourself a favor and go take a look.

01 November 2009

Michael Naples

Michael Naples started his daily painting journey by not painting. He actually started with graphite drawings. After about a month he jumped into oil painting and what a jump and a journey it has been. One of the great benefits of this thing called blogging that it enables you to follow an artist’s growth over time. You are able scan Mr. Naples blog from his very first post back in August 2006 all the way up to his present work and see his tremendous growth as an oil painter. His initial posts of graphite drawings made sense, especially considering that at the time it was his forte as an artist. His first paintings were good, albeit a little timid. The timidity soon fell to the wayside and he has developed into quite an accomplished oil painter. He paints predominately still lifes, but also does some landscape work and he is also nice enough to occasionally post his beautiful graphite portrait commissions. Mr. Naples’ blog is simply entitled “Daily Paintings.” He posts commentary along with his pictures that usually consist of just a few sentences – not too short and not too long. I like to joke around that there are certain subjects that we daily painters are obliged to paint – I call them “Obligatory Paintings.” Things like tangerines, pears, bunches of asparagus (really!), broken eggs, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, etc. Well, Michael Naples may just be the king of peanut and jelly sandwich painting, having painted more of those gooey architectural marvels than anybody I can think of. He confesses that it is his favorite subject and he also confesses to using a 1/2” of peanut butter when he makes his sandwiches – a man after my own heart. Go scan his entire blog to witness Mr. Naples’ phenomenal growth as an artist and to see some pretty cool paintings of pb&j sandwiches. His blog’s address is www.michaelnaples.blogspot.com.

01 October 2009

Loriann Signori

This is a great gig. I mean, where can you go from reviewing the dynamic drawings of Kyle T. Webster to reviewing the dreamy landscapes of Loriann Signori? Now, if I would only pay myself... Onward... Loriann Signori’s work is at once dreamy and beautiful. She is a dedicated plein air artist and obvious lover of the outdoors. Most of her inviting landscapes are rich pastels on top of tonal watercolor washes. Her blog, “Loriann Signori’s Painting-A-Day” has been up since October 2007 and has the revealing tagline, “I paint landscapes, most which are created en plein air, in all kinds of weather. I view them as my vitamins.” Art as vitamins... I like it. The pictures are accompanied by honest, insightful, not-too-long commentary. Every now and then she also posts process pictures, sometimes showing how she worked out a composition or what the initial watercolor wash looked like before she applied pastels. I don’t always enjoy process pictures – they need to be done just right or they can become overbearing, but occasionally seeing how an artist works is a nice bonus. As stated above, Ms. Signori’s landscapes are like dreams; nice dreams – not bad ones. Her work won’t jolt you, rather they invite you into themselves. She does not employ many, if any, definitive edges. Rather, she guides your eye through her pieces by using shapes – often nebulous, values, and last, but certainly not least, gorgeous hues. Yes, she is not shy with her palette, but nor is she heavy handed. She applies the full spectrum or just the right section of the spectrum that suits the ambience of the piece, making the landscape comfortable, yet dynamic. Go see her work for yourself and dream a little dream on the misty fields or inviting waterways. The address is www.loriannsignori.blogspot.com.

01 September 2009

Kyle T. Webster

Here is the first of hopefully many curve balls I am going to throw at you. I enjoy and appreciate any artist who attacks the human form without trepidation or fear. Kyle T. Webster is such an artist. He draws the human form with such vigor and with such an obvious knowledge of the human frame and what it is capable of, that it is inspiring. So many artists struggle with drawing people, but Mr. Webster’s lively drawings feel like figures set free – even the static poses feel dynamic. With a minimum of strokes he relates all the emotion the human form can express. The simplicity of these drawings reminds one of oriental brush work, but surprisingly enough, Mr. Webster produces these digitally. The shapes, foreshortening, and emotions might be slightly pushed, but they feel accurate. This can only be achieved by a talented artist who, again, has a thorough knowledge of the human frame and its abilities. He produces these wonderful drawings from his imagination – no model – no scrap, saying that his not using reference material is “...part of the fun of the exercise.” Mr. Webster’s blog is entitled The Daily Figure” and it has been up since August 2008. It is an inspiring view that I highly recommend. This article is not the place for the “Digital Debate” – been there done that. The current discussion about the legitimacy of digital art sounds an awful lot like a similar discussion occurring many, many years ago about the legitimacy of photography as an art form (yawn). Suffice it to say, whether your medium of choice be oil paint or little 0s and 1s, it will betray you for what your are; revealing your true talent or lack thereof – there is no hiding. Mr. Webster will probably be dismayed by my venturing off topic like this, so let’s get back to his wonderful work. Go see it. This is energetic work and I heartily encourage you to visit Mr. Webster’s blog at www.thedailyfigure.com. I think it will be a very uplifting experience for you.

27 July 2009

Carol Marine

One of my favorite artists of all time is Louis Armstrong. Not only was the great trumpet playing Satchmo a great artist, he was the most beloved goodwill ambassador the United States has ever had. Wherever he went, people loved him. If the daily painting genre had a goodwill ambassador, it would probably be Carol Marine. I don’t think she plays trumpet, but her enthusiasm for the craft, the open and accessible nature of her work, and her nationwide (actually, international) painting workshops qualify her in spades. She is a one woman PR army going forth and spreading the word. She is also one of the more prolific daily painters, sending her work out with admirable consistency. She paints predominately still lifes and while her use of color is undeniably beautiful, what really amazes me about her work are her compositions, or should I say her never ending ability to come up with them? I mean come on! How many ways can you pose apples or peppers or whatever? In the case of Ms. Marine, the answer is “limitless”. She playfully maneuvers objects, light sources, points of view, and subject mixes around in an endlessly varied succession. These little oil on canvas pieces give all the appearance of somebody who thoroughly enjoys her work. Ms. Marine started her daily painting journey on October 5, 2006. Long standing blogs are great because they give you the unique opportunity to watch the development of an artist over the course of years and Ms. Marine’s blog does not disappoint. The blog is entitled “Carol Marine’s Painting a Day” with the subtitle of “Small Still Life Paintings in Oil”. Go visit it at www.carolmarine.blogspot.com and peruse until your heart’s content.

01 July 2009

Edward B. Gordon

Edward B. Gordon’s work is immediately recognizable. If you asked me what makes it so, in a sense, what defines an Edward B. Gordon piece, I would have to answer the rich hues, buttery brush strokes and, maybe most of all, his manipulation of values. The values leap out at you first. Values hold a piece together and most artists don’t toy with them too much. Not so with Mr. Gordon. He pushes the dark side of the value scale to great effect – instead of holding back, he gladly trips the darks to black or near black. He doesn’t hold his colors back either; leaving those darks next to beautifully rich hues. This bold, rich style is what makes his work so easily identifiable. He works in oils and paints his dailies on 15x15cm / 5.9x5.9 inch boards primed with his own self-made gesso. His blog is simply entitled “Edward B. Gordon” with the subtitle of “A Painting a Day – A Reflection of a Moment of the Day” and has been up since November 2006. He usually writes commentary to accompany his paintings and posts in both English and German. Mr. Gordon is one of the true daily painters with his consistent dedication and commitment to his art and the daily regimen. As far as subject matter goes, he paints pretty much whatever he likes. From landscapes – mostly urban, to street scenes to indoor scenes to portraits and still life – he is capable of doing it all. His powerful work speaks for itself better than I can, so I recommend you go to his blog and take a look for yourself. The blog’s address is www.edwardbgordon.blogspot.com and it is a blog you can scan forever, witnessing the evolution of this unique artist and his style over the course of years (he just recently passed his 900th daily painting mark!). Also, go to his “A Painting on Tour” blog at www.apaintingontour.blogspot.com. To celebrate the first anniversary of his daily painting blog he sent one of his dailies on a world tour. Check it out.

03 June 2009

Nancy Eckels

When compared to the number of representational daily painters, abstract daily painters seem like a small group indeed. There are many good artists within this group and picking one to start with was tough (I do plan to review more from the group in the future). Nancy Eckels’ work is a great place to start. She has been posting her artwork on her blog “No Day Without Art by Nancy Eckels” since December 2006 and it is a solid body of vibrant, emotionally charged work. I am not saying every piece is going to be a hit with you; abstract expressionism operates on a very personal level, but I think upon viewing her work, something or many things will catch you and give you pause. This work connects on a raw level and it doesn’t matter what her intentions were, it just matters what it does to you. Ms. Eckels works primarily in acrylic and posts both her large and smaller pieces. She does not write commentary with her blog entries. As I have typed before, I am neither here nor there on the merit of commentary. It is like all things: when its bad it is painful and when it is good it is a joy. Modern art is a challenging endeavor, abstract expressionism doubly so. Unlike representational art, abstract art doesn’t necessarily have a standard set of rules to guide it through. But like all art, it is an emotional experience; as a viewer you either emotionally connect with it, or you don’t. No matter how much art education you have or don’t have, it comes down to that connection. Take a look at Nancy Eckels' work at her blog www.nancyeckels.blogspot.com. I think you will find something to connect with.

19 May 2009

Robert Chunn

Robert Chunn posts his watercolors, oils, and drawings on his blog, “Alla Prima - Painting from Life in One Sitting”. Though all of his work is choice, I am going to focus on his still lifes. Here is an artist obviously seeking a simplicity and directness in his work. The twist is that he amplifies the challenge of his quest by painting compositions filled with a plethora of objects of varying shapes, colors, and sizes. These marvelously rich still lifes remind you of landscapes as much they do still life. Mr. Chunn reigns in his subject matter through straightforward execution and abstraction; toning down values and details while simplifying surfaces. However, he is not shy with his application of rich hues. This use of bold colors would not seem to fit the equation, but he makes it work. Mr. Chunn also places a quote with every image posted on his blog. That’s right, not just one or two quotes in the sidebar, but one with every post. I don’t know how he does it. Though an artist’s work might make you wonder about the influence of other artists, I am trying to avoid such analogies in these reviews. Just as one can hear Johann Sebastian Bach in just about every piece of music ever produced since that master’s passing; you may see influences of other painters, living or dead, on a current artist’s work. But just as I would avoid comparing Led Zeppelin or Beck to Bach, I will do my best to avoid such artistic comparisons here. As with most groups, current artists are the children of previous generations and like all offspring, must ultimately, for better or worse, stand on their own merits. Sorry for the diatribe – hey, I never said I was a good writer. Robert Chunn’s work stands admirably on its own merit, so stop reading this and go look at his wonderful work at www.alla-prima.blogspot.com. His blog’s “About Me” statement says it all: “Eat. Drink. Paint.” Well put.

22 April 2009

Barbara Kacicek

In her blog, simply entitled “Barbara Kacicek/Recent Paintings”, Barbara Kacicek posts wonderful still lifes, landscapes, skyscapes, and humanscapes. The still lifes are well crafted realist paintings, many standing out due to the artist’s selection of subject and palette. A few of her still life subjects are somewhat uncommon. Instead of picking normal pears, she picked red bartletts with green stripes. Her anthropomorphic abate fetel pears look as if they are thinking about their next move. As many a still life artist will attest, this type of venturing off the straight and narrow with a commonly known subject increases the realist painting challenge. A viewer will accept these variances in a photograph, but they are more skeptical of them in a painting. Ms. Kacicek bests the challenge handily – I am still waiting for those pears to tell me what they’re up to. Even without the subject matter variances, her decisions as to light, form, and color are unique. Those appear to be relatively straight forward plums, but she chose to place them on a purple ground, an unexpected choice and she pulled it off beautifully. Some of the landscapes, skyscapes, and humanscapes border on the abstract with their compositions usually simple and very well thought out. The humanscapes can be deceiving due to the closeness of the subject and the artist’s choice of what part of the body to reveal. Please go view more of her work at: www.barbarakacicek.blogspot.com. Ms. Kacicek has multiple blogs and there are clear links to them in the blog’s sidebar. Barbara Kacicek’s daughter, Oriana is also an accomplished artist. While it might seem like a “neato” idea to review the mother and daughter together, I do not feel their familial relationship defines them as artists. If their work was collaborative, that would be a different story, but it’s not. Oriana Kacicek’s art stands on its own and I encourage you to go and see her work at www.orianakacicek.blogspot.com. I think you’ll see her talent warrants a review of its own, so don’t be surprised when you see it.

03 April 2009

Michael S. Parkes

Only my second review and already a hiccup. I was all set to review this artist when he suffered what looked to be catastrophic technical problems with the blog he’s had since 2006. I thought I was sunk. But to his credit, he quickly bounced back, reviving his blog (www.mparkes.com). Whew! We’ve all had technical problems (my computer committed suicide last week) and his work deserves recognition. Who is he? He is Michael S. Parkes and his are powerful paintings. Mr. Parkes is a prolific writer/painter and in contrast to most daily painters, he writes extensive (code word for long) commentary. I cannot tell you that I understand the place from whence he paints and writes, but his rich palette and impressionistic style draw you into his world and if you are like me, while visiting his blog you will keep scanning his work, loosing track of time; going and going as if hypnotized by it. His work is deep and driven by a unique life force. He paints still life and figurative pieces, but the overwhelming majority of his pieces are landscapes with heavy doses of abstraction and strong compositions. Mr. Parkes has the ability to make the landscape mystical. What’s on the other side of those trees? Is it wonder or menace or just some cool guy painting? All of this force is brought to bear with acrylic paint. The immediacy of that medium seems to suit his spirit; he appears quite able of making it do his bidding. For you people who like to read, here is a link to one of his diatribes that hit home with me. On the surface it may sound like the rantings of a poor soul stuck in rush hour traffic, but upon reflection you just might find some truth in it. Here is a quote from Mr. Parkes to use as a springboard to his work: “... I hope my efforts provide a glimpse into the mystery of this life that surrounds us... the daily unfolding mystery that is our existence.” Please go review Mr. Parkes’ work for yourself at his blog: Michael S. Parkes, Paintings and Words.

11 March 2009

Abbey Ryan

Let’s start this out on a quality footing, shall we? In the interest of that goal, I choose Abbey Ryan as the first artist reviewed. Ms. Ryan is a quality painter of deceptively simple and at once beautiful still lifes. She has been an adherent to the daily painting regimen since the Fall of 2007 and she will be more than happy to send you an email with a picture of her latest painting, but she won’t send much commentary along with it. I am neither here nor there on the inclusion of commentary. Some artists type a lot, and some mercifully type very little. In Ms. Ryan’s case, her art speaks for itself, requiring no explanation — it is just pure. Her beautiful still lifes usually consist of an individual object. I do not know if it is wise of me to ascribe a style to the artists reviewed here, I am not an official art critic, but I would put Ms. Ryan’s daily painting somewhere in the realm of realism with a soul. Another thing I like about her is that she is a Morandi fan. There is a serenity in her work that makes me wonder about the influence he has had on her. If you want to learn more about her, check out her two part interview on Diana:Muse (part 1 / part 2). Please check out her work on her blog and subscribe to her daily emails, I do. P.S. Since this is my first post and Ms. Ryan is such a deserving artist, I reserve the right to review her again. Hey, it’s my column.