Friday, July 31, 2009

Lab Daisies__6 x 8

"Lab Daisies" ___6 x 8 oil on linen panel_____$150 to the first who asks

My in-laws, who we call "BRV" have some beautiful wildflower landscaping at their place in Colorado, where I have been painting for the past few weeks. Maria, our lab tromps through the daisies often, because there are dozens of chipmunk burrows under there. She never catches them, but it's good sport...and she makes a great model...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Night Canyon_6 x 8 oil

"Night Canyon"__6 x 8 oil on linen, a study for a bigger one__$250 when ready
The canyon walls were lit up by moonlight (a half moon) for a few minutes and I took notes (below). You cannot stand outside at night in the midst of the mountains and not "feel" God. A note came to my mind from the book of Psalms (90:2)...look it up when you have a chance!
Oddly enough, I went out last night, hoping to see the same type of thing on the mountain, but even though there was a little bit more moon, the mountain did not glow like it did the night before. So before I forgot what I saw, I painted this one from memory and the notes. Tonight I will go out again, and try to figure this thing out! ....then I will teach it at a workshop, no doubt!

"Notes for Night Canyon".....v....vaughan

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Colorado North Star__6 x 8

"Colorado North Star" 6 x 8 oil on linen__a study for a BIG ONE___$250 if you want it

The half-moon was up behind me, glowing off these clouds. Somewhere behind the mountain there was a thunderstorm which fickered under these clouds. It was far enough away that we couldn't hear the thunder. I am continually amazed at how dark the Colorado skies are, and appreciate that our canyon runs due north-south, because I like to watch the weather roll down from the north. At night the North Star is BRILLIANT, as are every star in every other constellation....I will be painting this again BIG for my galleries!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cloud Textures__6 x 8

"Cloud Textures" 6 x 8 juicy oil on linen panel__$150 if you are first to ask!
This painting began as a little cloud study. In the Colorado mountains in summertime, one little cloud can blow up into a huge thunderhead in a matter of moments. I was on the porch with binoculars, watching my kids and a couple of their friends climb the mountain...Since They decided to blaze a new trail, I never did locate I painted. The cloud kept growng, and I kept adding paint!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Lips Shapes_a lesson

"Lips Shapes"____a study for H.

Here is the last lesson from my teaching at the Western Art Academy...(I really miss you kids!)...H. was having problems with the lips on our model, so I did this little sketch in his sketchbook...The lesson is similar to the one on eyes: Lips are placed on the curve of our face, so they are subject to the rules of lighting on ANY plane that has a curve (remember the Michael Jackson nose lesson?) This image is so big and close up that it is almost abstract, but the dark horizontal shape is the opening of the can you see the PLANES of the lips?

Sunday, July 26, 2009


"Treetops"___6 x 8 study in oil on linen___a BIG painting on a little canvas!... $150 if you love CO
YEs it was cool and rainy today...these clouds built up in the south end of the canyon, and looked so pretty against that deep blue Colorado sky...BUT, the north end of the canyon was DARK and thunder echoed between the canyon walls...My son's girlfriend, A., commented that it reminded her of Beauty and the Beast when the guy saw a fair sky in one direction, and storms in the other, and he bravely chose the stormy path....I only saw the movie once and forget WHY he went that way....maybe he wasn't brave! ...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cottonwood_8 x 6

"Cottonwood" study ____8 x 6 oil on linen panel__$100 (click image to see brushwork)
Before I leave here I want to "nail" a cottonwood tree with the early morning light. THis one was a fun "painting" (verb), but not a real spectacular "painting" (noun)...painted quickly,it's a real study in "green"...hope you see this one Kevin K. :) This little pasture is across the river from our place and when the sun comes up the trees GLOW with the back lighting. For my Texas friends you ought to know that it was 34 yesterday morning :)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Colorado High Rise_8 x 6 oil

"Colorado High Rise" study__8 x 6 oil on linen___$150
It's the time of year where the clouds build over the mountains each day. Sometimes it rains, and sometimes the rains are on the other side of the mountain, but the build up is always spectacular. The cold rain I painted a couple days ago sparked a couple of small forest fires near here, but it's been wet enough that the rangers don't seem worried, and are letting the burns clear out some under-brush...We went to Taos this morning. I had a nice visit with Anita at Act I Gallery, and brought her a couple of new works...then I got to spend an hour at Artisan, my very favorite art supply store.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Above Rio Chama_9 x 12 oil

"Above Rio Chama"___9 x 12 oil on linen panel__Collaboration with Doug Higgins

I joined artist friend Pat Haberman on an excursion to meet a couple of friends near Abiquiu to paint. Turns out, it was a class that we crashed, and Doug Higgins was doing a demo and teaching. The demo was amazing. Here is an artist who has been at it for many decades, has worked with the BEST, and has taught some of the best artists...he has an AMAZING web site full of several lifetimes of teaching (and an amazing life)...CLICK to see!... Doug wandered by while I painted, so I nagged him for input. I learn (and teach!) better by showing rather than telling and I asked him to SHOW me about simplifying and unifying forms in the middle ground, while still depicting the distance we were seeing. I handed him the brush and he basically FINISHED this painting...He never touched the sky, so I signed it, but I made him sign the bottom part...what a neat man with a WEALTH of info. If you live near Santa Fe, you'd be smart to get into his classes!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

COLD and Rainy__6 x 8 oil__V....Vaughan

"Cold and Rainy"___6 x 8 oil study on linen panel____$150 if you ask first
My hands froze while painting this TODAY...yes, July was 50 degrees cold and rainy. Our porch overlooks the beautiful Conejos River, and the San Juan Mountains...I KNOW my Texas friends are SCREAMING in the dusty heat, and I don't mean to rub it in, but:
a h h h h h h ! What a difference 850 miles and 8,000 feet of elevation makes. But, honestly, I really prefer hot Texas weather, and those warm nights where you can wear shorts at the baseball games....
Tomorrow I'll be going acrooss the pass to paint near Ghost Ranch in New Mexico: Georgia O'Keefe country. I hope I have enough RED!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sauce Top

"Sauce Top"__a study for H.
I made this simple study in H's sketchbook, to help him see the turn of the planes (easy to see on the cap in red...more gradual transition on the green label.) Also, for this label, we brought out the pthalo blue to make just the PERFECT green of a Tabasco Label...otherwise, the Academy students worked with a limited palette of Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin Crimson and Cadmium yellow light....Tonite we made it to Colorado, tomorrow begins some new works from the Rockies!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Eye Shapes

"Eye Shapes"__ a study for C. at the Western Art Academy
With a live model, you can see every detail. Young artist's eyes can see these details even from far away! I have really good eyesight, and remember having even BETTER eyes, so I taught about how our eye works...we see a lot, peripherally - the WHOLE picture. And this needs to be retained in our paintings. The whole picture with the model's face we had, was full of contrasts. here was a well lit side and a shadow side. The example above was a lesson for C. to help her see the entire shape of the shadow eye. I show how the area around the eye has a SHAPE, and it is a shadow shape. Within that shape there are Lights and darks, but they all are in the shadows (so the lights are darker). When young artists fix their eyes in that shadow, the pipil opens up and many details can be seen....Don't draw them all!!! But make sure the shadow side stays in shadow.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Thermal Riders__9 x 12 oil_V....Vaughan

"Thermal Riders"___9 x 12 juicy oil on linen panel___$350 unframed
I am home from the Western Art Academy.... 24 friends richer than I was 3 weeks ago....Here is the last demo I did there in Kerrville, TX, a nice textures painting of the nearby hills with some lazy buzzards riding the thermals overhead. It's a typical hot day in Texas, and the first intro to plein air painting for some of these students. My purpose was to pre-mix the colors, laying them out on the palette "in order" how I saw them before me, then applying the paint quickly, and thickly.....a fun way to paint outdoors.
The kids were honored with a group exhibit at the Museum of Western Art, with HUNDREDS of patrons, parents and friends there to enjoy the event. Jason Skull (the sculpting instructor) got choked up as he spoke about how great these kids are. (I knew better than to look them in the eye during my talk....but cried all the way home) We will all miss each other.
Looking forward!...I am FINALLY FINISHED with seven long months of an over-committed schedule. Tomorrow I head for the cool Colorado mountains!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Turps__6 x 8 0il__V....Vaughan

"Turps"__6 x 8 oil on linen___$150 if you can wait till it dries!
A couple days ago I sketched the turp can for C. in her sketchbook at the Western Art Academy. Of course it stays with her when she goes home tomorrow. I had quite a few e-mails from fellow artists who ALL have similar cans, and are even sentimental about them! So I painted the can again FOR ME! This is my bigger can. It was my SMALLER can which tumbled down the alligator slide in SC last February. I fished it out with my bare hands....(remember that adventure?) ....well, I finished my teaching of 24 amazing young artists today! Their exhibit and sale is tomorrow at the Museum of Western Art in Kerrville. PLEASE come if you can! Many wonderful works are for sale at student prices.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blinds__a study for S

"Blinds"__a study for S.
We have our last classroom day at the Western Art Academy tomorrow. Today the artists worked on new works of their choice, and tomorrow we will do a little plein air painting. Student S. was painting from a photograph of herself as a little girl. Great photo and I did a little study of a portion I thought she'd wrestle with: venitian blinds behind the little face. The point here is to make the background NOT FLOAT beside the subject, but to actually paint it into it and NOT with ruler edge lines. The viewer will "finish" broken lines with their own eye, we do not have to describe everything for them!!...We are working late this evening, but the kids all went outside to learn the THRILLER dance, and I am to be the videographer.....gotta go.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Turp Can___a study

"Turp Can__study" a study for C. in her sketchbook
I have had a couple of LLLOOONNNGGG days at the Western Art Academy. The show is Saturday and these artists have just a day and a half to finish their two big paintings and their 18" sculptures. I have restrained myself from acting out the "Elves and the Shoemaker" story: wanting to sneak in after hours to tweak the paintings "just so". These students have NEVER worked with oils before. They are VERY talented, but most have only worked with pencil! color experience to speak of. So the talent is there, and all they need is time to develop, but we don't have much of that. They have to just TRUST me, and do the painting by believing that what I say will work....yet they all have their OWN "bent" for art and of course they can't help but following their bent at times! So in order to get a point across sometimes I will do a stroke or two on their painting (which they quickly cover up or adjust to lay claim to it), but more often, I will create a little sketch in their sketchbook (with shapes of color), to suggest solutions to is one for C. who struggled with the turp can today.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Skull Valley_ 9x12_watercolor paper_v....vaughan

"Skull Valley, AZ"___from my sketchbook alst month
Last month I was in Arizona and while getting lost I came upon a beautiful place that I am dying to paint asap. Here is one of my sketches from the sketchbook I kept there. I mean to put a watercolor wash on this one....will post it again if I do.
I have one more week of teaching here at the Western Art Academy in Kerrville, TX. Sunday is a day off, so I have been working in my apartment, catching up on small paintings and my big MULE commission....will post those soon, too! TOmorrow the kids start a new painting as we have a model coming in. It will be a young cowboy_yee haw!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Steps of Shapes__a lesson by V....Vaughan





"Stepsof Shapes"___a lesson
We set aside the still lifes today . The second group of artists has almost finished these and will move on to working with a model on Monday. (tomorrow is our day off...I will paint!)...I did this little step by step study to demonstrate how to take a complex area from start to finish. see photos above:
1.Your eye must see the simplest shapes possible. Isolate the shapes of LIGHT and SHADOW
2. Put in the basic color of the Light area and the shadow area. Compare them and adjust color so they look right at a glance.
3. Background color should be in place so that its color can be used to mix into the colors of the objects. In this case, the bunch of grasses (oats).
4. KEEP THESE BIG SHAPES intact (mostly) and pit a few strands of grasses here and there (randmly...NO PATTERNS, please!). These few details serve the purpose of describing the form. All you need is a few details to say that the whole shape is grass. Be careful to not make big blobs for seed heads. (the blob at left is "what to NOT do".
Study the real thing to match the size, shape and "character" of the details, so that you do not succumb to "what you know"...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Gunman__12 x 9 oil_ v....vaughan

Gunman__12 x 9 oil on linen __$300 if you are the first to ask!
This one is juicy and really looks better up close. Click the image on the blog to see it big. It was a day to remind the students to keep BOUNDARIES on the shapes in your still life paintings
1. COMPOSE with shapes! Objucts are shapes. Big shadow areas are shapes. Negative space is a shape. Large highlights or color masses are shapes. SEE SHAPES!
2. Subdivide the shapes to describe more detail, BUT...
3. RETAIN the "nature" of the shape: its basic shape, and whether it is a shadow shape or a light shape.
4. ...THEN adjust the edges, whether soft or hard, and how broad or narrow the transition is ...(see the edge lesson featuring Michael Jackson's nose a couple days ago).
I forgot to click "send" for yesterday's lesson, a "Still Life Start", but I sent it to my Google group. If you missed it, I put it on the blog for yesterday...see it there.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Still Life Start_16 x 20_V....Vaughan

"Still Life Start"__16 x 20 oil on canvas__stay tuned
Today I started with the other half of the group of 24...12 students who have been sculpting with Jason Scull till now. These 12 are beginning, as the last group did, with a still life painting. I started this big demo with 3 main "rules" for them:
1. Tone the canvas.
2. C.ompose with big shapes
3. CONTAIN the shapes of the values
4. Mix colors for each shape and make them RELATIVE to one, compare, compare!
I will add to this demo tomorrow, and try to finish it to help them with their own compositions....the big show of these student's works is Sat. July 18...please come if you can!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Blanket__8 x 6 oil__ V,,,,Vaughan

"Blanket"__8 x 6 oil on linen panel__$ 150 to the first to want it!
My painters were on their own all day. Not needing me much, so I browsed the photo box and found this nice Indian model. He was a good study as the kids worked leisurely. A couple of last year's students came by for a visit. It was so GOOD to see them again! I get VERY attached to ALL my students! THANK YOU H. and R. for sharing your art stories with this year's group!This was the LAST DAY for the first group of great artists! We are all pleased with their works, and looking forward to their group exhibit at the museum. If you wnt some beautiful ORIGINAL paintings and sculpture created by the next generation of talent, PLEASE come to the show. Invitation info below
We also worked on shooting our own artwork....for many reasons, Artists MUST keep records of their works...I go into this in depth at my workshops. For the Western Art Academy students, I gave an overview of effective shooting techniques:

1. Shoot in full sunlight (sunlight has the entire spectrum, so the subtle colors in your painting will show. Clouds or shade are missing some of the reds and yellows of sunlight)

2. If you have a Canon digital, use the little face setting (and the little flower)...sorry for the deeply technical terms :) ( use your close-up, micro settings)

3. Set painting at an angle to the sun where the light glances across it, and at the angle that reflects the most, best color into your view finder. For small canvases, I actually prefer to hand-hold my canvas and camera. Full sunlight will give you a fast enough shutter speed to do this. Need PROOF?? Check out all the images on my BLOG and my web site.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Beaded Jacket__8 x 6 oil__V....Vaughan

"Beaded Jacket"___8 x 6 oil on linen panel___$170 if you are the first to ask for it!
Our Western Art Academy has some great photo files - pictures of models from years past. I found this great looking mountain man with a great look....just HAD TO paint him! The student painters are finishing their paintings, so worked more independently today. Tomorrow is my last day with the first batch of 12 student painters, and we are all working late in the studio tonight....finishing up details on two or three paintings EACH.
The word about finishing :
1.Check out the finished work in a mirror. It will reveal odd perspectives and proportions...TRUST what you see and do the diligence to make corrections, or as I call them: "oil changes".
Look for edges you can "tighten or loosen". Look for weird lines, pointing the eye off into a weird place...get a buddy to critique it! My husband has a good eye, and is usually right when he corrects something....durn it!
3. Sign your work! Usually at the bottom, but ANYWHERE is fine, as long as it does not detract from the art. If a figure in your painting is looking off in a certain direction, place your signature on the opposite side, if you can.
4. Sign and title the back of the canvas. Don't push down too hard on the pencil, lest it pokes through or raises the canvas on the front!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Nose Edges__a lesson

"Nose Edges_a lesson"________Western Art Academy, Kerrville, TX
A strong light on an object creates a shadow side and a light side. An artist's job is to create the SHAPE of those two sides. The secret to representational art is getting those shapes' proportions RIGHT....(and as I mentioned yesterday, getting other things right is necessary, to: value, color, perspective....and EDGES. The thing I look for is whether an edge is SOFT or HARD. Study the drawing above and how a face will have both soft and hard edges. The kids seemed to really get it when I did a quick sketch comparing the edges on Michael Jackson's old nose with his new nose. see the "before" and "after" sketches above. No disrespect intended....I had a HUGE crush on the young MJ when I was about 11. He was very handsome back then!...My edge summary:
1. The darkest part of the shadow on a curved surface, is closer to the light. See the sphere.
2.Even a soft edged shape has a shape to it...match the shape, match the character of the edges, and you will hae a correct likeness.
3. Michael Jackson's first nose had soft edges, his new nose had sharp edges.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Finished Enough___a lesson

"Andrea"_____9 x 12 oil on canvas---sold a while ago
I forgot to shoot today's painting, but I used this image of an old painting to make a point about edges. This painting has mostly soft edges, and another artist (Gordon Fowler) who was painting with me MADE ME stop at this poit. I had planned to really put some edges and detail in there!...It's hard to describe this lesson...better to SHOW than to "tell", but I will, here.
Artists are familiar with the "usual" elements of art and how important they are: LINE, SHAPES, VALUE, TEXTURE, COLOR, NEGATIVE SPACE...but there is an element that is often overlooked:
EDGES. It's one thing to block in a painting with basic shapes . A model's head might be an oval with other shapes blocking out the details of the face. A rectangle for the forehead, a triangle for the nose, etc.....then those parts are painted with a shadow side and a light side. BUT, both have VERY different treatment of the EDGES between the light side and shadow side! HERE's how:
Foreheads turn gently from light side to shadow. there would be a soft edge.
Noses generally turn quickly from light to shadow, so the edge would be a little harder.
Michael Jackson's latest nose had very hard edges, compared to his original nose, which had softer disrespect intended, but it was a topic that helped the kids understand. I demonstrated it with a simple painted sketch...let me know if you want me to post it, and I will tomorrow.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Christina__14 x 11 oil__V....Vaughan

"Christina"__14 x 11 oil on linen panel___$650 ..after I tweak it a little
Christina is our model this week. A beautiful woman who we got to dress up as a Native American. (I let the kids be her "stylist" and after every break, they set her back up into this pose...The students are getting self sufficient, able to work without much help, so I am sitting in the back of the room, painting wiith their supplies, and hitting the same walls they do with the changing light and a brand of yellow that doesn;t cover well.
Hard to believe it's only been 5 days of this Western Art feels like 2 weeks already! NOT because of the people here, but because of the....accumulation! 12 painters working side by side (not to mention the 12 sculptors in the other room!), equals 12, easels, over 80 tubes of paint, countless brushes and WAY TOO MANY paint rags and full trash cans and canvas wrappers and....We have a busy studio with artists at work almost 18 hours of every day! (not all of them at once!). We also have FINISHED PAINTINGS, lined up along the wall. The still lifes(lives?...come on, somebody tell me the correct verbage, here!) are done and drying.

Speaking of accumulation, all this "stuff" accumulating in our studio is symbolic of what can happen with a work of art. It begins with a great vision, a few lines and shapes of color, then the "accumulation" happens: too MANY good ideas, too Many good nuances of color, too many punches of dark value or too many sparkly highlights can kill a good painting!

Our lesson today:
1. UNIFY the clutter...objects, brushstrokes, subtle color shapes ....can give off a cluttered feel.
2. Once the focal point is established, every inch of the painting should support it!
3. A fairly orderly set-up will keep you engaged in the process...your paints on the palette should always be in the same order, turp bucket in the same place, lay your brushes down the same way (with the handles FAR from the puddles of paint).....and throw away the used rags,

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Value Sketch___9 x 12 pencil

Value Sketch__9 x 12 pencil__
Today our class worked from a live model. Many of these talented students have never painted in oils before, so I am having them do value sketches before they paint....We went to a ranch to photograph cowboys and horses after class, so I got home too late to photograph my painted version of this model.....tomorrow!
1. MIND YOUR PROPORTIONS on figures and faces
3. Look for greens and purples in skin tones....REALLY

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Cow Man__8 x 6 oil___V....Vaughan

"Cow Man"___8 x 6 oil on linen panel__ $150 to the first to ask!
Last year our Western Art Academy students visited a cutting horse ranch and photographed this cowboy and his horses. I did this sketch today, after hours to prepare for our next session, tomorrow, when we will start working on a figure painting from a live model.... YOU are invited to the student exhibit. Saturday, July 18th from 9 am to 2:30 at the Museum of Western Art in Kerrville, TX...please come if you can. Each of these students will present at least two oil paintings and a sculpture. I am the painting instructor and Jason Scull is the sculpting instructor. Today was a day to finish up our still - lifes (lives?)...I gave a lot of personal help to students to help them with the finishing touches....tomorrow, we will do another photo shoot for reference pictures to paint from.