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Monday, June 24, 2013

Anatomy of a Painting.

art by Pamela Hunt Lee

From Beginning To End.

I received many comments about one of my recent paintings, The Pond.  Most of them came from my Artist's Facebook Page where I was posting photos of the painting as it progressed.  A recurring theme with the comments tended to be about the process and enjoying the process, as well as how different the subject matter from what I typically paint.  So I thought I would go back to the inception of this work....the Anatomy of this painting...

art by Pamela Hunt Lee
The Pond
Acrylic on Canvas

Because I have committed to an outdoor show this summer, something I never do..outdoors that is....I had to plan my set up.  I have begged and borrowed a 10x10 tent with sides which gives me six walls for exhibition purposes.  I sat down with pencil and paper to draw out the walls and virtually place the art on those walls.  Wanting to exhibit a variety of work to show my oeuvre I selected and decided I would devote one wall to florals.  Oops... I had only two available and wanted three on the wall. This became the first driving force to painting another floral.  

The size was dictated by the size of the other existing two paintings and how I visualized the wall. was to be a vertical canvas, 48"x30".  

I wanted the palette to be a bit different than that in the two other works, but I wanted it to be somewhat complementary.  

It seems best to show a variety of plant types inspired by different environments.  The existing paintings are tropical (Three Birds) 

Three Birds
36 x 36

and mountain (The Yin and Yang of Spring), 

The Yin and Yang of Spring
24 x 20

so something from a middle environment appealed to me, a water environment.  This past spring I was near a pond with lily pads and flowers that completely captivated me, just asking to be painted.  I took photos, sketched them like mad, but just never got to painting them. This was my opportunity! My other florals represent two flowers on each canvas so I wanted to compose the lilies with another water plant. Perhaps it was my history of living several years on a farm with canals and ponds that were filled with cat tails and the need for a vertical water plant that led me to the thought of adding these stately, uniquely different flowers to this pending composition.

I sketched several different options, selected the one I preferred and began the painting.

After sketching the design onto the canvas I painted in the background with big, loose swipes of the brush to create movement.

Next the tails, which are actually flowers, and the broad, spiked leaves found their way onto the canvas.  My work is stylized and with the florals somewhat fantasy, so the leaves bend, twist and intertwine to create additional movement.

Time for the lily pads!  At this point the painting began to take on a life of its own, a rather intuitive situation developed.  My brush began to stray from the sketch and time vanished.  I forgot to take the photos I normally snap.  But when I began the lily flowers I remembered the camera.

After completing the flowers and stepping back I realized I needed to add an additional pad on the right side of the composition and a few more of those broad, spiky cat tail leaves on the left. This was an intuitive addition.  Then a few corrections to the high and low lights and the painting was ready for signature and varnish.

art by Pamela Hunt Lee
The Pond
48 x30

If you would like to see this painting it will be shown in the Lake Tahoe/Truckee area at Lahontan's Marketplace on July 5th.  Because it is a private venue, let me know if you are interested in attending and I will arrange for your entrance.  

Hopefully this post gave you a bit of insight into this painting, why I chose the subject, palette, size, composition.... anatomy of a painting.

To contact me click HERE
To visit my web site click HERE

Monday, June 17, 2013

An Artist's Palette

What is an Artist's Palette?

There a couple answers to this question. It can be a selection of colors and it is the surface that holds those colors.  I use both definitions as do all artists.  For instance, my selection of colors for a painting is most typically a limited palette.  Preferring to mix and blend, I select five or fewer pigments for each work.

The palette selected for a desert plant painting.

If you look up the definition of palette you will find that it is 'the board on which an artist mixes their colors.'   Being a person who likes to reuse things I frequently use old plastic tubs and containers for my palette, the place where I place the pigments, and because I paint with acrylics which dry very quickly I need a palette that has a closing cover.  You see here that my current palette is the bottom half of a container that at one time held a salad.  It is a bit of a clam shell affair, so the top is placed over when I am not painting which keeps the paint fresh.  

Because I like this particular palette container additional pigments were added when I started a new painting.  I kept to my limited selection of color using the new and ignoring the old.  The palette certainly began to take on a bit of a messy look.

Then when I got into a third painting more color was added.    This was a bit unusual for me.  I normally start each painting with a fresh palette.  Again, I have to say, I like this particular container, so I have just continued to add to it.  Then I started a fourth painting and an interesting thing happened, a serendipitous effect.  Quite accidentally a bit of the magenta, which was used in a floral painting, was picked up by the brush while working on a Tahoe Rock painting.  

Lake Tahoe Boulder painting by Pamela Hunt Lee
Currently exhibited at Spirit Gallery, Truckee, CA

Now my use and reuse of this palette container is causing me to use a new palette (colors) in some of my paintings.  I rather like this idea of allowing fresh new color to come into my work.  

And there you have it....An Artist's Palette....with a bit of a digression telling how it works for me.

To contact me click HERE
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Monday, June 10, 2013

How Long Does It Take To Paint A Painting?

Yes, I have talked about this before...

Original Art by Pamela Hunt Lee
Kayaking Into The Rocks

However I have run into an interesting situation, one that has helped me understand something you might see in a museum or art gallery.  And what has just happened in my studio may help you understand this as well.

So, how long does it take to paint a painting?  Artists are asked this over and over again.   I truly believe it has taken a life time of doing what ever one has done before to get to the point of creating what ever it is that was just created.  That explanation is not always readily accepted though it is true.  But what about those paintings that sit in the studio, unfinished.  Or what about the painting that was completed and then worked on again some time later.

This is exactly what just happened to me.  I completed a painting several years ago, about ten years ago.  It has been exhibited and just recently returned to my studio.  During those ten years, between the completion of the painting and its return, my work has changed, evolved, moved in new directions.  I see the world and my inspiration differently.  I portray my inspiration a bit differently than I did ten years ago.  So when this painting came back into my studio I felt compelled to work on it again knowing I could ruin it and knowing I could improve it.  I had never done this before because I think that once something is done, it is done, leave it alone.    Oh boy.....brush in hand, I tackled the work, changing what had been there, working to improve the painting.

So what is it we see in museums and galleries that I refer to at the beginning of this post?  It is information given about the artist and the work.  The date a work was created is typically on the descriptive tag next to a painting, and sometimes that date spans several years.  I have always wondered about this.  Why so many years?  Well, now I have one answer to this question and now this particular painting will have the date listed as 2003-2013.  And I guess if I am asked how long it took to create this painting my answer may be: ten years.

To Contact Me Click Here
To Visit My Web Site Click HERE

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


My Favorite Inspiration

Actually I just wanted some exercise, I wasn't looking for inspiration, so I lowered my Alden Quest rowing shell from the davit on the pier into the crystal clear water of Lake Tahoe.  There is a process, a ceremony, to get the boat into the water, the oars in place, gloves on and myself into the boat.  Once settled, the oars skim over the glassy smooth water, as I propel the shell and my body, in a fluid, rhythmic cadence away from the shore, out towards my favorite rock formations.  This is almost meditative, it is so quiet and peaceful.  The rhythm is like a chant.   And certainly  this activity is inspirational for my painting because my mind can wander and the things I see, Oh My!

I think I see the rocks and water differently each time I am out there.  And certainly the conditions vary each time I am out there making the visuals unique.

But from these photos you can see why I am driven to paint my vision of these rocks and water.  The rocks are massive and powerful.  The colors are intensely clear and clean.  I wish you could feel the air.

Whether it is looking at the sky, the boulders, the surface of the water or down through the depths, it all become fascinating.  Captivating.  

I am smiling, at peace and energized at the same time.  I see the next painting and the one after that, and the one to follow.  All of a sudden I want to be in front of my easel, holding my palette, applying pigment to the canvas.  

Reversing the process, I glide back to the pier, go through the ceremony of replacing the boat in the davit, putting the oars away, taking a last look at the beauty of the lake and get myself inside to my sketch book.  The morning row didn't start out as a way to gather inspiration, but it certainly became that.

To contact me click HERE
To visit my web site click HERE