Friday, September 30, 2011

Broken Easel and Open Studios

The painting I am still working on...I was so close to
 being finished when my easel broke!
Yesterday as I was trying to finish my latest painting before this weekend's open studios, my easel decided that it would be a good time to break. It was already falling apart and I guess it decided enough was enough. It would no longer work for me. The top bar that holds the top of my painting in place had a stripped screw (which I had already replaced once) which no longer tightened and held my painting securely. This hadn't worked for months but I was still able to use the easel despite the broken piece.

Now the bottom part of my easel, the part that my panel sits on, no longer works. The screws won't tighten so the bottom keeps falling off, and there is nothing to hold my panel to my easel. This happened in the middle of painting yesterday. In order to complete the part I was working on, I had to balance the panel on my knee while it leaned against the back of my now useless easel. After about 30 minutes of trying to paint this way, I gave up.

Since the top and bottom parts that hold my panel in place no longer work, I now have a very interesting coat rack in my studio instead of a much needed easel. Because of this, I will be shopping for an easel today when I should really be finishing my painting. There are so many things that need to get done before this weekend, and now I have this added to the list.

Speaking of this weekend, please stop by open studios and take a look at my "new" coat rack! Oh, and check out my art too. There will be 30 other artists, in addition to myself, showing off what we do to anyone who stops by. Did I mention the free snacks??

Open Studios
October 1st and 2nd, 11-6pm
at Art Explosion Studios
2425 17th Street @ Potrero
San Francisco, CA

Monday, September 26, 2011

An Angry-Looking Child

Fall Open Studios is this weekend and I am "frantically" (okay, maybe not so frantically, more like enthusiastically) trying to finish two paintings that are in progress. With the large amount of shows I have at the moment, I don't have much work to display in my studio this year so I'd like to finish these two pieces so that I can have SOMETHING on my walls. Today I worked on my umbrella painting. I worked on the girl to the right and the child in the middle.

The child in the middle, as you have probably noticed, looks pretty angry. She is not happy about whoever her mother seems to be talking to (at least that's the story it's telling in my head). I think I did a good job of capturing her disapproval but perhaps I need to tone it back a little. I will probably lighten her face up a bit so that there is less contrast. I'm thinking that will soften her features and not make her looks so "evil". I don't want to get rid of the look on her face completely. I still want her to look mad because I think it tells a story (and she does look mad on the photograph). I like this story, but perhaps I can make her look less like the "bad seed". (You remember that movie, right?)

It's weird how just a few strokes changed her look. If you look at the image below, she looks mildly perturbed. A little darkening under her eyes (in addition to a few other adjustments) and we have  whole new attitude! I am enjoying this painting and can't wait to get back to painting it tomorrow!

For those of you who would like to see this painting in person, stop by open studios this weekend!
San Francisco Fall Open Studios, 2011
Saturday and Sunday, October 1st and 2nd
@ Art Explosion Studios
2425 17th Street at Potrero
San Francisco, CA

I will be in studio #68 so stop by and say Hi!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Learning to Draw, Old School Style Part 3

Today was day three of my classical figure drawing class with Sadie Valeri. We learned that there are no parallel lines in nature. Because of this, I had to go back and eliminate any lines that looked parallel and look for tapered lines to replace them with. These small changes made my drawing look less "mechanical"/ stiff and more organic/ natural. I am also at the point where I am starting to refine my drawing and make it look more like this specific model, rather than a generic sitting man. I am trying to add in the "essence" of this man, making him distinguishable from anyone else. During this I am still making head to toe relationships as I refine each area. I am looking for similar curves that allow the limbs and body to "flow" together. These small adjustments took up most of the class and I am still not done. I am hoping that next class I will have the contour drawing completed and can start working on some shading.

I never thought that I could spend this much time on one drawing. I am, and have always been, a quick painter. Perhaps this is because I don't have any formal art training so I don't "see" the mistakes that need to be fixed. I don't see flaws that perhaps others may see, which means I can finish faster. This drawing class is not only teaching me to "see" better so that I can recognize what is not working, but I am also learning patience. Maybe this patience will carry into my everyday life. I am sure my husband and students would greatly appreciate that!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Use of Photographs

This is the image I had posted on Facebook that started this
whole rant. The person also mentioned that she
liked "these people groups" and I should "look at Raphael
so I could get a sense of how to make them work together".
For those of you who are "friends" with me on Facebook, you know that I post updates of what I am painting quite frequently there. One can see the "rough drafts" of my works in progress. I do this because I think it's good for people to see my process and more importantly, it avoids them confusing my paintings for photographs (which used to happen quite frequently when I started this series...weird, huh?). I have also made numerous references to the fact that I use old photographs (mostly from the 30s and 40s) as reference material. In fact, if you read my artist statement or the bio on this blog, I clearly state that I use these photographs as inspiration and as a reference for my paintings.

I mention this because recently I received a message from someone on Facebook (a "friend" that I actually don't know) who said that I shouldn't "broadcast that [ I ] got [my] picture from Flickr because that's just saying that [I] knocked off someone else. Hope you knew that." HUH??? This was in reference to a recent painting that I had posted to which someone else had said it was a great image and wanted to know where I got it from. I stated that I had gotten it from Flickr. Since when was the use of photographs as a references source considered "knocking someone off"?

Back in the olden days (think WAY back), when there were a lot more classical realist artists out there, using a photograph was considered cheating. "True" artists were to only make paintings from "true"life. They didn't cheat by using a photograph, in fact during most of this time, photographs did not exist. Still lifes and models were  set up for many hours of "live" painting. This was the norm. When photography was invented, some people thought that these photographs could not capture the true essence of the subject like seeing it in person could. That was a long time ago and technology has come a long way.  And while there are still classical realists out there who still do not use photographs (we haven't even mentioned the plein air artists out there), to which there is absolutely nothing wrong with, MANY artists now use photographs as reference material.

So how then does my using an image from Flickr, which has thousands of old photographs categorized by era, considered a "knocked off" of someone else? Is the issue more that the image came from Flickr? Would I not be considered a "knock off" if I physically found the photo myself elsewhere? In this age where everything is readily available via the internet, why wouldn't I use a source that contains thousands of photographs, more than I could ever find on my own? Most of these are snapshots that are in the "found photos" category so it's not an issue of copyright (and those who do not want you to download their posted image have the option of disabling the download.) I am not using, nor have I ever used, another photographer's/ artist's published photos (most of these images on this section of the site are not posted by the people who actually took the photo) and am I also not using an artist's painting as a reference. I don't see what the problem is with my use of old photographs as references, especially since this series is about resurrecting old photos and memories, in a more contemporary way. This, by the way, is clearly stated in my artist statement.

So, what then was the problem with my getting a reference photo from Flickr? What prompted this person to send me such a message? I'm not actually sure but here is some of this person's last comments for you to ponder. "I think it matters where you get the photos from, maybe you should too". Hmmm.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What a Good Man

It's been a busy few weeks with getting paintings finished and ready for three different shows and open studios the first week of October. I don't think I have ever been this tired and overwhelmed. Even now that the last paintings were shipped and received, I feel like I still have pressure to paint a lot since I still have one gallery that only has three pieces and is waiting to see what else I come up with. It's a lot of pressure, and while I am not complaining, it can get a person down. Fortunately I have a wonderful husband who has been very understanding and has been bending over backwards trying to relieve some of my stress. He's been helpful with shipping and delivering work, taking care of the cooking and cleaning, and, I'm embarrassed to say, he's even been good natured about my freak outs and break downs. He's a good guy and I am happy to have just celebrated our first wedding anniversary this past Sunday.

I don't see things slowing down in the studio for me, which is a curse and a blessing at the same time. I have decided to quit anything that isn't absolutely necessary so that I have more time to paint. It's not a well-rounded life, but it is mine and I am generally pretty happy being able to paint and share my work. I just hope my husband can tolerate my being an artist. I'm not an easy person to be around when deadlines start to loom and I start to feel stressed.

Here is the latest painting that I started on Saturday but some good hours in today to work on it.

That is not a happy little girl there. She does not like mommy spending
time with the man in the least that's the story in my head.

There's a very large umbrella in the background. I think it will help pull the
composition together even more.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Learning to Draw, Old School Style Part 2

Today was day two of my figure drawing class with Sadie Valeri. Unlike most figure drawing classes where you spend the day making many gestural drawings and quick sketches before a "long" pose, this class is spending six weeks making ONE drawing. Last week we worked on making an envelope to "encase" the model and drawing a web that connects the angles of the body parts. Today was all about revising and getting the proportions exact. I spent three hours looking at angles and proportions, defining the horizontal and vertical middle lines, then making corrections over and over again. This class is definitely teaching me how to be patient. I am usually a quick worker so to take three hours to only get to this point is definitely going against my nature. I'm sure my drawing isn't exact just yet and could use a few more hours on this stage, but there is always next week!
You can finally tell that this is a figure I am drawing. There are still MANY hours to go.

In other news, I finished and waxed the last painting for my two person show, "Cinema Verite" at JoAnne Artman Gallery. Tomorrow everything gets shipped. I also started on a new piece, which is EXTREMELY rough still.

"Boys on a Pier", 2011, 20"x16", oil and encaustic wax on panel.

The latest work in progress...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Girl Group Press Release

This is going to be a great show! Here's the info:



A rotating exhibition of works in various media

by Gallery and Guest Women Artists

in the PROJECT GALLERY… October 6 – December 23, 2011

Jhina Alvarado, Ready for the Beach, 24"x24", oil and encaustic wax

For Immediate Release…

Exhibition Dates: October 6 – December 23, 2011

Media Contact: James Bacchi / 415-977-0223 /

San Francisco…ArtHaus Gallerists, James Bacchi and Annette Schutz, are pleased to present GIRL GROUP, a rotating exhibition of works in various media by ArtHaus Gallery and Guest Women Artists in the ArtHaus Project Gallery. This group show opens on October 6th with a reception for the artists from 6-8pm.

Featured during the run of GIRL GROUP are works by California and New York artists including; Jhina Alvarado, Serena Bocchino, and “extreme Supreme”, Susaye Greene.

From a series, titled Forgotten Memories, Bay Area artist Jhina Alvarado uses oils and encaustic to obscure untold stories based on long forgotten photographs. The eyes are blocked out so that the viewer can take part of each memory as if it were their own.

Serena Bocchino, Interruption, 52”x68”, poured enamel on oil on canvas

“Imagine waking up one Saturday morning to find Jackson Pollack and Miles Davis sitting in the living room, watching cartoons and chatting about their relationships with God and the genesis of the universe. Such is the work of New York artist Serena Bocchino”, writes John Eischeid for NY ARTS…. “eclectic, imaginative, insightful, and unique.”

Susaye Greene, Supreme Joy, 23”x19”, limited edition 1/10 from an original water color

Acclaimed singer/song writer, Susaye Greene A.K.A. THE LAST SUPREME from the most popular Girl Group in Motown music history, is an interdisciplinary artist. Greene began painting while at the New York City High School of the Performing Arts. She credits her inspiration and fascination for portraiture to works ranging from the Dutch Masters, to modern comic book art and digital fantasy art. “Technology has gifted me with a digital pen, tablet and camera – and with the help of noted photographers and painters I’ve met and worked with throughout my extensive travels, I have found my zone in the digital art world. I see art, music, film, and photography as one. From this collective vision is how I create.”

Joining these artists during the run of GIRL GROUP are; Joanne Landis, Carol Massa, Andrea Arroyo, Camille Eskell, Maxine Solomon, Carolyn Meyer, Astrid, Chris Schiavo, Suzanne Benton, Tracy Kessler and Jan Blythe

GIRL GROUP continues in the Project Gallery at ArtHaus through December 23, 2011. Also on exhibit in the Main Gallery, Woven Reflectioins – New Paintings by Gioi Tran.

Voted BEST ART GALLERY IN THE BAY AREA two years running, ArtHaus is located at 411 Brannan Street in San Francisco. Gallery Hours are: Tuesday-Friday, 11am – 6pm and on Saturdays from Noon-5pm. Visit ArtHaus on the web at: For further information phone: (415) 977-0223.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New Gallery and Painting Update

I am very pleased to announce that you can now find my work at the Richard J. Demato Fine Arts Gallery in Sag Harbor, New York (aka the Hampton's)! I know some of you have already heard that I was showing there a few weeks ago, but now I am on their website, which makes it that much more sweeter. If you are in the area, stop by!

I was able to log in some decent hours today at the studio and am mostly done with the painting part of this piece. The fourth guy is still in the underpainting stage, as is the pier. In addition, I need to bar the eyes. This should be finished tomorrow, if all goes well.

The pier was so cool on this photo that I couldn't leave it out. There is a bit
more white space in front of the pier than is shown. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Boys on a Pier: Work in Progress

I started the last painting due for my "Cinema Verite" show with Brooke Shaden at JoAnne Artman Gallery, which opens October 6th. I am trying to finish the last painting this week so that everything can ship next Monday. There is still so much to do before I can ship these last 5 pieces, including painting the sides, wiring, and packaging the pieces up so that they arrive safely. Did I already mention that I still have to PAINT this last piece? I have four workable days to do this. Yeah, I think I will be busy this week.

Here's the progress:
I started the underpainting today. The painting is only 16"x20"
so I was hoping to get most of the underpainting done by today.

Boy number two had very light features. There wasn't much contrast
on his face which makes it hard to paint his face and
make it look like a face and not a cartoon of a face. I think it
looks okay so far.

Here's a close-up of the faces. As you can see, there's not much to boy #2's face.

I wasn't able to get all four boys done. Hunger kept me from continuing.
I got pretty far  though. I like how the third boy just looks like he's hating
 having to pose for this picture. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Learning to Draw, Old School Style

I feel like I have to start off this blog post first by apologizing for doing a bad job of posting now that I have started teaching again. Teaching is something that has taken up more time than I had hoped it would. I am not the kind of person to just "half-ass" something, regardless of what it is, and because I am not that kind of person, I have found that I have had little time to write blog posts as I used to. I am still hoping to better adjust to my new schedule and have time to do it all. But until then, my readers, the blog posts, especially the ones that take time to write, may not come as often.

That being said, what did I do with the little free time I do have? I signed up for a drawing class, followed by a painting class with Sadie Valeri, a classical realist artist who has an atelier in San Francisco. These classes will take up my Sundays from now until December. Crazy, huh? I am bogged down with my own painting, deadlines, shows, and have less time to do that with teaching during the day so of course it made sense for me to take some classes.

I really think this will help me in multiple ways. My drawing and painting skills will obviously improve, by a lot I am hoping. But also, I think carving out some time for ME, just me, so that for four hours one day a week I can learn and not feel obligated to a deadline of the demands of a job, will be not only be a welcome reprieve from the obligations of my life, but a necessary one. This is my "yoga", my"meditation", and what ultimately, I am hoping, will help keep me sane for the rest of this year.

So today was the first day of class. We spent most of the day watching Sadie demonstrate the first steps in our drawing, which is supposed to take us 6 weeks to complete, and from what she said, some of us won't be able to complete them. I had a hard time imagining how we could spend 6 sessions, at four hours each, on the same pose and NOT complete the drawing. I was skeptical, but I am open to learning the classical methods of drawing the figure so I kept my mouth shut and just listened and learned.

You can't see much of what I drew, not that there is much to see. At this point, my
drawing consists of less than a dozen lines. Can you tell this is a sitting man?
Today was spent on placement and drawing a "diamond" that will envelope the figure we are rendering. We were constantly refining it and making sure the proportions and placement are correct. I was able to also start "webbing" my drawing by drawing long lines that connect body parts that help refine the shape and segment the envelope. This sounds like a real easy things to do but it's actually a lot harder than it sounds. I spent a lot of time erasing and redrawing, trying to get the proportions just right. The point is to get placement of areas as exact as possible so that when we work on the details, the drawing is more proportional and "correct". It's easier to make corrections in the early stages when there aren't many details than when we get an area well rendered but have to erase it because the head is too big, or the legs are placed wrong.

It was a good day of watching and drawing. I am looking forward to the next class and the learning what comes next in our drawing.

In other news...Here are two pieces that are waxed and finished! These will be available at the JoAnne Artman Gallery.

"Over Her Shoulder", 10"x10", oil and encaustic wax on panel.

"Sombrero Boys", 24"x30", oil and encaustic wax on panel.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Too Many Deadlines, Not Enough Time

It is coming down to the wire and I am realizing that I have way too much to do. With a two-person show, an art event, and open studios coming up ALL at the beginning of October, I have about two weeks to get everything done. In addition to this, I have a new gallery that would still like more work but these other deadlines have to come first. Add in teaching during the day, studying for a major math test for my credential coming up in a week, and then life, well, my head feels like it's about to explode.

If you've been reading my blog for at least a year, you know that this is not new for me. I quite frequently find myself in situations with multiple deadlines within a short period of time. This is my life and I love it! I may be a neurotic, stress-case for a few weeks, much to the chagrin of my very patient husband, but I do get things done. It's going to be a "fun" couple of weeks!

I started this painting today. JoAnne Artman, from JoAnne Artman Gallery,
picked this image out of three that I had chosen for her. She wanted a
painting of full-bodied men in bathing suits. It's a pretty funny image.

I had originally planned on just painting the three guys but when
I finished the underpainting, it didn't look complete. The men
didn't "relate" enough to the white background, if that makes any sense.
It needed more.

I decided to add the shadows and once I did that, the painting felt better composed.
I'm pretty happy with it now. Tomorrow I start the final layers and refinement of the men.

This is the original image. As you can see, there's not
much detail in the faces. As you blow the image up, there's
even less detail. I am having to make most of details of their faces up. 

I also managed to finish the four little paintings for the Art and Chocolate event that Stephanie Breitbard Fine Art is putting on. I really enjoyed working this small (6"x6"). I would love to do a few more but I probably won't have enough time with all the other pieces I have to do. 

I'm sure most of you recognize the woman in the top, left panel. I already
 painted her once, although larger and not so cropped. She has such
amazing eyes that I had to paint her again for this small series. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

"Little" Ladies

I have been working on some smaller panels this week for a couple of small work shows. This format is fun to do, especially since I don't normally paint smaller than 16"x16". Most of these pieces are 6"x6" and one of them is 10"x10". I decided that instead of scaling down the images so that they were proportional to the size of the panel (which would make the images TINY), I would still keep the images the same size as a larger painting, and do some creative cropping. I am really enjoying have the faces look "blown-up" on the 6"x6" panels. I wanted to focus on the facial features of these women, especially the eyes. I decided that for these four paintings (although only three have been started), I would not cover the eyes. I could change my mind later, and reserve that right, but for now, those of you who cringe every time I block some really nice eyes, have nothing to worry about.

10"x10". This woman is actually straddling a very cool vintage motorcycle.
I think I will paint the full image, motorcycle and all, on a
larger panel at a later date. It's a pretty cool image.

This is the first 6"x6" I did. All three paintings are still in the underpainting
stage and none of them have any eyelashes painted on since
that needs to be added last. All three women have REALLY dark eyelashes too!

I feel like this woman really needs her eyelashes, otherwise she looks a
bit plain to me.

Check out the arched eyebrows! Wow!