Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Group Exhibition: Best of TAG 2010

I have one new painting included in this group exhibition at TAG Gallery's new location at the Bergamot Station Art Center in Building D-3. The exhibit runs from January 5th through the 30th. The opening reception of Best of TAG 2010 and book signing of 100 Artists of the West Coast II is Saturday, January 9th from 5 - 8pm. So bring your books if you'd like to have them signed, or just bring yourself and enjoy the artwork. I hope to see you there!

Best of TAG 2010
TAG Gallery
Bergamot Station Art Center, D-3
2525 Michigan Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 11am - 5pm

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Autumn’s Veil Variation
© 2007 Katherine Kean

Wishing everyone peace and joy for the holidays and the New Year!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Feeling the Heat

"An artist must paint not what he sees in nature, but what is there. To do so, he must invent symbols, which, if properly used, make his work seem even more real than what is in front of him." Charles Burchfield

The exhibit Heat Waves in a Swamp, currently at the Hammer is the largest collection of Burchfield’s work I’ve ever seen together all in one place.

Like Christmastime the trees are alight. There’s as much going on in the spaces between things; dry brushstrokes, transparent patterns overlapping, and lifting of color used all together to ecstatically animate his subjects, portraying mood and feeling as much as form.

Having not realized Burchfield’s technique of piecing smaller pieces together to make larger works I’ve always visualized them as being smaller, no larger than about 40 x 30”. Many of his paintings are much larger than that. Burchfield had a revelation when he reached his 50’s of revisiting his earlier works and using them as the inspiration and the starting points for his later work and then building on them by adding pieces to the sides, top, and bottom. Details of his process are revealed in the video below.

He made many drawings and took copious notes while figuring out how a painting should come together. Samples of these drawings and the extensive notes are part of this exhibit. Also displayed are numerous doodles, a few samples of his wallpaper work, and many journals. The selections from his journals printed beside various paintings are priceless. In one he describes in great detail everything he’s seeing in a cloudy sky, ultimately saying that it is agonizing to watch, while in another he states that there is too much grandeur in a dandelion seed head to take in.

Heat Waves in a Swamp is on view until January 3, 2010.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

100 Artists of the West Coast II

I'm pleased to announce that a book that includes my artwork has recently been published. From San Diego to Vancouver, 100 Artists of the West Coast II covers 100 artists with over 400 full color photographs of their work. The collection includes art from private as well as public collections and installations, including the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art New York, and the New York Public Library to name just a few. I'm happy to be included.

Monday, December 07, 2009

TAG Gallery Opening

Sunland Sky 16 x 20" oil on linen
© 2009 Katherine Kean

I had so much fun seeing familiar and new faces at TAG's opening Saturday night. The new gallery space looks great. Plus, I feel that I got wonderful feedback on the piece I exhibited (above). A thank you to everyone who came by!

This exhibit runs through December 26th, at TAG Gallery, Bergamot Station D3, 2525 Michigan Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90404. The hours are Tuesday through Saturday 11am - 5pm.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

New Place

A Small Look at the Great Marsh -SOLD-6 x 6" oil on linen
© 2009 Katherine Kean

I'm prepping work and updating my portfolio this week. Saturday is TAG's official opening day at the new location and I'll have one small piece as part of a group exhibit that opens December 5th and runs through December 26th.

I went by on Tuesday - which was move in day. The movers happened to have an irresistably adorable little puppy with them that someone had given one of them that morning while they were on the way to our location. Luckily someone had some spare dog supplies in her car and a box with a blanket was prepared. The puppy slept through the morning in her box, but later when she woke up I ran out and got some puppy food. Feeding her and taking her for a little walk was a fun distraction from moving.

When I left the painters were already making good progress even as furniture and office supplies were being moved in. It looks like everything will be all set for the opening on Saturday.

Monday, November 30, 2009


In this post about ways to check your work, the artists responding to the poll were equally divided on two methods to check work. One method is looking at the work through a mirror and the other is looking at it through half closed eyes. I mentioned another method that I use to check and make corrections to work, and I can see from the comments that it is not uncommon to use a digital photograph as part of the process. In this underpainting that I've been developing for a Great Marsh painting I can illustrate how I've been checking and correcting work digitally.

This first image is the very first layer of underpainting.

So far so good. This painting is going to be as much about the clouds as it is about the marsh and I went in to add more detail and depth to the sky, while also adding detail and darks to the ground to balance.

I'm not unhappy with the results, but I can't help wondering if I might like it more with darker tones near the tree line and in the clouds. The surface is not dry enough to add a wash to it so instead I take a digital image and add the changes with Photoshop.

The changes are subtle, but it gives me the information I need and soothes my impatience at the same time.

I use this method frequently, finding that it's especially helpful and time saving on larger work.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Image Requests

Silk Mountain 24 x 28" oil
© 2006 Katherine Kean

Recently someone asked for permission to use an image of one of my paintings. I’m always flattered when someone likes my artwork enough to want to use it in some way. An image is usually requested for book or magazine covers and for websites, although once I received a request for permission to use a painting for a snowboard design. Once the snowboards were manufactured I'd receive a royalty on the sales. After some thought I turned it down. At the time I just couldn’t visualize it, but now I think it might have been kind of cool. These days I generally only grant requests accompanied by compensation – or at the very least an exchange that somehow acknowleges the work that goes into the making of an image. That could be free advertising space or a promotional article. This most recent request to use the painting above was granted free of charge after determining that it was not for profit and that it was for a student. I’ll be credited, and the use is quite limited – only four copies in all. I’m grateful that permission was even requested and not just taken. After all, I might never have known.

I've been giving some thought to posting some guidelines for image use that I can direct people requesting images to and just what I might include as criteria. Perhaps a fee schedule with a smaller fee for charities or causes that I support. I might include a limit to the number of images used and that permission must be granted for use. I might stipulate that the images cannot be altered in any way or used to create derivative works and that where an image is used that I am credited with the year and copyright symbol included, as well as a link back to my website if the image is used on the internet.

How do you handle image requests? Do you feel inclined to say yes or no?
Related Posts:
Cover Art
More Cover Art

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Something in the Wind

Leaves on the Wind
12 x 12" oil
© 2006 Katherine Kean

I’ve been reading about the wind. It’s high time, really. I live in a windy place - I guess everyone living near canyons and mountains does. It tends to be windy many mornings even when the rest of the city is experiencing calm. Then when it is windy for everyone we get extra.

When I first moved here with my then husband we were woken early one morning by half a house length of gutter that had worked loose from it’s mounting banging violently against the side of the house with each strong gust. It was beating the house so relentlessly that we were afraid that it would soon come crashing through the window. My ex husband bravely ran outside and wrestled the gutter to the ground. As the wind was showing no sign of abating and lacking a method to secure it he held it there in check while I searched for something to sever it with. A kitchen knife finally did the trick. Another time I was working in the studio on a windy day when I heard a loud BANG. I ran upstairs from the studio to see what was going on. On the deck I found that the wind had plucked the patio umbrella out of it’s holder and driven it straight into the side of the house where it remained stuck like an oversized, festive dart.

The book I’m reading, Jan DeBlieu’s
Wind: How the Flow of Air Has Shaped Life, Myth, and the Land explains the many facets of wind from a cultural and journalistic perspective. I'm reading about the speed of wind, where and how it forms, how it has affected historical events. I'm especially enjoying learning the many ways the wind is known from exotic names (scirocco, foehn), to weather terms and sayings (a backing wind), to poetry ("the wind's feet shine along the sea," Swinburne).

Monday, November 09, 2009

Group Shows Coming Up at TAG Gallery's New Location

It's Official - TAG Gallery is moving to Bergamot Station next month and is kicking off the transition with back to back Group Exhibitions.

Starting in December TAG Gallery will occupy the D3 space at Bergamot Station. The first exhibit will include the work of Anne Ramis and Eve Brandstein as well as an exhibit of small works by all of the TAG artists.

Another group show will take place in January of 2010.

More details to follow.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Great Marsh Sketch - Almost Raining

Katherine Kean, ALmost Raining, Great marsh, drawing, Cape Cod
Almost Raining Great Marsh Sketch
© 2009 Katherine Kean

Here is the last of the Great Marsh sketches, at least for awhile. I have more sketches to do, but right now I'm looking forward to working more with color.

I've been thinking a lot about color lately and what color choices to make. I rely most on value to create mood, but there's no denying the impact of color, whether used naturally or emotionally.

What are your favorite palette choices? Do you use color realistically or naturally, emotionally, or expressively, or another approach?

I've worked a lot with de-saturated color and black and white, and I'd include it in the emotional category.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Reading About the San Gabriels - Tall, Steep, and Now Waterproof

Clouds Over Great Marsh Sketch
© 2009 Katherine Kean

While I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with the large paintings, I'm also looking forward to getting on with some new work, such as a painting from the sketch above. I've finally seen a clear change of season with the chilly Santa Ana winds - the first ones in many years bringing no accompanying anxiety. I was amazed yesterday by fantastic dust and ash cloud that the winds kicked up. The descent into winter here includes some cold days punctuated by a day or two in the 80's, accompanied by thoughts about the impending rainy season. I've been reading John McPhee's The Control of Nature, specifically the chapter "Los Angeles Against the Mountains". McPhee's reporting style is entertaining as he lays out the hazards of living next to the "unimproved wilderness" known as the San Gabriel Mountains, among them:

1. Steep and rugged, the San Gabriels are twice as high as Mt. Washington - from base to summit 3000 feet higher than the Rockies.

2. Some of the most concentrated rainfall in the history of the US has occurred in the San Gabriel Mountains.

3. Burned chaparral releases wax like resins that coat the soil particles, creating a waterproof layer one to six centimeters down.

All of this together sets the scene for the "full scale flat-out debris flows", which McPhee reports on in his book.

There is another chapter in the book that I've yet to read, "Cooling the Lava" - I can hardly wait.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Head Room

A Sketch of the Great Marsh
© 2009 Katherine Kean

I've had some wonderful dreams over the past few weeks, many of them from various categories of recurring dreams. Although I don't paint my dreams in the form of subject matter or even dream locale, I do use the feeling of many dreams for inspiration.

In a recent dream I found that there was a whole additional floor above where I live. I've had this dream many times, in many variations, and in this most recent one I felt all the excitement of realizing that there was so much more available to me. I started down a hallway that ran the perimeter of the building, looking into all the rooms as I went. All of the rooms were in good repair, many of them well furnished and even with closets full of clothing. The hallway continued on, and so did I, and so did the rooms. There were living rooms and dressing rooms. There were library rooms with floor to ceiling shelves full of books, there were kitchens and dining rooms and breakfast nooks. The further I went, the more I realized that there didn't seem to be an end to this building and I started running to see if I could get to the end. Eventually I tried a shortcut through the middle of the building, going through yet more and more rooms, and eventually came to realize that this particular space was virtually endless.

The excitement and wonder that I felt in the dream has stayed with me and has been like a whoosh of energy over the past several days.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Matchy Matchy

This past weekend I took a few moments to update my regular website, something I’ve planned to do since changing the look of this blog, in order to bring the look of the pages closer together. I haven’t made a lot of changes. I updated my resume and I took off everything that’s been sold. Everything showing is recent work. I removed old work, although I may put the old work back up at some point, but on a separate page. I also plan to start adding new work on it's own page during the next few weeks.

I got so into it that I went ahead and altered my MySpace page to match as closely as possible as well.

I feel inspired. I had a crazy, wonderful dream last night, but more about that later.

Related Post:

Before and After

Just My Type

Thursday, October 08, 2009

I Saw it in the Sky

Hawaii, volcano, steam plume, clouds, storm, lava bed, awe, painting, original oil
Converging Conditions work in progress 48 x 60" oil on linen
© 2009 Katherine Kean

I'm back on the large surfaces again with the initial over layer of color complete on this, the largest one, while the other is getting it's finishing touches. I'm liking the effect of working on large areas with big brushes. I'd like to keep it as simple as this is while still feeling complete about it, although I'm wondering how it'll fit in with the rest of my work. Time - and the application of paint - will tell.

Previous Stages:

Storm Clouds Over Lava Field

Back to Work

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Great Marsh Sketches

Here are three new sketches inspired by a visit to The Great Marsh on Cape Cod this summer. These will be small paintings, probably 6 x 6" or so - quite a contrast to the three to five foot paintings I've been working to finish up. They have a very different mood - calmer than the turbulent volcanic plumes and storm clouds that have dominated my work over the past few months.

I'm acutely aware of how the days are getting shorter and I know how difficult it is to artificially light a large surface evenly to work on, so I'll probably be working on smaller works for the next few weeks.

Related Post:
Cape Cod Marshes

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ways to Check Your Work

Point Lobos Path 10 x 8" oil on linen
© 2009 Katherine Kean - Available at TAG Gallery

The first method I ever learned for checking artwork is to squint your eyes. Look at your work through half closed eyes and the details drop away leaving the values and composition. Or use a Reducing Glass – I mentioned this before. A Reducing Glass is particularly helpful with large paintings. My favorite way to check for errors is to hold a painting up to a mirror – or for a large painting I bring the mirror to the painting. Right away weak areas stand out and if there is a drawing or perspective error it will show. Another method I use is to turn the work upside down – the composition is quickly revealed – strong and weak areas, value problems, and so on.

Jacqueline Gnott talks about how she checks her work in this post on her Contemporary Realism blog.

I have another, more complicated method for checking work – and for moving it along. I’ll post it soon.

How do you check your work? Answer in the poll to the right, or if you have a different way to check your work, let me know in the comments.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Catching Up

I’ve let a whole week slip by without posting. I have a good excuse - I was out of town briefly visiting family. I got to go to my 5 year old niece’s bowling alley birthday party where I learned how it is that 5 year olds can bowl. (With gutter guards and steel ramps to aim the balls.) Now that I’m back I’m getting started reviewing portfolios for potential new members at the artist owned gallery that I belong to. This is a job that I really enjoy. It involves looking at fresh new artwork and meeting creative people – what’s not to like?

In the meantime I’ve gone back to work finishing up the paintings I’ve started this summer and although I made good progress this past week I didn’t finish yet. Next week I’ll be beginning on new work - drawings for more on this series about nature’s transitions written in the wind.

For now I’ll show you this image of a determined looking Bear enjoying his first cantaloupe rind. For some reason I thought he would just chew the “edible” portions and not go for the whole rind. Silly me, after a brief tug of war I got most of it back and he only chewed up and swallowed a few pieces. It doesn’t seem to have done him any harm.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Back to Work

Volcano, Hawaii, atmospheric, haze, clouds, storm, under-painting
Storm Clouds Over Lava Field Underpainting

© 2009 Katherine Kean

Now that I've unpacked all the hastily stowed paintings from the trunk of my car and got back to work things feel almost back to normal. The sky here is clear again and temperatures are below normal - perfect weather, really. Painting is one of those activities that always help me to feel at ease, so I got back to it as fast as possible.

This is the latest large linen with the initial underpainting for another in the "volcano" series. I had a lot of fun doing the cracked lava forms in the foreground. I'm working on a Signature Canvas and it's the first time I've worked on one of their products. So far I like it quite a bit.

This weekend I got to see the Pompeii exhibit at LACMA which along with sculptures, jewelry, and frescoes from the excavation also included later painterly interpretations of the Mount Vesuvius eruption.

Eruption of Vesuvius Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes
While we were at LACMA we wandered over to the new wing and rode the red escalator up to the third floor. The third floor! I didn't look up as I stepped on and it was about halfway up that I realized how high we were - and we still had about 45 feet more to go!

My schedule is in need of revision. I lost about a week because of the Station Fire, so I'm still working on paintings that I expected to complete by Labor Day. They're moving along though, so perhaps I'll catch up soon.

Related Post:
Storm Clouds Over Lava Field Sketch

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Fire Escape - Putting everything on hold to run away from the Station Fire

Photo by John T. Van Vliet
© 2009

I had to drop everything and go Saturday afternoon when the police came around with sirens and bullhorns to evacuate the neighborhood. I of course didn't hear it, tucked away as I am, but my next-door neighbor called to let me know. This fire had already been burning for three days, yet I find it surprising that it could get so far with absolutely no wind to drive it. I stuffed as many paintings as I could in the trunk of my car, packed photos, documents, an overnight case, and pet food and pet supplies and went to the home of friends who were willing and able to tolerate Bear and me.

Sunday morning I returned home, happy to find it still there, but within hours the fires seemed to be progressing from two directions. I found it unnerving to see flames cresting a tall ridge above the development on a hillside above my home. I could also see the helicopters making water drops to the west coming closer with each drop. I returned to my friends’ home and stayed there through Monday night.

I hear from my neighbors that stayed behind that Monday night was the worst. By now the fire fighters were setting controlled burns to the north and to the west and blocked off my street. When I woke up on Tuesday morning it was cooler and there was moisture in the air. I had an overall optimistic feeling. I went home where things were calmer than they had been in days. My trees and yard were fresh from where neighbors had hosed it all down as a precaution. As the smoke started to clear I went outside to see the charred hillsides and mountain slopes. While talking with a neighbor we noticed new flames on a ridge about a half-mile away that turned out to be a controlled burn. While watching we saw what looked like fireworks arcing up and then over, presumably part of the back burning process.

This fire continues to burn and they are still working on nearby areas to the west. It seems like the backfires have eliminated enough fuel so that the homes around here will be safe for some time. I hope they have great success to the north and to the east. I am enormously relieved that my home and my neighbors' homes were untouched. I am surprised by how exhausted I feel from just waiting and watching. I am amazed and grateful for the work of the fire fighters and for the kindness, generosity, and the help of friends and neighbors.

Time lapse of Station Fire by John Van Vliet

Friday, August 28, 2009

Cold Spring East Fork Trail in Santa Barbara

Boulder Walk 72 x 42" oil on canvas
© 1995 Katherine Kean

If you’re looking for a cool place to paint outdoors in Southern California try this location in the Los Padres Forest near Santa Barbara. Just a few feet from the road at the beginning of the trail you’ll find the creek, rock pools and plenty of shade. This is good news for those carrying the extra weight of painting supplies and the surfaces to paint on. I’ve heard wonderful things about the trail as it continues further on, but I’ve never taken it any farther than the first set of waterfalls. In the spring there is plenty of water, but it is beautiful all the time. I like the large boulders.

To get there from Los Angeles: travel north on the 101 and take the Olive Mill exit turning right and veer right onto Hot Springs Road then left on 192 and right on Cold Spring road/Mountain Drive until you arrive at the trail head.

Santa Barbara Independent: Ray Ford article about the trail Click on the photo gallery link for some wonderful photographs.

Santa Barbara Hikes page on the Cold Spring Trail This page has comments and updates from hikers.

A website to learn about closures and detours. Unfortunately we are in fire season again. Sometimes it's a good idea to check on conditions before heading out.

Monday, August 24, 2009

When Do Artists Retire?

An Old Woman 

Or do they?

Henry Moore is quoted as saying "There's no retirement for an artist, it's your way of living so there's no end to it."

I’ve never personally heard an artist say they were looking forward to permanently laying aside the brushes to take up golf or go fishing. Although I can imagine having to slow down or make some changes due to health issues, for some artists this kind of problem leads to a creative solution. In Creativity and the Exceptional Aging Artist, August L Freundlich and John A Shively give the example of Matisse tying a brush to his hands to work when he was troubled with arthritis. Matisse called his last fourteen years his second life.

Some studies suggest that there is a benefit to aging for some artists; that although output may slow the quality remains or even accelerates. Art historians even have a term for this: “alterstiehl” and note it in the works of Titian, and Rembrandt, among others.

In Aging Well an article by Juliann Schaeffer, Retirement Redefined: Lessons From Aging Artists talks about how older artists have something to teach other seniors about how to age successfully and thrive in later life.

So let's hear it for alterstiehl - they say that Georgia O’Keeffe painted into her nineties.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Storm Clouds Over Lava Field

storm clouds, lava field. drawing. atmospheric, Hawaii, awe
Storm Over Lava Field sketch © 2009 Katherine Kean

I'm just starting on the last large work. The sketch for it is above. This one will be 48 x 60" - a bit larger than the previous painting, but for some reason the dimensions make it look smaller to me.

I'd like to have all of these larger works finished by the end of the summer, or at least well before the days become much shorter. I like working in natural light best, especially on bigger canvases.

The weather has been so beautiful over the past few weeks - I have to keep reminding myself that it is August.

Related Post:

Ash Plume and Lava Field Sketches

Monday, August 17, 2009

Some Guidelines For Hanging an Exhibit

Recently a friend emailed to ask for any tips I might have on hanging a group exhibit and as I spent a part of this weekend unpacking boxes of artwork for TAG's California Open Exhibit (which starts this week), I got to thinking of some of the hanging methods I use. I've hung dozens of exhibits over the years, my own as well as group shows. What follows covers only some of the basic technical aspects rather than the aesthetics of layout.

You will need:


A hammer

Picture hanging hooks of various sizes for different weights. A very large, heavy painting may use two hooks for extra support.

Wall putty, or earthquake putty.

Extra picture wire just in case.

Measuring tape, measuring stick.


A big eraser.

Plexi cleaner or Windex.

A bit of white paint acrylic might be good to have on hand, assuming the walls are white. Many galleries keep some of whatever they use on hand for wall prep.

Wall spackle to fill any hole mistakes. I use the pre mixed quick dry kind.

Make sure that the artwork is wired to hang - no glass, just plexi on framed work.

Make sure that the artwork is labeled on the back. If it is a group show - or for any reason you are not familiar with the work it also helps if there is an index card on the front with name, title, medium and price. If you are using wall labels you can speed up the process for a group show by having the artists submit the info in advance so it can be typed into the label format so it's all ready to print out and stick on the wall. I use Avery 8663 Easy Peel. If you use wall labels than you don't have to fuss with numbers.

Arrange the work around the space, I usually lean the work against the wall about where I'll want it to be. I measure the linear wall space and add up the artwork width and subtract that from the linear space. I then divide that number by how many pieces there are to know the spacing between.

There are several methods of aligning the work on the wall. When I'm hanging mid to large scale work in a home I like to align the top edge with the top edges of windows and doorways. Another way to have a uniform look is to center each painting on the wall at eye level (eye level may be from 60 to 65 inches - but pick a number and stick with it).

The formula is eye level measurement + half the painting height minus the space from wire to top edge = place for nail or support placement.

I usually do all my planning and calculations in advance so that I don't have to spend a lot of time futzing around on hanging day. So going by the formula if a painting is 18 x 24" then 18 inches is the height. That means the center is at 9". All you have to do to find the place for the nail is to add the 9 inches (or one half of whatever the painting's height) to your eye level number - let's say you decide that eye level is 60", then add 9". Then subtract the distance from the center of the hanging wire to the top of the painting and that's the measurement for placement of the nail (or hanging support). So if the painting is wired three inches from the top the nail or support is at 66". In other words the formula is: eye level (60") plus half the height (9") less wire to top edge (3") = nail or support placement (66"). When I am hanging my shows I do all the math beforehand and put that number on masking tape and stick it on the painting.

After nailing the supports in the wall, hang and check the work with the level, then put a dab of wall putty on the bottom corner between the artwork and the wall.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ash and Steam Plume in Progress

Ash and Steam Plume in progress 40 x 60" oil
© 2009 Katherine Kean

This is the beginning of the over painting on a large canvas. The color differences between the underpainting and the over painting are not as extreme as they are in the Lava Field painting and the values are much lighter overall so it's been progressing at a good pace even though it is much larger. I'm also dealing with some scale concerns. When I first painted the horizon line I used a ruler to make sure it was level (from the center to the left edge - not including the hill on the right that clearly slopes upward - which by the way, doesn't help either). It doesn't show up as much on this reduced image, but in person the line appeared to droop on the left. I have lifted the line on the left to allow it appear more level in person. I may lift it even more as the work progresses.

Related Post:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lava Field Painting in Progress

Lava Field in progress 30 x 40" oil
© 2009 Katherine Kean
Here is the Lava Field painting, as I've been calling it, with the first layers of color over the warm underpainting. There is still plenty of red showing through. I'll leave as much as I can as I start working out the nuances. I don't imagine that "Lava Field" will be the final title. I've been calling it that as a working title because the foreground on the painting is showing a large area comprised of hardened lava that flows all the way to the beach from the eruption in the center of the island. The plume rising on the left side of the painting is made of steam coming from where the lava still flows into the sea. The clouds are made of steam colliding with an incoming storm.

I've barely started thinking about what the titles of this series might be. Any suggestions?

Related Post:

Warm Underpainting

Friday, August 07, 2009

Fudd Rest in Peace 1992 - 2009

Fudd passed away unexpectedly yesterday in the waiting room at the vet's office. He had just had an exam a week ago and seemed to be in wonderful shape, especially considering his age. He did show some hyperthyroidsim in the test results that came back this week and had just begun medication for it. However it takes some time for the medication to really have an effect and before it could he began going downhill very fast - over the past 24 hours or so, becoming lethargic and losing his famous appetite. We're not sure of the exact cause.

Fudd was adopted as an adult cat and was always affectionate, unassuming, gentle, and just a tad mischievous. He was a great friend to Bear and Cole, and especially to Cole during his illness. He will be hugely missed.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Seven and Seven: Two Lists

I was given this blog award by Kim Bennett, of Kim Bennett's Studio, a wonderful artist, a teacher and a blogger...Many thanks Kim!

The award comes with two duties: share seven things my fellow bloggers don't know about me; pass the award to seven worthy artists. So here goes.

Seven things about me you might not know:

1. I was a vegetarian in my teens. This prompted my mother to research and cook strange (at the time) alternative recipes, things like Lentil Loaf, in order to keep me healthy.

2. I have some fused vertebrae in my neck - you'd never know, except that I can't do headstands in yoga.

3. I discovered my artistic abilities because as a kid I was nuts about horses and started drawing them to compensate for not having one.

4. As a child I broke my back (just a little) falling off a horse - still love them anyway! Oh and it healed quickly with no fuss - one of the the wonders of youth.

5. I lived in South Korea for 6 weeks as an animator back in the day.

6. I was an animator back in the day.

7. My great, great, grandfather's name was Oonomoo. I don't know why.

Seven artists:

1. Melissa Reischman - Art and Other Creative Endeavors. Melissa's a fantastic artist and a graphic designer, an amazing cook, and a wonderful neighbor.

2. Anne M. Bray - Sketches and Impressions. I've had the pleasure of exhibiting alongside Anne twice and I love her work.

3. Dianne Hoeptner - I've never met Dianne in person, but I feel like I have! Dianne can paint anything, but I know her flowers best, and she paints prolifically.

4. Jean Spitzer - Jean's Paintings. Jean amazes me with her work - powerful figures and landscapes.

5. Laurelines - Laura's blog has been one of my favorites and an inspiration for quite a while. It's like a beautifully illustrated travel log/diary.

6. Lynne E. Windsor Fine Art - I've been an admirer of Lynne Windsor's painting for some time and I was happy to see she's recently started a blog!

7. Gary Keimig - Another wonderful painter. Gary does amazing work out in nature under the big skies.

It was hard to keep this list to just seven blog artists. I feel priveleged to connect to so many talented and accomplshed artists in the blog world and I may have to come back and add to this list in the near future.

Monday, August 03, 2009

More Underpainting

Ash Plume Underpainting work in progress 40 x 60"
© 2009 Katherine Kean

Here's the underpainting for another large painting - one of the ones I'd like to have complete at the end of the month. I started by toning the entire surface a pale yellow/gold and then painting over that mostly with violets, orange, and brown.

It's been fun working larger and mixing up the paint in recycled cups instead of on a palette while using a bigger brush overall. After working on this size going back to make some revisions on a 30 x 40" painting felt like I was working really small!

Besides mixing larger quantities of paint and using larger brushes another way to make working larger easier is by using a Reducing Glass - also known as a Lover's Glass. A Reducing Glass gives you a viewpoint as if from a distance.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ready to Work

Yesterday I felt as if I were running to catch a train all day. I was a little bit behind on every project. I realized at last that I was not going to be able to catch up and instead relaxed and accomplished what I could. Today I feel refreshed and ready to get to work.

This week I want to finish the underpainting on a second large (40 x 60") painting. The sketch of it is here. By the end of next month I'd like to have the two large paintings that I began this month complete, along with a third one that will be 45 x 60". There is also another 30 x 40" that is so close to being finished, but needs just a little more work to complete too.

The photo above is Bear in his usual spot in the studio - right in front of the door. Bear is always ready for action and wouldn't miss a day in the studio, even if what he does the most there is sleep.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Warm Underpainting

Lava Field under painting ©2012 Katherine Kean

I've finished the rough underpainting for the Lava Field painting. It looks very strange to me in warm colors, the deep red on the ground especially so. Besides looking stormy and cloudy I'll want this painting to have a slightly sulfurous and "recently molten" quality and I think the red will help with that. I'm going to let it dry thoroughly before making any value adjustments.
Related Posts:
Ash Plume and Lava Field Sketches

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Why I Like E-Prime

Slow Release of the Day 18 x 36" oil on linen
© 2007 Katherine Kean

One of my favorite topics is English Prime. E-Prime is a modification of the English language that abolishes all forms of the verb to be: is, am, are, was, were, etc. A few reasons why I am such a big fan follow:

The elimination of the passive voice creates less confusion distinguishing statements of opinion from statements of fact. “I feel cold” instead of “It is cold.”

As well as providing clarity using E-Prime lessens conflict. “I feel I have finished” instead of “It is done.”

This type of communication alleviates a bit the hypnotic power of metaphor used so effectively by advertisers and politicians. “It appears to me that we should take action.” instead of “It is clear that we should take action.”

A change in language brings a change in perception, including how a person thinks of himself or herself. Instead of “I am sad”, I feel sad.” The sadness still exists, but seems like less of a permanent condition.

Although I find it difficult to remember to write and speak in E-Prime in most situations, I do find it an effective tool to have when listening to others.

Related Links:

Friday, July 17, 2009

Illuminations Exhibit at OCMA

I took the afternoon yesterday and drove with a friend to Orange County to see the Illumination exhibit, showing the work of Georgia O’Keeffe, Agnes Pelton, Agnes Martin, and Florence Miller Pierce. Part of the premise of the exhibit is showing parallels in the lives and careers of O’Keeffe and Pelton, and Martin and Pierce, which was interesting in a slightly eerie way.

I confess my main purpose in going was just to see Agnes Pelton’s paintings. I remember only seeing two in person before, one at a gallery on Melrose and the other at an Art Fair. Most of my exposure to her work has been through the book, Agnes Pelton: Poet of Nature by Michael Zakian. Zakian, who is the director of the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art in Malibu also happens to be the juror of this years’ California Open exhibit at TAG Gallery. When I first encountered Agnes Pelton’s imagery I felt like she had somehow translated visions and sensations that I’ve experienced in meditation into an easily accessible form. I was thrilled to see so many of these paintings in person, including many of my favorites: The Voice, Wells of Jade, Illumination, Incarnation, Sand Storm, Orbits, Even Song, and many others.

There were quite a few O’Keeffe painting in the exhibit, although it wasn’t necessarily her strongest work, or perhaps I’ve been spoiled having seen her retrospective at LACMA as well as her work in the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Having seen this exhibit I think what I’d really like to see now is an exhibit of Agnes Pelton and Sharon Ellis together.

Los Angeles Times Art review: 'Illumination' at the Orange County Museum of Art

Examiner Review: Orange County Museum of Art Illumination exhibit

Related Post:

Top Eleven Artists I Have Found to be a Large Influence

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What do you wear when you’re working?

This question might be aimed more at oil and acrylic painters rather than watercolor painters. Do you have specific clothes set aside that you don’t mind getting paint on?

In years past when I tended to get paint on everything, I had specific old clothes set aside just for painting in. These old clothes would get covered with drips, spots, and splashes, which became stiff with dried paint – not so much fun to wear. I’m not as messy or drippy as I used to be. These days I tend to wear regular clothing that’s comfortable, although not anything new or expensive just in case something spills or drips. Sometimes I remember to put an oversized old shirt on top Certainly I don’t look as dapper as Monet or Picasso do in these old photographs.

What do you wear when you’re working? Do you wear old clothes? Do you wear a protective layer like a smock or coveralls?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ash Plume and Lava Field sketches

Ash Plume Sketch
© 2009 Katherine Kean
It has been a busy week. I've been finishing up on some older pieces and starting new ones both. These are the beginnings of two new works. I've already started the underpainting on the second one. You can see some of the grid lines on the drawing as well as a smudge where I dripped some paint.

I ran out of gloves in the middle of the week. I usually order several boxes when I'm ordering paint, but the paint orders seem to take a long time to arrive. It all of a sudden occurred to me that I might find gloves on and that they'd arrive more quickly. Sure enough they had several selections to choose from and they are a lot cheaper to boot. Now, where is the paint?

Lava Field Sketch© 2009 Katherine Kean 

Monday, July 06, 2009

How to Put a Text Link in a Blogger Comment So That It Opens in a New Window

Now we're getting fancy. Here's an update to Friday's post about putting a link in a Blogger comment. As Marianne Post pointed out the code I demonstrated opens the link in the same window - thereby losing the page we're on, and we don't want that. In order to have it open in a new window this must be added at the end of the url, after the quotation mark and before the less than sign that starts the text:

All together that gives us this to start:

then the url within the quotation marks:"


and last the text with the closing tags:

And the end result is the clickable text link that opens in a new window:

How to Add a Text Link to a Blogger Comment

Bolton Hall Museum Gift Shop

The Bolton Hall Museum Gift Shop   is a great place to do your holiday shopping! Carrying a wide range of unique items, all are created l...