Monday, December 29, 2014

Most Popular Posts 2014

Rainy, cloudy, stormy, snowy, the most visited posts on my blog this year are all on artwork focused on the weather.

#5 Painterly Progression
 "...varied and broken brushstrokes, sketchiness,  impasto..." 

#4 Billowing Clouds Go By and By
Inspired by Scotland, this painting went to Palm Springs, then Monrovia, and then found a new home.

#3 Suburban Murmuration Drawing
An imaginary flock of birds and a suburban home.
#2 Chasing Clouds Another painting that went to Palm Springs, heading soon to Burbank.

#1 A Little Snow On the Marsh The most popular 2014 post from my blog is this simple charcoal sketch.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Happy Holidays!

Marsh Snow © 2014 Katherine Kean 
oil on linen   12  x 16 inches

Wishing you joy and peace this holiday season and throughout the New Year.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Holiday Greeting Cards

I've added to a small selection of holiday greeting cards I've made available through Zazzle. Available as a note card, greeting card, or as an extra large, 8 1/2 x 11 sized card. Click on any one to purchase directly the Zazzle website.

Separation Anxiety, Panel One card

Counting Raindrops Variation card

Holiday Still Place card

Autumn's Veil with Snowflakes card

Monday, December 01, 2014

"Little Gems"

Girl With a Red Hat Vermeer 1665-66
oil on panel 9.1 x 7.1 inches
I can’t tell you who coined the term “Little Gems” when referring to artwork. I first heard it from a professor during an outdoor watercolor class. “We call those little gems.” he tossed the words back, over his shoulder, while sauntering off down the trail. I was working on an 8 x 10 page torn from my Aquabee sketchbook.

After the Rain Private Collection Katherine Kean
watercolor on cotton rag paper 4 x 7 inches
The term goes back at least to the 19th century. James Jackson Jarves, a newspaper editor and art critic, describing Fra Bartoleomo’s works:

     "In his earlier works, which approach miniature painting in fineness and delicacy, as for instance those little gems, the “Birth” and “Circumcision” of Christ, in the Uffizi, the composition is noble and beautiful, and the finish Leonardesque. Yet they have the force of large paintings.”

 Circumcision and Nativity Fra Bartolomeo circa 1500
tempera on wood 7.7 x 3.5 inches

For artists, working on small surfaces are an opportunity to try out new ideas, colors and composition, the small size means less cost for materials and less time committed. Plus they travel well and are easy to pack and store.

Willows at Sunset Vincent van Gogh
oil on cardboard 12 1/2 x 131/2 inches

Red Poppy Georgia O'Keeffe
Although Georgia O'Keeffe became known for her large flower paintings, her earlier flower paintings were enchantingly small. She began enlarging them to attract the attention of busy New Yorkers, however small works have also been known to draw focus. Crowds lined up in New York to view Carel Fabritius's The Goldfinch.

The Goldfinch Carel Fabritius
oil on panel 13 x 9 inches
There are advantages to the collector of small works as well. The small scale is ideal for those with limited space. They are easy to install – they work well in groupings, or in those niches in home or office. Really, you can put little gems of art anywhere; on a table, a shelf, or a tiny spot on the wall or they can be displayed on a tabletop easel. They are easy to store, easy to pack, easy to ship. They are very affordable for collecting and gift giving, and there just seems to be something inherently fascinating about miniaturization.

Angeles Forest Circling Storm 
Private Collection 
Katherine Kean
oil on linen 
6 x 6 inches

View or shop from a selection of little gems here: Little Gems Collection .

Monday, November 24, 2014

Deck the Walls at Segil Fine Art

Bird in Brush Katherine Kean
oil on linen 8 x 8 inches

I will be taking part in Laura Segil Fine Art's Annual Holiday Small Works, Deck the Walls! Please join us for the opening reception on Saturday, December 6 from 5 -8pm.

Deck the Walls
Holiday Small Works
Saturday, December 6 - Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Opening Reception
Saturday, December 6, 5-8pm

Segil Fine Art Gallery
110 West Lime Avenue
Monrovia, CA 91016

Gallery Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 1-6pm

Monday, November 10, 2014

Bird On Branch

Bird On Branch Sketch Katherine Kean
graphite 8 x 8 inches

I had so much fun with the Bird in Brush painting that I wanted to do another. Although I like the mosaic-like busyness of the other painting, I decided this time to let the little guy have some space instead of being overwhelmed with foliage. And besides, this one looked like he was posing.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Sketch: Charge Into the Deep

Charge Into the Deep Sketch Katherine Kean
graphite 5 x 7 inches
I don't often draw my dreams, except for the ones that stand out and have vivid imagery I can't ignore or forget. Some people call this type of dream a numinous dream, a term coined by Rudolf Otto and used by Jung. I recently had one of those types of dreams. 

At the start I was at the birthday party of a famous artist. Also in attendance were George Lucas ( a visionary of the future) and Walter Cronkite (the most trusted man in America) and we were having a very, nice chat when a large wild red horse charged in and grabbed my finger between his teeth - not in a way to cause hurt, but firmly, so I had no choice but to hang on and go along for the ride. The horse eventually let go of my finger as we raced on to the ocean. I was never on the horse, I just hung onto the mane, which was like a living thing, coiling and waving, as we galloped straight into a tunnel formed by the oncoming waves.

This dream was about a month ago and it took several sketches and studies to organize the imagery to this point. It might take a few more before it's ready to become a painting.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Showing Metal

Coastal Pine Katherine Kean
3 x 3 inches silverpoint
Coastal Pine Katherine Kean
3 x 3 inches silverpoint, aged one month
I have been wanting to try drawing with silverpoint for ages. An artist friend suggested it to me years ago. I have a light touch, which serves me well in watercolor and oils, but for which I must compensate by using very soft pencils. With metalpoint drawings it doesn't matter so much how hard one bears down - the mark will be about the same. 

I decided to try it out with a tiny drawing of very familiar subject matter.

All the marks one makes in silverpoint are indelible. There is no erasing. Metalpoint drawings are ethereal at first and darken with age as they oxidize. You can see a slight difference in the early drawing above, compared to the same drawing photographed again about a month later.

A quality I like about metalpoint is that one piece of metal lasts a long time and I don't find myself taking trip after trip to the sharpener. Without a stylus, metal to work with can be found in the silverware drawer or coin pocket. I also like that the finished surface has a silvery sheen when the light hits it. Silverpoint is difficult to photograph - the scans here are blurry from the light bouncing around, and the drawings look better in person, which I think is true for much, if not all artwork.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Small Bird in an Olive Tree

Small Bird in Olive Tree wip Katherine Kean
oil on linen 8 x 8 inches
"A forest bird never wants a cage." Henrik Ibsen

Here is the first day of work on a small bird resting in an olive tree painting. Every part wants refining and loosening up at the same time. As a busy piece I am glad to have all the main elements: leaves, twigs, bird, laid out. Now comes the hard part, and the fun.

Monday, October 06, 2014

A Bird in the Brush

Sparrow Sketch Katherine Kean
graphite 8 x 8 inches
I like to use drawings as a way of exploring ideas for paintings. In the sketch above I'm interested in the way the bird just about disappears into the busyness of all the leaves and branches.

"The Sparrow shown near a window, perched on a ledge, flying in a window, flying outside a window or perched on a branch outside a window, represents the soul of a recently deceased loved one." The Hidden Symbolism of Birds in Western Painting

I'm interested too in symbolism in art, and birds are loaded with cultural and personal meanings. To some, birds represents souls, to some, freedom. To others, birds might bring good or bad luck.

The sparrows I'm drawing like to perch outside my window where a tall cactus grows. When the cactus fruit is ripe the birds appear at dusk in droves, day after day, until nothing remains of the fruits but hollowed out shells. It's plenty of fun to see.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Angeles Forest Storm

Angeles Forest Storm work in progress Katherine Kean
oil 8 x 8 inches

This is the beginning of a little square painting. I started with a tonal underpainting, as I usually do, but rather than wait for it to dry, worked over it wet into wet. It doesn't need many changes, but I will add some glazes to make some areas richer in color and others more atmospheric.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Angeles Forest Wide Sketch

Angeles Forest Storm Wide Sketch Katherine Kean
graphite 5 1/2 x 11 inches

"Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature's darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature's sources never fail." - John Muir

Monday, September 15, 2014

Surface Tension

Raindrops and Twinkle Lights work in progress Katherine Kean
oil   18 x 24 inches
Are you tired of seeing this one yet? Here is a further stage of development with both the darkest and brightest of the raindrop pattern in evidence. It is shaping up to be a battle of foreground vs. background, and the foreground, the drops and splashes that adhere to the windshield surface, appears to be gaining the upper hand at the moment. I must admit that the raindrop highlights were more than a little fun to paint!

So, to sum up:

Monday, September 08, 2014

Angeles Forest Storm Sketch

Angeles Forest Storm Square Sketch Katherine Kean
graphite 6 x 6 inches

Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." 
- John Muir quoted by Samuel Hall Young in Alaska Days with John Muir (1915) chapter 7

Monday, September 01, 2014

Happy Labor Day!

The Harvesters Pieter Brueghel the Elder 1565
oil on wood 46 7/8 x 63 3/4 inches

Above, the first "modern landscape" - unidealized, based on personal observations of atmosphere and nature's transitions through the seasons.

Enjoy the day, whether you are swimming, playing, picnicking or carrying sheaves.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Weight of Air

The Weight of Air Katherine Kean
oil on linen   48 x 48 inches

A combination of a Cape Cod marsh and imaginary - and much hoped for - rain clouds, this painting has fun details that are hard to see here. The foreground grasses are slightly impasto brushstrokes, as are some of the wind tossed 'debris' in the air.

As I was settling on a title, I looked up many weather terms: downdraft, microburst, wind shear, outflow front, to mention just a few. I finally went with the title that's been in my mind since I started.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Painterly Progress Continues

Raindrops and Twinkle Lights work in progress Katherine Kean
oil   18 x 24 inches
Another installment, shall we say, of the Raindrops with Holiday Lights painting showing about three more layers to establish the background as a bright, yet blurry structure of shapes with the colors streaking and flowing into each other. After drying thoroughly, I'll go back in with a series of glazes before applying the final raindrop layers.

"A painting is a combination of opposites with unity and variety; thick and thin; opaque and transparent; bold and delicate. Artists must use as many devices as they can to hold the viewer's attention. Impasto strokes alongside thin passages enhance the painting surface and create the illusion of volume and depth."  Kevin Macpherson, Landscape Painting Inside and Out

Monday, August 11, 2014

Suburban Murmuration Drawing

Suburban Murmuration Sketch Katherine Kean
graphite 8 x 10 inches

I made this drawing in preparation for a painting. It's an imaginary landscape, although I am using local homes as the basis and making a few changes. The swirling flock of birds is entirely made up.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Cape Cod Travels

After a hot, humid, and hectic beginning of summer, it was nice to spend a week traveling to Cape Cod to visit family, check up on the marsh, chase a few clouds, and look at a few art galleries. I was surprised, and delighted, to find the weather there less humid than Southern California, and cool, and green. Very, very green.

One of the galleries that I visited was Tree's Place, and I was fortunate to see a two person show of Karen Hollingsworth's and James Neil Hollingsworth's paintings. It was a gorgeous exhibition. Their work hung well together, and interacted, with some elements shared and differences that added to the interest.

Back home everything is as busy as usual. I'm having some work done on my yard and one of the crew is rehoming a stray female husky. I ended up inviting her inside to stay on two separate days. I was pondering adopting her - she's sweet, smart, graceful, and beautiful. My cat Zabrina loves dogs and wanted to meet her, but that didn't go very well. It seems the husky viewed her mostly as prey. However, there are many other interested parties, so I doubt she'll have any trouble finding a great home.

And lastly, when is a hole in the roof a good thing? For me, it's when it's getting ready for a skylight to be installed. I've been making changes to my garage so that it can double as a studio space when I need it. It's getting there...

Monday, July 28, 2014

Painterly Progress Proceeds

Raindrops and Twinkle Lights work in progress Katherine Kean
oil 18 x 24 inches
I'm continuing right where I left off last week, with more painterliness on subsequent layers. I'm allowing each layer to dry completely in between applications of paint.

Raindrops and Twinkle Lights work in progress (detail) 
Katherine Kean

oil 18 x 24 inches
As I mentioned in the previous post, I'm allowing some areas to remain thin and translucent, while other areas will be opaque. Because I'm more or less inventing a raindrop pattern on this one, I'm taking my time to allow that pattern to emerge. The actual drops will be the very last to be painted. For now I'm only interested in where raindrops might run together or pool.

Raindrops and Twinkle Lights work in progress (detail) 
Katherine Kean

oil 18 x 24 inches
The orange layer is slightly impasto, applied with stiffer paint to help retain the height and shape of the brush strokes. I plan to apply this idea to the raindrops too, when I get to them.

"A painting in which impasto is a prominent feature can also said to be painterly. This term carries the implication that the artist is revelling in the manipulation of the paint itself and making the fullest use of its sensuous properties." - Tate Glossary, Impasto

Monday, July 21, 2014

Painterly Progression

Raindrops and Twinkle Lights work in progress Katherine Kean
oil 18 x 24 inches
This painting was stalled in the studio for some time. Can you blame me? To me these rainy paintings call for a wet on wet painterly approach - at least in the beginning, and that's something I find that demands a large block of uninterrupted studio time. 

Raindrops and Twinkle Lights work in progress (detail)
Katherine Kean
oil 18 x 24 inches
That means no pending appointments, phone calls, coffee dates, or distracted excursions into the garden. Once into it though, it couldn't be more fun. I love brushstrokes and painterly visual effects and I intend to go to town on this one; varied and broken brushstrokes, sketchiness,  impasto, the works.

Raindrops and Twinkle Lights work in progress Katherine Kean
oil 18 x 24 inches
In the photo above there are about 4 layers of paint, with some areas having more transparency than others. Lately I am working on stormy, rainy, and snowy paintings and enjoying painting 'against' the season. While I'm painting I can almost forget that Los Angeles is in the middle of a strangely humid drought.

"An oil painting is painterly when there are visible brushstrokes, the result of applying paint in a less than completely controlled manner, generally without closely following carefully drawn lines. Works characterized as either painterly or linear can be produced with any painting media, oils, acrylics, watercolors, gouache, etc. Some artists whose work could be characterized as painterly are Pierre Bonnard, Francis Bacon, Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt, Renoir, and John Singer Sargent. In watercolor it might be represented by the early watercolors of Andrew Wyeth." - Wikipedia Painterliness

Monday, July 14, 2014

Home Sweet Home

I will be exhibiting two paintings at Laura Segil Fine Art's Home Sweet Home Group Exhibition that starts this Saturday, July 19.

 Marsh House Katherine Kean 
oil on linen 6 x 6 inches

Billowing Clouds Go By and By Katherine Kean 
oil on linen 16 x 20 inches 

 Home Sweet Home 
Saturday, July 19 - Saturday, August 30 
 Segil Fine Art Gallery 
110 West Lime Avenue 
Monrovia, CA 91016 


 Gallery Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 1-6pm

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Walking Whiting Woods

Whiting Woods Trail 2014 Katherine Kean
graphite 10 x 8 inches
"I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in." - John Muir

This view from the trail at Whiting Woods looks north. If you stand at the edge you can make out the very vertical streets that run from the Crescenta Valley all the way up to the edge of the Angeles Forest; Dunsmore, Pennsylvania, Ramsdell, New York. If you look directly down you see Dunsmore Park - seeming to look a lot closer than the climb up makes a person feel. Like so many of the trails in these parts the way up is steep.

My favorite time to go is late - as the sun is falling and the day is cooling off. It's wonderful to watch the lights come on bit by bit in the neighborhoods below.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Beach Day's End

Beach Day's End Katherine Kean graphite sea ocean sky clouds atmospheric
Beach Day's End 2014 Katherine Kean
graphite 8 x 10 inches
"The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach - waiting for a gift from the sea." - Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift From the Sea

I don't spend nearly enough time visiting beaches, but when I do, I relish the feeling of being sun drenched, wind touched, and a little bit salty and sandy at the end of the day, don't you?

Have a wonderful Fourth of July weekend!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Slow Painting Ahead

Here are a couple of detail images - call it a sneak peek of a large painting. It is 48 x 48 inches and has been in the studio for a longish time waiting to be completed. I am working my way down to the refining stages, and evaluating details.

I can hardly wait to call it finished. However, it seems to want to come along slowly. Some paintings are like that.

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