SoBe Kind of Day by Leah Wiedemer
It’s been a while since I had the opportunity to do some roaming, so when my painting “SoBe Kind of Day” was accepted into the Women Painters of the South East annual exhibition I jumped at the chance to travel to Tennessee for the opening. The exhibition was held at the Imagine Gallery on the second floor of ‘The Factory’ in Franklin, TN. Franklin is a charming little town just south of Nashville. It was a delight to stroll Main street, window shopping and sampling the offerings of a few of the many fine restaurants in town. Outside of town there were rolling hills dotted with horse farms and historic plantations. Since Nashville was close we decided to take a little day trip. The Frist museum was holding a wonderful exhibition of old Dutch masters. What a treat! After a thoroughly enjoyable morning of seeing my first live and in person Rembrandts we had some lunch and then hit the strip lined with eateries, drinkeries and cowboy boot shops.
The next day Lori Putnam ( our juror for the show and plein air painter extraordinaire) gave an informative talk and painting demonstration. It’s always great to see an accomplished artist do a painting right before your eyes.
Lori Putnam’s painting demo
That evening was the show opening and awards ceremony. The show was hung beautifully and I was proud to have one of my pieces included among so many stunning paintings. If you go to the WPSE website you can see pictures of all of the winning works. Congratulations to all who took awards! They were well deserved. Hopefully, I will see you again next year.
Who hasn’t seen an especially appealing, or unique work of art and thought “I want to do that!”? I love to study the works of masters, both past and contemporary to learn new to me techniques and perhaps try those techniques on different surfaces or with different tools and materials.
After reading about the use of under painting for soft pastels I decided to give it a try. I sprayed a bit of adhesive on the back of a piece of Canson Mi- Teintes paper and stuck it on gator board. I drew a light sketch on the paper and then got out my water colors and went to work. I just blocked in color, not trying to do a finished painting by any means. With my under painting dry I was ready to go to work with my soft pastels. I did get some waves to my paper, but when I was finished I took it off the gator board and taped it back to the board painted side down. Then I carefully applied water to the back making sure my tape held securely. When it was completely dry I weighted it down with some heavy books for a few minutes just as an extra measure. Viola! A flat painting ready to frame.
Heading For the Barn – Leah Wiedemer
Next I decided to try the same technique with different paper. I chose a piece of Uart Sanded paper and again used the spray adhesive on the back. This paper definitely lent itself better to the water color under painting. I experienced none of the buckling as the previous attempt and I loved the effect. This is a landscape just before the fog lifted near Barga, Italy.
Vineyard Path by Leah Wiedemer
For my final experiment I tired a piece of beautiful handmade paper from India. I’m a sucker for deckle edges so I was pretty excited about this paper. I prepped the paper the same as in the first two paintings. Sadly the paper didn’t hold up well to the water color under painting. It seemed to want to disintegrate under my brush. In my head I heard “Abort! Abort!”. So I did. This is the finished painting anyway. It is the scene out of my window where I stayed in Barga, Italy at Casa Cordati.
View From the Big Room by Leah Wiedemer
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Lately I’ve been painting a lot of pet portraits in soft pastel. This is some of the most enjoyable commission work I’ve done. We love our pets! And judging by their expressions, our pets love us back.
And why not? Is anything too good for our faithful companions? No! We dress them, play with them, provide comfy beds (sometimes OUR beds) and prepare the best food available.
But before all that, we name them. It has been great fun learning all the names bestowed upon these furry friends and I thought I’d share them with you.
Sweet Pea Linus Guinness
Nutmeg Olive Oil Ziggy
Now for a game… can you match the picture with the name?
Painting a ceiling, especially a ceiling mural can be a pain in the neck. Since I just completed six months of fairly intensive chiropractic visits to take the kinks out of my neck, I wasn’t anxious to undo all that good work. So, when I was contacted to paint a ‘pretty, cloudy sky’ on a ceiling I suggested that I paint it on canvas and install it like wallpaper.
I assured the designer and homeowner that they would receive a superior product for no additional money and very soon I was ordering 63inch wide, eighteen foot long rolls of canvas. My client, in a flurry of indecision bought six or seven sample cans of various shades of blue paint trying to find the perfect shade for her dining room walls. These little cans became the base shades for the sky.
A blend of bues for a base
My plan was to paint the mural in two pieces that would be fit together on the ceiling. I tacked up fourteen feet of canvas in my studio and went to work. I was careful to keep track of my shade variations along the seam line to avoid needing too much touch up after it was installed.
After completing the second canvas we were ready for the big moment. I met the team of paper hangers at the clients home and with just a little direction about how I wanted the canvases to come together they took over the measuring and planning from there.
- One canvas up and starting on the second
The paper hangers were wonderful and I wouldn’t trade jobs with them for all the tea in China. Unfortunately in spite of all the care they took, due to the thickness of the canvas the seam was very visible. Also the canvas torqued a bit causing it to shift towards the center line. Fortunately there was still just enough canvas on the outer edges to keep us from having a gap. But it threw all of my careful color matching off. So much for my brilliant planning. I would have to touch up thirteen feet down the center line. Oh well, not the end of the world, and it would probably only take a couple of hours. The real problem was that pesky seam.
UGH! Unsightly seam!
We decided to mix up some joint compound with some blue paint and carefully cover the seam. To keep from creating more edges we took a wet sponge to the outer edges of the ‘mud’ smoothing it out. I used a hair dryer to speed the drying time of the joint compound.
Success! The joint compound completely leveled out the seam and created a beautiful seamless mural . We paused to do a little dance of joy before I tackled the color matching.
Hooray! Problem solved.
While I did have to spend some time with my neck craned up, it can’t compare to the pain involved in painting an entire ceiling. I’m happy, the paper hanger is happy and the client is thrilled. A good day. Have you ever run into a similar problem with an unsightly seam? How did you solve it?
Just one more 'cause I'm so happy.
The painting is complete. I think I’m finished tweaking on it, but you never know… Until it’s framed there is always a chance that I will decide to make a minor color adjustment here and there. The final steps in my process are pressing in the pastels by putting it under a heavy board and giving it a light coating of fixative spray. Occasionally the fixative obliterates the whites and I have to go back in and re-do those. I decided, for now to leave in the pillar on the left. I was concerned that it would be distracting. I’m still not sure. Tell me what you think. I’m always open to suggestions and criticism.
How would you like to take a little painting journey with me? Come along while I document my work on a painting in soft pastel. The subject is my dad when he was a boy. I’m basing it on an old, black and white photograph. My support is grey, suede paper and I began with a white chalk outline. My plan is to work on it taking pictures of my progress at regular intervals. As you can see in this first photo, most of the boy is completed. I applied several thin layers of pastel, building up gradually until I was satisfied with the color and density. I’ll make further minor adjustments later after more of the porch structure is completed. I’ve included the photo I’m working from and the pastels I used in this first shot.
First installment of painting in progress
Check back next week to see how I’m doing, and let me know what you think so far.