Karen Cooper is a figurative painter, who paint with oil or acrylic paints on canvas. She do not make reproductions of any of my paintings, so each one that you look at is a unique rendering of her point of view.
The doors for the new studio came today. I have not even been outside to see them yet, and for a darned good reason. I was pushing the paint on the most recent easel dweller. I couldn't decide which one I was more excited about, the painting or the doors.
The deciding factor was, it snowed here in Grinnell again, and while the doors have arrived, the heater has NOT. I rest my case.
Did you see that title line up there? Not Quite Done Yet is NOT the name of a painting.
What it IS is your clue that we are doing things a little differently today. As in, your Painting of the Week is not quite done yet. As in, not complete. As in, не закончен.
All you get is a progress report. But I am so happy with this painting, I felt no sense in waiting.
The scene: Gorky Park, Moscow. A drop dead gorgeous summer day, when the sun was making lots of things in the park shimmer with light. (An excellent antidote for the weather du jour, definitely.)
And now, on to your visual aids for this entry:
- the original photo that inspired it all.
- focusing on what I decided is important to the story
- seeing it in black and white
- plotting for value structure.....
- artist aids & understanding the tricky parts
- can you feel it??!!
Hopefully by this time next week, I'll have the grand finale for you!
And in case you are wondering, no, the new studio is not yet done. Still painting in the corner of the kitchen.
But the heat source unit is in town (soon to installed we hope) and the doors and window were ordered Monday. Progress.
Today's "painting of the week" entry makes me think about while we were still in Lipetsk, and I had a minute to look at photo references. I thought about the potential of painting "bus window" paintings once we were full time Iowans again.
That whole series of reference material is so much a part of what my life in Lipetsk was like, that "would I, should I could I" entered into the thought process.
Would I want to paint something I wasn't living in the midst of now?
Should I paint something from the past?
Could I still make the story of the painting real? From afar?
Those were my thoughts then.
This is my thought now: the sketch books and photo files have too many good stories in them to just put them away on a shelf somewhere.
I decided it's okay to paint something on one continent, that I remember from another continent. :)
And so I give you yet another painting from the Lipetsk bus window series, and painted in Grinnell!
With the image portion of this week's post, I decided to give you an insider view of some of the games artists play at the beginning stages of a painting.
And the photo references: I was specifically looking for street markets on this day last summer, but sometimes I surprise myself when I open up the photo and find a little unrelated gem hiding off to the side...
Yup. That's a Berthe Morisot. You always need a role model near by.
Followed by a few more photos from the day's adventure:
By now, you are wondering what on earth the painting itself looks like??
Sunshine Makes Me Feel This Way. From the series "Looked Out The Bus Window And There You Were."
And the appropriate links to further your painting enjoyments.
Welcome to the Cooper studio, Grinnell, Iowa, and this week's slightly tardy Painting of the Week column entry.
Before we get to the painting discussion, I have очень exciting news to share with you! I have been murmuring about the new studio build, right? Well, guess what?? We have WALLS. And the walls have INSULATION. And the windows & doors guy is coming tomorrow. This project is ROLLING! Wootwoot. I am SO excited. And eager. What would be even more exciting is if spring would be ready at the same time as the new studio...
Okay. Let's get to the subject titled in the heading.
Today's little gem of a painting is from my much talked about & and much enjoyed series "Looked Out The Bus Window And There You Were". While the majority of this series has Lipetsk roots, we made several trips from Lipetsk to Bryansk, Russia, during our time there - enough so that I learned the Bryansk bus system as well. And that means there are a few paintings in the bus series from Bryansk.
Interestingly, buses in Bryansk have to be waved down/in/over, or else they assume you don't want them & their route number, and they just roll on by. Conversely, when you get a few meters from your bus stop, you have to call out that you want the approaching bus stop. Dios mio - I caused a lot of whiplash on other passengers, when I called out my stop in my ridiculous accent. But! I never missed my stop, so I count that as success.
Bryansk, Russia, is a town on the western side of Russia. If you kept on driving, in about an hour and a half, you'd be in Belarus. Alas, we never took that extra adventure.
Bryansk is not considered a city by a lot of Russians, as it is only about 350,000 people. When your origins are Nebraska and Iowa, 350,000 people seems like enough to get city status.
In this town of 350,000 people, is one of the most outstanding art museums I have ever visited. And I've been to more than a few. Why the Bryansk location? Because this museum's famed artists were born, raised, and spent a lot of their lives living in a village nearby Bryansk.
And the artists? Yes. Sergei and Aleksei Tkachev. And a link to some of their work: (link)
The brothers often collaborated on the same canvas. They worked on very large canvases, and possibly the collaboration allowed them still to be very prolific. If you venture off to look at images of their paintings, please try to imagine that small image on your screen as a wall sized canvas, with colors twice as rich as any screen will ever give you. I made six visits to the museum in Bryansk devoted solely to their paintings, but also was privileged to see their paintings in other collections in Russia as well. I have not yet investigated their US presence, but I do know their work is part of the collection at The Museum Of Russian Art in Minneapolis (link)
In my dreams, I someday paint with at least a little of the emotion, beauty, and drama that the Tkachev brothers put on their canvases.
We do need to get on to The Painting Of The Week!
Looked Out The Bus Window And There You Were. Pretty Scarf In Bryansk.
This lady was at the Partizan Square bus stop, and she waved in the bus I was already on, to stop and pick her up as well.
Here she is:
When she got on the bus, she sat on the seat one ahead of me, on the opposite side of the aisle. It was perfect for capturing that quick sketch. Now if I could just locate that specific sketch book... the book between March 2016 and January 2017 is "misplaced". Hopefully it plans on showing up soon and then I will give you the sketch.
For now, how about the actual painting?
Looked Out The Bus Window And There You Were. Pretty Scarf In Bryansk. And a link to the painting's zoom view: (click link)
And then how about a link to the ongoing column of Painting of the Week? (click link)
Welcome to the Cooper studio, Grinnell - the very same Grinnell, where today, the walls started going up for the new studio! Yay!
Have I talked with you about the bumpy area rug that is currently laying in a corner of our kitchen, trying to protect a hardwood floor from oil paint, that might accidentally drip/slop/spatter from the easel? And the challenges of negotiating the bumpy area rug, while painting? Because as any artist will tell you, while painting, it's important to step back from the easel repeatedly, to get the "backed-off" view of what's going on on the canvas. Trust me when I say there's nothing like being really focused on the painting, and then tripping over the rug as you take those four or five steps back.... I am already ever so eager for the new studio to be completed!
But we are here to talk about the Painting of the Week, aren't we? So, stop with the delays, eh?
This week we are going to talk about one of the paintings from my bus window series, and there are multi reasons for this. Have you ever had a painting in one country while you were in another country? And when you looked at an online image of the painting, you realized the image was a little blurry and the color was all wrong? And there wasn't anything you could do about it, because of course, often two countries are separated by a lot of miles?
Guess what? Said painting and I are NOW in the same country. And today I re-photod that painting! Please remember that no matter how awesome a job of photography is employed, the painting always looks better in person. Real paint, real canvas, real brushstrokes, real important!
Okayokay, back to the painting of our discussion, which as the title of this says, is, from the Bus Window series. While we were in Lipetsk, my main mode of transport (other than walking!) was the city bus. One of my favorite games in the summer, was taking the camera along for a ride, to see who was standing at the multitudes of bus stops scattered all over the city. I'd find a window seat toward the back of the bus - my goal was to remain anonymous :) Funny things happened while playing this game. When people saw me taking their photo at the bus stop, some enjoyed it and some did not! Often I'd get the camera back to the apartment, load the images onto my laptop, and discover something I had NO idea I'd captured. Once I discovered one of the people from my drawing group in a bus stop photo, even though I hadn't seen her while I was on scene. I have a fun photo of a girl waving at me on camera - even though while at that bus stop, I hadn't seen her!
It was definitely a fun game, and I have hundreds of great reference photos of Lipetsk-ians waiting for their buses, with all their various postures and motions and expressions.
That said, this week's painting is from a Bryansk bus stop. I am nothing if not impartial :)
I have mentioned before, sometimes a painting gets a detailed prep drawing, and sometimes, not so much. And then we move everything back across the ocean, and I end up finding reference notes instead of drawings...
So on September 12th, I wrote:
1. golden one at the bus stop
(because of course who doesn't enjoy and get inspiration from that much sun glinting off somebody's hair?!!)
2. what/where is the shadow on the left, her ponytail?
(thinking about the shapes!)
3. palm and forefinger expression
secondary focus, pointing, literally AND figuratively at the main focus!
4. light structure is good on left face, but don't weaken color
always about the color...
So there's your glimpse of what is playing in an artist's head while standing in front of an easel.
My camera motto for reference material is always "two shots are better than one". The babushka in blue, with the light on her hat sure looked like she wanted painted, and I managed to get two images! Later, I realized Marina from my drawing group, had been sitting there the whole time :)
and then the photo reference from a Bryansk bus stop that started this whole post.
Looked Out The Bus Window And There You Were. Yes, You.
Enjoy! And thanks for stopping by.
and a few handy links for you
1. Looked Out The Bus Window And There You Were. Yes, You - a (link) to my portfolio page of this painting with a zoom view
2. and the ongoing variant of this column on my website (link)
Welcome to the Cooper studio, Grinnell, Iowa, and this week's edition of Painting of the Week.
While I consider my work to be impressionistic and figurative, I also consider it to be narrative, and so this week's painting of priority is Good Story. And you betcha, it covers all three parameters.
The scene: Bykhanov Cad park, a beautiful summer day, no jackets required.
I have mentioned before but I will say it again, there is always lots of activity in this park. Sitting down to read a book is pretty much commonplace, and this painting focuses on that very activity.
When I went back over my notes about the painting, I found a little line drawing. Not much detail, but when you put it together with the rest of the reference material, that's how the painting happens. Let me show you, please.
This is another artist's painting, but I kept the image close by while I was painting Good Story - I wanted it to remind me to paint the park trees and undergrowth loosely defined.
For almost the same reason, this artist's painting was also in my reference material - I wanted it nearby to remind me that it's okay to paint hair messy. And sometimes it even makes the painting feel better.
And there you have it. A Good Story.
Thanks for stopping by!
and a pair of handy links: the painting and info with a zoom view (link)
and the link to the ongoing Painting of the Week column (link)
Welcome to the Cooper studio and this week's painting of the week.
Did you hear about the big blizzard? It's currently blitzing our family members who live in NE Nebraska. Wow.
But when you commiserate with the ones getting walloped, it makes one want to decide that the painting of the week needs to be one with blazing sunshine:
это City View. Shokolad Veranda.
Surely you can feel the sunshine? I remember the day well....
"I was sitting on the veranda at Shokolad (кафе "Шоколад") enjoying a perfect cappuccino, just as the scene for a painting develops. How convenient! And what a perfect thing to happen on this summer day.
City view, Lipetsk"
The pictorial inspiration? But of course. Here we go:
IRRA, Vitaly P VlasovKlimov, Sunny Day 2
IRRA, Vitaly P VlasovKlimov, Sunny Day 3
And your Painting of the Day:
City View. Shokolad Veranda, Lipetsk
And I will be ever so happy to share the link that takes you directly to a zoom-able view, with the painting's pertinent info. (link)
AND the link to the ongoing Painting of the Week column. (link)
I must be feeling slightly guilty about not giving you a "Painting of the Week" yesterday. Maybe it will happen yet. Did you remember that I had written to you about my soon-to-be-new-studio? It can't get finished any time too soon. Yesterday I moved the easel from the basement (impossible location to paint in) to a corner of the kitchen (almost impossible location to paint in) but I painted all day today anyway. Believe it or not, I am reworking an old one. See, that's what happens when we paint in weird places!
And that's not what this post is about either.
So let's get started. You do realize that with a two paragraph preamble, I am getting ready to bash someone's work, right?
I have had occasion to peruse the member pages of Oil Painters of America. There's some very inspirational painting going on there bytheway. You should look too:
And oh my gosh, there are a LOT of artists in that fine group. Alphabetically, I am only to the C's, and already it's page 10. Yup, lots of artists.
But I have a question for you:
If you are an accomplished enough artist to join a national arts organization that charges a $70 annual membership, wouldn't you try your very hardest to take full advantage of that membership fee?
I thought so.
May I tell you that not everyone thinks like we do?
Because as I survey those pages of artist listings, I have noticed something, that to me at least, is quite curious. There are 4 or 5 artists on each of those pages of about 80 artists per page, whose website links don't work.
I know, I know! Who would have thought it??
Many of the malfunctioning simply go back to their GoDaddy (or whoever) host which means they lapsed.
Yet I found several others whose front pages won't open, or the link to their portfolio page won't work, or a malady like that.
I suppose we could list a few possible reasons why an artist might intentionally have this happen?
- they are just so freakingfamous that they really don't need their website to work, because people flock to their front door anyway?
- they died last year?
- they've been hacked?
- they are too busy taking care of all their social media accounts?
- they paint just fine, but organization is beyond them?
But still, aren't we told every time we turn around, that if we are going to have a representational website, it HAS to be current? And well done?
And if out of about 80 artists listed on a page, 70 of them have viable links to get you to their website and images of their paintings, what does that say about the handful who don't?
What good is an artist's name on a page if there's not an image of a painting you-the-viewer can get too?
I guess this is just deep-thought-Tuesday in Grinnell, Iowa.
Thanks for stopping by.
And if you are an artist with a FASO website, OR one of the fine folk who work to bring we-the-artists the wonderful commodity known as the FASO website, pat yourself on the back. Because on those pages of 80ish artist's names, those with FASO websites shine. And I mean beautiful shine.
Welcome to the Cooper studio, working at getting situated in the new place in Grinnell, Iowa!
It occurred to me that this week's spotlight painting really ought to be the one I finished just before leaving Lipetsk and heading for the US on December 21.
And now it's confession time, because there was an even more recent - one started in Lipetsk, transported in the rough :( and finished here in Grinnell. What a history for a painting, eh? And it's not photographed yet either, so patience there, please.
As for today, your Painting of the Week, January 8, 2018 is (drum roll)
Park Bench Reader. Pleasant Drama.
The day of inspiration brings back lots of good thoughts to this painter! The park, sunshine, and people enjoying both. Yes, once again, the setting is Bykhanov Cad Park in Lipetsk. I recall looking out the apartment window at the beautiful day and thinking I needed an excuse to go out into it. The camera and the sketchbook are my favorite excuses. Someday I will also tell you about the process of taking my sketchbook out for coffee :)
On this specific day, the camera and the sketchbook turned out to be excuses with benefits.
This reference is from another summer day, and another Lipetsk park (Nizhny Park) but the feeling of the day is the same, and so I borrowed these "models" and placed them in Bykhanov Cad Park :)
And now if I could just find the sketchbook I was working in at the time, I'd show some of that as well. We are at that stage of "I know it's here somewhere...."
For today, it's photo references, and the painting it turned out to be:
Yes, Park Bench Reader. Pleasant Drama. No denying the pleasant, eh?
And while we are on the subject of photo references and inspiration, I am feeling a strong pull from that 4th photo in the line. Stay tuned?
Thanks for stopping by.
a link to my website portfolio for info and a full screen view of Park Bench Reader. Pleasant Drama.(link, click)
Yes, it is titled January 1, and this IS January 4th.
Extenuating circumstances or the weather, take your pick, and that leaves us with good cause for a slight delay.
Extenuating circumstances: did you note the adjusted preamble to this column? Did you??? We are Iowans once again! The apartment in Lipetsk, and living there, is now a piece of our history. As I'd mentioned earlier (somewhere?) husband's contract completed December 16th. We began the transition and arrived in Iowa December 21, just in time to start enjoying multitudes of family Christmas gatherings!
And if you choose to accept the weather for my excuse and/or reason for delay in posting, well then, there's really no explanation necessary, is there?! I know silly people who think living in Russia has to be the ultimate experience in cold. No. It was 40 degrees in Lipetsk when we left, and the temps are still in the balmy 30's. Oh for some Baltic Sea breezes in Grinnell...
Anyway, onto the painting of the week.
You, my faithful readers/viewers know how I feel about snow. I don't like it much, and I don't paint it much. But as I look out the window at it (and revert to the above paragraph regarding weather) it seems appropriate to pick a painting that at least hints about winter.
And so, your painting of the week: We Dance.
Do you remember when we talked about Festival Keys(link) earlier in this column? We Dance happened that very same day. Yes, it's the festival called Maslenitsa, when all good Russians prepare for Easter AND celebrate impending spring by burning Old Lady Winter.
In the painting Festival Keys, you see the accordion man and his impromptu solo, but if you look closely at some of the accompanying photos I gave you with that post, you'll see today's model with no apparent resistance to the kick-up-your-heels music. Yup, she succumbed to the music and it's well obvious :)
We've talked many times about how the painting is always better when you see the real thing, rather than a copied image, and I contend music shares that factor. How many of us would listen to accordion music played on a radio? But I can assure you that the Festival Keys guy will pull you in with his music, now matter what your preferences.
Time for some color on this post, eh? I give you We Dance.
And for your full screen look at the painting, here's the link to click: (link)
And regarding that better-in-person factor of a real painting, We Dance is currently at the Pearson Lakes Art Center, in lovely (but cold) Okoboji, Iowa, where it is a part of the Wanda Skogerboe juried exhibit through January 27th. A link to my events page for further info on the Skogerboe exhibit ( link)
Welcome once again to my Painting of the Week column.
Today we will lean back a few years and grab a painting.
It was just after the time of our first Maslenitsa in Lipetsk. Maslenitsa is the festival right before Easter when Russians everywhere burn 'old lady winter' in effigy. As a non-lover of winter, I think it's a great festival concept.
As Americans we were more than amazed at the scope of the event. We visited the Bykhanov Cad park variant of the festival. The rides were going, dancers and vocalists in folk costumes were doing their part, the shashlik cookers were cooking, people were having picnics on park benches, children were running around with balloons on strings - did I mention the temperature and the snow? What a fun festival!
That brings us to a musician who wasn't necessarily part of the program, but he was making his music anyway. We've come to find out he makes music all over the city, and people just seem to gravitate to him.
--Small sidebar here: this past Oktoberfest, the cafe we wanted to partake of was booked solid so we hopped on a bus to go up the hill to another. There on bus #315 was the accordion guy with a bunch of friends, playing and singing music. What Fun! And where-oh-where is the camera when you truly NEED it??!!
Anyway, this week's painting of the week is indeed the same man, in the painting Festival Keys.
A bit of color, you ask? You betcha.
And so you mix all that excitement together, and sometimes a painting comes out. :) Festival Keys. And your link for a zoomable view.
I thank you for stopping by to read!
Whoa! Did I hear one of you say "but what about burning the old lady winter?"
Yes! That can happen too. The following link will take you to my youtube page where she burns in awesome splendor :)