Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Artsbridge 13th Annual Juried Show

"Winter Afternoon, Amwell Valley"
12x24 oil on canvas

This painting was accepted into the Artsbridge 13th Annual Juried Show, which will run from June 30 through July 28, 2007 at:
RiverRun Gallery
287 South Main Street (Rt 29)
Lambertville, NJ 08530

gallery hours: daily from 10:00 – 5:00,
Sundays 12:00 too 5:00, closed Tuesdays
Opening reception is Saturday June 30 from 6 to 9 pm.

This is one of the few winter scenes I've painted. It's looking out over Amwell Valley, just across the street from where I live.

Also of note is the fact that including myself, 8 of the Artists' Gallery members have been accepted into this show. Considering that hundreds of artists from a 75 mile radius enter the Artsbridge Annual, it's pretty impressive that we're so well represented this year. Images of the other members' work can be found on the Artists' Gallery blog.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Yes, This Is New Jersey

My next big show is coming up soon: June 21 through August 2, 2007 at Bell's Tavern in Lambertville, NJ. It's a solo show of some of my larger studio paintings of the surrounding countryside. And maybe a few small plein air pieces too - I'll finalize that when I hang the show this week. The name of the show:

Yes, This Is New Jersey
Local Landscapes by Joe Kazimierczyk

"Cider Mill Farm"
16x20 acrylic on canvas

I have to credit Abby, owner of the Hopewell Frame Shop for inspiring that title. She told me that at my recent solo show there, people would look at my paintings and ask: "is this really New Jersey?". The answer to that question seemed a natural title for this show.

Bell's is a great little restaurant and bar at the northern edge of town. The owners always like to display local artists' work, and this will be the second show I've had here:

Bell's Tavern
183 North Union Street
Lambertville, NJ 08530
[map & directions]

Open for dinner only:
Mon-Thurs 6pm-9:30pm, Fri & Sat 5pm-10pm, Sun 5pm-9pm

There is no opening reception, but hey, it's a bar and restaurant so every night will be like a reception, even better.

One painting I'm looking forward to showing is this triptych - it's the only triptych I've ever done and I've had few opportunities to show it, because of it's size. Bell's has one long unbroken wall, so here's my chance. The painting is of one of the dams of Round Valley Reservoir, and the road atop it. It's a road I cycle on a lot, and this scene has always fascinated me:

"Round Valley Dam Triptych"
16x60 acrylic on canvas (3 panels)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Green Sergeant's Covered Bridge

Here's one from yesterday. It's the covered bridge near Sergeantsville, NJ - New Jersey's only covered bridge. I've always wondered why New Jersey only has one covered bridge while there are dozens just across the river in Bucks County, Pa. No matter - it was a beautiful day to be out painting. And a nice change from last weekend when I was painting on the Hidden Gardens of Lambertville tour as hundreds of people filed by. While painting the covered bridge, I didn't see a single person. I only heard the cars and bicycles riding across the bridge. And 2 horses clomping by on the road along the creek. It was a bit treacherous standing in the rocky creek bed, but still, it's a very pleasant place to spend a few hours.

"Green Sergeant's Covered Bridge"
11x14 oil on canvas panel

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Hidden Gardens of Lambertville

Last week, I talked about how I would be painting out in public along with other Artists' Gallery members during the Hidden Gardens of Lambertville tour. The tour was very successful and there were well over 200 visitors passing through. I'm not used to painting with so many onlookers, but that wasn't really bad at all. Most of the visitors were thrilled to see us artists in action! Unfortunately, the painting I came up with was not that great and I had a lot of witnesses. Since I told you about this event already, I feel obligated to show you the painting:

"Garden Gate"
8x10" oil on panel

I think the main problem was that I was rushing. I didn't have time to check out all of the gardens first, and the few I did look at were just too small to accommodate a painter - these are private, back yard city gardens after all. I found one large enough, it was shady and pleasant, and a fellow artist was there for company which was nice, so I set up there. I started painting the garden gate because it was an attractive garden feature, but that's not enough to make a good painting. I rushed to get something down on canvas since so many people were watching, and poor composition is the basic problem here. Plus I had one big technical problem: I've recently started using a new medium (Gamblin Galkyd) and it had really gummed up in the bottle making it difficult to use. And the gate went from full sun to full shade within an hour. Excuses, excuses...

This fall, probably September, our gallery is having a special exhibit of the garden paintings we created, and we'll be donating a portion of the sales to the Kalmia Club, which organized the garden tour and which does a lot of work for local charities. I really want to be able to show a good painting for this good cause, so I did another one from photos. This one is a much better composition, and since I had more time, I included the table and chairs which really would have added some interest to the first painting:

"In Kevin's Garden"
8x10" oil on panel

Here I am in action. Carol Sanzalone is the artist sitting down working in watercolor:

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Pine Tree Trail

My last post was way too wordy, so I'll balance things out with this one. Here's a painting I did last weekend. It's a trail on the banks of Round Valley Reservoir near Lebanon, NJ. It was a nice day to be out and I had a lot of fun doing this one:
"Pine Tree Trail"
11"x14" oil on linen panel

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Painting in Public

I got over my fear of painting in public years ago. It was a big hurdle for me, but I still prefer solitude and I usually seek out places where I won't encounter too many people. All but one of the townscapes I've done to date have been painted from photographs, and the one that I did do plein air was purposely on a quiet, off-season weekday morning. But that's about to change:

The Artists' Gallery co-op that I belong to has partnered up with the Kalmia Club this year for the 11th annual Hidden Gardens of Lambertville Tour - a self-guided walking tour of private gardens in the town of Lambertville. Several of the gallery members will be painting at these gardens as hundreds of people take the garden tour, and I agreed to take part. We'll have a fall exhibit at the gallery where we'll donate part of the sales to benefit the Kalmia Club's community efforts.

It'll be an interesting experience, and for a good cause, but I do have a few reservations:
  1. Obviously the large number of people - I don't know if it will be hundreds, but it will be a lot more than I'm used to. I really don't mind an occasional break to talk to a passer-by - I usually enjoy that. But I'm worried that with too many onlookers, I won't be able to concentrate on the painting. You only have a very short time in which to capture a scene before the light changes it completely.
  2. I'll be painting on unfamiliar ground. I'll have more than a dozen gardens to choose from but I've never been to a single one before. What if I don't find one that inspires me to paint? I'm sure the gardens will be beautiful, but I sometimes have a hard time finding a painting even in the prettiest spots. It's not unusual for me to go somewhere to paint, do some exploring, then head somewhere else because nothing was calling out to be painted.
  3. I almost always paint wide open spaces. Here I'll be painting small gardens, and from what I hear, some of these gardens are very small.
  4. The dreaded 'ugly stage' - as I've mentioned in my 2 demos here, the early stages of painting can look pretty dreadful. I know where it's going, but to everyone else, it'll just look like an ugly painting.
So, I may end up doing an ugly painting of something I really don't want to paint, as hundreds of people stream by politely saying "that's nice". Okay, that's the worst case scenario. Hopefully I'll have found a great spot to paint, met lots of nice people, turned out a good painting, and have gotten over my fear of painting in busy places. I'll let you know how it goes.

The garden tour is on Saturday, June 9 from 10 am to 4 pm, rain or shine. Please visit The Kalmia Club website for information on where to get tickets for this event. If you enjoy visiting gardens, and if you want to put some more pressure on me, please come out this Saturday!

Friday, June 01, 2007

In Search of White Buildings

Well, I'm back to painting white buildings and shadows. This is a barn I've painted a few times before - it's on the Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association nature preserve near Pennington, NJ - one of my favorite places to paint:
I wanted to show another set of photos of how I go about painting. In the last series I showed, I don't think the photos were that great - hopefully these will be better:

Step 1: The sketch. The building lines were extremely important to this painting, so that's what I concentrated on - getting the perspective of the building right. Other than that, just a few light lines to indicate the top of the tree line. That's all I needed at this point. As usual, I'm working on a panel toned with a light wash of yellow ocher.

Step 2: Blocking in. I painted the shadows bluer than they were intentionally so I could drag a more neutral grey over it later, but plan on letting some of this bright blue peek through. The rich brown of the background trees makes a good base for the greens that come later. Again, planning to let some of the browns show through. You really have to think ahead at this stage. Looks like a real mess, doesn't it?! Remember what I said about every painting going through an ugly stage.

Step 3
: More roughing in. I put some sky color down and softened to the tree line. The grass is blocked in mainly with the shadow color, even though the sunlit greens will be much warmer - again, I'll let some of this blue-green peek through. With some detail in the building and carts, it's starting to look like something.

Step 4
: Work on the background trees. I try to get some variety in the greens so that it's not monotonous. Green is one of the most difficult colors to deal with - there can be so much of it in a typical landscape, and there are so many different shades of green - it's hard to pull off sometimes. The sunlit grass color is also added, but note that the building shadow line on the grass is out of perspective. It's easy to forget that even shadows have to follow the rules of perspective. I correct this later.

Step 5
: Tree trunks are are put in, and the carts are refined a bit.

Step 6
: "Sky holes". I previous steps, the tress were blocked in as solid masses. But if you look at the photo of this scene, there is a lot of sky peeking through the trees. So I start painting some sky color over the trees now - this technique is called painting "sky holes" and you can usually get more realistic trees by carving them up with sky holes, than you can my trying to paint trees into the sky color. It's almost like you're sculpting the trees out of the solid greens and browns. The perspective in the grass shadow is corrected here:

The finished painting:
"Stony Brook Farm Carts"
8x10 oil on panel

I have a few more closeup shots of the finished painting on my main website, here.