Friday, April 29, 2011

Still Life Paintings and Frames

One of the things that I'm indebted to Del Gish for is making frames. Okay, I'm not a master frame maker ... not even close ... but I have been able to save a ton of money on frames since he showed me some of the finer points.
Recently, the old picket fence that was around the cabin in Yosemite was pulled up so that they could replace it with one that is practically just as worthless. The great thing about it, though, is that the wood from the old one was very weathered and rustic looking. I was able to use some of it to make some frames for a show at the gallery called "little wonders". Some of the parameters of this show include having no dimensions of the work be over 10" - including the frame ... and nothing over $100.
I've been working on several small pieces and decided to frame them up for this particular show. I was able to borrow a miter saw from Eldon and put together three or four this week. They turned out okay ... saved me some quan, too.
Actually, a funny thing happened on my way to the gallery ... I took the pieces into the Gertrude painting session to show them the frames ... and I sold two of the paintings! Nice. It was a profitable day for me.

Back at the Gertrude

Today we had a beautiful young woman pose for us at our Friday morning painting session. She posed as a Heinamachafrau. She did a great job, especially for such a young model ... in a standing pose! I wish I had a better photo of it, but I sold it before I left.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Still Life Paintings

The day before I left Connecticut (last Thursday), I still had a pallet full of paint from the still life that I did as a tribute to my Dad. So, I grabbed an 8"x10" canvas and sat down to paint a pot of flowers, which I left for Diana. In the process of painting it, I had to reload a few of my paint piles, and Judy (who had been making such wonderful food for us the whole time that I was there) suggested that there was enough paint left to do something for her. So, I let her choose some items and we arranged them together and I worked for a few hours on that one, too. Judy is a fine artist in her own right and I was happy to do this for her.

All three of the paintings that I worked on were on canvases that my Dad had tinted blue. He worked mostly on landscapes and tinted the canvases blue so that he was a step ahead when it came to the sky. It was an interesting change, as I usually tint my canvases a warm colour before I work on them.

Again, they were done with the "water mixable oil colour". Even after working with them all week, I never really got the hang of them. They dry at a much faster rate than regular oil paint and, oddly, they don't mix real smoothly with linseed oil ... at least not as smoothly as one would think. They felt more like acrylic paints to me ~ although they didn't dry quite that quickly.

They were fun little pieces and I was happy to leave them for Judy and Diana.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Faithful Servant

Right after my father's funeral last week I began a still life using a few of the flowers from one of the many bouquets that were given to the family. The idea was simple; I started with a few flowers and a candle holder that was shaped like a tea pot. The symbolism didn't escape me, but, as I added things to the composition it became quite apparent that this was going to have many symbols in it. The basic composition was a triangle of light against dark - an obvious, strong and common one to use. When I laid out the flowers, they, too, were in a basic triangle ... but there wasn't much to that, it was just kind of logical, since I wanted them laying down. I didn't really see how many triangles there were until I was actually finishing the work.
The idea to use the largest and most noticeable triangle of the flag didn't come to me until halfway through the work when I realized that the design needed something else.

The teapot candle holder has holes in it that are part of the design and the light illuminates them in a very beautiful way when it's lit. The candle, obviously, just as the light of Dad's life, has gone out. I included the smoke rising, though, to signify that his influence still goes out into the world, even as it rises into the clouds. Christ admonished us to "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16) And so he did, and he passed that light to many, many people throughout the world.

The cloth on which the still life rests is one which his wife Diana furnished for the project. It turned out to be very fitting, as, while I was working on the painting, she put on a CD of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat" - a biblical story which Dad would know well, and had probably included in a sermon or two.

The flowers are kind of a play on words. The Iris has been tweaked a little to the blue spectrum rather than the violet that they were ... as Dad's Irises were blue. And the Tulips ~ for one thing, they are Dutch in origin, which is an obvious tie-in to his wife, Diana, who is from New Zealand, but of a rich Dutch heritage. But, also, two lips ... my little play on words as symbolism for Dad's life as a dynamic orator - one of the best that I've ever had the privilege to hear. I know, I'm rather biased, but I've heard it many times from people who were not.

The sketch of Dad represented here, was done during the summer of 2010 when I had the opportunity to visit with Dad for a week. I had begun sketching him while we were talking in his living room one afternoon. He wasn't exactly a willing model, though, and I abandoned the drawing. When we went on an excursion, though, to the Nautilus submarine one afternoon, I took a bevy of photos of him. One of those was a very similar pose to the one that I'd begun earlier and I stayed up a little later than usual that night working from the photo to finish the sketch.
The day that he died, I posted the picture on Facebook. Diana asked for a larger version of it, which I emailed to her. The original was in black and white charcoal on a brownish paper. When I put it on my computer, I manipulated it, heightening the contrast and warming up the whole thing. She printed it out onto small cards with a brief bio of him on the back, which she made available at his funeral service ... a very nice touch, one which I'm certain that he would have appreciated.

Under the portrait is the program from the service which was a photo of clouds upon which was written: "Well done, good and faithful servant!" The clouds also tie in to the rising smoke from the extinguished candle ... and the field of stars in their "azure halls of heaven" from the flag which had been used in his funeral service and presented to Diana by the honor guard. In the flag, unseen, are the casings from the 21 gun salute.

The lace on which the candle rests, is symbolic in that we are all tied together in a pattern which God has created, and we may not see this pattern clearly until we, too, know death's sting ~ and see the light of God's face.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Water Soluable Oils?

This is the first time that all of my brothers and my sister have been together since 1989. We're having a lot of fun catching up and telling stories ... just wish it were under other circumstances. Back row left to right: Bob, Chip, Tim, bottom: Mark, Susan, and Jack. I set up a still life yesterday ... and worked on it for a few hours then and a couple of hours today. The natural light has been very poor today, so I'm hoping for better light tomorrow. I'm using the materiel's at hand; my dad switched to "water mixable oils" a few years ago. They're strange to work with but not too bad. I hope to finish it and share it tomorrow.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Back in the Air

Yesterday Belinda, Meecah and I hiked the old stagecoach road. I love that hike. Nobody else usually on it. I love to let my imagination take me back about a hundred years to see the old buckboards, stagecoaches and equestrians riding down into the valley on one of the only roads in. It's been over 60 or 70 years since it was last used and rock slides are slowly obliterating it.

Now, a day later, I'm sitting in the Fresno airport, heading back east to join the family for my father's send-off.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Robert B. Lantz 3/29/1929 - 4/9/2011

My dad died on Saturday morning. He found out that he had pancreatic cancer a month or so ago ... they said that it would be six to eight months ... but he went quickly.

I'm grateful that I spent a week with him last summer, just the two of us hangin' out on Cape Cod. I did several sketches of him and took a lot of photos -- planning to do a painting of him. I've been playing with ideas for the composition for a while now. He was a multi-faceted, interesting person -- making it all the more difficult to decide on a theme ... figuring out what I want to say ... still sorting through my feelings.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


I did make changes to the tea cup ... again.

I also sold another one of my "green" paintings ... the one of Julia Parker (the Indian woman making baskets). I still feel conflicted about it, though. The tag at the gallery clearly listed "Oil on recycled material" but I still feel like the work should be on more traditional surfaces. Perhaps my "green" experiment is coming to a close ... or I just need to do them and throw 'em in the closet and forget about selling them.

Hmmm. Decisions, decisions. Do trees really need me to help save them? Am I making any real difference anyway?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Tea Cup

As kind of a companion piece to the radish one that I did a few weeks ago, I started this tea cup painting. Kind of like most of these little pieces (smaller than 8" x 10" - on recycled, prepared cardboard), I'll keep picking at it for a while. Looking at it in the thumbnail here, I'm not sure that the lip is right. Ah, well, it gives me something to pick at. I've started making it a routine to do one of these things each evening as I'm "relaxing" while I'm up at the studio. Sometimes they take one evening ... but, mostly I pick at a few of them at a time ... sometimes even starting several in the same evening. These small, "green" paintings were meant to be exercises for me - and sometimes, like with the Jeffrey Pine, I go on to do a larger version (although I did sell the small one). But I've got to wonder if I shouldn't be just doing them on canvas or board instead. The idea was that I would feel free to explore and paint stuff that I wouldn't normally and in a looser, more expressive manner. Well ... that's not exactly what's happening. I do try to go that direction sometimes ... but, strange as it may sound to some, being "loose" and "expressive" isn't easy ... not only that, but it doesn't really say what I want to say. Which is ... what? I want to make the viewer feel something ... something profound ... something deeper than just the surface of the subject/object. I'm thinking about the first time that I stood in front of a Vermeer painting - the real thing - not a print in a book. The way it touched me was indescribable. The museum was filled with that rich silence that makes one able to feel a connection with the paintings ... and the long departed artists who lavished their love on them. And the moment, frozen in time, that Herr Vermeer depicted stirred something in me. Well ... I'm not there yet. I figure that if I spend the next two hundred or so years at it, I may eventually get there. I wasn't born a Rembrandt, a Sargent, or Vermeer -- I've made progress slowly and painstakingly. But it is progress. The journey of a thousand miles begins with that first step.

Today at the Gertrude Schoolhouse with the YWA

Today we had a model who dressed up in some retro clothing... complete with skirt and what I thought were the old style stockings with the seams up the back, but her shapely legs were tattooed to look that way!

I always liked that look. She looked like she just stepped out of an Andrew Loomis painting ... or perhaps a JC Leindecker illustration. Beautiful.

I wonder what those "stockings" will look like in another 30 years or so.

It sure is fun to do a charcoal every now and then.