Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 The Year in Review

Paintings SOLD in 2014!

Happy New Year! And it was a very Happy Old Year!
It's been very busy and exciting!

As I get ready to say farewell to 2014, it's helpful for me to look back and celebrate the year – the things I learned, the places I went, the achievements big and small.

Here's a recap:

  • An artist's “bucket-list” trip to The Olson House in Cushing, Maine, two trips to the Fine Art Museum of Boston to see the AMAZING Jamie Wyeth exhibit, a great quilt show and the Sargent exhibit. (If you haven't seen the Jamie Wyeth exhibit, its next stop is The Brandywine - mid-January through April. PS: The Wyeths have become my new obsession.)
  • Several classes and workshops (most notably a pastel workshop at Acadia Workshop Center in Bernard, Maine with Michael Chesley Johnson) have (I hope) improved my skills as an artist. I've met some really wonderful new artists and friends.
  • I've been given the opportunity to work as the Associate Executive Director of The Art Guild. I hope I can learn the ropes quickly and take on more responsibility in in the new year. It's been wonderful to be back in our building and we've planned classes for kids and adults beginning in January as well as photography and landscapes exhibits. 
  • Though I sort of floundered though September's 30/30 Challenge, I did paint a lot and sold quite a number of paintings this year. Two commissioned paintings of the Locust Valley Fire Department was a nice surprise. Twelve 6"x6" paintings from the 30/30 Challenges sold via my Etsy shop.
  • Most important (to me), was my very first solo show in my "Hometown" (East Islip) at the Public Library in November. It was a huge challenge - and I painted a number of pieces specifically for that show and the work did pay off! It was wonderful to have the support of friends and family who made the effort to stop by and say "Hi!" at the reception. Thank you to everyone who left a nice comment in the guest book - there were some familiar names in there. And a HUGE thank you to everyone who purchased a painting. It was a terrific validation of my growth as an artist and I'm delighted!

What I'm looking forward to in 2015

  • January 1 starts the first 30/30 Challenge of 2015. Do you think I'm ready? LOL!
  • Painting a new mermaid for 2015's GSBMF should be a little less stressful this year as there were two good choices last spring. The one not chosen was actually the one I preferred, so I'm looking forward to painting it. (Look for posts on the painting of last year's mermaid, coming in February.)
  • I'm looking forward to seeing some interesting museum shows. It might be fun to see the Matisse Cut Outs Exhibit (through Feb10) and The Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec: Prints and Posters (through March 22), at MOMA. I doubt I'll make it to the Brandywine to see the Andrew Wyeth: Lines of Thought exhibit. Does anyone have any recommendations?
  • I'm looking forward to helping plan some fun art/painting events at the Art Guild. We have lots of ideas! We hope to do an "art gallery swap" show with another art group on Long Island, that should be really fun!
  • I'm looking forward to my annual trip to Maine. Not sure which workshop I'll be taking, but there are some good ones to choose from. 
  • Painting, learning, creating, exploring!

If it wasn't for the support of friends and family...
I wouldn't be doing any of this. I'd like to thank my friends and family, everyone who follows my facebook page, blog and emails, for their love and support. Being an artist is often a solitary affair – so your comments and feedback are always important to me. I am thankful and honored to share my work with you. Please share with your friends, come to shows, and tell me how you feel about my posts.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tip of the Day - Golden Absorbent Ground

That Leslie Saeta is sneaky. Sneaky in a good way. Sneaky in a way that forces me to write down a  technique I've been developing (though I know I'm not the first to explore it). I've done two paintings this way, and it's still a work in progress.

The Product

First it involves GOLDEN Absorbent Ground. 
Though it is an acrylic gesso-like product, it has a porous quality. You can use watercolor or acrylics (in a watercolor consistency) on it. Watercolors do retain their solubility and so the finished painting should either be framed under glass or sealed with a polycrylic (more on that later).

(I should give a little credit at this point. Several years ago, I watched [an amazing] artist Bennett Vadnais at Chelsea Mansion in Muttontown demo a plein air acrylic technique with Golden Absorbent Ground & other Golden products. In this particular demo, he used the acrylic like watercolor. I immediately went down to Utrecht and bought some.)
Bennett Vadnais, demo at Chelsea Mansion, Muttontown, March 2011

My Process 

This is the subject. The creek at Sunken Meadow State Park

Wooden panel - lots of companies make them in various sizes.

I paint three coats of the ground on the cradled wooden panel.

It is recommended to put a gesso ground down first when painting on a surface such as wood or masonite, though I confess, I haven't done that. I have sanded the board a little with rough grade sandpaper.

Then I just sketch right on it with pencil. Draw lightly because you can dent the surface (not a BIG deal, because you can fill back in). If you have trouble erasing, you can just paint over the area with a little of the ground.

Now, you can  proceed to painting as usual. The paint does stay where you put it more than on paper, but you can blend for longer periods of time. You can lift out color very easily without harming the surface. The pigment doesn't really flow like on paper. If you really mess up, and the paint has stained the area, let it dry and paint over the mistake with the ground. (You can also paint over any pencil lines (or whatever) you don't like showing, then paint the spot with watercolor.)

I continued to build depth in the foreground grasses with watercolor and colored pencils. The colored pencil sets up a little bit of a resist to the watercolor, so I can really push into the overlapping layers of grasses.

Finishing up

To finish and seal, I'll share a technique that my friend (and fabulous artist and teacher) Lois Levy told me about. 
First, I sprayed with Krylon (or similar) Matt Finish. Follow the instructions. Hold a few inches away, spray in a back and forth motion, cover, but don't make the surface wet (like a puddle). Be sure to do outside or in a well ventilated room. Let it dry for at least an hour or two. Lois likes to wait overnight. I was pushier.

From Lois: "Once this is done (I do it twice with appropriate dry time between each spraying) you are now ready to proceed with varnishing with a brush since the pigments are totally sealed in with the spray varnish. I use Minwax Polycrylic {Note: I used Benjamin Moore} water based varnish (see can image below).I brush it once gently horizontally, let it dry overnight then once vertically. Let it dry."

Note: DO NOT SHAKE the can, you must stir gently to use otherwise you will have a milky white finish due to air bubbles !!  Gently brush on one coat in one direction and then when dry apply second coat in other direction. Done!"

Ta Da!!! The Finish!

The layering and varnishing really adds to the depth  and luminosity. 
I painted this for The Art Guild's 10x10 Fundraiser and it sold immediately. Everyone was fascinated that it is watercolor and NOT on paper. They think it's oil. I've been sharing my process with lots of people in the past week or two.

I still love the look and feel of watercolor on paper but I like the final product with this technique and the versatility it gives me. I look forward to working with and exploring this technique in the future. 

I hope you enjoyed the demo. Please let me know if you have any questions. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

After School Activities, Monhegan Island Schoolhouse - Completed

After School Activities (Monhegan School)
14 x 10.5", watercolor ©2014 Susan Herbst
($350, displayed at 13th Annual Fire Island Lighthouse Art Show, 
and my first solo show at East Islip Public Library)

I thought I'd finish up this post about the Monhegan School House painting. We left off with finding a reference for the lighting on the building and that worked out pretty well. But this is where I finished off.
Here it is framed and hanging at the Fire Island Lighthouse – with the artist!

I've submitted this to Leslie Saeta's blog as one of my favorites of 2014 – but how do you choose among your children?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Paintings Make Great Gifts! Part 4

I thought I'd highlight some paintings from Maine, Upstate New York and Rhode Island that are in my Etsy shop. These are smalls, most 6"x6" and all are under $50. Some are watercolor, some are pastel, some were painted plein air and some while not actually painted plein air, were painted from photos I took in in my travels.
I've included the links to the Etsy shop directly, as well as the original blog post about the painting.
They all come in an archival acid free clear plastic sleeve
They look fabulous matted and framed, but I will leave that you and your decor.
Thanks for looking!

This is one of the small out buildings at Pt Judith, Rhode Island.

We had a fun weekend in upstate New York – this barn was seen along the way.

Painted from the window of my hotel. It rained and rained and rained.


Lobster Boat in New Harbor, Maine.

Somewhere in Maine

Beacon, NY

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Paintings Make Great Gifts! The 2014 Edition

I can safely say that there is no one more appreciative than an artist, when buyers Shop Local and/or Shop Small Business. After all, most artists ARE small businesses and purchases directly effect their lives.

I'm dedicating this blog post to Long Island paintings I have available for sale. This is actually Part 3, Parts 1 & 2 were posted last December. (You can see them here & here.)

My Lighthouse

Painted last July plein air.  Matted. Frame NOT included
Watercolor, 7.5" x 9.5"


Big Duck 2

One of my favorite unique Long Island places - The Big Duck
Watercolor, 13.5" x 10", Mat only. Frame NOT included.


In Memorium
Painted plein air.
Watercolor, 14" x 10.5", Matted


Blue Sky, Red Roof
Love that blue blue sky & the red roofs of so many buildings by the sea.
Watercolor, 13.5" x 10", Matted

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Hanging My First Solo Show and Going Back to My Roots

Framing, Framing, Framing

From November 1 - 30, I will have my very first ever solo show! I'll be exhibiting my artwork (watercolors and pastels) in the gallery at the East Islip Public Library. The library is located at 381 East Main Street, East Islip, NY 11709

There will be a reception on Sunday November 9 from 2-4 pm. Everyone is invited.

I am delighted to be able to have my first solo exhibit in a place that meant so much to me growing up. East Islip Library was one of my favorite places since I was a toddler and the library was on the other end of town next to St. Mary’s. I worked here as a page and later as a clerical assistant – it was one of my favorite places to work and I made many friends and great memories here. 

Coincidentally, my mom's quilting group (Patches and Pieces) will also have their works on exhibit in the display cases as you enter the gallery area.

Meanwhile, I'm desperately trying to finish this one of Brookwood Hall in East Islip. 
I can hang it a little late, can't I?

Many thanks to my friend Diane who passed this "time slot" off to me when she decided she couldn't do it and some dear friends who loaned me paintings they've bought despite the fact that it leaves a big "hole" on their living room walls. Last but certainly not least, a HUGE thank you to my mom, who helped me hang the show (that second pair of eyes is so necessary).  

See you next Sunday!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Farnsworth & Olson House - The Wyeth Pilgrimage

The Olson House

Maine Re-cap Part 2

Up bright and early on a not bright and sunny Saturday and headed off for the Farnsworth Museum and the Olson House. A quick stop at the museum to get my admission ticket for the Olson House and on my way to Cushing, Maine.
There were so many interesting things to stop and look at, but because my time was somewhat limited, I hurried on.

The house looms up as you round the bend sitting atop what used to be a nearly treeless hill. 100 years ago you could see Monhegan Island from here and the sea captain who built the house (Captain Hathorn) conducted a successful business shipping up and down the river and down the coast. On this day it's very quiet in the fog and misty rain.

I am in the first tour of the day with an older couple and a really nice and knowledgeable docent named Chris. He first gave us an overall history of the house and then we walked through it, room by room. He had some interesting back stories about how the house came into the Farnsworth's collection, local gossip that Walter Anderson was also the town peeping-Tom, and Andrew Wyeth's anger at Betsy for buying a house! He also described what the Olson house was like back when Wyeth painted here (a disaster for the most part), his and Betsy's relationship with the Olsons, and Christina's disabilities.

The house is mostly unfurnished and undecorated - the original furnishings and other items were auctioned off back in the '60s. But the light and autumn colors through the windows (especially on this dreary day) evokes a quiet, austere, rustic, Maine-ness and you can almost imagine Wyeth looking out those windows and painting in those rooms.

Front room on the right

Back of house, second floor, left side
Back of house, second floor, left side

Third floor, right side looking at kitchen chimney. Wyeth painted this view of the kitchen chimney.

Back of house, facing front door

Back of house, looking into first room

Kitchen room where Christina and her brother Alvaro spent much of their time.

Outside - kitchen window

Christina's grave

Christina's parent's grave. Katie Hathorn was the great daughter of the sea captain that built the original two-story house. 

The view from the cemetery of the house

The cemetery with Andrew Wyeth's grave at the front

After absorbing as much as I possibly could I headed back to the Farnsworth to have a look around - check out the exhibits at the Wyeth Center and generally immerse myself in more Wyeth.

Yes, I did. Wasses (Famous) Hot Dogs. OMG Delicious! Mmmmm - Grilled onions! Cheese! I should have gotten TWO! This is the one south of Rockland on Hwy 1.

At the Museum

Stopped at Wyeth Center to see The Wyeths, Maine and the Sea. This exhibit includes includes a selection of paintings by James G. Babbidge, George Bellows, Walter Dean, James Fitzgerald, Rockwell Kent, Fitz Henry Lane, William Edward Norton, William Pierce Stubbs, Frederick Waugh, and Andrew Winter, as well as the Wyeths – and a selection of ship models that include the (ghost ship) Mary Celeste, the seven masted schooner Thomas Lawson, and more.

NC Wyeth

Andrew Winter, Sequin Island Light

Eric Hudson, An Island Harbor

Robert Henri, Monhegan Island

Mary Celeste

NC Wyeth

Jan Domelia, Monhegan Harbor

Frederick Waugh

I would highly recommend this pilgrimage to any artist and painter heading to Maine. I would love to visit again and perhaps on a less dreary, drippy day, drive around and have a look at the rest of the area surrounding Cushing. It is quite beautiful and full of potential paintings!