Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Get Your Shopping Done in Southern Maine This Weekend!

 copyright Hannah Phelps
Big Wave Day, York
oil on canvas, 11" x 14"

This Saturday, December 11th, I will be joining artist Wendy Turner at her studio in Kittery Point, ME for the Kittery Holiday Art Walk

We will both have new paintings for everyone to see, along with plein air studies, prints and work offered for, let's say "nice, gift-giving" prices. Of course, I will have my 2011 Images of New England Calendars too, so come by and pick one up!

Wendy and I have been painting together off and on for more than three years and I am very excited to be exhibiting with her again. Sometimes, we stand right next to each other when we paint on site, so it will be interesting for you to compare our styles and the way we express our vision of the coast.

The address is 621 Haley Road, Kittery Point, ME 03905 - I can't wait to see you!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Number One Tip for Plein Air Success

copyright Hannah Phelps
Rocks in the Grey and Quiet
oil on canvas, 12" x 12"

I have all too often driven over an hour for a plein air painting trip only to realize that I have forgotten something critical. Try painting on location without brushes, canvas, paper towels - I've even left my easel behind!

Trust me, even if you are a very organized person, the time will come that you will forget something, lose something or accidentally dump out your mineral spirits while setting up your easel.

The best way to avoid heartache in this situation is to paint with other artists. Leaving materials at home turns out to be no big deal because you can borrow something (or everything) from your buddies. As a plein air painter, you learn to be generous early in your career - you know you might be the one to forget your entire paint box next time. 
Over the years I have borrowed and/or loaned:

baseball cap
paper towels
hand warmers

Or you could run into a situation like I did yesterday when you have everything you need, but you wish your canvas was long and skinny.

Wistfully saying it out loud as I looked at the bright ocean before me, my buddy heard me and said, “I have a long one with me - want it?”

Not only did I get the perfect rectangle, but it was a Raymar panel - professionally mounted! I didn’t get something I NEEDED, I got something that just made the day better!

Of course I will make good on the loan, but I am not sure I can truly repay it. Using her unfamiliar canvas stretched my abilities. The pressure of making a nice painting out of the gift also helped me stick with it when I might otherwise just call the whole afternoon a “learning experience.” Like many plein air paintings, it didn’t get done on site, but it is a very good start to what may be a great painting!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Warm Reception

copyright Hannah Phelps
Rye Town Beach Access
oil on canvas, 5" x 7"

Thank you to everyone who came to the opening reception for Precious at the Soo Rye Art Gallery in Rye, NH last Saturday! I hope you were able to see the artwork through all of the enthusiastic visitors!

This a large group show, so my five landscapes (including the one at the top of the post) are in good company. I knew that my friend, Soosen Dunholter, would have work on display but I was pleasantly surprised to also see some wonderful photographs by another friend, Susan Lirakis!

If you didn't get to the reception, you have time to see the exhibit, since it runs until January 21. I wouldn't wait too long if I were you, though. During the holidays, time flies and it will be January before you know it!

Friday, November 5, 2010

What To Do This Weekend

copyright Hannah Phelps
Beach Waves
lithograph, 8.5" x 11.5" image size

This weekend the entire state is celebrating local arts, crafts and foods with NH Open Doors! Basically, most of the artists here in New Hampshire are hosting open studios both Saturday and Sunday. To find out if your favorite NH artists are opening their doors, follow the NH Open Doors link and check the  map of studios. You can customize your own craft tour of New Hampshire!

If that favorite artist is me (I'm just saying...), you should come to the French Building of the NH Institute of Art from 10-5 on Saturday, November 6th or from 12-5 on Sunday, November 7th along with some of my printmaking colleagues and folks from the jewelry making program. All of us will have work there for sale and the printmakers will be actively working on the presses! If you want to see art in action, this is a great opportunity!

PS Here are two other printmakers who will be with me this weekend at the NH Institute of Art, but there will be others too!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Images of New England 2011 Calendar

The Images of New England 2011 Calendars are ready! 

 Every month is a print from one of my oil paintings, ready to frame and add beauty to your or a loved one's home!

These calendars are GREAT GIFTS that will last all year!

What exciting events are coming up for you and your friends and family this year?  
New baby? 25th anniversary? 16th, 30th, 65th or 38th birthday?

After 2011 is over, each page makes a unique commemorative gift for any special occasion! 
Just frame an individual month for the perfect reminder of any celebration!


These calendar pages fit in any standard 8.5" x 11" frame, like the simple box frame above. 

Or purchase this folded acrylic frame with your calendar!

To purchase Images of New England 2011 Calendars, visit the Calendar Shop Page

Please email me at hannah@hannahphelps.com with any questions!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lessons from the Dead

copyright Hannah Phelps
Pumpkin Wave

Here are some words of wisdom, humor and commiseration from some of my favorite artists who are no longer with us.   In the spirit of Halloween, there is a round coven of them.

"I never draw what a wave looks like, - I draw what it does."   
- Charles H. Woodbury, American, died 1940

“Learn to look for essentials and you’ll find that both painting and life are simpler than you suppose.”
- Emil Gruppe, American, died 1978

“ By and large I see a mess; it’s always for me unbelievably complicated.”  
- Neil Welliver, American, died 2005

 "To use all this for my own expression. That counts above all. It will be my own or nothing. May be both!!!"
- Blanche Lazelle, American, died 1956

“Spring is merely a state of the mind."
- Charles Burchfield, American, died 1967

“In every picture I’ve painted there came a time when it was impossible to continue. There was a hill I couldn’t climb. It’s then when that pressure bears down on the solar plexus, that you must keep on!”
- Cecelia Beaux, American, died 1942

“My work is going badly.....I made an attempt in the field, but the moment I had set up my easel more than fifty boys and girls were swarming about me, shouting and gesticulating....On a boat one has another level of difficulty. Everything sways, there is  an infernal lapping of water; one has the sun and the wind to cope with, the boats change position every minute....as a result of all this, I am not doing much....” 
- Berthe Morisot, French,  died 1895

“....the function of the artist in life: he must accept in deep singleness of purpose the manifestations of life in man and great in nature, and transform these into controlled, ordered and vital expressions of meaning.”
- Lawren Harris, Canadian, died 1970

“Know what the old masters did ...but do not fall into the conventions they established. They made their language - you make yours.” 
- Robert Henri, American, died 1929

"It seems as if those shimmering seas can scarcely bear a hand’s touch. That which moves across the water is scarcely a happening...It’s more like a breath, involuntary and alive, coming, going, always there but impossible to hang on to...Only spirit can touch this." 
- Emily Carr, Canadian, died 1945

“I don’t paint things, I paint the difference between things.”
- Henri Matisse, French, died 1954

“And so I started to try not to duplicate nature, but to endeavour to make my onions, etc., obey me, and not me them. To add my mind (aestheticism) to their contours and let my eyes be more controlled by my brain...”
- Margaret Preston, Australian, died 1963

“We are going after the money there is in art, but the art is there, all the same.”
- Louis Comfort Tiffany, American, died 1933

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rock On

copyright Hannah Phelps
On the Shelf
6" x 6", oil on canvas

When most people use the expression “like a rock”, they mean something solid, permanent, unflappable. To most eyes, rocks don’t seem to change at all. Especially when we watch huge waves slam into them during a nor’easter or a hurricane. After the storm is done and the skies have cleared, the rocks are still there. And we are happy to see that - that amidst temporary madness, something has held fast and survived.

The constancy of rocks comforts me too. Every summer as a young kid, I could return to the completely familiar tapestry of rocks and tide pools, marsh grasses and sand bars in Rye, NH.

But I wasn’t that old when I realized that, while most rocks did remain at their stations over the winter, some did not. Huge boulders would be flipped 180 degrees, others would be yards away from their normal spots and still more would have disappeared altogether. Soon, the very first thing I would do when we arrived at “the beach” would be to run across the street to discover what had changed in my absence.

Becoming “like a rock” is staying put only most of the time. It means sometimes feeling a bit pushed around. It can even mean total upheaval at times.

When you find yourself upside down or leagues away from where you expected to be, just make sure to be the same rock you were before the storm hit.

This painting will be displayed at the Precious Exhibit at Soo Rye Art Gallery in Rye, NH beginning November 13, 2010!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Painting the Fall

copyright Hannah Phelps
Loudon Marsh
8" x 6", oil on canvas

The wind has blown the leaves off the trees early this year, but there are still places where the colors are knockout bright. Outside my studio window I can see a neon pink that I hardly believe is natural.

All this color is lovely to look at, but really tough to paint well. One painter I know said, “You have to be careful with the changing leaves if you don’t want your painting to look like a bowl of Trix cereal.”

Of course, anything challenging is worth a try in my book, so I do usually paint a few fall scenes each year. Often, I tone down the outrageous orange and red. Sometimes, I just paint the crazy colors I see. Most of the latter end up as “studies” and don’t leave the studio again, since they end up looking like, well, a bowl of Trix cereal. I am still happy to paint them.

After all, this brilliance won’t last long. When all of New England is grey and brown after the leaves are gone but before the snow comes, we will all be missing this dramatic show!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Exhibit Announcement!

copyright Hannah Phelps
oil on canvas, 6" x 6"
Newest news:

Five of my little paintings will be on display at the Precious exhibit at the Soo Rye Art Gallery in Rye, NH!

Precious opens on November 13th (reception from 5-7pm) and goes right into January 21st of next year! (There is more information about the gallery in the sidebar.)

This is pretty cool for me because Rye is the special place I went every summer with my family as a kid. My grandparents bought our beach cottage in the 1950’s, so my dad had been going there since he was 10!  We were a short walk to the “sandy beach” and across the street from “the rocks”.

It was in Rye that I did my first wave watching and fell head over heels for the ocean and everything in it - animal, vegetable or mineral. I loved to swim in it, observe its movements, enjoy the ever changing colors and listen to its interaction with the shore. I attempted my first landscape there and have been trying to draw the darned place since I was a little kid.

I am glad to have some pieces depicting the beaches in Rye for the show, including the one at the top of the post. I’ll share more paintings from the exhibit in the coming weeks!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Help from My Friends

Copyright Hannah Phelps
Pumpkin with a View
8" x 12", oil on canvas

It is pumpkin time in York! Last week, I didn't paint any pumpkins - I started another rock/wave painting. It isn't ready for the public yet. But, since I mentioned the dogs last week, I thought I would share an example of how they “help” me when they accompany me on painting trips.

That is Hatrick on the left and Coast on the right. Coast's head is sorta between me and the rock I am trying to paint. It’s okay, he doesn't mind.

At one point I looked up and they were climbing all over my subject!

Warm days like this are becoming rare this year, so the three of us soaked up every minute of it.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Right to Choose

copyright Hannah Phelps
Swimming Lab
9" x 12", oil on canvas

I am painter. And a printmaker. Oh, and I also train for and compete in dog agility trials with my golden retrievers. Is this too much? Shouldn’t I focus on one thing and try to be the best at that?

This challenge, spoken and unspoken, came up quite a bit while I was with other artists in the past month. One great reason to hang out with professional colleagues is to exchange ideas. That doesn’t mean all the ideas are good, or at least good for me.

One of my painting friends asked me about my printmaking. I excitedly told her about the types I have done and the methods I can’t wait to try. I explained that so far I prefer my white-line reliefs, but I want to know as much about printmaking as possible.

She eventually said, “There are so many types of art I want to try, but I feel that I need to concentrate on painting.”

She isn’t alone. There was a lot of talk in the last month about the number of hours artists spend every week painting. When you reach 9 or 10 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week, you are leaving little room for anything else, even other forms of artistic expression.

If printmaking is taking away from my development as an artist in the eyes of these people, imagine how they must feel about entire weekends spent competing in dog agility. When artists start asking questions about the sport, their interest is genuine. But whether they say it out loud or not, I know they are wondering if I can possibly be a serious artist if I spend so much time and money on my dogs.

So here’s my defense. For the record, I don’t really feel that I need one. If you are having trouble deciding between two or more fulfilling activities though, maybe reading some of my reasons for keeping all three will help:

- I am a better painter since I started printmaking. I am not sure exactly why or how this happened, but I have some guesses that would fill a whole new post.

- Because I hang out with printmakers and painters now, I hear about new exhibit opportunities for my paintings and prints.

I could do a year’s worth of posts about living with dogs. The dogs are staying and so is agility. The top three reasons for this are:

- I have learned skills from competing in agility that I use in my art life. Again, this topic could fill a few new posts.

- Some of my closest friends are from my agility life. We all know how precious a really good friend is no matter where or when you find them.

- “Agility people” were my first collectors. Dog portraits paid for the supplies I needed to learn to paint landscapes. Even if my agility contacts didn’t buy paintings like the one at the top of this post, the more people I can meet, the more likely I am to meet new art buyers.

Finally, here are a very few of the hundreds of notable artists who, like me, refused to choose:

Charles H. Woodbury was a very accomplished painter AND etcher

Pablo Picasso mastered many art forms, including printmaking, sculpture and painting

Aldro Hibbard was best known for his plein air paintings of New England scenes but he never gave up playing organized baseball

Blanche Lazelle is credited with bringing modern ideas like cubism to the US AND helped invent the white-line relief method of woodblock prints

And in contemporary times, artist Jack Johnson has successfully built a creative life combining competitive surfing and making music.

Geez, imagine how great these folks could have been if they had just picked something.


Friday, September 17, 2010

"I am working. Go thou and do likewise"

copyright Hannah Phelps
Study of Hurricane Earl's waves on Monhegan Island
3.75" x 7.75", oil on canvas

American artist Jay Connaway posted the title of this post on his Monhegan studio door when he was off painting. Connaway lived on Monhegan Island, which is about 11 miles off the Maine coast, year round from 1931- 1947. In those 16 years, he became a master at painting surf. Last fall, the Portland Museum of Art held an exhibit of some of his paintings that, I am not ashamed to say, moved me to tears with their power.

I was recently on Monhegan Island for a much shorter time, but I spent most of it painting. So no blogging, no email, no facebook....you get the picture. Instead, I have a studio full of studies like the one posted above. I feel I have benefited from the temporary trade-off.

Artists have been inspired by Monhegan for decades. The ruggedness of the landscape, the accessibility of the surf for direct observation, the spectacular light and the dramatic loneliness of the place all contribute to its appeal. What I enjoyed most was having absolutely nothing to do but paint the whole time I was there!

I am happy to be home with my dogs and husband, but I am also delighted to report that I am leaving for another painting trip to Down East Maine tomorrow! So I can take all the momentum of my last outing and put it straight into more paintings.

Soon, I will share some more of the new work here. In the meantime, I'm "gone paintin'"!

Monday, August 16, 2010

How I Look

Mount Monadnock
Corcoran Gallery of Art

Originally I was going to use my trip to DC to write a post about how artists look at paintings. Between thinking of it and writing it however, Stapleton Kearns wrote his own 4-part treatise on the subject on his blog. Like most of his blog, the essays are very informative, so I suggest you read the series, "Looking Critically at Paintings". Not only will you learn something, you will end up laughing out loud.

What I can add to Stape's (he told me once that I could call him "Stape") instructions is specifically what I am looking at and for when I go to museums and that is mostly technical information. When standing in front of a painting, drawing or print (usually too close for the guards comfort), I am always asking, "How the heck did that he do that?"

This is why I made sure to visit the Corcoran Gallery of Art and their special exhibit Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration. Since I stalk prints by masters and collect all the explanations about techniques that I can get, this show was HEAVEN!!

Chuck Close, an American artist best known for his huge portraits, has produced (alone and in cooperation with print shops) lithographs, etchings, mezzotints, Japanese-style woodblocks, linoleum reliefs, and silkscreens. Many of the pieces in the exhibit have the blocks and plates next to the finished print. There are also a few prints that are shown in different phases of the process. In the exhibit, Close and his collaborators tell you exactly how they created the prints! 

That didn't make any of it seem easy. In fact, it made the pieces even more impressive.

After I left the print show, I let the painter in me look at some of the Corcoran's American art collection. That is where I caught up with some of my favorite landscape painters and the Thayer painting above. I took a picture of this painting because I love the chunky paint that helps create the light in the background. And I am in general a sucker for New Hampshire's Mount Monadnock as a subject, having used it as a model myself on occasion.

The Corcoran provided more than enough to look at in one day, so I returned to the hotel exhausted but  happy and ready to plan Day 3!

Week at the Museums of Washington DC

White Poodle in a Punt
National Gallery of Art

When my husband was sent to Washington DC for professional training a few weeks ago, I jumped at the chance to go too. I know it can be horribly hot down there in July, but I also knew I would be inside almost the whole time looking at as much art as possible. 

I ended up visiting 6 museums in 4 days!!! I returned to our hotel each evening exhausted and filled to the brim with visions of paintings, prints, drawings, films, and photos. Luckily, looking at art is part of my job!

Here are some of the highlights from my wonderful week:

Day 1: Hirshhorn in the AM

Part of the Smithsonian Institute, this museum is most famous for its sculpture collection. When I am there, I always try to visit some of my favorite paintings by Giorgio Morandi (Italian whose still lifes teach us that there is always something to paint).

On my way to the paintings, I encountered two featured exhibits. The first was the short film, Block B. This piece glued me to my seat for the full 20 minutes. One critic appropriately labeled this work "a living painting." I highly recommend seeing this wonderful little movie if you get the chance.

The second floor was filled with the work of Yves Klein. I walked quickly through these galleries without finding anything I care to see again. Judge for yourself - click his name for a link to the show.

Day 1: National Gallery of Art in the PM

After lunch I browsed through the Chester Dale Collection. I have seen many of these paintings multiple times before because it is the core of the Gallery's modern painting collection, but it was interesting to see them exhibited together. I also made sure to visit the rest of the permanent collection, including the Stubbs painting at the head of the post.

The absolute highlight of my first day was the German Master Drawings exhibit. Drawings are such a treat to see since they are fragile and must be carefully guarded from the elements by their museum stewards. As an artist, I am always fascinated by the hints of process and planning that the masters often reveal in their drawings.

This show is 6 rooms of drawings - figures, landscapes, sketches, plans...wonderful stuff.  When I bought the catalog, the employee in the shop told me that they are going to have a similar exhibit of Italian drawings in the spring! I have already marked it on my calendar!

I saw all this great stuff and I was only on the first day of my trip! Wait until you read about what I saw on Day 2....

PS. The relative scarcity of drawings on display in museums is why I always visit the Armand Hammer Collection of the National Gallery. This is where the Gallery rotates a large collection of drawings including works by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Durer, Ingres and hundreds of others.... you never know what treasure you might see in there!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Return to Painting

copyright Hannah Phelps

Orchard View
8" x 6", oil on canvas

Every year, Canterbury Shaker Village invites NH Plein Air to paint on their grounds as part of their  Mother Ann Day celebration. Artists paint until mid-afternoon, when their paintings are available for purchase and everyone eats birthday cake with Rosewater Frosting. Trust me, the cake alone made the day worthwhile, but the gorgeous weather and camaraderie with fellow painters was nice too.

I almost didn't go to the Village yesterday because last week I was in Washington, DC. I thoroughly exhausted myself by visiting 6 museums in 4 days! 

It was good for me to paint right away my first day back after seeing so much masterful artwork! In the next few posts I will attempt to recreate my DC tour, so stay tuned....

Psst:  While following the links to Canterbury Shaker Village, note that the painting on the home page was done by Yours Truly on Mother Ann Day two years ago. There is another picture of me (wearing a silly blue hat) working on it on another page!

Friday, July 23, 2010

What Makes Him Commit?

copyright Hannah Phelps

Odiorne Rocks!
white-line woodblock print, 7" x 7"
second impression (the first impression sold at the event!)

I created this print last week during the Seacoast Science Center's Art in Nature exhibit.  The SSC is on the grounds of Odiorne State Park in Rye, NH which happens to be where my husband and I held our wedding reception 12 years ago this weekend. It is fun to think of our guests enjoying this same view over a decade ago on what was a truly perfect day!

Even after knowing a person for 14 years, they can still surprise you. A couple of weeks ago, for example, I witnessed an amazing event.

I asked my husband to accompany me to another artist's reception. I doubted he would enjoy this, so I attempted to bribe him-"We'll stop by the reception, look at the photos, tell the artist how much we enjoyed the show and then go to your favorite restaurant." Well, this hooked him and off we went.

The gallery was packed and while it was hard to see around the commotion, we took a good look at each of the 20" x 30" photographs. 

A few times, my husband went "missing" from my side and I found him in front the same photo each time. However, nothing seemed out of the ordinary to me.  Even when he said things like, "I really love this," and "this one fascinates me."

We said our hellos and goodbyes to the artist and headed to the restaurant. Where he spent the entire dinner talking about the photograph. 

At some point, I recognized what was occurring here-my husband was falling in love with a piece of art. I thought they were a good match, but I hesitated to push him into this relationship. I wanted him to make the decision on his own.

As his wife, I wanted him to buy the piece because it clearly made him happy. 

As an artist, I took the opportunity to watch the transformation from admirer to buyer take place in front of my eyes.

This story has a happy ending: we returned to the reception after dinner (despite the advice of a flipped coin) and he bought the photo! Now everyone is happy-my husband, the photographer and me.

Now I want to figure out what happened that night-can I use what I witnessed to help people commit to a piece of my work? 

When I ask my husband about his experience that night, I get this: "It spoke to me...When I looked at that photo, I saw...Sigh....Well, we have the money and I wanted it."

It seems that falling in love at first sight is as much of a mystery as ever.

PS. The photographer whose work captured my husband's heart?  Scott Bulger-check out his work!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Art in Nature at Odiorne Point

copyright Hannah Phelps
"Odiorne Rocks!"
white-line woodblock print in progress
7" x 7" image size

Last week, I did my first ever plein air white-line woodblock print!

The Seacoast Science Center in the heart of Odiorne State Park in Rye, NH held a special "Art in Nature" event last week. Artists had a week to create small pieces in the park to be sold on Sunday.

Most of the time, artists paint in watercolor, oils or acrylics for these types of exhibits.  I have done that before and I knew I would have a good time painting the rocky landscapes in the park, but I wanted to try something different.

Monday morning, I was excited get started on my preparatory drawings so I could get right to the carving.  I rushed over the to coast only to find this:

How were any of the artists supposed to paint, draw or make prints of this? Well, we all made do and the fog eventually burned away. I chose a few scenes and drew for most of the afternoon. By the time I had a nice drawing suitable for transferring to a block, it was time to head home.

I returned on Thursday to transfer the drawing and carve the block. I could have done that at home, but I wanted the entire piece to be done at the park! 

I sat near my subject and carved happily away with the sound of the waves and the smell of the sea breeze surrounding me. A nice change from the oppressive heat inland!

Friday was inking day! With my brushes, watercolors, pallettes, and wooden spoon in tow, I set up on the stone wall and again enjoyed a wonderful day by the sea as I used the colors in front of me to create two prints.

Temporary outdoor studio!

I didn't realize until I got home that I completely forgot to photograph either print, so you will have to stay tuned to see an impression from this block.

Since I love being outside, you can expect more white-line woodblocks and prints done on site. I don't know if I am the first ever to do this-it doesn't really matter. It was worth carrying all the equipment around. I think all this stuff weighed less than my oil painting gear!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Upcoming Events in New Hampshire!

copyright Hannah Phelps
Shining Sunflowers
oil on canvas
6" x 8"

All of a sudden, there is a lot to paint around here! 

I painted at Canterbury Shaker Village on Wednesday in preparation for a NH Plein Air event on August 1. These sunflowers are right near the parking lot. Maybe I didn't want to venture too far from the truck on a hot day, but their yellow cheeriness begged me to paint them.

And starting July 12, I will be traveling to Odiorne Point State Park and the Seacoast Science Center in Rye for their "Art in Nature" week long program. Artists will be painting and drawing there all week in preparation for a sale on Sunday July 18. 

I am doing something a little different for this event, so stay tuned for updates!

If you love the painting above, contact me!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Heat Wave

copyright Hannah Phelps
Hazy Beach
oil on panel, 4" x 6"

Since my last post, I have attended the opening of the Unleashed exhibit at  McGowan Fine Art, enjoyed a wonderful camping trip, celebrated Independence Day (both at the local town fair and at a cookout with friends) and attempted to paint outside without overheating! 

Today, I went to Canterbury Shaker Village and I will share that painting soon. I stayed in the shade and soaked in the peaceful environment of the museum grounds. As nice as that was, it might have been even nicer to take a quick dip in the ocean a few times.

Like the painting above? Click here to purchase via Etsy!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ready for Summer?

copyright Hannah Phelps
Swelling Water
oil on canvas, 9" x 12"

This morning, the dog paintings I've been sharing with you were delivered into the care of Sarah Chaffee and McGowan Fine Art, in preparation for the Unleashed fundraising exhibit. Remember, the reception is the 25th, which is less than two weeks away!

Now I can start thinking about some future projects! 

First of all, I promise I will be printmaking this summer! There are some copper etchings that need just a little bit more work, so you can look forward to more a la poupee prints like Ocean Point Scene II.

I have so many ideas for white-line woodcuts that I better do one soon or my brain might explode!

And of course, there will be plein air painting on the coast! All winter and spring, little ideas and experiments have popped into my mind for some plein air work and I am looking forward to trying them out.

All in all, stay tuned this summer. Even if it gets hot and lazy outside, I intend to keep creating!

Friday, June 11, 2010

5 Win-Win Ways to Help Animals in NH

copyright Hannah Phelps
Silly Photo of Two Loved Dogs,
Hatrick and Coast, on Memorial Day

The Unleashed fundraising exhibit for the Animal Rescue League of NH at McGowan Fine Art is just around the corner. So I have been thinking about what else we can do to help this organization and their homeless animals. 

Here are my top five ways, but I bet you can think of more!

1. When you are ready, adopt your next pet from the Animal Rescue League or another shelter. Obvious, I know, but it is still the number one way to help. Plus, you end up with a great friend!

2. If you aren't ready for a pet, donating supplies like towels, food, and litter can be a huge help. Call the shelter near you to see what they need specifically. Most of us have old towels and bedding that we don't want kicking around anymore and often shelters need it! Another win-win!

3. Drink wine! No really - If you buy a bottle with the special Animal Rescue League label, they get money! The images on the labels were created by New Hampshire artist, Molly Poole. Or you can put an image of a pet you love on the bottle! How can you go wrong with paintings, wine and fuzzy friends?!

4. Become a Medical Miracle Worker. This one isn't for everybody, but it is perfect if you want your donation to make an immediate difference in the life of an animal. Medical Miracle Workers are contacted by the shelter when an animal needs medical attention "beyond the normal and customary care" like emergency surgeries.

5. Love animals but can't add one to your family right now? Volunteer! You can get your furry fix while you help lighten the staff's load!

Of course, the sixth way of helping the Animal Rescue League of NH and get a little something for yourself is to purchase some art at the upcoming show, but I thought you would have guessed that one by now!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Dog Days-Sun King

copyright Hannah Phelps
oil on canvas, 6" x 8"

The Unleashed benefit for the Animal Rescue League of NH is fast approaching! If you want to know more about this show, check out McGowan Fine Art's blog!

Today, we have another painting of my Pine Run Leroi Dusoleil, aka Flash.

In a previous post, I talked about the philosophy behind naming canine athletes. "Flash" is obviously an appropriate name for an agility dog who needs to be fast and precise while negotiating courses, but what the heck does his longer AKC name mean?

When Flash was a little puppy, I took him to my parents' house to meet my family. He was a tiny fuzzball, but that didn't mean he was easily ignored-he was loud and energetic and constantly in motion. I had put him in a pen for everyone's safety when my sister, Abby, arrived to meet her new "nephew".

When Abby walked into the room, he inexplicably stopped barking, chewing or jumping. He sat perfectly motionless, staring up at her with sunlight filtering in the window and glowing in the blond fuzz crowning his head.

"You look just like le Roi du Soleil!" she said to him.

To my amazement, he remained still. "Finally" he seemed to reply, "someone who recognizes me!"

And that is how my young Flash ended up named after the French "Sun King", Louis XIV

That is also why HE had to appear in this particular painting.

See you on the 25th at McGowan Fine Art in Concord, NH from 5-7 pm!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Freedom from Mobility

copyright Hannah Phelps

Front Porch View II
12" x 9", oil on canvas

My vehicle is receiving what I hope is TLC from the dealer today. Since I live on the edge of a very small town, no car means I am homebound.

Instead of frustrated and trapped, I feel fully liberated!

If I NEEDED to get out, I have a bike and my perfectly able feet could carry me to a small convenience store a few miles away. But I don't need to, so I get to stay here in my studio with my dogs and that is more than enough.

Without the means to perform even my daily visit to the post office, I am free to paint and write all day. I think I hear thunder in the distance-could I be lucky enough to lose power for a short while? Maybe I will turn off the phone too!

What would you do with a gift day like this?

PS - In case you think "stuck at home" means no plein air painting, above is a sketch of from my front porch. I wanted to practice my "skyholes" and leaves in preparation for summer!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Dog Days-Got It! SOLD

copyright Hannah Phelps
oil on canvas, 8" x 8"

"Just...One...More...Stroke...And...I...AHHHHH! Got it!" 

This is Striper experiencing that blissful moment of achieving a goal. The thrill of the chase is so much fun that he is going to take the ball back to shore to experience it all over again right away! 

Dogs fetching tennis balls is one of the simplest illustrations of the old "the joy is in the journey" principle. The fuzzy little ball becomes the holy grail of any big dream and the swim out to get it is the challenge that builds strength and skills for the next quest.  

When the dog can see the ball bobbing on the surface, they make straight for it and their strokes are sure and strong. Sometimes, they don't know exactly where it is, so they slow down and swim a more circuitous route until they catch a glimpse of it before speeding towards the prize. No matter what, the dogs are wet and happy.

And either way, when they return to shore, they beg you to start the whole thing over again by throwing the ball away from them as far as you can.

What is your tennis ball? Can you see it clearly? Does it only appear occasionally on the crest of a wave? Maybe the current swept it out of sight...are you going to search for it? 

When you finally sink your teeth into your trophy, enjoy it fully before climbing out of the water. 

Then go after next one.

This Painting has SOLD!

Don't forget about the Unleashed fundraiser for the Animal Rescue League of NH! See you at McGowan Fine Art on June 25 for the reception!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Beach Weather

copyright Hannah Phelps

Quiet Beach
oil on panel on wood supports, 4" x 4"

The weather here promises that summer is coming soon! 

It is too nice out to spend too much time on the computer, so just enjoy this beach view and get ready for some sun!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Dog Days-Dog in a Ball

copyright Hannah Phelps
oil on canvas, 6" x 9"

I am really looking forward to the upcoming Unleashed exhibit at McGowan Fine Art in Concord, NH! If you recall, it will be a fundraiser for the Animal Rescue League on NH. The opening is June 25th!

Here is Hatrick again in a copy of a smaller sketch I posted a few months ago. The original is not for sale for a couple of reasons. First of all, it is on canvas board which can be fun to work with but isn't a highly archival material. Secondly, I really like the painting and I am proud that I was able to complete a nice likeness of my Hattie from life.

Painting great work to keep doesn't pay the art supply bills however, so I decided to copy the little painting (on professional quality canvas) just to see what would happen. What are sketches for but practice and reference for more paintings anyway?

I will link back to the post of the original painting, but before I do, I urge you to take this opportunity to do something I couldn't while I painted it: Judge this work for itself, by itself.

The point of copying is to reproduce the original, isn't it? Well, it is at the beginning of the exercise. Whether an artist is copying another piece of art, a scene in front of them or an idea in her mind, eventually she must drop her original expectations and enjoy the current work for what it has become.

When I get frustrated with a plein air painting that isn't holding its own against the subject before me or a painting from references like this one, I know that it is time to stop. I leave the scene and hang the painting somewhere I will see it casually throughout the day.

One of my painting teachers called this "letting the painting sneak up on you," which seems silly, but that is what these works seem to do. I invite you to try it with a piece you have been struggling with. All of a sudden, you will see a great painting out of the corner of your eye and realize it was the same picture you hated last week. You haven't touched it, but it is now being judged without its inspiration next to it and you can see that you really created something wonderful after all.

Maybe this doesn't look exactly like the first painting, but it doesn't have to anymore. It is its own piece, and I kind of like it.

This painting will be available in June 2010!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

5 Quick Creativity Workouts for Tight Schedules

copyright Hannah Phelps
Rainy Appledore Wave
oil on canvas, 11" x 14"

It happens to all of us - without warning, our days fill to the brim with activities that take us out of the studio. When we do grab a few spare minutes, we feel disconnected from our artist selves and recapturing the creative spirit eludes us. If your schedule seems out of your control, keep your art muscles supple and loose with these five fast drills:

1. Take Photos.

Taking  a camera, even a point and shoot, out for a short walk will help keep your artist eye from hibernating. Discovering interesting compositions of shape and color looking through the viewfinder will help loosen up a tight creative brain even if you never take a picture.

2. Open a Book.

You may not have the time to read right now, but you can look at images by your favorite artists. Keep a sketchbook and pencil next to you to note any quick inspirations that may strike. Or just rip the paper to bookmark anything you find exciting. 

When you have more time but need a small push, look at your notes or saved pages for an easy starting point.

3. Play with Color.

Like crunches for our tummies, artists all know creating color charts is good for us, but we rarely want to do them. When you feel too drained to create anything from scratch, allow the rigid little squares comfort and guide you. 

Challenge yourself to a formal color wheel or just crack open old tubes of paint you haven't used in a while. Experiment with a new tube you bought but haven't tried yet. At least the brush (or pencil or pastel or crayon etc.) is in your hand and your vision is filled with color.

 copyright Hannah Phelps
Detail of a Color Chart
oil on canvas, each square is approx. 1 inch

Never done a color chart? Stede Barber describes one method in his post "How to Make a Simple Color Chart."

4. Make a Date.

Don't have time now? Schedule something for next week or next month! Call an artist friend and agree to paint together, set up a still-life and draw or even critique what you have been able to do. 

The commitment to make art at least once this month will help relax you.  Making the date might even motivate you to squeeze in a little work beforehand!

5. The "Woodbury" Assignment.

If you have a bit more time and want a more intense challenge, this next one is perfect: 

American artist Charles Woodbury used to tell his landscape painting students to paint the same scene nine times in one week at different times of day. NINE PAINTINGS?! I know this sounds like ludicrous advice in a time crunch, but bear with me. 

Woodbury advised that you "paint as if you've been sent for" and give yourself only about a half hour to fill the canvas with the essence of the place. Whenever I have challenged myself to this task, I have found it energizing and liberating. As a matter of fact, I completed the painting at the top of this post during this exercise a few years ago.

Turn it into a simpler exercise by drawing or even writing. Set a timer for 30 minutes or less and see how much information you can record on your canvas or paper. And you need not go outside-set up a still life near a window for changing light and moods. Or imagine challenging yourself to nine abstract pieces in one week based on one word, poem, color, conversation... the possibilities are endless!

Remember that just as small obstacles can pile up and block us, successive tiny achievements become stepping stones to accomplishing huge goals. These exercises may not produce instant masterpieces, but practicing your art consistently ensures you'll be warmed up and ready to create when you get the chance.