Friday, December 30, 2016

George Washington's Tulip Poplar

Tulip Poplar 1785, Acrylic, 36 x 24 inches © Lynn Goldstein

Is it odd that I actually liked writing term papers? Research is fun for me. I realize that that is one of the reasons that I love leading tours at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. In order to share the art and the history with visitors, I am required to research. 

My love of research is why working in series makes since for me.  For the "From Just a Seed" series, visiting the historic and amazing trees is part of the fun of making the work. Finding out where the trees are located, and a little about the history of the trees feeds my love of research.

One of the things that fascinates me so much about this project is learning more about the individual species of trees. There is endless fascination in the variety of leaves, the structure of the trunks, and the growth patterns. The history related to the specific trees I have found has also been inspiring because some of these trees have quite a background.  With that in mind,  "Tulip Poplar" captivated me.  Here's the backstory:

This painting represents a famous tree because it was planted by one of the most famous people in American history. It is located on the Mount Vernon estate and was planted by George Washington. Now, I love George Washington. His life was astounding. In fact, I have read at least 2 books about our first president this year alone. I always share an image of him when I lead tours. He looms large for me. 

On the grounds of Mount Vernon, Washington used a very symmetrical gardening plan. If there was a tulip poplar on one side of the garden, there would be a matching tree on the other side. If you visit Mount Vernon, you may see this tree on one side of the bowling green, which is the large expanse of yard as you enter the Mount Vernon estate. 

For this painting, I wanted to show how the tulip poplar shoots up into the sky. In the lower right side of the painting, you will see the beauty of a tulip poplar in autumn, while in the upper left side of the painting, you will see the leaves of the tree. Each painting in this series provides a little story about an individual tree. 

Tulip Poplars are native to the east coast of the United States, and can grow up to 160 feet in height. 

Here are a few photos (excuse the quality!)  to show you the work in progress: 

Found it!!

Monday, November 21, 2016

How working in a series feeds my new big dream

Detail of American Elm in the From Just a Seed series, Acrylic, ©Lynn Goldstein

When I first began making art, I couldn't understand why anyone would want to work in a series. I mean, goodness, there are so many things to be interested in and to paint. I had a lightbulb moment when working on my Reaching series years ago. I realized that when working in a series,  I really got the opportunity to grow while studying something that truly interests me. This is one of the reasons that I have begun painting the series From Just a Seed. That's not the only reason, though.

For years I was concerned that making art was a narcissistic pursuit. Well, I got over THAT!

However, I still dream that my art can do more than it does. I can do more than I do to make this world a better place. So, my goal with From Just a Seed is to help focus attention on the importance of the environment and trees. To fulfill that ambition, I am looking to work with an environmental non-profit. What I envision doing is having an exhibition with the organization where part of the proceeds of the sale of my work would be donated to that organization.

This is a big dream to me, and it spurs me on as I continue my series. Six paintings completed with more to come!

If you know of an environmental non-profit that sounds like a good fit, let me know in the comments below, or check out my website and just hit "contact me". To do that, click here.  

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

It's ALL in the Journey

Working on my most recent series of paintings, I am finding that the research is as much fun as the painting process. Traveling to find historic and amazing trees has yielded some surprises. Last Tuesday was a perfect example.

Getting out the door in the morning to drive south to Fredericksburg, Virginia would not normally be on my list of things to do,. That said, I wanted to see the Virginia Champion Yellowwood tree at Kenmore Plantation, and the weather was just about perfect for a visit. Traffic was heavy, but moving on Interstate 95, and I made it to Fredericksburg just in time for the site to open for visitors. 

A well-dressed woman greeted me upon my arrival. I am sure that she thought that I was there to visit the home, but the grounds were of more interest to me during this trip. I asked her if she could direct me to the Yellowwood tree. She looked puzzled, but pointed out some men not too far away, indicating that they could help me. These men seemed to know exactly what I was looking for and directed me to... wait for it... a SAPLING! My disappointment was palpable. I had driven over an hour and the tree was gone. Turns out that the Champ had died a few years ago, and the sapling was a replacement. This is where the story takes a positive turn.

The Yellowwood tree at Kenmore Plantation

A cutting of a branch of the Champion Yellowwood tree. sigh. 

As a result of the death of the Champion tree, I asked if there were other historic trees on the property. That was when I was introduced to the Director of Gardens and Historic Landscapes there. She spent over an hour with me showing me some outstanding specimens. Here's the kicker. If the Yellowwood had been alive, I would have taken pictures and hi-tailed it out of there. Sometimes things that appear to be negative can yield great rewards. 

Here is a picture of the Southern Red Oak at Kenmore Plantation. This beauty will figure into my upcoming work to be sure.

Southern Red Oak at Kenmore Plantation

Friday, September 30, 2016

How to Block in a Pastel Painting -- Revisiting an Old Favorite

Many feel that making art of the same subject may be boring. I love revisiting old favorites. Why? Well, It's fun to see if my working style has changed, how my memories of a location may have been altered with time, and also to reactivate fond experiences and feelings from the past.

Just recently, I completed a painting inspired by a visit to a friend years ago. When I went to her home for the first time, my socks were blown off by the beauty of a vacant lot next to her house. After going on and on about the beauty, my friend exclaimed, "That! It's just a bunch of weeds!" Clearly one woman's weeds is another woman's wonder. Here is the progress of the painting, "Kelly's Surprise Revisited."

Pastels used for the painting. 

This piece was started as a demonstration for my students.
You can see the preliminary sketch next to the red value under painting
Beginning the block in of perceived color

Adding more perceived color

More color added. You will see that I have established my darkest areas and my lightest area (the sky)

A bit of detail being explored

More detail...

The finished painting. "Kellys Surprise Revisited," Pastel, 12 x 9 inches © Lynn Goldstein

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Need to Ship a Pastel? Now What?

Pastel paintings are beautiful and luminous, and require a little extra tender loving care when being shipped. I have shipped work all over the country without any trouble. Here's how I shipped a framed painting to NYC for inclusion in the Pastel Society of America exhibition:

Here is the painting to be packed.
You will notice the label that will be affixed to the back of the painting.
More importantly, you will see the low-tack tape that will be put down to protect the glass. 
It is important to be sure to have the proper shipping box. I can't praise AirFloat StrongBoxes enough. You may visit their website here.  The boxes are made of cardboard that is remarkably sturdy. I have been using these boxes for years, preferring the boxes with puncture proof linings. You may reuse them a few times using commonsense. Don't continue using them when you recognize that the box's strength has been compromised by being bounced around in shipping.

AirFloat StrongBox all ready for packing

When a painting is framed with glass, it is important to tape the glass to ensure
that if there is breakage, the art will not be damaged, and that the person on the other end doesn't get cut.

This photograph illustrates the interior of the StrongBox.
You can see the foam that protects the work.
Also, notice that I have added more tape in a checkerboard fashion to further protect the glass.

6 Reasons to Support Living Artists

This would seem a blog post that is self-serving. Please stay with me. Several weeks ago, I asked a studio visitor to tell me his favorite type of art. He replied that he liked the Impressionists and that he had several reproductions of work by Monet on his walls at home. I was saddened by his answer. Don't get me wrong. I am happy that people have nice things to look at in their homes. I just don't understand why they would have reproductions of long dead artists when they can support those who are alive. I know so many talented artists that have work in a wide range of prices, so price needn't be a sticking point. Maybe we just need to think of the benefits of supporting a living artist. Here are 6 reasons to think about:

1. You are getting a very personal, one-of-a-kind piece. You will not likely go into someone else's home and see the exact same thing. Some artists (me included) sell reproductions of their art, but there is only one original. If you buy a reproduction from the artist, you are still not likely to see the work on your friend's walls. To see my print offerings, check out my print shop here.

"Reaching-Burke Lake," reproductions available in multiple sizes ©Lynn Goldstein
2. You may be able to have something that can transport you to a place you would like to be. This can be the case with representational work or abstract work. You can even commission art that is of a place that you enjoy. To see the process of a commission I completed with the buyer's desires in mind,  take a look here. You may also contact me with a request for a commissioned piece here. 

An example of a commissioned painting, 24 x 36 inches, Acrylic on canvas ©Lynn Goldstein

3. You will have something that you love, and that will move with you when you leave the place where you are presently living, unlike the paint color or  countertops. The artwork will bring back positive memories and evoke feelings in you for years to come.

4. Art heals. This is huge in today's world that seems to be shredding at the seams. In fact, one of my missions is to help people feel peaceful while viewing my work.

5. If you buy from a local artist, you are helping the local economy. As a self-employed small business owner, I pay a boatload of taxes that help fund our libraries, schools, road projects, etc.

6. Finally, if an artist makes it BIG, you were there at the beginning. How great would it be to tell your friends that you own work by a big 'ole famous artist?

Please let me know if you have more reasons to add to the list. I would love to see them in the comments below!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The ONE Thing to Consider When Buying Art

So, you have a spot on the wall that is crying out for artwork, but you are not sure where to start in deciding what to buy. There are so many options today, in all price ranges. Here are a few to consider:

— You may buy a reproduction. This is a cost effective alternative to original art, and with newer technologies, you do not have to resort to buying posters from your local big box store. You may support a living artist. Artwork can be printed on canvas, on paper, or even on metal. When purchasing from an artist, you know,  you are more likely to get something that has been individually created to your taste. To see my print shop, check it out here.

— You may buy a piece of glass art designed to hang on the wall. This will add dimension that can be beautiful and interesting.

"Nebula," Kilnformed Glass, 18 x 17 x 2.5 inches, © Sandi Martina $475

— If you enjoy the idea of dimensional treatments for your walls, another option is a fine art quilt. These can be absolutely beautiful to display.

"Into the Woods," Mixed Media-Fabric, Acrylic Paint, Thread, 24 x 18 inches, © Viviane Milholen $1800 
— Maybe you prefer ceramics. Well, there are ceramic pieces that hang on the wall as well. Here is a great example of a whimsical ceramics piece that is intended to hang. 

"Wonder Woman Jug," Handbuilt Stoneware with Underglaze Detailing. 8 x 3 x 1.5 inches, 
© Lilianne Milgrom $175

— Finally, you may purchase an original painting. Works in oil, acrylic, pastel, watercolor or collage are tried and true objects to grace your walls.

"Spokes--Autumn," Pastel, 36 x 24 inches, ©Lynn Goldstein $2100
... But... how do you decide? Here is my advice. Buy what you LOVE. The wall colors, the light fixtures, and the flooring will stay in your home when you move out, but the artwork can move with you. So, if you have an emotional response to a work, and you love it, that's the piece to buy. If money is an issue, see if you can arrange time payments. Most artists that I know are happy to accommodate you. 

What are the reasons that you buy (or haven't bought) art? I'd love to know. Leave a comment below.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Less Than Conventional Approach

Years ago, a friend asked, "So, you can paint a good landscape, now what"?  I have given that question a lot of thought. Since that interchange, I have made two installation pieces, and worked on a sculptural form. Now, I am beginning a series that has my head reeling with excitement.

The series that I have begun explores amazing and interesting trees. These are some of the largest, oldest, trees of historical significance, or are just plan interesting trees.

"Norway Spruce," is the first of these paintings to be completed. Although not native to the United States, Norway Spruce grows well here. It is not invasive, and is a beautiful tree. In fact, Norway Spruce trees are often used as Christmas tree specimens. This particular tree is located in Great Falls, Virginia, and was saved because it was on a parcel of land that was too small for a gigantic home. Sometimes survival is just the luck of the draw.

Here's a play-by-play so that you will see the work as it progressed.

Very early in the process. You can see the textured surface, and the beginning of the tree trunk. 

Happy with the direction that the tree trunk is taking, I decided to reward myself and
paint the tree as it may have looked in its youth. 

Here's a close up of texture and the entire Norway Spruce.

Time to add more branches, and add more color and patina to the textured areas.

Some of the green needles need to be added. 

One of the things that fascinated me about this tree was the branching structure.
Although a bit tedious, those branches needed to be added! 

More branches!

After a closer look, I thought that the large branch on the right needed to
break into the textured area in the upper right. Almost completed!

Norway Spruce, 24 x 24 inches, acrylic, © Lynn Goldstein 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Paint By Numbers - Love it or Hate it

Do you remember Paint-by-Numbers? Along with coloring books, this childhood activity has made a comeback.

I should have known that I would be an artist when I was growing up because I HATED Paint-by-Numbers. I didn't want someone else telling me where to put the color. I also didn't like the idea of being told what color to use in the first place. In fact, I hated someone telling me that I had to paint a boat in a particular color, or in a particular position. To tell the truth, I didn't want to paint a boat at all. How about a tree? I guess I wanted to experiment and do things differently even when I was young. Worked out okay for me.

Did you like Paint-by-Numbers, or hate it like I did? Let me know in the comments below.

If you want to paint your own thing, you may join me in classes. I will be teaching Pastel Painting at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, Virginia again starting Wednesday, September 21. For more information and to register, click here:

"Filtered Sun," 9 x 12 inch, Pastel, © Lynn Goldstein NOT PAINT BY NUMBERS!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Painting Inside the Box -- Literally

A few years ago, while paying for a purchase, I noticed gift boxes tossed into a receptacle. When I spotted a box that looked like a book, I mentioned how much I liked it. The salesperson immediately gave me the box letting me know that its destiny was the landfill. Making art with the little object seemed like a much better idea. "Book of Memories" is what came of the unexpected gift. Since this piece just sold, I have been giving it thought, and wanted to share it. Here is the result:

 "Book of Memories," Mixed Media, © Lynn Goldstein, closed

"Book of Memories," Mixed Media, © Lynn Goldstein, closed, front cover

"Book of Memories," Mixed Media © Lynn Goldstein, signature

"Book of Memories," Mixed Media, © Lynn Goldstein, interior view

"Book of Memories," Mixed Media, © Lynn Goldstein, interior view

"Book of Memories," Mixed Media, © Lynn Goldstein, spine 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Pastel Perfect!!

I wish that I were one of those neat people. Sadly, I am not. After 5 years of neglect, I finally cleaned and organized my pastel trays. These trays were made for me years ago by my wonderful stepdad, Sam. He was so handy, and I miss him. In the interest of full disclosure, I am not going to show you how beautiful they look without showing you the "before" pictures. Here goes:

Here is the mess that was my pastel collection. I couldn't see what I had. Scary!

Progress made. Not quite done.

So proud of my collection now. I can see what I have, and I know definitively that I can restrain myself from buying more pastels. Will I succeed in not buying more? Probably not. Sigh. As you can see, the colors are arranged by hue and value. One of the sections has some specialty colors.
Here is the first painting completed after the pastel trays were straightened. I didn't realize how trying to find colors impacted making my art. So much easier now!
"Finally Spring," Pastel, 12 x 8 inches© Lynn Goldstein

Thursday, June 2, 2016

A New Twist

Every once in awhile, it's fun to try something a little different. For example, I love historical fiction, but sometimes I like to read a great biography. It's also so much fun to do an abstract painting after working on representational art for a long period of time. In the case of this painting, I stayed put with regard to my love of trees, but I kept the colors very muted, which is unusual for me. I also rarely paint from someone else's photograph, but this is a portion of a collaboration that I am doing with another artist. She took the photograph, and this is my interpretation. Just for grins, I thought that I would share the process. So, here goes:

The beginning is always fun, especially when working on black. This painting was started on a black surface that was prepared with pumice and pumice gel for texture. I originally thought that the painting would be strictly white on black, but discovered quickly that I wanted some subtle colors added to the mix. 

As you can see, branches are being added. This stage was a slow go. Winter trees provide a great opportunity to study how trees grow. I love to paint them, but all those branches take FOREVER!
Close to finished. Added some more subtle colors and more branches. You can see a portion of a small acrylic painting to the right of this piece. Gives you some idea of scale. The small painting is 5 x 7 inches

Here's a surprise for you! So that you don't think that everything is always serious in the studio, here's a pic of one of my artist friends coming in for a little chuckle during the day. She is "wearing" a mask made by another artist friend.
Gave me a great laugh!

"Crystalline," 36 x 24 inches, pastel © Lynn Goldstein

Here is the finished piece. If you look closely, you will see that one of the broken branches on the lower left hand portion of the trunk has disappeared. I also added more color to the upper left corner. Small changes can have big impact.