Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Just Ducky

"Just Ducky"
original oil painting on linen, 8x10 inch
copyright 2009 MaryAnn Cleary

It seems like it has bee quite a while since posting on my blog or even painting. The above painting is an attempt at getting back at it. After taking a month or two off and trying to figure out what it is that I love to do, I am hitting the canvas head on. My plan is to work not only on my conte/charcoal drawings, but also try to gain skill and confidence in my oil painting. I love playing with colors and edges so that they become lost & found, hard and soft. Doing so can really bring life to the artwork. Practice, practice and more practice.

My first real attempt on just focusing on edges was the PB & J sandwich painting. Squinting really helps define those areas that seem to blur with the background and those that are crisp and very defined. The above painting really gave me "fits" after not painting for a few weeks. Goodness! Taking a break is NOT recommended. I wiped off the first attempt and almost wiped this one off, too. However, sometimes it is good to see where one has been to measure any future improvement.

The past few weeks, I did not do much painting, but I did complete a commission piece in charcoal and conte. A pet portrait. I had fun with it and that one I will post tomorrow.

Lesson learned....don't take breaks away from painting.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


It looks like my PB&J painting made the FAV15% on the Fine Art Studio November 2009 competition. Yipee!

Friday, November 20, 2009

PB and J

"Peanut Butter & Jelly"
original oil painting on canvas board, 5x6 inch
copyright 2009 MaryAnn Cleary

This is a small painting that I did to get my eyes and hands back into the groove of painting. Painting PB&J sandwiches are always fun. With this one I tried to concentrate on hard, soft, and lost edges. I also used a prismatic palette (primary colors), but it definitely was tempting to grab a tube of yellow ochre. Fun practice and good eating.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Landscape Study......

"Landscape Study"
original oil 8x10 inch
copyright 2009 MaryAnn Cleary

This small study is of a lake near where I live. This month I am working on a pet portrait commission and one of the requests from my client is to have a background with a lake. This may be what I use for the background area.

This past month has been a crazy one - a trip to Montana, installing tile and a new wood stove, and a couple of writing classes.

Time to get back into painting everyday and focusing on what I love!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hard, Soft, Lost and Firm Edges

Study for Edges in Painting
5x6 inch
copyright MaryAnn Cleary

Before setting up a full setup for a still life painting, I wanted to practice some and do a little study for edges. Doing a painting is all about how one sees things. Everything does not have a hard, steel edge to it so when doing a painting, it is important to make sure a person paints what they see. Photographs show everything. They do not show things how a person actually sees things. There will be a place where our eyes focus, but the rest of the stuff will be out of focus. The edges will be softer.

When painting it is important to move our eyes over the surface constantly scanning it. It is also important to squint and only paint what is important. Today was my day to try and get my eyes, paintbrush and painting focused on edges. Sharp ones where there is high contrast, lost ones where it is difficult to see where the edge is, soft ones where a plane turns slightly and ones that are not hard, but firm, like the rim of the vase in some areas.

Edges are to practice more.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Another River Study

River Study on August 11, 2009
oil , 8 x 10 inch

Here is another river study. It is fun seeing these little paintings come together and see the different views and light. This one was done in the late morning.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

A Cloudy Day for a Back Yard Study

"My Back Yard Aug. 5, 2009"
oil on canvas, 8 x 10 inch
copyright MaryAnn Cleary
What fun to paint!! This is another series in the "back yard" paintings. I am doing this to study the effects of light at different times and seasons. It has been a couple of weeks since I have done one so it was about time that I got back at it.

This evening was cloudy so without having a strong light constrast, it is much more difficult. The values are similar so one needs to play with the warm and cool tones. I did enjoy this one and I would like to do it again when a sunny morning or evening.

While painting this sweet little painting, a family of turkeys did pass through. Sometimes I forget why I love it here so much. Watching a turkey family or a bald eagle fly along the river is truly a great pleasure.

Enjoy the painting~

Monday, August 03, 2009

Hydrangeas, Sunflowers in a RumRill Vase

"Hydrangeas & Sunflowers in a RumRill Vase"
oil on linen on hardboard, 16 x 12 inch
copyright MaryAnn Cleary

What an interesting still life! Especially trying to put this one together. I have hydrangeas in my yard, but with my bum knee it is difficult spending too much time standing outside to paint. For this little gem, I opted to cut some of the hydrangeas and put them in a of my RumRill vases called Dutch Blue and made by Red Wing in the 1930s.

One difficulty with this still life is that hydrangeas do not make very good cut flowers! Thank goodness I did take a photo of the flowers. Between my laptop and the setup of the still life, I managed to keep the essences of the initial setup.

My favorite way of painting is from life. The main reason is that colors and the subtelties are often lost with a photograph. This was difficult for me, but I managed to restrain myself and hopefully capture the essence of the hydrangeas. One thing that I am realizing is "less is definitedly more" and I really tried to keep my colors clean with this painting....that is, making every brush stroke count. This painting actually took me longer than I thought....but I sure was not in a rush.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009


oil painting on canvas board, 10 x 8 inch
copyright 2009 MaryAnn Cleary

This is a still life that I just finished up this afternoon. It feels good to have it done. I love summer time and flowers. However, where I live every time I try to plant bulbs of some kind, there are little critters that love to much on them. They seem to think that they are a treat for them. I do not know how many times I have planted bulbs in the fall expecting wonderful blooms in the spring only to find not a one. I may try planting things in the spring so that they have a bit of time to become established.

These wonderful glads were actually purchased at the grocery store. I would love to have a yard of flowers and perennials. I have a few. I may actually try preparing a place and add some more. I am always willing to give it another try. There is something about summer and flowers.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My Back Yard

Light Along the Rum River
8 x 10 inch

This is something that I painted yesterday evening from my studio window as the sun was setting. The light was hitting the leaves on some of the trees and the a grassy area along the river. I hope to try one of these at least once a week to learn about how the light will change the overall view of the subject.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Paintings from a Workshop

Morning Bliss on the St. Croix
oil painting, 8x10 inch
day 2

Afternoon Sunlight on the St. Croix
oil painting, 8x10 inch
Day 1

This past week, I attended a workshop given by Kami Polzin of Stillwater, MN. What a wonderful three days! Kami is an excellent teacher and her enthusiasm and love of painting is very apparent.

I have always found landscape painting a bit intimidating, but with Kami's help, I now look at the color temperatures, values, and light of doing a landscape with complete enthusiasm. The above paintings are examples of what I accomplished during the workshop.

What a delight!!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Lilacs from my Yard

"Lilacs from the Yard"
original oil on panel board, 14 x 11 inches, unframed
$200 plus shipping
copyright 2009 MaryAnn Cleary

It seems like ages since I posted anything. The past week I have been catching up from my trip to Montana to see my new grand daughter and big brother. As usual, I had planned on painting, but I forgot how time consuming wee ones can be. My main reason for going to Montana was to help the new Mom with the little ones. I enjoyed each precious moment that I was there immensely.

Once home, I started this painting plus some new things with making pendants. More on those later. I just finished up this painting of the lilacs this morning and it was a joy to do. I am going to leave it sit for a day or two, but for now here it is.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bud ~ Virtual Sketch Date Challenge

oil painting on canvas board, 8 x 8 inch, unframed
virtual sketch date challenge for April
copyright 2009 MaryAnn Cleary

Here is my completed challenge for the virtual sketch date. I almost forgot to do it, so this evening I made a dash for the studio and attempted to do it. Check out the other interpretations at Virtual Sketch Date blog.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Oranges from a Workshop

Workshop Still Life ~ Citrus
oil painting on canvas board, 11 x 14 inch
copyright 2009 MaryAnn Cleary

This past week on Thursday and Friday, I made a trip to Stillwater, MN to attend a workshop given by Kami Polzin. She is a very talented artist and an excellent teacher. Color seems to terrify me, but after this workshop I feel that I have gained confidence and the knowledge for a new approach to overcoming my fears. Basic drawing skills are imperative. Kami is a wonderful teacher. I hope to try out my new knowledge with a few still life setups. Seeing color and how it relates to what surrounds it is key. It sounds so simple, but our mind tends to get in the way and complicate things.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Waiting for Playtime

"Waiting to Play"
conte/charcoal on Rives paper, 8 x 12.5 inch
copyright 2009 MaryAnn Cleary

This dog portrait is complete for today. I will put it aside for a week or two and if something pops out at me, I will make some slight adjustments. However, for now I plan on just leaving it as is.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Work in Progress ~ Conan Day 2

Update on the latest art work ~ Conan

I thought that I would post a quick update on the charcoal/conte drawing. Still a ways to go, but here is what it looks like today.....

Monday, April 13, 2009

Another Work In Progress

Work in Progress ~ "Conan"
charcoal and conte, 8 x 12 inch
copyright 2009 MaryAnn Cleary

Here is the latest drawing that I am working on. It is of a huge mastiff named Conan. He is a sweet and VERY large dog that lives in Arizona with my son and his family. I hope to finish the drawing in the next couple of days. This is another drawing created on Rives BFK using charcoal and conte. I hope to have a series of these completed the next couple of months as I really enjoy working with this medium! It is great for portraiture.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Coneflower and Butterfly

Coneflower and Butterfly
charcoal and conte on Rives BFK paper, 9.5 x 11 inch
copyright 2009 MaryAnn Cleary

I just had to finish this drawing up. What fun. Next I plan on trying this on a dog portrait and then a human. I did spend several hours on this drawing today, but I had a break in between as I had been invited to a wonderful dinner at my neighbor's home. Homemade ham! Great meal.

Tomorrow look for an update on my ebay statistics. I have been collecting data now for more than two months. Some interesting info.

Work in Progress ~ Coneflowers

Coneflowers ~ A work in progress...
charcoal and conte on Rives BFK paper
copyright 2009 MaryAnn Cleary

After reading an article in the International Art Magazine on an artist who works with charcoal and conte, I just had to give this a try. Typically, I use just conte or charcoal on a toned paper. It never occurred to me to use a nice quality, white paper. The trick seems to be not to get too carried away with the sanquine conte. As soon as I am finished with this drawing, I will post it. Charcoal and conte are one of my absolutely favorite mediums and I wonder why I just don't do more.

I will try to remember to take photos as I complete this drawing to share. I already have a couple more ideas in the works. Next will be a drawing of Conan, my son's Mastiff. Perfect for doing a dog portrait. After that will be a portrait drawing...I have a couple to choose from.....

Have a Happy Easter everyone!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The April Fool Joke

April in Minnesota
(a view from my backyard on April 1, 2009 ~ snow!!!)
original oil on canvas board, 7 x 7 inch, unframed
copyright 2009 MaryAnn Cleary

This is a view painted of my backyard. Yes, that is snow! Yes, it is April! Goodness, I am really tired of winter in Minnesota. Today we are again awaiting yet another winter storm. Wake up, Mother Nature! It is Spring!

This sweet little painting is done using a very limited palette. Ultramarine blue, mars violet and titanium white. I tried to play the warm and cool colors off one another and truthfully, that day was pretty simple color-wise. With the white snow and the bleakness of the bare trees, there was little color, but lots of contrast. The limited palette really fit the color scheme for this little painting.

I may start a little series of "My Backyard" and different days of the year. It definitely is ever changing.

Friday, April 03, 2009

A Portrait Commission in Conte

Portrait Commission
conte drawing on toned paper, 11 x 14 inch
copyright MaryAnn Cleary

This a portrait commission that is done in a sanquine conte on a toned paper. To accomplish this portrait required working from several different photos and combining them into one final drawing. Typically, I prefer to utilize my own photographs, but when there is a long distance between me and the client I must rely on the client's photos.

In the future, I hope to write a post on taking photographs for portrait work that will be utilized for a commission piece. This should be helpful to those requesting a commission and living too far away for me to do the photographing. Please feel free to contact me if anyone has questions.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Palette Knife Study

"Beach Body ~ A Palette Knife Study & Limited Palette"
original oil painting done on canvas panel, 10 x 8 inch, unframed
copyright MaryAnn Cleary

This is a study in oil using a palette knife as well as a limited palette. This is also for Karin Jurick's site called Different Strokes from Different Folks. I almost did not do this one since I have been gone and just got back from AZ. However, I just could not resist so I did a quick study last night using a palette knife for the main portion and then on top of that, I opted to use a limited palette. The colors used were cadmium red, cadmium yellow (both med.), ultramarine blue and white. That in itself was challenging. My thought for this was to try to capture the essence of a moment at the beach without getting hung up in all the detail. Very difficult for me. A palette knife definitely helps!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Apple a Day

Apple a Day
original oil painting on canvas on hardboard, 5 x 6 inch, unframed
copyright MaryAnn Cleary

Today the snow is falling so I suppose this means March came in like a lion and is also leaving as a lion. So much for Spring. Winter seems to be here for a few more days.

This little painting was done from life. I am trying to get back into the groove of painting after doing a few conte drawings. I still have a couple more that I plan on doing of my little grand daughter and I just finished up a commission portrait which I will post sometime this week. Tomorrow the painting for Karin Jurick's site for other painter's interpretations is due. I am working on it this evening, but now time to take a break.....I need an NCIS TV fix.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Sweet Little Lass ~ Teagan

conte on toned paper, approx. 7 x 9 inch
copyright 2009 MaryAnn Cleary

This morning I awoke to my cell phone sending me a message that my flight to Minneapolis had been upgraded. My days in the warm sun are nearing their end.

The above drawing is a quick sketch of my sweet granddaughter. She is a bundle of joy and as active as can be for a wee one. She has captured my heart and I am sure I will need to make many more drawings of her. What a challenging model she is! If I can catch her in a still moment, that means sleeping, I will try to draw from life. For now though, the best way is to take numerous photos and then work from them.

I may work on this one a little more, but for now I will let it sit a bit before doing anything more to it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Visiting AZ and an eBay Update

Here is the latest chart for the eBay listings for Daily Paintings and for auction only. It looks like there might be a downward trend on the percentage of paintings sold. The current average for selling a daily painting on eBay is 19.2%. However, if we just look at the month of March, the average is 16.5%. The straight purple line in the graph is the average of 19.2%. The points are data that I collected on various days and times.

This week and next I will be visiting my little granddaughter in Arizona, so I will post when I am able. I hope to get some sketching in as the wild flowers are out and the days are sunny and warm. If anything, I will take some photographs!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

A Maple Syrup Day

"Getting the Tools Ready for Tapping a Tree"
photograph copyright 2009 MaryAnn Cleary

"Drilling a Hole for Tapping"
photograph copyright 2009 MaryAnn Cleary

This afternoon the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) at Wild River State Park in Minnesota gave a tutorial and some hands-on experience for tapping maple trees. This will continue each weekend during the month of March. This is my first time to actually learn about this and see how it is done.

During March different teams will tap trees and gather syrup. It will be stored and then at the end of the month, there will be a cooking day to boil down the sap, removing the excess water and increasing the maple sugar content. This is done outside with a wood fire and a long trough for the liquid. March 29th starts the cook-off day.

Today the "A" team consistent of several members and ten buckets, drilled, sterilized and tapped ten tree locations to gather their sap. Trees that have at least a 10" diameter trunk are chosen for the ones to share their nectar. In the Native American tradition, tobacco is left prior to tapping as an offering to Mother Earth. Anything that is taken should have an offering of thanks. The trees had been marked with blue ribbons to avoid any confusion for the folks selecting a tree. Some of the trees were quite large in diameter so they will actually have two taps on them. During the month, folks will come back to check the buckets and empty them. The collected sap is taken back to the storage area to be cooked down later.

On a good day, the sap could drip as fast as 300 drops/minute. Today the drops were slow in coming and some just weren't coming at all. As the days warm up and the nights remain cool, that will definitely change. Spring is just around the corner. Thank goodness. It has been a long and cold winter.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Tabasco No. 3

Tabasco No. 3
original oil painting on canvas on hardboard, 4 x 6 inch, unframed
copyright 2009 MaryAnn Cleary

Goodness, I am longing for Spring. Soon I am heading south for a break from the snow and cold temps. Sure enough as soon as I leave, the weather will warm up.

Today I decided to do the Tabasco sauce bottle. This one definitely looks better in life. I have also bee working on a commission, but I decided to just put it aside as I await feedback from the client. Commissions are difficult when a person is not local. This one is of two beautiful children, but atlas, I do wonder if I have captured their essence. Once it is completed, I will share the final drawing with everyone.

Now time for some hot sauce to warm things up in this cold climate of Minnesota.

Soon I will post tips on taking photos for commissions and the best shots.

Click to bid.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Mannequin Squares

"Mannequin Squares"
conte on a toned paper, 20 x 24 inch
copyright MaryAnn Cleary

This is my version of the latest challenge on "Different Strokes from Different Folks". Needless to say, the photograph was a bit intimidating, but it also inspired several ideas. I decided to do my attempt in conte as I am going back to basics to get my skills in order. That means, a lot more sketching. I now carry a small sketch book in my purse where ever I go to do small quick sketches. I still plan on painting...after all, painting is just sketching with a brush.

Lately, I have been feeling a bit lost with where I want to go with my sketch, woman , sketch. The muse will let you know....

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Virtual Sketch Date ~ Lake Louise

Virtual Sketch Date ~ Lake Louise
original oil painting on canvas board, 8 x 10 inch, unframed
copyright 2009 MaryAnn Cleary

This is a painting for the monthly challenge of the Virtual Sketch Date. This month a photo of Lake Louise was the challenge. I really dreaded this one for some reason, but I figured I had better get my head out of my torso and "just do it". This afternoon when I did the challenge, this is what I came up with. Once I got started at the painting, it seemed to move along. It will be posted on Flickr under our Group called VSD Group.

Next I will continue some work on a commission that I am doing and I will also do the challenge for Different Strokes from Different Folks. I already have an idea for this one that I would like to try as an interpretation of the photo. Check out this week's photo if you want something that is very heady and is near insanity.

More to come! Sorry for the lack of posts this week. I got hit with the flu bug and I have been nursing a bum knee that I some how re-injured. My motivation has been a bit lax because of it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Morning Google Snafu and Auctiva Malware Glitch

This morning after being awakened by the neighbor's barking dog, I got up, started the computer, made a pot of coffee and tried to check my gmail account. After 20 minutes and two different attempts of trying to access my gmail account, I received the above message. I tried to find out what the heck was going on. Apparently, gmail was shut down worldwide for more than an hours time. It appears to be back up and running. However, very SLOWLY. I tried opening a note from my daughter and it took several attemps and more than a minute just to get it to open.

On top of that, yesterday when I went to use for checking on an ebay listing and to also list more, I find out that they have been infected with a malware. Apparently, google had them as a malicious site and that is how they found out about it. It also seems to have come from China. The thing is my computer was acting crazy yesterday as I had actually used auctiva to list an eBay item during the prime time of the malware hit. My computer had really slowed down and behaved abnormally. I do have an anti-viral protection. I also use Firefox and that meant I did not get hit as bad as those using Internet Explorer.

To take care of the situation, prior to knowing that auctiva had transferred a malware, I emptied my temp files, did a disk clean and rebooted. That seemed to fix the problems. Only this morning did Auctiva actually send out an email to their users advising them of the situation. Their site is officially down and has been since yesterday evening.

I certainly hope that this is not a sign of things to come.

Monday, February 23, 2009

More Data on eBay Daily Paintings

eBay "daily painting" auction only bid results

The data for the percent of "daily paintings" auction only on eBay continues to be collected. As the month draws to an end the percentage is at 25% today for those with bids and the average being 21%. Of those paintings with bids, those with bids at or greater than $99 average 13 bids and those with bids of $45 or less average 13. Those with bids >$45 and <$99 are only 2. The average number of listings per day for daily paintings is 126.

I will continue to collect the data and post it once a month. Since the time that I have started collecting this, the percentage of those with bids has actually increased from 15% to 25%. This probably has to do with the number of listings previous to Valentine's Day. When I started collecting this data, there were 158 listings on Feb.5th. The number has since dropped and seems to be stable around 120 listings.

Commission Work:
This week I am working on a portrait commission and I hope to post the progress of it. This is being done in conte on paper and from reference photos. I was given several and from that I put together a composition that I thought the client would like. Once the rough merged photo is approved, I will start the drawing. Since this is a portrait with two children who were photographed separately, I used Photoshop Elements to manipulate, merge, and remove the color. This will help with making sure that the client and I are thinking the same.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tangelo...not an Orange and More....

Tangelo (redone from yesterday)
original oil painting on canvas on masonite, 5.x6 inch, unframed
copyright MaryAnn Cleary

This morning when I got up and took another look at the orange thing, I just HAD to do more work on it. Sometimes it is best to just leave things set for a day or so and then go back to them with a clear head and fresh eyes. This definitely was one of those cases. I wanted to share the process with you so here is the "Tangelo"...not a tangerine/orange cross, but one of those Tangelos that has lots and lots of seeds in them.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Slice of Orange

A Slice of Orange
original oil painting on canvas on masonite, 5x6 inch, unframed
copyright MaryAnn Cleary

This is a slice of orange to go with the egg. I really don't think this is a true orange, but one of those hybrids that is orange and tangerine. The color is a bit deeper than a regular orange.

Today I watched a DVD by Morgan Weistling. What an excellent DVD. This one was about "Painting for the Impatient". It consists of 2 DVDs with the first showing two different portrait demonstrations with different lighting and two different approaches to painting them. The second DVD consists of Morgan critiquing and assisting students in his workshops. I plan on watching it again. I highly recommend the video.

With the painting of the orange, I actually tried out one of the methods used by Morgan on the video....painting from the inside out. With this approach one, paints as you go comparing values, shapes, and drawing. It is a little different than the typical way that I approach a painting. I like it as I now am focusing on the values, the color and drawing as I go. It seems to take the pressure off and it is fun to watch the painting suddenly emerge.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Economy and Ebay ~ Daily Paintings

eBay "daily painting" auction only bids percentage - limited data

One thing that I have tried, and I am sure other artists have tried as well, is listing my small paintings on ebay under "daily paintings". Since I am one of those left-right brain folks, I needed to understand what my chances of selling a daily painting on ebay were. Recently, I decided to start keeping track of some of the daily painting data. So far, I almost have 30 data points....something needed for a good sampling and reliable statistics. However, my data is still very limited as the info included is not for a very long period of time....just a little over a week & collecting at different times of the day. However, even with those few points and by collecting data at different times of the day, I found some very insightful info that I would like to share. Over time the data will become more meaningful. I definitely plan on continuing this.

Here is what I have found so far (all numbers are for auction only daily paintings):
  • the average percentage of paintings with bids is 19.6%
  • the average number of paintings listed is 130 (auction only)
  • the average highest selling price is $161 with the average shipping price of $8.60
  • the average lowest selling price is $8 with free shipping
I went a step further and took a look at the ones with bids. It seems that those with a strong following are 50% of those daily paintings with bids. They also receive a decent price for their paintings ranging from $100 and higher.

The data for the highest and lowest bids includes the bid price + the shipping price. There are actually bids that are for much less, but typically it is made up by charging higher shipping fees.

Last year when I did this just by a quick count, the number of daily paintings with bids was closer to 30%. I hope to continue keeping track of this to see if there is an improvement over time. It could be a good economic indicator. Also, I would like to know if is really worth the cost of listing paintings on ebay.

Right now I plan on listing a few of my own paintings each week with a low starting price. This has to do with the fees that ebay charges. I am using ebay as part of a marketing strategy with a small budget earmarked just for listing paintings. It would be great to sell a painting now and then to cover the marketing budget, but that is not my main reason for listing them on ebay. I hope to gain a bit more exposure.

For now, with the very limited data that I have, I am realizing that selling on ebay is not easy. One first should have a strong following or maybe use it to develop one - one artist that I have been watching seems to have accomplished this (more on this in a later post). However, right now I feel that most of my hits on ebay that check on my paintings are probably from other artists. That is ok as artists do buy paintings and one never knows who else might take a look.

By the way, I plan on keeping track of this data and posting my findings every week. I also would love to hear how others have done with ebay and what strategy others have used.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Another Egg or Egg No.2

Egg No. 2
oil on canvas mounted on masonite, 5 x 6 inch, unframed
copyright MaryAnn Cleary

When feeling frustrated, it is always good to go back to basics....or paint an egg. This is the first in another series of four. I am thinking this might be breakfast foods or something like that.

This painting is one that I did by mounting Signature canvas onto a 1/4 thick masonite board. It really was pretty easy to do and is quite a cost savings. I used my rolling pin to smooth out the canvas after applying the glue to the board and laying the primed canvas onto it. I then piled books on top of the glued canvas & board. Later I used an exacto knife to trim the edges. Next time I will take some pics of the process. It is really easy and I also like painting on canvas versus just a primed hardboard.

Click her to bid.

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Foster ~ Jar No.4

original oil on gessoed hardboard, 6 x 6 inch, unframed
copyright MaryAnn Cleary

Ah, another one of those little half-pint canning jars. This one is a Foster jar and is "sealfast". To add a little life to this painting I added a strawberry. All these little jars have been painted from life. The four of the paintings make a nice little grouping when placed together.

Click to bid.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Another One of Those Little Jars.....

An Improved Gem
original oil on a gessoed hardboard, 6 x 6 inch, unframed
copyright 2009 MaryAnn Cleary

Here is another one of those crazy, little half-pint jars. This one has a few of those buttons and threads stored in it. You know those ones that come attached to clothes. I have yet to use one of the things, but I am terrified to throw them away. I finally opted to put them in a jar. Who knows maybe one day I will find a use for them.

Today is thankfully a sunny and warm one for this time of year. I am thinking of starting another blog and calling it "Minnesota Days". It will have my experiences, my photos and paintings of Minnesota. I will keep this one, but mainly it will be for just posting my recent artworks. I did save the blog name, but I am not sure what to do next....I guess "just do it".

By the way, as these little paintings begin to collect on my mantle in the kitchen, they are really coming together as a group. It is also giving me an opportunity to decide whether I like painting on gessoed board. It is ok, but I think that I like it better for using acrylics. My next trial will be to adhere primed canvas to hardboard. I like painting on a hard surface, but I also like the feel of the brush across canvas.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Le Parfait Jar

Le Parfait Canning Jar
original oil painting on gessoed hardboard, 6 x 6 inch, unframedcopyright 2009 MaryAnn Cleary

Here is another in the jar series. The little one has the name Le Parfait on it. I actually did a search on google for these as I couldn't tell if the name on the jar was a "T" or a "P". I guessed wrong and the correct name came up. One can still buy these jars as well as the seal. The seal on this jar is stuck a bit....I could not open it easily so I just left it.

I am also putting them on ebay at a very low starting price. Check it out.

Check here to bid.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Half Pint and Red Ribbon

Half-Pint and Red Ribbon
original oil painting on gessoed hardboard, 6 x 6 inch, unframed
copyright 2009 MaryAnn Cleary

This little half pint jar is one of several that I have collected over the years. It amazes me how many different types have been made. I use them to store odds and ends and one of them is now a button jar. I hope to do a little series of them as they are a challenge with the reflections seen in the glass. This is the first of the series.

If any of you have half-ping jars, I would love to see a photo of it. So far, I have around ten of them.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Victorian House ~DSFDF challenge

The Victorian House
original oil painting, 6 x 8 inch, unframed

This is the latest challenge from Karin Jurick's Different Strokes from Different Folks site. I hate doing architecture so it was a real challenge for me....although I love old Victorians. With this challenge, I tried to simplify as much as I could and since it has been so cold here in Minnesota, I thought smoke coming from the chimney very appropriate.

Monday, February 02, 2009

The Flower in My Kitchen Window

conte on toned paper, 8 x 10.5 inch, no frame & no mat
copyright 2009 MaryAnn Cleary

Today I found a link to a widget for PayPal that lets one put a little store along the side of their blog or website. It is a beta one found under the PayPal Labs site. It looks pretty slick and much better than those little "buy it now" buttons. It can also keep track of inventory for those who want to use it for photographs or prints and there is also a place to write a little more about the item.

So far, I like it. There seems to be one drawback though. Tonight as I tried to add more paintings, the darn thing slowed down to a snail's pace. It seemed to take forever just to write a few comments. In fact, one time I just closed the thing down. There must be a way of making it so that once a person starts adding several items that the darn thing doesn't bog down. Now I am wondering if it is also slowing down my blogsite when it opens.

This is only a trial. I love having the ability to offer folks paintings easily in one little widget. I had thought about making a website or blog just for available paintings.

Has anyone else used this widget and if you have, how do you like it? Also, how do others offer their paintings for sale or do you on your blog or website.

Saturday, January 31, 2009


original acrylic on gessoed board, 6 x 6 inch, unframed
copyright 2009 MaryAnn Cleary

This is an interpretation of a photo that I took while at the conservatory in St. Paul last week. I thought that I would try acrylics with this one. I like how simple and easy they are to use and the quick drying time, but I also found this a hindrance to my style. There definitely will be a learning curve on using them. I definitely think that they would be great for a glazing technique where layers are a bit translucent and built up on one another. For my next attempt, I may give that a dry.

Click to bid.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Trying Out Notan and Orchids at the Conservatory

Using Photoshop Elements "Cutout" Filter
top left: original painting
top center: greyscale
top right: no. of levels=2, edge simplicity=1, edge fidelity=2
bottom left: no. of levels=2, edge simplicity=4, edge fidelity=2
bottom center: no. of levels=2, edge simplicity=1, edge fidelity=2
bottom right: no. of levels=2, edge simplicity=5, edge fidelity=1

After reading Making a Mark's post this morning, I just had to try out this technique in Photoshop. Katherine Tyrrell writes about using the cutout filter in Photoshop Elements to possibly assist with notan and lino-block cutting. The Japanese are the ones who utilized this concept by simplifying shapes into light and dark areas for a two dimensional drawing.Please check out Katherine's site for more a lot more information on doing this and using notan.

Notan can be a powerful tool for the artist to use as a means of simplifying the composition. I first found out about it just a couple of months ago and I am still trying to get my mind around the concept. Thank goodness for technology for assisting the mind and eye with grasping the idea.

I have also been using Photoshop for improving a photo of an orchid that I took while attending the show at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory this past Sunday. The visit definitely helped with the winter doldrums that seem to be plaguing everyone with this long and very cold winter. There were a wide variety of orchids displayed and the conservatory is always warm. What a great place to spend the day! The only problem was that everyone else in the city thought so, too.

original photograph of orchid - (notice the background line and plant support)
copyright 2009 MaryAnn Cleary

White Orchid I
Orchid with background line and plant support removed.
Color adjusted using the "auto" feature in Photoshop Elements.

copyright 2009 MaryAnn Cleary

Orchid II
photograph further manipulated using a Lucis filter, cropping and the bandage tool
copyright 2009 MaryAnn Cleary

The last photograph was manipulated in Photoshop using and added filter called Lucis. It is an add-on that I found over a year or so ago. The same effect can be made though by utilizing the exposure settings and playing with the contrast and brightness, but Lucis just does faster and easier. It is a fun filter.,

Another wonderful thing that I found out about the Conservatory is that they set aside time every month or so to allow photographers and artists in to setup their tripods and easels for photography or for painting. The next day is on February 8th and is from 8:00 am to 10:00 am. There is a nominal cost of $5, but what a place to escape in the winter and paint for a couple of hours. I definitely will try this in February!!

Back to the easel! I am working on some another figure painting and doing some conte drawing. If it looks ok, I will post it.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Helping Hand...

Helping Hand
oil on gessoed hardboard, 12 x 12 inch, unframed
copyright 2009 MaryAnn Cleary

This portrait is an oil painting that I did using gessoed untempered Masonite or hardboard. This is my first time actually using it and I must say I love the surface and the slight texture from the brushstrokes from painting the gesso in opposite directions.

This little girl was at the Lions Den Garden in Suzhou, China. We were climbing around rocks and she was right behind me. I just loved her big beautiful eyes and the bright, oversized coat that she had on. She was determined to walk alone, but her grandmother kept a hand on her.

What are other's experiences with painting on a gessoed surface? I would love hearing your comments.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Peeled Clementine ~ Virtual Sketch Date January

Peeled Clementine
conte on toned paper, 8 x 10.5 inch, unframed and unmatted

This is my attempt at the virtual sketch for January 2009. It is done using conte on the smooth side of a toned Canson paper. Check out the others at the Virtual Sketch Date blog as they get posted. Saturday is the deadline for getting to see all the other interpretations. Some of them may be also posted on on our group page so that one can see them all together.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jefferson Memorial at Night, Lights in the Studio

Jefferson Memorial at Night (DSFDF challenge)
original oil on canvas board, 8 x 10 inch
This was the challenge for two week period for the Different Strokes from Different Folks setup by Karin Jurick. To see everyone's interpretation be sure to take a look. This scene was a night one and I did a quick study of it. Typically, I tend to overdo things so I am trying to stop before I overwork it. I did rearrange the photo somewhat to make a more pleasing least, hopefully. I also wanted something done simply with an impressionistic look. I also tried to not only make the Memorial the center of interest, but the yellow light the focal point.

Lights in My Studio

Lights for the Studio

These lights are relatively inexpensive to install and add the much needed lighting that painting late into the evening requires. I bought the fixtures at the local Menards for under $20 each. They come with a chain and are easily plugged into an outlet. They do not come with the lights and the S-hooks or eye screws for hanging them. It took me under ten minutes to put each one up. The fluorecent lights that I use for the fixtures have a high CRI rating.

The CRI rating is the color refractive index. Natural daylight has a rating of 100. It is best to buy bulbs that are as high as possible. However, the higher the rating the higher the cost for the bulb. Many times the two bulbs needed for this light fixture will end up costing more than the fixture. I use a mixture of bulbs - one has a CRI of 95 and the other 90.

Here are some tips for hanging them. First, measure off the length of the light and the distance where the chain is on the light. Next, make marks on the ceiling where the light will go. Make sure that there is a wooden stud where you mark off beneath the drywall or use an alternate method of hanging the eye hooks. The eye hooks that I used were long enough to go through the dry wall and into wooden studs that the drywall is attached to. It is important to make sure that they are secured into either wood or that one uses those little blue expansion screws made for securing to drywall. You don't want the light to fall down onto your head.

Once the eye screws are in place it is a matter of putting the s-hooks in them and hanging the chain with the light onto the s-hook. TIP: put the lights into the fixtures prior to hanging them and make sure the lamps are secure in the fixture! With my first attempt, I put the fixture up and then put the lamps into the fixture. I thought everything was peachy, stood back to take a look at my new lights and "CRASH", one of the lights fell out and onto the floor and broke into a million tiny pieces all over the entire studio. I am still picking up pieces of glass. Unfortunately, it was a bulb that was a pricey one. It wasn't one of my better moments.

Also, I used to have just one fixture over my easel, but I opted to add another one for more light. Another benefit is that I can easily photograph my paintings right at the easel without worrying about glare. The overhead lights typically do not glare onto the painting and the photograph is typically the right color with only slight adjustment needed.

If you are looking for more light in your studio, this is an easy and inexpensive way to get it. I also mounted one of those extension plug-in strips onto my wall. It makes it easy for plugging in a variety of accessories, including the lights. By the way, the lights are easily turned off and on with a pull-chain.