Tuesday, September 29, 2015

2015 Studio Tour this Weekend

Clouds Over Georgetown
by Jane McElvany Coonce
This weekend, The Arlington Artists Alliance is sponsoring it's annual studio tour.  It will be for two days:  Saturday, Oct 3rd and Sunday Oct 4th from 1 - 5 pm.  There are 16 artists participating, and I am one of them!  I hope you will stop by and visit me as I will be home both days and lonely! My studio is in my home now, so I will be painting as you stop by.

I will have lots of paintings as well as boxes of notecards and Christmas cards.  These boxes of cards make great hostess gifts for all the holiday parties that will be coming up.

I will also have maps here so that you can see where the rest of the studios are. Two other artists are just a few blocks away from my house.  So I hope to see you this weekend.

Yellow Pansies in a Blue and White Bowl
by Jane McElvany Coonce
My address is:

4057 N. 27th St.
Arlington, VA.

It's off of Nelly Custis and Lorcom Lane.

Friday, September 18, 2015

My Story

Marietta Gregg, daughter of Patience Brewster, asked to share my story about how I became an artist.She asked me 5 questions so I will use those as my thought process.

So here it goes.  As a child, I was always interested in art.  My parents used to go square dancing on Saturday nights, and I had this fabulous babysitter who taught me to do portraits.  She was an amateur artist, but she shared her love of art with me. I loved to color and draw, and for Christmas and birthdays, I always received one of those paint-by-number sets.  I spent hours using those oil paints and filling in colors of the corresponding numbers. Later on in high school, I took art as an elective. My favorite artist, at that time, was Rembrandt.  He did masterful portraits and I even copied some of his work.
Key Bridge and Georgetown
by Jane McElvany Coonce

Artists paint for many different reasons.  I am a representational painter.  I like to capture the beauty of the world.  In landscapes, I look for scene that move me.  I always have my camera with me, especially now that the iPhones have such good cameras.  If the light hits just right, I snap the picture.  Actually, I snap lots of photos.  You never know which one will come out best.  I've taken thousands of photos of this scene, my favorite scene in Washington.  I've done so many that people identify this scene with Jane McElvany Coonce.  It's my brand, in a sense.

In still life, I pick out objects usually from the past, something that reminds me of my childhood.
I love painting from a set up because you can see so much more than you can in a photo.  This toaster had been my mom's when I was little.  It didn't work anymore, and she was ready to throw it out.  But I told her it would make a great still life prop.  I still have it in my cabinet of "treasures."  I may have to pull it out and paint it again.
Mom's Old Toaster
by Jane McElvany Coonce

Artists are also influenced by other artists.  One of my favorite of all time is John Singer Sargent.  He was a master in oil and watercolor.  Google his name and press images.  He was a genius with the brush.  A contemporary artist I love is Wayne Theibaud.  Google his images, too.  It will make you hungry.  His paintings have a much more modern look, yet he's still a representational painter.
Of course, my all time favorite artist is my mentor, Diane Testler.  She was a teacher at The Art League in Alexandria, VA.  She now lives in Indiana.  She does both landscape and still life.  She has been a great influence in my life.  (Google her, too.)  She pretty much taught me how to see ,which is one of the greatest challenges in becoming an artist.  What do I mean by that?  Look at the still life above.  A person sees a toaster, some jelly and a plate with toast, butter and a knife.  But an artist must learn to see more because it's the details that make a painting more interesting.  Look at the knife.  Notice how the toast reflects in the knife, but also notice how the knife throws a light on the crust of the toast.  It's little observations like that that an artist must notice.  It takes time to train the eye to even notice little details like this.  But those details are delicious to see and to paint.  Once you start seeing color and the nuances of that color, the world is even more beautiful than you ever knew before.

God, I love being an artist!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Discovering the Impressionists of Paul Durand-Ruel

Yesterday, I went up to Philadelphia Museum of Art with my friend, Eileen.  We went to see the special show that is there on the Impressionists.  I can't tell you how beautiful this show was.  It's a MUST SEE.  But the story behind the show is even more compelling.  It all starts with an art dealer named Paul Durand-Ruel, an art dealer in Paris beginning in the 1870's.  He saw the work of Monet, Renoir, Degas, Manet, Pissaro , an although they were untested artists,  he loved what he saw.  The critics at the time absolutely hated their art.  But Paul Durand-Ruel believed in them.  He bought their art work and turned around and sold it for double what he paid.  He promoted them and introduced their new style of painting to the public.  He moved the Impressionists from the margins of being unknown to international fame.  He built an audience that also grew to love their work, and many of them were Americans.  It's probably why the American art museums have so many of the impressionists' paintings.  I doubt we would even know who Renoir or Monet was if it hadn't been for Paul Durand-Ruel.  He was a visionary.

It made me realize that most artists, no matter how good they are, may not ever be "discovered" because they are not promoted.  I know lots of great artists, but like me, they just paint and paint and enjoy the process and the occasional sale.  Artists paint because they love the process:  the formation of an idea, the designing of the composition, the putting on of the paint, the adjustments and readjustments to make the painting the way you envision until the piece reaches  it's final conclusion. Some pieces turn out better than others.  Some of them seem to paint themselves and others you really have to struggle with.  But it comes from a love of the process that you just can't quit.
A Series of Dancers by Renoir
The Ballet Class by Degas

Friday, September 4, 2015

Sun Kissed

Sun Kissed
by Jane McElvany Coonce
This is a portrait of an artist I know. She is a very dramatic person, and I asked her if I could do her portrait.  She said yes.

I started the piece this spring. Then I put it down as I got ready to teach on the cruise ship.  It was about 3/4 of the way done, and I needed to sit down and finish it.  So that's what I did this week.

This was a painting that had a lot of detail.  The hat in itself took a lot of time. The face had the added challenge of all the sun light dots coming through the hat and hitting the face. But it was also a painting that I really enjoyed doing.  (Not all paintings are fun!)

I'm also trying to get better at naming paintings.  Diane Tesler has been giving me guidance.  I'm trying to become better at naming paintings which is an art form in itself.  So what do you think of the title "Sun Kissed". Can you think of a better one?  I'd love to hear your suggestions.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Early Morning Commute

Early Morning Commute
by Jane McElvany Coonce

This is my first attempt at using the techniques I learned from the Frank Eber workshop.  I took the class last May and really haven't had time to practice what I learned.  But I love Frank's work and am determined to practice the technique that he taught. It's a very wet into wet technique that has about 3 or 4 steps.  It's also a very nerve racking technique.  After you draw your subject matter on the paper, you mix up a big puddle of your light background color and begin putting it on dry paper, leaving a bead as you stroke across the paper.  You keep the bead moving down the paper so that you don't end up with a hard line.  You can't stop and answer the phone, and you have to plan where you are going to leave the white of the paper without using mask. You have to make sure the bead doesn't go into your white areas.  It's very stressful.  After that layer dries, you go back into it and build up the next darkest part of the painting.  I learned a lot by doing this piece, and I'm sure the more I do, the less stressful it will be.   I started this one a while ago but finally finished it this week.  I've got another painting, a portrait,  I started eons ago that I'm almost finished with and I'll post that next.
 Let me know what you think.                    

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