Friday, January 30, 2015

Caretaking Portrait Painting

Dear Art lover,

     In my last post, I describe a little about how I started a portrait composition of my landlords in Croatia.  Today I show you my experiments in adding oil paint.  I say experiment because I want to try to apply colors in a different way and with a very different palette than used when I was learning classical painting.  It is also easy since the oil paints that I was able to find in Croatia (quickly) are not the usual brands with which I am familiar.  A name is a name, but in paint, it is often just a suggestion:  Each manufacturer has a slightly or great difference in hue, chroma, and tone for any given common name.

     Now, I know you may find this hard to believe, but I am a bit dramatic at times.  Subtlety is a constant struggle for me.  So, when applying paint, I tend to apply everything wrong, usually with too much contrast.  Here on the close-up of the face, you can see that I am placing cold against warm.  I also wanted to leave high-texture strokes (from my usual “painting with no paint”).  While it looks a bit garish, I am trying to keep in mind the form.  Also, I never worry so much about getting it right in the beginning.  Some part of my brain is curious and wonders how the layers of paint that will be certainly applied during the process will play with one another and create beautiful effects.  Besides, it is important to start, even if not perfect.

     In this second image, I have added the purple top that Miranda is wearing.  I tried to keep my brush strokes very loose.  I was at a disadvantage here because I could not find a paintbrush wider than about one inch.  I thought to use sponges or something, but I forgot to buy any and was impatient to start. 

     Image 3:  Now that I have a context other than white canvas, it is VERY clear that the face and hands are too light.  Also, I had had the idea of painting loose and leaving much nude canvas, allowing the circular diagonal of the couple’s forms to be an obvious shape and linking them.   

     You may note that my table looks a little different.  When I painted the jeans, I found some small drawers near the coat rack in my flat.  I placed them at the back of the table, wrapping them in multiple layers of newsprint to protect them.  I double-stacked them when working on the lower parts of the painting and removed them completely when working on the higher parts of the canvas.  I do not like to work when my back is not straight.  My students have heard me speak of the physical situation in which one works.  It is so important!

    In today’s final image, you may see that I have blocked in something for the subjects.  I needed to finish there because much of the work happens in my head and often during the night, I realize what bugs me or receive another idea or two.  One thing to note:  You may see the photos I am working from on my laptop.  It is hard enough to work from photos (yes, actually WAY harder in many ways than working from life!), but also tricky working from a screen.  Depending on where I stand, the image could look light or dark.  Since I have a habit of standing back often to examine what I am creating from a distance, this can be tricky.

     You may also see here how much colder the overall image is compared to the palette I normally use.  When trying something new, it takes me a while to figure out if I hate something or am just not used to looking at it.  It is not easy being a self-critic, at times, and I have to allow the ability to really explore.  Often that means taking the unfamiliar path and seeing where it leads.  The tendency is to swing back to what I know, so I need not ever worry about straying too far.  Even when I would like to try it.

      I have been learning more about blog design and I hope that at least the online version is helping you find what you are interested in faster and easier.  Not only do I have the “search this blog” feature, but I have added a Google translate button at the top right column.  I will admit that it is not the best translation, but as we say in Italia, it is meglio di niente (better than nothing).

      Also, I have created header links or pages for quick reference to places that I hope interest you.  One of them is my information page for art models.  I hope the new features make things more convenient for you.
In addition, I decided to try out Pinterest.  And thus, I have made the images on my blog able to be “pinned.”  Just scroll over any image that you like, and you will see the Pinterest icon(s).  If it turns out to be a cool thing, I will add the ability to my Web site as well.

     And, as always, thank you for your continued interest.  Share this with anyone you think might appreciate it! 

~ Kelly Borsheim, sculptor, painter, writer, teacher

PS  My 15th Anniversary Sale (for taking the plunge to full-time artist) continues:  FREE WORLDWIDE shipping until 31 January 2015 (by midnight Texas time).  THAT is TOMORROW!  Where is the time going?  Let me know which artwork interests you.  I offer payment plans as well.  For more information on that, visit:

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Caretaking Portrait Start

Dear Art lover,
     I have a special place in my heart for caretakers.  Some people choose that role; others find themselves in it when a loved one needs special attention.  In either situation, it is a tough and more than full-time job.  One only stays with it because of love. 

     I decided to create a portrait painting of Miranda and Borislav [nickname Boro], the couple who are renting a small flat to me here in Umag, Croatia.  Boro has been struggling with pancreatic cancer and depends on his wife’s help for many things.  Miranda told me how she missed the New Year's Eve fireworks because she had to drive Boro to Pula to fight a fever he had.  Pula is the nearest city for affordable good health care and over an hour’s drive.  They had a hospital closer, but now that Yugoslavia no longer exists, this place is not affordable for most Croatians.

     Anyway, after a bit of effort acquiring oil painting supplies and with a generous and surprise gift from Nitram Charcoal in Canada, I began my project by sketching my subjects.  I was nervous and not just because I am a bit rusty.  I sat with the two of them in their living room as I sketched each one,  I started with Boro because I did not know how long he would be able to pose.  I spent less time on the sketch of Miranda and conversed with her, which basically resulted in a sketch that I did not like.  I did another one later, with much more time in it.

     Despite my initial drawings for this project, I have to primarily work from photographs, based on the nature of their lives.  And I went home that Saturday evening after sketching and taking images to create a few design ideas in Photoshop.  I had not yet found materials, but I know from much experience that the design takes time.  I created a composite of several images until I found the composition and expressions close enough for the idea that I sought.

     Here I share with you two of my sketches and a self-portrait using my new Nitram Bâton, drawing my design in charcoal directly on my canvas.

     This last image is to show you how I setup a makeshift studio in the small hallway of my flat. The door entering the flat is behind me, allowing me to step further back as the need arises.  The 100 x 70 cm canvas is too large for my travel easel, so I moved indoors a small table I found on my balcony, covering everything with newspaper or plastic to protect the home.  My computer sits on a couple of chairs with the light I brought clipped to a shelf above the coat rack.

     And, as always, thank you for your continued interest.  Share this with anyone you think might appreciate it! 

~ Kelly Borsheim, sculptor, painter, writer, teacher

PS  My 15th Anniversary Sale (for taking the plunge to full-time artist) continues:  FREE WORLDWIDE shipping until 31 January 2015 (by midnight Texas time).  Let me know which artwork interests you.  I offer payment plans as well.  For more information on that, visit:

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sea Monster Feeding Umag

Dear YOU!
      So, do you remember my recent post that contained the question about a sea monster feeding here in Umag, Croatia?  Well, about a week ago, I walked north.  I was delighted to find a little park that started off with un-butchered olive trees.  [Italians seem to prefer to dramatically cut theirs to keep the height down.]  Then as I walked along, I felt the carpet beneath me as I inhaled the gorgeous scent of pine trees.  Oh, what a joy!  The sea was visible and I walked along her edge.

      Here in Umag there is a mixture of sea wall and beach, but mostly walls as one nears the harbor.  It is a fairly clean city, from what little I have actually seen.  [Despite my silly postings, I do spend the majority of my days alone in my small flat researching, writing, and painting.] So, you may imagine why it is that there are occasionally pieces of Styrofoam cartons near the water’s edge.  You will note in these images that there is no other trash along these waterways, so I am sticking to my theory of a sea monster feeding by the Istrians.

      I am sure there is a rational explanation for this behavior, although, what is not rational about feeding sea monsters?  It probably does not hurt that in the evenings while working on the computer, I have been taking advantage of a TV in my room.  A TV is something that I have rarely missed in Italy.  Most of the stations I watch here are in Italian, some with subtitles. So, I hope to improve my comprehension skills.  Lately, I have been watching a series of films about mythology and Titons and Zeus and those sorts of stories.            [Surprisingly, there does not seem to be two stations here using the Croatian or Istrian languages.  However, there are TONS of Arabic stations!  And one station that is part of the radio series that says it is in Farsi, but it is French.  I listen to that one too, during the day while I paint.]

     Anyway, I leave you with a little snapshot of the sea monster’s competition for his nightly meal.  I am tempted one night to go out and sit in wait.  I just need to figure out which day they do this, since I do not see the offerings every day.

     Please do not forget that if you are interested in any of my available artworks, now is the time to buy!  [Or at least make the first payment on a payment plan of your choosing… finance charge free.]  Until Jan 31, 2015, is over [Texas time], I am offering FREE WORLDWIDE shipping.  Most of my art is actually in America, but that should not matter since I just made it easier to acquire.

     Details are here, as well as a little survey to help me figure out my trip to the States.  The online version of my newsletter here:    [Note:  “London Cemetery” was sold and shipped recently.]

     And, as always, thank you for your continued interest.  Share this with anyone you think might appreciate it! 

~ Kelly Borsheim, sculptor, painter, writer, teacher

Friday, January 16, 2015

Art Anniversary

Dear YOU!

     Oh, my!  I have gotten so wrapped up in my new unexpected portrait project [mostly finding art supplies in this country and FAST!], that I forgot to share my latest art newsletter with you.

      My 15th art anniversary just passed.  However, for the entirety of this month, I am offering FREE WORLDWIDE shipping on all of my available artworks, even if they are currently in one of my galleries.

     Also, I would like to have your help, please.  I am planning a return to the US for a while this late spring and summer.  I am looking for places to exhibit my work, from home shows (a wonderfully private/exclusive party with friends of the host and artist) to galleries or local museums, cafés or other businesses, or even in any empty spaces you may know about.  I would love to receive your suggestions and invitations.

     I believe my trip will include the following areas, not in any particular order:  Indianapolis, Chicago, St. Paul, Minnesota; Florida, North Carolina, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Texas.  Something off the beaten path could be considered, certainly.

     Also, I would enjoy teaching workshops, giving lectures to art groups or any group, and working with models to make new art.  I have gotten some great responses thus far, but would love to fill up my calendar and maximize my time in the States.

     Also, I presented some new sketches and tried to explain my apparent art meanderings.  Here are just a few that are on the online version of my newsletter here:    [Note:  “London Cemetery” was sold yesterday.]

London cemetery pastel art Borsheim night scene strong shadows
"London Cemetery"  SOLD
autumn leaves pastel art borsheim
Italy artchitecture pastel art painting drawing borsheim
Still Life Kale Tomato Garlic pastel art drawing painting

     If you are enjoying this blog, or the wandering imagination of a girl in Croatia, feel free to help the adventure continue by sharing these posts with someone who may also enjoy them and/or donating.  You may do so via PayPal (contact me if you prefer another method) on the right hand column on the online version of this blog:

Thank you for your interest and enthusiasm,

~ Kelly Borsheim, sculptor, painter, writer, teacher

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