Saturday, January 31, 2015

Painting While Traveling

Dear Art lover,
     Today is the last day of my anniversary sale on my art!  Thus proving that January has escaped almost as quickly as I dreaded.  I still have so much to do!  And you? 
Anyway, the sale celebrates my 15-year-run as a full-time artist.  I hope you will indulge.  The sale offers free worldwide shipping on any available art, even those offered through my galleries.  Sale ends Texas time (Central time US) at midnight tonight. 

So, go shopping!
     And ladies, I doubt your man would be offended if you surprised him this Valentine’s Day as well!  I am all for equal joys.

      If you have been following this blog or me on Facebook, you may remember that I moved to Croatia in mid-December.  I had decided to travel light, but even so, for three months of life, I have a fair amount of stuff.  I packed more art materials than clothes and personal items, which is typical for me.  However, I chose to pack only dry materials:  pastels, pastel pencils, paper, and computers.  I also took my travel easel, light and extension cords (which I did not realize would not work here with the type I brought).  Ah, Italia, amazing how many plug types and sizes they use!

      So, when I decided to paint a portrait of my Croatian landlords in oil, I was hardly prepared.   Today I share with you some of my silliness.  I did not want to buy too many supplies since that just added to the baggage later.  And I tend to multitask.

     This first image shows you how I got palettes for mixing the paints that I ordered online.  Those mushrooms had the perfect plastic container:  wide open on top, low sides, and a smooth bottom (often veggie containers have ridges, I assume for controlling the water on the contents).  I usually buy food in glass jars based on the shape of the jar (for spirits and medium).  However, I rarely buy food that I would not eat since that would not be multitasking; that would be overpaying for future trash.  Also, once my landlady saw what I was doing, she and her sister supplied me with more jars and palettes than I can use in my time here.  Sweet.  Miranda apparently saves all of her newspapers for recycling too, so I was fortunate to have an instant stack!

travel art supply oil painting palette and brush holder art supplies

plastic palette and popcorn as art paintbrush holder art supplies     The second and third images show my brush holder.  It would be better if the plastic container was a wee bit taller, but not worth the effort.  And, the best brushes I found here were NOT the ones I originally found in a boat paint shop or a bookshop (they do not have art material stores in this little town of Umag).  Even the hardware stores did not help me.  The softest and best paintbrushes I found were in a nearby grocery store.  They were colored sets made for kids!  Thus, the handles were shorter than I am used to.  I never before thought about how it might affect my color mixing abilities to use a brush with purple, or light green, or pink, or blue, or yellow hairs!  But it is fun to have color-coded handles.

     Oh, and I used [un-popped] popcorn in the jar to hold the brushes upright.  Beans, lintels, etc. work well, but I do not eat those that often.  When I looked around my kitchen, popcorn was the only thing that would work.  Pebbles would work, but takes collection time.  These little details I had forgotten until I was ready to start painting.  So… use was works and gets one painting.

using popcorn for a brush holder travel and painting supplies

     This last image is just silly.  I moved my painting around the flat at different times of day since lighting is important and I needed to judge what I had painted during the middle of the night.  I just enjoyed the light coming through the curtains.

     I hope you have had a chance to check out the new online blog features and if you have any feedback, that would be appreciated.  I would like this site to be easy for you to use.

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

~ Kelly Borsheim, sculptor, painter, writer, teacher

painting in the window nice light

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: