Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Prep work for my project: 100 Pet Portraits in 100 Days

This morning I painted an oil study of my cat on a 6 x 6 inch panel. This is the size I intended to do the 100 Pet Portraits. After completing the study, I decided I'd rather work a little bit larger. I finally settled on 9 x 9 inch as the size for each of the 100 pet portraits.
This afternoon I began preparing panels and got several cut before leaving the studio for dinner. Panels consist of acid-free archival Rives BFK paper (heavy weight). I apply four thin coats of white gesso on each side of the paper, lightly sanding between coats.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Several artists I see are doing "100 paintings in 100 days" to expand their exposure and possible sales. The paintings are small (5 x 7 inch). Typically, they are landscape or still-life works. One artist I found does portraits; People were asked to email the artist snapshots of themselves for consideration to be among the 100 paintings.
Well, I haven't found anyone doing pets this way. So . . . . .
I'll paint 100 pet portraits in 100 days. Each oil painting will be at least 6 x 6 inch and done in any style I deem appropriate.
If so, email me a snapshot of your animal pet (dog, cat, bird, horse, turtle, etc.) Include the pet's name and breed and be sure to write "100 PETS" in the email subject line so it doesn't accidently end up in my junk mail folder.
My email address: poppengacarol@hotmail.com

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Big sky, small paintings

"Distant Weather" is one of several small (5 x 7 inch) paintings I've created recently. The challenge is to convey the big sky of the high prairie I live in. Storms or unsettled, changing weather (like a cold front or a chinook rolling in) are what I find the most interesting, although I do paint "fair weather" skies too. I like to experience weather in "real time" and then paint the memory of it later in the studio.

"Black Butte Memories" is another 5 x 7 inch painting completed this week. Personally, I find this kind of painting more interesting than the one above ("Distant Weather"). Black Butte is a landmark northeast of Lewistown, MT. When portraying large land masses such as this, I "immerse" it in the even larger sky. Even though it's only a few miles away, Black Butte is not visible from my studio as it's mountain neighbors, the Judiths, rise to the immediate west/southwest of it. This painting is based in memories of pleasure drives taken along the gravel road that meanders around the butte's base. The general view is from north looking southward toward the butte (not the view most people in Lewistown are familiar with). It's not a literal recording of the butte but rather a collective sense of the butte as one would see it from changing angles as the road meanders.

Monday, December 14, 2009

"Pincushion Cactus with Shasta Blues (butterflies)" original handpulled silkscreen

Part of my strategy in 2009 was to work in mediums that would allow me to offer a lower-priced original artwork. Many years ago I'd done several silkscreened works with fine results, so I thought I'd return to that medium again and see how marketable it might be in this economy. This particular work is a 15-color, measures 15 inches diameter, and is in an edition of only thirteen. As always, I destroy the screen once the work/edition is finished.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Streetscape Amenities

Streetscape Amenities commission close to completion

I've created designs for street amenities for the City of Lewistown, Montana. There will be 14 benches (7 distinct designs), 14 bike stands, and 14 waste receptacles. Bench designs are based on architectural elements of historic buildings on Main Street (which is where the benches will be installed.) Below are photos of several benches in the fabrication stage. Each bench is six feet long, will have two arm rests, feet drilled for mounting bolts (sidewalk installation); and a Rotary Club plaque (the local Rotary provided a portion of the funds for the benches). For the bike stands and waste receptacles, I created a design based on wheat (a major agriculture product in this part of Montana.) Bike stands were completed and delivered in October. Benches in-progress shown in the photos. Designs include: Lion; Egg and Dart; Roman Column Capital; Full Fan; Quadrafoil.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Moon at Daybreak

This is a detail from a large mural created for the St. Mary's Hospital Cancer Clinic in Walla Walla, Washington. The mural was a landscape based on a particular foothills canyon near the city. I chose to depict the early dawn hour when the moon is still visible--as is the evening star, seen here in the bluish-greenish patch of sky below the moon. Besides being peaceful, that time of day symbolized hope in the beginning of a new day. I "hid" all kinds of animals and birds in this mural for patients to discover while they were receiving radiation treatment.

I used commercial grade oil-based paints (durable, washable, scrubbable.) Because the wall was in a fully functioning clinic, I could only work on it between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. (which allowed for the air to completely exchange with fresh air before the clinic opened.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"The Sorrel Mare"

"The Sorrel Mare" was inspired by several horses near my studio and one in particular that would only stand broadside to me at the fence. Very aloof, very ancient. I took that as the starting point for this small intimate work.

Small amounts of beeswax and thick paint applied with brush. Final touches included color scumbles over the high points of the paint surface (for example, the blue cast over the primarily greenish background.

"The Sorrel Mare" measures 3 3/4 inch by 3 inch. This painting is included in the portfolio presentation that appears in the red square at the bottom of this blog.

"The Sorrel Mare" is now sold.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sun Dogs

"Sun Dogs" is an oil on stretched canvas painting of a small cluster of poplar trees bathed in yellow light. I was more interested in creating texture and having fun with color layers over layers in a scumble (dry-brush) that allows flecks of each color to remain pure beside its neighboring color specks.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Commercial Art is always there

I've always done commercial work including a plenty of signs, some complex and painterly while others are simplistic and direct to the point (like the one shown here.) Yes, I invent and paint the lettering too.

The sign for Superior R.V. Storage is in Milton-Freewater, Oregon. I had started a frog craze there with window paintings of my original cartoon frogs depicted doing things somehow related to the business on whose window any particular frog appeared. I did this for several years, in conjunction with the Muddy-Frogwater Festival until the city manager high-jacked my concept. Sad but true, idea high-jacking happens a lot to artists and especially to those involved in the creation of commercial art. Still, I continue to create signs and other commercial art (posters, t-shirt designs, logos, etc.) and find it a pleasant break from the studio work.

Besides the sign shown here, I created two more large-scale permanent "frog" signs. The number of original cartoon frog art I created on windows numbered over 100 total individual works. Some businesses liked the work so well they left it up for years. I used high quality paint and proper technique so the window art lasted several years in good condition even though it was constantly exposed to the weather.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Oregon landscape

This untitled painting was intended to be a study for a larger work (I'll call it "Eagle Cap Mountain - Study" for this blog entry.)
Once this study reached the state shown here, it possessed the qualities that I desired to reaccomplish in a larger work to come. As with most of my studio work, I personally prefer the "unpolished" studies to the later works such studies often lead to. I'm interested in the spontaneous feel the study achieves --- or maybe, more accurately, the "presence" of air and light resulting from translucent layers of paint which I build up over several painting sessions.
(Eagle Cap Mountain is in the Eagle Cap Wilderness in eastern Oregon -- an area I've hiked/camped in many times. The suggestion of a body of water in the middle ground represents Mirror Lake.)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Frog Gothic

I painted "Frog Gothic" (16 x 20 inch in oil) several years back, but have never posted it on my fine arts website because I keep my commercial work separate from my fine art. So, folks, here's a chance to view a work never before seen by my viewing public!

I created the work as a commissioned piece for an eastern Oregon potato farmer's wife.
Her only instruction was that she and her husband be "frogs" and to somehow indicate that they grew potatoes for the frozen french fries industry.
The famous (and often parodied) painting "American Gothic" by Grant Wood immediately sprung to my mind --- because french fried potatos, like Wood's painting, are such an icon in American culture today.
And so here they are, dour expressions and all. The farmer's wife looks like she has thoughts of hitting her bespectacled hubby with that potato she's holding.

After I completed this painting, I began inventing other frog characters and eventually did literally dozens of original frog cartoon window art over a period of about four years for businesses in Milton-Freewater, Oregon to help visually unify the town for the annual Muddy Frogwater Festival. Eventually the city took over my concept and expanded to wooden frog statues. Some of my window art was still in place as of 2008, though the colors were fading. I also created several "frog" T-shirt designs for the chamber of commerce and individual businesses.

The painting "Frog Gothic" is just one example of the commercial work I do in addition to my fine arts paintings. I welcome commissions and can be contacted via email at poppengacarol@hotmail.com

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Using latex wall paint, I created this ceiling mural of an early evening full moon in a den/family room.
There is a fireplace in one corner of this cozy room and a comfy twin recliner faces the fireplace and is right below the view shown in the photo above.
The mural subject was the homeowner's idea. Originally he wanted several aspen branches cris-crossing overhead, but as the painting progressed, he and I both concluded that "less" is "more" and the aspen branches became just the suggested few seen here. I used violet, brown and cream paint to create the branches and leaves--not thoroughly mixing but rather going with the limited mixing that occurs during the application of the paint to the ceiling. Touches of the cream with a dash of orange-ish red created the moon glow around the edges of the leaves. The effect is either spring or fall evening.
The rest of the mural (not visible in this photo) is evening sky - the kind you get on a full moon night when there are wisps of cloud vapor that create an almost cottony texture (you can see some of that effect in the photo posted here.)
The ceiling perimeter is trimmed out with a wide crown moulding stained a warm golden tone to show off the wood grain. The crown moulding serves to transition the mural (especially the aspen branches) to the walls.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

This is a detail from a lithograph I created when I was a student at the (then) Alberta College of Art. The title derives from the Egyptian hieroglyphics I incorporated into the composition. Also, the cat is drawn with a definite dividing line down the middle of its face so that if only the dark side is focused on, it gives the profile of a mummified cat (and the dashed white lines across the body below the neck suggest cloth wrappings.)

The "model" is my little furry black buddy, Canuck. I say that in the present tense because Canuck is still very much alive and present; she's about 23 or 24 years old now but still very active and a great companion.

Canuck, my little black buddy for nearly 25 years, crossed over to the other side. It was a privilege to have known her all those years and her conversation will be missed. She was a talkative cat with a very large vocabulary of distinct sounds (way more than the ordinary meow.) All cats have their secret opinions, but Canuck voiced her's. She is missed very much.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

This painting, "Anchored in a Sea of Grass" is one of six works I recently entered into the Montana Triennial Exhibition. Hoping this or is selected for inclusion (or, better yet, ALL of the entered works). There was quite a bit of interest in this painting at it's exhibition venues last fall, so I feel good about its chances for selection. Lots of layering of brush marks and colors---it has a watercolor feel but with stronger pure color.