Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Seoul, South Korea - 12 x 16 inches - oil on canvas

Below is a progression of a commission of a street scene in Seoul, South Korea that I recently completed.  My reference photo was a bit dark so it created a bit of a challenge.  Fortunately, the structure in the center is a famous landmark (called the Sungnyemun Gate) so I was able to find other photos to help me see its colorful and elaborate architecture.

I started with a thin wash of orange over the entire canvas as I knew there would be a lot of blue in this painting so I picked the complement to make the blue shine a bit brighter.

As you look down at the progression of photos, you'll notice that I started in the background and worked my way forward.

I stayed pretty true to the reference photo but to balance the composition, I asked if it would be ok to add a car or a bus entering from the right side.  We agreed on adding a car.

One of the biggest challenges was the tall office building behind the Sungnyemun Gate.  You can see that I initially included some detail on the windows but later softened and blurred the detail so that it wouldn't become an area to focus on.

I was given a pretty long lead time so I spent several weeks thinking about the painting before I even put my brush to the canvas.  I've heard that painting is 90% mental and 10% execution and in this case it was definitely true!  This was a challenge but I was pleased with the final painting and more importantly, so was my client!









Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Olivia - 8 x 8 inches - oil on canvas

"Olivia" - 8 x 8 inches - oil on canvas
I just finished this commission of "Olivia" who was a "bagel" (part Basset Hound and part Beagle).  Olivia always had a bit of a worried expression on her face but was the sweetest dog.  She was adopted with her brother, Beau, who I painted last week.  

Beau and Olivia's claim to fame is that they were selected to be the Grand Marshalls at the 2015 Tri-State Bassett Hound Rescue BoardWaddle Parade in Ocean City, NJ.  

Olivia recently passed away so this portrait will be a loving reminder of her sweet face.

Commissions can be challenging especially with mediocre photos.  I much prefer to take my own so that I can control the lighting and position of my subject.  Below is the reference photo that I was given.  

This photo presented a couple problems for me.  Most importantly, her eyes are very dark and I can't see much detail at all.  Fortunately, there were other photos so I used those to determine how to paint her eyes.  The second major issue was beneath her chin.  I think she has folds of skin that hang down in front of her neck so that only a piece of her collar and tags showed.  Considering I just couldn't figure out exactly what was happening, I turned her bandanna around so that the knot was across her back and the bandanna covered the area below her neck.  I kept the color subtle so that it isn't something you really notice unless you study the painting. 






Saturday, July 22, 2017

Beau - 8 x 8 inches - oil on canvas

"Beau" - 8 x 8 inches - oil on canvas
I was commissioned to paint "Beau," a Basset hound mix as a birthday gift.  Beau has quite a personality.  When his "sister" Olivia was getting any attention, Beau would immediately insert himself into the picture.  If there were belly rubs to be had, Beau wasn't about to miss out!

Portraits, whether human or animal, are challenging and require more care than landscapes or still lifes.  I was given a handful of photos of Beau which made my job easier as I could view him from several angles to make sure I was capturing his essence as much as possible.  Below is a photo of Beau getting the attention that he knows he deserves.






Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Popcorn Painters



Every summer for the past 4 or 5 years, I've taught a painting class to a group of girls.  They've grown up a lot and now range in age from 9 to 15.  

I always try to find something fun and colorful to paint that they'll enjoy hanging on their wall.  In the past we've painted pears, cupcakes, ice cream cones and Hershey Kisses.

Even though I lead them through the painting step-by-step, I talk about art concepts like forms, shadows and highlights.

The littlest one is very free and easy and always loves what she does.  She realized that she didn't leave enough room for the word "Corn" under the word "Pop."  Her sister looked at the painting and said, "It looks fine ...just leave it as 'Pop'."  She thought for a second, said "Okay!" and then immediately added two exclamations points and underlined the word, "Pop."  No problemo.  We should all paint like 9 year olds!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

"Summer" - 6 x 6 inches - oil on canvas

"Summer" - 6 x 6 inches - oil on canvas
The two small slices of light shining through the holes at the top of the blue crate are what caught my eye.  I was immediately drawn to them as these nectarines sat on my counter.  I tried to keep this loose and painterly and am pretty happy with the end result.  (I've often said that paintings go through a "middle schooler stage" where they are awkward, pimply and a bit ugly until they are transformed into a more attractive high schooler.  This painting definitely went through that awkward stage so I was a bit worried for a while but persevered!)

I've made a few additional sea glass suncatchers and posted one on ebay.  It is an interesting one using old brown bottle tops and a rare red glass bead.  You can view the listing here.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sea Glass Suncatchers

Anyone who has followed me for a while knows that I'm pretty obsessed with collecting sea glass.  In fact, I can't really enjoy relaxing on a beach anymore as I'm always on the hunt for my next big find like a piece of an old coca cola bottle, a piece with interesting texture or a rare color like red or turquoise.  


I've also become interested in creating stained glass art pieces and have learned the basics of copper foiling and soldering.  So, it's only natural to combine my interests by creating these "Sea Glass Suncatchers."

Like designing an abstract painting, I'm always thinking about the distribution of colors, shapes and textures.  I might spend an hour re-arranging the pieces until I'm happy with the composition.  I like adding wrapped wire in a spiral or heart shape to add an extra element and point of interest.

Each suncatcher is about 5 inches square and is unique and can never be duplicated again.  The inner pieces are sea glass (unaltered exactly as I found them) and I've "framed" the outside using either clear, textured class, or, in the first example below, the edge of a green glass plate (that I sliced apart).

A handful of these suncatchers are available at Artists Corner and Gallery in West Acton, MA with another few available at the Rockport Art Association in Rockport, MA.

I'm happy to custom make a suncatcher for anyone who is interested.  Email me for details at Laurie@LaurieGMiller.com  





Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Kiss Stack - 11 x 4 inches - oil on board

"Kiss Stack" - 11 x 4 inches - oil on board
For those who have followed me for a while, you know I've painted a fair number of Hershey Kisses.  There is something a bit magical about how the foil comes to life as I add the bright highlights.  It never gets old.

In the past, I've created 3 individually framed kiss paintings but for this one, I framed them all together in one "stack."  I debated long and hard if I should arrange them in a horizontal or vertical progression.  As you can see, vertical won.  Do you agree or would you have chosen horizontal?  

"Kiss Stack" is an 11 x 4 inches oil on board painting in a natural wood floater frame.  It is available at www.LaurieGMiller.com as well as at Artists Corner and Gallery in West Acton, MA.  Additional photos are below.






Monday, June 12, 2017

Rockport Afternoon - 6 x 6 inches - oil on canvas - SOLD

Rockport Afternoon - 6 x 6 inches - oil on canvas
This is another view painted plein air in Rockport, MA from May.  There was a storm approaching so the winds were picking up, the water was starting to churn and the sky was overcast and gray.  I loved watching the entire scene change as the weather turned stormy.

I've never spent much time painting rocks and Rockport is the perfect place to practice.  I blocked in the overall shape of each mass and then carved out suggestions of the individual rocks using dark colors to create the crevices between the rocks and added lighter colors to the tops.  

"Rockport Afternoon" is is a 6x6 inch oil on canvas painting presented in a wood floater frame.  



Sunday, June 4, 2017

Chicago - 10 x 20 inches - oil on canvas- SOLD


"Chicago" - 10 x 20 inches - oil on canvas - SOLD
I recently completed this commission of the Chicago skyline which was given as a graduation gift.  

I was provided with several reference photos but wasn't crazy about the lighting so I ended up combining various references that I found on the internet of the same view.  The sky, building and water are all from different sources - otherwise, I would have tracked down the photographer for permission to use their photo.  

I wanted the skyline to be fairly accurate but planned to accentuate the building colors and subsequent reflections to make a lively and fairly abstract scene.  I started with a bright pink background, sketched in the building shapes and then started with the sky, then the buildings and finally the water reflections.  My last step was to add suggestions of windows and other small details on the buildings.



The painting was well received and it is always gratifying to have another happy customer!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

"Rockport Morning" - 8 x 8 inches - oil on canvas

"Rockport Morning" - 8 x 8 inches - oil on canvas
Formula of my life for the past month:  Travel + Travel + Mom Care + More Travel + Broken Camera = No Blog Posts!

Ok, some of my travel was for fun with some unplanned but necessary travel thrown in.  I’m now home and finally settling back into a routine.  During all the commotion, I managed to finish two commissions, research and buy a new camera and complete several seascapes.

I was lucky enough to spend a week in Rockport, MA in a beautiful home that overlooks the water.  “Rockport Morning” was painted en plein air but I was able to stand inside the comfort of the kitchen and paint while unaffected by the brisk wind.  Yes, this was my view from every window in the house.  This is Gap Cove with Straightsmouth Island in the background and the Atlantic ocean beyond that.

I could probably paint this view a million times as it is an ever changing scene depending on the tides, weather, time of day and never ending parade of sea ducks, gulls, and boats.

Third time is a charm for this particular canvas.  Beneath this painting is two other paintings that just didn’t make the cut.   Serendipitous results can often happen when painting over a previous painting if you allow some of the colors to show through.  There is a lovely richness to this painting that I hope is conveyed by this photo. 


"Rockport Morning" is an 8x8 inch oil on canvas painting presented in a wood floater frame.  This painting is available at www.LaurieGMiller.com and will also be available at Artists Corner and Gallery in Acton, MA later this week if you want to view it in person.  Additional views are below.








Thursday, April 20, 2017

A funny thing happened at my painting demonstration . . . and, which do you like better?


On Tuesday, I gave a painting demonstration to the Leominster Art Association.  There were about 40 people in attendance and it was a great group with interesting questions. 

Funny story:  I arrived early to set up my easel, palette, paints, etc. and then decided to sit in the audience to conserve my legs as I’d be standing for most of the evening.  People gradually started filling the seats and I could hear chatter all around me.   I overheard a conversation between two women that went something like this:  “Oh, wait, I thought this was going to be a watercolor demonstration. “ “Yeah, me too.  I’m so disappointed.”  “That definitely looks like oils.  I’m so bummed.”  Their comments didn’t bother me and I actually thought it was pretty hilarious.  

I started my demo and initially talked for 10-15 minutes about my process, tools, creating a good composition, etc.  Then, I started painting.  Seriously, you could hear a pin drop in that place.  At one point, I turned around and said, “Gee, it’s so quiet in here I thought you all left!”  They laughed and we continued on.  

After an hour or so, we took a break so folks could stretch their legs and get some refreshments.  I ran into one of those two women and she said to me, “Oh my gosh.  This is the best demonstration.  I’m thoroughly enjoying it and I’ve learned so much already.  I can’t wait to see more.”  Separately, the other woman approached me and said pretty much the same thing on how she was really enjoying the demo.

After the refreshment break, there was much more chatter and side conversations in the audience so I realized that the complete silence during the first hour was because I had captured their attention so well.  Either that or they were all sleeping but I’ll go with my first theory.

In preparation for the demo, I painted the top painting (see below.)  My canvas was already covered with paint from a previous painting that I wasn’t happy with so I painted over it.  For my demo painting (the one beneath it), I made a few modifications to the composition and started with a blank canvas that I toned with bright pink.

I’m wondering which you prefer!?!?!?

Preparation for the demo

Painting demonstration




Monday, April 3, 2017

"Cyclamen" - 16 x 16 inches - oil on canvas

"Cyclamen" - 16 x 16 inches - oil on canvas
Happy Spring everyone!  Here in New England we got quite a surprise with an April Fool's Day snowstorm.  I'm thinking that was the last major snow of the season but we'll see what Mother Nature has in mind.

I only have a few plants in my house and I have to say that I don't give them much TLC.  A few recently found their way into the compost bin as they were hanging by a thread and my resuscitation efforts didn't pan out.  So, on a whim, I picked up this Cyclamen plant and we'll find out just how compatible we are.  

I've always liked painting subjects with back-lighting so when I walked past my new plant sitting on the dining room table, I really wanted to capture the strong afternoon light that created a nice reflection on my dining room table.  I tried hard to stay loose and not worry too much about the details.  Easier said than done!

In other news, "Froot Loops" was interpreted by a floral designer at the "CCA in Bloom" show last weekend.  I had to laugh as the designer did quite a literal interpretation (see photo below) by including actual fruit in the design!




Sunday, March 26, 2017

"Packed" - 9 x 12 inc hes - oil on canvas - SOLD

"Packed" - 9 x 12 inches - oil on canvas
I really enjoy painting shiny, reflective things so sardines in a tin can made for a perfect subject.  Sardines always make me think of my cousin Billy who claims that King Oscar is the best brand of sardines.  I wouldn't know since I just can't bring myself to eat them!

As with my previous painting, this one came together pretty quickly and easily.  It is a relatively "cool" painting with many shades of gray so I love the warm touches of color in the fins and the gold can lid to provide some balance.


In other news, "Froot Loops" was accepted into the Chelmsford Center for the Arts "CCA in Bloom" gala.  A floral designer is going to interpret "Froot Loops" in a flower arrangement.  It will be fun to see the final result!




Sunday, March 12, 2017

"Pond Brook" - 6 x 6 inches - oil on canvas

"Pond Brook" - 6 x 6 inches - oil on canvas
After a recent snowfall, I set out to a do a plein air painting of a barn on the O'Brien Farm property which is now protected property in Westford, MA.  I was excited to paint the barn but discovered that it was brown and not terribly exciting.  Right near the barn, I spotted this stream and loved how the shadows dipped and curled through the snow.  I was tempted to paint on location but the road was narrow, winding and ice covered so I didn't dare set up my easel for fear of getting hit.  So, I settled for taking some photos as I stood, precariously, on the side of the road. 

The photos sat in my camera for a few weeks but when it snowed again this past week, I was once again inspired to capture a snow scene.  As with most landscapes, I started with the sky and background trees and gradually worked my way to the foreground.  I painted the snow shadows before I filled in the sunlit snow.

The painting gods were with me as this painting flowed quite easily and without much fuss.  I made very few adjustments along the way and am really pleased with the outcome.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

"Muffins on Main" - 12 x 12 inches - oil on canvas

"Muffins on Main" - 12 x 12 inches - oil on canvas
Every time I drive past this muffin shop, I glance inside to see people inside enjoying a muffin and a cup of coffee while chatting with friends.  I've painted this building many times, but this was the first time that I really wanted to capture the warmth of the interior.

This painting took a LONG time to come together and is painted from many different reference photos.  I started taking photos before the shop opened for business which explains the flower baskets that have since been taken down for the winter.  I kept coming back for more photos as sometimes the customers weren't clearly visible as the windows were steamed up, or, I just didn't like their shape or position.  

One of the things I like about this painting, which is a bit cheeky on my part, is that I depicted my artwork hanging inside.  Most noticeable is my "Froot Loops" painting inside the left window.  

I started by painting the shop windows as this is the focal point of the painting.  If I wasn't happy with the windows, then the painting just wouldn't work.  It was a tricky balance to depict the interior while showing the reflection of the sky and surrounding trees.  I worked slowly and purposefully until it came together.

"Muffins on Main" is a 12" square oil on canvas painting that is presented in a wood, floater frame (see additional photos below).  It is available directly from me or at www.LaurieGMiller.com  









Monday, February 13, 2017

"Diversity" - 6 x 6 inches - oil on canvas

"Diversity" - 6 x 6 inches - oil on canvas
Just a box of Dunkin' Donuts in a variety of flavors.   Diversity - makes life so much more interesting.  

I've painted a lot of donuts in my time and they are really, really tough to paint!  I started this painting a few weeks ago and put it away several times before coming back to it to finish.  Sometimes it flows easily and sometimes it doesn't.

"Diversity" is an 8 inch square painting presented in a wood floater frame (see additional photos below).  Available at www.LaurieGMiller.com





Wednesday, February 8, 2017

"Celebration" - 6 x 6 inches - oil on canvas

"Celebration" - 6 x 6 inches - oil on canvas
I've been quiet on social media lately.  Somehow, with all the political turmoil, I felt that sharing art was trivial.  With all the important issues we're facing as a nation and as a world it just seemed inconsequential.

I recently ran into an acquaintance who said something like, "I really enjoy seeing your artwork.  Keep up the good work!"  That encouragement reminded me that I can maybe brighten someone's day or make them smile and that's definitely good enough for me.

If you enjoy my art, please share it with a friend...thank you!

"Celebration" is a 6x6 inch oil on canvas painting and is presented in a wood, floater frame. See additional photos below.  It is available at www.LaurieGMiller.com.