How the pARTy Works

On a given day an image will be shared, along with the subsequent artwork painted by the pARTy hosts.

Participants are then invited to create art from the referenced image, Anything goes, but the artwork must have been started and finished within a 24 hour period.

In the fairness of allowing all an equal opportunity to participate, artists will have a window of time to complete their pARTy entry, again keeping in mind said entry must have actually been created within a 24 hour window.

NEW: pARTy submissions must be emailed to by the pARTy deadline so that they can be uploaded to the blog. You may also register for the pARTy forum and post your work there, but when doing so, please register in your own name and send us an email so that we can process your registration - otherwise we will assume it is just spam!

We regret that entries not meeting these requirements cannot be shared on the pARTy blog.

If you are posting pARTy artwork to your own website, please give credit to the individual photographer providing the photo. It would be great if you also mentioned The Virtual pARTy as well. We thank you in advance for this courtesy.

Thanks for joining us! And happy creating - Linda & Kim

Friday, May 15, 2009

Eye on the Prize

I think the first challenge with this image was the biggest one, for me. I do a lot of racehorse paintings, and I'd recently done a very similar image to this one, so I wanted to take something different from the reference. Add to that, I had a potentially crazy day today, with the vet scheduled to come out to check a couple of mares for breeding, and the likelihood of having to make arrangements for said breedings. That meant coming up with something I could realistically complete today. It's that old saying, about working smarter, rather than working harder! The crop was the first way to do that.

Next - I indulged myself by working on a 10 x 16 piece of stretched Artfix portrait linen, a very luxurious surface that works really well for alla prima in oils. The limited palette I often use went out the window for this one. Above, you see the result! It wasn't until about 8pm that I decided it was all going to work out. It was a bit of a relief, with the way my day was going when I started!

The painting will be available for sale, once dry ~ $750.00 plus shipping. If you're interested, feel free to drop me an email. Now, to clean my brushes - I used an awful lot of them today!

The Second Jewel: Preakness pARTy!

Two weeks sure flies by between races, doesn't it? We're at it again for the Preakness Stakes! Will The Bird defy his naysayers and take the next leg, or will Rachel show the boys how it's done? Or...will somebody else jump up and steal the show?

Here's our image for this pARTy, taken by photographer Juliet Harrison last summer at Saratoga. I think you'll find this time Kim and I took very different approaches to this challenge!

Warming Up

I cropped the photo a bit - one, to eliminate the sliver of negative space near the lower hind, and two, to accent the forward motion of the horse and the relationship with the jockey. My original intent was to include all of the jockey, but I couldn't find my proportional wheel and chose the wrong size board.  I do like the energy that's still caught, despite the jockey's  decapitation - but in many instances the painting would be ruined due to lack of proper planning. I just lucked out today.

So I began with a wash of ultramarine blue, bleeding to a pthalo blue red at the bottom. The ultra is a cooler blue, and the pthalo a warmer one. Cooler colors = distance, and I wanted that balance from the get go.

Then I started roughly blocking in the shape of the horse and jockey. I'm not worried about nit-pickey details, just rough forms, and beginning to establish values. It's not important to even have the right colors down now, because so many more layers will go overtop.

I modified the tree line from the reference photo. I needed a diagonal to sort of intercept the trajectory of the horse. Too many horizontals can overwhelm an object that is moving in that same direction, so I wanted to break it up.

Now I'm adding broader strokes of color - more realistic or correct in both tint/hue/value - and paying closer attention to details and proper drawing. I do a lot of relational measuring at this stage - I'll compare the head's length (usually the first thing I firm up drawing wise) to the rider's forearms to the thigh to the neck - and just continue on building their relationships based on size.

I'm trying to build up the entire surface of the canvas simultaneously at this point. I don't want to end up with a halo-effect background (you know those ones where you can tell the background was corrected/finished after the foreground/middle of the painting). I am continuing to model the shapes and make drawing adjustments, too - like I noticed the horse's head was too small. Notice also that I've only indicated the placement of the bridle and reins - they will be the last pieces to get painted, so as to allow for smooth and loose brushwork underneath.

I'm also setting the reference photo aside mostly by now, and trying to imagine the scene in front of me. What is my time of day and how does that impact the sunlight? How will the light glance off spots? what other colors will collect in the shadows? I squint at my painting from across the studio - does it have the proper sense of depth? 

I step back and use my thumb/hand to block out different areas of the painting from across the room. Does it all work well together? that's what I'm trying to determine.

The biggest test is if the shapes balance each other out. This is a totally different concern than questioning if the subject looks like the reference - I'm studying instead the relationship of the forms in the painting, and looking for adjustments that will make for a better composition. I'm never so concerned with creating an exact replica of the photograph - we already have a nice photo, so why try to recreate it? I am using the photo as a starting point to create a moment in paint that is tangible. For instance, I made the horse's face the brightest point in the painting because the piece is about him (not the jockey's pants or the blanket number, which were equally bright in the photograph).

I continue to lay down paint, working from a large brush to a smaller one in the final layers. I also am mixing my colors using the same palette - pulling from pools mixed in a prior layer. This retains harmony throughout the painting and makes it easier to go back and touch up or modify previous marks.

And now the piece is done. Working title "#3 Warming Up," 8" x 16", acrylic on canvasboard, $529. Inquiries may come to me.

Thanks for following along with today's Preakness pARTy,
Here's to a safe trip for all,

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Announcing the Preakness pARTy

On Friday May 15th Linda and I will each paint from the same reference photo.

Juliet Harrison has chosen the image for us again, this time from one of her racing shots.

Here's the premise - we each have a day to complete our painting, cropping, altering, or modifying the reference photo in any way we choose.

The finished paintings will be shared on this blog. I plan to photograph mine as I progress, and will build a little mini-art lesson to go along with it.

Thanks for following along!
Kim Santini

Friday, May 1, 2009

Wait Right There!

Well, I said I'd be done by 8pm, and it was shortly after that when I finished the Derby pARTy painting. Took a little longer for me to make it here! I made myself wait to look at Kim's painting, because I knew she'd be done much earlier than I. I found it interesting how we chose different sides of the canvas, and picked a similar size to work with! Once again, this is 16 x 12 oil on canvas, available for $565.00 (plus shipping). If you're interested, just email me. A portion of the sale will go to LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement, which finds new homes for retired racehorses.

I take in-progress shots of my work by habit now - it's just part of how I work through things. I'll include a couple of them below. You saw the first stage - after that I worked a bit more on establishing some basic tones before I started with the colour. I often work from a limited palette of Burnt Umber, Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Red Medium, Yellow Ochre and Titanium White; for this painting I also used a bit of Naples Yellow, and some Unbleached Titanium. I work backwards sometimes from how you're "supposed" to work in oils; I got the filly well on her way before I started blocking any colour into the background. After that, I went back into her and worked up the detail a bit, and the last thing I did was add more colour and contrast to the background to give the painting a bit of drama.

I thought *I* had a bit of an advantage, as this is one of my photos, and I know this Thoroughbred filly very well, raising her from birth to about 18 months. Her name is Clever Peaks, and from day one she was very friendly and inquisitive. If she saw people approach the fence, she'd come right over, so this was a very familiar site to me!

Preakness pARTy? Absolutely!

Snowy Greetings

"Snowy Greetings," 12" square, chestnut Thoroughbred filly portrait, acrylic on canvasboard, $529 to the first taker. This is a tough piece to photograph - with the amped contrast and saturated complimentary colors, my camera didn't know what to do.  I may try to scan portions of the painting and piece it together in photoshop, but meanwhile inquiries may come to me.

My apologies - I didn't think to take progress shots of my painting. Well, I did, but was promptly distracted by the puddles of paint, and never had a chance to follow-up on that thought.

How did this piece come together? Well I started out with a violet underpainting (the compliment of orange), and pretty much had the drifts and swaths of snow painted in the first pass. It was lots of wet-on-wet brushwork, with the darkest violet concentrated in the space where the filly now is.

Then I sketched in her rough shape, and working from general to specific, gradually laid down smaller and smaller layers of paint.

I'm excited to see Linda's version. She is at a distinct disadvantage because she's got actual stalls to muck - I only have to ignore the sunshine illuminating all the dust bunnies in the studio.

Good times, though! Are you up for it again, Linda? I wanna throw a Preakness pARTy!!

Oh, the Pressure!

I'm intentionally posting this before I even look at Kim's start to this project, lest I throw mine in the swamp or something. I laughed when I glanced at the easel first thing this morning, and took a photo, because I think many artists would agree, this is one of the scariest parts of a painting, if not *the* scariest - that blank canvas! In this case it's 16 x 12, and it's been toned with raw sienna. I printed out the reference image last night. I don't always print them this large, but as I'm going to be working a bit bigger than I have been this past month, I figured I could use all the help I can get!

Next I looked at the image on the computer to decide how I was going to place our pretty filly on the canvas. I didn't really want to place her dead you'll see what I went with. I cropped a bit, not because I'm afraid of painting feet, but because I thought they might be a little confusing. I either had to take them out, or paint them in, not the in-between of the photo! Of course flying snow can be used to great advantage in a painting! We're artists; artistic license is our friend!

Anti-climactic, I know - this probably looks like a whole lot of nothing, but this is the basic "drawing" in burnt umber. I actually like this stage, when it looks all muddy like this. Fun to see how it evolves from here.

Now, I need to get some stalls mucked before I carry on. I know Kim will be done much sooner than I am, so I'm trying to take just the right amount of pressure from that! See you in a bit!