A Current Painting by Diana Moses Botkin

Welcome to my Art Blog! I paint or draw most weekdays and sometimes finish a painting a day. I fondly call them my "Postcards from Paradise" because it's such a beautiful place the Lord made here for us.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Rejection and Acceptance

Earlier today I found out the results of a competition I had entered, and learned that my work had been rejected. That's a hard word rejected, and it's a hard road, and a hard rain.

My work has been rejected from more shows than I care to remember. It's part of an artist's life for those of us who try for exposure and awards.

It's tempting to give up sometimes, but one must learn to accept the failures in stride and work harder and better. There are also many successes for which I count my blessings.

(left) "Morning Shadows"
Oil on Raymar panel, 8"x10"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin 

Later today I opened my mail and learned that this piece is accepted to a museum show. I'm pleased to announce that this painting is to be part of the 18th Annual Art Auction at Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art. The show opens Thursday, March 19th in Great Falls, Montana.

Saturday, April 11, 2015 is the Gala, with a live auction, music, and food. That sounds like a lot more fun than a pity party for not getting in the other show.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Another Piece I'd Been Looking For

"View from the Gîte”
12"x16" pastel on Canson paper
©2005 Diana Moses Botkin

Recently, I've shown work here at my blog which I have now finished after having set it aside months or years ago. Or, as in the case from my last post, finished art was hiding in my studio.

This pastel study is another one I had been looking for, from that 2005 journey to France. After spending time in Paris on that trip, we drove to eastern France and stayed in a gîte we had booked ahead of time, online. 

The drive from Paris was lovely except for the crowded conditions in the vehicle we had rented. The description online for what I signed up for was, I thought, something like a minivan. It was supposed to seat seven people.

The rental company was obviously thinking of seven small French people. And, in order to accommodate that number, the third row of seats when unfolded in the Opal, obliterated the luggage space. All seven of us had a suitcase. After scratching our heads awhile and inquiring if there was a bigger vehicle available (there wasn't), we folded up the third seat, stacked our luggage there and put the two smallest family members (my youngest, and me!) on top of the pile. That left 3 to squeeze in the back seat. My husband drove and my second child navigated.

It was a very chummy drive but we made it to the gîte, where the friendly owners met us and showed us the place. The house was clean, roomy and reasonable. It fit our low-budget trip to buy groceries nearby and cook our own meals. The location was a beautiful setting and I did several plein air studies while there, a few in oil and this one in pastel.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Uncovering Buried Work

This year, one of the tasks I've been tackling has been to go through corners of my studio to deal with unfinished and abandoned work. For the pieces I'm finding, I've set several objectives: either file, finish, or put in the fire. 

Digging through the stacks of stuff, I discovered a few pieces I'd been looking for, buried in a pile of half-done work. These particular pieces were some sketches I did on my trip to France in 2005.

During the first part of our stay there, we were in Paris where I was able to make my pilgrimage to the Louvre. My family and I ventured to the museum right away. What an amazing collection of world treasures is there! The drawing at left was done from Michelangelo's Dying Slave, a most inspiring and beautiful sculpture from the Master.

It's interesting to run across the studies from a decade ago. I can see improvement in my drawing skills since I did this study. 

(left) "Study of Michelangelo’s Dying Slave"
16"x12" charcoal and chalk on cotton paper
©2005 Diana Moses Botkin

A different sketch (not worth showing you) I did while at Musée d'Orsay, which is another colossal treasury of art. When at the Louvre the previous day, I'd had no trouble when I scooted an unused chair over by The Slave, to sketch the piece. At Musée d'Orsay the next day, I also found a vacant chair and moved it by the statue I admired, for observation with my sketching materials.

Soon after I sat down in the chair near the beautiful Oedipus at Colonos by Jean-Baptiste Hugues, the guard on duty told me something in angry French. Now my French is very bad, limited to a few words and phrases. But I was able to tell, from the guard's body language and gestures, that I should move the chair back to its original location. I complied and then sat on the floor by the sculpture to study.

Not long after that, I noticed the guard was on the phone, gesturing toward me and speaking in urgent angry tones. There I was, in a foreign country with jet-lag and extremely limited language skills. I had visions of being carted away by the gendarmes for lock-up in some lonely Paris jail. I was able to manage only a quick drawing, not much more then a gesture, before hurriedly putting away my supplies and moving away to the ladies room to compose my rattled brain.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Painting at Yellowstone Art Museum Gala Event

"Trees on the Hill"
Oil 5.5"x7.5"
©2010 Diana Moses Botkin

I'm pleased that my work is showcased again this year at the Yellowstone Art Museum Exhibit and Auction in Billings, Montana. You can visit the link to see show information and the catalog, and even make an early bid for the art.

The show opened last month on January 22 and continues to March 7, 2015 when the gala and auction is held. That night is very festive, with delicious food, live music, and of course, the auction of beautiful art.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Win a Free Painting for Your Valentine!

(left) "Pie Cherry" 
miniature oil painting, approx. 2"x3"
©2011 Diana Moses Botkin

(lower left) "Cherry on Granite" 
miniature oil painting, approx. 3"x3"
©2009 Diana Moses Botkin

I haven't done a giveaway in a long time. Valentine's Day seems a nice reason to do that.

You can enter for a chance to win one of these little jewels by leaving a comment here at this post, or sharing this blog link at your facebook page. Either at this post or on facebook, tell me why your sweetheart would like some sweet art!

Please also send me a private email to let me know which you did (comment here, or share my link at your facebook page) and also tell me how to get in touch with you if you win.

I'll put your name in the hat and pick a name at contest ending. This giveaway opportunity will be open only until February 14 at midnight, so don't delay.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Oil Portrait Study from Life

(left) "Stevan"
Oil, 10"x8"
©2014 Diana Moses Botkin

I'm still catching up on adding finishing touches to paintings I started awhile ago. If you're an artist, you probably know what I mean when I say there are pieces sitting in my studio waiting.... either to be finished, painted over, or thrown in the fire.

That last choice is usually out of frustration from ruining a painting by working on it too much or trying to finish without good references. Or simply because it was terrible.

This is one I did in OKC last fall at Geatches. I was able to get a good likeness of our model during the Saturday morning Open Studio, but I needed to clean up a few areas. There were some scratchy brush marks that were distracting. Sometimes those can be useful, like the effect in hair edges, and Stevan's unshaved jaw. Since I didn't have a reference photo to use for touching up the painting later, I kept my additions to a minimum.

It is not uncommon for Open Studio policy to be no photos allowed. Unless the model will pose after the session for a quick snap, that's the way it is.

I really miss the Open Studio sessions in OKC, and also in Scottsdale. The group in my area is a bit of drive and sessions can be hit and miss.

Open Studio means that anyone can join in, working from live models. Model fees are reasonable, models are professional and able to hold poses, and the camaraderie is a welcome change from working alone. There is no instruction at these sessions but it is fun and often educational seeing what the other artists draw or paint.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Oil Sketch to a Painting Only Took Me a Year

Well, I didn't actually work on it all year. After I did the initial live study last January, I set it aside, wondering what to do with it.

The piece showed potential and I liked it even in the rough stage. But there wasn't enough there. So, months later I tackled it again, working from the limited information in a quick snap the model let me take at the time, which was mostly overexposed from the strong lighting.

The painting went through several changes, as sometimes happens.

It would've been a lot easier to have this model pose live for all the painting sessions, but that was not possible. So I did the best I could from memory and my vague photo reference.

The lean and muscular young man sat deep in thought as he posed and the visible ear looked like he had done some boxing. It was really just a mood as a sketch, but the added detail now contributes to the story. I still like the painting, and I'm happy I didn't ruin it.

(above left) "He Carries a Reminder" Oil on canvas, 10"x8"
©2014 Diana Moses Botkin

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Nude Studies

(left) "Bent" 
charcoal/chalk on cotton paper approx. 14x11" 
©2014 Diana Moses Botkin

Our model for this particular open studio session wore her boots and sometimes her eyeglasses. The footwear made for an interesting contrast.

She also had a hairstyle that I found challenging to portray: one side of her head was shaved and she wore long blond matted dreadlocks on the other side.

This young woman was a very expressive model and although I did a number of charcoal sketches that session, these are the only two I saved.

(at left)
charcoal/chalk on cotton paper approx. 10.5x12"
©2014 Diana Moses Botkin

Monday, January 26, 2015

Figure Studies in Longer Poses

(left) "Royal Role"
Charcoal and chalk on cotton paper 17"x12"
©2014 Diana Moses Botkin

These are more of my life drawings from last Fall during my trip to Oklahoma City.

The first two studies are from Pizza Night at OCU, which is always a lot of fun. The costumed models were especially interesting to study.

Both the young lady in the fluffy cape and the young man with the furry collar are studying acting. Interesting in their assumed roles, they were also very good models, holding still for the long pose.

(left below) "Introspective"
Charcoal and chalk on cotton paper 14"x11"
©2014 Diana Moses Botkin

 (right below) "Point of View" Charcoal and chalk on cotton paper 12"x10"
©2014 Diana Moses Botkin

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Figurative Gesture Drawings

"Turning Around"
charcoal on grey paper, 17"x12"
©2014 Diana Moses Botkin

I'm finally getting some of my drawings from Open Studio last Fall photographed and inventoried. To do that, I need good natural light (sunshine) for decent digital images. Sunny days have been precious few in the past few months. We've had a few lately, however, for which I am very thankful.

These sketches and half a dozen others were the only ones I kept from several sessions with the model during my trip last fall to OKC.

Although it's a bit painful to throw away drawings or paintings, I'm trying to be more cold-blooded in my approach. After a few hundred sketches and as many paintings, storage can be a challenge.

charcoal and chalk on grey paper, 17"x12"
©2014 Diana Moses Botkin

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Balance and Grace

In my last post, I told some about typesetting changes in recent history and from my own experience. I think type has a special place in my psyche because one of my first jobs other than baby-sitting was working with type. My dad, an art director for a large ad agency in the Midwest, put me to work when I was a teenager.

One of the free-lance tasks I did for him was hand-setting lines of type with stick-on letters. There were certain applications, now simply done on the computer, that at the time, had to be done by hand. These included lines of type on a curve and other applications. This is not difficult, but it does take a certain amount of aesthetic judgement to balance each letter with the right air space.

Adjusting spacing between letters  is called "kerning". It is easily done now on the computer but a few decades ago it could be tedious and time-consuming. I had a good eye for balance and spacing, so this came easy to me. An ability to see how type balances has a downside, however.

I notice examples everywhere of bad letter spacing: in ads, on buildings, magazines and books.. even on our wood stove. I see that "RESOLUTE" layout (in cast iron!) and want to move the letters: decrease spacing after the "E", the "S", the "O" and the "U". Or increase spacing in the other tight areas.

If I look at the ill-constructed arrangement very long, it really bugs me. Especially in fairly permanent applications, it becomes a source of irritation and I can't help but wonder why someone in charge of putting the project together didn't see the problem.

Logos, which represent a product with an identifiable symbol, should be especially beautiful, but just looking around my house reveals a bevy of unbalanced lettering: everything from art supplies to high-end garments. Why?

Such is life. Insults to aesthetics abound in this world.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Way It Used to Be... Not That Long Ago

I have some old typestyle books I used decades ago when I made my living doing commercial art (now known as "graphic art").

This was back in the “old days” before computers.

It’s truly amazing what can be done on the computer so quickly now: tedious and time-consuming tasks we used to do by hand…draw up layouts on paper, and do a wide variety of tasks for the camera-ready art such as rule lines, hand-set headlines, cut photo drop-out windows, paste down the set type, etc.

A few decades ago, if we needed type at the ad agency for camera ready art for ads, annual reports, etc., the copywriter typed it up on a typewriter (and hopefully it had been proofed for typos), and gave it to the delivery boy to take downtown to the typesetter’s.

The art director (or assistant) usually had specified typeface, point size, letter spacing and line spacing based on how many letters were in the typewritten copy and the space available in the layout. Layouts were drawn by hand with felt markers (and with chalks in the days before markers). 

The typesetter was usually across town (and by town I mean, a large metropolitan city). The delivery boy drove in traffic to the location to drop it off. Then the typesetter figured out how it would fit the layout by counting letters and setting copy width on his machine, and made sure that the point size was right. After that step, it was produced on slick sheets which would be pasted down for what was known as "camera-ready art". Usually the next day, the delivery boy could pick up the galleys.

During my stint as a commercial artist, it was typically phototype, but before that was around, there was moveable type... little individual metal letters which were set (backwards). And there was wooden type before that (like the old western typestyles... usually fairly big).

Going back farther to hand-set metal linotype… or wood type before that (which the ancient Chinese used)… the typesetter set the copy backwards and then it could go to press.

Think of those poor souls working away at daily newspapers setting letter by letter in the trays. And then they had to put it all away in the proper cabinet after the printing was finished. Dyslexics would probably do well in that job.

Anyway, after the long slick sheets of galleys came back from the typesetter, the layout artist had to paste the type down to create camera-ready art. Sometimes the type didn't fit, or there was a missed typo (there was no such thing as "spell check").

Now, on the computer, we can just change the size of the type and move it around ever so easily. No rubber cement involved. Back then, fixing could involve getting a section of type redone at the typesetter, or pasting in individual corrections if we happened to have duplicate galleys and could pick up a corrected word from it.

Occasionally we did hand lettering. Commercial artists did a lot more hand work overall back then for many tasks (ruling lines, cutting overlays for dropping out backgrounds on photos, etc.). Lettering can be very tedious, unless it's a brush script or calligraphic, more free type. Those could be fun.

I still have my favorite typefaces. Most of them have been around for a long time. But I remember when Friz Quadrata came out in the early 1970s. I liked it a lot back then and used it for many applications. I still like it and get nostalgic when I see it, although it was perhaps overused. It frequently dates materials to that era.

Palatino, a classic typeface, is another of my favorites, especially the Palatino Italic. It's very graceful. I'm a sucker for a pretty face. Palatino has that lovely little airy space in the P, and a nice balance. It’s like much of art… what we like in a font (we used to call it "typeface") can be quite subjective. Other personal favorites are Weiss (an old hand-set serif typeface with lovely balance), Copperplate Gothic, and Michelangelo Titling (another hand-set face with beautiful form and balance, all caps).

Typesetting is only one aspect of change in graphic art in my own lifetime. Illustration has also drastically changed in the last few decades and is not used as much these days as are photos or computer generated images.