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.

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)
"Studious" 
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

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

I'm finally getting some of my drawings from 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.

(left)
"Advance"
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.

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Small Nude Portrait Study

"Meditative" Oil, 7"x5"
©2014 Diana Moses Botkin

Purchase this art with PayPal
$140 USD + $10 SH

This is a little study I started from life this past fall when I did this other nude.

It needed some simple adjustments but sometimes those little touches take more time than one would think. I'd work on it, think I was finished, and then see something that still needed a tiny tweak. Crazy, especially since this is such a small painting.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Day Five for the 3-in-5 Challenge

What to show you for the last day of these postings? Most of my recent work can be seen in my posts for past few years, so I thought I'd share at least a couple I've not previously shown.

The portrait below was a commission for friends and one of my favorites I've done. These special people, artist husband and ballet teacher wife, were a pleasure to paint. It is especially meaningful to me when fellow artists collect my work.

(below left) "Miller-Youst Family" Original oil on canvas 20"x16"
 ©1991 Diana Moses Botkin



(above, right) "Marsh Glow"
Oil on primed watercolor paper, 4"x8"
©2012 Diana Moses Botkin 

(at left) "Morning Sails"
Oil on hardboard 8"x10"
©2012 Diana Moses Botkin

"Marsh Glow" was a piece painted for inclusion in a special book for Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.

The Peaks organization holds a plein air event each year and I've participated since the beginning, to capture the area in memorable (and sometimes, award-winning) images.

The flats I portrayed in this painting is one of my favorite plein air spots. Working on the heavy primed watercolor paper was good, too, and I've thought I should do some more with the medium. One of these days.

"Morning Sails" is one of a handful of successful plein air paintings I did while participating in the Pacific Northwest Plein Air Paint Out in Hood River. This one won "Best River" award that year and sold to a collector in the area.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Day Four of the 3-in-5 Challenge

(left) "Her Choice"
Original oil on linen, 16"x20"
©1996 Diana Moses Botkin 


Here is another sampling of my work for the 3-in-5 challenge. You can see that by the time I did these, I was getting away from the tight realism I'd been practicing in my earlier paintings.

I still love detail, but for the past decade or so, I've been trying to focus on it not as much, with the idea that "less is more".

Abundance of detail can be quite beautiful, but for many paintings it is simply a distraction from the visual idea. It's interesting to see the progress while looking at the body of my work for these postings.

"Her Choice", above, received top honors at the 1996 National Christian Fine Arts Exhibit in Farmington, New Mexico and was purchased by the sponsor, Farmington United Methodist Church. Like the piece I showed yesterday which also resides in their permanent collection, I'm very happy it is being enjoyed on a daily basis by many people. This painting also was used, with my permission, for a book cover and for materials for Lutherans for Life.

(left) "Ministering Hands"
Original oil on hardboard, 16"x20"
©1999 Diana Moses Botkin


"Ministering Hands" is special commission I painted for St. Peter Hospital, Family Practice Clinic, Olympia, Washington. I'm pleased it is also in a public collection and being enjoyed on a daily basis by visitors. Reproductions of "Ministering Hands", and also "Her Choice", can be found at my LifeImages Gallery.

I'm skipping through much of my work since Y2K. Many of those have been smaller pieces, a lot of them efforts to learn plein air painting. I also started trying to do the daily painting practice about 10 years ago and most of those pieces have been small studies of everyday objects. They've been good for practice, but looking through them I can see there are not many paintings which went to public collections or won awards. There are a few, but most of those smaller paintings have been purchased by individual collectors, which of course makes me happy.

(left) "Dancer in Red Slip"
Original oil on hardboard, 12"x9"
©2011 Diana Moses Botkin


"Dancer in Red Slip" appeared in the 2011 Oil Painters of America National Juried Exhibition and resides in a private collection overseas.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Day Three of the 3-in-5 Challenge

(left) "Sunlight and Snowmelt"
Original pastel on Canson, approx. 24"x18"
©1989 Diana Moses Botkin

Here is another group of my paintings from awhile back for the 3-in-5 Challenge. The idea of the exercise is to post  early work and then some recent work, so I'll post a few more older pieces today that you might enjoy seeing.

This painting at left of my hand and foot in the stream is illustrative of Isaiah 55:10, 11. The painting was featured at the 1993 Sacred Arts Exhibit at the Billy Graham Center Museum.

(left) "Eirenikos"
Original oil on linen, 24"x30"
©1989 Diana Moses Botkin

The title of this painting is Greek for "peaceable", which is the mood of this restful piece. "Eirenikos" took top honors at the 42nd Annual Mid-States Exhibition, held at Evansville Museum of Arts and Science and was purchased by the museum.


(left) "'til He Appeared"
Original oil on linen, 20"x22"
©1994 Diana Moses Botkin

This painting took top honors at the 1994 National Christian Fine Arts Exhibit in Farmington, New Mexico and was purchased by the sponsor, Farmington United Methodist Church. (Reproductions of this painting can be found at LifeImages Gallery.)

I'm always pleased when my work finds a permanent home with collectors, to be enjoyed, and these pieces in public collections make me especially happy. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

More Early Work

(left) "Sunday Evening at 7"
Pastel on cotton charcoal paper,
approx. 18"x24"
©1985 Diana Moses Botkin

I'm posting another batch of older pieces for the 3-in-5 challenge. This cloud painting is one of several I did at the time, trying to capture those forms before they changed too much.

I rarely did any kind of landscape painting back then, but felt the need to work en plein air to study the clouds. I used many of the results as reference for a ceiling mural I did for my little girls' room.

(left) "Waiting for Denise"
original pastel on museum board, approx. 14"x11"
©1986 Diana Moses Botkin


The doll painting was a study I did of two of my sis' childhood favorites.

That Poor Pitiful Pearl doll was such a hilarious thing at the time. When my sister received it for Christmas in the 1950s, all the adults laughed hysterically at her pathetic appearance. Denise loved her fiercely.

(left) "Portrait of Bradley"
original pastel on Canson, approx. 18"x14"
©1988 Diana Moses Botkin


I did a number of portrait commissions of children in the 1980s. This is one of my favorites.

It's interesting and a bit bittersweet to look back at one's art and see which pieces I still enjoy, and which ones I'd like to do over. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Some of my Early Work

(left) "Gigi"
original pastel on Canson, approx. 16"x13"
©1985 Diana Moses Botkin

(above right) "Communion"
original pastel on Canson, approx. 18"x24"
©1986 Diana Moses Botkin

(at left) "Storge"
original pastel on suedeboard, approx. 18"x24"
©1988 Diana Moses Botkin
 
Artist friend Diana Robinson nominated me for the 3-in-5 challenge to post three paintings for the next 5 days.

I've noticed several other artists doing this lately, and many of them are showing early work, especially for the first posts. I like that idea, so here are my first three, from when I was doing more paintings in pastel.

At the time, with little kids to care for, and unpredictable work hours, pastels allowed me to pick up where I'd previously left off in a painting and keep working, without concern for paint layers drying or not drying.

I had many irises in my garden and painted quite a few. Most of the documentation of my work from that era is in slide form but I do have a few digital images of work from that time.

Both "Communion" and "Storge" garnered show honors for me in the 1980s and "Storge" was purchased by show sponsor Bristol-Myers at the "Realism Today" exhibit in 1988. Reproductions of "Communion" can be ordered at my LifeImages Gallery.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Light and Mood

"Deliberation"
Oil, 8"x10"
©2014 Diana Moses Botkin

Buy this painting on PayPal
$300 USD plus $12 SH 

This is a piece I started from life this past fall and finished up in December. I liked the dramatic light and the model's attitude.

As you can probably tell from the way my work is progressing, I am trying to preserve the overall mood without adding too much detail.