A Landscape Oil Painting — ‘Barbara in Provence’

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 My Latest Landscape Oil Painting

“Love, love, love the painting. It’s a very unique way to preserve a special experience.”
— Barbara (my newest art patron)

For all my dear blog followers — you may be thinking this is the same landscape oil painting I posted in July. But No — It is a different lovely lady in the same garden in Provence, same chair and a similar hat! Although the view is completely different, the photos were taken at the same time on the same trip with Kyra! Isn’t that cool?

We all tend to take lots of photos when we’re on a trip. The new phones and digital cameras are so easy to use and take excellent photos. The pictures stimulate great memories when we get home. Most of the time we download the vacation images onto our computers. But how often do we get those photos printed and put in an album any more? Or get them framed?

Well, Barbara and Kyra will be frequently reminded of this special trip to France! They each have their very own landscape oil painting hanging right on the wall! I hope the paintings captured all the magic of that day for them. As I painted these landscapes, I felt like I had spent lots of time in that garden, too!

With summer wrapping up now, I hope you have all gotten to do some vacationing. I bet you’ve taken some great photos. Maybe some grandkids at the beach, a scene at a state park, or a pet frolicking in the pool?

My Next Oil Painting –
Landscape, Still Life or Portrait?

How about letting me paint you a memory?
It could be a portrait, still life or a landscape oil painting like this one. Send me one or more photos; and we can talk on the phone about the size and style you’d like. I’d love to do it!

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Austin Oil Painter Val Rawlings: ‘Charly and a Vase of Tulips’

An Austin Oil Painter’s Granddaughter: Charly

degas-oil-painting-woman-vase-flowersThis oil painting started with a vase of noisy peach colored tulips that were shouting “Paint Me! Paint Me!”
A visit from my granddaughter Charly provided the perfect opportunity to reenact Edgar Degas’ A Woman Seated Beside a Vase of Flowers. Art critics have accused Degas of adding the woman as an afterthought. More likely it is an example of Degas’ aim to capture people in a realistic slice of life.

charlie-tulips-nailed-itOk, that was my aim too; I didn’t want an Olin Mills style pose. I wanted something more natural and suitable for an aspiring Austin oil painter. I got Charly behatted with a fluffy turquoise scarf. We set up the flowers on the table in my eclectic Austin oil painter’s studio and adjusted the lighting. I showed Charly our inspiration picture and sure enough — she sat down and nailed the pose!

charly-tulips-2But instead, I selected another photo of Charly looking “pensive”. It could have been titled “Grammy — how long do I have to sit here?” [Of course, she didn't actually SIT for the portrait; I painted it from the photo.] Charly moved and worked the poses like a high paid fashion model! We had so much fun! i’m sure no other Austin oil painter has the advantage of such a photogenic and cooperative model!

Another change I made was the tulips — I preferred the way they looked a few days later when they ‘relaxed’ (see below).

My Austin Oil Painter Art Class

relaxed-tulips-photoI took all these photos to a painting class in June and did a block-in as one of my exercises. It received the blessing of my instructor, Robin Cheers. She said I was ready for the BIG version. So I returned to my Austin oil painter supply closet and pulled out the 24×36 canvas I had been saving for something special. This was it! I set to work blocking-in and getting the forms in the right places.

I could hardly wait to cover every bit of raw white canvas. Then I began trying to get the lines of the face exactly right, and continued defining the vase, stems, table and background. It felt really freeing to paint so large. It was wonderful not to get hung up on tiny details until the final stages. I really wanted to keep it loose, but kept adjusting the skin tones and it got tighter and tighter. Finally I had achieved a credible likeness of my darling; so I stepped away from the canvas. I spent two more days on the tulips and the background. At last I was satisfied. I think it will be fun to display this in my studio over the funky turquoise table with a vase of flowers on it!

Completed Oil Painting — 7/7/14 — Austin, TX

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Vacation Paintings Delivered: ‘Babes on Bikes’, ‘Kyra in Repose’

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The Story Behind My Vacation Paintings

It all started with an accidental party crashing, and ended up with my finding some wonderful new friends and creating a series of memorable vacation paintings. My adventure began 10 years ago when I joined the Port Bay Hunting and Fishing Club in Rockport, TX. I signed up to attend the Ladies Fishing Weekend that was advertised on the activities calendar. The only problem was that when I arrived, it quickly became evident that this was not a public event. The contact person, Liza, who had so enthusiastically encouraged me to come, was actually holding an annual private getaway with her favorite girlfriends!

I felt like a complete idiot! However, every one of these amazing ladies acted as if they were thrilled that I had arrived to join the group! [This reminds me of a favorite saying “You don’t meet a new friend, you recognize them”.] Anyway, it was a fabulous time and when the horse I picked won the Kentucky Derby and I was awarded their Derby Trophy, the “deal was sealed”. I HAD to return the next year to pass on the coveted Trophy to next year’s winner!

Group Vacation — Paintings, Wine and Travel

One of my fascinating new friends was Kyra Bowman, and a couple years later at the annual Ladies Fishing Weekend, she mentioned that she was taking a group of travelers to France. She had gotten a sudden cancelation and there was a single opening in the tour group. Well, I thought about it on the drive back to Austin and wrote her an email, saying that I would really like to go to France with her but I couldn’t possibly go without my travel buddy — cousin Karen.

Kyra wrote right back and said she just had another opening and we were IN! We had a great French vacation and took lots of photos, which I used to create several vacation paintings when I got back to Austin. Now fast forward a year and a half and another group trip with Kyra — this time to Italy. This time the group was all women, and we quickly became best friends. My companions were from all over the country: Texas, California, Oklahoma, Missouri, Florida. They were all so much fun and and just seemed to be celebrating the moment no matter what we were doing! We were all about the same age, with grown kids and lots of life experiences. We all love wine and travel and I just don’t know how to explain the great bond we feel.

I do know that after that trip we had a reunion in Austin, and 14 came, missing just one. Then six months later we had a reunion in California and all 14 came — plus Rosie who was supposed to have been in that original bunch, I am sure. Last month we had a reunion in Comfort, Texas (all 15).

Vacation Photos => Vacation Paintings

Have I lost you yet? How does that lead to this photo of two ladies holding the vacation paintings? Well, at the Comfort reunion, four of our ladies took off on cute turquoise bicycles for a tour of town. Denise took the cutest photo of the other three, Kyra, Cheryl and Sue. When I saw that photo I knew I had to paint it. Well, when I notified the subjects of the painting that I had preserved that historic moment in one of my vacation paintings, Cheryl snapped it right up! Kyra was disappointed, but asked me to do another painting from a picture of her in the Provence countryside. Rosie was reminded that she wanted me to paint a picture of her grandson and voila! — I had three commissions from dear friends I met through the most circuitous chain of events.

Oh, and I also painted a picture for Doris last year — peach and green colored hydrangeas from her garden. I am so so grateful to all these dear friends for supporting my art endeavors and inspiring these vacation paintings. It is a wonderful feeling to create something and have it received with such enthusiasm. Thanks to ALL OF YOU out there who have encouraged my journey with your kind words. It means the world to me. Gratefully yours, –Valerie

Posted in Figure Studies, Paintings of Women | 3 Comments