Art Howard County 2017 - Juried Exhibition

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UPDATE: My piece "Wood and Lace" received "Honorable Mention!"

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I'm so excited!! I was accepted into my first juried art show, "Art Howard County 2017" juried by Thomas Engleman, Gallery Director and Professor of Visual Arts, Howard Community College. All three of my submissions were accepted and are for sale. Contact me for more information: dee@lenehanstudios.com or 410-707-9246

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The show takes place at the Howard County Center for the Arts and is put on by the Howard County Arts Council. The show runs from November 3-December 15th, 2017. The reception (which I will sadly miss) is November 10th, 6-8pm. (8510 High Ridge Rd, Ellicott City, MD 21043, 410-313-ARTS)

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Be sure to take some time and check out the incredible works on display and support your local art scene!

DC Design House

This year I am privileged to say that I contributed to the fabulous room, "Chic Retreat" by  Barbara Brown Interiors at the DC Design House.

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"The 9th annual D.C. Design House opens to the public October 1, 2016. Each year, one local home has every single room redesigned by local interior designers and architects.

Located at 2509 Foxhall Road, NW, this year's house is a whopping 11,242 square feet, and most recently served as a temporary house for the French ambassador while his real home was under construction. The home has five floors, seven bedrooms, three kitchens, eight full bathrooms, an infinity pool, a wine cellar and sauna.

All furnishings and accessories in the house are for sale -- and so is the home itself, which is listed for a cool $10.8 million, according to the Design House website.

Proceeds from this month-long event benefit Children’s National Health System. The house closes Oct. 30." -NBC4

Barbara Brown Interiors designed the "Chic Retreat" which is on the top floor.  A lady's study/retreat/reading room has been expertly curated with chinoiserie inspired accessories, custom designed and built furniture, and features soothing colors and textures, but not without the occasional surprise.  I was asked to create chinoiserie monochromatic vignettes on the walls as well as verre eglomise surfaces for both the writing desk and built in cabinet top.

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Jumping in Head First; An Art Piece Like No Other (for me at least)

When I proposed this project almost two years ago I had not a clue as to who what I was getting myself into. My client, referred to me by Wendy Appleby, has lived in this house for over 20 years and hadn't figured out what to do with the giant overmantle that loomed over the front room. She is a collector of great art and owns a few Picasso's, Chagall's, and Matisse's. She also collects glass and so when I proposed  that we do an abstract glass piece she was sold. "Great!" I thought, then "What the hell did I just say I would do??" Paper template for glass

The first thing was to figure out if the glass could be cut in the way we wanted. I went to several places but the only folks who could help me out were Sherry and Len Berkowitz from Great Panes in Old Ellicott City. They had the glass water jet cut to my template. I was stoked that they were able to help me out. Its also nice to be able to use the talents of friends.

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So on to the next task of figuring out how to go about executing what was in my brain. Enter my friend Annie Lemarie, an expert at gilding. I took a trip out to her house in Sharpsburg and spent the day playing in her studio. She lives directly across the street from the Antietam Battlefield, a beautiful setting for a fun filled day. We figured out the method of application of colors and metals, an oil based paint would suffice.

Back to the studio and my friend Ewan Tulis constructed this easel that would serve to allow me to study the front as I was working along. I had to work on the back, a technique called "reverse painting" or "reverse gilding." I was essentially flying blind with the first layers of color. It looked so awful until the leaf and mica powders were applied. Then the whole thing came to life.

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Finally, the last task was mounting it. Bill Knapp, yet another friend, who works in found object metal sculpting, built an armature that would allow the glass to be suspended from the wall as if it were floating. It was heavy and would be hung on a travertine tiled wall. We couldn't really figure out where the studs were so we hoped that when the client decided she was going to replace the wood burning fireplace with a gas insert that we were going to be able to look up inside to see where we were going to tap in. Luck was not in our favor but thankfully the way Bill made the armature, our pilot holes would be covered over.

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Finally! The day came for it to be installed. Ewan and his assistant Matt worked smoothly and professionally to place my work perfectly over the fireplace. It was such a treat to see it in its place after so much planning and work.

Ewan and Matt working on installing the final piece.

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The best compliment came from my client when she said, "That's cool as S***!" I laughed out loud. The icing on the cake was an email she sent that evening. "[My husband] walked in the door and saw the painting and his comment was "spectacular"! He sat down on the sofa, stared at the painting and said to tell Dee the painting was well done. The funniest comment he had was that it is a lot more colorful and stands out more than what we had before. I laughed and told  him I sure hope so because there was nothing on the wall before. It is truly am amazing piece of art!"

That makes me happy.

Adventures in Portrait Painting

Taking classes to continue my personal artistic growth is something I always love doing but finding the time (and money) is difficult. Last month I took the third class offered in William Cochran's Trompe L'oeil Mastery Program- Portraiture. Each time I take a class with William I find that take away something that doesn't present itself until later. The immediate return is usually that I suck and I should hang up my brushes. However, after a few weeks the information absorbed at the time somehow begins to come together. Our first day was revisiting color theory. Elementary as it may seem, there are hundreds of pigments and we each chose a palette to work from. My colors were Hansa Yellow Opaque, Phthalo Blue Green Shade, and Pyrrole Red Dark. Adjusting for the intensity of the pigments, we each created a value scale moving through each color as well as across the wheel through neutral grey. Once complete, we began the portrait workshop in earnest.

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We worked from a live model as well as a photograph. This was extremely difficult. Ideally the model would be present the entire time, but that isn't practical. We began with setting up the backdrop and her attire, changing things based on how they reflected against her skin and hair. Once we settled on the look we shot a series of photos. This whole process took an entire day. The photography process could be a class in and of itself because there is so much to understand like lenses, lighting, distance, etc.

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The difficulty in this class was having to move from the photograph to the model when she was present. In the photograph the values and temperatures were completely different. In real life these things were much clearer and more vibrant if you really studied her. In starting out I did my usual thing of blending tiny brush strokes and by the end of the first day it had no dimension. Up close, yes, but when you stepped back everything collapsed. So I began round two and finally hit my stride. I stood back at arms length with a long handled paint brush and contemplated each stroke of color. This also made it easier to paint with the type of paints we were using; Golden's Heavy Bodied Acrylics. I'm used to using Golden's Proceed line of mural paints which have a much longer open time and are less opaque, thus requiring a different method of application- multiple translucent layers.

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Painting skin is a whole different ballgame than painting other surfaces. There is a luminosity and depth that is hard to achieve. The tricky part is capturing the subtle temperatures of the values; warm darks, clear and vibrant midtones, cool lights. And this can all change depending on the lighting. I spent more time looking and studying than I did putting paint on the canvas. I hope with practice I'll be able to identify these types of things more efficiently.

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I am usually a fast painter and I think that I should have stopped while I was ahead but having about a day and a half left I continued to tinker with it. Which is fine because no one is paying me for this! I switched over to Golden's Open Acrylics which are similar to the Proceeds but have a heavier body like their regular line. This allowed me to blend a bit more and smooth out some values. But stepping back again, things began to fall flat. I wasn't worried as much this time because I felt I had gotten what I wanted from the exercise.

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My dear friend Jeanne stayed with me during the week and we had amazing philosophical discussions about art and life. Jeanne and I met while working for William on his project, The Dreaming, in Downtown Frederick, MD in 2006.  She came up a few summers ago to help with the Extreme Makeover Project I was involved in. Jeanne is a free spirit, full of energy, extremely talented, and I wish she lived closer.

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On Saturday after the class, Jeanne and I headed down to DC to visit the National Portrait Gallery. Its a shame that I live so close to such amazing museums and I've never been to this one. We spent the day there, seeing as much as we could. With new eyes, I was able to really study the brush strokes and color. Some of my most favorite are below.

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Aaaaaaannnnnnd..........done.

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