December 4, 2017

Parador de Cardona, Spain - Oil Painting

"Parador de Cardona, Spain"
Oil on canvas
A lovely couple got engaged in this beautiful castle, and she commissioned the painting as a surprise gift for him.
I am super happy to hear that they both were thrilled with how it turned out, and it's now hanging in their love nest.

May God bless them and their new marriage with much love and happiness.

November 26, 2017

Italian Landscape Painting: View of Bassano

I was commissioned by some good friends to paint this view of Bassano, a town in Italy that they love very much. I've had it on my easel for a while, keeping it on the back burner, adding some more paint every once in a while. One of the reasons I procrastinated was that they had no rush. The other reason was that I was afraid to mess it up for them.

Now it's done, ready for delivery.  And with great relief I think it turned out well.  : )

The view is quite similar to the real one, I only "moved" several elements closer to each other, so that they all fit in the painting: the home, the bridge, and the trees on the left of the building were visible from slightly different points of views. A few preliminary sketches helped me visualize how I could fit them all in the same scene.

Oil on canvas

As much as I was intimidated at the beginning, I actually enjoyed the whole painting process very much.
I was afraid that, being a commission, I would be too worried abut the final results, and it would make me paint tightly, so I made a point of keeping it loose.
I started by toning the upper part with a bright cadmium yellow, and that gave a sense of cheerfulness that helped keeping the process fun. The lower part I toned it blue. This way I had already a head-start on painting both the water and the buildings.

I can't wait to give it to them and see how they like it. Hopefully they will.

UPDATE: the painting has been delivered and is now hanging in its new home, and I am very happy to report that they loved it!

Thanks for reading my blog!


November 20, 2017

My Two Paintings in the Dublin Art League Fall Show

Since when I joined the Dublin Area Art League, in 2011, I have entered two paintings in the Spring Show and two in the Fall show, every year.

The great thing about a local art league is that all levels of skill and professionalism are represented, every member is encouraged and supported, and the fact that you get to show your work to the public on a regular basis, really serves as a great incentive to get better and do more.

One of the best parts of being a member is the opportunity to network with like-minded people, and that's why I love attending the meetings and the show receptions, where I get the opportunity to chat with all the other artists and art lovers.

Here I am next to one of my oil paintings in the Dublin Area Art League Fall Show,
"It's Good to Be Home"
oil on Canvas

I recently ended my two-year term as DAAL president. During that time I got to know and enjoy this art league even more.
I was also the co-chair for this fall show, sharing the chair role with Roberta Kayne, a super talented photographer. In fact, one of her photos got Best of Show award. : )

This fall show in particular had a lot of participation, 42 artists with 84 artworks in the exhibit, I'm pretty sure that is a record for DAAL!

"Heading South"
oil on canvas
My other entry in the DAAL Fall Show

The ladies that made it happen. From the left: Dawn Petrill, DAAL President, Marcia Evans, show judge, Robie Benve, show co-chair, and Roberta Kayne, show co-chair. Not pictured: Larry Hamill, show judge.
The fall show Colorful Expressions will be on view until December 9, 2017.
If you are a local, stop by the Dublin Rec Center and enjoy the 84 artworks in the exhibit, by 42 variously talented artists. 

October 31, 2017

My Exhibit at Powell Fitness

Thanks a lot to Kim LaRosa for giving me the opportunity to exhibit my work at her fitness center.

There was reception/party is on Friday October 20, lots of people came and enjoyed appetizers, live music, open bar, and of course my artwork. :)

That's me at Powell Fitness, right before the reception started.
Robie with Kim LaRosa, owner of Powell Fitness.

Thanks to all that came! I got to meet some amazing people that night. :)

The show includes 25 paintings, in assorted sizes and subjects; it will be on view until end of April, 2018, at Powell Fitness, 3967 Presidential Parkway #A, Powell, Ohio.

October 13, 2017

Over There - Painting Over an Old Unfavorite En Plein Air

In September I committed to painting 30 paintings in 30 days, or at least getting as close as I could to painting every day.
I ended up doing pretty good, considering how busy the month was. You can read the blog post with a photo of the whole "production" here.

A few of the September paintings were done by covering up an old painting that I didn't like.
And... oh boy!!!    I think that triggered the one single most important thing I discover about myself in September: I love starting from a complex ground, that has texture, shapes, and different colors. 
I enjoy the challenge of keeping some of the under-painting showing though in between brush strokes.  It keeps the painting loose and creates interesting visual effects. And it feels finished much sooner, preventing the most popular mistake for all painters: over-painting.

Below you can see how I turned an old plein air landscape into a new one, step-by-step.

Over There - Painting Over an Old Unfavorite En Plein Air

I had a painting of a path I had done at the Wetstone Park, I did not like how I treated the far section of the path, and I kept it in the "can-be-fixed" stack of paintings in my studio for a long time.
After more than a year, I decided that I was not going to work on it, it was time to let go and start fresh.

"Over There"
8"x10" Oil on board
First Step: The drawing of the new composition

The beginning stage, drawing over the old painting.

The first thing I did was turn the old painting sideways into a vertical format, and draw the outline of the new composition. I drew with red and yellow.
Other painters, when they see me painting over an old painting like this, tell me that they would find it very confusing and distracting, especially at the beginning stages, but to me, somehow, it's fun.  : )

The fact that the old painting had a horizontal layout, and the second one was vertical, and that somehow helped keeping things clear in my mind. 

Second Step: Blocking in the colors that make the most impact

Stage two, blocking shapes in.
The drawing let me place the different masses and allowed me to focus on visualizing the big shapes. Then I started blocking in the shapes with paint. 
The first colors I put down were the two that made the most difference: the sky and the path.
I love how the old trees worked out to make the rest feel like it was already painted.

Third Step: Filling in the shapes, adjusting the colors.

Stage three. More paint in the grass and trees. 

Some of the old painting's colors were kind of working for the new one, but they had to be adjusted and unified within the shapes.
I put down horizontal strokes near the path to create the illusion of flat ground, and vertical loose strokes for the tall grasses.

That's me next to my painting. Behind, you can see the view. By this time the shadows had already shifted, but I stuck to the initial shadow plan, that left more of the path in sunlight.

Final Step: Thicker paint.

Final stage
I created some variety in the sky and fixed how the trees and the grasses looked, to adjust them to what I was seeing. I like to apply thicker paint towards the end, often with a palette knife. 

The horizontal texture from the old tree trunks was creating a disturbing texture in the sky, which kind of forced me to go down particularly thick with the sky paint, and I like the palette knife application of the sky color.

As the time passed, the shadows moved quite a bit, and the lovely glow on the tall tree and the path faded away. Instead of trying to "chase the light" adjusting my painting to the changes in the environment, I stuck to my initial plan, and tried to make some of the branches and the path glow, the way that struck me at the beginning.

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"Reflect upon your present blessings
- of which every man has many - 
not on your past misfortunes,
of which all men have some."
~ Charles Dickens

October 5, 2017

Thanks to Powell Fitness for Featuring my Works

Blessings come in many ways, and sometimes they take the form of a phone call offering an exhibit opportunity.

I almost passed on this one, because the phone call came in the spring, at a time when I had way too much on my plate already, but luckily for me they persisted and emailed over the summer, and that time I said YES! : )

The Powell Fitness owner, Kim La Rosa is an energetic, fun, and inspiring person, and I am very thankful for the opportunity to have my art in her center for six months!

She's celebrating the 12 year anniversary on October 20, I'm hanging that week and I'll get to be part of the celebration, how cool is that?

Amazing things have been happening to me.
I have to admit, I have days when I wonder do I even deserve all this goodness? But hey, it would not be fair to complain right? So here I am, embracing all the opportunities I can manage, and enjoying every bit of it.

The reception/party is on Friday October 20, 2017, 6:30-9 pm, with appetizers, live music, and open bar. At Powell Fitness, 3967 Presidential Parkway #A, Powell, Ohio.

I'm going to have several of my paintings on view, including small ones, big ones, and some of my newest work.

Thanks for reading. Have a blessed day, one with golden opportunities knocking at your door.  : )

October 1, 2017

My September Painting Challenge, How Did I Do?

So, in September I pledged to paint as much as I could, 30 paintings in 30 days, to be precise.
How did I do? Was I able to reach the goal?

I don't know about you, but for me September seems to be one of the busiest months of the year, every year. I love embracing a painting challenge like the 30 in 30 because it gives me the incentive to try extra hard to paint as often as I can, on a month in which I would probably put painting on the back burner, otherwise.

As expected, some days I did not get to paint, and other days I did not focus on the challenge, but worked on my hand-painted greeting cards, or I on bigger-ongoing paintings.
However, on other days I was able to paint several little studies, then of course there have been the good days, when I actually started and finished a single painting.

Long story short, below is a photo of the September production (minus some greeting cards and a couple of big painting there have been work in progress for a while).

Not too shabby after all!

Daily oil paintings and studies for the moth of September 2017 by Robie Benve

A few need some final touches, but I am pretty happy with what I got. :D

I took a short video of this display and I will post it on my facebook page.

Thanks for reading and for the moral support! And a big thank yous go to my painting teachers and mentors, especially Joe Lombardo and Sean Wang, that always encourage me to paint as much as I can and provide insightful critiques.

September 28, 2017

Today's Plein Air Painting Adventure, Step-by-Step

Today I went out to paint with a group lead by the talented artist Joe Lombardo and we painted at the Whetstone Metro Park, in Columbus, OH. Sadly, today was the last outing of this session, but the good thing is that we managed to squeeze in a one-hour demo by Joe, a critique session with pot-lock, and a little less than a couple of hours of individual painting. Yay us!

I had brought with me several panels with old paintings that plan to paint over, and I picked a small 5"x7" panel as the paint-over candidate of the day.

Starting from a previously painted panel that I don't like, frees me in several ways. 

First of all I have no fear of ruining it, it can't get much worse than something I don't like, right? So I paint with less fear, and it helps me keeping the strokes fresh and loose.

One other advantage is that the canvas is already covered in paint, and I can use the specks of the old painting showing through in between strokes, and make them work for the new one.

Furthermore, the old painting has some kind of texture already created, often non-related or even contrasting with the new scene. I scratch the excess texture with the blade of a palette knife, but a lot of it stays. I actually like how that underlying texture creates some kind of visual tention and interest.

Soooo, today I got my old painting out, and I started painting over, every once in a while I remembered to take photos at different stages of the process, as you can see below.
It even fell on the ground face down and got covered in grime and dead leaves, but it did not bother me.... :)

Here is me with the final painting.

Me with my plein air painting at the end of the session, when I went back to my home studio.
I did a few re-touches after this.

This is the old painting that I covered up. I had done it in my backyard two or three years back, and it just did not have good value structure or composition.

So I drew the new composition with thin paint.

Drawing of new composition on top of old painting.

Than I started painting the new scene. (below)

Perhaps I should mention that I was using a very limited palette, made of red, phtalo blue, lemon yellow, and white. Very challenging because so limited, but the colors are so powerful that you can mix pretty much anything you need, as long as you apply control. Especially phtalo blue can take over the painting, it's so strong.

Starting applying the paint... This is when it fell down.

The new scene was coming together nicely, and I like it much better than the old one, I call that a success!

A few more trokes and details.

At the end this is what I ended up. Not too bad for being a daily painting done outdoors, with shadows moving, colors shifting, bugs, and even the fall face down. lol Can you see the particles of dirt still on the lower and upper right side?

Final painting,
still untitles.
Oil on board

And that's my painting adventure for the day!

I sure enjoyed it, and learned a lot from it, plus I ended up with a keeper.
Good day!

Thanks for reading!

: )

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September 9, 2017

See You Later - Oil Painting of Barred Owl at Inniswood Gardens

"See You Later"
Oil on Canvas

Inniswood Gardens is a wonderful Park in Westerville, Ohio. I love to go there and walk around, on my own, with friends, and also with my kids.
The park has several different areas, with specific habitats, and environments, and nice areas for kids to play, including a great tree house.
Anyway, this painting features the boardwalk in the wooded area, and a barred owl, a bird that can actually be seen in the park.

On a personal level, I am very attached to the park because they gave me the opportunity to have my solo show in the Innis house last fall.
I had several of my landscapes in the show, and the reception was well attended, thanks to the terrific support from the staff and the patrons.

Can't wait for the fall colors to be back, that's my favorite season in any park!

"See You Soon" will be in the show "Reflexion from the WAAL", the fall show for Worthington Area Art League Members.

An artists’ reception will be held on September 17 from 2:00-4:00pm, at the Mill Run Church. 
The public is invited to visit with the artists, enjoy light refreshments, and view over 100 pieces of artwork by members of the Worthington Area Art League. Ribbons will be awarded at 3:00pm. 

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June 13, 2017

Schiller Park Bridge - En Plein Air Painting

"Schiller Park Bridge"
Oil on board

Plein air painting is all about immersing yourself in the landscape during the painting process, and fully enjoying the experience .

After many spring outings with awful weather, this day was really beautiful. Sunny and breezy. I finally truly enjoyed every second of it.

Sometimes I add a few final touches to the plain air paintings in the studio, after I get home. That's because:
1. Two hours are usually not enough (at least for me) to complete a painting and also add final details.
2. Back in my studio I can look at the painting with fresh eyes, and notice right away some things or changes that are needed.

But this time I did not touch it any more. This is true 100% done on location, with no come-backs.
Some areas are a little unresolved, but I like that.

In my learning curve of painting skills and techniques, I am at the point where I try to stop while I am ahead. Too often I end up over-working a painting, So I try to stop sooner, leaving more details out, and some areas showing the under-painting. It's fun.

I also love using limited color palette. This one is a tetrad palette, using colors of four hues only - One of my favorite ways to pick colors, looking at the color wheel, the tetradic scheme.

Thanks to my plain air teacher Joe Lombardo for sharing all his amazing knowledge and pushing me to embrace painting challenges. :)