December 28, 2011

Busy Holidays

Gotta love the Holidays, they fill your life with so many things to do that routine becomes a foggy memory.  I'm working my way through holiday parties, kids on winter brake, friends visiting, cooking, playing, and house-chores.
In the meanwhile I'm so looking forward to the new year. So many ideas in my head that want to come to life!  Hope this new year has longer days, so I can fit them all.  :)
Hey, I just found my new year's resolution: getting better at time management, finding the time for all I need/want to do, and try to do my best always.
In the meanwhile, Happy Holidays to all!  And may the New Year bring plenty of Love, Joy, and Health in each household.

December 17, 2011

The Friday's Painting Group Art Show

I joined a Open Studio painting group few months ago, and I really enjoyed sharing the creative time with the ladies of the group. We put together a two-hour showing for friends and family, to showcase our favorite pieces of the last year or so, and have some good time together. It turned out to be a wonderful, warm, happy event. Lots of people came, all the smiles, the positiveness, the enthusiastic comments filled the air with wonderful energy. What a delightful experience!
By unanimous decision, we did not have anything for sale, but seeing all our art together, we realized that the level is higher than we thought, and we might even dare to put some prices on our paintings at the next occasion. :)
I think we were all scared of the outcome. What if nobody shows? What if my art is not good enough? etc. But I estimated at least two hundred people came, and our paintings looked amazingly good. I'm so happy we dared!

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.     
Franklin D. Roosevelt 

December 4, 2011

Cane Corso, the Italian Mastiff - acrylic dog painting

9" x 12" 
Acrylic on canvas panel
Art Prints
Ettore is a very black dog that belongs to my family in Italy. I hear stories about this smart and friendly puppy all the time I call home, from what they tell me he’s such a handful! My family always had German Shephards, and this is the first “different” dog in the household, his breed is Cane Corso, an Italian tipe of Mastiff. 

I asked for some pictures of him and he’s so cute that I couldn’t resist painting him. The fun part is that I did not use any black paint. I’m curious to hear what my family thinks about this portrait, did I get the personality of a dog I never met?

We do not see things as they are. 
We see them as we are.

November 25, 2011

Boats of Antibes - Acrylic landscape painting

"Boats of Antibes"
15" x 30" (38.1 cm x 76.2 cm)
Acrylic on Canvas
(click image for bigger version)
Photography Prints
Boats of Antibes has been a personal challenge for two reasons: the big size - at least for my standards - and the fact that I let my instincts guide me in choosing the colors and the brushwork. I started the painting looking at the reference photo on my monitor screen, then closed it and balanced my visual memory and my feelings, other than trying to be realistic. My goal was to make it personal, trying to let my intuition lead me. 
I imagined there was a big cloud that makes half of the harbor shady, and getting the values right has been tricky.
To help with the values I took photos of the painting and desaturated them in my computer. Looking at the black & white version really helps spotting value problems.
Now I think I’m pretty happy with it, and can finally post it and move on to the next personal challenge.
The reference photo is from Google Street View, in Antibes, France. To see it click here.

“I know not how I may seem to others, 
but to myself I am but a small child 
wandering upon the vast shores of knowledge, 
every now and then finding a small bright pebble 
to content myself with” 

November 20, 2011

Making the most out of travel time - pencil sketches

I just came back from a family vacation, eight wonderful days in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Beach, sun, food, drinks.  Ahhhh, the life! Needless to say no time to paint. I didn't even pretend I was going to, in fact I just brought a sketch pad and pencils.

Turns out it has been a week full of fun and activities, and my art tools did not make it out of the hotel room.

However, while waiting at the airports, I kept myself entertained making quick sketches of few fellow passengers.

On the plane I found some interesting images on the Airline's magazine, and sketched those too.  :)

I loved making use of that otherwise boring time at the airport and plane!

 PS: I brought coloring and writing activities for my kids too, which kept them busy scribbling, so they did not drive daddy crazy. :)

October 27, 2011

Checking values in acrylic paintings

I’ve been working on a harbor painting for a while now, on and off. It started as a realistic painting, and then it turned into a more contemporary one. Kind of in the middle of that transition I decided I would portray the scene half in the sun, and half in the shade. That’s when I started having value problems

Picture 1 with color
I was using warmer colors in the sunny areas, and cooler ones in the shade, but I soon realized that some warm hues have a darker value than cool ones, and focusing on temperature instead of value can really spoil all you are trying to do.
Every painter knows the squinting technique to see values, but squinting has its limitations. What helps me a lot is using the “desaturation tool". Here is how it works: I take a digital photo of the artwork, I download it into my computer, and I desaturate it using Photoshop (many other image editing software can do it too). Then I really see values.

Picture 1 desaturated
What I saw in my desaturated painting was a lot of mid-tone values. It did not have the sun vs. shade look that I was trying to achieve.
I took notes of needed corrections, and went back to the easel.
After few changes, I took another photo, and desaturated again. I’ll work more on it, but this is where I am now, you can see it below.

It does not seem like a lot of difference, but I did lighten quite a few areas.

What do you think, am I going on the right direction?
Do you know/use a different technique to check values?

Thanks for visiting,

October 13, 2011

French waitress

"French waitress"
7" x 8.5"  watercolor on paper

This is my humble contribution to the "A day not wasted" site painting challenge. 
I'm still on my watercolor journey, and this is my first person painted with watercolors. Thanks Lee for great monthly challenges, you always get me try something new, which leads to some learning experience. :)
To see the reference photo and other entries click here.

September 30, 2011

Lily Pond

"Lily Pond Study"
6" x 6" (15.2 cm x 15.2cm)
Acrylic on Canvas Panel

I painted this for the Artistic Sentiments painting challenge. Thank you Dana Marie for another nice painting opportunity.

An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.
Mohandas Gandhi

September 28, 2011

Colorful landscape - Acrylic painting with tulips

"Poppy-ing up Tulips"
9" x 12" Acrylic on Canvas Panel

I know they look like poppies, but they are tulips, acting like poppies and tricking my mind up to the very end!
I tried to simplify shapes and I played with colors and lines.  What started as a suburban front yard scene, ended up as a Tuscan landscape, and a quite colorful one for that matter!

Style-wise, I can see I'm heading somewhere, and I kind of like the direction. Color, shapes, and lines that kind of make sense but don't have to be realistic. What's that called? Folk art? Contemporary? Not sure.

BTW, the laptop is still out of order but the Tractor (see previous post) stepped up to the task and accepted to run my camera's software, which can do some very basic image editing, and here you have it! .. and the Tractor earns its respect! :))

September 25, 2011

I made the top of the list (of suspects)

Look at me...
Such an innocent face!  ;)

I am suspect number one in the case of attempted murder of my husband's laptop.  His beloved MacBook Pro is badly agonizing, not able to even open a browser, and apparently it's very likely my fault even if I don't recall doing anything bad to it. But I was the one spending more time during the day using it, so I see his point.

Currently I can only use "the tractor", the old beyond imagination pc that we keep for the children, but they refuse to use because it's too slow, and whose loud noise when processing, reminds me of a farm tractor.

I so hope that we can fix the laptop AND show my innocence! (but most of all fix it!) Until then I will be much limited in my posting since the tractor does not have any image editing software, and not even microsoft office.

I think the solution is simple: guilty or not, I need to get my own computer! :))

September 21, 2011

Red Tulips

Tulipani Rossi
6” x 6” (15.2 cm x 15.2cm)
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
Sell Art Online

What is your favorite color?  Mine is blue. I love a nice bright blue! But on canvas, I love red, oh yeah!   Powerful, joyful and intense. These guys' red is even brighter than it looks here. Maybe one day I'll load a better photo. (Today I took at least 20 shots, and not was great!)

Something about these tulips: they tricked me! The whole time I had the feeling I was painting poppies, I even had a cute name for the poppy painting, then I came to reality and had to face the fact tat they were tulips! So I settled for making them Italian, like their mama. :)

September 19, 2011

Playing with watercolors

 "Sunflower bunch #1"
3” x 3” (7.6 cm x 7.6 cm)

Today I got my old watercolors out, and embarked in some small paintings. I hadn’t used watercolors for years, but amazingly none of the colors had dried! Everything was in great condition… the only rusty thing are my skills. Lol

I did a couple of versions of this sunflower bunch, a great exercise to get the juices flowing.

If you have tips for me on how to get better results, please share them in the comments. Thanks! :)

 "Sunflower bunch #2"
3” x 3” (7.6 cm x 7.6 cm)

September 14, 2011

Value Study

"Trieste - value study"
6” x 6” (15.2 cm x 15.2cm)
Acrylic on Canvas Panel

I rendered a photo I took last summer in Italy using only 4 values. Lots of squinting and comparing. The fun was to try to paint shapes instead of details. The other cool part was mixing my own black and grays. Fun fun with this value challenge by the DPW.

Another limited palette study

"Garden Roses #2"
6” x 6” (15.2 cm x 15.2cm) 
Acrylic on Canvas Panel

I'm liking doing these limited palette quick studies! I was trying to complete it in 60 minutes like the previous ones, but at that point I wasn't even close to presentable! Probably due to the fact that I was en plain air, in a sunny and windy day. So I continued inside, where I probably put another hour into it.
Painted using ultramarine blue, cadmium red, cadmium yellow, and white. 

September 8, 2011

Now selling prints

After many questions from friends and family about whether I was selling my work, and after listening to the Artists Helping Artists Blogtalk radio by Dreama Tolle Perry and Leslie Saeta giving advice to painters and artists, I decided to do it.
Canvas prints and greeting cards from some of my paintings are now available for purchase at .
AND I also created a Facebook page "Robie Benve Art".

After much thinking about it, I got over the worries of not having a big portfolio, or not being good enough  and kind of jumped into it.

What if I don't sell a thing?? It's ok. :)) I'm not painting to make money, I'm painting because it makes me happy. Having my work accessible to the public is an extra stimulus to do my best and try to get better.

August 16, 2011

Still Life - Acrylic Painting with Peaches and Pitcher

"Peachy Still Life"
11” x 14”  (27.9 cm x 35.6 cm)
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
Sell Art Online

Another still life, another painting out of my comfort zone! :)
I’m still working on loosing up my style, and it definitely was not easy with this one. I’m pretty happy that I can pretty much paint what I see. However, one day I’ll be able to change the colors and the details of what I see to express what my mind sees.  It’s a blessing to have a goal that requires practice and imagination. :) 

I had a hard time taking a good picture: the dark background and the blues look totally different in photo, so I had to shoot several times and photoshop it a little to get closer to the real colors.

Thanks to Lela  Stankovic for the challenge! I would not have picked this subject on my own, and because of that I enjoyed it and had fun.

August 4, 2011

Black and White to Color

"Roses by the window"
(Click image for larger version)
9” x 12” (22.9cm x 30.5 cm)
Acrylic on Canvas Panel

This painting has been a challenge about values! The reference photo was in black and white and the DPW painting challenge asked to turn it into color, maintaining the value relationships.
Very interesting! I had never done a painting like that before. And it’s kind of funny too, being able to imagine whatever color you like.  :)

July 29, 2011

Inspiration II

"Inspiration II"
18” x 24” (45.7cm x 61cm)
Acrylic on Canvas Panel

I had this on the works for a while, it’s a big size for my standards; I finally called it done today.
As was my second painting, this is inspired by Mark Gould’s work, in particular the one entitled  “My Neighbor's House #824”. I just love how Mark Gould uses color, and how he simplifies shapes and details. I tried to render his style, without making a replica, but I have to admit it came out closer to the original than I thought! 

I look at my painting, and it makes me smile. That means it's creating positive energy for my soul. I have to hang it in a meaningful area of my house, where I can see it often. 
I happen to have a bare wall in the “Fame and Reputation” area, according to the Bagua, and with all the reds in the painting I think that’s where it will belong! :))
Oh, in case you are wondering, the Feng Shui Bagua is a map that relates the various areas of your life to sections of your living space.

Thanks for visiting.

July 28, 2011

Another one-hour challenge

"Garden’s Tulips"

6” x 6” (15.2 cm x 15.2cm)
Acrylic on Canvas Panel

Painted in one hour, actually less, considering all the interruptions by my busy household. I lost count of how many minutes I had to leave the easel to respond to situations that “just couldn’t wait”, like: where is the glue?, I need white cardstock, the phone is ringing, etc etc.
But I made it, I got my second painting done in 60 minutes (or less) using only four colors. I’m debating if I should post this to the DPW challenge, since I did not do it plain air, but from a photo of my front yard tulips that I shot in the spring…
But painting outside was not an option: three of the kids were having a water fight all around the house using empty water bottles and buckets. Kind of splashy out there! :)

July 26, 2011

Very Limited Palette for the DPW Painting Challenge - Small Acrylic Plein Air Painting

"Garden's Roses"
6” x 6” (15.2 cm x 15.2cm)
Acrylic on Canvas Panel

Painted in exactly one hour, using only ultramarine blue, cad red, cad yellow, and white, exactly as the challenge requested.  :)
To see the challenge, click here.

July 21, 2011

On the painting path

I’m working on a new painting challenge. I thought I was done with this piece, then I realized I got the colors right but the values are not. And this is great! It means I can see values! lol

I took a digital photo and looked at it on the monitor, it helps me seeing the things that need fixing. I took notes of the things I think I should improve, we’ll see.

This photo is a detail of the path and purple flowers how they look now.

“Where love reigns the impossible may be attained.”
Indian Proverb


July 16, 2011

Ice breaker

 Red Tulips
5.5" x 8.5" acrylic on sketch paper
(Click image for larger version)

Why is it so hard to resume painting after few weeks off?
First a was on vacation in Italy, then I was at a wedding in CT, now I’m finally home, but relatives are staying with us for the summer and I'm busy keeping four children entertained every day. ;)
Yesterday I took them to the park, and said “stay in sight, don't get hurt, 'cause I'm gonna paint for half an hour or so". And it worked.
I got the chance to break the ice painting this tulip field on my sketch book - not fancy, but the red color kind of reinvigorated me, and I'm looking forward to the next paint occasion (hopefully for a longer time). 

June 30, 2011

Ah, Venice!

View from San Marco Square.

Came back to the States last night, and I'm finally downloading the pictures of my trip. I see with great joy that I took many good ones.  I have missed only a few carpe diem kind of shots for which  regret my fingers weren't faster or my camera wasn't handier, but overall I'm happy with my effort.

Here are some photos taken in Venice.

Two gondolas waiting for customers.

This lady was standing there for her friend to take a picture and she was wearing a beautiful hat. By the time I got my camera out she had taken the hat off, but here she goes anyway.

View on canal.

Venice, canal with crossing gondola.

View from the Accademia bridge.

I don't know when I'll be able to paint from some of my pictures, I hope soon. For now I'm just happy that I've been there!

PS: If you wish, photos may be used to create derivative works in the form of drawings or paintings. The photos may not be used in any other commercial or non-commercial form without permission.

June 1, 2011


Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy
I'm packing my suitcases!! In a couple of days I'll be in my home-town in Italy!  Can't wait!
Then, straight to the beach! :))  Ah, I miss the beach soo much!
Of course I'll take some colors and brushes with me, but who knows if I'll get to paint. Four weeks may seem a lot, but family, friends and, of course, my kids deserve the priority.

One thing for sure: I will take many reference pictures for when I come back!

Edit: on 15 June, 2011
I'm still on vacation and haven't painted a thing! Knowing what's expecting me after I return home, I suspect I won't have much to post for a long time even in July!
However, the beach is beautiful and the food is awesome. Plus I'm with my children and my parents! There is enough to make me happy even without painting. ;)

May 30, 2011

Urban Wildlife - Squirrel Painting

“Nutty Squirrel” 5" x 7"
(12.7 cm x 17.8 cm) 
Acrylic on canvas panel

On first trip to the USA, I went for walks in Frederick, MD and at the end of each day I was proud to report in detail to my boyfriend how many squirrels, groundhogs, blue jays, cardinals, etc. I saw. I was in awe looking at the wildlife on the city streets. You just don’t see these kind of urban wildlife in Italy. That was in 1997.
Now I'm married to that boyfriend, we live in Columbus, Ohio and have squirrels and chipmunks running like crazy in our yard, (I even saw a couple of opossums the other day) and these nutty squirrels eat all the bird food and even broke a couple of feeders fighting over it.
Nevertheless, they are cute, and the point of having a feeder is to get wild animals coming to it, so I’m complaining, but not too much.:)
I just wished they stopped digging holes everywhere in the yard! Jokingly we say we have squirrels with Alzheimer, they just can’t remember where they hid that nut!

This painting was submitted to the DAPT panting challenge. It should soon appear on Lela Stankovic’s web site.

May 20, 2011

Treasures of the Sea

"Tesori del mare"  
(Treasures of the Sea)

8" x 10" (20.3 cm x 25.4 cm)   
Acrylic on canvas pad

I can’t believe it has been so long since when I started this painting!  I posted a work in progress photo on 14 April and then I never really went back to it.
The funny thing is that my children thought it was just perfect as soon as I started putting some color on the hands and shells.  They are my best fans: they think everything I do is sooo beautiful.  Got to love children!  And got to wish they never stop looking at mommy that way! Including the fact that they think I'm "The best cook in the whole wide world".

May 18, 2011

My 1st Submission to the DPW Painting Challenge - Cat Portrait


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"Cat on Red Chair"
10" x 10" (25.4 cm x 25.4 cm) - Acrylic on stretched canvas
Prints Available
Sell Art Online

I painted Dreama’s cat! Yayyy! I painted a catalicious painting!  :))) 

I’m so happy!
It took Ms. Dreama Tolle Perry to make me participate into the DPW challenge. I have been thinking of participating in one for such a long time (even downloaded the reference a few pictures, even started on a still life and messed it up…) anyway, this is it! Thanks Dreama!

I am very proud of how this turned out. :)

"The dog may be wonderful prose, 
but only the cat is poetry."
French proverb 

May 17, 2011

Sometimes it just takes persistence... Doing the things we love

"Canoeing in fresh water #2"
 8" x 10" (20.3 cm x 25.4 cm)   
Acrylic on canvas pad

OK, I just had to repaint it! I started over on a new canvas, and this is the result.
I learned that I have a hard time making my brush strokes rich and generous, the way I like it when I see other people’s work.  I tend to play it safe diluting the paint. I started from scratch and forced myself to load that brush more.  Not quite where I’d like it yet, but I like number two better. And you know what? I think I improved, and that must be  a GOOD thing. :)

 “You may never know what results come of your action,
but if you do nothing there will be no result”
Mahatma Gandhi

A nice canoe ride with a good friend paddling along in a beautiful scenery. What a dream. I could not resist trying this painting challenge for the ‘Monthly Painting Challenge’.
I fell in love with the color of the water in the reference picture, and tried to reproduce it in a colorful joyful way. I realize now that the canvas has a lot of vertical threads that affected it quite a bit. Maybe I should have used heavier brushstrokes…  well, it’s too late now! This will have to do. :)

On a personal note, lately I have been a little of a slacker. I did not paint often, even though I have quite a few works in progress on my easel… a lot going on in May, children’s activities and big events, my volunteering commitments, plus I took advantage of any sunny hours in these very rainy weeks to catch up with gardening. So, I’ve been a slacker only in reference to painting, in fact I've been busy with other things that I love to do. What to ask more? Maybe a canoe ride?  ;)

A happy life is one which is
in accordance with its own nature.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca