Monday, October 8, 2012

"Sky" has a new home-- the Button Petter Gallery in Saugatuk, Michigan. They have chosen me to be their newest exhibiting artist, and I couldn't be more excited.  During their open house yesterday, I was treated like the newest member of a very happy family, and I met several artists there whom I have long admired.  I have to pinch myself regularly to make myself believe that I will have paintings hanging alongside theirs.  It's a dream come true.

And now I have to get to work! They are expecting more work, and I have to deliver.  If I go "radio silent" on my blog for awhile, it means I'm up in the studio, slapping on the paint.  I promise to try to get some sun now and then.  And some coffee.  I think I'm going to need it.

Thank you so much for your continuing support.  I appreciate it much more than you know.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

This is a quick portrait of Mariana, who came in to pose for our last portrait class last week.  I'm already looking forward to our portrait classes starting up next fall!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Hello Friends: Today was "play day"! I pulled out all the media that I never use anymore: watercolor, gesso, ink, charcoal, and pastel, and I went to work. I threw things at all kinds of paper and boards, then decided to take this one to completion. Perhaps if I'm still feeling brave, I'll develop the others another day.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hello Friends: This week's Daily Paintworks challenge was to paint something from a room in the White House. How could I resist attempting to copy Sargent's iconic Theodore Roosevelt? It was a challenge for sure-- at times frustrating, enjoyable, and humbling. It's loose and sketchy now, and I think I'll leave well enough alone.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Lisa came in to pose for us in Open Studio last night. I decided to keep things simple this time around, and painted her monochromatically, using only Burnt Sienna with touches of Burnt Umber for the darkest parts. The light areas were lifted with a bit of Gamsol on paper towel or my brush. No white was used in the creation of this painting-- the tiny reflections in her eyes were done with the tip of my brush after it was dipped in the Gamsol.

I could take the portrait at this point and add color to it on top of the monochromatic underpainting. Color could be transparently glazed on top, allowing the underpainting to show through. Or I could use thick paint on top, using the underpainting as a "roadmap". I would need to be careful to match my color value (lightness vs darkness) to the values I had already established in the underpainting.

We will be exploring monochromatic painting in our next session of "The Nuts and Bolts of Portraiture" at Mainstreet later this month. I'm looking forward to exploring this different approach with my students!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Repose, 10x8"

Hello Friends:

How lucky am I to be part of a studio where models come in an strike poses like this one? Today's Daily Paintworks challenge is to paint someone in repose, so I couldn't resist taking out my reference photos from a few weeks back, and getting to work.

I've left the painting quite loose for now, and I'm debating going back in and adding some details. Do you have an opinion? I'd love to know your thoughts!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Carnaval, 8x6"

Hello Friends,

For the last three days, I had the great fortune to take a workshop from Dawn Emerson, a master pastelist and all-around wonderful teacher. I dove head-first into brand new media (pastel, guache, gesso, sumi ink) and new approaches to painting. I'm going to try my best to apply what I've learned in my oil painting.

My favorite pieces from the workshop were my figures in motion, and I think I'll be exploring this theme some more in the future. The full color piece above was done with pastel over an intense wash of super black sumi ink.

This black, white and gray piece was started with a wash of black ink, then gray and white pastel and charcoal. For the final step, I took a thin wash of gesso to give the impression of motion.

I hope that you enjoy this new direction for my art. We'll see if I apply it to my work. I'll certainly give it a try!

Friday, March 9, 2012

My Process- Vasanti

Hi Friends,
Several people have asked if I could show my painting process when painting from a model. This morning, I painted Vasanti at Mainstreet in a span of about 2 hours, and for once, I remembered to snap a few photos as I went along. I hope that you enjoy seeing how a portrait evolves!
Starting with a greenish-gray tone on my canvas, I use charcoal to make a horizontal mark for the top of the head and the bottom of the chin. I use the width of my hand to determine the size of the head on my canvas. I decided to make this one slightly smaller than life-sized, so the span of my hand will account for the entire head. Life-size would be just the chin to the hairline.
Using a measuring stick, I compare my model's head length to her width. In this case, her width is about 3/4 of her length. I drew vertical lines with my charcoal to show this relationship.
Next, I found the horizontal halfway mark on my box and drew a line through it. I found the halfway mark on my model and realized that the halfway mark went through the space between her eyebrows.
Using the halfway mark as my guide, I sketched in the major shadow shapes on her face.

Switching from charcoal to paint, I started to mass in my darkest values.

Once my darks have been established, I switch to my lighter skin tones.
Using the dark shadow areas as my guide, I can "see" where the dark irises belong.
I add detail to the features,
And swipe the color of her scarf across the canvas using a palette knife. I'm happy with the likeness of the portrait, and I like the bold color of the scarf. I hope that you enjoyed the journey with me!

Hello Friends:

Monday, March 5, 2012

Alex, 12x16"

Hello Friends: I had about 2 hours with Alex to paint his portrait the other day. Since I know that I'll only have a short time, I know that I won't have a complete, detailed portrait at the end, but I do like to have a few things achieved:

1. Do I have a decent likeness? The only way to get a painting to look like the sitter is to spend a lot of time in the beginning with the underlying drawing. I try to never rush the drawing. Careful, slow observation and measuring are so important. I'd rather have a well-drawn portrait with no color than a badly drawn portrait in beautiful hues.

2. Do I have a good sense of light and shadow? The excitement in a portrait often comes from the lighting on the subject. With Alex, I pushed the lit side of his face to contrast with the shadows under his cap. I also tried to remember that the black of his cap in the light will not be black so the light will show on it.

3. Do I like the painterly quality? At the end of my time with the model, I'll stand back to see if I can lose some edges or add some thick opaque paint to give the painting more interest. I went back into the lit side of his face to lay thick new color on top of what I had already established. I stumbled the paint a bit on his shoulders and added highlights on his nose and cap.

I love painting from the model because it forces me to be decisive and quick. This method of painting is a lot like perfecting a golf swing or playing the piano-- the more you do it, the more automatic it becomes. And the more accomplished you will feel!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Amy, 8x10"

Hello Friends:

I painted this very small portrait of Amy last night in Open Studio at Mainstreet. I've noticed that there has been some discussion on the web lately about the three color zones of the face, and it occurred to me that this painting might help to illustrate the concept. (Fine Arts Views)

The theory of the three zones is that the top third of the face will have a yellow orientation, the middle will be in the red zone, and the lowest third will be blue. If we think about the head as an egg shape in the light, then it stands to reason that the area closest to the light will be warmest, and therefore have a warm (perhaps yellowish) orientation. The middle of the face is fleshier and has more blood flowing under the surface, giving a reddish or pinkish color. Then, as the face turns away from the light in the lowest portion, the temperature often turns cooler, where you will find blue or greenish hues.

If you look at Amy above, you can see that her forehead and the top of her cheekbones have a warm yellowish hue, her cheeks are pinkish, and then her jaw area has cool blues and greens in the skin tone. This theory is very helpful when you are trying to vary the skin tones in a portrait, because it serves as a guide. Of course, rules are made to be broken, and only careful observation of the model will tell you what color to put where. But I hope this was a bit helpful!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

"Timeless", 22x24"

Hello Friends:

Happy New Year!

A few months ago, I read an article in "Art News" magazine on Beauty and the Brain. In this article, the author cited studies on what types of visual stimuli affect the brain's "beauty" receptors. The scientists found that art that is ambiguous will engage the viewer's brain longer, and the scene will then be considered more engaging, and therefore more beautiful than a piece of art where there is no mystery.

I'm encouraging my students to add a bit of mystery to their paintings, to see if they enjoy bringing the viewer in to solve some puzzles on their own. The portrait that I painted above has the model's head turned a bit away from the viewer, so it isn't obvious what her emotion is. Perhaps this is more intriguing than a full-on portrait with a big smile.

I would also like to introduce you to a blog that I've been enjoying very much lately, named COMPOSE by Dianne Mize. Dianne tackles difficult questions about the theory of art every week, and I look forward to receiving her insights very much. This week's posting is a question that I posed to her a few weeks ago about what makes a piece of art masterful. I think you'll really enjoy reading what she has to say on this, and many other subjects!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Mexican Woman, 9x12"

Hello Friends:

This week I've been thinking a lot about the artists that I admire. Today, I decided to try to paint a woman in the style of Jeffrey Watts. Bold, simple strokes with loads of paint are what sets him apart from many portrait painters. I had to stop myself from going back in and putting in more detail many times-- it goes against my nature, but I'll put my brushes down now and let it be.

To bid on this painting, click on Ann Feldman Mexican Woman.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Portrait Sketch, 24x20"

Hello Friends:I am starting a new commission of three little girls, ages 20 months to 5 years old. As you can imagine, a painting of three children in one portrait will be the same amount of work for me as three individual portraits would be. In some ways, it's even tougher, because the relationships between them need to be kept in mind, along with the sizing of the heads, bodies, and hands, as well as the lighting.

A project of this magnitude needs to be well planned from the beginning. I like to paint a preliminary oil "sketch" of the portrait, in order to get agreement from my client regarding the final layout and size of the painting, the positioning of the children and the overall "feel" and colors to be used. In this case, the client was very happy with the positioning of the girls and the feel of the painting, but we were in agreement that the painting needed to be made a bit wider to give more space on the sides. After a bit of debate, it was agreed between us that the painting size will be 28x20".

I'll go back to the drawing board and start a brand new canvas. This sketch took two painting sessions of about 4 hours each, so I haven't spent too much time on it. I would much rather start again now and have a painting the client will be thrilled with than to produce one that's the wrong size and have a so-so reaction. And since I know that the colors and layout are correct, I'll use it as my guide in painting the final portrait.

And while I'm at it, I may change the position of the arm on the left side to bend toward her little sister. I don't like the way that it's pulling us out of the scene. I don't know that I would have seen that if I hadn't done my sketch!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Richard the Second

Hello Friends: Well, I'm glad I spent the second sitting with Richard to really go in there and finish off some details in his face. When I look back on where I was with his portrait after the first sitting, it's nowhere near where it is now. I like the color saturation so much more now.

I've gotten into the habit of trying to finish a portrait completely in one sitting, and sometimes it's a really good idea to slow down and concentrate on the details. Thanks, Frankie, for pointing this out to me-- I owe you one!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Self Portrait

Hello Friends: Yes, I know that this portrait doesn't look a whole lot like me-- I'm serious and I've got my mouth closed (!), but as you can see, it's what I would call "experimental". I can do this with a self portrait, because I know that the client won't mind. I used a loaded palette knife to apply the paint, so the likeness got away from me a bit. But I'm happy with the push that I gave myself in a new direction, so I won't sweat the details.

And Now For A Teachable Moment:Several of my portrait students have asked that I jot down some of my teachable thoughts on my blog, and I have a couple of them today. In class, I stress the importance of finding the light and shadowed areas on the head, face, and neck and sticking to those areas throughout the painting process. In this portrait, after I found the light and shadow areas, I was free to apply any color I wanted, as long as I stayed true to my original "map". Notice the huge green area on the shoulder. Since it's in the right value, it reads right. This allows me to push my colors into completely new and unexpected areas. Having a plan is actually very freeing!

And now a thought on using the palette knife. Applying paint with a palette knife is a lot like riding a wild horse with really loose reins-- you're not really in control and unexpected things happen at every turn! I maintain just a bit of control by having very large mixtures of paint on my palette in light, middle, and dark values, and I "average" the color in each puddle to what I see in the large areas of my portrait. As long as my values are kept separate, I can add colors and apply them liberally without as much fear as I normally would have. Let's look at that shoulder area again. I started with a very light mixture of paint for the skin in the light, then added light green and light blue to my mixture with the knife. These colors didn't blend entirely on the palette, so tiny streaks show up in the painting. I love this effect. Every time I reloaded my knife, I picked up a bit more color from somewhere on my palette and put it into my mix. This keeps the area alive and gives a feeling of movement.

So stick to your plan, and push your color! You might find new experimental horizons of your own!

Friday, November 4, 2011


Hello Friends:

This is a portrait that I painted today of Richard, a model who came in to sit for us at Mainstreet. Even though he'll be back next week for another sitting, I'm tempted to leave well enough alone on this one and not overwork it.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Inna, 10x14

Hello Friends:

I started this portrait of Inna at Mainstreet the other day and finished it up at home. The lighting was actually pretty complicated, coming straight down on her forehead and touching each of her cheekbones. I covered my first thin wash of paint with generous dollops of paint on my palette knife to force the darks even darker and to give the painting a more impressionistic look.

For the background, I laid down a wash of bright orange paint, then layered white, blue, and green on top with my palette knife. This technique of layering complementary colors over a bright wash allows the background to "sit behind" the sitter, which is always a good thing!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sargent at the MFA

Hello Friends:

This last weekend I had the great fortune to visit my daughter AND John Singer Sargent in Boston. To see so many of the paintings that I have admired and studied over the years in one place gave me the same physical reaction as seeing a celebrity in person-- weak knees, sweaty palms, general giddiness...

To experience and be moved by genius is a privilege. Do computer programmers get weak knees when they see code that is written eloquently? Do salespeople get misty eyed when they hear a pitch that is right on the money? I feel so lucky to be an artist, and to be moved when I recognize the real, true thing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Sunny Day, 6x6"

Hello Friends:

This is a tiny portrait of a little girl in the sunlight. I entered it into this week's Daily Paintworks Challenge. I tried to keep my brush strokes very loose, and details to a minimum. I hope you like this impressionistic style.

To view the challenge, please click on DPW Challenge.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Hello Friends:

This is a portrait of Julie. a student at Mainstreet who came in to sit for us last Friday. I got the "bones" of the portrait started in about 2 hours while she sat for us, then put in another hour or so this morning to put in the details. I challenged myself to get the wonderful twinkle in her eye that is just so "Julie"!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Charcoal Demo of Jenny

Hello Friends:

It's portrait season again! I'm teaching a brand new class at Mainstreet entitled "The Nuts and Bolts of Portraiture", and we've had two sessions so far. We began our class with the basics of how to measure the proportions of the head and find the major shadow areas. When the correct measurements and light/shadow areas are in place, it's relatively easy to drop in the final details of the features (eyes, nose, mouth).

I was so happy with the progress of my class! I think people are surprised at how straightforward a portrait can be if they take the time in the beginning to map it out correctly.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Hello Friends:
A month ago, I was invited to give a portrait demonstration for Del Webb's art club in Huntley. I enjoyed myself thoroughly. So many talented artists with wonderful questions and insights made for a lively discussion. Since I was with them for only a couple of hours, I showed them how I would measure and draw the head and shoulders, and then we talked about color mixing. I took Mary's portrait home with me to put on the final touches. I'm looking forward to spending more time with them in November, when I'll be going back to put on a portrait workshop there.

If you've noticed that my portrait posts have been tapering off a bit, it's because I've started to paint more still lifes and landscapes, and I'm posting them on my other website. Please visit! And be sure to leave your email in the subscription box to receive my non-portrait work. Thank you! Click here to visit my Ann Feldman blog.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Hello Friends:

Sadly, our last open studio of the year was last Wednesday. Happily, Marianna was our beautiful model. I won't have so many opportunities to paint from life over the summer, but will look forward to getting back to it in the fall. In the meantime, I have a few formal portraits that I'm working on, and will post them as I finish them!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Hello Friends:

Mari came to pose for us in portrait class a couple of weeks ago. She was the perfect model-- always right on her mark. I kept this one loose and impressionistic. I hope you like this effect!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Daniella, 9x12"

Hello Friends:

Daniella is a young student at Mainstreet Art Centre who posed for our Open Studio session last night. I tried to keep her face and features very soft, then punched things up a bit with the palette knife at the very end.

Please be sure to visit my new blog of daily paintings: click here

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Student, 8"x10"

Hello Friends:

Theodora is a student with Greek heritage, which made her a joy to paint. I used a loaded palette knife for this piece, only touching up the features with a brush when needed. I tried to show restraint on this painting, allowing it to have an impressionistic feel. Proceeds from the sale of this painting will go to the American Red Cross for earthquake relief.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Homegrown Beauty, 8" x 8" SOLD

Hello Friends:

What does "Home" mean to you? With all the images and stories coming to us from Japan, we can't help but think about how shattering it would be to lose one's home and sense of well being. Japan seems so far away, and yet at times seems so much closer to us in this turbulent time.

I painted this small painting this morning, thinking about Japan and my Japanese friends. I have put it up for auction at the Daily Paint Works website, and all proceeds will go to the American Red Cross for Japan relief.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Hello Friends:

Theodora is a fourteen year old girl who came to model for us in open studio last week. I saved the palette knife for her scarf, using brushwork in the rest of the portrait. Sometimes a more delicate approach is desirable, especially with very young models.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

DeLawn, Once Again

Hello Friends:

This portrait of DeLawn is the final of three coats of oil paint. The original I covered with a palette knife and wet paint. I let that dry, then glazed on another thin coat of paint to soften it a bit. It looks like him now, and I'm happy with the bits of vivid color that still show through on this final version.