Beverly Public Library Art Show Solo Artist Sheila Alden
The Beverly Public Library art show by local artist Sheila Alden is being held in the library’s Sohier Room for the month of December. Living Color is an exhibit which is free and open to the public during regular library hours and when meetings or library programs are not in progress. The artist chose Living Color as the title for her exhibit, as it is a mix a her artwork both old and new. Moreover because being an artist is something that you are, as well as things that you do.
Original Artwork In A Variety Of Mediums
Alden is displaying 17 of her original works of art at the Beverly Public Library art show. The show consists of several detailed pen and ink drawings; one is based on a Currier and Ives print of Mallard ducks. The second is a portrait of a Maine Coon cat which was referenced from a photograph. Quite a few of the pieces are oil pastels. A medium the artist has enjoyed working with over the past couple of years. There is one very spontaneous oil painting of peonies included in the show. This lovely group of peonies is something the artist happened upon while walking her dogs. Also included are some fine examples of marine digital art. Scenes from Winter Island, in Salem, Massachusetts. As well as the rocky coastline of Bass Rocks, in Gloucester, MA.
Frequently she uses graphite and colored pencils, as well as India ink to create intricate drawings. A lifelong learner, she also believes experimentation with mediums including oils, oil pastels, acrylics, and watercolors contributes to freshness and originality in her creations. A long time advocate of computers and technology, she is a skillful fine art digital photographer, graphic designer, and creates digital art. Her love of life, animals, and nature are reflected in her bold artwork.
A Photograph in the Traditions of Nineteenth Century Photography
By the Victorian era, the stage was set for widespread, rapid acceptance of photography. Americans were fascinated with mechanical devices and familiar with cheap popular lithographs, like those published by Currier and Ives. By 1839 two types of photography had been developed, both of which gained international attention. William Henry Fox Talbot, an Englishman invented a process that produced images called Talbotypes, or calotypes. A Frenchman, Louis Mandé Daguerre was one of the inventors of the daguerreotype process. Early in 1839, Daguerre announced his discovery and exhibited examples at the scientific world fair of Paris. Soon the American Daguerreotype was accepted with open arms.
Traditional, as well as current styles of painting formed the visual aesthetic standards for this new media. By the end of 1839, technological advancements made photography a viable medium for capturing images of landscapes, buildings, current events, portraits and other themes, all of which were rendered by the unerring eye of the camera. Of these subjects, portraiture was arguably the most popular. In the tradition of nineteenth-century photography, I shot a picture of myself that chronicles my vocation as an artist.
This photograph is similar in appearance to a daguerreotype, which was one of the more popular forms of photography. By 1850, nearly 3,000,000 daguerreotypes were produced each year, of which approximately 95 percent were portraits.
American Daguerreotype Popularity
Americans were familiar with costly painted portraits and engravings. Both of which were beyond the means of most people, and restricted to the upper classes. When the American daguerreotype was introduced in New York City in 1939, it caught the interest of entrepreneurs who saw its potential.
The daguerreotype process requires exposure to bright light, which in those days was sunlight. Thus making them dependent on atmospheric conditions. Initially, lengthy exposure time required people to sit still, holding their pose for up to 15 minutes. By the end of 1839, advancements in the chemical processes resulted in exposure time decreased to approximately 20 seconds. Other improvements were also made, including comfortable studios, fancy cases and studio props. These improvements enabled daguerreotype portrait taking to become viable as a business. These portraits became tremendously popular, their low cost appealed to the middle class, and by the mid 1850s the cost of a daguerreotype was as little as twenty-five cents. Virtually anyone could afford to have his/her picture taken; the economic barrier imposed by expensive hand painted portraits was removed. The camera democratized images; affordable pictures were taken without artists contributing their prejudices or idealizations.
These portraits depicted every flaw, wrinkle and blemish, nothing was hidden, everything was revealed in sharp detail. Americans desired truth in art and the realism of nature. They got this in the early photograph. These daguerreotypes were reverse images, like a person’s view of himself in the mirror, thus very personal. This may have accounted for the fact that daguerreotypes were more popular for portraits rather than other subjects such as places, buildings and anything with writing on it, such as a sign. If reversed these things would look backwards to those who were familiar with them.
Faux American Daguerreotype Created Using Digital Camera
As a graphic designer, I use today’s media including a digital camera, to create digital artwork. However, I also create art using traditional media, such as watercolors and oil paints. I elected to represent the “traditional media me” in this photo because it is more in keeping with the nature of the project. American painting styles have traditionally been naturalistic and/or realistic. Popular mid nineteenth century painting motifs included landscapes and genre paintings. During the mid-nineteenth century genre paintings often portrayed people at work or surrounded by the tools of their trade. An excellent example of this is John Singleton Copley’s occupational portrait of Paul Revere. With the advent of photography, it was only natural some people would choose to be photographed in a similar manner.
A house plant on a garden column, a milk crate (unseen, used as seat) covered with a small oriental carpet, one of my watercolor paintings and myself comprised the composition. A lab coat which was as close to an artist’s smock as could be found. I held the tools of my trade in my hands — a paintbrush and palette. I included the column to symbolize my affinity to the classics. Columns were often used as props by daguerreotypists; their presence indicated the sitter’s knowledge of the classics, which implied a higher social status.
Daguerreotype And Natural Light
I shot my photo outside in order to capture the natural light. I set my scene up in our yard, in front of the fence, which I covered with a large tablecloth. Then turned my Canon Digital Rebel’s flash off, and as daguerreotypists often did, I secured it onto a tripod. After prefocusing the camera, I set the automatic timer. After experimenting with a number of compositions, taking many test pictures, until I finally got what I was looking for. I also took a picture of my husband’s great grandfather’s Civil War daguerreotype, which I used as the case for my picture.
I loaded my best photo into my computer and brought it up in Adobe Photoshop software, for the final touches. Daguerreotypes are innately black and white unless otherwise hand-colored, so I converted it to grayscale. I applied some sharpening to the image, in an effort to mimic the crisp details daguerreotypes are so famous for. I also used the software to horizontally flop the image so it would be a mirror view. Then I inserted my finished photo into the case, again using Photoshop software.
In the manner of mid nineteenth century photography the resulting picture represents my physical attributes in stark realism, and announces my profession as an artist, which allows the viewer insight into my place in society. Also in keeping with the 19th century outlook, this aspect of my personality tends to be introspective, and this “daguerreotype” provides a deeply personal assessment of me.
I love oil painting, but have found that depending on the subject and style, it can take a long time to complete a piece. So I decided to change things up a bit. For this reason I thought I would see what it is like to paint using oil pastels. To start out with, I purchased a boxed set of 92 Erengi Art Aspirer Oil Pastels, in a sturdy wooden box.
For the subject, I chose to paint a portrait of Cecil, my Maine Coon cat. First thing I did was to sketch in the whole picture. Then build up the layers, with more oil pastel colors. I stopped occasionally to blend the colors. Sometimes I used a clean rag, other times a rolled up paper towel. When I oil paint, I use both hands; my left to lay down large patches of color, such as the background and sky. And my right for fine lines and detail. So I decided to do the same thing when I paint using oil pastels.
To start with I used Erengi Art Aspirer brand oil pastels. They are relatively inexpensive compared to some other brands. However, they come in a wide range of colors. In addition they have good light-fastness ratings, and are easy to blend. As I worked, I found I needed more pastel shades. In addition I wanted some that were softer, so I could use them in the top most layers. Softer oil pastels tend to stick better than hard pastels when the layers have gotten thick. For that reason I use them as the painting draws near completion. Sennelier Oil Pastels and Holbein Oil Pastels are the brands I found best for softness. In addition both brands have quite a few pastel shades to choose from.
While working on the portrait, I ran low on white, and very light pastel colors. In the hope I could purchase some nearby, I made a trip to my local art supply store. The only brands they had in stock were CRAY-PAS EXPRESSIONIST AND CRAY-PAS SPECIALIST. I purchased a few to test, but I found them to be difficult to use. They felt dry and hard, and it was difficult to get the pigment onto the paper. Therefore I decided not to work with them.
As I continued to work, I wasn’t sure when would be the best time to start to blend the colors. So I took my best guess. I worked the piece until some of the oil pastel was so thick it was balling up, and other areas still had white paper showing through. This seemed like a good time to blend. I used a paper towel rolled up on my finger to do the blending. Smoothing out the thick areas, and spreading color into the spots that still had paper showing through.
I continued to repeat laying down color and blending. Until I was happy with the result. Here is the finished oil pastel painting.
Many people in town recognize the value of art. Of course art and culture are integral to building a healthy society. Important to realize is that the impact of art on the health and well being of a community is immeasurable. Furthermore art is used to communicate ideas, express emotion and explore aesthetics. Not to mention it is a way to instill values, share experiences, and preserve beliefs and identity. Equally important it is a means to chronicle our life experiences.
Art Is A Valuable Resource
Not only does art bring beauty into our lives and make our communities strong, it is a valuable resource for everyone. One has only to look at our neighboring city Salem, which leverages the Peabody Essex Museum and the House of Seven Gables. These venues encourage education and share our history. Additionally they are used to attract tourists, and by the same token foster economic growth.
Here is a list of just some of the art associations in surrounding towns:
Drawing horses has long been a past time of mine. But painting race horses is something new. Breezing is the first oil painting I have undertaken in many years. Not only are oil paints, and fine art materials expensive, but it is frustrating to have unwanted results after putting in long hours and using up all those creative juices. Before starting to paint, I decided to review the process of oil painting. I was on the lookout for tips and tricks from the experts whose styles I admired. Being a highly visual person, I decided to focus on watching Youtube video art tutorials. While there are many available, I found the series most helpful to me was Draw Mix Paint by Mark Carder.
Visit Mark’s Draw Mix Paint website for more information, and a complete list of his videos. Mark is an incredibly talented artist, who generously shares his expertise on Youtube, and on his own website. Mark’s work is world renowned, and he has painted fabulous commissioned portraits of two Presidents of the United States.
Starting Out – Adjusting Lighting
I started out with the best of intentions of following his tutorials to the letter, but for various reasons I was unable to. I did the best I could, using what I had. First, I couldn’t duplicate the museum quality lighting. I did however, use all spectrum light bulbs in all of my studio lamps. This helped a lot to create the illusion of natural light. However, because I was unable to precisely control the lighting his color matching techniques were difficult for me to achieve.
Preparing The Substrate
Per his instructions I tinted the undersides of my glass palettes. As well as the substrate (in this case, panel) with a mixture of Winsor & Newton Griffin Alkyd Burnt Umber and Titanium White fast drying oils. I was pleased with the results. The color was perfect, similar to that of corrugated cardboard. When painting I was able to cover any area with only one coat of paint – even with white.
I did not use a printed photograph to work from, which to do correctly should be the same size as my canvas or panel. Instead I displayed the image/photograph I was painting on my computer monitor. I set up my easel nearby so I could reference it. Instead of using a chalk pencil to sketch the design onto the board, I used permanent black markers. Reason being I was afraid the sketch would get rubbed off, before I had applied all the paint.
Painting Race Horses – Choosing Paint Colors
I tried to stick with the 5 colors suggested by Carder (Titanium White, French Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Umber, Alizarin Crimson and Pale Cadmium Yellow. Carter teaches that with these 5 colors you can mix all colors with a few exceptions (some vivid reds and greens). For the most part I was able to accomplish this. However, as I got near finishing the painting I mixed in some other blues, green, raw umber, and Naples yellow.
Back to the difficulty I had matching color. I found using some additional colors out of the tube instead of mixing helped me to be more consistent. Which was particularly helpful when I needed to rework a section. Yet there is a lot to be said for working with a limited palette. However it does take practice and some getting used to.
Simplifying The Composition
In conclusion, I worked through a number of iterations and continued to refine the artwork. After talking to a colleague, I realized that the background was too busy. It was drawing the viewer’s attention away from the subject. So, I simplified and removed various elements. The outcome was a field of muted grass and trees, and soft blue sky.
Beverly Arts District – BAD for short, was started in 2014 by Beverly Main Streets and their partners (Monserrat College of Art and the City of Beverly are the two main partners). Moreover many volunteers and local businesses contribute to its success. Presently these include Beverly, Hospital, Sterling Insurance Agency, and Endicott College, just to name a few.
Beverly Main Streets Began In 2002
Beverly Main Streets was started by downtown business owners in 2002. These business owners noticed a shift away from people frequenting downtown stores and restaurants. They realized customers were going to the big malls instead. In light of that these merchants formed Beverly Main Streets and the goal of the organization was to strengthen and revitalize the downtown area. The main focus was to promote economic vitality, local businesses, organization and design. Additionally the city’s unique historical, cultural and educational resources come into play and are part of the push for local businesses.
Beverly Arts District
Within the Beverly Arts District is much of the Theater District. The Beverly Theater District is home to 4 amazing theaters. Downtown there is The Larcom, The Cabot, and 9 Wallis, which are all in the Arts District. Outside of the downtown area, just off of Route 128 is the North Shore Music Theater.
Beverly Arts District Is Home To Many Amazing Murals
There are many incredible murals in the Beverly Arts District. One such is on the left side of The Cabot Theater. It shows imagery from Le Grand David and His Own Spectacular Magic Company, which performed at the theater for about 36 years, up until about 2011.
Another great mural is on the Judson Street side of the building that was the former home of the Casa de Moda shop. It features a hometown scene that depicts a new imaginary side street going in behind the building. This idealistic summer scene shows a man with his Labrador Retriever looking out at Judson street. Behind him are people enjoying sitting outside at a sidewalk cafe while others appreciate a leisurely walk.
Beverly’s Organic Cafe has a splendid mural representing nature’s abundance. Which is embodied in mountains, fields, sunflowers and a gushing river.
More Murals Heading North
Additionally north on Cabot Street there are more murals. At the intersection of Cabot and Rantoul it’s hard to miss the building on the right. Notably the exterior of Beverly Gas and Tire appears to be crumbling away to reveal some of Beverly’s past. Specifically the old United Shoe Machinery building and a number of classic cars.
I highly recommend continuing a little further up the road just over the railroad tracks. Underneath the billboards on the right. On the outside of Todd’s Sporting Goods is a series of murals which are based on The Wizard of Oz. Not to mention these are masterfully rendered. Moreover they have been given a the personal touch – many references to Beverly High School and students have been worked into the compositions.
I majored in Studio Art at Emmanuel College. Markedly, The Emmanuel College Art Classes I took were interesting and informative. There my main areas of focus were illustration, drawing, sculpture, design and composition, as well as oil painting. Emmanuel is located in Boston, Massachusetts. Near the home of the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park. About 1919, the college was founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. At the present time, it is a private coeducation liberal arts college. Notably the college offers excellent academics and many wonderful student life programs.
Emmanuel College Art Classes With Michael Jacques
Back when I was a student, our professor, Michael L. Jacques, MFA would often have us sketch during class. Frequently these exercises where allowed only various assigned amounts of time to complete. Sometimes we barely had a minute to complete the project. The drawing of the sitting figure shown here was created by dipping a stainless steel ruling pen into India ink to do the sketching, then using brushes India ink washes were applied. This class exercise was done very quickly. This particular piece is of Professor Jacques doing a quick pose reading a book.
First thing to do was to lay down the shapes with a drafting ruling pen which was loaded up with India ink. Afterwards washes were applied to the drawing. A drafting ruling pen used in this manner creates very fluid loose organic lines. Instead of the fine tight lines often associated with pen and ink. This drawing is now in a private collection.
I am very grateful to Michael Jacques. He inspired me, and he is one of the best teachers I have ever had. Not only a great teacher but a gifted artist, as well, he continues to create great art. His work is well known throughout the country, and is featured in many permanent museum collections.
Heidi Caswell Zander Contemporary Artist And Teacher
March 10, 2018, Heidi Caswell Zander, Vice President of the Rockport Art Association put on a terrific oil painting demonstration for members of the Peabody Art Association. Heidi grew up on Cape Ann where she was surrounded by the thriving art culture located there. She began painting watercolors in her teens, and later attended the Rhode Island School of Design. Heidi is a member of the Rocky Neck Art Colony, and teaches adult workshops at her art gallery. The Tidal Edge Gallery is located at 3 School Street, in Rockport, MA.
Heidi told the group a story about an artist in Maine she studied with. This artist told Heidi, “artists are entertainers”. She believes this is true and encompasses many aspects of painting from composing the setting for a still life, to making interesting marks with paint on a surface. Heidi is inspired by the work of many artists including Matisse, Gauguin, Monet, and van Gogh.
Painting From Dark To Light
When painting with watercolors Heidi paints from light to dark. However, when working with oils, as she did today, she works from dark to light. Many dark oil paint colors are inherently thinner than lighter colors. But notably, when working in this manner the artist may add medium to insure the dark paint is thinner than the lighter colors. Heidi uses Gamblin Solvent-Free Gel instead of traditional mediums. Because she has found the paint she mixes it with will set up somewhat after 5 minutes. This way the underlying paint is easier to paint over.
Getting Ready To Paint
Before painting on canvases, Heidi treats them with Gamblin Galkyd. First she mixes it up in a jar with a little bit of colored pigment. This creates a transparent color. Then she uses a roller to roll the tinted mixture onto her canvases. She likes to tint the canvases with color because of the way the color causes her to react.
Pink and orange make good background colors for paintings with sunshine and for still lifes with flowers. These colors will twinkle through the other hues applied to the canvas. Heidi Caswell Zander sets up her palette carefully. Areas are reserved for lights and darks. She is careful not to let yellow mix with blue. Prior to painting, she loads her palette with numerous colors. She likes to work quickly, and finds she can paint faster this way. She prefers to mix 2 or 3 colors together instead of using paint straight out of the tube. This will create colors that are more muted and natural looking. Also, she likes to paint warm over cool colors, and is careful not to let paint look like it was mixed with white.
Considering Objects Within The Space
Heidi carefully composes still life scenes in order to get the best results from painting. Particularly important is the treatment of fabrics. An artist should avoid straight lines with fabric. The same goes for other things which one wants to have an organic appearance. She recommends using use soft loose lines for these elements.
She starts her painting by outlining (cartooning) with transparent dark paint. As she works she thinks about the objects in the space. As well as the space around the object. Other things she considers are the relationships between the objects. For example which things are near each other. Also if elements are higher or lower, nearer or farther away from the viewer. Especially important are the angles of the lines. After the sketch is completed she fills in the darker areas. Noting color and values are critical as one begins to build up the layers of paint.
Careful Build Up Of Paint Layers
Heidi warns to be careful not to go to light too soon or you can’t build up your colors as nicely. One should work with thin paint in the beginning. Afterwards thicker paint, as one gets closer to finishing the painting. Heidi Caswell Zander likes to start out with a couple of values darker, so she can go lighter on top later. She does not use black. Instead she prefers to use the darkest red, green, blue of whatever color she is using. Another tip is to use opposite (complimentary) colors to make greys. It is important to note that different colors next to each other will effect each one another. To make your painting pop, she suggests going back into some areas of your painting with complimentary colors.
By working dark to light she rarely needs to clean her brushes. Additionally, she prefers to work from one color to another. For example her colors may transition from brown, to Thalo Green, Cobalt Blue, Carribean Blue, Green, light green, Ochre, and then to Dark Cadmium Yellow. Each step goes to warmer and lighter colors. Heidi strives to create unity in the her paintings.
Image-Tec Methuen MA, Greater Haverhill Arts Association Field Trip
I recently became a new artist member of the Greater Haverhill Arts Association (GHAA). And as a result had the opportunity to go on an informative field trip with them to Image-Tec Methuen MA. Notably Image-Tec is a full service commercial photography studio. Accordingly they have a variety of state of-the-art equipment. Image-Tec’s Tom Grassi and Jean Abate put on a special demonstration focused on their high resolution scanner and giclée prints.
Giclée (pronounced “g-clay”) prints are fine art digital prints. The process uses pigment based inked printed on archival quality paper and canvas. The prints are light-fast, stable and archival.
Image-Tec Methuen MA, Demonstration
The demonstration included scanning and color correction. Moreover a raffle was held to select 2 members to have their artwork scanned as part of the demo. In fact, I am happy to say that I was one of two lucky GHAA members to win the raffle to have their artwork scanned. Also, I received a archival quality giclée print on canvas of my painting. As shown above, I chose my oil painting “Breezing” for the demo.
The demo began with the lights being adjusted overhead to get the best light on the painting. Next the image was scanned with their high resolution scanner. After that the scan was then brought into the computer and opened in Photoshop. During that time Tom and Jean worked together to color correct the image.
The image was sent to the printer after they were satisfied with the color. The printer they used can output canvas prints in very large sizes.
My husband and I had a wonderful time with members of the Greater Haverhill Arts Association. Many thanks to them, and Image-Tec’s Tom Grassi and Jean Abate for sharing the time and knowledge. As well as for the lovely complimentary giclee canvas print of my painting.
Looking back on my time there I see the sun pouring into a spacious room filled with long tables. Here there were bustling children busy with their colorful projects. For the most part I made handmade ceramics. The tactile experience of working and shaping clay was very satisfying. The finished pottery was air dried. Next it was fired in a large kiln. There was much anticipation at what the final piece would look like after it had been fired. It is only then that one can see the true color of the glazes. It was always a surprise and a delight.
Art Classes While In Grammar School
Back in grammar school I used to draw on the half sheets of paper that were handed out in math class. I would sell those drawings outside at recess for a few pennies, or give them away to friends. Art classes were always my favorite. When I was in other classes I doodled in my notebook while listening to the lectures.
Art Classes While In High School
Art classes in high school were great, everyone got a chance to try new things. However, at the time we only had small school desks. I think big long tables are much better to work on. Throughout that time I would also work at home on various drawings and paintings. I enjoyed experimenting with many types of media including painting with acrylics and watercolors, and drawing with pencils, and pen and ink. The flower painting on this page is opaque watercolor on paper. I got permission from the local greenhouse to sit and create artwork, and this is what I came up with.
Art Classes In Emmanuel College
When I attended Emmanuel College, I majored in Studio Art. While attending Emmanuel I studied design and composition, illustration, sculpture, drawing, and oil painting. I enjoyed my time there, particularly the classes I took with Sister Vincent DePaul, (the head of the art department at Emmanuel).
Above is another piece I created during this period. Titled “Africa” it was for an assignment to create a poster for a foreign country. As often happens, I chose Africa so that I could feature an animal as the subject of my painting. As many people know, animals are one of my favorite subjects to feature in artwork. This piece was created using opaque watercolors on illustration board, and is in a private collection. After Emmanuel, I took a number of different classes at other schools. Visit my bio page to learn more.