Saturday, July 30, 2016

Painting Live Models

Painting using live models scares me, or should I say intimidates me. When I was in art school I signed up for a summer portrait painting class where each class we would paint from a live model. Trying to get a portrait started and work within 25 minute increments was very challenging (not to mention my professor looking over my shoulder). I would find myself so worried about the time limit and other's watching that it was hard to get much accomplished. I would then finish in the comforts of my own home using a photograph. 

Photographs became my comfort by providing me with a still subject with no time limits. It was like the perfect relationship for me, but in time I became dis-satisfied with my paintings...they lacked something and fell a little flat. I decided that in order to grow I must step out of this box that became my safe haven, and take risk no matter how difficult it would be. 

I began by becoming my own model. I could paint myself without added pressure of doing a just job for the model. If it didn't turn out well...then it was just me. Time...I didn't have to worry about giving my model a rest (I could paint as long as I desired). I liked being my own model, but I was ready for more. 

This week, I solicited my daughter to sit for me. She set up her tablet, and caught up on some T.V. shows via Amazon (Yay for technology!). I'm so thankful she was willing to take time out of her day to spend a total of 4 hours sitting for me. The painting is not a complete likeness, but I'm pleased with it. Speed and likeness will come in time with practice (which I'm looking forward to painting another model). 

Never be afraid to try new things because that is what helps us grow!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Travel Sketchbook

I love sketch journals, but haven't consistently kept one.  Pinterest has so many examples of beautiful sketch journals from other artist, and I would say to myself that I will one day start one, but one day seemed to never come until... now.

I began meeting a friend occasionally to do some on site sketching, and I found that I was enjoying it more than I expected.  I went and bought an inexpensive watercolor set (just until I get a feel for the medium) so that I can first, experiment with the medium since I have never been formally trained in watercolor, and secondly, so I can add some color to my sketches.  I'm starting to get a feel for the medium, but I have a long way to go.

My husband came up with an idea to do a Bahama Cruise (which caught me by surprise since he really has a hard time staying away from the mountains and we go every chance we get), but he has always wanted to try a cruise and he felt the time was right.  I don't know what I was most excited about...the chance to see new places or the opportunity to do a travel journal of the Bahamas.

Below are some of the sketches from my journal:

Sketch Journals are now a part of me and I will continue to journal.  :)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Grandpa's Lap

      "Grandpa's Lap"
      20"x16" oil on canvas
      Beverly Gurganus

Early spring 2015 my mother suffered a massive stroke that left her with difficulties in speaking and in mobility (her left side to be exact).  She spent a week in the hospital and then 2 months in a rehabilitation center.  We visited her several times a week and always on Sunday evenings after church.  On one particular Sunday visit, we visited out in the common area where most of us sat on the couch, but my Dad was in one of the arm chairs with my daughter sitting on his lap.  They seemed to be in their own little world laughing and looking through pictures in a magazine.  I pulled out my phone and snuck a couple of photos with the full intention of recreating the moment on canvas.

This piece has been completed for about a month, and I'm just getting around to posting this...I find it fitting that Grandparent's Day is the day that it is getting posted.

Happy Grandparents Day!

Sunday, June 28, 2015


16"x20" Oil on Canvas
Beverly Gurganus

Last summer I took my daughter to Hobbs Studio to have her senior portraits taken.  Jeannie,the photographer, did the traditional drapery pose along with three other outfit changes.  We were allowed to bring props so we took a beautiful red velvet like chair that we found at the thrift store as well as our little spoiled yorkie.  It was fun watching Jeannie work her magic.

Several weeks later we recieved a call to come and view the images, and to select the ones we wanted to purchase.  We went through each pose and started eliminating the ones we didn't like first, and then (continuing with the process of elimination) we made our final selections.  When it came to the formal dress poses, I had a favorite, but my daughter had a different favorite... I let her pick the one she liked.

I couldn't get the other picture out of my mind...I saw visions of it in oil paint.  I'm not one who feels comfortable asking for things, but again putting myself out there; I sent a message to Jeannie (Must be getting brave in my maturing age) asking her to grant me permission to attempt an oil painting of her photographed portrait of my daughter.  She generously printed off a photocopy of the portrait.  I was so excited to get started.

Above is my interpretation of the portrait that Jeannie @Hobbs Studio photographed.  Thank you Jeannie!

Self portrait in oil


"Measuring Me"
20"x16" Oil on Canvas
Beverly Gurganus

I have been painting for several years now, and I still have a hard time with putting my art "out there".  I'm very critical of my work especially when I compare it to other artists' works.  

I came upon a painting competition sponsored by Jerrysartarama and decided it was time to climb out of my safe cozy box.  I knew that placing in the competition was slim, but that wasn't my ultimate goal (it can take many tries and lots of growing to reach that level in competitions). My objective is to start getting my work entered and let time and experience do the rest.

Above is my entry in the Jerrysartarama self portrait competition for 2015.  Now you all know what I look like when I'm in full concentration while painting.  😀

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Portrait of Grandma

Last month I lost my last grandparent.  My father's parents passed away before I was born so I grew up with one set of grandparents.  They lived in a different state so we visited them most christmas vacations and every summer...we loved going to grandma's house!

Grandma made the best waffles, had the biggest selection of dry cereal in her cabinet, and gave us plenty of soda pop (that is what she called soft drinks).  My grandparents lived in a log cabin style home with a porch that was high off the ground.  When arriving, we would find them sitting in the rocking chairs waiting for us with arms ready for hugs.  

My siblings and I have so many fond memories at "Grandma and Grandpa's house". We walked over the mountain to to the old country store where you could still get candy for a penny.  I can still close my eyes and hear the wood planks of the floor creak as we would walk throughout the store.  Beside the store was an old post office where we would fetch the mail for my grandparents (no mailboxes in that small town...not even house numbers).  If we were not walking to the small town store or post office, we could be found walking on the rail road tracks smelling the coal and tar that radiated from the tracks as a result from the hot sun.  Those were simple days... Hide and go seek, Simon Says, Mother May I, and Red Light Green Light kind of days.

My grandmother was 97 when she left this world.  She out lived my grandfather by 18 years, but is now with him, her daughter, and most importantly; her Savior.  She left behind two sons and a daughter (my Mom) along with many grand children and Great grand children.  We will miss her, but we are comforted to know that we will see her again!

Grandma Burchett
11x14 Oil on Canvas
Beverly Gurganus

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Self portrait study 1

Self Portrait Study 1
8x10 Oil on Gallery Stretched Canvas
Beverly Gurganus

I have found comfort in painting from photos... Lighting never changes, subject never moves, and I can work at my leisure.  As I continue to grow, I find myself dissatisfied with settling in my comfort zone.  I was inspired by another artist who is an amazing portrait artist with beautiful self portraits.  So...yesterday I dug out a large mirror from the attic, cleaned it off, propped it up, and adjusted the lighting as best as I could in my studio then got to work.  I tried to limit my time sketching and gave myself permission to just experiment without great expectations.

Most of my recent portraits have been of cooler flesh tones so it took me a bit of trial and error mixing my olive skin tones.  I think I will try a few more selfie studies; then I will start enlisting other models...better keep my friends and family happy 😉

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Her and Hen

"Her and Hen"
11x14 Oil on Gallery Stretched Canvas
Beverly Gurganus January 2015

Out of the five people in our family, my youngest daughter (7 yrs old) has joined me in the love of raising backyard hens.  From the first day I brought those tiny fluffy chicks home she has been right by my side helping me take care of them.  She has become my Little Chicken Farmer.

I took a photo of my daughter with each of the 6 hens on their first day forging outside of the coop.  I fell in love with the photo of her holding our fluffy Buff Orpington and knew that it would make it to my canvas.  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Still life with eggs and teapot

16x20 Oil on Gallery Stretched Canvas
Beverly Gurganus

I'm still thinking of a title for this piece.  Painting white is a challenge for me because my mind tries to talk to me the entire time making me question my use of color.  I find myself having to step away from the easel then come back with a fresh eye.  I never get a satisfied feeling about it until I have all the surrounding objects and background painted...then the color makes sense to me. 

 I was ready to do another still life using transparent glass, but I wasn't ready to depart from my egg/chicken theme.  I took 2 freshly laid eggs and placed it in the still life.  I'm really glad I did because I love the little pop of color these eggs lend to the painting.

Time to start another piece...  🎨

Update:  The title for this piece is..."Table For Two".

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Chicken paintings

I have embarked on a new adventure of raising backyard hens.  I love collecting and eating fresh eggs from my own backyard as well as just sitting and watching the hens as they forge.  They each have their own personality, and they are much smarter than one would think.

I have been able to spend more time in the studio and that makes me Happy Happy Happy.  I decided to take this new adventure and use it as the subject matter for some of my paintings.  Below are three of my recent works that I have been working on.

Morning Gatherings
8x10 Oil on Canvas
Beverly Gurganus

  Buff Orpington
11x14 Oil on Canvas
Beverly Gurganus

Two By Two
16x20 Oil on Canvas
Beverly Gurganus