This blog will focus on my approach to and process of creating art.
I will share my thoughts and experiences in regards to the painting process and digital photography.
I welcome your feedback.
Please visit my website above or link to www.MichalBarkai.com.
| 03 November, 2015 20:01
Haven’t posted here in a while. Thought I’ll share some images of my recently re-organized studio and storage space.
I paint in my basement. The main area is long and carpeted and originally served as an extra family/guest room. The smaller area, near the entrance from our garage, is not carpeted and that’s where I opted to set up my easels, oil taboret and pastel carts. It’s quite small really but it can hold two painting stations when needed.
Over the years, as I framed more paintings and photographs and accumulated many more photo albums, storage took over the family area with shelves and wall units placed along the walls. The ceiling is low and uneven. Moving things around is not simple and so each time a new unit came in it would go wherever floor space and ceiling height allowed. It became a bit “chaotic”.
Re-painting the basement walls was on our “To Do” list for a long while and we finally got around to it last spring, motivated by a coming family visit. With so much “stuff” lying around, much of which needed to stay, clearing the space and painting it all at once was next to impossible. Instead we opted to do it in sections, with me clearing an area and my husband painting the walls. I took advantage of this opportunity to re-organize the space in a more functional and eye pleasing manner, with framed work and supplies stored along one wall, photo albums along the opposite wall and an old kitchen table at the far end, which I can use for framing and teaching. A sofa, an old TV, a small coffee table and a reclining chair complete this storage and sitting area, and a treadmill, placed across from the main easel and display shelves, allows for distant viewing.
All this sorting and “shuffling around” took over much of the spring, putting my studio work on hold, and I shifted my focus to plein air painting for a while. Additional hanging system was installed, adding a much needed display space (I already had a hanging system in the main living areas - a necessity with frequent art exhibitions), and a new cart with drawers and a folding shelf, serving as an oil taboret, replaced the old bin. My old PC is close by for reference and hopefully will become more functional now that I borrowed my son’s old monitor. More storage for painting supplies is located nearby in our unfinished utility area.
The basement now feels spacious and inviting and our guests loved it there. Later in summer I even hosted a workshop for the Pastel Society of New Jersey, of which I currently serve as President. There are few more boxes on the floor and projects to complete, such as sorting through years of art magazines and reorganizing my photography equipment. Overall, I’m now happier to spend time in my studio but admit I still spend more time in my home office. Painting is one side of the equation. The “business side”, my volunteer work and photography make up the rest.
Here are more images.
Enjoy your visit!
A view of the painting area.
My pastel easel is currently set up in the corner with carts holding pastel boxes on each side. I prefer to keep my pastels in their original boxes, and not mix them up in one box organized by hue and value, as many pastel artists do. The flat wall shelves are for work in progress. My oil taboret is on the left and my oil easel is currently folded against a short wall on the right (not shown). Most of my studio furniture is on wheels and can easily be re-arranged.
Originally my oil easel occupied the corner and my pastel easel and carts were placed in the center, near the PC. The light was great but everything needed to be tucked away and brought back again on a regular basis for cleaning, which was very disruptive. Since I often alternate between mediums, rather than work in both at the same time, this setup works better for now.
The new display wall, as seen from the painting area towards the storage and sitting area (The two areas are separated by the stairs on left, behind the short wall). I don’t own a flat file but if I purchase one in the future it will probably be placed at the far end of this wall.
Storage, mostly framed and unframed work, on left; Photo albums (reference) on right, a framing table at the far end and a sitting and viewing area in front. Some boxes and decorations are still on the floor.
A sitting, reading and viewing area, is located across from my painting area, along with my treadmill.
Painting supplies on shelves in the utility area, adjacent to the painting area. Pastel papers are currently stored in flat bins in the main storage area as the shelves there are deeper.
| 25 February, 2015 22:31
Original photograph - Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park
During a visit to Glacier National Park in 2012, we hiked to Avalanche Lake. Earlier that morning I had painted at Lake McDonald (see blog post from June 2013) and I was hoping to paint at Avalanche Lake as well. The trail ascended gradually through a beautiful wooded area in “bear country”. After two hours we reached the scenic lake, nestled in the mountains (See aerial view below). It was magnificent, with mountains, glaciers, snow, fog and waterfalls reflecting in the water. A recent rain left the shore too muddy to paint. I took as many photographs as I could and lingered for a while longer, soaking the view. Heading back I vowed to paint it in the future.
Avalanche Lake, aerial view
Back home, it took me some time to (More)
| 18 August, 2014 23:12
"Monarch and Lily", photograph
Nothing gives me more pleasure in summer than enjoying a quiet morning in my shaded backyard.
I often start my day in my garden, sipping coffee and enjoying the fresh air. I’ll check on my plants, take some photographs, pull out few weeds, and then go back inside. On especially pleasant mornings I’ll take time off from my desktop and easel and bring my work outside, relaxing in the cool shade for a couple of hours with some reading on my lap and a (More)
| 26 May, 2014 21:32
Here is another “plein air to studio” progression for a painting I started on location in 2006 - a pivotal year for me, when I started painting en plein air on my own. In the past few years I completed several of those “beginnings”. Two of them, “Verona Cherries and Waterfall” and “Iris Twins”, are featured in previous blog posts from 2012.
I was introduced to this private garden in a plein air class in pastel and returned to paint there on my own twice more, once in spring (See “Seasons”/ “Daffodil Reflection at Pleasantdale”), and again in autumn for this one.
The gazebo, Japanese maple and the bridge spanning the pond attracted me to the composition. A small tree provided some shade as I (More)
| 18 November, 2013 17:21
"Autumn Pond", pastel, 12x18, en plein air
It seems I wait to finish a painting or a photographic project to write a new post for my blog, looking at milestones as an inspiration and an opportunity. I share news of ongoing exhibitions, awards, publications, and plein air outings with my mailing list, on social media and, of course, on my website.
It has been a while since my previous post earlier in summer. What have you been doing since, you ask; What are you working on now?
Photography took preference over (More)
| 28 June, 2013 14:58
En plein air, Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park
Last year, while on a visit to Glacier National Park, we spent a night in a cabin on the shore of Lake McDonald. I was determined to take advantage of this plein air opportunity and woke up early, hoping for a nice sunrise. Instead it was overcast and foggy. Still it was very beautiful and serene, and I managed a short painting session before more fog rolled in and covered my focal point (see my blog post “Sightseeing and Plein Air” on June 2012 below).
Enchanted by the dreamy scene and its reflection I set out to finish the painting from my photographs. With fog and low light the photographs lacked detail and color, so my first step was to improve and enhance them. I lightened up darker photographs, saturated monochromatic ones to unveil undertones, applied different black and white filters to separate the details and layers in the landscapes and even looked into photographs I took later in the day.
Follow me as I develop this painting from an on location study to a finished studio painting. (More)
| 05 April, 2013 14:59
Finally, spring is in the air and I enjoyed a late morning coffee and a light breeze in my back yard.
My crocuses are out, my daffodils are about to bloom. It’s a late arrival and I miss it so.
I’m updating my work plan. Looking back, looking forward.
It seems winter should be (More)
| 21 January, 2013 21:10
It’s hard to believe it has been that long.
Digital cameras opened many new horizons, not the least of which was one’s ability to self-publish one’s art. I produced my very first art calendar back in 2004 - and my 10th anniversary 2013 Art Calendar few weeks ago. I announced the latter to be the last I would offer to the public.
My first attempt was (More)
| 09 December, 2012 23:10
Earlier in summer I shared some of my plein air experiences in a trip to Montana and Wyoming’s national parks. I recently posted a new collection of photographs from that trip on my website above. Of the 4,600 or so photographs I took during my thirteen days at Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks only about 50 made the final cut. How did I go about selecting few of many?
| 03 October, 2012 20:09
Verona Park, Verona, NJ
Back in 2006, during my first season of plein air painting on my own, I spent a blissful hour in Verona Park creating a small study of the Kwanza cherry trees situated by the dam and waterfall.
Initial Plein Air Study: (More)
| 28 June, 2012 12:09
I recently spent two weeks sightseeing in Montana and Wyoming, visiting Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.
For a while now I was fantasizing about (More)
| 10 April, 2012 12:50
I visited "Van Gogh Up Close" over the weekend at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Beautiful show. Go see it if you can (thru May 6, 2012).
As I was taking a second look at the wheat fields it hit me - (More)
| 17 February, 2012 18:45
The spring and summer of 2006 were pivotal in my art journey. I took a break from taking art classes and instead focused, for the first time, on painting en plein air on my own.
It was the most magical time and the best “staycation” I could have gifted myself with. Having the time to be one with nature, having it mostly to myself, taking the time to look longer, see better, appreciate and enjoy its beauty more. It was a deeper experience, like taking a deep breath, filling your lungs with fresh air and soothing your soul.
I went out painting on my own a dozen times that season and once more later in fall. By then (More)
| 13 January, 2012 18:06
Last month, as we were reaching year end, I set down to develop my work plan and set my objectives and goals for the coming year.
Developing a work plan this year was somewhat easier than last.
Estimating the required effort per painting was easy enough. Planning for the other, non creative activities (the "business" part) was less so. This time around I (More)
| 10 November, 2011 20:59
Recently I was reminded how uncertain the future is or, to be more specific, how you can't rely on things remaining the same, especially when it concerns nature.
I was planing to paint en plein air in some of my favorite spots along the Rahway River, go back to Painter's Point to continue a session cut short, go back to my favorite bridge in a different season(fall), paint the smaller waterfall, now that I've painted Hemlock Fallls, etc
The road alongside the river was closed to traffic after the Hurricane, and closed again after the recent fall snow storm. No road, no access.
The Hurricane was the most devestating, changing the (More)
Search this blog:
Calendar Of Posts
- A Studio Visit
- A Studio Progression - The Making of "Avalanche Lake"
- Summer Bliss
- From Plein Air to Studio - The Making of "Pleasantdale Autumn"
- Where Did the Time Go?
- From Plein Air to Studio - The Making of "Dawn, Lake McDonald"
- "Between Winter and Spring"
- “Michal Barkai's Art Collection” - 10 years of Art Calendars
- Selecting Few of Many - Narrowing Down Sightseeing Photographs
- The Making of "Verona Cherries and Waterfall"