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Friday, October 9, 2015

"Journeys" Pastel Society of Colorado Show

Signature members of the Pastel Society of Colorado were challenged to create a new body of work about a personal visual journey. The results are exhibited in an intriguing show in the North and Mezzanine Galleries at the Lakewood Cultural Center in Lakewood, CO, through Nov. 22. Here are the images from my "House Portraits" collection and my writeup.

Hometown Treasure McCreery House in Loveland, CO, pastel painting by Mary Benke
"Hometown Treasure," 6x6, pastel

Le Maison de Monet in Giverny pastel house portrait painting by Mary Benke
"Le Maison de Monet," 9x9, pastel

Springtime in Old Town pastel painting of Victorian House by Mary Benke
"Springtime in Old Town," 6x6, pastel

From internationally famous to locally known to anonymous, these houses all captured my attention with their fascinating architecture and eyecatching landscaping. But most of all, it was their individual personalities I tried to convey in pastel. Most anyone who is an art lover has seen “The Master’s House,” Claude Monet’s home in Giverny. But not everyone has enjoyed it from this more intimate side view I used in “Le Maison de Monet.” The gardens there are, of course, magnificent, so it was essential for me to emphasize the flowering trees and roses in my painting as part of its character. “Local Treasure,” features a unique home in my hometown, Loveland. The McCreery House was built in the late 1800s and features distinctive architecture. It’s a charming venue for weddings, so I included a bit of “romance” in the painting along with seasonal fall foliage. “Springtime in Old Town” depicts another adorable home, this time in Old Town, Fort Collins. Again, the flowering tree is important to the design of the painting, adding some extra beauty to the gingerbread characteristics of the home. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Bridge Over the Poudre

Bridge Over the Poudre plein air landscape oil painting of river by Mary Benke
Between rain, mosquitos, and wind, this plein air piece was a challenge! Painted on the banks of the Poudre River near Fort Collins, CO, as part of the "Paint the Poudre Plein Air" event that's also a fundraiser, this painting was done with water-soluble oils (who says water and oil don't mix?). In any event, it's always a joy to paint in such a beautiful setting!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Amber Waves

amber waves barn and plains oil painting by Mary Benke
Bold colors and shapes dominate this pastoral oil painting. They say when you put a building (or person or animal) in a painting, that becomes the focal point. By using lost edges in the tree and barn area and directional lines in the foreground, I tried to point the attention to the focal point--the building AND tree. Plus, the foreground was really fun to paint.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Over the Ridge

A bird's-eye view of the glorious rockies receding in the distance. Rusts and reds in the foreground rocks contrast with the teals and blues of the foothills and peaks.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Upstream or Downstream?

rushing river upstream or downstream palette knife oil painting by Mary Benke
Having fun with blues and lots of moving water! Using grayer tones for the trees in the background to represent atmospheric perspective was a challenge. A palette knife was used for some of the interesting rock shapes along the banks and in the water. I asked my husband (the fly fisherman who really knows rivers) if the view was upstream or downstream and he said it could be either, hence the title.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

River Light

Painted "en plein air" on the Big Thompson River between Loveland and Estes Park, Colorado, "River Light" was an exercise in simplification. I made myself focus on the beauty of the water and especially the beautiful light as I looked down the river, trying not to get too distracted by the interesting rocks in the foreground. Wine, of course, helped! 6x6 oil on Ampersand gessoboard panel.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Mugging for Apples

Red and green meet against a neutral background in a fun and simple kitchen still life. 5x7 oil on canvas panel. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Branching Out

As an artist living in Colorado, I've come to realize how much people like paintings of aspen trees. To the point that landscape artists like me paint a LOT of them. I've done them in pastel, watercolor, and acrylic (on a 5-foot-tall fiberglass heart for my hometown Loveland's city with HeART program as seen here). Here's a new twist for me--a small format oil painting, simply done with chunky brushstrokes. 6x6 oil on Ampersand gessoboard panel.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Lilac Reflections

Small oil still life painting of purple lilacs in green glass vase. Realistic floral by Mary Benke

Gorgeous lilacs and graceful leaves fill a whimsical green vase in this delicate oil painting. I was particularly intrigued with the reflection cast by the glass vase.
5x7 oil on canvas panel.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Orange Complement

still life oil painting of a blue jug and oranges by Mary Benke
This wonderful blue jug has been in the family for years. I wanted to paint it with its "orange" complements. The glass plate picks up some interesting reflections and highlights.
6x6 inch oil on gessoboard panel

Friday, August 21, 2015

Ripe Trio

original, square, still life oil painting of tomatoes by Mary Benke

It's tomato season! These beauties were just begging to be painted.

6x6 inch oil on gessoboard panel

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Sketching, Design, and Color!

I took a great class with wonderful plein air painter Coni Grant the other day at the Art Center and Gallery in Estes Park. She has a great approach to designing a painting. She always does a sketch (something I usually try to do, but sometimes I get anxious to just paint) and focuses on strong design elements that support the center of interest. Then, when painting, she relies on that sketch and doesn't stray from it. As she says, "have a story and stick to it!" Great advice! She also uses bold color and a really strong underpainting. Here's what I came up with.

Coni's blog

Lively Iris

Lively, lavender iris still life oil painting by Mary Benke

6x6 inch oil on gessoboard panel

Our irises were lovely this year from our abundant rain! I tried to give this "lively' lavender iris some personality with active brushstrokes and some calligraphic marks, as well as setting it against a vibrant dark green background.