Meeting Notes, Dec 18, 2014

At today's meeting Loretta, Dave B, Stephanie, Jacqueline, Bill, Tim, Jeanie, Susan, Kristina, Diane H, Lisa, Diane M, Jerry, Jeanne, Annie Cannon (new), Erin, Charlie, Tedd, Eunice, Thom, Za and me, Celeste.  (...and Marty dropped by to say hello and Happy Holiday)

Today's suggested table topic:  Composition. Do you have a "go to" composition and/or things that may plague you in compositions? Tell us whatever you want about composition.

Editor's note: (It was super noisy for 1/2 of the meeting..apologies if I missed what you said).

Celeste: My go-to composition is probably a creek. A creek that leads you in. I have painted a number of those and it seems like a foolproof thing. My problem has been an unwitting penchant for "halving" the canvas.... (painting things halfway across). I brought in an example of that. I also brought in a book that shows some great landscape compositions. (

Note: (By the way, I seem to have left this book behind together with my black sweater/jacket...please email me if you picked up these items for me)...celesteobergin(at)gmail(dot)com thanks!

Susan: The book I like is Intuitive Composition by Handell. When I am painting I just know that it has to feel right. I do go a lot on intuition. I certainly know it is usually important not to paint something close to the edge. That will almost always cause discomfort. I brought in an old book entitled Dutch Treat by Rien Poortvliet. It has mostly sketches inside. I also brought in a painting from my archives.

Kristina: I brought in the Edgar Payne book. I copied his thumbnails into my sketchbook. This is very helpful in the field. I brought a painting that I did from reference (from my trip to Italy).

Diane H: Composition has been a real struggle for me. I didn't see all that well when I was younger so my attraction was mostly to texture and color. I just didn't really respond to form. I have had to make a concerted effort to learn composition. I can now see good compositions while I am out in nature. It's not always successful but I am so much better at it than I used to be. Recently I used Thomas Kitts palette and Joanne's idea to paint with safflower oil. I brought in some plein air paintings. 

Lisa: I pass today... :)

Diane M. I have a graphics background and I know that Celeste does too. A graphic background has been both a good thing and also a problem for me when it comes to painting. I have had to really work hard at learning some things (especially about composition and how it applies to painting).  I know I must plan, but I also like things that just happen in a composition. I like to let some of it be spontaneous. I brought in three paintings.  I like to have secondary areas of interest in my compositions. 

Jerry: For me composition goes hand-in-hand with perspective. If you don't have that good foundation you'll have trouble in every other department.  I brought in a large watercolor. It started as 22 x 30. I wound up cropping it, for the sake of the painting....for an improved composition.  

Jeanne: I also brought in the Edgar Payne book. I can tell you, however, it is nearly impossible to read. The illustrations are wonderful, however. The book is worth it for the illustrations alone.  I did not bring a painting in today because I've been birding this past week. 

Annie Cannon (new! Welcome...Applause!): It helps to do a thumbnail first for sure. I took a class at  Oregon Arts and Crafts. I brought in two paintings from that time. One of them is a self-portrait. 

Erin: I like Ian Roberts composition book. When I am out I try to look for those letters that he recommends. You know, like the "O" and "L" composition....that sort of thing.  I brought in two paintings both done on Protone board. 

Charlie: My problem is with depth. I have a time trying to describe the foreground, mid ground, and background. I brought in two paintings.

Tedd: I am always thinking in thirds. It is important to have a good plan. I brought in a recent monochromatic painting. 

Eunice: I agree with Tedd: I am also thinking in thirds. If you have trouble with composition think about doing one-third land and two-thirds sky or two-thirds land and one-third sky. I am wearing the little painting-pin that Tim gave us last year at Christmas (a Santa).

Loretta: I have to agree about the thirds. One thing I know is that composition is so important! It is the glue of a painting. If you don't have a solid composition as a foundation .... you'll have problems. 

Stephanie: Composition has been one of the hardest things for me. I started out in our just drawing and painting figures. I didn't have to think about composition. Now I have come to realize composition can not be ignored. I do like a cross or an L composition. I am working on a large series that will be in the Muse art window. The scale is a challenge. It is going to be finished in January. I brought in two paintings.

Jacqueline: I have struggled with composition all along. I studied with George Constanza. He teaches like Scott Christianson does, a grid that is more complex than just the thirds. There are diagonals in this more complicated grid. If I am paying attention to the diagonals the results can be more dynamic.  I recommend the Carlson book. Foregrounds always give me a problem. Sometimes I have to make up a foreground (for the sake of the painting). 

Bill: I think it is important to be ready for the passing moments that we encounter. For example, the other day I saw a puddle of water in the street with a little plastic fish next to it. I found that so poetic. You have to be ready for the beautiful moments. I brought in three paintings from Hipbone. I struggled with some of the flesh tone. At one time one of my paintings had a John Boehner flesh color. (Laughter)!

Tim: No matter how much I plan everything seems to migrate to the center of the canvas (laughter)! I went to sketching last week and I've brought in two of the sketches from last week. It was a lot of fun. I highly recommend it. I painted a Christmas mouse. I did a template of it so that I could do several more. I brought in individual Christmas mice for all of you! (Applause! Thanks, Tim)! 

Jeanie: We talked about slumps last week, I have been in a slump.... But! I painted this painting of ornaments. I painted it fast and then I was interrupted. I decided to leave it where it is. I recommend the Ian Roberts book and DVD.

Za: I have returned from Colorado. I had to go there because of family and also I had a commission to do two portraits. I worked on them from life but one I will finish from a photo. Since most everything has been said about composition, I'll just show you these and talk a little about portrait commission.  It's important that you take the time to get to know your subject. I spent time with both of these girls and I know that it helped me when I went to paint them. I don't want you to photograph the completed painting for the blog because this has not been delivered to the client yet. It has yet to be framed and delivered. Take a detail of it, and in the future, after it has been delivered and accepted you can blog it then. :)

Thom:  I am just the worst at composition. I didn't bring in the painting, but I have also recently completed a commission. I can tell you one thing, if someone wants you to paint five children in one painting, turn it down. (Laughter)! All kidding aside, they were very moved when it was delivered... they totally liked it. 


There will not be a meeting next week because of Christmas. Also...there will not be a meeting the following Thursday on New Year's Day. You are on "vacation" from the art discussion meetings for two weeks! 

FIELD TRIP: Please meet us at 4:15 on Tuesday, December 30 in the lobby of Cinema 21. We are going to watch the movie "Big Eyes" as a group. (The 4:30 showing) After the movie we will go to Elephants Deli (Optional). Cinema 21: 616 NW 21st Avenue Portland, Oregon Elephants Deli:115 NW 22nd Ave.

The movie "Turner" is coming up in January Susan is organizing that Field trip.. it's toward the end of January. 

Susan Kuznitsky is looking to do a Monday night costumed model at Hipbone studio. If you want to be involved everyone would split costs.  Email her and let her know that you have an interest in this. This would happen in mid February. Unlike Studio 30, it would be evening sessions:  susankuznitsky(at)gmail(dot)com

Diane tells us that Studio 30 has a Friday session tomorrow from 1 to 4. The theme is "lady in white". There there is some room available. email Kat at

From the Big 500 Facebook page:
The Big 500 show 2nd Big 500 OPENING and HOLIDAY PARTY, THIS SATURDAY, DEC. 20th!!! 5-9PM. Tons of great works left, just in time for the Holidays, each $40....Show is in Peoples Art of Portland and A.I.R. Gallery, IF you missed the FIRST ROUND, come see the second! Looks like a brand new show. Also: UGLY SWEATER contest! Wear your ugly and creative DIGS - 1, 2, 3 prizes!

Happy Holidays to everyone! Thanks for putting up with the noise today and for bringing in your ideas and paintings. The Thursday Drawing club went to Starbucks after the meeting. Check the slideshow for photos. Thanks, Dave Burbach for the pictures!

See you all again on Jan 8th! (Topic will be announced).

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