Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"Why Paint Birds?" - ArtQuench Welcomes Barbara Rudolph To The Family!

ArtQuench Gallery

Announces Barbara Rudolph

The Winner of the AQG Juried International

OPEN THEME Art Competition

You can read my story .......

"Why The Birds?"

This summer it seems that many of my friends and family are on vacation either out of state or out of the country.  Since I am staying home this summer in our sweltering heat I am trying to catch up on my many paintings in progress.   One day I happened to come across two online magazines called "Art Quench Magazine" and also "On Purpose Magazine."  

They had a competition to win a free years worth of promotion on their gallery of resident artists.  I applied and happened to win the open themed art competition.  They asked me to write a story about myself and my work.  One question I am repeatedly asked at my art shows is

"Why The Birds?"

It took me a while to answer the question, but my work was definitely inspired by my late father.  "Art Quench Magazine" just posted my story on their site, and if by chance you might be interested you can read it here by clicking on this link:


Art Quench Magazine and On Purpose Magazine offer their Residence artists a place to promote and sell their art work to a wide range of clients including designers, collectors, the public and many galleries. Each month they select one or more resident artist to promote through ArtQuenchMagazine.com and OnPurposeMagazine.com


If you prefer to just read it here without the images....this is my story and answer as to why I paint birds.

Why The Birds?

Imagine a little bird sitting on top of an antique typewriter, a classic book, or an Amati violin.  
How can a painting tell a story through an unusual combination of objects than invoke a fond memory with appeal?  When people look at my current series of oil paintings, they often ask "Why the birds?" 

Growing up, my late father used to enjoy making wood carvings of birds.  Although it was just a hobby for him, he did create many beautiful sculptures of birds.  He often asked me to paint birds, however I didn't listen to him until much later in my art career.  

Back in the early days of my career, I was painting a variety of subject matter. I painted figurative, floral art, abstract and even some landscapes.  I was trying to paint a little bit of everything....but I never even gave a thought to painting birds.  Just out of college, I worked for a couple of different fine art publishing companies that sold artwork to the trade.  In those days, struggling to make a living as an artist required working fast and doing whatever was "in style" at the time.  I had to paint almost constantly and it was more about "volume" than finding my own way as an artist. That life style supported me for many years as a single mother of one child.  Although I gained experience and was making a living as an artist, I was slowly burning out.  I longed to paint something that not only I connected with, but something that others could connect with as well.  I wanted to "tell a story" with my art that would bring joy into the lives of others.  Art is so much more than just trying to match the colors in a room.  It can be a powerful tool and also a visual journey of discovery.   I was still searching to find my own voice through my paintings. 

Over the years, as I continued to paint a variety of subject matter, I studied to learn more about painting techniques of the masters, how to mix colors and paint shadows etc. I was however still undecided about having a "theme" to my work.  During this time, my father suffered a stroke and was not able to communicate verbally any longer.  It was a very difficult time, he had always been quite supportive of my art career.  It was through my daily visits with him over the course of a couple of years that I came to have an interest in "birds."  I used to sit with him and try to get him to look at his old notebooks on birds to help him remember his hobby of bird carving.  I remembered how he always used to say to me ...that I should paint birds.   I tried painting a few  mini oil paintings of birds and I would give each one a name after one of his best friends.  I brought  them with me on my daily visits to show him.  I hoped it would help him with reconnecting with the memory of his best friends as well as with his interest in birds.  At that time I was doing a big art show in Scottsdale, Arizona and people began to notice the small bird paintings and they were beginning to sell faster than I could paint them.

During the next few years I began a whole new series of oil paintings with "birds in art."  I focused on intimate portraits of birds with objects, musical instruments, books or anything that I thought would help "tell a story." The birds in my paintings are almost always portrayed in an unexpected place as opposed to their natural habitat.  I try to connect the viewer with a fond memory of their own through my art.  As I started to receive commissions my subjects even expanded to sports themed art too, but always with birds.  

My goal as an artist is to make realistic paintings that can convey an intimate message to the viewer.   I hope to invoke a sentimental connection with humor and appeal.  As my ideas were flowing and my work was advancing in quality and skill, I was accepted into the prestigious "International Guild of Realism."  That has kept me striving to continue to do my best possible work.  

I finally found a subject that I enjoy immensely.  There is definitely a "theme" to my work now and it feels wonderful when someone steps in for a closer look and responds with a laugh or a smile.  

Just after my father's passing, during the opening of one of my most successful shows, I could hear my father's voice saying..."See ... I told you to paint birds."


Barbara Rudolph

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Colors on my Palette Interview

Colors on my Palette Interview - Barbara Rudolph

I won an little online competition about a month ago with "Contemporary Fine Art International" and was asked to do an interview.  I actually forgot about it until now.... but it is posted on their site for the entire month of June.  These following questions are what I was asked to answer.   I decided to also post it on my blog here to give credit to some of my favorite "wildlife" artists:


When did you realize you loved art and wanted to be ‘an artist’?
I have loved art for as long as I can remember. Even when I was a little girl I loved to draw. I didn't make the full time jump into becoming an artist until I was in my mid 20s.
Who has been the greatest influence from your past to mentor you to this career?
I had a couple of college professors that were very encouraging to me. They were also very honest about communicating the difficulties I would face when pursuing art as a full time career which made me want to work even harder. My late father was always encouraging of my artistic ventures. He also was "accidentally" the reason I made a major change in my painting theme. It was unfortunately not until after his passing that I pursued painting "birds" full time and gained success at it.
Who is your mentor today, or another artist you admire and why?
I don't have a specific mentor today, but I wish I did. I think it's important, but not so easily found. I know of a few well known wildlife artists that I like to follow that also paint or sculpt in a realistic style. I also have a few friends that are phenomenal artists that I ask to critique my work if given the opportunity. One friend and "master sculptor" of wood and bronze is "Ken Newman" - he does a lot of museum shows. A few other artists that I truly admire but have not actually met are: Carl Brenders, Nancy Howe, James Offeman, Grace Kim and Julia Hargreaves. They all do outstanding work! There are many others too.
What is your favorite surface to paint on? Describe it if you make it yourself.
When I paint on canvas I prefer to have it custom stretched. The canvas quality is better and tighter. I sand it lightly to remove most of the texture if I can. I then almost always do 2-3 coats of black gesso. I let it dry a few days and then do an oil ground. I stock pile the primed and ready to go backgrounds in my studio so that when the ideas are flowing...I can begin to paint on them right away. I also sometimes use Ampersand panels, however I still find I have to prime them first. The reason is because they tend to absorb the paint up way to quickly if you don't. They do not work well on large scale paintings because they warp. No matter what the label tells you... they warp! I do like to use them for 11x14" size and under. They are a time saver because I don't have to sand them. I purchase the "smooth" surfaces, which usually have to be ordered online. The local art stores usually only carry the medium to! oth surface, which would be great for people who paint with thick paint.
What brand of paints do you use?
My absolute favorite are the "Lukas 1862 Finest Artists Oil Paints" from Germany. They are rich and buttery.
Do you have a favorite color palette?
I tend to like a lot of variations of brown and other natural colors.
What is your favorite color in your clothes closet?
That would be a toss up between bright red and fuchsia.
What subject appears the most in your paintings and why?
"Birds" I often paint the birds with classic books, vintage musical instruments and even with some sports themes.
How often do you paint? How many hours a week?
I try to paint every day. Some days are spent on planning and getting ready to paint the still life by taking photographs etc. I never counted the hours, but I spend a lot of time in the studio.
How would you like to be remembered?
As a nice person. Creative, friendly, kind, funny and a good artist. I hope my art will last a lot longer than I will and can bring joy to others.
What color sheets are on your bed right now?
Ivory...but I change my duvet pattern 3-4 times a year. That is where my color comes in.
What book are you reading this week?
Dreams and Visions. Also another book a client just published and asked me to ready is "Open Spaces Open Hearts." and I tend to speed read a lot of the classics for my future painting ideas too. Currently....books by Raymond Chandler and Hemmingway.
Do you have a favorite television show?
I like to watch "The Good Wife" and "Chicago Fire".
What is your favorite food?
What are you most proud of in your life?
Finally making a living as an artist.
Who would you love to interview?
One of the artists that I mentioned earlier in the interview would be nice.
Who would you love to paint?
A lot of people but generally in costume.
Share something with us that few people know about you.
I am kind of a loner.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
Paris or maybe Venice. I would however settle for Colorado.
Any other thoughts to share?
Work hard. Be the best you can be ...and always give thanks.


CFAI page:

Also see Ken Newmans amazing work here:
Ken Newman

Restoration of an Antique Oil Painting

A friend of mine purchased this lovely little original oil painting from an antique store.  It really is a nice little landscape, but it had a small puncture wound in it near the center of the painting.  It had also been put into this frame by someone who clearly was clueless about the handling of original art.  People need to respect original art and treat it carefully.  In this case the painting had been nailed (with 2" long nails) through the sides of the old linen canvas, and then they used packing tape to hold the nails in.  The person that handled it also drove a nail or something else that caused a small puncture wound and a slight scrape through the face of the painting.  Perhaps this painting was purchased by the antique dealer at an estate sale and then unfortunately didn't know how to properly handle and repair it before it was sold?

Poor handling of Antiques can result in a loss in their value.  

Restoration of an oil painting might include removing the surface grime and dirt and discolored varnish.  In this case.... it just needed a small patch to the punctured site and a slight touch up on the face of the canvas.  It also had to be re-framed the proper way.  My friend only paid a few hundred for it and wanted to know if I could fix it.   Although I don't claim to know all that goes into fine art restoration ... I did work for an art restorer many years ago and did learn a few tricks of the trade.  To hire a professional restorer in can cost in excess of $1000. or even much more depending on what is needed.   A professional art restorer would definitely be recommended  in most cases, however I knew I could fix this quite easily.

Above is the painting with the puncture wound damage.  It is difficult to see in the photo, however it is something that needed to be repaired to keep it from getting worse over time.

This little painting has a beautiful luminosity to it and wonderful texture.  The linen canvas seemed to support it well but there are some slight areas of sagging.  Changes in temperature, humidity, exposure to direct sunlight or fires can also be a cause for the need of restoration or even slight sagging in the canvas.  

I repaired the back side of the linen with a very small patch.  I then carefully touched up the face of the oil painting with professional quality oil paint.  It only required a couple of very small touches of blended paint.  I used "Liquin Fine Detail" as my medium to help blend it into the natural sheen of the varnish on the original painting.

See below:
(you can click on the image to see it larger)

Varnish is also affected by the changes in temperature and humidity.  Sunlight can cause it to turn yellow or discolored over time as well.  This little painting has wonderful cracks and surface texture that should be left as is.  The tiny drop of "Liquin Fine Detail Medium" worked perfectly for a small touch up of this aged varnished painting.

 On the easel and all touched up!

My oil medium I used...but only a tiny drop was needed

The backside of the painting, patched and properly framed

Here in the bottom right corner is the signature.  The artist is a mystery...but how nice it is to know that his or her work is being appreciated and enjoyed maybe even long after the artist lived.

It's all done and ready to be delivered and enjoyed.

Barbara Rudolph

Monday, June 2, 2014

Painting the "Oakland A's - Fowl Ball" by Barbara Rudolph

"Oakland A's   -    Fowl Ball"
oil painting

I just finished up an oil painting commission for a big fan of the "Oakland A's."  Since I specialize in painting "birds in art" we thought the little "yellow" chick would be a fun fit to go on top of the "Oakland A's" baseball cap.    The little chick is keeping with their team colors and also makes for fun title.... "Fowl Ball" 

If you enjoy "baseball art" and other sports related themes, you can see more paintings like this on the "Sports Page" section of my website.    

Thanks for stopping by!

Barbara Rudolph