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Home†>†Featured Artist†>†Past Featured Artists†>†Feb 09 - Diana Moses Botkin

FEBRUARY - Diana Moses Botkin (

Featured Artist of the February: Diana Moses Botkin My painting technique depends on the subject. I generally use an alla prima approach for small landscapes painted en plein air, or for still life and portraits painted from live subjects.

I generally use a direct painting technique. Painting landscapes, I work from the background to the foreground, and usually lay down the sky first. Often, skies are the focus in my landscapes. For still life or portrait paintings, shapes are first blocked in with darks and/or simple colors. Form is developed by painting in the cast shadows and core shadows. Highlights and details Iíll save for last. Occasionally, Iíll go back into one of these direct paintings to push up contrast by using glazes, or correcting something that isnít right.

For larger works I often employ indirect painting techniques, using an underpainting and subsequent layers with more accurate detail, remembering the basic ďfat over leanĒ principles of sound painting. Often I will paint the initial blocking in after making sketches of the planned composition. For really detailed and complex paintings, the sketching/planning stage is important to work out compositional problems, and particulars of what goes where.

Featured Artist of the February: Diana Moses Botkin There are other techniques I employ in my paintings at times. Iíll use anything that works for me as long as it is archivally sound and doesnít create conservation problems. These include using grisaille, sgraffito, scumbling, impasto, imprimatura, and tools other than brushes for paint application.

For little pieces I usually paint directly on hardboard which has been primed on both sides and the edges. The smooth surface is helpful for detail, especially for miniatures and small works. Sometimes canvas texture can interfere on a tiny painting. Additionally, hardboard is sturdy and resists most of the damage that can happen to stretched canvas (dings and tears). Large pieces do get heavy, however, so I might use stretched canvas or linen for large paintings, especially if theyíll be shipped.

Iíve prepared most of my own supports through the years, and have used a variety of preparation materials, ranging from the traditional rabbit-skin glue size with oil priming, to modern PVA or acrylic size. Archival methods and materials are vital for a work to stand the test of time, so I read conservation research and ask questions about new materials.

Featured Artist of the February: Diana Moses Botkin I use commercial tubes of oil paint and enjoy the pigment rich brands. Often I add a medium to speed drying, which I make from stand oil, turpentine and cobalt drier. I also use commercially made alkyd painting mediums and oil paints. My palette consists of about a dozen colours with occasional additions.

I love Trekelís sable brushes for painting detail, skies, and smooth surfaces. Iíve been delighted to find them at such a reasonable price. The bristle brushes I use for scrubbing in, blocking in large areas and whenever I want a rougher, uneven appearance that I donít get with the sables.

Most often I work realistically from a real scene outdoors, model or still life set-up, endeavoring to paint what I see. Sometimes, however, Iíll work out of my mind for exercises, or to develop an idea. If I need to pose models or employ realistic scenes to make the painting look believable I achieve those references to fulfill my idea for the piece by posing models or otherwise finding what I need for reference.

Iím always trying to grow and learn as an artist. Looking at my past work, I realize Iím making progress. I look forward someday to looking back on my current work and seeing Iíve become the painter I wanted to be.

Figurative Paintings Backgrounds and underpaintings I usually lay in with Trekell's flat or filbert bristle oil brushes. Flats are good to employ for painting edges. I like the filberts for places where I don't want a brush stroke edge to show up, like in smooth blended areas. For fine details on lips, hair, etc., and for skin tones, the sables are usually my choice.

Featured Artist of the February: Diana Moses Botkin
"Saturday Nap" Oil 8"x10" © 2007 Diana Moses Botkin
Asleep on the couch, oblivious to lack of comfort or proper blanket, this growing boy grabs a few Zs in the afternoon. Deep sleep and hard exercise produce growth hormone. Add good wholesome food, and in a few years he'll be as big as his Dad.

Featured Artist of the February: Diana Moses Botkin
"Homecoming" Oil 10"x8" © 2007 Diana Moses Botkin
It's nice to be home after a hard day at the job for Dad. Cares of the work day melt away in the warmth of home and hearth. The child is happy to connect with his daddy and grabs onto the big guy's shirt like he's never going to let go.

Still Life Paintings Trekell's flat and round sable oil brushes are wonderful for detail work, such as in these still life paintings. Edges and smooth detail would be impossible for me to paint without them! I especially like the way the sables clean up, and hold their shape and spring, painting after painting. When they do wear out, I'm always delighted to find that Trekell's prices remain so reasonable.

Featured Artist of the February: Diana Moses Botkin
"Three Marbles" Oil 4"x6" © 2008 Diana Moses Botkin
These beautiful glass orbs are intriguing. They are fascinating microcosms; surprising at any angle. The perfectly rounded globes are also challenging to paint... and surprisingly difficult. Or maybe I just need stronger reading glasses! After doing a number of these marble paintings, I've wondered to myself why I didn't try this subject when my eyes were a lot younger. Maybe I've just lost my marbles trying to do this at my age.

Featured Artist of the February: Diana Moses Botkin
"Steaming Tea in Japanese Cup" Oil 7"x5" © 2007 Diana Moses Botkin
Light is often my inspiration and I was especially intrigued by the light on these beautiful surfaces. The vintage cup and saucer with the delicate red and gold leaf designs, and the subtle cracked glaze on the old porcelain, the dark granite surfaces and the decorative red and gold tea box were all so inviting. Details, reflections and gold accents made this piece challenging and enjoyable to paint.

Landscape Paintings I use Trekell's sable and bristle oil brushes when painting my landscapes. The large sable filbert brushes are a joy to use for glowing skies. I've been accused of employing an airbrush to get the smooth transitions of sky colors. I don't, but I do depend on Trekell's large filbert oil sables for blending those subtle tones. The bristles I use in flat and filbert styles for rougher effects of trees and clouds, blending large cloud areas with the sables.

Featured Artist of the February: Diana Moses Botkin
"Morning Blanket" Oil 11"x14" © 2005 Diana Moses Botkin
Fog before sunrise in a beautiful valley in France inspired me. I saw this early one morning during my first trip abroad and had to paint it.

Featured Artist of the February: Diana Moses Botkin
"Gold and Turquoise" Oil 5"x7" © 2008 Diana Moses Botkin
Spring snow storms are common in north Idaho. The sky dumps and then it melts off a few days later. I love the evening displays when the setting sun makes the big clouds glow with subtle gold against the turquoise sky.
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