Thursday, December 2, 2010

Where did the time go?

Photo at Phipps

Old Sketch at Phipps

I can't believe it's been over two months since I posted on this blog. I guess I've been busy with other things; cleaning up my yard before winter set in, trying to clean my house (losing battle), and getting ready for another trip to Florida for my daughter-in-law's baby shower. That was in the middle of November. It took me a while to recover from that trip--not as young as I used to be. Then there was Thanksgiving (I didn't have to cook much, thank goodness my sister-in-law Dottie has the dinner), and then a wedding at the end of November. After that, my niece from Chicago came to visit my sister and we spent a lot of time running around shopping and visiting. Another excuse for not painting was because I got a little discouraged after the Carnegie Painted show. I wasn't real happy with my painting in acrylic. However, the wedding we went to had the reception at Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh and we got to meander around the conservatory before the reception. I think I got some inspiration back. If you live near Pittsburgh or are going to be in town for a visit, I heartily recommend a trip there. It is really beautiful. The winter/Christmas show is there now. It would also be a great place to go for the day and sit and sketch or take pictures for later use. I had been there years ago, but hadn't gone recently. As a matter of fact, I had done a sketch there with a class when I was about seventeen (about f f f f f fifty years ago!). I remember sitting there sketching and a young professionally dressed woman passed by and looked at my sketch and commented that it was good. I wonder who she was. I thought I still had the sketch and went up in the attic to look for it and actually found it. I am attaching a photo of it. It was done on newsprint and is quite yellowed and the graphite is somewhat faded, but you can still see most of what I drew. I am also attaching a photo of one of the rooms at the Phipps. They have some cute things for kids to see and do. They have a room with model trains too--all sizes.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Carnegie Painted 2010

Intersection - Stoplight Colors, 10" x 20"

I got the painting of Carnegie done for the "Carnegie Painted" show. I wasn't real happy with it, but I didn't have anything else to enter. My son Tim said I should start now and paint several of Carnegie over the next year so I would have a choice and I could pick the best one or two for next year. (I usually wait till the month before the show to start painting something.) I used a lot of sap green on this one and I think the painting looks too green. Maybe that's one of the reasons I didn't win a prize again this year and maybe I should paint larger. Most of the other paintings in the show were larger. I'm not sure what I'm going to do next. I don't know what medium I should be working in. Maybe I should stick to watercolor? I thought acrylic would work out better than it did. Also, I thought it would get done faster than it did. It takes me too long to do a painting. The wife of a local artist once told me that I would get faster. I guess that is a good reason to keep painting regularly. She also told me to take some workshops. There are several classes at Southarts this fall that I would like to take, but I really need to be cleaning and painting walls instead of pictures before it gets cold and I can't open windows. I didn't get as much done this summer as I had planned. Where did the time go?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Carnegie Painted for 2010 - Work in Progress

Left Side

Right Side

Part of Unfinished Acrylic 10 x 20"

Not only have I been busy painting and trying to decide if this was worth finishing to enter in the Carnegie Painted Show, but I've been running around trying to find a frame to fit this size. Not so easy. If I had known of the limited choices available, I would have found the frame before I started the painting (or gotten one made).The one I found is dark green. I think the painting has too much green in it as it is, but for some reason the dark green frame makes the colors pop. I have to finish this by Saturday.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Two More Carnegie Painted

Backyards off Center Avenue

Big Tree on Alice Street

These pastels were done for Carnegie Painted in 2006. I just found a CD that had some photos on it that were on my old computer which is not connected yet. I had planned to have it up and running in my spare room with most of my art supplies, but it's been too hot to work up there. I actually prefer my old printer - it had more options suitable for helping me with my artwork and the color of the printouts was more accurate. I did finally get an air conditoner up there, but haven't had a chance to get it all organized yet.

More Carnegie Painted

Little Park off Main Street, 11" x 14"

I did this watercolor in 2008 for the Carnegie Painted show. The color is a little too dark in the first photo and is a little washed out in the second photo. It's actually somewhere in between. The first photo I took inside with two lights on each side and the second one I took outside in the sun. Part of the problem is that it is already framed under glass and I had to be careful I didn't get glare. I found some tips for photographing your art on the web site Apparently I shouldn't take the picture in direct sunlight or with lights shining directly on the painting. I will keep trying to figure this out. Fortunately,If it's small enough I can just scan the painting.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Florida Beach #1 and #2

Florida Beach #1, 5" x 7"

Here are the beach scenes I just painted. Not too much architecture thank goodness. I really wanted to try using some of my acrylic paints with some different mediums to see if I could get them to act more like oils. I did this one first without using gesso as an extra undercoat. I used some gloss medium mixed with the paint and this seemed to work better--it was a little easier to blend the paints and the finish is a little shinier.

Florida Beach #2, 5" x 7"

Painting #2 is only slightly different than #1 so I could compare results. The second one has a gesso underpainting and I used a gloss gel with cerulean blue and white for a light blue wash under the clouds. The white clouds came out softer because the undercoat was still moist. I would like to be able to paint beach scenes with clouds in acrylic like Australian painter Mike Barr. His paintings seem fresh and effortless. I guess that comes with lots of practice (and talent).

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ken & Mel at the Beach

Here's another watercolor pencil "painting." I had planned to have this done for my daughter-in-law's birthday last week, but didn't make it. I had to combine two photos to create the composition I wanted. The perspective was slightly different in the second photo so I didn't make it as high as I wanted (less perspective to deal with). I almost gave up because of the architectural details. I've painted houses, but I guess I just wasn't in the mood for a hotel. It didn't come out quite the way I expected. I also used a different set of watercolor pencils than I used for Carnegie Festival and didn' t have enough colors to choose from. Also, this would have been a good project for Photoshop, but I don't have it installed on my newer computer yet. I tried Gimp (it's a free program sort of like Photoshop) with limited success.. I think I'm going to paint beach scenes next.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Nature Break - Photo

I can't believe I got a photo of the elusive hummingbird moth! I was taking pictures of some new flowers that just bloomed and I didn't plan to take any more, but while I was keeping an eye on my cat so she didn't go into the neighbor's yard, something landed right on the tiger lily I was standing in front of. It was a hummingbird moth. It looks like a cross between a bee and a hummingbird. It has a long proboscis like a hummingbird and the coloring of a bee. I got two pictures, but I had the camera set for closeup flowers not flapping wings so one of the pictures is a little blurry. Check out It's cute/funny.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Carnegie Festival

Carnegie Festival - Watercolor Pencils

I was trying to do a watercolor pencil drawing/painting for Pam for her birthday and I wanted to look at this painting for reference. So I went over to my son Tim's place this afternoon to get a photo of this, but I forgot to check the back for a date (or title) and didn't measure it. I think it's about 12 x 18" without the mat and frame. I won an award for this at a local art show, "Carnegie Painted," about three years ago, but I don't know what prize I won. Unfortunately, I didn't attend the opening reception so I got a form letter congratulating me for winning with a check for $22.50 which I think was half of maybe fourth prize or one fourth of third prize? I try to enter the show every year if I can. This was the first time I won anything. The actual painting is much lighter. I think I need a better camera or I need to learn how to take better photos of paintings. The subjects of the paintings for the show have to be of Carnegie. The local artist Philip Salvato has the show at his gallery, "The 3rd Street Gallery" every year in September.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Florida and New Goodies

Pam & Doug's Front Yard, 6 x 6

This was just a quick watercolor sketch. I think I used the Pelikan watercolors for this one. I think this is the last painting I did this year and it's already almost the end of June. I have a lot of pictures that I can use for reference from Florida (from end of March). As usual I took painting supplies with me to use when painting at the beach etc., but didn't have much time to sit still. I also have a lot of pictures of spring flowers here. My tulips were just gorgeous this year. Pam wants me to paint several Florida related paintings for her and I have some ideas in mind. I better get cranking.

These are just some of the goodies I got at Jerry's Artarama in West Palm earlier this year. I needed more brushes for acrylics and these were on sale. I'm not sure about the quality but the price was right. The Strathmore Assorted Pack is artist trading card size paper in several different surfaces. Even if I don't use them for trading cards, I could use them to try out new paper types. The Bristol pad is what I used for the front yard sketch. It's a really convenient 6 x 6 size for traveling.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pears Again

Pears, 9 x 12

I'm not losing my mind--I actually found the pears I thought I had done. I used Yarka pan watercolors again. And, yes, the pear on the bottom left is a pear-- an Asian pear.

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves, 9 x 12

Detail - Autumn Leaves

I painted these late last fall in November in water color and colored pencil. I used the Yarka pan colors again. In some of the real leaves I thought I could see metallic colors, like copper, gold and silver. So I searched around to see what I could find in metallic colors and found some metallic colored pencils and used them on the darker colored leaves. They don't show up too well--I think I need some metallic paint.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pears and Fruit

Pear, 4" x 5"

This is one of the pears I thought I had done earlier this year, but the date I marked on the back says September '09. So much for relying on my memory. Guess I better date everything! This was done in acrylic on a 4" x 5" canvas panel. I think I was going to go back and lighten up the background; and the next time I use canvas panel, I think I'm going to first put on a coating of gesso or just an extra layer of paint to fill in some of the texture of the canvas. I think I prefer a smooth working surface.

Pear, 6" x 6"

Here's another pear I did about the same time in oil pastel on pastel paper. I set this up in the spare bedroom which I didn't go into very often at that time and forgot I left it there. I didn't notice until I smelled something kind of fermenty. Oh well, it looked tasty.

Two Peaches and a Plum, 6 x 6

I thought I had done another pear, but couldn't find one. But here is some other fruit I did about the same time I did the pears. This is done in watercolors on Bristol vellum which is not supposed to be used for watercolor, but I really like the surface. It works as long as you don't get the paper too wet. Not sure I like the background. I think I used Yarka pan watercolors, which I bought when I was in Florida last year. My son Doug and his wife Pam live near West Palm where there is a Jerry's Artarama. Pam took me there again this year and I got another set (for backup) and some other goodies.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"Refreshment Time"

Refreshment Time -- Oil, 16 x 20

I found it! Here's the painting "Refreshment Time." For a few minutes I thought maybe I didn't have the painting--I have so many old picture frames up in the attic, with and without paintings in them, I didn't know which box to look in. I painted this in 1962 when I was 19 years old. I'm not sure if I have the perspective correct on the pitcher and table, but I must have gotten something right because the judge for the art show, Dr. Chew, the director of the Westmoreland Museum of Art at that time, made the comment while rapping his knuckles on the pitcher, "Now that's real porcelain!" I never displayed the painting on the wall because I wasn't happy with the background. I should try to do this as a new painting ( I still have the pitcher) with a different background. I like the colors and the way the pear turned out. I did some pears earlier this year just for practice. I will probably post those next to compare.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Another Art Club Painting

Here's another painting I did for an art club exhibit. The art club purchased it and donated it to the Donora Library. I scanned the original black and white photo since it was better quality than the old yellowed newspaper clipping. Too bad I don't have a picture in color. I should go to the Donora Library and see if the painting is still there, if the Donora Library is still there also. Apparently, I titled the painting "Electricity Failure." I actually remember painting this in my attic room in oils with the lights off and a candle lit so I could get the lighting right. Good thing I didn't burn down the house. In case you can't read the caption, it says:

PAINTING PRESENTED -- "Electricity Failure", an oil painting by Melanie Dacko of Belle Vernon, R. D. 1, which was purchased by the Donora Patrons of Art at the 1963 exhibit of the Valley Art Club, has been presented to the Donora Public Library. Here Mrs. Ruth Muoio, librarian, and Rabbi Isaiah Tarshish, a visitor at the library, admire the painting displayed by the artist, Miss Dacko. (on the right). Mrs. Muoio was winner of the "Best of Show" award at the exhibit or her "Still Life." Miss Dacko was winner of second honorable mention for her oil painting "Refreshment Time."

I believe I still have the painting "Refreshment Time" up in the attic where I am living now, but I will have to find it and post photo later.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Art Club Artifact

Here is another art club artifact from my past. The club included members from Charleroi, Donora, Monessen, and Monongahela. Technically, I didn't live in Monessen, but we were at the edge of Rostraver Twp. near Monessen. Members were given a blank cover program booklet for the new year and there was a contest for the design. This is the cover I designed and if I recall correctly, I won a prize of some sort. I should have stuck to doing miniatures--maybe I should be doing the "Painting a Day" in small sizes or ACEO's. I might actually give that a try some time (the miniatures that is). I don't think I could do a painting a day, at least not yet. Too much housework to do. This kind of reminds me of Karin Jurik and her paintings of people looking at paintings in a museum, except my design looks more like a cartoon than a painting compared to her paintings. I think she is an exceptional painter. I would put a link to her blog if I could figure out how to do it.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


I am starting this blog as a record for me and my family and as a challenge for myself.

The challenge part of this blog for me will be to compare what I did when I was quite a bit younger to what I can do now. Am I a better or worse artist than I used to be? (My hand is not as steady as it used to be and I haven't been painting as much as I should.)

When I was in my late teens and early twenties (about forty years ago) I did some art work that got disseminated around the Mon Valley area (Monessen, Pa. etal) and some in the Pittsburgh area. I don't have pictures of all of this art, but those that I do have I will post and comment on. I will try to remember any art work that I did that I sold or gave away and possible location. When I was living in the Mon Valley area, I belonged to an art club and had several paintings purchased by the art club (patrons prize?) I know where they went, but are they still there? For example, one of my paintings was selected to be donated to Mon Valley Hospital. They used to have it in the lobby at the center of a wall with leaf wallpaper I think. They remodeled, but where is the painting now? I don't have a good picture, but here's what I have.

I don't know who these people are. This painting was done in pastel. My Aunt Rose said she liked the painting, but if you had to sit in the lobby for a long time, the holes in the log looked like two eyes staring at you. I guess this is where adjusting reality to fit composition applies.