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“Invincible” selected for the Women Painting Women 2015 at the RJD Gallery in Sag Harbor, NY

Invincible, 24 x 36 oil on linen canvas, by Deborah Chapin. Women Painting Women RJD Gallery, Sag Harbor, NY

Invincible, 24 x 36 oil on linen canvas, by Deborah Chapin. Women Painting Women RJD Gallery, Sag Harbor, NY

Thrilled to have my painting “Invincible” selected for the Women Painting Women 2015 at the RJD Gallery in Sag Harbor, NY artists include: Laura Atkins, Nancy Boren, Rebekah Bynum, Kristine Campbell, Deborah Chapin, Candice Chovanec, Stephanie Deshpande, Carla Falb, Shana Levenson, Sylvia Nitti, Isabel Olivares, Omalix, Cindy Rizza, Beth Sistrunk, Rebecca Tait, Rea Whalen, Daryl Zhang

In addition they will also exhibit the artwork of our gallery artists:

Mary Chiaramonte* | Teresa Elliott | Tracey Harris | Haley Hasler |
Pam Hawkes* | Andrea Kowch | Rachel Moseley* | Katie O’Hagan | Odile Richer* | Margo Selski | Adrienne Stein* | Sherry Wolf | Pamela Wilson
*Indicates artists who started with us during #WPW – Women Painting Women


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Working on a the puzzle of painting. Portrait of Women.

I’ve been working on a new piece which is like doing a 10,000 piece puzzle.  I’m on my 3rd version of the subject in charcoal, expanding the composition and refining the concept.  This morning I decided that along with this composition I ought to try a second one and develop both at the same time, then decide which one was “the one”.     Part of the fascination of doing paintings is the discovery of line, shape, color, tone, light and darks, emotional expression through all these things and the personal discovery of skill levels and growth.    For example I did a free guesstimate of placement then checked myself and find that I have miles to go.

So I started with just the head neck and shoulders of one of the poses.  This Charcoal gave be some of the basic concepts of what I was going to be dealing with.  Twist of the head, focus point, lines of movement and some very scary light lines.

Portrait of Women, Josie head,  19x28 charcoal on Canson paper.  Women Painting Women

Portrait of Women, Josie head, 19×28 charcoal on Canson paper. Women Painting Women


Today I’m working on arms, elbows, hands and deciding on the composition of the first piece.  Then onto stir and repeat for the 2nd composition.  I’m just chomping at the bit to get going with the next stage… but I’m disciplining myself to nail that composition.

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Paintings of Women, Book of Water Project Progresses

Time is flying by and soon summer will be over,  I was thinking the other day, that I don’t think that I have ever been as busy as I have been this past couple of years.  Creating a new portfolio and organizing the archives.

I’m working on a new piece right now which is a good puzzle.  The pose is amazing with a new model “Josie” and I was so psyched when this magic combination appeared.    The painting has a lot of elements in it, we’re working with so many elements and basically painting with water, hair, figure and light before any brush hits the canvas.    We are both discovering that it is incredibly difficult to control the media :-) of water and light.  Like not possible.  But coaxing it in the right direction and then waiting to see what transpires makes it all worthwhile.  This takes the whole process to another level in composition and so I’ve been working through problems in structure using the charcoals and breaking down the elements.   The models and I have also been working hard to evolve what we’re doing.  Lots of hurdles and lots of learning so, the Book of Water progresses but not in a straight line.  I’ll post a charcoal when it is ready.

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Busy as a Bee in Spring, the quest for studio nirvana

2015 is shaping up to be a busy and productive time in my life, thus far… lots of changes coming and I’m hustling up to be proactive in the change.   I am looking for a new studio/ house and have changed my parameters several times over the past 6 months.  I’m not sure but I think I am getting closer to making it work.   I decided that rather than looking for an existing house with a giant barn and everything all perfectly ready to move in…  (which would be a little isolating since most barns are out in the middle of nowhere) instead I think I’ll build a new garage/ workshop and tweak it and develop an existing property.      Sounds easier than it is in reality.  Thus the house just has to be functional for lifestyle, be located in a nice area, reasonably priced with a modest amount of land to build a garage on, much easier to find (still not easy but plausible).   Since I changed the parameters of my search on Redfin I have been flooded with possibilities sort of clueing me in that this was the way to go.  I found this website which has blue prints / plans for use in building something like this and I am like a kid in a candy store.  This is the one seems to be a good layout    I am not sold on the finish and I think it would have to go with whatever house it sets next to but the interior layout is right.   I currently have about 300 square feet in which I have crammed a large easel, workbench, drawing table, model stand, book-case, shelving all over the walls and every nook is filled, I can barely walk through (this doesn’t include the garden tools, my grandmother’s knickknacks) which is why you won’t see my current studio in-house beautiful.   This garage gives me 807 sf on the main level and another 989 in the loft area.  Hurrah!!!  So I would able to do larger work and this would enable me to transport large work out of the studio as well.   Moral of the story:  If you aren’t finding a solution one way try another perspective, change-up the search and the pieces of the solution will start to appear.

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Update: New works in Progress & Things

I was going to write this yesterday, but I was running behind schedule and I have really been trying to discipline my wandering nature to stay on course with my systems outline… that is another story.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the pros and cons of being an artist and several discussions on Facebook have really sparked a fire under me.   One that I read this morning referenced being ashamed/ embarrassed  by “calling yourself an artist”.    I’ve never been reticent to say “I’m an artist” because what I give up on the economic side I more than make up for in the luxury side of space, time and thought.    Just think about it for a minute.    What is the true luxury of life.  The top 1% look for that quiet island, that vast expanse of space to surround themselves with quiet and peace to focus their thoughts and the luxury of time to do what they want.    I’ve had all that pretty much continuously for 30 years.  Minus a few times when I’ve had to punt,  I can go out in the middle of the field or stand on a beach and spend hours by myself painting in the quiet thought and contemplation of nature.   And then at the end I usually have a painting the takes me back to that place time and place…. until someone one else buys the piece so they can take a visit.     I can go back and do it again and again and live in complete harmony with my mind / body and the world around me.      We really worry too much about things here in the States.  Right now due to personal circumstances my travel is limited, but I can explore the interior world and paint that… Sometimes, I think that having a 6 figure income might be nice, but there is really no reason to think that I should be ashamed of calling myself an artist because I don’t.    Economics is just a basis for living it isn’t actually living.    The richness of experience counts as well, good food, good friends, art and culture, nature these are the things which are treasures.   Doing what you have talent in and following your bliss creates a richness of experience and that is worth more than all the gold in the world.  As a side note to artist:  if you ever are forced to give up the painting for awhile, DO NOT despair.    Life throws curves but the boomerang out of the curve is worth it.    You’ll find, like I am, that you appreciate all that it means to be an artist (the positives) so much more and you’ll also find that time has eliminated most of the negatives while you were away.  I really think that now is a better age for women artists than it was in 2008…. and like I said I’m not dead yet so…

New Paintings:  I’ve been working on four pieces at the same time,  I decided I needed to do in order to produce the work I hope to have done by the fall.  There are in the process of painting these pieces, pauses, where you have to stop… This has taken a lot of getting used to because by nature I’m go-get-em kind of girl.  I love to swirl and push around in paint creating things …  but I realize also that I need to bridle myself in a bit and appeal to the delicate creeping forward part of my mind with this type of painting using scumbling and laying.  I’m working on two paintings where I want to rework a portion of the background, one where I’m just finishing up the final touches, one where the water isn’t started yet and one in the beginning phases… wait that is five!  oh I am getting carried away.  I guess I’m having a kid in the candy store experience because for a few years I had to just take care of surviving,  getting back into painting has been a renewed treat.


Preview of coming attractions: penny-1

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Female Portrait Posing… studio vs natural setting

First off, I am no longer posting news to Facebook for the reasons stated on my Facebook Statement here*  For that reason if you are hoping to see my news you needs to subscribe by email to this newsletter or follow this blog, or my twitter page.  Those sources are unedited by the platform.

Now onto something new….

This morning I watched a video on Posing for Female Portraits

In it the Author Jeff Smith (photographer) made several definite no nos all of which I found myself decisively violating.  I thought it would be a good exercise for myself to analyze my new work and discover my thoughts about why I wanted to violate the “rules of portrait” according to a portrait photographer.  The reason I picked a photographer’s guidelines is that it is a little removed from painting… providing a different perspective and maybe a little more market oriented than the rules painters use…   Now I must first comment that this photographer is doing portrait photography for clients who want to serve a particular purpose.    As such he isn’t trying to do art per se but satisfy clients… But it does give a window into what all clients think and as such I found it good information.  However,  I was in accord with his idea that the traditional pose of the past wasn’t working anymore because the modern woman just isn’t passive or submissive (thank goodness).  Also most of this is directed towards portraits of women, which is my focus at the moment… not that men are worthy :-) just a different focus.  He does mention men, but alas men you are getting very little time on the radar here.  Sorry.

So granted he is talking about portraiture for a different purpose i.e. the Traditional Business Portrait, or Casual Portrait done for Parents or Family or Glamorous Portrait for your husband or boyfriend.  I am using the portrait to describe the inner dynamic and for the portrait in a context of natural light with dynamic use of color and light i.e. as a design element for the environment of the client.  But this made me realize that maybe artist’s need to consider the new possibility of posing outside of the box for the modern age, and sticking to the traditional posed portrait sitting in a chair or standing by a desk or posed portrait of school models while being admirable in skill isn’t likely to be relevant to clients…

So keeping all that in mind here are his 4 posing no nos the first two I am definitively doing the opposite…
1. never pose the face away from the light…. he is talking about the controlled environment of the studio or controlled lighting environments.   So first off I don’t have the space to do a controlled environment study or even sketch… which was the main reason I started plein air painting in the first place… I didn’t have a studio per se.  However, when I started working outside, I found enjoyed everything about it particularly the certain serendipity of elements.    Light fading, unusual color combination, unique shapes and patterns… Natural settings, strong lighting effects with interesting bouncing light, and high contrasts is my thing.   This allows the artist to create high key, dramatic effects with color and light.  Obviously you don’t want the subject to become deformed but I feel that in a natural setting, the subject more than likely can’t open her eyes if they are squinting into the natural light of the sun, so looking away is natural, and within that setting one can discover very intriguing subjects particularly using lighting to describe the face contours with sculptural lines.  I find that after my initial three years of pieces I was ready to explore this aspect, and chomping at the bit to do so.   So although the modern photographer has updated posing to the present century they haven’t gone further out on the limb, which is definitely where I am at,  and updated to the next level ie the action, moving and dynamic posing possible in real life settings.
2. never square off the body to the camera…  Well I guess if someone wants to pose for fashion industry, … but have you ever noticed how strong a woman’s persona becomes head on.  I think because I am trying to depict the strength of women and their force, I actually find the head on challenging expression dynamic straight in the eye by the portrait.   Eye to eye, face to face.  Why should this be only a man’s purview… sorry Charlie.
3. arms away the body… I agree with this one if possible to do something which is not awkward or ridiculous, obviously in the water environment there is little control over some of your movements so a certain amount of happy circumstance has to happen, but it allows for the subject to express herself in new ways.
4. strong catch lights in the eyes… the eyes are where most of the life is, lighting up the eyes  definitely gives the advantage of the artist because you can emphasize and de-emphasize whatever you want through deliberate choices.
5. bounce light up onto the face…again he is talking strictly about the studio or posed photography but using the water subject this has always been a particularly natural emphasis for me… Bouncing color and light, pattern and design and creation of beautiful subject using this combination. The portrait is no different.

Now back to the easel to finish my newest piece with direct gaze, strong sculptural lighting facing away from the light… rules are meant to be broken and to each his/her own.


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Contemporary Realism – Book of Water Part III – Underwater Portrait Paintings

Originally posted on Chapin's Fine Art:

Contemporary Realism – Book of Water Part III – Underwater Portraits Discovering Magic

What happened next in my ongoing discovery of the underwater portrait subject matter was truly magic.   While we were experimenting with different angles to the light we happened on a wonderful discovery.   Can you guess what it is?  It is very subtle in this painting.

Discovering something which aids creativity is a wonderful part of art, it is like you see a glimmer into another world and suddenly a mystery unravels and you know you are onto something. While how it came about is part of my trade secret the results were spectacular. Ethereal is the word. It truly transported the ordinary poses we were doing into that mystical hovering place of time and space. I have been there before those moments of painting when you seem to lose yourself in the painting and time…

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Contemporary Realism – Book of Water Part III – Underwater Portrait Paintings

Contemporary Realism – Book of Water Part III – Underwater Portraits Discovering Magic

What happened next in my ongoing discovery of the underwater portrait subject matter was truly magic.   While we were experimenting with different angles to the light we happened on a wonderful discovery.   Can you guess what it is?  It is very subtle in this painting.

Discovering something which aids creativity is a wonderful part of art, it is like you see a glimmer into another world and suddenly a mystery unravels and you know you are onto something. While how it came about is part of my trade secret the results were spectacular. Ethereal is the word. It truly transported the ordinary poses we were doing into that mystical hovering place of time and space. I have been there before those moments of painting when you seem to lose yourself in the painting and time disappears, and the painting flows.   I endeavored to capture this moment in my painting of Cameron by the same name Ethereal Moment. Lighter than air and surreal in nature this larger than life portrait measures 24″x 36″ .   See the transitions of the portrait from the beginnings through end here:  I’m contemplating changing the background to a deep Mediterranean blue.  

contemporary realism, underwater portrait, Ethereal Moment by Deborah Chapin

contemporary realism, underwater portrait painting, Ethereal Moment by Deborah Chapin

See how this painting evolved:

About the Artist

My Online Studio is an extension of my studio. When you enter you are entering my studio but without the housekeeping. I offer fine art in original oil paintings on linen and also canvas prints of favorite original pieces. Most of my originals in the past 20 years have been painted en plein air ( on location) I have lectured and made film presentation at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, exhibited at the Louvre, and museums through out the world See my Exhibition History

The next 30 years I expect to be doing a combination of unusual water portrait work and collector’s favorite, my beach scenes with people. If you have questions feel free to ask.

For more information see

Artist’s Statement

I have painted every subject known to woman at this point, starting with marine art, coastals, seascapes, florals and landscapes en plein air (on location) I am now branching out to portraits and figurative work and add it to my skills and eventually incorporate it into my seascapes. I am excited to see where it goes and how it evolves. Currently I am taking on a project of underwater portrait paintings and figure work. I began this portfolio with the economic downturn because the expense and personal considerations made travel impossible. I have been painting water in all its various forms and moods for 35 years and this subject matter appealed to me because it combined something I knew well with something I was just beginning to learn. The objective wasn’t to do a photo realistic painting but rather to capture the essence of the subject and the spirit of the model. Water often represents the border between this world and the next but that need not be the dark side of that connotation and to my mind it is uplifting and full of life and movement. I am seeking to depict the inside dynamic of an individual using water to carry light and movement through the subject. What I’m trying to depict is the spirit of women, not as the languid object but instead as a dynamic, spirited, strong and intellectually thoughtful individual. Water is a freeing medium, releasing the subject from the constraints of the ordinary and from gravity it also doesn’t allow for “the pose” with the difficulty of control comes movement and life into the depiction and a certain serendipity which I have always found to be an inspiration. I use the natural light because again it the opposite of the darkness it represents life and vitality and enhances the strength of light patterns and movement lines.

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Making a Full Sized Folding Double Plein Air Palette for Portraits by Deborah Chapin

Since I am having a slight delay in building the Taboret…. I decided to take care of another issue in equipment.    For year’s I have been frustrated by the equipment one can buy for artist work.  One of those has been a palette.   I would buy a new french easel and every one had to be remade with new hardware.   It got to the point I would just revamp the hardware pretty much out of the box. I would change the hinges for window locks epoxied in with heavy brass screws and re-wrap the flimsy metal blocks on the legs. Wax the wing nuts and locking screws on the slides etc… but the Palette was built for someone who was working in ideal conditions with loads of time which I found was not me.  I even had one that is so thin it split in half.  You can see how inconsistent they are both in size and shape and I wanted double that space for portrait work on location simply because of the process of creating a portrait … but now I am thinking why didn’t I do this before… life would have been so much easier.

TIP : one can easily layout the paint on the palette before hand, take a piece of peel and stick and cover the paint before putting it into the easel so you are ready to go on location.

Regular Plein Air Palettes that come with French Easel

Regular Plein Air Palettes that come with French Easel

Thickness of various palettes and overlapping size of various palettes

Thickness of various palettes and overlapping size


Doing lots of paintings next to the ocean where wind whipped around like it was channeled by high rises I had bent my thumb back till it was out of joint once teaching me never to hold my palette again.   Still when you jammed the palette into the location under the cover it cut off a significant portion of the palette mixing space… so years later, when I actually had some of the tools, ho ho ho, I decided since I knew all this I was going to make my own full double size folding palette so that I would have plenty of room to mix but not have it held in anyway.

I bought a piece of 1/4″ birch hardwood, made a pattern where the palette could slide under the cover easily and rest securely on top of the drawer.   I’m adding bungy cord as well to the back to wrap around the drawer.

The hinge I have purchased will fold out only 180 degrees so the palette lays flat and the paint blobs can be on the top palette when it folds back in half…. at any rate, I’m waiting on the 180 degree brass hinges.  My next thing is to apply a clear gesso finish for the mixing surface so I can see the wood ( which I like) but which will prevent leaching of oil paints into the wood, making it harder to clean.  Thus having a smooth mixing surface like glass.  Incidentally I found that there is something called spray on glass but I have been unable to find out how to obtain it here in the States… I’m doing some more sanding but I’m thrilled so far and tried out the fit this morning. Will post an update when it is complete.  I’m making another one as well for a laptop table.  If you would like for me to make you one I can do this, once I finalize the supply chains…  you can pre-order here: I’m also offering the instructions on how to build it yourself.

You see how bit by bit I’m getting more organized…

Double sized Folding Palette for Plein Air Portraits by Deborah Chapin

Full Double sized Folding Palette for Plein Air Portraits by Deborah Chapin

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Marketing of Art – parallels in the marketplace of the arts

Yesterday I watched a film about the comic strip artists and how they are adapting to the new markets since the demise of most of the newspapers and hence the syndicate marketing that went with it.  It was as they said a time like the previous generation of book illustrators who had to adapt and become comic strip artists in order to survive.  I was struck by the parallels of the comic strip artist and the fine artist with the gallery system which is slowly modifying and evolving into something different and the rise of the era of the independent artist.

The search for what’s next is always on my mind as I have another 30 years as an artist if I’m lucky and I want to accomplish a number of things.  How to go about doing that is the question, what is the best way to approach the marketplace for the fine artist….

The comic strip artist’s have done what many of fine artist’s have done, i.e. they’ve created websites and created a means of direct sales on these website. They outlined their process in the film see the following:

1)  comics put online for free building an audience and following by creating story lines for their work.  Creating a story line is not new, since this is how comic strips have been since their inception.  The thing which is new is that they an offering these for free, no syndication process which builds an audience.  We’ve seen this also in the book market as well, where publishers offer entire chapters for free online thereby creating a market for the book and in music as well where on YouTube musicians offer parts of albums to create a market for the downloaded album.

2) Step 1 is designed to create a large readership for the things which people like about the strip.  Some of these comics have developed millions of readers which of course is a wonderful way to get the word out.  In old marketing one use to say each person knows 5 people.  So if you have 2000 readers x 5 you are actually reaching 10,000 readers.  In old marketing you where you had a brick and mortar show you had the numbers of 1 in 20 would result in some sort of sale.  I suspect that the numbers are not the same in online marketing.  I generally go by the quality of the number, those people who view a site for more than 5 mins or see more than 6 pages are truly interested art lovers  1 in 20 of that type of viewer is your real market.  Art is like eating a fine meal, it requires some time to savor so anyone who looks at a page for 20 seconds just isn’t getting it…

3) Monetize you site.  The comic strip artist is selling books, prints, t-shirts etc… while fine artist’s can not do all of these things they can sell original art through the site by simply making a contact work on the site, ie email me if you have a question , you can sell prints, books, and instructional DVDs .  The principle is the same.

4) Once the website is large enough you can advertise i.e. sell advertising space on the site if you want which is another means of making income.

5) They also said cut out the middle men.  While I wouldn’t recommend this 100% for the fine artist, I do believe that in the present marketplace it is possible to be independent and work a show schedule as well without harming either.  Actually I believe and have always thought so, that it should boost the market of both and thereby increase the health of the marketplace for the fine arts.     Art is like fine wine it actually becomes richer with exposure, repeated exposure.  I’ve always said that art isn’t like selling Bread there is NO sell by date.


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