Daub du Jour

My name is Marianne Plumridge. I am an artist of mythic fantasy works and fine art images. More of which can be seen at my website, 'MariannePlumridge.com', and also my main Blog, 'Muse du Jour'. These sites are in the links section of this page. This site began life as a painting a day blog in 2007. However that project has now passed, but I still find myself painting in that way. So this site will now be the showcase my new paintings as inspired by those previous efforts.

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Location: New England, United States

Friday, May 26, 2017

Steampunk Sarah...

(Oils, 14x18")   Price: $ 2500.00

Last year, at Illuxcon IX in Reading, PA I had a chance to do something that has been close to my creative heart for several years. Moving the annual mecca gathering of artists, collectors, students and fans of the art of the fantastic to its new, bigger location, I finally got to produce the Illuxcon Costume Salon and Sketch Lab on the top floor of the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts. It was a four day dedicated work space for artists to collaborate with volunteer models and a mass of loaned costume pieces and props, and watch daily demonstrations about working with models, creating costumes to enhance ideas, photograph them in a professionally lit space, and also to sketch them. It was a fantastic experience for one and all, and so many of us exhibiting artists were torn between manning our tables and running upstairs to create and play. I personally took over 350 photos, sometimes on the fly as one of our costume clad volunteers was escorted to a perfect place to be sketched or photographed by an entranced gaggle of spectators and participants. We learned a lot last year, and will be applying that new knowledge to this years efforts of the Costume Salon and Sketch Lab. Meanwhile, of the many, many inspirational photos I took, one group stood out and I just had to take brush to canvas to capture my version of it. Sarah, who graciously hosted the four day event, and patiently wrangled not only costumes but enthusiastic artists and models with panache and aplomb, also became the model for my painting 'Victoriana'.

On the Saturday of the workshop, I had left my table in the hands of my husband and darted upstairs to the Salon to see what was happening. Sarah was modeling her authentically made reproduction Civil War ballgown, complete with hoop, petticoats, hair and makeup, and other essential accoutrements. I arrived just as her session on stage ended and she headed over to where fellow artist, Ruth Sanderson was standing with her camera in hand. Sarah announced that it was time to change things up and she wanted to 'steampunk' up her ball gown. Mair and I looked at each other and went 'suuuuuuure' and swung into action. Out came the hoop skirt and petticoats, in went a ruffled and upswept new petticoat. Sarah chose a leather vest and belt off the tables, and a little 'fascinator' top hat affair that she perched at a jaunty angle on her  head, leather gauntlets, etc. The sunlight streamed through the nearby window, and when it fell on Sarah in her costume, I just knew magic was in the air. I took soooo many photos of that particular set up, and eventually returned to my table and art very much inspired. Below, are a very few of the photos I took that day. The last one is what served as the basis for my painting.

Following on from my last painting and wanting to test myself, I decided to start Victoriana 'cold'. I did not do ANY pre-sketching. Instead, I scrubbed Burnt Umber oil paint into a canvas board, covering it, and scrapped off the excess...giving it an aged look. When it dried, I took a fine liner brush and drew basic lines and compositional elements on the canvas in freehand. It was a concerted effort to get the oil sketch correct, but I did make an initial error in the model's right arm. It was fixed while painting sometime later in the process. The goal this time was to be able to create a full painted figure using only my eye, my instincts and experience, and my love of the painting process. This was a follow on from painting 'Jeannie' freehand. I reached my goal and was rather pleased with the outcome.

Sarah in her Civil War ballgown.

After we added and subtracted a few things...

A fine closeup of the finished effect, and ready to be used as basic reference for a painting...

And this is the photo that inspired me to paint 'Victoriana'. Isn't that a glorious lighting?

Anyway, there are sooo many more things to paint from the reference photos that I took at the Salon...and so many more memories and creative situations to make at the upcoming Illuxcon Costume Salon and Sketch Lab this coming November. I'm really looking forward meeting up with everybody again, costumes and props in hand, and making magic...

Thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Recent Space Epics

Broken Sky
(16x20", Oils on Stretched Canvas)  Price: $650.00 SOLD
This started out as something different...something that wasn't coming together as I saw it in minds eye. The color scheme was putting me off, so I decided to change things up a bit. The pastel colors turned darker, more dramatic, and suddenly the imagined ringed giant became a broken moon. The cloud city stayed the same amidst the wispy underlay. Lots of nice brushy work that I really enjoyed.

 Descent From Phobos Base
(6x9", Oils on Canvas Board)   Price:  $160.00  SOLD
Small rocket doodle with a nostalgic Mars and small base on Phobos moon. 

Trail Chaser
(6x8", Oils on Canvas Board)  Price: $160.00 SOLD
Another small rocket doodle of Saturn.

More soon, thanks for stopping by...

Friday, August 12, 2016

A Little Kaiju Spot

(8x10", Oil on Stretched Linen)
Price: $300.00

 (8x10", Oil on Stretched Linen)
Price: $300.00

 (8x10", Oil on Canvas Board)
Price: $300.00

I haven't had a lot of time for painting the last six months, and the few major attempts that I began have stalled for the time being. Meanwhile, as our annual visit to Chicago for the Godzilla convention, G-Fest was fast approaching, I made my usual resolve to try and paint something new to show people. It's only this last two years that I've actually been able to do so. Self-sabotage when you're trying to be creative is an evil thing and all too common for artists with conflicting demands on their time and inspiration. Still, I really surprised myself this year. I set out to doodle some design ideas from one of my favourite kaiju (Japanese for 'giant monster') series: The Rebirth of Mothra: I, II, and III. These three movies are such a visual feast and have quite a range of Mothra incarnations that include: Armored Mothra, Aqua Mothra, Rainbow Mothra, Eternal Mothra, Larval Mothra, etcetera, beginning with the original coloured Mothra which features in these three little colour sketches. I had such fun painting these with my usual limited palette. They got a lot of love at the convention as well. Currently they are adding their jewel-like colours to my study wall along with my other new paintings from this year. Below are the 6x8" design sketches that began each painting...now gone from my traveling sketchbook, as someone bought all three at the convention. I will just have to draw up some more. After all, there are lots more versions of Mothra to paint...

I was asked once, why I don't paint the other monsters in the Godzilla canon. Well, the answer to that is that my husband paints all of them, including original Mothra with such brilliance and creative dexterity that I just shrug and say: I love them all, but I'm just not interested in trying to paint them. Mothra, however, seems to touch something inside of me that responds with instinctive inspiration. These are little paintings that were done off the cuff and I had fun with. The only other two times I painted Mothra were created sixteen years apart. I thought it was high time to get inspired again, and reach for paint and brushes. The difference in my skill in that sixteen year hiatus is staggering.

Meanwhile, thanks for stopping by. I'll try to post something new soon. After all, Illuxcon is just around the corner...


Friday, February 12, 2016

Little Songbirds...

Little Chickadee
(5x7", Oils on Stretched Linen)   PRICE:  $ 170.00  SOLD

Fairy Wren
(5x7", Oils on Stretched Linen)  PRICE: $170.00

These are my first pure bird paintings in some time. And you have no idea how much I enjoyed painting them. No robots, goddesses, or other dominant features in sight: just birds. The first one is a Black Capped Chickadee...one of my favourite little birds to paint. The second is an Australian native species, a Fairy Wren. There are many variants in the Fairy Wren family, and this is just one of them. I noted, after I finished the painting that my painted bird was a bit bigger than a real Fairy Wren...they are generally very tiny and rather gorgeously coloured in jewel tones.

Included on the palette were: Burnt Sienna, French Ultramarine, Titanium White, Alizarin Crimson, Permanent Rose, Yellow Ochre, Sap Green, Permanent Light Green, Cadmium Orange Hue, and Cobalt Blue.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by,

Friday, January 29, 2016

Reconnecting with Portraiture...

(16 x 20", Oil on Stretched Canvas)   
For the last several years, I have been wanting to revisit painting the figure after a more than ten year hiatus...and that includes reconnecting with painting portraits. I've had some recent success with the latest paintings, so I thought I'd get a bit more ambitious in two ways: paint a definitive portrait of someone I know personally, and do it without any pre-sketching or planning. The result is "Jeannie". And you have no idea how scary as all get out that was to accomplish... I stopped painting portraits around 20 years ago for a couple of reasons, but mainly because, as an empath/intuitive I learned far more about the subject person than I perhaps wanted to know. It becomes personal when an artist deliberates and defines the planes, lines, and eyes in a subject's face, seeking an internal spark to bring their work to life...and sometimes that intimacy connects a bit too much, or becomes a biting frustration because no matter how you try, the person's closed mind won't allow their spark to shine forth. Then again, there are dark places within the human spirit that no matter how beautiful the person is, you just don't want to paint them. Any one or group of reasons is why I stopped painting people, let alone taking commissions...I sort of stopped dealing with people on an artistic level, and it has taken me a very long time to reconnect them to my art. Also, I have matured as an artist, and my technique has blossomed into what I hoped it might be all those years ago...

So, I've had photos of Jeannie on file for some years, both candid shots of her and borrowed photos from her husband's (Patrick) archive. He is a gifted amateur photographer, and she, a brilliant and willing muse. Together, they created and have run 'Illuxcon' - the annual art expo in Pennsylvania for the last eight years that brings together artists, students and collectors from all over the world to learn, teach, buy, sell, and generally celebrate 'The Art of the Fantastic'. Since the beginning, they have become dear friends treasured confidantes. Is it any wonder that I decided to borrow Pat's muse to paint?

Taking a deep breath and a gessoed and sanded stretched canvas, I put it up on my easel. I started with one of Pat's photos of Jeannie as a guide off to my left, and laid out paint to my right. Using a clean rag and a little Drying Linseed Oil mixed with Raw Umber oil paint, I scrubbed the color into the canvas to create a mid-value base tint to work on. Using a Size 6 Round brush, I sketched in the basic lines that formed the face and hand, and quick strokes to get the shape of the hair blocked in. Adding Burnt Sienna and French Ultramarine to the palette, I used a 1/2" Angle Flat brush to start blocking in the deeper shadows. And with Yellow Ochre, Titanium White, Cobalt Blue, Cadmium Red Light, and Sap Green, , and Size 6 Filbert Brush to start laying skin tones. Notice how scrubby the non-background is. I hadn't fully decided where I was going with this painting yet, so I left it for the time being.

Upon impulse, I used a lot of left over Cobalt and French Ultramarine Blues to smoosh into the background...still not sure where I was going with it all. A simple portrait of Jeannie was starting to take on deeper dimensions, so I just decided to go with the flow. Being a bit out of practice with just painting directly onto the canvas as I was, I thought I suffered the usual amateur problem of having my subject situated too low (or any other compositional problem, really) in the canvas. So I thought about it for awhile, and came to the conclusion that the composition was just to plain for a personality as bright as Jeannie's. Off to the computer to troll through photos.... There, I remembered that fellow Illuxcon Alumni, the accomplished artist from the Netherlands, Iris Compiet had once created a gorgeous headdress for Jeannie and that many photos had been taken of Jeannie wearing it. Voila! All of Jeannie's whimsy and personality began to shine the moment I decided to paint it...and of course, the allowance above her head in the composition was actually perfect. Problem solved, so back to painting...

Here, the first blocking of the headband, blue flowers and nebulous feathers are blocked in in their basic colors. When that layer dried, I went back in with very loose brushstrokes and completed a truncated version of Iris' elaborate concoction that frames Jeannie's face rather nicely, without obscuring it. I worked on finalizing the hair at this point, and employed the addition of Cobalt Violet and Alizarin Crimson to Yellow Ochre to create Jeannie's distinctive red hair color. To break up the sharp lines, I took a fine liner brush and pulled wispy bits of painted hair down to wrap around her wrist and flow outward a bit. Still, there was still something intrinsically  missing...

Here is the completed portrait, sitting on my easel. Another piece of Jeannie's personality is her passion for elephants, so I created a loose wrap bracelet in 'silver' with an elephant charm on it. Largely signifying that she wears her love for those lovely beasts literally on her sleeve.

There is a poem by William Wordsworth that was ascribed to me by a dear friend on my 21st birthday many years ago...and it comes back to me every now and then, to bemuse and humble me. I'm not sure I ever was that sylph described in the text, but for some reason, in the back of my mind, it comes very close to describing my friend, Jeannie. Thank you for sharing this journey, my dear...  xxoo to you and Patrick.

She Was a Phantom of Delight

By William Wordsworth
She was a Phantom of delight
When first she gleamed upon my sight;
A lovely Apparition, sent
To be a moment's ornament;
Her eyes as stars of Twilight fair;
Like Twilight's, too, her dusky hair;
But all things else about her drawn
From May-time and the cheerful Dawn;
A dancing Shape, an Image gay,
To haunt, to startle, and way-lay.
I saw her upon nearer view,
A Spirit, yet a Woman too!
Her household motions light and free,
And steps of virgin-liberty;
A countenance in which did meet
Sweet records, promises as sweet;
A Creature not too bright or good
For human nature's daily food;
For transient sorrows, simple wiles,
Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears, and smiles.
And now I see with eye serene
The very pulse of the machine;
A Being breathing thoughtful breath,
A Traveller between life and death;
The reason firm, the temperate will,
Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill;
A perfect Woman, nobly planned,
To warn, to comfort, and command;
And yet a Spirit still, and bright
With something of angelic light.

Thanks for stopping by. Stay tuned for my next adventure in paint...

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Winter Magic...

Kindred Spirits
(16 x 20", Oils on stretched Linen)  PRICE: $1400.00

I don't have a lot left of my current works. There are total of TWO paintings left for beginning of the year shows, Arisia in January, and Boskone in February. I can't complain too much, I guess...since people seem to be buying my works. However, the two latest paintings are figurative works, and happen to be the first ones that I've attempted in over a decade. That they have turned out so well, and that people have REALLY liked them is a gratification that I've been working towards for the last four years. Yes, it has taken me that long to fight my way through the mental paralysis of working with figures again and making it work. The differences between how I was painting figures and faces 10-15 years ago as opposed to how I am painting them now, is virtually night and day. I have matured as a painter, and it shows. But the journey is a long one, and there is always more to paint and more to learn...

So here is 'Kindred Spirits', inspired by a candid photo I took of a young lady walking the galleries at Illuxcon in 2013, in Allentown at the Allentown Museum of Art. Her costume and beauty turned heads and succeeded in making the resident artists' inspiration and creativity beat a little faster. I, like my colleagues around me, whipped out a camera and took some photos on the fly. The young lady turned out to be fellow Illuxcon Alumni artist, Alessandra Pisano, who creates and models beautiful costumes...and paints extraordinarily beautiful paintings to boot. The two images I had taken languished in my reference file since then...until this last December when I really felt I needed to paint something for the upcoming shows, and equally wanted to paint something 'seasonal', ie. 'Christmassy'. So, I started drawing in my traveling sketchbook. Surprising myself, I actually relaxed and had fun with my pencils and got her likeness to where I wanted it. Then I thought that painting just the figure was somehow lacking...so I went looking for a reindeer to round out the tableau into something more special. Once I drew that in, the idea of the painting started to take on a life of its own.

So, before I could mentally panic and procrastinate, I drew down the sketch onto a linen support, took a deep breath and just started laying in paint. There was no mid-ground tint to use as a balance, the experiment for this painting being a 'let's see how far I can get in just sketching this in paint'. I got asked about how I worked out the 'values' properly when I posted an 'in progress' photo on Facebook. The answer is, I do most of it in my head (and it probably shows disagreeably to more 'well versed in method' artists) and the rest is instinctive. At least that is what happened with this painting. So, below, is an easel shot of the beginnings of the painting process... plus a closer detail photo. Since I had initially just wanted to see how far I could go painting the figures, I only had a vague idea of what I wanted to do in the background. Well, that sort of solved itself over a couple of weeks during the holidays, whilst my brain was busy with party and food preparations. I got splashy with a limited dark palette, and had my usual fun smooshing paint around...

 Below, is the nearly finished painting. The darks have dried out in this photo, and came up with a little application of a retouch spray varnish. Note the copy of my original sketch off to the right, and my three reference photos on the left of the easel. I don't paint photo realistic any more. My style has evolved into a lovely slightly brushy aspect that has impressionistic notes in its execution...and I am so happy with that, I can't express.

The color palette for this painting included: Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red Light, Sap Green, French Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna, Titanium White, and Alizarin Crimson.

Thanks for stopping by,

You can find out more about Alessandra Pisano's work at:

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Figurative Goddess...

The Modern Athena
(24x30", Oil on Stretched Canvas)   Price: $ 4500.00

Welcome to my very first major figurative work in over a decade. I fell out of practice in painting people over the years. Animals and still life work took over in 2006 after I decided that the role of becoming a fantasy and science fiction book cover artist...a long coveted career that I'd cherished since childhood...was never going to eventuate. I went through a period of loss and a somewhat depressive time before completely ignoring those beloved genres and diving headlong into more mainstream art. My painting a day project grew from that: very small works of still lifes involving flowers, toys, and such. Eventually I branched out into specific themes that worked for me. My beloved series of robots and nature, BIRDS 'N' BOTS, arose from those experiments and continues to this day, as well as my cosmic whales and rocket doodles. However, through all of those years, and earlier, I never returned to painting the figure, save a the odd small painted sketch of a mermaid or portrait. Fast forward to the last three years. I decided that I wanted start painting figures again...but after being out of practice for so long, it was far easier than it sounds. I engaged our two best models and had a fabulous five hour model shoot with them and costumey type accoutrements and took over 350 photos. Filled with possibility and wonderful results, I somehow couldn't bring myself to engage in the actual inspirational process that would lead to the paintings I envisioned. Fear of failure after so long, lead to a fear of drawing the figure, and ultimately fear of picking up a pencil and just doodling them. New paintings happened, but they weren't the figurative ones I had dreamed of. I had a few other photo sessions with Sarah, our sylph-like ballerina model, whereupon we had fun dressing her in various lux' fabrics and lighting and taking copious photographs for my files. This last session, something clicked in my brain...and my inner muse piped up and said... "Okay, it's time to swallow the fear and get ON with this". Then my muse smacked me upside the head until I had an idea to work with. A simple composition, very simple symbolism, and a firm resolve not to 'overpaint' or 'over finish' the paint. There are levels of realism, and I've tried many of them, but I return to my favourite comfort zone of painterly, serendipitous brush strokes, and unapologetically old school style of 'not quite Impressionism'. And I am happy. As you'll see, it took me a while to augment my basic want to paint the figure of Athena with something storytelling. The 'Little Owl', the Helmet, and the 'shield' are all a part of the Athena canon of accoutrements/symbols. In my modern incarnation of the goddess, she wears a heavy silver cuff on her 'shield arm' that is inscribed with her owl, representing 'wisdom'. Wisdom is a shield in this image as she is about to walk off into an unknown future. In passing she considers her owl perched on a branch that almost looks like a spear behind the helmet. Does she still need the trappings of her past, in the future she's heading for. All of her symbols are represented in the crumbling bass relief portrait of her archaic self etched in stone in the background.

This is the composite final sketch, comprising the separate elements I drew. I put this together with photoshop because the old fear of drawing lead me to believe that I might screw it all up if I tried too hard. Also, it gave me the freedom to dither for an hour or so in getting the positioning of the elements 'just right'.
This is the portrait of Sarah that I drew in my sketchbook that kicked off the inspiration for painting Athena.

This is the main drawing I did to base all of the other elements on. Below, is the Little Owl, aka 'Athena's Owl' and the archaic Grecian helmet.

Below are some progress shots of the painting. I didn't keep them up during the final stages of the painting, unfortunately: too many interruptions and things that needed doing. 

Under-painting tint with a few highlights and darks. I don't like doing a full on monochromatic work up base painting. I prefer working with the colours and paint as I go. Burnt Sienna in main background, pale Terre Verte was the thin tint used in the skin areas.

Laying in the base coats of paint in the background with big brushes, one fine brush, and a scrubby fun with a small palette knife. I wanted levels of stone 'texture' in the bass relief sculpture to reflect wear and age and character. 

Starting to refine and add some darks into things.

Beginning work on the figure at last...and trying not to run screaming from the easel. Face the fear DOWN. Laid in the dress with big brushes and painterly highlights. It didn't vary much at all in the finished painting. Sculpting with light and shadow on the skin textures.

The face is coming along...although I took an artistic liberty to change the eye, nose, and lips just a little.
The face in early stages...

I was also starting to work on the hair here, as well...
And here, unfortunately is the last work in progress photo that I took. I was just beginning to work on noodling the foliage and block in the helmet and branch that the owl is sitting on. I ended up repainting the figure's hand three times in frustration...because it just wasn't working for me. We went to visit our model, Sarah, for tea one Sunday morning and my husband brought his iPad along. In a fast five minutes, he made me reshoot Sarah's hand in a slightly different pose. I wrapped a sheet of tinfoil around her wrist to represent the 'shield cuff' Athena is wearing...and took the photos. Phew. They made all of the difference. I finally was happy with the position of the fingers, and happily noodled the creation of the shield cuff and its adornment right on the canvas.

The palette used for Athena's skin tones consisted of: Cadmium Red Light, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Titanium White, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, and French Ultramarine. Other local colours appearing in the surroundings also reflecting in the skin a bit, include: Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Lemon, Sap Green, Terre Verte, Chromium Oxide, a tiny touch of Alizirin Crimson, and also Cerulean Blue and Cobalt Blue in the figure's dress. Brushes: everything from Angled 1/2 inch Flats, 2 inch Flats and Filberts, to much smaller Size 6 Filberts, and very fine rounds. Big floofy blending brushes were used sparingly, but helped smooth the skin of the figure and softened rough edges on the leaves here and there, and the carving in the background.

It is finished, and I am very proud of the achievement. I feel now that I can move on to other figurative works in the future. If not confidently, then somewhat surer than I have been this past three years that it took me to get to this moment of completion. Thanks for sharing the journey.

Come back soon!