Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sudden Storm

The painting pictured below is called 'Sudden Storm', as it depicts one of those quick hitting, fast moving, low running storms that roll in from the sea from time to time. This is the second depiction of the little boat. What I've learned from this one is going to take me back to its predecessor to rework some elements of the piece that I've been vaguely uneasy with all along.

It's an 11x14 oil on gessoed canvas covered board, toned with an acrylic base. You see the painting as it sits on the easel - still wet and unshippable. There was no Terp or medium used to extend the paint - it also means the drying time will be extended - all the paint was straight from the tube and mixed on the brush. The work is Ala Prima.

This is the first painting I've done which is not going to live with me. It was done for a friend in return for a kindness. So the painting is going to Denver to live on the wall near the front door of her home.

I suspect this is not the last time I'm going to paint this boat. I think I want to paint it in a sunrise, with the sun rising out of the horizon and shimmering across the water. I also want to paint a lazy summer afternoon with it - one of those clear days where the sea is smooth as glass and you can see forever. And maybe a windy, breezy day, as well. With a deep blue sky and small, puffy white clouds out over the horizon.

Yeah, that's the ticket. Over the horizon ....

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Just Before The Storm

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This is an oil on canvas covered board, 11x14. It is an exploration of a technique suggested to me by my teacher, Marilyn Dale. It was the initial attempt at the technique and as such (as far as the technique goes), not very good. However, as a painting, I like the piece.

The technique is this: Cover the canvas with a thin medium tone Burnt Umber. Use a cloth to wipe away paint and create the light areas of the piece. Add darks with undiluted Burnt Umber and feather (where necessary) with a dry brush. Sounds easier than it is.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

After Zach

The reason the image below is called "After Zach" is even though it's a painting for which Zach is the 'model' (actualy, a photo), it is not an exact likeness. Just as an artist will sign a copy of a master with a signature that acknowledges the fact that it's a copy, and not the original, and in doing so sign it "After Monet, John Jones" - or whatever the artist's name is. This is a 'copy' of Zach - or a piece 'inspired' by Zach, but not Zach. That said, people who know Zach recognize him in this painting. I have that on good authority.

This is an oil on canvas, toned with acrylic. I chose to use a heavy texture in the tone, instead of just a smooth,neutral tone.

The painting is spare. I am still learning how to use shape and texture to define a subject. As you see this, the paint is still wet. I haven't even signed it yet.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Guess who

We had our last art class this morning. Last of this series, anyway. There will be more classes in the fall. What you see below is what I did in class today. The subject of the class, should you not have guessed by now, was "Self Portrait".

It has always been so hard for me to judge my work. I suppose it is for any artist.
I suppose, also, that's why we look to others for approval. We ask others to judge our work. I know I am not a Rembrandt, a Picasso, a Vikki North or a Fred Zigler. Each of them are accomplished artists who have found their 'voice' and established their style. I am still seeking my voice. Although I find I like working this loose style I've found in this one and in the still life I just did two weeks ago. Broad strokes, light and dark, little detail or precision.

I like this piece. It even looks like me - which I find amazing. I was SO intimidated by the thought of even attempting a self portrait. I won't be so hesitant in the future.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ala Prima Still Life - from class

This morning I took a vacation day from work and took a class with Marilyn Dale, the woman from whom I have learned so much. This was the first of three classes. This one was 'Working Ala Prima' - which means, essentially, the whole painting is done in one session. Detail isn't as important as seeing and reproducing the relative values of light and dark. The painting I did is below:

When one works 'Ala Prima', or at least if one works as we were taught today, the painting starts by toning the canvas. We used a Burnt Umber acrylic, thinned way down with water, so it would dry quickly. Once the canvas dried, we took a thin brush and a neutral oil color, thinned with Turpenoid and made an outline drawing of the piece. When working Ala Prima, it is very important to draw well. I need to do more of these to kind of figure a few things out, but I DO know that if I were working as I normally do (layered painting) this painting would look much different than it does. Better? I don't know. But absolutely different.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

After the last class - on my own now

What you will see below is the look of my current painting after the end of the last class in the session. From here on I'm on my own.

The forground needs a bit more work, but I'm close now. The trees on the left are closer to what they will look like in the final version. The one-time foliage at the foot of those trees has become a foreground rocky outcrop and the trees have been pushed to the background with a white glaze. But - not done yet. The trees on the right are in the middle of a re-do. And the water needs work.

Stay tuned. Updates to follow. I just don't know how regular they're going to be.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Oh, man, that's ugly

Jumping right to the picture ...

Now there's a reason it looks so ugly right now. It's beginning to pick up some color that it needs and is going to need going forward. For example, in the foreground, the red hue will be covered over by an application of a golden brown mixed with shots of green and a muddier brownish color. Then, using a technique called 'scraffito', long grass will be 'scraped' into the forground using the edge of a pallet knife. The underlying red will show through in the grass.

Decisions need to be made about the trees on both sides of the painting. The trees on the right, for example, need to be 'thinned' out and the trunks extended down to the underbrush at the base of the hill, which will serve to pull them closer to the viewer. The trees on the left need to have their trunks thinned and a decision needs to be made as to whether they are to be near or far. If near, they just need work. If far, then the foliage at the base of the trees needs to get painted out, and the trees need to be glazed over with the blue/white 'mist'.

So, right now, everything needs work. I almost hate to post this because it really looks terrible, but it IS part of the evolution of the piece and it is part and participle of the end result. And the idea here is, after all, to document the process. So here it is. Ugly. The duckling before .....

Thursday, April 24, 2008

grabbing some color

Okay. I did some glazing for the first time. The background mountain has been covered in a blue/white glaze, simulating a cold mist. That's probably not the final look - but it's close. The small hills centrally located in the painting have what will probably be the final color - although they MAY get a very thin haze applied to them, as well. I have marked out some areas where green shrubs are going to grow - the trees left and right need to be worked on and that large foreground area needs work. There is a camp which votes for the foreground fence, in order to establish depth. There is another camp which thinks that enough detail in the foreground grasses will establish that depth. I am undecided. I DO know that if I add the fence I will change it from a wire fence to an all wood fence. With an opening into the picture - part of the fence will be down. If I decide to add it.

Of course, If I do add the fence, then I wouldn't need to be so precise in the foreground grass detail - something I'm not familiar with. On the other hand, I'm not familiar with wood fences, either. Choices ....

Friday, April 18, 2008

Even more progress, on my own

I am making progress - unguided by anyone but my instincts. And the memory of what my teacher has said from time to time. Which in itself is progress, because I feel more confident in my ability to approach my painting without fear of messing it up (beyond repair). I can mess things up, don't get me worng, but I can correct stuff if I need to and that gives me confidence. So, this evening, after posting up the last of Bath, England on the other blog, I went downstairs to add some color of a more appropriate nature to the foreground and experiment, a bit, with the bushes on the right hand side above the stream.

None of this is final in appearance. The grass will be browner and look more like straw. The bushes will be greener and darker in the shadows. But I understand what I have to do and I know what colors I will use in my mixes. What is there now is closer to what will be than what was there before. Huh?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Progress at last - I made it to class

I made it to class this week and actually made some progress on my new painting. It's going to be a bit hard to see in this photo, because the lighting is so bad, but there is actually color in the sky (it's actually all cloud, with a bright spot or two) and the ugly foreground color will get better, I promise. The underpainting is done - now it's just a matter of adding all of the appropriate color and some detail in areas that require it.

I've marked out the place where the little house is going to be and begun work on the waterfall and the downstream stuff. It's coming together nicely. I learned, this evening, that paint from the tube probably isn't going to be the color you want to use in your painting. You probably want to mix your colors yourself. That's probably the hardest thing to do - consistently. Mixing colors is an art in itself and it's something I really need to learn. You need to be able to repeat your color mixes from session to session - and that ain't easy. But I'm learning.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Ireland in november begins

Naturally, with the first class it took a while to get everything and everybody organized and familiar with procedures. That, and of course, Marilyn had to do some actual TEACHING so we didn't get started on our paintings until quite late in the first session. So, she gave us homework. And that homework was to continue working up the monchrome underpainting establishing the relative values of dark and light in the painting. So this:

is what I came home with last Wednesday and this:

Is where I've gotten since then.

Now, I've made some decisions about the painting and what it's going to look like. I have added a clump of trees on the left to balance the clump of trees on the right. And I have decided to eliminate the fence which traverses the foreground of the picture which is the inspiration for this painting. So, for the moment, this is it.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Art class coming - decisions, decisions

A new art class is to start April 2nd - the Wednesday after we come back from England. So decisions need to be made now - rather than last minute. Below are the candidates for the basis of the painting to be created during art class. The first one is the 'whole picture' and the second one is a crop of the first one. The second one, to my mind, follows the 'rules' of art better - the waterfall is NOT centered, as it is in the top picture, but the top picture has more interesting stuff in it.

The consensus of opinion seems to be that the first picture is better. My goal is to offer an impression of the lonely feel of "Ireland in November" (the working name of the painting), when it's rainy and chilly and the sun doesn't impart much warmth - in its light or its presence. This picture is taken in Galway County, on the way to Waterford from Letterfrack. This is the northern stretch of the ancient kingdom of Connemarra, a wild and open land; lonely, yet filled with the echoes of legend.

Which do you favor, as the basis for my painting?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Playing Around

I was playing around with the next to last image of my painting in a Photoshop-like program called GIMP, which runs in Linux. (There is also a version for Windows.) The results are below.

I took the picture to a 'grayscale' and ran it through the 'cartoon' filter. Cool, huh?

I use this as a 'wallpaper' on my system. You are free to click on the picture, download it and save it on your system, and use it as a wallpaper if you wish.

Monday, February 18, 2008

1st change - 2nd painting

Okay, I said I wasn't going to publish the picture I'm using as a basis for my new painting again. And technically, I'm not. It's a different picture. I have decided to shift the view I'm painting downward - to show more of the harbor and foreground and less of the sky. To me, the reflections in the harbor are more interesting than the relatively washed out sky. Plus, the plant which is lower right, in profile, gives better balance to the overall piece. It establishes a triangle of interesting points in the painting - the boat, the sunlit wall and the backlit plant. And, of course, the reflections contained within that triangle.

The black and white photo is there to help establish the light and dark values for the underpainting. When it's done, the B&W will be replaced by the color shot sitting on the easel. And the painting will become colorful. Hopefully, nicely colorful.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

In it's frame

I found this frame at Hobby Lobby. I had this kind of frame in mind when I went out to look, but I wasn't sure I could find one. But - I did.

Now all I have to do is find somewhere to hang it.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Ta Da!

It is, finally, as done as it's going to get. What you see below, with the initials in the lower right hand corner, is "Derelict in Harbor". Is it perfect? No. Am I done messing with it? Yes. I can't make it any better, so it's time to stop.

The subject of this painting still lies beached along the quay in Ballynakill Harbour near Letterfrack, Galway Co., Ireland. Her superstructure has collapsed toward the quay, so that from the angle of this picture, her deck structure is no longer visible. She also has company that didn't exist at the time this painting documents. There is a large tramp steamer on the other side of the quay - also permanently beached. At least she's not alone.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The beginning of the second

I have taken the first few steps toward creating my second painting. There have been some decisions made and there are some decisions yet to be made. But the first step has been taken- I have created a 'toned ground'. See below ...

On the right is a blank, white canvas, which I have placed there in order to demonstrate what I have done by toning the ground. The canvas on the left is the beginning of the piece - the 'toned ground'. In the middle of the two is the picture on which I am going to base the painting. This is the only time I'm going to post this picture here (or anywhere). The reason is that this picture is the BASIS for the painting - it will give me direction - but the painting may wind up looking very unlike this picture. I just thought it might be informative to see what I'm starting from.

So I have made two decisions - to publish the picture and to tone the ground with acrylic paint. Another decision I've made is to do the work in oil, not acrylic. The underpainting, which will be next, will be in acrylic, but that's as far as acrylic is going to go in this piece. It's easier to work in oil - and I think it takes more skill than I have right now to work well in acrylic.

As far as decisions which have yet to be made, they involve some technical stuff like 'where am I going to place the horizon line?', 'what elements of the picture am I going to include in the painting?' and 'where are the elements I'm going to include going to be placed?'. Then, of course, there's the decision regarding style - I am going to paint this with heavy, textured strokes (Impasto) - the more impressionist style, or I am going to paint this with thinner, less textured paint in a more realistic style? The subject would seem to lend itself to either style. I'm going to have to think about that. But not very long.

This, by the way, is an element of the first painting which was left out for the sake of simplicity. I suppose it bears mentioning that the first painting is not done yet. I need a break. I will finish it when the time is right.

Comments, as always, are welcome.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

And even more changes

Well, I think we're done playin' around with the clouds now and except for a little (very minor) detail work, the mountain will remain unchanged. The green hills across the bay still need work and there's some minor work that still needs to be done to the various reflections and tones in the still water of the harbor.

See below .....

You may have noticed a little change in the road. It isn't done yet, but this new direction is truer to the original photo and I feel more comfortable now, working toward this end, than I did when I first started the painting.

I still don't have a 'style'. I am still finding my way through the maze of different ways to represent reality in paint. Or the impression of reality. Each bend and twist in the maze is a learning point. Hopefully, the next piece will be a little easier - not in concept or execution, but in establishing and maintaining direction, form and style.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

back on the right track ...

Okay. The clouds have been stripped off and redone. The mountain has been redone -and will acquire more detail as the paint dries to the touch. See below ...

I thought I would have to re-seal the canvas, but it wasn't necessary. I was able to remove the textures in the painted surface that were bothering me and so I was able to get further than I thought. It won't be necessary to publish a REALLY ugly pic of the painting. More tomorrow.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Still looking for that cigar

Well, this time I've really done it. I've started down a road that there is likely no turning back from. Not without starting all over, and I don't think I could do that. See Below...

On the other hand, it might be possible to retreat from here - but to do that, I have to stop right here and make up my mind whether this is the right way to go. So anybody with an opinion is more than welcome, at this point, to weigh in on the decision.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

closer, closer ....

Okay, first let me say that I am not completely happy with this particular change. What is does, though, is establish a direction. The only change here is in the clouds, but it is a big change nonetheless. No - for certain- I am not done messin' with the clouds yet. See Below ....

The clouds on the far left need to be at the same level as the main body of cloud, central to the piece. The cloud body above the low line of whitish clouds needs more definition and a color change to a greyer blue-white.

But I have established the direction that that portion of the painting is going to take. I like this direction better - I'm just not in love with the execution, so far.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Closer, but still no cigar ...

Well, there's been a number of changes to the piece. The first cut at the reflection of the quay in the water has been made, and the color of the hull has been altered to reflect the actual color in the photograph (or at least, we're bending in that direction). See below ...

There is so much left to do. The Hull still needs work, the tone of the quay reflection will probably need to change, the road hasn't even begun to see the changes that are to come and the cloud bank is going to change. I've decided to pull the clouds down behind the mountain and, perhaps, create an effect where the clouds are just beginning to creep around the sides of the mountain. Other than that, things are going along just fine .... I really don't want to be one of those people that doesn't know when to quit, but I have something I'm shooting for and I'm not there yet. As always, comments are welcome.