12″x12″ oil on canvas
I’ve been weighing thicker and looser oil painting technique against thinner and more exacting. The former seems to push my color intensity to match the density of the paint. Despite the thick paint, I’ve glazed in places, joining a technique I’ve used only with thin layers, with a near impasto. A wake-up for my senses, or at least a new passage and practice.
A bit of gestural nostalgia. Friends strolling in the sun, while amiably catching up.
Another one! A formidable being, this creature made her presence known and demanded her fifteen minutes of fame! She’s long gone now, but I won’t forget her anytime soon.
Two variations of K.
There are so many ways to portray a subject. Even when the portrait is figurative, a straight forward depiction of likeness; a literal likeness of an individual, it’s a challenge to decide which aspect of your model you want to highlight or capture. That said, I’ve been playing with “sets”. These are two figurative, straight up portraits of an individual, exploring two very different ways of seeing her.
-Please forgive the less than ideal photos of these oil paintings. The human eye blends the color and values, my lack of expertise with a camera seems to separate them-
This week I’m breaking the form. For the next seven days I’ll be posting watercolor sketches while I continue to work on new projects.
Not to worry about commenting on each post. I love hearing from you, but I don’t wish to make a pest of myself. Hope you find one of the seven that speaks to you.
This is a larger watercolor than I usually paint, at 15″ x 22″. The color is also far more restrained than my usual watercolor experiments. There is also a touch of acrylic in this mostly watercolor effort.
Upon completion with the watercolor paint, I felt a need to lighten areas of the figure but found it was too late to lift those areas with a damp brush. So, I enlisted a few strokes of acrylic. Perhaps I’ll try a little liquid frisket next time to hold the lightest lights.
Celebration at my house! Our furry family has been through a crisis, but everybody just got a clean bill of health! We couldn’t be happier.
Yes, you see a little white watercolor. Couldn’t help myself;)
I LOVE to paint portraits, people, figures, gestures. In the hands of a skilled and thoughtful artist, Old Master or contemporary, there is no subject more compelling for me than a portrait. But, paintings of people can sometimes leave me less than satisfied. They can sometimes appear to me, too pretty, or too gimmicky, too separate from the viewer, or too…vacant. I wondered what would happen if I pushed all of these notions? So, I did.
With this third painting, I decided to glaze with opacity (a paradoxical notion), in order to create a ceiling, if you will. A separation between subject and viewer, like the photos I’d taken of debris, still, under a frozen pond. This painting is no longer a portrait because it does not reflect what I know about my subject. Here, she is merely reference for a painting. It speaks for me, not for her. Got to say however, that I enjoy this outcome:)
The three experiments in oils have helped me come to some conclusions about the way I like to work, what practical methods I find satisfying, and the thought behind what I want to make. I think that now I’d like to further explore both my appreciation for portraiture and my personal prejudices about portraiture, to see what might happen next.
Thanks for your kind comments and interest! I’ll keep you posted;)
I’m without a commission at the moment, so I’ve been pushing into “what if” territory in oil paint. I’ve played with three paintings, all handled differently. The subject is the same, though posture and expression vary greatly. Above is the first. I applied many more layers of glaze than I normally use, to see if my usual technique could improve with the added work, or if the result would just become too noodley. The later is the final verdict. The dozen layers or more of paint simply created thicker clumsy strokes. The painting does however, look better in reality. Photographing the painting sans the shine was a bear. The translucent quality resulting from multiple glazes isn’t apparent in the photo, and the transitions between values aren’t showing up well, resulting in annoying linear areas.
Note to self:Don’t overdo the glazing:)
Tomorrow, oil experiment #2
I’m just an amateur photographer, so sometimes great opportunities for marvelous shots are lost due to my inexperience. This was the case recently when a spectacular heron modeled for me, but all my shots alas, came out blurry. A photo disappointment for sure, but grist for some watercolor sketches. Step 1 and 2 below.
Either Give Me A Hand, or Get me outta here!:) Not sure which.
I began with two reference images; a woman in a fancy ball gown and an image of a child cheerfully reaching for something. I fully expected to use the reference very loosely, as a springboard for a sweet ethereal scene. But it quickly shifted into sometime else. I went with it. Resistance was futile.
Watercolor Landscape my way.
I became so frustrated working traditionally with watercolor landscape, that I decided to make the experience mine and make peace with the fact that I don’t have the time/energy/interest in making it work.
You can see the progression below including a quick and dirty Photoshop intervention. Still no masterpiece, but decidedly more me.
My friend’s dog Hershey here. Hershey is a good doggie and the paint quickly became form, except for the right ear, which required definition. Alas, I feel back upon opacity.
Watercolor on Strathmore Windpower Watercolor Pad
I neglected to leave enough white/light space. I’ve added a few strokes of opaque white watercolor to regain the white, but now the areas appear gray or dirty. I also wish I’d left more light space in the faces. I’m learning.
I chickened out and went back to a pencil outline. Sort of worked ok here, but next time…
Watercolor & Sepia ink w/crow quill nib on Strathmore Windpower Watercolor Pad Attempt #1
It’s no secret that watercolor is not my thing. It evades me, it makes me crazy. There are no backsies in watercolor. I’ve worked with silk dyes and gutta, and made it work, even though there are no opportunities to fix mistakes with opacities in that medium. BUT, I can’t seem to make watercolor really work for me:
*I want to take advantage of the energy and spontaneity of watercolor-the flexibility within bounds.
*I’m familiar with all of the cool techniques, and know how to apply them…but..I certainly haven’t mastered them.
*Some of my favorite illustrators wield a watercolor brush with an expertise that I dearly envy. I want to do some of what they can do.
*In addition, the universe has gifted me with a bulk of watercolor paint and paper. Thank you Frieda and Sue.
So, it’s time. I’m committing myself to tackling watercolor-sketches only mind you, at least until I leach the watercolor envy out of my system, or run short of supplies, whichever comes first:)
Anybody else share a love/hate with watercolor? All you watercolorists, help, is welcome:)
A very brief artist’s lament:
NEVER enough time.
Obstacles, everywhere…. hailing down, blocking… ..there’s another. I make a plan… climb over and…..another.
But I just want to paint! 🙂 Really.
I’ve played with a single scanned textural element in an other wise all digital painting. In this case, you guessed it, it’s the mountain. I created it with acrylics on watercolor paper, scanned it and popped it into this digital painting.
This “Mountaintop” piece is available as an 11″x 14″ high quality print.
Were you the kid who got lost in your paint, glue, and other art materials? I mean it literally. Maybe you know a child who sees her own body as an extension of her paper or canvas or sculpture. While her peers are relatively neat and disciplined about their creative work, this child jumps right into the creative process in such an intuitive manner that she seems to lose the boundaries of her creation.
I’ve seen just about all methods of making art. One is not “better” than the other, though there seems to be a common characteristic among most of the miniature mess machines (and I mean that affectionately). Kids that “jump right into” the work, all seem to have a very strong sense of design. They also seem to be less interested in figurative representations, and more interested in intuitively dividing space with expressive color, line, pattern, and or texture. Most are pretty independent and let any adult in the room know that their particular process is necessary! This immersion method, if you will, has nothing to do with impulsivity or lack of attention span, rather it is more about spontaneity and self-satisfaction in building a few strong separate elements, not necessarily with the “finish” of the work in mind, though there is almost always a finished piece.
These assertions I have just made about this kind of artistic process are by no means scientific. They are just observations gleaned from watching children, create (my own included). There are many different styles of visual art and there are just as many ways to go about learning to make it. Therefore, if you know a child who needs a bath after an art project, celebrate her passion. This child is little by little, building a joyfully solid artistic foundation by taking the process in on her own terms and essentially teaching herself. A wonderful learning style.
I would like to thank Audrey. She is an intuitive creator, and the artist who made the beautiful paintings above;her hand as well as the painting directly under her hand. When she has finished the canvas painting, I hope that Audrey will allow me to publish a complete image of that piece as well:)
The title of Callie’s piece is “Tortured Fruit”. A really fine acrylic painting that beautifully depicts the actual unfortunate fruit. Callie achieved the realistic effects in this work through a series of acrylic washes. This is a time-honored technique of the “Old Masters” tweaked for the materials we use in 2011. I think she created a fabulous painting.
Peril for me, is the looming threat of painting architecture; my least favorite element to paint. Photoshop to my rescue. I’ve inserted a detail of photo reference into my digital painting to completely avoid painting the building. I use this trick sparingly but on rare occasions, this fix saves time, energy, and the project.
Hope the very general tutorial below inspires you to get past the dragons and to revel in the creative process.