I felt like one hour was not near enough time to call it a good session yesterday. There something about doing color charts that makes me feel as if its not as important as painting something. Richard Schmid would disagree, but I just get that feeling that I’m cheating in some way.
Daniel was the model tonight and her poses were making people in the class say “Wow”. There is something about a great pose that gives you the energy and motivation to block out everything and focus on drawing as if nothing else exists. Sometimes if a model is great the drawings around the whole room will look great.
I didn’t finish tonight’s self portrait, but I’m ok with that. I think its great. I worked for two hours with really extreme focus on getting every stroke as correct as possible. Thinking the whole time about form, value and color. I worked methodically, starting with the eye on the right and working out from there, taking my time.
I was reading my David Leffel book and was inspired to try and follow some advice that is listed.
An important in painting is to learn the feel of the paint on the brush, to know how much paint is needed for a thick or thin application of color. The thicker the paint, the richer the darks, and the lighter the lights. Learn to hold a brush loaded with paint and still make a sensitive stroke so almost no paint comes off. If you aren’t in total command of you brush and paint, you are not a painter. This is primary; trying to learn value and color is otherwise impossible.
Practice, while painting, to control the amount of paint that comes off the end of your brush. This is the heart and soul of painting.
Make each brushstroke describe your intention. Think before you use the brush. Load your brush with thick paint and let the brushstroke follow the form of the object your painting, or stroke it on ina the direct of the gesture, the body’s movement. You might use the brush in a chiseling fashion, in short staccato movements, or as a conductor uses a baton. Always use the stroke that best describes the surface you’re painting. And finish your brushstroke on the canvas. Don’t lift the brush until the stroke is finished. Then life it off for the next brushstrok to begin and end.
Start to paint seriously the moment you pick up a brush. If you begin by painting carelessly, with slapdash strokes, you’ll find it difficult to move into the more careful painting.
I wish I had take a picture of the process with this painting. It was very early on that I knew that painting was successful. I started as normal by brushing a dark color over the entire canvas to prepare for a reductive start. But, I made a small change. I noticed that I could brush the dark color over the canvas but still leave recognizable brush strokes in the wash. So, I used this to do a pre drawing of my head to kind of mass in the major shape and location of features. It was actually very helpful. I was able to start pulling out lights with paper towels and know that they were already in a good spot.
Yesterday during life drawing class Jamie had us doing these small drawings in boxes that were limited to only 3 minutes long. I did a few tonight while timing myself at 5 minutes. The focus of the drawings was to force myself to look at the big shapes of light, not to worry about the accuracy of the drawing too much and just get the feel for the composition in big shapes and relative value.
I had a great night tonight at life drawing. The gestures went well and Jamie had us do these three minute box drawings of the model and her surroundings. They were small and quick so it forced me to think about nothing but the major shapes and values. Jamie also encouraged me to do these nightly, as they would increase my ability to look upon things as a scene, with a focus on composition. I really like the idea so I’m thinking about getting a special sketchbook that will take charcoal well just for these types of drawings.
I guess I kinda take it as a challenge when I fail at something in art. Lots of people say I’m too hard on myself but what they don’t understand is that failure doesn’t weaken my resolve, but hardens it like tempered steel. One of the best things that I have heard Jamie Bollenback say was, “To get better, you need to make a whole hell of a lot more bad paintings”.
I didn’t spend much time on working up the gray overlay tonight, but I still felt like I got a lot done. I mixed up 7 steps of value from black to white and used those over the whole painting. I took care to not use pure white anywhere on the painting, or pure black. I want to save those extreme values for later use if necessary, so I practiced conservation of the limitation of paint.
The model was a bit late tonight so we drew a ball on a stool for a while, working with value and trying to make it look as if it turned in space. Emily is one of the best models that I have had the pleasure to draw. Seems like whatever pose she takes I can’t help be be interested or find something exciting about it. We started the class as normal with a bunch of short term poses then ended the class with a 1 hour pose.
I had a truck load of stuff that I brought to the painting class today. I basically had to bring my entire painting setup plus objects for a still life and lamps. But it payed off, I was able to have a lot of items to choose from and because I was so prepared I spent a lot of extra time setting up my still life. I really wanted to get this composition fantastic and interesting to paint. I plan on spending a long time on it so I want it to keep the excitement throughout.
Today was a HUGE day for me, I have been doing art every single day for an entire year and so today passed like most of our birthdays, a small celebration but nothing big. Its nice to have the first year under my belt, I feel like its a huge accomplishment and I’m really happy about it. Now, I’m looking to the future. I started this journey a year ago with one thing in mind, “Mastering art”, whatever that may be. Even though 1 year is done, my long term goal is much much longer. I plan on doing the same for at least 15 years. I figure after that amount of time I will have worked every day for 15 years and a total of around 10,000 hours on art. I hope at that time I will be a “master” at this craft, or whatever artistic craft I may be pursuing.
I wasn’t sure what to paint tonight so I started flipping through three of the books that I purchased in Portland. “Oil Painting Secrets From a Master” by Linda Cateura, is a great book that accounts a ton of information that Lynda learned while attending David Leffel’s class at the Art Students League in New York. David Leffel’s paintings are amazing and are heavily influenced by Rembrandt. And tonight my painting was heavily influenced by David Leffel.
So the idea is this, at some point I will need to use photo references to paint from and I dislike the idea. I always paint straight from life because it is better training, it gives you more information about your subject and it forces you to see. So, I figure the best solution is to study how photos change a subject so I can understand the differences when I must paint from them and change my approach accordingly.
I hardly ever get to draw an ethnic model, there are only a few that work in the places that I go. Plus there are even fewer models that can pose as well as Naumi did tonight. She had some amazing poses. And she was by far the most rock solid super still statuesque model I have ever drawn. Holy cow! She was like stone the whole time. Really great model I can’t say enough good things about her.
On my way home from Crossfit I was thinking about last night painting and what I wanted to accomplish with tonight’s painting. I knew that I wanted to get the drawing better, and that I wanted to work on it longer. One thing that I have mentioned in the past was longevity of my painting sessions and how I wanted to increase the time spent on all my pieces. It suddenly dawned on me that if I wanted to increase the length of time I was in front of the canvas I needed to make it the best experience I could. So, I pulled up my comfy work chair, an easel with a mirror, an easel with my canvas and a couple of my favorite beverages. I was super comfortable and that quickly transferred to calm deliberate thought about what I was working on. I don’t want to attribute all of the success on this painting to my comfortable position but I must say that it had a big part to play.
Sometimes I find it very difficult to post the horrid monstrosity that I conjured in the late hours of the night, I even hesitate to call it art. But,I do it anyway and wave my flag of failure. Not to brow beat myself into submission but to deeply expose my errors and faults so they may be dispatched much easier. I see it as a shout to the future, a war cry to my inability. Hell yeah I screwed up tonight and it looks like crap, and its the best thing ever! Because we learn the most from our mistakes and failures, and if we drive through them with power and conviction we are that much stronger when we come out on the other side.
I figured I would just work on one small section of the painting and see what kind of detail I could bring out. It was a fairly lame attempt so I’m not going to prattle on about painting tonight. But I do have some excitement for an idea of a long term subject, I have enough energy to being on that tomorrow. Unfortunately that is all for now.
Observing an object and translating it into two dimensions accurately and faithfully takes one very important ability. The ability to understand what you are seeing. I don’t mean the ability to name the object, I’m talking about the understanding of it’s shape in every minute facet. Single objects are much easier to understand, such as an apple. Its shape can be described with a circle in a very cartoon type way, which would still indicate a very limited understanding of the object. But the kind of understanding that I want to achieve would have the apples contour rendered down to perfectly match the original, along with all the subtle transitions of color on its skin.
Late night with work so I didn’t get to start painting until a little before 11pm. I worked over an hour on it but I just put down an hour for the total time. I started with the reductive method and quickly established a composition with good relative values. I was going for a flow of the painting from bottom left corner to the top right corner. I also wanted to tone down the values a bit and make it somewhat darker. Darkening the relative values is a good thing for several reasons. The main one being that paint can almost never reach the brightest light in a subject.
I felt like the reductive start to this painting would have went well if the subject was less detailed or if the canvas was much larger. I just couldn’t get the paper towel to articulate the smallest facets of the figure. So it ended up being a combination of wiping out and brushing in. Also, I had no idea how to compose the painting so that this pose had some sort of emotional appeal. I should have done a couple thumbnails like Jamie suggested.
I really love painting this way. I put on a wash, then wipe out the highlights and some mid-tones, then go straight for the dark areas. I can’t believe it only took me 30 minutes to do this much painting. Of course I was coping off a master painting who has done all the work for me, but I still fill that its fast and accurate.
I had forgotten to bring the master copy of the previous day so I continued to work on my still life painting. The flowers had drooped more but that was fine they actually had a clear since of light and shadow and it was easier to see the shapes. Another thing that helped tremendously was turning off the warm light cast over my canvas. I should have known this, I have made the same mistake many times before, heck I even built a whole studio around the idea of good constant same temperature light. Next time I will bring my own light, and a couple bulbs, one 5000k and the other regular tungsten.
The painting workshop was very laid back and the instructor Larine was very knowledgeable about not only painting from flowers but oil painting in general. We started with a talk of materials and how to use them best. Then Larine did a “Master Copy” demo. Here she taped up an image of a flower still life from Fantn Latour with her canvas right next to it then laid down a dark oil and Gamsol wash in a square the same size of the photo.
So my wilting flower still life was a failure, but not due to the still life itself or the whole of the idea. What killed it was my choice of materials. I’m not sure if I will ever go back to gouache now, I hope that at some point in the future I have another reason to use it because I paid a good deal of money for the paints.
Still more change in the still life tonight. Of course not near as much as the previous day but there is still some movement. Even with this small movement of the flowers I’m not sure how I’m going to continue with the painting without starting over each night and painting over what I did the night before. I don’t want to start new each night, I want to catalog the decay of the still life over time in one piece. Although, I have already lost any work that I have done on the first session. I think after tonight I have a better idea of how Gouache needs to be worked so this will help me in figuring out how to move through the painting.
I set aside today to give some thought to a long term art subject. The subject needed to be something that I could work on at night under constant light, so of course it ended up being a still life. I decided that I would like to do a painting of flowers in gouache over a 7 day period. Each day I expect the still life to change slightly as the flowers wilt and change positions. I’m not sure how I’m going to handle the change in the still life every day but I’m very excited to see what I come up with.
I figured it would be interesting to split the flower in half with the background. Its very similar to a horizon line, but I wanted to see how the flower and its stem would play between the competing values. Unfortunately I didn’t spend the time in darkening in the black background much, I was so focused on the details of the withered flower that I left it mostly white.
I really need to look at master drawings from Asia. Artists like Seitei Watanabe who’s compositions and elegance are masterful. Sometimes I get a glance of this possible beauty while I’m working, but its a simplicity that my anxiousness will never let last.
I was a bit rushed tonight on this drawing. Pattie and I walked to Cinebarre, a theater very close to our house, but we arrived too late to see the movie without having to sit in the front row due to the theater being almost sold out. So we purchased tickets for the 10pm showing and decided to have dinner at Mazatlan instead.
When starting a drawing most nights I have this urge to do more with each still life, so I intentionally stay away from very simple subjects. Maybe I think that their simplicity will transfer somehow into the drawing and it will be bad or unimportant from the start. That is not the case, and this drawing really shows it.
I could have done a lot better with the values on this one and after showing the drawing to my wife she commented that it looks like he is riding a platypus and not a manatee. As soon as she said that I realized that the snout of the manatee was too long and I didn’t quite capture the roundness of it.
There were so many ornaments on the tree to choose from that it was very hard picking one. I like Pinocchio because he is made of a bunch of simple shapes. I remember at one point during the drawing he fell over, luckily I was far enough into the drawing that it didn’t destroy my chances of getting his shape accurate.
There is something about this drawing that has really grown on me. When I was doing it I wasn’t liking it at all but the more I look at it I’m reminded of those wonderful Japanese ink drawings that focus deeply on the elegance of line quality and the power of simplistic composition. I may need to chase this down more.