I have been doing a lot of thinking about my paintings lately. I’m having trouble with focus as well as longevity and I think its directly related to my motivation with the subject i’m choosing.
So I’m having some drawing trouble with oils lately. I figured that if I drew the same subject in charcoal and payed close attention to how I use charcoal and figure out why I can draw so much better with charcoal rather than oil paint then I could apply the same methods from charcoal to oils with similar results.
While setting up a still life tonight was getting a bit disgusted with how contrived it was. I shouldn’t have to setup a pretty still life to paint. There are wonderful still life paintings all over anyone’s home, all I have to do is point my gaze towards them and see. So that is exactly what I did, and there is nothing contrived about a well used desk.
For Halloween night we traveled with some friends down to the Benaroya Theatre in Seattle to see the movie Psycho which was accompanied by a live orchestra. It has been so long since I had seen Psycho that I had forgotten most of it, but it was nice to see the movie on a large screen with an artists eye.
Jamie had asked for input on the lighting and pose for this model and usually I don’t give my opinion much but for today’s spooky class I wanted some very dramatic lighting, something with emotion and even a bit cheesy. So, I proceeded to light the model myself, and Jamie and the whole class seemed to like it. Well, everyone said it was adequate, I hope I didn’t annoy anyone.
Tonight Jamie had us working on angles and the ability to re-produce angles as accurate as you see them in nature. He even showed us his amazing invention, the “Bollenbach Angelamometer”. It was basically two clear thin rulers attached to one another by a center point on one end allowing each clear ruler to rotate easily at any angle. The artist could then use this “Angelamometer” by holding it up in front of them, looking through the clear material of the ruler and matching the angle of the subject they see beyond the ruler by rotating it. Once the artist has matched the angle with the “Angelamometer” they could then compare that same angle with their paper. I hope to one day become a master “Angleamometer-er”.
I had so much fun with the last painting, dealing with duality of light and shadow on the same subject, that I wanted to try something similar but with colors that were very unnatural. Basically I wanted to see if my current palette could capture the intensity of this lemon yellow in direct light and shadow. Also the green parts of the lemon squeezers were super intense unnatural colors also, I think the intensity of those colors were the hardest to capture.
I really liked this elephant candle holder keepsake. The wood is a very deep red and I wanted to try and capture the color well. I think I was able to capture the color, but you could never tell because of the glare off the painting. That is the trouble will oil paint, if you paint dark you ultimately get a ton of glare when you take a picture of your work.
I needed to deal with some foliage, It’s one of my weak points. The art of drawing a big mass of leaves or grass without painting every single leaf or blade of grass is very difficult. It forces you to see form in these fluffy, wispy like jumbles of confusing mess. I think I did pretty well on the fluffy wispy like jumble of mess tonight.
There was a point during tonight’s drawing session that I felt lost. I really didn’t know what I was doing. I was drawing the figure, but none of the drawings were looking good. I felt I was just moving the charcoal about without any direction, I didn’t know what I wanted. Should I measure and work on getting the proportion just right, or should I work on form through value, or should I work on my line quality, crosshatching, gesture, composition, value, emotion or abstraction.
I know that if I really wanted to capture the true intensity of the red fabric that I should have utilized some dryer in my oils and prepared for multiple layers of glazing. But I dislike glazing, especially the waiting part between each glazing layers. So this is what I tried to achieve with impasto.
I love asking my wife to pick something for me to paint because I know she will pick something random that I would never pick, and almost always end in me being challenged by the subject matter.Tonight was no different, she picked a wonderful gift given to her by a friend in Washington D.C. If I felt like spending longer on this painting I would have dove deep into describing the texture of the stocking, but I settled for focus on drawing, value and color.
I setup a scaled photo of the eyes of a Rembrandt self portrait next to my painting. Mainly to keep the scale of my self portrait the same as Rembrandt would, and to also try and emulate the painting style a bit. Originally I would have painted my face much smaller and after struggling with detail due to size on my last portrait painting I decided to look at the scale a master portrait painter used. It was definitely much easier to get correct detail in the eyes with this scale and I found that the new and very expensive paints I purchased worked really well in keeping the paint thick and full of brush strokes.
I found it difficult to achieve the intensity of the yellow in the bananas for this painting. So today I took a trip to my favorite art store and purchased some of the best colors I could get my hands on.
Lots of leg room, a great dinner, as many drinks as I want, desert, coffee… as much comfort on a commercial plane that you could ask for. After being delayed at the airport for an hour our mantra was “I’m so glad we are not sitting in coach”, we repeated that several times throughout this flight. Sigh…. goodbye first class, I hope to see you again in the future.
At the beginning of this painting the cat Smoky decided that he wanted to lay behind the horse on top of the black t-shirt. He was so funny that my mother in-law was laughing hysterically for a while. It was great, and if he would have stayed there still for a while I would have added him to the painting, maybe it would have turned out better.
I’m getting much more accustom to painting loosely. After the last few weeks of paintings I have begun to notice how much a viewers brain will fill in without need for the artist to describe exactly. I was also inspired by the painting I viewed at the national gallery. The masters really knew how to describe in minute detail the most important bits of a subject while leaving the rest a flurry of brushstrokes. Here is a great example called Repose by John Singer Sargent.
This night we rented a couple bikes and rode to the Jefferson Monument, then walked to the F.D.R Memorial. This was by far the most naturalistic an beautiful memorial we have seen. It was full of waterfalls, foliage, and very natural looking stones. The entire memorial never reached more than about 30 feet tall but sprawled over a large amount of land and seemed to go on and on with waterfalls, natural stone, and amazing quotes from F.D.R that most of our current officials in office would do well to read.
Even at 10 o’clock at night there was a large crown around the Lincoln Monument. We realized later that it was Saturday and that it seemed obvious that there were so many people. So this drawing turned out terrible,.my excuses are; the minimal light on my sketchbook, the limited time I had and my major mistake of starting out the drawing with charcoal and continuing in graphite. But, I don’t really care, I observed as best I could, and I completed a drawing, plus we had a great night at our nations capitol.
This was basically a study in value. None of the colors had much intensity and the sun was high in the sky which further enforced a graying of colors. I wish I would have compressed the values a bit more because the floor of the deck is almost straight white from the tube. Although I do like the painting and I’m happy with the drawing.
After this simple and short attempt at color within a landscape I really have a new found awe for Monet, I really have no idea how he achieved the perfection of color in his paintings. I’m sure he started with a multitude of hours per painting though. I have seen so many amazing things in my life and in many cases I have overlooked their monumental achievement, its nice to be reminded from time to time about things that are truly great, wonderous items that have unfortunately become commonplace
The sky was overcast and there were not many extreme values throughout the subject but after looking at the painting again I can see that I missed some opportunities to achieve better accuracy with these values. The drawing and color is very un-observed also. I think I was more interested in the conversations we were having on the deck rather than the painting. The whole thing looks as if it lacks focus, also I only spent an hour on the painting which is hardly enough time to resolve many issues.
It has been a very long time since I took up a brush full of oil paint and attempt to render the figure accurately, and the task tonight was not made easier by time. I only had about an hour and a half to paint this wonderful pose. I was grateful to have warmed up with an hour of sketches before the painting even though most turned out stunted and grotesque looking. Again I will say that I need to work on my gesture drawings more, I should hit one of the many session around Seattle that have short poses.
I just realized that a lot of my previous posts have a heading of “The Drawing” instead of “The Painting” like it is below.
A simple and easy painting tonight, I didn’t know what to paint so I picked an apple and a lemon out of the fridge. Then I figured all I needed was a blue item and I would have the primary colors, so I found a blue box, put them all in a line and painted.
After Pattie picked out two mundane items from around the apartment she arranged them wonderfully in my shadow box. I like having her pick out items for me to paint because I would normally pick out something that was simple to paint and would not challenge me. I remember once she picked out a black and white stuffed animal, I would have never picked that out because I knew that trying to paint something black and fuzzy would be super difficult. But, I painted it anyway, and I learned a lot from it.
I am becoming less concerned with absolute detail and I’m mainly focusing on getting the shapes correct for drawing the values as close as possible and the color similar. One day I will have enough time throughout the week or I will get the motivation on the weekend to begin a larger painting but for now I will just stick to daily small works. Besides I haven’t really focused in on my main subject matter yet, but I’m thinking about it every day.
I follow a lot of blogs with wonderful artists that are great at their craft, but I get tired of pretty paintings of flowers, dishes, sunsets and the multitudes of cliche items that tend to sell the most paintings to the public. So in response here is a really bad photo of a not so good painting of garbage. No, you can’t buy it and yes I will be painting over it in the future.