Sunday, November 30, 2008

Yellow Squash Still Life

Yellow Squash – 6" x 8" – Oil on Canvas Panel – SOLD

Here is another squash that was gathered earlier this season. It has been sitting on my sideboard for awhile. This weekend when I was organizing my studio area, moving furniture and other housekeeping items this squash captured my imagination when I placed it in front of a blue sheet of canson paper.

Here is a detail of the stem. Lately I have been very fascinated with the how to capture and paint a stem or leaf. Well since working on the portrait in class, I am becoming more and more investigative of how to really capture and image realistically with subtle brush strokes. I did not use any medium on this painting, just the paint from the tube. For me this is my most comfortable method, though I have started to use painting medium, but just on a case by case basis.

Here is a detail of the stem and shadow shapes.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Two Persimmons Still Life

Two Persimmons – 6" x 8" – Oil on Canvas Panel – SOLD

I love it when persimmons are in season. I love the square shape of the four leaves on top of the typically rounded fruit.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Portait Revisited

Portrait of a Girl – approx. 10” x 10” – Oil on Linen

A few weeks ago I wrote about this painting and how I am trying out a more developed painting method. It entails painting over an area more than once, working wet in wet with oil paint. In fact it really relies on the fact that there are layers of wet paint already on the canvas to build upon. It is also based on a lot of experimentation and the premise that you can always get yourself out of a painting mess. If you have made mud, scrape it down and start over.

I have also found that it requires understanding how sometimes when you mix warm and cool over each other, a middle "transition" color is required between the two colors to avoid the dreaded browning of the paint. This method does take longer than painting in a direct manner, and being that I work full time, I sometimes feel time constrained on how to accomplish my painting goals of completing a painting and starting another. Though after seeing the Jan Lievens exhibit yesterday, my goal is to be able to add this method to my repertoire of techniques.

So here are the final steps I took on this painting.

3rd Session, 1st Step:
For the next session of painting I started by applying linseed oil on parts of the face and re-applying the highlights of the light side of the face.

3rd Session, 2nd Step:
I also started to lay in the background and pillows, I also reworked the eye sockets and the lighted area of the cheek on the shadow side.

3rd Session, 3rd Step:
I continued to investigate laying in layers on both the light and shadow side. Working with refining the brush strokes and learning about painting on an area over and over again. Danni Dawson said that "to paint over and over an area has a very different look than just doing it once in a direct manner." I have to agree with her, this was my first painting where I worked and worked on this painting. Typically once I start to get dissatisfied with it I start over, I do not continue. With this painting I was trying to push myself and to see if it was possible to create a more refined painting.

3rd Session, Final Step:
This is how I finished the painting. Probably I could work more on the background and the pillow her head is resting on, however I think I will leave it as it is. As an example of my first painting that I tried to work in a manner that was not painted in a very direct manner in one session.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Jan Lievens @ NGA

Today Steve and I had an opportunity to visit the National Gallery of Art. We really wanted to see the Jan Lievens exhibit. It was really a wonderful exhibit, I took a few photos (without a flash of course).

I love this etching and the following one. The facial features are so interesting and the ability to hatch just captivates me...

I loved so many of his paintings, the ability to capture so many different emotions and genres. Steve pointed out how some paintings would utilize muted palettes and others very vibrant. I had been focusing most on technique and brushwork quality. I really loved the painting of "Man in Oriental Costume" the use of a magical light source, the warm rich colors of the man's robe and the cool neutral background. The muted turban and feathers.

Here is a detail of the cap and chain. I love texture and daubs of paint to represent the glint of gold.

Here is Steve standing outside of the Pompeii exhibit. Which was our second destination after the Jan Lievens exhibit. I did not get any photos of that exhibit, I was just really enjoying the show and did not think about it until after we walked out of the gallery.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I have been tagged!

Charcoal sketch of my cat, Slim

This weekend has been a fun one. Spending time on art was only a small part of my activities. Steve and I spent a wonderful afternoon with some friends at the National Museum of the American Indian. I also spent some time knitting, one of my favorite activities during the winter months.

Another thing that happened over the course of the weekend is that I have been honored by two artist I admire very much. Brenda from Musings by Artslice and Theresa Rankin both tagged me. It is very special being recognized by these two wonderful women, as they bring such joy into my life. I enjoy reading their blogs and learning about art from their different and informed perspective. Brenda also has another wonderful blog that is like an art dictionary, this one is Artslice. Check it out if you get a chance.

The rules of being tagged are:

1. Link to person who tagged you.

2. Mention the rules

3. List 6 or 7 unusual things about yourself or quirky but boring, unspectacular details about yourself

4. Tag 6 or 7 other bloggers at the end of your post and comment on their blogs to let them know they've been tagged

Here goes:

1. Before turning 16 years old my parents had moved me and my siblings 10 times, and they were not in the military.

2. I am allergic to cucumbers and mushrooms

3. I like traveling, but get nervous when a plane is about to take off

4. I have a business degree in Marketing and a Master's degree in Architecture, though my life's ambition is to be a full-time artist

5. I am dyslexic and I am a slow reader, however I love reading and always have a few books going.

6. My favorite sport is swimming

7. My favorite time of the day is when my husband wakes me up and we share some quite time over tea and coffee before the hecticness of the day settles in.

Here are the artists I am tagging:

Ester Wilson
Susan Abbott
Stacey Peterson
Cathleen Rehfeld
Jennifer Bellinger
Mary Sheehan Winn
Ed Terpening

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Apple with Stem Still Life

Apple with Stem – 10" x 8" – Oil on Canvas Panel

Here is my first still life applying some of the techniques I have been playing with lately. In this painting I incorporated several of the aspects I wrote about when working on the portrait from my previous post. This painting was completed over three paintings sessions incorporating several layers, ending eventually with glazes to soften and warm up the white cup and to deepen the shadows of the apple.

I came upon this apple at work, in fact I tried to steal it from my co-worker’s lunch… eventually I exchanged my apple for his apple; I just loved the stem it had and the remnant of a leaf, all dry and browned. Thanks Patrick for switching with me, I love this apple for all its quirkiness.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

New Painting Technique - Portrait

Portrait of a Girl – approx. 10” x 10” – Not Complete

Currently I am taking a figure painting class with Danni Dawson. This is my third quarter of taking this class. She is an excellent teacher as she constantly challenges me to try something else, to explore painting technique in another manner. The class is organized in a manner that guarantees continuous learning, there are class demonstrations, and she assigns homework and then follows up with class critiques. I am learning so much.

Since the beginning of this term, she has told me to move to the next level. She would say this to me but not really articulate what she meant, as she does not believe in painting by formula. Instead she believes painting is an unstructured experience and should be approached as a spontaneous reaction to the specific requirements of the given situation. I really value this method of instruction as it encourages each student to learn and discover at the pace they set for themselves, even though it has been somewhat confusing for me to figure out what she meant when she would tell me that I really needed to move onto the next level. I pondered this for several weeks, and may not truly understand what she means, but my idea of what she means is this. When painting I need to heighten my awareness in more than just trying to record what I see. So I am now working to develop my technique more while also striving to capture emotive qualities. I need to think more about how to paint a scene not just objects to be copied.

As I am working on becoming more proficient and "moving to the next level" I thought I would show some of the steps I am taking. This is my first painting where I have continued to work and re-work areas. Typically I paint in a very direct manner and do not paint over what I have already laid down, but I am working to improve my skills and to make the most of what Danni teaches.

So here are some different phases of the first two painting sessions.
1st Painting Session, 1st Step:
I sketched out the composition with burnt umber, focusing on the main shapes and the Barque line demarcating the light from dark. I then started to lay in the base light colors and mostly mixing on the canvas not the palette. Some areas were more red, so I laid down cad. red and white, where other areas I laid down a more orange color

1st Painting Session, 2nd Step:
By this phase I had worked the light and dark areas with the first layers of the base colors. I was refining the colors and values, still mixing on the canvas. My paletted had various puddles of color, cad. green and white, cad yellow med and white, cad. red and white, cerulean blue and white, and so forth and so forth... As were required I would mix these straight color mixtures unto the canvas, working very lightly with my bristle brush, bearly skimming the surface, but with enough pressure to lay down paint.

Second Painting Session, 1st Step:
Getting back in class, I re-assessed what needed attention. In order to have my paint go down with softer edges, I first applied some linseed oil to the face, specifically the forehead and eye socket area. I re-blocked out the eye sockets and placed the highlights down. Also working on the neck.
Second Painting Session, 2nd Step:
After spending quite a bit of time refining the light side, I started to lay down the cool shadow colors. Using a lot of cerulean and viridian, along with areas of cobalt violet. The warm/cool tension between the light and shadow areas is an important thing to capture, however as you can see in this step, if I only kept the cool colors in the image the painting would be too fractured. There would not be enough connection between the light and shadow areas.

Second Painting Session, Final Step of the Day:
Since the last photo the biggest change was that I warmed up the shadow side some using cad. scarlet, cad. orange, and white. However if I had just placed the warm flesh tones over the cool blues, combining these colors on the canvas would have turned brown (because orange and blue are complementary colors and when mixed they make brown). So before I could lay down the warm flesh tones, I applied a "transition" color over the cool blues. In this instance it was a deep value mixture of perm. rose and white. Applying the cool red on top of the blues and then following up with the warm oranges enabled me to add warmth to the shadow side without losing the cool values below.

I also deepened the values of the light side of her face, as I started to realize that the light side was getting too white and pale. I needed to add some more depth and color to the lighter side.

There are still two more class sessions to work on this painting, so I will continue to refine the painting and develop it more than I have ever taken a painting. As it continues to progress over the two classes I will follow up with another post. I am hopeful that I will not over paint this one, but alas if that happens I will chalk it up to a learning experience. Until next time, have a great week!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Open Life Sessions

When I get a chance I try to attend open life sessions on Thursday evenings at the local Art Institute in Roslyn. These are great opportunities to just draw the human form. I love the fun atmosphere, interacting with other DC artists and the students of the Art Insititute. It is great fun trying new drawing techniques out, improving on new methods I have read about and seeing how others also draw.

These sketches are the short gesture poses, and are completed with a compressed charcoal sharpened to a point. I like using straight hatch marks to create form, instead of using curved lines. I have started to experiment with the curved lines but I always gravitate towards the more straight lines if I am not actively thinking about technique. I think it is my architectural drafting experience influencing me...

These exercises are good practice to learning how to control light and shadow as you want, because the lighting in the room is okay, but not very directional. So instead I typically have to decide in my mind which direction the light is coming from and draw it as accurately as I can imagine it. Sometimes it is easier than other times...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Autumn Gourd Still Life

Autumn Gourd – 6" x 6" Oil on Canvas Panel – SOLD

Here is one of the gourds Steve and I picked up a few weekends ago. It is set on top of a scarf. When I first set the painting up I was just putting together things I liked, it was not until later that I started to realize that there was quite a bit to capture. Like the pattern and form of the gourd, and then the variation of the fringe, how shadows are cast and that the red of the scarf enhances the reflected light in the shadow area to be very warm.

Currently I am going through a change in my painting methods, (I will write about it more in a later post this week) where I am spending more time looking and trying to break down the different colors I see and how to apply them in a painting. For example, how the yellow of the gourd shifts color tones from yellow to a yellow green as it enters the shadow area, however there is some light cobalt blue glancing light in the near vicinity that added shine and diffused some of the curves of the gourd. By slowing down and analyzing what I see, painting has become a whole new adventure. It is fun because every time I start to paint lately I am learning something new.
Here is a detail of the intersection of the gourd and fringe. While I was adding more detail and seeing more than regular I was still trying to keep it loose.