Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

11 2008 gourd - daily painting
{a fall gourd from two years ago..}

The weekend went too fast, before I knew it Sunday evening had arrived and children dressed in costumes were knocking on the door saying "Trick or Treat!"

We had a few princesses, a Buzz Lightyear, a gypsy, and then those too cool for a real costume so they only wore a mask...

Happy Halloween! Liz

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Figurative Sculpture {a work in progress}

End of Day 1
{status at the end of the first day}


I wanted to share with you the process of working on a figurative sculpture. We have a lovely full figure model who is sitting in a nice classical pose. She is sitting pretty straight with only the most subtle contrapposto of the rib cage and pelvis, but in order to make the piece have a feeling of movement it still needs to be evident and maybe just a little emphasized.

Last week only the plinth and a basic block in of the body was built. At the end of the class we covered the sculpture with a plastic bag but did not tightly close it up so a little air would circulate so the clay would harden some. This stiffening of the clay will be helpful as the time goes on because it will be the foundation for all future additions that are more specific.

End of Day 2
{at the end of the second day}

I am drawn to the way the model is somewhat leaning on her right arm, and how the straightness of the right arm is countered by the forward thrust of the left leg, where the right leg is relaxed in a skewed manner.
In order to keep the gesture in mind while I am working on various parts, I use a pointed tool to draw into the surface to remind me of critical parts and and directional lines. In the top photo you can see how I drew a box for the direction of the rib cage and a corresponding line for the top of the pelvis that is counter to that of the chest. There are similar marks on the back of the sculpture also.
End of Day 2
{a side view at the end of day two}
I used the drawn lines also in the rounded form of the head, making sure I do not lose the sense of direction the model is looking, even if in real life the model adjusts some as she settles into the pose. And as you can tell with some of the rough edges, I try to only use tools to create the surface, this ensures a more defined contour and helps minimize the tendency that when working only with the hands a soft and somewhat muddled surface appearance.
We have a few more classes on this piece and I look forward to developing it further and then sharing with you.
Until then, thanks for stopping by, Liz

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Week 10: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem

Week 10
{at the end of the day}


On Monday I was back at the NGA working on the Vase of Flowers and I decided to start off where I had left off -- the white poppy at the top of the composition.

Week 10
{where I started}

Last week I had begun to work on this flower, and decided to dedicate the entire day {we copyists are allowed to paint from 10am to 4pm} to finishing this area. So I began by applying a light coat of linseed oil to the area, wiping off any extra, adding a new layer of the dark background that surrounds the flower so I can paint wet into wet the fluttering edges of the petals.

Working my way around the flower making sure the scale was correct, once things seemed set I added the wheat husk because the right side edges needed to be well integrated. After completing the internal form of the poppy, I then added the butterfly and caterpillar. Next week or later I will need to return to the flower to add a few ants and add additional detail to the caterpillar.

Week 10
{where I ended}

Monday was a busy day and it feels very good to be finished with this landmark flower of the composition.

Thanks for reading and see you next week with more progress,


PS. Autumn is really showing her colors here in DC, this is just outside of the NGA on Constitution Ave. I love it when the leaves are turning but the grass is still vibrantly green!

From Constitution Ave

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Some roses {a drawing}

20100719 Roses II dwg 15 x 22
{Roses II -- 15 x 22 inches -- Graphite on Paper}

This drawing was begun in July, and since drawing it I kept thinking it needed something else to complete the composition. So last weekend I pulled out a roll of tracing paper {from my architecture days} and started to pencil in a new rose bud to see how it would fit in. After experimenting some I realized that it would just complicate the simple relationship between the rose and rose buds that were already drawn.

So I am now satisfied with it as it is.

Have a good evening and thank you for reading,


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tea, Prints, and Zinnias {a new still life painting}

20101010 Tea Prints and Zinnias 24x30
{Tea, Prints, and Zinnias - 24" x 30" (61 x 76.2 cm) - Oil on Canvas}

A new painting completed this month. Everything was painted from life, including the zinnias... so the bouquet evolved over the several weeks.

This painting was a labor of love, I started blocking it in in early August, working on it occasionally for a few hours here and there, changing the composition a quarter of the way through and revising the vision of the painting. Then in September the drive to complete it took over and I worked on it for two weeks straight, 7-10 hours each day, sometimes going to sleep only to wake in the morning and paint some more.

When it was almost finished, I stopped for a few days, hung it in my living room to figure out what needed to be refined and how best to go about completing it. I find living with a painting for a few days helps crystalize the painting and guides my last decisions.

Because all of my energies were going into this painting, household chores were not getting done, or the minimal to exist were completed. Now that it is finished, it is good to step back and re-engage in the regular aspects of life. Like deciding what to make for dinner and spend some time with friends, maybe watch a movie on TV.

Do you ever find yourself so consumed with a project that all else fades into the non-descript background?

I wonder if this is one of the aspects of creative drive?

What do you think?


Monday, October 18, 2010

Week 9: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem

Today I decided to begin work on the white poppy at the top of the bouquet. It was the next step because I needed to have the poppy and the queen anne's lace established to set the scale for the other flowers below them and above the hydrangea.

The copy is 24" x 18" (61 x 45.7 cm) a little smaller than the original, so I cannot just copy the size of the flowers but need to scale them down and make sure they fit within my work. I would love to say that I am dead on with regards to scale and placement, however I am not and some adjustments must be made occasionally...

{block-in of the poppy right before breaking for lunch}

In order to get the scale of the poppy correct, I worked on the edges of the flower first, copying each fluttering petal and using specific markers to keep on track. The edge between the background and the poppy was painted wet into wet, by doing this I have more control over the edge quality, keeping some places hard and others soft.

{status at the end of the day}

As the day progressed I realized that there was not enough time to get around the whole flower, so I began to focus on the internal value changes and shapes of the inner petals in the lower left hand quarter. I also placed the stem and began to develop it.

The value shifts in the poppy are what give it the sense of dimension, so a lot of time was spent working on its subtle shifts. In a few spots there were also color temperature shifts where the value was the same but one area was warmer right next to a cooler area. This change in color temperature lends greater depth to an object because the eye perceives warm colors as being closer than cool colors of the same value.

{detail of the original painting}

While working this afternoon a nice visitor offered to take a photo of me while painting. That spectacular maul stick is a re-purposed extending curtain rod, which works great because it shortens to fit in my locker at the NGA and extends to 4 feet. I use the wood block on the top to remove the cast shadow from the easel and on the bottom to get above the lower lip on the easel.

{working on the painting}

Overall it was a nice day in gallery 50.

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Week 8: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem

week 8
{at the end of the day}


Here is this week's progress on the Vase of Flowers. It was really a good day, I arrived to the National Art Gallery (NGA) right around 10:30am {10am is always my goal} even with the lingering affects of a bad cold slowing my morning down some.

I arrived to my gallery only to find that the easel was not set up, so while waiting for the easel to be delivered I had an opportunity to get to know the security guard in charge of the gallery. Once the easel did arrive I decided to tackle the queen anne's lace flower in the upper left corner of the composition.

week 8
{status at the beginning of the day}

The head cold I was recuperating from slowed my senses down some and in the long run it was helpful because I needed a slower more methodical approach to painting the queen anne's lace. I spent all of the morning working on it, scraping it down a few times when I would stray in value or scale some.

week 8
{queen anne's lace right before lunch}

After lunch I did some touch ups to the flowers and began to block in the stem some before setting about to complete the first pass over of the red sweet pea flowers {I think that is what they are} the blue hyacinth, and the faded pinkish/blueish berries above the tulip. The sweet peas will require some glazing to get the high saturated pinks while the others will need glazing to mute the colors.

The exercise ofcopying this painting has really improved my understanding of how versatile glazing can be. In some situations adding a glaze will heighten the chromatic saturation of a color while at other times you can use a glaze to obscure and mute the saturation of a particular object or an entire area.

week 8
{status at the end of the day}

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Final day working on the portrait sculpture

John - final day
{front view of John}


Today was the last day with our current model, so it also was the last time to work on the portrait and refine it more.

As a recap, this is the state it was in at the beginning of the class today. At the time class started I thought it was pretty good and was initially in a quandary of what needed attention and where to start.

John - Day 2

{status at the end of last week}

Then as I looked at the piece with a more patient eye I began to see discrepancies and areas that needed to be refined and developed more. Some areas needed to be filled out more, other areas needed a more subtle transition from one plane to another plane. I worked alot today on the shape of the eye socket and how the eyes fit within in, which included making some significant changes to the check and nose.

A few concepts learned today had to do with how to look at the sculpture and the model in a way that helped to identify the areas that needed to be altered. Last week I had mainly looked at the head strait on for the front, back, and sides. Today the three-quarter view was particularly important in helping to improve the shapes and how the front face plane intersected with the side plane of the face.

Sculpture is different than painting and drawing in that it requires you to think about the whole where with 2-dimensional work you only need to consider one view, however it is similar to painting in drawing in that you block in, go over and refine, then further refine, and so on... Making the process potentially a never ending situation. :) That is if you are really compulsive!

John - final day

{three-quarter view}

John - final day

{side profile}

Monday, October 11, 2010

New Work

John - Day 2
{John - end of the second day with model}

Good morning :)

Here is something new I have been working on this term at the Art League, Sculpture! I am taking two classes with Rick Weaver as the instructor, one is a painting class, and the other is a scuplture class, and this is what we have been working on. A portrait bust of John.

This is my first scuplture class, and so far I am loving it. We are working in clay and on the first day we built the internal armature that holds the clay on the stand, which is built with a plumbing flange and 6" pipe, some armature wire, duct tape, and other misc items, all to kept the clay from sliding down and turning into a heap. On the first day we just built a generic head shape {I forgot to photograph this phase} and then on the second day we began to adjust the generic head shape to resemble the model.

I am hopeful taking sculpture will improve my ability in understanding the figure.

first day

{armature for bust}

Here are some additional views...

John - Day 2

John - Day 2

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Week 6 & 7: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem

{today's painting setup}


Today I was at the NGA to work on my copy of Jan Davidsz de Heem's Vase of Flowers. I will start by sharing last week's progress and then continue with today's.

Last week I decided to focus on the center of the painting and to begin setting up the shot for future sessions. Below you can see the various flowers and how some of them obscure items that fall behind them.

{closeup of the central area on the original painting}

Placement of the flowers is important, especially so because of edge control, so I began by painting the parts most in the background, with the goal to then paint the next flower that is directly in front of what was last painted, leaving the orange flower {it think it is a tulip, that has deteriorated with age} for the last. This enabled me to soften edges as required and overall enabled a more integrated effect.

{closeup of the central area in my painting, end of week 6}

During week 6 before lunch I worked on the curling leaf, the top of the bottle, and some of the flowers to the left of the orange flower. After lunch I decided to tackle the hydrangea flower that is the strong light valued flower in the middle. In a way this flower is the transition piece that unifies the diverse flowers in the composition. It took awhile to figure out a plan on how to work with the layers of petals and value changes. Ulitimately I decided to work in phases, by breaking down the flower into several parts and only focusing on how each area would work within its own scaled region. Once getting an area finished, I would move onto the neighboring area.

I did not finish the hydrangea in one go, however I now had a method to work with and would be better prepared for the following week.

{End of the day, week 7}

When I arrived this morning instead of focusing on the hydrangea I began to access areas on the left of the canvas that needed to be further refined and developed. The rose to the far left had been roughly blocked in a few weeks earlier and needed to be brought up to the same level of finish as its neighboring items. So today was about working on the second or third pass on some objects while also finishing the hydrangea. {I am still holding off painting the orange flower for now}

Some of the things I did was to lay an indian yellow glaze over the glass vase to warm up the cool hightlights inside the bottle. I also laid a muted green glaze over other areas of the glass vase to set up for a future large highlight. It is important to get all the foundational effects in place before going in and working on the final highlight details.

The hydrangea will be further developed next week as well, to warm up the shadows and help key it to its surrounding flowers. You may notice that my colors are of a higher key than the original painting and that is on purpose for the first few phases. I start with brighter colors initially with the plan to go back over them with finer detail and to lay down various glazes over them in later stages.

I felt good about the progress at the end of the day, feeling the pieces are coming together.

Have a wonderful evening, Liz

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pausing for breath...

at dusk
{at dusk driving home}

Hello :) The past three weeks were really busy and they got away from me, but now, happily I am able to pause and take stock. Over the next few days I will catch up and share with you some new paintings, news, and last week's time spent at the NGA.

Until then, here are a two photos from recent trips to New York.

Have a wonderful evening, and good night, Liz

railing detail
{metal detail}

NY street
{a neighborhood street in Greenwich Village}