Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Nancy's Eyes

I decided to do the portrait using the grisaille (neutral grays) method. I've always admired grisaille figure paintings and I haven't tried one yet so I figured "what the hell". The yellowish cast is due to the small 15 watt bulb that I have over my easel. My wife has an Ott light placed about two feet from her head which is causing her skin tone to take on a coolish tonality which is another reason I decided to go with the gray palette. I'm working with a very small brush paying attention to each micro form in addition to the larger forms, trying to finish each section as completely as I can, as I go. Hopefully I'm asking the right questions that will allow me to paint the forms in a sculptural way rather than just matching values.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I badgered my wife into posing for me this week of my vacation. I originally wanted to do three hours a day but we compromised on two hours and very short breaks. I started directly on the canvas with vine charcoal which I refined with a hard synthetic bright. The canvas already had a rubbed in umber tone. Then I went over the charcoal with thinned down umber and black. I proceeded to model the forms in a thinned down grisaille fashion using hatched strokes almost like a brush and ink drawing. Tomorrow if all goes according to plan I'll begin to paint using a window shade technique. I'll probably start somewhere around the eyes.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Lemon and Jug almost completed

Almost finished. Right now the previously painted areas are looking a little hazy because they need to be oiled out. I don't oil out when I'm painting on successive days because I don't want to risk ruining the areas that may not be completely dry. I try to remain true to the vision in my head as I paint each area and hope that it will all turn out right in the end. Anyways, after it's dry I'll spray it with retouch varnish and possibly touch up a few areas. I realy tried to ratchet it up a notch on this one and hopefully it shows.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

More Lemon and Jug

Finished backdrop and got started on wood base.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Lemon and Jug continued

Another day's work, and I must admit I'm pretty tired. I decided to paint up the wrinkled sheet background, contrary to my usual practice, figuring if I don't like it I can push it back down again. One problem I'm having is that any of the earth color mixtures I'm using are drying up towards the end of the session when i'm looking to apply a few finishing touches. I may have to start using clove oil or poppy seed oil to slow down the drying time.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

"Lemon and Jug" Form Painting

Two more steps in this small still life. Both done on the same day, painted wet into wet using a small size 8 Raphael round and no medium. The shadow of the lemon isn't quite as dark as it looks here. The only problem I'm having so far is that theres a tendency to make the halftones look overly fussy because that's where most of the detail is likely to appear. Usually after my first pass I have to step back and view painting and setup from a distance and push in the details that are showing more in my painting than they do in the setup.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Colored Ebauche

This is the underpainting for a new still life painting. It's on an 8" by 10" linen canvas. Normally I don't paint on linen but everyone at the GCA swears by it so I thought I'd give it a try. I can't afford to buy a roll of the Claessen's so I bought a Utrecht pre- stretched that's (for some strange reason) triple primed with acrylic gesso to which I added a fourth layer of very thinly scraped on oil primer. I hate painting on gesso, it's too absorbent. I'm fiddling around with a variety of different types of underpaitings. This is the method favored by the Ryder studio school and was used by a lot of the French academy painters in the tradition of David. Hopefully I'm off to a good start.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Small Works

I have a friend who for many years made his living as a building superintendent. When he was laid off he decided to go into business for himself. He specialized in doing the jobs that the homeowner couldn't do but were too small for the larger companies. He calls his business "Charlie Small Jobs". During the winter when my converted garage-studio becomes too cold to heat with my little electric heater, I move my paint kit into the house and work on a variety of small paintings. The two featured here,"White Vase with Oranges" and "Black Vase with Potatoes" both measure 8" by 10". I decided to push a little harder into picking up some of the detail with these two. Probably the influence of the cast drawing and the atelier where I've been studying. I've been trying out these Raphael synthetic rounds that I saw mentioned on Tony Ryders website and elsewhere. I'm really growing to love these brushes "they take a licking and keep on ticking". I'm also experimenting with different types of underpaintings. In "Black Vase.." I used a pretty detailed thin, colored ebauche directly on a white canvas and then painted directly over this after it was dry, using a window shade technicque. In "White Vase" I rubbed a thin stain of raw umber and let it dry. I made a detailed charcoal drawing, outlined it and then I went directly into window shading without an underpainting. So far I'm getting a big kick out of doing these small works in this manner and I'm forcing myself to really slow down and justify every brushstroke. I had a fear in the past of becoming overly "tight" but I recently read this great description of Dutch master still life painting which basically said that they managed to pack in a lot of detail while never losing sight of their broad manner. I'm starting to realize that that pretty much describes most of the paintings that I generally respond to.