Monday, March 30, 2009

New Wipeout

Heres the underpainting for a new still life painting on an 11"x14" stretched linen. I've never worked on this size before so it should be interesting. The pomegranates are from my imagination to hold the place until I'm ready to place the real ones in, which I'm going to try and do in one shot so I get that super fresh color of just picked fruit. A lot of people seem to be using a colored ebauche these days, which I still sometimes use, but what I really like about the umber wipeout is it's all value and you start off really smashing the light which is a little harder to do with a colored ebauche.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Final Ale

Here's the final version of "Crackers and Ale" 8"x10". Instead of taking the rust out I decided to paint it as I saw it. I wanted this to be a mug of 10,000 ales, tarnish and all. I gave my wife a break from posing today because I've decided to move the pose into my garage-studio because I can't stand working in my bedroom a minute longer. Next week Ill start again but with her posing on my model's stand so I can stand while I work and move back and forth more. I went to pick up some shelving so that I can get all my accumulated still life objects off of the floor and have more room to work. I was driving the guys at home depot crazy because I told them I wanted one blue(cool) and one pink(warm) flourescent lights. They thought I was crazy but eventually I figured it out myself and got what I was looking for. This is a shot of my studio.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

More Portrait, More Ale

Two mugs? Worked on the neck and ear today. Starting to get a feel for how I need to work if I want to add more detail but still keep the painting relatively direct. I'm laying in the form in a given area, broadly and somewhat thick(except for the shadow) and then modifying and knitting the forms together with smaller forms and connecting lights. It worked pretty well on the neck. At this point I'm thinking of the entire first skin as an underpainting that's going to need to be repainted and unified. "Crackers and Ale" is mostly complete I just want to find a little more light on the black cloth and I might have overdone the rust spots on the tankard so I'll probably go back into that area as well.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

More Portrait

I'm starting to get the light effect I'm after but it's been a real challenge. After painting in the cheek and eye I felt that the light was rolling up to quickly from the chin so I repainted most of the left side of the face. And of course one thing leads to another and I saw that the chin and lower lip weren't turning back from the light so I repainted them as well. I would have done more but my time was up and my model had to go. Anyways, it felt like a productive morning, now I'll go back into "Crackers and Ale".

Seed of an Idea

This is the first initial thumbnail sketch of a figure/landscape painting idea that recently came to me.(sorry for the blurryness, I have extreme camera shake when I don't use a tripod, kind of like buckfever). Every morning when I walk my dog in pitch dark (since the time change) I pass by this elementary school which has this doorway and walkway that is lit by a single overhead lamp that is attached to the wall directly over the doorway. Something about the appearance of it has captivated my imagination. I decided that there's no way that I could paint it directly from life but that this would be a good opportunity to sharpen my skill at memory drawing. As I was working out an initial sketch the idea came to me of having a female figure posed before the darkened doorway, seemingly adjusting her classically styled dress. Why? So that her pose would allow her body to angle upwards and catch some of the light. I plan to work this out using the academic method of making perspective studies and figure studies, drapery studies, etc; . It will probably take me a while because I won't be devoting all my time to it, but this is where it starts and hopefully I'll have the discipline to see it through. I was working on this sketch at my desk while my students were taking a test, so I hurriedly scribbled it down with a ball point pen before the image faded from my imagination. One of my former instructors cautioned me not to get too caught up in one type of painting so this is a little bit of experimenting.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More Crackers and Ale

Made a little more progress. The bottle isn't quite as dark as it looks here, you never know what's going to happen when you upload an image.(kind of like the game of telephone) Anyway, I really downplayed the values of the labels on the bottle, because , for one thing, I felt they were giving a false appearance according to their place in the painting and their proximity to the dark glass of the bottle. Also I want to keep the attention on the mug which is my center of interest. The challenge, eventually will be mating the mug to the warm rust tonality of the rest of the painting. What to do? I'm glad you asked. It so happens that the mug has some rust spots and areas with a slightly rusty patina, that I tried to slur in a little bit but that I will eventually put in when I repaint some parts of the mug. The crackers were easier than I expected, (again not as dark as they appear here), and I lowered their overall value slightly as well. It's tricky when you paint next to an area that needs oiling out but you can't because it's not completely dry. That's when you have to trust the choices made in your poster study.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Painted in the mug. Started it on Thursday and finished it up today. Generally I try to get it as close to complete as I can on the first pass, to keep the painting fresh looking, but it's no big deal if I have to go back into it because I have a pretty good method for oiling out that makes it like painting back into wet paint. I had pretty much completed my first cast painting at the GCA last week but when I looked at it yesterday morning I wasn't completely satisfied so I went back into it tinkering here and there, pretty much repainting the entire painting. I'm glad I did because I really pulled it together and I'm glad I didn't settle. That's pretty much the way that I work. I hope lightning will strike on the first pass, and it's a beautiful thing when that occasionally happens, but I have no hesitation about jumping back into the fray if I need to.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Crackers and Ale

I had off from work due to the snowstorm so I got some work done on a new small still life. The wipeout isn't quite as orangey as it appears here, it's the small incandescent bulb that's clipped to my easel. The setup is basically some Ritz crackers, a bottle of Guiness and a pewter mug placed on a book. I did a drawing first and than transfered it to a double primed linen canvas. Usually I use cotton duck canvas but I had to purchase some Classens for my cast painting class and after painting on it I don't know if I'll be able to go back to cotton, except maybe for small alla prima landscapes. The texture of the linen seems to pull the paint right off of the brush and yet the paint lays on top of the oil primer. I'm also pretty much sold on doing poster studies now. It's pretty much a no brainer; you can try out your color ideas and make sweeping changes with out too much effort and it really helps lock-in your image, so that if you're a window-shader(as I am) it gives you more of an idea where you're headed.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Demo Set-up

Her's the block-in and wipe out that I"ve prepared for the demo that I'm going to be giving tomorrow. I set the still life up in a box so that I can re-create the arrangement without worrying about the ambient lighting. I'm going to start by drawing directly on an 8" by 10" oil primed canvas. I'll be using the envelope, block-in and straight line drawing method. I'll talk about tilts, working from the center out, when to measure and staying true to the size of your original placement. Then, like one of those t.v. cooking shows that pulls a previously cooked dish out of the oven, I'll switch to the previously made wipe-out. I'll have all my color strings for the entire painting previously mixed (just before I get there) and the I'll proceed to paint the entire picture sort of like a poster, laying flat tone next to flat tone, concentrating on the larger forms and plane changes. Once that done I'll take a smaller brush and lay in intermediate colors across the separated values to model the light and subsequently the form. Phew! I'll have about two hours to pull off the entire scheme so I'll be painting fast and furious. The result will be raffled off. This is not a method for tightly rendering an image but it is great for alla prima quick studies and the small size helps a lot with quickly establishing color harmonies and tonalities.

More Portrait

I got a little more done on the portrait, mainly the nose and one eye. The hardest part about the nose is that value wise it stands out in profile against the shadow mass of the turned cheek, but you can't paint it that way or it will look flat. Kind of like a Picasso. So the tough part was to model the form without making it too dark because it does have some planes that directly face the light. I might have made too much of that highlight I'll have to take another look after it dries. I'm saving my lightest lights for the cheek area. The lighting is a little subdued overall because I have her sitting in a niche with the light obliquely raking in creating softer dark areas around the edge of the form. Why, I don't know, I just kind of liked the way it looked after playing around with the spot lamp for a while.