Friday, September 29, 2006

Painting Wine and Cheese

This is the largest painting I have started in my daily painting practice routine. This is 9"x12"on stretched canvas. Also, the compositions seem to be growing larger. I'm beginning to scare myself.
The cheese disappeared! I had to keep it in the refrigerator otherwise it would have gone bad. I'll bring it out at the end. Besides, I don't like the placement of it in this composition. I think I should move it to the right a little more.
I am ready to paint the cloth. I put a tiny test spot of blue just next to the cork. Since that color was correct I mixed up a bunch using a palette knife. I thought I might save some paint so I wiped the palette knife on the canvas. (The big splotch on the right) The only problem was, I missed the cloth.
Everything done but the cheese. Time to go get it out of the refrigerator. It has taken me a long time to realize this, but did you ever notice that the best painters paint objects on top of the background. They don't always paint around the objects. Just something to think about.
Click on the picture to enlarge it
Wine and Cheese
oil on canvas
How many artists have painted wine and cheese before? I know these are very standard props, but it doesn't matter. This is my first attempt ever at wine or cheese. OK, OK, I'm a little behind. (but I didn't start until I hit 50).

We all have struggled with choosing subject matter. I know I have. I always want to do something different. But, I think one of the wonders of art is that we can enjoy the world around us in so many different yet simple ways. No two people see things the same way. That should teach us a great deal about tolerance. But like I said, no two people look at things the same way.

It should also free us from worries that we have to create something never seen before. Nobody saw this glass of wine and slice of cheese before. Should I be worried that there are ten zillion paintings of wine and cheese on EBAY?

Life is so full of the common. Yet the common is what I find beautiful.

See what happens when I drink the props. I get philisoph...philosopical....I think a lot.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Painting end of summer flowers

I had to stop and give you a picture of this. Isn't that a cool abstract form? If you don't have an interesting abstract at this point in the painting process. Rethink your approach. This is 90% of a successful painting right here. If you don't see what I mean, analyze your favorite paintings and break them down into this kind of simple design. You will soon see that those paintings that hold your eye start with a pleasing abstract design. Now, the next time you see abstract work in a gallery copy the best one you see and develop it into a realistic painting. I promise you'll have a winner.
Here's the wipe out method again in a little different form. I use a charcoal blending stub to draw or wipe away the darks. I should try and get a picture of me doing that.
Here I am adding the half-tones. I also like putting the highlights in first. It's my way of telling myself "Nothing else will get this light". So now I have my darks and highlights. Everything else falls in between.
Here is a great shot of my shadow box. I have been getting so much use from this thing. Sometimes the best painting tools are the cheapest. Look how much the purple flower in the background has moved since I began. It must be the music I have on, bringing it to life.
Last flowers of Summer
oil on masonite

Well here they are, the last flowers from our summer garden. I forgot what the blue flowers are called and I have no idea what those purple things are, but my favorite marigolds are still looking pretty good. We haven't had a frost yet, but that could come anytime now. I guess pumpkins and yellow leaves are next on the list to paint.

This one was so much fun to paint. I had Beethovan's Pastoral Symphony playing in the background. A perfect piece for painting flowers.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Painting a conch shell

I used very dry burnt umber and ultramarine blue for the background. The burnt umber dries so fast that putting paint on top of it is much easier than other underpaintings.
Those pinks and blues changed dramatically everytime the light from my window faded or got brighter. It drove me crazy. It was like painting a sunset.

Conch Shell
oil on masonite

My wife collects shells and sand and sea glass(pieces of broken glass made smooth by the surf). Her love of the sea and growing up on the New Jersey shore has helped fuel this collection. Everytime we vacation on a beach we bring home some sand. We have several jars of shells and several of these beautiful conch shells. Since we are now living in the middle of the USA thousands of miles from the ocean, our only connection with the sea now is these shells. You know the trick about holding the shell up to your ear to hear the ocean.
We do that. It brings a smile to my wife's face everytime.

I found painting this shell as hard as painting any human figure. I think because the subtle tone, coloring and the highlights make it very similar to human skin. Also the form itself almost looks muscular. For all of you art students out there: The next time someone tells you that you can't be a good artist and learn form or how to paint subtle tones unless you paint nude women. You tell them to go paint a naked conch shell.

It was a fun assignment. I will have to do more of the collection.

O.A.A. (official artist apology)
I must hang my head in shame and stand in the corner for two minutes today. A very nice person and fellow artist ,(June Parrish Cookeson), alerted me that several of her comments have not shown up on my blog. If there is anyone else who has had this same experience please forgive me. I have not intentionally kept them off but may have mistakenly deleted or not published them. I have removed the monitoring option so this should not be a problem in the future. Thanks for understanding. Can I come out of the corner now?

painting sockets and other things I don't know about

OK, so I went a little crazy today. I have been dying to try this flame red background on something. I also have been looking for a way to use a bunch of things from my toolbox. So what does a guy do with toolbox stuff and a flame red background. You paint them and don't look back!

Cool idea. But not a great subject. ( oh yeah, I said no looking back)
Don't ask me what these things are. I am an artist. I just have a toolbox because guys have toolboxes. And guys fill up those toolboxes with toolbox stuff . Stuff without names.

Toolbox stuff
oil on canvas panel

I have no idea what that long pole thing is. It has a hole in one end. What is that about? Are there parts missing? I have a bunch of those clamp things with the screw in them. I think the last time I used one was 1983.(or was it '84?) Anyway you never know when you may need another one. I bought the sockets about ten years ago, but I no longer have the tool you need to use them.

I am without a doubt the farthest thing from a mechanic you will ever meet. But I have a toolbox, actually two toolboxes, filled with tools and parts of tools and parts that you use with tools. I'll never use 95% of what is in there. The other 5%? Screwdrivers, hammers, wrenches, 3 nail punches and an old toothbrush. Now that I can use for painting.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Painting Medium

The wipe off method has some draw backs (no pun intended). For one thing, you must be careful when doing the preliminary drawing. It is very easy to leave finger prints in the wet paint. Of course, if I used a mahl stick that might help. Usually, I place my little finger on the canvas to hold my hand steady. That ends up leaving the mark.
I am beginning to really enjoy this wipe off method. Especially on masonite panels. The tonal changes are so subtle and the light is incredibly soft. Wouldn't it be something if I could paint using the same technique for one entire week? Miracles can happen!
I win the "dumb things painters do" award this week. Here's a hint. When doing the wipe off method it is a good idea to use very transparent paint when applying the color.... (Do you see my goof up yet?) Of course, I use medium to thin my paints.... (Anybody laughing yet?) Where is the medium I need to use? You guessed it! It's right there in the middle of my still life set-up.

oil on masonite

This is my tribute to all my fellow daily painters. If you are like me you have gallons of these chemicals sitting in the studio. Mine could be declared a hazardous waste site. Don't you find it strange that we painters use such toxic materials to create beauty? Yet, where would we be without our beautiful chemicals in glass jars. I am aware of the water based oil paints. I have not tried them yet but someday I may experiment with them.
I was going to post the finished piece from Friday's post only I haven't yet finished it. Shame on me. Hey, but I get bonus points! I didn't mess with the background once on this painting. Time to celebrate.....where's my teacup?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Daily painter trading cards - part 2

Last Sunday I posted my idea for an experiment. I wanted to find a way that would help us all to begin sharing art work and show us and future collectors, how easy it is to start collecting art.

I am anxious to begin but not comfortable with the process yet. Here are some thoughts I would like your comments on.

1. How do I know what to trade? I really don't like the idea I posted last week about trading the paintings that we don't care about . I personally would not be happy trading a painting I felt was not very good. Of course that limits me in what I have to trade. My new idea is this: I will paint one daily practice piece a month specifically to trade. I will feel much better trading a piece I am proud of.

2. What is the easiest way to post trades? My idea last week was to use Sunday as the day to post my painting for trade. I now think once a month will be better, so I will post only the first Sunday of each month as my day of trading. Does anyone have a better idea?

3. How do I answer if more than one person wants to trade? The best way, just be honest. Pick the one I want to trade with and tell the others I hope to meet them again the following month.

4. Are there other ways to trade? A friend emailed me last week that there are other trading sites already out there. (EBay) has one, and (Art cards).
I personally don't want to create cards for a specific group. I just want to paint what I enjoy, whatever size I want (5x7, 8x10 et.) and trade with anyone who has something I would enjoy collecting.

5. How do we get collectors buying more art? I hope to eventually get collectors involved. I think this is just one idea that gives collectors new options and reasons to buy more art. It could help them: to clear wall space for new work, change decor, begin a new type of collection, with an easy way to try on new artists. Or just give them a new way to have fun with original art work.

Enough typing for today. Next Sunday is the first Sunday of the month so I've got a painting to do if I'm going to trade next week. Please feel free to continue the conversation using the comments.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Almost finished - one for the website

You are all invited to a sneak preview of a not quite finished yet painting. This is one I have been struggling with for a while. I am posting it because I am determined to finish it this weekend and I know if I post it , I will feel compelled to follow through. Ah, the games we play to do the things we need to do.Here are some progress shots as I slowly get closer and closer. I have her sweater and hands nearly done. Then it is on to her face for some major surgery.
This is very tough. I am trying to make sure I build the form of her face and keep the flesh tones fresh in the direct sunlight.
Close up detail of work in progress
Click the picture to enlarge it
I am almost there. I hope only one more day.

Here is today's art therapy.
One problem I have when doing larger work is maintaining a disciplined approach. I often put the work down for a while and come back to it. I tell myself I need to look at it with fresh eyes.(I should call this blog the art of procrastination) I come back sometimes weeks later and make a little more progress. Then put it down again. This can go on and on, until I either finish or decide it is not worth it. What a bad habit to fall into.

Here's why: First, as time passes, I loose interest for the piece. Second, I am still learning and developing, my painting style seems to change rapidly. When I come back to a painting that I put aside, my painting style doesn't fit the painting any more. Both of these result in not finishing my larger work.

So here is my new commitment written in blood (Ok it's only red text): From this day forward I will only paint in a continuous disciplined manner, with the goal of completing each larger piece of work in one week (or maybe two).

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Painting grapes in a basket

A totally different arrangement this time. I had to set up on my little art table while my easel had a larger painting on it. The light is so different on this side of the studio. It is the farthest wall from either window so the light is very soft and indirect.

Blocking in the main shapes. I am starting to learn the value of keeping the block-in colors more muted or grayed. This should help me get richer color later when I put on the more opaque paint. That's my theory anyway.

I found a way not to mess with the background. Don't put it in! Of course, I didn't plan it that way. I just had so much fun painting the grapes I forgot to paint the background. Oops!

Grapes in a basket
oil on canvas panel

The grocery store sold these grapes all in one package. They were too colorful not to paint. Of course we ate them as soon as the painting was finished.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Painting Peppers

One thing I like about working on masonite panels is the beginning of the painting. The sketch always seems to have a wonderful light to it . I wish I could keep that.
Here's what I was working with when I started the painting. I had left over paint that was drying or caked over. Dry paint is great for sketching with, but I have no room for mixing clean color. Besides my teacup was empty.Ah, much better. I am so proud of myself at this moment. That tool is the razor scaper I use to scrape off the old paint. I highly recommend buying the largest scraper you can get two hands on.
Starting off OK with clean paint. But wait, our hidden camera catches me in the act of fiddle farting with the background. (Fiddle Farting is a high art crime!) I started messing with the background on the left side.....again.
End of the Season Peppers
8"x10" oil on masonite
Here we are at the end of the gardening season in Omaha. Last night was 39 degrees. Great for sleeping, not great for peppers. The garden is ready to be put to bed. Our tradition is to wait until the first frost. We hang on to the bitter end hoping for one last tomato

Self Critique Time:
This painting is in a little looser style than I have been doing. I don't really like the outcome, it may end up in the for trade pile. Getting that red was a battle I'm not sure I won. Anytime you battle a painting, I am convinced something is wrong. I got too opaque too quick, and it is very hard to recover from that unless you wipe out and start again. I hate wiping out and starting again, it makes me feel like such a loser. Of course that attitude just shows my of lack of experience. One thing we beginners all share is thinking that Rembrandt or Vermeer never made a mistake. They of course did, and they wiped out paintings and started over. I can imagine the conversation between Rembrandt and Saskia (his wife):
Saskia:"Remy! What are you doing?"
Rembrandt: "I'm wiping off this piece of crap."
Saskia: "But it was so good, you only needed to do a little bit more to finish."
Rembrandt: "I 'll never be any good."
Saskia: " But Remy, you are good. Why don't you start over or do one of your self portraits? That always makes you feel better."
Did you ever think you would have something in common with Rembrandt?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Painting Chocolate Chip Cookies with Milk

I used the wipe out method again to begin. I may actually be developing a favorite technique. Any bets on how long I stick with the same beginning?

I started the composition with a pile of cookies. More than you see here. Don't laugh. How long would you last staring at them, smelling the chocolate, only inches from your mouth? I just happened to have a cup of tea ready so.... and now there are 3.

Chocolate Chip Cookies and Milk
oil on canvas panel

Is there any better treat for a starving artist than CC's and milk? My art manager/wife gets the credit and a commission for the idea and for the cookies. I don't know what the commission is yet but I will think of something. I asked my wife, what if she had set up the still life? What would she have done differently? She said, "use a plate". Then she realized, no, this is much more realistic, more like me....... I never use a plate.

Self Critique Time:
I tried to be very disciplined on this one. I used a 3" housepainters brush for the background and painted it with only a few strokes. Then I tried to leave it alone. It wasn't easy, but I managed not to mess with it. I am pleased with how few brush strokes I actually used on this one.
Ah, one small step towards improvement. Now it's time to eat the props.

News Flash!
Here is an update on Peter's status in family decision making. This breaking news just in.....
The painting with the (pitcher) has been sold. Thanks to a wonderful couple in Oregon. I am now free to make prop purchasing decisions on my own, and I can go on unsupervised visits to antique shops.

painting yellow pansies

One of my all time favorite artists and someone I want to paint like when I grow up is( Henri Fantin-LaTour). His paintings sing to me like a choir. Study his backgrounds if you want to know how simple you can leave the background in a great painting. For those of you who are keeping score, here is another way I found to begin;
Completely go against every art magazine, art book and instruction you have ever read. Paint the lights first. The painting god's won't strike you dead.(did I hear thunder?) The art police won't come after you (see Friday's blog for when that happens).You can paint anyway you like.
The trick is to like anyway you paint.

I like it but ...there is something I don't like about the background. I know, I know, one of the easiest ways to mess up a good painting is to go back in and change the background. That's another of those always remember rules I always forget, but this really, really bugs me. Oh well, Fantin-LaTour isn't watching....I'll change it, no guts, no glory.

Yellow Pansies
oil on masonite panel

I thought I would try yellow pansies this time. They are such a cheerful flower. Even when they are in a plastic pack. Can you imagine someone not smiling at yellow pansies?
This painting should be titled
pure joy in paint. These are the kind of painting practice pieces that make you want to pick up the brushes and do another.

Self critique time:
Ah, forget the critique. I'm just going to sit down and enjoy looking at it for a long while. Maybe with a cup of tea.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

day painter trading cards or a plan to battle fear in starting an art collection

Lately I have been giving a lot of thought as to why there is so much fear associated with creating, selling and even collecting art. We artists are afraid of so many things. I suffer from these fears as much as the next guy and gal, fear of painting outside, fear of demonstrating in front of people, fear of adding color and ruining an underpainting, fear of not selling,of pricing my work, of not producing enough to sell, of not being good enough. I have more but I need to save those fears for future blog material.

When I read Anna Conti's blog last week - (how to start your own art collection) - I realized that collectors suffer from fear also. So, my brain came up with an experiment:

Daily Painter Trading Cards.
Before big money was involved, most older guys remember collecting and trading baseball cards . Just for fun. (I have no idea what most girls collected and traded then). As kids we would collect and trade these cards not for profit but to build a collection. No fear involved just fun and social interaction. Skip ahead to the present: I would like to try to show how easy and fun it can be to start collecting art. Here's what I propose:
1. I will start posting on Sundays only - daily painter trading cards.
2. I will post what paintings I have to trade. (I know we all have some that have not sold or we just don't care enough for. Use those.) Watercolors, sketches, printmaking, pastels. Rough, finished, it doesn't matter.
3. Hopefully someone will want to trade one of theirs. Answer by using the leave comment button. If you have something available, post it on your blog. Only on Sundays. And label it Daily Painter trading cards and the date. If you don't have a blog send an email with the attachment photos.

My hope is, first we can start sharing more art amoung each other. Second collectors come in and it builds from there. Of course, collectors will have to start by purchasing a piece of someone's art.
We all will need to let go of a little fear and build a little trust. As collections build more people will find better ways to buy, sell and trade. And world peace soon follows.

I can see the future now:
Daily painter collector No.1 "I have 2 Peter Yesis flower paintings I want to trade for 1 Darren Maurer Monopoly painting.".
Daily painter collector No.2 " I already have Peter Yesis. Who else have you got?"

Any ideas out there? I won't start until I hear some of your thoughts.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Peter's great adventure in pleine air practice

View of the Platte
oil on masonite
I get major therapy points today. I actually went outside and beyond my own yard to paint. Am I making progress or what? I am such a chicken heart when it comes to painting in public. It might be because I get more paint on me than I do on the canvas. People probably think I am doing a street performance act. I can hear children laugh as they pass by, "Hey, Mom, why is that man painting himself?".

Maybe that's why a state trooper came out of nowhere and questioned me while I was painting this picture of the Platte river. When I mean came out of no where I mean... no where. You have to get a good picture of where I am setting up to paint to appreciate how strange this was.The painting set up...looks like suspicious activity to me!I'm out there behind those trees at the end of a road.
There must be something awfully valuable in those silos!

So, here I am on a dead end road on the river. The nearest farm is at least a mile away and up drives the Nebraska state police not 3 minutes after I set up.
I am standing in front of my easel with paint brushes and a canvas ready to begin.
Here's what happened. (This is the actual conversation)
Me: "Hello"
Officer: "What are you doing?"
Me: " I'm painting"
Officer: "Painting?"
Me: "I hope that's OK?"
Officer: "We don't get many painters here...People get nervous seeing someone out here. A lot of people come here to shoot guns."
Me: "I can see all the shotgun shells, but I'm just painting."
Officer: "OK , but don't go anywhere up the banks... That's private property."
Me: "I won't. I am just painting here. "
Officer turns to leave, then comes back. "What's your name?"
Me: "Peter Yesis"
Officer: "Peter what?"
Me: "Do you want my card?" I hand him my business card. It says I'm an artist. Officer looks at the card as though it should have an expiration date on it, then gives it back and leaves.

Is this a sign I should stay in my own backyard? Or did the homeland security agency raise the terror alert to a new cadmium orange level and I am not aware of it?

Omaha Park
oil on canvas panel
In the afternoon I stayed closer to home. I actually had people (2 kids) come and watch for a while. It wasn't as hard to paint in public as I had thought.

Self Critique Time:
It is clear I need a lot of outdoor practice. My brush work and colors are very crude. But I am pleased to have gotten past my fear. I don't understand why my painting process outdoors is so radically different from indoors. Practicing more outside should help me discover the reason.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Painting Mums

Another practice painting where I started by wiping the paint off.
I turned the shadow box on it's side. I wanted a very dark background on this one making the flowers come out of the shadows.

Potted mums
oil on canvas panel

Mums are great flowers. They hold still. They smell good and they blossom late into fall. Can you ask a flower to do anything more? You may notice my favorite pitcher/vase is back again. Here's the story of why I keep sticking it in these practice paintings.
A while back (see the post of July 28) , I purchased this pitcher thinking it a great still life prop. My art manager/wife did not appreciate the object's artistic potential like I did. I think her exact words were -" no one will buy a painting with that in it." Even though she has a great track record for these things, I set out to prove her wrong and painted two, (Onion still life) and (painting Jane Austin) posted on Ebay...They did not sell and her management fee went up.
But I am not giving up......This isn't about art any more, my status in family decisions is hanging on by a thread. I need to score one.
I have to repaint one of the mums my finger smudged it when I took the painting off the easle.( the pitcher is cursed). The painting on Ebay will be a new photo.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

painting portraits -part 3

I jumped to the base colors. Unfortunately it was late at night when I was doing this so the camera is picking up the light wrong. You can't see it well, but I threw a bunch of background color into the skin halftone and shadow areas. That helps keep the objects in a painting in the same atmosphere.
Next morning, I didn't like his hand in the composition above. So a painless operation and I cut it off. Reconnected as the green blob on her arm. (I just wanted to see a value blob to check the composition) I like the placement better. It brings them together a little more and adds some movement to the composition.
Here's the beginning stage of adding color. Her flesh tones(pale warm pinks) contrast with his dark warm olive skintones. One challenge will be not washing out the color in her face. My daughter has beautiful expressive eyes. To me they will be one key to nailing this painting.
True Confessions of an artist:
This is the point in the painting process that I start to get really nervous and doubt replaces confidence. I'll start procrastinating,(you can see it already) then I jump out of the procedure and into doodle around with the brush time. The paint strokes start to get weak and the paint thins out. I know the remedy must be go forth bravely into the fire, but to confess, I'm chicken hearted and don't want to ruin the painting. This is a death sentence to any beginner (like me). First, you can't ruin oil paint - it drys and you can do it again, or wipe it off and do it again. (brain to heart: doing it again is not a failure!)Second, if you do not approach the brush work with confidence that weakness will showup in the final picture.
Ok my lecture to myself is over, I'll get right back to it......just as soon as I complete a daily practice piece then go outside to sketch and....