Thursday, December 28, 2006

daily painting practice 116 - knowing when to quit

Morning light coming in an east window may look pretty in real life but it is impossible for me to photograph.
I am racing the light as it comes out from behind the morning clouds. I didn't even have time to put out new paint so I am working with old dry paint left on the palette.
Here you get an idea of the contrast between the subject and the canvas.
My set up was not very good to see the color I was painting. The canvas was in shadow and the bright back lit subject didn't help either. A lot of the color was pure guess work and chance.
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Pink Cyclamen
oil on masonite

Knowing when to quit is a hard lesson to learn. I kept this painting session short. I only spent an hour then decided enough was enough. If I kept going with this painting I would have struggled with the changing light conditions all afternoon. Sometimes it is better to grab the image and enjoy the process and be willing to say " Oops the light changed time to move on." I hate giving in so easily. I may come back and do battle with this composition again for a larger studio painting. My wonderful wife/houseplant specialist has kept this plant blooming for more than 8 months so I am not worried about losing the flowers. I may have to use both photographs and life studies to get it done though.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

daily painting practice 115 - self portrait with teacup

What do you paint after the holidays? How about trying to paint a self portrait in 2 hours?
Here it looks like a ghost. I washed in the background with a turp/Liquin medium and a transparent cadmium orange. Then I used a really thin mix of viridian green and indian red.
I look like a prisoner asking for more water in my tin cup! I'm doing time for impersonating Van Gogh last week.
I needed to put my glasses back on to do the details. That meant painting them into the picture.
One or two touches adding details and I am finished.
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Self Portrait with Teacup
oil on masonite

I figure Ebay sales will be very slow until mid January so I will do some daily painting practice pieces on subjects that wouldn't sell. I think this character fits that category.

Friday, December 22, 2006

daily painting practice 114 - portrait progress

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Remember this? Back in August I started a portrait of my daughter and son-in law. I have posted progress steps along the way. Now I am 13 days away from having to deliver it as a gift to his parents. I admit I am feeling just a teeny bit of pressure. I thought I would post all the steps again in one place and bring you up to date.

This pose looked too stiff and did not reflect the soft intimacy they share as a young couple.
So I changed the way he was holding her arm. This brought a new set of problems however. At this point I really thought about starting over.
Her hand was too large and his too high on her arm.
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Portrait In Progress
oil on canvas

Here is where I am as of this morning. I painted more with them sitting in front of me to get the flesh tones and colors correct. I have corrected her hands but still need to work a little on his. She has a few hard edges that need to soften or fade to shadow and I will finish the detail in the scarf. As always, I am stuck on what to do with the back ground.... this always haunts me at this point. Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

daily painting practice 113 - vermillion

This is one of those ArtBoard wood panels. I gave it 3 coats of Artboard gesso and an undercoating of muted green oil paint and let it dry for a week. The surface is a delight to paint on.
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Cup and Vermillion
oil on wood
Step back my creative juices are out of control! I was going to paint an arrangement of a glass vase with all these colored glass beads inside it with all the reflecting light bouncing off, but it seemed more fit for a studio painting than a practice painting. So, I grabbed an old tube of vermillion paint and a cup from the bathroom. I wonder if Van Gogh would have painted a plastic bathroom cup. I kept to my 2 hour time limit and had fun with the process. The reflective light on the cup is my favorite part. What do you think?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

daily painting practice 112 - Van Gogh to bed

Vincent Van Gogh
The Bedroom, 1889
Oil on canvas, 29 x 36 5/8 in. (73.6 x 92.3 cm)
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Sunlight on a Blue Bed
oil on masonite

Let's continue on the VVG theme. This is my Vincent Van Gogh wanna be painting. I just set up to have a little fun. The light of course moved off the bed just as I was ready to paint it. All of it except for the small patch that surrounds the door knob. Not every daily painting needs to be a serious attempt to capture truth, justice and the American way. I like how the painting invites you in for a nap.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

daily painting practice 111 - Van Gogh's Pencil

I loaded the back ground with a heavier mix of Ultra Marine Blue and Burnt Umber and used more turps to apply the wash than I usually do. Then I took a charcoal stub or blender and wiped away the drawing.
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Van Gogh's Pencil
oil on masonite

I am really getting into Van Gogh. I purchased the Complete Paintings of Van Gogh by Taschen a few weeks ago. It is a large book with every painting. Almost all in good color reproductions. The text is rather dry to read however the inclusion of quotes from Van Gogh's letters are very revealing. One fact I did not know is that Van Gogh actually studied from (Charles Bargues's two volume drawing exercises). It is one of the earliest home study courses and still available. He also met with Jules Breton.

I had Van Gogh on my mind the entire time I was painting this study. Hence the name. The little hatch marks on the front of the pencil sharpener is my little tip of the hat to Vincent. I tried to imagine being as poor as he was and still painting everyday. He must have used brushes that were worn and caked with paint and he probably never wasted or threw away any paint off his palette.

So, I tried to paint this with only the paint that was left on my palette and 2 old brushes. If Van Gogh were alive today I am sure he would be a daily painter with his own blog.

Monday, December 18, 2006

daily painting practice 110 - coffee pot

Beware! Nothing is safe from a daily painter. Anything left on the stove or counter top is fair game.
I have been reading about Van Gogh this weekend. I love his bold outlines and intimate compositions. This layout reminds me of his still lifes.
I am guessing this was about 20 minutes into the painting.
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A One Cupper
oil on wood

It was late in the day and the light was fading fast in the kitchen. I needed to try a practice painting as a fast sketch. I did this in 1 hour. I have been reading Craig Nelson's book (60 Minutes to Better Painting). I highly recommend it to every daily painter and those who want to learn how to improve in quick steps. Craig Nelson shows a very practical approach to a quick painting process. I have taken this book out of the library so many times I can see my fingerprints. I even recognize stains from spagetti sauce I splattered from lunch one day. Maybe I should get a book on how to eat neatly in 60 minutes.

Friday, December 15, 2006

daily painting practice 109 - change

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Pocket Change
oil on canvas board

Change is something most of us fear. Mostly I think because of the unknown that accompanies change. Painting involves so much of the unknown. One of the biggest unknowns is how people will react to what we paint. The artists biggest fear is the fear of rejection, the unknown critic. But painting offers the other side of the coin also. Knowing that what we do everyday may bring a smile to someone's face, a happy memory, or even just the opportunity to glimpse at something beautiful. In today's world that is quite a gift.

After yesterday I knew I needed change. A change in attitude to gratitude.
Thanks for all who left encouraging comments. I owe you!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

daily painting practice 108 - wine wine wine

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Tolstoy's Ghost
8 3/4" x 11 3/4"
oil on wood

Get the tissues folks. This is a sad story about a painting with good intentions that went bad. Just like a tragic character in a Russian novel this subject is headed for the train tracks... My intention was to paint the light on the bread and cheese with the deep color of the wine as a compliment. But instead I ended up with a very cliche stiff composition. I know those who paint everyday come across these " you are trying too hard" paintings once in a while. I think I will leave it at that and get back to work.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

daily painting practice 107 - hummel figures

You can see the dark gray background underpainting I started on. I had painted several boards last week with different background colors in preparation for the studies this week. Gray underpainting makes the colors really jump off the surface.
I really enjoy painting on the masonite, especially with the dry underpainting. I find I can control the color and grays better than when I paint on the white surfaces.
click on the picture to enlarge the image

Girl Talk
oil on masonite
My mother is the one who came up with the idea of painting these figurines. They sit on her shelf along with other knick knacks just like you see them here. They seem to be having a great conversation. For some reason this painting has an oriental flavor to it. I can't figure out why though. Maybe it's the round dish in the background, it reminds me of the circular gates or doorways I have seen in oriental art.

Monday, December 11, 2006

daily painting practice 107 - Candy Bowl

I was invited to show at the first Nebraska Artist Artsale and Exposition. A new group working to build Omaha as an art center in the midwest.
I was fortunate enough to sell two at the show and trade two with a wonderful Omaha artist Lori Stevens. Lori does amazing carpet artwork. Her custom designed rugs are beautiful. So we are getting a rug designed for our bedroom. How cool is that?
Daily paintings on display. One good thing to come out of doing a small show like this. All my daily paintings are now framed and ready to sell and show again.
I started on a pre-toned masonite panel. The warm red/brown was put on several days ago and dry. It worked perfectly as the starting point for this painting.
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Green Candy Bowl
oil on masonite
This weekend was so busy getting ready for the show, doing the art show, and having company on Sunday. Needless to say I didn't get a daily painting done. So this morning I had to quickly set up and get yesterday's painting done today. Luckily we had all this candy left over.

Friday, December 08, 2006

daily painting practice 106 - stuffed animal

Don't ask me why, I just thought it looked liked a fun idea to paint. You are not a serious daily painter unless you except the challenge of painting a stuffed animal or toy.
It always amazes me how any object when set up in a composition begins to show a personality. How best to capture that personality is the key to a successful painting.
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Spots and Stripes Forever
oil on canvas board

This was one of the most difficult paintings I have done. I felt strange painting it. Almost like I was painting a live model. I thought at any minute the giraffe would turn and say " Can I move my neck now?" Painting this piece was like a hybrid cross of still life and portrait painting. I think am ready for an episode of the twight light zone.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

daily painting practice 105 - Apple slice

4"x4" is a tiny canvas. Composition and light are probably more important in smaller formats.
I approached this using a different method. I used very small patches of color and kept them very gray for as long as I could. Then the opaque brighter reds and oranges really show off.
click on the picture to enlarge the image

Apple Slice
oil on canvas board
This is the smallest daily painting I have done. I like the format. It is very intimate. There were originally two slices in my set up, but it was too crowded and so I ate the extra piece. When the painting was completed I finished off the rest.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Daily painting practice 105 - Sliced Onion

I was really enjoying painting this so I never got up to take progress photos. Sorry folks, but I did take the set up photo.
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Sliced Onion
oil on wood

This was the first time I ever experimented painting on wood. I gessoed 4 coats over an ArtBoard wood panel sanding each coat. I really liked the feel of it. It was getting late by the time I got around to doing my daily painting practice so I went to the source of all true artistic inspiration.....the refrigerator. It has been a while since I did an onion so I made a fresh slice of this one and sat down to work. By turning the spot light away from directly pointing at the subject the blue background really lit up.

Self Critique Time:
I haven't posted a self critique in a while because I tend to get too negative. So I'll try to stay objective here..... I like the composition and the light, though I think I could have adjusted the sliced piece a little better. I didn't get the translucent quality of the onion but I am pleased with the background(now that shows growth). I find it hard to get good highlights when the subject is warm and brightly lit. I can see them but not paint them yet. I think it may have something to do with not getting the gray tones.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

daily painting practice 104 - After Breakfast

I have a new traveling around the house and outdoor painting set up. I purchased this aluminum portable easel last week. It is so light and very easy to set up compared to the French style outdoor easel I have.
Here is the little 4"x4" color study I did while the sun raced across the table. I think the painting gods were having fun moving the light and adjusting the brightness again.
I just purchased some of the (Artboard) wooden painting panels to try. This study was done on one I prepared with 2 coats Artboards gesso. I am going to experiment with these boards for the next few days.
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After Breakfast
oil on masonite

This is a color study from the smaller color study above, for a larger painting. Is there such a thing as too many studies? (Yikes! There must be engineering residue left in me. Call the de-contamination squad)