Tuesday, February 27, 2007

daily painting practice - Lilacs and apple blossoms

sWe got 6 inches of snow this weekend. So after shoveling the driveway and sidewalks what do you do? My wife and I, of course, got out the seed catalog to order seeds for our garden and then I painted something from last spring.
I started on a pre-toned masonite panel with Burnt Sienna and white.
Lilacs are interesting flowers to paint. They hold their flowers in tight little balls then open and stay clustered together.
click on picture to enlarge the image

Lilacs and Apple Blossoms
oil on masonite
This should get you ready for spring! We have a great big old lilac bush in the backyard so I should be doing these for years. The apple blossoms were clipped off a tree at the park. Don't tell.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Daily Painting Practice - Quince

I am back to feeling 100%. Thank you to all that sent me the get well comments.

Our house in Omaha has a very large beautiful flowering bush in the front yard. It gets covered with brilliant orange flowers that grow on branches with sharp thorns. I think I have it identified as a flowering quince. I clipped a few branches last year and made this arrangement with this vase. I love the solid silhouette and the contrast with the linear quality of the quince branches. That's ivory black brushed over the pre-toned background.
I should have been playing Asian music in the background when I was painting this. Instead I had on Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra and Sarah Vaughn. Did you know Frank Sinatra was an (oil painter)?

click on the picture to enlarge the image

Quince Flowers in an Oriental Vase
oil on masonite
I really like the atmosphere in this little painting. The success of this picture depended on the soft edges. I have read that edges can be soft or hard or lost and found. I kept the edges harder at the top of the vase and softer and lost at the bottom. That keeps your eye focused at the top and then allows it to travel across the branches. I think one of the best ways to keep the viewer's interest in a painting is not to outline everything but to let the viewer's eye and brain put the pieces together.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Daily Painting Practice- Painting an Omaha Park

I am sorry for not posting the past few days. I have been down and out with the flu and not painting. I did this painting just before dropping out of the studio and into bed.
I started the painting with the masses and began the sky before I realized I hadn't stopped to take any progress photos. So, this shot is at the stage where I am laying in the sky value and some color. Again, I find the pre-toned panel really helps speed up the painting process and holds the painting together while I search for the correct value with my brush.
I keep talking to myself while I paint "Stay loose, not too thick, remember how the sun felt, keep the shadows warm and transparent..." Sometimes I even listen to myself and do the right thing.
Zorinsky park in Omaha has a great paved biking and walking path around the lake (which is actually a reservoir). This is the view near where I parked the truck on the northwest side of the lake. The photo I am using for reference was taken near the spot I did (this pleine air painting) last fall.
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Summer Day at Zorinsky Lake
oil on masonite

I remember the sky color that day it really invited you to look up. I stopped for this view because I like the small break in the tree line that allowed the view of the bridge. This just proves you don't need to travel to find beautiful landscapes. I have to tell that to myself because when I see people who live and paint in other parts of the world I always wish I was there. Seeing beautiful things where ever you are is one of the best lessons you can get from daily painting practice. Enjoy!

Friday, February 16, 2007

daily painting practice - figurative painting

Could you be this bold? Look at the contrast and the amount of shadow! Then look at how brilliant the light is on the face.This is by a young artist called Rembrandt (the boy's got a future in art) .... Now this is what I call bold painting! No guts no glory painting!

This print was another treasure I found at our local thrift store. It was a sign from the gods of painting that I should continue to shop there. ( total cost with frame $1.49)
I haven't done a figure painting in a while and I needed to do something other than another peony. I started by painting over the charcoal drawing with a thin line of ivory black paint. I used an old brush with just a few hairs on it. The drawing came out looking like an old quill pen and ink drawing. I almost left it alone.
The colors in this painting are very earth tone in nature. I should probably do more thinking about the effect of color on the subject. The earth tones gives a more down home feeling to the piece. Imagine if the guy was wearing a bright Tropical print shirt. How would that change the mood of the painting?
click on picture to enlarge the image

Omaha Music Maker
oil on masonite

I almost was satisfied with another photo being the final shot but I noticed the color around the ear was just a little too yellow. Sometimes looking at your work in a photo helps catch little errors like that. It's not as bold as that young Rembrandt kid's painting but I think it's not too bad for a daily painting by a not so young artist from Omaha.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

daily painting practice - white peonies red flowers

The first peony painting went so well, I thought I would do another. Same approach, start with a charcoal drawing.

Start painting the white directly on top of the charcoal. I like how the charcoal mixes with the white at this stage. Again, this is on a pre-toned surface.
I start adding grays. This is the real trick I think to vibrant color. Though I have not yet learned how to make the colors really sing like David Leffel talks about in his books. I have more reading and practice to do. Someday I'd like to take a class with David or find a DVD of a demonstration.
I remember one thing I read where he talks about making the base surface lighter to make the objects appear lit up.
Click on the oicture to enlarge the image

Peonies in a Copper Pot
oil on wood
Again staying very loose and using a medium of Liquin and linseed oil. I think the contrast of color and light in this painting is what holds your eye. Another moment of joy!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

daily painting practice - weekly painting number 2

Continuing the weekly painting I began last week and on two earlier posts. This is as far as I can go before taking the leap and doing the detail work. This is always a time when I need to step back and make sure I make the details consistent with the feel of the overall painting. Sometimes I get too tight and linear and the details have too many hard edges. Then they look pasted on and you need to wipe them off and do it again.
A few details and some work on the vase should do the trick.
click on the picture to enlarge the image

Roses in Winter
oil on canvas

My second weekly painting. (it only took me 2 1/2 weeks to work on). The light was very tricky on this one for some reason I struggled with the values. The pastel like colors were softened by the north light, I really liked that from the beginning. I think I did a convincing job on the roses. My favorite part was the tea cup. But then I'm partial to tea. Time to arrange another composition for next Friday's weekly painting. I should look through a few closets and see what we have.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

daily painting practice - crackers and jelly

Here's my paint at night time set up for a still life.
My wife and I cleaned out the refrigerator looking for ideas. It seemed like the entire refrigerator was in my studio for a while.

I set it up on my right side. The weekly painting still life is set up on my left. You can see several left over props on the table in the back. They never made into the composition.
I have not done a lot of compositions from this angle. It always takes a while for my eyes and mind to adjust to a different horizon.
click on the picture to enlarge the image

Apricot and Strawberry
oil on wood
I tried to stay focussed on color and loose brush work. This was meant to be a free and easy painting and not look stiff and contrived. It is certainly an unusual color scheme for me. But what fun!

Monday, February 12, 2007

daily painting practice - still life peonies in a vase

It's the middle of the winter and I miss painting fresh flowers. There is no way to get peonies this time of year so I am trying an experiment. Painting from a photo I took last summer.

First I skecthed in charcoal than painted right over top of it. That's what made the gray.
Preparing the wood panel ahead of time made things so much easier when it came time to start painting. The pre-toned background helped to hold the tonal quality of the overall painting together right from the start.
I am going at this very loose and free from thinking about matching the photo. My mind is on remembering the peonies and how beautiful they looked in our garden last summer. The painting is more feeling at this point than critical thinking.
click on the picture to enlarge the image

Peonies in a Glass Vase
oil on wood
I love the result! I could have gone crazy with the lace like I did before on(Orange Pekoe). But this was a daily practice painting so I just suggested the detail this time.

I am not a purist when it comes to painting from life or photos. I feel its the finished product that matters. But I must say that painting from life everyday certainly gives me the confidence to put more feeling into a piece.

Friday, February 09, 2007

daily painting pratice - weekly painting almost

This is where I left off. I was fiddling with the background and something was bothering me. I felt the composition was not balanced or something. So....

I wiped out the bottom, moved the pitcher and the tea cup and moved the plate that was under the vase. I also re-wrinkled the silk scarf. Then I tried my new "get out of the way" approach to painting. I need practice in sustaining the freedom of getting out of the way. I start to tigten up as soon as I hit the details.
Still Life - work in progress
oil on canvas

So here I am at week two of my one painting a week goal and I'm still working out the kinks. I'll stick with this one for next week. Press on!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

daily painting pratice- Thursday in the park

Remember back in November I set out to do a large study for a future painting?

I did this small 8"x10" pleine air study in the park first.

Here's the current version.
Sometimes it's good to take a fresh look at things in different light and in a different environment. You can get a sense of the scale of a painting this way too.

I like to put the paintings on top of the piano and sit across the room. It is amazing what will pop out just by moving the painting to another room.

Here a few details shots of the current state of things in the park. This tree and the light poles need some work yet.
Another close up. The tree is almost complete.
more details, the underpainting of the park bench.
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Walk in the Park - work in progress
oil on canvas

One of my goals is to complete one large painting every month. I'm cheating a little here because I started this back in November. I will finish this one for my February piece. There is something comforting about painting fall colors when it is 0 degrees and snow is on the ground.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

daily painting practice - weekly still life progress

Off and running. Time to think about some color...
Trying to keep the lightest light and the darkest dark and add the correct color... all that and make sure the drawing is correct. No wonder artists need retreats.
I am fiddling with the background too much again. This usually means there is something bothering me about the painting. Better take a step back before doing more.
A small detour
Apples in a Copper Pot
oil on canvas board

I thought I would throw in a little surprise. This is the smallest painting I have ever done. I did it to see the difference in my thinking between a small work and a large work. This took about 20 minutes and I had fun the whole time. Here are some of the things I noticed when I do a larger painting:

... It seems the bigger the canvas the larger the worries.
... The larger the piece the more detail I try to squeeze in.
... my brushes do not increase in size with the scale of the painting
... I lose focus and have a harder time seeing a simple abstract design.

Hopefully knowing this I can figure out a way to see the simple in a larger format. In the mean time.... paintings like this one keep it fun!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

daily painting practice - apples and copper

I know I said I would post studies of the weekly painting but I needed to break in with something different. The best tool I have in my studio is my wife. She can spot a bad work habit in a nano second and come up with the creative solution in the next nano second. (I've got plenty of bad habits so she'll be busy for quite a few years)

Anyway, on this occasion she noticed how I was struggling with the light in my paintings by chasing it all day long. If it changed in the afternoon I would change it on my canvas. (nobody said artists have brains)... So now I have a still life set up for morning and one for the afternoon and one for lamp light at night.
I signed it a little too soon. I need to warm it up just a touch.
click on the picture to enlarge the image

Apples and Copper
8"x10" oil on wood
Here is the solution to bad habit number two.
I have a new saying that I should tack up in the studio.
"Get out of the way!" It means get out of the way of myself. My art motivational therapist/wife came up with the phrase. She noticed how rigid and stiff I get when I paint. There is no joy in Mudville when I start....."this one has got to be perfect....I messed up the light....I can't paint reds.....the composition stinks" you get the picture.

I tried my new attitude adjustment on for size, and this painting was the result. I didn't think about it too much I just enjoyed the process of laying on the paint. Joy in art. What a concept!