Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Daily Painting Practice - Beginning a new still life

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I have been teaching a daily painting class at the Joslyn Museum of Art here in Omaha, once a week for the past few weeks. I enjoy teaching, especially to people who are enthusiastic about trying to learn new methods. Since I am teaching a method that focuses on keeping the shadow areas thin and transparent and the light areas thicker and opaque, I thought I should do a painting following my own advice.

I started with a toned canvas. I toned it with the gesso and marble dust mixture I had leftover from my attempts to make panels for pastel painting. (see old post here) I had added some acrylic paint and it made this wonderful purple/grey/pink color. The marble dust gives the surface a smooth mat finish. I like it much better than the plastic feel of gesso alone.

After transferring my drawing, I started painting with a very dry brush using Burnt Umber. Keep the paint as thin as possible. Think of breathing on a mirror. You want your paint to be as thin as your breathe is when it fogs up the mirror. Keep it dry or only use turps to make very thin washes, like watercolor.

I am only using Burnt Umber and Naples Yellow.
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Step two, I go back in and punch up the darks. I keep talking to myself, "Keep the darks thin and transparent" I sound like a monk chanting in my basement.

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Here is a detail of the next stage where I start adding a small amount of color and the paint begins to get thicker....but only a little bit. I started using some Pthalo Blue and some Burnt Sienna and just a smidge of White added to the Naples Yellow for the edge of the plate.

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I like the idea of letting it dry over night at this point and checking it again tomorrow. I'll start refining the drawing in little increments. Keep an eye on all the edges. It is important to make sure all edges are soft at this point. No hard lines. Use thin muted colors, and no opaque paint in the shadows.

I think I am off to a pretty good start.

Friday, July 17, 2009

daily painting practice- Still working on the Rosenblatt Baseball Stadium

Yep, still working on the Omaha Rosenblatt Stadium painting. The painting that keeps on going , going, going...

I have changed the foreground quite a bit since I last showed this to you. Go back (here) and you'll see how it use to be. I decided to use my artistic license and remove the fence that was in the foreground. I also changed the people in the front.
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Last Days at Rosenblatt - work in progress
36"x48"
oil on canvas

Here's a larger version. I still have about 10% more to go. Will I ever finish?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Daily Painting Practice - 30 Self Portraits - Day 29 1/2

I wanted to do something special and fun with the last painting in this series. I had this idea of including a few of my art heroes in the painting with me.

The first step was to get the thought transferred to paper. This sounds easy, but I always have a difficult time with this step. I get the idea in my head picture perfect ( at least I think it is) until I go to sketch.... then reality takes over and the sketches barely make sense to anyone but me. It's good practice to do these anyway because it helps you visualize problems with the idea.

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The Last Self Portrait and a Few Friends
Day 29 1/2
work in progress
11"x14"
oil on masonite

Quite an improvement from the sketches right? If you don't recognize the boys they are, from left to right, Rembrandt, Rockwell,Homer and Whistler. And of course me and the tea cup.

You really need to break down the process into small steps to get the idea to this point. Here's a few of the steps :
1. First, I start taking lots and lots of photos of just me in different poses. This triggers a few ideas for the composition and lighting.

2. Decide which artists to include from the dozens of favorites. Don't worry about hurting their feelings if they don't make the final four. A few I selected but ended up not using included Van Gogh, Edwin Tarbell, Andrew Wyeth and Cecilia Beaux. It would have been nice to include a woman artist. But time and effort and space knocked them all out of the picture.

3. I sketched myself and the studio pieces first on tracing paper then sketched each figure on separate pieces of tracing paper so I could move them around. It would be easier in Photoshop but I am not fluent in photo editing.

4.Once the figures are placed transfer them all to the final surface and start painting. I am starting with a burnt umber under painting.

I'll post the final stages at some later point. Now I'm ready to paint something other than me. I hoped you enjoyed the series.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Daily Painting Practice - 30 Self Portraits - Day 29

Face the Music
Self Portrait Day 29
10"x10"
pencil on paper

It's almost over! Having only two more self portraits to do in this series, I thought, that I had not tried in the previous 28 attempts to do a profile. After completing this one I realized I might be wrong. Day 3 or 8 or day 16 could actually be considered profiles... But this one was the only one I did on purpose. I hope you like it.

I have one more self portrait left in me. After that, I don't think I will look in the mirror for a long time.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Daily Painting Practice - self portrait day 28

This past fourth of July weekend we went on a mini vacation with my son and daughter-in-law to the wine country of Eastern Missouri. The landscape there is just beautiful. Since I was the designated driver, I hung outside the tasting rooms of the vineyards a lot and took photos or painted. Here's one scene I couldn't pass up. The bee hives caught my eye so I parked my self safely to the side ( or so I thought) and started painting.
These were very active hives and I was fine until.... You see that car approaching just over my shoulder? Bees don't like cars. Specifically the exhaust trail which lead them straight to me. Just after the car went by, out came a rather upset little bee who either was an art critic or was just angry because the car interrupted her fly way. Anyway, two seconds after this photo was taken Ms. Bee came after me and stung me right on the tip of my nose! Ouch!
I did the ritual get me out of here dance. High stepping and swinging my arms like a crazy person, trying to swat the darn thing away. I frantically threw everything into my backpack and jumped in the car. Luckily for me, my always be prepared for any situation/wife had her pair of tweezers and got the stinger out. She also happened to have baking soda ( don't ask) which takes the pain of the sting away.

This is as far as I got with the painting. You can still see the grass stuck in the paint.
Artist's Hands
Self portrait No.28
8"x10"
oil on canvas board

I received some great news just prior to the weekend. I have a new gallery representing my work. I am so happy to say that the( desChamps Gallery) in Lambertville , New Jersey is now showing my paintings. This is exciting because I grew up in N.J. and lived in Hunterdon County for a while as well.