Friday, December 31, 2010

Daily Painting Practice - Happy new Year - now paint those mums!

click on painting to enlarge the image

Mum Mum Mia
work still in progress
24"x36"
oil on canvas

Is it the end of the year or beginning of the new? I guess it depends how you look at it. Sometimes painting is the same. Am I half way done or only half way started?

I am not making predictions or setting goals this new year... (because I never keep or complete them anyway.) Instead,  I am evaluating old habits, affirming my passion, and channeling my gratitude. A much better way to start... or end the year.


My first discovery  for the new year is that I have developed a bad habit of painting sitting down. Now this may not be a bad habit for everybody, but I have discovered it does not do good things for me or my work.

I tend to  work too close to the canvas when I am sitting and I don't move back often enough to evaluate each brush stroke. Hence, my painting quality and production suffer.  I also suffer... (perhaps too strong a word). Let'as just say  I get lazy not wanting to get out of my seat. The artist's version of a couch potato.

I started painting this week standing up. The effect was immediate and positive. I have better concentration, I step back every two or three brush strokes, my blood gets going, more passion in the process, I burn more calories dancing to the music in the studio.

Above is a photo of my palette. I was (standing there) admiring the rich colors when I was hit again with bad habit number two: If I like the rich color on the palette why isn't my painting reflecting that? duh.... So, I laid on some bold reds and yellows.... Now that's more like it! Oh bad habit number three....keeping the tea cup  next to the turps..( that one may take a while to fix).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

daily painting practice - painting wet rocks is a slippery ordeal

click on the image to enlarge the painting

Schoodic Point
work still  in progress
18"x36"
oil on canvas

Rocks, fog, moving waves ... I have painted them over and over and over and I am not  satisfied. That is, I am not satisfied at this moment.
The thing that is driving me crazy  on this one is that  sometimes I love how the painting feels...an hour later I come back and  it looks stiff and unfinished.    agggghhhh! the price I must pay  to the painting gods.


Here's another I am starting just to keep my sanity.   Sometimes a little diversion helps.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Daily Painting Practice - Schoodic Point Maine painting in progress

I have been making small steps on increasing my output while trying not to give up anything on quality. Here is my latest attempt.
click on the image to enlarge the painting

Schoodic Point
work in progress
18"x36"
oil on canvas

I  have always wanted to do an ocean painting in Maine and especially one on a foggy day. I was inspired by Winslow Homer's work.

This is the first pass.  I have  deliberately painted the foreground rocks  a bit  warmer and sharper than the rocks in the back, leaving the back ground edges fuzzier and the paint thinner. I also am enjoying the greens and  purple blues of the water in contrast with the  orange and gray blue of the rocks.


Detail



Detail

I found this  video on YouTube that someone shot  at the very spot of my painting.  It is  very beautifully  done. Enjoy!



Sunday, December 05, 2010

Daily Painting Practice - Painting Flowers means staying balanced

Mum Mum Mia 
 work in progress
24"x36"
oil on canvas
OK, I have made  it through my first pass.

I was thinking to myself as I was working on this painting that there is not enough written (or I haven't read enough... which the more likely scenario) about the importance of Balance as a key ingredient in painting.

I have read a lot about  balance in different aspects of composition, tone, color even the subject matter within the painting, but these are usually under different chapters or topics, not lumped together. It is more likely that the discussion would revolve around the importance of making sure these aspects are not balanced. In other words, the darks and lights should not be equal, or the horizon should be broken, or the use of three elements in a design is better than an even four. But this is not the balance I am talking about.
I mean finding a balance within yourself and using that as a tool for developing the painting.



I know, I know, I'm going very Zen on you here. (That happens to me this time of year, every year... It probably has something to do with there being less sunlight each day or no more vegetables from the garden or the fact that I am out of green tea.) 

Anyway, my point is that I am finding that there is a relationship between finding a point of balance within myself and the ability to express myself in my work...
In other words, if you want to produce better paintings, get yourself balanced!

I am trying this new approach with this painting. I am determined ( not stuck) to develop this thing with a balanced tempo, staying focused while enjoying and expressing myself. It's not as easy as it sounds (at least for me)


Here are some detail photos. They give you a better view  of the painting, similar to how I  see it standing in front of the easel. And I think they are a better example of what I am trying to say.

My approach is to stay soft and fuzzy with the details but clear enough to read the differences between the flowers;  keep the paint thin but the colors muted and alive;  work around the painting in an even loose style but at the same time know where it is I want to go.

I hope this post makes sense. As you can see,  the flowers are really only soft smudges at this point but I think they have a definite character.
This is what I mean by  thin paint yet  rich muted color.

Some paint is brushed on then wiped off, then brushed on again and softened by dry brushing it in the opposite direction.  This manipulation of the  brush strokes is actually play for me.  It  keeps me loose and enjoying the process.

  Oh, that's another good point!  Too much thinking gets in the way of the fun! 

  Now "balance" that with everything I just  wrote about and you can see why artists are so ... unbalanced?