Thursday, July 28, 2011

Daily Painting Practice- Flower studies in watercolor or oil? - why not both?

I must be getting brave. I spent an afternoon at a painting get-together at a friends house  the other day and tried a flower study..... in watercolor!!!.  Since it was extremely hot outside  we all  sat inside and brought  flower cuttings in with us.

Painting Get-togethers are one of the best ways to practice new approaches. You are surrounded by fellow artists, you get plenty of help and suggestions. It's a great way to soak up some encouragement if you are at a low point with your art and best of all when ever artist friends get together.... you  eat well!
I started another study of a rose in watercolor back at home. Here's my drawing. I find that sketching always takes a me while to do, Always longer than I expect, with results that don't always seem worth the effort. But it  is probably the best  practice I can  do  to improve  every aspect of  my art. To me, sketching seems to  connect me with  that core artist inside. I think  it has something to do with the concentration of sketching being different than the  focus during painting.....Or maybe it's just my artist's brain getting a work out. Either way I find sketching  very much like a meditation.

It is a funny thing, after  many years of just wanting to get to the painting,  I am only now just learning the value of  the sketch..... I know,I know... I'm a slow learner.

I thought it would be fun to  paint the exact  same thing in oils. and see how the results differ. So I traced my  sketch and transferred it to a canvas board.

 Here's the  watercolor  study. I am still having a hard time  getting the colors I want. Pinks seem to be the hardest  color to try and match.

Rose Study
oil on board

I had just as much trouble with the pinks in oils. So it isn't the medium,'s the artist!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Daily Painting Practice- New Direction - Part two - Field studies in watercolor and oil

First, let me start by thanking everyone who commented and emailed me on last weeks post. I am so grateful for all your suggestions, ideas and the encouragement I received for my problem with painting the peonies. Of course, after taking in all those comments and suggestions ,  I made my decision...
I think it was either Rembrandt or Gandhi who said.
"It is the wise artist who knows when it is time to hang it up."
 In my case, that is just what I am doing. I am hanging it up on the wall in front of me until I know what  I want to do.
In the mean time-
I mentioned I was going to try studying nature (plants and birds) and try to use watercolor. TRY is the key word here. I am out of the comfort zone with watercolors, but why should that stop me?  I  am using my plein air box that I bought for oils. The  turpentine can works great  with water  but the plastic watercolor palette I had was 1/8" too wide to fit the box .... so I cut off the end with a hacksaw.
You can see the  watercolor palette now fits perfectly.  I sketched out the  tomato leaf then  laid in a wash  of yellow. I thought it was a good beginning.  It's 95 degrees outside, so the watercolor dries very fast.

The hardest thing I am finding with my first watercolor...thinking ahead. I'm not used to thinking in layers  of color this way. I'm using my brain in the opposite way  I do when doing oils. Figuring out how to mix the correct color is very tough too.. I keep reverting back to painting like it was oils.  My mind  is getting fried ... and it's not from the heat.

Since my oil painting composition of the peonies isn't working I thought I would try another watercolor.  A simpler arrangement... Here is what  my beginning  looks like.
I know , I know. What was I thinking! It looks so easy when people who know what they are doing  paint this way..... my artist's brain is throwing a fit. It wants to apply the paint like oils, but  my eyes are enjoying the  subtle values of the watercolor. This will take a while for me to get used to.

So in the mean time-
I'll fall back to  the familiar
 Rose Study
oil on canvas board

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Daily Painting Practice- New Direction -Solving Painting Problems Often Creates Others

Here I am back from my "bolgcation" a month earlier than  I had planned.  I left the landscaping  job.  (It seems working in 100 degree heat  doesn't do  good things for my body.)
  Before I  took time off  from blogging,  I said I  was thinking of taking my art in a new direction. I am still working that out as I type this, but  here's a hint... I actually  took out my watercolors!!!!  I know... I was  shocked too! But let's not get  ahead of the ourselves. This is about a new journey. A new direction for Daily Painting Practice. ( with some familiar bumps in the road.)

  I have  always had a deep love of nature and have always had a special place in my heart for  birds, flowers, plants and trees. I have been a bird watcher since I was a child, I remember illustrating my own book of birds in the 4th grade. Botanical drawing and painting  has always fascinated me as well. The  Dutch flower painters from the  1600's.have also  intrigued me.  The exquisite quality  of their work is fascinating but what interests me is the study and knowledge that  is behind those paintings. So that is  where my journey  will begin.

When I say begin,  I mean  I am a beginner at this.  I have piles of sketch books in the studio... all empty, waiting to  be filled with  plant studies, bird sketches, and flowers... lots of flowers.
My idea is to do as much study from nature as possible, then take  those sketches (and photos)  and develop compositions from them instead of  copying  still life set ups in the studio. I will create the arrangements in my head and work them out on paper  like the Dutch Masters did. I often wondered how they were able to put flowers that  didn't bloom in the same season, in the same picture.

  I am finding that the sketching takes so much longer than I imagined. However, I have discovered one  of the gifts that comes with this practice.... It generates ideas.  The time spent sketching frees space in your mind that allows creative thoughts and ideas to flow in. Think of it as yoga for your brain.
Above is a thumbnail sketch of an idea for an arrangement fora painting of peonies.
I  took a bunch of photos of different peonies and did some sketching and  arranged the composition.Some of the peonies are  the same flowers  turned and only  a few days older so they opened up more. (can you find the peony bud I used from the sketch at the beginning of this post) So far so good, right?
I decided to transfer the drawing to another  piece of paper and try to do a complete tonal study in pencil and charcoal...but  I ran out of patience ( need to work on that). I just want to  start painting!
Here's my first mistake. I started playing with the arrangement of the flowers and changing the drawing. I thought the  flower on top should be a little higher.....and lean  toward the right..

 Now the flower pot looks too small.... Creating your own reality is harder than I thought.

Made the pot  wider at the bottom and changed some of the flowers.... funny thing, after doing all that work on the sketch,  I  am now making changes with the brush directly on the canvas.

I start adding  cooler  colors and I change the location of the buds several times.

 Now I am actually  relaxing  with the paint and enjoying the process.  I don't like the handles onthe vase.. Change them. Change is my  friend...I love change...

But then that voice...something is not right  or is it right. I can't tell anymore . My reality is slipping away....
  I ask she who must not be  named " What do you think?  What's wrong with it?"
" That flower on the top  is too high for the vase it would fall over."
Now I can't decide. so I took it out.

 I have a painting  problem.  Every problem I  think I solve I cause another to appear.  I'm hoping those of you still reading this can help me solve some... take a look at the last two photos. Was there anything wrong with the top one?  Does  the arrangement  feel right or  should it come out? Any ideas on what to do?

I love change... change is my friend....change is good.... I need a cup of tea.