Friday, January 31, 2014

A little still life

I decided to tackle a little still life (8x10) this week, just to get away from those abstracts that are sort of driving me nuts right now.

The first picture is after one day. It looks lots better here than in person, for some reason: the glass objects in the actual painting just do NOT have the shine I see here. What's that about? Just because I shrunk it down?

Then I did the strange thing with a pinky-brown wash plus coarse salt, and just HATED that result.  again, it doesn't look as bad here as it did in person, and you are just going to have to trust me on that. Also, the design on the enamel plate was pointing out of the picture which also annoyed me.

So today I did a makeover.  I THINK it looks better. Probably overworked, as is usual with me (Laura, I still hope someday to paint this the way I think you would . . .  let me know if you want the source photo so I can see how it SHOULD be painted!)

(BTW: I'm referring to Laura's Watercolors -  I follow her blog and she just finished 30 paintings in 30 days. You should go see them here and tell her how GREAT they all are - and why!)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Learn something every day

 So, first the "finished" product. At least, I'm done with it and this is how it will always look. This painting gave me a more than a few challenges before I gave up, and a couple of technical lessons too. 

In a recent post I described using caran d’ache to transfer a drawing onto the tracing paper. Neat, no? Well, not entirely. In the detail I have included,  you can see how something about the material is affecting the wash that touches it. Something waxy maybe?  Anyway I saw halo effects anytime I did a wash up against one of the lines.  So that’s lesson one. 
In the same detail you can see the cobalt violet I used, a new color to me,  but from my normal and trusted brand, Da Vinci.  I don’t like this paint at all even if the color is difficult to mix from others: this pigment is strangely syrupy in the palette, and as  you can see, went onto the paper looking like a kid’s crayon!!  Additional washes or scrubbing did not fix the texture.  Avoid it unless it’s an effect you like - glad I don’t love the painting, or this would tick me off.

After this experience I am taking a (well-deserved) break from abstracting  and abstracts. I need me some good old representational comfort! That should show up in my next post.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The problem with posting WIPs

Ya gotta admire the people who usually do this, posting their paintings as they go along, never knowing how it will turn out. If I'm smart, I won't be doing this again.  This one is going downhill fast. Hope you AND I learn something from seeing the steps I'm going through.

BTW, I've just, in the past few days, created a Facebook page - not sure why - to parallel this blog.  I think I'm supposed to "dual-post" entries like this.  Maybe so Facebook-not-blog-readers get to see it? 

And why DO we blog and post?  I think I need to think about that. Why do YOU blog?

Friday, January 24, 2014

I wish spring were a WIP *

Can you see all the problems I'm going to have with THIS experiment?  For one thing, I have NO idea what  will end up being the top or bottom.  All bets are off.  For another, I already wish I'd either used bigger paper or smaller images, so that I had lots more open space/background. That's the place I save for pattern (my favorite part), so you KNOW this one is going to be exceptionally busy upon completion. Oh well, it will be fun.
When I started this,  the image and the cold weather had me convinced I was saving some of the crocus blossom shapes for intense yellow, at least something springy and intense to contrast with the myriad of grays I'm having fun mixing.    But along the way, just a drop of the quin.burnt orange got in there, and I liked its unexpected contrast to the grays.  Crocus color would have just been . . . normal.  I'm also trying to break up the crocus blossoms as I go, to make it less literal, and for the same reason, I'm thinking that I don't really want the bright colors to be in the blossom shapes.

* hard to imagine spring lurking anywhere in the vicinity. How are YOUR heating bills looking? Got your long underwear on? I do!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Suggestions Welcome. Always.

If you take time to read the comments that folks post on blogs, you may have noticed that Deb had a suggestion about my most recently posted painting.  Thank you Deb, I absolutely needed  your eyes for this. Here is the revision.  You might notice that having punched the color of the lower left quadrant, I then had to do the same elsewhere, where suddenly other shapes looked washed out. By doing that, I've missed Deb's goal which was trying to help me get a stronger focal point. But it has improved, hasn't it?

Anyway, I wanted to note that this marks the first time that I've received a comment that was more than just a (nice!) compliment.  Which has gotten me to thinking about how rarely I see a comment with a suggestion for a change, even when the artist has posed a doubt about the work.

I DO welcome suggestions, although I don't really specifically ask for them here. I am able to use a suggestion to help me understand how someone else sees my work. I'm lucky enough also to have the confidence these days to ignore suggestions which seem to lead away from what I was attempting.  So I'm always glad for the viewpoint, often ready to follow up making the change,  while other times I'm willing to accept that viewpoints can differ.

But what about everyone else?  How to know if a sentence expressing doubt about the success of a painting means the artist is willing to hear what another artist thinks might help?  Or should we all stay away from such commenting, in the interest of keeping a happy and harmonious community? 

I'd welcome your suggestions about making suggestions!

PS - per a suggestion (!) from a (non-blogging) artist friend, I've activated (I hope) the subscription feature, in case you would like to be notified when I've posted something.  Please try it out, and let me know if you think it's a good idea.  Thanks!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Shape Painter

In trying to get restarted on art, I have often paged and rummaged through my thousands of source photos (always my own), waiting for inspiration.  This time that didn’t work.   I ended up rummaging instead through my tracing paper drawings, which are essentially cartoons for paintings I’ve done in the past four or five years.  The first result was the orange hosta leaf  you might have seen in my  previous post.

This is the second result, and let me tell you, this is a fun discovery. Especially as I’ve often wondered why I was saving all those sheets of used tracing paper.    

Since 2012 when I took Judy Morris’ workshop at Kanuga, her words “I am a shape painter” have echoed in my head.  I have identified with that since then, and have tried  to be conscious of the abstract shapes my images are generating,  even in a representational painting:  I’ve tried  to make them interesting shapes.

For this painting,  I used  a dark red caran d'ache to redraw the image on the back of the tracing paper, then flipped it over onto my stretched w/c paper,  and drew with ball point pen to do the transfer.  Then I did it again on the other side of the tracing paper, thus reversing the image. I overlapped the previous drawing somewhat randomly as I transferred some more shapes.  Before starting to paint,  I used a watercolor pencil, still in a bright color, to emphasize the lines and especially the shapes that interested me – attempting but not succeeding in forgetting what the original image was.  Since all the lines I laid down were water soluble, I was able to  use them or scrub them away if I changed  my mind. I do like how their color informs the whole piece.

I’m still deciding how much I like this one, it may be too gentle and pretty.  I think it needs a temporary frame and a place to hang so I can decide if it’s got adequate. .. oomph. Or something like that. Is it too wishy-washy?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Curse is Broken!!!

Finally,  I have moved past the holidays and managed to pick up a paintbrush.  Painters' block?
Before the holidays I was excited about my dogwood abstract series, with each painting bringing me ideas about what I wanted to try next. The series has carried me to places far from my normal comfort zone.  It was difficult for me to set that aside as the holidays began to absorb more and more of my time (can  any of you identify with this feeling? Is there someone who doesn't identify?).  However, the path I had been following was so far from my normal style/subject, it has made it  impossible for me to pick that back up where I left off. Trust me, I tried, looking around the studio, ruining a few in-progress paintings before leaving in disgust.
But this weekend I decided to take it easy on myself. Very easy.  I went back to representational/floral. Not only that, I pulled out my envelope of tracing paper drawings and treated myself to re-using a couple of them, so no drawing at all.  And since I couldn't easily find the original source photo, I had only the outlines of the drawing to inspire me.  Here is the first one I did, a hosta leaf and blossom where I just had fun "coloring", like I did as a child. 
The next one, with a similar genesis, is still a WIP and I won't share it just yet.
But at least I have restarted for the year.
How are all of YOU doing?  Based on the blogs I'm following, it looks like most of you are already up and running for 2014 - thanks to all of you for your inspiration!