Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Anatomy of a Painting

I thought I would give you some insight on how I wind up painting, and how I am being taught to paint.  This is the first 50% of this project, and all in all, it took me about five hours from start to finish.  

First, you start on a toned canvas.  I combined black and white acrylic gesso to come up with a mid-value gray.  We are using a full palette, so I mixed up a combination of burnt umber and ultramarine blue for sketching the composition.  I figured out the arrangement I wanted in a thumbnail sketch, and then looking at the still life from life, started to sketch.  I've learned to basically use triangulation in order to get everything proportionate and in the correct positions.  Needless to say, I got as far as the sketch above before I realized I had the completely wrong proportions from my thumbnail.  So I dipped a rag in turpentine and wiped it all off, to start over.

An hour and a half later, the finished sketch.  Sometimes the drawing is the longest part of the whole process for me.  Last semester I had several drawing classes, and I have seen a huge improvement, but it is still an effort.  The triangulation lines make it look a bit like a mess, but you can easily paint over it, and by checking all of the angles multiple times, I can get a much more accurate drawing.  My drawing skills aren't so good that I can wing it yet, so this helps me a lot in the meantime.  Another method some artists use is a grid.  That involves many more lines and that explanation is more detailed, so I'll save it for another day.

First major step is to establish the background, shadows and mass tones.  I started with the farthest background and the foreground because then I can compare those hues and values to the rest of my painting.  Similarly to the angles I drew, you walk through the entire painting process by continuously comparing.  As you can see, the angle lines disappear easily underneath the mass tones I am laying in.  

A mass tone is the overall average hue and value of an object.  Basically you try to paint in about 3 values cast shadow, form shadow, light side.  You don't worry about the highlights or reflected light at this point.  Right now the painting is about 50% done.  I know I need to adjust some of the shadows, they are a bit dark, and the book needs to be less of a warm blue and more of a violet color, but overall this is a good beginning.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Afternoon Light

Whew.  I'm really proud of this one.  I know this is kind of a different subject matter, but I've been totally enraptured with all the construction equipment here in Singapore.  The joke is that the national bird is the crane.  Funny, but it hits pretty close to home.  The road in front of our house has been totally taken over by construction equipment.  In any case, I often find the equipment has its own beauty, especially when the sun is hitting it just so.

A Pear Dilemma

Yet another school project.  For that, I apologize.  They just aren't quite as much fun, but they are really valuable learning experiences.

Want to know something kind of fun about this painting?  I used no green.  We were only allowed to use five colors - Titanium White, Ivory Black, Terra Rosa (which is a muted red), Yellow Ochre and Cadmium Yellow Light.   The apple is green because cadmium yellow light turns a beautiful green when you darken it with black.

I was kind of unhappy with my last painting, so I redid it.  Both these 11x14 paintings seem to be taking me somewhere around 4-5 hours each, which is about what the class said it would take.  But when I wind up doing more than 1 in a week, it kind of eats into the time I have set aside for my daily paintings.  My biggest problem with the other painting was using a tomato.    Because of using only the five colors, the tomato could have never been brighter than Terra Rosa, which at best can reach a terra cotta kind of red.  There was no way I could have gotten close to the color I was looking for.  I was also trying to paint a pear that was half red, half yellow.  No matter what I tried to do, I couldn't quite get it to look right.  So I changed that out for a fully yellow pear and a green apple.  Much happier with this.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Schoolwork again

Still catching up, believe it or not.  I spent the entire day working on this still life for class.  Took much longer than I anticipated.  And look, it is Thursday, and already lunchtime.  What do I have to show for today?  Well, at least I have a clean apartment now.  It was dirrrrty after having two guests for close to 3 weeks.  Okay, time to get back to work!

Monday, September 20, 2010


Hey guys!  Still catching up.  Don't quite know how I got behind, but I think it has something to do with being sick last week and still trying to get things together after having guests.  In any case, trying to get all my schoolwork done.  I thought I would give y'all a taste of what I worked on last week.  Bread, an egg and a coffee cup, using only 4 colors.  Kind of crazy, huh?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Daily Commute No 1

Just a view of the daily commute here in Singapore.  

I was very happy with the way that this turned out. The differences between the images in my head versus what I am putting down on the canvas are getting smaller.  After I finished this I felt a sense of accomplishment I haven't felt in a while.  It was really difficult to work with because I decided I wanted a cool light.  Trying to wrap my head around cool midday light rather than the warmer light you see the rest of the day is tough to wrap your head around.  And I didn't want the painting to get too cold too quickly.  But overall, I'm giving myself a pat on the back.  I think I'm going to open a bottle of wine and toast to a Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Follow the Leader

These cherries just reminded me so much of the game we used to play as a child.  Then, when you are a teenager, you're warned against following the leader.  "Would you jump off a bridge too?"  I prefer to bask in the innocence of playtime for today.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Here Fishy Fishy!

All ready for you to take home and cook to your liking!

As I was walking around the grocery store yesterday, I realized how many things here are served with their eyes still looking at you.  In the US you don't usually see a whole fish, head and all, available for sale at the grocery store.  You might find the head still on at a fish market, but not the grocery store.  There it is usually nice neat rows of fillets.  This was a small look at the fish section of the grocery store across the street.  I have absolutely no idea what kind of fish these were, nor how to prepare them, but the colors these fish had, even on ice, were really just beautiful.

Monday, September 13, 2010

At Attention

These guys are just all lined up, ready to go!  Of course, there is always that one guy that is just slightly rumpled off to the side...

I was so excited to see cherries available at the store.  Some fruit is pretty close to impossible to find, or at the very least, super expensive.  For a while you could get cherries, but they were close to $20 for 2 pints.  When the price dropped to $11, I grabbed them.  They were so wonderful!  The produce section here is pretty spectacular, but sometimes you miss the fruits from home.

Back in the Sling of Things

Whew, I wish I had more to show for the past 72 hours than this one assignment for school, but its been rough.  I am trying to get back into something resembling normalcy.  Unfortunately, I came down with something pretty nasty while playing Tomb Raider in Cambodia.  Rather than having a restful weekend to get life together while the guys were still playing in Vietnam, I wound up sleeping most of the weekend and trying my best to get my assignments in for class.  Sleeping that much isn't a whole lot of fun, and I'm still exhausted.  But, since I have a full week to get this week's assignment done, it should be much easier.  The best part is that I'll have time to get some daily painting done as well!  

In any case, happy Monday, and I hope you are feeling better than myself!

PS - I am hoping to have a new Dillon Factor up by the end of the week as well. :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Hello Down There

Hey y'all!  I have two more paintings I just completed, but I haven't had a moment to edit them.  With our two friends in town, I have decided at the last moment to go with them (despite it being the first week of classes) to Cambodia and Vietnam for the rest of the week.  I'll be back on Friday, so I'll check in next weekend.  Hope your Labor Day was fun!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

All Lined Up

Continuing on with the orange theme...

I started slicing these guys up, but the two ends turned out to be such interesting shapes.  Without even realizing it, the slices fell into a neat line on the plate and created these beautiful shadows.  I just loved the way the oranges looked against the blue sheet.  I am such a sucker for blue/orange color combination.  

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Newspaper Man

One of the artists whose work I am currently drooling over is Karin Jurik.  One of the things I really love about her work is how she makes her colors just punch, for lack of a better term.  My own paintings seem to often come out kind of muddy and dull.  Part of this is I am still trying to master color mixing, and part of this is that I am constantly afraid to bring too much color to the table and make things garish.  

So, one of the things I am working on a bit to help, is art challenges from one of Karin's Blogs.  She is no longer doing the challenges, but I have been mining the archives to see past topics.  What she did was post a picture, and have people submit their interpretation of the picture.  Nine times out of ten, I prefer her rendition to any of the others, but there have been some really beautiful alternatives.  I'm using the pictures to work on my own painting, and then comparing what I like about it vs. what she did.  It is a fantastic self-teaching tool.  

Ha, but as soon as I have my own photo, I still feel like I have been dropped in the middle of the ocean with no paddle.  One great example is my last entry, Respite from Prayer.  I had the scene all sketched out, but as soon as I put the first color on the panel, I almost froze.  That one was quite the struggle.  I want to go back and do it again, hopefully to learn how to do it differently.  

In any case, things are going well, I'm learning so much.  I found another artist's blog, 120 Paintings, and I really loved his concept.  He had been told by another artist that "it takes 120 bad paintings to know something about painting."  I am totally working through that right now.  My paintings aren't bad, they are so much better than they were even a few years ago.  But I still have such a long way to go.  It is exciting and daunting, all at the same time.  

Okay, enough with the novel.  Happy Hump Day!

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