Thursday, February 3, 2011

Back to the Tropics - Daily Painting #19

"Back to the Tropics" 6x6 Oil on Panel click here to Purchase
In going through still life class and getting back into daily painting, I kind of forgot why I was originally doing this blog.  Or not why, but some of the things I wanted to talk about - besides painting, of course!  I realized I've been doing a lot of apples and oranges and cups and plates.  Which, don't get me wrong, can make beautiful still life setups.  And then I remembered - I live in Asia!  This is Art Adventures in Asia!  I should be doing still life setups with things unique to the region, at the very least, right?  

So above you have something I had only ever heard of as a Bath and Body Works lotion - Papaya.  It is the most gorgeous orange/pink/salmon color, and it can just glow when light hits it.  So this is me, getting back to the "tropics."  It was an incredibly therapeutic piece for me to paint after my first day out in the sun painting on location (more about that below).

Last night when I was preparing my supplies for my plein air adventure, I decided to make a viewfinder, similar to the one our professor is using.  Since it is Chinese New Year today (Gong Xi Fa Cai!), everything was closed.  With limited resources I managed to pull it off and make a handy dandy viewfinder out of some mattboard and tape.  That's it!  I was pretty proud of myself.  I've included the instructions below if you want to make one of your own:

  1. Cut viewfinder out of mattboard.  I used a nice gray so that I would be able to compare values.  For a 9x12 equivalent scale, cut 2in x 1.5in rectangle out of the middle.
  2. Take some packing tape and pull off a piece.  Then fold it over on itself so that it creates a plastic sheet.  (Or if you have a Michael's nearby, you can just buy a sheet. This is totally a poor man's viewfinder)
  3. Tape down tape on back side of viewfinder.  Then take a ruler and draw lines going both diagonals, as well as one going down the middle vertically and horizontally.  
  4. Done!  I have one of the moveable viewfinders, but it didn't have the lines which help you setup your composition on a canvas later.  Like I said, everything was closed, so I had to improvise!
And finally, if you have made it this far through the post.  Here is my first attempt at plein air.  It totally kicked my proverbial.  I was standing in the shade (as directed) but I had a horrible time trying to see value and color.  Then, because I hadn't done it before, all my confidence and brushwork kind of went out the window.  But since I initially said I would share the good, the bad, and the ugly, here is how far I got before the rain chased me off (I will tighten some parts up and add some details in the studio before turning this in):


  1. Love your brushwork and color on your papayas. Wonderful

  2. Love the papayas.
    The 'poor man's viewfinder' rocks. I've made several but used thread to make a 'crosshair'. The tape is genius.
    And the painting is well drawn and you could easily return to the same spot at the same time and work on it. It'll be a good lesson.


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