Thursday, July 31, 2014

"school's out in njala": finishing up

penultimate photo
getting back to the african landscape i started a few weeks ago, i added some narrow graded, ever-darkening washes to the fields to add some depth. the faces of the near boys needed some work and i had to clean up their legs a bit as i must have been painting with my glasses off when i did them!

"school's out in  njala" (13.5"X15.5")
i fussed a bit with the very small distant figures making sure they read okay.....this was primarily seeing that the dark legs were sort of below the blue shorts which were below white shirts which were below darker "dots" for the kids heads. although i don't think there is a tree in the foreground of dan's photo, i decided to add it to push everything else back a bit. so, i added the dark overhanging leaves/branches in
the upper right hand of the picture frame. i felt they would probably cast a dark shadow on the road on the near right so i darkened that area right of the boys.  little more fussing here and there....like getting the figures under the mid-distance tree on the left in shadow by a light grayish blue glaze, darkening the corresponding tree so it was the same value as the rest of the nearby vegetation, etc. the last thing(s) i painted were the telephone/power poles making sure they lightened in value as they receded and got smaller.

at the time i reached this point, i felt i wasn't adding anything substantive so i decided to declare it finished.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

"the wranglers just call him doc": finish

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"the wranglers just call him doc" (15"X15")
at the last sitting i had the basic shapes of the background and features in place on the face. all that remained was bringing the values in the background up to snuff and refining some subtleties on the face and hat. i used at least five different colors in differing ratios for the background and applied with a #14 round escoda verstil brush. colors included ultramarine blue, burnt sienna to make the basic dark and added manganese blue nova, quinacridone gold, alizarin crimson permanent, mineral violet, when the muse told me to. it was fairly thick so i kept the whole thing moist and rolling down the sheet with a mister applied frequently. this also separated out the loosely mixed colors a bit so that lent some variety to the wash. when this was brought up to the value i wished i put splotches of color around the edges....manganese blue nova, vermillion/alizarin crimson and some splashes. the former for interest and the latter to loosen it up a bit.

i think that's it.....i'll let it sit a day or two and then re-evaluate.

Friday, July 18, 2014

continuing efforts on latest painting

i have been working a little bit on the landscape of the kids in njala, sierra leone, getting out of school. mainly getting the background to recede a bit with a light cobalt blue wash from top to about the tree on the left in the mid-distance. i also added just a little detail to the fields from back to mid-ground, added some detail to the kids in the foreground, and added a little to the far foreground in terms of near branches and leaves from a tree. i hope that this gives even more depth to the painting. unfortunately i neglected to take photo of the painting at the end of the last session. hopefully today and i will post it later or amend  this post.

the major effort was on the painting of the wrangler that the folks call "doc"who wears a non-regulation hat. i obtained this photo from our ex-landlady, proprietor of the mustang sanctuary in borrego springs, photographer extraordinaire, and lovely lady kay levie. many thanks to kay for snapping this and a few others for me as we had to leave before the ride.

"the wranglers all call him doc": getting close to finish
 most of the work has been on the facial and features with dilute subtle washes of scarlet lake, brilliant orange, manganese blue nova, and sparingly, ultramarine blue in deeper shadow areas. i also decided on the abstract background shape and started adding a bit of color around the edges that will sort of poke out from the main mass.....manganese blue nova, vermillion, and burnt sienna. now that i have made this critical decision i will add the next wash in using the above colors along with alizarin crimson permanent, quinacridone gold, scarlet lake in a fairly , and perhaps, final dark value. if i don't mix this much on the palette and add some wet-in-wet i will probably get it to separate into small bits of color by hitting it with a fine mist of water periodically. this will also serve to keep the wash alive so a semblance of a bead maintains itself at the bottom of the wash as i move down the page. so here are the steps so far. i must say it will be getting close to completion once the background is in.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

a pot pourri: several new works and one old one

"a stalwart troubadour" (15"X20")
i have been fairly busy working on things in the studio these last few weeks but haven't managed to post anything. to pick up with the troubadour, i have almost finished him. i worked on the fret board of the guitar, darkened some areas on his face, darkened and changed the hue, of the background, and added some splashy organic stuff on the background mainly on the top half or so of the painting. here is where we are at the present. i am letting it lie "fallow" for the time being waiting to see if anything else pops out at me, at which point i will declare it finished.

every once in a while it is necessary to try new things, experiment, different colors, techniques, etc. in order to grow. this next work is the result of some of this experimentation. i will stipulate up front that i think it is very close, i not already there, to a failed painting.......but still a huge learning experience. i wanted to try a different palette for the flesh and to tie the figure into the background a little more than i usually do. the whole thing got muddy and went south pretty quickly, but i learned a lot in doing so. i wanted to get away from the very warm reddish/oranges i had been using and tried to neutralize them a bit with a variety of blues/greens. i figures out how to apply these, meaning, how darkly, when in the process, etc. some of this will be reflected in the next piece i started yesterday. for now here a a few of the steps of the of the experimental painting effort.













first washes and photo of subject
close up of first washes
this next painting is of a cowboy who attended the round up/ride at borrego springs a couple of springs ago. he is interesting in that he eschewed the stetson. the other wranglers called him "doc". i have been waiting for my ability to catch up with my enthusiasm for the subject as i wanted to do a good job on it. i have incorporated some of the things i learned about flesh tones from the previous failed painting and i think one can see the difference when compared to the "troubadour". this was painted with a #18 ecoda round versatil brush utilizing scarlet lake, brilliant orange, and manganese blue nova in the face using VERY dilute washes so as not to muddy things up. when i got to the background which will be mostly an amorphous dark shape behind the figure i added ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson permanent, and burnt sienna to the mix. these were mixed very little on the palette and encouraged to separate on the paper near the edges of the shape by adding water. here we are at the stage i left it last night.



last for today, a landscape for my friend dan who spent some time in sierra leone with the peace corps. he got this shot of the kids in his near-by village racing pell mell down the road when school got out. obviously some things are universal!




Friday, June 27, 2014

moving on with the troubadour

in amongst the coming and goings of exhibitions, trips to madison to pick up an automobile to replace our 10-year old vw gti, getting things ready for the state WRAP exhibition, i was able to get a little painting in on the troubadour  painting.

after 20 minutes more
another 20 minutes (some was just thinking)
the main things that i did was give his skin some warming up. he is really quite ruddy and obviously had spent quite a bit of time in the sun and i had left him rather wan at last sitting. this was quite easily effected by an over-all wash of vermillion. i painted in some of the wrinkles and folds on his shirt trying to keep them consistent in value with the light side of things except where they turned into shadow. cerulean blue, alizarin crimson permanent, and raw sienna were the colors and a #18 escoda versatil sintetico was the brush. some of the shadow on his face needed some darkening and cooling off. the darkening was done using vermillion/raw sienna/and a touch of cerulean blue. the cooling was done by a dilute wash of ultramarine blue. in areas that are in deep shadow, such as under his chin/neck and far right side (as we look at him) i used a bit of hooker's green to get a darker sort of value/hue and create a cooler turning edge.

adding warmth to his face
i started out thinking the background would be more blueish but ended up trying out a more variegated green to emulate the trees behind him in the real setting. so, after a bit of messing around with the manganese blue and reddish stuff at the top that is seen in the earlier steps, i started adding ultramarine blue with somewhat subtle vertical streaks of quinacridone gold put in wet-in-wet. i think this is going to work but it will need some value fortification as we move along. it also is a bit "sweet" for my taste and i will have to tone down the saturation a little as i move along. the hand on the guitar neck is coming along well and i am going to lose the inferior edge into the background.

at the end of work today...with background
the guitar neck has been percolating around the back of my mind ever since i started this painting. the question was whether i should render it in some detail of sort of smudge it in. have looked at a number of paintings of guitarists where things were done both ways, i decided to be a little more accurate and careful. sigh........tedious but a better choice at this time, i think.





Thursday, June 26, 2014

WRAP exhibition "Best of Show": "needing more than a tattered hat"

i was thrilled to see the "best of show" ribbon affixed to my painting "needing more than a tattered hat" when we went to the artists' reception last weekend. it was totally unexpected as there were over 20 other artists who had work entered and they all were extraordinary. my special thanks to marlene salls for encouraging me to enter and to juror ellen roles who found my painting worthy of this high honor. the wisconsin state WRAP exhibition is in wausau starting august 8th and runs through september 27th.

i know that i am fretting over close to nothing but i worry this painting may be chosen for inclusion in the "watercolor west" show in la brea, california, in which i entered it along with "a final glimpse of benita wire". if it does, i have 2 days to get the painting to california as that show deadline for receipt of paintings is september 29th......i should have such problems! any who, here's the masterpiece:
"needing more than a tattered hat" (11"X21")

Thursday, June 12, 2014

moving forward....a potter's troubadour

having finished the painting of nalah, i turned my attention to the guitar player that i saw at the pottery studio tour and show north of the twin cities a few weeks ago.

i needed to get on with the drawing which took me about two hours by the time i decided on a size and composition. the drawing is on a piece of 300# fabriano hot press paper ripped to about 11"X14" to simulate the deckle edges that was already along one side from the mold. his shirt just seemed too busy to me, and too tedious to paint, so i think i am going to go with a solid color (and knowing my like for white attire??????), hmmmmm.

drawing of our troubadour
so, with the drawing done, i got busy with an initial light value wash consisting of about 10% mixes of vermillion, raw sienna, and manganese blue. in some areas i came into the face from well outside the boundaries and other times was quite careful to stay within bounds. the former to give the illusion of looseness and the latter to make sure i didn't sully, what i think will be, the white shirt. this was done with a #16 escoda prado brush. this is brush new for me and so far i love it. all the snap of kolinski with good water carrying capabilities, great sharp point, and durability. i can't wait to see what their new versatil  line will be like as it is touted to be superior to the prado.......big shoes to fill imho based on a few hours painting with the prado.

some stunning washes!
when this initial wash was just about dry...only a little cool to the touch. i started in with the features using the same colors in a little more concentrated solution. with the paper a little damp i did't get some of the early hard edges i sometimes have to deal with with this fabriano hot press paper (perhaps more on this later). i made the under brim of the hat and the shadow on his forehead all one large shape at this point and left a hard edge in the center of his forehead to signify the cast shadow from the brim. this wasn't so obvious in the photo but this will give the painting a bit more of a sun-drenched look. in some areas in the shadow i used a bit of arbitrary color which in this instance was hooker's green dark. i will probably use a bit of something warmer on the side of the face out in the sun......mineral violet, alizarin crimson, scarlet lake??????? we'll see. i also used a bit of cerulean blue around the eyes in spots for variety and to help the socket recede. i can see now leaving his mustache and other hair areas as a negative shapes is going take a bit of attention! still using the #16...can't say enough about the point given the full belly of the brush.

i began experimenting with little swatches of color in various places to help define the extent of a feature, (chin, side of face, edge of hat, design on the hat band) with well graded edges so bringing more paint around it will be easy. i'm not sure if this is a bad habit, but it gives me an opportunity to see what things might look while still being able to lift out a small area if i don't like it.