Thursday, August 7, 2014

"table for one, non-smoking, please": new painting

drawing, reference, and initial washes
when i saw this photo taken and sent to me from my almost lifelong friend dan darigan i know that i would have to paint this lovely inquiring african girl from the village of njala in sierra leone. the only questions were,"when?" and, "how?".  in the past the few portrait type paintings that i have done of folks that had darker than caucasian skin were usually done using the same colors only a bit lower value as i used for caucasian skin and made the anatomical differences speak to the ethnicity. in this one i not only wanted to capture her look, but also her unique features and her deeper colored skin tones. so here is the start.

detail from above photo of first wash
apparently she used to come into dan's abode frequently to watch him making dinner and this is one of those times he caught a photo of her. i will have to find out her name and possibly change the working title.

i decided to place her almost in the center of the long horizontal format...she is actually a bit more to the picture's right meaning the negative space is smaller on the right side of the figure. this just gives me a challenge for which to find a solution.

these colors are french ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, mineral violet, quinacridone gold, and alizarin crimson permanent. everything painted with a #14 escoda versatil round brush.

darker but cooler washes
i thought the *right* side of her face was getting a little cool and the *left needed a bit of pigment so i warmed things up with light glazes of vermillion and burnt sienna. the table top was the same colors but streaked in wet-in-wet to simulate wood grain.

adding a bit of warmth
the last close-up is where i left off work for yesterday. i put in a graded wash of manganese blue nova, mineral violet, and mixture of ultramarine blue and burnt sienna in sort of horizontal stripes as i sort of thought that i needed more horizontals with the strong vertical of the figure. this is the first thing i am starting to question. it is looking too boring and predictable to me. i may have to use this as a first wash and darken while adding some structure to it later. i also started working on her hands by adding some small washes of burnt sienna and alizarin crimson to the areas in shadow while staying away from the lighter nails.

so the final photo is the painting as it was at the end of painting yesterday. needed to get some golf in with joan as the day was just too nice not to partake. worked out well as it was the first sub-80 round (78 actually) since i "burned out" my hip last february.

"table for one, non-smoking, please" interval step

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 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")