Wednesday, December 28, 2011

continuing saga of "pine ridge jim" painting

"pine ridge jim" continuing steps
this morning for about 30 minutes i got back to the portrait of jim from pine ridge that i started in november before we headed out to portland for the holidays. after working up until i  needed to stop to take our granddaughter sophie to rock climbing class i finished the other eye and put in the large shadow shape on the *right* side of his face. notice please that it was carried down to his neck and more or less the collar line without a break at the jawline....this is important. the colors were cobalt or ultramarine blue depending on the value that i was looking for (cobalt lighter and ultra darker) mixed pretty much right on the paper with burnt sienna. i used a #8 round brush for the eye and a #10 round for the larger wash. looking at the dried result shows that i didn't anticipate as much lightening as it dried as i should have. i may have to re-state a portion of some of the darker areas but i will wait until more of the painting is finished to make the final assessment. i lost the *right* side of his head and hair into a stylized image of the ridges around the reservation as they are topped with dark pine trees (hence pine ridge). for this i also added some hooker's green to the mix of colors i have already used.  and that shape was encouraged to flow down the paper with some spritzes of water and some light brushing. i also added some cerulean blue wet-in-wet in places that are probably fairly obvious. i gently blotted the bottom edge where i wanted a softening rather than a harder edge. that's all for now. more either later today or tomorrow.

Monday, December 26, 2011

finally! " like a girl"......comes to a close

the day after christmas and i finally have had the time to get back to the painting started now probably a month ago of my wife fishing on the madison river in just north of yellowstone. as it turned out i only worked for about 25 minutes and i felt that the painting was finished. here is the result. looking back at the previous post one can see that i added the trees on the right of the picture using a 1" flat brush and the same colors as i have been using for the foliage in the rest of the painting. i finished the reflections in the water using the same brush and colors being careful to keep the strokes horizontal and the edges fairly crisp. the shadow (near) side of the foreground rocks were painted using cobalt blue and burnt sienna mixed ever so slightly on the palette but mostly on the paper after applying with a #8 round brush. the reflections in the water on the near side of the rocks were painted in right away using a darker (for the most part) version of the same pigments. lastly, i spattered the foreground with a dark value of ultramarine blue and burnt sienna using both a large and a small brush to get varied sizes of droplets. i did have to blot some errant ones off of the lighter areas. the water was treated to a graded cobalt blue wash applied lightly to the high value areas of the stream surface trying to get it lighter as i moved forward.

 i adjusted a few values here and there after viewing the painting at the stage of the first photo yielding the final result shown below. on to the next project tomorrow which i hope will be the rest of jim from pineridge.

"yes, she does fish like a girl (and that's a good thing)" 15"X22"

Monday, December 19, 2011

yes, she does fish like a girl (atagt): following stages

today i had about 30 minutes to paint and decided to start adding the trees and foliage to the right side of the painting. since all of this will be ahead of the distant trees i wanted it greener and darker in value. all of this was painted with a 3/4" flat or #8 round brush. it is always a challenge to come up with a variety of believable greens for landscapes and this was no exception. the standard sort of pine/fir green was ultramarine blue and quinacridone gold. a similar combination was hooker's green and burnt sienna. the somewhat more olive drab green in the center tree was ivory black and cadmium yellow medium as is the dark foliage in front of it that is in shadow near the ground. i put a shadow on the underside of the log and the nearside of the upright branches and the cast shadows of the branches all in one wash that i think was cobalt blue and burnt sienna. i strengthened the values on some of the foreground rocks with the same colors. that's about all i have time for at this sitting. i may get back to it later today. here is where we stand at the present:

yes, she does fish like a girl (and that's a good thing), 15"X22"

Monday, December 12, 2011

yes, she does fish like a girl!: continuing

to start things out today i lifted some of the darker pigment from the far grassy area and over painted with a brighter blend of cerulean blue and cadmium yellow pale. this was the same group of colors that i painted the large mid distance shrub on the right side. all this with a #12 round sable brush. the near bank on the right : ditto. the reflections in the water were painted with a 1" flat sable using ultramarine blue, quinacridone gold, burnt sienna, and hooker's green. i left white areas of reflection from the sky being careful to keep these horizontal. i also painted around the rod and its attached line. i scratched in a few blades of grass and vegetation when the wash was just starting to lose its sheen. that's about all i have time for today as our grand kids are coming over for us to watch while their parents go off for a much needed over night break down the coast a bit to return tomorrow. more then. i will spend the time during the 3 year old's nap sending out my 2012 calendars to friends and relatives for christmas presents rather than painting as time is running short.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

yes, she does fish like a girl! (and that's a good thing): next steps

i tried tackling the large wash in the upper left above the far bank that represents dark fir trees yesterday.  i realized, having slept on the debacle, that the wash was really poorly done. it was too light, uninteresting texture-wise, and had wildly inaccurate outlines. in my defense i was somewhat distracted while doing it as there was pandemonium going on around me with the kids and grand kids. the truth is that i never should have even started under such conditions. the real question now was whether i could salvage it or not.

the predominant change was in value. i don't like to go over large areas of previous washes with darker values if i can avoid it, but i really couldn't avoid it here. the colors were ultramarine blue, quinacridone gold, hooker's green, and burnt sienna. i tried to vaguely emulate the shape of the individual trees in the wash application using a 1" flat sable brush. as i often do with this brush i put one color on a corner and then another on the other corner and then applied to the paper allowing the pigment to mix in situ. i was more careful in getting a believable edge along the clearing that more accurately read "fir trees." i created a few trunks along the bottom by negative painting and then scratched in some branches, trunks, texture with my small palette knife. just to finish this off i sprayed the whole thing with medium to small droplets of water from a small spray bottle.

all in all i am satisfied, if not thrilled, with the overall work. it is dark enough now and reads "trees" better than before. the texture is also more interesting. i am getting some visitors now so i will show that i learned my lesson two days ago and i shall knock off work for now to return on the morrow.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

yes, she does fish like a girl!: landscape with figure

joan fishing in the madison river, montana
for this next painting i am going to do a landscape with a figure of a woman fly fishing in a montana stream. i took this picture of my spouse while trying to get her out of the stream for the evening on one of our trips out near yellowstone country. she is an ardent fisher(wo)man when she has the chance. i think this is the madison river near bozeman, but it might be the gallatin. what drew me to this was the rich dark reflections in the water. all the green will be challenge as that particular color is the bane of many watercolorists. here is the photo:

first washes and drawing
to start out i drew the figure on a half-sheet (15"X22") of 140# fabriano artistico rough paper using my trusty mechanical pencil (0.7 mm, hb lead) followed by a rough-in of the rest of the elements of the landscape. to start the painting process on one of these type of paintings i usually begin in the figure. i used a #8 round kolinsky sable brush for all of these first steps. the shadows on her vest and t-shirt were cerulean blue and raw sienna. i painted the waders with a combination of raw umber and olive green. and the minimal areas where there is flesh i used my usual combination of cadmium red light and cadmium yellow pale. at this juncture i put in some of the dark reflections in the water adjacent to the figure. i did this for two reasons. the first was because it is easiest for me to get the figure to "sit" in the landscape and not appear like a cut and pasted afterthought if i get some tie-ins with the surroundings. this is easiest to effect when the paint is at least still damp if not wet. the second is that i wanted to establish the darkest of darks that i will use in the painting to act as a gauge against which to judge the rest of the values, which should be no darker. the colors used here were ultramarine blue, cadmium yellow medium, raw sienna, and hooker's green. there may have been a bit of burnt sienna here which i frequently use to tone down the tube greens and darken them. it is really a sparkly day and the rough texture of the paper lends itself to portraying this by using an almost dry brush technique with the dark paint. this really means, in this instance, to drag the brush along sideways leaving the "valleys" of the tooth white. i established the most distant extent of the stream as it rounded a bend  with a grayish wash of cobalt blue and burnt sienna and then added a bit of green undercut bank just to the right of it. i also experimented a little with painting the rocks in the foreground. the tops were defined by the dark reflections in the water. the shadows were painted in cadmium orange and cobalt blue. the shadow/reflection on the near side of the rocks is just a reiteration of the other reflections.

the last 20 minutes or so were spent correcting the figure and adding some distant shore and the far distant trees. the grassy area beyond the figure is a combination of quinacridone gold and cobalt blue. for these steps i switched to a #10 round brush. the undercut bank was ultramarine blue and burnt umber. i put in its reflection right away just under the bank. while i wouldn't ordinarily do this i was curious to see how i might get the tree trunks and deep woods shadows above the bank so i monkeyed around some over on the left side of the painting. this was the same colors as the cut bank. it looks to me like this will work with some appropriate overwashes of the tree trunks. i am going to do the large darker green wash of the trees first however, which would be considered more "proper." the far distant firs were mainly cerulean blue, cadmium yellow pale, raw sienna, and perhaps some touches of the cut bank colors. i made these pale and further lightened and loosened them up with spritzes of water and light blotting. this will undoubtedly make them recede when i put in the darker more well defined nearer trees. i forgot to mention that i also painted the sky with a graded wash of cobalt blue grayed with a touch of raw sienna in the areas where it would show through the trees. at this point i let the painting dry, rest overnight, and ready to have a go at the large dark washes tomorrow.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

keeley and her roadie: finishing steps

i think this painting is suffering from my lack of painting for the last three weeks or so. at the final stages of this i found myself dabbing here and daubing there, not really adding much of any import but certainly running the very real risk of messing it up. also, i got a bit sloppy in the background and i should have planned it out a little better. i usually don't do a lot of planning of a formal nature as i like to experiment and have each painting be a  bit of adventure, but this, i fear, is a bit too adventuresome. i don't think it is a fatal flaw and will leave it as is. i will, however,  file the thought away for future use. so here are the final two steps in this painting each representing about 20-25 minutes work.
keeley and her roadie (16"X20")

Thursday, December 1, 2011

finally, something from oregon

i actually had the studio set up a few days ago, but i got busy right away with a christmas present for my sister pat. i hope she doesn't follow this blog as then the cat will be out of the bag. i'm pretty sure she doesn't. follow along. she has a beloved older springer named keeley(sp?). keeley is epileptic so they rarely leave her alone for any length of time. i had a photo of her (keeley) and pat so i decided to paint a portrait of the two of them. i intentionally made killy larger than in the photo and pulled pat into the background a bit. i won't go over every detail of how things progressed but i will post each step as i finished it and make some comments as deemed appropriate.

i started with a piece of 16"X20" 140# cold press paper (fabriano artistico) and drew the sujects with a modified contour drawing.

i followed the same sequence i usually do with faces:
 nose, right eye, left eye, hair lateral to the eyes, cheeks,
mouth. the same colors were used in almost every instance (cadmium red light, cadmium yellow pale, and cerulean blue.) the only exceptions were the hair area which were burnt umber and ultramarine blue.

i painted killy with varying colors from pure burnt umber, pure burnt sienna, and pure ultramarine blue to mixtures of any two of them combined slightly on the palette but mostly on the paper.

i used a #10 round brush throughout this painting.

i'm not sure what i am going to do with the background at this point. you an see that i have started to experiment just to the right of killy's head with a light, loose wash of cobalt blue and a little burnt sienna. i think this sort of thing might work with a shape that descends from right to left ending just below pat's *left* ear and ending on the right side of the painting somewhere between her chin and shoulder, but in a light value. this would be more or less the opposite of the head orientation. we'll see.

more tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

battened down in portland

still life with paint tubes
we arrived in portland last friday after a pretty much uneventful drive. we had on day of treacherous driving through the northern rockies from about butte, mt, until coeur d'alene, id, with a mixture of sleet, snow, freezing rain all driven by 30 mph-winds. as usual the biggest problem was other drivers who thought it was a good idea to hydroplane past us slowpokes in the passing lane going , oh, about 75mph through 2-3 inches of slush. every time someone did that i held my breath. stupid. i saw one guy about an hour later at a rest stop and found that he had arrived 5 minutes before we did...okay, so it was worth the risk.

i am in the process of getting a studio of sorts set up in the corner of the great room at the place that we are staying. it has great light, but i need to get a drop cloth to foil my innate sloppiness. once that is accomplished, i will be ready to finish up pine ridge jim's portrait. bear with me!

a drink for all occasions 
are two paintings from a while ago just to dress up the posting.

Monday, November 14, 2011

heading to the great northwest

i have done neither painting, nor blogging in the last week or so as we are preparing for a trip out to portland, oregon, for the holidays. all our kids and grand kids live either in portland or seattle. it will be the first time in about 8 years since we have all been together for thanksgiving and christmas so we are naturally looking forward to this journey. it will take us until about friday (11/18) to arrive in portland as we will take a leisurely approach to the whole thing and it looks like we may get held up just a bit by a winter storm in the northern rockies. this will probably be the last post until i get a studio set up out there, which shouldn't take too long. i am interested in getting back to jim's portrait as i like the way that it has started and at least the drawing has a good likeness of him. some may remember the portrait of spotted elk that i started out in borrego springs earlier this year. i am taking that along and will see what i need to do to get back to painting that as well. the area obviously offers an unbelievable opportunity for landscape, so i will be disappointed if the whole 2 months we are there slides by without taking advantage of it.

i did manage to get to the life drawing/painting session last week so i do have these last offerings for your viewing. westward, ho!

25-minute pose

15-minute pose

40-minute pose

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"pine ridge jim": next painting

this next painting will be a portrait of a fellow i met out in porcupine, sd, on pine ridge reservation, last may. he has a very interesting history having spent a number of years down in australia (or new zealand, i can't remember which at this date) and then moved back to the rez with his spouse. he helps run the clinic building in porcupine which is how we met him. he agreed to the photo that i am using and although the photo was taken inside i am going to put a loose background of the pine ridge countryside in behind the figure. he has had a broken nose in the past and his nose is quite crooked which i think adds great character to his face. this should be fun!

first stages of "pine ridge jim"
i started with a drawing using the modified contour style on a sheet of 16"X20" 140# fabriano artistico cold press paper and then started the actual painting with the nose and its cast shadow. the colors were burnt sienna and cobalt blue. after putting in a rather dark shape for the underplane, i used a clean damp brush to move the pigment up and over the top planes of the end of the nose and down onto the upper lip. i was using a #6 round brush for all of these steps. i next painted the shadow under the upper eyelid and then the upper portion of the iris. i added ceruelan blue with a touch of olive green for the iris and then used the same procedure for the lower portion of the iris as i did for the nose drawing it down with a damp brush. i put a tie-in with the lower lid right away using the same damp brush but not more pigment. while i waited for this to dry i painted the dark medial shadow in the socket carrying it over the upper lid and below the eye as well. i started this with pretty much pure cobalt blue and moved it around with the flesh mixture by adding the burnt sienna. i painted the lateral socket margin with a lighter wash of cobalt blue blending that into the upper lateral cheekbone area with burnt sienna. adding the hair with a substitute of ultramarine blue for the cobalt right away gave me tie-in there and release of the face shape. by that time the iris had dried sufficiently to just get a bit of bleed with the pupil so i added that with ultramarine blue wet-in-wet carefully painting around the highlight. lastly i scraped in some hair strands with the palette knife when the sheen had come off the wash of the hair.

life drawing/painting studio: week #7

there were two three-hour sessions this week but i only stayed for about 2 hours in each of them.  not too much to say as i went about things the same as usual. for once the longer pose on wednesday was actually better than the shorter one. on thursday the model was clothed so that was a good change from all undraped models. so here are the "sketches/paintings" for this week.

35-minute pose

25-minute pose

2-hour pose

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"red boots splashing": the finish line is in sight

near to finishing
there really isn't too much left to this painting. i finished off the modelling and painting of the raincoat using the #8 round and mixtures of raw umber and oxide of chromium carefully losing edges in about half the shapes as i went. i then put in an overall wash of cadmium yellow medium so as not to leave too much stark white paper. the coat is yellow after all and that was what appealed to our daughter the most at the time. some anatomy corrections were necessary around her *left* hand where i lifted some pigment infero-laterally and repainted the hand/arm/cuff. the background needed to be added and after a bit of thought i decided to make it a little longer on the left side (as we are looking). this was done with a #12 round and a combination of ultramarine blue, mineral violet, burnt sienna, carmine, and cerulean blue as it worked its way down the page. as i worked i spattered some and the rest i kept quite juicy as i imagined a damp, wet, rainy day. i found a little too late that a small dribble had collected itself and had raced down the mid left side before i spotted it. i made a feeble attempt to blot it but it was too late and the pigment had stained the paper. at that point i decided to "like" it and left well enough alone. i finished the boots as seen with carmine and cadmium red light mainly re-stating and correcting the shadows . i charged a bit of ultramarine in places seen and made sure that the cast shadow was added to right away guaranteeing a continuation of the tie-in established on the last step. i didn't like the shadow under the nose and the line of the upper lip so i did some lifting and re-painting. i strengthened the shadow under the nose and the nostrils with a dab of cadmium red light and cerulean blue dulled down with a small amount of raw sienna. the buttons on the coat were added last as seen and the upper left edge of the remaining two were lost using a damp, clean brush after i put in the shadow to define the lower right extent of each. i believe that is all that i will do on this particular painting, so on with another!
red boots splashing, 20"X16"

Monday, October 31, 2011

"red boots splashing": continuing painting

close up of next steps
back for some more work on this painting. i couldn't really decide how to darken the yellow of the raincoat that is in shadow so i decided just to go with all of the methods discussed on the previous post and see what seemed better. i think they are fairly compatible with each other and it may be quite acceptable to mix them up in the same setting. so, i started today by applying the shadow under the *right* side of the hood with a bit of raw sienna, raw umber, and oxide of chromium. on the top of the hood i put in the shadows with raw umber pretty much exclusively. all of this was done with a #6 round and the colors were allowed to mingle on the paper rather than mixed on the palette. there is something wrong with her *right* neck that i will have to correct after i figure out what it is that is bugging me!  the shadows on top looked a little wimpy to me so i strengthened them with some oxide of chromium wet-in-wet. switching to a #8 round brush i started adding the shadow on the body of the raincoat.
further steps on the whole painting
these were effected by combinations of the colors aforementioned plus cobalt blue (added mainly to the raw umber to make a warm gray). these had a mixture of lost and found edges around their peripheries. her shirt underneath the coat was a combination of carmine and ultramarine blue. i extended the background dark down the *left* side of the figure with a very watery cerulean blue, burnt sienna, carmine and spritzing some water on the inferior edge as it ran down and "mopping" just a bit with a tissue to keep it under control. the hands are the usual flesh colors of cadmium red light and cadmium yellow pale. the apple olive green and cadmium red. the background wash between the apple and arm and the coat will need to be darkened and varied more than it turned out here. i can do this after when i have a better feel for the value it should be. the shadows on the trousers were a combination of cerulean blue, carmine and raw sienna put on in a rather neutral tint and then charged with one of the composite colors in places to add some variety. this too needed some lost edges which i did by touching a damp brush to the edge i wanted softened and drawing it away or just pressing down to the ferule.

last steps painted today
the trousers in the photo have some light blue stripes on them and i haven't yet decided to paint in a suggestion of them yet. if i do it will only be a suggestion leaving the whole thing quite understated. to finish things up today i worked on the *right* boot by painting it with cadmium red, carmine, and some ultramarine blue in places. to preserve the highlights i carefully painted around them and them softened the edges just when it started to dry with a barely damp, clean brush. as is my habit when putting in cast shadows, i put this in pretty loosely right after painting the boot in order to get a tie-in. a lot of this shadow was spattered on in a horizontal fashion as shown. the paint used was ultramarine blue and carmine. aside from the lone button, that is all i did today. hopefully i will get a chance to paint more tomorrow.

Friday, October 28, 2011

"red boots splashing": another painting

photo for next painting
i found these photographs done on actual film in the cupboard a week or so ago. they seemed to be fading and were at least 34 years old so i quickly scanned them and added them digitally to our collection. among them was this photo of our daughter amanda who is now a labor and delivery nurse in seattle. so, you can see that she interrupted her promising career as a professional apple filcher to go on to other, if not more noble, endeavors. this was a time in her life she loved yellow and if there was an apple in our apartment, one was being carried around while it was consumed. i thought that it would make a nice painting if only to help preserve the memories.

i had obtained some fabriano artistico hot press paper last month when i was experimenting with smooth surfaces. i have played around with this particular brand enough since it arrived to know that i like it so i will use it for this painting. i took a 16"X20" piece and drew the figure of amanda using pretty much the whole sheet and made it somewhat off to the right side to give her *right* arm and hand room to reach forward as shown. here is the drawing which was done with a modified contour approach using a 0.7mm mechanical pencil. here is the result:  i artificially darkened the drawing so that it appeared readable in this format. the actual is quite light.

drawing for "red boots splashing"
first washes (more violet than irl)
as i frequently do in figures like this i started with the nose by painting the shadow on the under plane with cadmium red light, cadmium yellow pale and cerulean blue with a #4 round brush. after cleaning and shaking i manipulated the paint form that step to paint the top part of the nose just a bit up onto the bridge. i connected the nose to the upper lip with a light stroke of cerulean blue in the midline which also served to define the center shadow. i then moved on to the eyes. beginning with the *left* eye, i painted the shadow under the upper lid with the same colors as the nose but with more cerulean blue. right after that i put in the iris with cerulean blue allowing a bit of a bleed with the shadow. i only painted the top half being careful to avoid the highlight and then painting the lower half with clear water drawing pigment down. i tied that in with the lower lid by drawing the pigment down into the area below the eye. the medial socket was done next with cerulean blue that was drawn out laterally over the upper lid surface with the cadmium red/yellow mix. the eyebrow was painted in burnt umber wet-in-wet. by this time the iris had dried enough to put in the pupil wet-in-wet using, this time, mineral violet (don't ask me why...i just wanted something dark...and my brush went there.) this allowed a slight bleed with the iris. the lateral extent of the socket was explained by a mixed splotch of cerulean and the flesh colors that was carried up onto the forehead and down to the upper cheek.

i put in the shadow under the *left* side of the hood to blend in with the shape lateral to the socket. i also started to experiment with how i was going to do the rain coat. the tough part won't be the yellow, but deciding how to paint the shadows on the coat/hood. yellow is notoriously difficult to darken. my option will be a grayer yellow (like raw sienna/umber) quinacridone gold right out of the tube full strength, or a green. we'll see what seems to work best in a slightly later step. right now i am leaning toward the green.

i painted the *right* eye the same way as the other. the mouth was done with the flesh colors tending toward the red by dabbing paint in the two corners and middle of the upper lip and after cleaning the brush working that pigment out into the cheek, other parts of the lip and lateral portions of the lower lip. the shadow under the lower lip defines the lower aspect of the lip and was painted with cerulean blue and blended inferiorly with the flesh mixture. the cheeks were painted mainly in the cadmium reds/yellows. as i  moved into the neck i added some cerulean. the hair was streaks of quinacridone gold and burnt umber with strands scratched in as the sheen came off the paper. i knew that i wanted some violet in the background to contrast with the yellow of the rain coat and hood so i started with a varied wash just above the hood using ultramarine blue, mineral violet, burnt sienna, and cerulean blue as you see. i didn't want to do any more at this time so i tapered the edges so that i could start back up again later without a hard edge. that's all for now. more tomorrow. be well.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

trempealeau overlook #2: finishing up

there really isn't very much left to do on this painting, but at least the water is pretty important to get right. last time i did this scene , albeit in a smaller format, the water seemed to be on the same level as the figures. in reality it is about 500 feet lower down at he base of the bluff they have arduously climbed to gain this spectacular view. i am going to try to get all the breaks in the shadows as horizontal as i can, try to make sure the reflections are just a bit darker than the hills doing the reflecting, and keep my fingers crossed.

adding the "cliff"edge and reflections in the water
i started with putting a darker value wash along the cliff edge using burnt sienna, quinacridone gold, ultramarine blue, and some burnt umber and a 1" flat brush, which i used for almost all the painting in this and subsequent steps (except where i note otherwise). i flicked in some grass leaves of the same colors and also scraped in some of the same at the appropriate time. for the reflections i used either a combination of quinacridone gold and ultramarine blue or hooker's green and burnt umber/sienna carrying the thin stripes across the paper and adding some watery mix to help the blending. the distant hill reflection that is blueish i put in using cobalt blue and a touch of burnt sienna.

final steps on painting the foreground
the final steps were to give the foreground a bit of interest and texture by putting down horizontal washes of the same colors used for the water reflections, losing some of the edges, especially the bottom one, putting in some small blades of grass using a #4 round, and, of course, the ubiquitous scraping that i just can't give up. i toyed with the idea if putting a small island just in front of the center figure's head along with some trees, mostly to give the whole thing some scale, but in the end i decided against it. i think it would have had way too high a probability of looking amateurish, the value would have to be "perfect", and i didn't think it was worth the risk.

so here is the end result. overall, i think it is a better painting than the original, leaves some areas that could be improved upon, but accomplishes much of what i wanted and in the larger, full sheet format.

life drawing/painting session: week #6

20-minute pose
after skipping a week because of prior commitments, i returned to the vitamin studio for another 2-hour session of life drawing/painting. it was the usual format of 3 poses each just a little longer than the preceding after a warm of 3-2 minute poses. i discovered that i had become somewhat rusty and not to where i was two weeks ago. nevertheless, by the end i was feeling pretty good again about the output, although you will note i made horrible use of the time on the last pose and came no where close to finishing it. in my defense it was about 10 minutes shorter than the usual last pose (35 vs. 45 minutes), but still....

so here are the offerings for this week:

30-minute pose
as seems typical of me, the first of the longer poses which ironically was the shortest, came out the best. i compared notes with the other artists at the session and they have noticed the same thing in their work. i am not sure if it is fatigue, or trying to do too much, or what. it seems rather common however.

35-minute pose

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

trempealeau overlook: continuing steps

trempealeau overlook: continuing progress
i continued to work slowly on this painting. having finished the figures a couple of days ago i painted the foreground today. it a large area and i wanted to get it to gain value and color as it moved forward in the picture plane. i used the 1" flat brush for all of this step. the far edge was painted using quinacridone gold and ultra marine blue and hooker's green. working quickly, i added some burnt sienna in areas and cobalt blue with quinacridone gold in stronger concentrations as i moved down the painting. i wanted to carve out the bench top which was pretty shiny from all those seats and reflected a lot of light thus appearing almost white. when i reached the bottom, i went back to the far edge with dark version of burnt umber/ultramarine over quinacridone gold leaves and twigs that went up above the edge and hung over the edge to some degree. when this was starting to dry just a bit i scratched in more grasses with the palette knife. i will have to add some texture to this and try to carve out a relatively "flat" place around the figures and bench while allowing the brush near the precipice to rise up some. this will probably need to happen by subtle value and color changes. i'll  think about it until tomorrow. here is where we are when i left off today.

Monday, October 24, 2011

more landscapes...bigger....better?

reference photo
in keeping with recent themes i have decided to redo a painting that i did several months to a year ago and a landscape with figures. as an added challenge i will paint it in a much larger format than i have in the past, namely, a full sheet of fabriano artistico rough 140# paper (22"X30"). no good reason other than i wanted to try it  and felt up to the task (perhaps a foolish decision...we'll see).

trempealeau overlook
the photo that i will use is this one from our kids after they had hiked about 2 miles uphill to the top of the bluffs just north of here in trempealeau, wi. they are viewing the distant minnesota bluffs on the west side of the mississippi from a vantage point of 500-600 feet above the river. in the previous rendition  (which was in about a half-sheet format) i didn't like the way that the water was painted as i seemed to be almost on the level with the kids. i wanted to see if i could get it to descend to its real level in this next iteration.

 i started this painting by drawing in the figures in the foreground on the paper previously mentioned and then the position of the river and more distant land masses. in keeping with my dictum of painting those things that i figure will give me the hardest time, i started with the sky and some of the distant bluffs. i wanted to get as much aerial perspective into this as possible so i tried to put the most distant bluff in while the sky ( a wash of mineral violet/cobalt blue/raw sienna) was still damp so that the edges would be somewhat blurred. i also made them blue to make then recede. the blue came out a little too "sweet" for my taste but i may be able to tame it a bit later with a light wash of raw sienna or umber. i will wait to do this to make the judgement when the painting is more finished.

first steps
next steps
so, the washes up until this point have all been painted using a 1" flat brush. i started with a wash of raw sienna to wet the paper and followed with a graded wash of cobalt blue wet-on-wet and finished with a graded wash of mineral violet just at the very top wet-on-wet. before this completely dried (cool and damp to the touch) i added the distant hillside/bluff with cobalt blue (which i should have grayed a bit with one of the earth colors, but didn't). just before this dried i did the same with the slightly nearer bluff, all with the same 1" brush. i started to experiment with both the value and color of the nearest left side bluff using ultramarine blue and quinacridone gold (same brush) but decided after about 5 minutes that i was getting ahead of myself and blended it in and went on to the figures. switching to a #10 round i painted the middle figure's hair with cobalt blue, burnt sienna and burnt umber. her shirt was started at the waist with a gray wash formed by cerulean blue, raw sienna, and carmine. by the time i reached her hair it had dried enough that i got just a little bleed which was what i was going for. flesh on her arms was painted with cadmium red light, raw sienna and a bit of cerulean. shorts ultramarine blue and raw umber. moving on to the right most figure, his hair was painted with burnt umber and quinacridone gold. although i did paint his face with the aforementioned flesh color too much of the hair bled into it and that will have to be remedied later. his shirt was a mixture of cobalt blue, raw sienna, and mineral violet and his shorts a light wash of raw umber and just a touch of cobalt blue. you can see that i tried to get some tie-ins with the surroundings right away  but they were too dark in value so i lifted them out for the most part. i think in the future i will just pull some pigment into the background with a damp brush and/or clear water to avoid this issue. the last stages that i painted today finished the figures in more or less the same fashion as the rest had been done. in addition i darkened the right most near bluff with a dense wash of ultramarine blue, quinacridone gold, hooker's green, and burnt sienna. it is way too dark but i will see how far it lightens as it dries and make a final judgement tomorrow. while i was at it i did put in some of the reflections in the far water and some of the brush down near the far shore with the same colors. the posts of the bench were the last thing i did today and they were painted with the #10 round and mixtures of ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, mineral violet, and a bit of ivory black. i carried it down to the bottom edge of the painting for the cast shadow and scraped in some grass leaves when it was losing its sheen with a palette knife. more tomorrow. be well.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

landscape redux

timber coulee fishing: before
timber coulee fishing: after
there were some technical issues that i had with the last two landscapes. i wanted them to have a lot of depth but to varying degrees they were a bit shallow. that would have been fine if i had intentionally tried to flatten the picture frame of reference....but i hadn't. i got some good advice on the first one "timber coulee fishing" when i posted it on the brush with water forum. the first was to make sure the things one wants to recede take on a decidedly blueish cast. one way to do this would be to lightly paint over the distant hills and sky with a blue wash. the other piece of technical advice was to make the water lay down flatter by painting it a bit darker in value than the sky it is reflecting. again, i think this could be accomplished by a light wash of a transparent blue like cobalt blue. i tried both both these techniques on the "rabbit trail marsh" painting and they accomplished what i had been striving for artistically, namely a greater depth of field and the water seemed to be obeying newtonian principles. so, i decided that i would apply these two techniques to the "timber coulee fishing" painting. i figured nothing ventured nothing gained. once more, i think both accomplished what i had wanted in the first place but didn't have the requisite tools in my toolbox. now, hopefully, i do. so here are the "post" results along with the "pre" images previously posted.
rabbit trail marsh: before

rabbit trail marsh: after

Saturday, October 15, 2011

next project: "mississippi backwaters"

mississippi backwaters from the rabbit trails
in keeping with the landscape theme, which i am going to stick with until i am satisfied i see improvement, i am going to paint the mississippi backwaters as seen from the rabbit trails near the university. for those not familiar with these, we are blessed by the powers that be with not channelizing the river in our immediate area. this not only gives a huge reservoir to soak up flood waters (we flood much less frequently than our surrounding communities because of this) but also are an incredible refuge for any number of species of flora/fauna who find their homes in the marsh, and they are beautiful. this is the photo that i took earlier this week that will serve as the inspiration for this painting.  i will say right from the get-go that i am going to make the sky more dramatic, give more than a hint of fall colors to the distant foliage, and strengthen the foreground with some reed, cattails, etc. some of this is more for practice than compositional "correctness." i think that the painting will be okay with these and i need to work on my skies. if i painted it like in the photo it would be pretty much a plain grayed blue graded wash.....i know how to do that......and not very exciting!

initial washes
so i started by lightly drawing in a horizon line and the basic placement of distant hills (i made them more prominent, duh), the midground trees on the far bank, and some of the placement of the reflections. i then, using a 1" flat brush wet some of the sky/hill/tree area with clear water, blotted it a bit, and put in a slightly graded, broken wash of cobalt blue grayed with raw sienna. just before this dried so that i got a blurring of the edge i put in the distant hills/bluffs (they are the minnesota-side bluffs as this is looking west about noon) using the same brush. i'm not sure if i should have put in its reflection in the water now or save it for later. i chose the latter in this instance.
when this had dried thoroughly i painted the trees on the far shore with a variety of colors that you can probably figure out by observing allowing the colors to mingle on the paper much more than mixed on the palette. as the sheen came off of this wash i scraped out the trunks of the aspen/birch.

next washes 
i decided that the sky needed a little "punching up." i mixed a puddle of mineral violet and ultramarine blue and darkened the top of the painting and drew the color down into the clouds using a 3/4" flat. i then spritzed clear water at places along the bottom edge of that wash while it was still quite juicy and blotted it to further soften some of the edges. i am meaning to leave about 50% hard vs 50% soft edges. i think this gives the sky a bit more depth. i experimented with the left-most reflections suing the same colors as the trees but in a little lighter value. i think the water in the last painting (timber coulee....) was not quite flat????what ever i mean by least not quite right. so i thought that i would try messing with the values. i have found that in painting, if something doesn't look right it is probably the value rather than color, structure, etc. i am sure that there are exceptions to this "rule" but you have some strategy for this painting.

"mississippi backwaters" 14"X20"
i then finished the reflection of the trees and added the reflection of the distant hill/bluff. i decided not to put in the reflection of the sky as i felt this may have been too dark and i would have had trouble putting in the plant life i was planning for the foreground. i might have been better served by putting in the sky reflection and leaving out the cattails, etc.. the floating islands of algae were done in a combination of oxide of chromium, quinacridone gold, and burnt sienna with a touch of ultramarine blue in places painted in  broadening streaks as they came closer to the front. i put in the large mass of algae/ground, whatever in the extreme foreground and then the cattails and some sort of "berry" bushes. a few splatters for floating debris finished it off. i wish i hadn't put in the hard trunks and branches of the bare trees along the far bank....they add little (other than accuracy of scene) and are a distraction. i may be able to lighten then considerably but since they are mostly sepia, not completely.