Thursday, March 28, 2013

the tao of dreadlock maintenance: new painting

at the recent "circle of art" fair here in borrego springs i walked around taking photos of the crowds and the exhibitors form afar. when i got back to our "home" i found a number of shots of a group of exhibitors that did woolen articles for both decoration and for wear. while sitting around, one of the young women was fussing with her hair and this what i decided to use as a reference for a painting. i drew the figure on an old piece of cold press paper (140#, 20"X16") and put  light wsh over most of the paper. i then started  modeling her face and putting in her features. i used a #16 round and predominantly scarlet lake, cadmium orange, and cerulean blue at this stage. her hair was combinations of raw and burnt sienna, burnt umber, and cadmium yellow pale. in trying to depict the dreadlocks i came upon the technique of putting down  flat wash and then "lifting" and "pushing" the pigment in the middle of the dreadlocks with a slightly wetter than damp brush. in the final analysis i think this worked and may be the best discovery of this project.

the conditions while painting were actually quite a challenge. it was hot (90), dry (about 10% humidity), windy (20 mph), sunny, and dusty. this all  accounted for the bad edge control, too many hard edges, and dirty paint. i don't think the rougher texture of the cold press paper helped anything either. i have painted out here in such conditions with hot press paper and didn't have nearly the trouble. i am still not sure if i can salvage this piece but i like the subject and i am sure i can paint another under more ideal conditions that will be satisfactory if this one is a bust.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

last two paintings and editorial blah, blah, blah

"a proper young lady" (14"X11")
here are the final photos of the portrait of the young victorian woman and the landscape of the anza-borrego desert with the gray mare and mustang dun stallion.

as i looked over my facebook page this morning while finishing my second cup of coffee, i was reminded of why i do this stuff and i imagine why a lot of artists create. it is for the process. the creative process is so compelling. watching an image emerge before one's eyes as one proceeds is nothing short of mesmerizing, at least for me. this whole thought process was triggered by not one "like" or "comment" regarding either of the last two paintings. those of you who post on facebook know that this is really unusual. it made me wonder if these paintings were such stinkers that no one thought they were worth a quick click on "like." then, however, i realized, "furgetabout'm," i really didn't do this for them. i did it because i enjoy the creative process, not for validation from others, although occasionally that is nice. so, i'm not sure i will continue with posting on facebook, but i certainly will here for this is where i am more likely to write about the process which is , after all, the more important part. thanks for listening to my blathering. be well, my friends.
"trouble brewing in coyote canyon" (15"X21")

Monday, March 18, 2013

catching up and new venture.

i am getting close to the end with the victorian lady painting. i did manage to keep her face high key but her clothing ended up being a bit flat and dull. i'm not sure if it was the pigment (hooker's green, alizarin crimson, burnt sienna), the technique ( i have to admit i got somewhat heavy-handed...old habits and all that), or bad karma. not sure i can sort it all out at this time. there is always the next painting to try something different. i forget about the white stripe near the edge of that yoke/collar thing so i lifted out the stripe you see here. i may accentuate it with a light wash that abuts it in green. there are some dark details around the edge of that as well that i think will add some interest and i intend to put them in the next time i paint. that should be later today after our early game of golf.

a word about the two squares on the mid-right of the painting. on the photo there were two pieces of cellophane tape and i decided to put them in....i sort of like them.

these next wo are the beginnings of a landscape that i started a couple of days ago. the horses are the amorous couple who live in the paddock 50 yards from our porch. the rest is taken from a photo i had from last year when a storm was blowing in from west of the santa rosa mountains. the mare is at least going in the direction of shelter while the stallion is munching away as if there was nothing brewing. i guess we all have our priorities....but it was a nasty storm! never mind this is entirely made up.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

"a proper young lady": new painting

this photo i found in a local antique store and will serve as the inspiration for this painting.

while awaiting word from marti about the portrait of her late husband jack, i decided to browse through some of my photos looking for something to capture my imagination. i found this photo of a young victorian woman that i thought would be fun to paint. it would also need a light hand and high values to convey her femininity and youth. both of these are things i wanted to work on. in order to maintain due diligence i asked some local critics to keep and eye on me while work proceeded, just to keep transparency alive.

everybody's a critic

so after drawing the face and upper torso

i can't say they aren't helpful, and be honest
carefully on the back of a piece of 15"X11" 300# hot press arches paper (the reverse side may have a failed painting....i haven't decided yet), i put down a light wash over most of the painting surface. i used scarlet lake and cadmium yellow-orange (holbein) and applied with my #26 round brush. the blue is cerulean. i have gotten so used to things drying in literally an instant out here on the desert that i made a really rooky mistake and went back into a damp wash with a brush filled with a wet mixture of burnt umber and alizarin crimson to define her hair. voilá, instant back run, blossom, bloom....whatever you want to call it. now is the time for patience. i resisted the lure of going back in right away and trying to "fix" it.unless you are a master, like charles reid, you are unlikely to get the right proportion of water and paint in your brush to meld perfectly into what ever mess is already there. i must leave it alone until it thoroughly dries. something i should have done in the first place. so when it dried i was able to lift off the most offensive leading edge with a damp  cotton swab and you can see the result of this endeavor in the second photo.
drawing, initial wash, and beautiful bloom

after getting the bloom sort of calmed down, i tackled the eyes, nose, mouth, and some of the modeling using my #16 round and the same colors that i used in the first overall wash. this whole time i am trying to keep things very high key. i put some alizarin crimson in the background near the head. my thinking at this time is that here dress will be mostly a dark green, neck thingy violet/blue, and bodice insert thingy dark red. with that in mind i want to put in a warm, somewhat reddish, gray over the background, darker at the top, and maybe juicy enough to have a few runs.

we'll see. it is starting to rain and the wind is blowing about 45 mph. i think i will go in and warm up.

at the time the weather took a nasty turn

Friday, March 8, 2013

"gonna go and make it happen": last steps on commission portrait

i finished the portrait of jack yesterday late. there was very little that i did since the last posting. most of the time was spent looking at the painting and deciding what, if anything, needed doing to improve it. in the end i decided the answer to this was, "very little."
"gonna go and make it happen"  (10"X14")

i put a splash of dark in the lower right side to define the extent of the beard. i darkened a few crevices and put the eyes in a little more shadow. i put a cadmium red/alizarin crimson strip across the top left just for a splash of color not seen in the rest of the painting. not sure it works but i can crop it out if i don't like it in the end.

the next step i suppose is to see if the client mart likes it. the only thing that i would say is that if it were entirely up to me, i would put a glaze over the glasses to make them somewhat less prominent. however, i remember marti saying that jack was always wearing glasses and that was a prominent part of his visage. that being so, i will leave them more prominent and dull them down if she wishes. a pretty simple matter but one i will have to be precise with so as not to spill over onto his face with the glaze.