Saturday, December 6, 2014

"lakhota proud"

back in early october i posted a nearly-done photo of this painting. i decided at the time that i didn't like it and put it on the shelf. the other day i came across it and decided that i did, after all, like it. so i added some stuff and lifted some stuff, reinforced some stuff, and lightened some stuff..........and came out with this. the lesson here is not to throw anything out until it has aged a bit and one can look at it with "fresh" eyes. the change in one's opinion can be surprising. of course, sometimes one's initial opinion holds up....then , i suppose, it does become one for the bin.

a brief word on the shapes along both upper sides of the painting may be due.  i looked up a variety of pictographs from digs and finds in north america. i drew the shapes that i liked and those that had a known meaning on small pieces of foam core. i then followed those lines drawing with a thick bead of that craft glue "tacky glue" in the brown bottle that i am sure most have seen in craft and hobby stores. this dried leaving a slightly resilient raised line. since it was water soluble i sprayed it with fixative to seal both the glue line and the foam core. to make a mark i simply painted thickish watercolor paint onto the design and pressed it onto the watercolor paper. i spritzed each of them with small droplets of water to varying degrees to loosed them up and teased a few drips down the page for both looseness and interest. this is what i got. i can't take credit for this.....dale kendrick showed me this technique many, many moons ago during one of his workshops.....a great artist and wonderful instructor. may he rest in peace.

"lakhota proud" (13"X16")

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

"table for one....non-smoking, please" (9"X18")

i had painted this little girl before in the same pose but with a totally botched background and a composition i didn't like. so, i had another go at it. i think this came out better, pretty much in every dimension. i didn't take any process photos during this endeavor, however.....sorry.

i hope you enjoy looking as much as i enjoyed painting.

"table for one....non-smoking, please"

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"the colonel has a lovely daughter": finale

i think that the last brush stroke has been applied to this painting. as one nears the end it is always an interesting time in a painting's life. when i get to the point where i am making small enough changes that they absolutely no difference in the quality of the painting or just ill-advised, detrimental additions, i quit. i think i am at that place with this. i am happy with the likenesses, composition, and skin tones. the colonel came off more sun drenched and older (vermilion, raw sienna, and cerulean blue) and charlotte younger, more "peaches and cream" complexion (scarlet lake, brilliant orange, and cerulean blue). there is one thing i'm not too happy with and that's the intersection of charlotte's shirt strap with the exact right lower corner. i think a little crop will take care of that. i apologize for the fuzzy photo.......should have used a tripod as the light was waning. here is the finished masterpiece:
"the colonel has a lovely daughter" (11"X17")

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

...and down the stretch they come......

a couple more steps in the painting that i have tentatively called "the colonel has a lovely daughter." i have been doing bits and pieces of this while the calendar pages come off the printer.....its taking about a half and hour to print 50 pages, due mainly to the higher resolution of the photos this year. so, there is about 30 minutes work depicted in each of these.

almost done...some background and bill's hat to go

Thursday, November 20, 2014

just another darn painting

i wanted to get something posted before 2 months had gone by. since last month i have had the opportunity to paint with charles reid in a portland, oregon, workshop, see the kids and grandkids, visit seattle, and start a couple of new paintings. i am ready to make the final push of the year to get the calendar out (hampered by needing a couple more landscape-oreinted paintings.)

this one is inspired by a photo of an old friend from my dartmouth days bill (aka colonel chaos) badger and his lovely daughter charlotte snapped a couple of summers ago in vermont. bill is an architect specializing in restoration of historic buildings.....he worked with those restoring the train station in philadelphia, for example.

i wanted an intimate and fun perspective for this and cropped down to the scene above. charlotte is the star of the show with bill playing a minor but important role. i took a play from ted nuttall's book and cut off the right side of bill's face, just for interest.

i used scarlet lake and brilliant orange  with cerulean blue for charlotte's skin tones and vermilion, raw sienna with cerulean blue for bill's skin. brushes are escoda versatil rounds...mainly #10 and #14. the paper is fabriano artistico hot press, #300, 11"X 17". the dark shapes at the top of two of the paintings are shadows from pins i use to hold down the paper. here are the first few steps in the process:

Thursday, October 9, 2014

"4th street, actually": new cityscape

"4th street, actually": (14"X11")
i think these are slowly, but surely, coming around. the improvement is certainly in baby steps, but seems steady. at least, i am feeling more like i know the next step and am not groping around as much as i was a few months ago. the biggest challenge appears to be that initial wash and amassing all those shapes that share a fairly common value. that and leaving all the white patches where i want them....its very difficult to lift out to white....only a light value gray. so with that minimal rhetoric here is the next offering in the cityscape series.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

a pot pourri for you blogging pleasure

one of these days i will get back to my stated mission of "process"............but this isn't one of them. i am going to try to put some process in on the next project on video. wish me luck.

today i have a mish-mash of reference photos, completed landscapes, and wip's of people painting. i'm not really sure why i am posting this. probably to keep the blog active and to stay "out there".

plein air site and view, the gray, blustery day
the first is a photo of the spot from which i painted my last plein air painting for the "event" and the only one that i actually took down to studio gallery 1311 to be entered and displayed. it is taken down by the river on the west side of the main channel under the newest bridge looking back across at a barge being loaded with something from the elevated tanks. it was a bit of a challenge to paint this as the first day it was gray, blustery, and actually started to rain after about 90 minutes. this obviously halted painting for that day. when i returned the next day at about the same time in early morning it was bright, sunny and still. i sort of had to fake it a bit. i am sorry i don't have at least a finished shot of of it, but.....oh, well. as soon as it comes down from the gallery wall i'll take a photo and post it.

"i am lakhota, too" (wip, 11"X15")
these next two are almost completed paintings of folks in our life. one is of a lakhota native who graciously let me take her picture a few years ago out at pine ridge. i have painted her before but in a bit of a different setting. i made up the feathers. the other is one of our third child, born on april fools day which happened to be a thursday the year of his birth.

"thursday's child" (wip, 11"X15")
 last offering today is a completed landscape from a view just entering borregosprings, ca, from the east, turning off pegleg road onto henderson canyon road. there is a homestead with all the accouterments necessary to make a go of it in the desert. the palm trees are fiction to add something compositionally.....just what i don't know........and i really wanted a reason to try painting their silhouettes. i intentionally spelled borrego with only one "r" as back then the original town on site was "borego". the town of borrego springs  actually sprung up a little north and west of the original settlement which still sports a rundown and abandoned store and some non-descript buildings.

"making it work in borego" (11"X15)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


we ventured up to the statewide wisconsin regional art association annual (WRAA) exhibit over the weekendwhich was held in wausau this year (a city about 160 miles northwest of here). the awards luncheon was on saturday. i was prepared to receive the carol betts chaplin portraiture award as i was notified of same a few weeks earlier. what took me completely by surprise was that the painting that i had submitted also won the "peoples' choice award". this left me at a loss for words when i went up to receive that honor. at this point i would like to personally thank all those who voted for me and all the other worthy contenders.

this was especially meaningful to me as the quality of the art exhibited was absolutely stellar but also the judges were for the most part extremely talented artists, their families and fans. i will always cherish this honor. thank you!

so in case you missed it the other several thousand times i have posted this, here is "needing more than a tattered hat".

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Plein air #2: on the eastern shore she looms

again this morning bright and early....around 0800 hours today. sun still fairly low as witnessed by the sparkle on the water. stood on the eastern shore of pettibone island in the park looking east at la crosse about at the level of the radisson hotel i took some liberties with the size of the cathedral. same general methods as yesterday. used roughish sandpaper to put the sparkle on the water but i didn't wait long enough for the paper to dry and it came out sort of and learn.

on the eastern shore she looms: (11"X15")

plein air #1 (pa#1): rabbit rail marsh

had my first foray into the real world of plein air painting this morning. i ventured down the rabbit trail  y UW-L about 200 yards and came across a great blue heron keeping watch over his part of the marsh with the bluffs reflected in the water. here it is......11"X15" on fabriano artistico rough 140# paper. worked pretty much light to dark, a lot of wet-in-wet, just a touch of white gouache on the heron-dic sentinel........

on first frog watch (11"X15")

Monday, September 8, 2014

carrying on and portraiture award at wisconsin state exhibition.

i have been very lazy with respect to this blog and for that i apologize. summer's too busy to do everything without feeling more hassled than one might feel necessary. so the blog loses out. i am far enough into a variety of painting projects that i can not really remember exactly what i did so i will not try to reprise a blow-by-blow of the process(es).

before i go into the current group of paintings i should tell about a recent award  received. at the state WRAP (wisconsin regional art program) exhibition in wausau i received the carol betts chaplain portrait award. it would be a gross understatement to say i was surprised and at the same time thrilled. my thanks to juror diane budde for this singular honor. the painting was "needing more than a tattered hat" which i have posted so many times in regard to this that i will refrain at this time.
stage of current abandonment

i decided on this one that i would play around with a brick wall behind her as there was one in the reference photo. however, i decided that this made the painting more about the wall than the girl....i think i can fix this but for now i ran out of good ideas and steam......not in the bin but the shelf next to it.

in my quest to improve my land/cityscape paintings i offer this for review. working title is "just after five". i like the atmospheric  and linear perspective, respectively, of the buildings and the march of the vehicles into the distance. the figures, however, are a bit sloppy. on to the next and hopefully better one later this week.

not quite....but close

and now the newest of the "people" paintings. i have done this girl before but i felt compelled to paint her again with a bit of a different composition and background. i do have a few "stages which i will post sequentially without any comments. i will note that i made extensive use of wet glazing in the background and in the neck shadow. for those not familiar with this techniques, it involves painting over wet washes with a different color(s). very interesting mingling occurs if one doesn't monkey around with the final version before its dry. the subtlety of color mingling is not altogether apparent in the photos, but i can be quite striking. the only place i have seen this described is in don andrews book on painting the nude in watercolor where he uses these glazes to paint beautiful and unique skin tones in stylized/abstract nudes.

"i once was you" (11"X15")

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")

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.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

finishing up, "nalah and the great guacamole caper"

i finished this painting of nalah our youngest grandchild. i snapped this photo just after she  (and i if i am being honest) just polished off a large tub of homemade guacamole....fed to both of us via her chubby little fingers, a feat she found hilarious. i think she had just licked off the last of the homemade guac when this photo was taken.

since the last posting i just continued darkening the background with dilute glazes until reached the value and chroma i was looking for. unfortunately it didn't turn out just exactly as i had imagined (but when does it, really?). it looked just a bit lopsided even though i hadn't planned on making a compositional problem out of this. with that in mind i splattered and spritzed a subtle organic shape in vermillion and manganese blue along the right edge.

a bit on her hair and dress and i think we have arrived at the end....for now. i will let this sit on the wall for a week or two giving it the once over at least daily just to make sure that i am satisfied.

"nalah and the great guacamole caper" 14"X18"