Monday, January 27, 2014

a finish (?) and bonus extra

"a post from charles" (15"X11")
i think that i have finished the painting of the young girl musing about the contents of the letter she has just received and read......from charles....obviously! from the last posting i have finished her dress and hair, strengthened the values in the lower part of the background under the table, painted the watch (i initially painted it too may still be?), and put in some darks in the crevices (a term i think i first read in a book by jan kunz).

this second painting is not finished and may never be. it started out as an experiment in painting a nude in a real painting as opposed to the quick sketches in life drawing sessions. there were a lot of things i liked about it but also a lot of problems. it was based on a great photo from dave bass from studio gallery 1311 in la crosse, wi. since i thought it was probably a "goner" i decided to do some more experimentation with the "swatch" technique that i used on the commission portrait posted a few weeks ago. i think it could work if i used some of the same technique in the figure, but the whole thing seems just a bit dingy and drab.........just checking to see if you are paying attention.
"stalking the wild orchid" (10"X14") wip

Saturday, January 25, 2014

"a post from charles": continuing steps in current painting

i am starting to get an idea of what the title might be for this piece. this may mnot be it but something close i think. perhaps a reference from within the letter itself: "he loves her raven hair" ????
folds /shadows on her dress: manganese blue,
 carmine, raw sienna

here are some of the intervening steps between when i last posted and now regarding this painting. again i will let the captions carry the day with the exception of one thought about the background. i am usually drawn to more organic shapes in the background of these but in this case there was going to be the more geometric shape of the pedestal table so i decided to break up the background into geometric shapes. its sort of taking a page from ted nuttall's playbook and i think works here better than my usual doodling.

starting shapes for background
darkening right background shape and
putting in pedestal table shape

close up of face at this stage

bringing everything up to value slowly

at the present time: probably finished with face and dress
just a little more on background to go.
i added red stripe on upper right for interest and balance.

Monday, January 20, 2014

new yet untitled

i have been wanting to use this photo that i found in an antique store at home in la crosse, wi, for some time. i actually started one about a year ago and abandoned the effort as i didn't like what was happening. i got it out, dusted it off (all figuratively, of course), and now am determined to give it a second try.

easel set at 75 degrees

i have gotten a couple of questions/requests to post a wip with a little less work between photos so that the progression can be seen in more detail. i will try doing this here. additionally, i have been asked about my palette and how i set up the easel.
palette ready for initial wash: scarlet lake,
raw sienna, manganese blue hue,
brilliant orange. 

i will let the photos and their captions do the talking and only embellish with actual additional description when absolutely necessary (or upon the least whim).

reference photo, drawing, first wash
colors are the same as usual, brushes vary from my trusty #16 round and #8 round, paper is 300# hot press fabriano artistico, and the size is 15"X11".

 more hair and further work on her features
a bit of hair and initial modeling of features
using up remaining paint from first wash

even more hair, features, starting in on
background and folds/shadows on
her dress

close-up of her face after step shown above, right

Saturday, January 18, 2014

"head over heels": a commission

a few days ago i received permission from both the sponsor as well as the subjects for this commission piece and i thought that i would post it. aside from the unusual pose...all the work of the sponsor photographer...i went in a slightly different direction with the background. i was influenced by two artists whom i greatly admire. frank webb is a noted watercolor painter and teacher. the other influence is a figurative artist who does amazing figures and faces in a variety of (mostly) angst-driven poses. his name is sorin dumitrescu mihaesti.

frank webb shows a technique wherein he places similar value but different-hued patches against each other on damp paper thus yielding a patchwork of colors that reads well as on shape. sorin dumitrescu mihaesti does somewhat the same thing but with oils and allows some of the patches to invade the figures themselves. the net result is fascinating. i am trying here to produce a somewhat similar result in watercolor in the background. in order to bring a little unity to the piece i allowed a few patches to spill into the hair of the figures.

so here it is.

"head over heels": (11"X15")

Sunday, January 12, 2014

"just a hint of mischief": c'est fini!

just a short post. i finished the painting that i have been working on. here 'tis.

"just a hint of mischief" (11"X15")
now i have to figure out if this one of the two that i will submit to the transparent watercolor society of america (twsa).... deadline, 01/17/2014...... within four days!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

"just a hint of mischief": gettin' there

not much to say about yesterday's work. just more of the same. i'm really doing more looking and thinking at this stage. i would say about 4:1 ratio of looking/thinking to actual painting. i am just trying to get the nuances of the expression right and bring the background along so that the piece  looks like one work and the figure fits right in.

i do have a little bit to do on her dress, but for the most part i think this is getting very near the done stage. of note the first photo is taken in the late morning and the second is shot in the late afternoon in waning light as the sun was just dipping below the santa rosa's.......... hence, the difference in hues. i think the reality is probably more toward the first.

Friday, January 10, 2014

moving right along, more on "just a hint of mischief"

after another 45 minutes work and with some cropping
not much i can say regarding the process that i haven't said before. i just have been darkening the background and working on getting hair to look curly without overdoing it. i got  little dark and need to lose some edges, especially where her hair runs into her shoulder/dress on her *right side*. other wise i am feeling pretty good about this so far. i have also been experimenting with some cropping to get her a little more to the right in the picture frame. i'm not sure about this yet and may leave this alone and leave the composition issues for another iteration. here we are as of this morning before we headed out to the farmers' market.

at the end of the morning session

Thursday, January 9, 2014

"just a hint of mischief": a couple of more hours work.

i just finished reading the article about ted nuttall  in watercolor artist and was struck by a couple of things. one is that ted says he is working more slowly....for those of us fortunate to have seen him paint, it is hard to imagine that this would be possible. however, after re-reading the passage it is clear that he means spending more time observing and SEEING before putting the brush to paper. a lesson from which we can all benefit. the second is that i should have pushed the composition on this painting a bit more. i realized that the eyes are a strong message of where to look in a painting and her eyes definitely direct one to the left of the picture frame. this, i think, would have allowed me to place her even more to the right of the frame than i have done. so much so that i am pretty sure i am going to reprise this pose in the near future and push the envelope a bit.

another note i actually thought up all by my lonesome takes into account the adage, "when the world gives you lemons, make lemonade." i have complained perhaps too loudly that the low humidity out here makes the paint dry so fast that by the time i rinse and shake the brush after a stoke, it had already dried, thus making it impossible to do the sort of blending and lost edges i like to do. i could, of course, wet a spot of paper before the stroke, but this adds a step. i had the brilliant notion that strokes don't necessarily have to blended, especially if they are high value and transparent. all my colors are transparent except for manganese blue hue and the ever diminishing (use of) cerulean blue. i don't think i am going to use this here much as it is already started, but next time.....

after one more hour
end of the second session
so, on with the show. more description of her facial features, a bit on the hair, and some thoughts about the background. features and hair the same colors as i have been using. i already put down some light arbitrary color around the figure and now its time to get rid of some of that white paper. i know that i am going to put a darker wash at the top and put the lower edge on a diagonal going from higher left and lower right s it approaches the figure. probably get a few drips too....leave 'em. i started with a 10% raw sienna over the whole thing doing a more or less flat wash from top to bottom and went over quite a bit of the figure, especially in her hair, to help tie the whole thing together. when doing these i usually go back an forth between warm and cool. n keeping with that i next put on a wash of cobalt blue....same way. i will probably keep doing this until i have the value and tint that i want. warm/cool, like yellow/violet, orange/blue, burnt sienna/ultramarine blue, red-somthing/hooker's get the picture. at some point i will probably settle on a distinct hue and push it that way.

so here are the two steps after subsequent hour long sessions:

apologies for my verbosity today. the model has an interesting tattoo on her *right* shoulder which i elected to include. i usually ignore tattoos and leave them out, but here it just seemed to se saying, "put me in!"

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"just a hint of mischief": new painting started

i couldn't get the painting of the two party girls in the portfolio without mucking up the edges i so decided to leave it at home and finish when we returned home in the spring. i had drawn the current work before we left and as it is only 11"X15" it fit in the portfolio just fine. it's on 300# cold press arches paper that is a little rougher than the fabriano i am more used to.

after the first hour or so of painting
i started with loose washes of scarlet lake, brilliant orange, manganese blue and covered the face, figure, and part of the background somewhat arbitrarily. i made sure that this variegated wash connected with the sides of the paper to anchor the whole thing in several places. this going out of the boundaries gives the illusion of looseness when in fact i painted this rather slowly and deliberately to get the colors where i wanted them. smoke in mirrors is this stuff of looseness. it's really a state of mind, i think charles reid once said that, rather than a state of brush.

at the end of work today...another hour
when this dried completely, in this case overnight, i started on the features. i used a #10 round kolinski brush initially and then switched to a #16 round cosmotop as i found myself getting a little tight with the smaller brush. the colors were the ones i used on the initial wash but with cerulean blue  substituting for the manganese and using vermillion and raw sienna in places. there is touch of arbitrary color on her *right* temple and under her lower lip which is prussian blue mixed with some of the reds and yellows. there is also some quinacridone gold, burnt sienna, and mineral violet in her hair. that is all for today.