Saturday, July 16, 2016

Intermediate watercolor painting class: new cycle

Earlier this week i started the first of 10 classes in painting with watercolr aimed at somewhat more than rank beginner painters. The first two were a gas. I had intendied to work on still life for 2-3 sessions as i think that they are superb for teaching a variety of techniques and learning to see shapes rather than objects. I tend to run these classs as a democracy and by a scant margin (8-1) the class voted to move on to landscape painting half-way through the first 3- hour session..........sigh. 

So off to landscape world. We covered values, flat washes, graded washes, variegated washes andtackled  this simple figure in landscape painting. This allowed us to talk about and perform scraping back to white, tying a figure into the landscape, preserving whites, learning about reflections, and creating texture with splattering, spritzing and all sorts of shenanigans.

Here is my demo painting from Thursday replete with way too much techniquey stuff but pretty still pretty cool, if i must say so myself. 

"Lone Angler" (11"x15").

Friday, July 8, 2016

"Is It Me You're Looking For"

Here is the final product of the demo I started at the day-long workshop for WRAP about a month ago. It technically should be labelled a mixed watermedia painting as there are some small areas of  watersoluble crayons. It is about 17"x 20" on 300# hot press paper, Arches brand.

"Alone Together"

This painting has had its ups and downs, starts and stops, trials and tribulations, and even somebrief moments   of joy. The end result is definitely less than the sum of its pieces. In analyzing the entire process, i think the mistake I made at the very beginning set the tone for the entire process. I pickeda fairly  rough cold press paper.......i almost always use hot press for my figurative/portrait work. The surface threw me off from the beginning and from there, as they say, it was history.

I know when I go back in a few weeks it probably won't be quite the rubbish I feel it is now. It really is a bit of a shame as i was very enthusiastic about the pose(s). However, as i have said many times before, it is more about the process than the product. To that end this is a raving success as i can hardly enumerate the things i learned whilst pondering and painting this piece. Lastly, I found I really don'tlike painting  pieces that are this big.

So, here is "Alone Together" (17"x30"). Enjoy, comment, trash, and even praise if you are so inclined.

Friday, June 17, 2016

A little diversion never hurts........

I find it relaxing to paint a small, 1/4 sheet or so landscape whenever i think i need or just want a break from my main interest, figurative works.  They seem to go together fairly quickly. The larger brush strokes, etc. loosen things up a bit.

We are going to paint this as an excercise in the more advanced watercolor class i am teaching in about 3+ weeks. Lots of technique in a smallish package......flat wash, variegated wash, graded wash, preserving whites, losing edges, atmospheric perspective, clouds, rain, a little bit of dark get the idea.

This photo reference is courtesy of Frank Eber.....thank you Frank.

"Gathering Storm", (10"x14").

Friday, June 3, 2016

Weekend workshop

Last weekend we had our local WRAP (Wisconsin regional art program) exhibition for the western part of the state. Along with the show, participants could also attend the 5-hour workshop entitled, "Painting people in watercolor". I had the honor this year of being the workshop teacher. It was a great   afternoon. I certainly learned alot, which i think is almost always to case for the presenter, and i hope the participants did as well. It was basically watch what i do then you do it sort of day. Lots of demonstration of techniques and one on one teaching with each of the 13 students. The end result was a demonstration painting that was in a curious state of (non) completion. Somethings overly finished while some completely under developed. This, in order to show folks as much as i could in the time alloted, and thus allow the possiblility of finishing their works at home later.

My thanks to participating painter Tim Mc Allister who took some "in process" photos. So, below are the steps of the painting both during and after the workshop.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Frank Eber returning to La Crosse for watercolor workshop

We are so fortunate to be hosting Frank Eber for a return engagement of his popular atmospheric watercolor landscape workshop. This year it will be 3 days and be entirely a studio experience.
Please contact me if you have questions or would like to register.

The flyer for the workshop is below:

Paintings of Greater La Crosse area done by Frank following his visit in september last year.

Atmospheric watercolor landscape painting: a studio workshop with frank eber

what: a 3-day intensive study of watercolor landscape painting with award-winning artist frank eber.. This will be a studio workshop.
where: lacrosse, wisconsin (studio gallery 1311, 1311 market st., la crosse)
when: june 13-15, 2016
cost: $300 for the 3-day workshop
curriculum: in this workshop Frank will share advanced watercolor techniques based on tonal values that create atmosphere, balance and unity in your work. learn to manipulate tonal value, color and edge. basic watercolor background washes will be covered, as well as time sensitive and challenging wet-on- wet and dry-on-wet approaches in landscapes, cityscapes or street scenes. there will be discussion and demonstration on composition, direct color mixing, positive and negative painting. 
registration and information: the workshop will be limited to 10 students. contact bob witte ( 608-386-1764; to register forward name, address, phone number, email address, (either email above or snail mail below) and a check for $100 deposit made out to studio gallery 1311 and sent snail mail to studio gallery 1311, 1311 market street, la crosse, wi 54601
note: some watercolor experience required. students must have a basic understanding of the watercolor medium.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

"Her better half: midwestern gothic": finished painting

Actually, i finished this a few days ago and neglected to post it here until now. It is about14"x15" in size.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

"perhaps her better half" venture

The paintings i started out in the desert seemed embued with the frustration i felt while trying to paint them in the excessively arid, windy, and hot conditions in the california desert. While i know i will get back to them, i need to let them lie fallow for a little while until i get the yen to re-tackle one or another.

So, i decided on a fresh start. Luckily this was aided by having a few drawings already completed. I did a bunch in preparation for my sojourn with ted nuttall out in santa fe. Of the ones that i had drawn i picked this one because i wanted to experiment a bit with the bachground and i wasn't as heavily invested in the outcome as with a couple of others.

This was taken from some vintage photos i picked up at a local antique coop store in downtown la crosse several years ago. I like these old photos and even like painting from them more. It's drawn on a piece of arches hot press, 300# paper and is about 16"x17".  I chose the composition because i liked the play of words for the title and it was a bit different from the usual "portait" painting. Here are the first few washes and a fair start on their features.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

"Watching for the students" (10"x14")

I finished this painting this morning after letting it languish on the mantel while I figured out where to go with it. It's not exactly as I imagined, but it's close. The name comes from the obvious bus waiting to go on its appointed rounds, but also I just couldn't get Elvis costello's song "watching the detectives" out of my head while painting it........

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Start of another painting

I have done some things on the school bus and barn painting, but I haven't photo'd it yet. I did start another painting that is a horizontally composed painting of an extreme closeup of Anna's face. The first washes are a little darker than I usually do and are painting in very loosely with a large wash brush. Scarlet lake, Carr yellow, peacock blue, mineral violet and a few others are the hues and a Princeton synthetic squirrel quill brush that measures about 5/8 " in diameter at the ferrule.

Now it really is finished

You will probably have to look closely to see any differences. The artists who read this will probably understand those niggling little things that bug you near the end of a painting. Those things that only you see but their aggravation grows exponentially as the end looms near. So, I put it up where I could see it every time I came in the main room and the feeling just wouldn't go away. So, I fixed 'em. So, here is really the finished product of "paint my brown eyes blue" (20"x16").

Since this is a watercolor board with no possibility of decked edges, I think I am going to varnish this and mount and frame it like an oil painting.........oh, yeh, I bad.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

"paint my brown eyes blue": just about finished

Now that I figured out what I want to call it I figured it might as well be done

I loosened up the background a bit this morning around dawn. I must say the sun rising up out into the eastern sky was a bit of a distraction, and it was pretty cold out on the patio that is now my studio en plein aire. I felt the background was too rigid. After a lot of looking and thinking, I timidly took my #18 round escoda versatil brush in hand an serially put some loose monochrome washes with lots of gaps and encouraged drips on the upper part. The colors were cerulean blue, brilliant or and, quinacridone gold in that order.

While those glazes dried I reinforced some of the shadows on the figure, trying to get the values consistent and bringing some definition to areas that were a little ambiguous. This too was effected with the same large brush and my usual skin colors. I wanted these a little looser as well so I applied them while holding the brush at the end and loosing only a minimal edge here and there. I also painted a slightly darker value mineral violet stripe down the right side........something told me to do it......

I am pretty pleased with the painting right now where I wasn't when I hit the hay last night. Please enjoy, "paint my brown eyes blue."

Just a little bit more

Got a late start this morning so only worked about an hour here is where the painting, "waiting on the students," is at the close of studio today.  Starting to pull some of the details together....maybe too many details? Then of course there is the whole big barn thing......

Monday, February 22, 2016

Start of a new landscape....."watching for the students"

I captured this shot of one of the myriad farms that dot the roadside country around la crosse. I liked the school bus nestled between the barns all ready to leap into action when the school bell tolled. I have included the original photo as I cropped it for the painting, a value editing of it, and the first few shot of the painting process.

For the painting, I started with the sky using a mixture of cobalt blue, raw sienna and a touch of alizarin Crimson permanent and a mid size squirrel quill mop brush by isabey. The bushes were dabbed in with a Chinese calligraphy brush with splayed ends. I was careful to leave some peak-through areas to give them the feeling of airiness. The distant hills were painted in with cobalt blue, vermillion, and cobalt turquoise. I lost some of the top edges to give them a feeling of distance and atmosphere. The bus is initially covered with a coat do Carr yellow (cheap joe's). I started to experiment with the barn painting working with some mixtures of burnt sienna, alizarin Crimson, cobalt blue, mineral violet.......I think the trick is going to be getting it them the right value (duh) and variability of hue.

That's all for now.

"Serenading miss Rachel"........probably finished

I reached the point that adding more "stuff" was not helping and was starting to detract from the overall effect I was trying to achieve. I had intended to cut in some whispy hair along the edges of his head and beard. To do this I was going to use a technique described to me by jĂșlio Jorge where one cuts two shallow lines close together and going at on end and then lift off the paper in between.....leaving a thin tapered white line of "hair." There are actually a few examples where I tried his on this painting already.. Look at his right (our left) eyebrow, for instance. But in the end I decided that I was going o do it because the technique intrigued me rather than if it was right for painting.  Never a great reason for inclusion. So, at this point I have decided not to add them. Tomorrow? Who knows! 

The painting is about 20"x14" on 300# arches hot press paper. So far no one has risen to the challenge of figuring out why I have given this painting the name that I have. The clues are that he is a busker at the pike place public market in Seattle.........come on folks, it's not that arcane........ Or is it?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

More on both.....busker and brown eyes blue.

I had about 4 hours uninterrupted time this morning. I know, right. So, I actually got some time to do serious art. I started out with doing about three landscape drawings for paintings I want to work on over the next week or so. Still trying to figure out how I want to do these things

Then I worked about an hour on each of the two partially finished people paintings. I can't really remember all the steps I went through but suffice it to say that I worked mainly on the background in "serenading miss Rachel," and the figure and her clothes in the one that I have tentatively called, "make my brown eyes blue."

So here is where both were at the end of art time at ye ole casa

Monday, February 1, 2016

Need two at a time

As I get further into this painting deal I find that my best defense against something giving me trouble is to move onto an area that I am pretty sure of. this gives me something to paint while in the back of my mind I work on a solution to that which plagued me in another area or in another painting. To this end i  find having at least 2 (if not 3) paintings going at the same time can be a useful ploy.

This is a roundabout way to say that the background was vexing me to a certain extent on the "Rachel" painting, so I decided to let it rest and started another painting....that way I would have two going.

This next one is from the photo shoot of Ashley just before Christmas. I think she may have been getting tired or thought the pose was a sort of "not another one," you've got to be kidding me" sort of thing......anyway, I caught her in a bit more of a candid moment which frequently are the best. The point of view is also from above which I haven't done recently. All this put together stirred me to go after it.

The drawing is on a 20"x16" piece of arches hot press watercolor board. I wanted the figure crowded into the space but with some area at the top and left side into which she could (disgustingly, perhaps) gaze. This made the figure just a little bigger than I usually do.

With the drawing done, I flooded the entire thing with a light value watery, multi hued, wash concentrating the warm colors on her face with a few "accent" greens scattered here and there....some on her face as well. All this painted with a medium-sized squirrel quill brush.

When this had thoroughly dried I started sculpting the face and features. This with my #16 round prado escoda round. I used cerulean blue and various mixtures of alizarin Crimson/brilliant orange, vermillion/Carr yellow(cheap joe's.....a nice bright, transparent,saturated yellow) or raw sienna, scarlet lake/either Carr yellow or brilliant orange. I want to keep the small geometrical areas around the figure a glowing sort of yellow so I painted what you see with Carr yellow and raw sienna. Her topics started with a mauve consisting of permanent rose and cerulean blue. Her hair will be ultramarine blue/burnt umber/burnt sienna and some accent reds and violets.

That's all for now. Here are some shots of two of the last steps.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

a study in values: "serenading miss rachel"

i'm not sure i will get to any painting today so i thought i would check on the values of the painting. when i looked at it this morning while drinking my first cup of coffee, it just looked off. i wasn't worried about it, this early on i the process, but i wanted a handle on what the problem was before moving on. since most problems lie in the values being incorrect i decided to take a better look at them.

how to do this? i think a good way to do this, and one a lot of artists are resorting to, is to simply take a photo of the painting and change it to a black and white copy in whatever photo editor they have available. when it do this with the current photo a couple of things pop out that i didn't expect. to be absolutely transparent, i thought that the large shadow that falls across three articles of clothing on the "right" (his right) side of the figure would be several disparate values (and there in would lie the problem).

i was surprised to find that i had actually gotten these pretty close and the lapel part of his jacket was the thing that was too light. therefore i concluded that the shadow was pretty cohesive and i could make it more so with some unifying glazes that would also bring it up the correct overall value. additionally, i will need to darken the lapel and his right sleeve. then i think, hope, that it will take care of the nagging  issues that i felt this morning.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

"Serenading Rachel" continuing with a WIP

just a bit more on our Seattle busker. I doesn't seem like much, but I thought and experimented for about an hour before I figured I knew what I wanted to do for the large shape over his head.

I knew from the get go that I wanted it dark. I experimented with a number of dry glazing, wet glazing (charging in color), direct painting, and any number of primarily complement combinations. I got as far as deciding that I liked the combination of burnt umber and ultramarine blue which I figured would read optically as a dark gray or black. I then could dry glaze over it with other colors already present in the figure and bring it up to value with black............yep, you heard it. I can't think of anyone who advocates the use of black out of the tube except maybe Charles Reid. Good enough for Charles, good enough for me. Besides I like the contrariness of the idea. I did enough on a separate sheet of hot press paper that I know it will get the effect I am looking for. Now whether anyone else will like it, is another at eleven.

So here are two shots, before and after, of the painting in the process of the first dark wash. I also put. A bit of modeling on his clothing since yesterday.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

"In the moment" and beginning of "serenading Rachel"

I know, I know, been along time. No useful excuses, just pure sloth, I guess. Hopefully this may make up for it.

"in the moment"
I started this first painting almost 3 months ago. I changed tactics on the background several time and finally settled in the glowing sort of gold color you see here. A bit more on the Daniel sprick influence, I guess. The hair in these portraits always give me trouble if it is a big piece of the puzzle. I am fairly happy with this combination of detail and blur. Although many may think them superfluous, I rather like the stay strands of hair that everyone seems to have except maybe for the "buzz cuts." Anyway I enjoy painting them so unless someone can come up with a cogent reason not to do it, I probably will continue. In the reference Ashley actually is barefoot, but I gave hr a red sock and then made part of the painting ground in the upper right hand corner red as well. Seems rather simplistic in concept, but I like the unexpectedness of the gesture. I absolutely loved this blouse when she put it on and I hope I did it justice. I have several more reference shot in which she wears it so I definitely will be getting another shot at it.  Today I reached the point where nothing I was doing was adding anything so, it be done. Please enjoy, "in the moment" (21"x14").

this second one that i started a couple of days ago after we arrived in borrego springs is taken from a reference photo i took of a busker out in seattle. kudos to those who figure out the reference for the title. "serenading rachel", a work in process.