Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Warm vs. Cool Palette

My still life 'Pears and Peach' is for me another labor of love.  As simple as it looks, the painting took probably about thirty plus hours to bring it to this point.  And for me the joy in creating the painting comes from the fact that it was painted in layers of glazes.  I used Liquin as the medium so each layer dried in less than twenty-four hours so the painting was ready for a new next layer the next day instead of weeks.

I also experimented with color.  Usually my palette is warm (as in the previous post), but I realized that I had gotten into a rut so I tried using a cooler palette.  Here my underpainting is created with raw umber and terre verte.  I also lightened my background to a medium (5) value moving away from my usual near black backgrounds.  I really like the feel and mood of the painting since the values are closer together and much lighter.  What was really fun for me was using a semi opaque white in a soupy, milky consistency to scumble over the white fabric.  The photo doesn't do it justice but the white glows with light.

I know that many painters avoid the layering technique because of the time it takes, and I understand that reasoning. But, (there is always a "but") it is nearly impossible to get the "look" and "depth" of layered glazes without using this technique.  As always, your comments are welcome.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Painting a Grisaille/Underpainting

When teaching my weekly classes, I am again focusing a great deal on having my students work on blocking in light shapes and shadow shapes first.  This is not an easy thing for students with their yet "untrained eye" when looking at a still life setup. So, I have returned to the basics--having each student paint in a five value gray scale.  For a novice painter, removing color helps them focus on value first and foremost, and this method is also consistent with the traditional method.  I even have them put a piece of tape down the center of their palette and mix their grays with the light values on one side of the line and the shadow values on the other.  I am pleased to say, I am seeing real progress and so are they.  Here is an image of an under-painting I did using raw umber and white creating a five value gray scale.  I began with only two values, 2 and 7, and blended to create the halftones. When the under-painting dries, I will be working on the "dead" layer and adding the milky glaze of white to the objects.  Later the color glazes will be added to bring the image back to life, followed by thicker impasto paint in the highlights as part of a finishing layer before varnishing.  Did I say that this method is a tried and true one used by the Old Masters? I love it! It does take time and patience though, but it's worth the wait time (drying time, that is).  I've played a little fast and loose here with terminology, but will tighten up here so that my process can more easily be followed. Questions . . . please comment and I will reply with hopefully good answers.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Portrait of Larry

Although I'm not totally finished with my portrait "Larry," I'm posting images of what I have completed so far to share with you my efforts of last weekend while at the ACA retreat.  One issue yet to be resolved is the railing that Larry is leaning on.  The railing is white, but I didn't want the railing color to compete with Larry's white shirt.  The background is also a bit of a problem since it is composed of a lot of trees and foliage with light peaking through.   I'm thinking that just an indication of the background should be enough, but the "jury" is still out on this one.  More to come!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Workshop at the Atlantic Center for the Arts

Friday and Saturday I ventured out of my comfort zone.  I was invited to join a group of accomplished women artists for a weekend retreat at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, FL.  So why was that a comfort zone issue? I am a Classical-Realism still-life and portrait painter. So picture this---Classical-Realism and abstract taking residence in the same room; two different worlds coming together side by side.

These lovely ladies create images so big they required an entire wall to paint on.  And there I was with my little 12 x 16 inch canvas and my little easel in the midst of huge canvases as the abstract ladies made sweeping strokes of vibrant colors all around me.  At the end of the "work" day before having dinner together we critiqued each other's work and found that we had more in common that I at first thought.  Note to self. Good design and composition are universal.

As the adage says, "A good time was had by all" as well as a greater appreciation for abstract art created!

Here are a few of the images of Saturday's efforts.

My sincere thanks to Beau Wild for organizing this fantastic experience, and to the Abstract ladies, Sarah, Carol, Diana, Betty, Jean, and Gretchen for making me feel so welcome and one of the girls.

I will be posting my retreat portrait in a few days when it's finished.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Getting Ready for Northlight Gallery

It's that time of year again! Getting work together for the Northlight Gallery of Kennebunkport, Maine.  I can finally stop and take a look at nearly a year's work after framing and reframing, installing hanger wires and creating an inventory sheet for each of my "babies." My living room looks strangely like organized  chaos. With all pieces finished and ready for shipping, I must start the process all over again! Like another blogger said, "What am I going to do next?"  Should I break away from my comfort zone? Should I venture out into totally new territory? Questions like these circle around my mind like leaves in the wind . . . .  I'm a storyteller by nature; the narrative is my comfort zone.  But, putting stories to canvas is not necessarily an easy thing, or appreciated by critics for that matter---all that kind of "stuff" is but passe they frequently tell me. For me though the narrative is the "stuff" of life, the "it" that draws us into a picture, but in the language of form, value, and color. What is at the root of your picture making?
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