Thursday, October 31, 2013

Orange with a Touch of Yellow

I just bought this beautiful orange pitcher off eBay. It is hand-thrown and I love the contours and the color. My camera does not like the color however and I had a difficult time getting my white balance set correctly so this color reads right. I see the base color of the vase as a mixture of cadmium orange with a touch of cad yellow. I initially tried a neutral background behind the set up, but the whole painting was just too warm. So I decided to use the slate tiles that make up the back splash in my kitchen.. I love the texture and color of natural slate. It provided a really nice contrast for the warmth of the pitcher and I was able to get a better photo too after toning down all that orange. Eventually I plan to use this pitcher as a vase for some wildflowers in another painting.

As always, I learned a few things doing this still life painting:

1) Too much warmth needs a balance of cool!
2) I love cadmium orange! (Well- I already knew this one).
3) Sometimes you can break the rules of composition and make it work. Here I placed the lightest, and only yellow object in the center of the painting and I made it work by creating some linear tones and interest in the background.
4) Repeating a round shape with a very similar color in a different texture is fun and challenging to paint.
4) Still Life is not for sissies! :)

9" x 12" oil on linen
(before background added)

After background added

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Drawing for fun

Here is a drawing of our model, Ami, who I had already painted at the beginning of the month. I was feeling quite lazy so I sat down to draw. This reminded me why I usually stand when I do portraits and the model is on a stand. The perspective is just odd to me. Looking up, you feel as if the model is too "grand". I was sitting in pretty close too so there are problems of proportion to deal with. Things closer to you might appear larger than they actually are. It reminds me of the writing on my car's side view mirrors: Objects are closer than they appear. So if we are aware of it should we compensate for it? Or should we just try to make things appear as they normally would? A question I don't really have an answer to. I just drew it the way I wanted to. I don't put a lot of thought into drawings. Working in black and white is so much easier than color that I can let my mind drift off as I often do.

I listen to audio books when I paint. This week I am listening to the final book in the Stieg Larsson trilogy about Lisbeth Salander, the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I find it sad that Larsson died before he could publish his books and see how popular they have become. I am not liking the final book as much as the earlier ones but maybe it will get better. I think tiny Lisbeth Salander is a daring heroine, almost an anti-heroine. She rejects society because society has rejected her but in the end she is unable to reject her innate humanity.

Ami, Pencil, 12" x 18"

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mirrors are a scary thing....

Mirrors can be frightening. Especially when you get a bit older and your eyes start to lose the ability to focus well. You have to put on glasses to read, to see the computer, to paint etc.

Sometimes it helps to take the glasses off though. Then you don't see the lines as clearly as you would with them on. The paint goes on a bit looser.

As always the point of painting a self portrait is to experiment. This time around I used a mix of Shin Han Violet Gray and titanium white as a base for the skin tones in light. Then I went over the cool base with an approximation of the actual skin color. The violet base was wet when I did this so even though the top layer was darker and should have read warmer, it mixed with the lower layer and became a warm-cool, grayed down color that appears very realistic. I like the way the violet shows through in some areas and reads as very cool. keeping the neck area cool by leaving the violet showing was an easy solution to shoving it back in space. I discovered that I like this color a lot so I will see if I can mix it with my normal palette of colors, which is very limited. If not, I'll be adding it to my portrait palette.

9" x 12"
No Glasses

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Rework it if you're not happy-- it's only paint

I've had this painting of my daughter sitting around for a couple years and I knew I wanted to crop it and make some changes. She agreed to sit for me if I let her watch a movie so she is not looking AT me in the painting. The movie only lasted a couple hours though so I didn't have time to get to a point where I was happy. The danger with reworking a piece like this is that you may lose some of the freshness associated with painting from life. But in this case I hated the portrait so much it didn't matter. It was a case of fix it or throw it away.

The original painting was 16"x20" and I cut it down to 12"x16".

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Little Bit Off The Wall

Sometimes my subjects are a little different. This is the case with this one. I painted the set up from life and then I added the violet background and the creepy craw-lie. Some days I just like to paint and it doesn't matter what I'm painting as long as I do it from life so I can try to capture the light and shadow correctly. It's always a challenge to create an interesting composition and put your own spin on what 's in front you.

This painting accomplished the added bonus of eliminating an ugly portrait from my studio. Sometimes you just have to do a paint over.

11" x 14"
Oil on canvas

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mr. Chip's Barn

I painted Mr. Chip's barn again yesterday. I had to get outside on what will more than likely be one of the last few nice days. Mr. Chips is a bull who is staying at my friend Sue's place for another couple weeks. Then he will head for that corral in the sky. He's a pretty happy guy right now though. I was smart enough NOT to venture into the pasture with him this time.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Seasonal Subject

Last night I did a demo at an art opening for the annual Black Swamp Art Guild show. The reception was scheduled for 6-7:30pm so I knew I had to choose a simple subject that I could paint in about an hour. Even though I spent a lot of time talking to people I had to stretch this piece to make it last an hour. A small orange gourd, paired with a complimentary green napkin and lots of thick paint creates a nice little still life and a good way to pass the time. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, painting is just a pleasant pastime, and it builds a lot more cognitive receptors in your brain than sitting in front of the TV.
Orange Gourd 6"x6" oil on Gessoboard

OPAS Paint Out at Tipp City

I painted at the annual Tipp City paintout last Saturday. It was a beautiful fall day and I was happy to sell this piece to resident of the city: Bryan & Michele Blake.
It was a a challenging perspective to paint and a very busy restaurant where we ate lunch when we were finished painting. People were constantly stopping and talking and standing in front of the restaurant- obstructing my view (lol). 

Sam & Ethels 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Walter White, AKA Heisenberg

11"x14" Have an A-1 Day
(If you watched the series you 'get' the title)

This is Bryan Cranston.....I just binge watched all five seasons of Breaking Bad on Netflix over the last month and I was fascinated with the transformation of the main character, Walter White, as he morphed from high school chemistry teacher into meth kingpin. Great acting by the cast and the writing was excellent as well. I don't watch TV anymore so you know it was a good series if I took the time to watch it.
More info, and the series is on AMC if you want to catch the reruns:

Walter Hartwell "Walt" White Sr. (also known by his clandestine alias, Heisenberg) is a fictional character in the American television drama series Breaking Bad on AMC. He was portrayed by Bryan Cranston and was created by series creator Vince Gilligan. Once a promising chemist who was one of the founding members of the multi-billion dollar company Gray Matter Technologies, Walter left the company for personal reasons and became an unhappy and disillusioned high school chemistry teacher. After being diagnosed with Stage IIIA lung cancer, he resorts to manufacturing methamphetamine to ensure his family's financial security when he dies. As the series progresses, Walter gradually becomes darker and takes on a more villainous role.
Although AMC officials hesitated to cast Cranston due to his previous comedic role on Malcolm in the Middle, Gilligan cast him based on the actor's past performance in the X-Files episode "Drive". Cranston has contributed much of his character, including Walter's back story, physical appearance, and personality traits. Gilligan had described his goal with Walter White as turning Mr. Chips into Scarface, and has deliberately made the character less and less sympathetic.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


When I attended the Art at the Arnold Competition in March I took some pictures and video of the ballroom dancing competitions. The couples who competed were mesmerizing to watch. I didn't know the difference between a samba or a waltz but it was all fascinating. I combined a couple of pictures to create this scene and used a lot of inventive color to keep it interesting.

16" x 20" oil on canvas

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Ami, a Portrait from Life

I like how this one turned out. Our model, Ami, posed nicely. She hardly moved, and I had a very good place to paint in. This is a 9" x 12", oil on linen, painted at our Saturday morning painting group.