Friday, November 25, 2016

Trying Other Methods

For the most part I'm an alla prima painter. I like to work wet in wet and finish quickly, blending as I go. I had some time on my hands recently and decided to try an older method where an underpainting is applied using a greenish tone and lead white is mixed with the green to paint the lights and halftones. It's important to identify the darks early and try to maintain them. I suppose you can use a drying agent like Liquin to speed up the process but I didn't.

I ended up painting some of the warm colors into the lead white mixture when it was wet, which is  not what I was supposed to do. If I try it again I'll use a drying solvent.

Here are a few progress images and the final, which I was pretty happy with. Why did I attempt this? Because I visited a museum a couple weeks ago and noticed that all the paintings I really liked had the red-green complimentary color scheme going on, and the green was very visible in the shadows.

I used a photo for my painting but this method was used extensively in the 16th and 17th centuries from life. Yeah- they didn't have camera back then. :)

Monday, November 21, 2016

Log Cabin Oil Painting

11 x 14 oil on linen

This house was a recent commissioned piece from Etsy.

Commissioned Pet Portrait

This lovely girl has a degenerative hip disease and I was commissioned to paint her portrait as a gift for the owners.

16x12 oil on canvas

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Quick Paintings

When you challenge yourself to complete a painting within a set time period, you're testing yourself to see how instinctively you can paint. I think this is important, especially when you're painting using the alla prima method. It's also a prerequisite if you're going to paint outdoors, where you need to capture an image in under two hours, due to the changing light. I spent just under 45 minutes capturing this pair.

I like apples. They're paintable, seasonal and best of all, edible. :) There are McIntosh apples. They're delicious.

McInstosh Apples
5x7 oil on panel

Friday, November 04, 2016

Fall Painting

9x12 oil on canvas

This piece is a demo for a class I did in September. We all used the same photo reference but it's amazing how differently everyone's paintings looked when we were finished. A common error, even when I point out easy ways to judge proportion, is to make the focal point too large. About half of the barns ended up in the center of the painting, even though I was careful to point out that the barn rests on the left side of the canvas.

What I really like about this piece is the brilliant fall color in the background which manages to remain cool and unobtrusive because of the ultramarine underpainting and lack of detail.

Thursday, November 03, 2016


Most commissioned painting are never as straightforward as they seem initially. I was aware of this one going into it. Sometimes I find out later--like the one I just finished. "Can I make the brick lighter? She is covering it with concrete." That's another story, though. I am limited by the image in front of me and sometimes that image is horrible. It's always easier to do a good job if you can see the subject with your own eyes. If you can't do it from life you can at least do a sketch and use your own reference photos. There is something about sketching from life that imprints the image into your mind.

Here are the two photos I had to work with for this piece. One seems to be a photos of a snapshot with flash glare and the other one is a digital image of what the awing looks like now. I wanted to ask why they couldn't just take a picture of the house with its teal awning but maybe it burned up and this is a gift to remember it by. Who knows. I thought it was worth a try and it turned out so well I decided to use it on a flyer. I'm hoping it doesn't make people think I can routinely create something from nothing. This one was a fluke, I'm sure.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Angel 18" x 24" oil on canvas
Angel posed for a portrait group I attend last year. I was never happy with the painting I did so I pulled it out recently and reworked it. I think it's easier to work on a portrait that is close to life size than to paint the smaller sizes I usually work on. And of course, photos are always more difficult to work with, but easier if they're photos I take myself. Then I can adjust the color in Photoshop to match what I recall. The real problem is with the room where we paint: there is a lot of reflected light from windows, which changes as you paint and a few overhead lights tend to turn on and off at will, which drastically changes the lighting as you're working.

This painting is still not perfect, but it's better than it was and I'm tired of working on it.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Crazy Abstract Art

If you don't know what to paint sometimes it's better to just throw some paint on the canvas and hope something comes to mind. This is how I approach an abstract painting. I see lots of crazy images inside this piece but I chose to focus on one: an angry bird. :)