Sunday, November 16, 2014


In class #2 with Joy Schultz we learned about the placement and proportions for parts of adult faces in profile. We practiced drawing ears, working with lines and shadows to show creases and depth, and then went on to create a few profile sketches.

The top two faces, and the one on the bottom right were drawn in class. The upper left picture caused some amusement among the folks in the class as we tried to decide just what this girl was so mad about! She looks really pissed off! I hadn't noticed it, myself, until Joy picked it up and commented about her expression. That shows the importance of stepping back from your work!

Despite the mess, I enjoy working with charcoal. Joy keeps saying how lovely it is because you can move it. And, she is right. I find there is a lot more latitude with charcoal than there is with pencil. (The two sketches on the middle, right of the picture above - the one with the guy who looks somewhat Spockian, were drawn with pencil.)

Today I played around with another sketch. I am getting much faster at blocking out the basic shapes of the face, both full on and in profile. Here is my sketch quite a bit beyond the blocking-in stage. I am well into the details here, but there are huge changes between this image and the next.

Of course, adding hair makes a huge difference in the appearance of the sketch.  But additionally, I realized the line of the jaw was too harsh, so I softened both the angle and the shadow. After completing thinking I had completed the sketch, I wanted to play with something different for the background. I do wish I had taken a picture of the first attempt. I was trying to copy something I had seen in a sketch that used rough, horizontal and vertical lines. It looked terrible, so I smudged in out with my finger, took some of the charcoal off the upper right corner, and added some on the lower left. I also blocked out the area to make her neck look shorter. At this point I was just thinking of it as background. However, when I stepped away and took another look, I realized that it could be a shawl or shirt collar. You can see the subtle changes I made in the bottom shot.

In addition to the changes in the shawl, I also took away some charcoal in some areas of her hair, and added more charcoal to other areas. I decided if the light was coming from the front, just to the right of the woman, there needed to be more lightness on the top of her head. For the same reason, I added more shadow under her jaw, and below her cheek. At some point I realized her eye was far too large. Due to the grace of charcoal, I was able to remove much of the back 'point' and reshape it, and the eyebrow.

Each time I come back to the sketch I find another area that doesn't please me. However, sometimes I find that trying to make a correction in one area causes harm to another. At some point (will I figure out where that point is?) the artist must decide she is finished.

What I like about the sketch:
I am really pleased with the shading under the jaw and along the woman's neck. The shading on the lower part of her face makes her look older, which was my intention. However, the upper part of her face looks very young. I do like how the background adds more depth.

What I might do differently:
Although I like the background, the way that I left it around the top of her head leaves somewhat of a halo effect. I might try making it a bit more consistent in color. This poor woman has an unfortunate nose and a long chin! I was trying to create something a bit different than sketches I had created in the past, which I did, but I might make her features a bit more pleasant to look at. Hair is still a challenge. I don't feel that my end result shows the waves and a bun as I envisioned. 

What I learned:
This sketch really impressed on me the freedom charcoal affords in making changes. One subtle example of this is the line of her nose. The darkness and width of the line seemed overdone, especially considering that the background was darker. I was able to remove the line, to some degree, to make it less harsh. I also wanted to refine her jaw line. What I originally had was not only too long, but it was very square and 'blocky'. I refined the shadow, which changed the appearance of the jaw and chin.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Fun With Faces

I am taking another class with Joy Schultz. She is working with us over 5 weeks on using charcoal to draw faces. In the previous course I took with Joy, our first day was all about drawing faces with charcoal. The concept I took away from that class was to focus on the shapes and intensity of shadows, and don't worry about the lines of the eyes, nose and mouth as we think they should be. That helped me as we did some free drawing of faces, working without any example, just putting down something from our mind. Our focus was on the basic proportions of the face as seen straight on. In addition to the placement of the basic 'pieces' of the face, I also tried to think beyond the lines of the components and try to determine where shadows and shapes might lie.

At the end of class we had all created at least two drawings. Here is a shot of the final drawings from some of the class participants. My drawing is the one on the top left of the photo. The lady with short, dark hair. We decided she looked like a flapper from the 20's!

Throughout the week I have made an attempt to practice several drawings a day. My intent is not to come up with a finished piece, but simply to practice placement and proportions of the components of a face. 

I've also made an attempt to try to get some expression in the face and to have it look less 'plastic', as well as to get some dimension. Below is a pencil sketch I made. I haven't decided whether I like one media over the other, but I do like that I can carry a sketch book and pencil and work without creating as much mess as comes with the charcoal. If I am going to sketch in charcoal, I need to go someplace where I have prepared the area to contain the charcoal crumbs and dust. Pencil can be used anywhere!

Whew! This fella's eyes need some work! (Funny how a photo gives me a different look at my work!) I know that our faces are not truly symmetrical, but I have noticed that the eyes I create are often far too dissimilar. I'll do some more practice on simply drawing two eyes, trying to get them to approximate each other. In the "Rogues Gallery" picture below, you can see where I had done some practice previously in drawing two ovals.

I am not that great on finishing the drawings. I lose patience with my people pretty quickly, and when I'm not happy, I just move on instead of trying to revise the image. I am thinking that perhaps I don't know what, exactly, is making the face not pleasing to my eye, and thus I don't know what to do to correct it. I wonder if it has anything to do with the proportion not being correct, thus making the face look freakish. Hmmmm…. That makes me wonder if purposefully creating a drawing with something askance might make it garner more attention. Viewers might be drawn to it because of it's subtle freakishness. 

This is my Rogues Gallery, showing many of this week's faces.

In our next class we will be drawing the profile of faces. Then, later, we will sculpt a head and use that to get the proportions correct as we draw faces from different points of view. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

#24: Rock of Ages

On a recent trip to the west coast I found myself walking along Gold Beach, CA. There were some interesting, oval, mottled rocks. I looked at them… twice… and again… and they reminded me of the cute harbor seals I had seen. I began to wonder if I could somehow paint details to make the rocks look like seals.

Seals don't curl up, but the shape of the rock, and the coloring, made me think what a sleeping seal might look like… if it did want to curl up! I used lighter and darker colors, adding some water to make the paint more transparent, to paint the face and other features of the seals. 

I was traveling with a group of people on an organized RV tour. I decided it would be fun to let each couple take home a painted rock that would be a reminder of something we saw on our west coast trip.

Sea Turtles

Sea Otters

My personal favorite is the ray.
I was excited when I found the rock with such a unique shape.
Then, I became even more excited when I figured what I could do with the shape.

What I like about the paintings:
  • I used a wash of diluted paint on the turtles' backs and on the ray. I like how the wash created depth. 
  • I was able to use blending techniques in a number of paintings. I was especially pleased with how it worked on the turtle on the left side of the picture.

What I might do differently:

  • I wish I had thought of this project earlier so I could have more time to create more creatures. I also wish I had collected more of the mottled rocks.
What I learned:

  • I was in a hurry to seal the rocks with clear lacquer. One of the rocks was too wet when I turned it over, and later, the lacquer and the paint underneath peeled off. Next time I need to make sure I have enough time between layers of paint for everything to dry.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

#23: Out of my Window

You might say this is my first "commissioned" piece. My younger son moved to Nebraska for a job. He misses the mountains terribly and asked if I would paint him a picture of the mountains. So that was my inspiration for this work. I decided I would recreate the view from his bedroom window (taking some artistic license to remove a few houses and some power lines!!)


20" X 24" Canvas Board

What I like about the painting:
  • I am especially pleased by the color in the foothills. I like how the bluish greens blend and give the sense of some prairie grasses.
  • I sense a bit of rolling hills in the foreground - or maybe it is just me, knowing they are there!
  • I limited myself to primary colors, white and black. I like the variation in color I achieved.

What I might do differently:
  • OMG - I was so pleased with my cows until I sat back and realized how small they are given the overall perspective of the painting. 
  • Likewise, the fence by the barn is far too tall.
What I learned:
  • Joy Schultz (see previous post) kept telling the class that we didn't need to sketch things out on the canvas in detail before painting. I 'framed' the view from my son's window, and made preliminary marks for the key features of the painting… and it worked!
  • One afternoon as I was painting, the cows came into view. I grabbed a sketch book and make some quick sketches of the cows in different positions. It helped when it came time to paint the cows - which I did without sketching on the canvas first.
Our son's apartment is very dark. We saw a wood window at a local hardware store and both hubby and I thought it might be possible to create a light box with the window. This is the project, in progress. Eventually we will add LED lights behind the frame, and trim.  We will either paint or stain the wood.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Joy of Art

Joy Schultz is aptly named! She loves her craft and encourages her students to find joy and be playful with whatever media they choose to use. I just finished a five-class series as part of the Arapahoe Community College Community Education Program called "A Dip into Art".

This week Joy invited us to experiment with acrylic paint. She gave us the three primary colors and some white. She suggested we use a stiff, angled brush. Following her example, we first added color and blended it with other colors directly on our paper. We tried different brush strokes and experimented with using a palette knife. We were then directed to recreate a pear she had on a handout. We were encouraged to use any color we liked, but as she modeled her painting, Joy talked about the merits of juxtaposing warm colors and cool colors to add dimension to the painting.

At the outset I decided I wanted my pear to be a bit more abstract than paintings I have done so far. I started out with purples and pinks. I played with different colors for the background and added colors to my pear. I used glazing techniques with the background to cover a color I was not particularly fond of. I was pleased with the outcome. In the end, my pear isn't all that abstract!

50 lb sketch paper approximately 12" X 12"

Next, Joy gave us a print of an oil painting by Louisa McElwain. The original painting was similar to this:

44" X 44" oil on canvas
Louisa McElwain

Joy demonstrated and talked us through recreating the painting. Our time was running out so she took our work away from us after 35 minutes, and displayed our paintings for comparison and critique. I wish I had taken a picture, as it was great fun to see the variety in the not-so-finished products!

Here is my rendition of the red rocks of the west:
140 lb cold press watercolor paper approximately 12" X 12"

I liked how I was able to create such bright colors with only the three primary colors. I found it interesting to see how the rocks could come to life by simply using large blocks of color. With more time I would have added more grass detail in the foreground and I would had added some pink and purple to the underside of the clouds.

The sequence of classes with Joy Schultz have run their course. However, the instruction I received has left me many things to focus on over the next weeks months!

Some of the "take aways" that will provide me with direction going forward include:

  • Charcoal is a great medium by itself, or mixed with others, because it is 'movable'.
  • When working with charcoal or pastels, work fat over lean. Begin with a thin layer and build on top of it.
  • Keep in mind the variations that can be achieved in changing the value of the color you are working with.
  • Intense colors move forward, while cool colors go back.
  • You can mix cool colors together to form a warm color. However, you can not make a cool color from warm colors.
  • Adding the third color of the primary colors to two other colors will neutralize the color. 
  • Surrounding an object of any color by other colors will change the quality of the object. Using a neutral color will cause the object to pop.
  • Look with your eye, not your brain.
  • Water colors are like children. You cannot control them, but you can appreciate them
  • The principles of working with water colors include:
    • work wet to dry
    • work big to small
    • work light to dark
    • work soft edges to harder edges
  • The objects in your work must have a relationship with each other. This might be accomplished through color.
More of Joy's work can be found at: The Joy of the Work


In my second art class, instructor Joy Schultz presented us with the "invitation to a whole new perception of the world." She reiterated her comments from the previous week about truly seeing what is before us, not what our brain fills in for us.

Joy introduced us to pastels. She talked about the nature of 'soft' pastels, explaining that they are pure pigment and that they come in a range of hardness. The smaller the pastel is in diameter, the harder. 

Next, Joy talked about color, describing hue, value, temperature and intensity. She explained that cool colors recede and intense colors move forward. We were told that surrounding a color with a neutral color will make the first color 'pop'. 

We were given a container of pastels and a large piece of white drawing paper. We were encouraged to try making marks with different colors. I didn't particularly care for it. Working with pastels is very messy (don't get me wrong… I am not one of those neat sort of people - but I didn't care for the dust everywhere and my marks, lines and shapes didn't do a whole lot for me.

Once we had played around for a bit, Joy let us pick a picture of a pastel drawing from a selection she had taken from magazines. We also had a choice of colored pastel paper. I loved the bright orange paper and found an image that would work well with that background. This is my first pastel.

13" X 9" tinted pastel paper

I liked how the fall colors popped. I was pleased with the dimensionality of the mountains and the sense of puddles on the little dirt drive. My sky was a bit darker than the original, but it doesn't seem to detract from the picture. Several folks actually thought my rendition had more life in it than the original.

Although I didn't particularly care for working with pastels, I figured it couldn't hurt to try a few more. I had a 50% off coupon for a chain craft store so I marched myself down there and purchased a small box of soft pastels. I stopped at an art supply store (my new favorite place to browse) that usually has better prices than the chain stores and picked up a pad of colored pastel papers.

Since imitation is the best sort of flattery I went to the instructor's web site and selected a giclée print as a model for a pastel of my own. (Here's another new thing I learned; giclée prints are those printed on special inkjet printers. The term, giclée, was crafted from the French word, nozzle. It was coined to take away the negative connotation of creating art copies using a 'common' printer. Also of interesting note, giclée is also the slang term for male ejaculation - oh, no! Apparently the artist who coined the term (Jack Duganne) was not aware of the double entendre of his word choice!)

"Feeling Groovy" by Joy Schultz
18" X 24" giclée print of pastel painting

I have a friend with several black horses, and decided to make Joy's image my own by changing the color of the horses. Here is my almost finished pastel:

12" X 16" tinted pastel paper

Although I am pleased with the outcome, I see so many areas that aren't the way I'd like them to be. For example, the lines of the splashed water are not blended as well as I would like. I struggled with the sky as I made it too red, thinking going over it with white would soften it enough. It didn't. I now understand more about the 'tooth' of the paper, as in trying to lighten the sky the paper just wouldn't hold more of the pastel pigment. Perhaps if I had used a stiff brush I could have removed enough of the pastel to 'find' the texture again. 

Sticking with the black horse theme, I ventured on to create a pastel inspired by this photo my friend took when her horses were living at my house.

#22: Racing the Sun
12" X 12" colored card stock

What I like about pastel #22:
  • I was pleased with how I was able to bring more color into the picture and still give the impression of a foggy morning. 
  • I was also pleased with the 'lay of the land'. I think I created a feeling of hillsides. 
  • I enjoyed using the colored paper and letting some of that color come through. 

What I might do differently:
  • I should have added more color to the snow coming up from the horses hooves.
  • I was torn about whether to put a haze of grey pastel in the background and over the four trailing horses to give more of an impression of fog. 
  • It might be interesting to use much larger paper to allow for more detail with the horses. 

What I learned:
  • I bought some fixative, but discovered that it darkened the colors significantly. 
  • On each of the horse pastels I found things I wish I had changed after I thought I was finished and after I sealed the work. It might be better to give myself some time to study the end product and see what I might want to change, and be sure I really have finished.
  • I used clear polyurethane to fix the horses in the water. I went back to add some details. And resprayed. The details I added do not show up to any extent. I'll try it with the workable fixative that I purchased next time. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014


I discovered that one of the local community colleges offers classes for adult education. Only one of the art classes fit into my schedule. It is called, "A Dip into Art". The instructor, Joy Schultz, explained that we will have the opportunity to 'dip our toes' into different artistic media. Each week will focus on something different: charcoal, pastels, watercolor, acrylic, mixed media, and pen and ink.

In our first class we experimented with charcoal. Joy inspired us by saying that art is simply 'mark making'. We tried making marks with a piece of vine charcoal. We tapped it. We swiped it while holding the charcoal on its side. We tried dark marks, and marks that varied in intensity. We rotated the charcoal, and made long sweeping arcs. While making marks, Joy talked about composition, texture and value. Almost everyone drifted into making lines, then shapes and then creating something from our marks. 

Then Joy showed us some charcoal sketches by John Singer Sergeant. She discussed different techniques he appeared to use. I was getting a bit nervous, as I was already thinking where this might be going! She let each of us pick a picture, and draw it. Oh! Horrors! "I can't draw a face!" she explained would be our first reaction. "But," she went on to say, "don't look at what you think should be there, concentrate on the shapes you see, and their texture and value." 

I had (and continue to have) some difficulty with the proportions of the face. But, all-in-all, I was quite pleased with my first attempt.

My first charcoal portrait suffered a bit from being folded, but you can basically see what I accomplished. It looks OK… until you see the original:

Well, obviously I need practice! So… this week I have done just that. I have found a number of Sargeant's pencil and charcoal sketches to try to copy. I guess if I keep trying, I'll only get better. As we know, practice makes perfect!

Two attempts;
pencil and charcoal

My charcoal and Sargeant's charcoal

Friday, July 25, 2014

#20: Just Dandy

Inspiration: Another visit to the library provided the inspiration for these small paintings. I checked out Alwyn Crawshaw's Ultimate Painting Course. This book provides tips and tricks for painting with oil, water color and acrylics. Crawshaw provides a few samples with suggestions for mixing colors and for what size and sort of brush you might want to use. The dandelion painting was one that had instructions  for acrylics. I decided to follow Crawshaw's instructions on the first painting and then apply the techniques on one of my own. When I wasn't exactly satisfied with that, I tried a third.

Just Dandy
4" x 5" 90lb cold press

Daisy One
4" x 5" 90lb cold press

Daisy Three
4" x 5" 90lb cold press

What I like about the paintings:
  • The paintings begin much like watercolors. I like the use of watered down acrylics in the background, the beginning stages of the flowers, leaves and grasses. 
  • Each painting probably took less than 30 minutes to complete. My quickest ever. Up until now I tried to include every detail. It was interesting to give the impression of what I was trying to paint.
What I might do differently:
  • I wasn't especially pleased with the mish-mash of leaves in the first daisy painting. I decided to make the daisies larger so they are the focal point of the piece. 
  • I prefer the more subtle shading on the smaller daisies. The dark lines in the larger daisies I feel are in too sharp contrast with the rest of the petals.
  • Crawshaw added a second, darker layer to his background. I failed to do that with enough contrast in my paintings.
  • I read how important it is to stop and take a 6' view of your work periodically. Looking at the first daisy painting I realize how that view would have been helpful in seeing how awful the background looks!
What I learned:

Crawshaw uses some techniques with acrylics that are more like those you might use with water colors at the start of his paintings. I am enjoying using paints that have been watered down a bit more than those I usually use, and then painting with stronger concentrations of paint on the top layers. I like the translucency that is created and the effects of layering paints.

I used 90lb cold press paper. The company indicated that the paper would be satisfactory for acrylics. I was looking for something a bit less expensive and less bulky than stretched canvas or canvas boards. I liked the smoother surface, especially for such small paintings. The inexpensive (relatively) canvas boards are so course I sometimes get frustrated while painting (yes, even if I do one or two layers of gesso or paint to try to fill the crevices.) I did not stretch the paper so as it dried it curled a bit, so if I want to use the paper for larger pieces, I may want to wet it and stretch it before using it.

Monday, July 7, 2014

#19: Windows on the World

Inspiration: I borrowed Acrylic Painting Step-by-Step, by Jelbert, Massey & Hyde, from our local library. In the first section, Wendy Jelbert illustrates and describes step-by-step instructions for painting a sunlit window. As I looked at her picture it brought back memories of a trip I took to France. I remember walking narrow streets in several towns with beautiful homes. I knew I had taken pictures of several homes, similar to Jelbert's painting. After searching through my photos I found one I wanted to try to paint. I took this shot in Arles, France. To be honest, I can't recall why I took the picture, but painting it would present a challenge!

I cropped the photo, and then to add another challenge, created a sketch as if seen from the street, looking up, similar to the picture Jelbert used for her painting.

 #19: Windows on the World

What I like about the painting:
  • I liked the way the masking worked.
  • I was pleased with the transition I made between the view in my photo to the perspective I used in the painting. 
  • It would have been easier to use the earth-tone colors Jelbert used, as she included mixing instructions. However, I decided to try to maintain the original colors of the photo. I was really pleased with the colors of my blocks.
What I might do differently:
  • I liked the lamp in the photo. I regret that I didn't incorporate it in the picture.
  • I'd make the flowers stand out by using larger flower pots
  • The painting seems static. I'd like to find a way to pull the viewer into the picture.
What I learned:
I used several new techniques in this painting. The first was using masking fluid to block areas I didn't want to cover with paint. I also used paint straight from the tube and applied it to the canvas with a palette knife to create texture, an impasto technique. The texture is more apparent in this view:

Many of the techniques Jelbert demonstrates in this painting are similar to painting with water colors. I have been leery of this medium. It was interesting to experiment with painting some details first, and then painting around them, blending paint on a wet canvas, and using a wash several areas.

Friday, July 4, 2014

#18: The Sentinel

Inspiration: Waaayyy back in January I picked up a book entitled, Secrets of Acrylic Landscapes Start to Finish by Jerry Yarnell. Yarnell demonstrates over a dozen thumbnails, describing and illustrating each step. He suggests trying the thumbnails you might use in a painting on scraps, before beginning your work. I decided to incorporate the thumbnails, as practice pieces, on the same canvas as the painting itself. 

The Sentinel

12" X 16" canvas paper

What I like about the painting:
  • I like the details in the painting, such as the grain of the wood fence, the coloring of the leaves and the shaded pebbles.
  • I was pleased with the fence, and the way it suggests a hill.
  • The shading on the bank by the road made it really look like an eroded bank.
  • I designed this painting totally from scratch. I didn't trace anything or use an image I found on the Internet. (However, I did use pictures of my own horses as models.) I liked that I could take something in my mind and make it come out almost as I envisioned it.

What I might do differently:
  • Next time I'd paint the thumbnails on scraps and not incorporate them in the corners. I wasn't pleased with how they look in the finished piece.
  • I let the thumbnails dictate my painting, and it should have been the other way around. It was difficult to create a composition that I liked with all of the details I tried to include. 

What I learned:
I guess I learned that I can't paint horses! The sketch I used looked great, the painting, especially of the horse on the left, did not come out the way I envisioned it. He does have a certain "Grandma Moses" look, however!

I realize I am becoming more confident in mixing colors and using color to add depth, as I did with the hills. I just read a book that calls this 'aerial perspective'

Yarnell's book gave me a lot of ideas for adding details. I like his step-by-step suggestions, which were easy to follow. He even suggests what colors and brushes to use.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

#17: Farmer's Market

10" X 10" canvas paper

Inspiration: Our weekly Farmer's Market has begun. Hooray for fresh produce (although there is nothing local, yet.) I stopped by a booth that has a variety of heirloom tomatoes. They were beautiful. While they were weighing my purchase, I asked if I could take a picture of some of the tomatoes as I wanted to produce a still life. Ta-daa!

What I like about the painting:
  • The tomatoes have dimensionality and look shiny
  • I had a lot of opportunity to practice shading with different colors

What I might do differently:
  • It might be interesting to try this in an impressionistic style
  • This would be a great painting for experimenting with glazes to make the variations of color
  • I didn't pay a lot of attention to the stem and leaves, perhaps more time and effort could be spent on that area.

What I learned:
In most areas I blended the colors and I was pleased with the outcome. I failed to pay much attention to the blending on the two lines on the right side of the yellow tomato, and they aren't as pleasing.

The only yellow I had, up until this painting, was Yellow Cadmium Light. I first painted the lower right tomato with that, and it was too lemony. I bought a tube of Yellow Cadmium Medium and the color was much better.

In real life the background looks more black than it does in the picture of the painting. What I find fascinating is that I did add a bit of blue to the black, along with white to create some shading. The blue really comes through in the photo.

Photo from Farmer's Market

Friday, May 23, 2014

#16: When Life Gives you Lemons

... make lemonade!

6" x 6" canvas paper

Will Kemp's Art Tutor online tutorial, "Still Life Lemon"

What I like about the painting:
  • I love the challenge of working with only two colors (raw umber and cad yellow, light)
  • It felt great to accomplish this painting in less than an hour
  • The impressionistic style Kemp demonstrates allows for a lot of flexibility
  • It was interesting to paint almost the entire lemon in pure yellow, and then go back with the raw umber to add tone to it.
What I might do differently:
  • Again, my colors are darker than I intended - I need to lighten up!!
What I learned:
Kemp's focus was to start painting with the darkest darks and then the lightest lights. He suggests squinting to help notice subtle shading. From there he completes the background.
Apparently not all Raw Umbers are created equally! Kemp's painting had grey tones. My Raw Umber has more of a warm brown tone.
I did not complete this painting. In the past I would have gone back to work on the shadow of the lemon. I might have tried to lighten up the cut surface of the lemon. I would certainly have tried to improve on the background. I decided that I had the opportunity to practice what Kemp suggested, working with the darks and the lights first. I didn't need to 'finish' the lemon, or be more exacting. I was pleased with the outcome. I practiced a set of skills. Now... it's time to move on.

Monday, May 12, 2014

#15: Goghing

My son picked up a copy of Van Gogh's "The Old Mill". I stuck it in a frame and propped it on the mantle of our fireplace. Then... the snow came. I wanted to paint. The painting I really wanted to try requires raw umber, which I don't have. So.... what to do? Maybe I should try my hand at replicating Van Gogh's work.

Van Gogh's "The Old Mill"

My version of the mill:
9" X 12" canvas board

What I like about the painting:

  • I was pleased with the impressionistic look of my buildings, and I was very pleased with the colors of the green land space beyond the mill.
  • I fell that I have been able to show some dimension of the hillside going up to the mill.
What I might do differently:
  • I didn't have the right yellow to match what Van Gogh used. 
  • When I painted the bank by the river, I saw the trees, not the forest, so to speak. It wasn't until I put the pictures up here that I saw that the brown area of the bank was intended to show the shadow of the drop off into the water. 
What I learned:
The transparency of some colors was very evident in creating this picture. In some instances, I am thinking, I could use that to help me. I kept trying to replicate Van Gogh's yellow by mixing the two that I had on hand, light cadmium and yellow ochre. In hindsight, it might have been interesting to try layering the light cadmium on the yellow ochre to see if the transparency would counter the lemony color of the cadmium with the ochre showing through. I enjoyed using the rough brush strokes instead of the detail I have tried to use in the past. I need to be more precise in sketching out images when I am copying them in the future. There are some problems with the perspective I used, as well as the placement and size of other portions of the painting.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

#14: A Walk in the Rain

Last year I visited Switzerland with my brother and sister-in-law. We noticed a small church on a hilltop, and walked up to visit it. A light mist began to fall as we walked back to the car. I wanted to capture that image on canvas.

8" x 10" canvas board

What I like about the painting:

  • I chose to make the road a dirt road so I could use a toothbrush to splatter the paint to create pebbles on the road, and then shade the spots. I like the outcome. 
  • I think my brother and his wife bring the viewer into the picture.
  • I like the bank in front of the house - I think it adds some dimension to the painting

What I might do differently:

  • The house isn't at the right angle and looks a bit awkward.
  • I tried to use the fence posts to show that the road was going downhill. It didn't work as well as I had planned.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

#13: Heading to the Beach

Painting #13 Heading to the Beach

A friend of mine posted a picture of the beach on Hilton Head Island, SC. I loved the way the picture drew me inside, so I decided to try to paint it. 

Original Photo
M Wright

What I like about the painting:

  • I was pleased with the way the ocean looked, with small waves showing on it. 
  • I liked my sky, except I was not especially pleased with the mist on the horizon. 
  • I struggled with the clouds but was not totally displeased with them in the end. 
  • The path to the beach almost looks like it is sunken a bit, which is the effect I was trying for.

What I would do differently:

  • I think I’d move the ocean down to the bottom third line of the painting and have more sky showing than beach and dune. 
  • I was not happy with my sea oats. They are too thick and need to be darker. 
  • I think I needed to have more contrast in the grass to show the bright highlights where the sun is hitting it on parts of the the dune. 
  • The dune looks flat. 

What I learned:
I tried to be more aware of negative space with the sea oats, trying to tie them together with stalks or blades of grass that cross each other. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

#12: By the Sea

12"x 16" canvas


Inspiration for the painting:
One morning, while sipping coffee, I tired of the local news show and began looking for something more uplifting to watch on TV. As I pressed the channel “Up” button, I happened upon another local channel, but this one was airing a painting show. Right up my alley! I watched the show, taking a few pictures of the TV screen, and writing some notes. The show was called, “Paint with Kevin” and was aired by Troy University. In the show, Kevin demonstrated how to paint a sea scape. Although I am guessing he was using oil paints, based on information on his Web site, what he demonstrated could work just as well with acrylic paints. 

 Kevin's painting: (apologies for the lack of clarity)

What I like about the painting:
  • I like the way the color darkens on either side of the painting.
  • The central part of the smaller wave, and the right side of the wave in the foreground came out well. I can sense movement in them.
  • Kevin had only a hint of a second line of waves, I decided to make that more prominent, and I am pleased with the result.
  • I find some of the cloudy areas pleasing to look at, but I think the opening is a bit fake. 
  • I like the orange sky far better than Kevin’s yellow sky.
  • I am glad I persevered. I did not like my painting, and was ready to move on. But, I went back and worked a bit more on the water and waves.
What I might do differently
  • Since the sun is brightest near the horizon, I think the ‘silver lining’ of the clouds  toward the top of the picture should be less prominent. I changed this, after Mr. Dreamy pointed out how unreal it looked, and I'm happier with the revision.
  • I do not care for the rock on the left side, which (to me) looks like something the dog left behind. 
What I learned:
  • Kevin reminded his viewers to take a 6 foot view of their paintings often. It really looks quite different when you remove yourself in that way.
  • I am becoming more confident about using the brushes. My favorite brush, for the moment, is a 3/8" Lunar Blender by Princeton. It has a filbert shape with short, stiff bristles. I use it a lot in softening lines, like in the clouds.
  • Kevin showed how to use the palette knife for painting. I used it for the small background waves, but forgot to try using it in the foreground for the small wavelets in the sand and the rocks.
  • I missed the beginning of the video lesson, but found that after Kevin completed the sky, he pulled a piece of tape off the canvas that he used to created a flat horizon line. It was a great way to create that line.
Colors I used:
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Cadmium Yellow (Light)
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Cerulean Blue Hue
  • Cadmium Red (Medium)
  • Mars Black
  • Titanium White