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.