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Friday, January 30, 2009

Part II of Amy

Here is Amy looking much less like a patchwork quilt. Mark demonstrated on this to show me that I was trying too hard and to keep it simple. He showed me how even in the shadows that the planes of the body will share a similar color/value. I must admit, I would not have picked that greenish ochre color for the skin tone in the shadow. I really was leaning more towards a cooler color. I decided I had to put in the closed off doorway to give the contrast needed for the light to look light enough on her profile. (I didn't get around to putting in all the easels that were stacked in the doorway to the edge of the doorway.) I am not working as fast I normally like to yet. So, to recap from last night: Simplify the value separation within the shadow shape; it helps to step back a few feet and half squint to do that; to not worry about the nuances, just get something close. And to remember that as the shadow comes around a curve, the transition color from the light is usually cooler in temperature. It sure is nice having a small class as we get a bit more individual attention.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Class of January 25, 2009

Here I am playing with patches of color to see what works and what doesn't. There are lots that don't work right now, and I know this. This model has great skin colors but she was wriggling more than she was still, and I spent a lot of time just trying to figure out how to paint whatever wasn't in motion for a second at a time. That is why her hand is not quite finished. I had seen this great patch of florescent red between two fingers and it was rare after the initial sighting to get it back. Patience. Anyway, it should be better tonight with Mark there, and hopefully I can pull some of this into unity. She is a nursing mom, which explains the color of her breast. The triangle of light seen between her arm definitely needs to read brighter which probably means I need to darken the shadow side of her. I picked this view for the challenge of the large shadow shape. Right now that value relationship is not where I want it to be. I got it right in her hair.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Week of January 19, 2009

Here is the painting from this week. If grades were given, I was told this was an A+ by a few classmates. I wish I had thought to take a photo after Monday night's class, but that is something I will endeavor to do from now on. Mark did praise the results of Monday's class when he saw it last night. I had planned on starting a new painting, but he said that since I had such a great start, to continue on with this one. He did work on this and I did not alter what he did, as I want to use it as future reference. So it is far from "a finished" piece. But I will reiterate, that is not the point of this class. I am trying to learn to establish color and value relationships to make a painting "reflect Joy and Life." His instruction for me last night was to look at the whole while painting the shadows instead of in the shadows. My shadows were too light in relative value to the whole because when painting them, I look into them. That will result in the shadows not being dark enough. He also was trying to get me to see the warmth of the light as it transitions to the core dark of the shadow. especially on the shoulder, which is why it looks a bit odd. I did not soften the line or change the color (the color is a bit off).

I am excited to be in this class! We are a small group and we have some excellent artists participating. And I am having fun even as I struggle to understand.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Update on another "problem child"

Last weekend, when I wasn't laying around because I had no energy, I worked on the Jardin des Plantes painting. I was not happy with the outcome as it was just feeling too dark. Plants on a sunny day, even in October, should not feel dark. Yesterday (Friday), I worked on it again. There is a major silouette in this picture, so there is some dark, but the overall painting should feel light. I am happier with it now.

Saturday I worked on another painting from the "homework" assignment from September's Saturday class with Kevin Weckbach. That assignment was to do a value (grayscale, limited to 3 to 5 values) underpainting, bring it in for critic and then paint over it, keeping to the values while you added color. I enjoyed this exercise so much that I did three value underpaintings. The first one I added color to was not a success. This assignment is harder than it sounds. The Jardin des Plantes was the second of the three that I did, and as you can see, it was another struggle. This third painting is going better, but I think the value painting was better, too. funny how that works...I still have all the plant life in the pond to put in (dead though it may be), the willows are incomplete, all the weeds that added texture to the underpainting, the barn roof is too light in value and the sky seems too yellow to me. My project for today.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

New Class

Starting the first full week of January, I am in the advanced figure painting class with Mark Daily at the Art Students League of Denver. I took this class two years ago, and decided to go back for more. Mark hammered me on value relationships then (still something I struggle with). It is too early to tell yet if I have shown any improvement as I have missed two of the four classes. I had intended to post my class work, but I am not ready to do that just yet. I am not quite in the swing of being in a class quite yet. Oh, what the heck, I will post it: Just keep in mind that this was done in under 2 hours.

Mark's class is painting from the model two nights, same pose. Monday he is not there; Thursday we can start a new painting or work on the one started on Monday. He did not comment on my work on Thursday until the end of class. He told me to soften my edges on the body so that any sharp edges in the face would have more impact and that if I would do my block in with values/colors closer to what they are (instead of "a random" dark value for the darks, to put the warm dark grey that I actually see) I would have cleaner color in the final painting. Mark is such a stickler for getting the canvas covered as quickly as possible, that my object becomes covering the white of the canvas and THEN mixing my colors. So, lesson learned: mix my block in colors as close as possible to the end product FIRST and then block in FAST! I can do this.

Friday, January 9, 2009

December's Class

December 6, 2008: Today was the first Saturday class (Kevin Weckbach) I have attended since the first of October. Our assignment is to sketch, using line only, shapes and gradation of shapes. We will turn our sketches into paintings in January. We are supposed to do as many sketches as possible, but I want to use my Seattle sketch for this assignment. I do not feel I am a strong cityscape painter in that I get hung up on too much detail. I am hoping to gain from this exercise the ability to see what is important and sugget the rest. Kevin gave me great feedback today on my new sketch for this homework, so I am hoping I can carry it forward. I was going to try for a 2' x 4' board, but I am now thinking if scaling it back to a more manageable size.

January 9: I opted to do this painting on a 15"x30" canvas. To the left is the block in for the painting. I took it to class last Saturday and it met with Kevin's approval. He gave me some suggestions on where to go from here. Study Vulliard and Bonnard for patterns and textures for the buildings; to make the building block on the left darker in value and to be sure I put in the buildings in the top "sky" that I have barely hinted at here, to break up the square into a rectangle (which is in my sketch). The assignment is due the end of this month.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Jardin des Plantes

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The photo of me in the upper right hand corner of this blog, was taken in October 2007 on my last trip to Paris. I had been in Paris in 2001 with my daughter and son, and we were staying in a flat not two blocks from the Jardin des Plantes. Since it was so close, we ventured over there on more than one occassion walking the maze, experiencing the first zoo (the Menagerie), visiting the Natural History Museum and the Hall of Gems. I fell in love with the old green house of Louis XIII's physician. I vowed that if I ever came back to Paris, I wanted to paint a piece of this greenhouse in its rosy colored splendor. So, of course, you see that I did attempt to solve how to paint this piece of history. I first did a thumbnail sketch of it and then tried to capture color notes. (not posted)

This past September I drew it out on canvas and did a value study in paint while I was doing the other value underpaintings for Kevin's Saturday class. This week, I finally had the chutzpah to try and add color. I took the painting in yesterday to see what Kevin would say, and the upshot is, I have to rework it. I do have problems painting color over the b&w underpainting as I feel like I am doing a paint by number. I don't have this problem painting over an existing painting, so I don't quite get what is the difference. Now that it is a painting let's see if I can do what Kevin suggested. Which is to determine the light pattern and stick with it, and create patterns out of the flowers. He also suggested warming up the glass in the green house (add orange) as it is too disparate from the greenery and divides the painting. I had already determined the light pattern problem and knew that my middle values were not light enough and that the darks petered out. I also felt I had changed styles mid way through the painting, so essentially, my own thoughts on it were verified. I also feel it is stiff, which I am hoping to rectify.

CR 50 revisited

Here is a drastic before and after; Since I had worked on the Fall Aspens last weekend and I still had color mixed, I decided to take out this painting from two years ago, painted of the same grove of aspens along CR 50 near Marie's home in Fraser. I originally had thought to not show this painting in its original form, as at the time, I felt it a break through painting and now I look at it and go, oh my! There are still things I like about it but overall, I am not happy to actually put it out there for you all to see. But since this is about my journey as an artist and not about my best work, (obviously, "best work" is all relative to where you are at the time, anyway) I decided to post it along with the photo of me starting it on location. You will notice that I have not even set my easel up yet as I was new to being out in the field again and I was trying to figure out how best to approach what it was I wanted to say about this scene.

I tried to keep the colors true to the original, as I do remember the day being one of those clear crisp Colorado BLUE sky days with the color contrasted with the gold of the aspens. I did change the spirit of the original as I tried to make the trees more realistic. I remember that what I was drawn to was the path of light on the ground under the aspens.
I read this quote from Victor Higgins while drinking my coffe this morning "A painter never paints because he wants to paint a picture, as that he wants to solve a problem. A problem in form, in composition, design if you prefer the term, in color harmonies..." This is so true.

My next post will be about one of these problems...and whether I have solved it or not.