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Monday, May 30, 2011

Study in Red

Study in Red, 12x9, oil on linen
Here is a fun little painting that about drove me to drinking. My original attempt to paint a red painting ended up in me wiping paint off all day, so I simplified my still life set up to limit the trauma I was experiencing. I still struggled mightily, but I am calling it completed. What was so difficult for me was that the vase is red glass with a clear handle, but the vase looks clear to me too. That concentrating on the reflections, shadows and the surface I lost the actual color of the vase. Nothing I did made it appear red. Minor details. No one needs to know...

I am reading a couple of books on color and pigments so I will be writing more on this in the coming weeks. It is a most fascinating subject and I take it very seriously.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Washington Park Researchers

Untitled, 16"x12", oil on linen
 Here is another painting where my goal was to keep my values close to create a mood. My faithful dog and I came across this very rare scene on Grassmere lake in Washington Park. There are 2 lakes in Washington Park; the north lake, Smith Lake, once again allows boats, but the south lake, Grassmere, doesn't. I figured they were doing research of some kind. The yellow slicker was just such a wonderful beacon in the fog that I thought this would not only be a good exercise for me but would be interesting too. I have walked this park steady for over 20 years and I am intent on discovering something new whenever I go there. To try and see the park through new eyes as if it were the first time I have been there. It is working! This is the 3 painting in a row I have done now around the park. I can't tell you how many times I have gone there to paint and not found anything that drew me in - it all feeling too familiar to be of interest.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Schlock as Art

On the last First Friday I spent the afternoon gallery hopping with my friend from Fraser. Many of the galleries were set up for "First Friday Art Walks." I used to love visiting galleries - to be inspired and to give me a goal to aspire to and to study how some miracle of paint had made some object or figure zing. There are still a few galleries in Denver that have what I consider good art, but not as many as I believe there once was. Even galleries I used to think had "good" art are not living up to my expectations. I know I have grown over the years, but I also think that schlock is more prevalent than I remember. I have always recognized schlock for what it is. When I used the term "schlock" I was asked by more than one person what the definition is. The dictionary definition is:
  1. "trash," 1915, from Amer. Yiddish shlak, from Ger. Schlacke "dregs, scum, dross" (see slag). Alternative etymology is from Yiddish shlogn "to strike" (cf. Ger. schlagen; see slay). Derived form schlockmeister "purveyor of cheap merchandise" is from 1965.
  2. n. inferior merchandise. (From German schlacke, “dregs” via Yiddish.) : That store has nothing but schlock.
  3. mod.and schlocky. [ˈʃlɑki]cheap; junky; inferior.

There were more than a few gems, but they were far fewer than I would like to see. Paint decorative art if you must, and call it such; but please, not schlock. Remember; as soon as you attempt to do something “just for money” you literally kill the soul of it.

This past week I drove up to Longmont to see the museum show there for Jill Soukup. What a wonderful painter she is. I came away thinking I have a lot of work to do before me! Certainly cleansed my palate (palette?) and renewed my faith in art. Thank you to Jill for raising the bar.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Number 10? in the Alley Series

Late Spring in the Alley, 24x36, oil on canvas
Another alley has neared completion. Without taking an actual "head" count, I think this is #10. I have been waiting to post this painting until it was close to where I wanted it to be. I don't know that anything is "missing" but I have learned that any time I think a painting is done, I am majorly off base once I sit on it awhile. This piece has been sitting longer than most, and I did pick it up this weekend and do a few fiddly things with it.

Even though this scene is bright, it was an overcast morning where there was a diffuse light with no real cast shadows. This is called "local" tone in the vernacular. The reason being is that the "local" color of an object is not corrupted by light and shadow. Once you add a direct light source the real color of a thing is altered; So when you paint a local tone painting, the colors are more true and can have a saturated feel to them, especially if  wet as in after a rain.

What drew me to this scene initially was the catywampus-ness of the recycle bins mixed in with the dumpsters leading you down the alley to the blue Forester in the background. It just had a good flow to it. And then to compliment that was the yellow barn house and other yellowish houses and garage. I love the colors in this scene. The greens tie it all up in a nice way. Like it envelopes the alley with a feeling of freshness.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Evening Glow

Evening Glow, 20x10, oil on gallery wrap canvas
One evening last month while walking in a neighborhood park I was fortunate enough to see this amazing sky. The weaving of the branches made such an interesting pattern and silhouette against it. As I was taking this photo, two young boys walked into the scene to complete it. I just love that splash of red.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Study in Yellow or "Art Deco"

Study in Yellow, 12x9, oil on canvas board
In order to understand the color yellow and how to portray it in paint, I set up this still life. One of my friends lent me the art deco style vase (what a great shape!), I found the yellow calla lilies at Safeway, and I had the ART book and the yellow paper that it all sits on. The vase did not look quite so "yellow" once it was surrounded by the other more pure yellow objects. In fact it looked quite flat and an un-interesting shade. Luckily it got a lot of reflected color into in and I fudged it a bit more to make a harmonious yellow painting. The reddish cast at the bottom of the vase was really "there" and I would love to know the wherefore of that. How does a yellowish vase sitting on yellow paper create a reddish reflected light? The room had cool florescent lighting and no sunlight.

To paint this I used a variety of cool and warm yellows. The base yellow for the vase was yellow ocher which is warm and flat; for the paper surface I used a warm Indian yellow which tends to a reddish yellow, and for the book cover, a cool lemon yellow which can look greenish. For the callas lilies I used the lemon yellow mixed with yellow pale and cadmium yellow medium which is warm but not as translucent as the Indian yellow. To get the form of the lilies I added violet and or cobalt blue to the yellow except on the far right where orange was called for.

This was a fun still life to paint and has given me much food for thought.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Hill Country Revisited

Arbor Ridge, 8x16, 4-2011 oil on Linen panel

Arbor Ridge, 2nd rendition

Arbor Ridge, original from 4-2009, near Fredricksburg, TX
Here is a painting I never thought would amount to anything. I so enjoyed painting in the Hill Country of central TX. This was the 3rd painting of the day, and the sun was hot, and my ride had to leave. All that aside,  I felt I got a good structure down, but that is about it. The cleaned up middle view I worked on when I got home. Better, but still not very exciting. Painting yellow in shadow is still something I am getting the hang of. I liked the yellow in #2, but it doesn't read as being in the shade.
In my effort to save paintings I think have a chance, I decided to work on it AGAIN this past month. So on to the top and most recent version, the yellow looks too green in this photo but in person it "reads" as in the shade. From version 2 to 3, I put the hint of stones on the sides of the first and third buildings; added rust to the roofs of the outbuildings, added more foliage in the foreground, as well as lightening the ground, added the fence and the dog running along it. Reworked the trees in the background added spring green to the silhouetted big tree; took out the lame tree on the left and put in a bush. I am still debating about whether to put the tree back in or not. It doesn't seem to need it. I also changed the color of the sky from a more yellowish glow to a more purplish blue. Not sure how I feel about that yet. I may have to go back to the original color. As usual, I "see" all kinds of things once I take a photo and then start to write about it.