Thursday, March 31, 2011

Racing the Storm

This is done from a reference photo I took last summer when I was up at the farm in Canada. I had gone for a walk one afternoon, but as I was walking the weather suddenly began to darken. Winds came up and storm clouds began to roll in, so I turned around and headed for home, hoping to get there before the storm broke. The dark clouds were all facing me as I headed home, and shortly before I got there this car came over a small rise towards me, its headlights shining bright in the blackness of the day, and I had to take the photo, and have been yearning to paint it ever since. This was done my usual 9x12 Art Spectrum.

I finished early and still had time to go in class, so started a second painting, a composite of two reference shots I took in December of a pair of ospreys that hung around the apartment complex where my son and daughter-in-law live in Jacksonville Beach, FL. I'm getting quite a bird series now, so will see where this one goes.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


LOL, the model who had been hired for our art class today never showed up! So we dithered a while, they tried to reach him ... no luck. Finally one of the women in the class, who also does modeling for artists professionally, offered to sit for us for the last two hours of class. She posed nicely though her clothing was a bit boring for artwork - a white top and gray slacks. But I loved her hair color! So I took a little bit of liberty with the colors of the clothing, and used the painting as an exercise in using the secondary colors on the color wheel: orange, green and violet.

Today is my birthday, and I had a crazy and busy morning, so I got to art class and realized I didn't have my art supplies with me. I had removed them all for a trip to North Carolina last week. So I used some spare pastels and a sheet of Canson drawing paper that they had at the museum, so I'm not sure of the size, but close to my usual 9x12.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Last Guitar

... this model is such a nice person, and I love Alex, and the other students are great too. But I am so sick of this darn guitar pose. She is doing this exact same pose for *six weeks* and I just no longer find anything of interest in it for me, or any angle that I feel like using as a compositional focus. I finally wound up with this one for today - done on 12x16 Canson paper, smooth side. She'll be doing this same pose again next week, but I'll be away in North Carolina, and when I get back again we'll have a new model and a new pose! Hurray.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Guitars again

I'm still experimenting in my life drawing class. This is from Wednesday's class, done on 12x16 Canson paper, smooth side.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

A Painter's Progress

Since the farm in Canada is one of my favorite inspirations I thought it would also be fun to show how painting it has changed over the years as I have worked on my art. When I think about my own entry into the fine art world, after many decades away from it, I think of it in 2 phases:
1) the abortive first attempt - which took place in 2002.
2) the second attempt - which took place in 2005, which totally captured me and drew me into pastels - a passion which continues to this day.

In 2002 I first signed up to take a beginning drawing class, feeling my drawing skills were very poor and rusty. We mostly drew in that class, and I enjoyed the practice. Our teacher did introduce us to pastels when we tried working with color. And I both enjoyed it and hated it. I liked it as I liked working with color, and I liked the immediacy of pastels. But I *hated* everything I attempted. They all looks childish and hopelessly amateurish. And of course they were. But I realize now, in retrospect, that a lot of my frustration was due to my total lack of understanding about how to use pastels - and this was not taught in the class.

In other words, I used them sort of like a child's crayons - laying a light color down on a piece of paper. I had not a clue about multiple layering, thick applications of color, scumbling, mixing and/or blending of colors. I colored so lightly there was nothing to blend anyway. :-)

I wanted to learn to draw and color well, and I wanted to do a painting of our farmhouse, and I just had no clue what I was doing or how to accomplish it. And the painting below is one I did of the farmhouse in that era - my first attempt.

As you can tell it a very poor use of pastels. Only light single layers of colors, sketched on as if with a crayon or colored pencil. I hated it, so after that 2002 class I decided art was not for me and I gave up.

But I still had a yearning for art, and in 2005 I signed up for another beginning drawing class, with a different teacher. She also introduced us to pastels when we did some color work, but this time I got some feedback on the *real* use of pastels - laying in multiple layers of color, using the sides of the pastels to put down swaths of color, rather than just the timid use of a tip. Suddenly I had fallen madly in love with pastels! I have taken classes continually since them and work on painting every week. The work I was turning out, while still clearly "beginnerish", was far and away a different caliber from what I had done in my 2002 class, and I was no longer totally embarrassed and ashamed by my work. So in that environment I decided to do another painting of the farm, which I did en plein air when up at the farmhouse for summer vacation. Large storm clouds rolled in as I worked and luckily I was close to the house as I had to grab all my stuff and race to the kitchen to escape the rain! But I was far happier with the attempt and felt it actually looked like a real painting, unlike the 2002 attempt.

I liked it well enough that I found myself thinking that the farm was "done" - so no need to paint it again, except I still felt a yearning for it. So finally a couple years later I tried a different scene, the farmhouse in the early evening dusk. The perspective seems a little odd in this one though. The shed walls to the right seem to be marching uphill somehow, so it sort of spoils it for me, although I was happy with the sky, and the glow from the windows.

But the farm is never truly done I guess, so I just recently made another attempt, now six years since I have been pasteling in earnest. This one was inspired by the lovely light and colors of the autumn that I saw when I was up at the farmhouse for a week in October this past year. This one is truly my favorite farm painting now. Will I still be saying that in a few more years if I continue to turn out additional paintings? Who knows?

Friday, March 04, 2011

A Painting's Progress

I took a few pictures along the way as I painted this one, so decided that again I would post a series showing how the painting developed. Here I have basicaly finished the sky, but began to lay in some colors in the farm house as a sort of underpainting - with bright and strong colors. Note that you can also make out quite a bit of my underlying sketch also. Some people do initial drawings that are so detailed they are almost works of art in and of themselves! But drawing is not my strongest suit, and I love the bright colors of pastels. So my intial drawings tend to be very simple, just simple charcoal lines.

Now I have also filled in some underpainting colors on the side of the house in addition to the front.
Starting here to layer more colors on top of the underpainting, to get closer to the actual colors I'm hoping for in the finish.

The house is pretty close to the finish I want for it at this point, so now beginning to lay in some lights, darks, and strong colors for the grasses and vegetation around the house.

Mostly done now. After this I'll just subdue the colors in some of the vegetation other than directly in front of the house. I want the front of the farmhouse, and the vegetation right in front of that, with it's bright autumn colors, to be the primary focal point in the painting.

After this one I just made the changes I mentioned above, to finish with the painting in the next blog post.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

October Light

I've painted more than one painting of our farmhouse in New Brunswick, Canada. For example, this one which one of the first paintings I did up in Canada, during the first year that I had taken up pastel, and this one, of the early evening. But I have never done one with fall colors. I was at the farm this past October to see some fall colors, and took quiet a few photos as well, so decided last night I just had to do a painting, and I'm pretty happy with how this one turned out. It's a subject near and dear to my heart But I think this is my favorite of all my farm paintings so far! It's done on 9x12 Art Spectrum.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

One-Hour Guitar

I got to my afternoon art class late today. I had to do Receiving for the PSNJ Signature Member show this morning at the marvelously eclectic Design Domaine Gallery in Bernardsville, NJ, and afterwards I went to lunch at The Grain House to talk about some PSNJ business.

So it was about 2:45 by the time I got to my class, giving me only an hour to work. But I used it to try an experiment that I'd had to do in another art class one time - where we had to do still lifes, but were given only an hour to do each one, but were expected to turn out a reasonably complete painting in that one hour. The idea was help you work fast and loose. Since I had only an hour I decided to try that today, and just worked fast to see what I could get accomplished in an hour.

So the end result is not a painting I particularly love or even like, but it was a worthwhile learning tool for this experiment - done on 9x12 cream-colored Canson, smooth side. I think the guitar looks more like a ukulele though, LOL.