Monday, September 26, 2011

A Good Day of Painting, Happy Sunday!

I wanted to share with you what I feel is the perfect way to spend a day, most especially a wonderful Sunday. My good friend of many years Shane McDonald has began a figure painting group on the weekends at his studio located at the Artists Resource Center in Marietta Georgia. Shane and I have known each other for years and began our friendship through a group he hosted for almost 15 years. Over the years I've found a home with that group of artists and have come to view them as my family. It is for me one of the strongest connections to any group of people I've thus far enjoyed in my life. It is also where I happened to meet the love of my life, the lovely Ms. Goodman, "aka the LMG". Though time keeps marching on and relationships and friendships change I still feel deeply connected to the members of this group. We've all seen each other through the ups and downs of life and have a long and comforting history with each other. With the help and support of each other we have all grown and improved our skills as artists and visual thinkers. I was raised as a military brat and was constantly on the move for most of my early life till I reached adulthood or at least I was able to vote. A gift like this was something I thought I'd never have or expected. Thankfully, I've settled down a little in my life and proven to myself I could indeed have some long term relationships with other humans. I credit this mainly to the fact that they are a very tolerant group who has learned through the years that some music, laughter and good times making art and the addition of a few glasses of wine can see us through almost anything. It is to each of them I wish to say many thanks my friends!


We seem to always follow the same process each week during our 3 hour session. We begin with a series of gesture drawings lasting approximately 2 minutes each. This is a clay coated panel I was using and attempting to capture the proportions and movement of our lovely model Stephanie. Some models I find I always get a great session from, others not so much. Stephanie was someone I hadn't worked with before today and I will tell you unabashedly that she was magical as a muse to me and others in the group. She was graceful and fluid in her movements.
Just perfect! I prefer to paint generally and I always use a brush and a little paint to do my gesture sketches. I've been fairly successful at selling many of these, as they become rather abstract representations of the human form. I try and take a little care in composing the page out of these short poses.

Once we are warmed up so to speak we move on to a long pose which the model will hold for the rest of the session in 20 to 25 minute intervals. I was very happy with this effort and it came together rather quickly. I mainly concentrated on the figure, mirror and placing the carpet. After the model left I added much of the background elements. I was working on a clay board panel for this piece as well and I have to say that this being my first time trying them, I found both good and bad things about the surface. The clay quickly drinks in the oil mixture, which makes it harder to manipulate or change. The good news is that this cuts down on the glare from the lights which might be useful for painting outdoors. I found that until I had several passages of paint on the surface it was extremely difficult to move or blend the paint. Even with a rather thick passage it was not long before it sat up and became difficult to work with. Over time if I keep using this material I'm sure I'll find a work around.

So thanks for checking out my blog page and pass this on to anyone you think might benefit.
I'm always happy to hear form you and welcome your comments.

Till next we meet, I wish you laughter, love, good food, music and plenty of art!


Monday, September 19, 2011

Step by Step, painting demo

Demonstration: Landscape Sketch in Acrylic

At times you may want to work quickly on an idea and experiment with color or design in your paintings. I find it helpful to sketch in acrylic paint at times because it dries so quickly and is easily covered over if you decide to change something. This is a demo of a painting I produced from reference photos I took when on a trip recently. Normally I would have spent sometime doing a sketch plein air and then taken it to a larger painting in the studio but for what ever reason didn't have the time to complete a work on location, so a photo is all I had to work from and my memory. The photo was somewhat flat and taken in the middle of the day which wasn't very interesting or appealing at first but I kept going back to it thinking I wanted to do something to make it more dramatic. I decided to change the time of day and mood of the piece by altering the color scheme and pushing the side of the house into deeper shadow than was indicated by my reference. This five step demo will give you an idea of how the painting developed and how I went about creating a more interesting painting.

Step One: I blocked in the large masses of the painting on a gray background dividing the panel in to four distinct areas (sky, tree line, house and foreground). Each of these blocks were laid in with a broad brush and not much time was taken to develop any except the house which for me would become to main focal point of the painting. As I mentioned earlier, I didn't intend to stick strictly to the photo reference so I changed the color of the sky to a strong yellow instead of the light blue I saw in the photo. I also pushed the shadows on the side of the house into deeper shadow than was indicated. The base color for the trees was laid in with a very strong cool green tone to contrast the vivid yellow sky. The house was also altered in color slightly with the addition of some yellow in the mixture of white and raw umber to the light side of the house and violet to the darker mixture on the side of the house. I often will play with contrasting direct complements when painting and find it adds some vibrancy and excitement to the painting.

Step Two: I began to develop each area of the painting further with the addition of some stronger dark and light areas in the tree line, house, large tree in the middle ground and foreground areas. In the foreground I placed a broad wash of red orange as a base for the foliage I would later place there. In the tree line I broke the mass up and placed some open areas to indicate that you could see the sky peaking through in areas. The original photo had none of that so it was something I fabricated from my experience of painting outdoors. I also began to break the mass of the tree line up into individual trees by altering the color and value in areas slightly.
The foreground was a base color but I wanted to break it up some how and make it more interesting than just a band of color across the bottom one third of my panel. So, I began to place some darker abstract shapes in it which later would become the addition of a road back to the house which didn't exist in the reference photo. The house got a few deeper shadows and I began to develop the openings for the windows and wood siding on the face of the house.

Step Three: I continued to develop each area of the painting with the addition of lighter values of color and indication of foliage to the foreground area. Finally you could see the road developing and masses of high weeds in the field. I also continued to push some lighter color mixtures into the tree line and large tree in the mid ground. I took a good deal of care to clean up some of the edges of the house and accurately indicate some of the architectural features of the old house which helped to give it some character and a since that it had been there a long time.
The sky also got some thicker passages of color and the shape of the tree line began to develop nicely.

Step 4: With the addition of even lighter values in each area the painting finally begins to come to life. Each area begins to sit in its place nicely and support the illusion of the others. I particularly focused on the house adding some cast shadows and weathering to the wooden planks the house was built from.

Step Five: The illusion is complete after the refinement of some of the grasses in the foreground and additional cool and warm indications on the house. I also popped in some stronger lights coming through the trees. This is a much different image than the original photo reference and one I feel is stronger as a painting than if I simply faithfully copied what I saw. We as artist are not cameras or copiers. We are not tools that simply reproduce what we see. At some point we as people have to begin to make the images we create something more of an expression of what we feel. So for me, taking this painting to a different conclusion than a camera would have come up with is part of the natural process of creating a piece of art.

The painting is in the early stages on the easel and you can see the image on the screen of my Mac laptop from which I was working. You can also see that the studio isn't the most organized and neat environment which is fine by me, it's a place to work, think, read and listen to music.
A place to play, risk and fail miserably sometimes and yet have great moments of insight and joy at others.

Where you work does make a difference in my estimation. I'm fortunate to have good light, equipment and space to create art in. Of course I've built my life around that for years, so not living in a space with adequate light would be a foreign concept to me. I love my 16 foot tall windows that face north. I also like the fact they set inside the hallway of this old factory I live and work in. It affords my neighbors a chance to stroll by and see what is on the easel from time to time. The studio is not always a well kept place and I do have my projects laying around. I also provide places for my four legged roommates to hang out with me while I work. The conversations are rather limited with them but I enjoy their company non the less.

So, happy painting, do some good work and laugh and smile a little each day!
Feel free to stop by and chat if you should find me along a road side doing what I love best.
Till then!!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Painting, Painting and Painting over the holiday!!!

Plein-Air, Paint faster the Light is changing!!!!

Plein-Air is I think one of the best ways to speed up your painting technique as well as sharpen your eye to value, color and proportions. Call me crazy but standing outside, working on your tan and slapping some paint around is a great stress relief as well. You have to make a decision and stick with it till it's through.

The OverLook at Vinings at Sunset
Painted on location, this spot offers one of the best views of the city. Once the sun begins to set the lights on the buildings begin to kick in and make a spectacular view.

The Highlands Atlanta GA,

This view is looking east from the top of the ridge. It was around 6:45 am and the sky just lite up with all this color. It was like magic to see the sky light up that way!

Botanical Garden Plein-Air event.
These small (6X9) canvases are handy for quick plein air studies. Atlanta Painters Meetup sponsored this event and it was such a good time.

Alla-Prima rocks in the Studio around 5am each morning.

My Natural Collection

This oil study took over 4 days to complete which by my standards is a long time. I did enjoy painting the bugs etc. They behaved themselves and didn't walk off anywhere!

"Coming Unraveled Around You"
This is another one of those little comments I keep making about human relationships, especially between men and women. For me, this is about that sense of excitement one gets when meeting another person whom we find irresistibly attractive. You know the one, somewhere between excitement and nausea. I'm taking an Alka-Seltzer!!!

Playing with Acrylic Paint as well!!!!

"Don't Turn that Page"
This painting was started at a figure drawing session some years ago now but never completed. Since I had the acrylics out, I decided to add those final touches that would make it feel finished to me. I really like how immediate you can be with the paint and keeping a loose brush helps from making the media seem too stiff.

"Cherokee Farm House Sunrise"
I seldom paint from photos any more but in this case I did and also worked in acrylic paint. I was very happy with this little rainy day painting. On days with poor weather or during the winter I have a file of around 200 photos of things I'd like to get around to painting. I don't know that I'll ever get around to them all, maybe I should take a year off and just paint till I complete them all? You'll see this painting on a later post. I have photos of the process in progress and will go through the step by step process, soon I promise!

Avondale Arts Festival Poster:

I painted this image plein-air a few weeks ago at the Piedmont Arts Festival specificly to submit to the Avondale Arts Alliance to use on their Autumn Arts Festival Poster. The good news is that it was selected and we will have the unveiling on September 21st. Hope you can join us!!!

I tried to keep the shapes simple and values and colors with a higher degree of contrast to help in the reproduction of the painting. My background as an ex-Art Director is paying off still. I look forward to seeing what the Designer and Printer do with the piece.

Close up shot showing how simple paint strokes pull together to make images of people walking among the tents. No real detail here! Simplify, simplify, simplify!!!

The final image achieved what I set out to create and it was both a challenge and fun to hold back from adding details that I didn't need and would actually make the painting less accessible to the viewer.

Once again, thanks for your comments, support and well wishes. Keep painting, collecting art, or just passing it along to the next generation.