Thursday, July 24, 2014

With the Sun

I have recently been painting and talking "contre jour".  Setting up looking into the sun with the palette in shade.  So here is a painting set up with the sun behind me.  Still with shade on the palette so I'm in the shade staying cool.  At this time of day I have max an hour to catch one lighting type without chasing and having several paintings in one.  The solution to that problem is to do several paintings in a row.  If you can paint "what you see" you will have a series of colour studies as the light changes - a la Monet.

Evans Wash Day, 8x10, Oil on Canvas on Board

This photo is a bit rich.


This is closer to what I saw and painted most of the time.  The top photo is more what it looked like as a thin cloud cover moved in at the end of our time.  

You will notice how there is more colour with lower light - top.  The bright light washes out some of the colour.  So, is the painting about colour or light?  

Contre jour would increase the colour and contrast considerably.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Poster for Planning the Painting.

Ted Seth Jacobs taught my friend artist Denis Hopkins.  One of the preparatory tools he taught was the POSTER.  Denis did a demonstration of it under pressure.  Here is the bare bones of it.  It is significantly different from info on the Google search.  Different even from Tony Ryder who was taught by Seth.

Take from this what you may.  It is an indirect painting tool.  However I can see it as a good teaching and training exercise.

The main ideas are;
- an abstract approach - no drawing
- simplification to the extreme
- values first concern
- colour value second concern
- start with the darkest dark, reserve the accent value
- make a simple mark with the dark chosen and mixed (start with the colour nearest the value and colour on your palette
- adjust for value and colour, compare, squint... as many times as required to be right
- take the shape next to the darkest dale, make a simple mark ( limit two vaues per shape)
- compare value and colour and adjust as needed before moving to the next shape
- leave no space between marks
- adjust the second mark, value and colour
- continue until all shapes are accounted for and have the correct compared value and colours
- add accents in the same manner
- add any hi lites

Here is how it looked;

Palette - variety to make the exercise easier

The Subject Setup (Pardon the accidental flash)

Lit From Two Sides - not required

Comparing Values and Colour - opera anyone?

Tea Pot Bottom and Top Marks

Background Marks

Foreground Marks

Fruit Marks

Hi Lites and Accents

Final Adjustments - no, not a painting

Since you are adjusting value and value colour on the fly you immediately see errors.  In the end you can make judgements about the painting to follow, or whether the basic concept has been fulfilled or not.  You can judge the colour scheme and design your palette.  You may choose to abandon the project or see several paintings.  It is not intended to be a painting but painting lessons are contained in it.  You will have to figure out how to use it in figurative work, landscape etc.

If you are more a direct painter this can help tune your eye.  All good.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Back to Plein Air

My teacher/mentor/friend informed me today that we have been painting together outside for 22 years.  Today was another glorious day.  

I was so fortunate to get my start in art with someone who actually knew what he was doing. The next 20+ experiences were dismal save for 3 people who were able to build on my base.

When I started I was told that I had to learn to "see".  Had trouble with that but it turned out to be so right.  I was to paint from life to learn to do that.  That meant plein air, still life and figure drawing and painting.  A number of challenges soon proved that I "thought I was seeing", but really I was "painting what I thought".  Took a lot of challenges and work to start to understand what Mother Nature was offering.  Been painting plein air in all seasons ever since.  It was years before I saw another plein air painter.

Today was a typical day at the office.  "You want to paint?" was all it took to get out the usuals.  Then we chose a spot and;

- found some shade

Like This

Sun Creep

- set up
- decided on what and how to paint 
- put down paint for an hour and a half max - light had changed to a new painting
- shut down and cleaned up
- had a chat about what we had done, why, and what we learned
- decided on next session

So simple.  So enjoyable.  So instructive.  

Now Plein Air has been taken to Event Status.  A totally different emphasis.  Some are connected to charities, some are learning oriented, some are invitational.  Most stroke the ego and get "paintings" shown with the chance of a sale.  Here are some central themes I see.

- organizations, presidents, vice presidents, and red tape
- memberships
- fees
- mugs, caps, flags
- permission by entry form
- contests
- "judges"
- prizes

I'll be out there as often as I can using the simple route.

Ruins of Belfountain, 11x14, Oil on Canvas, on Board

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Outside At LAst

After painting from photos and developing a strategy to do it I finally got outside this week - twice yet!  Two smalls, a bit of photo reference and then a local search for some real close spots in keeping with my energy level.  All good.  What can be better than painting with friends and your mentor of 20 years?  Seeing, smelling, hearing, envisioning.  It can't get better for me.

On the second venture I arrived on site with no paint.  Quite a surprise pack for the concept about to be devised.  Out plopped Permanent Red, Cadmium Lemon Yellow, and Ultramarine Blue Deep, a blob of Titanium White.  Mixed a violet to see what I had - quite grey.  Perfect.  But my lightener surprised me.  The Lemon Yellow was much higher tinting strength than I expected so a large portion of the white ended up there.  Between this exploration and my thumbnail and concept thought I chewed up a lot of my allotted time.  So here is the first wet and a bit more.  Photo clipped off quite a bit......

Mississauga Road Extreme, 8x10, Oil on Canvas on Board

I have found the "one thing a day" priority approach limiting but I can only do so much.  Family and Friends, Health Care, painting and related, then whatever pops into view.  Till next time.......

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Value of Chroma

I looked at my palette the other day and saw a few piles of various greys scraped from the previous day.  From my recent trip to Niagara on the Lake in ominous grey weather - breaking, I decided to paint using just these greys and a new deposit of titanium white.

Red, Blue, and Yellow Grey

None of these piles was mixed thoroughly and that gives me even more choice.  Each of these piles is cut way down in chroma - not bright like a cadmium red for example.  I chose a board with a cool toned surface and began to paint - darks, then lights and mid tones.

These paintings are dark in line with the the concept.  But it is interesting to see mostly low chroma against a little bit of higher chroma.  But that higher chroma is still far from high.  That is how it is ket back in space.

Fort Niagara Looming, 8x10, Oil on Board

Shark Launch, 11x14, Oil on Canvas on Board

First boat on the water even in all that grey.  So, waste not!  Paint on.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Tech Insight on White

I read the blog Painting Stuff to Look Like Stuff.  Kate stone ran an interesting piece on whites.  As for me I use Rembrandt Titanium White, and a variety of Lead Whites by the likes of Blue Ridge.  I also had RGH blend me some Lead White with Safflower Oil.  SLOOOOW drying but beauty.

When you look below you will see why I have had to change my storage method for my lead white panels.  Keep 'em sunny side up.

Pearly Whites

Being one of those people who gets a bug up their ass and pursues a random project to the eighty percent mark before suddenly dropping it to pursue something else, spring cleaning is an especially interesting time of year for me.  It's when I uncover a half-finished, gender-neutral baby blanket made out of hypoallergenic wool; a perfectly organized tupperware box full of every size and shape of envelope that I could possibly ever need, unopened and forgotten; and fourteen separate notebooks and moleskines with the first ten pages filled out with really fascinating objectives: the properties and chemical structure of drying oils (riveting!), quotations about money (wow!), flowers and vegetables I want to plant (I even bore myself).  I also found... my old colour swatches!  Back from when I bought tubes of paint like they were five cent candies and then meticulously tabulated them in my precious, precious binder.

I'm going to throw it all out because I'm so over being a nerd and I've since blossomed into a sophisticated and carefree artiste who doesn't even read the pigment label anymore.  But before I do, take a look at these whites:

This advanced yellowing of something that should be white reminds me of something, but I can't quite put my dental plaque on it.
The key is as follows, listing brand, colour name, pigment, and binder:

A. Williamsburg, Titanium White, PW 6, linseed oil

B. Winsor & Newton, Titanium White, PW 6 and PW 4, safflower oil

C. Lefranc & Bourgeois, Titanium White, PW 6, soybean oil

D. Old Holland, Titanium White, PW 6, binder unknown because that's how Old Holland rolls

E. Winsor & Newton, Cremnitz White, PW 1, safflower oil

F. Gamblin, Flake White Replacement, PW 6 and PW 4, alkali refined linseed oil

G. Old Holland, Cremnitz White, PW 1, unknown

H. Rembrandt-Talens, Titanium White, unknown, unknown

All of these whites were tucked away in this binder in a box for the past several years, so the yellowing is quite exaggerated.  If these paints had been used in a painting and left on a wall where there was some light, it wouldn't be this bad.  But still.  It's worth thanking your lucky stars you didn't paint your masterpiece with Old Holland Cremnitz White.  I mean, you didn't, did you?

Word to the wise, if you're looking for a titanium white to use, look for something that says PW 6 only (no PW 4--that's zinc) and preferably a safflower or a soybean oil.  Good luck.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Some Processes from Adapting to new Conditions

At this stage I seem to be capable of a 2 hour studio session 4 times a week.  In order to deal with this I have taken to a few changes in my typical process.  Interestingly this seems to have clarified my concept building.

  • Limit to one and one half hours painting - the study is done at that time.  This fixes a light condition.  So, as I get stronger I plan to do a series of studies en plein air.  For studio painting I prefer to work from the plen air studies and will try a series of short sessions for each work.
  • Using a short palette.  Three primaries plus white plus a warm or a cool as needed for that session.  In the studio I often add a couple of colours to fill out the colour mask.
  • Using greys mixed from the previous painting session.  These are unique and save me painting time.
  • Painting on a dry coloured ground.  A time saver that I expect will lead to wet coloured ground as in the past and working from white primed canvas.
  • Use of a round brush.  Variety to the feel.  I tend to use this early as I scrub in the composition.  I tend to mass instead of draw, but I use a variety of starts.
  • Scraping and tonking to remove paint, then to paint over again.  A different look and feel.
  • Use my wife's round hair curling brush as I come out of the shower.  Because I can.
  • Painting contre jour.  I have tended to do this in the past but now it seems more logical as I paint a short series with the light moving.
  • Painting small in the plein air environment.  Time saver.

 Living on the Seine, 12x16, Oil on Canvas on Board

I am experiencing trouble finding reference material since I am not yet going outside.  Believe it or not, I can't deal with the cold I once loved.  So I have sketched in pencil from the car and tried photo reference from trips I have taken.  Here I am short on remembering the real situation and the concept that moved me to snap the photo.  Photos are so limited.  

We will see how this evolves.  In the mean time enjoy!

Honfleur Inner Harbour, 12x16, Oil on Canvas on Board