Monday, September 1, 2014

Resolving a Painting

Here is one for you.  After sitting back and reviewing this painting I found a few things that did not make sense.

Piles of It, 8x10, Oil on Canvas on Board

This was done on an overcast day.  So, the chroma and the values do not add up.  I slid my value checker over it just to make sure the colours weren't deceiving my eye.  So I went on to change these to make the painting "read" more consistently.  By the way, on site the barn roof was the lightest value by a fair amount.  So that is key.  The Wolf Kahn colours provided their own challenge.

Point is that I see many examples of such unresolved paintings proudly hanging on walls.  Fortunately many people fail to see them.  But they will as they review the painting often enough.  Here are some common examples.

The light coming from 2 sources for the sun - happens plein air quite often
Reflections with no shadows on light day
Values obviously wrong, say back to front
Reflections incorrectly rendered - painting what you think
Linear perspective way off
Lack of aerial perspective
Inconsistent edges
Organic shapes not organic
Chroma inconsistent with position in space
Brush and knife strokes inconsistent in space
Many paintings in one

There are a host of others.  Before the last touches are done a review of these concept breakers needs to happen.  With my plein air limit of an hour and a half I have to make this happen near the middle of the time limit, not back in the studio.  Fun!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Drawing You Say

It was perfect.  Shade, a picnic table, moderate temperature, sunshine.  a high vantage point.  Well, not exactly.  Couldn't see the subject through the big Maple tree.  So I got some exercise in sneaking and returning to sit and draw.  Have to sit these days.

High Above the Harbour, Lunenburg

Now, I do a fair amount of drawing.  I try to get it mostly right even though it is not usually my primary concern.  During the sketch and subsequent hour of painting here I know something was pretty wrong.  Didn't have time or strength to correct on site.  After all, its probably mostly right (couldn't see the subject but you know).

After I got home I had to do some investigation.  Here is the gist of what I found.

Drawing Check - Simple

Even without seeing the subject I knew the areas that were probably wrong.  Easy to correct on the second wet.  My constant drawing at least warned me.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Going Light

So between treatments I'm going east to paint, relax, and explore, 8 days.  Gotta go light.  Can't walk too far and have to sit to paint.  Oh well, do what you gotta do.  Cut the chair, shorten the paint supply etc.  Here is my total kit.

About 4 pounds

Roll of paper towels, 5 brushes in protective tube (Flat Hogs Bristle, #4,#6,#8x2,#12), dippers to hold mineral spirits for cleaning, palette knife, small bottle mineral spirits, pencil, grey view finder, sketch book, 10 canvas boards in two sizes - 8x10, 11x14.  Six tubes of paint.  And my Traveller paint box and extension by Good Omen.  Works great!

Top row are my primaries for this trip;
Alizarin Crimson - RGH Paint
Cad Yellow Medium - Blue Ridge Paint
Ultramarine Blue - Michael Harding Paint
These paints limit my high Chroma colour mask.  Landscape is primarily low chroma.

These paints will broaden the high chroma colour mask.  I can always dull them down.
Cadmium Orange Deep - Blue Ridge Paint
Viridian - Rembrandt -  I use this weak tinting green as another blue, mix with ultramarine.

I start my palette with the primaries.  If I need more cool colour I add the viridian - beauty greys with alizarin.  If I need more warm add the cad orange deep - beauty greys with ultramarine.

Titanium White - Michael Harding Paint

Last Minute Decisions

I decided to replace the Cad yellow with the less intense Yellow Ochre also by Blue Ridge. Save me some mixing and I don't expect to see much intense yellow.  Then I decided to take this travel tripod that folds up like a robot.  Adds a couple of pounds.

Soon see how all this works.

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.......