Today’s Efforts

No title, yet
The goal today was to begin to equalize values across the painting . . .as stated in yesterday’s post. Another 15 thin glazes were added and some corrections in a few places. As the glazes progessed, there is a noticable intensity difference in the large orangish shape . . . particularly near where the white shape is crossed by one line. There are some exposure difficulties keeping the actual image from revealing itself . . . such as the upper left corner appearing much darker than it really is.
Line was a missing element that began to be introduced and, in so doing, divided space for more interest. I am still not sure of where this is going or how it will turn out, though I have acquired some general intetions about it at this point.
This is an entirely different exercise for me since there was absolutely NO planning at all. The entire abstraction is derived from making random marks. More work will happen tomorrow . . . . . . .and I will attempt to fix the exposure difficulties. Am working with a different photo set up and need to adjust the lighting.
More tomorrow.

My Two Cents Worth

watercolor, 30 x 22 inches
This painting came as the result of an invitation from David Lobenberg to join his watercolor class last Friday for some joint teaching and demonstration. This was the demo.
David’s entire class has been working on this truck . . . no easy subject! . . . . and all were excited to watch Dave and I sling paint and attempt to come up with some sort of painting. What a wonderful time we all had! His class is enthusiastic, energetic and talented! Lots of laughs and plenty of conversation about painting and art. I wish I lived closer. If I did, I prolly would be making a pest of myself!!
Thanks for the great welcome and lively participation to all the members of Dave’s class! You made me feel very much at home!

Under the Gun

Watercolor, 15″ x 22″
I am deep into preparations for my annual Open Studio show. This is my 19th year holding it and it seems the work beforehand is overwhelming.

It must be an escape mechanism in my personality that rears its head at this time of year. When I need most to focus on completing these daunting tasks, my mind is racing about possible paintings. I awaken from sound sleep dreaming about it. It seems the more I am around the framing and puttering in the studio to clean up and get ready, the more I want to paint!! It literally becomes a feeling of imprisonment! Eventually, I must cave in and dance with my easel.

Today, I awoke at 5 AM thinking about a certain sketch I had done last week . . .what color here? What value there? How should I handle the backdrop? Dry into wet or wet into dry? Calligraphy? Where? How shall I combine the light valued shapes? And what about making stimulating shapes? And on and on and on. Finally, I threw off the blankets and headed directly to the studio at 5:20AM. I was painting by 5:45 AM and finished around 7:30 AM.

After my playful easel shenanigans last week, I couldn’t get the method out of my head. So, I went after it again: dry into wet paper and building layers wet into wet. The painting always lacks something till the very end when the calligraphy is put in (line work). The trick with line is not to let it become to tight. Just lay it down with one stroke. If it is a little off, so be it. It really adds excitement to the piece . . . .oh! I forgot the birds!! That’ll bring more life to it also. I’ll have to put those in after I post.

As a last comment . . .my sense of humor carried me away this morning. I just couldn’t help making the title a little bit tongue in cheek.

Fun to Just PLAY!

“Harbor Hallucinations”
watercolor 15″ x 22″
Some days there is just no substitute for play at the easel! And this was pure FUN!
I absolutely LOVE this look in watercolor, but it is a look that too many artists over the years have attained . . . .and I want my own look that will be recognizable. Even so, this method of working is a thrill for me.
The method involves soaking the paper first. Then wringing it out by rolling a dry rolled up bath towel over the paper (firmly) . . .then painting into the wet (Moist) paper. The trick to success using this method is to carefully monitor the amount of water in the brush. Too much water and it blooms on the paper. Just enough causes the marks to have softer edges, but the paint stays put. The artist has but one hour to get it all blocked in before letting it dry completely. Once dry, a few calligraphy strokes here and there make for visual excitement and balance.
Years ago, I painted a lot like this . . .and it is really fun to ‘digress’ a bit and just play for the sheer sake of play.

In The Presence of Breakthrough!

“South of Carmel”
Oil on wood panel, 12″ x 16″
Another challenge to which I need to rise . . . . . .

My paintings are too dark. This is not something that is new for me. Looking over 50 or 60 paintings, done in the last six months, I realize I need to slide my value scale to a higher key. That doesn’t mean to paint in entirely a high key, but to keep the RELATIVE value differences in a slightly higher key. The recent paintings of the cypress trees is a good example of being too dark.

I see this because these paintings aren’t answering my purpose. I have been looking hard at them and decided I didn’t like the shapes either. They are not what I set out to do.

So, today I went to the studio only after sketching for an hour and meditating about what I would do today. Then I ran to the studio and hastily painted this piece. Even though it is a practice piece, Today is breakthrough day!!!!!

Yup! I definitely feel the presence of a breakthrough!

I painted on wood panel . . .no canvas, no linen . . .just gessoed, sealed wood. I also began mixing my paint with a palette knife . . .I am too stingy with paint when I mix with a brush. This way I can shovel load the brush and lather on the paint. This was FUNNNN!!!! Using the knife to mix, I put it to work on the painting, too. And I am very happy with the result. (I know, a year from now it won’t look so hot, but for now, I am excited.) With just sketches and general ideas in my head, the tree was all I began with. The rest . . . .well, you could say I winged it and it was rushed. All I was interested in was the tree, the values and color and working the knife, too. So, I got what I was after . . . but much more . . .

The combo of brush and knife opens soooo many doors to variety! Yesssssssss !!

Play Is Practice, Too

“Sunset ii”
oil on linen panel, 6″ x 8″
(please excuse the glare of the paint strokes)
There are times when there just isn’t a single twist of seriousness in me. Those times come up from time to time and prevent me from concentrated focus. Maybe it is fatigue or a mental stall. Perhaps it is just a need to disengage.
Yesterday, I watched a video that came in the mail on Friday. My back was having muscle spasms, it was cold outside. So I sat with a heating pad on my back while I watched Richard Schmid do a painting. I had never seen him paint before. While I have his book, this was an education. And it was a sharp needle that injected pure confusion into me. Confusion because I found myself questioning all that I have been doing. So, while I wanted to paint today, I could not get serious about making a painting without slipping into being Mr. Schmid. I suppose that is what we artists do; we become influenced by other artists.
So, instead, I played with the paint. Just tried a few things with color to see what would happen. I even caked on the white of the sun. In a frame, this little ‘game’ painting sure gives off light. It was fun. And . . . . . . .I learned from this too. So, playing isn’t always a waste of time. Brush mileage is brush mileage, right?

Stopped In My Tracks

Myrna Wacknov has a delightful new blog which is very instructive for all artists, no matter the medium. She happens to be an expert watermedia painter and is extraordinary in portrait work and figures. She issued a “November Challenge” which called for a contour drawing cut up with a grid of odd derivation then to paint it. I took the challenge and expect to have my painting completed toward month end (No point in rushing things . . . since I have plenty to do!)

So here is the drawing with the grid outlined in blue line (watercolor pencil that will disappear as it is painted). After hours of development of the drawing, the grid and getting it onto a piece of hot pressed watercolor paper, I stopped dead. I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure how to go about painting it. I was stuck!

As you may know, there is much much more freedom to make errors with opaque media, such as oil or acrylic or gouache. Watercolor doesn’t provide such liberty. One needs to plan a lot in order to complete complex paintings such as this one. The best device I have found to work out of such a planning puzzle is to do value trials . . .sketches. And do more than one! I will complete nearly 20 before I make my choice of which plan to follow . . . .it’s called exhausting one’s alternatives and picking the best one for composition, mood and content. (Yes, it is much more than just a picture that looks like a photo!! Much, much more!)

So, here is all I could get done this morning before heading out of town for the day. I think there are 8 or 9 different ideas here. I used Tombo pens in three different values on a big sheet of tracing paper. I made a single quick sketch on paper, then traced it enough times until the big sheet was full. Then it is just a matter of concentrating on how and where the lights, darks and mediums will be placed to achieve different emphasis.

Click on the photos to get a closer look.

Before I Go . . . .

“Five Pears”

oil on linen/panel, 8″ x10″
Before I go, I had to reacquaint myself with some special feelings . . . .those that run through my arm and abdomen when I am smearing oil paint on a canvas.
After not painting oils for at least 3 weeks, I couldn’t go another day without schmearing a little color around. I have much to get done today . . .dismantle the open studio show, put the house back together, finish up my workshop preparations, then leave in the morning for a week to teach the workshop and attend to some important family matters . . .another marriage in the family is on the horizon!
So, before I get to work and before I leave, I just HAD to make some hasty marks about these five pears . . . .(there are only four now . . . I just ate one of the delicious, juicy rascals!) . . .no time for perfection today . . .just move some paint and get reacquainted. Monday next I begin again painting daily. Can’t wait!!

Some Days Are More Difficult

“Before the Wind”
oil on stretched canvas, 16″ x 20″
Sunday was the same as Saturday. Wind, Wind and more wind!

I have terrible difficulty seeing the colors on the palette in bright sunlight. So, with the wind, I couldn’t put up an umbrella in the wind. It was a struggle. Then, I got caught in the details . . .and I know better!!! So, an hour in the studio this morning, tweaking values and reducing the details helped immensely. Not that a night’s sleep and rest from the wind had anything to do with it!!

This piece might be a little too illustrative, but what the heck! It’s a workshop piece. One thing I did notice is that I hit the right values and colors early in painting then, stupid me, I painted right through it! Serves me right for not stopping soon enough.

I could stand on those cliffs and paint for weeks on end! In fact, I could make a career out of the 50 mile stretch of our coast line! What a place we live in!!!

Bananas and Light

“Bananas and Light”

oil on linen on panel, 6″ x 8″
Here is today’s painting . . . done yesterday . . . .yellow as promised in yesterday’s post. This painting was just plain FUN! The color variations are myriad in this piece, yet it all ‘looks’ yellow. I really got excited about the outcome on this one!