A Twitch in My Right Arm

Quickly! There is a disturbing itch developing near the crown of your head. Scratch it!!!

When you scratched, did you draw blood or make a wound of any kind? Obviously, not. Since you inflicted no damage, how much pressure did you use? In what direction did you scratch? How many strokes did you use? Did you use fingernails or finger tips? Did you satisfy the itch? Yes? If so, how did you know when you were finished scratching? When it didn’t itch anymore? How did you know that?

My guess is that we all developed this reflexive and second nature skill through tens of thousands of ‘itch scratching’ occurrences. In other words, a whale of a lot of PRACTICE ! You know exactly how to scratch and don’t even think about it much when you do it . . . right? Of course!!

Color mixing and learning about color characteristics and applying that stuff in a painting is much more than pulling the ‘right crayon’ from the box. It really is about understanding the color relationships you are building into the painting. It is how this color is going to react with the other colors in the painting.

But . . . . . . . How does one KNOW about relationships and how a color will react with the others next to it, away from it, mixed with it, surrounded by it etc? How many books have been written about color? How many opportunities to practice mixing different greens have you,( the artist), taken to fill reams of canvas or paper to achieve that “knowing” of when it is right. How many different colors on your palette are possible to use in the mixing of greens? How much PRACTICE have you put in to learn it? Are you waiting for the right moment when you need that certain green to figure it out? Or, are you developing the skill quietly by yourself so, when the need arises, you can deliver it in spades?

I am preparing a first time three day workshop on Color Relationships to be given in Murphys, California near the end of this month. 25 participants will be there to learn more about the utility of color, color harmonies and color relationships. At least, we will be able to put out enough knowledge to make any painter “dangerous” with color if they develop and PRACTICE their skills AFTER the workshop.

How does one explain color harmony? Comments anyone? What about color relationships? How does one explain that? How does one awaken the thinking muscle about color when one is the teacher? I have ideas and would be interested in yours. Drop me a note or comment. Meanwhile, our house is still ‘the gallery’ for open studio. I am cleaning house again today and fussing with details and more outdoor clean up to get ready for tomorrow.

I am sure you would be interested in knowing my right arm is under severe “twitch observation” since I have not been able to find a moment to actively paint. The twitch is from brush neglect! And it is painful!!

Notes to Self

“Placing Opa”
Notes and sketches in the sketchbook

There is little time to paint today considering all that needs to be done for open studio. But that doesn’t mean I am not thinking about it.
In a small village called Montpazier in the Perigord region of France, I snapped photos of an old gramma shopping for the day with her companion. This is a daily occurrance in Europe. Walking to town to buy the day’s groceries is the norm.
(I call her Opa). She is stooped with age and is obviously fighting back pain as she has her hands supporting her lower back when she walks. To me, the image speaks loudly of the human condition. I want to paint her . . .the scene. But design must first be done to get the max from the image and to keep it simple.
So, instead of painting, I can sketch for a few minutes and make notes to myself for when I can spend the time to paint. Eliminating details and having the overall shapes say what needs to be said is my goal. Contructing her on the canvas will be the key to the mood of the piece, as well as her placement in the overall design. What mood to I want to project? That is the question I must answer before painting.
So, here are my thoughts regarding placement. Eventually, I combine the shape of Opa with a younger woman pushing a baby carriage for more interest and contrast. I think it makes for a more interesting idea. You can see how I arrived at the idea of putting the two together. It was a process of trial and error and suggestions from each sketch.
You can also see the right angle of light crossing the pathway. Opa’s head will be in the vertical part of that light in the final piece as the center of interest, well to the right of center.

Developing an Idea

The first idea. But it needs development . . . .

The second idea is better, but the light valued shape does

nothing for the figure.

The third idea is better . . .much better, but needs simplifying to say more about the figure.

Finally, the figure is set into the right value structure to bring all the attention on it. After all, this isn’t about the surrounding scenery. It is all about the mood of the figure.

“Decisions, Decisions”

oil on linen on panel, 10″ x 8″


At Last, No Glare !

An inexpensive highly effective solution!

After procrastinating and doing other stuff, the last few painting photos have been so poor that I decided to attempt building a light box as shown in this link. Thanks to Carol Marine for feeding it to us in her blog!

This light box has turned out so well that I am punishing myself for being so slow in constructing it. I built this one large enough to accept paintings up to 16 x 20 (I just happened to have had a box large enough). A little tracing vellum (tissue paper will work), a little masking tape, some illustration board (mat board) scraps, a utility knife and one hour is all it took. And I get perfect photos! No color correction needed. The lamps I use at my watercolor table emulate sunlight . . . . . . .so that is what I use for the light box. I merely set the box on the table, mount the painting on the back wall, face the lights into the vellum windows, put the camera on the tripod and shoot. Done! With amzing results, too! A fantastic solution and for rillly rillly cheeep!

From this point forward, the oil paintings will be photo’d in the box!