Swept Up In It

“Red Teacup”

oil on gessoed masonite, 8″ x 6″
Funny how one suddenly awakens to being conscious of one’s own curious mental state. I have been swept up into the world of small still lifes without ever having purposely allowed it to happen. My gosh! Aren’t there myriads of things to paint other than vessels of various kinds? After a haircut yesterday, I found myself wandering in an import shop and buying up a bunch of second rate glassware and a few items of pottery . . .teacups mostly. After I bought them, I couldn’t wait to get home to paint them!
Whaaaaat? Uh-oh! I have caught a still life bug! This probably happened because I was house bound for a couple months caring for my injured wife. I only painted stills because it was convenient. I couldn’t leave the house. But now . . . .I get all squiggly inside because I love to look thru and attempt to paint distortions in glass! Eeegads! What happened to all that masculine, outdoor, plein air stuff, Mike?
I suppose being too busy with other aspects of life prevents me going off to spend half a day or more painting. This morning, I rose at 4AM to complete this piece. No, I didn’t set an alarm. My painting ‘jones’ woke me. (yes, I have it bad!) I have to be at an all day art ‘show’ at the museum to talk with folks and maybe sell a few paintings . . . .and for a little while tomorrow, too. So, I had to get this painting done before the day’s activities began.
So now you know the story behind this painting. There will be more of this glassware, I assure you! And just look at how rich and delicious that red teacup is! What is it about red? It hums!

Another Experiment

Well, . . .here is another experiment . . .light, color and shadow bouncing off a white pitcher on a white plate sitting in a colored tissue paper nest.

But Hey! The PHOTO came out great! Doncha think?! 😉
The shadows on the pitcher and plate seem a bit neutral here . . .I may have to re-evaluate the painting.

This piece is painted on venetian red gessoed masonite. I noticed that (because of an hour long interruption) the paint began setting up almost immediately . . .or the oil soaked into the gesso. By the time had come to put in the highlights and make adjustments to color or value or both, the paint had become just like gum! Sticky and literally had to tug the brush through the paint.

Back to linen. It is soooooo nice and workable!

A Week More, Please

“A Big Lemon”

oil on linen on panel, 6″ x 8″
After yesterday’s slaughter of a canvas, I was looking for better results today. An improvement, but I need another week to get back to the zone. It is amazing to me how fast it slips away.

I think I have found the solution to my glare difficulties. Today I only used ‘horizontal’ light. That is, I hooded the painting so no light from above came in and used an aperature priority on the camera on a tripod. That told me to light only from the side. I am going to jury rig a light box from a cardboard box and see if I can set up something so I can photo quickly and accurately. Will see how it goes. Cardboard boxes are certainly not expensive.

This lemon came out of the fridge this morning. It was huge! The small mason jar gives some idea of the scale.

I hafta keep at it. Paint paint paint paint and paint some more! Eventually, it will become second nature and things will fall into place. Getting there is the fun of it!

A Very Good Reason

Yes, there is a very good reason to paint daily: To stay in the zone !

Like any other skill, it only works when you work it. I took this one on this morning after being away from it for a while . . .actually a week! And It looks like I painted this with a kitchen basting brush!

I had to stop so I could go to work. But, like the others, they all count toward improvement. So, I just count this one as ‘an effort.’


Putting Something Up For Now

“Bird of Paradise”

watercolor, 15″ x 22″
Okay! So I didn’t paint this recently. This is a piece I painted in watercolor a while back with my tongue in cheek. In California, there is a tropical flower called the Bird Of Paradise. The colors in this piece are the colors in that flower . . . .so the subject and the layout and the way it was painted was all a pun about that silly flower that so many painters want to paint.
I am teaching today and tomorrow, but felt I should post something today. I’ll do better when the class is over. Tuesday will be my first opportunity. Meanwhile, enjoy this piece . . .I chuckled to myself when I painted it.

July 4Th . . . .

“Hung Out to Dry”

Oil on masonite, 8″ x 6″
It’s here again. This is the 26th annual Family Reunion we hold on the 4th. I have made all but three, I think. There is no other event, even Christmas, that pulls the family together like this does. This week is the week when engagements are announced, weddings happen, announcements for the future are made and those who have gone before us are honored. And the awards (roasts!) bar b que, the catching up with each other . . . .all of it . . . it is a blast!
And we honor those who stood and fought when it counted. And those who constucted this fine country we live in . . . .and I ain’t talkin hammer and nails . . . .! And we all give very grateful thanks for every bit of it: God, family, home, country . . . .everything!
So, there won’t be any posting tomorrow . . . .it’s a big deal tomorrow. Nothing is as important . . . . . so, please excuse me.
On the 6th, 7th and 8th, I am going to be giving a watercolor workshop called “Composition for Impact.” It will be an intense 3 days when the participants will be painting 5 to 6 paintings in three days . . . .all toward making one idea better and better and better.
Meanwhile, I am sharing this little guy with you so you can see the growth since May 1st . . . . . . . . . ..when I began the painting a day committment. . . . .and began oil painting. You won’t have to look hard to see it. (The growth I mean!! 😉 ) I sure can!
Happy 4th, Everyone! Take a moment to reflect on how much this holiday really does mean.

Puttering Day

“Surf Stump”

oil on linen on panel, 8″ x 10″
Big family events are afoot. Today we are meeting our daughter’s future in laws and entertainting them. As well, Daughter and mom are out seeking wedding locations for a not so far off date. I got stuck with tidying up. Stuck might not be the right word. Shall we say ‘elected?’ 😉
I know what will happen this evening. Everyone will want to go to the studio to see what goes on there. And it is a big mess. I gotta git bizzy!
Today’s painting really isn’t done today. It has been held back for a few weeks waiting for a day like today when I simply cannot paint. I almost got my feet wet doing this one. I was perched on a rock with my easel and the waves were lapping at my feet while I tried to characterize this ‘stump’ of a rock and how it is being clobbered every single minute of every day.

Reflections and Light

“Reflective Surfaces”
oil on linen on panel, 6″ x 8″
Today’s piece was out of necessity. Necessary because I didn’t go outside to paint today. Now that I think about it, I should have. It is beautiful weather! I also promised I wouldn’t paint more ocean cliffs.
Elio Camacho, an extraordinary painter who really understands the characteristics of color and working temperature, intensity and value simultaneously, is gracing my paintings with some truly instructive critiques. So, when I went to the studio today, I had his crits in mind and set out to put some of that stuff to work.
Ouch! I got lost in making the reflections work!! And value relationships. I am going back to the studio, pulling out another study canvas and painting colored blocks and going to work on temperature contrasts.
Am going to fool around with cobalt turquoise and indian yellow and quinacridone rose. That should give me a start toward making something new and exciting happen with color.

Why Fascinated?

“Nearing Sunset”
oil on linen on panel, 10″x 8″
Sometimes there are subjects that defy logic or conventional formulas . . . .like rocks and broken faces of cliffs . . .and evidence of layered strata in cliff faces with all the random planes. I suppose that is why this subject held my interest in watercolor for so many years. And, I guess, it is the reason I keep going back and back and back and coming away less than satisfied.
In short, it is a tuff subject to paint. The painters who do the Grand Canyon amaze me. Those who do Sadona and Zion, etc make me stare in wonder: How do they do thaaaaat?
All this work in the past few days has been in answer to that constant fascination. Each day, it seems to get a little easier. Today, some things fell into place. Light and shadow is the part which complicates matters. Separating the two and keeping them separate is a big part of it. Another is working with color relatives inside those areas . . .or so I think. Cools and warms. Value and color transitions. Edges. Sheesh! This gets complicated! Oh, but there is more! I won’t go into it now, but you get the idea.
And you are bored with looking at this subject? Okay. I’ll take a break. But not for long.

Macpherson Was Right!

“Try Another Path!”
oil on canvas, 36″ x 24″
Kevin Macpherson was right. The power of doing little studies outdoors, then using them as reference in the studio is the only way to go.

This is the largest piece to date . . .and I itch to get really big . . . .at 36″ x 24″ I had to reach to get at it (okay, I’m a short guy!) . . .

Those studies I did over the weekend in the wind, and the photos I took set this piece in motion. I used the photos for a few minutes to get a general idea . . .then in the drawings, stretched the height of the big cliff to exaggerate the feeling of altitude.

Then I buried the photos. Yup! Totally hid them so I couldn’t be tempted to get near them. This painting had to come from the heart. I propped up the studies (the three posted paintings from the last few days) . . .looked at what I liked and didn’t like and set some small goals for this studio piece. I let the plein air pieces be my guide then improvised from there.

We can always improve on everything we do, but I think this painting says what I wanted it to say. It is loose in areas, tight in others, the colors are harmonic and there is a sense of space and atmosphere that works. Could it be better? Of course! But considering the few pieces I have done so far to date, I am happy with it.
Now, of only Macpherson would say the same thing!! :-))
(P.S. I wonder what I’ll say a year from now!)