Sunday, June 30, 2013

When You Can't Paint...DRAW!

Often it isn't possible to take your whole painting get up when your traveling.  Add a couple of kids and that Honda will fill up quick. An excellent option in that case is a small drawing kit and a sketchbook so that you can take the time to practice your drawing skills.  This is exactly what I did this weekend.

I have been working on a series of prospector paintings so what better subject for sketching but old dusty characters, worn and weathered.  Sketching gives you a great opportunity to do in depth studies of your subject with very little space needed.  Let me share a couple of pages from my sketchbook with you.

Quick Sketch for a Painting


More Practicing

I've Got Homework

I've been taking private painting lessons now for almost a year and I have to say that I have learned so much.  I would recommend taking lessons from a local artist if you are at all interested in improving your skills.  Even if painting is only a hobby, there is so much satisfaction in tapping into your creativeness.  In a world that is crazy out of control, painting gives me the ability to escape and create my own world.  It might be a mountain stream, an old barn or the ruins left behind by some long forgotten miner. They allow me to escape to another time or place.

Not only do I learn from painting the lessons with my instructor Lily Adamczyk, I find that I actually learn more when I bring an original piece that I have worked on myself and have her critique it.  Her experienced artist eyes can see small flaws and areas of needed correction.   I have on several occasions shared these critiques on this blog with the hope that as I learn there is someone else out there that actually can benefit from my lessons.

This piece that I'm calling "Taking a Break" is an 18x24 Oil painting that I have worked on for several weeks.  It is a particular challenge for me because of the size and detail of the prospector.  I usually paint in acrylics and appreciate the speed that the paint drys and so when I paint in oil I find myself impatient because you often have to wait for the paint to dry before you can proceed.  Often I will find that I'm just pushing muddy paint around the canvas which is what I did in this piece as I struggled to paint the rocks and the water.

Before taking my painting to my lesson

Here is the piece as it looked when I took it to my lesson yesterday with the following corrections brought to my attention.  Now I have lots of homework to bring this painting to the FINISH LINE.  I'm certain that I will share in a blog post very soon the finished product when I get all my homework done.   Here are my needed corrections:
    1.  Background trees are too bright and detailed.  Below you will see that one tree has been adjusted to better reflect the distance element.  I have to fix all of them to match this one. HOMEWORK
    2.  The water has too many lines and is too bright especially in the distance.  This makes the water look unnatural.  I have also not done a good job of painting around the rocks.  Normally in a composition like this you will have painted the water before proceeding on to the foreground but because of my going back and making changes I've actually worked on the water after my prospector and rocks were already painted in.  Lily helped me by showing me how to correct the water and so have to finish the river.- Homework
3.  We added depth to the foreground by adding more dirt area between the log and the rocks.  I have to correct the rocks by changing their general shape and color...More homework.
4.  The details in the grass blades need to be more defined.  I have painted them to uniformly by making them all the same size.  The grass in the background appears too clumpy and needs to have a more random appearance- More Homework
5.  We fixed the fire by adding more Naples Yellow to the flames rather than yellow and smoothing it out.  I have to add back in the smoke once I have finished with the rocks- You guessed it- more homework
6.  We added more highlighting to the log, the hat, the cup and plate, the gold pan and shovel.  By adding a darker background color the result was the prospector and the log popped more.
7.  The shirt required more rounding out in the back and adjusting in the front where he it would meet his pants.  Now my prospector has a little more natural look rather than the appearance of being stiff.  I had painted his suspenders with paynes gray and didn't think that as they came up on his shoulder the sunlight would change that color to a blue hue.
8.  The tone of his skin that was shadowed from his hat wouldn't only be grays but would have a glaze of skin tone.  Lily had me brighten up his cheekbone and nose to finish off his face with a more rounded appearance.  We also made a correction on his wrist where I had painted the shadow of his sleeve too dark.

My painting waiting for me to make those final details that will bring it to the finish line

Monday, June 24, 2013

Clawing Your Way Back to Creativity

There are many things in this life that want to suck the creativity right out of you and this past two weeks a family trauma has done just that.  I'm reminded of that commercial for Progressive Insurance where these people are throwing themselves on to cars and they are call RATE SUCKERS.   I get that same mental picture when I think of the heavy emotion of grief and what it does in your life.  Grief is is a huge black cloud that surrounds you and sucks so much out of you, especially in the area of creativity. 

Two weeks have come and gone and I haven't so much as picked up a paint brush and I keep telling myself to go in there and at least lay out fresh paint.  Recently, my theme has been gold prospectors and so I have a partially completed piece on the easel of an old prospector that is in real need of finishing.  Should I take a hike in the mountains, lay on the beach or just grab my sketchbook to try to begin the process of rekindling that desire to sit back down at my easel?  

I have for the past two years that I have been seriously painting, always taken my completed pieces with me when we would visit my shut-in mother-in-law.  I felt that this was something that she enjoyed seeing and each time she would comment on the piece as if it was the very first time she had seen my work.  Her recent passing has left a hole in my heart and a lump in my throat.  As soon as I can find the strength, I'm going to have to paint something especially in her honor but first I need to get this old prospector off my easel.

Current work in progress that needs my creativity to return so that I can finish this 16 x 20 Acrylic piece.  I'm planning to include a Winchester rifle leaning against the fallen tree and his bedroll and belongings hanging further up the shore. 
Recent piece that I'm calling "Taking a Break" that shows a hardworking prospector enjoying a simply cup of coffee, a warm fire and a plate of beans.

A sketch I started last week of old prospector that could multitask by enjoying his pipe and working his pan at the same time.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I am a Blogger-Come on in and Sit a Spell

Yesterday, I was in deep thought and came up with a profound comparison that I just had to share today...I was considering the differences between my website and my blog as many people don't understand and think they are the same.  It came to me that my website is like visiting and being brought into the formal living room that is reserved only for company.  The room isn't used on a daily basis and once you have it decorated just they way you like it you just go in there periodically and fluff the pillows and dust the furniture but you're not spending great deals of time in there.

My blog on the other hand is like the front porch.  Sitting on the swing with a big jar of fresh sweet tea waving at all the neighbors as they pass by on the sidewalk.  Maybe some of them stop at the gate and exchange weather and local gossip, while others come on up and sit a spell.

Ice cold sweet tea with a sprig of mint from my herb garden ...It is Las Vegas so remember to bring your sun hat!

A blog is personal and it is a forum to share you passion with people all over the world that for some reason took a few minutes out of their lives to stop in and pull up a chair.  We can chat about my artwork, my latest Nevada adventure or a recent lesson I have learned about composition or color.  Whatever the reason for the visit a blogger is driven to make a contact.

I am fascinated with my statistics and audience synopsis.  The fact that so many of my visitors are from far away exotic places just blows this Missouri girls mind.  I'm still remember having a high school pen pal that lived in the Philippines and how each letter took weeks to arrive at the posted destination and within minutes of me pushing the little orange PUBLISH button I have an audience thousands of miles away checking out my thoughts, musings and maybe even my artwork.  Amazing time we live in

A screen shot of my audience statistics for this week so far....Just blows me away!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Sometimes Life is Pretty Black and White

but I have a tendency to use both colors way too much when it comes to painting.  I have been trying to learn more about color and so I'm really studying the book titled "Color Harmony" by Margaret Kessler.  Ms. Kessler addresses the use of white and black on page 15 where is says that, "If you lighten a color, you reduce its intensity. But, if you do this with tubed white (a cool color) without modifying it with hints of warm color, the result looks chalky" and regarding the use of black or paynes gray to darken a color, Ms Kessler cautions that the result may look boring or unnatural.

Now I do know this and yet this head knowledge sometimes escapes me when I'm in the "Zone" and I'm thoughtlessly dipping my brush too often in both the white and paynes gray.  Repeat after me....Highlights from the sunlight are not really white and shadows cast are not really black or paynes gray.  That is just my lack of understanding of color and letting my preconceived idea of how things appear rather than real observations.

A good example is that of a recent painting I did that I'm calling "Feisty Fowls".  I took the piece to my painting lesson with my friend Lily Adamczyk for a critique and as usual there were a number of corrections that needed to be made and just like homework I took the time to make the suggested changes.

Here is the BEFORE:

Corrections made:
  1.  removed the darkness from their faces. I had used paynes gray...BAD! BAD! BAD! I used burnt sienna and dioxadine purple mixed with the red to give the darker tones to their faces
2.  removed the white...BAD! BAD! BAD! on the edges of the combs and used orange as the highlight instead
3.  brightened the grass with a glazing of thinned yellow green
4.  removed the intersection of the background hills that put the second rooster in the cross hares or bulls-eye.
5.  brightened the stones and squared them up to give them more of the appearance of a stacked stone wall