Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Since I began the painting of the house I have been facing perspective issues with the painting. Not so much with the house and barn but with the addition of figures, the slide and swing set into the painting. First question was where do I put them? How tall would the children be in relation to their surroundings? I began by drawing the horizon line/eye level on the photo and then running the diagonal lines which can be seen in the following photograph. The painting photo that was posted in the last post now has light perspective lines, ghostly children and slide, with the swing set slightly now askew. It sounds technical and boring doesn't it? Well, in some ways it is both but in other ways I feel excited because some of what I have been reading since I did the perspective on the house photo above, is finally beginning to sink in a little.

A big, big thanks to the Drawing & Sketching Forum at Wet Canvas and their Classroom threads which has Beginning and Intermediate Perspective. The time and effort put into teaching these lessons is outstanding and the people involved deserve all the applause and gratitude one can give. That goes for the people utilizing the classes available because it is through their questions, showing their efforts, and having explanations given that helps us all to work through some of the same questions or problems. If the question isn't answered there, you will find among the threads posted other links to different sites that give demonstrations of perspective. Wonderful, wonderful.

Am I an expert now? By no means! I barely understand it. It is only through practice and more practice will perspective truly sink in to this brain of mine. Just think about what perspective means to an artist. The edge of buildings, a hilly road, roof tops with different angles/views, people (yes, even people are drawn using perspective, i.e., how tall, how wide, placement of facial features, waistline, pelvic area, etc.), and their relationship to their surroundings. Perspective is a "wow" factor when one can finally draw or paint an object without fearing it is incorrect in size or placement or in relationship to its surroundings. I haven't gotten there yet without all the planning beforehand which can be tedious and painstaking. The more practice though, the quicker and better at eyeballing a subject I will become. Believe me, learning this stuff doesn't come without lots and lots of frustration and wondering if I will ever get it. I'm math challenged if it isn't 2 + 2 and anything that even looks like what we use to call a "thought" problem, throws me into a panic attack and my mind simply blanks out. The answer I'm learning, has to do with having a start place. One has to know where to start and work out each step slowly. If it isn't correct, then I have to begin at the start place and go through each step until I find where my measurements went askew.

I've been reading about perspective at different websites since Saturday's class. Tim Tyler, my oils instructor, helped me and lucky me, I video taped part of his instruction so I can keep reviewing it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Swingin', WIP

16" x 20" Oils on stretched canvas. I have done a lot of painting, scraping off and repainting with this WIP. Lots of corrections to do yet and additional children, etc., to put in. The reference for this painting consists of my own photos.

As children we spent a lot of time skating up and down the sidewalk and off of the porch as well as playing in the barn. The next generation came along and they played on the slide and swing set plus climbing trees. It would have been great to paint this outside in front of the house but it is just too chilly for me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

10-18-08 Oils Class

Ken is beginning a new painting. The sun was so bright my camera bleached out the grass in the sunlit areas. Note the gorgeous tones in the foreground grass.

I'm walking toward the next painter who is concentrating on capturing the view in front of her. She is using a Guerilla Pochade box and the easel is one of the sturdiest I've seen.

Ken has blocked in the scene before him and did a terrific job. I could tell he has painted plein air before as he didn't waste any time in getting the scene down on the canvas.

This photo of the light shining through the pine tree captured my attention before class. I was in awe of the way the light filtered through the needles and the beautiful color. The worst part was the crick in the neck from looking up for so long.

The photo of my plein air finished in class Saturday, was taken Monday in full sunlight. I had been taking photos in the shade but Tim suggested taking them in full light.

I took in the British Columbia Lodge painting for Tim's review. He suggested adding some of the green that was on the hill side as a break in the trees above the roof of the main lodge building. Another suggestion was to put more wave movement in the water near the plane.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Old Baptist Mission

I was fairly happy with this painting until I noticed how the limb of the tree looks like a continuation of the front roof line. That isn't as noticeable in real life. I'm thinking that if I change the color temperature even more of either the roof line or the tree limb that would help separate the two even more. I also added a few additional limbs/twigs to help change the directional flow of that limb.
Also, thanks for the great comment Rhonda. I do enjoy the challenge of watercolor and even though one has to use control, letting the watercolor do its thing creates such a wonderful spontaneous look.
Another thing that I am becoming more aware of when photographing paintings is that as the sun moves across the sky the temperature of the light changes and affects how the painting looks. I always try to take the painting in a shaded area but depending on whether it is cloudy or blue sky as well as time of day, affects the outcome of the photo.

Old Baptist Mission, Half Sheet Watercolor

I added shadows to the bottom portion of the painting to break up that area and then took the painting outside for a photo. The top left photo shows more red inside the house while the top right photo shows more blue in natural daylight. I find it amazing how different lights cast a different color.

Watercolor painted to the edges on a half sheet (15" x 22") Arches 300# paper. I would mat this to approximately 13.5" x 20.5". As can be seen by the reference photo, I changed the season to reflect winter.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Old Baptist Mission, Watercolor Study

Today I practiced with watercolor on this 5 1/2" x 8" 300# Arches cold press paper. I sketched in the church than began painting in the darks. I had made the church to long so darkened the trees at the end of the church. For this study I used the following palette:

Cobalt Blue, Sepia, Quin. Burnt Orange, Ultramarine Violet, Undersea Green, Yellow Ochre, Sap Green, Viridian and Indian Red (an opaque wc.)

With this study I was trying to make each area, especially the four corners different and somewhat interesting. I was also looking at blocks of areas to see if they created interesting shapes and sizes.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Old Baptist Mission, Grid Sketch

The grid method was used for this drawing. I took the photo into Photoshop and placed grid lines 1" apart. Then using a 20" x 26" 1/8" plexi-glass which has black lines drawn an inch a part, I taped the tracing paper to the plexi-glass and began drawing. In the top photo, you can see how well the grid lines show through. My first lines were picked from the bottom left edge of the church.

After I finished the drawing I placed the tracing paper on top of a half sheet of 300# watercolor paper so the drawing could be seen better while I photographed it. In the photo it appears as though the church is at the half way mark of the paper but there is at least another two inches of paper above the blue tape that isn't showing. Also, I will have the doors open I think, to indicate more of an open, welcoming look.

My next step is to transfer the drawing of the church to the paper. The figures I will still be playing around with before commiting them to paper. I can either rub graphite on back of the tracing paper and then use a stylus to rub it into the paper or I can use graphite paper, again, using a stylus to rub the graphite lines into the paper.

What interests me about the photograph of the church are the beautiful, graceful shadow patterns cast by the tree onto the church. The other factor that interests me is the history behind the church built by the Cherokee Indians at the end of the Trail of Tears.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

10-11-08 Class

Below is a slide show of photos taken in yesterday's class. It was a really good class! Tim is doing his best to help me break the habit of painting the same place over and over again or diffusing the paint. He puts in broad strokes, planning where the stroke will go before he places it, then leaves it alone. So even though plein air is suppose to be quick because of how fast the light changes, this plein air painting is mostly a lesson in looking, planning and placing the strokes.

Later in the class Tim discussed perspective with us since I am bumbling with it. I recorded this portion of the discussion so I can review it often. Also, he discussed SLR camera settings as I didn't know anything about the camera I was using. I'm still not having much luck getting the right settings but believe that will come with time and practice. So the Auto setting is being used a lot!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

House Sketch

This photo shows the beginning drawing/sketch of the house where I live. It is a preliminary compositional sketch prior to a painting commission. The kids playing in the yard still have to be drawn. The slide, swing set, wood fence and house are all elements the client requested to be in the painting.

Have I mentioned that I'm not great at perspective simply because I don't practice accurate perspective enough so that it comes automatically. As one can see I did not draw in the horizon line or eye level so there could be areas that need correction. The yards of the house and barn both slope down gradually.

Now I have to rush to get ready for class this morning!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Old Baptist Mission

The photos in the slideshow were taken by me in 2006, of the Old Baptist Mission located North of Westville, OK. You can read more about this church Here. This slideshow was set up this morning because the plan is to take photos of the work in progress and share it with an on-line art group. For convenience of those that are new to painting, I took the photos into Photoshop and created an edge photo, a cutout photo, and a stamp photo, so that one can see the simplified areas. I also drew in some figures trying to figure out the perspective of the figures depending on where they were placed within the photo.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Class Plein Air 2, Working from memory in-studio

My homework was to work from memory matching colors, in my studio. Wellll, I have a faulty memory so I checked photos for sky lightness, grass colors, etc. I don't have a photo of the actual area in this painting so that is all from memory.

In the top right photo, I have only worked on the sky, background and ground areas, plus slimming done a few branches of the trees.
In this photo, again on the right, I worked more on making the ground areas recede and the different planes within the ground. In looking at the painting and this photo, there needs to be more differentiation between the foreground lone tree and the background tree line. In painting the background trees I went over the foreground tree limbs so they will have to be tweaked again as well.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Skin Tone Study

Late last night I practiced skin tones. The face is from my imagination and I wasn't concerned about accuracy of shapes and placement of the facial elements but concentrated on values, colors and hard/soft edges. I flipped over a used piece of 140# Arches watercolor paper, and did a few test areas of different color mixes before deciding on the colors in this study.

Mixing new gamboge with permanent alizarin crimson, I washed a very pale layer over a large oval-shaped area, let that dry. Next a mix of new gamboge, p. alizarin crimson, burnt sienna and cobalt blue for the shadows. With these colors one can go greener or bluer or more purple in the shadows, depending on the amount of paint added to the mix. Using the shadow color I quickly laid in the shadows in the eye areas, along the nose and placed the mouth, softening edges, adding shadow under the chin and on the neck.

This is a very rudimentary study but invaluable in learning skin tones, where to have hard edges, how to soften and blend the tones and edges, and studying shadow areas of the face. It took about 20 minutes or less, minus drying time, to do this study.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Child Graphite Sketch

A quick graphite sketch of a little girl that was drawn from a photo of my niece when she was a child. I used Photoshop to increase the contrast because I sketched so lightly. I'm working on sketches of elements that will be placed in a painting. Using these sketches, I will cut out some of them to place on a larger piece of paper to arrange the composition. I haven't tried composing a painting this way but read about it and thought this would be a good time to experiment with it.

This second sketch of a little girl is the sister to the one in the first sketch. One is fair and one is dark.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


I didn't take photos during class yesterday so here are three photos that were taken the 1st day of October, 2008. In the first photo is a spider, a kind which I haven't seen before in this area. The stripes on the body look yellow in the photo but they were a bright green. The dog is Lacey which we rescued from a trap when she was a puppy. The horses are quarter horses and make their home in the pasture. Yesterday began with a thunderstorm and some lovely rain which fit my mood perfectly; laid back and quieter than usual. The oils class with Tim Tyler is back to Saturday and it was a lovely morning for the hour's drive. The class was also a harmonious rather laid back class as we sat around and discussed painting. I think we all were in the mood to ponder paintings of those in the class as well as works by other artists. Stephanie was working on a child's portrait (sorry didn't take photos this week.) She is doing a lovely piece of work too. There was one area on the portrait with which Stephanie was unhappy and wanted to know if there was a way to correct it. So while Tim and Stephanie discussed the painting and then worked on it, I quietly observed. Discussed were the half tones, transitions from warm to cool, the amount of paint applied; thin in darks thicker in the light, and the kinds of strokes; smooth or more texture.

I didn't paint at all yesterday and left class early as my body said it needed rest more than painting. I did bring home the 2nd plein air painting though with instructions from Tim to match the colors used and to paint as much as I could from memory.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Northwest Pasture, new photo

So using Photoshop I increased the gamma (lightened) to see if this is better.

I posted the photo earlier this morning and the color looked right. No corrections using Photoshop. This evening, on my monitor, the photo looks very, very dark. So now I don't know whether it is that dark on everyone's monitor or if it is just mine. Strange things going on, so will trust that someone will left me know whether this photo looks just a bit darker and more saturated than the original photo or if it look very, very dark. Computers/monitors are wonderful tools but when they go on the "blink" they can be quite frustrating too.
I took this photo at the same time as the one posted below, placing the painting on the carport floor, where it would get the least glare from the bright sunlight. The painting is somewhat lighter but saturation is about right.

I thought I would bring to the reader's attention, that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. More information on programs and events can be found at the American Cancer Society website.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Plein Air - Northwest Pasture

Northwest Pasture
11" x 14"
Unstretched Canvas Pad
Worked on this plein air this morning and had to wear a sweatshirt and a sweatshirt jacket. The breeze was very cool. I'm calling this one finished. The trees are still pretty lush with foliage so couldn't see many of the tree trunks.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Noon Time Plein Air

I began this plein air with the sun not quite overhead. Now the sun has moved so that I would have to be chasing the light and shadow directions. I used some unstretched canvas from a canvas pad taped to a board for these practice studies. My goal is to learn to paint greens but even more to learn to paint what I see. Tomorrow, I hope to go back to this painting at the same time of day. I won't be painting in the storage building or the fence, nor all the trees. My focus is the large tree in the photo that is near the center. It is the variation of colors, shapes and values I see in the trees and the grasses that interests me. I wanted to mention the colors I'm using for this which are Holbein Ultramarine, WN Alkyd Cobalt Blue, WN Cerulean Blue, Holbein Yellow Ochre, WN Cadmium Yellow, M. Graham Burnt Sienna, WN Terra Verte, M. Graham Transparent Red Iron Oxide, and Titanium White. By posting the palette used, it helps me to remember what colors were used. I also used the Transparent Red Iron Oxide and the Burnt Sienna interchangably.

I watched excerpts from a Johnnie Liliedahl video this morning on painting shadows both in landscape and still life. If I remember right, in landscapes, the cast shadows will be cooler if the sky is blue, the form shadows will often be warm because of the surrounding terrain as will open shadows. I will have to watch it again so that I can soak up more of what she teaches.

The oil painting class has been switched from Friday back to Saturday. Either day works for me as long as I am learning and painting.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Quick Sketches

A couple of quick thumbnail sketches (that shows how rusty I am with my sketching) of the house and of kids playing on the swings. The goal of these two sketches is to get a feel for the subject matter. Right now, the sketches are of individual areas, without regard to perspective of the elements or composition. I am using photos dating back more than 30 years as well as newer photos of the house.