Sunday, March 27, 2011

Landscape Practice

Landscape Practice
5" x 6 3/4"

Allergies are better today  so felt like doing a little practice with watercolors.  The mountains are based on an old photograph taken in Alaska and the rest is imagination. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Fighting Allergies

Here is a sunset photo taken in August one year.   Can you tell I'm ready for allergy season to be over, since this Spring has been the worst for allergies.  I am not normally allergic but the last few days have tough with a wooly head and a constantly leaking faucet (nose).  Will be back to painting soon, I hope. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Help Japan Challenge

12" x 9"

I mentioned previously that Daily Paintworks has "The Help Japan Challenge" this week.  Today, the painting above was accepted into the Challenge and is offered for auction with the proceeds going to the American Red Cross.  Hope you will visit the Challenge and look at all the work and perhaps, make a bid to help in the aid to Japan. 

The Iris was originally painted in 2009 from my own reference photo. Some areas of the painting were reworked today to add a bit more color. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Year of Painting (YOP) Challenge at Painting Friends

 We have begun a Year of Painting (YOP) challenge at, Instead of one painting a week, we are doing one painting a month.  The challenge photos are posted on the 20th of the month (March), and finished paintings will be posted April 20th, along with new photo(s) for the May challenge.  Each month the topic will be different.  This challenge is open to all mediums and all artists are encouraged to join the challenge.  To participate in the challenge one must be a member of Painting Friends.  Perhaps you will join us? 

The first challenge is to paint a landscape using either or both of the two photos above as reference.  The first photo is of the old apple tree that was in our back yard.  The second photo is one I took along a highway in NE Oklahoma.  I liked the play of light and shadow in that one. 

Each artist determines what he/she wants to learn from the challenge and how much planning they want to do before starting the painting.  Several of the artists mentioned they wanted to learn to paint greens while others were interested in a looser technique.  We are asking the artists to offer comments about their work when they post their painting on the 20th of each month.  We hope they will share with us what their goals were, what they like or don't like about their painting, and some of the things they learned. 

They are encouraged to do notans, thumbnails, sketches and color swatches before beginning their painting, although these are not required to participate in the challenge.

Below is a notan I did as an example, using a Sharpie marker, then cropped to show different views. 

And here are a couple of thumbnail sketches in graphite to show values and light/shadow placement. 

The sketch from the apple tree photo was posted on the blog earlier but here it is again.  
Doing the notan, thumbnails, and sketch was great because I know I need to look more at the ratio of light/dark contrasts, angles and what leads the eye out of the sketch or painting.  It teaches me to think about how to keep the eye from leaving the work and reinforces how important values are. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Check Out the Daily Paintworks Challenge Blog

I enjoy seeing the challenges on the Daily Paintworks blog but the challenge that will be posted on Saturday, March 19th, is special.  Check out The Help Japan ChallengeMany thanks to the artists at the Daily Paintworks blog for the challenges but especially for this one.

 Many thanks to all of you that posted on the poll and your comments. 

I'm still looking at still life arrangements and still life photos.  I like the white on white with just the touches of color in this photo. What I don't like is the center position of the milk glass cup used as a brush holder.

L. W. Roth commented with a suggestion to add a dark value positioned about 2:00 o'clock to offset the centered cup.  Thanks L.W. for the suggestion.  

I put the photo in Photoshop and added more drapery on the viewer's left.  What bothered after adding the drapery is that all the weight appeared to be on the right side.  The weight needed to be distributed to create more balance so an attempt to paint in a tube of paint was done.  By adding the tube of paint it created a more circular movement with the heavy weight of all the items on the right balanced by the small tube of paint to the left.  Is it a workable arrangement?  I'll set up the arrangement again and move objects around to see what looks right to me. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Old Tree Sketch

I have a photo of an old apple tree that was in our back yard and used it as a reference for this sketch.  The top of the tree had broken off and most of the branches were gone. 

This morning I've been trying to come up with a still life arrangement to paint and have taken beau coup photos.  I found a scrap piece of material that was bright and colorful, then got a couple of bowls and a white platter that I thought would work with the material.  That didn't have enough interest so added red apples to bring in more red.  

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Learning To Draw An Ellipse - Coffee Cup Sketch

Here is the quick sketch of the finished coffee cup done for the online class where we are learning to draw an ellipse.  I think the back of the ellipse is a bit high and not quite round which can be corrected with a kneaded eraser. 

Yesterday was spent working on an art project on the computer.  From that project will come notans and thumbnails, rearranging elements for a more pleasing design.  Whether the rearrangement turns out to be more pleasing or not, the main thing for me, is to be aware of what can be done, how it can be changed, and why it needs to be changed. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Utilizing Tools - Photoshop Elements

Knowing I will never visit Monet's Garden in Giverny, I chose a reference photo by Ilis from the Wet Canvas Reference Image Library(RIL) for this exercise.  My goal is to look closely at what tools in Photoshop Elements could be used to help break down the photo into usable segments instead of being overwhelmed by all that beautiful greenery.  Listed below each photo is the tool used in Photoshop except for the Vermeer Armature which was drawn using Paint.
  • Most of us are familiar with converting a photo to grayscale to see the values, ranging from black to white. For those of you not familiar with Photoshop, click "Enhance", click "Convert to Black and White".
  • Next, the "Cutout" filter is found under "Filters" then "Artistic.  It was used so that the photo could be broken down in to mass shapes and colors.
  • Contrast was used In the 4th photo.  Under "Enhance", click "Adjust Lighting" then click "Brightness/Contrasts", to create more contrasts within the photo. 
    • To create a photo similar to a "Notan (pure black and white areas in the photo), use the "Threshold" button found under "Filters" then "Adjustments".
  • In the 5th photo the edges were accented and the greenery simplified.  The "Accented Edges" filter can be found under "Filters" then "Brushwork". 
  • Not shown but important when you want to know what colors are in the photo is to posterize the photo.  Posterizing emphasizes the base colors and simplifies the shapes.  Click "Filters", "Adjustments", then "Posterize".
    • The last photo shows lines, known as a "Vermeer Armature", drawn on the photo using an imaging program called "Paint".  Look at where the interior lines intersect and create an "X",  I believe these areas are called sweet spots and are indicated by circles.  
    The object in doing these exercises is see how a photo or thumbnail can be changed and/or improved.  Try moving horizontal or vertical elements up or down, creating more of a 1/3-2/3rd ratio.  Zero in on a certain area and crop the photo.  Change a horizontal format to a vertical format and vice versa.  Note where the sweet spots are in the photo - rearrange the subject so the area you want for a focal point is situated closer to one of those spots. Please note that in this instance,the composition of the original photograph has not been changed.

    Try these exercises, then do notans where you can see the ratio of white to black areas, and thumbnail sketches.  Thumbnails sketches are an excellent way to modify, design, values, and shapes.  

    The painting below was done in 2004 when five of us did a "painting a week" for one year.  I fell in love with Ilis' photo(s) of Giverny and that is why I chose her photo for the exercises shown above. 
    Monet's Garden in Giverny
    Reference photo by Ilis, Wet Canvas RIL

    Friday, March 11, 2011

    Learning To Draw An Ellipse and Art Articles

    At Painting Friends, there is a beginning drawing class and the first topic was drawing a coffee cup, learning to draw an ellipse(s).  If you look at the top of the cup in the left photo you can see that I continually go round and round, trying to find the size and perspective of the top ellipse.  I then erase all the lines that are out of sync.  Next, the sides of the cup are draw and you can there are several lines there too, erasing the ones that don't work.  I always draw "through" the bottom of the cup until I get a reasonable ellipse, then the back portion is erased.  The cup (and cast shadow) still needs adjustment before adding more form and interest to the cup.  Is this the best way to begin?  I really don't know, only that it is how I do it.

    This morning, while watching and listening to the news, I read an article by Whitney Peckman written for Fine Art Views newsletter, that I thought the readers of this blog might find interesting.  Pricing artwork is always a bit traumatic for a lot of artists, me included. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page for more related articles if you want to read more about pricing artwork. I enjoy receiving the newsletter in my inbox and reading it while I have my morning coffee.

    Heartbreaking Disaster

    I've been watching the news, overwhelmed by the devastation and trauma the Japan earthquake and tsunami has wrought.  My thoughts and prayers are with them and all those affected by this.   I'm hoping that the tsunami causes minimal damage as it hits the areas along the Pacific Rim and praying that everyone, friends and family, will be safe.

    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    Which Do You Most Enjoy Viewing? A Poll

    The photo is a grayscale photo of baking items that has been posterized.  In other words, the shapes/values have been simplified.  I sometimes do this to a photo in Photoshop, to see the value patterns and the larger shapes.  Then I can tell where I want more emphasis and what areas to downplay. 

    A poll was started at an online art group asking the artists what they would most like to learn to paint.  That started me thinking about what kind(s) of paintings you, the viewer, like to see.  When visiting a gallery, art show or museum, which paintings do you gravitate toward? 

    So I posted a poll in the right sidebar and hope you will click a subject.  If you feel like it, post a comment as to what draws you to a painting and/or a subject. 

    Wednesday, March 09, 2011

    Daffodil, A Photo

    We had one lonely daffodil open so I cut it and brought it inside to brighten a rather gloomy, cloudy day.  I hope this little beauty brightens your day as well. 

    For those of you not familiar with Robert Genn and his newsletter, I want to share with you a link to a particular newsletter which deals with feeling overwhelmed by all it takes to create a painting.  He states:

    "Generally speaking, books, magazines and other stimuli don't work. You have to steel yourself up and get yourself busy. It's the work itself that rocks the mountain. . . ."
    "Painting, for example, can be a parade of minor defeats and failures, but nevertheless the personal and individual working process is more positive than negative. . . . "

    To me it spoke specifically about taking that first step - getting past the feelings of not knowing enough, not being good enough, not knowing exactly where to start.   It reminded me that I paint because of my own inner feelings and desire to create.  If we can get back to that home base, our own feelings of why we paint, then we have taken a major first step toward getting past our fear or feeling overwhelmed. 

    I haven't painted or drawn anything since Sunday.  Does that mean I've stopped painting?  In my case, it means my mind is working through what to paint next.  In recent months, I've painted mostly 1/4 sheet watercolor paintings.  Now, I'm considering a half sheet and a full sheet painting which feels overwhelming to me.  I'm thinking of painting a still life, what fabric to use as a setting, what objects to use and how to arrange them.  So yes, I'm taking a break and yes, it is partly because it means having to take that first step.  But in my head, I am painting, creating and getting up enough nerve to start. 

    Saturday, March 05, 2011

    Little Girl

    Little Girl
    6 1/2" x 8 1/2" 
    on a 1/4 sheet 
    Fabriano Aristico watercolor paper. 

    Painted this today for a February portrait challenge.  Reference photo by Grunge from the Wet Canvas RIL.  One of the challenges I'm finding most difficult is to get smooth shadows plus not have them looking like bruises - especially on a young child.  Whle painting this, I kept thinking cool light, warm shadows.  

    So how to make a warm violet or warm green.  I used viridian mixed with raw sienna for the greens. The purples were a mixture of cobalt or fr. ultramarine mixed with cad. red light or perm. alizarin crimson.  The warm skin tones were a mix of raw sienna, cad. red light and quin. burnt orange.  The cool tones were perm. alizarin crimson and azo yellow. 

    Railroad Man

    Railroad Man
    8" x 10 1/2"

    Finished this for a Wet Canvas portrait challenge.  Believe me it was a challenge.  There are some areas that could be darkened such as inside the ear, and perhaps around the eyes, as well as a couple of other areas.  But am going to call this one finished unless it bugs me too much lol.  Hope you enjoyed it.  

    Thanks everyone that has been offering comments on the different posts.  I appreciate you and am always open to comments that would help improve a painting. 

    Wednesday, March 02, 2011

    Railroad Man, cont'd

    We've had company so I am only painting for brief periods of time.  A few areas are being corrected today such as his right ear.  It was set too far back and was at too much of a slant which made the face look wider.  The shadow values on his forehead also need correction.  Then there is his left ear where the top part was placed  too low. Color has been lifted in that area but will have to use a Mr. Clean eraser to get it back to lighter paper and repainted.  I'm also working on the eyes today, trying to get a wet look to them even though they are in shadow and correcting as I paint.