Friday, March 30, 2012

Decorah Eagle Sketch

I check in to this live web cam showing Decorah Eagles nesting.  The two babies are so tiny and it is interesting to watch the male and female switch out their time on the nest and feed their young.  It was fun to sketch this as the eagle was moving all the time. 

I did a contour drawing of plastic cups and soda cans sitting on a table with the sunlight filtering through the trees and believe me, I didn't get anywhere close to a resemblance of the subjects.  I watched a video of Charles Reid doing a contour drawing and was amazed how much of a likeness he drew.  So after do the drawing, I decided to slap on some color.  I like how everything is wonky and not really recognizable as such.  A drip started running down the page and decided to leave it when it ran into the inside of the cup.  Fun, fun project and an excellent way to loosen up.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Have You Ever

felt like you were wrestling a bear while you were painting?  That is the case for me with this self-portrait shared with you in the previous post as well as other subjects I've been painting.  I have continued to work on the self-portrait but switched to acrylics and it has been a struggle from the beginning. 

As most of you know, acrylics dry darker so that has to be taken into account when mixing paint.  The reference photo posted below has been converted to grayscale and most of the faces are in shadow.  I chose to do this composite painting because of the shadows.  Shadows are an area that are so important in creating form and drama.  Painting them is one area where I need vast improvement.

Because the photo is a composite, the shadows in each face are different values but for this painting all the shadows will be adjusted close to the same level. 

Next question, how dark should the shadows be - rule of thumb is four times (4x) darker than the lightest side.  Another thing to consider is that photos can flatten shadows and can appear darker than they actually would be in real life. 

Now that I've looked at the photo in grayscale, I can see that I have painted the form shadows too dark.  And no, I'm not showing the painting yet.  That is the benefit of looking at a grayscale of the painting as it stands and then stepping back from the painting to see if the shadows help create form from a distance or flatten it.

I might as well add to the litany and say that I have not been wearing a contact in my left eye since the end of January.  For some reason my eye is so bad that blinking scratched it and wearing a contact added to the irritation.  It still isn't any better, so back to the doctor again on Monday and then testing for a pair of glasses to wear until this heals.  The positive side of this is that I certainly should be able to paint lost/found edges!

Monday, March 19, 2012

YOP 12 - Self Portrait

 The last YOP of the year is due tomorrow, the 20th, but I'm posting early because of the strong storm system heading our way for the next 24-36 hours.  During those storms I unplug everything.  I just hope the power stays on but our area is not noted for that during these storms.

For this last YOP of our first year (we start a second year beginning April 20th), I wanted to do more like a sequence drawing/painting of  body/head positions.  My goal was do something different than the usual self-portrait.  The likeness is there in the drawing and the unfinished painting but as you can see from the photo below, I missed getting the features right so the expressions look different. 
 I struggled with this painting from the very beginning.  I even got out my grayscale so that I could check the shadows to determine how dark 40% would be from the lightest light before I began painting.  The shadows which took up the biggest percentage of the face were/are the most difficult for me.  I either went to dark or too light, too red or too yellow or too blue or too much water to paint ratio or not enough water - needless to say, lifting paint as much as I did overworked the paper. 
Here is a composite photo of the three positions.  I'm not great at photoshop so the photo looks really rough.  There was enough information though to get the tilt of the head, the angles of the features.

On another note, I want to thank everyone that is following this blog and all those that add their comments.  It means a great deal to me and I hope in some small way, there is some information that you can find useful. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

More Composition Studies

For today's study I chose John Singer Sargent's, "The Artist Sketching", from  Click the link to review the painting. 

I saw the main thrust of the composition in two ways, first as a fulcrum:

Then I saw it as a radial composition with the circular movement.  :

Next, I used a Sharpie pen to work out the black and whites of the painting which I think more clearly shows the radial movement.

I've posted this for comments in the March 6 Composition thread at Wet Canvas, hosted by Larry Seiler.  I hope I haven't missed the mark on the composition of this painting. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Analogous Colors

I've been working on this daffodil painting using analogous colors as the color scheme.  Azo and New Gamboge for yellow, perinone orange, perm. red and perm. alizarin crimson, then added in Cobalt and Phthalo Blue as the complement used for graying the yellow and red mixes, and for mixing greens. 

I've been finding it difficult to get good form in this painting so there has been a lot of lifting and repainting.  My goal was not to go too dark on the shadow side of the daffs but haven't achieved the right values to create depth within the daffs.  Thanks to Pat at for the reference photo. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012


I have been reviewing the first session of a webinar being held by Larry Seiler on Wet Canvas.  The Wet Canvas link will take you to the first session held in October, 2011.  There is a new series which began March 6th but I missed the first two.  Now that I have the correct time figured out I hope to join in the rest of the segments.  So based on the first session I chose to study the composition of John Singer Sargent's, "The Spanish Dancer", with the reference provided by  Instead of posting a photo of the painting here, simply click the name of the painting and open it in a new browser window if you want to view it. 

I felt that the composition was a strong "L-shape" with a circular movement.  I posted this at Wet Canvas and am hoping Larry pops in and shares his view of the composition.  There are strong diagonals with the line of her dress, the angle of her extended arm.  The extended arm, with its underlying darks, helps to give balance to the leaning figure. 

Next I did an ink sketch of just the darks then a value study in graphite.  In the value study, her face needs to be shaded lightly as the white of her dress is the lightest light.  I've found this exercise to be an eye opener for me and plan to do more using the Old Masters works as well as current Masters and studying my own paintings.  Hopefully this will lead to better planning and understanding of how to create a memorable painting.  . 

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Fancy Dancer Drawing Incomplete

This graphite drawing of a Cherokee Fancy Dancer was started today as practice for a painting.   Yes, it is the same Fancy Dancer I've been trying to sketch for quite a long while.  The eyes in the reference photo I am using isn't very clear, so I am more or less winging it.  I need more practice drawing eyes.  Also, the darks of his hair and the paint is almost as dark as the paint on his right cheek but was washed out because of the lighting. 

Yesterday, I completed the sketch for the YOP self-portrait painting that is due the 20th.  Now to get it transferred and painted. 

Friday, March 02, 2012

Pears Study

I've been studying a split primary palette and used the following colors: 

Warm -
DS Naples Yellow
M. Graham Cobalt Blue
Cad. Red Lt. (not sure of mfg.)

Cool -
Holbein Naples Yellow
DS Phthalo Blue (red shade)
Perm. Aliz. Crimson

This was an experiment using the semi-transparent Naples yellow.  The Daniel Smith Naples has more red in it while the Holbein Naples is a truer yellow.  Under warm lighting, the yellows and the reds in these pears have a lovely glow.  

I have a lot to learn about painting shadows, water ratio and getting smoother edges.  Guess my age is finally coming into play with the shaky hands.  I tried to use warm light with cool shadows with some warm thrown in to the shadows.  It is all good practice and will keep on trying to get a look I'm pleased with. 

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Self-Portrait Sketch

This is my first sketch of the morning, using an "F" graphite pencil.  Our YOP this month is a self-portrait so I'm practicing.  My apologies for the grainy photo, it was taken under low light and had to use Photoshop on it to lighten it and change the sepia tones created by the lamps.