The above painting is a project I have been working on for about a month. Phew! It is finally finished or as much as I can think to put into it. I ventured into this via an assignment I gave to my composition class the last week of class. That was to do a painting of signs. They could approach it from a reference of street signs or design something abstract. My painting came from a photo my sister took quite a few years ago from her trip to Times Square in New York. She aimed her camera upward and snapped a photo that included the “Wicked” sign. I had just finished reading the book. I had to use a lot of liquid frisket to save the whites of lettering and light bulbs, etc. I had to approach each sign as if they were separate paintings and then push and pull my darks and lights to help it to read effectively. All the whites are saved whites, not paint.
Thankyou to my sister for continually challenging me and believing in my ability. :)
The above paintings were both from reference photos that my daughter brought to me years ago. They are both from a zoo outing in Florida.
I was totally drawn to the shapes and the value contrasts in both of them. The top one, rocks and water, had a fascinating abstract quality to it. The second one was interesting because of the shapes of the birds; one leading into the next.
Masa paper continues to be one of my favorite surfaces.
The above painting is a portrait of my sister’s cat, Little Bear. I have always wanted to paint her just to see if I could capture the look of her tabby marked coat. I used frisket for the spindly white in the grasses, whiskers, and highlights in the eyes.
A post about frisket is found here.
My sister’s other cat can be found here.
I painted the above painting with a dark background using a reference from wet canvas. Most everything was there for me with the dark background as the reference was against a dark background.
Next, I changed the still life to sit in a light background.
The above paintings were done following the exercise rules of: Paint the same still life twice. Paint one on a dark background and one on a light background.
I learned a ton! Even though I used a grid to draw both of these still lifes, note that they are not drawn exactly alike. But, they are both of similar style, probably same artist. It was easier to follow the shadow shapes and tones in the dark still life because it was all there for me in the reference photo. I didn’t know it as I was painting the dark one, but my brain was logging a lot of information I’d need for the light background painting.
Then I moved on to the light background painting. This one was intimidating, at first. I realized I was going to have to have those background colors reflecting into and through the clear glass. I knew I would have to use my light background colors in the lids of the shakers as well, in order to unify and balance the painting. I played with about six different colors on a scrap piece of paper until I came up with the blue, yellow and burnt orange combo. This was the most difficult of the two paintings. I enjoyed painting it, though, because I was able to decide colors and how to use them. I was able to make it more my own.
Just for fun, I am going to add that I had the most fun getting the darks and lights on the metal caps and making the pepper look like pepper in the pepper jars. :)
This week I returned to painting on masa paper. I found a wonderful reference photo of this old tree on wet canvas and it drew me in to want to try it.
Those of you, who have followed my posts, know that this is my favorite watercolor surface. I have a beginning tutorial here if you are interested in trying this yourself. I have posted multiple masa paper posts and you can view them by clicking the tag called masa paper under the title of this post. I paint and lift and paint and lift on this surface. I work until I like what appears. There is waiting time in between because the pigment soaks through the toned masa paper to the coldpress watercolor paper I have adhered it to.
I welcome any questions you may have in the comment section below and will answer them as best I can.
The above three drawings were drawn without looking at the paper. It is the first skill my beginning drawing students learn. I am always amazed at the ability we have to actually feel the surface of what we see and transpose it to the paper with just a few directions.
In class, the students learned blind continuous line, continuous line, negative space, one point perspective, cross contours, value and gridding. They worked from both live objects and photos. My main goal was to help them to see and then feel the contours and decipher the angles and values of what they see.
This class was a joy to teach and it is my hope that they continue to explore drawing and art in the future. If you would like to view a gallery of their work this last six weeks click here or the link at the top of the page titled “Student Art: Beg. Drawing”.
The above painting was produced by following the guidelines of another of Betsy Dillard Stroud’s exercises. I was to select a busy and detailed landscape as my reference. I was to create a silhouette of the landscape in black, simplifying the scene. Next I was to paint the landscape again using color. As I painted, I was to simplify and change the scene again.
I began with this simple pencil sketch, removing a bicycle, fruit stand, all lettering, the chairs by the restaurant and some of the people. I simplified the building in the background. The old man at the top of the steps was added because there was too much empty space at the top of the subway steps once I had removed the fruit stand.
This was my black silhouette. I decided that the addition of the man changed the story from fruit stand to people in this reference and balanced the empty space by re-inserting some people into the scene that I had removed. The lit ad screen atop the railing required a little something so I added that. At this point, I had decided I had what I needed for the finished painting.
What an experience when I began to work in color! I saw I had simplified the restaurant or the bar, in the background too much, so re-added some of the lettering. I really simplified all the color and lettering in all those windows on that building. They had a lot of different colors and lettering on them. I just used them to cast the glow of light on the scene. I thought the building in the background was too busy so had the fall tree expand and reach across it. I imagined more light coming from a building to the right of the people and indicated that in the cast shadows from the people. Since I had changed the center of interest to the old man and omitted the busy fruit stand and bicycle, I decided the scene was more about the people heading to the subway and followed my guidelines for painting “little People”. Refer to posts here and here.
This was a great exercise that I will use again.
I followed a suggestion from the artist and author, Betsy Dillard Stroud. She wrote a book titled The Artist’s Muse in 2006. The book comes complete with decks of cards that have creative art exercises listed on them. I tried one of them for the above self portrait. The instructions were to choose one color to represent your spiritual self; one to represent your physical self and a third to represent your mental self. Then you are to take those three colors and create a self portrait. I chose quinachridone orange (copper kettle) for physical self, quinachridone gold for spiritual self, and phthlocyanine blue (arctic ice) for mental self.
These three colors are the three you see on the top row of the image above. The other blobs are example mixtures of those three colors.
I was very skeptical as I began to work on this, but was presently surprised by the results very early on in the painting. It was relaxing to be concerned with only three colors (not as daunting as I supposed). More than any other exercise I’ve done, I quickly began to realise the importance of value as compared to the small role that color plays. I also learned a great deal about how I could stretch these three colors and what they looked like combined with each other. I also learned how they behaved and looked when applied dark, applied light and when I used them to glaze, one over the other. I will try more of these three color paintings in the future. Maybe I will choose my colors for other reasons for other subjects. Colors that I think look angry or colors that may reflect the colors of a rainy day. There’s no end to how I could assign three colors to a painting!
I rate this exercise worth trying!
The above painting is one I have done for a friend of mine. This is her half Halflinger mare, Lilly Mae. I used frisket for the white strands of mane and whiskers and highlights on the eye and the hardware and stitches on the bridle. After painting strands of mane in for hours!, I had to do some lifting with a sponge to blend some of the lighter colors. Her mane is lighter than her body, but not white. I worked extra hard on sculpting her face and capturing the veins and the jawline to lead the viewer’s eye to Lilly’s huge soft dark eye. That took several layers of very light washes. After removing the frisket from the metal hardware of the bridle, I went back in and shaded areas of it. I used Harvest Gold, Raw Sienna, Halloween Orange, Copper Kettle, Burnt Umber, Sepia, Prussian Blue and Blue Stone to create this portrait.
Thankyou to those of you that have enquired as to my whereabouts. I have been fine, but the Holidays and all the shoveling and blowing of snow that I’ve done has kept me away from painting and blogging. I will try to be more present!