Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A Few More Before The Holiday

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, so I doubt I'll be painting much. But here's what I did last night and this morning:

A new little piece—

Tiny Sunset, © 2017, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

  Sometimes She Just Needed To Get Away, © 2017, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

Caitlyn, © 2017, (America series) work in progress (click on image for larger view)

Mehri, © 2017, (America series) work in progress (click on image for larger view)



Tuesday, November 21, 2017

One More Session

All that's left on this is a color adjustment on the face of the man at the right and a small area under the rightmost chair. So this should be done a week from now.

Counterpoint, © 2017, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

Faces

The beautifully painted faces of the people in yesterday's show are on my mind today as I work on Rita From The Coffee Shop. We were never taught how to carefully model a painted face in art school; ours was a more painterly approach, with flatter color, visible brush strokes, and an emotional component. Also, in modern times, we use artificial, not natural lighting on our models.

I've been struggling with all of this, this morning as I work on Rita; also the texture of the canvas bothers me in the areas around the eyes, where I need definitive lines. The bumpiness of the canvas fights against that.

Rita From The Coffee Shop, © 2017, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

And the clouds look like blobby patches of color to me, not integrated yet. More finessing to do. At least the resemblance is beginning to work.

In contrast, check out the facial modeling of this little beauty:




Monday, November 20, 2017

A Peek Into The 17th Century

Took the day off from work and went into DC with a friend and her daughter to view the wonderful show at the National Gallery, "Vermeer And The Masters Of Genre Painting." What a show! It was a great learning experience— Vermeer, unlike so many of his contemporaries (and they were all accomplished, talented painters) left large areas in his foregrounds dark and bereft of detail. You end up focusing on the parts he wants you to pay attention to. It's the same thing my gallery owner has suggested I do in my work.

Here's one of Vermeer's, "The Love Letter:"

Note the dark framing devices around the interior of the room— the door on the left, the drapery at upper right, etc. The detail's all there, just in muted colors. Your eye goes right to the maid and the young woman playing the lute.

Here's another one by Gabriel Metsu, "Man Writing A Letter," also beautiful; resplendent in color and masterful in its handling of the three-dimensional components:

But very different from the Vermeer. Everything is handled with equal care.

Here's another beauty by Vermeer, "Woman Holding A Balance:"

Same thing as the earlier Vermeer: soft, dark shadows, a focus on the figure.

My personal favorite, "A Maid Asleep," was not there, but there was PLENTY to look at. The show's up until (I think) January 21st if you live in the area and are so inclined.

Afterward, since all 3 of us had missed breakfast, we had lunch in the cafeteria. Everything I had was tasty, and even the coffee was good! Then we took a couple of turns on the light tunnel—

One of my favorite artworks in the entire world—

And then went up to the roof to view the giant blue rooster:

All in all, a great day. Tomorrow: back to work.










Two Mourning Doves, Completed

Finished this one last night.

  Two Mourning Doves, © 2017, silverpoint on prepared panel (click on image for larger view)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Soft Silver

I really love silverpoint, despite the fact that it's not a particularly forgiving medium: if your spouse makes you laugh while you're working, your hand could slip and the result could be a disaster.

Silverpoint is done with a very thin silver wire inside a holder, so it works pretty much like a pencil. You scratch away at a specially prepared surface, and with each stroke you deposit a little more silver. Over time, it tarnishes and becomes richer and deeper in color. Right now I'm working on a companion piece to another one with the same subject matter; two doves out in the back yard.

 Two Mourning Doves, © 2017, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

I think I should send a thank-you to Jos. A. Smith, my drawing teacher back in my undergrad days, for introducing the class to silverpoint. It really is a great medium to work in. Here's what the tool looks like:



Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday Painting

Spent a lot of time trying to reconfigure the home page in Firefox today after I woke up to an update that had disappeared some of my most frequently used icons; then there was a financial matter that should have taken 15 minutes to complete. Instead it took 4-1/2 hours. But we've all been there, right; in Technology Hell?

I did manage to get some painting done while on hold on the phone:

  Sometimes She Just Needed To Get Away, © 2017, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

I placed some dark marks to define the movement of the water; there are some swells, some flatter areas, etc., and I'll go over them with lighter paint once they dry. Also added some shadow areas on the sand to give the impression that it has been windswept.

And I put a little more detail on Evening Star:

Evening Star Café, © 2017, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

I cleaned up some structural edges, made the area at the top of the door lighter, and put in a bit of detail on some of the people in the café.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Back To The Dungeon Studio

With practically everything that I want to work on in varying degrees of drying, I seized the opportunity to get back to a large piece that's been languishing in the basement studio. It's too big for me to accommodate upstairs, where I simply balance the smaller paintings on a chair, and I haven't been down in the basement since June because my cat friend objects.

This is what he looks like whenever I paint in the studio:
                                              We must go back upstairs RIGHT NOW.

The stare is accompanied by yowling. And he sits right behind my stool when he does it, so it's not just annoying, it's distracting. Anyway, I took advantage of his taking a nap this morning and snuck downstairs. Here's what I worked on:

In Case Of Emergency, © 2017, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

It's a fire extinguisher in a metal case. I hope it'll come along quickly. I like the idea of simulating brushed metal, and there are so many shadows it should be an interesting project; I also like the goofiness of it and can picture it hanging on a wall somewhere, looking like the real thing.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Back To The Evening Star

Actually— working on this painting is making me hungry for a visit to the Cafe.  The food has been good every time I've eaten there. But: today I worked on some small areas that you wouldn't normally notice; for example, there are now some pink areas on some of the red letters where the spotlight shines directly on them. It's just a small step that helps to make the scene believable.

I also straightened out some lines in other places, added some pink glaze to the spot just above the door and did some refinement on the bench.

Evening Star Café, © 2017, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

Some glare on the right side from the nearby window.

I'm still stymied by A Quiet Evening In Cambridge. It was on my to-do list for this week, but the more I look at it, the more confused I get about where to pick up on it.

Less Baffled, But Put Off

The chocolate shop scene, A Quiet Evening In Cambridge, is giving me a lot of trouble. I had thought that the image I've been working from, one with incomplete and murky detail, was the only one I'd taken of that particular shop. It turns out I took a couple of steps to the right, though, and snapped another photo immediately after the first one. Having discovered this new reference piece, I realize what some of those obscure shapes are now. Things I couldn't identify now make sense! I have a lot of repainting to do, and there's no way this piece will be ready in time for a Christmas sale.

Meanwhile, I did a lot of work on Caitlyn's dress and hair, and established those highlights on her arms:

Caitlyn, © 2017, (America series) work in progress (click on image for larger view)

I still haven't caught the sparkle and liveliness in her eyes.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Flurry Of Brushstrokes

Have been working like mad; the first painting below is coming along nicely though I'm still trying to come to an agreement with the water-soluble oils consistency (it's kinda thick). The next two are very nearly done.

Rita From The Coffee Shop, © 2017, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

Counterpoint, © 2017, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

Mehri, © 2017, (America series) work in progress (click on image for larger view)


Monday, November 13, 2017

Another One Bites The Dust: Equilibrium, Completed

Done. Finally.

  Equilibrium, © 2017, from a photo by S. Krensky (click on image for larger view)

Water, Water

I am beginning to feel restricted by the limited palette when it comes to painting the ocean in this one. But it's still early in the process.

  Sometimes She Just Needed To Get Away, © 2017, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

Completed! Atlantic Ocean #12

I'm breathing a sigh of relief; it's so good to have something finished, and also this one marks the end of the third color phase in the Atlantic Ocean series. Initially, I'd planned to do and show 16 pieces, 4 each of varying color schemes, hanging them a couple of inches apart in a big square shape on a wall, but two of the paintings in earlier color sets have sold, so there goes that idea... But I still want to get to a total of 16, and am considering a stormy grey color phase.

Anyway— here is Atlantic Ocean #12, Dawn Phase:

Atlantic Ocean Series #12, Dawn Phase, © 2017

Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Saturday Adventure

Ruth Lozner, the author of Scratchboard For Illustration, gave a demo this afternoon at the Plaza Art Materials store in Bethesda, and as she was one of my heroes back in the day when I was actually doing illustration, off I went.

Aside from the insanity I always encounter driving in that part of Bethesda, the experience was very good. The presentation was terrific, and I learned some new stuff about using color and the computer in scratchboard work. And: I got to pick up some more art supplies, AND Ruth signed my copy of her book, which I've had since about 1991.

This morning I started a small piece using those water-based oils again; it's an image I've had floating around for 6 years now, and the canvas is a mere 6"h x 12"w, so I can't get too involved with it.

  Sometimes She Just Needed To Get Away, © 2017, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

We'll see what happens with these crazy paints. Meanwhile— I need to find my old scratchboard tools...


Fun With Paint

Here's what I did last night. The painting isn't dry yet, so that's a bummer; still, I like the way the paint works.

Rita From The Coffee Shop, © 2017, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

Next I have to start refining areas. For instance, the eyes are not going to be as harshly outlined as they are now in this sketchier version. And I want the highlight on the cheeks to blend more softly into the shadowy lower areas.



Friday, November 10, 2017

Experimenting With Water-Based Oils

So, I decided to try out the new paints on one of the images of Rita, whom I met yesterday at the coffee shop.

Right away, the paint beaded up on the canvas when I tried to wash in the background, so that was disconcerting.

(I'm still wearing a wrist bandage, but the sprain is getting better)

Here's the initial block-in, which went pretty well, though I wouldn't say the tones are accurate.

Rita From The Coffee Shop, © 2017, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

Mixing the paint was a little weird, partly because I was using a fine bristled, round-pointed watercolor brush. I can see the value in using a flat or filbert bristle. But it stroked on well. Let's see what the drying time is like.

I'm using a limited color palette, as I mentioned when I bought the water-based paints, and it makes me feel far more confident about the unity of the color than I've ever felt before. So all in all, this has been a good experience.



One Thin Highlight

...is all that's needed to finish this painting. It's a reflection of the ceiling lights on the dark woodwork line near the bottom. I will be so happy to have this one done.

  Equilibrium, © 2017, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Looking Forward

It's been an unusual day. The power went out just as I finished working on Atlantic Ocean 12 this morning— I still have to work on those breaking waves, but in the meantime I found a lot of other small places that needed more detail, a better sense of form, more contrast, etc.—

Atlantic Ocean Series #12, Dawn Phase, © 2017, work in progress

So we went out in search of lunch, and later stopped in at a small, inviting coffee house nearby. A young woman thought she recognized me, knew me from somewhere, so we talked for a bit about where that could have been. The subject of art came up, and it occurred to me to ask her if she'd pose for a painting, which she did, and now I have some decent head shots to use for a new piece!

That was really quite fortuitous, as I've very recently joined an artists group that focuses on figurative work, and (it seems to me) primarily on head shots of women. And just this morning I was wondering how to find a model. I'm excited to start on this new piece! So the power failure was a good thing after all.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Time To Start Thinking About Some New Pieces

Since I'm on track to finish 7 paintings in the next few weeks, it's time to start planning some new work. I'd like to do something different, but what would the images look like?

Anyway, because much of the current stuff is wet and waiting to dry, here's what I did today:

A Quiet Evening In Cambridge 2, © 2017, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

Parts of this look too dry; I think I should do a bit of glazing.
 
And this one:

Counterpoint, © 2017, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

Deepened the color on the pink shirt. Too much?


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Another Bit of Pattern Work

Caitlyn's dress is very intricate. Nonetheless, I will persevere.

Caitlyn, © 2017, (America series) work in progress (click on image for larger view)

And this will be finished soon, too:


Mehri, © 2017, (America series) work in progress (click on image for larger view)

Closer To Done

Finished the tunic pattern. Painted the name "Werner" onto the ladder. The ladder still needs a few of its straight lines straightened up cleanly, and that dark line at the base of the wall actually has a highlight just beneath it, which I'll have to paint once the paint dries. Other than that, maybe a little softening of the wall shadows, maybe not.

  Equilibrium, © 2017, work in progress (click on image for larger view)


Monday, November 6, 2017

I Thought This One Was Finished Until I Looked At The Breakwater

Sigh. Too sloppy. Back to it later in the week.

Atlantic Ocean Series #12, Dawn Phase, © 2017, work in progress

Anne, Completed

At last I've got another panel done in the America series.


Anne, © 2017, America series (click on image for larger view)

Worked on the feet on this one; also a little on the hand of the man on the right side. There are still a few places left but I expect this to be done in the next 10 days, which will be super. I want to start some brand new pieces.

  Counterpoint, © 2017, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

Over the weekend, I put in some time on this one as well:


  Equilibrium, © 2017, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

Sunday, November 5, 2017

New Paint

For some reason, on Friday I was seized with the need to buy a new kind of paint, and I ended up with a bunch of colors in water soluble oils. The idea of sticking to a limited palette made it easier, since I didn't have to part with my entire savings.



The new paints are versatile. They can be mixed with both oils and acrylic paints, watercolors and gouache; they dry faster than traditional oils; and they can be diluted with water and cleaned up with a soap-and-water combination. So I won't need to use odorless mineral spirits with them. But the drying time is the important thing.

I went mostly with Holbein, just to change things up a little, but there are two tubes of Winsor & Newton in there along with a big tube of Golden dark grey. I'm not sure why I bought that, actually.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Fine Tuning

Two of the pieces I've been working on in the last couple of days: mostly cleaning up and tightening some raw edges. I've been plagued with a number of technological problems lately, so they've cut into painting time.

Evening Star Café, © 2017, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

Equilibrium, © 2017, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

What's left? Hair and hand highlights; ladder, photo, and floorboard cleanup.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Little Diversion

I'm working on Evening Star this morning, but wanted to post this little image in the meantime, having added a few things to the background last night.

Two Mourning Doves, © 2017, work in progress (click on image for larger view)