Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Working Through The List

The last time I wrote about the commissioned piece, I was frustrated by how long it was taking for the background to dry. On top of that, I had realized that it was the wrong color anyway, too yellow, not as pale blue as it needed to be to match the photo. So this morning i got back to it; worked on that blue area on the extreme left, some of the hand and fingernails, and then the background wall. It turned out that a simple mixture of Cobalt Blue (a hard color to use with success, usually) and Titanium White made the perfect hue.

  The Hand Of The Artist, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)
The aim of this particular commission is to match the reference photo as closely as possible, which is why I'm being so fussy about the color. The wall does get more yellowish on the left side above and below the raised pinky finger, but I had to leave off attempting to blend that spot as there was a good chance of smearing everything. I need to remember to use the Mahl stick!
Here are two more— I painted the Vermeer last night, and tried to work on the likeness for Jeff a little while ago, with varying measures of success:

  Study After A Maid Asleep, (Johannes Vermeer), © 2018, work in progress 

Eddie and Jeff, America Series, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Sky At Dusk, And Penciling In

Last night I studied a lot of photos of the darkening sky, especially in cityscapes, and feel fairly confident that the colors I'm using for the Chrysler Building painting will be believable. There are actual websites devoted to understanding the difference between the Golden Hour and the Blue Hour; I think there's a perfume called "L'Heure Bleu," and it's such a great name I might appropriate it.

  Chrysler Building, Dusk, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)   

Of course, this is just the first coat. It'll look better as time goes on and I add more layers.

I also put in some pencil indications of where some of the design elements belong on this one:


  Selfies, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)   

However, there is sunlight in abundance today, and I'm going to give in to the lure of the garden for now.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Trying To Get Back On A Schedule

So, if I work on 3 paintings a day for five days, I can do 15 paintings a week. Getting to the gym 3x a week has to be scheduled in there somehow, too. Right now I've got 16 paintings to complete, so I'll have to add one extra one of those days until something gets finished. Here's this afternoon's work:

For Rent, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view) 

    Learned Pond, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

Flower Form

I put some blues and greys on my palette this morning thinking I'd work on the glass facets on the right side of the bowl— then I ended up instead working on the flower petals, trying to amplify their shapes and forms.
  Rose Bowl, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

Saturday, February 24, 2018

A Working Saturday

Decided to put in some time on this one. It's not as bad as it looks, if one just takes it a bit at a time.

When I Woke Up I Was In Brooklyn, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)  

Friday, February 23, 2018

Gloom

We need rain, so I'm not complaining about that; it's the days when there is no rain, only a hopeless sort of oppressive greyness. I took refuge in the basement studio and worked on five paintings, though I didn't do enough on two of them to publish the updates.

 Somerville Roses, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

I lightened the color of the house again, using some Phthalo Turquoise that's been sitting around for years. Once I get the house color right— and it might be fine now, I'll wait to see what it looks like after it dries down— I'll paint in the horizontal lines detailing the clapboard. Am also experimenting with some blue/yellow/ochre mixes to try to get a more natural green on the leaves.

Also measured some more placement points and drew in a few more elements on:

  Selfies, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)   

And I really wanted to establish the diagonal line of buildings down to where they meet the horizon in anticipation of painting in the sky:


  Chrysler Building, Dusk, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)  



Thursday, February 22, 2018

Early Stage "Selfies"

I actually hate the word "selfies," but its common usage seems appropriate for this painting, which will make more sense in the coming weeks as the images develop.

  Selfies, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)   

Right now, though, it's just a sloppy mess.


Dreams Of New York

I had an extended dream last night about starting to attend an independent study art class in a New York City grad school with an instructor who was a cartoonist (and not a very good one, at that). Dreamed the elevator to the 12th floor (where class was supposed to be held) took a long time, and when I got off I was in a room that looked like a deserted factory that had graffiti everywhere. Also, there was a St. Patrick's Day parade going on outside my hotel room window. The dreams were vivid and full of detail; might have something to do with the fact that I've been watching Amazon's Mozart In The Jungle.

Anyway, I woke up and decided to get down to the basement studio right after coffee. There are 7 paintings down there now that I'm semi-excited to work on; I think the recent school shooting massacre took a lot of energy out of me last week. It's incredibly depressing. Australia solved its mass shooting problem; why can't we?

So I put in a few more details on Chrysler Building, Dusk, and did some happy work on The Gauntlet. Here's this morning's work:
 The Gauntlet, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)   

  Chrysler Building, Dusk, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)  



Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Back To Work

This one has numerous problems, but it's on its way.

 
For Rent, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view) 

Here's one of the new pieces— instead of using the panel horizontally, I'm going vertical with a view of the Chrysler building in New York City:

And here's the start of Selfies— getting the measurements right is harder than you'd think, even with everything being straight horizontal and vertical lines:

Selfies © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view) 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Hitting A Wall

I got to a point last week where I just didn't even want to look at my paintings anymore. I didn't want to do anything, actually; maybe I'm just getting housebound. Eventually the lure of doing something with watercolor was too much to resist— I've been wanting to do a fabric design for over a year now— soI ended up breaking out the watercolors and trying my hand at some roses.


Watercolor is a real beast; I so admire people who know how to use it. The little studies I did are not terribly competent, but I learned a few things about the medium over the last several days.

I did stretch a canvas or two and start a couple of new things, but they're not far enough along to post pics of them. Things should pick up this week.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Ultramarine Red

Oil paint can stay viable in the tube for just about forever; I'm sure I still have some colors from my undergraduate days that I use only rarely. Sometime back in the 90s, I was offered about thirty tubes from someone's estate. The colors were not ones I use on my standard palette, but occasionally I dip into the English Red or the Terre Verte. At this point, I've worked through much of that old paint that I keep in a box in the studio, but in a hunt for some Yellow Ochre Light, I found a tube of Ultramarine Red, something you don't hear much about.

A little research on the web turned up the following information about it: low strength as a tinting color; extremely light fast; best used as a glazing color; when mixed with white turns a nice pure violet that can't be duplicated by mixing reds and blues.It's also hard to find— the only manufacturer I can find who makes the true hue, not a synthetic, is Maimeri.

Lately I've been thinking that the Rose Bowl painting needed some violet shadows, so I added some of the Ultramarine Red to the mix:

  Rose Bowl, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

I think it worked well!

Also put in a lot of time on this one; it's very frustrating but at least the colors and shapes are getting closer to where they need to be.

    Learned Pond, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

Thinking About New Stuff

I've been stretching (and in one case, re-stretching) canvases in preparation for some new work. That big roll of primed portrait linen is over on the far left; the tall panel on the right was designated for a horizontal landscape but then I got the idea to do a painting of the Chrysler building in New York in a vertical format. My husband just cut the bottom 5/8" inch off my mis-measured panel, so I can get back to that, and once I get the canvas for Selfies stretched I can start painting it. So I'm excited!


Monday, February 12, 2018

Snapping Out Of The Doldrums

Sometimes it seems that once you actually start working on something, it gets easier to keep going. Here's the results of this afternoon's work:

When I Woke Up I Was In Brooklyn, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)   

  Study After A Maid Asleep, (Johannes Vermeer), © 2018, work in progress


 Somerville Roses, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)


Another Slow Warm Up To The Week

The sun has just this second broken through the heavy gloom, but most of the week is forecast to sit under drenching clouds. In the last few minutes I came up for a break from the basement studio, where I had been fumbling around with the placement of some architectural details on:

 The Gauntlet, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)   

Not feeling terribly much like painting this week, but there are a few things that bother me, so I'll probably get to those. And it might be fun to put a few more people in the windows of Evening Star.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

A Visit To The Evening Star

Friends asked if we wanted to meet them for dinner last night, and we said yes. It was the perfect combination of work and play: socializing with friends and getting better detailed reference for the painting I've been working on. When we arrived, there was a family with young kids sitting at the right side window table, but I foolishly waited to take to take photos until we left; by then they were gone. But I did get some very helpful interior shots (now I know what it is I'm painting on the back and side walls!).


On the way home, I saw what looked like a light installation, a tower of light, actually, across the Potomac River. It turned out to be the bottom third of the Washington Monument, swallowed up by fog and rain; only the lighted bottom portion was visible up to the cloud layer. Thought you might enjoy this fleeting moment, especially if you live outside the U.S. The monument is on the right— the bigger well-lit building in the center is the Lincoln Memorial.


Thursday, February 8, 2018

Fourteen

I'm caught up on all of the works in progress for the week. Not sure what to do tomorrow, since everything's got a few spots here and there that need to dry. Maybe I'll start stretching that big canvas I have planned for something tentatively titled, "Selfies." Meanwhile, here's this afternoon's work:

 The Chair, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view) 



Grey, White And Black

Of the 14 paintings I've committed myself to this week, 13 have been worked on. I'm very much intimidated by In Case Of Emergency; it's a large piece and I'm trying to make it as photorealistic as possible so that when it hangs on a wall somewhere people will think it's an actual fire extinguisher in a real case. That means, though, that large areas that go from light shadows to darker ones have to be finessed, and I don't always have the patience or the inclination to spend 20 minutes carefully stroking and blending. Anyway, here's where it stands as of today:

In Case Of Emergency, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)  
 
Also in the grey/white/black mode, coming down to the finish line on this one:
 
Protective Coloration, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)   

I think I might finish 5 paintings by the end of the month, barring unforeseen circumstances...Haha, we'll see if i can keep to that plan. There's always some small area that I've overlooked that needs attention.
 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Hand-y Work

The background wall on this one is finally bone dry. I took a close look at it and its same-size reference photo and realized the colors I've been using are far off the mark (it's a commissioned piece, and the request was to make it as close to the photo as possible); mostly they need to be darker, or in the case of the background, bluer. So I will have to repaint the white wall background again. But before giving up the painting to another 2 weeks of drying time, I worked on the hand and the little painting in the upper right hand corner.

  The Hand Of The Artist, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)
Also: worked on Eddie's face and arm today, and the likeness is better. 

Eddie and Jeff, America Series, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)




Ambivalence

I'm just drawn to this image, and I think it won't take long to complete it. But I'm still unsure about what to do about the right side. I can either put the edge of the side wall in and sort of frame that side with it, or extend the back wall and the window behind the couple. But does that leave it feeling too open?

For Rent, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view) 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Moving Down The Checklist

Last night I repainted the embroidered shapes on Ieva that were too faint and hard to see. There's still more embroidery to do; it runs all down the (viewer) right side of the tunic. All of the work was done while listening to "How The Universe Works" on my local PBS station. There is certainly a lot to think about when watching one of these astrophysics shows— the vastness and structure of the universe is really astounding.

Here's Ieva:

Ieva, America series, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)
Later in the evening, I worked on the signage on this one— delineating the words, "Est. 1997" and sharpening up "Evening Star." It took a while, but I doubt you can see much difference. I'm planning a visit to the restaurant sometime in the next couple of weeks, and will be gathering some (hopefully) better reference for the customers inside the place.

Evening Star CafĂ©, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

So, this morning I started with something easy: the little Vermeer copy. I sort of feel selfish doing this piece, because I'm just doing it to please myself and to hang on my own wall, not offer it up for sale.

  Study After A Maid Asleep, (Johannes Vermeer), © 2018, work in progress 

But there's something funny going on with those verticals— they look slanted to me...

Moving on, I decided there was enough strong daylight, even with the overcast sky, to be able to make some informed decisions about the color in this next one. But it wasn't as easy as I'd hoped it would be, and I still need to get the clouds to look like they are arranged naturally, especially in the center.

    Learned Pond, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)
A little while ago I went back to the Vermont cafe scene. It turns out the panel I ordered is the wrong size, due to my own faulty measurement, so there needs to be about 5/8" taken off the bottom of it so it can fit in the frame I have ready for it. But  apparently there is too much stuff in the garage in the way of the radial arm saw, so it must be moved out to the trash before my hubby can make the cut. I figure that will take another week, easy, so no reason not to block in a little more color.

For Rent, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)  

And that should do it for a while. I'm going to take a break, maybe get back to another piece later tonight. 


Monday, February 5, 2018

I'm Going To Have To Break Out The T-Square

One thing I really like about my Winsor & Newton brushes is the fact that if I mix the paint to just the right consistency, I can get the brush tips (which are otherwise pointed) to go completely flat. This is a great aid when painting straight-lined architectural elements. But there are a lot of verticals in this painting, and they have to be REALLY straight or it will look like the buildings are going to fall over. So pretty soon I'll have to line everything up with a t-square.

When I Woke Up I Was In Brooklyn, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)  

I'm trying to kill as much of the white space as possible. So far, so good.

The actual rose bowl in this next one is okay for the most part, but I feel like the right side of the bowl is so complex it doesn't make sense to the eye. I'm going to have to simplify some of the facets and also bump up the contrast. For some reason, the whites are not as bright as I want them to be.

  Rose Bowl, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

Another Monday

The visible grid on this painting has been begging to be covered with paint, but I just didn't like the color of the actual house in the reference shot, so this morning I tried something else. Not sure I like this one either; it's supposed to be a muted blue green but looks very grey. I'll give it a few days.

 Somerville Roses, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

Meanwhile, since I was down in the basement anyway, I brushed in a few more details on this one: 

 The Gauntlet, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)  

Weekend In The Country

Going out to the countryside always makes me happy and clears my mind, even when it's in the bleakness of February. The snow started to fall right after Sunday breakfast, making getting up some of the larger hills a bit dicey, but I thought these photos captured the spirit of the day.






Friday, February 2, 2018

Second-To-The-Last One For The Week

I plan to do some minor work on Protective Coloration tonight, but probably won't post a picture of it. Meanwhile, I filled in a lot of the open areas on this one:

 Somerville Roses, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

I Will Never Learn.

Recently I asked my friend Dennis (a realist painter) if he thought it was better to be married to an artist or a non-artist. He thought, better to be married to a non-artist, so there wouldn't be any competition.

I've lived for decades with a man whose background is scientific, and every time I get excited about a painting I'm working on, I ask him what he thinks of it. I WILL NEVER LEARN. Inevitably, he shrugs off some kind of comment like, "I dunno, it just doesn't interest me." What I want to hear— what all of us artist spouses want to hear— is some variation of: "Honey, it's amazing! You are so talented!"

I had high hopes for entering this painting in an upcoming competition, but now I'm wondering if the magic I see in it is solely in my own head. One of my other art friends called it "Fabulous!" but maybe she was just being polite.


 The Gauntlet, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)   
 
Every time this happens I vow to myself that I will never, ever, ever ask him for his opinion again. And then I forget and do it anyway.

So. I couldn't keep away from working on the flesh tones of the figures in the painting below before heading down to the basement:
 
 The Chair, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)  
 
I evened out some of the areas that transition from light to dark on the three figures at right, and did a little work on the guy.
Also:

In Case Of Emergency, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view) 

The Sudden Appearance of Ducks

I managed to re-position some of the cloud groups that were out of place, and while there's still a lot of color adjustment to do, I thought it was time to anchor the spots that will become the ducks as the painting progresses.

    Learned Pond, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)
Spent some time on this one last night. I think the spot of light on the red-headed girl's face is starting to work.

 The Chair, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)   

Today there's a lot to get to; mostly the larger paintings in the basement.