Monday, April 30, 2018

Re-Thinking The Sky Series

Years and years ago I completed a series of 30 11"h x 16"w paintings of the sky, all done at different times of the day, night, during eclipses, with ordinary and unusual cloud formations, etc. And I put them all in simple black-and-silver floating frames, which I can tell you is not an inexpensive endeavor.

They make a nice show, but there are some that I've never been happy with, so I decided to separate them out and either retouch the ones that aren't up to snuff or repaint them entirely. Two of the series sold long ago to someone moving across the country to California, so there are only 28 now. Of those, I think about a dozen of them don't need work; that leaves 16 that do.

These are two of the ones that are okay:

These need varying degrees of repainting—

I've got a bunch of photos taken in recent years that I can draw from if I decide to change something entirely. And I also have the original slide film reference.

Messy Hands

I'm going to have to repaint this whole thing, because I re-shot the positions of the hands over the weekend so they'll look more believable. But it's okay because I want to work a lot more contrast onto the shirt.

The hands are a wreck right now, but they'll get better with time.

I Don't Know How You Do It, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)
Here's the latest on For Rent; I added some happy (maybe too happy) green highlights to the trees across the river in the window.

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

I Still Don't Feel Like Painting

I'm still feeling discouraged, but hey, it's time to suck it up and get working. So I'm trying a little self-indulgence, just painting parts of pieces that I really do feel like working on, like the faces in For Rent and The Gauntlet. I've complained many a time about my deficiencies when it comes to painting skin tones, but the two pieces I worked on this morning actually turned out rather well. So it's an up-and-down time lately.

Here is the young couple reading the newspaper ads in For Rent:

Detail From For Rent, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)
And the young woman striding down the street in The Gauntlet:
Detail From The Gauntlet, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)
It also seemed like it wouldn't take much energy to fill in the blank areas on the Chrysler Building painting, so I did some of that, carefully avoiding painting over that delicately graduated sky:
Chrysler Building, Dusk, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)
And I improvised the structure of the bull's body using a lot of old reference material from various internet sources:
Keep Out, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)
Taking a lunch break now, planning to do more later.


Friday, April 27, 2018

Bear With Me

I'm not doing as much painting as I am thinking; combing through my photo archives, looking for potential pieces that excite me. I picked up the stretchers for a new painting of a restaurant interior, and will probably stretch the canvas this weekend. The interior is very dark but warm, with lots of little lights on the tables and dangling from the ceiling; a single figure seems to be exiting the room.

 Today I started drawing in the lines for this new piece, below. Trust me, it looks simple but is not; in order to make it look convincing I've had to measure out every little line on that tiled wall— in the photograph, it's all distorted due to the camera lens; plus, there were customers in the right hand corner that took away from the overall feel of the piece.



As of yet, it's untitled. I can already see that I made the waiter far too narrow, and will have to adjust his body shape. I probably would have been smarter to have painted the back wall at least a foundation color of green before drawing the lines in; but c'est la vie.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Detour

I've been on hiatus for a couple of days; after the perceived slight on my work last weekend I just wanted to think about the direction I'm going in. Clearly I need to up my game, but does that mean my skill level or my subject matter, or both? And whenever I look at my current paintings I just have no desire to work on them. This will all pass, and I'm going to make a trip to the art supply store now to pick up some paint and stretchers. I feel more motivated to work on a couple of new things.

This is the grid and early sketch of a piece I've had planned for a while.

Finding A Shell, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

Monday, April 23, 2018

Digging Out Of A Hole

I'm kinda despondent today as the result of something said about my work over the weekend. It's hard for any artist to feel their work is lacking in some respect, and I'm no different. I thought about just packing it in for a while, and maybe I will do that. But I worked on a couple of pieces this morning before just giving in to a sense of inadequacy.

Most of what I did was refinement on the flowery dress, and the top of the building (where it's grey).

The Gauntlet, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)
Then for reasons I don't understand I pulled out a painting, a very large one, that I started back in the late 90s and lost track of when my full-time job duties started to become overwhelming. I can't find the proper reference photos for the positions of the hands, so will probably have to re-stage and re-shoot them; in the meantime, I'm trying to replicate the palette and I can see right away that the fingers are TOO SMALL.

I Don't Know How You Do It, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)


Friday, April 20, 2018

The Weekend Beckons

I'm expecting a visit from one of my art patrons this weekend, and so have to put the brushes away and do some housekeeping, especially in the spaces where he'll be viewing my paintings. Cobwebs abound.

Here's this afternoon's work; I got some paint on the ceiling area and worked on the blue denim jacket.

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

Moving Forward On The Big Giant Hand

Trying to get this commission done, but there's still plenty of work to do on it...

  The Hand Of The Artist, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Some Thoughts On "The Chair"

I'm toying with the idea of graduating the (now solid) background in a sweeping arc, from dark to light. I'm also changing the colors of the clothes in one or two instances.

Here's this afternoon's work:

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

I'm just not satisfied with this painting and have gone back and made changes to the hands; alsoput a darker shadow under the chin. I might still make some small changes.


  Protective Coloration, © 2018 (click on image for larger view) 



Biting The Bullet

I've been avoiding making that careful gradation from light to dark on the brushed metal case around the fire extinguisher in In Case Of Emergency for so long I thought it was going to develop cobwebs; bright (though brief) morning sunshine improved my mood enough that I felt energized and ready to tackle it. It was surprisingly easy! Second and third coats of paint usually are. Now to let it dry and then put in the seam details.

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

The bright spot in the upper right corner is supposed to be there; the case was under a spot light when I took the reference photo. However, in the actual painting there's more detail and it doesn't have that yellow cast— the wet paint is catching the tungsten lighting in the studio.

Still not sure about the background wall color in this one. I put in a lot of work on some smaller areas, and darkened the table and chair legs:

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

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Two Tall

Today I worked on the two tall and narrow panel paintings:

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

The building begins to reappear. I have to be extra careful not to place any of the outlines of the building in the wrong place, because there's no way to duplicate the color of that background sky. It's a slow, gradual shift from blue to blue-green to yellow to orange and pink.

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

Worked in some smaller areas today, and also on a few blends.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A Painting Blitz

The brushes (which I have been treating terribly lately) are soaking in a jar of cleaner while I take a break. Last night and today I put in some good painting time on a number of things. There is a very slow but steady march to the finish line.

Evening Star CafĂ©, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)
The left side interior, I think, is nearly done. There's a little touch-up work, and I have to integrate the pattern on the back wall (as seen through the door) with the back wall on the left and right sides. It's the super-tedious work at the very end of a painting that makes it go so slowly: I just avoid doing it until guilt sets in. There's more to do in the right side window, but I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel on this one. Or have I said that before?

The Gauntlet, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)
I'm trying to make the face look more realistic. Also sketched in a lot of the detail in the window.
  Selfies, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)  
Back to this one again; I really want to see it get further along. That ceiling area is tricky, because there are a lot of reflections on it from the building and the tree across the street.

 The Chair, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view) 
More flesh tone angst. I'm not sure about the drawing on the face of the blonde girl on the right. Eyes too close together? Hairline too high? Head shape incorrect?




Monday, April 16, 2018

Pulled This Way And That

On Friday I succumbed to the gorgeous weather. We should have been farmers; we had bought a bunch of young vegetable plants a couple of weeks ago, and the brilliant sunshine and mild temps on Friday made it (finally!) possible to transplant them into bigger containers. As I write this in the gloomy 51 degree Monday rain, I can say that they have taken off in a remarkable growth spurt. After the transplanting, there were other chores to do, and then there was some sipping of wine and lazing around.

But back to painting. I did work on a couple of pieces over the weekend out of guilt:

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

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

I think I made the back wall too dark.

    Learned Pond, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)
Slightly less chaotic than it was. Still needs softening.



Thursday, April 12, 2018

Ah, Brooklyn

Working (mostly) from the top down, painting in tiny details. Oh, how much fun the rows of windows are going to be on those tall, faraway buildings...

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

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Technology Weirdness

For some unknown reason, my iPhone photos have started popping up in Photos again, making it easy for me to place them here. This whole episode has been hard to understand, as a couple of days ago I completely removed a 64GB folder from my laptop (AND emptied the trash) in anticipation of its freeing up space on my hard drive, but nothing happened. Today I suddenly have 8GB of free space, unlike the 332MB I had last night. Who can figure?

Anyway— down in the basement studio I got a few things done today:

The Gauntlet, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)
I'm working on that large space below the window and trying to get the color, value, and architectural lines right. Some of it has a marbly look in the photo, so I'll have to deal with that texture later on.
Keep Out, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

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

The building itself is almost obscured now by the sky, which went surprisingly quickly this morning. It necessitated the use of several very large brushes, which are a pain to clean, but it looks pretty good. We'll see how it looks once it's dry.



Tuesday, April 10, 2018

"Your Macintosh Startup Disk Is Full"

I've been painting; I just haven't been able to upload the photos of the work in the usual manner because apparently there's no room on my laptop to do anything, even edit the one photo I was able to upload to Photos. I found a workaround solution— emailing the images to myself and dragging them onto the desktop— but I have to delete a significant number of files in order to get things to work smoothly again.

Here's what I've worked on in the last couple of days:


  The Hand Of The Artist, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)
 
The Gauntlet, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)
 
  Selfies, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)   
 
  Somerville Roses, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)   

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

 
 
 

Friday, April 6, 2018

Last Of The Week

Feeling a lack of energy today; worked on warming up the middle panel and developing the water container. Never got to the two America series last night. Maybe next week will be more productive.

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

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Blending Fun

Getting up at 5:30 in the morning is not my thing; it was worth it, of course, to view the magnificent cherry blossoms at dawn in the Tidal Basin. But I felt groggy once we got home, and needed a two-hour nap to set things right. Then we had a super-early dinner.

I did get down to the basement studio to work on In Case Of Emergency late this afternoon, and hope to work on those two little America series paintings tonight.

In Case Of Emergency, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view) 
 
There's glare on the upper left corner of this painting from the ceiling light. It's actually quite dark there, due to the use of pretty much straight-out-of-the-tube Sennelier Gris Froid; it occurred to me that it would be smart to stick with one base color for the grey shadows rather than use mixes of different blacks, whites, and greys. I usually lean toward Payne's Gray for cool shadows, but it looks too bluish here. 
 
Blending one shadow area into another is really difficult. You don't want the brush strokes to show, so you've got to go over a transition again and again, and the brush picks up either the lighter value or the darker one and ruins that delicate balance you're trying to achieve. So I'm going slowly and trying not to make mistakes. Plus, some of the reds and blacks from the last session are still not completely dry.

The Great Cherry Blossom Distraction

So, we had a windstorm yesterday, and the evening before, the weather people on the local news were all doom and gloom about the cherry blossoms at the DC Tidal Basin. It was literally, "If you want to see them, go NOW, before they all blow away." Well, we took our chances, since it was cloudy yesterday and I needed some photos with a clear sky, which was predicted for today. (Snow on Saturday!) The flowering plum in our yard seemed no worse for the weather in the height of the storm, and I thought we'd be okay waiting until this morning. Here are the photos! If you don't live in the Washington DC area, these are for you to enjoy viewing.

Before Dawn

After Dawn








Not sure if I'm going to get much painting done today.


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Night Work

One more for the day!

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

Focus

All I worked on this afternoon was the left side, from top to bottom of the window, including the mannequin.
The Gauntlet, © 2018, work in progress (click on image for larger view)

This Still Needs To Be Knocked Back

I tried softening some harsh outlines but then ended up adding others, especially lower right. I'll let it dry and then even things out.

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

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Distractions

There's always something pulling me away from the easel. It seems like my entire life I've had to scrap and fight for every minute of painting time. Today I had to drop everything in order to pick up a painting from a show, and then later to pick up bird seed so the birds won't go hungry in the morning. It's hard to get back into the zone once I get home, but I got some work done, anyway.

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

I've been avoiding The Chair for a while, but today I wanted to clean up a few places that were bothering me and also deepen the shadow areas on the faces. The actual chair is going to be a challenge, what with all those little bits of weave.

Moved along on Brooklyn: right now I think it would be wise to work from the top down (this could of course change at a whim), mostly concentrated on the church steeple.

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

And though this looks like absolutely nothing so far, I did make progress on the sky. I'll have to go over it one more time to even out that sharp dividing line between the blue and the lighter sky areas.

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





A Mistake With The Cadmium Yellow Deep

The Cad Yellow Deep is not working where I put it this morning. It's jarring— it's supposed to represent the earthy ground area in the hilly green region across the river from the town center, but I should have used a Raw Sienna/Yellow Ochre mix instead. I'm also not happy with the color of the tablecloth. All in all a very unsatisfactory work session this morning.

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