Friday, February 27, 2015

A Good End to the Week

So, it's Friday, and the next two days will be busy--- but I got a lot done today, and here are a couple of photos of the paintings...

 Yellow Telephones, © 2015

W. 44th Street, © 2015

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Taking It Up a Notch

I spent over an hour today on the wall background of Three Women at the MFA; after getting everything blended just the way I wanted, I decided to go over the visible strokes to smooth them out. Bits of dust that had accumulated in the brush hairs instantly appeared all over the place. Had to spend another 20 minutes picking them out, one by one,and then trying to find a way to salvage the mess I'd made of the surface while cleaning them up. It's not hard to get discouraged when working at this stage of the game.

Three Women at the MFA, © 2015

At least you can see that the background's coming together. It gets more refined every time I work on it. Maybe 4-5 more sessions will do it? Need to clean up the edges of the women's clothes, paint in the purses, make the hair look real, and modify the bright light spots on the art work.

So after a bit of a sulk, I decided to work on Fashion Forward. It's time for me to take the work to a higher level. When I look at pieces I did a couple of years ago, I can instantly see things that I'd do differently if I were painting them now. As far as FF is concerned, the jacket's been bothering me for a long time, and I knew if I concentrated on the drawing of it, I could do a better job. So here's today's work on the jacket--- I had to stop after a while due to fatigue.

 Fashion Forward, © 2015

Though I used quite a lot of Prussian Green, the jacket's looking browner now, but that's okay because the bright green always seemed out of place.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Deep Sunset

Sometimes a painting just scares me. I mean, I get to a certain point and then I'm afraid to go any further with it for fear of messing it up. And it's not that it's finished--- far from it; I just can't figure out how to proceed.

So, Deep Sunset has been hanging on a wall of the studio, mocking me. I've been able to make progress on everything below the horizon for several weeks, but it's the sky that has had me hung up. The drawing of the cloud layers is tricky; in some areas they're on a completely different angle from adjacent areas. And the color has been very hard to figure out, going too orange in spots and not the crazy coral-pink-magenta-fuchsia that I see in the sky.

But today I just went for it. It still needs a layer of blue-violet to separate some forms, but it's going to be okay.

Deep Sunset, © 2015

Oh, and I worked on four other paintings as well, none of them as garish as this one. Though the color is more toned done in real life.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Day's Work: J.P. Licks

Here's the latest work on J.P. Licks, which is probably going to take me another 4 weeks to complete.

J.P. Licks, © 2015

Monday, February 23, 2015

Back to the Easel

Took the weekend off. Sometimes it's good to take a break when things aren't going so well; it clears the head, and I'm happy to report that I made good painting decisions today and everything went well. I worked on four pieces, but will only show one here:

Yellow Telephones, © 2015

But it was a very good day in the studio.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Complaining About Sueding

Recently I had a conversation with an artist friend of mine. He— also a realist painter— had asked if I kept track of how much time I spend working on a painting, and it set me off into a diatribe about how I wished I had because it takes FOREVER to finish one of the things. The most time consuming stuff is doing a finely graduated background wall, like the one below:

Three Women at the MFA, © 2015

I've already spent an unreasonable amount of time on it. I should have a punch clock. It's had at least four coats of paint, probably more, and each time it gets a little more opaque and a little less brushy. But each time I have to match the values (the light/dark quality of the paint) which is really hard, and you can see that the area on the left is too close in value to the shadow near the woman's purse, so I'll have to adjust that once the paint's dry.

Anyway, I got to a point on Thursday where I wanted to stop. Fatigue had set in. So I mounted the painting on a wall near the easel, and stood back to assess the day's work. Sueding, all over the place! What is sueding? Well, when a painting's supposed to be as carefully graduated as I want this one to be, and there are brush marks raising textures in every conceivable direction under strong lighting, it's an epic fail. So I had to rework it for another twenty minutes to smooth the marks out, and it's still going to need another three sessions.

This is why I get aggravated when someone thinks a painting like this should be priced cheaply. As I told my friend, we both are painting the entire surface not once, but anywhere between 2-10 times.

End of rant.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

On a Roll

I did take yesterday off, since the threatening weather dictated a trip to the local food store, and after running a few other errands I flopped into my chair, exhausted, upon returning home. Watched the bluebirds on the balcony for a while and learned a few things on the internet about marketing and a craft project I plan to start soon. But today I got into the studio early, to make up for lost time.

L. Hones is nearly finished at this point. All that's left is refining the hand of the shopkeeper and making the halos around the lights as soft as possible:

 L. Hones, © 2015

J.P. Licks, which has more than enough detailed work to keep me busy for the next month, is coming along:

 J.P.Licks, © 2015

 And I went a little further on Fashion Forward:

Fashion Forward, © 2015

And it's still early enough in the day that I might be able to get some more work done...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Good Day's Work

I worked on 5 paintings today, and finished 3 of them. Here's "Sometimes I Feel That Way," © 2015:

Why is it that some days the paint seems to flow directly from the tube right onto the painting, and other days I can't do anything right?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Working the Left Side

So, today I worked on 5 or 6 paintings, I lost track; but there was a bit of movement on The Illusion of Reality. I did concentrate on the left side, as is my plan to keep the work manageable and thus finish the darn thing.

Here's the pic:

The Illusion of Reality, © 2015

You can check it against the image posted on February 12th.

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Compositional Decision

Last night, while looking at a photo of L. Hones, I realized the bus stop sign on the left might not need to be in the image, so I took it out in Photoshop. I liked the results so much that today, in the studio, I painted it out. Now the distraction of that design element is gone, and the scene is much more focused.

Before: L. Hones, © 2015

After: L. Hones, © 2015
In addition, I've been experimenting with a tube of Gamblin's Chromatic Black, which has the necessary  depth for the background. It's dark and luscious.

Other work today included picking up again on Yellow Telephones, after a year of ignoring it. Worked mostly on the phone and assembly at right.

Yellow Telephones, © 2015

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Plan

It occurred to me that I need to get serious about finishing three large paintings that I want to enter into a show in the fall. Just looking at them intimidates me: there's a lot to work on. Here's one example:

The Illusion of Reality, © 2015

Looks overwhelming--- but if I break it up into five roughly equal vertical segments, and concentrate on one of those segments per month for the next five months, it seems doable. So that's the plan. Today I'm working on the area on the far left, up to the dark vertical line.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Dealing With It

A couple of days ago I mentioned how tedious it is to work on the lettering on J.P. Licks; today I decided to tackle it. I'm making the letters larger than they need to be so I can cut them down to size with black outlines after the paint dries.

As you can see, the edges of the table need to be refined, too.

Eventually I'll work through the details of this painting, and finish the darn thing. It's been long enough.

Worked on 6 paintings today, woo-hoo!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Cozy in the Studio

One of the problems with the studio is that it's just a couple of degrees too cold down there to work comfortably, but now that we've installed a small space heater, it's a lot better. The temps outside lately have been down in the 30s and sometimes windy, so the heater makes a lot of difference.

Here's what I worked on today:

J.P. Licks, © 2015

Reception From 5 - 9, © 2015

Both of these are paintings I hadn't worked on in a couple of months--- as I mentioned yesterday, everything that I want to work on is drying, and I'm always inadvertently smearing paint around, so I've learned to leave things alone until they're fully dry. Both of the above have gotten to a point where they're 3/4 done, and that's when things get really tedious. All of the details have to be finessed, and it's s-l-o-w going. In the case of J.P. Licks, it's refining the words "Espresso" and "Latte," and the line on the door. I really dread it. This painting could end up being unfinished for another six months.

As far as the bottom one goes, look at all those picture frame corners. Ack! And then I have to paint in a couple of dozen wine glasses.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Thursday in February

Got some more work done today; actually, I worked on 6 paintings, though I'm only posting pix for one of them here. At this point, everything I want to work on is in a drying stage, so I'm not sure what to do tomorrow.

'S Nice, © 2015

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Some Solid Work

Did not have to leave the house today! Spent the hours from 11 to 3:45 down in the studio (well, with a 20 minute break for lunch) and got quite a lot done. Here are some photos of the works in progress:
The Illusion of Reality, © 2015

Sometimes I Feel That Way, © 2015

Three Women at the MFA, © 2015

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Universe Conspires Against Me

Suffice it to say that numerous interruptions over the last few days, not the least of which was a power outage due to high wind gusts, have kept me out of the studio. No light = no painting!

Today I was able to get down there for only an hour before needing to run out of the house again, but I did have a minor epiphany. A couple of days ago, I'd seen an article about the importance of getting the values right in a painting, and god knows what a hard time I have with values! Anyway, it occurred to me that I might be able to use Gamblin's Transparent Black in some places that needed to go just a shade darker, so I tried it on the flower bouquets in L. Hones. It worked wonderfully! I was able to darken some tiny areas, and that produces a more realistic sense of lighting now.