Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tarnished Pot, Blushing Apple, Drying Lemon Redux

Oil on Canvas Panel
8 x 6
On this journey of learning to paint, I have accumulated many paintings in various stages of success. Stacked in my studio closet, they await judgement in the half-way house between the garbage and the gallery.

This morning, I pulled them out, looking for any gems worth signing and varnishing. The rest will be tossed or painted over.

My old Tarnished Pot painting, first posted in January 2010, didn't deserve to stay but I couldn't give up on it either. (You can see the original below.) Something about it always annoyed me but I couldn't say exactly what. Today, I realized that the background was wrong. With nothing to lose and piles of wet paint already on my pallet, I attacked the painting with abandon.

The only changes I made were to the background and foreground. Removing the horizon lines gave the composition a stronger sense of resolve. The brighter colours in the fruit and the crispness of the objects are due to improvement in my ability to photograph my work.

Original  Version: blurry photo, washed out colours, split background.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Time Flies When You're Having Fun

Naomie - Oil on Board 9 x 12
Most Monday mornings, I kick off the week with a painting session at Basic Inquiry , an artist-run life drawing society in Vancouver, BC. I love the atmosphere of the group, a dozen or so artists all in deep concentration, trying our best to produce a good result. Some are drawing with charcoal, pencil or pastel, some paint with watercolours. A few of us work in oils. The studio provides easels and drawing horses and we circle round the model, who sits in the same pose for three hours. We do let her take breaks.

The time flies by and three hours is a short time to paint a portrait. I consider this a sketch. Next Monday, we have the same model, same pose, so I'll have a chance to fine tune things, the lights and darks and the shape of the eyes, to start with. I find noses particularly difficult and will be scouring books for painted images in a similar pose to get some hints. A couple of the other artists asked me for advice today (Yes!) which made me feel darn good.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Portrait of a Fellow Artist

Deep in Thought
Oil on Canvas, 12 x 12

I've been painting figures and faces lately with nothing finished to show you, until now. This is a big day for me: my first painted portrait that is good enough to post. I feel great about having achieved a likeness.

I painted this in the studio of artist and teacher, Jay Senetchko who gave me direction along the way to keep me on-track. The model was fellow artist, Chad Krowchuk who sat calmly while seven or eight of us strived to capture him on canvas.

Lessons I learned from Jay this time round:

  • If the model's eyes are cast off in one direction like Chad's are here, leave more space on the canvas in the direction he is looking.
  • Simplify. Once the initial drawing is complete, block in the shapes of the face and hands in only two skin tones, then go back in with more tones to give more definition.
  • A bit of colour placed in close proximity will activate other bits of the same colour nearby. For example, the blueish tinge in the shadow on Chad's hand, nearest his face - that blueish tinge draws out the blue in his eye. (I've known to apply principle when buying accessories to decorate a room, but never thought to transfer the knowledge to painting.)
I tried the technique of glazing. After the initial three hour session with the model, I let the painting dry completely, then I painted a very thin coat of reddish-orange over the entire canvas. During the second session, I worked back into the cooler colours, blues, grays, and greens.