Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Sugar Bowl 9x12 pastel, copyright 2010

I finally replaced the little glass sugar bowl I had broken sometime ago, and decided it really needed to be painted.  My thought was to try it in both pastel and oil in order to compare the two mediums.  I'm still working on the oil, and am not happy about it's turning out.  For whatever reason the pastel just seemed to click better this time around.  Working in both mediums was helpful however, as I noticed what was working in the oil and applied it to the pastel.  Hopefully it will work in reverse as well.

The primary reason I chose this subject was because I felt practice was needed for reflections, without the distraction of color.  I thought the transparency of the glass would make things a little easier as well, which turned out to be an incorrect assumption.  I think it worked on the bowl, but the lid was a bit more difficult, as was the texture of the sugar.  Part of the problem was that I initially became impatient and worked too quickly, ignoring some of the details.  Extensive reworking fixed a lot of the initial mistakes, but it took a lot of pastel to do it - I'm sure the paper can't hold much more!

If I like how the oil turns out, I'll post it later in the week.  

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In the "zone"

Sunflowers 16x20 oil, copyright 2010

This weekend's barn tour and dinner, a joint project of the Preble County Art Association and Preble County Historical Society, went very well.  Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, and big thanks to all the barn owners, the tour guide (Steve Gordon, a long time friend and historic barn expert), and all the volunteers who made it possible.  And to top it all off, the weather was just perfect.

One of the benefits of helping out with these projects is all the goodies that come with it.  A delicious free meal and a centerpiece from one of the tables - sunflowers in this case.   I grow a few sunflowers every year to provide munchies for the birds (and myself) plus a few plants that are purely decorative.  This summer's heat and drought didn't work out so well for the decorative ones, so I was happy to get a few to take home, hoping to find the time to paint them before they wilted.

I didn't really have the time, but I painted them anyway, most of it in one fell swoop on Tuesday.  I started out with a blue background, which I think made me unconsciously emphasize the orange rather than the yellow.  I liked how it looked, so I just kept going.  The paint is thicker than usual, and I used a larger brush.  All this helped me keep the painting loose and not bogged down in detail.  I was truely in the "zone" on this one, and it was only outside influences (ie family) that kept me from finishing all at once.  Fortunately I was able to hold onto that feeling and finish today.  Being pulled in many different directions can make it hard to find the zone and I was lucky to take advantage of it when I did.

I'm thinking this one might be worthy of trying for a show at the Richmond (Indiana) Art Museum next month.  Hopefully it will be dry by then!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Virtual Paintout

Break Time, 8x10 oil, copyright 2010

I think I mentioned some time ago a blog that has a virtual paintout challenge every month utilizing Google Street View.  The basic concept is that the blogger choses an area anywhere in the world and challenges artists to paint based on an image from Google Street View.  This month's choice:  Manhattan.  I couldn't pass it up, so I took a "walk" around the Upper West Side and found another brownstone that caught my eye.

The little painting above is based on this image on 76th.  Street View photos aren't the highest quality and aren't taken with the artist in mind, which means you take what you get as far as angles and lighting conditions.  It makes the whole thing more challenging, but I feel like I had a bit of an advantage in that I had been in that neighborhood only two months ago.  The biggest problem I has was in when to stop messing with it, in particular with the figures.   They are only about three inches high, so details had to be limited.  It wasn't easy, but I think it worked.

I also found an image of the brownstone I painted earlier this summer, but I like my photo much better!

Monday, September 6, 2010

A peachy experiment

Peaches Study 9x12 oil on museum board, copyright 2010

Last week I took the time to experiment a bit with oils, and this study is the result.  It was never intended to be a finished piece, just playing with color and texture.  I've noticed that a lot of artists, especially daily painters, are working in bits of pure color in an almost pointalist fashion rather than blending.  Brushstrokes are very visible and the paint is laid down quite thickly.  I think this is the result of working quickly and not worrying too much about details.  It can make the paintings almost abstracted when this is really pushed.

I'm a bit torn about this technique.  When done well, it looks quite good - I like how the peach on the left turned out.  But I'm not sure I'll take this route on a regular basis.  While I like the boldness of the approach, I generally work a little softer, a little more blended.  It was fun though, seeeing just how much paint I could get on without turning it all into "mud".   There were a few times I had to do some scraping.  And once the piece was finished and dried, I recognized a big mistake - reflections always point directly towards the viewer.  Ah well,  that's what experiements are for.

Friday, September 3, 2010

School days

Waiting for the Bus 18x24 pastel, copyright 2010

Although the local weather has offered no hint of a change in seasons, fall has officially arrived at our home with the start of the school year.  I am fortunate in that both my kids still love school and do well.  Our shepard mix however, does not look forward to it as it means missing a couple of playmates.  Every morning she watches as they get on the bus and in the afternoon sits in a shaded spot waiting for their return.

This pastel took me a bit longer than usual as I struggled to get the corn fields to look like corn and the tree at the end of the lane to stand out from the background trees.  The trick was to exaggerate the highlighs and shadows a bit to keep it all from getting too dull.  And in reality the dog is black, but she kept disappearing into the shadow so I had to lighten her color a bit.

I have submitted this pastel to a monthy online challange at Artists Helping Artists blog, which is an excellent resource for the emerging artist.  It will also be in the Greenville Art Guild's Annual Fall Art Show along with the brownstone painting.  I'll let you know how all that goes!