Monday, November 21, 2011

Back to basics

Toronto Waterfront Skyline 5x7 graphite pencil, copyright 2011
click to purchase this sketch

The count of nearly finished paintings this month is up to three.  I seem to keep hitting a wall with these bigger ones. They are all almost but not quite there, and I end up getting frustrated and setting them aside.  To give myself a break, a little sketchbook was dusted off and it was back to basics with a pencil drawing. It's been awhile since I've done anything in pencil and it was a nice refresher, a reminder to keep it simple.  This one is from a photo I took this summer, looking at Toronto from a ferry ride to the regional airport.   Only about 2/3 of the CN Tower fit into the sketch, which of course dominates the skyline in its extreme scale.

On a technical note, I've been getting a lot of hits from questionable web sites based in Russia.  One of them even had a notice that it had been removed due to copyright violations.  Seems a bit suspicious, and since I hate to cover my images with watermarks that can be removed by determined and patient personnel, I'm going to start post the images at a lower quality.  Hopefully that won't affect how they look on a computer monitor, but it should discourage printing them out.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

work in progress

Things are a little slow in my art world.  I've actually been working on a still life when I can sneak in the time.  Usually I work pretty quickly, but I've been taking my time with this one, trying to make it look a little more "finished".  After reaching a point of frustration last week it's been set aside for the moment.  Instead I've been doing some touch up work on a few pastels and trying to get better photographs of a few for online contests.  The weather is being a bit uncooperative though.  Photographing outdoors in natural light is preferable but it's been too windy on sunny days and raining on the rest of them.  With holidays and birthdays coming up, I don't know how much work will be done in the next few weeks.  Excuses, excuses....

There are a few motivating factors however.  The Preble County Art Association now has an online directory of local artists, myself included.  Hopefully it will get me some much needed extra exposure.  Check it out, there are some very talented people out there!

And in other news, an electrician will be stopping by this afternoon to give me an estimate for wiring a room in our house, soon (hopefully) to be my studio space.  There's a lot of work to be done first - it has been used as storage space for probably 50 years or more.  It was originally the kitchen and has a huge fireplace with some original cabinetry.  Here's a shot of one corner, including the fireplace.  And yes, that is a deer skull on the mantle - my husband found it a couple of years ago.  It will show up in a painting one of these days.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Background drama

Zinnia with Bud Vase, 6x6 oil, copyright 2011

We've had several hard frosts this week, killing all my flowers with the exception of these little ones that I'm pretty sure are zinnias.  Zinnias are normally sensitive to harsh weather so I'm not sure how they've managed to hang on so long, but they offer a nice bright splash of color to what is becoming a rather dull landscape.  This composition came to me when I first picked them, but I ignored it and instead attempted to paint three of them in a clear glass jar.  That one wasn't working - and ended up getting wiped -  so I went with my original idea and found that I should have followed my instincts to begin with.

The flower and vase seemed to be working quite well at first, but somehow it still was a bit boring.  I turned to other artists to see how they handled still life and realized that the background made a huge difference.  At first this one was almost a solid pale blue, which is what I used for the set up in the studio.   But looking at the works of David Cheifetz in particular I realized that a dramatic backdrop can push the subjects forward and make them far more interesting.  I've been playing a bit with light and shadows, but seeing the difference in the before and after on this one (wish I'd taken photos!) really hit home - I will definitely keep it in mind for future reference.

It's funny though, the hardest part was know when to stop.  I kept seeing little things that needed to be corrected - a bit of white here, a splash of yellow there.  Hopefully my taking a photo will encourage me to stop messing with it.  The saying comes to mind, "It takes two people to make a painting: the artists to paint it, and another to stop him before he ruins it."  I think I stopped in time...