Friday, February 24, 2012

Red Barns

Red Barn, Green Grass 8x10 pastel, copyright 2012

A few weeks ago, this pastel was considered a failure.  Something about it just wasn't right.  It sat in the studio mocking me, daring to me to call it quits and give up.  I moved on, trying to ignore it while working on an oil, recovering from a cold and thinking about spring shows.  Today it was finally decided to put it away for good.  But maybe, with a little touch up here, a little cropping there, it would work.  Guess it's a good thing I gave it another chance.  The title, by the way, was suggested by my son.  Kids are always an excellent resource when you run out of ideas.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Life Drawing with charcoal pencil

Reading, Hooded Sweater Vest charcoal pencil, copyright 2012

Hands charcoal pencil, copyright 2012

My goal of finishing an oil painting last week was thwarted by a particularly nasty cold virus that killed all motivation.  Life Drawing last night probably would have been skipped as well if my daughter had not agreed to be the model.   My first sketch of her in pastel turned out very rough, but the two charcoal sketches came out pretty well.  The top one doesn't exactly look like her, but I think I am getting better at faces. The pattern in her knit sweater was challenging, but not over thinking it helped.   Perhaps being sick helped me to turn off my brain, but it's not something I'd want to do on a regular basis.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

virtual Sistine Chapel

This past week I've been working away on an oil painting which is coming along quite well, though slowly.  I should invest in a bit of Liquin, a drying medium for oil paints.  Most are fine and I can layer the next day, but for some reason the black is a little slow, and the alizarin crimson is taking forever.  Hopefully it will be done by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, I've found a wonderful site to explore, the virtual Sistine Chapel.  In the mid nineties I did a bit of traveling in Italy, and of course this was on the list.  It was in the beginning of my archaeology career and to be honest, I spent quite a bit more time in the Vatican Museum than in here.  The chapel was surprisingly small and quite crowded, making it difficult to appreciate the artistry of the place at the time; I was too anxious to see other things.  I'd love to go back now and explore it more thoroughly.  While this site certainly isn't better than the real thing, it will do nicely until the Someday when I can get back.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Right Shoulder

Right Shoulder 14x14 pencil, copyright 2012

At the moment I'm trying to avoid having to admit that my latest pastel just isn't working and decided instead to post something that is working.  Last night was the first time I've been to Life Drawing since before the New Year and it turned out to be a much needed break.

My best effort of the night was this pencil sketch from one of the 20 minute poses.  The model had good muscle definition in his arms and shoulders, so that's where I decided to focus.

I forgot to post about the Life Drawing exhibit last month, so I will tell you here that it went well.   A lot of people (mostly artists and friends of artists) showed up for the reception.  It was enjoyable to have the time to talk with one another about technical details - things like what sort of paper everyone used, and how some of us seem to prefer drawing backs and some prefer drawing heads, and pencil verses charcoal.  Hopefully we'll be able to do it again sometime.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Making it work

Slow Decline 12x16 pastel, copyright 2012

My hair is probably a bit thinner after this one.  It was an incredibly frustrating piece, and was nearly tossed out on several occasions.  At one point everything except the barns was erased.  A big part of the problem was that I neglected to do a smaller study first and ended up putting the barn in the wrong spot to make a good composition.  And the sky was a boring, almost solid blue.  And the shadow in front of the barns was a boring blob of dark.  The barn was only interesting thing about it, and I seriously considered cropping to eliminate the rest.

But after erasing, walking away, and spending time flipping through art books and looking at other people's work on the web, I decided it could be salvaged.  Puddles of water and hints of a fence line and drive helped the foreground, along with lots of texture.  More color and diagonal clouds made the sky much better, and distant hills added depth.

Although this is based on a barn about five miles from my house here in the midwest, it somehow ended up with more of a western feel.  I think that might be due to the lack of green in the grasses and lack of trees in the distant background.  Funny how a painting sometimes goes off in an unexpected direction.  I'm glad I stuck it out.