"Everybody knows a work of art takes at least an hour!" Lucy to Linus, (Peanuts)

FineArtViews Painting Competition - Twice in the Fav 15%

http://canvoo.com/boldbrush/badge/13203 three times selected for FAV15%, Fine Art Views Bold Brush Painting Competition

Monday, January 31, 2011

It's going to be OK

I worried myself through this face redo but it is coming along well now so I think it is going to be OK!  Just worked on eyes, nose and skin tones on the left side (our left, not hers!). I don't know what I was thinking the first time I painted Samanda's face in this work but obviously I wasn't thinking very hard...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What colour is that again?

I moved away from the face of the subject today as it still a bit tacky from yesterday.  Painting fabrics is one of my favorite things to do but the concentration necessary to catch all the changes in hue and value, to say nothing of the folds and creases, can be exhausting. This 
represents several days worth of work. Today I spent time on the lower section and after only two hours I had to quit. I have always had limited energy stores and it is sometimes a detriment to how quickly I move through a painting. If I force myself to continue past a certain point I begin to make mistakes and they have to be fixed in the next session so I have learned to listen to my body and stop when I'm tired. I am always amazed by this tiredness...it feels the same as spending time doing heavy physical labour.

The palette for the colours in this shawl are Titanium/Zinc White, Naples Yellow (W&N), Naples Yellow Hue (Gamblin...a very different, brighter yellow than the W&N), Yellow Ochre,
Burnt Sienna, Olive Green, Viridian Green, and Cerulean Blue. The embroidery colours are a separate palette than includes Radiant Magenta, Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna, Cobalt Violet, and White. I pay special attention to the colours inside folds as they can not only be darker but more intense and often reflect light in unexpected hues.  Painting fabric is not a matter of finding the colour of the material and then just adding white or black to make the shadows and highlights. All fabrics, even pale ones, are full of colours and temperatures and
spending time mixing those colours adds to the tactile sense of the material and its seeming reality to the eye. As I mentioned, finding and mixing all those colours, that are usually in small amounts and many areas right next to each other, can be an energy sapper...but if it also weren't so much fun I wouldn't do it:-)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Second time around

I appreciate the comments so far regarding my displacement of Samanda's head and while to some it may seem to require "courage," for me it was a case of do it or lose sleep over it.  I did put it off for days and days, hoping by some miracle the image would suddenly seem right all by itself.  The magic painting fairy must have been elsewhere. The studio elves aren't much help either.

Regarding the use of the Quick Dry White I have posted a picture of it. It is oil paint (by Gamblin), and I only painted a very thin glaze over the previous image. I needed to obliterate the underpainting enough to see where to place the newly drawn features. It was dry enough to paint on today, which it would not have been if I had used a regular white like Titanium, or Zinc. It would possibly be several days drying and I didn't want to wait that long to get back on track. I honestly don't know how archival this is but my underpainting was not heavy. I don't paint thickly as a rule, although reworking a totally finished painting is not something I would want to do. The layers change chemically over time as I understand it so reworking is best done fairly soon while in the midst of painting. Having put the thin white glaze on I was also able to start applying new colour without having to paint the new layer too heavily. This is the first layer and I will need to go back in and apply yet another layer once this is dry. I will then be able to work in the subtle value and hue changes in her skin. I am also attempting to make her expression a bit less sombre...moving her lips up at the corners just a tad. Once I have completed the new face I will post it next to a picture of the former face to show the change.

This turned into a great day to paint in any case. The sky cleared up some and I can see BLUE up there and a little sun off to the south...still pretty low in the sky. I like winter and the warm soups and bundling up with blankets and books, etc., but by February I find I have had enough. I need to feel real grass under my feet, not the ice that continues to thwart my outdoor walking efforts. And dragging my easel out on the deck will be welcome, but that won't happen for at least three or four more months.

Friday, January 28, 2011


I have been ignoring the little voice in the back of my head informing me daily that this painting needs some radical fixing, at least in the head of the subject. Today I could not stand it another minute so I went back to remeasure and reconsider the placement of the head in this portrait. Too small in the nose, too big in the eyes and then I had to decided how it was actually sitting on the neck. My reference photos show her torso one way and the head another way, but I have reversed things so now I have to make it work without having the actual model in front of me. I have moved the head over and resized my reference photo. Then I put a light coat of quick dry white over the face. Once it has dried I can redraw the features and repaint the face. I am very annoyed about it but I would be more annoyed, like for the rest of my life, if I didn't fix this. I just moved on to finishing the hands and that put me back in a good mood as they look better now. Sometimes you just don't see the forest for the trees.

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Red/Green Bias

I have been noticing over the past few years that I use red and green combos quite a lot. Depending upon the hues chosen this colour use does not have to be Christmas-like. I have always professed to love bright purple (like Iris Purple) as my favorite colour but I seldom use it in my work. I seldom wear it. I do not like decorating my house with it. Still, whenever I see the blue/lavendar tone anywhere I am drawn to it. Small doses seems to be best. An accent of
exotic purple brightness fills my need. It is not an easy colour to live with. So, I am living with a  red/green scheme in my house, my clothes, and my painting. Soft yellows are a favorite too...and sometimes blue, but not a raw ultramarine...more cerulean or cobalt or turquoise. Some colours I really can't deal with (for my own use) are Fushia, Rust, and Mustard Yellow. They may sneak in on occasion but could never take center stage in my life. 
The psychology of colour choices is fascinating and there are many books on the subject. Reading them can be enlightening but I think I try to bend my personality to fit what the experts say my colour preferences might mean so it is an area I like to let alone for the most part and just follow my instinct. Once I start using a colour, however, I spend a great deal of time balancing it with other colours and values, attempting to find it's perfect partnership. I reject many more colours than I use. What is that rejection or acceptance about? I don't know the reasons but I know it when I see it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I love pattern and textiles. Part of doing this piece is an excuse to indulge that. Already I can see many possible directions for this to go in but I think I will try to keep with the initial image I had decided upon. Sometimes I think I should do one painting over and over in all the possible ways I envision. I think I would tire of it, but perhaps not. How will I know if I don't try it? I think it would need to be with something a bit smaller and less ambitious.
Today I received an unexpected invitation to show with a few very wonderful, well known pastel artists at the Old School House Gallery in Qualicum Beach this coming summer. This includes Russian born artist Nicolas de Grandmaison, who died in 1978; Joseph Plaskett, "considered to be one of Canada's most talented and established painters," & who set up the Joe Plaskett Foundation which allows a selected Canadian artist to travel and study in Europe; Harley Brown, who wrote "Eternal Truths for Every Artist" (available from Amazon); Veronica Milner, subject of the biography by Margaret Cadwaladr "In Veronica's Garden" (also available at Amazon); and Dorothy Oxbourough, well known BC artist specializing in Native American Children portraits. Invitations to show with such established and esteemed artists are very encouraging and so much less stressful than entering a juried show and hoping to be included. I wasn't planning to exhibit much this year but I think this is an opportunity not to be passed up! This is a real surprise. Maybe my hope to end up exhibiting in a gallery like Bau-Xi in Vancouver or Toronto is realistic (that is one of Mr. Plaskett's galleries).

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Making progress

So much red seems a bit overwhelming but necessary to deal with at this stage. I have begun to indicate the patterned fabric background and it is going to change the feel of this piece very much. The background colour of the fabric is an off white. I am hoping it does not end up being distracting. It can always get painted out again. The beauty of making art is that changes are allowed. Where else in life can you experiment so freely, take chances, try ideas without fear of
catastrophic outcomes? It's only paint.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I thought I'd never start...

Today's efforts finally seem worth something after days and days of messing around. I don't feel such a procrastinator, (although I remain one at heart). Now I can look at what everyone else is doing without guilt, thinking I really ought to be working. I might even be back to business early tomorrow. Oh, one can only dream. James Taylor and Piano Classics really help.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Decision on Chica

Thank you for the input regarding placement of Chica. It has been decided, and I agree, that it is best to keep a slight distance between bird and girl. The parrot's head and neck angle to echo the curve of Samanda's cheek and I think that works ok. The painting will be ok too. But is ok enough? I am seriously considering shutting down this computer for a while and just working! My brain feels divided. I find myself interested in what so many of you are doing also that I while away the time becoming involved with processes not my own. And now we are basically snowed in for a time. No excuses for not painting. I did my bit of shoveling to make it out here to the studio. Dinner will be simple, hearty, and warm this evening, which still comes by five o'clock. If the power stays on we can cuddle under blankets and watch DVD's. If it goes out there are enough candles and oil lamps to allow a bit of reading and then early to sleep under even more blankets. Hey, what am I complaining about??

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Kiss or No?

Now I am getting into the subtle changes that make up the final composition before I begin to put paint to canvas. I am using a slightly different pose for Chica, the parrot, and trying to determine if I want it seem as if Samanda is giving Chica a kiss on the head...or not. Hands are more accurate now as are the shawl folds around her shoulders. Of course, part of this fussing is to stave off the actual moment of beginning to paint. And why do I do this? Why do so many artists I know also do this? We love painting! It is our greatest joy...but so hard to begin. What if it fails? What if no one likes it? What if, what if. It doesn't matter. BEGIN.
I would appreciate any opinions about whether or not to have Chica being kissed by Samanda but I don't guarantee going along with the majority vote...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Just chattering

Getting ready to transfer drawing of Samanda and Chica
"Bananas & Oranges - or Bowl of Fruit" oil 14"x18"
"Grapes in Yellow Bowl" oil 12"x12"
"Cartoon" is the word the old master's used to describe the preliminary sketch that was scaled up to size via a grid and then transferred onto the final surface the art would be painted on. They punched teeny holes all along the lines and tapped fine charcoal powder against the drawing so the particles would go through the holes and leave an impression for them to follow when painting. I use a more modern approach - enlarge my drawing on a copier and transfer it by using a special transfer paper like Saral, which comes in various colours so you can transfer onto a light or dark surface and have the drawing visible. In this case I did not spend the extra money or take the time to travel down to Campbell River to use a professional copier that makes 36" by any length you want (from a roll of copier paper) which is frequently used by blueprint makers and available at Sure Copy there. Most decent sized towns have at least one copy place that has one of these machines. When I do large paintings it is a time saver but this is just 16"x40" so I used our home copier and taped together the separate copies of each section of the drawing. I have small and also a large lightbox but here I just taped the copies to the window and lined up the drawing that way. There is always some distortion in the enlargement to be aware of and correct in the final transfer. In this case I can't use my favorite Red transfer paper since my underpainting is red so will use either white or yellow. I like a red underpainting since it enlivens the whole image even when painted over - the red shows through subtly and adds a richness.
The next two images are for one of my blogging friends, Claire Christinel, who is having some issues with making shadow colours on lemons. Shadowing yellow can turn to mud if you're not careful. Here I used a red tone for the shadow in the yellow bowl but on the right side went to the green reflected from the green grapes and to offer a cool breathing spot. In the Bananas and Oranges painting I did the same thing, alternating between the warm red tones and cool green/blue tones. I allowed a bit of burnt umber in there but not too much - always aware of staying away from mud. I went very bright red for the shadows on the oranges which I like very much, and a deep purple for the orange in front. I outlined the bananas in Cerulean Blue before painting the yellow tones. One of my favorite painters, Wayne Theibaud, does this and I remember how impressed I was with the liveliness in his work the first time I ever saw it - a portrait of a young girl sitting in a yellow dress and go-go boots - just a white background - and all this colour around the edges. That was back in the late 60's and I have often returned to that technique for my own work. Thank you Wayne! His paintings of food are scrumptious!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Upcoming CBS Sunday Morning Challenge

"Curly Headed Sun" oil 12"x12"
Side stepping today to do this little painting to send to the upcoming challenge in Dante's Pub. It is a chance to have your work selected to be shown on the CBS Sunday Morning show. Go to http://www.theartistchallenge.com/upcoming-art-challenges/ to find out the details. The challenges come up every few weeks and give artists the opportunity to have work seen by collectors and maybe SELL something! Aside from that it is just fun. Most challenges cost a mere $7 to enter and some are free! Victoria North, a talented artist in her own right, is in charge of this enterprise and very accommodating those of us who may be computer challenged when it comes to sending her the correct size jpegs! I made a semi self portrait with my sun...I have a lot of wildly curly hair. Deadline for this challenge is this coming Saturday, Jan. 8th!

Monday, January 3, 2011

"To Tell a Story"

The parrot's name is Chica which Samanda tells me means "To Tell a Story" in Filipino. Who is telling this story? Chica or Samanda? Or both? Holding her close is Samanda whispering to Chica about the story? Chica can talk but she is reticent in front of strangers. This might be a very appropriate name for the painting so that is the working title for now. I am making the decisions about placement and composition and wondering about how strong to make the background colours. Little by little it comes together. The canvas is selected and underpainted with a strong Cadmium Red Dark. Tomorrow it should be dry and ready for the preliminary drawing to be transferred to it. I enlarge my drawing on a copier and transfer it with Saral red transfer paper usually. It is a lot faster than gridding and fussing. I generally have to make corrections on the drawing after it is initially transferred to the canvas. I don't do any of this if I get to work from life. I just eye ball it and start working on the canvas directly. Vicky and Brian and I are thinking of hiring a model to pose for a few days, one pose, so that we can have this opportunity to paint from life beginning to end. Maybe in the spring when weather is better and getting together isn't such a problem...I don't live too close to anyone. I could set up carefully lit still life subjects, and I might do that again soon, but always I am taken by the human face and form and want to explore that subject more thoroughly. We are mysteries to ourselves no less than everything on the planet is a mystery. Somehow coming to some sort of understanding about the stories we tell each other may help to bring about the harmonious world we all wish for, but I am not naive enough to think this painting will have anything to do with it.