"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

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Don't Fight the Magic

       Since the previous painting sold even before being completed I have decided to begin another similar one for the Sooke Show that I had initially been planning to enter using the other painting (if you are getting confused just think how it is for me.). I have several worth while shots, as I pointed out before, from the day Kim posed for me. The sketch has been enlarged and transferred to the toned canvas and the initial umber underpainting is now drying. This time I intend to include the embroidered flowers on the shawl as this pose is not as complex and I think it needs the extra embellishment. I've got three weeks to do this before final entry deadline. If by some unimaginable miracle this one also sells before I enter it in the show then I'll assume I'm under a magic spell and fully accept my fate:-) The labour of working on a canvas has progressed from pushing myself do it a few times a week to gratefully, happily  running to get out here to the studio almost continuously . After all, those magic spells don't come along every day.

Monday, April 23, 2012

One finished and one to begin.

       Final strokes went on the painting yesterday. Lots of time spent with three haired brush on fringe details saturday. I find subjects with lots of finicky detail stuff and think it is fascinating until the first hour of nitpicking has gone by and I realize that there are many more ahead. Before finishing up, however, I had sold the painting without even trying. Received a message from a collector of mine back in Ontario on friday. They asked for a price, I gave it, and they accepted! Wish all sales happened that easily:-) Once this is dry to touch it will be boxed and shipped - probably about two weeks from now. 

       The Sooke show entry deadline is still one month away so maybe I have time to do something else for it. I am planning to enter "To Tell a Story" and "Girl in a Garden" but am allowed three entries and wanted a new piece for it. I have several very good shots of Kim wearing this shawl from that photoshoot day so am seriously thinking about doing one like this from one of her other poses. Why not? A series can be a good thing!  I selected four poses and printed them up and now negotiating with myself over which one to do and what changes would be required in each one.  I have one more 16x40 canvas and toned it with Indian Red yesterday. I'll give this a shot and see what happens. Maybe I'm on a bit of roll. I actually could hardly wait to get to the studio this morning and whisked through changing bed linens and dusting the bedroom (Bob ended up helping...actually the dogs all came in the room too to help...in their own in-the-way doggie fashion:-). I knew I had to get this done before coming out here...I can only let housework slide for so long and then I begin to experience distress symptoms, which are a big hindrance to any creative endeavors. Bedroom is cleaned, (even the ceiling fan), dishes done, laundry halfway done, and I'm so glad I already cleaned out my car and washed all the dog blankets on friday. I can be out here in the studio with a clear conscience.

     One of the things these photos illustrate is how I approach the use of photos for my work. I never slavishly copy a photo; I take elements from them that are suitable for the composition and mood I'm after. I draw comps and sketches and then a final drawing which I enlarge by photo-copy machine. To do this on our little home printer/copier I have to make up the enlargement from several sheets of paper and tape them together. I have used the grid method in the past to enlarge drawings but that is very time consuming and the result is the same so why not use the technical tools of our age? Many of the Old Masters used the tools of their time, including Camera Obscura, a device that goes back to 470 BCE, first mentioned by Chinese philosopher Mo-Ti, the founder of Mohism,  and used by European artists in the 15th century as a drawing aid. When painting from life I start right in on the canvas, drawing what I see in front of me and making corrections as I go. There is no such thing as a "right" way or a "wrong" way and I tire of hearing about this. I do, however, believe the work will be stronger if the artist is not tied to whatever the reference is, but utilizes it as a framework to go by and then makes changes that meet the needs of the work. I also encourage my students to learn to make their own judgements about set ups and models, and not to copy photos that others have taken. Even in taking photos to copy for a painting, one has to consider lighting, angle, composition, etc., and each choice says something about the artist. 

       I'm seriously considering not allowing the dogs back in my car for at least a week, but they'll probably break me down before then.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Taking the time to "sleep on it."

       Taking the time to "sleep on it" is a useful technique for me when I am encountering a problem, including problems on the canvas. I was not happy with what was going on in the lower part of this painting; see below:

       That reddish brown section just wasn't working and I realized that even when I finish all the fringe and doodads it is still going to look less than stellar.
The whole thing was also looking like it had vertical overkill. And I wanted the light to come in behind the fringe looping up by the hands...not the dark background colour...the transition from lighter to darker in the colour of the fringe in that area would give it far more interest...I love variations in colour and value and blendings of these from one to another. I also intend to have the legs mostly covered by the long hanging fringe, with only hints of skin tone showing through. I didn't want the leg colours to be blending with the background colour and disappearing, though.

     The newer, lighter background in the lower portion is not yet finished...there will be small echoes of light, blurred florals, and the whole colour should fade slightly near the bottom, perhaps be a bit darker. All of it will be slightly out of focus bringing the eye back to the top. I hope.

       This happens to me for every painting, I swear. I think I have all my ideas worked out and then I find out that I don't. It was an illusion. Suddenly, often quite near completion, I have to figure out what in the world to do to bring the painting to final fruition. So I have to sleep on it and hope I wake with an answer.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Plans for the future.

       Working on this every day is moving it right along. It's funny how for a while I am jazzed about how it's going and then later I look again and am distressed by how far below my hopes and expectations it is. I see I will need to add some retouch varnish to all the dark places...that  Burnt Umber, even mixed with other rich colours, tends to sink in and go dead looking. Using Liquin is helping with faster drying. I hope tomorrow to be able to start the woven fringe on the bottom of the shawl. That will take some patience but at least it looks like I'll have this basically finished by week's end, in time for entering it in the Sooke show, then I can get back to the three floral pieces and start thinking about painting some fabric for making my Mother-of-the-Groom outfit:-) Somewhere in there I have to get back to some serious house keeping though...it's getting out of hand. And my car! I don't even want to think about it. Major dog hair and lots of accumulated dust, dirt, pebbles, etc., and even after I get this accomplished I have to accept that there's more where that came from. At least it's close to dinner time and I can go think about that now and then settle into a good book or watch whatever Bob chooses from the library DVD's or Netflix, which we recently signed up for. That cleaning stuff isn't going anywhere.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Today's effort will require modification...sigh.

       After spending all day on the background I have decided that it is too intense...needs to be lightened. I blurred out some of it but still too strong. I am, however, going to wait until I work more on the figure and the shawl before I do any more on the background. I have been putting more work into the hydrangeas piece also but set it aside the day before yesterday. I can't face all those tiny petals just now. Anyway, the Venetian Red in the background is very potent and just seems to get into everything so I'll probably get back to the florals tomorrow. Until that red dries I will risk smearing it into the figure and I don't need that frustration. It has been very nice actually looking forward to getting out to the studio every morning instead of feeling out of sorts about what to do while I'm out here! Spending some of my time doing yard work I think actually helps too. I even hung the hummingbird feeder out today! No sign of them yet but I remember last year they came earlier than I expected so I want to be prepare to welcome them. We can almost wear our light weight jackets outside now and everything is budding. It has seemed a very long winter.

       Once I get these four paintings completed I can get back to the model-in-a-box work I started...it seems ages. Not doing any outdoor shows this year. I just want to concentrate on a few paintings and not worry about venues.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Just when I was getting in the mood...

       After spending a lot of time sketching and thinking and resizing and toning the canvas I finally got the image of Kim in the shawl transferred. I was in a bit of a hurry at this point because I have to go out and help Bob with his ongoing tree removal project so I just grabbed a size 12 filbert oil brush and started slapping on glazes of colour. I finished up the light tone with a size 5 filbert. It all went on in about six minutes. 

       I have to admit I'm really happy with how it looks so far. There is a lot to do, however, so no celebrating yet. It's isn't too late to wreck it:-) I have to decide on adding more layers of paint too...do I leave it in these thin glazes or go for a real bite of physical paint? I'll know more once I start the shawl and background. I want a slightly hazy element but knowing me I could easily be seduced by details and nitpicking. I need someone here to whack me over the hand when I overwork something.

       Meanwhile, I find it a bit ironic that I am now also busily working on three floral paintings (for a client) when I consider how numb I was all through the winter...couldn't get motivated...nothing much happening creatively speaking. Maybe I need the sunshine on occasion?? Dull days seem to make ME dull. They are 12"x12" each. I have all three started and underpainted on canvas but I have spent the most time with the hydrangeas. For the first two days of this week working on it I felt all thumbs and couldn't seem to remember how I have painted this subject before - I was getting all lost in the tiny petals and variations of colour. By wednesday afternoon I was close to weeping with frustration but yesterday it suddenly began to happen. Don't you love when it does that? Something clicks and the hand just takes over. If I could bottle it I'd be a millionaire.

       But, though I have finally gotten in the mood to be out here painting all day and into the evening (sigh) now it's time to switch gears and  get into lumberjack mode:-) Where did I put my flannel shirt; oh yeah, I'm already wearing my gum boots...

Monday, April 2, 2012

Model Appreciation!

First sketch from one of the photos of Kim - such an elegant lady

       Last friday two models came to do my bidding! I'm not sure what I've done to deserve this but I am not going to question too closely. Michael Ward brought along Kim Butler with whom he has had a good working relationship for some time now. I was able to try several things I have had in mind for a long time and the day flew by. I now have more than 150 images to sort & work with (including photos from the first time Michael posed for me) and several ideas budding. Best of all would be to have their physical presence on a daily basis for me to work from but that isn't possible so this is the next best thing. They have offered to return, however, if I feel the need to work from life on something specific. All I had to do in return was offer good food and an invigorating afternoon hike up our mountain trail! 

Posing on my studio loft stairway

       Kim and Michael are going to be part of a 12 Hour Draw-a-Thon event to be held in Victoria in May, with some other models also. This was held once before I understand and was a big hit. I am going to try to get down there for it as it will be a very special opportunity to work with multiple models from life.

 Bob on the trail...one dog in background...others are exploring!

Kim and me on the trail...did I shrink or is Kim just really tall??

        The day was a bit chilly but very nice, a bit of sun now and then, and only a brief spate of tiny hail (!). Bob and the dogs came along and we hiked for over an hour, came back and had a wonderful supper. Bob had made an amazing vegetarian chili and I had made a Bumbleberry Crumble for dessert. Earlier, at lunch time we had Bob's famous carrot burgers with all the fixin's and a spectacular cole slaw that he worked up. It was a very uplifting and invigorating day and I hope the work I complete as a result lives up to the great promise I felt happening. I'm starting with the one at the top of this post since I want to enter it in the Sooke Show and I've only got about three weeks to do the painting. The 14 Two-Models-in-a-Box shots came out so well that I feel almost it would be an injustice not to do paintings of almost every pose. That probably won't happen but I can dream.