Friday, December 23, 2011
30x24x1.5", oil on stretched canvas
As time goes by, I'm migrating towards two styles of paintings: abstract, and abstract figurative. I'm still collecting found objects that might one day make their way into a piece, and I'm also working on learning to depict the figure.
This one has a mood that I like. It came from a photo taken during a photography session in a class I took. But the painting itself came out really neon. One comment was, "I looks really modern."
Hmm. As I look at it, I see a few things I might want to tweak. That's hard to do after you put it on the blog. Then again, until I sell it, I guess it's mine to modify.
Monday, December 12, 2011
24x20x1.5", oil on stretched canvas
This might sound strange, but I'm not entirely sure what to make of this painting. It surprises me.
The way I developed it was that I worked on an abstract painting first. After awhile, I saw the beginnings of a figure, and decided to go where that led. And that was here. The body position isn't a normal one, but it's what came out. But I do love the red in the middle. So, I'm not sure it makes sense, but there's something kind of compelling to me about it.
Monday, November 28, 2011
20x20x1.5", oil on canvas
I've been studying with Melinda Cootsona the last month or two. She's a marvelous teacher who does abstracts and figurative abstracts, both of which I'm interested in. Her classes are small -- maximum of four people -- and held in her studio. Because of the small size, she's able to really see how we work, and help with the process. For example, the other day I got snarled in poking at a specific part of a painting, and it didn't improve? She could see that I needed to change something, and suggested that I use a bigger brush. Boom! I was past it.
The painting on this page came from a process that she works with: You start by building an abstract painting, adding layers and depth and richness. Then, if you can find the suggestion of a figure in it, you can make your painting into a figurative abstract. On the other hand, you might find that you like the abstract that you did. This was one of the latter.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
12x12x2", acrylic and mixed media on board
I've mentioned the awesome Stella Zhang, whom I've taken textured abstract classes with. I think this was one of my first works with her. I came into the class with all the subtlety of a Hawaiian shirt, and she toned me down. Now, some people in her classes would like to use more color, but I do get the point: If you have too much color, you obscure the texture.
I decided to include the figure below so you can see that I put the texture material around the outsides, too.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
12x12x1.5", acrylic, pigment powder, and rubber gloves on canvas
One of the fun things about the textured abstract class I took was that anything could become part of a work of art. In this case, I had some rubber gloves such as artists use to protect their hands when painting, and I played with arranging them on a canvas. This arrangement reminded me of the Yin Yang symbol, and also a circle, which I've used in paintings before. I went over the top with white pigment powder in a solution of white glue and water.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
36x36x0.75" acrylic, pigment powder, and mixed media
This one has cool texture. It's kind of a part of history, for me. A couple of years ago I had been doing my small oil still lifes, mostly about 6x8", for a year or two, and wanted to go bigger. So I took a workshop with Robert Burridge. (I wrote about this before, so sorry for the repeat.) In the instructions sent out, Burridge said that if students really wanted to challenge themselves, they should bring ten canvases that were about 36x36". TEN! So I did. I didn't touch them for the first day and a half, but then I dove in and, by the middle of the fifth day had filled nine of them. This was one. So I'm fond of it. FYI, the texture is made by tissue from the hotel room. Heehee!
However! I wasn't sure I liked how it came out. So I took it to one of my textured abstract classes with Stella Zhang, who does amazing work. I simplified it, using paint and adding pigment powder mixed with white glue. Powder has the benefit that it sinks into the texture, where paint covers the entire surface. Eventually the wonderful texture emerged, and it only needed a focal point, which came from the black drip in the middle. It's pretty cool looking. If you feel like it, try clicking it to see the texture and subtle colors.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
8x8" couched masonite board, acrylic paint, screws, leather cord
I haven't posted much in a while, but it seems like it's time to share a few things I've done. I have a fondness for abstraction, texture, and found art. So, while most of this isn't found art, the leather did come from a belt I unraveled.
One of the things I found interesting about this is that the same rules of composition apply here: value, focal point, line, temperature, etc., etc. I was also pleased that the dripped lines of paint are about the same width as the leather cord.
It's a fun piece, and made it to my wall.
Friday, September 16, 2011
But then I popped a hole in the canvas. Not a large one, but an interesting one. And it was pretty close to the center. I talked to my teacher and we looked through the random materials I brought, and chose the pipe and the chain. I put the pipe through the canvas and adhered it on the back with some very strong glue, so it's stuck pretty tight. The chain is screwed to the wooden frame in back, so it's pretty secure, too.
So, this is what it looks like up close. You can see that I framed it.
Here it is from a distance, hanging on a wall in my house. I like it that the chain is long enough to puddle on the floor. The dimensions are 17.75" x 21.5" including the frame, but not including the chain. It leans out from the wall a bit, which lets the chain hang free.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
26x17" (diptych of 12x16 panels, with frames), oil and marble dust on canvas panels
For this piece, I decided to use canvases that weren't working and see what I could do with them. It's a fun exercise. You have to separate yourself from the actual content, but still use what you can. So, the earlier painting shows through here in the browns and purples on the left and bottom. But the ghost piece that I like the best is the orange circle on the right. It adds mystery and subtlety.
The other thing that I like -- since I love organic shapes and gestures -- is an area on the far left. I deposited some marble paint and marble dust, with the intention of moving it where I wanted to. Then I went "Eep!", caught myself, and stopped, leaving the paint as I deposited it.
I think this one is going on a wall at home. It's a strange thing, but mostly I don't do that. Do you put up art that you do?
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
30x40x1.5", oil and burlap on gallery-wrapped canvas
My prior post showed the first version of this painting, which I did with cardboard used for texture. I explained why I swapped in burlap (synopsis: oil and paper don't mix). This is the outcome. What do I think? There's been both loss and gain: It lost was something gestural, something in the moment, something primitive. But it gained a simpler, more compelling, composition. If you want to see the texture up close, you can click it.
And it feels right to have fixed it. In that prior post I debated whether we owe our buyers a painting that could last for generations. Not sure. So, I can't say my decision is right, but it sure feels right. And that's what painting is about for me: Doing what feels right, not what I think is right.
I'm interested in why people make art. Sometimes it's because you have to. Or it's about interpreting what we see. Or creating interesting textures. Or making a political statement. Or because it keeps you sane. Or... For me, I want to put something on canvas that's real, that's from the gut. And it seems to take a mix of head and heart to do that.
I'd love to hear why you paint.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
24X30x1.5", oil and cardboard on gallery-wrapped canvas
One of the classes I'm taking is about textured abstracts. I love the class, and am having a great time. This week the teacher suggested that, before I start the painting, I make a textured foundation using cardboard. I was hesitant, since I'm painting in oils (well, with marble powder), and I've heard that you shouldn't mix them. But I figured I could learn something.
What came out? This! And I really like it!
Later, at home, I researched the combo. I found web sites that said you should always gesso paper first, but they didn't give resources. I found a few artists who do use paper in their base layer under oil. And finally I checked my Artists' Handbook by Ralph Mayer. Ralph says that no oil paintings on unprimed paper have survived the centuries. Since Ralph's book is a standard, I'll buy the data. So, no, it's not a good process for the long haul.
Here's my quandary. Now what do I do? Ralph says it has thirty or thirty-five years. I'll probably never be all that famous so it probably won't get saved by a conservator. But I gotta do one of the following: sell it as is, keep it as is, or remove the cardboard. I can't sell it in good conscience, and I'm not convinced I want it around forever, so...
Sigh. Do we owe our buyers a work that will last thirty years or a hundred years?
Anyway, if I'm going to peel off the cardboard, I should do it while the paint is still workable. I'm thinking I'll replace it with burlap (not identical, but also textured and earthy) and then play with that. If I'm lucky, the added experimenting will add richness.
What to do about the class? I should either take texture material that works with oil, or switch back to acrylics. Hey, I've been using marble powder, and I'm told it works with acrylics, so maybe they'll be workable more like oil. We'll see.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
20 x 24 x 1.5", oil on gallery-wrapped canvas
Another in the series of oil abstracts that I did during one week. Besides paint, I used oil crayons and whatever tool I could find: palette knives, ceramics molding tools. I do find it interesting that there's a trend in recent decades toward abstracts with a band of dark and a band of light. My suspicion is that the composition is so simple that it then lets other elements emerge, like texture or gesture.
Friday, May 20, 2011
There's a method I use for doing this kind of painting. It gives me a surface that is textured across the total area. I used it, earlier, to create Dragon Skin.
So, the method is that I take my tub of stucco patch, and I blop some on the canvas and spread it around with a big palette knife and a water spritzer until I have a good distribution, some areas thinner than others, and maybe some scratchy areas. I might add some colors while I'm doing this, or some pebbles, or other textural elements.
Once that's dry, I have a good rough surface for adding paint. I do a lot of dripping out of brushes or eyedroppers or little cups, which is why you get the spots. Some brushwork to fill in areas, although I don't really like brush marks on these. And, more recently, I learned about using pigments; when you apply them (add water and white glue), they settle into the crevices of the painting. And I use the spritzer a lot.
With this painting, I decided to try green, although it went dark, like olive green. Also, in my mind it was oriented horizontally; i.e., rotated CCW once. But since it needs to hang in a narrow area, I tried reorienting it, and it looked equally good, but in a different way.
So here's what I've been pondering recently. I returned to painting because I love it. Pure and simple. But I would like to sell. So recently I've been wondering, if creating is the main thing, then just what it is about selling that's so important? Here are some reasons I can think of:
- To make a living. (And good on ya if you can!)
- To see if others think your work is good. To get public approval.
- To become famous.
- To pay for art supplies.
- To reduce the number of paintings you have stashed around the house.
- Because someone wants to buy something.
Are there other reasons I missed?
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
20x20x1.5", oil, gauze, and sand on gallery-wrapped canvas
I pulled together a handful of ingredients for this painting. A friend gave me some gauze, which I used earlier in Reticulate. I also mixed some paint with cold wax and marble powder for some thickness and used it to embed the gauze and the some sand. Sand is tough. It comes off and sticks to your brushes and oil crayons, and falls on the floor. If I try it again, I'll use it later in the process.
This one was a bit of a battle. It sat on my easel for days and days and I played with it off and on. I finally had the time to dive in and I worked it. But, yeah, some paintings paint themselves, and some paintings are fighters.
Switching gears here, I'm playing with the idea of how one develops as an artist. Do you direct your own learning or just do what appeals to you? I'm guess I try to do both. First, I must do what I want in order for it to have passion. But I can also tell when I lack a certain skill and need to direct my learning that way. Classes help.
And I've found that taking classes is opening me up in ways I hadn't anticipated. I guess if I'd anticipated them, I wouldn't have needed to take the classes.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
My painting And So... was accepted into the Pacific Art League's May show, called Red. The show runs from May 6 to May 26. The Pacific Art League is in downtown Palo Alto, at 668 Ramona Street, on the corner of Ramona and Forrest. (For non-local folk, this is Northern California, about forty-five minutes south of San Francisco.)
And So... is my biggest painting, at three by five feet, that was not a piece of a theatrical set design. (Those topped out at six by fifteen feet, or more if you assembled them.)
Friday, May 6, 2011
20x20x1.5", oil on gallery-wrapped canvas
In my paintings, I like to use things I find. This is why I do the assemblages. While working this painting, I used oil crayons. Now, when they sit for awhile, they form a skin of dried paint, and you have to peel it off. So, of course, I took a few pieces of red and embedded them in the paint. It adds an interesting bit of texture. But I have a little tub in my studio with bits of peeled oil crayon. It's funny being an artist.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
A couple of weeks ago, I suddenly generated a handful of oil abstracts. I think I've done this before -- suddenly burst forth with a slew of paintings -- although not necessarily oil abstracts. On this one, I spent most of the time working with the left border at the bottom (rotated CCW one notch), and it wasn't resolving. So I rotated it, and in this orientation it looked like a bird, and I was able to make the final changes. So, nope, prior planning, not so much.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
I decided to find a photo of something specific and see how it would look if done impressionistically using my textured techniques. So I looked online (what did we do before the internet?), and found a picture of a mesa in the sunset. I put down a layer of stucco patch, and pressed and lifted my palette knife to get the vertical ridges you can make out. Then I added the paint. I used more metallic colors than I normally do. And this was the result.
I don't actually recall where the name came from. For painting titles, I'll often find a word that the painting reminds me of, then look at the word's cognates and see if one looks interesting. Or a version of one.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Acrylic on gallery-wrapped canvas, 11x14"
On the third and final day of the workshop, we had two tables set up in the middle of the room, and both models were on them. It's a different proposition to paint two figures. They relate to each other, and it adds a level of complexity.
However, the big thing for me was deciding to eschew realistic colors altogether. As you might predict, it made me focus much more on values. If the colors aren't right, the values have to be. Or much more so. Not sure I nailed it but I still rather like this. I also tried to pick up another effect, which was light coming around the edge. If the model is lit from the side away from you, you might see a bit of light around his or her edges. It's an interesting effect.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Acrylic on stretched canvas, 16x20x1.5"
This was a longer pose, done with a lot of palette knife; you can see on the lower right where I dragged paint down with it. The yellow and red background are the base coat (stormy!), and you can see by the shadows on the shoulders and the lower back that this was lit upwards.
Several people have seen defiance in this; sort of a feeling of standing up to something. It wasn't intentional, but might have been a natural part of the pose.
Now, when I painted this, I used colors approximating skin tones, and it came out too realistic, like an impressionistic portrait rather than an abstract work. So I changed the skin color to the blues and lavenders you see, with yellow for the brightest spots. I've been hearing for years that no matter what color the elements of a painting are, if you get the values right, you can still tell what the painting depicts. This might support that.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Acrylic on stretched canvas, 12x16x1.5"
The second day of the workshop, my side of the room had a wonderful elongated model with very curly red hair. The hair kept making its way into my paintings, and after the success of using scribbling to indicate the hair, I kept doing it. The red you see in this image is the base coating. As I mentioned, it's not flat base coating, but rough colors dragged through water, and possibly another color flung on top. It adds a lot of energy!
Also, I should mention that most of the serious paintings I'm showing followed gestural warm-ups, which were done in graphite (or whatever your felt like) in a sketchbook.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Ursula applies remarkable intelligence to her work process. She seems to have examined what slows us down, and figured out what needs to be done about it. I mention that in this context because she believes that it's good to have some stretched paper ready for doing studies. This piece is on a sheet of 14x17" paper that I'd base coated, and it was ready -- along with my paints -- when I wanted to get going.
Yes, it takes prep time. But, seriously, don't we all have down time that we've set aside for art, but we're not ready to paint? So we have a bit of bandwidth to devote to tasks. Well, maybe not always, but we do need to do that sometimes.
With this piece, again, I was painting loosely, using a palette knife, and using pencils, and getting honest, reactive effects I didn't know I could get. As in my last post, the surface was base coated. Also, as in my last piece, I used the background color to carve out the contours of the shape. I found that to be astonishingly effective.
I'm trying to bring this looseness home. It's difficult.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
On Sunday I finished a three-day workshop with the marvelous Ursula O'Farrell. She paints loosely, and creates emotion and mystery in her paintings. These are qualities I aspire to, so when her workshop came up I immediately signed up for it. There were some twenty people in the class, and we were lucky enough to have a model for each half of the room.
On the first day, she explained how she works her palettes. She creates four values of paint: white, half light, half dark, and black. She then mixes a given color into these four values. So, for instance, if you mix in orange, you end up with 1.) a warm pale, 2.) a peach color, 3.) a warm dark, and 4.) a warm near-black. If you mix the same values with blue, you have the same sequence, but cool. She also basecoats her canvases with a rough, splashy layer.
Ursula also believes in using whatever tools or supplies will add interest or excitement to a painting. One is watercolor pencils. First she'll use dark ones, and to get the full pigment she might spray the canvas with water, or use soft gel (if she's painting in acrylics). But she might also use other colors.
So, in this piece, you can see the basecoat in the red at the bottom, the yellows throughout, and the white in a couple of places. You can also see palette I described (oranges and blues), and the watercolor pencil in the hair. I'm not sure this has mystery, or a lot of emotion, but it's interesting and has a lot of energy. I don't normally paint this way -- it's not accurate! -- so this was amazing.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
oil on canvas, 20x24x1.5"
What can I say? I just really like this one. It has a mood, and some complexity. In the last couple of weeks, a number of oil abstracts have come out of me. And I think it's that balance thing: I've been playing with the surface textured in acrylic, and after awhile I just wanted to put brush to canvas. So there are a few more coming, but this is my favorite.
Friday, April 15, 2011
8x8", acrylic and mixed media on board
Off to a painting workshop today with Urusula O'Farrell. She paints wonderfully passionately and honestly, and does figurative abstracts, which I want to learn more about.
Meanwhile, this piece is a reworked version of an earlier painting. I took it to my textured abstract class and talked to the teacher, and she encouraged me to tone down the colors to emphasize the texture. I also added the two elements that go past the edges of the board (the gray on the left and bottom are background). I don't know what they are. I found them while I was hiking and loved their age and texture.
Friday, April 1, 2011
6x6", oil on canvas board
The last of the gourd paintings. I think this gourd is still around, but all the colors have faded. It hasn't gone bad, though, and might be interesting to paint again. The challenge that this painting posed was that the colors were so different that I forgot to check for values, and, sure enough, they'd averaged out and gone muddy.
It's interesting to look at paintings that you think don't succeed and see if you can figure out why. Common reasons for me are values (as in this painting), drawing problems (where something doesn't look right), and having too many things of the same size without something else to add interest. Maybe that last thing is composition, but that word covers a lot. Of course, those are just a few of the key elements of visual imagery.
Friday, March 25, 2011
6x6", oil on canvas board
This was another painting done when we were in Hawaii in January (the papaya paintings were the earlier ones). In all cases I seem to have used an orange and purple background and yellow fruit. Bananas are fun because they're kind of faceted. So I had to figure out the variants on the native color. Then the variant with the reflected orange. Fun stuff.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
6x6", oil on canvas board
I thought I'd do a painting with more subdued colors. I've noticed that I really like hot colors, which is fine for the small works. After all, when it's only 6x6" or 8x8", it might need more punch. But I was finding that I didn't know how to do something more low key. Hence some practice. I'm also exploring fuzzy edges.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
8x8x0.5", oil on canvas board (with hanger slot)
This one felt good to paint. That's important to me. I've discovered that painting isn't just about what I produce, but how I feel as I'm producing it. I can find fault with some of the details, but it has a looseness that I like.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Saturday, March 5, 2011
6x6", oil on canvas board
I found these at my local grocery store. They were only about three inches across, and I was utterly charmed by them. They also look a lot like some small round tomatoes I painted long ago. There's another thing I noticed with this painting, which is that it's dark on a light background. Lots of my paintings are the other way around, but that gives this one some kind of buzz.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
6x6", oil on canvas board
In my last post I mentioned painting two papayas. This is that painting. I liked the texture in the skin. At first I fought the fluorescent green, then I decided I really liked the effect, especially near the purple and red. This is one of the benefits of these little paintings: You can go nuts with the color. If you want.
Friday, February 25, 2011
8x6", oil on canvas board
So, I had two papayas. And I'd already done a painting of them (I'll post it later), then decided to do another, but vary something. One way I do that is to change the colors but not the values. This is because of the truism in representational painting that says that it doesn't matter what color something is, as long as the value is correct.
However, I have notices a couple of things:
- Thing 1: It helps to have a good amount of the actual color of the object. So, in this case the orange color kind of grounds it.
- Thing 2: In the pale areas, you often end up with pastel colors. Yep. If you lighten red, it turns pink. Pale versions of blue, green, purple, all look pastel.
- Thing 3: Painting this way might be a sneaky method to hide a bad composition scheme. Now, if the painting is still interesting and attractive, it might not matter.
- Thing 4: Use the B&W setting on your digital camera, and keep low standards for exactness of values.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
36x24x1.5", acrylic and mixed media on stretched canvas
This one is darker and more dramatic than most of my work. It was built on a painting that I couldn't bring home (finish successfully), so there's some depth to it. The big black shape is fabric (T-shirt) that I glued to the canvas and around the edge. I put a second, smaller piece in the upper right. And those drip shapes along the middle are kind of interesting. In a previous incarnation of this painting, I had played with water-soluble oil pastels. They ended up repelling water in the next layer. I might have to play with this.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
A friend sent me some gauze, and I decided to use it in a painting. I took it to my textured abstract class, along with a canvas that I had basecoated black. The teacher Stella Zhang, kept me from going haywire with colors. This is my tendency. I like Hawaiian shirts, and, as my husband likes to say, my favorite color is loud.
So I put white glue on the canvas and draped the gauze, and Stella made me stop there. Well, we did a little bit of black dry brushing around the edge. Back at home I tried things: tore up little bits of colored paper and stuck them in the gauze, and it really didn't want much. So I stopped.
I think it would have lost a lot of texture if I had gone in with too much color. Good eye, Stella.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
6x6", oil on canvas board
The gourds are slowly fading, but this one still looks fine. I'm enjoying having dark objects on bright backgrounds. It seems to give it an interesting fire. This was one of those paintings where I just hung onto the brush, while it painted itself.
Friday, January 21, 2011
Monday, January 17, 2011
This was fun to paint. It went pretty quicky and came out loose. It was fun to mix the highlit and shadowed versions of the gourd color.
If you watch this blog, you probably know that I love shadows. I even remember deciding that, at least for the painter, the shadow should be considered an object. For the viewer, not so much. We'll still automatically try to arrange the 3D objects in similar groups. So I tend to use an odd number of 3D objects and consider the shadow a different kind of object I have to paint. (Of course, the odd number I've been using recently is "one.")
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
6x6", oil on canvas board
As I said in my prior post, bumpy gourds are hard to paint. I took the approach of painting the background color, then adding the color of the actual bumps. But I liked the way that the neck on this one curved around, and I was able to find an angle where the shadow looked cool.
We're currently in Honolulu, where I've so far painted a bunch of bananas and a couple of papayas.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
It's been awhile since I've posted. I think I'm learning the delights of prioritizing. I find that when I get busy, I do try to keep painting, but, yes, the blogging does go by the wayside for awhile. The good thing is that I've been doing stuff.
I enjoy gourds, although the really bumpy ones are hard to paint. This one just came out so round that I named it Pop. I have a few more gourd and persimmon paintings lined up.