Monday, January 21, 2008

"Still Life with Rubber Ducky," oil, 4x5 and 8x10

Maybe it's because it's winter. I don't know. But I had such fun doing that last piece (with the sunglasses) that I thought I'd like to do another still life with a surprise. This time it was a rubber ducky. Here's how the it came out on 8x10" gallery-wrapped canvas.

Whereas the prior one kind of flowed, this one fought. I swear, I don't recognize when something is going to be complicated, and apparently it didn't occur to me that it would be easier to do a vase than a pot with a spout and handle. And the rose had an extra large petal at the bottom. Nevertheless, it's pretty cute. It could loosen up, but there is goodness in it, and I especially like the metallic look of the pot.

Here's the small study I did first, on 4x5" canvas wrapped board.

It was pretty hard to get the smaller details in, even with a small brush. But, again, the metal looks pretty good. On a smaller canvas I seem to end up painting bigger. But This one also needed a little more elbow room, which is why the final one had more background above the pot handle.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"Still Life with Shades," oil, 4x5 and 8x10

Ah, this was another fun one. I was cleaning something or other and found some sunglasses. It occurred to me that they might go well in a still life; in fact, they might be funny in an otherwise traditional-looking composition. So I took my Korean celadon vase and a flower and some branches, and coyly hid the sunglasses behind them.

I decided that I'd try this composition on a black background. This is how Karin Jurick paints, and she's way good. Check out her painting video (and she uses one brush!). Also, I wanted to continue with the smaller draft image first. I decided to start with a 4x5" canvas board. Here's how it came out:

Connie Kleinjans painting: Still Life with Shades (study)
Not bad! Now, my last post was about how hard it is to paint roses. This one took some attention but was much better! And, as with my garlic and fork a few days ago, the smallest draft stayed kind of painterly.

Next I set up an 8x10" gallery-wrapped canvas. I moved the vase to the left just a bit, since in the smaller piece I thought it was too close to the middle. Painting this one was harder and less painterly. (Sheesh, maybe I should just stick with the beensy paintings!) But I'm pretty happy with it. This time I added rose reflections to the sunglasses. Here's how this one came out:

Connie Kleinjans painting: Still Life with Shades
I feel like I put down the paint with more assurance, and that the sense of confidence is visible in the painting. (Hmm. When buy artwork, do we buy a sense of mastery?) So I'm thinking my next one could be Still Life with Rubber Ducky. (And if you've read this far, I have a cute trick for you: Roll your cursor over the images and see what text you see.)

Speaking of rubber ducky, I meant the sunglasses to be a subtle joke. I mean, hey, the Dutch still life painters didn't own any. So, what do you think? Is it funny to you?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Roses are hard!

OK, I bought some silk flowers, and I took some pictures of them to play with. (Hey, when I'm better, I'll use the fresh ones, but for now, the silk is fine.) I did a rose painting. They're hard! I think the method is to paint the base color, then go in with highlights and shadows. (Hmm, that sounds like most things.) Here's how it came out (the original is 3x4:):

It lacks something. It lacks the freshness of a real rose. Now, if it helps, you can see the picture that I painted from. Note that it's amber in color, not red or pink, like you expect roses to be:

But as I look at it, it still has more of that mystery that you expect from a rose. There's a glow, a subtle shift in value where the shadows are that I didn't capture.

This is on gessoed cardboard, and it was still nice to paint without caring. It's like the saying, "Dance like no one is watching." (The longer version is, "Work like you don't need to money, love like you've never been hurt, and dance like no one is watching.") Or maybe I should quote the Cowardly Lion: "Courage!"

I bought some primed canvas today. I think I'll try attaching it to a surface and painting on that. Don't know what will happen. In one of my books, the author suggests painting on unstretched canvas, so you can crop it as you want when you're done. Watercolorists get to do this but not usually oil painters. It seems kind of spontaneous. Wahoo!

PS: And, of course, while buying the canvas I also overspent on a half dozen other things. Arghhh! How do you get out of an art store without doing that?!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Test: Two studies

We just had some nasty weather in Northern California. Our house lost electricity for 3 1/2 days. Luckily, we live in the mountains, where this happens fairly regularly, so we have a generator. We started it up and kept ourselves warm and the fridge cool. And we did a lot of nesting on the couch, talking, so it was kind of nice, really.

During that time, I migrated a painting setup to near the patio doors, where the most light is. I continued playing with painting on gesso-painted cardboard and colorful backgrounds. Here are two pieces I did on one piece of cardboard:

I kind of like how the peas came out, but the photo doesn't do them justice. I might have to shoot it again. Or maybe do another painting of a plate with fork and peas.

Funny, where this painting thing takes you...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

"Forkful of Garlic," 6x8 oil on canvas board

UPDATE: I wasn't happy with the way the plate came out. Too flat, not enough interesting colors. This is how my tweak came out.

I'm sometimes torn between editing a piece and just moving on. But sometimes I see something on my shelf that needs touching up, and eventually it just bugs me and I work on it. This was one such. It feels much better.

I want to loosen up my painting. (So do 99% of painters, so hey.) But I've noticed that if I'm painting for this blog, or for something that might go on eBay, I can't. I guess I've internalized a viewer or even a potential buyer, so I have to Be Serious.

So I tried something new. I decided to paint on gessoed cardboard (like my first piece). I also decided to start small and do a study or two before the full-sized, 6x8 piece. (Funny how some books say, "Use a small canvas, like 9x12 or 10x14", and yet many daily painters find those sizes to be large.) I was hoping that the cheap materials would let me be bold, and the size would keep me from futzing. Also, I read in a Kevin MacPherson book that you should (maybe as an exercise?) use the biggest brush you can. Finally, in my Tom Brown workshop, we did a preliminary color sketch, and I really liked it.

So I set up my subject. Since I'm enjoying painting the little square plates, and the fork shadows, I stuck a garlic on the end of a fork, chose the angle and aimed the lights for a nice shadow, and found a good color of construction paper for the background. I took a sheet of gessoed cardboard and outlined two rectangles, and painted them purple. I cut them apart and taped them to separate cardboard backings to paint on.

Forkful of Garlic, an original oil by Connie KleinjansHere's my first attempt, at 3x4 inches. I really like how it came out. Since my brushes were quite large relative to the size of the "canvas," I had to paint the main masses and colors and in very few strokes. Lots of the purple background is showing through, too. Click the image to see it bigger, and see the lines left by the brush fibers.

Forkful of Garlic, an original oil by Connie KleinjansMy second one was 4.5x6 inches. I had the feeling that I was kind of familiar with the subject matter, having painted it in smaller scale, which was kind of comforting. But I found myself finishing it too much. I still like the garlic, though. You can totally click it to see it bigger.

Below is my third and final one at 6x8 inches. This is on canvas board, so it's kind of official. I think at this point I'd run out of the red paint, so I mixed more and it wasn't quite as good a color. I definitely felt familiar with the subject matter. In fact, it almost felt unnecessary to paint it at all. However, I like the way that the looser painting carried from the earlier paintings to this one. I wish I'd held onto more of it. I really liked how much of the purple background showed through in the first one. This got a bit too polished. (But the earthy green and red are still nice next to each other.)
Forkful of Garlic, an original oil by Connie KleinjansAny conclusions? Yep. This was way fun. I had that feeling of painting with nothing to lose, and just experimenting to enjoy. Also, the sense of painting loosely did translate into the later paintings, although I lost some of it. This felt really honest, perhaps. I've since done more of this (our power was out for a few days, so very limited internet access and impossible to post). The newer attempts are not as successful, but there's sufficient goodness to do more of it. The style feels like it suits me.

Forkful of Garlic, study, an original oil by Connie KleinjansForkful of Garlic, an original oil by Connie KleinjansFinally, here's what the two smaller pieces look like taped to their backings. Isn't it interesting? They look really honest, or painterly or something. Makes me want to paint a painting of a painting taped down.