Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Becca's Lemon, 6x8, oil on canvas board

Becca's LemonMy niece just bought a house, and she has a lemon tree in her yard. So I took a lemon before heading home. When I was playing with the setup, I got intrigued with the intersection of shadow and reflection. It's almost like a Venn diagram; where they intersect it's the darkest.

And I'm kind of excited about this painting. Once in awhile I get the right balance of realistic and abstract, and this was one such time.

I took a couple of pictures in process. I worked on a red basecoat, in acrylic. In the picture below I was part way through, and I really like how the yellows came out. Maybe I should have stopped there. You know how there are times you're not sure you're done? Maybe I should have considered the the lemon to be done.

Halfway to finishedThis was earlier, and shows how I blocked in the image. You'll read that many artists like to block in the dark parts first. My problem with that is that I often end up with mud when I add the lighter colors. So I blocked it in in acrylic and switched to oils once the foundation was the way I wanted it.
Draft lemonThese photos actually make it look more neon than it was.

I think I'll have to paint this lemon again while it's still reasonably fresh.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

"Almost Breakfast (blue)", 6x8, oil on canvas board

Connie KleinjansThis is my next bowl painting. My attempt on this one was to have a warm white on a cool background.

I'm remembering how hard it is to paint white pottery (and if you've tried this, you know). The issue is how bright the white is. Now, the brightest white in a painting such as this is not the crockery, but the reflections. However, white paint does not get as bright as a reflected light. This means that you need to darken the rest of the whites so you can get a reasonable difference between the bowl and the reflection. The bowl ends up being kind of dark, as it is here. And yet I want it to look like a white bowl. It's the same as if you paint a portrait; the brightest white will be reflections in the eyes, and the artist might need to make the whites of the eyes bluish to allow for the difference.

I think the fun part of doing this bowl series (and maybe I'll continue it one or two more) is going to be when I use up all the standard combinations. I'll have to figure out something different to do.

I'm also reminded of this interesting bit from Conversations in Paint, by Charles Dunn:
The Campbell's soup can is a recurring visual theme throughout these pages. A while back, I decided to work on my drawing. The combination of curves and straight lines in the soup can appealed to me as a good starting place.

As it turned out, the familiar red-and-white can proved to be a remarkable object with which to study the underlying ideas in painting. For instance, it has darks and lights as well as darks within the light area and lights contained in the dark area. Because the Campbell's can is familiar to the point of being mundane, it presents the fundamental artistic challenge of trying to make the ordinary extraordinary, and permitted me to experiment and to explore the larger issues of painting.
It's not a new thing to take one object and do it over and over again. Think of Kevin MacPherson and his lake series. In February my friend Silvina Day did a series on a street person she met; her write-up is wonderfully emotional and charged.

We'll see what I learn from this. Could be dreck. Could be good. Probably won't last a year; it's not a pond or a human. It's a simple bowl and spoon.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Almost Breakfast (red), 6x8, oil on canvas board

Connie Kleinjans fine artI'm frustrated with myself these days. I started to paint again because it was time. But then I lost track of moving to my own desires for expression, for learning, for play or rest or whatever. Instead, I've felt compelled to create for the blog, or for what would sell on eBay, or to not miss a day of daily painting. As a results, I've been enjoying it less.

So I'm shifting gears. I'm going to to pay more attention to what's inside and wants to come out, be it in my painting or elsewhere in my life.

And, strangely, I don't really know where I want to go with the art. I have inklings, but I haven't given them space. I know I like still lifes and some abstraction and color play. I know I want to improve my skills. I think I'd like to expand my media. And I haven't done nearly enough plein air painting.

So this painting is for working on skills. I'm going to do a series of this white bowl on different colored backgrounds, and play with elements. This one is a cool white on a hot background. I have another variant in the works, too, and will post that later.

Meanwhile, if you have time to spare, hover your cursor over any of my paintings from the last few month. Heehee.

Friday, April 18, 2008

"Gears," 12x16, oil on stretched canvas

Connie Kleinjans fine artSold.

This was a commission for a friend. I posted it in progress last month, but now I deem it finished! Sometimes it's hard to tell.

Lessons learned? Lots, but two main ones:
  • If you are painting something that's precisely engineered, it really helps to have good drafting skills. Or use the grid method, perhaps. I got into some major accuracy issues on this.
  • Color temperatures can be a bear. I toned my canvas in blue (kind of loud) since it seemed to go with metal. But I worked from a picture I took of a picture of a family bike against a wall, in a patch of morning warm morning sunlight. Warm colors come towards you, and cool colors recede. I had to cool down the sunlit colors a lot.
I shouldn't admit this, but I keep seeing a shape like an arctic fox in the upper right corner.