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Work in Progress

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Work in Progress (14 x 19 watercolor) NFS

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a work-in-progress.   But since I paint this instrument series quite differently than I do landscapes and people, I think it’s time.

When painting an image I usually  start with lighter colors and build my way up working the whole painting at once.  But because of the reflections, I treat metal and glass subjects quite differently.  The reflections create many small abstract shapes defined by hard edges and often extreme contrast.  The high contrast between the shapes is what gives my instruments shine.

Abstract Shapes

To preserve the sharp contrast between the shapes I work on just two or three shapes at a time.  I choose shapes near each other, but not touching so that damp paint never meets damp paint at the edges of the shapes.   Because I finish and let each shape dry before proceeding the the adjacent shape, the edges between the shapes remains sharp and hard.

Inside the shapes is a different matter.  Each shape may contain one or more of my favorite techniques: glazing (painting transparent colors over each other);

Glazing

deliberate backwashes (allowing wet paint or water  to move back into damp paint);

Backwash

and dropping in (applying paint from a highly pigmented brush to a damp surface and allowing it to disperse across the damp area.)

Dropped in Color

These techniques produce soft edges and subtle color blending within each small shape. Painting them separately preserves the sharp lines between the shapes.

To give myself a value guide for all of these little shapes, I proceed across the whole painting from the highest contrast outward.  I began with the place where the silver bottom of the clarinet bell meets the black clarinet body.  I also try to work on shapes that reflect each other at the same time.  For this reason I worked on the sax and clarinet at once.

Unlike other rounded objects, I don’t worry too much about giving my instruments the illusion of  depth with shading.  I don’t have too.  If I get the values of the little abstract shapes correctly, the instruments shade themselves.  The bell of the clarinet in defined by hard lines, but the value contrast creates roundness.

Clarinet Bell

Similarly, the shapes in the saxophone bell create the illusion of depth and roundness:

Saxophone Bell

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Breakers at Seal Rock or Using all the White Techniques

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The Breakers at Seal Rock II (12 x 16) $125

The Breakers at Seal Rock II (12 x 16) $125

This is the second painting I’ve done of the tide coming in at Seal Rock Wayside.  The first was a little postcard sized painting I did while demonstrating at the fair.  That little painting sold immediately.  I liked it too, so when expanding it to a full sized painting I didn’t mess around with the composition much.  But I did want to get some more variety into the rocks and spray.

Like the previous painting, I began by reserving the whites with liquid mask while painting in the ocean and rocks. I used phthalo blue and burnt sienna for the ocean.

I used the same basic technique to lay down the rocks as I did with the first little painting.  I started with raw sienna and quinacridone gold.  Then I added burnt sienna and quinacridone deep red rose.  While the burnt sienna and deep red rose were still wet, I dropped in cobalt blue and phthalo blue.  Finally I added some heavy burnt sienna and some French Ultramarine.

Once the painting was dry,  I scrubbed the edges of the rock where the spay hit them with a stiff filbert brush to show how the waves obscured them.   Then I broke out the white gouache (an semi opaque white) and added more spray.  Over the dark painted rocks the gouache white looks gray.  I used the gouache primarily for the shelf of the biggest rock and the bases of the rocks on the shore side.  Finally I pulled out the razor and scratched in fine white lines where the water spilled over the rocks and little cuts for droplets of spray.  All four techniques work very differently, and each has a character of it’s own.  I like the variety that resulted from using them all.


Or purchase a print at Fine Art America.

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Biting Off More Than I Can Chew: Demonstrating

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I have difficulty painting in public. I never paint my best or even close to my best with an audience. Even at the gallery where people wander in and out infrequently, I have a hard time with painting in company. I don’t blush or drop my brush. But I don’t concentrate as well as I do in private. And I make fundamental errors more frequently.

But I must learn to paint in public and soon. And what is more I must be able to talk about it while I do it, because this coming August I have agreed to demonstrate painting and sculpture at the Artisan’s Village in the Oregon State Fair.

It’s sculpture that got me into this. I’ve sculpted for seven years now and I’m quite comfortable doing it with an audience. For the last four years I have sculpted all day at just about every art fair I’ve been in. Only heat and fancy carpets stop me.

Last Christmas a representative from the Artisan Village saw me demonstrating at the Salem Saturday Market Christmas Show and asked if I would be willing to take a booth at the fair. This is plum. Commercial booths at the fair rent for several thousand dollars. Booths in the Atrisan Village rent for $75.00. The difference? The Village is a juried venue. The catch? —artists in the Village must demonstrate from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm.

Most artist share a booth and share demonstrating hours. But I know no one else who sculpts polymer clay. And besides, it’s an outdoor venue and the hotter it gets the hotter polymer clay gets until it becomes much to soft to sculpt. What to do?

Well, I was looking for a way to display my new watercolors so I talked myself and the director into both sculpture and painting. I am to sculpt in the cooler mornings and paint in the heat of the day. Switching mediums halfway through the day should help me keep my brain active too.

Now all I have to do is learn to paint in public. I spent this weekend learning. Saturday and Sunday I sold sculpture while painting watercolors. I tried to stick to easy subjects and to leave the detail work for later.

I will try my hand at painting in public again at The Salem Art Festival in July, and the Silverton Fine Arts Festival in mid August. At the end of August it’s show time.

Here are my three half finished paintings. With luck I’ll be posting the finished paintings later this week:

Dances with Fountains (in progress)

Dances with Fountains (in progress)

This is the beginning of another painting in my Splash series of the children playing at Town Center Park. I began by masking the boy and the fountains and painting the water in cobalt blue and burnt sienna. After lifting the first mask I masked the splashes on the boy and the high lights in the fountains. Then I added raw sienna to the palette and began painting the boy. I think I am going to need a real red to complete his skin. Then I will lift the mask and complete the detail work.

Boy with Umbrella (in progress)

Boy with Umbrella (in progress)

This is a full size painting of the boy with the umbrella. The boy is mostly finished, but I want to add a second umbrella on the lower right. I didn’t have a reference photo for that at the show. But I have plenty of pictures of umbrellas in the same light to choose from here.

The painting is on hot pressed paper. The palate is cobalt blue, phthalo green, quinacridone deep red rose, yellow ocher and ceruleum blue.

Pumice Seekers II (in progress)

Pumice Seekers II (in progress)

This is a much smaller version of a painting I did a few months ago of my husband and the girls looking for pumice stones at Crater Lake. Stephen loves the original and won’t let me sell it. But it’s too large for his office. I’m hoping to have this smaller office sized version finished in time for his birthday.

So far I’m using just three pigments: cobalt blue, yellow ocher and burnt sienna. The painting still needs a great deal more contrast.

In the meantime I’ll be preparing to sell sculpture and paint at the Salem Art Fair. I will be at the State Fair August 28th through September 1st in Booth 414 on the south side of the village next to the floral gardens. Wish me luck.

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In Progress

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The Oregon coast is littered with spiny gray-black volcanic rocks. I love them, but it’s hard to get watercolor that dark without losing the vibrancy that drew me to the paint the first place. Last time I attempted this subject I painted on canvas because watercolor can be laid on canvas much more thickly than on paper. There are things I like about this approach to the problem.

High Tide and Seal Rock (12 x 16) $200

High Tide and Seal Rock (12 x 16) $200

As you can see above, canvas does allow for very dark values. But there are problems with this approach. For one thing, watercolor lifts extremely easily from canvas and so I lost some of my ability to layer washes effectively. Also wipe-out techniques tend to return the canvas to white rather than merely lightening the paint.

This is the beginning of my experiment with hot-pressed paper.

Elephant Rock (14 x 20) In Progress

Elephant Rock (14 x 20) In Progress

Like canvas, hot-pressed paper will take higher value darks than my favorite cold-pressed paper. The reason is much the same– more paint sits on the slick surface of hot-pressed paper. Paint has a tendency to lift from the surface of hot-pressed paper too, but not as easily as from canvas.

As you can see hot-pressed paper, does allow me to layer translucent paint effectively provided I make sure each layer is completely dry before I add the next one. All of the lighter colors are in now and I’m working on the darks. Things are just beginning to look three dimensional.

I’m going to prop this painting up on the dining room buffet so I can ponder it during dinner. There are some compositional issues I need to resolve before I go further. For on thing I don’t like the rock pile dead center in the painting. I need to move it to one side of the other. I may lighten the sand and grass up to echo the sea and sky too.

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Memorial Day Waterworks

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Memorial Day Waterworks (17 x 19) $275

Memorial Day Waterworks (17 x 19) $275

Yes, this is yet another painting of the Town Center Park water feature. This one is rather more ambitious than the previous two. I backed up to take in the feel of the whole stream bed. And I included not one but seven figures.

As you can see from the reference photo, I took some liberties with the geometry of stream bed. I narrowed the center wall of concrete and removed a trash can among other less major changes. I also slide the boys around a little so that they wouldn’t be directly above each other. Finally I eliminated the blond boy half hidden on the left hand side.

Refrence Photo

Refrence Photo

After the Mask Came Off

After the Mask Came Off

Once I was satisfied with the sketch I masked the boys and concentrated on the water feature itself. Masking an object against water or sky makes it easier to get the water to flow evenly to the edge of the foreground object.

Masking the boys also served as a final composition check as it made them stand out as the centers of interest. People always attract the eye and I expected the boys to so doubly because their skin provides the only warm tones in an otherwise cool picture and because their clothing and toys are the brightest colors in the painting. I liked the way the placement of the boys echoes the “S” curve of the concrete wall. Now that the painting is finished, I still like it.

But I’m probably still not done with this water feature. I like this subject and I’m learning the value of working in a series.

Pigment notes: The background is all burn sienna, phthalo blue and cobalt blue. To do the boys I added yellow ocher, cadmium yellow, and quinacridone deep red rose.


Or purchase a print at Fine Art America.com.

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The Drawbridge Again

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I don’t know why I am obsessed with the old drawbridge counterweight, but I am. I’d like to say my obsession was producing great paintings, but it isn’t. I’d like to say that there was some symbolism in the counterweight, that justifies all this futile painting, but there isn’t. I don’t see it as a symbol of impending doom hanging over the bridge or man’s ability to lift great burdens or anything else. I just like it.

But I can’t paint it. Here are the efforts of yesterday and the day before. Neither is necessarily finished. Neither is without potential. But I think it’s time to do something else for a while.

Suday's Counterweight

Suday's Counterweight

This is almost entirely wet into wet. Only the details are wet on dry. I used Hansa yellow, rose madder quinacridone, cobalt blue, and Prussian blue for the bridge. All of the colors layered or dropped in. I didn’t do any mixing on the palette. The sky is cobalt blue and burnt sienna partly mixed on the palette and applied wet on wet.

The movement in the sky seems to distract from the bridge and there isn’t enough contrast between the bridge and the sky.

Monday's Counterweight

Monday's Counterweight

This time I masked the bridge first and poured the sky in a single pour cobalt blue and cerulean blue. I used the same pigments as Sunday for the bridge itself and the same application method.

This one seems garish to me. The counterweight to too bright. Again there isn’t enough contrast between the bridge tower and the sky.

Of the two, I think Sunday’s effort has the most potential and I may get back to it later. Darker sky perhaps?

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