Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dark vs. Light

These are two very quick studies (yes I've moved on to the next fascinating member of the fruit world - the lemon) of the same still life. Both done on 4x6 panels and I spent less than an hour on each. The first is done on a light gray background, and the second is done on a black background.

The other difference is that the first one I sketched out with graphite and the second I painted directly on the canvas. I learned a lesson with this exercise - don't sketch with graphite, or at least heavy, dark graphite. It doesn't stay put on the canvas and when you add paint it blends and turns the colors muddy. I did kind of like how it showed through on the edges (like the cut lemon) so I might try sketching with a dark acrylic color just to see what happens. Acrylic dries really fast and won't bleed into the oil.

I like the composition of this, so I want to do a longer painting. I think I might like starting with the darker background - but I'm going to do one with a red toned background because I think that will give an interesting tone to the lemons and bowl.

The other thing I focused on here was holding to the tenet that I should put a paint stroke down and leave it - no blending if I can help it. I really have a hard time with that - but I was more successful on the second painting (dark background) - especially the bowl. I really like how that turned out.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Final (sort of) nectarines in a bowl

I worked on this yesterday - really improved the shadows and made the background more violet (not sure if I like that but its hard to tell in this photo because of the glare0. The background is much darker on the right side, but the glare that screwed up the photo.

I wish I had done this on canvas rather than paper.

Things to fix: the pointy nectarine shadow. Also, I was going for a "glowy" thing with the nectarines that are in the light because the light was so bright, not sure if I pulled it off.

Is it distracting?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

So what's with all the fruit?

I've done a few nectarines and still haven't moved to canvas. This is on canvas paper and I'm still working on it. My friend asked me "So what's with all the fruit?". Good question. No real reason accept that it's easy to get, comes in all colors and shapes, and I can easily set up different arrangements. You'd be amazed at how long fruit will last in my little studio refrigerator while I work out a painting. I wouldn't try eating it though.

The fruit is just a tool to help me learn about color, tonal ranges and... well ... how to paint.

I'm in a battle once again with the shadows. The shadow area of the bowl is not right - at the last minute I changed it completely and used a violet made up of alizarin crimson and cerulean blue. It doesn't relate at all with the shadow cast on the table cloth, or really with the bowl, but I'm getting closer.

I'm using Kevin MacPherson's book "Fill your Oil Painting with Color and Light" (it is open on a table next to my easel as I paint) but I'm failing miserably at his suggestion that I put a brush stroke down and leave it. Maybe after another twenty paintings I'll get closer.

More work to do on this: the bowl, background and shadows need work.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Nectarine or Apple?

Here's the latest.I like where I'm going with the fabric - the best part is on the left where it drapes down and sort of fades. Love that. I'm struggling with the nectarine because it looks like an apple to me. But I had a revelation in one of my many endless work meetings while I was doodling.

Nectarines aren't perfectly round. If you look at this nectarine you can see the seam and the uneven outline that the seam causes for the fruit. What came to me today while doodling was that there should be a corresponding seam below the stem which should cause the fruit shape to be uneven. So I'll go back tomorrow and work on that.

The strange lighter streaks in the upper right background is actually a reflection off the wet paint.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My new cozy, warm and wonderful studio space

I moved into the new studio this weekend and I love it. I was so nervous that it would be too small and that nothing would fit, but I like it better than the old one. (Studio is in the Western Avenue Studio building in Lowell.)

I took some photos of my new spot. The last two are photos taken to the left and right of my door and gives you an idea of how many studios are on the floor. There are 4 floors of studios - a couple hundred artists from all areas of art - painters, fabric artists, graphic designers, photographers, sculptors, potters, jewelry designers and more. So if you are around Boston/Lowell it is worth the trip. A great way to spend a Saturday (first Saturday of each month is open studios.) I am going to finally get up the courage to open for the September Open Studio weekend - woo hoo.

You can click on the photos to see a larger image.

The view:

Strangely enough I like this view better than my old one, although the old one looked over the canal. I couldn't really see the canal unless I stood up and looked down. This view has distance, and spires, and the whole urban thing going and I can sit in a chair, relax and look out.

And here's the hall:

Monday, July 6, 2009

Odd Man Out

This is the painting formerly known as 3 Pears on a Blue Plate. Now called "Odd Man Out". I think it looks like the two pears on the left are having a conversation and the poor third wheel is stuck on the outside.

Or, as my brother and I always used to say, "sitting with the coats".

I spent a lot of time on this, and I'm finally pretty satisfied with it. Only thing that bothers me are the brush strokes in the reflection of the top left pear - I may fix that. Also, I'm a little insecure about the composition. But other than out, I'm really pleased.

Since the last photo of this painting - I improved and brightened the background color and changed the shape, tone and color of the shadows. Added more light to the plate, and corrected the shape of the plate. Last - I stopped trying to recreate the exact reflection in the plate, thanks to input from Bill Tyers at the studio. He reminded me that simple is best, and that I don't have to paint everything that I see.

I managed to get a good photo that is pretty accurate in terms of the colors, brush strokes and shadows. The only thing I couldn't get to come through is how bright the lighter side of the pears are, as well as the little piece of light at the top left of the "odd" pear. I couldn't figure out how to do the exposure without overexposing.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Out of focus fruit

This is a really bad photo of a not very good painting. I'm finding that nectarines aren't really easier than pears :).

This is another quick study. I'm struggling with the black background - not really sure how to handle it.

I'll keep plugging away until I figure it out. I spent the day today moving studios, so didn't get to paint. I'll take some photos of the new studio and post them tomorrow.

Friday, July 3, 2009

She's baaaack

I've been gone for about a month, but I'm back. It drove me crazy not to paint, and I didn't expect to be gone this long but it feels great to be painting again.

I've finally moved on from pears and now I'm into nectarines. I find them easier to paint than pears. I'm going to do the same thing I did with the pears and do a bunch of quick studies and then a couple of paintings that take more time. This is the first study that I did.

I did finish the 3 pear painting (which I've named "Odd Man Out") but I don't have a good photo of it yet. Taking photos of paintings is really hard because of the glare, and the pear painting is pretty dark so I'm having trouble getting an accurate photo that shows the colors and light correctly. You can't use a flash because it just bounces right off the paint.