Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Grey Toned Paper Palette

I found a new product that I am seriously excited about. Jack Richeson Co. Has started to make a paper palette that is toned grey. I'm surprised that it has taken so long for someone to make one of these.

Painting on a neutral grey toned palette has long been a preferred method for oil painters, it allows for more accurate color mixing, especially when your canvas is toned the same color. However, up until now painting with a toned palette has meant that you had to use a wood or plastic palette, which you have to clean.

Ok, maybe for most artists cleaning a palette isn't such a big deal, but for me it is a waste of the very small amount of time I get to paint each day. I'm also lazy and I really hate cleaning. So for the past few years I have been using paper palettes that I can just throw away (I also have a semi-disposable brush system) Unfortunately I really like to work on a toned surface which has made mixing on the bright white paper palettes a little annoying.

Now, my problems are solved, I really can have it all. Grey Matters (TM) is a pad of paper palettes that are toned a neutral grey. They come in 50 sheet pads in two sizes, I got the 12x16 one. So far I've only found it at one store, the Art Supply Warehouse online. I actually looked on Richeson's website and couldn't find it. Hopefully it will be carried more widely later on.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Portrait of Caroline

I have recently begun a new portrait from life. It is the first time that I have been able to work primarily from a model in quite some time. Lately it seems that I only get a sitting or two, just enough to take some photos and do a small study. While I still will be unable to spend as much time as I would like working from the model, this time I will have about 20 total working hours, which is more than I've done in a while.
I'm 3 sessions in right now, each session is lasting about two hours. About as long as my kids will nap. The girl who is sitting for me has been babysitting for me this summer so I can paint a couple of hours a week, when she gets the little ones down for their naps, she then comes and models for me.
The first two sessions I worked on the drawing, charcoal and white chalk on toned paper. I'm working with a combined sight-size/comparative technique that I've settled into for drawing over the past few years. The piece will be life size, on 16X20 canvas.
The third session I finalized the drawing, double checking my measurements and angles and then I did a small color study to set my palette. I've decided to work with a fairly limited palette on a toned canvas. So far I'm using Titanium white, Ivory Black, Raw Umber, Burnt Sienna, Cadmium Red, Yellow Ochre Pale, and Cobalt Blue.

Composition in Red and Green

8X10 Oil on linen. I'm afraid that my photography skills are somewhat lacking, this photo doesn't quite do the painting justice, but it will have to do. I just finished this painting today and overall, I'm pleased with it.

I ended up taking it off the easel a little sooner than I would have liked, but as I tried to get more and more detail into the finishing process, I realised that I had made some fatal errors in paint application early on. The surface of the paint was too rough and choppy to put in the fine detail that I wanted.

Although I have always been aware that the early layers of a painting are of utmost importance to later work, I suffer a terrible impatience that generally works itself out in hurried brush strokes when I should be the most careful. So as a result I have a painting that is nice, but not quite as finished as I was striving for.

I have decided to paint a series of small still lifes this winter, 8X10 - 11X14 with 1-3 items in them. My goal is to bring each one to a higher level of finish than the previous. When I am satisfied that I am consistently producing work of the quality I want, I will then paint another larger more complicated still life.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My Little Corner of the World

30X40 Genre painting "My little corner of the World" I painted this from a series of photographs that I had my husband take of the kids and me in the kitchen. This is the first painting of this kind that I have ever done, which is why it is unfinished. I've never tried to compose and paint so much from my imagination. So I took it to a level that I felt I had learned all I could from it and would benefit from taking it down and starting something new.
So much of my work right now is simply about learning, my main goal is to improve with each painting I make, tackling different subject matter and continuing to grow my techniques. Because this was the first of its kind I went big, as big as I could, a 30x40 canvas is about the maximum I can comfortably paint in my laundry room/studio. I have an if you're going to fail, fail big sort of philosophy, and while I never expect to fail, a first painting never lives up to my expectations.
Most of my problems in this painting came from relying so heavily on my imagination, and the rest of the issues came from my process, or lack there of.
I started out strong, I made ten or more thumbnail sketches to solidify my concept and composition, I then fleshed it out to make a complete drawing which then I turned in to the full size drawing that I later transferred to canvas. After transferring the drawing in charcoal, I inked it in with india ink and a small brush. Then I blocked in all of the values in burnt umber.
Here's where my process started to break down, rather than continuing to work in an orderly manner with a defined palette and system, I went all over the place, using different palettes and different techniques in different areas of the painting. This lack of process took its toll resulting in a product that I couldn't finish and a choppy look over all rather than a cohesive, rhythmic painting.
Overall, I can't be terribly displeased with the painting, I learned alot and hey, you've got to start somewhere.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Brown bag and Cherries

Here is a small study that I did last week, it's 8x10 oil on linen on my usual laminated foam core. I worked on this one hour a day until the cherries started to whither.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Gibbon's Decline and Fall

Fresh off the easel... Still life: "Gibbon's Decline and Fall" Oil on linen adhered to laminated foam core.

Ok, I just pulled this off the easel last week and am sufficiently un-annoyed enough to write about it now. This is the first large (24x30) still life I have been able to do since last summer. I started it in January and have just now finished. For the most part I am pleased with the progress I made in this one, it is not as highly finished as I had originally planned, but sometimes you just have to stop.

Edward Gibbon's 6 volumes, "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" Have long been of importance to historians and scholars, not only because of the historic information contained within, but because Gibbon himself was one of the first "modern" historians. The ponderous nature of the set also makes it a bit of an accomplishment to actually read. I bought a nice copy of the set about 6 years back, and this still life set up is the closest I've ever gotten to actually opening one of them.

Gibbon himself is central to the composition, tiding atop the volumes that have forever secured his place in the esteem of bibliophiles and historians everywhere. He is flanked by a globe, signifying the Roman Empire that was considered the whole world, an empty oil lamp for the decent into the dark ages that the world went into after the fall of the Roman Empire and a potpourie holder that shows the potpourie of nations that had been subjegated by Rome that with its fall returned to their own cultural signifigance.

I painted it over the course of several months, working a little bit at a time when I am able. I went for a simple triangular composition in the set up and used two light sources. I actually never made any preliminary drawings on paper, I did however do a charcoal drawing on the canvas using the sight size method, which I find is my preffered method when it comes to still lifes that I want to finish further than a sketch. I also did a small color study to decide on the color scheme and overall color composition.

After finishing the drawing, I blocked in all of the shapes with a single tone wash, the proceded to paint directly. This painting is three layers, not including the drawing and wash. Because I decided to pull it off the easel early, I didn't use much in the way of medium that I would have used otherwise. The first layer of paint was somewhat thinned with turp, the second was paint straight from the tube, and the third I thinned slightly with a linseed and turp medium in a 1:5 ratio.

With this painting I just felt the need to tackle something large, for my next still life, I am going to work much smaller and simpler so that I can finish it to the degree that I want in the time that I have.