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.