July 31, 2013

Nifty Little Painting Station

As I've been trying to gradually put together a painting studio at home I realized I needed some kind of decent painting station to work from. I began looking at most of the usual art supply websites and I just couldn't find one I either liked, or was willing to shell out the kind of money they were asking for, especially based on where I was from an (in)experience standpoint. 

Anyway, so I'm out shopping for some cheap item, I can't even remember what it was, and decided to check out Wal-Mart, when what do I spy but this little number they sell as a Kitchen island station. 

Just what the doctor ordered! It was right around a hundred bucks. Way less dinero and more efficient than anything I'd found up to that point. I ordered a sheet of glass with a ground edge for about $15 to use as my palette and I really love this thing. It's got storage, a flip-up shelf/work area, a drawer which will hold lots of paint, and cabinets for other stuff. It's on casters that lock so you can move it around and lock it into place. It also has a towel bar. Not quite big enough for paper towels, but that's okay for me.

If you're at Wal-Mart check it out and see if I'm not right on this one.

July 08, 2013



Oil on Canvas Paper - 11" x 14"

This is my most recent portrait done of a lovely young lady who posed at the Friday afternoon figure painting session at Bay Arts. For those that have seen this painting before under a different title, I had to make one up at the time as I did not catch her name. I've since found out it was "Madison" so there you go.  :-)

Once again, I did not complete it in the 3 hours the session is held, but I'd say it was about 80% done. I did have to re-do the drawing somewhat at home as I noticed that her nose had gotten too long in my original attempt. But I managed to keep all my color notes intact as well as the basic feel of that original sitting. I did some dry scumbling which I've been avoiding doing because I want to keep the painting wet as much as possible. I know it's not the case, but glazing and scumbling feel like cheating to me, but then that's just my hang up. 

Overall I think I'm most pleased with this one so far. I've managed to let some greenish tones show through the skin tone. Much easier since she was rather olivey in her complexion. Mike Malm once said to me (he may not have been the first to say this) that "value does all the work but color gets all the credit." Meaning if your values are dead on, it allows you to push the color in ways you may not necessarily see in nature, but it will still appear right.

I'm trying to do that. I think I had some success here. I hope so anyway.  :-)

July 07, 2013

Why Copy?

 Dan Gerhatz copy - 1

Oil on Canvas Paper - 12" x 16"

Dan Gerhartz copy - 2

Oil on Canvas Paper - 16" x 20"

So why copy the work of other artists? Well, when they are really, really good artists you can learn a heck of a lot. 
One artist whose work I really admire is Dan Gerhartz. His work really resonates with me, because of his love of painting people. He has a great compositional sense, is keenly aware of very subtle changes in temperature (of paint, not room) and draws and handles the brush extremely well, at least as much as I am able to tell.

Anyway, these 2 particular copies of Dan's work I found to be very helpful in my personal work. The first one was really just an attempt to get looser with my brushwork, painting quickly, as well as experimenting with a palette knife. which I really don't know how to use with much proficiency at all. I don't know if Gerhartz used the knife in the headband as I did, but I thought it was just a good opportunity to try. Also I noticed some light blue tones in the skin of the forehead area, which I would probably not use on my own. I tried it and it seemed to work okay. So there's a good indicator of how I learned to do something I normally wouldn't do and have it turn out fairly well.

The second one was an exercise in having the features of the face done in mostly shadow. This is about the darkest I've gone with a portrait. I didn't capture a lot of the subtlety of temperature changes of Dan's portrait, but I think I got close in some places. When I did the hair I couldn't/didn't see what Dan saw and so all I could see when looking at Dan's painting were shapes and masses and so it probably doesn't convey "hair" and the beautiful reflections and highlights the way his painting does. I really loved the loose brushwork around the collar of the girl in Dan's painting, so even just trying to replicate that was a great exercise.  

Some people might say that the goal of an artist is originality. Well maybe, maybe not.
I think the goal, my goal at least as an artist is proficiency. I think persistence in excellence should be the painters goal. Individuality will "out" naturally and eventually, so I'm not worried about the eternal quest for originality. I have plenty of my own ideas to keep me busy, but at this point I think it would be wrong to try to jump ahead and bypass quality and proficiency just for the sake of originality.

And don't forget to acknowledge the people who have helped and influenced you with their work and words on your journey.

Thanks Dan!

July 02, 2013



Oil on canvas - 16" x 20"

So this was my first try at doing a subject from life and setting it all up myself. This is Kim, a friend from church that I'd asked to pose for me. I always thought she had a great look, kind of mysterious, but very lovely and honest. I don't know that I did her justice. The flower arrangement could have been better thought out and I think more in general could have been done with the composition. I'm also not certain about the handling of the skin. Not enough variety of edges, I think. It's easy for me to be very self-critical about a piece like this, but again a great experience I think towards doing better paintings in the future.

July 01, 2013

Julie - Study

"Julie - Study"

Oil on Canvas Paper - 11" x 14"

So if you had asked me which is my favorite painting I had done up to this time, this one would be it. Why? It's because I actually completed this one from life and it has some of the expressiveness of brushwork that I've been striving for. It's not a masterpiece, but for me it means a lot, because it tells me that there is hope towards actually completing a future, more ambitious (and yes, even salable) composition in one or more settings from life. What has been the key for me? Probably like most things, it's practice and more practice. In this way you become more comfortable with the medium and your tools.
Other people have helped too. I'm not an island. I run things past people whose opinions I respect and who will give me straightforward input. Also, I find that nowadays, if you can't make it to an actual workshop, instructional DVD's can be a good way to go. I have a few that have really helped me. They are as follows:

• The Alla Prima Portrait and
• Grisaille
   Both by Rob Liberace
• Gesture Portraits by Geoffrey Watts
• Her Mother's Locket by Dan Gerhartz
• Nuts and Bolts by Quang Ho.

That last one has really helped me out a lot. Plus Ho is very philosophical and I tend to be as well so a lot of his anecdotes and analogies make a great deal of sense to me. He does a lot of talking in it and that might bother some who just want to see straight-forward instruction, but to me his concepts help to make clear what painting and art in general is all about.

Young Girl

"Young Girl"

Oil on Canvas Board - 11" x 14"

I did this smaller painting of a young girl that modeled for a group at Mike Malm's workshop which I attended in June of 2010. I wish I could say that I had completed it at the workshop when the model was live in front of me, but I can't in truth. I really was so incompetent at that time when it came to painting an actual person that I really just fumbled around, trying to pick up and absorb all the information I could to use at a later date, when hopefully it would all make more sense to me. Fortunately it does make more sense now. Even though I think this painting shows signs of improvement and areas that I like, overall I think it's too tight and blended. That's not how I want to paint. My preference is to paint more directly and expressively. To capture mood and atmosphere. I'm not there yet, but I think there is hope. 

At least I hope there's hope for me.