For the past year I've been unsatisfied with my color method. My colors have been spotty and lack expression. Some of the colors in my paintings were okay but not jiving with the rest of the picture. I've been making an effort to fix this. In a weekly life painting group that I attend I've been experimenting with staved palettes, more vibrant and more saturated palettes. One of the other participants in this group is Judith Reeve. She draws so beautifully and paints with such rich and harmonious color. I have been in awe for a year now. I finally asked her what her approach was. She replied that she was following an approach to harmonious color mixing espoused by Robert Henri and Joan Sloane. She mentioned Sloan's 'Gist of Art' a compilation of his writings and letters to students. That sparked a memory. I had that book on my shelf. I had been one of Sylvia's uncle Glen's art books. Anyway It contained some info about Henri and Sloan's expansion of the ideas. As it goes Judith has a blog where she elaborates of the theories in depth. I am fascinated. For the past couple of weeks I've been messing about with color the color harmonies present by Sloan through Judith's Blog. This is the fist attempt at using these theories.
These are the rocks just above Skinners Falls on the Delaware River. It's where I go on those hot hot August days to cool off. It's 8 x 6 on canvas paper and took me about 40 minutes. I am very happy with the color direction.
Here is a the link to Judith's blog Attentive Equations
It seems that nothing is getting finished lately. This is a painting from lif that I have worked on for the past 2 weeks. I did do a little work on the background in the studio this week to allow more effect use of model time. There are some figure adjustments to be made and background details. So far probably about seven hours into this. I like painting from life. I like figure painting from life. Its a puzzle with feeling. A good model can create feeling and story through simple gesture. This is Catherine and she is a great model. Every week I paint with several other artists for about 3 hours on a long pose. A pose lasts about 2.25 hours over the the three hours allowing for breaks. We have one more session with this pose. I can't wait. Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks. I learn something new every week.
As an illustrator and painter I have always worked in the studio from imagination or reference. I'm learning to paint from life. In a recent paint out experience i made a little painting in the late afternoon. I chased the light that was changing almost constantly. In discussing this with my painting partners, both very accomplished life painter, said that painting from life with changing light allows you to more experience the feeling of the painting.
I may seem like I haven't been doing anything but I have. Here are two of the efforts I been slashing away at. There are a couple of others that are not ready to release into the wild as of yet or ever. As you see this stuff is a bit bigger, a lot bigger than 6 x 6s that I was doing over the previous few months. I've expanded my oil palette a bit to a broader spectral selection. Not there yet The acrylic is not a broad palette but should be. I'm going to finish it with oils to liven it up. The saturation of color in the apple piece are kicked up from the set-up. There are things I'm beginning to look for that are away from the realm of just matching color to define realism. Let's face it just matching color sucks. I've always known that. I want you to want to bite those apples. CRUNCH!
Both of these pieces are about half way along. I keep swapping them on the easel along with one other in particular. One thing about working larger - it takes longer to paint!
Pemaquid Point 24 x 18 Acrlic on panel
This is a painting I finished recently. Three lobsterman's tenders. I have had a feeling for rowwing boats since I was a kid. Uncle Jack Sweetser had a beautiful old rowboat that he and cousin Raymond taught me how to fish in. Uncle Jack was an old fishing guide and had many stories of how he and his fellows would run trot line for cat fish or how he and his boys would pile into the Model T and drive far up into the White Mountains because the trout were running. He rolled his own and played the Harmonica. He taught me the joy of catching fish in that old rowboat. Uncle Raymond taught me how to fool the fish with artificial lures. I can still vividly remember my first surface strike by a largemouth bass on a Jitterbug. I still have that lure today. I remember it every time I catch a fish on an artificial bait today.
This boat painting is the result of imagination and drafting. A simple pen and ink doodle drafted in a 3D program and painted with plastic paint. Not the result of observing the 'real' world. More a desire to create my own world. Like the one on Angle Pond at Uncle Jack Sweetser's camp.
I have never been a big landscape guy. I love landscapes. They've just always seemed so complicated. All those damn trees. How do you paint those damn trees. Recently a friend of mine convinced me to join her in a workshop with landscape artist Peter Fiore. It was an renewing experience. There was a lot of information passed around. Much extremely useful. But non more than the statement 'You are painting the light.' I have heard this many times since art school. Many of the my photographers friends talked about it. Painters told me that they owned their success to the moment that they discovered light. I accepted all of this as gospel and continued with my humorous illustration. Line and wash drawings where tone and value were at play but not necessarily light.
For years my painting were representations of accidental light. Random. Good luck. Bad luck. My encounters with light were totally accidental without the understanding that I was in control of my light. Not in the sense that I could move the sun about in the sky. But I could be in the right place at the right time by design.
At the same time I was preparing for Peters workshop there were a couple of news bits floating around about apps to help photographers 'chase the light'. One is an add on to an APP called The Photographers Ephemeris or TPE. Which offers as an optional 'add in' called Skyfire. These tools are supposed to help with finding light events related to sunrise, sunset, weather conditions and track the path of the sun. After the workshop I bought the TPE app and SkyFire add in. Heres some resulting work based of chase light based on information vs luck.
This was in the morning, not dawn but early light. I was bight enough to casta shadow but defuse. A very hilly river valley.
This is the first successful attempt at achieving light. When I say successful I mean that I understand the value structure. I may not have expressed it right but now I'm understanding it.
Needless to say that this 'new' awareness is helping with other challenging lighting situations.
Another result of chasing light with previous warning
Funny how things work out
The above image is a digital watercolor converted from the image below. It was done on my 1Phone 6s Plus using a .99 app called Waterlogue.
The image below is a photo composite of 9 self portraits the I've done over the past 45 years in various mediums. The individual images are at the bottom of the post. I scaled and lined up the images on the eyes and blended them together. The impetus for this was a call for a Delaware Valley Arts Alliance online gallery show called Alterd Ego.
The question here, is the art. I think so. It's art whose value certainly isn't equivalent with 'real' watercolor or oil paintings. Hand done digital art is certainly art with the same of similar value but what about this type of image conversion? I have mastered several apps and have learned that what to feed them to achieve good results. Sort of the same as brush and palette control in painting. I'm still just astonished that someone has spend the time and energy to understand what makes watercolor work. And then has the coding chops to make it into an app. For 99 cents.
This is a painting I started last year with a couple of studies. I set it aside and started the finish a couple of weeks ago. Some apples, an onion and a gasoline can. It started with apples and an orange as a word picture play. I didn't like the orange and the only thing I had around that started with the letter o was and onion. It needed a vertical mass. I had just bought the gas can for a prop and there it is. It works because raw onions give me heartburn. This is an iPhone photo so the quality isn't great but it shows the good stuff. There are still are spots I want to 'fix' maybe. I think I set it aside for a bit and decide later.
Last of this season smalls... I think. This is painted with a new paint from Mark Carder. Geneva Paints. I enjoy these little things. So small that its hard to detail and show volume. It has been a great exercise. I'll get back to them soon enough but I have some largish painting that I've been itching to do for a while. I'm going to get back into watercolors and starting a Outdoor Painting group for the spring.
The 94417 is the code used for these Read Pears at checkout. This is another in my take on 'kitchen art'. Quick sketchy. This was paint from life and to about 4 hours including set-up, prep and paint. Someone has suggested that these two fruits are having a conversation. I wonder what they're talking about.
Before this pear went into a salad I had to give it a painting. I like pears because they come in so many varieties, colors and shapes. The fit right into my idea of 'kitchen art'.
I can't seem to stop this kitchen art thing. This little squash came out of our garden this year. All lumpy and bumpy. This is still officially a work in progress. I'll wait a few days before I call it finished. The old box it's sitting on has become my favorite platform. This single overhead light set up is really revealing in it's simplicity.
I've started a series of 'Wild Apples' paintings. The one is almost done just waiting for a little glazing. The idea came from Yanni's giving me a few of his tiny unmanaged Macintosh apples. I was intrigued with the little mis-shapen things. I decided to eat one ,after much carving found it was great. I looked at them and saw another piece of 'Kitchen Art'. Then I realized the there were hundred of apple trees within just a few miles of my house. I've run around and gathered and was giving a bunch of untamed apples. Northern Spy, Macintosh, Cortland, Green Delicious and a couple of undetermined fruit. I am in the process of photographing all of them, I can't possibly paint them all while they are still fresh, for a series of paintings on panel. 6 x 6, 6 x 8, 8 x 8 and 8 x 10s. Maybe even a few watercolors.