Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Barbara B., about 7 x 9

This drawing from yesterday....

.....at the Port Townsend shipyards gives me a good opportunity to talk about some things.  I showed this to some people and mentioned I was dissatisfied with it and they told me I was crazy....again.

First let me point out some stuff.  This is a Sharpie with tones of cool gray Copic markers added on toned card stock.  The gouache washes were put in last.  The gouache can add sparkle, help to focus the viewer. and soften some of the darker marks where I might want a easier edge.

In general, I like the drawing.  Shapes and lines are repeated, such as the verticals in the various posts and masts and the angle of the large cloud is mirrored in the bottom line coming forward.  Horizontals in the clouds and white marks on the pavement repeat each other.  I like the placement of the boat, the tendency for detail to decrease as the drawing goes out and back from the boat, and for some of the 'I made it up' marks such as the two perspective lines that come out toward the viewer.....most all that is intuitive.  But there is something that bothers me.

I think it's the difference between visual accuracy and intuitive expression.  Sitting there I had the feeling of more looming immensity and power than I got down on paper.  There was a dimensionality that got lost and buried in my need for accuracy.

Don't get me wrong, accuracy of dimensions and relationships are important but sometimes a slight exaggeration is necessary to convey the 'feeling' of what we are painting or drawing.

This brings to mind Ron Lukas whose work I've been posting on FB and here for a bit.  No matter what I saw him draw or paint, there was always a sense of what I call 'dignity' in his work.  Everything was slightly and artistically altered to make that happen.  I asked him about it several times and he would look at me as if I were bizzaro....again.  Perhaps it was something unintentional that was just him....but I don't think so.  I think it was how he intuitively felt about things and he conveyed it through his drawing, his color selection and orchestration of values.  Others who are reading this and know his work would agree, I think, but many artists have done similar things.  Just look at the paintings and the photos of the subjects of Frank Benson....one of my heroes.

OK.  After all that I want to announce a new workshop, Drawing with Valued Markers, Level II, to be held May 20th, 2015.  It will be on the Winslow Art Center schedule sometime this week but wanted to give you an early 'heads up'.  It is a one day workshop sketching in the field (or coffee house) in which we will play around with gouache on toned paper, white markers and the usual variety of toned markers.  It really gets into the 'painting with markers' concepts.  More later.

Thanks for looking.  Have yourself a fine day.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Morning Sketches

I needed stimulants.....

....so headed for the kitchen and the ground coffee.  Coming down the stairs this scene hit me.  At least something like it hit me because I'm sure my visual memory and the few notes on a piece of paper are off...but you might get the feeling of what it was.   Like most sunrises, it didn't last more than two or three minutes.  The photo I snapped was worthless for painting so I ignored it.

That bluish stripe was really there but my eyes couldn't see a lot unless I moved so that a tree blocked the sun enough that I could register the color.  Not likely a great sunrise painting but it was a fun sketch.  I think it has a hint of that Tommy Thompson flair about it.....unintentionally....but, hey, if I can get in the ball park.....

Tommy Thompson, Canadian Painter

Burnt Carmine, Transparent Red Oxide, Burnt Sienna,  Cad Orange, Yellow and Red, and the usual host of blues.  I'm hoping that when I look at this in a year I will know what I should have done, but then I'll wish I hadn't posted it.

Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ron Lukas Demo

Ron Lukas....

.....continues to strongly influence the way I paint.  Watching him pull together a painting was hypnotic because it seemed so effortless (it wasn't) and fast.  He could turn a large piece of canvas into visual candy in about 90 minutes or less.

A number of people have asked to see his work.  I have pics of several of his demos and this was the first one I saw him do at a workshop that I just lucked into.   I think this was where I first met Guido Frick (HERE), another awesome painter with a great spirit.  It was at a cabin/art center owned by Diane McClary (HERE).

Anyway, here are the pics in progression.  If you'd like to see another let me know.  I've heard he no longer paints in oil but is working in acrylic when he has the time.  He is still doing work for the movie industry.  Click on the images for a closer view.

Thanks for looking.  Back again soon.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Bay Hay, 12x16

Just up island....

......is an old structure that is a local landmark.  Post office, bakery, but mostly a plant and garden center with lots of stuff packed into its meandering spaces.  Cars and people and trucks and bicycles come and go all day picking up feed for the chickens, mail, coffee and pastry.  The orange cone is to protect the space for the mail truck.

It was surprising to me, with all that activity, how most of the time it looked just like this.  I couldn't predict if a vehicle might remain long enough to paint it.  I got a photo of a motorcycle and started to put it in but it just didn't fit somehow.  So you get Bay Hay & Feed inviting you to come in.

Painting wise, the problem was the moving sun.  The light on the left side lasted only about an hour so, after blocking in the shadowed side, I moved to resolve the light struck side as quickly as I could. Sky, clouds, trees, street all waited until I had the correct relationship between shadow and light and enough details whacked in just along that lit side.  Then, I did the rest.

Other than the incandescent lights showing inside, my favorite part is the crossing stripes and how they change color and their shapes move in and out with the soft edges.  Just to the left of the car is a purplish glow at the base of the trees.  There really was warmth there and I used it to draw the building hue into the rest of the painting.  Its also in the street and gently touched into the clouds.

Thanks for looking.  More soon.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Spring On The Cle Elum, 12x12

It was Video Day, the day.....

.......Cathe Gill and I picked to do camera work for her upcoming video on using watercolor with pastel.  It will likely have the word 'ooze' in the title....due out in July.  Unfortunately, clouds, sun direction, wind and my patience did not cooperate.  I almost threw Cathe in the river....you know, she's smallish and I needed something to toss so it crossed my mind....fleetingly.

What else could we do but paint?  Sure enough, as soon as we were into it the weather cleared up.   This began as an overcast scene but lightened up soon enough that it was possible to pull it off without repainting the entire thing.

The challenge in this type of scene, at least for me, is to avoid 'organizing' it into equal spacing, similar heights and lots of tree 'fingers'  pointing to the sky.  Nature can pull it off without a hitch but what's out there sure doesn't always make a good painting.  Add to that our natural ability as humans to organize things, even unconsciously.   When I got it back in the studio I did have to gently guide it into something more pleasing but at least it wasn't much.

Stay in touch with Cathe's website if her video would be of interest to you.  I'll bug her to get something posted.  Look HERE.

Thanks for checking in.  I have more to post tomorrow.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Everything But Frog, 12x16

Stumbling through the studio.....

......I literally fell into this painting from about a dozen years ago....(I really need to do some straightening up).  It didn't break or tear, which was fortunate, but it did make me think that doing a lily pad series this summer would be interesting, especially if I approached it in a more abstract way.   The ideas for that are beginning to flow.  Stay tuned.

A few years ago we were touring Monet's estate, walking around his ponds, gardens, house and studio.  It was a huge studio....more like a garage for buses.  He painted his lily pad series, immense  paintings that covered 12x20 foot walls, later in life when his eyesight was beginning to fail.  He would do those pieces by running (well, maybe he didn't actually 'run') out to the ponds, taking a quick look, and returning to the studio to add what he could to those canvases.....day after day, week after week.  I read somewhere that soon he was to lose his ability to even see color, still able to paint because he knew where the colors were supposed to be on his palette and what it took to mix new hues.

It was his initial 'concept' that kept it all going....plus a huge dose of experience and a dedicated talent.

So, taking a lesson from one of the Masters, I'm working on my ideas.  I'm also working on where to find some lily pad ponds.  Suggestions are welcome.

Thanks for looking.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Godfrey Spit, 12x12

Composing to a square format....
......has it's challenges.  When it works it's a size that I find enjoyable....and I also enjoy the challenge of trying to find that illusive arrangement of shapes that can make it work.

This piece keeps me off-balance which is intriguing.  I had to change some elements in it to keep my eye moving.  Most of what was changed was in the foreground floating walkway.  In life it had more small uprights and the whole thing was backlit keeping this side fairly dark.  It became a visual fence that was hard to cross.....so out went some uprights and everything got lightened with some gray blue and warm tan bits.  My hope is that you can now get to the intersection of the sky, distant land and that boat perched on the dune.

Rob Weiss was painting just to my right out on the spit....or is it a bar?.... and his FB post about it is (HERE).  The photo doesn't do the piece justice but you can get an idea of what he painted.

Mitch Abala's recent blog post has some good thoughts on the continuum from ultra realism to total abstraction.  Since every successful piece of art is based ultimately on abstract concepts, it's good to have some idea where on that continuum you fall as either an artist or as a collector.  How much of either extreme can you tolerate before a piece no longer 'sings' to you?  Check out his thoughts (HERE).

Speaking of abstraction,  Cathleen Rehfield has a beautiful little sky piece posted on her blog (HERE)  I'm sure you will be able to place her somewhere along Mitch's continuum.  In her description she writes a line about Ultramarine Blue that cracked me up......'is Ultramarine blue such a ubiquitous blue that any ultramarine will do?'.    I don't know.  I think it was the rhythm and rhyme of it that affected me.....I went around for half a day with it playing in my head.  It's only one of my afflictions.

Ok.  Take yourself out and have some fun doing what you love.

Thanks for looking.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Of Painting and Markers

Here is another.....
....from the arroyo series.  I didn't even know I had a series until uncovering this one lost in an old painting pile.  If you were to walk straight ahead under this little bridge you'd eventually come to the other two painting locations.  A lovely place with many memories.....

From that same town is one done late on a warm Spring evening sitting alone under a street light.  This is actually a repainting of the original plein air piece.  That one is owned by some friends:

Alamos Evening, 8x16

And for a change of pace.....

I was waiting with Noelle sitting in front of a Michael's and decided to drop in to look around.  They had some cool toned card stock in various sizes on sale.  Always on the look for better drawing instruments I stumbled on some white markers that work great.....and cheap.  I usually use either gouache or a Signo Uniball white pen for accents on toned paper, but these white markers looked enticing.

When I got home I made up some small 4.5 x 6.5 pocket sketchbooks for gouache, markers and whatever.  To try out my new toys I sat in our carport sketching the paint cans and tools cluttering things up from our current house project.  The white marks come from those Michael's markers.  Check them out.  I think they are only $1.99.

House Painting, abt 4x5

Small Sketchbooks and new white markers

Once again, Thanks For Looking and hanging around.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Gone With The Wind

 Our informal Portrait Group.....
.......meets every Thursday at Studio 12 during the rainy months.  We drag all sorts of people in off the streets to pose for us.  This woman runs a boutique here on the island next to Roby King Gallery.

I've been doing quick ones on 9 x12 Canson paper using oils.  Works great but the paper does make the paint sticky after a few minutes and blending is impossible.  Cheap, though, and I don't blend all that much anyway.  I think they call it 'tiling' the paint.

I give myself 45 minutes to an hour to do one of these so I've been able to jamb in four before our session ends.  Good practice.  Here is another in Raw Umber, white and some Ultramarine Blue mixed in for the intense darks.

The face portion is three times the size of the colored one and you'd think, because it's easier to paint larger, that it would have come out better.  Oh well.  Tomorrow is another day.  (Wasn't that the last line after 3 1/2 hours of watching Gone With The Wind?)

And another exploration of face color from two weeks ago.  Her I used Quinacridone Red, Cad Yellow Light, and Prussian Blue....and one of Daniel Corey's favorite simple palettes.   His blog is HERE.

Stern looking....but this was about color....and I like that.

Thanks for looking.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Jane Wallis Marker Drawings

Jane Wallis.....
.....is someone I have painted portraits next to for years in our small group.  She, and her husband Mel, taught art at one of our local colleges but have left formal teaching to do their own thing.  Their website is HERE.

We were at the PAWA (Plein Air Painters of Washington) winter event together.  She had left out her little sketchbook and I opened it to find these wonderful marker drawings.  Off handedly she said, "Oh, those.  Yeah, I've done them for years."

I said "So why didn't you write a book?  These are great!  I'm impressed!"

"Well....(she's from Oklahoma so drawl that out a bit)....because you've already written one."

"Aw, shucks, you betcha'."  (I'm from Minnesota.)

So she let me photo some of them with my iPhone.  I think they are about 4x5 inches.  I haven't talked to her about them yet but they obviously seem like studies in advance of paintings which would explain the grid work.  I begin with a black ink pen.  It appears she uses a light marker and then sculpts in, over and around her initial marks to pull out the form with darker tones.

I find them very painterly expressions which allow for soft edges and lots of textural elements.

You can see those initial marks pretty easily in this one, especially behind the large tree.

Of course, her strong drawing skills show through in each of them.   Knowing that little flicks of light and dark marks can make the illusion of a group of diners sitting at tables takes a bit of know-how.

There is some paint on the upper corner of this one so the grid must be for transferring the drawing to canvas.  I think I'm going to have to make a trip over to their place to get the real low-down on all this.

When I marker draw I begin with a fine tipped felt pen because I'm fascinated by line and how lost I can get in the flow of it going on the paper.  It also provides extra detail for later.  Jane's go the other direction, emphasizing form with less delineation.  Her paintings are soft expressions of exuberant but closely related color and evoke a lot of feeling when I see them.  I've never seen any of these drawings done as paintings.

I'll be reporting back.  In the meantime you might find her technique of interest.

Thanks for looking.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

March Demo, 18x21

.....I love doing them.  For a while I thought it was 'showing off' but realized that it never felt like that because I'm seldom satisfied with the results.  It feels like my energy and visual acuity levels go up when I've got a bunch of people expecting something from me....and I like to make people happy.

I began with a ten or twelve minute marker drawing just to scope out the shapes of light and dark masses and get a composition.  It mimics, but doesn't attempt to accurately copy, what I'm looking at. And, while I'm at it, there is still a place left for my Marker sketching workshop on Saturday.  Go HERE for details.

Nancy seems to be my official photographer and took some photos of the process....about two hours.  For the painterly minded, I use mostly Rembrandt paints supplemented by Utrecht, Windsor and Newton and Gamblin where necessary.  You can see me using a large 'egbert' style brush during the blocking because I like the unpredictability of it.  The rest of the piece uses Silver Bristlon Flats in various sizes.  It was done on a masonite panel with three coats of Utrecht gesso applied with a roller and lightly sanded between coats.

Loosely sketching it in.
The 'egbert' establishing initial color and tone.

Competed blockin, moving to value and color adjustments.
Close to the end, just before the final adjustments and doodads.

Every time I think I am going to be more reserved in my color and looser in paint application, this kind of thing happens.  The first plein air painting I completed was at a week long workshop.  I spent the whole week working on it.  I knew I had gotten to the limit of my painting skills at that time.  The instructor, Ron Lukas, came around and, after staring at it a bit said, 'Well, you sure aren't afraid of color.' and walked away.  To this day I'm not sure if that was a compliment or a subtle suggestion.  Ron was like that.

Thanks for looking.  See you out and about.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Marker Sketching on Pi day

Marker Sketching....

.....simple to complex.  My Marker Workshop is this coming Saturday so I thought I'd get the juices flowing a bit.  There are two spots left if you can make it.  We always have a blast.  Don't worry about materials because for about $25 I can supply you with everything you need.  Find out more at the Winslow Art Center HERE.

Whether you draw something simple or more intricate, the magic of quickly creating the illusion of form on a blank page still happens.  In many ways the simpler forms are graphically more interesting plus much faster to create:

A simple form.

For those of you too far away to attend the workshop and watch a demo, here is a re-creation of how I did the 'Volks' sketch:

Beginning lines.  Got to start somewhere....

So how to begin?  I look for the simplest and most easily drawn part I can find that can also serve as a visual 'measuring stick'.  I didn't know how far to the right the roof line would go but was fairly confident about the vertical rear edge....so that came first.

The window fit itself in that space pretty well....but I looked carefully before committing to it.
Looking with care I noted how the shape of the window fit itself into the very first lines.  This is where the whole thing could have gone south on me....so I looked and thought it through several times before going ahead.

Rear wheel made it....whew.
As the drawing built itself up it became faster and easier to draw.  I still had to look carefully before putting in this rear wheel.  I imaged what it would be on the paper and placed it in, doing the very rear fender first.  This completed my 'yardstick' for the rest of the drawing and everything else could be more easily judged from that.

By lining things up vertically and horizontally with what I had down, the car could be finished.

It made sense to complete the car before the background or front tree was drawn.  Notice how I made several mistakes on the driver side of the windshield.  I wasn't too concerned because it was fairly hidden behind the tree.

Completed drawing before adding the marker tones.

Drawing complete.  I couldn't get all the marker tones erased but you can get the idea.

Now for the markers.  This is where magic happens.  I can't show you the steps in adding the values but suffice to say that I use a 30% gray marker to separate all light struck areas from those in shadow (or dark).  I go over everything with that 30%, leaving the white paper just where I want to maintain the lightest light struck areas.

So.  There you go.

Volks.....in situ.

If you work in markers I'd love to see your drawings.  Later this week I'll post some marker sketches of a friend that uses these tools in a different way.....and the drawings are beautiful.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Portrait Workshop, March 6,7,8th

This Message Made My Day.....
...........Darrell Anderson is my kinda instructor!!! I was just telling a friend how my portrait class with you provided me with strong technical concepts or approaches but more A MULTITUDE OF ONE LINERS THAT STUCK WITH ME TO THIS DAY! You I get as a person but better as an instructor! Have fun Darrell Anderson! "The beginning is the DIFFICULTY whereas the end just HAPPENS and will always be out of your control".... ME"

I try to teach in a way I'd like to be taught myself...but adapt it for each person's different style and skill level.  Admittedly it doesn't always happen just the way I'd like but after fifteen years of teaching art many of the instructional hiccups are worked out.

This coming weekend is your opportunity.  We cut off admissions for the portrait workshop on Wednesday.  Take a look and then contact the Winslow Art Center for more info: HERE.

What materials you choose are up to you.  Conte' with white charcoal pencil can make a beautifully expressive piece.

Gouache is simple to use and easily correctible and I love the way the colors work together.

 Watercolor either works....or not.  There doesn't seem to be an in-between but the luminosity of color is it's uniqueness.

And, of course, oils have the textural and sculptural qualities that make them so deeply expressive.  Here's another:

And, lastly, is simple paper and pencil.  I like it because it is a very direct and personal expression of both the artist and the subject.  

Unabashedly I'm trying to interest you in trying a weekend of portraiture.  This opportunity will come and go, and I likely won't be teaching another for at least a year.  I'd like you to come.

Contact the Winslow Art Center HERE for details.