Wednesday, August 17, 2022

So What Can You Do With 3 Colors?

The Freedom Of Limitations.

    Having once painted with 16 to 20 different oil colors on my palette and adhering to the belief that that was the best and only way to adequately mix color, for some reason I don't remember  when or why I began to reduce the number of hues.  Soon I was down to five and, for the last couple of years, down to three.  Scott Christensen, Dawn Whitelaw, Tim Deibler, and James Richards, among others, influenced the move to a limited palette. 

But does a limited palette mean limited choices?  Once I would have said yes but now I'm convinced the initial idea of that meaning fewer choices is exactly the opposite.  The false idea of limitation leads, in practice, to more creative and careful uses of what is available....maybe even more choice.  Less is more and all that.

So I went to the paint store the other day and tried to find color samples that would confound and confuse  those three colors.  

My 'palette' was a piece of grocery sack colored card stock coated with warm toned shellac, two coats on each side.  It's what I often sketch on.  

My colors are Titanium white, Cad Yellow Light, Pyrol Red, and Thalo blue (red shade).  The first two I use regularly but the blue can be Ultramarine blue, Prussian blue, Thalo blue or Paynes gray depending on the subject, the light or my whimsey.

So I decided on a challenge.  I went to the paint store and picked up samples that I thought might be fun.  I brought home 21 colors to see if, using that short palette, I could match those paint chips.  Here are the results:

The First Batch

The Second Batch

The short of it is that matches were easy to get.  Some were eleven attempts and some were two but I always got there, and it didn't take much time.  (If you are looking for the exact matches they are hard to see from the photos.  The reflection off the paint changes things, but the matches are there.) 

Like when I go out  painting, the first thing I did was to squeeze out the primaries and then mix the secondaries.   On the pic of my paper palette above you can see the primaries, secondaries and my mixing attempts.  I have tried it both ways when painting and having the mixed secondaries there always makes the final paintings go faster, plus they feel more interesting and colorful compared to mixing color as I go.  

Perhaps that speaks to having a broader palette in the first place yet mixing all hues from the primaries lets the colors sit together so much better.  It's like having a party where everyone likes each other in the first place ... Avoids so many squabbles and disagreements.

Thanks for being here.  I'll be back with some samples of work I've done with only 3 colors...

Monday, April 25, 2022

'Gouache on the Fly' Demos


Last week we ended....

    ...Gouache on the Fly, my course in using watercolor instead of gouache to fill a very portable sketchbook.  True, we also used white gouache and a little black, but most of the paintings were done using tubed watercolor like it was oil paint.  We had a great time exploring this approach and here are the demos I did for those in the class but I thought you might enjoy them also.  This is my third sketchbook done this way and I'm still enjoying the processs.  Below are full page (8.5x11 inch) scans that begin in value studies and move on to full color.

Black and white gouache and one from a mix of two complements.  There is some unintentional green on one rock on the vertical piece which was an accident.

The top one of the bridge is on a piece of watercolor paper; the bottom one is right on the sketchbook paper and is a value study done in a warm and cool color but not representative of the color in the scene, just the values.

Sketches are out of order.  Some were done earlier in the course than others and they were put in the sketchbook where I could find room.  The top one is another warm and cool value study done with Alizarin Crimson and some sort of green I mixed.  All are done on card stock of varying colors or watercolor paper.
Top one is another value study in warm and cool.  Two colors plus white gouache sitting in our living room.  Don't ask me where the fish came from....

A redo of an earlier one with an emphasis on the watercolor transparency.  

Thanks for looking.  Because this was an online course most of the images are fron photos.  Normally this method is something I use almost entirely for field sketching. 

Back soon!

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

One Sketchbook, Fifty Paintings


A Few From my 'Gouache on the Fly'....

....sketchbook.  The Class begins on March 28th, 2022 through the Winslow Art Center (WAC click here) A simple, quick, easily transportable, and inexpensive way to sketch your artistic ideas.  Come join us!

Here are a few more sketches, all plein air....


Japanese Garden
Glacial Erratics

Thursday, March 17, 2022

"Gouache on the Fly" Course at Winslow Art Center


I have painted in gouache for.....

.....many years, decades actually, but on and off.  It is a marvelous medium, very forgiving and convenient.  Compared to oil paint, some control is lost.  It doesn't exactly dry in a value that's similar to the way you mixed it.  It also goes matte, losing some of the color intensity from what it looks like in the liquid state.  That sounds frustrating and it is....but it is compensated by its fast drying, allowing the ability to quickly make it lighter or darker and go right over the top.  Sometimes it's important to accept something uncontrolled and new.

A few years ago I began a notebook of heavy weight card stock paper in several color tones as a foundation for sketching with gouache (gouache is basically watercolor with calcium carbonate added for opacity and body).  With a small kit I could carry it around with me almost anywhere and do sketches quickly, close the notebook and walk away with dry paintings to use as a library, of sorts, of material for other paintings or personal exploration.

Missing for me was the transparency mixed with opacity effects so I began mixing in some watercolor.  Soon the watercolor was the main medium but it was used with white gouache for the opacity part.  Eventually I stopped carrying the colored gouache in favor of less expensive tubed watercolor.  By using watercolor thinly in washes, but also thick like butter using straight paint or mixed with white gouache, I could realize the best of both worlds and that made it more fun and descriptive.  

Beginning March 28th, 2022 I will be teaching a course in this technique through the Winslow Art Center online courses.  The notebook I will supply for free once you sign up and the other supplies you will need are inexpensive. It makes for a great travel medium and its speed allows for many more studies than other mediums.  Once dry, they can be covered with a variety of media that makes them very impervious to being harmed and can be framed without glass.

Here is a page from one of my sketchbooks showing a painting right on the notebook paper and another pasted in using a different paper:

Both of these paintings use a combination of transparent and opaque effects as well as warm and cool, dark and light, soft and hard edges and various textural paint effects.   I like nothing more than sitting down in any old spot and painting these satisfying pieces.

The course is 4 weeks long for three hours each meeting day.  When you are finished you will have a notebook full of your artistic excursions.  We will do weekly optional critiques, I'll do frequent demos and we will explore lots of compositional experiments.

 Please join us.
 The class size is limited so come join us at the:  Winslow Art Center .

Black and white gouache with a couple spots that show through to the paper for color.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

  Marker Class Demos...the journey to a painting.

Currently,  I have an on-line class in....

.... Drawing with Valued Markers, one of the best ways I know to sketch in the field and obtain the most information while exploring compositional ideas.  Our course ends tomorrow and I'm interested in finding out if this group, like most of my class groups, thinks it has been helpful.  The online experience has been different from teaching this in person so I'm looking to hear their feedback and ideas.

Here is the still life setup:

You can see that the lighting changed a bit between the time I took the photo of the setup and actually doing the painting in gouache.  

Here are two class demos.  One is using 3 markers of differing values and a Sharpie pen, letting the white of the paper fill in another value, white or no value.  The other is done on toned paper using the same values as the drawing on white paper but adding white gouache in varying thicknesses for the lighter notes.

Both of these versions give helpful ideas about composition, limited values and detail that are very helpful in the creation of paintings.  The one I did is 11" square (image area) on paper that was toned like a kraft grocery bag. 

Thanks for stopping by.  If you keep coming I will likely start posting more often....and I have a studio of stuff that hasn't seen the light of day. 

Oh yeah.  My book is available again.  Check the Pages above.

Keep Drawing!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Once Again...

'Passages' 16x16 Oil Plein Air

I Haven't Posted On......

....this blog, my website, FB or Instagram in well over a year.  Nothing.  It has felt good but it may be time to return.  

I needed some time off and some creative privacy, I guess.  I kept painting, studying and even taught a few courses but I was tired of media.  Still am, but decided it was time to share again and see if I could change the terms of engagement.  No, I don't yet know what that means other than not taking it seriously, despite what the online marketers recommend.

In the interim a few changes I hadn't expected crept in.  Being trained mostly by Sergei Bongart's teaching assistants I once used a color palette of up to 18 hues.  Over the years that number shrank slowly until around 2005 it was down to 9 colors, a split primary palette with a couple 'kickers'.   It is interesting and significant that the number kept going down.  I'm now at 3 tubes of color plus white.  I keep a standard primary palette of a red, a yellow and a blue in differing temperatures and saturations.   I will switch out one or more of those hues when I think it's appropriate or when I want a challenge or just to see what happens.  The number still stays at three colors.

Both of these plein air pieces use the same palette except for the blues, one done with Ultramarine Blue and the other Prussian Blue ('Passages', 16x16 PB and 'Morning in the Gardens', 10x20 UB at Battle Point Park).  I'm really rather amazed at the variety of colors that can be achieved and the subsequent color harmony.

A couple of things that sort of happened at the same time in terms of materials also helped re-enthuse me to paint and explore.  I'll talk about those next time.

 'Morning in the Gardens', 10x20, Oil, Plein Air

Thanks for looking.  Come back again.


Sunday, July 28, 2019

Lilies of the Evening, 12x12

This is my....
.....second attempt to paint this group.  I had tried it a few evenings before and bombed (see below) so came back a few nights later for another shot at it.  I think that if I counted there would be about half the number of lily pads represented here that were actually there.  As it was I was going cross-eyed trying to sort out an interesting view.

Here is the painting from before...sorry about the glare on it....and the resulting panel which was repurposed for this one.  I've found that some panels/canvases have to painfully learn what it is they are supposed to do.  Sometimes it takes multiple attempts for one to begin cooperating.

Of course that's a bad joke, but it feels like truth sometimes.  I have panels with five wiped off paintings leftovers underneath.

Thanks for looking!

Wm F. Reese and Sonny Apinchipong, Back to Back!!

Two Outstanding Artists Coming To Bainbridge!!
     This is a banner month as the art of William F. Reese will be featured at the Roby-King Gallery here in Winslow.  While Bill died almost a decade ago, his influence on artists is still greatly felt and appreciated.  A powerhouse of an artist, William Reese was fully fluent in sculpture, painting in all media, drawing and printmaking.  For artists to be able to stand in front of one of his paintings is like getting an advanced study lesson in technique, composition and creative inspiration.

In August most of the gallery will be taken over by his work as well as the work of Mary Balcomb, author of definitive books on several artists including William F. Reese and Nicholai Fechin.  Standing in for Bill on opening night, next Friday, August 2nd, 2019 will be Fran Reese, devoted partner/wife of all his years, and for Mary, her daughter Amis Balcomb.

Don't miss seeing Bill's work or meeting Fran and Amis!  This opportunity won't happen again soon...

AND THEN!!, if that is not enough, Sonny Apinchipong will be here at the end of August to teach a three day workshop, do a demo and participate in the Winslow Paint Out.

Sonny was a teaching assistant for Sergei Bongart (as was Bill Reese) and went on to work for Disney and Don Bluth studios doing the backgrounds for some of some of the major hits of the last thirty years.  I remember seeing the original paintings he did for Lion King and feeling so proud that I had learned to paint from him.

While I have studied with many talented people, it was Sonny who taught me how to have the right attitude about what I do.  He has a light-hearted amusement about painting that I try to emulate (and still trying).  He can throw a painting that didn't quite succeed into the forest with such glee.  If you can make his workshop do it.  You will learn a great deal about moving paint around.  Sign up at the Winslow Art Center.

Thanks for looking.  Come to these events!


Thursday, June 20, 2019

Foxglove, 6x12

A very quick....
....sketch out in the back of Nancy's house done on shellacked birch plywood.  Maybe 40 minutes of painting or a little less.  Put it down and leave it

The complexity of the forest is simplified to graphic shapes to help give some drama to the flowers.

Someone snapped a picture.....

Thanks for looking....back soon....

Monday, June 3, 2019

Evening Waterlilies, 12x24

As I was leaving the pond....
.....after painting the last one, I noticed a glow start to form across the water as the sun was moving toward night.  With that in mind I began this one a few days later around five o'clock and hoped that if I worked quickly there would be enough light to finish.  

At 6:30 it was difficult to see the darker passages and judge the color balance so I packed up.  Fortunately I found it pretty much finished when I got home and could see it in good light.  There were only a few spots that had to go darker, but they were easy adjustments.  

Three blues (Ultramarine, Pthalo, Cerulean Hue), two yellows (Cad Yel Pale, Alizarin Yellow) Cad Orange, three reds (Cad Red, Indian Red, and Rose Madder deep) and, although I don't usually use it but did selectively and very limited in this one, raw umber.  Three brushes: a nondescript 3/4" flat, a rigger and a very cheap Simply Simmons 1/2" flat watercolor brush I swiped from my gouache kit.  Most of it was with the last one.  Done on a gessoed hardboard, 12x24.

I'll try to get out again this week to do another.  These flowers don't last long and "If not now, when?".

Thanks for looking.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Reflection, 10x15

Last Wednesday....
....I spent a lovely few hours around this small pond with a couple of painter friends.  They were painting over on the other side and the sound of their voices talking softly came across the water mingling with the quacking of ducks and the splash of Canada Geese.  It was mesmerizing to hear that and be able to look at the push and pull of the lily pads on top of the moving reflection of the trees.

This is an oil painting done on birch panel and needed very little in the way of retouching when I got home.  Just some picking out the fluff of the poplar cotton and seeds as they floated down on me and the paint.  I didn't need to do much redesigning of the scene either.  It's nice when things go easily.

Thanks for looking.

I'll be back.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Afternoon at Eagle Harbor, 2 x 8.5x11

There Have Been Three Practices.....
.....that have greatly influenced my art.  I mean, besides all the great artists I've had the privilege of studying with.

Drawing with Valued Markers, from the morning I accidentally picked a marker up and tried it, has opened my eyes and instructed the hand.  Using just three marker values and white (or sometimes toned) paper has made it so easy for me to quickly create form and study composition.  And cheap!

Yesterday I started out the door with my paints but didn't feel the urge to use them once I got to Eagle Harbor.  Since I have a marker workshop coming up (see below) I thought I needed to hone my skills a bit...and I was too tired to haul out the paint.

That's another thing I like about them.  A sketchbook and very few tools are needed to catch a mood, a place or and effect of light.

Here is another from the same day:

That Marker Workshop is on May 18th, about a week away.  Because I like to share this technique I'd love to see you there.  Find out about it by going to the Winslow Art Center website HERE.

Hope to see you.   (If you can't come, check out my book on it in the tabs above.)

More on those other two practices to improving your art in later posts.

Thanks for looking!

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Spring, 10x12 and 11x14

These were painted about a week apart in response to having the Spring colors begin to show, the winter colors quickly fading.

There is such vibrance in the landscape as the greens start to poke through, and even the winter colors seem more intense and vital before that green appears.  My intention is always to spend every day exploring and painting the landscape but the reality of Spring is also that there is a lot that needs doing.  There never is enough time or energy for all of it.

'At the Head of the Harbor' (top) is 10x12 and 'Port Blakely Spring' is 11x14.   This second one was interesting for the challenge in all the doo-dads of the ground litter.  The only way I found to make it work was to eliminate about seventy-five percent of the stuff, just hinting at what was on the forest floor.  Hopefully the viewer fills in the 'stuff' from their own experience in a forest.

Maybe I'll go back again and explore the changes and colors...tomorrow is supposed to be cloudy.  That would be interesting.

I'll be back.

Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

What I Don't Understand Is This.....

After the Party, 20x24 plein air
 So There are a Lot of Things....
......I don't understand, but today's 'stumper' is one I've heard other artists mention.  It's this:  How are there days when absolutely nothing works (and it may go on for a week or more) and other days when the whole painting process is easy and satisfying with half the work?

Last Thursday was one of those days.  In the morning I painted the portrait below.  In the afternoon, after a great 'Nancy lunch' (picture the French countryside with a table set outdoors, wine, fresh home made soup, music and more, plus great art friends laughing and clowning around).  We all began clearing the table but I shouted 'Stop!', ran to the car for a larger panel and painted.  Others drew.

After about 90 minutes I had to leave but had gotten most of this finished.  It was easy.  There was no painting angst.  Like the portrait of the morning, my hand just took over and did it.  It felt like I was just an involved spectator.

So how does that happen?  And why can't I do that every day?  Is it some sort of mind set or did the leaves in my tea suddenly align?  I'm thinking that, when it happens, I've been able to get out of my own way, not tripping over my own artistic feet.  I just want to know the mental trickery to have it happen more often.

If you are an artist or musician, do you also have those kinds of days?

This is my friend Alec the Model Maker.  He works with architects, creating scale models of their buildings so clients can get a better feel for the structures.  He is an artist in his own right.  We are going to do a larger painting inside his shop while he works on his models.

Thanks for Looking.

I'll be back.... and don't forget!  Marker Drawing workshop on May 18th!  Go to the Winslow Art Center to sign up.

Friday, April 19, 2019

CB's Nuts and Using a 'Ruler'

Marker Workshop coming up.  Check it out below.

When Doing a Complicated Drawing.....
......I will often find a 'Ruler' to help simplify the process.

 My 'Ruler' is something I find in the scene that I can use as an anchor and guide to make things much easier to draw accurately.  This one was done at a peanut roaster in the area, CB's Nuts.

I first decide what the most difficult thing will be to draw, in this case the bicycle.  The first line, however, was the track the garage door runs in.  The placement of this line is done by visualizing on the page what the resulting drawing will look like and then putting it down with some care.  If you look closely at the bicycle you'll see where the line goes through the hand grip and handle bars and lower down through the frame.  Likely, without my pointing it out you didn't see it because subsequent lines and value tones make those 'errors' unnoticeable.

Then came the outside railing and the bicycle.  From that point it was much easier to line up all the other objects by seeing how they compared to the bicycle.  Where exactly was that table top?  Even with the bell on the handle bars.  Where is that scale?  Directly above the axle of the front wheel.

In "Eric's RV Service" I couldn't readily find a 'ruler'.

Instead, I made the shapes a kind of stand in for a 'ruler'.  I began with the hill in the background and the square front of the old RV sitting in the upper right corner of the drawing.  Then, the fence was used  to get over to the dark bush and house.  Once sketched in that whole section became the way to 'hang' the stuff closer to me.  It made it all easier.

I will be having a one day Marker Workshop at the Winslow Art Center on May 18th, 2019.  We have a lot of fun and learn a ton.  Your drawing confidence will greatly improve once you realize that you can create convincing forms quickly and easily even if the drawing is wonky.  I could easily point out some wonkiness in these two pieces but I find that those things disappear within the cumulative effect.

Anyway, give it a try.  You'll enjoy the process using a minimum of materials.  Click HERE to check it out.

I'll be back.  Thanks for looking.


Sunday, April 14, 2019

On Not Being Able to Draw

'Checkstand #4'

Every So Often I Get in a Total Artistic Funk.....
.....convincing myself that I've forgotten everything I might have known about painting or drawing.  It starts as a small voice but after a week or so of not doing any art it's pretty much a full out of tune chorus.

On one of those 'funk weeks' I began a Tuesday morning by having breakfast at Whole Foods.  The table I was at was maybe 15 feet from this checkout and after mentally battling the out of tune chorus for as long as I could stand I pulled out the pens and did this quick sketch.

I began with what I felt was the hardest part, the checkout person, looking for something I could visually grab on to.  That 'V' right behind her head where her pony tail was tied was the spot.  After all, anyone can draw a 'V'.  Then the top of her head and down her bangs, then on to the pony tail itself.....and I can't tell you what came next.

Ok, says the chorus, now reduced to a duet, but 'you just got lucky'.  So, for a slap down on the duet,  on the ferry to home I did these two charmers.

The naysayers have now been quiet for a bit so I can finally announce a Marker Workshop coming up on May 18th, 2019 at the Winslow Art Center.  Check it out HERE.

This is a painless one day class that will increase your feelings of artistic accomplishment as well as give you the skills to find sketching both faster and more enjoyable.  Marker Drawing greatly improved all my art after I stumbled on to this technique that uses just a pen and three toned markers.

Hope to see you there.  You get a Free Stress Reducing Sketchbook.  Did I say 'FREE'?

I'll be back with some more drawings.

Thanks for looking.