Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Entertaining Hypotheses

Creation on Demand

Jonah Lehrer,
science writer and Editor-at-large for Seed Magazine writes about the research on brain activity and creativity. Specifically, it is the creativity of the improvising musicians, inhibiting their own inhibition, singing new melodies in the making to themselves....

Monday, April 27, 2009

Peter's Canyon Lake

8"x10" oil on linen on panel

This was painted on Friday the 24th. So, all the last five paintings posted were painted in one week. Surely a record for me and I didn't want to stop. (Dangerous!) I would have planted myself where the lake was a better shape for a better comp but there were a couple there with radios tuned to different talk-shows (why do people go to nature preserves and do that?!!) and I knew I couldn't handle it after the previous week at work--I had been losing it already with the traffic on the way there.

I would like to have a little more recession at the top of the trees, however they weren't really very far away. I would like the water to lay down towards the back end of the lake. It was an overcast day with moving clouds--the light on the water changed every moment.... And, I think the sky needs to be smoothed out. Of course, more red needed in tiny bits. Probably needs some other things, so feel free to tell me.

Weekend Workshop with Ray Roberts

April 18 & 19
Bear in mind that none of these are completely finished, but if I waited until that happened to post at all...well, who knows. These are the first that I wouldn't be ashamed to be out there with my name on them.

Saturday, the first day, we painted in the nature preserve in upper Laguna Canyon and had to hurry at the end of the day because the rangers were threatening to lock the gate on us--while we sere still inside! We only thought it was a hot day as we were lugging our gear up, around and back...very bright day.

Day 1: Number 1 [8"x10" oil on linen on panel]

I need to lighten the sky to closer to the value of the path to enhance the drama, and add a few highlights in the top of the scrub oaks, plus a few pops of red tones to pop what is already there--a tiny bit of detail in the foreground maybe.

Day 1: Number 2 [6"x8" oil on linen on panel]

This is a Vick-Ray Sergent-Roberts. My original composition with lots of Ray's painting on top of it. This was 5 minutes before park closing and the quickest way that Ray could get his points across was to grab my brush and go at it. I may leave this as is for an instructive example.

Sunday we painted at Casper's Park out Ortega Hwy for those in the know. Today was really hot, heat-wave, 98 degrees and we were in direct sun!

Day 2: Number 1 [8"x10" oil on linen on panel]

I need to rectify that tree blob on the lower right, but stopped as the paint was like vaseline and I couldn't do anything with it other than wiping it. Also needed to stop for lunch and to get out of the sun for a while--despite lots of water I had started to pant. A little more variety in the color of the tree on left would be good, plus a little bit of reds to set off a complementary scheme. I think I like this painting best of all (especially if I fix that tree). This is all mine with, maybe, a bit of the purplish brown at the treeline being Ray's. (William, I was the "chicken" standing right by Ray and working on this one when you called--could tell it was you by his half of the conversation.)

Day 2: Number 2 [8"x10" oil on linen on panel]

This is still Casper's Park, but from the shade. A few things need doing here. The sky may or may not be light enough, or maybe it is not enough variety (Ray kept telling me that I needed to get "the shock of the sky" into a painting before I could decide what to do with the rest of it). I need to finish making the field more golden-toned, especially on the right, add a few hints of branches and trunks where the late afternoon light reflected off of them, add a little more red highlights on the rim light on the trees and, maybe, add the tiny short posts at the end of the field right at the bright green band (but will leave that decision for last).

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I managed to get lucky with Marc Hansen...

Marc Hanson is doing a painting marathon this month and turning out four 5x7 PAs each and every day. He posts them for sale at around 8:00 pm PST, and you have to be fast, very, very fast to nab one when they are posted because they go in literally seconds. I managed to type fast enough to get this one after days of missing my timing. I like it for its abstractness, what I think of as a 'typical' MH palette of blue and orange, his trees with the mysterious smudgy sky-holes, and I love the composition on this. I think the division of space and movement is great! I am also fond of the fact that it is a high key piece with really only two values, and they are pretty close to one another as you can see. So, the color version is all playing warms against cools in the same value range to make it work. There is a lot to learn from this little painting.


This is a very busy time, work-wise (I hate grading bottomless piles of papers!!), so haven't had a chance to paint since I screwed up my last one--blech! Am doing a workshop with Ray Roberts this weekend in Laguna Beach, so have been preparing for that making sure that I have the materials and paint colors on his list, prepping panels of the linen on which I like to paint (and normally just tape to something--I figure that I can mount any one that turns out to be a keeper). I have been buying pads of it in large size that I cut up. Last weekend I actually bought a roll of the stuff as Jerry's Artarama had it on sale for an absurdly low price, and that is due to arrive on Friday. Thank goodness for income tax returns!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Golden Hour

WIP-8x6, oil on linen
So far this is a wip from yesterday afternoon at a nearby park. I have a tree 'thing' which I have had at least since HS. But trees and foliage are my nemesis. I know that this is a good start, but it took me 4 tries to get it. I began on another piece of cotton canvas I had (I'm thoroughly convinced at this point I don't like working on it), began, wiped part, redid, wiped more, tried laying in again and then abandoned that canvas. Took out my piece of linen that I had wiped and scrubbed from Friday and began again and finally got this. I was just to the point where I didn't know what to do next, when I hear someone with a stroller come up back of me--right up to me. I thought, "boy, this is going to be good" in my internal ironic voice. Decided Ihad to acknowledge the observer so as I turned she said "I love oil paintings." Already I knew this was different--she knew what it was. It turns out that she used to paint (now has a not very manageable 1 1/2 year old boy), used all the right words about value and warm vs cool, degree of abstraction.... So, it was a nice conversation and kept me from ruining what I had by painting before thinking. Waiting for the sun to reappear to go back and finish.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Saddleback Valley

6x8, oil on linen

Here is the current version of the painting I was kvetching about last post. There are aspects of it I maybe like and others not so much. By the time I repainted it several times on the same canvas it had gotten fairly mucky--I much prefer it fresh. At least my paint handling abilities are improving. A post-hoc analysis of the problems I was having: 1) Getting relative values correct from the start--actually they are largely matching reality, just not different enough to make a good painting so, overall, it is pretty dark. I will have to exaggerate the differences, 2) As I said before, I need to keep my eye on the scenery more than my palette and painting, and 3) On the first version, I hadn't gotten my center of interest established right off as I was waiting for the fog to burn off below to do so--hard to get things established correctly when major elements are missing at the time of layout. I intend to go back and begin again from the beginning, but sunshine and will to drive there haven't co-occured on days when I didn't have to work.
I scraped my painting of Balboa Island Mini Mart from last Friday. My perennial problem is that I am not getting the relative values correctly (comp wasn't great either--earlier arrivers had prime spots taken already). I was painting under both an umbrella and with a very wide-brimmed SPF-40 hat. Still, my pupils must have been cranked down so hard that when I look at the painting later at home, the values and colors are wa-a-y off. I'm not sure what to do. Got suggestions?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

My Two Pieces from Friday--Argh!!!

I am in a moderate-level funk at the moment. Friday, my painting group (SOCALPAPA) painted at Alta Laguna with views of Catalina on one side and the Saddleback Valley on the other. High fog socked in over the ocean, so all painted the hill and valley side. I am right at the point where as a piece starts developing I get really, really excited because it seems to be coming together, me being just very loose, going for it and doing the wild woman thing, unlike the careful, careful ladies. I think that I am just on the edge of making a significant breakthrough, but at some point that I can't quite pinpoint it all starts to fall apart, maybe quite badly. I continue beating the dead horse since being cautious isn't going to save it. It is either the catbox for it or being even bolder. Hm-m-m, guess which. Not terribly daunted, I start another one, doing better at the outset, but the light is changing over the valley as I knew it would and the inland fog is burning off. I can see the series of arcs of subdivision rooftops with dark areas in between; streets and grass. I am having trouble with separation now between the hill I am looking over the top of and is the darkest value. The valley is bathed in light and merges into the pale grey of the sky--light, light, light. I wipe off that portion and make it lighter still, blend for soft edges, but it isn't working. I wipe off my brushes and run them through the cleaner, every one that I own is dirty, and I stash my messes in the wet panel carrier and schlep all back to the car. I don't look at them until this afternoon. This is normal as I can never look at what I have done for a day or two. The one is as bad as I thought, maybe more. Greens, god I have trouble with greens, and the hills are very much so right at this moment. The other, I hope that I can still scrape the valley portion off (the paint is thick) and tackle that portion again tomorrow.

Friday night, trying to figure out the wrong fork in the road I don't have a clue. Part of me would like to ask for help but the other part realizes that since it is procedural learning I'll just have to flail my way through until I can make things work on some kind of consistent basis. I still don't have a clue, so spend the rest of the evening watching TV to get my mind off of it. Saturday morning I wake up and the first thing that comes to my conscious mind is that one of the problems likely is that at some point, such as when I start having trouble mixing a color, I start looking more at my palette and the painting than at what I am painting. How can it come off of the paintbrush correctly if I am not looking anymore? I know that this isn't all of it, but it is something. I wish I had more confidence heading into the second round. Maybe a picture tomorrow if it isn't too lunch upchucking....