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.
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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....

Saturday, March 21, 2009

William Wray Workshop in December 2008


For beejane, because she was curious:

William Wray held a one-day workshop in December of 2008 in conjunction with his show at the Bakersfield Museum of Art which I was able to attend. (It was a hot show by the way!) The workshop was hosted by the Bakersfield Art Association. I am posting what I did as several people have asked me about it. What he had us do was color notan studies, mine were each approximately 3" x 4" in size, evaluating and laying down the major values and colors in the scene, then modifying by warming the side where light strikes the subject and cooling the shadow side, adding additional details to complete the composition. We worked small and repeated the study of each subject until we felt that we were able to represent it to our satisfaction. We painted at one location in the morning and another one in the afternoon. Although the weather was cooler than I am used to which made my Holbein paint both mix and spread too much like refrigerated butter (argh!), I had a great time. Hand or back warmers are definately going to get stuck to the bottom of my pochade box next time.

I am very glad that I went back to look at and scan these today for posting as I am still trying to fully incorporate these principles in what I paint every time out of the box and I needed to be reminded of a few things.

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Show and Tell:

I have learned more about composition from photographer, Craig Tanner's, "Daily Critique" videos than in all the art classes I have taken, except perhaps Kay Mortenson's figure classes eons ago. Although the feature is aimed at photographers, all artists will find plenty of information there for them. Viewers of his videos send in their own photos in the hope that one of theirs will be selected for his in depth, "In a perfect world...", critiques. I used to subscribe to them from his old site, Radiant Vista, via iTunes podcasts, but that site is no more nor is the feed to the older podcasts currently available through Apple. However, Tanner now has a new site, The Mindful Eye, and the videos can be watched in higher resolution on the day posted for free registered membership, or lower resolution via Youtube indefinitely. Check out his other features on TME too.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Entertaining Hypotheses

"The purpose of art is not realism...the purpose of art is ... distortion"
See neurologist V.S. Ramachandran talk about Neurology and the Passion of Art on 8 Youtube video clips. He explains what he believes our brain's response to art is and why it is different to the response to photographs and realism. Each part is about 10 minutes long. These video clips were asembled by Lenny Bounds. There are other clips there, but Rama is wearing a beige suit with a red tie in the opening frame of each except the one with the Matisse.

Don't have time, watch part 4 only where where he talks about the purpose of art. What do you think???

This guy is my scientific hero--I lie down at his feet and whimper he is so brilliant. Actually, he is quite approachable and sociable, having met him at a conference and had a brief discussion with him on synaesthesia.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


View from Montage, 6x8, oil on linen

I've been painting for just under 5 mo. now, and I think that this is my first 'real' painting. That is, it is mostly painterly rather than paint-by-numberish. It was done 98% on location with tiny tweaks such as painting the foam and some highlights done at home. In the long run, I am aiming toward stronger and more direct, but this is where I am today.

Initial Post: Intended Structure Here

Pictures:
My variously brave or cowardly attempts to make paint behave on canvas the way I want it to.

Entertaining Hypotheses:
Whether they are or not for you, this is what I am doing. This is the "cognitive" portion of my blog.

Blather:
A kind of omnium gatherum of my own self-absorbed ponderings, rants, regrets and whines. The title tells you how seriously you should take this stuff.

Show & Tell:
Stuff (pictures, words, videos, etc.) I find elsewhere that I can't resist sharing.

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Blather:
My world and welcome to it:

I guess my motto for the week would be: Invest deeply; behave as if the work itself really means something and don't expect anyone else to provide you with the answers or the way.