Still Making Art

Life Gets Better as I Get Older


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New Day 23 – No Luck With Loose Painting

Here’s what’s happened on my canvas over the last few days.

Jan 30 progress

As you can probably tell, I was not successful with my plan to use a larger brush and create a looser looking painting. My mind just doesn’t seem able to go there. When I hold a larger brush, I cannot conceive of how I would make the greenery, with all it’s fine sprigs, with larger blobs of paint. I just can’t do it. In fact, I painted all the greenery with a 00 brush – the smallest I have. The back ground was done with an 8 which is just a tad larger than the brushes most oil painters use for the whole thing. I just don’t get it. But I know the great painters wouldn’t paint it this way.

Mostly I’m just getting in the colors and some shapes at this point. I’ll have lots of adjustments to make once I get more of the greenery filled in. I needed to get some of the black background done in order to gauge my colors and tone.

So far I’ve only wiped off a few spots, and am holding out hope that it will all come together in the end.

I’m a slow painter, and I have to get up and take a break after 20 minutes or so.

Here are my brushes.

my brushes

More to come.

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Day 11 – The End Draws Near

I’ve not photographed recently, so today’s blog shows many days of painting.

moving-right-along-12-18-16

I’ve begun the bottom cloth, and am mostly using a #8 filbert brush. I still resort to my small brush for edges and the like. There’s still a lot to do – shadows need deepening in places etc., but I can see that I’m nearing the end.

Here’s my color checker laminate to date. I still also use my color checker that I built according to Mark Carder’s design at DrawMixPaint. I find the plastic sometimes is too reflective to give me a good view.

my-color-blotches

I’m getting better and better at mixing the correct color and value without having to use the checker.

I expect to finish this this week. While I finish this up I will be thinking of what I will paint next. Usually by this time I would have settled on a subject, and even done the setting up and photographing. Even preparing the canvas. I like to be able to go straight into a new painting without having to do all the prep work. But that won’t happen this time. There’s too much going on this time of year to fit everything I want to do into the time I have.


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Day 7 – How I Paint

my-work-station

My work station and tools of the trade.

I thought it might be purposeful to describe a bit how I paint.

Right up front I want to give a lot of credit to a particular website (drawmixpaint.com) which is crammed full of free videos (and some you can purchase) covering every subject imaginable on how to paint in oils, from start to finish. Everything you need to know is free, and the artist teaching you is very skilled in teaching.  One of the things I was most grateful for in Mark Carder’s videos is the fact that it is all in real-time speed. There’s none of this sped up painting that leaves you thinking that you should be able to throw the paint on the canvas and get a good result. You get to see how it’s really done.

I watched every video, and built most of the tools and equipment suggested. His style suits me, but even if your style of painting differs, the information on the site is invaluable to a self taught painter like myself. (Perhaps I can’t really call myself self-taught).

Some of the important things you see in the photo above are:

  1. A black cloth covering the window to block the glare in my face
  2. A special daylight bulb overhead which allows true sight of the colors you are painting (that light behind the easel is not used for painting purposes)
  3. A high quality photo of my still-life sized to match the size of my panting
  4. Paint pallet of glass over brown paper (for ease in mixing correct colors)
  5. Color checkers – a hand built black one (drawmixpaint) and a small piece of lamination plastic on which I put dabs of paint to hold up against the photo for color matching
  6. Tilted brush holder
  7. Easel that allows perpendicular positioning of canvas (my stretcher bar has an eyelet through which I run string to tie if to the easel bar – keeps the painting from falling forward
  8. Other things I use are q-tips (the hard rounded type, not soft cotton) for removing small areas that need correcting)
  9. Small jar of Geneva Fine Art Brush Dip [you can also make this yourself – see drawmixpaint]

I don’t do everything according to the Carder method. For instance, I use very small brushes – primarily #2, #0, and occasionally a #6 or #8. I just don’t seem able to use the larger brushes well. Just my style, I guess. This does mean that I paint very slowly. Therefore, I am not able to complete an entire painting before the paint has already started to dry in places. This means that I paint from upper left to bottom right so that I am always painting wet into wet. This also means that I must be continually diligent to get the tones and values correct as I go. I don’t use any mediums that increase the drying time of the paint.

You can see in the photo above that I have laid in the background which is a quick process. Then I start at the upper left with the subject matter. I’ll do all the items on the table first, including the cloth up to the edge of the table. Then I’ll paint the rest of the cloth. I do this so that even if the table cloth has started to dry when I come back to finish it, the transition will be a natural one (in this case, light area to darker area).

I use my mahl stick almost the whole time. I don’t stand back and then reach forward and make a mark on the canvas. Sounds fun, but I need more control.

I do continually get up and stand back to see view the painting fro a distance. I find this absolutely crucial to getting it right. It’s also great fun, because it is when you step back that the magic appears.

I hope this is useful, or at least interesting.

I will talk about paints in the next entry.

 

 


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Day 2 – Perseverance

On day two following my intention to paint everyday, I began a small oil painting of a sweet little bird I spotted on my back door stoop. Photos taken though multiple door windows. 

Sweet bird

Sweet bird

Spots me behind the doors

Waiting for me to leave

Waiting for me to leave

It was searching for bugs (I suppose). The ground was mostly snow-covered and this was one of the few bare spots. I didn’t recognize the bird – looks like a warbler, perhaps the yellow-rumped or cape may. I thought it was probably migrating and had stopped for a rest.

Not finished yet, but not rined yet either

Not finished yet, but not ruined yet either

I didn’t finish this painting in one day, and in fact it still needs some finishing touches and better definition of the pine needles. I would have loved to paint the pipes and frozen drips, but that would have been a disaster in the making. I’m finding it stressful painting in oil, and I needed a break. I’m trying to persevere through the stress, hoping to come out the other end more confident. Sometimes I think this is silly – that it is better to do what comes with more ease. I find it especially difficult to paint thin detail lines in oil. I wonder if I haven’t found the right brushes yet [she said hopefully]. If anyone has some hints in this regard, I’d accept them gratefully.