Still Making Art

Life Gets Better as I Get Older


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Day 18 – A Lot of Painting and a Lot of Wiping Off

Whew! I did a lot of painting these past few days. I have Tuesdays and Wednesdays off from work. I find having a nice stretch of free time is my best time for painting. So…I worked away.

This was a difficult section for me. I often find that the shadows on cloth are the hardest for me to get the color and the tone right. I did a ton of wiping off and doing over, and lots of using my color checker (see drawmixpaint.com). Usually I’m off because my tone is way too light. And for a cloth that’s basically yellow, the dark shadows are primarily green! And..there’s a lot of subtle colors based on the cool light that’s coming in from the left. In the end I solved my problem when I realized I needed a touch of veridian. The white looks off because the rest of the painting isn’t there yet. Of course I could end up having to tone it down – you never really know if it right until you get the neighboring paint down. But I think I’ve got the hardest bits done now.

FYI – I’ve opened a very basic website – primarily just a gallery – which is, if you are interested: julietbellart.com.

Here’s my progress to date.

Two Candles - 5-3-17

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Day 13 – Starting The First Painting of 2017

With Monday a holiday, I have 4 days free before I have to head off to my day job. Bliss! So I’ve wasted no time in starting a new painting.

First I set up a still life to my liking. This usually takes me a whole day. I built two still lifes before settling on the third. It takes me a long time getting things right, and as I’ve mentioned before, I have to really like the setup, or I’ll end up abandoning the painting.

img_7436-to-paint-sm-for-blog

Here’s what I settled on.

What usually ends up working is that I’ll find an object – in this case it was the cookie jar. Then I look at it to see what other objects and colors go with it. In this case it was blues, purples, browns, and yellows.

I knew I had a fabric that would work with it – I’ve used it before. Then I looked around outside to see what might be there of use, and I ended up with the dry goldenrod. This fall I had saved a bag of leaves so I pulled that out and found a bunch that seemed suitable. Next, I went to the store for the grapes. I also looked for other foods and I picked the nuts, the star fruit, and a coconut (which I didn’t use). I found the cranberry candles at a local shop, and then spotted the cattails at the roadside as I drove home. I parked the car and clambered down the icy embankment and managed to break off two stems. (Not as easy as one would think.) Then home I went with my treasures to set up a pleasing still life.

After much rearranging and fooling with the lights, I finally got an image that I excites me enough to want to paint it.

Then I had to decide on the size, and this is usually determined by the size of stretches I have that are the proper ratio for the image. In this case I’ve settled on 24 x 16. I often end up choosing non traditional sizes which then requires me to build my own frame –  if I feel a frame is the way to go.

Then comes all the tedious bits of stretching and preparing the canvas, and then sketching the image.

I am painting on linen, and though I prefer my own primed linen to the oil primed linen I have, in the interests of getting going, I stretched the pre-primed linen this time. I find the oil primed linen is very slick to paint on, and it took some getting used to. The first time I used it I was convinced the paint was never going to stick to the surface, but it did, and I don’t worry about that anymore. But still, I prefer the gessoed surface as it has more tooth.

But hey! I have it, and it wasn’t cheap, so I need to use it.

First I put on a coat of quick drying under-painting. (See DrawMixPaint.com for the formula.) And over that I sketch in the design. (See section of sketch below.)

sketch

I personally prefer a pretty detailed sketch. I should have done an oil transfer for the sketch, but to be honest, I forgot to do this. The last time I did an oil transfer, it was summer and humid. The transfer paper all stuck to the canvas, and it was a big mess which I had to wipe off with turpentine and start all over. So I transferred the image using graphite paper and then drew over the graphite with sepia permanent ink. Then I wiped the whole thing with turpentine to remove the graphite.

Then I fastened two screw-eyes into the stretcher at the back and tied the canvas to the cross-board on my easel so the thing won’t fall off. Since I had already cleaned off my palette after finishing the earlier painting, I am then all set to begin painting.

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Here’s my setup. And yes, that’s a highchair from the days when my grandkids were small.

And here’s what I managed to do today.

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There’s a long way to go!


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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 4 – Carder Light Box and A Watercolor Sketch

I did some exploring into just who put out the DrawMixPaint videos that I’ve been watching. Interestingly there’s no self promotion in any of the them. I went to the website to find the artist’s name, and then had to google to find out more. Turns out my instincts were good – this artist, Mark Carder will be known to many of you. I’ll let you do your own googling. But when I have a link page, he’ll be right at the top.

My Carder Method shadow box

My Carder Method shadow box

I spent this week building the shadow box he suggests, plus the box for the lamp that goes on top. I had to modify it to sit on my tape cutting table (which happens to be exactly the 36″ he recommends for my height). I also had to do a major clean up of my tiny studio. I removed all my saw making equipment and materials which gave me enough room to create the proper placement of the still-life box and easel, plus overhead light. 

I’m waiting for my 5000k bulbs to arrive, at which point I will wire my lamp box and attach the other to the overhead position on my ceiling. Meanwhile I’ll make my paint checker and holder, and a proportional gizmo – all from the free DrawMixPaint videos. I also need to do some scavenging to find interesting platforms for my still life. In the photo you can see I just plunked my silver baby cup in there on the base that I placed where the platform for the still life I will paint will go. In the painting video mentioned in the earlier blog is of a similar cup. So this might just be my first use of the box.

My workroom is only  8′ high, so it’s all a little close. I’ll have to figure out a clever way to cover the windows and still allow ventilation. Otherwise I’ll be found unconscious at my easel some day – if I’m lucky.

So other than painting the light box [does this count?], I’ve done no other painting this week. But to carry on bringing this blog to present day, after the tape painting, I procrastinated a little more with a pen and ink, watercolor, sketch. Here it is. You can see the pencil sketch in the header for this blog.

My watercolor brushes

My watercolor brushes


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Day 3 – Procrastination

I’ve discovered some fabulous oil painting videos on YouTube. I’ve been watching quite a few over the last months, but this is the first video that is not speeded up. The difference is ENORMOUS. I was getting the impression that painting was an exercise in precise intuitive paint throwing.  Seriously, I’ve been trying to paint by magically flicking the brush on the canvas in just the right way to make a perfect stroke – as if what I needed was to develop a better instinct and less left brain activity. But this video shows just exactly how careful one (or he anyway) must be if one is to produce a painting that is realistic. He also teaches so clearly how to get the right tone and value – it’s just awesome how clear it has become. So I recommend all of this fellow’s videos.  His YouTube ID is DrawMixPaint
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=sRewRXX7H6s
His website is: http://www.drawmixpaint.com/

I send him a big thank you for making this instruction free for everyone.

And oh yes – he also lists the tools he uses including the brushes. Turns out I’ve been using flat brushes when filbert might be just what I need.
 
And now for something not in oil.
 
After struggling with the little bird painting, I needed a break. So I took several weeks off and shifted to acrylics and made a tape painting – [I’m still catching up to the present day in this blog]. This is my father’s masking tape method. But I work out the design on paper first. My father does his design in his head as he goes.
 
First the whole canvas is covered with the design – in masking tape.

The design in tape is on and painting the background has begun

The design in tape is on and painting the background has begun

Then the background is painted.

What a mess! Finding the foreground tape pieces is not easy

What a mess! Finding the foreground tape pieces is not easy

After that come a long slow process of removing tape piece by  piece and painting the exposed canvas. Unlike my father, I didn’t use shading in painting the leaves and blossoms, so it looks like a flat fabric design.

Ah...here comes the color

Ah…here comes the color

Starting to look like it might be okay

Starting to look like it might be okay

 It’s not a very complex painting but I like it. And it was fun.

Plumbago - finished and ready to frame

Plumbago – 17 x 21- finished and ready to frame

It is only at the end that one knows whether one has a disaster or something pleasing.