Tuesday, November 24, 2015

“Experimental Studies on Canson Paper”


I apologize for being delinquent in blogging lately….one thing and another…..eye surgeries, etc.  A very busy time of year….I will try to do better in future….but, I kept my brushes wet this past Sunday testing some paper samples I received with my art supply purchase last week.  I never paint on anything but linen anymore, when doing paintings that might end up in the retail gallery situation…..but, I am certainly not opposed to experimenting on other surfaces, particularly when doing studies and sketches that might be preliminary work for larger pieces!
These small 5x8 paper samples were surprisingly easy and fun to apply oil to……particularly the textured paper that is suggested for acrylics.  It has a texture that mimics a fine Linen or canvas surface.  These samples are made by Canson.  Some of the samples are drawing/sketching paper….one is a watercolor paper, one is a plate surface, etc.  Below are a three small studies I did on these papers.  I’m sure the rules of archival life of paper is broken here without sizing with a gesso product.....when painting with oil….but, they are just studies/demos, and have little value.....except for the practice and learning gained by doing these little studies.  Enjoy!.....and, thanks for listening to my ramblings.
Hodges Soileau OPA  
 2.  Only two steps here, because it happened rather quickly.....didn't really have time to get to many in between steps....I guess that's not a bad thing!
3.  Mostly palette knife scrapings....much can be learned about what paint is capable of by just letting it go....not staying in one's comfort zone.  Palette knife paintings can be interesting surfaces, as long as they don't look like plastered walls....in my opinion, it generally should be used judiciously.
4.  Not a drop dead likeness, but a quick little self study on that linen textured Canson paper.   
5.  This one below was not painted on paper.....but, it was painted at the same time! 

Friday, September 18, 2015

”Original book cover art from 1980’s & 1990’s….out of storage and into the classroom”

 It’s that time of year again!  Each year during my fall semester Figure painting classes, I always bring in some old illustrations from my time as an illustrator.  I don’t know how relevant these are today, but the students seem to enjoy seeing some of the things I did during my illustration career.  Most of these images are from two series I was involved in over a period that covered the eighties and early nineties!  This is only a portion of the images created during that period!  They were for the most part, images created for book covers.  I always feel a bit of fatigue when I see them spread out once a year, and think of all the hours spent creating these images…..but, I remember it as a fun blur! 
During the breaks from painting the live model, students paw through these and some have questions about time schedules/deadlines, technique, sizes, etc.  The reason these are useful, in my opinion, is because of what this class is really about…..depicting the human form in a representational manner, and interpreting the live model on a daily basis from observation.  It’s not so much about learning how to paint, as it is learning how to see….and raising one’s observation skills, as they relate to shape, value, edges, and temperature of color.

Below are a few shots of the paintings I brought in and put up.  My camera was on the blink that day…..so, thanks to Robin Cody for taking and sending these to me.  Robin is a wonderful, highly thought of teacher at Ringling College of Art and Design!

Again, thanks for listening to my Cajun ramblings!

Hodges Soileau   OPA 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Rediscovered drawings, painted illustrations, and sketches from the 1980’s and early 90’s

This summer, I was reunited with some of my old artwork in the form of drawings, sketches and painted illustrations that have been in storage for the past twenty years.  I was pleasantly surprised at how after all this time some of the paintings still held up, and were surprisingly still satisfying to me personally.  The subject is obviously different from what I presently paint, but the application of the paint is very similar (still) to what I do today….and principals were, and are still the same.   Of course, this leads to the question …..What am I going to do with all of this stuff?  Is there possibly a market for some of these? 

When we left Ct. to move south in the mid nineties, I filled a one and a half Ton dump truck with old illustrations and paintings that filled the loft over my garage/barn and part of our attic.  I kept quite a few things from a couple of series….and yes the storage problem is still large.  I have a couple of ideas that I will eventually try, but in the mean time, I bring them to my painting classes for the illustration students to poke through every year in the spring semester.  This is just a sampling of that collection….I hope you enjoy looking at some of these old images…..and, until next time, thanks for tuning in to my Cajun ramblings!
Hodges Soileau  OPA   

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

"The Humble Farmer's Cow", Step by step demo!

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

Step 5

Step 6

Step 7- Finished painting
"The Humble Farmer's Cow", 16x20 oil on linen panel

This painting is a result of a visit to a unique farm in Maine near Port Clyde called "The Humble Farmer".  A few of us stopped by for what was for me, basically a photo shoot.  I got some pretty good reference of these white face cattle and decided to do one immediately while it was fresh in my memory!  I hope you enjoy the seven stage demonstration.  Until the next post, thanks for listening to my ramblings!
Hodges Soileau   OPA

Monday, August 3, 2015

2015 Summer trip to Maine!

We just returned last week from another great summer trip to Maine.  This year we spent three weeks relaxing and doing a little painting.  I didn’t paint as many days this year as I did last year, or previous years….more hanging out, and enjoying the cool weather.  We stayed at Nanatuck house in Port Clyde for two weeks, and the rest of the time in the Portland area.  It was great hanging out with great artists friends….old and new! 

As much fun as it is to get away for a while, and in spite of returning to this awful heat….it’s always good to get home, and routine.  I basically don’t like the road, and living out of a suitcase.  I can only do that for short periods of time.  Some folks stay on the road, and travel from one thing/event to the next….just not my favorite thing!  The dislike for this type of living probably started when I was a teenager working in the summer on a couple of suitcase jobs (away jobs) in the oil fields of Louisiana….yes, that’ll do it! 

These shots below were taken by Marilyn of me painting a few of the locations around Port Clyde!  Until my next post, thanks for listening to my ramblings!

Hodges Soileau  OPA

Painting on Co Op Rd in Port Clyde

My 12x16 Field Study

Painting the Marshall Pt. Lighthouse 

Painting a foggy morning painting

Anchor at the Lighthouse

One of several Lobster dinners we enjoyed

Painting a tug in for repairs in Rockland

Tide going out in Tennants Harbor

Monday, June 8, 2015

"Practicing Your Craft".

"Yet Untitled", 16x20 oil on linen panel.

I had an interesting conversation with a student recently, which seems to be a re-occurring one, about painting and how difficult it is to do…..and also, how difficult it is to improve!
I have been doing this for so many years, and it is still difficult on some days….and I wonder how that can be if one paints nearly every day…..why on some days it works better than other days.  The answer to this, in my opinion, is ultimately having enough practice of the craft under one’s belt to at least on the worst day, to be able do a good painting…..maybe not your best effort, but a good painting.  It’s similar to playing a round of golf (to use a sports metaphor)……if you play once every six months, your chances of shooting a low score are diminished….but, if you practice often and play regularly, your opportunity of shooting a low score is definitely increased….ask most avid golfers! 
Mindless practice is not very useful….in my opinion.  What I mean by that is, if you’re painting and paying attention to what is working and what is not, you know what you need to keep, and what to avoid in your process.  If it hurts when you do that, don’t do that again….if it feels good, or looks good when you do that, then do that again.  For instance, it is fun to see what kind of marks a particular brush or painting tool will make.  That kind of practice is useful….I see many students who never change the way they hold a brush, and make the same type of marks for every inch of the surface of their painting, no matter what the subject.  This leads to a possibly less interesting surface as well as redundant looking marks that may not have the appropriate tactile quality of the image being painted….also, the most important thing in your practice should be the principals of painting….practice good shapes, value, edges, and proper temperature of color!

When I first started painting, I used to do little head study warm-ups off the top of my head….just for the practice of manipulating the brush, and seeing what worked and what didn’t.  I used to toss them in the trash can  when finished….until one day an old friend, who rented the studio next to me, asked if he could have that little head that was laying face up in my trash can….”of course, I said!”  He comes back with it framed nicely a couple of weeks later….and, from then on I started keeping them….I have bags of them in my storage.  They have little value monetarily because of their size….but, they are valuable to me because of what I learned in the process of painting them…..also, they make nice little give away gifts.  The point I’m trying to make is that all that practice has helped me work out some of the issues with brush/paint application…..not that my use of paint and brush is so wonderful….but, imagine how inadequate it might be without  the practice.  This kind of practice touches on experimentation….which is a relative term for artists.  Some artist really push the envelope when it comes to being fearless experimenters…..others take baby steps and it is a more subtle process….I fit into the latter most of the time. 

This topic covers another comment made by a student in reference to admiring a particular painting by one of their favorite artist……”how can I be this good right now?”  My answer to this twenty year old student was, “There is no such animal….unless you are some kind of prodigy…. you must put in your time and practice!”  This of course, is not the most popular answer that one can give an impatient young artist!
I notice that in the beginning, the improvement plateaus were greater.  Then, as one acquires a modicum of skills….the little improvement increments get smaller and smaller, until they are so subtle and personal, that they might not be discernible to others. 
These comments are sort of a general answer that I gave this student, and are my opinions on this subject….but, do not necessarily reflect any universal opinion about this. Until next time, thanks for listening to my ramblings!
Hodges Soileau  OPA


Splashes of Color, 16x20 oil on linen panel

The challenge in this painting for me was to convey the good feeling I have when I am around these old docks that are neglected, weathered and tattered…..but still being used!  It is not a chore, but certainly a challenge to take the chaotic scene and make it inviting, or palatable….so, one might want to spend some time there.  I have always been attracted to these types of less than perfect subjects.  I edited some things and added a few gulls that are common to this type of situation.  I will let it sit for a while and take another look with a fresh eye….later.

“Quiet Day at the Docks”, 16x20, oil on linen Panel

I like the little story that’s suggested in this painting…..even though there isn’t a visible sign of a figure, or person in the painting, the pickup truck signifies a human presence….any additional narrative can be imagined!  All good paintings have some kind of suggested story…..whether it is about the light….or lack of it….what’s left out of the painting to be imagined by the viewer, etc…..and hopefully a strong composition that can also be helpful to the narrative!  I come from an illustration back ground, so a suggested story is appealing to me as an artist!
"The Happy Hen", 12x16 oil on linen panel