Thursday, December 29, 2011

"Last Three Studio Painitings of 2011".

"Mystery of the Monarch" 24x20 oil on linen

These are my last three paintings for this year, 2011. This first painting, "Mystery of the Monarch",has been kicking around the studio for a few weeks. It was, as they say, done quickly over a period of time. It started out with a figure in it, and evolved to this......not sure if is a better solution than the one I started with, but I like it!

"Peaceful Summer Afternoon" 16x30 oil on linen is a larger version of a small painting I did last summer....."Summer Afternoon" 12x9 oil on linen. I always intended to do a larger one when I painted the study. There are always things that I am happier with in the studies, but overall, I think it translated fairly well into a bigger piece.

"Summer dreams and Smoked Mullet" 22x28 oil on linen

It will be interesting to see how this painting will be received. The customer base for this type of painting might not be as broad as some of my other subjects, but I think good bad or indifferent, I felt like I had to finish and not abandon this one. I consider it done, but who knows, I might tweak it some more in 2012. Happy New Year to all and I`ll see you next year.

"Recent end of the year oil studies 9x12 and under....for possible paintings in 2012"

9x6 oil on linen panel

10x8 oil on linen panel

9x12 oil on linen panel

8x12 oil on linen panel

6x9 oil on linen panel

"American Bison" 6x9 oil on linen panel

"At Creekside" 6x9 oil on linen

Just thought I would post a few things at the end of the year. I did not want anyone to think I was slacking on the job here! These are little, very quick sketches done in oil on little linen panels. I don't always do preliminary studies before starting a larger piece. If the idea is firmly resolved in my mind's eye, I will go ahead and start. There is no best way, or only one way to do this. Sometimes it is just fun to do the small ones, and if they are reasonably successful, they can be sold or given to friends, family etc. Most of these do not even have titles yet. Some may not make it to the larger format. Anyway, Happy New Year everyone.

Friday, December 2, 2011

"Plein Air Painting"~Style, or Process.

" Sunday Afternoon" 9x12 oil on linen

"Spanish Point" 12x16 oil on linen

Recent conversations about Plein Air painting have me thinking about what I believe is a misconception many have about plein air painting, and what it really is. I can remember when the term for studies, or paintings done outdoors was Field Sketches…….now Plein Air seems to be the universal term everyone uses for outdoor painting. Plein Air is actually a French expression which means, In the open air. Artists have been trying to capture the natural light outdoors since before the turn of the century…..1870s the Naturalist and the Impressionist were the strongest proponents, and passionately pursued this type of painting.

Some folks think that plein air is a style of painting. There may be some who teach plein air as a painting style. The problem with teaching any style is that, as beautiful as they might be, sometimes it might be difficult to distinguish one from the other. I personally feel that plein air painting is not a style of painting. It should not be thought of as a style, but the actual act of, or process, of painting out doors. Many artist do large compositions outdoors taking several days to complete…..this is still plein air painting. There almost always seems to be a freshness, or spontaneous immediacy to paintings done from life, but one does not have to necessarily change the look, or style of one’s paintings just because one is painting plein air, or outdoors. It really does not make sense to think of it differently. Of course, I am only speaking for myself. The only difference would be of time management, weather conditions, or anticipation of possible light changes.

I personally try to have my studio paintings, and my plein air paintings look as though one could not tell whether it was done in studio, or on location. That does not always happen of course, but then all paintings are not always successful…..but, it is my intent to treat them the same. I have some paintings that I think satisfy that criteria more than others, and after being set aside for sometime, it is difficult to tell which are plein air, or studio paintings. I am not a pure plein air painter, and I actually spend more time in the studio, but I know the value of painting from life, or outdoors, makes me a better studio painter. If nothing else, it teaches one to recognize the deficiency of photo reference. Cameras capture technical information wonderfully, but unfortunately cannot see what the human eye can see……when it comes to interpreting what one observes.

Obviously, the time restraint of light outdoors requires that one either work on a size that is manageable for one short session, or one has to come back to that location on subsequent days (with similar light) to complete a larger composition. I heard, or read, something about this subject once that made sense to me…..“when in the studio, pretend that you are on location and use your experience from painting from life, and some of that immediacy and freshness might be conveyed in the studio work“, or something to that effect. It is something that I am always conscious of, and certainly something to consider. I am sure there are many views on this subject, and it probably has been discussed and pondered with all views being valid. Being that I am a studio painter, and a plein air painter, this is just a personal observation that I wanted to share, and certainly does not necessarily reflect a universal attitude towards this subject.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"An Old Pastel Portrait of Pearl Buck"

I was digging through some flat files for something else, and came across this old pastel portrait of the author, Pearl Buck. I do not use pastel much, if ever anymore, but at one time before oil became my main medium of choice, I used pastels and watercolor almost exclusively. This is one of the few paintings with dry pigment that I painted that has survived. Many were destroyed, misplaced, sold or given away. This portrait was used as a fron'tis-piece for a book she authored. It escapes me at the moment, but it is fun to come across an old work that you can still look at, and not hate to much. Might just have to bring out the old dusty chalks, and give them a turn on the old easel to see if we can still get along! I`m sure the results will look significantly different now after all this time. This portrait is a late seventies or early eighties piece.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Three Day Workshop" Last week at the Venice Art Center.

This ended up being a great day at Spanish Point in Osprey Fl......although it started a little chilly. Here the small group is taking a lunch break in the sun on this beautiful chilly morning. The weather was definitely on our side this day. If all outdoor events were like this, no one would stay indoors. Great group of friends. It was a very enjoyable workshop

This is a view of the Guptill house right on the bay. The workshop painters are lined up facing the water. An absolutely beautiful spot to paint and bring workshops.....I have painted here often and enjoyed it every time. You can turn in any direction, and there is a painting to be captured.

The rest of my small crew!

This is the first day demo at the Art Center of the live model. Thanks Susan for the this phone shot.

This is the quick demo of a large Oak tree in front of the Guptill House looking towards the bay.

Thanks to the participants/friends that always make this fun and worthwhile.

Monday, November 7, 2011

"Ringling "Landscape Demo" Plus a couple more hours Friday.

"Fall Creek" 16x20 oil on linen

This is the same painting from the previous post .....with a couple more hours of studio work the following day. It can still use a tweak here and there, but as demos go, I do not dislike it as much as I could. When I`m totally finished with it to my satisfaction, I will let it sit for a bit, and then decide if it has what I wanted. Most of my demos never make it to a second day effort. I wipe out or paint over many demos.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

"Today`s Demo in My Figure Painting Class at Ringling"

My students in my figure painting class at Ringling College of Art and Design requested that I do a landscape demo today. I was not able to complete it, but this 16x20 oil on linen might be worth another hour or see if it can be saved. The class was a fun one for me, with a lot of relaxed chatter about this and that and things that have nothing to do with painting........and also good questions about painting and illustration etc. I believe these days are as important as the daily regiment of painting......not that what I have to say is so profound, but a lot is revealed by the questions that students ask. I will post the finished painting when I finish it.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

"Mountain Goat" Alla Prima (Direct painting) demo.

Step 1.

Step 2.

Step 3.

Step 4.

Step 5.

Step 6.

The completed painting, "Mountain Goat" 12x16 oil on linen panel.

This painting was executed in an Alla Prima method of direct painting. I painted this one afternoon in basically one long sitting. I started with the focal point, the head of the animal, working outward from there. I was trying to go for the finish immediately. This is how I paint outdoors when time is of the essence. Plein air painting is a great exercise in training one to work quickly while using the immediacy of the moment to ones advantage. Although this is a studio study, it hopefully has enough spontaneity, and freshness to keep it interesting, while still describing the form with some suggested detail.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

"New paintings from the studio"

"Saturday Afternoon Nap" 8x12 oil on panel

This a quick little study of my beautiful granddaughter napping on the couch. I took some good reference shots of this, so it might just translate into something large. We`ll see how that goes. I like the the look of immediacy in this little sketch.

"A Mountain Goat" 12x16 oil on linen

Except for the horse subjects that I paint, I do not paint wildlife on a regular basis. I do like doing wildlife, but the subject is not readily accessibly to me, except for the tropical birds I see locally. This guy perched on rocks looks like he is surveying his territory. I`m sure with the exception of Mountain lions, he is king of the hill.

"The Old Red Barn" 9x12 oil on linen panel

This little 9x12 painting is an afternoon effort in my studio from reference taken on a painting trip a couple of years ago. I like to revisit old reference. Occasionally, a fresh eye on something that I might have been passed over is good. Most of the time there was good reason for passing over it. I think in this case, for myself, this was a fun little study.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"Scribbling in the Margins"

The concept of sketch books was introduced to me in College. Prior to that, all my scribbling, drawings, doodles and sketches were done in the margins of my class notes, and on a freezer paper that my parents used to wrap meat for the old coffin style lift top freezer. The paper was a great drawing surface. It had one wax side, and the other was smooth.......but not slippery. My brother and I filled many of these with drawings that were eventually, and unfortunately all thrown out. It would be fun to have some of those old......and I mean old drawings now. My parents were working folks, and really never placed to much value on that sort of thing. I guess they thought it was just a silly way for children to amuse themselves.

I think sketch books have an important place in developing better draftsmanship and keeping the observation skills honed. Most artist, including myself, do not draw, or use the sketchbook as much as they did in school, or at other times in their careers. An artist is of course, always drawing when painting, but the pure drawing process is sometimes neglected. One can easily ignore this because of being consumed by other things that seem to be more important at the time. Like anything else, the more one practices, the more proficient one becomes at their craft. Same with drawing and painting. Thing that surprises me is how many students do not seem to carry a sketchbook. Many do, and usually they are filled with beautiful drawings, concepts for projects, etc. One would think that it would almost be something that every art school required.

I only have three or four sketchbooks lying around, and I draw in them occasionally when I am sitting in front of a TV program that is not demanding my complete attention. I pick up a magazine and draw images I see, or draw from memory. Sometimes, I sketch from the model in classes along with my students. These are always quick, almost gesture type sketches, that usually never have a high degree of finish. I thought it might be fun, and of possible interest to post a few of these pages.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"Artists Painting Eclectic Subject Matter, and the consequences".......if any!

I have had several conversations recently with artists friends and students about painters, like myself, who paint an array of subject matter. I find it interesting that some artists are drawn to a varied, and very eclectic subject matter, while others seem perfectly satisfied to paint only one subject again and again.

I know the consequences of not sticking to one thing that an audience can identify an artist with, can possibly make it difficult to become known broadly for painting only one subject. I personally feel that the price one pays is certainly worth me personally. Of course, I can only speak for myself when it comes to this matter. It would be maddening for me to have to get up every day, and know that the only thing one could paint was a subject that one was known for doing, and demanded by one's gallery representation, or matter how much the artist enjoyed doing that particular subject. I guess if I were at a different time in my career, and had larger financial commitments than I presently have, my thinking on this might possibly be different.......maybe! There will always be those who want to categorize artists by the subjects they paint. Unfortunately, to a great degree, the fine art market is subject driven. I still believe and hope that good painting is appreciated by those who recognize it, no matter what the subject is.

I think many artists paint what they are comfortable painting. Most do not go out of their comfort zone regularly. Stepping out of that comfort area is something I like, and wish I were even bolder when it comes to trying new things. I like to think that I do to some extent, but it is a relative thing. One of my favorite contemporary painters, Quang Ho, is a great example. He is a great painter, and also a fearless experimenter. He not only paints a varied subject, but he takes it further by continuing to experiment with his work, as it relates ot paint application and things of that nature. He successfully does this while remaining a traditional, representational painter. I hope that I never lose that desire to shake it up every now and then. This is my main reason for not painting only one subject. I think by being interested in a variety of subjects, it possibly keeps one fresh and keeps one from relying to much on tried and proven solutions. To some degree, one must do what they know will get the job done, but one does not want it to become familiar to the point of it being a formula.

The collection of paintings in the shot of my studio shown above, shows a variety of painting subjects.....some in frames, some not totally complete, but I think it represents what I am suggesting. The "Smoked Mullet" painting to the right is one of these "Other Subjects". It is almost complete. I have never painted this type of painting subject before, and I'm not sure how it will be recieved. It interested me, so I painted it. I still think it is an interesting subject, and I might explore it further. Whether or not it is a great painting is not the question. The process of getting it on canvas, and out of your system is sometimes the answer to the question. The process of painting, for me, is every bit as important as seeing the finished product. Many times it feels like it is a wasted effort, but I have always felt that something is gained, or learned with every painting session........if the artist is paying attention, and not just operating on auto pilot.

I think that temperament and personality has as much to do with this as it does with the style of painting artists choose to use to express themselves. I guess that is a related topic for another time.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"Studio Palette Setup and Brushes"

Someone requested that I post my studio palette setup, which is the same arrangement that I use whether I am inside, or outdoors on location. This is an open palette, even though I do not use all of these colors, I always put them out. My use of color is much more limited. I have always used this palette, and have a degree of comfort with it. I do occasionally introduce new colors, or experiment with a color that is not part of my tradional palette.

Mediums are another thing that I do experiment with somewhat, but always seem to return to the Ralph Mayer's formula of (one part stand oil, one part damar and five parts oderless mineral spirits). That is my go to medium if am in doubt, but I do like to shake it up every now and then by trying something different. Usually the result is not decernable from one to the other. It satisfies my urges to step outside of that comfort zone. The solvent or brush cleaner during my painting process is oderless mineral spirits ( Gamsol, or Turpenoid).

I use bristle and sable/mongoose brushes of all sizes. One has to experiment and play around with brushes to find what they are comfortable with, and what will make the statement they are intending to make. Some artists use only bristles to apply oil, and that is fine. I feel that for me personally, since introducing soft brushes some years ago, I found that contrary to some popular belief, one can doposite as much or possibly more paint with one of the sable/mongoose type brushes as they can with the Bristle brushes. Again this has to be a personal choice. No one can make that choice for someone else.

My palette is laid out from left to right as follows: Titanium White, Cad Yellow Pale, Cad Yellow or Cad Yellow medium, Cad Yellow Deep, Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, Cad Red, Permanent Alixarin Crimson, Terra Rosa and or Indian Red, Burnt Sienna, Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Blue Deep, Cerulean Blue (optional or sometimes), Viridian, Paynes Grey.

This is the way I set things up for myself. It is not the only way, or necessarily the best way. There are many ways to achieve the same result. You might want to try it and possibly tweak it to suit yourself. Anyway, there it is and hopefully it with be of help, and useful to someone.

Monday, September 5, 2011

"Big Boy" and "Big Birch", Small studies with big names.

This is "Big Boy", a carriage horse that I saw this summer on my Maine trip. This is small head study. I did a small painting of the horse and carriage, but I think this might be worth attempting a large head portrait of this big guy. He has a great looking head.

"Big Birch" is a place in one of the many Maine parks near the coast. If one continued walking through these trees, one would end up in the Atlantic Ocean.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Ringling Painting Class demos-Thursday Sept 1st

I tried counting the visible brushstrokes in this head demo, and I lost count somewhere over a hundred. It would be interesting to intentionally see how few brush strokes it might take to do a comprehensive head study. That was not my intention here. That might be worth attempting some time.

These two 12x16 demos were done in my two and half hour Figure painting class at Ringling College of Art and Design Last Thursday. The exercise was to show a couple of different approaches to achieving the same result, by beginning in a different way. These are very quick, with probably more talking than painting. These are certainly not complete, but posted because they might be of interest to someone.