Friday, August 12, 2011

50 Starts - Start 9

Back on track here. I really enjoyed this one, it's a great scene with all kinds of reflected colors on all the surfaces, and more going on outside the window than I showed here. I might attempt it again as a larger painting.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

50 Starts - Start 8

I'm not in love with this one, but I'm going to blame it on working from a bad photo. Yeah, that's it.

Really it was a lack of focus; it was a busy day and I was painting in brief bits in between other work. I decided it was "done" when I ran out of time, not when it was really done.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

50 Starts - Start 7

This is my new favorite. I couldn't get that orange umbrella color as intense as it is in real life, but I'm happy with the balance of everything.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Flag Day

Flag Day
6" x 8"
oil on hardboard

I used the same reference photo from Start #3 to do this small painting of a cottage.

50 Starts - Start 6

I did the original sketch with a magenta Sharpie - which contributed to the illustrative, rather than painterly, look. A fun technique.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

50 Starts - Start 5

Much better. Still too much purple, but the relative values/temps are better.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

50 Starts - Start 4

I definitely got a little lost in the lavender color: it's not quite right but I wanted to move on. Someone wise once told me: "Fix your mistakes on the next painting." But I do like the background.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

50 Starts - Start 3

This is my favorite! I felt like I was starting to catch on and make some sense of what I'm doing. And I really like the tight composition. My purpose in that close framing was just to keep the painting manageable - it's only five inches square - but I like the composition for itself.

I'm not showing steps now, because I've moved on to oil, and the block-in wouldn't be dry enough for me to scan. But it's the same steps. I'm sketching with acrylic paint - magenta - so I don't have to wait for that part to dry.

- - - - See the finished painting here.

50 Starts - Start 2

This was very experimental - I used colored pencils, which are not a familiar medium for me at all. I have no technique with them, but as a color exercise it was great.

The same three steps: initial sketch; value/temperature; color correction and detail.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

50 starts - Start 1, Falls Lake

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I'm going back to basics and working on quick studies. I remember reading in one of Kevin MacPherson's books that an artist should do "100 starts" - to learn the habits of composition and value, without spending the time on a finished painting.

Of course I'm not that energetic, so I cut it in half to 50 Starts. I've got 50 pieces of heavy sketch paper cut into 5"x5" pieces, and am working my way through. To keep myself from becoming too detailed, I'm working in three stages: 1) the sketch, just a loose positioning of the scene; 2) a blocking in of value and temperature; 3) color adjustment and a few details.

Here's the first one I did - I used acrylic for the drying time, which had its good and bad points. My stock of acrylic paints is limited, so it took too much effort to mix the color I wanted. On the other hand, good practice in working from a limited palette.

Initial sketch in magenta using a round brush. Very loose.

Blocking in. I'm attempting a sort of modified Cape Cod School approach that I learned from Mike Rooney's workshops. Still struggling with that, but as you'll see when I post more of the Starts, I'm slowly making progress.

Color correction and just a little more detail. Have to practically tie my hand down to keep myself from futzing with it and adding little branches and stones and such.

Monday, August 1, 2011

What is "50 Starts"?

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Landscape painter Kevin MacPherson wrote that an artist should do "100 starts" — quick, not necessarily finished, paintings, to learn composition, value, and temperature. There's not much emphasis on detail or paint handling techniques, it's about getting a LOT of practice with the basics of painting.

I'm attempting "50 starts" because I'm lazy, and 100 paintings of any kind seems out of my reach.

He's right that it's one of the best things you can do to improve your painting skills immediately. Each one that I've done has been a direct path to better painting the next time I pick up a brush. 

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