Saturday, September 29, 2012

Ruakaka Beach

8" x 10" oil on hardboard

This is my painting from Richard Robinson's excellent tutorial DVD. I'll tell you what, it's super-hard painting along with a lesson. I remember years ago when I tried to paint with Bob Ross, and it was infuriating and frustrating—he made it look SO EASY, and I just made a horrible mess.

However, I've learned some things from those days, one of which is that it takes some practice to learn new things. So what I'm doing is: Watch the DVD. Follow along with Richard and try to do what he's doing. Watch the DVD again. Do a new painting, possibly with a different reference photo, on my own.

One of the coolest things in his tutorial is that he mixes ALL the paint beforehand. He fills up his palette with the dark, medium, and light values for each of the main areas of the scene (e.g., sky, clouds, distant hills, water, etc.) There's a lot to be said for that technique: you can evaluate the value and temperature right there next to each other, and see the color scheme for the entire finished painting at once.

Because this is from a tutorial, using someone else's photo reference and technique, I'm starting the bidding very low on the DPW auction.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

On the Patio

9" x 12", oil on canvas panel

This painting has taken me a ridiculous amount of time to complete. It's been on my easel for at least a week, maybe two.

You can view it and bid on it at DPW.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Warmed up

The original. It wasn't quite so purpley in real life,
this is a hard one to get a good scan of.
This is the second painting I've warmed up with a thin glaze, in this case Cad Red and Liquin. Plus some turquoise in the sky and on the distant trees.

One of the reasons the original painting was striking was the cool, if not cold, shadows, and the white sky — not unlike the zombie crape myrtle painting. But ultimately I think it was very unattractive. "Striking" isn't always good.

I think it's a big improvement. You can view/purchase the new improved "Yellow Flowers" on DPW.

And the revised version looks a little
muddier than in real life...
the yellow flowers are as bright as in the original.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I'm finally in a museum

Yeah, I don't have time to paint, but I had time to do this. I think I stole the idea from Gringo.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Arrrrr, 'tis Talk Like a Pirate Day!

You can google it :)

So, yes I know I haven't posted in forever. I'm taking three classes at once now, and it's definitely eating into my free time, as well as some projects in my "real life" as a web/graphic designer. I'm delighted to have the work; I really enjoy working with small businesses, it's very rewarding. Also a visit from some out-of-state and out-of-the-country friends, which has been delightful.

I have a painting on my easel that's going very slowly. I'm working from some photo reference, and partly just from my imagination, and that's difficult for me. I don't have much imagination :-) I do better painting what's in front of me.  But I've by no means disappeared, just haven't had the opportunity to paint as much as I'd like.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Crape Myrtles revisited, aka Zombie Painting

original, 18" x 11", oil on canvas
There's something I don't quite love about this painting. On the one hand I am/was super thrilled with the way the crape myrtle itself turned out — all that lovely red bark. And I really like the elegant, misty trees in the background.

It's been hanging in my living room for a few months, and finally it struck me that there's just too much white in it. It looks chalky. I know some painters rarely use white, and now I begin to see why. In the 16 months since I painted this, I've come to rely on it less and less. Mostly I use white in shadows now, which may seem a little contradictory, but sometimes I like the way it looks with that smoothed-out color. The white actually grays the shadows.

Anyway, I decided this painting looked lifeless and zombie-like. ZOMBIE PAINTING.

(Which, btw, there's an artist on DPW who does very original zombie paintings, if you're interested).

improved version (same size :-)
Accordingly, I did some warm washes over the few sunlit areas with permanent yellow and yellow ochre — extremely thinned with mineral spirits so it didn't become too opaque — and a wash of alizarin crimson on some of the cooler areas. It almost looks like a different painting, doesn't it? But that's all I did.

That and take a photo that's not blurred :-)

I like it. Perhaps it lacks some of the impact of the original, but it's a more attractive painting overall, and I think the foreground crape myrtles stand out better from the background now.

You can view and buy the new improved Spring Crape Myrtles here.    

Monday, September 10, 2012

Shady Bench

7" x 5"
oil on hardboard
Click here to purchase

A shady spot in the arboretum. You might recognize the bench, I've painted it before. Not this particular spot, but they have these sprinkled throughout the grounds.

It's good to get back to a small format and be able to finish a painting within one day. Not that I'm giving up the larger canvasses! 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Painting Workshops


What to expect:

Plein air workshops run about 5 hours. We'll meet at the location*. You can leave your gear in your car, because I will first do a demo, running about 1 hour. Then you'll scout a location in the area, get your gear, and set up your easel. We'll paint for about an hour, and I'll periodically check in on everyone and answer questions/give advice. We'll take a break and gather to assess progress and critique what we've done so far (and probably eat!). We'll paint for another 45 minutes to an hour, then break again to review our work. With the remaining 30 minutes or so you can make last finishing touches on your painting, and we'll finish up with a brief question/answer session.

*All locations will have restrooms and a parking lot reasonably close to the scenic areas.

What you'll need:

• An easel. There are many varieties of easel at different price ranges.  Jerry's Artarama has a great selection.
Be aware that there isn't much seating available in plein air locations; you will either stand at your easel or you'll need to bring a chair. Just make sure you can carry whatever you bring.
These cost about $20.
Not a good long-term solution,
but it will work in a pinch.
A French easel, designed for plein air.
Very portable and lightweight;
priced between $80 and $400.
My easel / paintbox.
Ask for details if interested.

• A paintbox or palette, it it's not built in to your easel. You can also use the disposable palette pads.

• Paint. These are the paints I use. You don't have to use exactly what I have, but make sure you've got the primary colors plus white. Note that I paint in oils. You can use acrylics if you prefer, because the principles of painting are the same, but I can't offer much guidance for paint-specific issues with acrylic.

• Brushes and palette knives. My favorite brush is Silver Bristlon flat, in sizes #2, #4, and #6. You might also want a liner brush for fine work.

• Medium such as mineral spirits, if you use it. I use Liquin, a fast-drying medium. Make sure they are in plastic or metal containers; most parks don't allow glass.

• Either turpentine or vegetable oil for cleaning your brushes. No glass containers.

• A roll of paper towels (or paint rags).

Pony clip
• A trash bag.

• Two small canvases or panels. I usually paint on a 6"x8" board for plein air. I don't recommend going bigger than 9"x12". I tone them ahead of time with an acrylic wash of yellow ochre or cadmium orange.

• Canvas/panel holders for transporting your wet painting home. This is what I use. You can also just put a box in the backseat or trunk of your car.

• Several small clips—clothespins and/or pony clips.

• A hat, sunscreen, bug spray, and drinking water. Make sure you stay hydrated!

• Snacks/lunch. 
Painter's umbrella


A chair, if you wish to sit.

A painter's umbrella.

Roll of masking tape.

A bungee cord for hanging the paper towels.

A work table, such as a TV tray. I put all my stuff on the ground, on an old towel.


This year, I've been teaching BYOB+ painting workshops. They are so fun! Some of the participants have had a little painting experience, but most have never painted before — the classes are great both for complete beginners and those who want to refresh their skills. Here's an excerpt from the FAQ:

Some of the participants brought their own artist berets.
What is the "+" in BYOB+ ?

It's the value-added experience you'll have in this workshop! Like all BYOB (Bring Your Own Beverage) painting classes, I'll help you step-by-step through creating this painting, and we'll have a lot of fun! Unlike the others, you'll learn real painting techniques and principles — composition, color theory, brushstrokes, and more.

I've never painted before - can I actually paint something like this ?

Absolutely. Ths workshop is more ambitious than the typical BYOB class, so we'll spend more time painting than drinking, but I'll explain and demonstrate each step, from sketching the scene on the canvas to using the paintbrushes. We'll all paint the same scene, but you'll be able to apply your own artistic expression, so your finished painting is one-of-a-kind.

What should I bring ?

Bring the beverage of your choice, I provide glasses and ice. You're welcome to bring snacks as well. Everything else you need is supplied — paint, brushes, canvas, etc.

What should I wear ?

Wear something comfortable you don't mind getting paint on. We'll be using acrylic paints, and they do not wash out of fabrics.

Let me know if you are in the Raleigh area and might be interested in attending. I announce them in my weekly newsletter, so if you subscribe to that you'll get the scoop.

I never realize how short I am until I see
a photo with other people.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Tide Pools

9"x12" oil on hardboard


We've had unusually high tides recently - this was a week before the full moon, and the water was all the way to the bottom of the beach stairs. The receding tide left gorgeous tide pools all along the beach, some just a few inches deep, some a foot or so.
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