Thursday, February 28, 2013

Line of Pines



Pastel on paper
8" x 10"

You can view or bid on this painting here.

I'm having a hard time getting a good image of this one.  The tones seem to close in a lot when I make the jpeg. The original painting is maybe not quite as dark as this, with not quite as much contrast. A small difference, though, nothing major.

So I'm not sure how I feel about this one. It's my first venture into pastels—dry pastels, that is. I did two oil pastel paintings previously that I was moderately pleased with. This was more difficult. I'm fairly ignorant of technique for pastels, so I didn't really know how to achieve what I wanted. And I don't have good quality pastels; a mix of stuff I've had since art school (frighteningly, those are 33 years old!) and a beginner-type kit of more recent vintage. I'm using an inexpensive paper that comes in a pad of 20 sheets. So I'll say my difficulties with it are 80% "user error" and 20% inadequate materials.

The initial sketch was pretty good. I absolutely should sketch more often, whether it's going to be developed into a painting or not.




Laying down some initial values and colors. Not entirely complete; I had to stop what I was doing for unrelated reasons, so took the opportunity to put it on the scanner.




Now I've got all areas of the painting covered in a general color/tone. This is the point where I look at it and say "This is rubbish. This is absolutely the worst piece of artwork ever created in the history of mankind, and I am begging—begging—our local and national legislatures to please pass a law forbidding me from ever painting again."




After a period of reflection (I think it was the next day) I decide that it's not too horrible, and make some adjustments and put in some detail. Here my lack of experience is a great frustration. I know what I want it to look like—why doesn't it??




I consult another artist for advice. She makes some brilliant suggestions, which I can only sort-of implement, but they are definitely an improvement. I bring down the brightness of those background trees, and use some looser, chunkier strokes on the foreground trees, and generally soften up various areas. Undecided how I feel about the piece as a whole, I decide to put it up for auction instead of setting a price. I feel that's a good way to handle this sort of situation—if someone loves the painting, then I'll be happy for them to get it for a bargain. If no one loves it, then the marketplace has spoken :-)

  






Monday, February 25, 2013

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Start 26 - La Tienda



I can't believe it's been FOUR MONTHS since I painted a Start! See, you never know where these things are going to lead.  Back in October I was messing around with a new approach, and that led to me developing a "line" of paintings for my Etsy shop. They have kind of a specific style and technique, so there's more consistency among them than my usual one-off experimentation.

The 6x6 version
I didn't have a goal in mind when I started this tiny Start. Just enjoying the colors in this Google Streetview scene. But it seemed to me a good subject for that particular style, so it ended up as a 6x6 on Etsy. I changed vantage point a little, and zoomed in too. I could see I was trying for too much detail on the 4x4, so I had to either go looser or go bigger. It's always hard for me to go looser...



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

On the Road



6" x 6"
oil on MDF

You can view and purchase this painting here.


This is another in the Valparaiso series. I found this gorgeous highway between Valparaiso and Quebrada Verde. It reminds me a lot of the American southwest, New Mexico maybe. The Google photo made me think of Monet's Poplars.





Monday, February 18, 2013

Two paintings on sale

These two paintings are for sale on my Etsy shop.

For one week only - 50% off!



La Tienda



6"x6"
oil on MDF

This is another from the Virtual Paintout location of Chile. A small town called San Francisco de Limache. There's a little store on pretty much every corner—I could make a career out of painting them :-)

I've been enjoying these travels around the world so much, I'm branching out and finding my own locations. On the easel right now is a rural scene from Sweden.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tuesday Tip: Color Palette

It's Tuesday Tips! A collection of tips I've gained through experience or learned from other artists.

Color Temperature

There are as many ways to lay out paint on the palette as there are artists. Some painters work with a very limited palette of five or six colors. That's a great way to learn to focus on value—you can't get too distracted with all the color choices.

I find I don't like a complex palette. I work with three primaries (yellow, red, blue), plus white. But I use a warm and a cool version of each primary (see the second image below for the specific paints).

One outlier I frequently use is Magenta. It's neither cool nor warm; and makes an excellent underpainting color for turquoise skies.

My choices for each are evolving. It depends on the subject—sometimes I want the flat purity of cobalt blue, sometimes I want a bit more vibrance with a phthalo blue. The photo shows my palette (and all the other mess on the table...). I put Titanium white along the top, usually in a longish line, so that I can pull out a clean bit when I need it. On my left I arrange the warm colors, on the right the cool colors. Occasionally I'll use green, and put those along the bottom. Another sometimes-visitor is purple or violet. But generally it's just the three primaries. White is actually a little on the cool side. It seems neutral out of the tube, but when mixed with another color, it makes that color duller and cooler. So I use white in shadows much more than in sunlit colors.

I'm using such tiny dabs of paint because I was painting a 4"x4" at the time.


My general technique is to paint objects in sunlight from the warm side of the palette and objects in shadow from the cool side. You almost can't go wrong that way, as long as you pay attention to values first. It's not an absolute—some greens are cooler than others even when both are in sunlight, for instance. But if I start from the appropriate side of the palette, I get close to the right color right off the bat, instead of futilely mixing everything I have trying to capture it. 

The next image is from the Lukas catalog, so you can get a better idea of the colors. I use the Lukas 1862 oils, and really like them—silky smooth but plenty of pigment. They make similarly-priced paints feel like spreading oatmeal mixed with glue. No, they're not compensating me for my endorsement, but I wish they would :-)  I often use both Naples Yellow and Yellow Ochre on the cool side. And I haven't quite found a warm red that I absolutely love yet. They all tend to go a little too pink when thinned. And I ping-pong between Cobalt Blue and Phthalo Blue.

Funny how Phthalo Blue is definitely warm, but Phthalo Green is very cool.

Another common landscape palette is: alizarin crimson, cadmium red, cadmium orange, cadmium yellow, pthalo green, and ultramarine blue. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Telephone Wires



Oil on paper
4" x 4"

You can view or bid for this painting here.

This month's Virtual Paintout location is Valparaiso, Chile. I know nothing about the place, but I've learned that it is a city of many dogs and many telephone wires. And, of course, fantastically colored buildings.

This is a tiny painting - 4 inches square. Accordingly, it has a tiny price tag: bidding starts at $10. Remember, these things are going to be super valuable after I'm dead.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

After the Storm



Oil
6" x 6"

You can view or purchase this painting here.

This is another scene from the Isle of Man Virtual Paintout. A more brooding sky than I usually paint—I tend to look for bright sunny skies with fluffy white clouds.
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