Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Everyone Loves Raymond

I know, what a silly title. I couldn't come up with anything clever.

The recent DPW "The Amalgam" Challenge was to incorporate a DPW member's style into one's own painting. That cracked me up.  I've been trying to do that! I mean, if I could paint like Laurel Daniel, I'd be doing it already, even without the motivation of a Challenge :-) I would probably have already traveled to where she lives, kidnapped her and spirited her away to a remote location, created a clever disguise, and taken her place. I'm sure no one would notice.

Anyway. It was really hard to choose an artist. Mike Rooney is a fantastic artist and a great teacher (which doesn't always come in the same package), but I've taken several workshops with him and already try to paint like Mike.

Then there are Carol Schiff, Ken Devine, Kevin Inman, Mary Sheehan Winn, Marie Fox, Jeff Mahorney, Gringo Zero, Haidee-Jo Summers... obviously I could go on for paragraphs. I finally chose an artist whose work I always view with equal parts exhilaration and frustration—exhilaration because his work is so exciting, and frustration because I didn't come up with it myself:

Not only do I admire his painting, his blog is hilarious. I love reading about The Spawn and The Spousal Unit. Accordingly, I'm painting an old camera (ca 1970) in his style. My Spousal Unit has a lot of electronic and electrical equipment, including even older cameras, but there is a limit to how much I will dig through dusty boxes. The vintage Minolta will do.

Raymond (can I call you Raymond, Mr. Logan?) also paints landscapes/cityscapes, but it would be more of a stretch and learning experience for me to attempt a still life. The brilliant part of this exercise is that when I look at his artwork, I have no idea how he does it.  I don't even know where to start! I took a lot of progress photos to document my aimless thrashing about.

First I start with a red ground. Why? Because I already had a board primed with red. I do some grid work so I can sketch the camera reasonably accurately. I know—I know—the lens shape is going to be a giant pain in the neck, and I decide right from the start that I'm not going to freak out about it. Let the chips fall where they may. I block in the general direction of the light on the back wall. I'm using Geranium Lake, a paint I bought capriciously and have never used before.

Now I'm working on the camera itself. One of Raymond's signature, um, things that he does, is the gorgeous hints of turquoise blue sparkling here and there. I don't know how he does that—some sort of magic I guess—but I figure if I outline with blue, some of it will remain at the end. I'm stumped about how to lay in the camera body. Is he using black? Do I have any black paint? Yes. I have a tube of Ivory Black. I also discover the trouble I'm having layering so much paint—that pink area is supposed to be a light grayish-white, but the Geranium Lake is coming through.

Got the camera generally blocked in (lens looks awful as predicted) and when I start with the background, this is when I REALLY realize I have no idea how he does this. Where are all these colors and strokes coming from? Is he alternating brush and knife? Are some parts scraped off? Also, I can see that he puts on paint thicker than I spread peanut butter on a sandwich. It's very unnatural to me, but I kind of force myself to do it.

More detail on the camera, and trying to block in the foreground. I'm not really working in any planned, sensible way, just kind of dabbing here and there as the whim comes to me.

I make some more passes on the background and foreground. I'm actually getting kind of a cool result when I simply wipe the brush off on the painting instead of on a paper towel. But I feel like the background is unstructured and incoherent. Some more detail on the camera itself, including the brand "minolta." The lens is better than I expected, but still lumpy.

The final piece. I know I could keep going with it, adding little dabs and dashes, but feel like I'd better quit while I'm ahead, given that I don't have any planned approach. This picture was taken on the scanner. I'm not sure if the above photo (taken with my phone) isn't a better representation. They both have glare on them, in different ways. The actual dark/lightness is probably somewhere in-between these two.

5"x7" oil on hardboard


What I learned:
  • After four years of painting, I still don't know how to get wet paint to stick to wet paint.
  • Everything a person can look at is filled with (covered with?) reflections, reflected colors, reflected light, shadows, and reflections in the shadows. Nothing is "a" color.
  • Things that look random probably are not, and vice-versa.
  • I probably won't ever be able to paint like Raymond unless I eat his brain. Which is, in this country, strictly forbidden.



  1. You chose a difficult artist to emulate in Raymond! One thing I love about his work is his ability to take one simple object and make a completely satisfying and interesting still life from it, no other props needed. I think you managed that with this painting, too.

    I have the same problem with wet paint on wet paint. I can rarely finish a painting in a day because it always gets to the point where no more paint will stick before it's finished. It seems to be even more of a problem on the hard panels than on canvas.

  2. I think it looks very "Raymond-ish" (I am also a fan of his, and now a fan of yours!) I think your work is lovely, regardless of whether you have figured it all out (who has??). I also think you must be fibbing when you say you have only been painting for 4 years.
    Your work is lovely.

  3. Thanks, Melisa and Colette! This was very ambitious, but I'm glad I tried it.

    Colette, I've been painting "seriously" for about 4 years. However, I've always drawn and dabbled around, and before this era of my life I did what I would think of as "craft" painting - painting flowers on switchplate covers, faux finishing walls and furniture, a few murals, etc.

  4. Great seeing and being able to follow your thought and process in this painting. It's always fascinating to me to get to peak into the mind of another painter. Thanks!

  5. I don't know Raymond but your painting looks good to me.

    And here's a tip for your item no.1:

    "Remember our Golden Rule: A thin paint sticks to a thick paint." ~ Bob Ross

    Addition of turps or medium gives you your "thin paint," and it works!


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