Monday, January 29, 2007

The Arrangement I ~ a work in progress

Saturday afternoon, I began this still life, and immediately found it to be challenging in many ways.

These photographs were taken this morning, and as you can see, the background has changed somewhat from my original block in by a light dusting of snow. Not to worry, I will paint the background after the snow melts away (and it is sure to melt considering the sort of mild winter we have had.) And, do not fret for I will not be painting my neighbor's trash into the painting, either. Ah, artistic license.

I'm not sure how effective the red vase will be with the rest of the painting having a light and muted feel. I am intrigued by the intense shades of oranges and reds I see as the afternoon sun sifts through the vase. So I will press on, and perhaps a striking yet pleasing painting will result.

Here are photographs after the first painting session.

With some selective measurements down, and the background loosely and thinly blocked in, I focus on the most structural (and I thought the easiest) object in the painting, the vase. If I can get this part of the painting correct, everything else will fall into place.

As you can see, there are some drawing corrections to be made, however the feel, color, and temperature are correct and soon when those corrections are completed, I will have a solid foundation from which to base the rest of the painting.

I look forward to putting in those buttery white daisy petals that are caught in the sun light. That will be a fun session. More to come on this 16x20 painting in the near future.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Red Chili Peppers

Another still life completed under the ever changing light.

It was a very dark and stormy sky, today so I discarded a still life that needed to be painted in direct sun and set up another one with a lamp. As I finally sat down to begin painting, the sun came out brightly from behind the clouds. So I put my lamp away and began to block in the painting in the sun. About a half hour into my block in, the sky darkened and seemed as if it would remain that way for the rest of the day. Out my lamp came. I painted over some areas as the lighting changed just about everything that I had already laid down.

Wouldn't you know it, about two hours later, the sun came out and beamed until it set late afternoon. At that point too much was completed, so I came inside the house and started cooking dinner - planning to paint after the sun went down.

Here is the completed piece, painted in all variations of light from glaring sun to nightfall. In the end, the subject was so pleasing to me that I was determined to see it through.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

My Palette

Inspired by a question from another artist on the WetCanvas! Forum, I decided to share with you the paints that you will find on my palette.

From left to right:
* denotes paints used on occasion

Titanium White
Cadmium Yellow Light

Yellow Ochre
Cadmium Yellow Meduim*
- I'm really starting to fall in love with this color.
Cadmium Red Light
Cadmium Red Medium*

Permanent Alizarin Crimson*
Burnt Sienna - I think I'm addicted to this pigment. I'm not sure how I could paint without it on my palette.
Viridian - after reading some reports on non-lasting qualities of sap green, I have been using Viridian instead and have been mixing my own sap green.
Ultramarine Blue
Phthalo Blue - I love this blue and use it sometimes to give a little punch to my shadows.

There you have it. I don't use the fancy colors, not yet, anyway. Mostly because either I haven't tried them, yet, or they're too expensive for me to get hooked on. I find that a more limited palette is better for me. I try to keep things simple.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Study of White

Fighting with the Sun

The weatherman said that it would be cloudy out today, but as I set up to paint, the studio was in full sunlight. It was clear that I would not be completing the painting I had started on my last overcast day. After changing gears and a simple setup, I was ready to do a quick study for the day.

Wouldn't you know it, the sun decided to play peek-a-boo with me. It went behind clouds for several minutes, and then shone bright for a few more minutes. Back and forth it went until finally the day ended in a dark overcast - completely changing the light and shadows that I had started with.

Thankfully, most of the painting had been established at that point, so I pulled out my trusty lamp and completed the study. Granted, it's not as strong or as detailed as it could have been, but I must say that the blame cannot fully rest on the shifting light. Any painting that is not my best shows a need for more concentration and, if I allow it to, it will teach me through my mistakes.

More painting on Friday.

Monday, January 08, 2007


Temperature is another facet of color that adds to the complexity of mixing paint. All colors can be referred to in terms of either cool or warm. The warm shades being yellow, orange, red. . etc. Cool colors are white, blue, green. Yellow is known as the warmest color on ones palette while white is the coolest.

Here's where it gets a little complex. Aside from those two, the temperature of a color is relative - meaning, how you categorize a color depends on the colors around it. For instance, green can be considered a cool color because it has blue in it; however, it also has yellow in it. So if green is next to blue, we would call that green warm because it is warmer in comparison to blue. Compared to red, green is a cool color.

Here's another little twist. Let's take the color red, for instance. If we add yellow to red, making it lean slightly to the orange side, that is a "warm red". But if we add blue to the red, bringing it toward lavender, then we can say that it is a "cool red". There are many subtle shades to any one color, and they all can be categorized as warm or cool.

In the teacup painting above, look at the cool white color in the lower left hand side of the painting. Then compare that to the yellowy color right before you get to the shadow underneath the saucer. It moves from a cool white to a warm white.

In the background, upper right. You will see some yellow mixed in with the blue. The areas where you see more yellow in the blue, that is considered warm blue. Even though blue is just about as cool of a color as you can get, it is described as a warm blue to explain the shade.

What other observations about color temperature do you see?

Thursday, January 04, 2007


If you remember in an earlier post "In the Kitchen III", I began explaining a few artist terms. The reason for the explanations was this possibly confusing sentence: "It's amazing what a few hours of concentration and about 50-70 correctly placed shapes of accurate value and temperature will do." The first half of the sentence was explained in that post, but here I must continue our little art lesson.

Value: Value is simply how light or dark a color is. I could say, "That shadow is darker in value", or "the snow is a light value." You may refer to the values in a painting as being correct - meaning that the artist has properly painted the lights, darks, and mid tones. You can never get a color right, unless it is correct in value. The red can never be the exact red you are going for unless it is the same value (lightness or darkness) as the red in your subject.

In the above rose painting, we can say that the leaves for the most part are lighter in value than the darkest background values. You may be able to see this clearer by squinting at the painting. The magic squint as Richard Schmid calls it simplifies the values for us so we aren't overwhelmed with all the value changes that are really there.

The lower part of the stem (lower right) is a darker value than the surrounding background.

What other observations can you make on this painting regarding value?