Saturday, February 23, 2008

Painter's Tantrum

Here is an example of what can happen if you get angry at a painting and kind of go crazy. I had this painting in Rottinghaus gallery for a while. They recently gave it back and it was just sitting around the studio. The more I looked at it the more I hated it. I was never fond of the composition or the figure. The colors were too jumpy and chromatically even. The more I look the more angry I got at the picture. I tried to fix the face on the woman and knock some things back. Nothing worked and in a fit of rage I did the following. It was cathartic (If you have ever been to your typical art college, you know that is very important).

As you can see I have made some important compositional changes. I changed the girl from a boring figure, into a sexy astronaut. The dragon, one of the first impressionist creatures I have ever seen, is coming up behind her. Is he her pet, or does he wish to do harm? If so, will she notice in time to react? The tension is all there, just like the tension between the artist and his wife after she saw what he did to the painting, and the tension that exists as we wonder if the artist and his wife will have to move into a trailer if any more tantrums occur on any more supposedly finished paintings. Let us hope not.
Though, dragons pictures totally rule!


I took a bad photo of the lunar eclipse the other night. It was pretty neat, though it was too cold out side to really sit down with a beer and some binoculars and enjoy it. As you can see, as is the case with my paintings, my photography is all about composition. In the black area to the lower left of the blurry double moon you can sort of see Saturn. See it? Enjoy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Painting in a week

OK, I actually worked on it for 8 days. For me that is still pretty fast. Since my last still life took what seemed to be a lifetime to finish, I thought I would cleanse my palette on a fast painting (just in case you didn't get that last little funny comment, I cleverly replaced palate with palette, as in painters palette)
I have been looking a lot at the great American painter Emil Carlson. He is one of my favorites. It is amazing how much form and atmosphere he was able to get in a picture with little to no sharp edges. I decided to finish it in a week, and I came close.
Today before going to the studio Laura had a long list of things she disliked about the painting. It was a long list that ended with, "Well, basically I just don't like it."
Can't argue with that. I went in and worked the painting till I thought she would like it. I think I did it. So here it is from beginning to end.
I took photos of the painting at the end of every day and thought I would post them all here with a bit of description.

Day 1 lay in.
Trying to get everything on the canvas fast. The big look, with accurate color. Trying to get all the major relationships figured out.

Day 2
Improving on the first day. Seeing what needs the most work, what is straggling behind, and then go there first.

Day 3 Trying to be loose, still adjusting the shape and proportions. The color got a little spotty.

Here is a shot of the set up with the painting.

Day 4
Decided the folds were too distracting, I pulled the cloth tight, and adjusted the painting.

Day 5
As I tried to adjust the color it got too jumpy. Here I try to adjust and smooth things a bit. I am trying to neutralize with compliments (for example- adding purple to the yellow areas). Still doing my best to interpret form. I am trying to get the form to pop even while I soften the edges.

Day 6
That left side felt empty and a fold creeps back in. More detail is added to the center. I am trying to get the vase in the center to pop, so I darken things a bit. I am also painting on a very dark day.

Day 7
I got too dark and gray, so I stare trying to zip it up with color. I find that many edges are too sharp, and I do my best to loose as many as possible. I want the focus to be toward the center. As that blue and white vase is pretty far to the right, I need focus to be pushing to the center to keep the balance. The painting got a little dark and dead. I am not sure what to do. I look at it for a few days away from the set up. This is the point where Laura voice her dislike for the picture.

Day 8
I have decided that the fold needs to go, again. I have flattened it a bit and am still loosing eges and trying to direct this into a nice and pleasant painting. I think warming up the back ground helped. Carl Samson stopped by the studio with some good advice and I add detail to the center of the blue vase to push it forward. I think this is a great improvement. See, I listen to my wife sometimes.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Nasty Brushes

It is unfortunate that the tools and supplies used for drawing and painting seem to keep getting of lower quality. It is almost impossible to get really good drawing paper these days. Now even good brushes are hard to find.
I used to have a favorite brush. It was the WINSOR & NEWTON RATHBONE SUPREME BRISTLE BRUSH. For the price, it was a great brush. It moved the paint around well, and they lasted forever. I have brushes that are 4 years old- the bristles are wearing down and getting short, but they still work.
Well, for some crazy reason they discontinued it.
So, I ordered W & N's replacement for the Rathbone brushes. These black handled brushes are called WINSOR & NEWTON ARTIST OIL BRUSHES. They do have a sexy new black handle, but other than that they are inferior in every way. Actually I am not fond of the handle either, since a brush should be held at the end like a conductor's wand and these handles force your grip toward the middle. The bristles were too soft, there seemed to be less in the brush, the sizes are not the same and oddly spaced, they loose a lot of hairs the first few days of painting, and after one cleaning the bristles splay out in all directions. I had them for a few days and returned them all back to Jerry's artarama. I had emailed Winsor Newton, who assured me the new brushes were of the same great quality of as the Rathbone brushes.
Luckily I got my money back and started searching for new brushes. I ended up buying Silver Brand oil brushes, that so far seem acceptable, though not as good as the Rathbone.
I will say the woman at Winsor Newton was nice enough to send me a bunch of brushes for free to try out and to apologize for all the trouble suggesting I got a defective batch.
So, now I have new black handled brushes to try out. They are definitely still inferior. I am attaching below some photos I took ( a bit blurry) of a well used, 3 year old, blue handled Rathbone brush next to a 1 week old black handled W & N Artist Oil Brush. As you can see, the newer brush is a disaster after just a few times painting and a being cleaned in my typical manner. The Rathbone hairs are all pointing in the same direction are even and together and able to make a smooth brush stroke. The newer brush looks like it was struck by lightning. It's like trying to paint with a rake. I would not recommend buying any W & N brushes.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Palette Scraping Self Portrait

At the end of everyday, I clean my palette. There is usually a pile of paint left over that I have a habit of scraping onto a small, usually terrible painting panel. I used to just do this randomly till I had a mountain of abstract colors. This time I have decided to try to make something with it. This panel has been forming over the past year into a handsome self portrait. I now mix the pile into a solid color that I selectively place on the pile to help this charming composition. It probably weighs over a pound at this point. It is for sale if you are interested. Click on it to see the amazing detail. It is not quite done. I need to work more on the hair and get the glasses in there.

This is what 3 years of classical training with the Paul Ingbretson, a 3 year period of studying and working hard on my own, and a close friendship and association with some of the top painters in Cincinnati had come down to. It has all been worth it.

Here is a side view.

Fog on the River.

No, I am not talking about the Deep Purple song, but there was some amazing fog on the river yesterday at the overlook in the park. It is just a short walk from my studio, so I went down after a friend called about this phenomenon. I had my camera and took some photos. This would be a very fun scene to paint.