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Friday, July 29, 2011

Abstract Landscape Painting - Oil on Panel

Abstract Landscape - Untitled
6x8" Framed

This is a little oil painting I did awhile back during a break in commissions.  I wanted to play with my oils using a very limited palette and no reference photo so that I could focus more on the essence of a landscape rather than an actual depiction of a landscape from a reference. As soon as I have a reference photo in front of me I want to capture every detail, which is fine, just not what I wanted to do on this painting :)

I was a great way to kind of cleanse my head between commissions and I am really happy with the end result. The colors are much richer in real life so I will try to photograph outside tomorrow as it is supposed to be sunny still, yay.  I had a great title picked out when I was painting this but for the life of me I can't remember what is was.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Watercolor Portrait of Kevin's Mom Joyce - Achieving a Likeness

I have been slowly building up the layers of watercolor pigments for Joyce's hair and face and am now really focusing on achieving a likeness as best I can. 

Her hair is pretty much completed, I may add a few wisps and another layer of golden brown but I will wait until the paper is dry to better judge the colors.  Her facial features I getting closer and have more depth but still need to be softened and refined a bit further once this layer is dry.  Her right jaw and cheek may be a touch too rounded?? I will see what my client thinks at this stage as it is much easier to add than remove at this point :)

I added more details to her bathing suit and a few more layers of skin tones. Some of her skin areas need to be softened a touch once dry.  I will then deepen the shadows in the sand and add a touch more depth to some of her figure, using hard and soft edges so that she has more dimension but does not look cut out. 

I darkened the sky and will continue to deepen to give a nice rich blue sky color. Then it is onto the finishing touches on the grass, fence and rocks.  It looks so much prettier in real life than online, the colors are much richer in real life.  I actually surprised myself when I just looked over to my easel after typing this in, I have to figure out how to take better photos!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Watercolor Portrait of Kevin's Mom Joyce - Building up Facial Features and Hair

More layers have been added getting progressively smaller in scale to create more variety and texture on the wood, grass, rocks and sand.

Her skin tone has been built up further and will be softened and have a bit more dept added back in once her face and hair are brought up to the same level of completion.  The cute green bikini has had it's first layers painted and I will continue to deepen and add shape to it.

I have started laying in the initial washes on her face and hair.  I think her right side is still a touch too round so once dry I will make another pass to bring her jawline in just a touch making it more straight lined to the chin than rounded as it is now. Also on her left side, the blue bleed a touch into her jawline so it is looking a touch too narrow now so I will lift it out once dry as well.  Her eyes look a little wobbly right now as well as I need to lay in the pigment and then refine again once dry so that things look more natural and not blotchy.

It is a bit of a slow process when adding in the details in a small area like this (1x3/4") so it is really important not to rush in and try to make corrections and adjustments until the paper is completely dry as with watercolor, the pigments bleed very easily, so patience is key.  Have I mentioned I am not the most patient person, luckily there are lots of other areas to work on to distract me :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Watercolor Portrait of Kevin's Mom Joyce - Building up Colors and Depth

I have been working all over the paper now adding shadows and depth here and there and building up the color in the grass, rock, sand and skin tones.  Her skin looks a touch too orange right now (moreso online than in real life) but that will even out in the next few layers.  Mores shadows have been added but need to be softened still at the base of the grassy areas and rock to anchor them in.  Next I will add more depth again and a bit more variety in color and hard and soft edges.

I am also building up the details and color on the fence and adding more subtle shadows behind it so it does not look like it is floating as there is a very strong contrast between the sand and fence colors right now.  By lowering the chroma of the sand and grass area behind the fence the fence will appear to be settled into the sand and the viewer's eye will not be pulled away from the main subject, Joyce :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Watercolor Portrait of Kevin's Mom Joyce - Skin Tones and Shadows

The shadows on the beach have been placed in in areas and will continue to be built up.  I have also started on the skin tones on Joyce's body but will leave her face until I hear back from my client to ensure that her features are correct as if they need adjusting it is much easier to do before the watercolor hits the paper!

As watercolor can bleed into itself depending on the wetness of the paper, wash and the pigments used, I will wait until her skin colors are completed before I progress to her hair and bikini.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Watercolor Portrait of Kevin's Mom Joyce -Initial Wash of Watercolor

I have added an initial wash of color over the entire sand area adding texture as I am applying the middle value color of the sand.  I will add several more layers adding shadows in the sand and lifting out highlights to add shape and depth. 

The grass is starting to take shape near the rocks and I will add more wisps and continue to add more depth.  Shadows will be added in the sand to anchor the grass in as well, right now they appear to be floating a bit. 

Another wash has been added to the sky and cloud area and once dry I will add at least one to three more layers in the sky.

In the water, more depth was created and the colors evened out more and I think looks quite nice at this stage. I may continue to work it further once the rest of the painting is brought up to the same level but I will have to judge it then. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Watercolor Portrait of Kevin's Mom Joyce - First Layers of Watercolor

I am building up the layers of color in the water, rocks and sand and thought I would take a photo of the progress even though they have a fair ways to go.  The water in the back will be deepened a fair bit while the water in the front will have more layers of blue added so that you just see bits of the green water peeking through.  The water in the front is shallower so the green of the water shows through more in areas from the light reflecting through.  I will also add a few hits of green in the deeper water once the blue is as dark as I would like it.

The base of the rocks and sand have also been established and they will be built up with more texture and depth.

I did a few refinements to Joyce's face and hair for the resemblance, although more may still be needed.

Watercolor Portrait of Kevin's Mom Joyce - Sketch on Arches Paper

This is the transferred sketch on my Arches watercolor paper.  After transferring my guide lines to the paper, I further defined her features in pencil.  Her face is quite small, 1x3/4" and the reference photo is very tiny and blurry.  Of course not ideal for realism but I think really ensuring her features are refined as much as possible before starting with the watercolor washes will really help with the size limits.

Here is a close up of the portrait in pencil.  Once the watercolor is applied most of the pencil lines will dissolve.  This works with most pigments except yellow pigments so avoid using yellow for the first layer over a pencil drawing if you don't want the lines to show.  Once dry, you can erase the pencil lines altogether or leave them as it is quite nice to have some of the pencil lines peeking through and adds crisper details.

If my client feels this captures his mom, Joyce, I will then lighten the pencil lines a touch with a kneaded eraser and then start building up her skin tones with watercolor.
This is the rest of her figure and shadow which will be the most refined area of the pencil drawing.  The rest of the landscape does not to be quite so accurate so not as much time is needed during the sketching phase. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Watercolor Portrait of Mother

This is a very quick watercolor sketch I did last night to work out my color palette for a watercolor portrait commission of my client's mom. This is a photo of his mom when was in her 20's and it is one of her favorite photos of her, no surprise there!

The photo of her at the beach is pretty much unedited other than the background, the sky, water and beach area closest to the water,  which were taken from two other images of my client's.  He is very handy with Photoshop and had it all put together for me, very nice :)

The watercolor sketch is 9x11" in total and her face is less than 1" so please, don't look at her features as this is just for the colors and textures.  The colors on the finished painting which will be 22x28" (painted area will be 15x22") will be built up much slower so that the richness in color, texture and depth will be much nicer. The shapes will be built up so that they are more three dimensional which will allow the colors to be developed more richly as I work in many, many, many layers.  Some artists prefer to just jump in with thick juicy paint but I find for me, I like how the colors build up and allow each layer to show through just a bit creating such a luminosity.  I miss watercolors!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More Studio Ramblings - My Flat Storage System

 I have been meaning to post photos of my swanky flat file storage system for awhile now.  I was previously using shelves in my closet for my flat storage.  It was a bit of a waste of space though as the shelves were quite deep and I always had to take out matts and paper from the top of the stack to get to the lower ones and I kept banging the edges which is not good at all.  This is an old photo of the closet shelves, they are crammed full of stuff now, ugh.

I had planned on building my own flat file storage as all the pre-built storage that I saw was just ridiculously expensive.  So off I went to the hardware store.   I found these great shoe racks, on sale, that were quite reasonably priced and all I had to do is screw in the screws, no power tools involved, I was sold.
I bought 6 of them and put them all together so that I could easily fit 22x30" sheets on each shelf.  I thought I would need to use a clamp to hold them together but they fit snugly and don't wiggle around at all when I am taking stacks of paper in and out.  I wait until the big stacks of Arches and other papers go on sale so I have a shelf for each different type of paper, no more lifting stacks in and out to get to the stack I need, so nice. 

This is a close up, actually I think I may have bought 9 of the, hmm it has been awhile. The space between my bookcases and the edge of the drafting table I can store panels, frames and foam core for shipping commissions.
The whole system fits perfectly under my drafting table which used to be wasted space and I can easily take out a shelf or two to use for display when I do Artisan Fairs.

I propped one of my larger acrylic paintings in front "hide" the shelves, and I like looking at it :)  I do all of my messy work on my drafting table, prepping boards/canvases and abstract acrylic paintings so I can really have much on the wall above the drafting table.  But I am hoping to have paint charts (that are on my to do list to paint) displayed there so that if they get the odd splash of paint on them no big deal.

Oh and that is my studio companion Tiger :)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

More Studio Ramblings - Quick, Cheap & Easy Vertical Storage

In the effort to get my studio organized (again) I needed to come up with a solution for my growing number of canvases and panels that have been cluttering up every inch of my studio.  I have seen several different options ranging from reasonably priced to ridiculously expensive.  I thought I would see if I can come up with a system that I can make with limited power tools, I can not be trusted with power tools... and that I can make by myself so I am not waiting on anyone, I won't mention any names.   I also did not want it to be too tall as I want to keep the wall space free to hang finished works from my gallery wall again once I rewire it...that is another story!

So off to Home Depot I went and picked up a sheet of  1/8" 2x4" pegboard.  In hindsight, I probably should have gotten a 1/2" as it would have been sturdier but I can reinforce if needed.  I had them cut it in half as most of my canvases and panels are not larger 22" wide.  I bought a 2x4" and cut into 4 equal pieces to act as the legs.  Home Depot has a cutting area with a hand saw and metal beam type cutting area so it was pretty quick & easy to cut on the spot.
When I got home I pre-drilled holes in the 2x4" and screwed them into each corner with a screw gun.

Then I used some acid free twine and pulled it through every other hole about 4 holes from the outer edge to create a support for the panels to rest upon.  I have seen artists online use dowels rather than twine which would also increase the sturdiness but each dowel would need to be cut to fit.  I would have to use a hand saw as table saws scare the bigeezes out of me.  I seriously have to leave the yard when my hubby uses one.  I think it is the curse of being an artist,  overactive imagination combined with overly detailed mental images, ugh.
So I figured, go with the cheaper saw-free twine and if I am not happy with it then go to plan "B" of the dowels.

I tied a loop on one end then slid a bobbie pin through the loop to act as a needle.

This made going through each hole super easy and was able to just keep pulling every few inches to space out the twine properly until the end. I should have taken a photo of the bottom side as well but I just across two holes rather than vertically. But I am happy to say the twine worked out very nicely.

The top also makes a great drying area for paintings in progress and I can see them from my easel so I can get a bit of distance from them while planning the next stages of each painting.  In the future I may make a second piece which could sit on top too.  Hopefully that will not be necessary but always good to be scalable ;)
Top needs to be reinforce but holds over 20 canvases
I will add a few additional 2x4" posts to make the rack sturdier so that the top is flat and can support heavier items on the top.

I should have taken a before photo of my studio to show how much space these canvases took up before as they used up every free inch of wall that I could lean them against, so much nicer now!
I put one of my unfinished paintings in front to hide the canvases.  I started this at an acrylic workshop over a year ago and now that it is front and center in my studio, maybe it will get finished.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Summer To Do List - Item #1 Charles Bargue Drawing Course

Well I have not been able to get much time in the studio over the past two days for drawing or painting so I have been sneaking in off and on to clean up here, reorganize there and set up my "wish list" of things I want to do over the summer.

I have been very busy this year with commissions and teaching  so I thought if I do not schedule in some time to do this drawing course it is never going to happen! I bought the book a couple of years back as I knew I had to have it. It was quite pricey as far as art books go but I am very good at justifying just about any art expense :)

I will not get through the entire course this summer but I hope to block out at least a week, a couple hours a day, to jump in and tackle some of the exercises.  The book teaches the classical realism style of drawing which is both accurate and sculptural.  The lessons are well written and gives specific practical instruction which any artist beginner or advanced can benefit from so I am pretty excited to be finally making the time for this one.  I plan on posting my work (hopefully my drawings will not suck too bad ;)) on my blog as I complete each cast. My goal is to improve my accuracy with measurement (sight sizing) and create more sculptural work both in my drawings and paintings.

My only complaint about this book is I wish they had printed the casts in a separate area so that they could be scanned for printing more easily.  It is such a huge book that it is tricky to get images scanned from my printer so that I have a decent printout to work from.  I could work directly from the book for some of the casts but some need to be enlarged in order to really capture all of the details.  Plus it is a little large to lug around as I plan to do some of my work  "on the run". On the plus side, I should have nicely toned arms (or more likely arm) by the end of summer :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

10th Annual New Westminster Cultural Crawl
August 13, 2011

Acrylic on Gallery Wrapped Canvas

A Quiet Spot
Oil on 4x6" Cradled Panel

Limited Edition Giclee

I will be participating in the New Westminster Cultural Crawl for the first time this year and will be located inside the Fraser River Discovery Centre on Saturday August 13  from 11am-5pm. 

This two day city-wide gallery and studio tour showcasing local artists and artisans. Artists Marilyn Atkey and Anthony Hollenstein will  also be displaying their work at the Discovery Centre and the Discovery Shop will also be open which features works of art from many Lower Mainland artists.

For more information on the crawl, check out Tourism New Westminster

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

More Studio Ramblings - My Easel Modifications

I have been meaning to write a post about my easel modifications for a while now.  I found it so frustrating to use the easel as it came as I always had to hold onto my panel/canvas/drawing board as I worked for fear of it flying off the easel.  Several times I had gotten caught up in my work and forgot to hold on and was literally attacked by my art, not good for my inner peace to say the least.  The last straw was when it happened while working on a commission, the drawing board attacked me and my pencil (which of course I always keep super sharp) hit the paper, I gasp (before cursing like a mad woman) and frantically searched the paper for the flaw....luckily it only dented the paper on a area that required texture, whew!  I promptly masking taped my board to the easel until I could come up with a work around that I was happy with.

I have seen several suggestions on how to modify easels but the thought of screws going into the pretty wood made me pause.  So I brought in the big guns, my father in law :)  Of course his English is not so good so I had to tell my hubby in art talk what I needed and then he had to translate for his dad so I was not 100% sure what I would end up with.  I wanted something I could swap out various sized canvas's and panels from 4x6" to 24x30" quickly and securely.  So the images below are the original easel with I believe an 18x24" painting on it.

Notice the huge gap at the top of the painting, not so secure! But it does look really pretty :)

Also, I did not like the overhang of  wood on the top and bottom which hold the canvases in as I could never figure out an easy way to paint all the edges without having to hold onto the piece, which seems silly when I have this huge easel.

So this is the easel now, yay :) The clamp piece at the top was removed and a longer piece of wood  was attached in it's place which securely holds small to larger sized pieces perfectly. This is a painting in progress on a 1/8" wide 8x10" panel.

On the bottom portion, another piece of wood was attached filling the gap so that the base of the painting sits flush so I can easily paint right to the edge while it is clamped down.  A layer of rubbery shelf liner was attached to both the top and bottom piece which prevents the canvas and panels from slipping forwards or backwards.

This is showing a closer shot of the front holding a 11x14" cradled  panel (2" thick).

I wanted to post this as I LOVE seeing other artists studios and how they organize their space and make things easier to it is about making art, not fighting with equipment and  tripping over paintings.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Graphite Memorial Portrait Commission - Rocky, Gagan & Ricky

This is another update showing the full portrait of all three boys.  Ricky on the left needed a few more adjustments and I think he is pretty close now.  He looks lighter in the photograph than in the real portrait as I just installed some true light bulbs in my ceiling fixture and he is closest to the fixture, argh, I will get my lighting right eventually!  I may have to move my easel yet again to get a bit more distance from the light but I think it is definitely better light than the previous set up..always a work in progress this studio!

Friday, July 08, 2011

Graphite Memorial Portrait Commission - Rocky Details

The portrait of Rocky just was not looking "like him" and the reference photos I had were just not giving me enough information to capture him.  So my client dug through her photos and sent me another image of him at a very similar angle.  I almost fell off my chair!  The portrait in progress had similarities to the new photo more than the original photos.  I was surprise that her feedback could have pushed the portrait closer to how he looked.  Now looking at all the photos I understand what she was trying to capture and how far off his face was! 

It may still need further work but I think it is much closer to the real him.  I am worried about damaging the paper at this point so I wanted to check with her on the shape of the jawline before softening as much as possible.  I added the bags under his eyes which my client may veto but I think it really captures his eyes more.  I made edits on the entire portrait as thing were so blurry on the other photos that I could not see the shapes as well.  The new photo is still blurry but the lighting is better which really helps.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Graphite Custom Portrait Commission - Full Portrait Update #3

I made a few more adjustments as per my client's request both to Ricky & Rocky's chins.  I think Ricky's chin can be a touch lighter but I will wait to see if the shape is correct before working it further. 

I refined Rocky's chin or should I say added it back  and I think it is closer but will wait to hear back.  Again the reference photo for Rocky especially is not clear and I have thinned his face more than it is in the photo to better resemble how his face really was, not just how it looked in one photo so I am not 100% sure on how it really should be but I think it is closer :) 

I also added a bit more details to the shirts.  As I could not really see the left sides of Rocky & Gagan's shirts I flipped the image (duh, don't know why I did not think of that sooner) in Photoshop and did a looser version of it so they don't look copied but look believable.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Graphite Memorial Portrait Commission - Update 2 of Full Portrait

Well it turns out that Ricky's hair style was totally wrong, darn dark reference photos :) So I modified it and I think it does suit him much better, heh.  I also adjusted his forehead and chin further and did a few minor adjustments on Rocky & Gagan.

I think all three of the boys are pretty close to completion but again will see if my client has any further adjustments she would like done.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Oil Still Life Painting - Butterfly, Seashell & Box

I took a bit of a break from my commission today to work on a painting I started back in March, has it really been that long?!?!?  I have been itching to play with my oil paints for sometime now so I cleared a spot in my very messy studio (it was paint or clean :)) and I added a few more layers on the entire painting.

I now have to wait for everything to dry - I thought I would take up oils to work on my patience - so I can go back and focus on my commission.  The glaring white areas on the table will be dealt with in the next update.  I am quite new to oil painting so this painting could go horribly wrong at any time but I thought what the heck, I may as well post the progress :)

I have just started on the seashell shape and I think it will need many layers to get some shape and translucency.  The box texture has been suggested and then I will glaze (I think) to create more shape and get the values correct.  I am not sure how long oil takes to dry without my drying room (aka my room in the basement where the heater is - makes a perfect drying room in the winter).  The butterfly is looking a little jaundice right now but should be a nice bright orange for the next update :) Now to go clean all my brushes, ugh, cleaning is just unavoidable

Graphite Memorial Portrait Commission - Update of Full Portrait

I have been away from the studio for over 7 days and can not tell you how great it is to be back at the easel!  I have done a few minor edits to Rocky and Gagan and a fair bit of work on Ricky. 

I think Ricky's hair could be filled out more on the top sides but will wait to hear back from my client as I am kind of guessing on how it would look at this angle.  I think most of his features are pretty close to completion but I need to take a break so I can come back with fresh eyes to see what needs to be done next.