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Updated 3/29/12

The Daily Paintings and Postcard-Sized Sketches in Oils and Acrylics

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January 2008



3

How fun it is to start the new year, and subsequently start the numbering system for my painting inventories all over again! I've begun the new year with a bang, completing two paintings already, and getting the slides for them for one of the specialty art shows of the year. This one is slated for the Art Show at the Dog Show.


This is an 18 x 18 inche gallery wrap (1.5 inches deep) canvas, on which I'm painting almost life size, the two puppies Onslow and Sparky asleep. The source image for this is in my blog from a couple days ago. You can see it here. (Opens a new window.)

I love the circular design of the image, and have worked to keep those circles and inter-twining arcs going in the painting. Reminds me of a Raphael painting from the Renaissance, since he was known for his circular designs. Here is his "Madonna of the Chair" for your pleasure. Look at all the circles and arcs in his design!
One of my New Year's Resolutions for you is to link what I do in the studio to the history of art, so you can understand that as artists, we are so connected to what has gone before.

One of my resolutions also is to make paintings with CONTENT, or soul, so that I am not just creating a technical exercise with the pigments, but giving more of myself, the story, and the design more emphasis. This looking-down view of the puppies is my first endeavor.


In doing this painting, I am using oils, and made a quick drawing with burnt umber and ultramarine blue (which I forgot to photograph!) and then laid in the washes of Australian Red Gold (Artist's Spectrum) and a new experimental color for me, Green Umber (Lukas Pigments). The combination of warms is really exciting for me, and I can hardly wait to see what will develop. They are both warm in the spectral reflectance arena, so would go in the warm box. But these are "oddballs" so, they'll only visit once in a while!

I've been working on the February Workshop (full) and now am opening the March one to outside artists--there are only five slots left in this workshop here in my studio. Contact me if you are interested in this three-day "Mini-Color Boot Camp"

And I'm opening the May workshops in Georgia in the coming days (been a bit late on this one!) so the five-day Color Boot Camp and the returnees' Boot Camp will be taking registrations by this weekend. You know who you are!!! (They dubbed themselves "repeat offenders!!")
4

Oops, got ahead of myself! (I just get so excited about sharing information.) Here's the pup painting at the second stage, where I'm laying in the darks of the dogs' coats and reinforcing the design elements.

Remember what I said about circular design, and Raphael's work? Since you may not have a familiarity with these design concepts, I've added a second image of this stage of the painting below, taken into Photoshop and with what I see as the abstract structure of the design. Those of you who have had a session or two of "yellin' by Elin" know that design and the structure of your paintings are key to good end results.

In the second image, you'll see the most obvious circles in the design (in red), clearly understandable my Mr. or Ms. Everyone. They may not say, "Oooo, nice circles!" but they will say that they like the painting.

Look now at the partial circles (also known as arcs) that are intersecting the picture (done in purple). These are the supporting design players, but every bit as important in their role. These arcs carry the eye through the work, and reinforce the three main circles. Think of them as the band behind the lead singer. They enhance and reinforce the most obvious circles. These purple lines of the design also show the viewer repetition with variety--more design principles worth having in successful paintings. As your eye follows the purple lines, look where they cross areas of the paintings, and see how those areas continue to carry your eyes. What I'm saying is that we as artists don't have to be obvious with our abstract structure, but it ought to be there.

More tomorrow!

Oh, the link for the March workshop: Three Day Mini-Color Boot Camp is here.
7

Here is the finished painting, photographed digitally and then sent off for slide duplication--this one is going into the Kansas City "Art Show at the Dog Show" competition under the oils category. I hope it gets in!

In finishing this one up, you can see I didn't do all that much more major painting, just refined and detailed out the legs, pats and heads of the two dogs. I paid special attention to the contrast areas on the tails and the gently varying values on the white areas of the right pup ("Sparky").

The added color of the red-violet collar puts the finishing touch of a discord for this analogous color scheme. In Hal Reed's Color Wheel, he shows that there needs to be a dominant hue of the one compliment (in this case the orange) and a much smaller physical area of the partnering complement (in this case, the blues). Hal Reed's Analogous Color Wheel helped me get the correct proportion of hues when I needed it, making my work more pleasing to the eye. Although not part of the Color System I use now, it is useful to have one of these while planning your paintings.

I'm so pleased to report that the first week's workshop in May in Georgia is FULL. I didn't think it would fill THAT fast!!! I'm still taking waitlisted folks in the case someone doesn't make it. So if you want to come to Georgia's second Color Boot Camp, please let me know, as the second week has a few spaces left. Curious? Go here.

10

I'm starting a painting, another square one, because this image of an agility dog has been in my head since I saw the videos on YouTube. The energy of agility is amazing!

Again, design is king (or queen!) in these new works. Look at the tire shape creating the arc that sweeps the viewer through the canvas, counter-balanced by the other arc of the dog's body and direction of travel. Another arc is the shape of the tunnel behind, and the arcs of the tube tunnel itself.

This is design! -- repetition with variety, which encourages the viewer's eye to travel around the painting, going from arc to arc. Although most viewers aren't aware that is what they are doing, having the repetitions there also creates harmony--this is a GOOD thing. Even without color, the structure of the painting emerges. Structure within a painting is key to making good work. One can have all the color knowledge available, and not making traditional realism fly because the underlying abstract structure is weak. Have you looked over your own work to find the abstract structure?

This will be another entry for the Art Show at the Dog Show in Kansas City. Wish me luck!

On another note, one of my painting shipping boxes ended up in Utah, because of a mis-print on the address on the return shipping label. It is "The Quest" the acrylic done for the acrylic DVD "Acrylic Painting Fast and Loose", which was shown in Chicago. Just a reminder not to reuse shipping boxes so often that there is too much writing on them! I've learned. Ship with Strong Boxes by Airfloat systems. Worth every penny. I didn't use one, and they said the painting was damaged... I will see when it finally gets here how bad it is.

Our hills are greening up now with the rains. Here's an image of the view out our back gate:

13

Had to take a break from the dog painting to join the other members of PAAR (Plein Air Painters of Riverside) in their week-long paint out of the beautiful city.

Here's my first work, a 12 x 16 oil of "Las Campanas", the restaurant at the Mission Inn (John, you didn't think I'd forget, did you?) The Mission Inn is a landmark block-large hotel in the downtown area. People were coming and going, valet parking right where I set up. I learned after the fact that they frowned on painters "cluttering up" their drive way. Ha! Better to ask forgiveness than permission.... no one requested for me to move, so I just painted to my heart's content.

If you look at the composition of this painting, you'll note the asymmetrical balance, the arched entry on the left balanced by the seating area on the right. Teh verticals of the palm trunks and bamboo are also counter-balanced by the horizontals of the hedge, the arch and the gentler curves of the walkway and curb. This was done with 80% cool colors, with only the lit areas of the bench and podium going to the warm side. No signature, as it may make it into the jurying portion. If I sell it first (for $300), then I'll sign it.

PAAR has a great group of friendly artists, and this week we'll all be painting together in the parks and urban areas. Tomorrow it is off to the Martha McLean/Anza Narrows Park overlooking the Santa Ana River. The weather has been wonderfully warm, yet windy today. Mid 70s, and bright sun.

The March workshop only has one space left, then I start taking wait list folks. If you were thinking about it, now is the time to contact me for that last slot. The February workshop is full, and so is one of the weeks in May. Color Boot Camp!

19

At the beginning of this last week, we began painting at the Riverside Art Museum and on Mission Avenue.
I did this little 5 x 7 oil of the museum sign as an exercise in back lighting. It was windy, so I didn't spend too much time on it--only about 30 minutes.

The great news was that today, the "Quick Draw" competition in front of the Library ended with me taking first place with my "Morning Light on Mission Avenue" painting. It's a 14 x 11 acrylic on board. I set the timer while I painted it in ten minute increments, so I could take in-process photos. I'll share those with you in the days to come. Here's an image of me with the ribbon... total painting time, one hour and 45 minutes from start to finish. I'm glad I stopped to take the "in process" pictures, so I can share what went on during its creation. I had "hat hair" by then... ah well. The PAAR people sure put on a great show!

Now to think about the upcoming workshops and to enjoy the finished patio adjoining the studio. On February 6, the Plein Air Artists of Riverside will be coming here to paint the green hills and have a pot luck dinner. I'm looking forward to that, too!

20

How the winning painting began:

The clock started at 9:30 for all of us on location painters to do a painting in two hours. We were set up all around the Library lawns and on street corners with our art gear surrounding us. None of us were allowed to begin until given the sign.

I had prepped my canvas with a burnt orange underpainting, with some cadmium yellow thrown in to get rid of that white canvas. When the shout to begin came through the cool morning air, then I sketched the scene in front of me with burnt umber and ultramarine blue.

I can already see the abstract structure, and I'm ready to start putting in the first layers of cool colors to set the stage for what is to follow. This is the first ten minutes of my painting time, and most of that was spent figuring out placement of primary and secondary focal points for the design. There may only be two minutes of actual painting time in this block of ten minutes. I had a timer with me for this competition, not to keep track of how much time has passed, but to STOP me at ten minute intervals so I would be forced to take these in-process images!!
Here is the camera shot of the scene in front of me to give you an idea of what was presented for my painting subject. Not much color in backlit stuff. (Unless you know the Color System!!!)

So these images being sent to you in the next days will represent ten minutes of painting time each. It hopefully will help to see how much or little painting is done at each stage. Here you don't see much "painting" but my head is furiously functioning to plot and plan the design. I only used a few colors for this initial lay in of the grass and the shadow sides of the church to this point. More tomorrow!

21 Process Lesson, Part Two. The timer was started again after I painted yesterday's ten minutes, and this is where I'm at in the process, twenty mintues into it. I'm still completely in the cool boxes as I mix up the morning light sky, using white with the trio of sky colors (ult blu, yellow ochre and the red that passes for alizarin in acrylics--Quinacridone magenta), to which has been added that morning light cool yellow. Brushy layers make for interest in that area. I'm using a 5/8" wide filbert for all of this painting, without concern for edges (except for that roof line.)
When painting the roof, I stayed with the cooler colors of Q. magenta and burnt umber, and then added cad red light where it slipped over into the sunlit area.
In the cement walk ways and the sides of the church, there is a tremendous influence of the overhead sky, so these mixes are heavily influenced by ultramarine blue, although cement is a neutral gray by nature.
Do you see how the underpainting peeks through at this stage? I don't have to worry about white canvas showing, and it makes the painting process go that much faster. If specks of that warm tone seep through even at later stages, it will only help unify the colors. Get rid of white surfaces when you want to paint quickly, is my motto.

In planning this design, the radials of the sidewalks are very important to carry you into and to the street where the cars and vertical palms will be. These radials will be broken up by opposing light and shadow shapes, but their directional lines are very important to put down first.

On to the next ten minutes of painting tomorrow!
22 The timer ticked on.... ten more minutes passed, and I am now at the thirty-minute mark at this point of the painting. Again, this is a 16 x 12 acrylic, on location on Mission Inn Avenue, in Riverside a few days ago, done for the Quick "Draw".

I'm still using that 5/8" filbert, and painting the big shapes, staying in the cool box for almost all of this segment. The exceptions are the warm sunny grass areas and the light on the tops of the bushes.

Revelation! I realize that in the painting method I'm sharing with you, I almost exclusively work from the cool box to the warm box* in every painting I do. That's because the sky, the distance, the large shadow shapes all come from the cool box. Slap it on the serve it up!! Then head for the warm boxes to start putting on those final layers ("layers" - applicable to acrylics in this case.)

You can see the shapes of the (future) cars now, not much more than blobs, and also the subtle beginnings of the arches in the church, painted either with a layer of lighter cool colors, or adding umber to the current mix and painting in the dark shapes. I got those palm truns in, too.

Oh, that blob of umber in the lower left? Dropped a brush and it thwacked the canvas. Hey, poop happens.



Now that I'm not painting it, I can stop and talk about the design of the piece. (Don't you just HATE it when someone stops by and starts asking questions while you're working? Har...) Look at the white lines, which are the abstract structure of this piece. The slightly tilted horizontals are nicely complimented by the slightly tilted verticals, and the diagonals are balanced by the counterbalance in the lower left. Yup. Planned it that way. Also put the focal point (orange circle) where it intersects those blue lines, that represent dividing the canvas into thirds. If you can get your focal points to land near one of the intersections of those lines, you'll have a more pleasing composition.

Tick, tick, tick.... time to set the next ten minutes!!

* If you need to know what I'm talking about in "cool and warm boxes", please order my DVD set "Colorful Oil Painting" which explains the color system I'm using. It works for every medium.
26 Whew, after yesterday's image, I'm thinking "this really is in the uglies!" But today's image shows why getting those big flat planes of color in place is essential before heading for the details (which make the finish on a piece).

I've added the arches and windows on the side of the church, using the flat edge of both a 1/2" filbert and a size 6 bright to get the shapes in one stroke, using burnt umber. Then I spent the balance of the ten minutes working on the car shapes by adding the sky reflections on the hoods and tops and painting wheel wells and dark shapes on the opposing side of the street. A little messing around under the bushes on the lower right, and I'm done with these few minutes.

But I did clean up the brush mark on the lower part with more layers of sunlit color before the "dinger" went off again!
29 The next ten minutes of this painting were spent with a small round and a 1/4 inch filbert, essentially obiliterating the nice arches and windows that were painted a few minutes ago. I'm tightening down some areas with more detail.

By putting in the row of smaller trees, I have linked the grassy area to the church walls, and again created repetition with variety in that each tree is unique, yet similar. These trees were painted with both dark and light values, to create a sense of depth, through which you can see the church. The cars got some more work, and the sunny grass and sidewalks were laid in using those warm whites, yellows and green.

I also added more palm fronds on the upper left side, making the pole-like trunks not so obvious.
One more ten-minute session, where I take a critical long look at it, make some changes, then this pup is DONE!
Hope you've enjoyed it so far. If you missed some of it, please visit my blog below and see the steps in review.

I'm working on the workshop that comes up in a couple of weeks, and my online courses are buzzing right along. There is new work on the easel, too!
31

One hour and twenty minutes... finished and framed.
I spent the last ten minutes both studying the stage of the painting from yesterday's blog, and also wanting to place more emphasis on that steeple. So I went over the sky again with another layer, blending the brushworks away with a glaze, and then highlighting the area around the steeple with lighter values of that lemon yellow tinted sky (all Color Boot Campers know what I mean when I say Lemon Yellow in morning skies!)

The last act was to put in one of the lamp posts that are so characteristic of Riverside, on the left. No doubt where this scene is with that unique lamp post!

So in sharing the ten minute stages of a plein air quick draw, I hope that I've been able to show how one of my paintings develop to a finished stage. I look at all of the earlier ones and say, "Yipes! Ugggg-LEEs!!" But not out loud. It is just a fact that paintings in process have to go through ugly stages to get to a finished state. And in a nutshell, the finished state is focusing the viewer's eye on those areas where we want interest, and downplaying those areas where interest is much lower on the priority list.

Yes, I know some artists go the mile in detail and focus, but I like to think my painting style is more the way the human eye sees--what is of interest to us is where our eyes focus and thus we get detail at that area. The rest of the scene/critter/person is then less detailed.

No signature, a requirement for these juried events (makes it fair to the judge), and here's the nicest reward a painter can receive--honors for honest effort! Thanks for sharing the journey with me. The painting is now hanging in the Riverside Art Museum, and the opening for that show is February 7.