Agecroft Hall and Sunken Garden / oil

My palette knife is in my hand as much time as my paintbrush.

My palette knife is in my hand as much time as my paintbrush.

When I get to my location, it always takes me 1/2 hour or 45 min, to mix up my colors for the day.  I decide what area to work on, then mix light medium and dark values of the colors I want to use. By mixing my colors on my palette with my palette knife, I get them closer to what you see with the naked eye, and avoid the problem of the colors mixing too much on the canvas and coming out muddy.

But one thing I really enjoy a lot, is making thin lines with my palette knife. It’s easier to scratch a skinny line than it is to paint one. If you can get a clear enlargement of this photo on your computer, maybe you can see where I scratched all around this painting to make lines and give it texture.

The way I did the brick wall, for example, was to paint the colors of the mortar first. I painted the wall with two shades of gray in the places I wanted there to be light and shadow. So, the whole wall was gray. Then, when that dried, I blobbed in brick colors on top of the gray and scratched through the wet layer to show the gray mortar color coming though as lines. You get bricks without painting every brick. But people see the detail, and might imagine I painted every brick. It works if you paint in the couch with Maroger Medium and glazes.

I also like to scratch through my brushstrokes to feather the edges, and add texture. For the trees behind the house, I blobbed in three shades of green and scratched through the wet paint so the edges of my brush strokes wouldn’t be sharp, but a little blended. Visually, that helps the background trees recede a little. The trees in front of the house got scratched on the trunks but not the foliage.

It took a long time to finish, and I could still keep on working on it, but I’m not going to. It looks like I painted a lot of detail, but I left out the detail I didn’t want to paint, gutters and downspouts, a planter with nothing blooming, and whatever else you might notice is missing, if you have a photo to compare it to.

It seems like I worked on this painting at home as much as I worked on it at Agecroft. A lot of times, I can mix up some colors there, and paint at home on the more time consuming parts of the painting.

Agecroft Hall and Sunken Garden / underpainting / oil

on a violet tinted canvas

on a violet tinted canvas

I mixed up 3 shades of blue gray for my underpainting, so I could plan my lights and shadows. I decided to use cool grays for this because when I go over it with layers of warm glazes, they will visually lift off the underpainting. It’s fun to work on a violet tint. If you want to experience”lift” you should try it. The violet is kind of transparent and seems to rub off on your hands, even if it’s dry. You can tell when you paint on top of it that it’s coming right through the underpainting colors. That’s ok, because as I’m building up layers on top of the violet, I can totally kill the violet if I want to, or I can let it show through in places. I like when it shows through. I don’t know if others can see it in the end, or if I’m the only one who sees it because I put it there. But the violet continues to influence the glazes on top. If I let it show through in the shadows, it will be muted violet, not VIOLET!! haha. You know what I mean.

It’s a fun color theory experiment, and it works.

Richmond From Legend / underpainting and photos

Camera perspective V the naked eye perspective

Camera perspective V the naked eye perspective

I drew it on paper, standing on the deck at Legend Brewery a few weeks ago in the morning before they opened, and left when the customers started to come in for lunch. It took me a few weeks to get my charcoal sketch, as seen on a post below, then more time to draw it on the canvas with charcoal. I didn’t use a photo, but measured the perspective by holding my charcoal out at an arm’s length and using the Federal Reserve building as a unit of measure. I thought I had the perspective close enough to real, then I ran into a stopping point when I started on the underpainting one morning.

The light is better in the afternoon on the city, but Legend gets crowded some afternoons, and the weather is still iffy a lot of days, which stopped me and was a problem I needed to work out before painting.

This painting is complicated, and after years of drawing from life outside in nature, I don’t enjoy painting from a photo. When you get used to seeing the subject life size, then have to look at a photo, it’s like the photo is so small and the perspective is smushed and the colors are flat. It was just more practical to use photos at this step. I had my camera set on automatic for the shots  printed out here, and taped them together, so I could get the afternoon light in my underpainting. I took these shots from the floodwall, which is a little lower and closer to the river than Legend. The skyline looks like 36 inches to my naked eye and looks like 18 inches to my camera. I did the underpainting at home. I’d rather have been at Legend.

I had to get a different  state of mind to paint using the photos. I hear other artists get stuck with a painting too. I went over to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and drew some Lotus flowers, meanwhile. And I need to draw more Lotuses before I can get a plan worked out for the Lotus painting. The Lotuses are a good distraction from the difficult city painting.

Our teachers at York Academy of Art told us to do a detailed underpainting. It wasn’t easy, but I got it, finally. At this rate, I’ll probably have the painting finished by Aug. for the show I entered at Artworks. Now I have to go to Legend in the afternoon to mix my colors. Building up layers of color on top of my dark underpainting with the lightest and brightest colors the most opaque, I hope to get the illusion of depth in the painting, and make my city POP!!

Lucky Strike / oil

Metaphorically speaking, this painting talks too much.

Metaphorically speaking, this painting talks too much.

I painted it in the winter, but saved it till now for my show at the Glen Allen Cultural Art Center in June. I want to invite everyone to come out on June 2 from 6 to 9. They will have a lot of art and performances, food and drinks. It will be fun!

OK. What is it this painting won’t shut up about? The list goes on and on. I’ll tell you some of it. First it was about male and female, earth and sky, what’s timeless. It was about a beautiful view in a historic neighborhood that might be blocked by condos. The condo plan is scrapped for now, as far as I know.

Then it talked about Richmond’s history, the tobacco industry, and now, warehouses being converted into offices and condos. It told me, Richmond will never be invaded from that direction again, because the Indian Cincinnati

This is Cincinnati by Paul Di Pasquale

This is Cincinnati by Paul Di Pasquale

is on the roof guarding us. My view from the hill was to his back.

And before I was finished with the painting, it got on the subject of good guys and bad guys, and the strange conversations I had with them when I was up there working on the painting. Funny, the cop didn’t ask me if I saw the perp, and the perp didn’t ask me if I saw the cop, so I didn’t tell either that the other one was there. It’s too much to type, but if you have the time, I’ll tell the story.

About the Indian, Richmonders will remember seeing him glaring down from the eaves of the Diamond and striking terror into the other teams. Now you can see him from Dock St. I think he looks great up there, but he’s out in the weather.

This is what I remember from high school. Cincinnati was an ancient Greek who got drafted into the army and had to leave home to fight. He was so outstanding in battle that they won every time, and then they wanted to make him king. He said, “No thanks, I’ll go back to my farm.”

Fearless in Poe’s Garden / oil

The Poe Museum has 2 black cats, Edgar and Pluto. You already know that miscreant, the Raven.

The Poe Museum has 2 black cats, Edgar and Pluto. You already know that miscreant, the Raven.

The opening of the upcoming art show “Poe’s Enchanted Garden” happens with their “Unhappy Hour” on May 26. You should go, it will be good.

Chris S. at the Poe museum told me the cats worked together and caught a squirrel. They had it cornered. The garden was set up for an event with a huge white canopy and tables with black tablecloths. The cats dragged their victim into the formal set up!  Later, I wondered if it was a wedding, and if the bride fainted at the sight of the squirrel’s murder. It seemed somehow appropriate for the Poe Museum.

The Redbud trees and Tulips are from my memory. Redbuds are bushy little trees, and there’s no room for one, but I put them in the scene, because I think Poe might have liked them. Just imagine they’re espaliered. hahaha, yeah, I espaliered them for Poe with the magic of art.

I  tried to draw that planter  4 or 5 times on paper. Every time, when I got home, I’d look at it and think, that’s close, but not right. So I traced my sketch and tried again on another paper. Finally, I got it to look  symmetrical and right proportionally, then drew it again on the canvas. I was still making corrections with paint, until I decided it was close enough. The planter has a little green bush and some pansies, not Tulips. I wanted to put Tulips in so the painting could have a line of bright red flowers.

It’s a great thing about art, you can make changes to a scene if you want to. A plein air artist doesn’t have to record the scene as it is in real life. I’m using naturalistic colors and values by mixing my paint outside in natural light and trying to match my colors to what’s there. That’s what makes it look like “Realism”.  If you go to the Poe Museum, you will be able to see how much this differs from reality.

 

 

Under the Weeping Cherry / oil

weeping cherry

Welcome to my secret hideout!

I’m not the only kid who likes this tree. I was sitting on a root mixing up my colors and saw a boy come over to the outside of the tree. He was probably around 8, I guess. He stuck his face in a big clump of flowers and shook his head around in it. A lot of petals fell and he watched them come down. Then he left and rejoined his group. I don’t know if he saw me through the branches, or not.

I thought it was pretty cool, the kid loves nature too.

This painting went through a lot of changes. You can see the process in the photos below, stripping off the layers all the way back to my underpainting, with some talk about the old school ways of  painting, which is glazes painted in the couch, with Maroger Medium.  I’ve looked at this painting for weeks now, and can’t decide about it. I need fresh eyes to tell me what you see. IMG_1641

This photo shows the white flowers painted on, with the tree and branches still in the underpainting phase. I had to finish the background before the tree bloomed, because the white flowers should be on top of the background colors. And then the branches are on top of the flowers.  I started weeks ago, because this tree blooms fast, then it’s over in a few days and covered with green leaves. So my background was dry before I put the white flower glazes on top of it.IMG_1639

This photo shows the background finished with some lines painted in to plan my branches coming down. I wanted the viewer to be able to see some of the background through the branches. That’s why I need fresh eyes to look at this. I know what’s in the background, because I painted it. Can the viewer see the steps, pink trees and Daffodils? This painting is all about the Weeping Cherry, though, so, I planned to cover a lot of  the background. IMG_1635

This is my underpainting in the complimentary colors of what I planned to use. It’s on a violet tinted canvas, which is influencing the colors. The part I wanted to be green grass, I underpainted in green’s complimentary color, which is red. I used a brownish red. And the ground under the tree, I wanted to make  a warm brown in the light and gray in the shadows, so I underpainted in with green. I underpainted the sky in a peachy orange. The violet is showing through. You can see where I scribbled some shadows under the tree with charcoal, but I wasn’t happy with that, at this stage, and changed my shadows later.

the Dark Horse Unfettered / oil

color theory experiment #2

color theory experiment #2

If you’d like to see the process of layering oildarkhorse glazes paint in glazes, see the photos below, stripping off the layers all the way back to my underpainting.

This step shows the horse’s head moved higher on his neck than my model. And he’s now underpainted in reddish brown.

I’m calling the foreground grass finished at this point. I had a devil of a time with it.  It was difficult to mix the right color, and one day I put a glaze over the grass of a more yellowish tan and later, wasn’t sure if it looked ok.  So I left it overnight to decide the next morning. When I got up the next day, that color looked sooooo bad on there, I almost went back to bed. hahahahahhaha So I used turp on a paper towel and wiped the offending tan color off before it was too dry, and tried shades of green again, which looked better. That’s one thing I like about painting this way. You have time to make corrections, and you can totally redo a large area.darkhorse, glazes

This photo shows the sky and background vegetation finished.

The foreground grass is still too choppy, but ok in the showing of depth, because I grayed it up a little behind the horse, and didn’t gray the green in the foreground.

I don’t know how much you can see on your computer, but that paint is on there thick.

This is my 2nd layer of glazes on the sky. I painted it on with brushes, then went back in with my palette knife to blend the edges between the colors a little. The palette knife made a texture like icing a cake. I left the texture in it.

Then for the background vegetation, I mixed up a neutral medium gray. a tan with gray, and reddish gray, and painted on blobs of each color. Then came back in with my palette knife and scratched lines through the colors to make a grassy or tree like texture. Some of the violet ground shows through.

I went to green on the foreground  from the reddish brown at this stage. Totally flopping the spectrum on the grass. Hoping that makes the green nice and bright.

darkhorse, glazes

This photo shows one layer of glazes in pink and blue on the sky, and one layer of glazes in reddish brown on the foreground. You can see a stripe of gray behind  the horse.

When I did the glazes on the sky, I painted into the horse’s head with my sky colors. I almost obliterated the whole head. Also I cut into the horse’s body with sky colors. Not a problem. I wiped off some of the paint so I could estimate where his head should be. It took the green off all the way back to the violet tint.

So, at this point, I have a green horse, that I want to finish as reddish. And a reddish brown ground that I want to finish green. Both the horse and the ground are painted in the complimentary colors of the finished colors I wanted.

The violet tint on the canvas shows through a lot at this point. Even when I’m finished, and the paint is thick layers, I still think the violet is influencing the way the colors show up.darkhorse, glazes

This photo shows my horse underpainted in green. After I finished the underpainting, I decided to move the horse’s head up to a more natural position, which means, this is going to get painted over. You can see the violet tint on my canvas. I couldn’t wait to kill the violet, so I went over the sky area with a neutral gray. Some violet is showing through. And it makes the neutral gray look greenish.

I think this color experiment came out better than my 1st try with the horses I called Wild and Free. I’m going to try the violet tinted canvas for one more painting.

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