Day 28’s painting was another from photos I took while at the ballet practice of our Nevada Ballet Theater.
The one above is the new one, the one to the left is the first one I painted about 2 weeks ago.
I tried something different, in the one to the left I painted the figures first, than the room around them, the newest one, above, I painted the room, than the figures on top. I think I like the new one best, the colors are a little more muted because they have intermingled with the room, and the edges are softer.
Day 29 was a nude figure- Her red hair against all the blue-green is what appealed to me about the image. Locating the warm to cool passages in the shadows helped to turn the forms.
Three more days, it has been the best of times and the worst of times, but I will be relieved to finally be finished.
Yesterday, Monday, was the first day I didn’t know if I would finish my painting. Tuesdays are an extra busy day because John and I do our volunteer work to clean out the cat adoption cages at Petsmart. It’s also the day I take classes at the gym, so my painting “Wine?”came to a conclusion about 7;30 pm, luckily John stepped in and picked up dinner at El Pollo Loco. Everything being in muted indoor light, this was another study in subtle color relationships.
Today’s painting “Bridal Boutique” yet another study in subtle color relationships, I’m starting to see a pattern here. While walking around Tivoli Village, an upscale shopping area here in Las Vegas, I saw this Bridal store. As the sun shimmered in the window it was stunning to see the light play on the satin fabric.
Color relationships is not the only pattern I’m seeing in my work. To someone who hasn’t experienced painting before, it might seem that an artist starts a painting than methodically works calmly to the end. Maybe some may actually work like this, but my journey is more like the bottom illustration.I begin, than an uphill struggle, a small platform of ease, than another uphill struggle etc. until the giant valley at the top, where I do not know if it can be solved… helped… or saved. If the giant valley can be crossed, the painting is a downhill path with small stops until the end. There really isn’t such a thing as an easy painting.
This is a scene from the Huntington Library in Pasadena, California. In an unlikely location, in the middle of a residential area, I never realized all that lay behind those giant metal gates. Sweeping grounds with remarkable flower gardens and several art galleries, one of which houses Gainsborough’s famous Blue Boy.
Despite the crowds at the art exhibits, some quite places like this bench, could be found in out of the way places, which is where I took the photo for this painting. A study in greens my palette was Cad. Yellow Light, Cad. Yellow Medium, Cad. Red Deep, Permanent Green Light, Cobalt Blue and Ivory Black.
This is a scene from the San Diego County Fair. We find ourselves there almost every July as John enters his furniture in the Design in Wood Show. The livestock exhibition is something I always look forward to.
This painting gave me the opportunity to lay some heavy paint in the straw area for extra texture.
Days 22 and 23rd’s paintings are both still lifes of a sort, but very different in nature.
Several years ago we drove from Las Vegas to Albany, Oregon. We stopped many times along the way to stretch our legs. On one of these stops we found ourselves in a forest of wild rhododendrons. I tried once to grow some of these in our Las Vegas yard, but they need acid soil and ours is as alkaline as they come.
When I began to paint these I had no idea what colors were in the white flowers, so I worked my way from the obvious to the subtle. The large area of cool dark green was obvious. As I worked through the green I began to see blue and warmer passages but didn’t get side tracked, the value is always more important than the color.
After the large dark was massed in, yes, those flowers were pale blue,pale violet, pale green and pale yellow, but again I massed in the more obvious pale blue, than worked toward the less obvious areas.. Whenever I got “stuck” in the flowers, I moved onto make the blue passages in the greens, than the warm passages, then back to flowers….everything was much easier to see now.
When visiting Seattle, Washington we visited a Boat Maker’s School. It was a fascinating place of partially constructed boats, a library of construction books and tool sheds filled with all sorts of equipment. My husband John is a woodworker and was explaining to me that these chisels all started out much longer but years of sharpening had rendered several of them unusually short. The years of patina on these well used tools made me wonder how many sets of hands had held them, and what about all the projects they helped to create…
Day 20’s painting is a subject I would have never painted before this challenge. As I’ve said before in this blog, angles are a big problem for me, and an image like this would have sent me into a dyslexic turmoil. What I’ve discover…it’s all about the angles. Everything is angles, if I can master the angles, I can master the drawing. I’m learning to look past the complex and just compare one angle at a time.
Day 21’s painting was about subtle color and textures. This is a photo of a model I took several years ago. I put her in a pink night-gown that looked like a dress and elbow length gloves. There was a cool light coming in the window that played nicely off the satin gown.
In this painting I worked from the obvious to the difficult. When I started, I had no idea what color her skin would be, but as the background and the dress developed they told me what the flesh needed to be.
Day 18 and 19 feature dancing, but of very different kinds; one fresh and airy, one dark and earthy.
When John walked by my easel yesterday morning, he took a look at the photo for the day and said ” how are you going to paint that?”, I said… I don’t know.
At first it looked like everything was just floating, not many solid darks, and a background of neural grey. But as I lookup at it longer, I saw why I selected it. All of the values were very close, causing the colors to have an unusual richness. I could also see there was warmth in that grey, the magic being the cool tones against the warm neutral. This is usually the case with me, when I finally realize what I’m looking at, I can paint it.
This young ballet group was performing at an outdoor park, the backdrop is a white piece of canvas, the light from outside is just peeking through at floor level.
This dancer and accompanying musicians were the entertainment at a Belly Dancing convention here in Las Vegas at the South Point Casino and Hotel.
This photo was another challenge as it was blurry from the dim light and movement in the scene. It was a temptation to start at the face, but I’ve learned, painting a head is worthless if it’s in the wrong place. All the the things going on next to her were really what defines her. I started on the easiest parts to grasp, than as things progressed the more difficult areas became easier. My palette was Cad. Yellow Lemon, Yellow Ochre, Cad. Red Deep, Viridian, Permanent Red Oxide and Ivory Black.
I love the southwest landscape. It’s amazing how different the deserts can look. Ours here is Las Vegas is very textural with very little color, except for our Red Rock Canyon, my husband John calls it a tortured beauty.
This painting is from the New Mexico desert, also very textural but with more subtle color, they do get much more rain than we do.
When I start a painting like this, with lots of grasses and bushes, keeping the painting as dry as possible is important to me. If the paint has too much medium in it, the surface will be slippery causing overlaying textures to turn to mush. The first layer is scrubbed on with a stiff bristol brush. Next a thicker almost pasty layer. The final layer I like to use a scruffy badger hair brush with painting medium, with the thicker paint underneath I can get some good traction, dragging thin paint on top in a hit and miss.
Today’s painting was from a scene at the local dog park. It’s so fun to see these guys interact and show their personalities .
I always have a hard time with blues at the start of a painting, are they more toward green or more toward violet? Staring with the most neutral blue, Cobalt blue, gives me a good base to go either way. As areas get developed, it becomes very apparent which direction I need to push the blue.
Day 14’s painting was the first one that I was not happy with. I realized when I started it that the scene was mostly in shadow, making a rather dull contrast image. What I didn’t realize until I had no time left in the day was that there was a lot of camera distortion in the photo. The perspective of the wall was just not right and I didn’t like how the wall followed the line of the planter behind it, yes I should have changed it but, I didn’t see it until it was too late. Either the angle of the planter or the wall was off, not sure which, also the door is not right, but here you have it, my dirty laundry.
Today’s image was also of a low contrast scene, but of a much different type. John and I like to go to the Laguna Plein Aire Invitational in the fall. It’s really fun to run around the beach and downtown area watching all of the Artists create their wonderful art on the spot. At the end of 4 hours a horn blows and everyone must stop painting. The event culminates with an art show and sale.
During one of these trips, while walking on the beach I saw this couple who looked perfect for a subject!
I began this painting by working the sky, it was like walking in a dark room, feeling for the walls, there was nothing to judge the value or intensity against. I jumped to the figures, once they were dialed in the whole key of the painting was established. The sand, water and sky seemed to almost paint themselves as everything became very clear.
This painting was more about not painting than anything else. That’s right, there was so much subtly going on in this dusk scene of a bank of trees, I spend far more time looking and trying to understand just what I was looking at then actually painting.
Thinking things like, is that shape lighter or darker than what’s next to it, is it cooler or warmer, were the questions I asked myself over and over. It reminded me of that passage in the bible “be still and listen”.
It’s such a temptation in a seemingly simple subject like this to just grab a brush and start slashing around. But really paying attention to what’s going on, and yes, “let the painting speak to you”, is the way to grab ahold of the subtle things that matter.
Day 10’s painting, No Dogs Allowed , is from a trip my husband John and I took to Santa Fe, New Mexico. We saw many great galleries while there, as well as a terrific Flamenco dance show.
One day while we were there, we visited the Indian reservation. We were told when entering “do not touch the dogs”, some were family pets while many were wild, it was hard because they were everywhere and I just wanted to lean down and scratch one on the head. This guy was outside of an adobe building where the owners had dinner cooking, he so wanted to go inside!
I used Yellow Ochre, Cad Yellow Deep, Cerulean Blue, Cobalt Blue, Ivory Black and Thalo Green, which I also call atomic green! I don’t usually use this color because it is so extremely dark and cold out of the tube, when mixed with white, a totally intense bluish-green, which is what I used it for in the smallest amount with the Cerulean Blue for the trim around the door.
Today’s painting, In the Shadows , was a scene we saw on the same day. It was the middle of July and blazing hot. I was taken by the interesting shapes in all the shadows here but also taken by a place to get out of the sun. The clever guides that walked along with us all had umbrellas.
This painting really made it clear to me that I am making some great strides in my work while involved in the challenge. Previous to this, I would never choose to paint an architectural subject. A multitude of angles, going in different directions has always been very difficult for me. I am learning to be more observant and look to the negative shapes for the information I need. I used the same palette as the painting above but traded Cad Yellow Deep for Cad Lemon in order to take some of the orange tones out of the lights.