Sunday, January 31, 2010

Nature's Still Life #2

This is painting #2. I started by painting the shadows in staining colors (see below), and then washed a mix of cerulean blue, raw sienna, yellow ochre, burnt sienna, ultramarine blue (all sedimentary) over the backround. I then used salt and water from my spray bottle to get all the background texture. Next I went in and painted the rocks by first taping around the edges and then sponging, spattering, etc. I realized that my shadows underneath were too hard and I had to scrub them out quite a bit to get the rounded shape back. I also lost more of my whites than I wanted, so I had to Magic Clean some of them back. The twig also needed some lifting to get back to the whites and then I added some blue in the light spaces to contrast with the orange leaves. I purposely kept the leaves a little less textured than the other areas, but in looking at it now, I think they could use more variation. There is actually sponging on top of the leaves, but it may be too subtle.

I definitely think this is going to be a fun subject. I'm looking forward to trying lots of different texture techniques and maybe changing the shape of the big leaf to make it more interesting.

Underpainting for Nature's Still Life #2

This is the underpainting for the painting above. I used Thalo Blue, Alizarin Crimson, and Thalo Green. As you can see the shadows on the rock are too hard and I really had to scrub them later. Also, it is clear here that the shadow under the big leaf is too dark especially relative to the smaller leaf. I was never really able to get them evened out.

Nature's Still Life #1

Okay, here is painting #1 in a series of 20 I need to do for Mike Bailey's Beyond the Obvious Class. I purposely chose something from nature, because for the last two years, I chose things with wine bottles or wine glasses and drove myself crazy getting the ellipses correct. I figure this way I can change the shape of the leaves, rocks, or twig, and they'll still look like what they are. This started from a photo (I probably took about 25; just tossing the objects on to a white piece of paper in the front driveway at a time of day with good shadows). I made the big leaf slightly bigger so it's stem didn't end up exactly in the middle of the painting. I added the extra rock in the top right so that strong curve of the leaf would get broken up. And I changed the shape on one of the rocks to make it repeat a leaf shape.
I was generally pleased with this one, but I had a little trouble with my shadows. The rocks all seemed like they were floating (the reflected color lighted the shadow too much). And when I tried to darken the shadow it lost its transparent color and got a muddier than I wanted. You really need to get the shadows correct the first time, because reworking them is never quite as clean.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Venice Canal

I've been working on this painting all fall and finally finished it! I signed up for Mike Bailey's Beyond the Obvious class and need to take my painting off the board so I can stretch some fresh paper. So I had some incentive to get it done.
I'm pretty happy with it at this point. I think I ended up with sort of an H composition (or maybe an upside down W). I was pleased with the way the squiggles in the water were repeated in the squiggles in the brick in the far wall. And I think the light/shadow pattern on the far wall helps guide your eye to the gondola focal point.
I really struggled with all the detail, and was initially afraid to get darker because I thought it would make it look too busy. But putting in more small value contrasts actually helped make your eye move across the paper. I stuck to a very limited pallette: Azo orange, Cad Red Light, Turquoise, and Thalo Blue.
There are probably still things I could improve, but I think I'm ready to pull it off the board!