Saturday, February 20, 2010

Scottish Leaves

I call this Scottish leaves, because I unintentionally created a plaid background for it. My objective was to use a cruciform composition, but I wanted a transition - hence the extra stripes. This painting sort of evolved without a great deal of initial planning, but I'm happy with the result. I started to do the curvy contours on the leaves and ended up putting them on the rocks as well. I was going for a red painting but started with an orange underpainting and when I put the big permanent rose stripes on top, it became very intense. So I decided to make the background have more intensity and the foreground (rocks and leaves) be more neutral. Of course, I wanted the branch to stick out, so I had to give it the most intense colors. It started out looking like a giraffe, but now I think it looks more like an alien hand. Anyway, the whole thing is sort of crazy, but I think it works.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

#5 - Rocky Leaves

This painting was alot of fun (and alot of work). I started by planning out how I wanted your eye to move through the painting. The warm yellow is supposed to move your eye from the lower left corner and weave through and around the leaves and back to the smaller leaf. I also positioned the smaller rocks to follow this path.
I used that fun wax paper technique of apply wax paper shapes to wet paint and then painting over it to define the shapes. The problem was that once I had cut out all those rock shapes and figured out their placement, I realized I had to remove them all to apply the paint. Then I couldn't figure out how they were all supposed to fit again. Anyway, it worked, just took some finagling. When I pulled off the wax paper, the rocks had all these wonderful textures. I had to add the darker shades of color between the rocks and glaze over some of the rocks to give them more form. The leaves were fairly straight forward, but I did struggle a bit trying to keep the back leaf muted enough. I tried to lose the back edge of the large leaf by making it the same value as the background, and make the front leaf have light against dark on one side and dark against light on the other. I think I will try to exaggerate this a bit more in a future painting.
One of the other challenges was figuring out the shadow patterns. I really had to think to decide how the twig shadows would bend over the rounded rocks. I didn't want them to be too distracting so they are not as dark as the shadows between the rocks, which I think was the right decision. Overall, I'm very pleased with this painting. There is alot going on, but it seems to work together.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Nature's Still Life #4 -My Ugly Painting

I call this my ugly painting because the neutral grey background with the drippy texture gives a very cold gritty mood. I tried to contrast the tones with the tints in the leaves, but I think those colors came out too sweet to go with the ugly background, so I'm afraid the mood is not very consistent.

This painting started with a textured gesso surface. I used lots of things to make the texture: bubble wrap, mesh, brush dabs, etc. But you can barely see any of it after I applied the paint. So I spritzed some water and let it drip and wow, talk about texture (I think it ended up being too much). The one success with this painting (although it is hard to see because the other texture overpowers it) are the rocks. I used a really cool technique where I put down alot of color and then put wax paper cut out in the shape of rocks over it while it was still damp. I painted right over the wax paper and let some drip under the creases. When it was dry and I lifted it off, the rocks had all this speckled and creased textures. I'm not sure if it would come out the same way on non-gessoed paper, but I will definitely try it again.

Nature's Still Life #3

This was very difficult. I put some tracing paper on top of the underpainting and played around with the leaf shapes and rock positioning slightly to take advantage of the underpainting. I then glazed colors on top to define the shapes. I tried to do some light against dark and dark against light, but it didn't always show up enough so I had to keep layering. Then I really struggled with intensities because if I kept layering the same color, it kept getting brighter, and I was starting to get a rainbow painting instead of a more tonal painting. Anyway, I'm not really very happy with it, but I'm calling it done.
I should note that I tried a new texture technique on the rocks that I liked. I damped the rock shape and then rubbed watercolor pencil against a piece of medium sand paper. The watercolor pencil dust lands on the damp rock. When you blow on it, the dust around the rocks goes away and you are left with speckled rocks. It works best when you use different colors. This looks good up close, but the texture gets lost from a distance. I might try rougher sand paper next time.

Underpainting for #3

So for my 3rd painting, I decided to do an abstract underpainting in a basic tilted T composition and then try to fit my leaves and twig on top. This part was alot of fun and I really liked what I did here. But what came next was really tough....