Last week I did two demo paintings for different art groups here in Austin. The one from life was supposed to be outside in Zilker Botanical Gardens, but the weather didn't cooperate. The model was kind enough to sit in the chilly window ledge so we had the illusion of outdoors and the soft lighting of an overcast sky. When I work with a model, I prefer they sit naturally. I've done enough life drawing and painting from models who look sleepy and unnatural. I encourage the models to talk or read a book. I'm ok with a little movement. I have an impressionist approach so it works for me.
The beach scene I did to demonstrate my quick start technique and impressionist style to a group of artists working in many different mediums. I am quite pleased with where the figures are now. They really don't need much more. But I do plan to reduce the sort of neopolitan ice cream look of the overall canvas. ;-)
I hesitate to show this one. The one on the left is my work on day 1. The light was gone and we had a TONAL scene to paint. I hate tonal. But I have to say, I understand it a lot better now. Quang's gorgeous painting - done earlier in the day - was tonal really. There are some spots of light but for the most part, the model and setting are in shade. This is what tonal can be. Still full of color.
I think I always assumed "tonal" meant grey or brown, without color. But Van Gogh was a tonal painter. He ultimately didn't care about depth or modeling. He placed tones against one another - in beautiful color. Another tonalist (and another of my favs) - Degas.
So this is a scene I will try again with color. Maybe then I can do more than paint just light and shadow.
I had the opportunity today to participate in an art performance. Some of Austin's figure models posed for an audience while a small group of artists sketched. The models were the stars- they told stories, talked about body image, other aspects of their lives and what led them to posing, among other things. Some of it was quite moving and personal. And it's an interesting switch to have the models be the focus and the artists subordinate. After sitting for a hour and a half on a short stool quietly sketching, I certainly felt some sympathy for their physical endurance when posing.
The performance is staged by Paper Chairs at the Canopy. Shows continue through next weekend.
When in a funk, the best thing to do is go back to the basics. I haven't been very inspired lately and not able to dive into a full painting. And when faced with one of my own figure sessions, held in my own backyard, I had to slow down and work methodically, as if a beginner.
I first sketched the scene planning my composition and dark/light patterns. Once comfortable with that I began a light line drawing with the brush. Then I started to fill in. I worked thinly, kept palette rather neutral and didn't define small areas. It felt good and worked well enough that I didn't finish the day feeling like a hack!
More on my funk later. Oh joy!
Sunday morning I met a group of artists at a joint Plein Air Austin and Oil Painters of America paint out on a private ranch south of town.
We arranged for a couple of models on Sunday and I had a wonderful time painting them. It's just what I've been wanting to do more of - and finally the weather cooperated!
Sunday morning was cloudy with flat light. We decided to just do some small studies from a high spot before decamping and heading home to Austin. As you can see I had about 5 in me.
I needed this little break. I think I tend to be a homebody and don't have the time or money right now to travel to paint. But when one is home all the time, then inspiration is rather lacking.
The temps probably were in the low 90s Saturday afternoon and the air was so dry that my eyes got very tired. So I tried something on the abstract side - softening my focus and just getting a feeling of the dead tree and brush rather than working details.
Summer is hanging on here for all its worth. But I booked a spot in Bastrop for a family camping trip this weekend. Glutton for punishment?
After a night of little sleep, first being fascinated by the night sounds and stars, and then being awakened by horses outside our tent, I pulled my cold body out of bed and painted a little of the morning light on a nearby rock outcropping. That isn't worth showing.
Later in the day we headed back down to the Rock Pile and painted there. I also did some "notan" sketches and then got interested in a tree.
Lately, while I wait to pick up my daughter in the car rider line, I have done quick cloud studies. These are just under 15 minute studies done on 9x12 Arches oil paper.
In the late summer these beautiful, big clouds build in central Texas. When we can often see from horizon to horizon, these giant cloud shapes dominate our skies. I love them. And the blue of the Texas sky is my favorite color. Something between cerulean and royal blue.
Sept 4 - Opening Reception: 3x3 - Russell Collection Fine Art
Sept. 4 - Opening Reception: Pretty in Pink, dk Gallery
Oct. 15 - Opening Reception: American Impressionist Society Annual Show, Trailside Gallery
Nov. 7-8 - OPA/PAA Paint out, Texas Hill Country
As I logged into my Weebly editor they had a quote from Vincent van Gogh - “I long so much to make beautiful things. But beautiful things require effort—and disappointment and perseverance.”—Vincent van Gogh, The Hague, September 9, 1882, to Theo van Gogh
Early this year, I planned to take the year to put in some hard work to grow, and experiment, and play. I think its the first time in my admittedly shoddy memory that I recall focusing so much on certain aspects of my work. Specifically I worked on brushwork (more open) and lightening up my palette (harder than you'd think.)
Along came the opportunity to have a show with two other wonderful artists at Russell Collection Fine Art - and I really had to kick things in to gear. I believe I have made some good strides.
And while I think I have improved my paintings, what might have improved more is my mental outlook. I have a better sense of what I want to create. I have more confidence. I know that creating beautiful things is a lifelong pursuit and I am allowed to change over the course of my lifetime.
So, I took new work in to Russell Collection that I am proud of - and excited to share. Knowing the work is different from what people may expect from me, but hoping they like what they see. We can't stay forever the same. That reminder comes home every day at 3:30 pm from 7th grade! WOW
Just got home late last night from New Orleans. It was a whirlwind trip with V....Vaughan. We got in just before sunset on Monday night and hit the streets with our cameras and sketchbooks. V.... created a couple of lovely sketches of a resident trumpeter. I saw him there and painted him two years ago. I had trouble getting my bearings.
I liken New Orleans to riding a horse with a hard mouth and strong will. It should be a pleasant experience, a thing of beauty, but you end up fighting with it and being frustrated and disappointed.
I had better success on Tuesday when we got up early, had beignets and beverages at the Cafe du Monde (they have the best of the three beignet places we tried btw.) We painted some sketches and listened to another musician serenade the crowds. Next we sat along the river front and sketched the mighty Mississippi river. It is truly an amazing river. So wide, such a strong current... carrying all our gew gaws in from China.
Tons more walking. Walked a quieter section, then along Bourbon, then back to our hotel area and got our car and drove to the Garden District. Unfortunately, the cemetery was closed. I had hoped to sketch the tombs in there. But we found a good view on Magazine street and settled in there. Then back to the business district for dinner at Luke. Luck favored me there... they sat us next to the kitchen! We watched the chefs hard at their craft and ate a good dinner and had a delicious cold beer. Much appreciated after the long day! Walked for dessert and then finally a shower and bed!!
I think we crammed three days of stuff into one. The heat wasn't bad really. The sun was too intense tho if you weren't in the shade working. And I probably should eat more than a beignet and a half for breakfast when setting out on such a day!
I think I found it stressful because every where we turned there were homeless people begging or street performers hawking. We were targets - sympathetic looking - and naive, unfortunately. I'm usually more savvy but these people are good at what they do and would have you roped before you knew what happened then you were "obliged" to "donate".
To be continued tomorrow while I put my feet up today. :-)
Back in my hot studio and have a group of new works ready to ship to Tidewater Gallery in NC. The above is a recent favorite. We had this young lady pose for one of our Saturday sessions. She was in full make up for her upcoming rehearsal and we had a couple of costume options. At first she wanted to pose in very beautiful ballerina positions which were impossible to hold, of course. But we finally got her to relax and got some beautiful sketches done. This I painted from my started sketch and photos.
Please contact Tidewater Gallery for purchasing information.
I continue to host the biweekly figure sessions on Saturday mornings at Joel's coffee shop. This has been a great endeavor. I can see a vast improvement in my color and brushwork since starting to regularly paint from life in March (see below).
I frequently just paint the figure and ignore background and am having trouble in other paintings reconciling backgrounds now too. Its always something, right? So I need to work on that. This session, I posed our model in front of one of V....Vaughan's paintings at Joels to give the illusion of a landscape behind her. Its my "Mona Lisa."
Sometimes the set up in the coffee shop isn't ideal. I have a light on a stand and try to mix it up with side, top or back lighting even. The light on my palette and canvas isn't great. But its still awesome to paint from life, to interact with other artists and the model. And enlighten patrons who come in for their coffee. I'd love to have a beautiful studio with space for all and a perfect set up for a model, but that isn't my life right now. And we can't let studio space or want of ideal situations limit our creativity!
A Painter's Journal
Chasing the light. Capturing life.
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