Doing some searching I've found articles that mostly talk about masters like Monet and Degas and their well-documented vision problems. Some more scientific articles mention yellowing of the lens but that doesn't seem to affect color judgement except in lower light conditions. Another was just an interesting study on how or why artists see things differently.
To help with the closeup vision, I recently got a larger monitor and have mounted it to an arm so I can use it to view larger reference material. The monitor is able to rotate too, so vertical images can be viewed full screen.
I've met people who have had surgery to correct their vision and have actually had their eyes corrected to two different focal lengths so they can see near and far. I know the brain adapts, but how are depth perception or the ability to see dimension and form affected? It seems like it could be a difficulty.
Have some of you noticed changes in vision as you age? Do you have any good solutions? I suppose I either need to paint larger, or I will just continue to get more and more impressionistic. ;-)
I know my mom is tired of hearing me whine about the paint I had at the beach. ;-)
But I have to share this as a public service!
Last year we shopped local and I ended up with Winton and a dreadful set of Daler Rowney. This year I thought maybe I had exaggerated the issues and just didn't paint well and wanted to blame the paint. But it is the paint!!
I REALLY want to encourage people to buy good quality (professional) paint - if beginners tried this stuff, esp. the latter, it would ruin all desire to work with the medium. I have searched all over and I can't find any reference to what the Daler Rowney paint has as a medium. It is almost waxy or gelatinous and won't stick to an oil primed surface. You can't build it up or thin it either. Its very strange.
Student grade paint isn't terrible, but beginners often use it because its less expensive and they think investing in a little pricier paint will cost way too much to waste on their learning efforts. You actually end up using less of the more expensive paint than you think however. The pigments are stronger and the mediums will have no fillers. I use W&N and Gamblin paints almost exclusively. Also Classic Artist Oils - which come in large tubes and are quite good for the cost. Ken Auster used these paints. These tubes will make you feel like you are rich with paint! High quality paint will make working with oils so much more enjoyable and give a beginner a real sense of what the medium is capable of doing. Word!
Six years ago I had a solo show at Tidewater Gallery that was focused on small paintings - "vignettes" as I called them. We had a show catalog made as a companion to that exhibit, but I was really disappointed in the print quality. I've decided to update that book and have a new edition printed. The paper and the color quality of the artwork is much better. It was really nice to revisit those paintings. I focused heavily on my first impression of a scene and created works that spoke to the immediacy of the moment frozen in time. I really want to do another series - "Vignettes II" - which I'll exhibit on my site here. Stay tuned!
You can order the new edition here.
It is also available as a downloadable PDF to my Patrons ~ become one today!
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I waited until the last minute to decide, but I attended Derek Penix's workshop hosted by Qiang Huang here in Austin last weekend. I'm glad I did it, though this particular weekend was really busy.
Derek is a fun teacher - and he explains things well and shares a lot. I, like many artists, always want to loosen up - to be more expressive. Well that isn't easy to achieve. There is a lot of mental work that goes into painting and one has to constantly ask questions; how does this value work against that one? how are my shapes? where do I put a highlight? a dark accent? Color choices, texture, values, edges... oh, the challenge of edges! There are so many things to think about. Over time, I think some of those answers become instinctual, but the process of painting is ever evolving as our skills grow and our tastes change. Its important to keep working - even through rough times - and also to find a teacher who has the skill set that can help you reach the next level. There are still things that I am working on mentally but not able to fully realize yet. But for now, I am enjoying my usual subject matter create with a little more energy and expression thanks to two brilliant teachers this year. That is enough to keep me busy awhile!
What a fabulous time we had at the Southeastern Wildlife Expo in Charleston. So much art! And food! And we took the time to really study the area. Despite my cold, I had a blast at the Saturday Soiree and tried, for the first time, steamed oysters. Lots of southern favorites to be had all weekend! V... and I explored and painted. We were invited to join some local and visiting artists to paint on a private island somewhere near James or John's Island. Many thanks to Hilarie L. for inviting us. I dropped my brush in the marsh. Then my painting blew in (on oil paper). There's always one, right?
We painted at night - a first for me. We painted the sunset and sold our little sketches to some passing admirers from Boston. Then we had the honor of doing a workshop for the SC Jr. Duck Stamp competition winners. Joining us was Flo Ulrich - and it made for a sort of reunion for us. V, Flo and I were among the original founders of Plein Air Austin. Some 15 years ago we named our little group and painted together and even had some shows, but didn't make it an official org. until later.
A group of about 20 kids came to our workshop - sharing their winning artwork and watching us demo. I painted from a photo of a Charleston carriage horse in the stables I found. Leave it to me to find the horses in a city (even NYC). :-)
I honestly thought this one I would bomb, but I managed to make it work and hopefully imparted some good info to the kids.
The time lapse is on my Vimeo and Patreon page. Do check it out for free still - and consider subscribing to see more behind the scenes in my studio and hopefully helpful tutorials and live broadcasts - as well as chances to win a painting in monthly drawings, Q&A and more, depending on your subscription level. :-)
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In the spirit of the exciting events launching this week, I'd like to introduce my Patreon site!
Imagine your favorite artists making a living doing what they do best… because of you! Patreon is a platform that allows creative people, like me, to build a community and share their skills while getting paid.
I have always loved sharing what I do - having blogged about it for over a decade now! This platform means I can share video tutorials and behind the scenes access to my subscribers. Other "rewards" include live broadcasts of painting demos, Q&A, downloads, tips and tricks, coffee house chats, and a chance to own a small work or more - for a monthly subscription. Your support, like the patrons of old, helps me thrive artistically as well as practically!
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.
Just before Christmas I had a surprise invite from Quang Ho to attend a workshop he threw together for January in Pasadena. It was an opportunity I could not pass up. I'd been wanting to work with him for years but he isn't teaching much anymore. Though his videos are an excellent resource as well, and having watched them, I was somewhat prepared for his style and methods. Quang is so well-read and thoughtful. He truly is a master artist. He can put a painting together so poetically. And he can explain how and why.
Making it work for myself though... that will take many more years. ;-)
I've put together some photos from my trip below. I got in on Thursday with time to explore the area and I have to say, I am proud of myself for navigating over to the coast and back through Hollywood and Beverly Hills to make it to the observatory for sunset. I'll show you my work during the workshop in the coming days.
I worked on this painting several times. After the first pass, it was nearer the image on the right, but I felt that the shadow side was not dark enough so I did a glaze over the left side buildings. Then it all seemed too magenta and green - and both colors were on the acidic side. The people all seemed too separate, too contrived.
I had seen a painting by Jim Beckner (or was it Kevin Weckbach? - both exceptionally talented artists) and it had stuck with me. My piece was just so average, so segmented, and the colors were way off. So I loaded my brush with lots of blues and scrubbed out the figures and the side - connecting them through the shadows. I pulled my brush through various cools on my palette and scrubbed those over the blues. I painted over the tree and connected those colors and I painted OUTSIDE THE LINES! A dab here, a stroke there. I had fun! So much fun. That was an eye opening experience and it made me want to revisit more work and get more loose and playful.
I'm always saying I want to loosen up - yet I fail so often. I get stuck in that rendering mode. Its the graphic design background - the design and color blocks and neatness carrying over. I need to break those barriers more often.
A Painter's Journal
Chasing the light. Capturing life.
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