Friday, October 30, 2009

Beach Blanket

One day last summer, my brother, Chip, and I went to Idaho and explored various places. While we were at one of the lakes I snapped a bevvy of pictures. I was certain that I would paint at least half a dozen of them ... but, until now, I've only done a few inkings from them.

One of the reasons, I think, is that I was not too sure about the compositions and found solutions that were less than exciting. While I was reading my new Classical Drawing Atelier book by Juliette Aristides (great book - she also has one on painting), I was looking over her composition points. No new stuff to me, just a fresh look at classic techniques -- you know, stuff we've all learned from Leonardo and Michelangelo, and the whole gang -- it occured to me exactly how to do one of the subjects that I'd been putting off. The subject itself reminded me of an artists work that I saw while in the Cincinnatti museum some years ago; Edward H. Potthast (1857 - 1927). He did a great many sea-side paintings with bright colours and bravado brush work.

So, again I stepped up to the easel and loaded that canvas up with paint ... much of the beginning work was with a palet knife (as you can probably tell). I exadgerated some of the colours and felt like I was working in the manner of Mr Potthast at one point. Sadly, when I stepped away from the easel, it didn't have the feel that I thought it did while working on it. It was just to be a study anyway, but, I was still dissapointed. Perhaps I'll work on it some more when it drys (like next spring!).

The composition is based on the golden rectangle with a diagonal slash to emphasise the movement of the blanket in the wind. The figures fall on the right 1/3rd vertical line with the woman's head in the "sweet spot", the remains of a sandcastle marks the left 1/3rd line, pointing up to the sweep of the blanket. Horizontally, as you can easily see, the swimming boundary rope falls on the top 1/3rd line, wile the waterline is on the bottom one. It's a bit formulaic, but I felt that it lent itself well to this subject.

All in all, I had a blast working on it and am becoming more intrigued with the use of globs of paint.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Red Umbrella

My studio sits at the corner of Fairfax, NW Blvd, and Alberta. It's a busy intersection, and kinda noisy -- but it becomes an ambient, white noise after one becomes used to it, and I find it almost relaxing (except for the idiots with the very loud bass on their sterios, the occassional accident, and the horn blowers ... oh, and the semi-frequent emergency vehicles).

I was up early the other morning and looked out of my studio windo at the commuting traffic in the rain. It was a very simple scene, but one that reminded me of the wonderful, simple, daily-life kinds of things that Trevor Chamberlain is wont to paint (I know, archaic expression, sorry, I've been reading Edgar Rice Burroughs again -- "The Mad King" -- fun stuff). If you haven't taken a look at Chamberlain's stuff, google him. Very nice.

While I was painting, I saw the occassional passer-by with an umbrella and made up my mind to give the scene a go. So, here's my attempt. I kept it small, using a fairly large brush so that I would use more paint and be less inclined to niggle with it. It was fun and it's not too horrible.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Prophet

Okay ... not really ... it's my nephew, Shane, who was good enough to pose for me this morning. I got to use my model stage for something other than still lifes for a change! I hope that it's going to get a lot more use in the future.

Here's a look at my studio as it is right now (before I move again - not that I expect to any time real soon, but it's a definite possibility). It's one of the better studios that I've had - certainly head and shoulders over the one in the storage unit (I never did paint anything in there).

Old Man from Scene 23

Okay, really, he's a guy that usually comes to our gallery on First Fridays. I find his features astheticaly interesting - on the verge of caracaturistic. Snap, snap, grin, grin ... had to take his photograph and do a quick oil study. It was very fun and fast.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Plein Air

On Sunday, Del and I went down to People's park again to do some plein air work.

The colours down there weren't nearly as vibrant as they were a few days ago when I passed by. Perhaps the deluge of rain that we've had in the last few days has something to do with that.
It was a beautiful morning, though, and the temperatures were about as nice as any you could hope for this far into October. We had a few windy patches, but we said a prayer or two and they desisted -- at least, that's what I'm going to report.

In order to get myself to use more paint, I started off with a palet knife. I laid the whole thing in with the knife and had a good amout of paint on the canvas for a change before I switched to the brush -- more paint, probably, than I've had on the last few canvases I've done combined.

My composition was decent - I liked the way that it made a long, graceful S, but I made some other choices that weren't all that great. With some good nudging from Del, I was able to fix some of my value relationships -- but not all of them. And looking at the work now, I realize that there are many passages that are far too light. "It's always values", Del told me. And right he is.
I loved the piece that Del painted. I've heard the saying that "it's not fair to compare" thrown at me from time to time. I don't know about that. True, I wouldn't want my work to hang side by side with Sargent or Rembrandt ... but, as a growing artist (and I hope that all artists out there feel that they are still growing), one must seek out the work of others whose work is of greater stature ... or different in a way that one wishes to grow. Then, comparisons can help, and some good development can come from it. So, I do compare mine with his (but, notice that I'm not including his in here -- it's very superior to mine), and I may rework my painting -- going to school on Del's work -- learnin' from the master. Always striving to improve.


There are several Russians with whom I work. I am able to use almost my whole Russian vocabulary every day. Okay, it doesn't consist of much, but I do like trying to communicate with foreigners in their own tounge (even though I still have problems with my own native speach).
I have also learned a few Chinese words at work and the little bit of Spanish I know comes in handy every now and then, too. I like to be able to at least say hello to people in thier language, I'm finding Thi rediculously difficult, though. Part of the problem is getting them to help me with it. They seem skittish about sharing thier language. It all but confirms to me that they are talking about us behind our backs right in front of our faces. At least they don't go over our heads to go behind our backs in front of our faces - we'd be beiside ourselves!

Monday, October 12, 2009

In the Gallery

Dire Straits did a song with this same title ... good stuff. If you're a Mark Knoffler/Dire Straits fan, you probably already know this tune, if not ... google it ... down-load it right now!

While doing a sketch of the guitarist that plays for our gallery every month, I regretted the fact that I didn't have the opportunity to do a fast painting of him. So, I took some pictures. I did this one fairly quickly (in a little over an hour, I guess) ... trying to be as spontanious as I might if I were working from life. I also tried to be looser than usual and used a bigger than normal brush to keep me from niggling away at any kind of detail.

It's amusing to me sometimes; the voices of various teachers come back to me an tell me things while I'm working ... it seems that sometimes I never knew what they meant at the time that they told me, but as I find myself in certain situations, or working a specific passage, I'll hear thier voices -- whether over-bearing and gruff like Bruce Corr, whinny and quizical like Jesse Dominguez, patronizing, like Brian Elder or suggestive and yet directive, like Del Gish -- and I'll understand better what they were on aboot. Today I mostly heard Del, and I understood ... some of it, anyway. "Sometimes I'm a little slow on the up-chuck", to quote SK.

It was an experiment in being loose, mostly. Sadly, though, I think that I still need a ton of work in that reguard. I need to do more, that's all there is to it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Still Life

I started this still life almost a week ago. It's a small piece, and basically just an exercise, mostly done ala prima (all in one sitting). I wanted to try a few more things on it so I left everything up on the stand so that I could get the distance of a day or two in order to see which way that I wanted to pursue it on the next session.

Meanwhile, I had brought Pfeffer here to live. Well, sometimes she "helps" with my still lifes -- mostly I don't appreciate her inputs or rearangements, but the single, upside-down mushroom on the right was her contribution to the project. I thought that it was a great placement and wondered if Del had been teaching her a little in the last few months.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Wanna be friends?

Yesterday I went out to the Western Plains and got Pfeffer, my cat. I've been able to visit her regularly in the last seven months, but I still missed her a lot. I was real worried about bringing her to the new place because of my Nephue, Shane's, googly-eyed little dog. Pfeffer does not like other animals very much and I knew it was going to be hard for her.

Bruitus (an ironic name) is a nice dog, but like most of those little googly-eyed ghetto dogs, he's just wound way too tight -- like a danged alarm clock! He always wants to be in the middle of things and the center and in your face constantly. He wanted to become friends with Pfeffer but she ... well, she's a cat. A cat like none other ... but a cat none-the-less ... and is not real thrilled with having a dog as a friend.

"Wanna be friends, hu, hu, wanna, wanna, hu, hu?"

"How bout I just hiss and spit in your face instead?"

It will take a while for Bruitus to calm down (if he ever does), and for Pfeffer to unclench ... but, sooner or later, I think that they'll get along okay.

I had to leave them when I set off for work last night ... when I got home this morning I didn't find any patches of fur and nothing was broken, that I can tell ...... so, yeah, I think everything's gonna be okay.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Art Walk, October

At the artwalk on Friday last, I drug my easel and drawing accoutrement into the gallery to do "quick draw" portraits of the viewing public. As usual, I was very nervous ahead of time and wondered why I had forced myself to do this at all; nobody had asked me to do it -- I could pack up and run away!
But, the reasons are simple: the first being that I would bring attention to my work (which is kind of the whole point in being in a gallery in the first place, nest pass - nicht war?), B, if I was busy drawing, I wouldn't have to spend too much time in "small talk" (which, let's face it, is not my strong suite), and, 3, to entertain myself.
I didn't do too many portraits. People were even more skiddish than I ... hard to believe. And I probably wouldn't have had even the few that did pose, if it weren't for one of the other gallery members, Olivia, dragging people over there. The ones that I did do though (including our musician), turned out okay. I didn't spend any more than ten minutes on any of them ... which, as an artist, is kind of frustrating, because the image is just beginning to take shape and one can see how it would turn out if the model were to sit for, say, another twenty to forty minutes. But, this isn't about doing a demonstration or creating a finished work, it's about communicating with the public, giving them something for comming in, and creating more interest in the things around them.

I will probably make this a part of each "First Friday" now. I can probably pull more people into the gallery this way. I framed the portrait of Dayle and might use that to do a bit of advertising for next month before I give it to her. I also need to remember to print up more business cards and to make a sign for next time to put by the easel, explaining what I'm doing.
So, if you're reading this and are in the great Northwest, stop in on the next first Friday (November 6): Avenue West Gallery, 122 S. Monroe, Spokane, WA. 5 - 8 pm ... free food! Bring your friends ... and your check book!