Michele Clamp Art

Autopsy of a Painting

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This is the photo I was working from yesterday.  It's the February challenge for the wet canvas watercolor group and is taken in Kettlewell in the UK.    The plan is to do a deep dive into what happened yesterday and how I can fix it.   Let's start with what went right and what went wrong and work towards producing something more satisfying.

First the good :

Some things worked out.   The drawing is not too bad and certainly not the main thing letting the painting down.    The white van and the tree behind it work well as does the foreground shadow (the shape could be a little better).   The shop window definitely looks like a shop window and there's enough (but not too much) detail to make it read well.

However, there's a fair amount of bad too.

The bad points mainly boil down to wrong values (mostly too light) and color (not enough of it).   There's also a little sloppiness in some of the brushwork but to me that is of secondary importance.    One other thing that is also worrying me is the overall color scheme and its lack of unity.   Right now let's concentrate on getting the values right and see what that gives us.

So let's get down to work.   First a value sketch in 3 values.  

This is done at half size (8x10) with Payne's grey.    I tried to keep to 3 values - darkest darks, mid tones and lights.    Actually 4 values if we're counting the white paper.

Even with this quick sketch things are looking better.   The smaller size has helped me place the building on the page better and also not fuss with any detail.    The walls of the house have been darkened down to mid tones.   Making them darker than roof better reflects how the light is hitting the building.   The van has been taken down from a mid value to a dark value which ties all the darks across the mid section together.

This feels a lot better.    I'm still a bit unsure about the roof values.   The chimney shadows are attempting to define the boundary between the roof and the sky but not succeeding very well.  My thoughts are to bring in some texture to separate those rather than value.

Next - let's play with some color.   

So the walls need to be darker than before but not dead.   I'm planning to warm them up somewhat (quin gold, burnt sienna, touch of ultramarine) to give some strength and value.  Similarly with the van.   I don't want to lose the strength of the local color so will darken with burnt sienna and a touch of ultramarine.   For greys I'm going to move to my favorite combination of cerulean blue and cadmium orange.  This produces a delicate grey that can be warmed up or cooled down depending on the proportions of blue or orange.


Will any of this help?   Who knows.   

The Final Frontier - Day 20 of 30 in 30

cityscapeMichele ClampComment

Never let it be said I stay within my comfort zone.   This was always going to be a challenge and so it proved.    It's fair to say I don't really know what I'm doing at the best of times when painting but this was blundering around in the dark from start to finish.    In the end I just gave up and admitted defeat.

I do like the white van with the man behind.  But that's about it.

Anyway - this is going to be my challenge for the next ten days.   How to get a handle on these busy street scenes.   I have 10 days - fingers crossed there'll be some improvements.  I'll post a before and after at the end of the challenge.

Snow in Marlborough - Take 1 - Day 19 of 30 in 30

landscapeMichele ClampComment

I had no idea how this was going to turn out.  I don't think I've ever done a snow scene before so this was a voyage of discovery.    I think he came out quite well.   A little tentative in places and those trees could do with some work but for a first attempt I'm happy.  

Bodes well for the next 10 days.

Leslie Saeta's February 30 in 30 - Midpoint

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I've been participating in Leslie Saeta's 30 in 30 challenge for a few years now.   Some years I've been more diligent than others but it's always been worthwhile.    Even with my new carefree lifestyle producing a painting a day is still pretty time consuming but I'm keeping up pretty much.

Anyway -  so it's over the midpoint but time to take some stock I think.    Frankly I'm tired.   What with completing the paintings for the Maine Audubon exhibition and then going straight into this I'm a little frazzled.   Maybe it's just mid point blues.

But what about the paintings this time?   There are some high points and lower points but on the whole things are going pretty well.  There's definitely a shift in style going on with more use of darks and more subtle color.   Which is a good thing.    Subject matter on the other hand hasn't turned out to plan.   It was going to be a lot of landscapes and cityscapes but, as you can see, that hasn't happened yet at all.   I'll need to change that in the last 12 days.

My memories of previous years 30 in 30s was that I didn't really reap the benefits until after I'd finished,  taken stock, and applied what I'd learned in a more leisurely manner.   I hope that'll be the case this time.

I am tired though.

Dragonfly - Day 17 of 30 in 30

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Insects don't often appear in these pages but I wanted to give this one a go.   Still feel I could make more of the subject.

Preliminary Cassowary

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In my previous world  I was part of a  project to investigate the genetics of flightless birds.    This involved sequencing the genome of a handful of flightless birds and I've had a plan for over a year now to paint the different birds that were involved.

Now I shouldn't really say this but these flightless birds aren't going to win any beauty contests and they have a tendency towards drab brown plumage.     This cassowary, however,  is a bit of an outlier with its dramatic head shape and blue and red coloring.    So a cassowary it was.

This was an exploratory painting mostly.   I was intending to push the looseness quite a bit to counteract the sharp features and I think this will be the way to go.  Definitely one you don't want to meet in a dark alley.



Lost Sheep - Day 14 of 30 in 30

animalsMichele Clamp1 Comment

Do a sheep James said.   It can go with the pig and the cow and make a set he said.   I thought - how hard can sheep be?   Turns out *fiendishly* difficult.    The shape of the head and the proportions are so subtle that if they're slightly off you're dealing with a whole different animal.  The sketches turned up dogs,  wolves,  horses,  anything but sheep.

But after a few false starts I latched onto what I should look out for.   The head is smaller than you think at first glance.   It also has an elongated but rounded shape and is narrower than the pencil wants to make it.   She turned out fine in the end but boy!  If you want to test your drawing skills - try sheep.


11"x14"/16"x20" matted

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Farm Animals - Set of 3

A set of 3 farm animal paintings which look fabulous displayed together.   Ideal for a spare kitchen wall or dining area.   A great deal for all 3!

These paintings come ready matted and will fit in a standard 16"x20" frame.   We don't ship framed paintings at the moment as it pushes up the shipping cost and frame choice is very personal.    Personally I like a plain dark wood frame which sets off the white mat and the painting very well.

These paintings will be backed by 3/16" foam core board and contained in an acetate sleeve.  They are then shipped flat by Fedex in double thickness corrugated cardboard packaging.    We've never had a problem with damage even shipping internationally.

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Time for a Toucan - Day 12 of 30 in 30

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8"x10"/12"x14" matted

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Smaller format than usual - 8x10 - so I kept the design simple.   Definitely worked out though.  The contrast between the dark plumage, the orange beak and the white background works well.

It's been very rainy and grey here for a few days.  I needed something to cheer me up and there's nothing better for that than painting a giant orange beak :-)

I'm getting better at remembering to do the sketches 

Hare Today - Day 11 of 30 in 30

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I had never noticed how sculptural hares were until today.   This was a joy to paint and came out with bags of personality.

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I even did a prepatory sketch for once!

I even did a prepatory sketch for once!

And here's the pencil drawing before going in with the paints.

And here's the pencil drawing before going in with the paints.