Michele Clamp Art

Poppies

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Poppies. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 11”x14”. For Sale.

Poppies. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 11”x14”. For Sale.

Poppies
250.00

11”x14”/16”x20” with archival mat.

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I have a love hate relationship with painting flowers. As I’ve said countless times before they seem as though they’ll be enjoyable and relatively easy to paint. Bright colors, loose forms, doesn’t matter too much if you draw the leaves slightly off. And I’m wrong every time.

The thing about flowers is that their beauty has a lot of subtlety to it. The variation of color and value in the petals is key to capturing that and that is where a lot of us lack the required skills. If the delicate modeling of the curve of a petal is slightly off -- slightly too dark in the shadows, slightly too abrupt in the change of tone — you lose the effect.

So considering what I was up against these poppies came out really quite well. Fresh colors - just enough change in the color to suggest petal shape. Not bad at all. Plenty to improve upon of course but isn’t there always?

Some intermediates :

IMG_9741.jpg

These were the first washes. As you can see I’d been trying to match colors on a separate piece of paper and I thought I’d gone plenty dark enough in the flowers. I was completely wrong.

Second layer :


I’d been wrestling with the flowers for a while here. The left hand one I did first and it has slightly too much value difference in the petals. The large one on the right came out much better.

The final thing :

I had quite a lot of fun painting the innards of the vase. Water is always fun to paint - you can be quite loosey goosey with it and it will still read well. And, for some reason, people are really impressed with it.

I did a little beefing up of the color in the left hand flower but left most alone. Pretty happy.

Fruit Demo 2

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Fruit Still Life. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 11”x14”

As it was still early and I had a fistful of reference photos I thought I’d have another go at a fruit still life. I haven’t done one of these in a long time and I was interested to see if I could still remember how to do things.

First the photo. A little more complicated than the previous one and I’ve always dreaded doing grapes.

still-life-1518989.jpg

Drawing and first washes in. Not particularly confident at this point and I’d been a little tentative with the first washes so everything’s looking a bit washed out.

Next stage and things are looking a little better. Still not really very confident but at least the grapes aren’t giving me as much trouble as I’d thought.

Final version. To be honest I quit while I was ahead here. I could have gone back in and darkened up some of the grapes but felt the risk of ruining it was too great. Pretty happy with this to be honest.

And of course an easel shot.

Fruit Demo 1

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Fruit Still Life. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 11”x14”

I’m starting teaching on October 21st so I’ve been thinking about lesson plans and the like. I thought we’d start off with something simple to get people used to handling the paint and mixing colors.

I thought this would be much more straightforward than it was. Turns out that when you’re trying to think through what you’re going to say and paint at the same time everything gets more complicated. Added to that is that I was trying not to paint on automatic but only do things that I could clearly articulate. Easier said than done.

So here was the initial photo :

Nice basic shapes, good colors and distinct patterns of light and shade.

Drawing is fairly straightforward I hope. Concentrating on angles and junctions and negative spaces. I marked in the shadow areas and highlights more than I usually would for emphasis.

First layer with the midtones and some darks. My shadow on the lemon fell off but that’s ok.

final image with the darkest darks put in and some details in the stalks. I hope this isn’t either too simple or too complicated for people to follow along with.

And a nice easel shot. Always good to have one of those.

Value Studies

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I’ve been watching the fabulous Paul Foxton on youtube who has some mesmerizing videos on the Munsell color system and judging and painting color and value. Having watched him measure value using the Munsell color chips and paint perfect spheres and blocks in oils I thought ‘that doesn’t look too hard’. There’s always room for sharpening up your value judgement skills so I thought I’d have a go in watercolor.

I found this value scale and printed out a few. These are for measuring values from 1 (black) to 10 (white) so you know which area is which value.

I then squandered $7 at Amazon to buy some 2 inch wooden blocks and painted them in acrylic. One white (10) , one black (1) and two mid values (3 and 5). I didn’t have a light box handy so I cobbled together a floor and backdrop from some old watercolor block backing board.

The task was to paint a white block (and its background) by

a) first identifying the value using the value scale.

b) Mixing up the right value in watercolor

c) Painting the relevant plane with said value.

Boy was this hard. At least with oil you can directly compare whether you’ve mixed the right color. With watercolor you have to mix it, look at the consistency and flow, paint a little square on the paper, wait for it to dry, and then check whether you have the right color. I’ve ended up with a lot of notes on how the paint looks and flows on the palette and how that translates into value. It’s turned into a bit of a game. Say I want a mid value - 6. I mix up what I think is a 6, paint a little square and put my guess next to it in pencil. When it’s dried I measure it using the value scale and see how close I get. It’s hard.

These are my notes from my latest attempt :

I don’t have the full range yet but this is what I have so far :

10 - No paint - just the white of the paper. This one’s easy.

9 - Water consistency, transparent on the palette, brush doesn’t leave tracks.

8 - Water consistency, translucent on the palette, brush doesn’t leave tracks.

7 - Milk consistency, opaque on the palette, brush doesn’t leave tracks

6 . - Light cream consistency and flows on the palette. brush leaves tracks through the paint.

5 - Light cream consistency and flows slowly on the palette. Brush leaves tracks and the paint is opaque in pools.

4 - Nothing yet

3 . - Heavy cream consistency. Leaves tracks when the palette is flat. Flows v slowly across the palette.

2 and 1 - Haven’t done these yet.


I’ve shamelessly borrowed the water/milk/cream descriptions from Joseph Zbukvic and they do work well.

Of course these descriptions only apply to this color and probably vary between paint brands so there’s a long way to go.

It’s actually quite fun and each little block only takes 10 minutes of so. Even over a single day I’ve improved my mixing skills.




Life Class Again

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This came around quickly! Back to Post Road Art Center for life drawing with Andrew Cefalu. Had a pretty good week this week. I’m really getting into hands and feet and making good progress. This one was my favorite of the night due to the tight clustering of both the hands and feet.

So as usual we started with 2 minute poses.

It always seems to take a pose or two to warm up. The first one especially is very scruffy but but the third I’m off and running. There was a bit of a screw up in the second one where I had my pad angled too far away from me which produced distortions in the head. Nice line energy in these - pretty happy here.

Next were a couple of 5 minuters.

And the rest were 15 minuters.

New Printer!

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Our trusty Canon pixma printer gave up the ghost last week in the middle of printing out teaching materials. After some back and forth we bit the bullet and bought a shiny new Epson 7750. I’m very excited about this as I can now scan paintings and print them out at actual size (most of mine are 11”x15”).

I have to admit there has been some fannying about before getting to this point. First, the scanner is only 8.5”x11” so there was a morning of working out how to stitch the scans together. Some things like hugin were overkill but then I found autostitch . from Matthew Brown which so far has done a fantastic job with only a couple of clicks. No more dodgy iphone photos for me - scans all the way.

Getting prints to the right quality wasn’t quite as straightforward as I’d first thought. The paper makes a huge difference and, although the prints on Epson’s premium matte presentation paper weren’t bad the Strathmore watercolor inkjet paper gave the most faithful color and texture representation.

Sadly the Strathmore doesn’t come in sizes bigger than 8.5x11” so I ordered some of the larger Epson watercolor inkjet paper to see how that fared. In the meantime I thought I’d just use some of my cheaper cotton watercolor paper and see how that did. I wasn’t expecting much but I have to say I’m really impressed. If you have them side by side and look really closely you can see the difference but the differences are really very small. A good result I think.

And here he is in all his glory. A bit of a beast but he just fits on the filing cabinet.

Life Class

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Life class again last night - this was the last of the session. I thought the session had gone pretty well over all but I didn’t check over my work until this morning. Experience has shown me that how I feel the session went is not necessarily reflected in the result viewed later so I opened the sketch pad warily. But it seems my impressions were right this time. Hooray! I’m really feeling my way round the shapes much more confidently and even the hands and (sometimes) the feet are coming together.

So, as usual, we started with some 2 minute poses :

There’s some very nice stuff in here. I started off a little sketchily (first photo) and I had a few thoughts of ‘how do I do this again?’ but got into my stride quite quickly. Quite happy with these considering they’re only 2 minutes each.

Next a 10 and three 15 minuters.

Even had some time to do some shading on the 15 minute ones. Still having trouble with feet and hands but it’s a world away from where I was a while ago.

Finally 2 twenty minute poses.

Again I was fairly happy with these. Some screwups on the hands and feet but then there usually are. A good nights work.

Finally many thanks to Andrew Cefalu for organizing and monitoring the session and to Lindsey our model.


Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

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Rose-breasted grosbeak. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 14”x11”

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak
250.00

14”x11”/20”x16” with mat.

Always love the color combination in these birds. A mixture of bold and subtle contrasts.

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Haven’t done a bird in a while and fancied something with some strong contrasts. This one never disappoints.

Some intermediates

The drawing. For once I carefully measured the length of the bird with respect to the body - 5 bird heads high.

The initial washes. Very light and I make sure I splosh through the edges to give a fuzzy underpainting. I only take care to avoid the eye area where I want to keep the white paper.

The next layer of the bird. A lot of this will be the final layer apart from the finishing darks. It often looks a bit meh at this stage.

Almost there. The feet and the branch are in and I’ve darkened up the head and put detail in the eye.

Done. A little light shading around the shoulders to bring out the white and a little touch of white gouache in the eye to bring back the sparkle.

Boats at the Naval Yard, Boston Harbor

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Boats at the Naval Yard, Boston Harbor. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 14”x11”

250.00

14”x11”/20”x16” with mat.

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I’ve been saving this scene for a bit since our painting trip to the Naval Yard in Boston. I had a disastrous outing with a previous scene but couldn’t resist the boats for any longer. I’m pretty happy - the effect of strong sunlight is there and the composition is pleasing. A good days work.

Grist Mill, Sudbury, MA

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Grist Mill, Sudbury, MA. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 11”x14”

Grist Mill, Sudbury MA
250.00
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Don’t let anyone ever tell you painting is relaxing. I’ve been suffering a bit of mojo deflation recently and nothing has been coming out well. Until today that is!

This is a scene of the Grist Mill in Sudbury which was built as an ‘improved’ mill by Henry Ford (yes that one) in 1924. After spending some time on site earlier this year I’ve held off painting a full painting as I wasn’t sure how to attack such a traditional scene. But I think it came out pretty well. Very happy and the mojo is restored.

Some intermediates :