I haven’t posted for a while but I have been painting. However, everything I’ve tried up until today has been terrible. Not pleased with anything at all. In fact last night, after stopping painting at 8.30pm, I was wondering whether I’d completely forgotten how to paint entirely. Here is some evidence :
I’ve wanted to do another version of Lake Bled for a while. This should have been a walk in the park but oh dear. Not quite what I’d intended at all. Very dreary and dull.
Ok let’s regroup – go back to the sketchbook and see if a smaller format helps at all.
Hmm no it didn’t. Although now I look back on this it’s not *too* bad. How about another?
Nope. Not this one either. I thought a simpler scene would help but obviously not. I quite like the sky though.
Ok back to a larger format with the same scene.
Arrrrgh! Look at all that green! All that overworking! What is wrong with me? Sigh.
So what to do. I wondered whether the composition was hindering me. A quick browse through Pixabay threw up a few much better pictures. I also went back to the master Charles Reid, watched a couple of his videos and took some notes.
Ok – so my plan was this :
– More white paper. You don’t have to cover everything. You’re not painting a room
– Keep things lighter in value. Except where it matters and then really have some juicy darks.
– Vary the color. Drop in pigment into wet paper.
– Keep an eye on those negative shapes.
And you know I think it worked. A little different for me but I’m happier than I’ve been in a long while.
Every time I walk past the Marlborough City Hall building I think – I’d really like to paint that. Today was the day and it was a bit of a struggle and not very satisfying. I intentionally cropped quite tightly as cityscapes can get very busy. This should simplify things and make for a better painting. There’s some good stuff here but, as so often, not enough. Will have to try again to do it justice.
We recently spent a week in Vermont and so much of the landscape is paintable. This was one of my favorite scenes which was very near where we were staying. I especially liked the harsh light on the roofs which made them seem white in comparison to everything else.
I’m tempted to have another go at this. This has something of the light I wanted but could maybe be pushed even further.
A quick value sketch before I started. These are definitely getting easier to do (or maybe I’m getting better at picking good scenes).
It was my birthday this week and I treated myself to a set of oil paints. I’ve been looking forward to this for a couple of months and after a trip to Post Road Art for some paints, medium and solvent it was off to the hardware store for cheaper things like gloves, oil soap and hand cleaner. In total I spent around $150 which is more than I planned but I couldn’t really strip it back any more.
For my first time out I thought it best to stick with something I know so of course it was an owl! Very much a voyage into the unknown here and I just jumped straight in with a few bits of knowledge I’ve picked up from reading various blogs.
First a charcoal drawing and an underpainting in burnt sienna thinned with Gamsol solvent.
Looks ok so far. Now in with some paint.
This is mostly burnt sienna, ultramarine and yellow ochre with a quick try out of the background with prussian blue. Still fairly happy here. It’s very strange not dealing with water and I keep smudging things as I’m not used to the paint drying so slowly. I do have to say it’s nice to actually know what value you’re putting down on the canvas rather some elaborate guesswork with watercolor.
Further on now – this was the second day. Things seem to be coming together. The dark feathers are going in well and the face is looking good.
Almost at the end now. The background has gone in simply – it’s my first try so nothing fancy. The eyes and face have had some more work. I still need to soften up some edges here as he’s a bit garish. The body feathers and wings are probably not going to see much more work – I don’t want to mess things up, The rocks definitely need something doing to them but that can wait until tomorrow.
So all in all I’m pretty chuffed. I can’t say I like oils better than watercolor. Watercolor does have a lot of charm that you just can’t get with oil. But I think this has some potential. and it was a fun birthday present.
At least I think this is finished. As usual I’ll keep him on the easel for a couple of days until I’m happy that no touchups are needed. Due to travelling and other happenings t’s been a couple of weeks since I painted and it took me a little while to get back in the groove. I like the end result though – not too cute but with a certain perkiness. He’s up for sale in the usual place.
A few intermediates. Unusually this one was done over two days. Not sure if that helps.
This was the status at the end of yesterday. I usually don’t put in the eyes so early on birds but I was having a little trouble with values so put them in so I could judge the rest of the plumage. Happy so far.
Quite a bit further on here. The feet have gone in – always a bit tense here but they turned out fine. The branch is in and I tightened up the feathers around the face.
The final thing. I beefed up the wing feathers to give him a little more zing and added a little interest into the background. Job done.