The Ugly Stage – Marblehead at Sunset

Marblehead at Sunset.

Another big painting today but this one is much more detailed. Right now it’s at the ugly stage and I’m unhappy with a lot of it but will keep the faith and soldier on tomorrow.

As before I did some color swatches. I wasn’t quite so happy with the palette this time but didn’t want to diverge from the reference too much. We’ll see if it all works out.

And a couple of intermediate shots.

Vermont Farm

Fancied doing something big today. This is 16”x20” which doesn’t sound much bigger than my usual 11”x14 but is just over twice the number of square inches. Amongst other things it means you have some more elbow room in the large areas and you have to take care to make them interesting.

One thing I did for this piece is a sheet of munsell swatches. I went through the reference, identified the major value shapes and colors and mixed up swatches as close as I could. Here’s the result :


I think you can agree this resulted in a really nice color palette. I will certainly be doing this again.

Blocks and sunsets. Getting back in the groove.

Trying to get back in the groove after teaching. It’s proving to be hard – the mindset to teach is very different from painting my own stuff. I need to get out of the tram lines and trust myself to experiment a bit more. Even though I’ve been doing demo paintings each week I’ve held back a lot to keep to the principles we work on. It’s tough and makes the paintings a bit of a chore as I can’t experiment on the fly. And now I have the freedom to do what I want I can’t remember how it works.

So today is another wet challenge as subject matter is eluding me.

And some blocks just for a warm up.

I made a yellow block as yellow shadows are tough. It doesn’t go with the pink of my studio walls (which I will get round to painting someday) but the colors are pretty close to life.

Bringing it all together – lighthouse edition.

In class last week someone requested a seascape scene with rocks. After browsing through my references I thought I’d throw in a lighthouse too as I can almost never resist a lighthouse painting.

This actually brought a lot of the things we’ve been practicing in exercises together. We have the value changes on the lighthouse (white cubes), edges and painting in layers on the rocks and skies. The only new thing is the water which we touched on in one lesson but only briefly.

If this hadn’t been for a lesson I would have pushed it a lot further. Especially the water which needs some more detail to better suggest the white foam and more depths in the blues. But I need this for tomorrow and didn’t want to trash the whole thing so here it is.

Some intermediates :

The drawing. Quite sparse here and only marking out the big shapes.

I was going to start with the sky and work down but the rocks were worrying me so I tackled these first. This wash is meant to hit the lightest values in the rocks and, as most of it will be covered up later it can be quite rough and ready with some slight color and value changes.

A darker color goes in in broad, squarish shapes to suggest the shadow side of the rocks and give them form. Some edges are left hard and others are blended out to reflect the hard and smooth sides of the rocks. The grassy area and the foreground are left with less value changes to keep the focus on the lighthouse and the rocks next to it.

The sky goes in with neat cerulean. I’m careful here to use the blue to define the edges of the lighthouse so it stands out against the sky. It doesn’t need to be too dark here – slight value changes are more effective in suggesting sunlight.

The water was a bit of a gamble. I really could have gone further here – after class tomorrow I may go back and add more detail.

The final stage was to add in the darks on the top of the lighthouse and smooth out some edges in the shadows so things don’t look too pasted on. I also darkened up the shadow side of the lighthouse a little and greyed it off compared to the sky.

There’s still stuff that’s annoying me but this will have to do for today.

Wet Canvas December Challenge

Well it’s another month and another

challenge. These are often extremely challenging for me and this month was no different. I tried hard to hit the right colors and values with some success. The figure and dog are in shadow which made it harder. The skin tones are definitely too pink and the less said about the background trees the better but on the whole the struggle was worth it.

Some intermediates. This was at the end of the first session (about an hour).

I knew that I was too light in value on most of this and was intending to go back in and darken things up. Before doing that, however, I played around on the ipad trying some stuff out. Here’s the result :

I grayed off and darkened the skin tones a little which worked well. The dog’s white fur really surprised me in how dark it was. I didn’t manage to hit that in the final version but I think it worked well nonetheless. It was definitely a help being able to try things out without having to worry about ruining everything.

Cataloging Time

The painting situation was getting a little out of hand. They were in my office, on the floor, on the shelves, on the tables. Time for organizing and storage. Each year gets a box (or two) and I print out a picture of the contents on the front for easy location. If something gets sold then I mark the date and price on the front. Not the highest of tech but it works.

Last year I had an extra box – 2018 R. James asked what the R stood for. I said ‘Rejects. It stands for rejects. Failures. Too awful to live with the other paintings’. Last year’s box was quite full. This year I only had a handful. Either I’m getting better or more tolerant of the rubbish.