Day 10 of 30 in 30 – Dundee Disaster

Well the luck had to run out some time and this will remain unfinished and in the reject pile. I was mostly interested in the light on the buildings and wanted to keep the color muted. Neither of those things really worked out. The light doesn’t pop and the color is just drab. I’d like to do the scene justice at some point so it will remain in the to do pile.

Harvard Yard and More Frustration

I’ve been doing these mini copy paintings and they’ve been coming out pretty well on the whole. However, all I really seem to be learning is how to copy better which isn’t really the point. This was driven home today when I tried another go (actually 8 goes) at this Harvard Yard scene.

I had a go at this last year – this was the result

Now it’s not that bad I suppose but it’s a little too literal, the colors don’t mesh, and I just wasn’t happy with it. Time to have another go.

This was my first shot. I tried to apply what I thought I’d learned – simplification, identify the big shapes, only one region of detail, expand the foreground, and keep the colors muted. It didn’t go well.

I’ve zoomed in more on the scen to simplify the shapes and tried to keep the colors within a more limited range. It’s ok but still not what I was after.

Maybe the building has too much contrast – let’s glaze over it and see :

No that’s not the problem although I think it does hang together a little better.

Next I went back to my mini painting idea – 4 little paintings to try and work out the composition and values a little better. All of these were done without drawing and the first two were done upside down to see if I could trick myself into focusing on what I really liked.

What I took from this is that the foreground shadow really makes a difference here. Also that the value changes in the building should be really subtle. Let’s have another go :

Well that really didn’t go well. Very frustrated at this point. In the evening I ended up noodling on the ipad and did a notan of the scene to see what would happen. Here it is :


Now this looks pretty cool. One thing I did change was to lighten the value of the closest building which I think works ok. Time to have a final try :


I also kept the red really muted here but I’m still not happy. Maybe it’s just not going to happen.


French Villages – Day 9

Well this didn’t go well.   Almost didn’t post this at all.   Brushes were almost flung aside in disgust but for completeness here it is.   I’m not going to comment right now but will post a collage and commentary next.  Hopefully I can formulate a plan and see if I can glean some insight from this set of 9 village paintings.

Anyway – here are the intermediates :

Droopy Tulips



There’s one thing you can always expect from this painting lark – unpredictability.    This was done from a lovely photo from my fellow painter
Bobbi Heath



Isn’t it great?    And it *should* have been extremely paintable.   Lovely big flowers,  long straight leaves framing the blooms,   good outline,   crisp shadows.   It had everything going for it.    Unfortunately I just could not do it justice and the painting is not so much finished but abandoned and left for dead.



Great shame.  The drawing was fine – lovely shapes, fills the page well.

Just couldn’t get there with the paint.  Do I try again?   Come back to it in a few days.   Pffft.   Maybe take up golf?

Edit:   It’s been a couple of days and this has grown on me a lot.    A closer crop improves things no end and it’s now allowed out of the studio.   Sometimes it goes like this – the struggle of painting overshadows the end result.

The Final Frontier – Day 20 of 30 in 30

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.

Some of the bad stuff – life class


I post almost everything I do.  The odd doodle doesn’t make it and there was a spate of truly awful stuff last summer that never made it in but on the whole there’s no filter.    After a really bad life class I was just going to bin these and forget about it but I thought I’d put them here so they’re on the record.   Actually at the back of my mind I’m intending to use these as examples of how not to do things when I finally get round to teaching.  These will be perfect.

Nothing came together in this session.  Couldn’t draw,  couldn’t paint,   had trouble ‘seeing’ things.  It was very frustrating.

Art Class – a bad day at the office


It was a real bad day at the office and then a metaphorical bad day at the office when I finally got the brushes out.   This was the best of the bunch – just a 15 minute doodle of rocks.

So this is what happens when things go wrong :

This was the main task of the night – build up flowers with different colored layers.   Hmm.  Not great huh?