Egg Painting

Egg painting with Paul Foxton. Michele Clamp. Oil on paper. 5″x8″

I tinkered with a couple of rose paintings today and had a bit of time left so why not paint along with The Foxton and paint an egg. Mainly an exercise in mixing and blending but quite satisfying.

Apparently I was gone for a long time as James came up to find me and was very amused that all I was painting was an egg.

Me painting an egg.

Value Studies for Rainy Streets


The homework for Gary Tucker’s last workshop was to do a local rainy scene. Now we haven’t had any rain in forever and the only rainy photo I had was from New York so that went into the pile. I plucked a few others from pixabay and went to work.

These are all small (5”x7”) value studies to work out composition and values.

First a simple scene with a lot of red.


Not bad but lets try a few more and see how they do.


I also quite liked this one. Nice contrasts in the car and the shadows on the street and misty buildings.

Next was my New York photo. I did two of these a day or so apart

It may not be obvious but I was much happier with the second one. It’s a complicated scene and I was starting to get to grips with some of the subtleties in the value changes. Maybe one more of these and I’ll be ready to paint!

And for completeness a quick still life warmup and some mid value mixing practice. I was trying to go in and paint everything with a mid value or lower in a single shape. Then go back in with lighter values and finally the darkest darks. Not perfect but a worthwhile exercise.


Color Matching Exercise – Strips

Color matching exercise – yellow strip

Today was spent painting strips of paper. Although they look simple there was a lot of painstaking color and value matching before painting. This was the third and most successful one. The painting looks slightly different due to me taking the photo from a different angle than my actual view when painting. The shadow is ridiculously hard and there’s no room for mistakes or do overs.

Here are the first two :

I originally had the board with the gray side up and matching that color turned out to be the hardest bit of all. to make life easier I flipped it over for the yellow strip.

Value Studies


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.

Learning Time – Zbukvic Day 3

Stepping it up a bit today and completed 4 paintings. All are from Zbukvic originals. I was hoping that a fast turnaround would speed up the learning process and consolidate some things into muscle memory.

Before the pictures a summary. None of these came out as paintings. They’re obviously sketches or studies but I started to soak in a few things.

  • Shapes. A few big shapes, more smaller shapes. Make sure the negative space is also an interesting shape.

  • Values. Keep the values even in the big shapes (with a little variation for interest) and you only really need 4 or 5 to make the picture work.

  • Color – ugh. Still need to work on this.

  • Texture. This was hard. Mr Zbukvic has lots of lovely slight variation in his washes which I really struggle to get.

  • Drawing – Surprisingly simple to draw out these paintings. Lots of simplification has already been done by Mr Z.

Anything else? I think I improved as the day went on and was making the paintings more mine than copying the original. No great breakthroughs but definitely worthwhile.

So to the paintings – in reverse order :


This was the last and I think the most successful. I’d got used to the sequence of washes – lightest in sky and the sunlit parts of the buildings. Second the background and shadows on the buildings. 3rd – cars and dark recesses. 4th and final – people and the foreground and other bits and pieces.

I’d also started to get used to some of the wet in wet for windows and background mistiness.

Next one – number 3 :


Struggled with this one. The original has lots of variation in the darks which I just wasn’t getting. The strong composition makes this one – especially the foreground shadow – which is of course all Mr Z’s doing.

Next one – number 2


This had quite a lot I liked. The color came out well. The combination of dull orange and the purple shadows worked without being too in your face. The center of interest has nice lots of choppy darks and lights which read well without specifically being anything. So not great but not too bad.

Finally – number 1


Again this didn’t come out too badly. I was feeling my way at this point and you can see the background washes are a bit muddy. Nice choppiness in the center of interest and the combination of darks and lights worked well.

So it was a busy day. As usual I’m too close to things to really assess whether it was worthwhile. It’s certainly a different beast copying paintings rather than scenes. The simplification and composition has already been done for you which are two things you don’t have to worry about. Once the drawing is done it’s a case of identifying which value wash goes where and trying not to get too fiddly. I think after another day of these (I have nine in total to have a go at) I’ll concentrate on extreme simplification of some of my own scenes.

Life Class

I almost didn’t go as I was so tired but I decided it was worth it at the last minute. Very glad I did – nice to do some charcoal work for a change.

John Lovett Exercise – Landscape 2


I’m moving on through John Lovett’s second watercolor book and now we’re onto exercises for the reader!   He gives a set of photos at the end of each chapter and we have to go away and paint them using the techniques we’ve learned.    Here’s the first photo :


Not very inspiring but let’s see what we can do.   First a sketch:


Seems like a good plan to me.   Keep all the interest across the middle band,   plain sky and distant mountains, and nice and loose in the foreground.   Pretty much like we did yesterday but this time we’re on our own for the details.  

Ok off we go :


Amazingly I managed to screw up the sky again the first time round so I went back with a different brush and evened out the wash somewhat.   Distant mountains in with a little more color variation than yesterday.   So far so good.    

Now the foreground.


I think we’re still all right here.   Making good use of my trusty 1/2″ bristle brush and keeping some variation in the washes but not making it too dark.

Now the scary bit – trees!   


The middle distance trees are pretty simple and the darks and contrast kept for the middle center of interest trees.   Still happy.

Now for gussying up the center of interest and adding in some detail to finish it off.


Phew!   Not too bad at all.   Didn’t overdo the detail which turned out to be a good thing and added in a few splashes of red in the middle panel.    The final part was to put clear water on the river piece and drop in some color for reflections.   It all came together well in the end.

Now at the end of the book Mr Lovett shows us his take on the pictures (I didn’t peek honest).  Here’s his version :


Ooooh!   Now his version bears even less resemblance to the photo than mine and he’s obviously got a lot more contrast and simplified the shapes more.   Maybe tomorrow I’ll risk some glazing on each side on my version to see what happens.