Saturday, 28 March 2015

HERE WE ARE - all done!
Final edit is on right.  You can do the cartoon thing where you check the differences between the images.  Comments are welcome. 

Work is 20 x 24 inches, oil on canvas. 
Available for purchase at

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Oh, all the things one should know by this time:
Don't start a new project when you are tired and hungry.
Don't hack around on a painting that you have already moved on from.
Don't work from a dirty palette.
Don't work from memory.

There.  That just about summarize all the things I should not have been doing just now.

It is interesting how a brain sees different things at a different scale and/or media. At about four p.m. today I was at  the computer editing the last of the three large still life paintings from the last post.   On the computer, it seemed to me that the  painting had ungraceful 'hole' in the middle (dark with little detail) and that a spear ( a single brightly lit leaf) was cutting a straight and unnatural line to the sunflower.  No problem, I thought.  I'll just whip that in the studio and put some variation into that leaf to make it more interesting.
Well, here is, an hour and a half later and, I think this painting might now be a good candidate for a bonfire.  Oh my goodness.  Is my stomach complaining from hunger or is this feeling in my gut because this painting is now a hot mess?
The eliminated tulip on the left and moving the other further behind was a good move,  but the darkening of back ground has muddled up the congruency of the leaves.  Also still not happy about the lower midfield of the painting, while the two carnations are really bothering me now.

Sometimes valuable information can be gained by continuing to adjust a painting.  Will have to decide tomorrow morning if i want to hack at this one any more. I welcome feedback.

Monday, 23 March 2015

In the quest for a looser, more impressionist expression of these still lifes, the move from small itsy bitsy 5"x7" paintings to a more robust 20"x24" inch  format would help.  Besides using a much larger brush with the commensurate longer handle to keep me away from the canvas  surface, standing instead of sitting also seemed to give the strokes more oomph.  Here is the set up for the last two paintings, I am sorry that I didn't take a photo of the first for you to see.

The goal in these three paintings was to understand the relationship between the underpainting and the final highlight hits in creating the form, where to place vanishing edges, and what details to eliminate, what elements to include, to produce a stronger composition.

As you can  see, This first one painting has it all, flowers, carpet and details. IN a way, I enjoy all the bits of colour as it creates both the scene and a pattern.

 In the second painting, I took out the 'whites' partly to reduce the amount of colours included in the work, but also because I started thinking how odd it was to have tulips, asters, sunflowers, gerberas, lilies and orchids all at the  same time when they don't bloom in the same seasons.  I have wondered about this in other paintings as well, should one aim to have the elements of a painting be 'in season' with each other? Or is this just inevitable evidence pointing to a culture that supplies almost everything at anytime?


For this third painting, the canvas has been swung around to vertical and the still life has been cropped in closely to create a more stripped down composition.  I do miss the wild patterning of the first painting even as I enjoy the quieter look of this arrangement.  The darn tulips and the gerbera kept moving while I was painting even though I thought I was painting really quickly.  Hazards of painting from set ups rather than photos I guess.  At a workshop I attended this weekend  the presenter, a landscape artist said, that it is a real problem when painting outdoors!  I can imagine.  

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Painting in stages:  Bowl of Fruit with Orchid backdrop
My first step is to do a quick prep  sketch 5x 7 inches   This allows me to work out the composition and figure out what is important to include in the painting.  At this stage I am mindful of how the eye will move through the work.  I find branches and stems are quite important when working with flowers and foliage

First stage of painting (above, 12x16 ") After getting the painting to this stage,  the patterns of the cloth on the left side of the bowl seemed to take focus away from bowl

Second stage (above) I wiped clean the detail in the cloth  and now can go back in

Third stage (above): I eliminated the folds in the cloth at the left of the bowl completely. I also toned down the contrast in the white napkin.  The partial leaf that was behind the left rim of the bowl has been eliminated as well to give greater clarity to the bowl edge.

This is the original still life set up with cold light source       

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Adventures in oil 
As I am becoming more familiar with the properties of oil painting, I am 
becoming more aware of the potential for the medium.  Alluring, sensuous and
life-like in it's glossy transparency, it can create stunning realism works
as it did in the 17th-century Baroque period when the Dutch painters in
particular used it to great effect. 

 Johannes Vermeer
circa 1665
17.5 x 15 inches

Location: The Hague, Netherlands

Oil  has physical body so it can sit upright on the canvas surface to create
a truly three dimensional, textural surface such as in the abstracts of
the Canadian painter, Riopelles (1923 - 2002).  This attribute of body
also reveals the strokes of the artist's brush, revealing the direction of
application.  This evokes a sensation  of movement in a work, keeping
it alive rather than static.

 Jean Paul Riopelle
Noctourne, 1954
14 x 9 inches

The young American painter, Daniel Keyes  paintings employ this last attribute to
great effect.  His painting style lends the sense of movement to his work. Light seems
to flicker on his models rather than just illuminate it's mass. His aim is not to illustrate
the subject, but to convey to us the joy of a moment in front of it.  Some say this is to
give an impression of the subject, but it seems to me, a more accurate statement
would be to say that it presents the subject as we ourselves would apprehend it. 

Our ability to mentally process all the visual data present in an element is not equal
to the ability of our eyes to see all the data, unless we take long periods to look and
analyze form, colour, tone, line, shape, texture,and space. We tend to scan rather than
look, a tendency exacerbated by the ever more complex and speedy urban environments
in which we increasingly live.

In my practice, I already have the ability to execute work with watercolours in a
 hyper realistic style that presents how, exactly, something looks. Viewers of these
 works are presented with the opportunity to really see the subjects in all their detail
and subtle beauty.  The promise of oil painting then is that it presents the potential
to paint in a deliberately dynamic style with a focus on light.

Daniel Keyes  
Roses & Lilies
11 x 24 inches, oil

Thursday, 12 March 2015

 Scottsdale Blush of Roses
10.5 x 8.5 
oil on panel
Available on Daily Paintworks

Scottsdale, fourth Day:  Daniel Keyes loves flowers. He told us the story 
of how, when his parents would allow each of their children to select something
 to purchase, he would ask for a flower.  This love for blooms is evident in his paintings
Our third demonstration was  painting roses.  I finally got the fact 
through my head that one can blend the oil paint on the painting, instead of
 trying to mix it all on the palette.  This allows for the soft edges and lovely 
blurs of  reflected light.  Really enjoyed painting this one and makes 
me wish I had planted more roses in my garden.

 Phoenix Second Set Up
12" x16"
oil on panel 
For sale on Daily Paintworks

Second and third day in Scottsdale, we worked on a more extensive still life set up, shown here. Working again all prima, I ended up focusing on the fruit and missing out on the sunflowers above. Never the less, I quite enjoy the optical effect of the grapefruit reflecting in the vase, the way the silver pot lurks in the back ground and the movement of the patterns in the background cloth.  Of note, I changed the composition of the white napkin at the left foreground as it cut the orange from the composition and added an apple to keep the eye from flicking to the white rectangle that was there. This works better in my opinion.

Back to Phoenix
Oil on Panel

This January I was back in Phoenix taking another workshop.  This year the instructor was Daniel Keyes, a young man who paints with astounding care, lusciously  loose works.  His name is linked with Richard Schmidt, a truly premier painter with a long career of creating master works.  Look them both up for a shot of gorgeous painting.

We started the week with this little set up of fruit. Painting all prima, the goal was to focus on the tonal range, not the hues.