Saturday, December 09, 2006

December 9 - Not quite finished, but getting there, Commissioned Portrait

"Sara on Her Way" I've started to put in the details, but have decided that I'm going to go back in and fix some things that don't sit right with me, so please hang on to your comments until after tomorrow. This has gone on for more days than I wanted, just because I'm sorting out a lot of "stuff" outside the studio. Tomorrow promises some much needed rain (it is beginning right now as I type this, close to midnight) and I will be able to get studio time dedicated in a large swath during the day tomorrow.

I've heard from the originator who has kindly provided me with a head study without helmet so I can bring a more relaxed pose on the rider.

Although not finished yet, I have made some good progress on it, with the embelliishment of the larger areas of color to make them more interesting.

Friday, December 08, 2006

December 8 - The Horse and Rider Commission (and Art Lesson) Continues...

"Lesson on Sara" Wow, what a change! I've spent the time painting the background and wokring more on the anatomy of the mare at this point, bringing and reinforcing where I want your eye to go (the head of the horse). The rider is secondary to the message of this work, so I will downplay all but her jacket/covering.

Again, at this point I am not overly concerned with the exact outline of the horse, but rather am taking care of the "rest of the story"--the background, the values and the forward motion. Most of you know I don't do those special details until the entire canvas is covered--well, here it is almost 97% covered. Now I can "kick back" and start picking out the details, making corrections, embellishing the larger shapes. Will you be patient until tomorrow? And yes, this painting is still in the "uglies".

Thursday, December 07, 2006

December 7 - Commission and Lesson Continues

"Lesson on Sara" Now this is going about as expected, but I haven't had a lot of time to put in on it. So what you see today is not as major a change as might be, however there are important things going on that need to be explored/explained. Yesterday I focused on the position of the horse, and today, I filled in the horse and rider with the major color notes and major value to set them apart (on the darker side) from the middle ground of the background. Here's where the head takes over what is visually there: choosing to keep the horse and rider backlit, and then make the rest of the painting in the middle value range, I can assure that the subject will "pop" when I add the highlights and backlit warms on the final pass. Horse = dark, background area = middle values, leg wraps and shirt and shine on the horse = highest value notes. Ka-POW.
As I work through this stage, I am correcting the horse and rider as I fill in these areas. Rest assured that they will undergo even more "tweaking" as I search for the correct pose and action.

I am planning the background with a few light brush marks as well, note that none of the to-be-dark trees will be directly behind the horse's head. We want that to be the major area of focus, so having similar values in that area would negate that goal.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

December 6 - Lesson Painting, Commission of Horse and Rider

"Lesson on Sara" Time to do another lesson painting! This time a commission, and I'll share with you the photographs that were provided by the individual. This one will really be pulling out all my reserves as I work from material that isn't exactly what the client wants. I have to "cut and paste" and rely on core knowledge to depict the horse effectively. "Sara" is now an aged mare, and the owner is wanting me to paint her in her prime. She's also jet black, always a challenge, since you don't have a wide range of values between shadow and reflected light to play with. But like Jack Nicklaus, I envision the successful painting before I begin, so have in place the necessary confidence to begin. Attached is the position wanted for this painting. Hold on to it to see how it changes!
As you may know, I first prime the canvas with a color to get rid of the white. This comes from the "old days" of drawing when we were told to work on value 5 gray paper, and use black and white Conte crayons to discover your values above and below this midpoint. It is always a good exercise! Having a mid-value ground on which to start keeps me sane when I am also considering color, shape, line, mass, and texture. Wouldn't you at least want one thing easier?
The initial drawing is not detailed at all, but merely finding edges, placement of the form, and leaving enough room for the horse to move into. Her forward direction makes it essential to have "space" for her to move. The reference photo doesn't have this, and although a nice square composition, it becomes quite static. My drawing is just suggestions at this point. To do details here would be paying too much attention too soon while ignoring the entire painting, edge-to-edge. Corrections to the anatomy and thrust will be made later. Oh, this is a 9 x 12 oil.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

December 5 - Persimmons, 6 x 12 Oil

"Persimmons" From life, a gift from the student living in our guest house, these delicious persimmons first found their way to this still life, before being sliced and consumed! Original oil, 6 x 12 inches $250

Monday, December 04, 2006

December 4 - California Landscape, 12 x 12 Oil

"California Ridge" Today I took a break from working in the studio to make a new hiking trail on the mountain behind our place. It was about 3 p.m. and entailed the following steps: I took the machete out and sharpened it on the grinder. I led Vincent van Goat out of the pen and put his pack saddle and red pack bags on, loaded with water and my sweatshirt, and off we went. The mare (who thinks Vincent is her foal) went crazy neighing and running back and forth most of the time we were up on the mountain, creating quite a dust storm as she galloped back and forth in the corral. Using the machete, I cut about three-tenths of a mile of new trail through the brush until the sun was gone and it started to turn cold. Trail cutting is both hard work and euphoric, and I do enjoy it. A new hiking area is opened up, I can let the terrain guide the location and direction of the trail, and working in the company of a friendly white goat is very much in touch with nature.

Of course, since I was looking at those rocks up behind the studio, I needed to switch gears when I returned and paint some! So here's today's painting, a 12 x 12 oil, of rocks and possible trail locations, so very characteristic of California hillsides. One ought to paint the things that are close to your heart, and I was very close to the brush and rocks as the trail opened up due to my effort. $250 from the Daily Paintings site for December 4.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

December 3 - Vintage Ornament, Flocked Glass, 5 x 7 Oil

"Vintage Ornament #3, Flocked" The weather has been dry, cold and windy, the only warm spots in sheltered corners of sunshine and the house cats are seeking indoor quadrants of warmth in the morning. The dry air is hard on my sinuses, but I was out with the machete cutting more cactus as I continue to clear out an area for a rock garden with succulents.

And as I think about these ornaments coming to light, I am finally ready to paint this one--It has a special meaning. This one's a tree-shaped flocked glass with those colored bands again, this time they are red and blue. My earliest memory of this one was back in the late 50's when we lived near Washington, D.C. My dad worked in the Pentagon, and I was about six years old. I can remember lying under the natural spruce tree looking up at the lights and this ornament, and pretending I was out west somewhere. Although none of these ornaments are expensive, they are fun to paint and are precious to me. I heard from another list member who suggested that they be put on display on a spring rod in a window, high enough to be out of the range of the cats. It's a good idea! 5 x 7 Oil for $100