Saturday, January 13, 2007

January 13 - Portrait Commission Continues

Now I have to say, this is tough to show to so many discriminating eyes, but you need to see every stage that paintings go through to better understand each of those stages. There are places in one painting's development that cannot be described any other way than "the uglies". This one is knee-deep in it right now! That's because the human eye and mind wants to see things a certain way, and when denied that by the level of completion of the work, the reaction is not one of acceptance, but more of surprise, and dismay. I call this stage the ugly stage for each painting I do. I know the folks commissioning a painting ought not see this stage, but they're subscribed to the list, so alas!

Fortunately for all, this painting will escape from that region and move toward a finished state tomorrow.  Today's focus was to set some edges and to start on the likeness of both the dog and young lady.

Friday, January 12, 2007

January 12 - On the River in Norco

Another commission, this time from a great collector in Florida, for whom I've painted her other lovely granddaughter Molly with Daisy, done last year. Now I'm returning with Allie and Spunky. Spunky has been painted before, and I do so love his soulful eyes. Allie is a beauty as well, with incredible skin that will tax my abilities to capture the translucent beauty there. I do so love a challenge! Here is the first lay in, placing the figures on the canvas without any intent to capture likeness. That will come perhaps tomorrow. I was sent some really good images from which to work, so this ought to go smoothly (famous last words!) It is a 20 x 16 oil. For you, Kim!.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

January 11 - The Dog Painting Changes, Making it Better

I knew I'd have to make changes to the dog to get the right "look", and boy! There were some major ones.  I ended up scraping out the entire nose and eye area, and repainting much of the structure of the head. I'm just happier with it. Below are both paintings, before and after, so you can see the changes wrought. They look like two different dogs! But that's the way of a commission for me. I tend to paint the majority of it in the first pass--OH OH!!! Major teaching moment ahead!

Hesitancy in painting limits your choices. I am reminded of cleaning a closet--the first thing that has to be done is to get everything OUT of the closet. So when I paint like this, I'm putting a lot of paint out there, and doing a lot of things on the canvas so I have something to work with later. Imagine if you will a restaurant with only two items on the menu. You'd stop going there, wouldn't you, after tasting just those two items every time? Your canvas can be a menu. The more you have OUT on it, the more choices you are likely to make. For example, say I put some blue in the lower left corner. That blue is out there where I can see it, and I can make additional choices in my work based upon seeing it. Had I not put the blue there, options and choices related to that blue wouldn't be possible! 

So the dog commission was done in the first pass to give me something to work with later. I had the head painted, it just wasn't RIGHT. I had the dog painted, and a lot of it IS right. A headless dog is a dog with nothing to work with. So my advice to you all is, "Do something, ANYthing, so you have something to work with."

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

January 10 - The Three Boat Commission Finished.

Three days of work on this one (mostly) and I can comfortably say it is 99 percent finished. I really am pleased with the way this slight fantasy/mostly real painting came out. The work has an interesting balance of values and division of space. Squint your eyes and look at the interesting light/dark that shows up!

Putting visuals to the words of people who so much want to have a memory made into something tangible is truly rewarding. I do hope the individual who has commissioned this painting will be pleased with the way it has turned out.

I also worked on yesterday's commission of the dog, completely wiping out and scraping much of his face off, repainting it in with an accuracy that was missing on the first go. AS artists, we cannot have fear about correcting our images, because if it has been painted once, it can be done again. Our brushes continue to move over new canvases, and each mark making is building on those that went before. Retracing our steps to correct is similar to practicing what we are learning--it can only contribute to growth. So I have a great deal of certainty that any corrections I make will only make me a better artist in my journey.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

January 9 - Donated Dog Commission for a Rescue Group

I needed to set aside the boat painting for the pigments to set up for a day, so this dog commission came off the brushes for a family in Fallon, Nevada. Last October I donated a commissioned portrait to the CAPS Art Auction for the Dogs and Cats in their shelter, and was sent some "really bad" photographs of this heeler mix. He was the constant companion of the buyer's grandchild, and the dog passed away at age 13. I'm doing my best to capture the pose and head expression in the three photographs they provided, to create a complete image of the lost pet. I'll end up doing more work on it when the light of the morrow comes, especially around the face.

Monday, January 08, 2007

January 8 - Still the Three Boats, more work on this 24 36 inch commission

Now I'm purely having FUN! It is so enjoyable to go in familiar territory, bringing this commission up to this stage. I'm connecting the dots so to speak, making changes to the shapes of the obats, integrating the whole composition before I start with the details, the calligraphy and areas of high contrast that will hold the viewer's eye. I'm quite pleased with it at this stage. I think a day to let these layers set up, so I can do the details without picking up the underlayment.

You can see that I've cleaned up a lot of the edges, losing some, and I added the palm trees and beach (oh to be there now) behind the Soulmate. The Absolute is definitely closer to the viewer, and turned slightly this way. I still have much more to do on the Southern Cross in the night sky, and to add the stellar constellation of that same name. Such fun!

Next will be the details!!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

January 7 - The Three Boat Commission ongoing

The day's work on this commission has ended up with me covering about 75% of the canvas, with the general colors that will be in each location. this part of the painting process is cerebral and intuitive, as I make decisions as the brush goes to the surface. Where to end a cloud, sight lines of shapes and edges, and keeping the viewer's eye going where I need it to go. As I may have mentioned, this pass is just getting the larger shapes in place, and doing those areas about which I have a good deal of certainty.
The decision to make the "Southern Cross" into an ephemeral shape will make its position in the sky more believable. People want to see things where they would normally be, and to put a boat in the sky is good in concept, yet to convey it in a rather traditional painting would be a challenge. I think I can do it, keeping that boat "there, but not". I have left the dark upper left for the constellation of the Southern Cross. The change in sky from one side to the other is handled by the clouds in both locations, Seattle and the Caribbean.
I can hardly wait to do the water and reflections! I love painting water.

Still more changes to come!!