Saturday, February 17, 2007

February 17 - Whippet Painting Finished!

"In Hot Pursuit", original oil, 12 x 36 inches. The addition of the splashing and sparkling water, plus the details on the head, legs and muscles don't show up as well as they would if I could make this a larger image! I have made it eight inches across, which is bigger than what I'd normally bring to your email, and the web site. It does show more of the detail. I just really am happy with the colors in this light and the suggestion of the dog chasing something that has gone out of the picture. It pleases me that this came out of my head, placing the daylit dog in evening light and designing the background to enhance that feeling. I'm hoping to save this one for an art show that features dogs down the calendar way a bit.

Friday, February 16, 2007

February 16 - Continuing the Whippet Painting

This part of the painting process is to cover the canvas and start to develop the lights of those value areas defined yesterday. Now the colors start to dance against one another and the fluid motion of the dog is starting to take shape, along with her three-dimensionality. I am thoroughly enjoying painting this piece--purely for my own development and also for the statement of the gracea nd beauty of whippets. Eagle eyed members of the list have pointed out the front shoulder area as being "not quite right" and I'm going to make some more changes to that structure to clarify the lift and reach of the forelegs. No splashing water yet, that is to come tomorrow! The colors of the background are also flowing through red, orange, yellow and over to blue and violet. I do hope you can see that I've held to the value plan throughout! Again, this ia a 12 x 36 inch canvas, and an oil.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

February 15 - Covering the Canvas, Whippet painting

Today I've started to cover the canvas with the oh-so-important mid values. The painting is about mid values, with accents of dark and a large light area. Edgar Whitney (astoundingly good teacher of watercolor and no longer with us) used to talk about six value plans that always work, and this painting will definitely be the "small darks, large light in midtones" one. You can find out more about Edgar Whitney's wonderful design lessons in his book Watercolor Painting. The section on designing good paintings is priceless. Learning to recognize the value plans in successful paintings can help to make your own work stand up to scrutiny. The light area of water behind the dog's head will not be pure white, either. I save those highest values for the rim lighting on the dog and the sparkles on the water. Right now, though, I'm concerned mainly with making interesting mid tones in lots of grayed hues, staying mainly with the purple/yellow, blue/orange combinations. I also lowered the pelvis and angle of he back for more illusory speed.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

February 14 - Starting the Canvas, Whippet Painting

Here is the canvas--yes, a 12 by 36 inch format--long and wide, with the first sketch laid in and a rough start on the color of he dog in shadow. I lifted off the mid-tone layer behind the dog's head, because I am wanting to have tha area be where the sunlight glints off of he water. You can see the sketch of the splash of what the dog pursues laid in on the far left.
This long, horizontal format seems to make the dog move more swiftly. If you are conveying speed or vertical rise, one effect to enhance that feel is to choose a canvas shape that seems to duplicate that. As this progresses, I'll talk about how each brush stroke works to push the dog forward and move your eye across, not up and down, the composition.

And getting an email such as the lines below is the reason why I take the time to write back to each one of you:

...the memories you have stirred. Our neighbour bred and raced Whippets all through my chidhood. Ive not seen or heard of Whippetts since I moved North. Ginny was our fav and I so loved watching her race.

You give me the gift of seeing fragments of your lives, and knowing that what I'm doing means something for you... it gives me such great satisfaction to live a life where the gifts are always moving. A long time ago I read Lewis' thesis on the Erotic Life of Property, and, contrary to its racy title, is a rather dry read of the study of gift within the cultures the islands of the South Pacific. In a nutshell, it is paying it forward without expecting something in return. It has molded my life, and given back countless unexpected gifts.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

February 13 - Beginning the Whippet Painting, the Sketches

I'm starting a painting that has been in my head for about two weeks, and I sure hope it matches up with the idea of it! It is different in that the format or canvas is a three to one ratio. That is to say, the canvas will be three times as long as it is high, very unusual. However, this has to happen to convey what I feel to be important--the speed and grace of the extended reach of the dog's movement. There is a story in this one as well, as you can see a small spash on the left side indicating something has moved out of the picture, but is what the whippet is headed for. 

My Dad had a whippet named "Dido" in Hawaii in the mid 1930s, and I have two silver trophy bowls from her show career. Later in Canyon Lake, my folks had Keiki Makana, a whippet that I used to watch running free in the open flats of undeveloped land. She was greased lightening and a joy to watch with her flow and effortless movement!
Today I share the two working sketches for this larger painting, and you can see me figuring out the placement, and the values in the lower one. This will be backlit with a high attention on the water and the splashes. I'm going to love painting those beautiful dog muscles, too!

Monday, February 12, 2007

February 12 - Commission Work for the Designer Market

In doing commission work, I end up with some unusual requests every once in a while. And since I learned long ago that saying "no" to a challenge does nothing but close doors you might never know are there, some of these commissions have been very eye-opening!  Today's daily painting is a design rough for a designer who is asking for a specific installation piece for a specific market. It presented some unique challenges in that it is SO far away from my usual color and design. However, I said yes to this because in doing things like this, I open my mind to new ways of seeing and thinking about the art I create.  Is it "me"? Of course not!  But who knows whether or not down the road a ways, I may use something I learned here in my "usual" work. 

And reworking this rough allows me to think outside the box as I am focusing so intensely with the design, negative space, contrast and all those other things you learned in Design 101. This one is only the first step.  So don't be afraid to say yes to offers from folks who don't think like you do. It may send your art off in some really interesting directions!

On another note, I do have a painting waiting to get out (as soon as I finish up one more commission's tweaking), of a whippet dog.  My folks had them, and this painting just aches to be born.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

February 11 - At Sam Maloof's Place

"Sam and Beverly Maloof's Home" On location Saturday I did this 12 x 9 acrylic of the front entrance of the wonderful Craftsman style home of this American icon of woodworking. (You can find out more at )
The gardens are all drought tolerant and beautifully laid out with some of the trees actually having been moved from the old location to this newer property next to the San Gorgonio mountains. I wanted to paint some more, but as it was getting later, and I forgot my spray bottle to keep the paints moist, so I had to pack up.  $325

A photo of me and the icon of American furniture design.

After the rain this morning, I spent some time working in the yard, transplanting agave and aloe to new locations on the slopes, and filling the dumpster with more vegetation as we continue to clear up the property. It's starting to look more like "our" space now, and that is a comfort.

Howdy, Pardner! At the beginning of next month, I'm going to a working cattle ranch in southern Arizona for a week of painting and riding and teaching--they do have internet, so you'll be able to see lots of pictures and paintings! The daily paintings won't stop, but will definitely take on a more "cowboy" look for that week! And those Arizona skies...yum!