Friday, September 05, 2008

Sep 5 - Forgot the Swatch on the Cow

Yesterday I was so excited about the Flash Cards that I forgot to add the swatch of the cow for you to see that purple! But sometimes thing happen this way, so I can explain more fully why something works for me. And so it is. Here's a circle from the shoulder of the cow, against a neutral gray background. Can you identify the colors? The painting is here, too, smaller, to refresh your memory.

Training the eye to "get it right" when you mix colors takes time, and a neutral gray area around one's colors can truly assist in identifying the colors. That's why on my taboret, both my glass acrylic and oil palettes are sitting on top of gray painted wood. With each mixing of colors, I have made my job of identifying the colors that much easier. Look at the same circle below, surrounded by white. All you see is the circle, and we miss the beautiful variations of color within the circle. The color is dominated by the value contrast, plain and simple.

Working on a high value white palette will make you change your colors to be lighter than they need to be, because of that contrast issue. And your eyes will tire quickly as they adjust constantly between the color and that high-value white. The palettes of the old masters and many seasoned painters are a patina of every color--which equates to.... you guessed it!.... GRAY. I like a clean palette, so painting the wood underneath gray solved the dilemma for me.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sep 4 - How Now, Purple Cow? Moonlight

A purple cow doesn't look purple when it is painted in moonlight, but it truly is. You can see that by isolating the color and putting it on a neutral gray background. (See below for the swatch from the cow's shoulder.)

Knowing how to paint something that is white (or black, or both) during different times of day is the whole concept about the Time of Day Color System. It requires practice, and most importantly, THINKING to get great color every time.

I did this 12 x 16 inch oil painting as a demonstration piece for moonlight during the workshop in Sebastopol a week ago, and then left it in the camper when I returned. Hmmmm, I wonder how many other paintings are sitting up on a shelf to be discovered later?

I received the first color proof on the Flash Cards... they are going to look great! Some minor tweaking on my end to get the colors spot on, and then we're going to do the print run. I had originally scheduled only 100 sets to be done, but know from your response that I need to do a much larger quantity. For that, I thank you so much. I hope you'll get a LOT of information from them, and you're going to be the first to know when I have them in my hands! Here are six of the seven fronts of the cards--can you identify the different times of day? (The cards will have some helpful text for those color bands along the bottom.)

They look a little silly all lined up like this...

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Sep 3 - Sam Maloof, Woodworker and His Gardens

On location painting at a very special site, I finished this 12 x 16 oil on a summer afternoon a couple weeks back. I bring it to you today, because the original painting is hanging at the Maloof Foundation in Alta Loma (you can google Sam Maloof for an enlightening introduction to an American icon of furniture making.)

The Plein Air Artists of Riverside have been invited to show our works, and many include scenery from the lovely gardens and buildings of his Foundation for preserving the craftsmanship of fine woodworking.

When I looked around for something to paint, I was captivated by the contrast of the umbrella with the shadowed area behind it, and the lively ribbon streamers that are a characteristic of the grounds. Everything about the site speaks of quality hand-made craftsmanship, including the native stone walls and the beautifully constructed wood buildings.

I had the pleasure of meeting Sam a year ago, and he is a wonderfully modest and gentle man. In his 90s now, he still works on furniture designs with the help of apprentices in his workshop. Oh, if I could only afford one of his chairs!

My painting has been selected for various publicity for the show, which opens with a reception at the Maloof Foundation on September 13. The art life goes on!

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sep 2 - Dog Commission Finished

Here's the finished commission of the two dogs, and the collector loved it! I delivered it still wet in places, and he said I captured the personalities of the pooches with perfection of paintbrush (well, that's my interpretation!). The dog on the right is reserved in nature, and the one on the left is constantly happy and a bit goofy.

Getting that inherent personality is very essential to doing commissions, and I try my best to get it. The location is important for the client, too--the front porch is where they spend time and the positions are also characteristic, down to the twisted paws on the shy dog.

It was fun going from the cools of the area near the front door into the warms as the foreground came toward the viewer. And painting the tongue with alizarin and white seems to break the rules, but if you recall the lessons about human skin, dog's tongues follow the same rule. The learning never ends, does it?

I had a question from one of my friends who receives my blog, about how I handle messy cleanup in the studio, and thought you might enjoy seeing my solution. I purchased from SimpleHuman, a covered trash bin that uses plastic grocery bags. The cover keeps any brush cleaning solvent odors in check, and the bags are ubiquitous, so I never run out. I have two of these trash bins, one at either end of my taboret. Light weight, they hang from the end, and it is a simple matter to toss in the soiled towels and other debris.
The ingenious device also has storage for extra bags below it. Here's a link if you'd like more info. Thinking outside the box again, this was originally designed to go under the kitchen sink.

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Monday, September 01, 2008

Sep 1 - Dog Commission, First Lay In

Here's the big blocking in of major values when starting commissions... not my usual "make the background beautiful first", and that's because the dogs' bodies constitute much of the background --look how MUCH there is of them. The noses, eyes, paws 'n' claws will be the focal points, so I really am working on the "background" at this point.

The client has seen this image and approves it, with the admonition that the left dog "always" has his mouth open.

Now, the client doesn't understand the painting process, so a reaction like that is normal. They can only measure what's in front of them against their internal vision of the desired product, so they usually will focus on some area that hasn't been started yet.

I had a bit of fun and good news today. As part of my ongoing marketing plan, I get notified automatically when my web sites are linked and information about me is elsewhere than just my sites. This came through from, telling me that my daily paintings widget is the "Most Popular" for people to add to their desktop! I'm so pleased! Here's the way it came in:

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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Aug 31 - Dog Commission Phase I

So how does a commission happen? The usual procedure is that I'm approached by someone who has seen my work online, and they have a desire to have a painting done in my "style", yet with their animals in the composition.

This two-dog commission came to me that way, after handing my postcard-business card out along the way. The pile of photos to the left are the requested imagery I need to create a composite image of what the client wants. I seldom have a "perfect" image from which to work, and one of my strengths is design--the ability to create a good composition from a multitude of source material. It is a worthy skill to acquire, and skill it is.... anyone can get it with enough practice!

The initial sketch on the canvas is below. I've placed the two dogs with the characteristic pose that the client wants, and I've quickly drawn in with a brush the placement. I did do a small thumbnail sketch to define the negative space around the dogs--again, designing the composition. The client hasn't seen this yet. This stage would only confuse, with no value contrast to help the non-artist "see" the direction I'm going.

The shadow in the image on the top is my easel. More tomorrow!

On another note, one of my two panels is in place on the Mural Mosaic of the Horse, in process. I had panels 216 and 136, but although they have both, only one is viewable in the assemblage.

The official unveiling of the completed mural will be on September 3. You can see the almost finished mural--a combination of over 300 equine artists' collaboration at this link:

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