Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Yikes! No daily today!

This WAS one of the daily paintings.. here it is hanging in the show in Keene, NH.

I started a small painting this morning, but I had all these errands to run,and I've just now gotten home.... I stopped by our local gallery on the way back, and one of the other artists was there, playing Irish fiddle - it was absolutely wonderful, so of course I had to stop and listen and talk with him.    The main reason for my trip to the "village" (what we call Jemez Springs) was to ship a painting  and  to make a DUMP RUN.  When you live in the sticks, there is no such thing as trash pick up.  You gotta take your own trash.  And since the dump and recycling center is more than a 50 mile round trip, it not only takes quite awhile to get there, but I always try to combine it with other errands so as to make the best use of the gas. So, in addition to the other errands,  I stopped at the general store to talk to the gal there about a painting commission, and while there, the UPS guy came by, recognized me, and gave me a package he had on the truck. (art supplies!). Small town life is cool.  That wouldn't happen in the city.    I also stopped at a local resale shop to see if they had any goodies for painting. I've found cool stuff as still life props in places like this.  Today, I did find a beautiful blue goblet and a little brass cup.

soooooo.... I didn't get home in time to work on the painting for today - You'll just have to wait.

Now, I gotta go light the wood stove and get some warmth going in this house!  And start supper! And feed the dogs!  (the dogs are hoping it is not necessarily in that order).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

34.. Portrait Study

Don 11x14 oil

Today's painting is a portrait study of another artist friend.  I asked on one of my painting forums if folks would send me photos of themselves, so I can practice painting portraits.  Don generously supplied several.
Working from photos is never as good as working from life, but it's still good practice, and I learn something every time I do one of these.   And not only about painting...
 In our correspondence, Don told me that he is a musician/songwriter, used to tour, but now writes...and this photo is actually one of photos from a CD he has in process at the moment.  He plays sort of "Texas red dirt" country music, which is sort of rocked out country as he explains it.     It's really interesting to connect in these small ways with folks, even using a photo as a "model".!

Monday, November 28, 2011

33. Copper Creamer and Rose

Copper Creamer and Rose 6x8 oil/panel

Today I've got lots of "stuff" to do, so I concentrated on making a quick study with purposeful brushstrokes and simple subject matter.  Roses drive me nuts, so I'm not sure why I picked that today...I had a bit of trouble photographing this - the overall color is still sort of "off" - the inside of the creamer is not that blue - but I just couldn't get it right, and I gotta run!  
I've been working more than usual from photographs, and really, I prefer to work from life, and it is better study to do so.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Nothing new, just an update

Little Pals 10x10

After checking the value structure on this, and getting some helpful suggestions from some artist friends, I decided to re-work the background on this painting of little foals.  Now there is greater contrast between the foals and the area behind them, and I think the spring-like colors go well with the idea of new babies - I think these two are about to bound off any second now....

32. Grace

Grace 8x10 oil/panel

Grace, not a name, but a quality. This was a study done from an old Smithsonian photo, black and white.  Again the challenge is to add color - skin tones are the most difficult thing (I think) to paint - because skin doesn't really have a color of its own - it  shifts and changes with the light and surrounding colors more than any other "thing" that we paint.   
I'll be off to visit family for Thanksgiving, and though I'll take my paints, I don't have much hope of getting any work done, so it'll be several days before I post again.

Blessings on you all for Thanksgiving - I hope you can enjoy  being with family and friends.  

Monday, November 21, 2011

31. Three Running Horses

Three Running Horses 8x8 oil/panel

I am sick today. So I thought I should keep it simple and paint just one thing.. well, okay, two if you count the feather.  Normally, I'd probably had painted this pot, let it dry, and then glazed on the design. But I wanted to do this alla prima.  I liked painting the feather though.
Maybe I just should've stayed in bed. :-)

Friday, November 18, 2011

30. Cowboy Jim

My Friend Jim 8x10 oi/panel

Today's sketch is a portrait of one my online artist friends, Jim.  He graciously sent me some photos to practice with, and this is a close up from one of those. He is actually riding a beautiful gray  horse in this photo, but I like the  angle of this - looking upward with him framed against the western AZ sky.  I told him it makes him look larger than life! 

The light was tricky  - shadowed from the hat, but at the same time a spot of sun, and also reflected light from his shirt - all of this light bouncing around in various way.  Working from photos too requires some ingenuity, or maybe "make it up as you go along" because the values and color are never spot on like they would be working from real life.. so you gotta sort of choose a color palette and go with it. To top it off, my pr inter is almost out of ink, so I had to work with a really less-than-stellar printed copy of the photo.  

Anyway, it is all good practice - and that's what we're here for, right?

29. Searching for Strays

Searching for Strays 8x10 oil/panel

The other day, I took the pooches, Gibbs and  Marley, for a run in an area I had not explored yet. I wanted to check out some trails and see if I could make a connection with some other routes we like to run.
On the way back to the truck, we, well, actually, the dogs, spooked up some stray cattle.  

We have open range here, which means cows are pretty much all over the place in the national forest.  But usually, by the first of November, the ranchers have moved their herds down to lower pasture, where it won't get as much snow and there will be better grazing for them.  I knew that the guys who graze cattle up in this area had already moved their cows out, and I figured they'd be looking for these strays, who somehow got separated from the rest of the herd.   So I checked the brand on these cows, and called it in to the district office to let them know where to go look for the wayward bovines.

Inspired by that encounter, I decided to paint one of the ranchers going to do just that.  They almost all have cattle dogs of one sort or another, and often drive the cattle on horseback, because the terrain is too severe for any other means!

I tried to remember to take shots of this in progress.. I forgot to take as many as I intended, but did put together a little animation for you to view.  I didn't plan this one out - (not recommended!) so there are numerous changes to the background as I played around with several options.  Mostly, I was using this as a test to see if I could figure out the animation software.  I think I got it, but it took me quite awhile!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

28. Camp Coffee

Camp Coffee 8x10 oil/panel

 I totally failed today in trying to be "looser" in my brushwork!  So, I took the palette knife and scraped around - does that count?  

That's an old enamel coffee pot I found in an abandoned hut, and an old Maxwell House coffee tin - good to the last drop! We had a similar old coffeepot that we took on camping trips.  Now, I use a french press. :-)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

27. Some Kids Bring Home Puppies.......

The Little Runt Pig 7x7 oil/paper

... but not this kid!  How would you like to see one of your young 'uns show up at the front door with this little bundle?  Actually, this is a photo of a friend of mine, Jenna,  who grew up on a family farm.  She hasn't changed a bit. She was caring for the poor little critters then, and she's doing it now.  

I was having a real "off" day today as far as painting goes. I always wonder why that happens. It's like you woke up and forgot how to paint.  I don't think my dad ever got up one morning and forgot how to do his job, but it seems to happen to me with painting now and again. Anyway, after a whole day of frustration and failure, Jenna sent me some pics, this one among them.  I loved this image so much that I put everything else away and painted - it's just a small sketch I know, and could actually use a bit more work, but I had the biggest grin the whole time I was painting because this image is just so darn cute.    So, thanks, Jenna! You saved the day!

Monday, November 14, 2011

26. Old Cowboy

Times Have Changed..... 8x10 oil/panel

Today's challenge was to see if I could take a black and white photo, and insert my own color.  I could probably do this without much problem on most subjects.   Turns out this photo had REALLY WEIRD LIGHTING.. that I didn't notice till I got to working.  There is the obvious shadow from his hat, and the sunlight hitting his face on the right... but there was also BOTTOM LIGHTING -  like light bouncing up from something and hitting the under surfaces of his face, and then there appeared to be slight rim lighting too.. it was all way confusing... But it's all good practice!!!

By the way I should mention that most of these dailies are for sale at very reasonable prices, unframed.  Here's a link to the folder on my website  to see all of them.  Because some are in a gallery framed, and some are for sale directly from me unframed, I do not have prices listed.  If it says "available" then its, uh, available! And if there's a red dot on it, then it is (happily) already sold.  :-)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

25. Wisdom... another Value Study

Wisdom  8x10 oil/panel

This is another painting done in the "wipe away" method, using transparent paint and wiping out the light areas.  
Some folks asked if I would post some "how to" photos and descriptions of this method, so I will do that on my "regular" painting blog, which is more focused on instruction.  
You can find that

Thursday, November 10, 2011

24. Value Study of Young Souix Brave

Dignity   8x10 oil/panel

This is painted from a photo reference that is part of the Smithsonian, and in the public domain.

Larry Seiler, the guy who gave me the inspiration to start this 120 paintings project, talked alot about values in the last session of the webinar.  Truth be told, values are the structure that holds a painting together - they are the framework on which you hang color.  If the values are good, the painting can work.  
Well, anyway, so I thought this was a good time to do a value study, but not just any kind of value study.

This painting was done by the "wipe away" method.  I used one transparent color ( a mix of transparent oxide red and ultramarine blue, for you inquiring minds out there) and laid a thin wash down.  Then, by both adding more color for darks, and wiping away the color for the lights, the painting comes to life.  No white paint, or opaque color. This must be done in one sitting, with the paint still wet, pushing paint around, adding and subtracting.   You gotta have a non -absorbent surface (I used one of my homemade panels) and it helps to have  a brush with a nice sharp edge.  I used two flats, size 4 and 6.

Native American Wisdom:
"If you talk to the animals
they will talk with you
and you will know each other.

If you do not talk to them
you will not know them
and what you do not know, 
you will fear.

What one fears, one destroys."
- Chief Dan George

23. B is for Bear

B is for Bear  7x7 oil/panel

Our power went out in the middle of the night and was not back on until just a few minutes ago.  I can paint by natural light, of course, so this wouldn't stop me from working..  We have a gas stove, so I could even heat water to make coffee in the french press we use for camping.  Coffee and a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast and I'm good to go!

However, the studio room I have is a really small spare bedroom.  The corner in which my easel is set up is sort of dark and I always use an easel light so I can see the palette.  I didn't have that today, so thought I should paint something simple, with big simple shapes and colors that wouldn't be too tricky to manage since seeing the colors on my palette was kinda hard.

This is my granddaughter's teddy bear, bought on a trip to Colorado some years back.  The little Fisher Price figure (remember those?) I found when doing some remodeling at our old house.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

22. Little Pals

Little Pals  10x10 oil/wood panel

I've had this reference for quite awhile...  Is thee anything more precious than a new foal?  These two are full of hope and promise.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

21. Frosty Morning

Frosty Morning 5x7 oil/wood panel

We had a frosty morning this morning  too... But now the sun is up, frost is melting, and the day is still ahead!!

I do these pretty quick, obviously, and that's part of the point, but after putting this one away and looking at it again I saw a couple of things I thought should happen. And I thought you might be interested in the thought process that goes on.
A. The head is the focal point.  We just sort of naturally are drawn to faces, animal or human..
B. That being said, if it's the focal point, then it needs to have the most contrast, sharper edges, etc.  So I beefed up the light around his face.  Just because something is a certain way in a photo reference, or even in painting from real life,.. doesn't mean we have to paint it that way!!!  Make your statement visually, and do what you have to do to make that happen.
C. I also warmed up the tops of the weeds... light shining through them would be halo'ed around each stem, creating a sort of warm glow in general, since they are thin little blades of grass and stems.... This better portrays the sense that sunlight is hitting them from behind. At least I think so.... What do you think?

Monday, November 7, 2011

20. Jes' Talkin' Cows.....

Jes' Talkin' Cows.....
8x10 oil/wood panel

Two ol' cowboys, talking about... what else... cows! They've been ranching their whole lives.. it's just who they are. I've had the photo reference that is the basis for this painting for quite some time.. my favorite thing? Those suspenders.  Gotta love it.

This is the first painting on the new batch of panels I just made.(thanks, honey, for cutting all of them for me!)  These are such a pleasure to paint on... the roller gives the panel just a little surface... sort of an eggshell, pebbly type surface, which still grabs the brush, but the surface is totally non-absorbent and paint and color stay fresh.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Just a Finish for today....

Got 'Im!!
8x10 oil/panel

I often don\t get to paint on Saturdays, and today is my wonderful hubby's birthday, so I won't get to do a daily.. I did however finish yesterday's work, so thought you might like to see it. About another hour of just finish work.. mostly the background and a bit of the riders...  This one will go to the new gallery here - they are asking for western horse images and I am more than happy to oblige!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

19. Ropers 1

Ropers 1     8x10 oil/panel

Boy, did I have fun with this one!  A friend posted some photos of a local Arizona rodeo he attended, and gave permission to use them for drawing or sketching.  I couldn't wait to start on this one, so actually did it last night late.  I am trying to re-use some old panels, so had scraped down an old 8x10 to use.  Because it is hard (for me) to paint with all the old painting showing through, I just tried to quick sketch the ropers into position and start filling in basic color shapes to cover up what was underneath.  Just was blocking in the basic light and shadow colors.  Once I got to this stage, I decided I liked the loose, rather choppy feel of it. I don't think I'll do much more finishing.. but there's a few details I still need to add, like the guy's rope about to catch the steer, and the fence rails in the back,... small things to add just enough detail to bring it into focus.
Technically, this was more than my allotted hour's work time, more like 2, but what the heck... it's all practice and I had an absolute blast just laying down color.  You can still see a little of the old color in the bottom corner, and around a few edges.. i think I'll leave it!
I called this, optomisically, Ropers 1, because there's a couple more shots I want to paint.  Look for more I hope!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

18. Perched Pear

Perched Pear 5x7 oil/linen

Well I thought about titling it "Pear Perched on a PartidgeWhich is Perched on a Tree" (tree not shown) but  that seemed a bit lengthy.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

17. John Deere and a re-do

Ol' John Deere 5x7 oil/linen
from photo reference kindly supplied by Ron Swearingen

Today's effort  was to practice "a brushstroke laid is a brushstroke stayed". (quote from artist Larry Seiler).
In other words, make each stroke count - look before you leap, pay attention,  hold hands before crossing, etc. etc.
This was fun... picking a subject that, for me, was not the usual, meant I couldn't slip into blending or painting what I know.  I briefly sketched this out with some thin paint, just to get the general lay of the land, and then started filling in color.  I did pre-mix 4 greens - a cool highlight color, the local rich green color, a darker warm green, and finally a very dark shadow color.  I didn't mix enough and had to re-mix, not exactly matching (note to self for next time: use more paint!)  The pre-mixing did help basically choose one of those four categories for the shape I was painting.
Now's a good time to remember a very simple, but extremely important adage from fellow artist Stapleton Kearns.  That is:
Everything is either in the light, or in the shadow.

I know that sounds simple, but if you will look next time you go to set up to paint, and categorize every shape - is it in the light, or is it in the shadow?   - then you will be able to manage both your values and colors to create a believable image.  Knowing what parts of this ol' tractor were getting direct light, indirect light, and shadow made painting it a breeze.

and the re-do?  From yesterday.. I realized I had set myself up for failure having not planned my values well.
So, I scraped down that white pony and re-painted him in a dark value. duh... makes so much more sense. I don't know if this made a huge difference in the appeal of this particular painting, but, I had to try it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

15. Above Jemez Springs

Above Jemez Springs, 5x7 oil/panel

Well, today is another effort to combine the daily painting exercises with a more complete work.  I have to do this because of time constraints. I worked hard to make purposeful brush strokes - the horse started out as just a thin wash of shadow color all over, and then came back later and painted thickly where the light would hit. A tiny bit of reflected light on him, and that's it. If you click on the photo and view the enlarged view, you can see there's a good bit of impasto.  You can probably also see I really need new brushes!
The original plan was to have the foreground figure against a very muted, very pale,background. However, when i started working on a white horse against the light background, there just wasn't enough value contrast.
So the background got a bit darker.  I'm thinking I might go back in and re-state it REALLY light, but for today, the allotted time had passed, and I needed to get on to other things...
Though the horse and rider are mostly from a photo reference, the landscape is real.. it is on top of one of the mesas above our little village of Jemez  Springs...  That's our winter training ground because while we might be buried in snow up here, it's usually not..