Monday, December 18, 2006

Painting 7

It's been forever since I've updated this blog. I'm enjoying painting and I'm still moving towards my goal. Actually, I'm getting a litte quicker at my painting, and with some paintings that I've completed in a day, I'm going to reach my goal a little quicker than anticipated.

About this current painting. I planned painting this rooster very differently from what I ended up with. I had wanted the rooster to be low on the canvas with an expansive sky taking up most of the painting, but I was too afraid to experiment, and didn't want to end up with a bad composition. And what do I end up painting? A rooster in a bad composition. Seems like the risk may have been worth it. This painting was on a small canvas, about 9x12. I think the handling of the background is effective and draws your eye to the face of the bird, but the cropping of the bird feels awkward. Nor do I think it was a good idea to paint the tail feathers with such detail because it seems to compete with the focal point. Overall, I feel like I overworked the paint, especially in the yellow area of the feathers. Some quick paint strokes of pure color would probably have been more affective. Also, the legs are heavy and too thick, plus, he feels lopsided. Pay attention to details, cause they come back to haunt you!

My biggest challenge is finding interesting subjects in interesting compositions. And knowing all the paintings that are to come in my posts, I'm not sure if I've tackled that issue.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Painting 6

I don't know why it surprises me that this is my sixth painting, but it seems as though I had painted many more before getting to one I was actually proud of. And because I like it, I really won't spend too much time looking for flaws—I don't want to ruin it for myself. Kathleen said 0nce that you get about 1 good painting for every 20 you paint, and I feel this is one of those. I think the main reason I like it is because it's from my own photo I took while traveling through China, and it's just a great reminder of a very wonderful adventure.

The biggest challenge from this painting was the water. I wasn't quite sure what I was doing, but Kathleen talked me through using layers of paint to achieve the sky reflection. Also, there's a lot of detail in the photo and I had to decide how much I would translate to the canvas, especially with the grass in the water. I wanted detail, but didn't want to overdo it and distract from the figure. I also simplified the clothing and decided against the striped shirt the man was wearing for the simple solid one. I think I did justice to the lighting. It was an overcast day, but with diffused lighting which goes with the reflected clouds. One thing I left out of the painting was a few figures in the background. I regret not including them because I think they would have added depth and interest in the upper portion of the canvas. It's funny that I get to a point with paintings that I'm scared to experiment and add to it. I decide that I might ruin what I already have. I'm slowing getting over that and I'm realizing the power of the paint. I could have added them and if they didn't work out, just painted over them, but that didn't occur to me at the time. I think it's important to experiment when I'm painting, and to just forget trying to make a good painting, but during this time, I was very interested in getting a painting that I could show others and be able to say, "I did this" and this painting did that for me. I entered it in a show at the Center and put a price tag at $500. I wasn't surprised when it didn't sell, but it was fun to try.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Painting 5

After the last painting, I left the Collin County college for a few reasons, the biggest being the distance from home. It was just not convenient for me, and frankly, it wasn't the type of atmosphere that was inspiring to me, and inspiration is really a big facilatator for me and my work. As a graphic designer, I search out inspiration every day, which really translates that I borrow from others to do my job. Well, when you under a time crunch and you have a hangover, what do you expect? I'm not being serious for the most part, but a trend in advertising and design is just one good idea "borrowed" a thousand times over. Fine art is that way too. Art movements! The impressionist era. copy, copy, copy to some extent. This painting, not so much. I mean, who would come up with this hodge podge of unrelated items but me. This is all me baby! No borrowing composition, nothing. The days of copying other people's art has come to an end thanks to my new school, The Creative Arts Center of Dallas. A place that is somewhat more convenient and definitely inspirational! When you travel from downtown Dallas to the Plano suburbs everyday, what's convenient anyway?

So My first assignment is to create a still life of personal items that represents me. I took this assignment very seriously and when I see new students painting "pretty" still lifes. I burn up just a little because I feel they are trying to make a pretty painting and not a meaningful one, which basically translates to "I wish mine was pretty". Yes, each item speaks to who I am in a vague, shallow way. I drink coffee every morning, so I have a mug. Yawn! I like to read, so I have a book, although I must confess I haven't picked up a book in over a year. I'm only interested in Harry Potter and picture magazines these days, and Harry is months away. The Bhudda head represent travel both physically and spiritually. I don't do much of either these days. The measuring cup, it's because I love to bake, the hammer is for my love of home repair. Bogus! Lies! Yes, I enjoy baking and do it about as much as I read and I'd rather take the hammer to my forehead than to a nail for home repair. So the painting is all me and not much of me, but at least I didn't borrow, steal or copy it. As for the execution. It was from life and that made it more challenging and rewarding. The drawing is definitely off. The hammer sags, the metal cup awkward. But look at the metal! And the book is a source of pride with the pages painted with enough suggestion to be real, but not overly detailed. The composition is trangular and vertical, so it's in the right direction, although it's somewhat lost on the canvas. I painted a red underpainting and I love the effects of the red coming through. So it's a love hate relationship. I still didn't feel comfortable with the paints and it definitely shows that I need to spend more time on my drawings, and I have it proudly hanging in my closet where it will remain!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Painting 4

From the framing, you can probably tell that I'm proud of this painting. Again, it's a study of another painting, but this time I painted a water color, so while the essence of the original is there, there's still differences because of the different medium. This is a bad photo and doesn't really show the colors too well. I like the use of complementary colors, subject matter, and quirky composition. I'm not sure if the original had the pitcher in the middle, but I've learned than placing objects dead center on the canvas makes a bad painting, and the pitcher is dangerously close if not there. Another mistake I made was painting the 2 unpeeled oranges so identical in shape and size, and that draws too much attention to them. If you look at the shadowing on the table, you can see that I did not handle this correctly, First, light reflects off objects, so the blue of the plate should be reflected on the table, but I used a warm shadow. For the oranges, I used a cool, dark shadow. In real life, that should probably be reversed, with a warmer shadow on the oranges. How the pitcher is sitting on the table is a mystery since it seems so close to the edge, but the original had it that way and I like the tension it creates in the piece and that's why I call it quirky. I didn't foresake the reflections altogether. I did place a nice reflection of the lemons and the plate on the pitcher, unfortunately, the photo doesn't pick this up. But even with the obvious errors, I was happy with it and I have this one hanging over my kitchen sink. I certainly have learned from it, although the problems only became apparant after many viewings and following numerous art lessons. Sometimes a little time and distance help you see things in a whole new way.

Painting 3

Painting #3. Embarrassing is all I can say. After completing the first assignment somewhat successfully, I was ready to paint my masterpiece. Our assignment was to find an image, crop it down until it was virtually unrecognizable and paint it in one sitting. I found a photo of a flower and while the photo was very appealing, this painting just fell flat. It's just weird on so many levels and not the least bit interesting even as an abstract. It's a large painting, probably 20 x 30 or so and it was done on a canvas board, not a stretched canvas.I now use these painting mainly as a cutting board when I use my xacto knife, the reverse side though. No masterpiece, not even close!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Painting 2

This painting was the first painting I produced while taking classes at the Collin County Community College in Frisco, and my second oil painting overall. The location was a killer, but it was a great campus, and it seemed to have potential. The instructor thought a really great way to learn painting is by painting studies of other people's work, and he encouraged us to do the same, which is what I did to create this painting. I don't remember the artist, but I liked his use of color. I remember being frustrated with the colors because his blues were more turquoise and vibrant, and I had difficulty mixing the colors to my liking. The painting is very small, 8" x 10" or so. It looks better onscreen than in person, but I think most of these will. I agree that painting from other works does help, but it's not as satisfying, and I think if you do take up the practice, you should paint one from someone else's work, and then do 3 or 4 of your own creation before you do someone else's again. That gives you an opportunity to apply what you've learned from a particular artist before you studying another technique. If this were my vision, I would be extremely proud of it because it's so stylized and I admire his fearless color choices, but I'm not very attached to this one because it really doesn't say anything about me, or mean anything. However, it did give me confidence to continue on, and so I still have it, sitting in my closet. That's one thing you should know about me, most of my paintings end up in my closet. My own special tiny art gallery.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Painting 1

This was my first painting, started around 7 years ago. I had no experience with oils and was at a total loss. I purchased water soluble oil paints AND turpentine, so from that you can see I was clueless. I'm not sure why I choose this for my first subject, but this was a black and white photo from a professional photographer. I liked the composition, and even though it was just a nude, it was also something else for me. It reminded me of a landscape, so that's how I approached it. As you can see, the bed became green and the background sky blue, all very intentional. And when I view this painting, I see a mountain and earth and sky first, nice ass second. And no, it's not me in that photo. I also feel that not being able to tell if it's a man or woman helps to see the painting from my point of view.

I never actually finished this painting. The knee in the background is unfinished and I was never satisfied with the green foreground. I wanted more folds, but wasn't sure how to achieve them, and it became too frustrating for me. I intended to finish the painting, but I've lost my source photo, and I've recently come to the conclusion that I need to let this one be because it's my starting point. My inability to finish the painting lead to a long break from picking up a brush again. I knew I had to learn from someone, and really didn't know where to go. When I pick up again, it'll be a few years later. I ditched that turpentine, but have always stuck with the water soluble oil paints.


This is my very first entry in my blog, so congratulations to me! I’m really not sure what I’m doing here, but my reason for doing a blog is to easily share with my family and friends the art I’m creating, to journal my painting experiences to learn from them, and to share my goal of painting 100 paintings. I’ve learned that one of the keys to meeting your goals is to share them with others. If I don’t tell anyone my plan, then I can just give up and no one will be the wiser, but if I tell the world, then there are a great many people to hold me accountable... I guess only if anyone really cares!? I currently have 21 paintings, so I have some catching up to do before I’m current with this blog. My next entry will be painting number 1.

Why is it important to me to paint 100 paintings? I was inspired to do so by a fellow student at the Creative Arts Center in Dallas. I have been taking classes from Kathleen Dello Stritto for over 2 years and I started these classes with 2 other students, Gail and Karen Rike. I don’t mention Gail’s last name because I’m not sure she really wants to be associated with me, but I do know Karen sells art online and will appreciate the plug, as well as Kathleen. So, go buy their art! All 3 are talented, and there are many other talented students at the center, but I digress. Karen told us about an artist who heard that you didn’t quite “own” your painting talent until you've painted 100 paintings. This particular artist was skeptical until she reached her 100th painting, and then she too felt this was true. At that point she felt she had mastered her technique and really, I mean REALLY understood the process. Kathleen had heard the same and I believe she agreed at the time. She said you don't have to spend hours on each painting, but just quick paintings would suffice. Perhaps that’s how the painting a day concept came about; someone’s idea of a fast track on the journey. Call it an artist’s myth, a magical number, and excuse for not being good now, but this stuck in my brain and I haven’t been able to let it go. So I fully expect that my 100th painting will be a masterpiece and then I can consider myself a true hobbyist, and not a student. I don't aspire to be a professional painter. I design for a living and spend most of my days being creative, but always to please others. I took on painting to please myself and I don't really want to fall into the trap of art for money and the pressure that goes along with it. But who am I kidding? I don't have room to store these paintings and the cash would be great.

Now that I’m almost a quarter of the way to accomplishing the goal, I'm feeling confident that it will happen. I hope you take the remaining part of the journey with me, and feel free to comment on my work. And when that day finally comes I'll... I don't know, paint to 200? Quit? At the very least, I'll let you know if the myth is true for me.