Sunday, December 19, 2010

What is too much or too little detail?

I am always wrestling with how much information to put in a painting. I think I am not alone in this. The spontaneous can be very attractive, as you see the brush movement on the canvas, the confidence of the painter, but it is detail that makes you come back for more, to keep you looking longer. When is it still fresh, but invites longer observation?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Color Studies

So it has been awhile since I have painted and since I have posted. We finally did move at the end of June to an incredible old 1880's farmhouse with a post and beam barn and gorgeous property. The move was disruptive (to say the least) to the creative process, or at least to the process that makes me put paint on canvas.

Luckily, the previous owners kept this place in great shape so there hasn't been the anxiety I normally have about having to change alot. Most of the rooms are in great shape, and don't need to be painted. So even with all that, it has taken another month to get into the studio.

So to loosen up and perhaps get out of the painting rut I had been in before the move, I have been doing these quick color studies. Each take about an hour or less and I don't want to go back to them, there stay as they are. Warm palette, cool palette, different combinations, but making them about three things:

-a color story (3 colors at most)
-simple shapes
-interesting brushwork

This isn't anything new but I seem to have to remind myself I don't need every color in every painting, I don't need all that detail and what I like is interesting brushwork so don't forget to include that. I did 6 yesterday and 2 so far today. What do you think?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Newest Experiment

Love our new scanner, much easier than taking a picture if the piece is small. ...Two posts ago I spoke of wanting to try out these new color shapers I bought on the recommendation of my painting group in hopes of loosening up. I must say they are fun...but we will have to see if the love lasts. Since I would never attempt a picture of flowers with a brush for fear of wanting to do every last detail...I felt these were freeing and I went for it. Curious, but I think it is OK...certainly better than brush or pastel for me. What do you think?

Tomorrow we are off to Turkey for two weeks. We crafted an incredible trip, staying at small, authentic and rustic spots off the beaten track. David has a conference in Antalya for three days, and then we are on the road in a tiny car covering the equivalent of Virginia to Maine. I am bringing a trip journal of course and this time colored pencils and ink. I will post when we get back.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

New Scanner, Old Paintings

We finally got the scanner hooked up last night that I got for Christmas. With the house for sale, I never got around to getting it out of the box. I wanted it to scan slides and old photocopies of older artwork that was never digitized. That means that the work is at least 9 years old as I got a digital camera for my 40th birthday!

It is interesting to me to look back on those older works. Some I like better than what I am doing now, and some seem less "mature". It would be nice to understand exactly WHY I like some of the work...for instance this piece, a pastel done from a photo of the marsh at Laudholm Farm, has good color harmony, looseness yet detail...I remember it flowing out easily without any never got the "one last touch", I knew it was done. A goal of mine is to be able to do that on do a nice quick study of something that captures a feeling..what plein air alla prima is all about....but alas, almost ten years later it still is hit or miss. I admire those painters of a century ago who when traveling, could capture their journeys through quick sketches, people like Sargent or Corot, or the watercolorist Eliot O'Hara.

The only thing to do is keep plugging away, getting more comfortable with some good, some not good. One thing I know is... I won't get better just thinking about it!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Finally Getting Going

It sure has taken me awhile to write again after the first post! After the holidays we started thinking about moving again, which led up to putting our house on the market. Phew, it takes up a lot of time! But, having gotten things where they should be for now, I can get back to painting! I have done a few things this winter, mostly small pencil drawings of bugs and forest floors.

oil ...................................................pastel

Today I thought I would take out some paintings that I started in the fall but haven't finished. They all need a little something more. (Can be a painting's death!) One technique I have tried in the past for solving problems in oil painting, is to do a pastel of the same thing. Here is a good example of how clearly you can see what is wrong in the oil by looking at the pastel.

In looking at these two, oil on the left and pastel on the right, I see right away the choice of more yellow in the tree is better in the pastel, contrasting more with the marsh behind, and the shadow it creates on the road a more interesting shape. But, the background trees are more interesting in the oil. The road has better texture in the pastel, but I always have to worry about putting in too much detail with pastel.

Today I am going to try using the new colour shapers I bought to see if they produce a less detailed look, but are easier to use than painting with palette knife. Let me know your thoughts about oil vs. pastels.

Friday, November 20, 2009

First Day

Today is the first day of this blog. I will be using it as a painting journal. My intention is to create a project and log the weekly pursuits of it's progression. I am doing this as a tool to force myself to put art thoughts into words that might otherwise never get organized, and secondly to share with friends and artists to inspire, console and humor them.
-a demain

today's picture was a demonstration I did while teaching a weekend workshop at Haystack last fall.
Our plein air pastel weekend turned into a pastels from photos workshop with the rain.