Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Sunflowers and yellow paint

Here is the 2017 sunflower painting. I can certainly understand Van Gogh's fascination with sunflowers- somehow they are always a bit different and always interesting. Plus there is the challenge with working with yellow. Yellow pigment tends to be on the weak side - no mater what the medium it is in. I often under-paint with white so the yellow can then show to its best advantage. Today's paints are permanent but Van Gogh had trouble with his yellows because they changed with time and became more green- thus making a challenge for restorers. The question being - not only what to use - but what shade was he actually aiming at?  It is also a challenge to work shadows with yellows and not have them turn muddy, I like acrylics as the shadows can be done with glazes and it keeps the colours fresher. No vase in this one but there is in my sunflower painting in Mila's online gallery at www.va-fair.com  Van Gogh signed his name on the vase- so, as a tribute to him, I signed my  name on the vase too.  There are actually several different yellow paints in this painting- not only Cadmium Yellow Light, Medium and Dark, but also some Azo Yellow and a few more! Tjen there is Naples Yellow in with some blues and Sap Green to make the greens. Colour is fun!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

More plein air

This was a different subject from a day out at Iva's garden. Dave and Iva have a collection of statues and gargoyles that inhabit their garden. I thought this little fellow might be fun to paint because he has a mischievous expression...then it was too light behind him (in reality) so I had to darken down the trees to make the painting work. . He does look like a statue here however and I wonder if he should be "revisited" as a "live" imp? At the moment, he will be left as is- a painting that records a nice day out with friends.
     My paintings that Mila has - all large paintings, not like this little 10 x 8- are now on her online gallery - www.va-fair.com - so take a look

Friday, September 8, 2017

Plein air summer

While not a great summer because of forest fires, this summer has been great for  good-weather Tuesdays and Men in Hats have been busy painting in various locations around the Lower Mainland. A couple of weeks ago, we went to the north end of Trout Lake - aka John Hendry Park. I found a good spot under the shade of a big tree and elected to paint this scene. The strips of light and dark appealed to me - as did the green canopy. It is a small canvas -just 8 x 10- So I mostly finished it on the spot. Hopefully, it captures the mood and the freshness of the day. It is always a pleasure to be out with a bunch of other artists. We are also fortunate to have a great selection of places to paint. We will be painting through to mid-October and post the locations on the Men in Hats website so that other artists are welcome to join us. No instruction - just bring paints and a lunch.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Fun from the Fifties

Men in Hats had a fun day last Tuesday when we went to my trainer's house. He has a great "fifties" collection . The '56 Bel Air Chev, a '56 Ford truck and an old motor cycle were all set up for us ---even  with a couple of mannequins.  (Great models- they never moved!)  The car hop was on roller skates and had a tray with some delicious looking milkshakes - too bad they were wax!  This is an acrylic on canvas painting. It was a challenge getting the chrome shiny enough. Also, I wanted to indicate the Chevrolet "V" and the chrome name on the side - without painting it so exactly that it looked like an advertisement for a magazine, rather than a painting. The "Drive-In", of course, is invented. I've never really done a car "portrait" before- but it turned out to be fun as well as a challenge. The tail fin of this car is going into another painting - but more of that later.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Life drawing- did it make a difference?

Did it make a difference? I don't see any *huge*difference after reading the perspective book.  However, I was perhaps more aware of the foreshortening challenges. These were all done with a brush-pen and then coloured pencil was added - only without the "pencil" part. These were Prismacolor wooden-less blocks - looking just like hard pastels in shape  but being made solely of the core material of a pencil crayon. I was trying deliberately to think of connecting curvilinear lines -without marking them on the page- and drawing quickly with the brush-pen. The top two figures were 1 minute each. The bottom drawing was a 20-minute pose and I did add some colour while the model was posing and then added more later, especially in the background. so far, I have left the sticks in their square shape , but I'm toying around with the idea of hand-sharpening- probably with a knife- one end. The shape does allow a quicker approach to noting light and shade areas. Working with Graphitint pencils resulted in more delicate drawings - as seen in a recent post- but I am currently enjoying the stronger contrast with the brush-pen as well as colour again. The human body is always a challenge to draw since  mistakes are so easily seen. Yet, there is something personal about each artist's approach. I think there is more feeling that a photo would show.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Another look at Perspective

Drawing in Real Perspective by Xavier Bolot.        Perspective is often a challenge for an artist so I approached this book with a great deal of interest. However, I found the book rather over-whelming as it is a very verbal explanation for solving a visual problem. I haven't thought about trigonometry since high-school so I found wading through pages of mathematical explanations a bit heavy going. Ultimately, the explanations make sense and the figure drawings offer worthwhile guidance.
     The Greeks used curvilinear perspective. A temple viewed from a distance is seen as straight, friezes on a column appear to be the same height when seen from the ground because curves characteristic of our natural vision perception have been utilized.
      Linear perspective was developed in the Renaissance but it doesn't work for very wide landscapes or for close-ups with models. One section shows some errors of the "old masters". Mantegna's "Dead Christ" looks strange because the foreshortened proportions are all false. Caravaggio's painting of a man with outstretched arms in "Pilgrims of Emmaus" has the hands all wrong. The left hand is closer to the viewer and is acceptable as is - but the right hand- extended away- has been painted the same size and so looks enormous. Curving guidelines are very much needed to check on model proportions. I found this section the most interesting and worthwhile.
     I found this book thought-provoking about perspective but I also concluded that drawing what you actually see, applying the principles intuitively, while being aware of common errors is the most helpful advice. I can see myself looking carefully at angles and proportions but not getting too mathematical about it. This was worthwhile reading.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Tonal values

I am simplifying what I am carrying around, so I decided to work in black and white on grey paper again for our plein air day. We were on the south arm of the Fraser, with the Miltown marina on our other side. This is looking towards the airport- on the right. I thought of doing some of the airport buildings but then decided that this view looked quite calm and rural. Who would think that there was an airport to the right, a mall to the left and airplanes heading in to land just overhead?  It was just a matter of being selective. Working in black and white is a good exercise as tone values are very important even when you are painting in full colour. It is easy to get carried away with the excitement of colour and forget that the tone values are important in making the composition work. I'm probably going to do more of these on our Tuesdays and I'll probably show them as a group next DoorsOpen. I only use charcoal pencils as I was working fairly small. Still, it is possible to try different ways of making marks - like brushstrokes vary in a painting. I'm not sure where all this is leading, but I'm enjoying the journey.