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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Anxious Girl

I shot this little girl at a playground. She looked so anxious and had all the signs of depraved living -- circles under her eyes, pale grayed skin, and she was back lit, causing her face to be in shade. Her skin was luminous though, even without color in it. I don't know how to do that!
There is an astonishing amount of gray in flesh and sometimes it can look pearl-ish, which is what I will be trying for as soon as I figure out how.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Little Camille

Little Camille is a rescue animal for a family in Dallas. They find animals who have terrible health problems and give them first class medical care, operations, everything to fix them up, and then the animals live the most blissful life imaginable. It makes a girl feel better about the world. Camille's back legs are paralyzed, I think this has been from birth, but of course since she doesn't know anything else, she manages to do everything and be very cheerful about it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Value Studied

The top painting was the last painting in the Jennifer Balkan class, and I used all my new skills and mojo in it. It was a 45 minute pose using 4 values (I don't think I even used the lightest for a highlight) and also adding local color (red on hands, cheeks, etc) during the last few minutes. Although this is no Olympia, I felt good about it as I did it, because I am understanding the major concept here which is: identify and consolidate like values into one significant value and lay it in in a mass, connecting adjacent masses where possible. You do it for three value categories, then there is the highlight. The result is that the painting reads clearly. I think if you want to have powerful painting, this must be mastered. It is only one of the things that must be mastered, but if you don't get this one, I think it's all over. This is going to take some practice though.
Today I found a mourning dove in the street and brought it in to paint. They are so beautiful and soft with all the grays and roses and yellows. I wish I could have another go at her but I didn't think to refrigerate and now it's too late. I didn't get the correct values for the top of the breast, it isn't light enough and the form doesn't turn. So many colors - it needed simplification and I got caught up in the variety of them. This is an example of not identifying the values correctly because of color temptation!
Jennifer talked about another tool to use when you are working from a photograph. She uses a gray scale photo in addition, which makes the grouping of values clearer. I think gray scale means the same thing as a black and white, which can be done in photo programs. I have a Mac and the iphoto program will do it. So I will try this in my next animal portrait which is coming up soon. So many good things in that class!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Nasturtium Leaves and Peach

Bwa - ha -ha! I am getting it! I know I have done a little Peggi Kroll Roberts painting here, and I am proud to say it. The second painting is the value study, then I tried out the color on top of the already stated values before I assigned them to the colored painting, this is from her value to color exercise. I like the strength and life of the painting and hope in time to absorb this into my own method, whatever that might be. It has been very helpful to be simultaneously working in Jennifer Balkan's class on the same issues: values of the figure. (I will post my graduation painting tomorrow.) The class was very small, only 4 of us, so we got lots of loving attention and weren't allowed to slack off for a moment. I learned so much and it was really fun. Also the other people were hilarious, you know who you are... Thanks to Jennifer for a great and challenging class.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Geranium in Bulb Vase

I am still doing value studies, also trying to use ultra saturated color. Last class with Jennifer Balkan tonight, I'm certain I will be smarter and a better painter tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Geranium and Meds Bottle

Another value study. I have new geraniums and I chose them because they are almost black and I figured they would be an unusual dark in a painting. They are prolific bloomers and so far I have not killed them. I'm also setting up the still life in such a way that there are linked forms and shadows...PKR again.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Geraniums and Oranges

A value study a la Peggi Kroll Roberts. More practice.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Humane Society Class

Saturday I taught a Paint Your Pet class at the Williamson County Humane Society, a no kill privately funded shelter that has adoption services and spays and neuters at a very reduced cost. (They welcome volunteers! 512-260-3602. ext. 107) It was a great place with fun easy going people and animals everywhere. I was amazed at how well the participants did - none of them artists, only one professed doodler with an artistic gene pool - see if you can figure which one.... I was very glad to see the bird show up as a pet -- was hoping for something non-dog or cat. They all got an A++.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Nose

Last night in Jennifer Balkan's class we did more value studies with a model and I was much better, to my delight. Initially I was having trouble getting the figure down on an 8x6" panel, now I am pretty much getting everything to the knees. Lucky for me I have been watching the DVD on figure proportions by Peggi Kroll Roberts and she gives lots of tips for getting it down quickly, so those tricks plus practice helped. We also discussed the importance of editing visual info and how difficult it is. Sometimes it's just helpful knowing it's a problem for everybody. I mean -- how do you know what should go? It's like a whole other philosophical problem right in the middle of all the skills that have to be coordinated to make the painting, it just stops me in my tracks and destroys my momentum. Another important element to me is the vigorous use of paint, the laying down of paint in a direct, decisive manner without second guessing or fussing. I tried to keep this in mind in today's post nose.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Jean, Small

Another head study, this time on a small board, 8 inches square. I have a terrifically hard time doing anything that is not life size, it is a terrible brain glitch. But with more drawing, which is the cure for perceptual problems (art only), I am getting better at it. This again was with minimal light -- the only way I can get a good light from the side so that some part of form is in shadow is to turn off the overheads and then I am plunged into darkness. This is why I look like I am twenty in this painting. Whatever....I like working from life so much more than using the photograph, maybe everybody feels this way. Things are so much clearer. Another class tonight with Jennifer Balkan, so looking forward to it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Head Study, 2

Another exercise. I worked from a mirror practically in the dark, no studio lights just natural lights from the window, which of course is not facing north. I used a big brush and I didn't pre-mix skin colors, just used what was already available on the palette. That made for a great painting experience though.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Lots of gray in the skin, mostly gray in fact! Backlit. I am enjoying the new way of handling the brush and providing my money holds out, the excessive paint. One definite advantage to lots of paint -- correcting something is really easy because a new application of paint sits right on top of the old. So there is more freedom in wielding the brush...I could even go so far as to say I was relaxed about it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Head, Study

It's twue, it's twue! I didn't believe it when I was told....
A cool color in the light comes forward and a warm color in shadow recedes. (The rule is, warm comes forward, cool recedes.) I used ultramarine in the lights on the left side of the head and forehead, not that you can see them with the camera I am using, but they are there and they make a difference. This is an exercise for the Jennifer Balkan class, to use warm next to cool next to warm, traveling across the topography of the head.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Two Little Peaches

Another day of peach painting for value study. This may not be the smartest selection of subject matter I just realized. The reflected light in shadow IS sometimes lighter than the darker reds which are in a lighted area. Simpler to see and paint in something all one color.
Oy vey.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Little Peaches on Green

Blogger was down ! I didn't think that could happen, it has been forever just there, like gravity, doing what it's supposed to do and costing nothing. Amazing.
On Wednesday I had the second class with Jennifer Balkan and managed to do a passable value study (10 minutes) from the model. Again, I can see that values have to be mastered or there is not a believable sense of mass and weight. And the other issue, color....she mentioned that it was just a skin hung on top of the values, I think this is how it was worded, but the phrase has stayed with me, what are all the things that can mean....I think one of them is, that color is --- shudder---incidental. Or it is secondary in importance to value in realistic work. Yikes!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Little Peaches

Back in the saddle.
This was a value exercise. These runty little peaches are interesting and challenging to paint, lots of very subtle color and value shifts and then with all them close together, many lost edges.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Box of Vegetables

OK, more of the Balkan rules: no medium, hold tail of brush. I'm getting used to it. For those who are interested in using thicker paint, the trick is to thin the paint slightly with turp, just enough to get it moving. Then it's no problem, you are sort of forced into it. I painted all day today and wiped everything (aaaugh!) but this one. I like the abstract quality of it, that masking tape at the bottom flattened the surface out.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Lemons and Grapes

Still with the big brush, no medium and holding by the long handle. I used $1000 worth of paint today and wiped 95% of it. There were parts of things that were promising, but I don't know if it was worth $950.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Cows For Kay

This painting is for the Texas Moleskin Roundup. I have Kay Wyne's book and her theme is "Holy Cow!" I think these are calves, they are very fresh looking. I liked the snarky one off to the left. It was interesting to paint them using the methods I have just learned in the class, holding the brush at the end and using only turp, no medium. So much paint on there though and lots of white, it will take 6 months to dry.... To see what others have done click on

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Onions and Tomato

So exciting -- I am taking a class with Jennifer Balkan and we had the first meeting last night. We did value studies, quick 5 minutes for each one, in oils from a model -- aaauuugh! So much info, but that's the point, simplify and reduce. I need a tee shirt. I am hoping with practice my brain will adjust itself to this method of seeing. Fear and panic are helpful, when you hear that one minute left call and you don't even have your lights in, you cowboy right up as they say here in Texas. One of the most helpful things we discussed was the actual holding of the brush. I am ashamed to say I have been holding mine like a scalpel and worse, toward the front of the handle. On the above painting I held it by the tail end as if I were holding a stick. And we are not to use medium, so the paint gets thinned with a bit of turp, but stays pretty thick. Therefore, it goes on thickly - which I love, except for the faint sense of $$$$ alarm, but this just has to be overcome. The results of all this, so far as I can tell now, is that it makes for a more vigorous painting that is clearly stated. So good!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I'm Too Sexy for My Hat

OK, well when you take a picture of yourself by holding the camera in your extended hand, you never know what expression you will have, all that juggling with things and concentrating. Part of that sneer is the dark lipstick, which I really do love because it makes the mouth cruel, and that is about as close as I'll ever get to looking like Tina Turner (a devout Buddhist) in the rock opera, Tommy, one of my favorite movies of all time.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Bismarck is a warrior even though he has been fixed and I had to use pinks and blues to paint him, no offense.