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Monday, November 3, 2014
Friday, October 31, 2014
5x7 inches oil on panel
Black and white
This one sort of ran to the grotesque as I was painting, and it was interesting to me, so I just went with it. Using the black and white simplifies lots of things, lots fewer decisions to be made,
especially when working with only 5 values. It's a bit of a rest. I have fallen from the discipline of 5
and will get back on the horse. (The values are pure black for darkest dark, pure white for lightest light, medium gray made from half black and half white, and one dark between darkest dark and med. gray, and one light between medium gray and lightest light. Then you try not to mix further from these paint mixtures so that you are reducing large areas of the subject matter to one value that matches best to your mixed values. This reads back to me as insane, however this explanation is for those who asked WTF I have been doing.)
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
5x7 inches oil on panel
black and white
Now I'm looking for photos that have a strong light and dark pattern, so at least I am not struggling with a predominantly middle value scenario. But I'm thinking, aren't most painting predominantly middle values? Will have to research.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
4x5 inches oil on panel,
black and white
I might be in trouble when I have to turn all these in and submit to the scrutiny of The Russian, because they are getting away from me in that they are not as simple as I think they are supposed to be. I never knew it was so easy to get stuff down so fast...well, values stated, is a better phrase. And I'm supposed to be sticking to 5 values. And I do in the beginning and then begin to wander off. Am thinking now that color is an impediment to seeing value. OY!
Monday, October 27, 2014
Sunday, October 26, 2014
oil on panel, black and white
This baby I have painted so many times I have stopped counting them because it is so depressing that I'm not getting it. Best to have a Zen approach and think he will always be with me and will be a vehicle of some kind. Problem is, the baby is completely backlit, so the flat front of his face is all in shadow and the only light is leaking in from behind him. It was helpful to do a value study, to see how single valued his entire face is. It is single valued with major temperature shifts. Maybe I will be smart enough in future not to choose the shot with everything important drowned in shadow. What attracted me to it in the first place was the intense but grayed color of the skin in this photo, but I can't yet translate this into paint. And speaking of paint...
I have just used Gamblin's Flake White Replacement and I love it. It is sort of phosphorescent and beautiful on skin. Luminous!
Friday, October 24, 2014
6 inches square, oil on panel
So --- I'm taking a class, a tonal painting class, taught by a robust and opinionated Russian (who will not be reading this blog) and he is beating his ideas into me. I'm so happy. This is a small tonal study for a larger painting. I did it all with a weeny brush and just moving back and forth between light and dark sculpting the shapes. I was surprised at how easy it was, and how thoughtful a process. There was a lot more play in the paint than the way I usually work. The Russian says, hide 70 % of detail and show 30%. (I'm not there yet.) And also, make yourself do small studies because is easier to see the patterns of light and dark. So I am, and it's true, and pleasant and quick.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
8x8 inches oil on linen panel
This one very fun to do and it went quickly. I am not lingering, just trying to get it done, and then another one done, etc. I need some experience with noses. I can eventually get it, but it takes me lots of fussing and I think a good run of noses will help me understand the actual structure of it AND how the paint has to go down as I build the nose itself. I will build some noses.
Monday, October 13, 2014
8x8 inches, oil on panel
Back in the USA, have gathered wits, set up a new studio, made a dress out of a bean bag, etc.,
and here I am again at the starting gate. So to speak. I am fortunate that I have a whole long string of paintings that must be done - I love this - but I have to enter slowly and work up to my maniac speed. So these first ones are re-entry paintings. One of the great aspects of warm ups is: (they don't really count), therefore there is no reason to be afraid.
8x8 inches oil on panel
This is also a beginner painting, my first landscape. It was interesting do it...not scary, sort of meditative, thinking about what was happening with the spaces, paying attention to the shifts that happen as the values go down. I want to learn this so that next year, in Italy, I can feel comfortable outside painting. This is from a photograph, but I want to be outside then, in the future, in my Italian life.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
I have stolen/appropriated/lifted this idea from Ellen Heck and her Forty Fridas (please Google, they are so lovely). This is how it came about: When I first arrived in Italy in June I was invited by a group of Italian women to go with them to Rome to see a Frida Kahlo show. I had two words of Italian under my belt at the time so I was reluctant to go out and about much, but they shepherded me around the show and the city, and it was a great day. I told them that if they would dress up as Frida, I would paint them, and so they did. Here is the first of them.
Sunday, August 17, 2014
I been painting hard and happily, very proud of myself. Two weeks and my time in Italy is over.
I've been having to wipe lots of things but am not too distressed about this for some reason. So good to be painting. This fruit painting is a warm up for the second half of a portrait, the first half of which went swimmingly and then made me afraid I would lose it in the second session. I thought the warm up would get me past this and it did! And then I lost the portrait anyway. I always try to get everything done in one session for this reason, but maybe I am at a crossroad now, maybe I have to learn how roll over into that next session with some - aplomb. Because everything can't reasonably be finished in one or two sessions, too fatiguing, then bad decisions.
These nectarines were enormous and perfectly ripe and sweet the day I bought them from my fruit guy, whose shop is right outside my door. All the fruit is perfect.
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
This is sort of the same stricken expression as the dog in the previous painting. I once had a student (You know who you are!) who made a fabulous baby painting, and the baby was really mad. I coveted it! She wouldn't let me have it though. The parents got it, and they didn't appreciate it adequately, so sad.
I did quick drawings in oil for this several times and made an effort to dismiss my usual accumulating tension. I tried to draw for the pleasure of it, and wiped each one. Then I began painting with the same goal, to enjoy it passage by passage and not worry (about the one million things going wonky or wrong or muddy, I should have gone to secretarial school, etc.) I also tried to think about the structure of the head only and not require a likeness. I began with the nose first, the relationship of the nose to the eye sockets. I'm hoping this will help me be in charge of the size of my images, in this case the head in relations to my canvas. My default mode is to make it life sized, so the longer I work the bigger the entire thing becomes. This time I was able to keep it all within my boundaries. I worked this too long but I did get the whole head in and 8x6 canvas without too much suffering. I read somewhere that the first relationship to establish is the nose to the eyes, then everything else can fall into its relative place, and it works!
Monday, August 4, 2014
This sweet dog was afraid of me and the camera. She is a timid dog anyway, so there wasn't going to be a happy pose...but this one was so nice to paint. She has the best possible life, out in the country among the olive groves and meadows filled with wild flowers. Also 4 other dogs, a goat and 2 ponies for friends. And rabbits, geese, ducks, doves, and chickens and cats. The Italian country life.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
These two plums are from a little tree very near to the exact coordinates of the spot my father landed in Italy when he parachuted out of a plane just prior to its crashing into a lake in 1943.
I painted this on card stock. I was in a hurry to get it down and didn't have a smaller sheet, and I didn't have a natural boundary to relate to as I worked -- very uncomfortable! I should have drawn myself a square to work within, will know for next time. Here I have just cropped it with the camera.
Am still sneaking up on the landscape as subject, taking walks in the early morning and evening, trying to find the light conditions that are most compelling. You could die of beauty here in Italy.
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Actually, it's not quite this red.... and the red is not uniform. Again, the camera.
I am out of reading material (AAAUGH!) so I am all over the internet reading people's essays and looking at painting, good, bad, student, pro -- tutto. I should have done this earlier....
Fascinating! some say, I hate line! I do everything to avoid it...Painting is not drawing. And then, I love line, it is another element to use in painting, part of the rich vocabulary. And so on, very entertaining. But what Sargent says has been tremendously helpful to me in the last few days: Painting is the arrangement of tones, he says. That is a big statement and a clear one - In observational painting, color cannot be the king. It has to be value.
Tomorrow the first of a long line of visitors arrives and I must dismantle the studio and go outside to the landscape.....(so scary!) but I want to learn it, therefore, into the breach!
Saturday, July 5, 2014
I had only an 8x6 panel to work on and wanted to do a string of the apricots, those that were not too badly decomposed. I like that format, the length twice the height. Although I tried not to get the forms half exactly in the middle, somehow they ended up there. I have cropped the second one here to be what I was wanting -- but I sort of like the big slab of yellow on the top one, and more air.
These apricots look all bloody because of camera color distortion, no clue how to fix this.
Friday, July 4, 2014
The apricots are in season here so there are mountains of them in the green grocers. My Italian family is making jam from the trees on their farm, and they say there is a jar with my name on it. The afternoons are hot now and the twilights very long, perfect for eating outside and just sitting still to watch the light.
Monday, June 30, 2014
Today was a good painting day -- and yesterday was also, although only one quarter of yesterday's painting was worth anything, but that quarter was a breakthrough. I made some leaps in my head -- or I made some connections between my head and my hand. My camera is all off though....but I can't worry over this, so I'm just moving forward. Maybe will reshoot later.
Here I am at the train station in Orvieto, ready to catch the train for Rome and get art supplies.
Long trip, but delightful: little bus from my village to Orvieto, train to Rome, on foot in horrendous Texas style thunderstorm to the art supply store. And once there I was sort of forced to buy a tube of Old Holland Veronese Green (20Euros) and a tube of Michael Harding Titanium White (12 E, and quite small). Oh, how velvety the texture....And then suddenly I was looking at the sable brushes, because they didn't have the kind I use, the Bristol brights, and I need a brush that can make a good edge, so I succumbed. And they are fantastic!
The Veronese green is one that Matisse used often and I always thought it was made from Veridian, but no -- it is a blue green, a cross between permanent green light and ultramarine, and it makes a glowing green, a sort of mid tone that radiates in the same way yellow does. Of course, it just got all over my palette and into everything, completely unmanageable today, but with practice I think I will be able to use it. Working on an 11 x 14 inch palette is definitely a significant HEMMING IN!
The other reason I need this green is because I am thinking landscape -- but I am so not a landscape painter! Never, not one! And yet, I am here is Landscape Nirvana. And there are a million greens. So I'm just sneaking up on the whole thing. Bonnard uses that green often also. It brings light to the shadow side of trees and such, quietly glowing.
Saturday, June 28, 2014
These are little do-nut peaches, I don't know what the real name is for them. They are flat and fleshy, and with leaves still on them! Miracolo! My camera is not working too well, but a camera expert is soon coming to visit.
This is dinner: green beans, blanched; pomodoro tomatoes, chopped; beautiful sort of watercress, very curly and larger than the American sort, more substance to it; parmigiano (slabs); lots of green, green olive oil and a bit of vinegar. And I sort of splurged on the wine, 8E for this bottle, which isn't too bad a price - wine peppery and robust. So happy! I think it is my duty while here to learn about Italian wines.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
These are Italian plums (prunes) from the market next door, and the pillowcase from my bed.
And THIS is a little frittata made with new laid eggs. The yolks were orange! I threw in some cipollini onions and a slice of a plum tomato in the fold -- green unfiltered olive oil on the whole thing. On Italian bread, with a little more oil and some salt.
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
I'm rolling along here, not flipping out about small stuff, just trying to get a good routine going without too much crushing self criticism....some aspects of the studio and camera not optimal, but SO WHAT is my present attitude. This is Italy.
There are 400 kinds and shapes of tomatoes here, pleated, bulbous, pickle shaped, grape sized, cabbage sized - I am just agog at the produce.
Painting went a little easier today. I am carving up my days into painting/eating segments: morning, any kind of cheese and tomatoes on toasted bread, LARGE espresso; painting, lunch, wide selection of pizza by the slice next door to me; painting, weenie nap, study Italian verbs, dinner late --9 at least--1000 choices for take out or if very good painting day, then reward of dinner outside at cafe on corner. This hasn't happened yet. Also, there is a beautiful lake here for swimming, which must be done.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Also, I am wrestling with lighting issues in my Italian bathroom studio. I finally decided I had to have a light ON the canvas so I could see what I was doing, so I got the light, got the bulb, got the extension cord after I found the word for it (la prolunga) hooked all up and feeling triumphant -- still the light available on the subject was minimal and everything was gray gray gray, so I just went with it, and now my camera has made it all colorful.
Reality is more plastic in Italy, maybe.
Whatever, it can be a baseline.
Saturday, June 7, 2014
For reasons too magnificent, complicated
and surprising to state here, I am posting from Italy where I will be living and painting for -- yes, I can't believe it myself -- three months. I am in an apartment in Bolsena about 6o miles from Rome.
My working conditions are awkward - I am painting in the bathroom because the light can be somewhat controlled there and also the floor is tiled, so no worries
if I make a mess. The apartment has white couches, I am in constant terror of this!
I figure I have had about a year away from the easel now and I am certainly feeling it, hobbled in every way. Also, I am working with a reduced palette and on some sort of carton board impregnated with resin so the brush drags and the paint won't move, waaa,waaaa!
Nothing to do but throw oneself in the briar patch.
Thank for all your comments, guys, so good to have them and to be back painting, I suffered without it.! Jean