April 8th, 2013
- “The beginner seeks to improve their paintings by adding details.
- The artist does so by refining relationships.”
The Palm Courtyard (working title) 18 x 22″ oil on linen
Thanks to the kind generosity of the Honolulu Museum of Art, I’ve been allowed to work on the Museum grounds in this very special location, the Palm Courtyard.
The courtyard itself is one of several integrated into the Museum’s design, in this instance quite a large area with all sorts of compelling tonal, color, and light/shadow things happening. When I first entered it with an eye towards painting something, it was as if I’d stepped into a life-sized still life arrangement.
Composition ideas often come when I’m looking for “something else”, and this particular arrangement caught my eye while setting up our model for my class “Painting the Model en Plein Air”. Perhaps the biggest attraction was the momentary effect of light falling on the large palm right-of-center (which at this stage of the painting is not yet developed) and the beautiful variety of shapes which I find lead the eye nicely. Also, the full value range — from bright, near dazzling light to near darkness…are a big challenge.
The painting is developing slowly…many trips to the location, and as a nice additional bonus, plenty of interest from Museum visitors and staff alike. A few have added a brush stroke of their own to the painting at my urging; I believe it’s good to let people experience the process and I enjoy doing so immensely.
As the painting progresses through increasingly subtle adjustments of color, shape, and value, I hope it will capture some of the very quiet richness of this easily overlooked courtyard. As I stated at the outset, and teach my students, the artist attempts to improve the work by adjusting relationships.
March 27th, 2013
It’s been good to stretch myself out on this large (unframed size 28 x 36″) Tidepool piece, the first of what may become a series. Painting the unpaintable is what it felt like,.
I relied only on a fairly rough oil sketch and some pencil ideas for the design, which is what most of the painting ended up being about. From there it’s been a matter of adjusting things until they looked close to the way I wanted.
I’ve often found it to be a remarkably thoughtful experience to just sit in a place such as this, there are plenty of opportunities to do so in Hawai’i, and take in the indescribable concentration of energy and life that is here. The colors are wonderful; every sense, really, is able to partake of such an experience, the sound and smells also, even the moisture against one’s skin, and I suppose that it hints at bigger things, questions of creation and how small a thing each one of us, in a sense, is. All of this beauty and mystery occurs independent of us, whether we notice or not…imagine how much does escape our notice.
So now to practical matters. I have a couple days to finish work on the frame before it gets hung. Gallery at Ward Centre, after Friday the 29th, it will be on display. Come see.
March 21st, 2013
I’ve just finished work on a four-session portrait from a terrific local model, Sergio Janzen. This was done in my class as a demonstration/keep-the-students-enthused piece. 18 x 14″ oil on stretched linen.
I say study, or even sketch, because there’s only so much one can and should do when students are present, they need help. At the same time I always try to teach by practical example… it’s much better, and certainly humbling, to be struggling with the same problems as they are rather than calling plays from the sidelines with a wine glass in my hand. And if one of the oil painters has a question, I can show them how to work out the answer on my own painting or theirs. I think that’s an ideal way to learn
Red Sergio oil on linen 18 x 14″
It would have been nice to have had another 3 hours to work out some things on Sergio’s portrait, but I did some of that from memory after the sessions ended. I would rather work from memory in those instances, simply because it keeps me sharper. I also am driven slightly nuts by the number of people using cell phone photos to work from away from the model, but they just laugh and call me old fashioned, which is somewhat true.
But I stick to my guns on this point, because the entire process is not, in the case of the student, to only “finish” a project, but to train their faculties, and one of those faculties involves taking three dimensional reality (nature) and recreating it in two dimensions (upon the canvas) without a machine doing it for them.
My palette was:
Flake White #1, with a touch of Liquin worked in
February 15th, 2013
Along with everything else I’m working on, I’ve been on a watercolor jag for the last month. It’s been great fun and hard work, and I’m planning on more.
Do these work for you?
So much of painting is just about purposefully being in the work-mindset. Rather than waiting to be inspired, often times I just have an idea about design, or an effect of light, and begin with something in my sketchbook; inspiration or enthusiasm arrives after I begin to work, not generally before. I know it’s the same for writers and musicians…you begin by taking the first step of working.
Each of these paintings are quarter-sheet, which is watercolorist talk for 11 x 15″, and painted on Saunders #200. Titles are coming.
February 12th, 2013
This is a pastel demonstration piece I executed at Spalding House for my Painting the Model en Plein Aire class last week.
Our topic that day was “Selection and Emphasis”…the idea that one must select from what Nature presents according to your priorities, and then appropriately simplify. Every element must be considered and it’s value to your picture determined, much will need to be eliminated, and what is left must be simplified and refined.
Dulce in the Sun Pastel on Canson 12 x 9″