Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dog Walk

Dog Walk, 24 x 20

Above is the second in a series I'm painting from my trip to Colorado last September. I'm going to post this completed painting by itself for the moment, but will add a couple shots I took earlier in the process. It will help demonstrate a cool blocking-in idea Laurel came up with for our alla prima class. For lack of an established name, I refer to it as the "rub in, rub out" technique. Stay tuned. . . .


Okay, here is a snapshot of the completed block-in. It's all done using a dark neutral, a large brush, paper towels and linseed oil. The linseed oil is used to allow the paint to spread more easily, the large brush to get the canvas covered more quickly and to keep you from getting too detailed. The paper towel is used to rub off excess paint from areas on the canvas that have lighter values than what has been applied with the dark neutral.

So, to begin with, start placing the main, simplified shapes on the canvas in their correct location on the canvas. One cool thing about this process is it's very low pressure. If you don't like where you applied your dark neutral, or you applied too much, just rub out the necessary areas with paper towel, and rub in with your brush the areas that need to be darker. Any dark neutral that remains on the canvas will just add punch to the shadow areas. 

To make it easier for the dark neutral to spread easily, dip a paper towel in linseed oil and scrub a thin amount of the dark neutral into the canvas. Do be careful not to make the underpainting runny or to use so much oil that the canvas gets shiny reflections. If this happens, use paper towels to pick up the excess.

Continue applying and removing the dark neutral until you have a good value map that is accurate in the placement and also in creating an accurate range of values on the canvas before adding color.

Now you're ready to start putting in color. Paint in the main color masses, blended in on top of the dark neutral underpainting, and continue until, finally, you've added in the all the highlights and everything looks the way you dreamed it would.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Final Class

Apples to Irises, 16 x 20

Above is the final assignment in Laurel Daniel's alla prima class. Being the final class, Laurel gave us the choice of using any of the block-in methods we had explored over the six weeks. Any guesses on which one was used here? If you guessed it was the McPherson method of blocking in the main color masses with accurate "average color," then modeling as necessary before adding the spectral highlights in the final stage, then you get a gold star. I only did one painting using the rub-in, rub-out method, but judging from that one (posted January 30), the method seems to give a slightly different look, where the meeting of some color edges tend to go dark. I like that look, but for this one, with so much overall light, I decided on sticking with the color block-in one more time. If you have any opinions on the subject, I'd be glad t hear them. 

One week from today begins our next plein air class, in which everyone is looking forward to trying out our new tricks out amongst the elements.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Road Warrior

Road Warrior, 6 x 6

Having never tried one, I've been keeping an eye out for an old vehicle to paint, and yesterday's PAA paint-out at the Davis Ranch offered several good choices. Besides the other vehicles, there were countless beautiful landscapes to paint on this ranch, which raises Texas Longhorn cattle. I hope to go back out there sometime soon to paint from the "natural world," but on this visit I couldn't pass up this amazingly expressive old road construction truck. It's as if it were relating to me its many stories the entire time I stood before it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

More Work From Class

Cafe Tray, 20 x 16

The still life above was the assignment we began in last Wednesday's class and showed for critique in this morning's, the final session of Laurel's alla prima class. In this assignment, as in the previous one, we used a blocking-in technique used by Kevin McPherson. My post of February 9th (first of two posted that day) explains the process in detail, which I like very much. I find that this method of identifying and applying the correct average color, along with the correct values, to the main shapes at the block-in stage saves a step by not having to go back and paint color into the different neutrals of a previously painted monochromatic block-in. A key, I find, is to make sure you don't sacrifice the true values of the color masses (especially the darks) when blocking in with color.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

He's GOT To Be Freezing

Inner Peace, 6 x 6

(Intro paragraph updated, 2-17) Above is a re-shoot of the study I originally posted on February 9. The previous shot was taken without my normal photography equipment, and ended up darker and more monochromatic because of a problem I was having with glare on the paint strokes. Comparing the two, it's hard to believe both images were taken from the same study. The colors and values are much more accurate in this one.

This plein air study was done this afternoon in my sister's back yard. Though it was cold today, I decided that if a partially clad buddha can sit outside in forty-degree weather all day long without showing any hint of suffering, I could certainly wrap myself up for an hour and get outside and paint a small study. 

Okay, so I didn't complicate my logic with the fact that the buddha in question isn't a real one, but merely a two-foot statue. Thinking too long on such matters can distract one from the goal. Thus, whatever it takes to get to that point, one must act on it. And be with the moment, no matter how cold.

You Guys Are In Trouble.

You Guys Are In Trouble, 12 x 16

The still life above is my attempt for the most recent assignment in Laurel's alla prima class. We've been exploring various blocking-in techniques and for this round we followed a method used by Kevin McPherson. We began by using the correct color and value to block in the darkest darks and the lightest lights, followed by reducing the remaining areas to three or four color masses, and using the correct local color and average value of each to complete the block-in. From there we applied the full range of values as necessary to complete the picture. I'm not sure which method I prefer so far, but each of them has been very helpful and made it easier to get rich values and color without getting bogged down or overworking it.