Monthly Archives: April 2012

Plein Air Sargent Crab

Sargent Crab in bloom

My Sargent Crab in bloom

Today, as I was headed down to the studio, to work on a small equestrian painting, I was bemoaning the fact that I wasn’t painting from life and how I really had to start plein air painting.  So, I about-faced and took my easle and palette out into the windy yard.  My yard has been gorgeous during the past several weeks, all the apple trees flowering in turn and the lilacs down by the northern fence.  I’ve sniffed the apple blossoms several times, but haven’t even been down to view the lilacs close-up.  What a crime!

Today was indeed windy.  It certainly got no warmer than 50 degrees.  I kept thrusting my hands into my pockets to warm them up between brush strokes, muttering “Levitan, Levitan, Levitan…,” channeling the artist’s hardiness, like Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality chanting, “Dalai Lama, Dalai Lama, Dalai Lama.”  After about two hours, I had to give it up for the day.  The wind was picking up and I’m a shoo-in for hypothermia.

This is how far I got.  It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, but it’s been supposed to rain for the past two days.  I’m hoping I can get back to it before all the petals are gone.

Monday Night Painting 3

Monday Painting 3

Monday Painting

This 5×7 figure painting was begun at our Monday Life Drawing Class and developed as far as can be seen below.  I completed it from memory in my studio.   I would have had four hours to paint from this model had I attended last week, but I was too miserable with a cold to go.

I chose a 5×7 canvas because of the time constraints and didn’t attempt a whole figure for the same reason.  It is difficult to paint loosely on such a scale.  The canvas was primed with an acrylic craft paint in a medium brown.  I often prime a canvas with a glossy Mod Podge, which prevents the oils from being absorbed into a matte ground and allows one to go for a finished product more quickly.   To the Mod Podge I will often add a few drops of acrylic paint, a light green being my favorite.  I learned these tips from Timothy C Tyler, who taught a Workshop in Rising Sun, Indiana a few years back.  (More on that in a moment.)  This canvas was primed with acrylic paint with no admixture of Mod Podge.  It was more opaque than I would have liked and was also a matte surface.

This model was quite tanned.  I found, when painting upon that opaque brown, that I was giving her skin too brown a tone.  I could see it once I had the bluish white tones of the background blocked in.  I think it was because the true tones of her skin looked too orange on that brown background and I instinctively toned them down, only to find later that I’d taken too much gold out.  I had then to try to put the warmer tones back in.  Also, her shadows were rather olive.  I can only imagine that this was due to the cool tones of the walls, but that too tipped my palate away from the warmer colors.  I would have loved to start over on this figure and use a canvas with a more familiarly colored ground.

These painting sessions are practice sessions though.  We keep learning.

Monday Night Painting 3 Untouched

Monday Night Painting 3 in 2 hours

The workshop I attended in Rising Sun — gosh, how many years back was that?  2006?  — was one of a number of workshops sponsored by Dick Blick called Art Now.  I’ve googled Art Now and it seems to be a defunct program.  This workshop was not only extremely fun, it was also a very productive  experience for me.  Tim is a good instructor.  He taught me how to do hair. (I painted Girl Without a Pearl Earring and The Sun on her Face in the aftermath of that workshop.)   He taught me how to paint reflections into a wet ground and how to leave the skin’s highlights for last.  I wish he was still teaching within driving range.  He offers workshops in Italy now.

We had four days, two devoted to painting a still life, two devoted to painting a portrait.   On two of the evenings, we drove into nearby Cincinnati to visit the Taft Art Museum, which is a small gem, and a gallery where Tim was having a show.   His painting of Persephone was particularly exciting to see.

A portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson by John Singer Sargent, Taft Art Museum, Cincinnati, OH

It was at the Taft that I saw my first Daubignys.  Have I mentioned that I adore Daubigny?

Monday Night Painting 2

Nude male in oils

Monday Night Painting #2, 10x14

This is my second Monday Night painting.  I worked on it at the Green Lantern for 4 hours.   You can see how it looked when I brought it home below.  The carpet looked a bit like it was going to take off and give him a ride, so I repainted the corner.

Nude Male in Oils

Monday Night Painting, 10x14

Monday Night Painting

Cotton Candy Dreams
Monday Night Painting 11

Cotton Candy Dreams

On Monday nights here in Mineral Point, a group is meeting at the Green Lantern Studio for life drawing, and in my case, life painting.  We have about an half hour of 5 minute sketches, then settle down for a long pose.  I just joined the group this spring and the above is my first painting from a three-week, six-hour pose.  You can see what I brought home from the Green Lantern below.  Although I liked the negative space surrounding the figure, I didn’t like the look of shiny, white canvas — it was primed with Modge Podge to keep the oil paint sitting on the surface — so I added the toned background and scrolling, which you might recognize as the same pattern I’d created for my kitchen.

Nude Woman 1

6 Hour Painting of a Nude Woman