Thursday, October 28, 2010

Red Plastic Bowl

Every morning I spend a little time looking at painting blogs and then 
go try out what I think I've learned. I believe I have learned a lot, 
especially with alla prima. I'm not suffering as I paint anymore, anyway. 
I hadn't done much with transparency or translucency . . . this bowl is 
another 49¢ "find" at the Salvation Army. Working with something that 
you're unfamiliar with really forces observation. My observational powers 
need lots more refining, but at least, I know I don't know what this 
object looks like and can't fool myself into thinking I do. I have also 
noticed one terrible painting habit: once I load the brush with color, I'm 
not content with just putting that color in the one spot where it's required. 
carry it into another area where the value has clearly changed. So, 
another thing to be mindful of . . .

Monday, October 25, 2010

Lone Apple 2

The companion apple to Lone Apple 1 . . . which, I guess 
keeps them from being "lone." Digging them out this past week 
and framing them made me stop and consider how I best like 
to work. Both were done with an underpainting that wasn't just 
a value study . . . one-color value first, then dark areas of color 
and the complement of whatever the final background was going 
to be. I let that first layer dry before tackling the finish of the painting. 
There's a dried chromium oxide green layer under those red strokes 
in the background. I could not have painted a red over chromium oxide 
green and have it retain its red-integrity and have it recede. 

I've also loved learning the immediacy of alla prima. 

So I'll work both ways. As a former printmaker, I relied on surprise: 
working in a mirror image, not knowing how it would translate backwards 
on paper, how a quantity of ink would squish and what I might do with it next. 
I had given up on oils years ago because of the predictability of what 
my hand would do in front of my eyes in any given moment. The process 
excited me more than having me be the author. Carol Marine quoted an 
Irish artist in a recent commentary where she said, "instead of asking how 
do I do that?, ask what will happen if I try this?" In retrospect, I must have 
wanted to give up control. Tonight, I'm thinking that kind of limbo is close 
to who I am.

Lone Apple 1

This wasn't my intended post for today. I'm posting 2 paintings 
from early this year, before the Carol Marine workshop and the 
subsequent struggle with alla prima. These are from a former era 
of not always knowing what I was doing as opposed to my current 
era. I liked both well enough to not sand them off and now that 
time has passed, I feel like, uh, well . . . I still like them! 

They are stand-ins for the painting I hoped to post . . . a self-portrait. 
Having to confront my own visage in a mirror, which, of course, I lit 
dramatically, was kind of a horrifying experience. I've tried to avoid 
having to look closely at my face, have very dim light in my bathroom . . . 
just enough to not poke my eye out with the mascara thing. All I wanted 
to do was to get out of any kind of comfort zone, to have a subject I would 
really, really have to look at and it turned out to be really, really uncomfortable. 
I should go with that, instead of my usual quest to make something beautiful. 
It got too dark in the day to photograph and it gives me another day to stall. 
Maybe tomorrow . . . 

Friday, October 22, 2010


My time in the studio is still haphazard . . . still boxes to deal with and 
tarp-covered furniture on my porch, left-overs from a yard sale. All this 
exterior clutter also makes my brain a mess.  

I realized I hardly ever paint blue things, so I went to the Salvation Army 
on a quest for a blue object, and lo! a blue cup! I plunked down 
my 54 cents. I had high hopes for it but now, on the screen, it looks 
frizzy. This panel is the double-primed cotton from Raymar and takes paint 
differently from the oil primed linen I usually work on. The apple in the cup 
has very few strokes so I'm pleased with it. Reflections are difficult . . . 
hats off to Carol Marine who does them so naturally. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Going Their Separate Ways

I'll be switching to different subject matter for a bit but know there's 
so much more to learn about these amazing forms.

What's Wrong?

(I tweaked this and am re-posting.) Still struggling with these beautiful 
bell peppers—it's hard to mix the various reds without making pink or 
orange or too much purple. And it's not really easy to make red recede. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Run For It!

I painted this about a month ago and was fairly pleased with the cherries 
but unhappy with the way I painted the cups (except for the handle). I 
couldn't stand looking at the mud I'd created on the shadow sides one 
minute longer, so I repainted the darks and darkened the background 
while stalling on starting a new painting. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Two Bells

I thought my head would explode trying to paint these bell peppers!
The curves and turns are so complex and challenging. They're great 
models because you have to abandon any preconceived belief that 
you "know" what they look like. I had to keep returning my mind to 
just looking at shapes of value and color and hoping the objects would 
become recognizable on their own. I also handled the ground differently 
by using a red where the bells would roughly be and a brownish-green 
under the back "wall" to see if the light background would recede 
more easily.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ghost Apples 2 Sold

I was actually able to hold two things in my mind simultaneously: don't 
blend and stick to the light-value-dominant scheme I set out to do. There 
was a lot more color in these "alabaster" apples than the greenish-white 
I originally saw. The first pale green stroke on the warm ground vibrated 
so beautifully, I tried to not disturb it, thinking I could lay in small blocks of 
color next to each other and build the painting that way---totally different 
from my usual automaton way of working. That third intention flew out the 
window about 10 minutes in. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ghost Apples

I popped into the studio briefly yesterday (had to paint!) and picked up 
a panel I'd begun before my hiatus, was unhappy with and scraped off 
except for a ghost image. Luckily, I still had the same apples for models 
but they'd developed a ghostly pallor in my absence. I haven't really done 
them justice---they look more like alabaster than this. I hope to try again on 
Sunday and push the value-dominance thing to be mostly light.