Wednesday, October 24, 2018

100 Starts - numbers 31-40

Continuing my 100 Starts, based on Kevin Macpherson's prompt…

100 Starts - Kevin Macpherson prompt - Days 31-40
Numbers 31-40 of my 100 Starts project

Numbers 1-10
Numbers 11-20
Numbers 21-30

Number 31 notes

One of my goals with this start was to use more paint than the last one. I did fairly well with that, except at the beginning. And I added a new shape: the occlusion shadow under the clementine. I love it! I'm going to start watching for a deeper occlusion shadow on the next starts as well.

I really do not like painting this bowl. It's cool in real life, but the different colors of wood within it don't come across as well in paint.

Number 32 notes

Challenging myself with another dog toy, this one more complex than the previous toys. The drawing looks pretty good to me, but I didn't go dark enough with some of the shadow shapes. Or I didn't go light enough with the cast shadow. There are parts of this toy that are black, and it felt really strange to make the black in direct light as light as I did! But I wanted to trust the advice and give it a try.

Number 33 notes

We went camping this weekend and I wanted to bring my gouache paints instead of oils. On the way to our campground, we stopped at the Joe's Cheap Art Stuff outlet in Boone, NC, and I tried not to go overboard stocking up. I was happy to see they stock large tubes of Winton oil paint, so I picked up a cadmium yellow pale hue, a neutral grey glass palette, some upgraded watercolor (and gouache) flat brushes, and a couple other miscellaneous things. I was super impressed with their brush selection — lots of lines that I haven't seen in the stores before.

I picked a camping mug and spoon from our silverware drawer for my study. New brushes plus the fact that I haven't used the gouache much lately plus poor lighting made for a mediocre start. Plus, I tried to include way too much detail — a good lesson on keeping Kevin's simple starts in mind. Oh well. On the upside, I was so bummed by this one that it made me do a little playing in my sketchbook where I painted a couple of gouache seaside landscapes from my head. They turned out pretty neat! Just little thumbnails, but it totally lifted my spirits.

Number 34 notes

Another camping trip study. Our little dog, Pipsqueak, was barking and whining at me the entire time I made this one, so it was quite frustrating. I was trying to make the gouache thick and opaque vs. thin and watercolor-like, and the brushes are a little bit soft so there's a lot of texture between the color shapes. It's not what I was going for, but I don't mind the roughness of it. I do wish there weren't white spots of the paper showing though. Once again, really bad lighting in the camper.

Number 35 notes

I was determined to do at least one plein air style start this trip! The weather was cold and rainy on our last morning there so I did this from inside the truck. There was a beautiful lookout onto a lake with overcast skies and deep green reflections of the trees in the water. I liked the blue mountain in the distance. My values are all over the place — partly because gouache changes value when it dries, but also because landscapes are hard! I tried to go easy on myself because I'm so new to them, but it was a bit of a let-down. But I guess if I were good at them right out of the gate that wouldn't make the journey so rewarding.

And I encountered that situation that other artists warn about: I ran out of yellow on my palette and instead of putting more out I tried to make do with what I had. Not a smart idea. It just led to more struggles and made it impossible to get the right colors.

Number 36 notes

I was excited to be back to oils for this one, and to be able to put down a bunch of my new yellow paint without hesitation. I'm working on improving my color identification and mixing skills, so as I made note of the colors in this study I referred to my color wheel and identified the hue and intensity in order to mix them up. I didn't do a good job of noting the values though, so I'll need to start getting that into the process, too. I keep thinking about when I learned how to drive and how it seemed impossible that a person could keep track of all of the things and still watch the road. But it became easier in time and I'm hoping that's how this will get, too.

Number 37 notes

Did a few different things on this one: went back to sketching a notan thumbnail before making my drawing on the panel, premixed my colors for the main elements (the apple, lime, background, and table top), used the color isolator much less, and held up a black brush handle to compare the shadow values to it. I was starting to feel overwhelmed by too many decisions to make all at once and and thought taking it step by step would help me feel more control over things. I think doing a quick thumbnail first helps me see the subject better and be more prepared for drawing and locating shadow shapes on the panel accurately.

Premixing the colors helped because I had been feeling like I was flailing and guessing too much mixing colors one at a time. It felt ineffective and inefficient, given my goal of 30 minutes or less on painting these. I didn't really keep an eye on the clock for this one because I didn't want to feel rushed while trying out the premixing approach.

Number 38 notes

I took several days off from painting while a friend was visiting, which was a nice break. But it felt great to get my brushes back in action! I picked an onion and head of garlic for this one, switching the location of the light but I didn't notice how similar the composition was to Number 37. I had fun with this one because I didn't get obsessed with trying to make the color shapes perfect — I just focused on getting close and making the relationships work. I was excited to see after doing a 2-color posterization effect in Photoshop that the light and shadow families held true. I also think the colors are more interesting because I didn't over mix the colors on my palette or overwork the brush strokes. I like the variety that resulted in the color shapes and I feel like there's a hint of warm vs. cool happening that's intriguing.

Number 39 notes

The seemingly simple arrangement of a lemon and mug on a blue coaster revealed a lot more complexity than I initially thought! When I first started this one I didn't entirely notice just how many different color shapes there were in the coaster, between the white trim and cast shadows from the lemon and mug. But this was a fantastic exercise to practice seeing the shapes and not the objects. While painting, I didn't think about cast shadows exactly, rather focusing on the color notes of each shape in those cast shadows. So when I finished, I was delighted to see that the colors I painted really made it look like a shadow that went across the blue coaster and onto the cream-colored cloth that everything sat on.

I wish the parts of the mug in the light family were lighter — they fall too much into the shadow family. I also think the lemon would work much better if the background color were different because it really gets lost due to the similarities in value.

Number 40 notes

More dramatic cropping with this one, but it's a little difficult to tell what the object on the left is. I'm happy with the light and shadow families because the values read well. I wonder what it would take to make the lemon look more like a lemon…

Number 40 feels like a milestone! I'm happy to be shaking up the still life objects and may need to hit the produce aisle just for some new things to paint.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

100 Starts - numbers 21-30

Continuing my 100 Starts, based on Kevin Macpherson's prompt…

100 Starts - Kevin Macpherson prompt - Days 21-30
Numbers 21-30 of the "100 Starts" exercise, painted in oil

Numbers 1-10
Numbers 11-20

Number 21 notes

After number 20's drab color scheme, I wanted to infuse a bit more lightness into this one. I pushed harder to get the light family light enough to also bring the shadow family up in value a bit. The shadow side of the yellow cube is looking good, but the cast shadow is too dark to hold together well next to it.

Number 22 notes

For this one I bright in a bright blue sheet of paper to set the still life up on. My goal was to look quickly at the color shapes and go with my first instinct, as opposed to looking so hard that everything goes to grey tones. I think that was pretty successful.

I also switched up the initial color notes process a bit. After putting in the lightest light and darkest dark, I put in the darkest light and lightest dark. I'm hoping that by establishing the boundaries of the light family and shadow family I'll give myself a more clear range for each family and avoid crossing them.

Number 23 notes

Wonky drawing aside, I love the colors in this one — so smooth and mellow. I use a neutral grey paper palette to mix the colors on, and have realized that the darkness of the paper is influencing my values. So in addition to establishing the lightest and darkest colors in the light and shadow families, I worked harder to use the mid value grey as a comparison to the color being mixed. I believe that previously my mind was framing the grey as white, making everything skew darker than I was actually seeing in the still life.

Number 24 notes

I switched things up from the colored blocks to one of our dogs' toys to start working in more complicated forms, colors, and textures. It was nice to have just one object to paint, but it was definitely more challenging to see where the light and shadow families were. The furry fabric and curvy shape made it much less obvious to distinguish the form shadows so I looked for the extremes and jumped in.

I'm excited to do some color mixing exercises from various blog posts, videos, and books to get more familiar with my pigments and see what they'll do.

Number 25 notes

Same idea as number 24, just with the toy in a different position. I pushed the colors in the light family a little lighter which helps make the shadow shapes contrast more. I think there are some really interesting shapes going on with the shadow family, and when I stand back or view a thumbnail of the exercise I can definitely read what's happening with the light being cast on the toy.

I also worked on making the composition more interesting by avoiding equal spaces around the subject. He kind of looks like he's marching across the page (or maybe creeping across).

Number 26 notes

I've been wanting to set up my still life outside and get some experience painting in natural light outdoors, and today I finally had time to give it a shot. I hauled my materials to the back deck and painted under a cloudy sky. With all of the newness of the experience, I didn't keep a very good eye on my composition and drawing, but decided to keep going in order to stay moving quickly.

Despite my desire to make quick decisions and not draw out these exercises, I would like to find a way to look at the subject more. It's easy to get shapes really messed up when I spend more time looking at the panel than the still life!

It was rather warm outside (we're running about 10° above normal temps right now) but there's some plant that's flowering in the back yard that smells absolutely amazing and made up for the heat.

Number 27 notes

Back inside my studio for this exercise. I picked another dog toy for the study, and placed it on an intensely-blue paper. It's a plush shark that we got for Pipsqueak at the shark reef in Las Vegas several years ago. There's no squeaker inside but she loves that thing! The paper is a rich cyan, which I won't get with my current set of primaries (cad yellow light, naphthol red, and ultramarine blue) so I went for approximating the value as it relates to the toy. On the toy itself, I was surprised to see how yellow the gray was. When it's sitting on the floor I always thought it looked like a very cool grey. Maybe there's just a cast reflecting off of my studio walls, which are a tan color.

I like the way the chin/underbelly area reads as white in shadow, in contrast to the warmer grey body in shadow. And since I finished just shy of my 30-minute goal, I went in with some lighter highlights. I wasn't sure if that was considered too detailed for this challenge, but the shapes are still very simple so I think it's worth doing.

Number 28 notes

I grabbed a couple of bananas from the counter and placed them with colored papers to explore some new shapes and shadow colors. I'm happy with the shapes of the bananas, especially since they're foreshortened. And I'm loving the color of the light and shadow shapes of the bananas! One area that gave me trouble was the dark brown ends nearest the light source. They seemed quite dark to me — in fact those were my "darkest darks" as I got started. But after I laid that color down I thought about how any color in the light family will be lighter than any color in the shadow family. Rather than get hung up on it I kept going, but if I were to do it over I'd change the color to read better as light family.

Number 29 notes

I found a sad little clementine in our fruit drawer this morning and thought it would make a nice subject to paint. And I've enjoyed painting the banana and candle jar so those three things together made my still life setup for this exercise. I wanted to go fast on the drawing stage, placing my images quickly and accurately enough to make sense visually but not worrying too much about being exact.

I also changed up the size — instead of making two studies on an 11x14 panel, I split it into 4 parts to get roughly 5x7s. I don't know why I didn't think of this before! It allows me to use less paint, smaller brushes, and fill in the shapes more quickly.

I'm happy with how this one turned out. Every time I switch from painting the shadow shapes to the shapes in the light family it's a little thrilling the way it all pulls together like magic.

Number 30 notes

I had a heck of a time with color accuracy on this one! My initial color (the light part of the banana) was too light and cool, and that probably threw me off for the rest of the color shapes. I feel good about the drawing for the most part — it's exciting to be getting quicker with drawing more complex compositions. I'm getting stingy with paint again, which may have influenced the color challenges. Next time more paint!