Monday, December 31, 2018

100 Starts - Number 90

Number 90 of my 100 Starts project
Number 90 of my 100 Starts project

I took a little break from the readathon I'm doing with my husband this weekend, inspired by the 24 in 48 readathon. But we're not actually tracking our hours — just making lots of reading time together with our dogs the main focus of the next two days. It feels like a total luxury to be reading for this long! I highly recommend you give it a try if you're also a fan of the books.

I did a Start of this hedgehog toy once before back in Numbers 51-60 and wanted to paint it again from a different angle and see how it compares. I find it very satisfying to see how similar the colors are, since one of my main goals for this 100 Starts project is to become proficient in color mixing. It may not be apparent by looking at the two next to each other, but I felt looser and more relaxed painting the shapes of Number 90 than 60, which definitely feels like growth. I'm also more comfortable simplifying shapes and getting the basic idea down quickly. 

Number 60 of my 100 Starts project
Number 60
Number 90

I just love the cute little face on this hedgie! It's a fun way to go into the final ten on this project.

Now that I'm in the home stretch I wanted to start posting these daily. The previous studies can be found here.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

100 Starts - Number 89

Number 89 of my 100 Starts project
Number 89 of my 100 Starts project

Any other fans of apple and peanut butter out there?? After a few days off from my 100 Starts project, I thought number 89 would be a bit of an uphill battle. But I was pleasantly surprised! I think it came together well, and I love the luminosity of the cool lavender-grey surface with the warm colors of the apple.

Now that I'm in the home stretch I wanted to start posting these daily. The previous studies can be found here.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

100 Starts - Number 88

Number 88 of my 100 Starts project
Number 88 of my 100 Starts project

I used larger brushes for this Start because I wanted to work on a new habit of using more paint and also make bolder strokes that I don't fuss with. It also helped me see in large shapes rather than get caught up in details too much.

It definitely make the cap shape a challenge, but I like the areas where you can see flat strokes that aren't blended away. This is a good exercise for me to practice looser, more expressive qualities of painting, in contrast to attempting to spell out every element clearly.

I'd like to work toward a point where I can paint with expressive strokes while drawing good shapes that don't cause a distraction by being inaccurate.

Now that I'm in the home stretch I wanted to start posting these daily. The previous studies can be found here.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

100 Starts - Number 87

Number 87 of my 100 Starts project
Number 87 of my 100 Starts project

This gourd has been the subject of a couple of other Starts, but I'm never that crazy about painting it. I always feel a little bad, like it's this unwanted object sitting on my still life shelf. Today I gave it one more chance and still didn't love it. I do like the colors I mixed for it though and there's a good sense of light shining across the setup.

So I release you, gourd! You don't have to be the subject of a half-hearted painting any longer, lol. Now I'm wondering…can you cook a gourd in an Instant Pot??

I want to get back to being more generous with my paint mixing and application, putting down bold strokes, and leaving the strokes be. I'll be working more specifically on brushwork in the coming months, but today was a tiny move toward that goal.

Getting closer to number 100! I won't finish by the end of 2018 which I've totally accepted. I heard a great reminder in a podcast recently to go easy on yourself when you don't reach an outcome goal by the end of the year because the next day will come, and it can just continue then :)

Now that I'm in the home stretch I wanted to start posting these daily. The previous studies can be found here.

Monday, December 24, 2018

100 Starts - Number 86

Number 86 of my 100 Starts project
Number 86 of my 100 Starts project

Yesterday as I was painting my Start of this lemon I started wonder about the effect of the direct light on the yellow, and what would it be like in a more diffused light. Today I kept the direct light off and used ambient light from the window and the overhead room light.

I went a little too dark the yellow in the light family but it still looks very realistic to me. And it was interesting how much warmer the colors looked to me today, especially in the shadow family of the lemon. I like how the intensity is less harsh in this one and it makes me want to explore a greater variety of lighting conditions.

Now that I'm in the home stretch I wanted to start posting these daily. The previous studies can be found here.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

100 Starts - Number 85

Number 85 of my 100 Starts project
Number 85 of my 100 Starts project

Lemons have been one of my favorite subjects to paint for this project and I don't always have one in the house. So since I did today, I chose it for my subject along with the little coaster that I also enjoy. And to create an analogous color scheme I used a green paper to tie things together.

I love this little study! The shapes are so simple that it would pretty much just take a bit of halftone detail to turn the form of the lemon and it would be a complete painting. I definitely see why so many people paint fruits and vegetables — it can be such a satisfying win.

Now that I'm in the home stretch I wanted to start posting these daily. The previous studies can be found here.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

100 Starts - Number 84

Number 84 of my 100 Starts project
Number 84 of my 100 Starts project

I upped the ante with today's Start! Instead of doing one shoe I did a pair, which at first didn't sound like it would be much more difficult…but it was. Or I should say more difficult to do in the brief amount of time I was aiming for. If I really wanted to do a painting of these I would definitely need to build in more time to get the proportions accurate. Things are pretty close in this study, but the toe areas are wonky.

I didn't attempt to paint in the laces (too much detail) but I added hints of the metal lace grommets which made it much more clear what the subject is. I wonder what it would be like to paint these shoes in sunlight, versus the lamp that's shining on them. I think there's a good sense of light and shadow here, but the direct light makes the subject look rather washed out.

Now that I'm in the home stretch I wanted to start posting these daily. The previous studies can be found here.

Friday, December 21, 2018

100 Starts - Number 83

Number 83 of 100 Starts project
Number 83 of my 100 Starts project

We finally brought the box of Christmas decorations in from the garage and I had totally forgotten about this totally adorable stuffed snowman. He's looking up, as if he's letting snowflakes fall on his face. I thought the interesting posture and round shapes would be fun to paint, especially in some dramatic lighting.

I love the colors in this one! There were a lot of colors to mix though which took awhile to create. The light side of the carrot nose gave me trouble, but once I got it close and went ahead and painted it in, it worked great next to the shadow side. I wish the temperature of the shadow family of the snowman's body was cooler and a little lighter, but otherwise I'm super happy with this start.

Now that I'm in the home stretch I wanted to start posting these daily. The previous studies can be found here.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

100 Starts - Number 82

Number 82 of my 100 Starts project
Number 82 of my 100 Starts project

For today's Start I worked hard to not work so hard. My instinct was to dig into the details, turning the form of the bell pepper to clarify its shape more. But I kept it simple, focusing on the main color shapes.

There's a reflection of the pepper onto the dark brown surface which is rather unclear in this study. It's cooler than the dark brown, which helps a little. I think if the shape were adjusted so it curved more where it meets the side of the pepper it would read better.

I like the contrast of the green in the light family next to the green in the shadow family.

Now that I'm in the home stretch I wanted to start posting these daily. The previous studies can be found here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

100 Starts - Number 81

Number 81 of the 100 Starts project
Number 81 of my 100 Starts project

I had a small branch from the camellia bush that I painted for Number 80 and thought it would be fun to paint a much more toned-down take on it. The branch is sitting in a small jam jar, so it was interesting to paint the color shapes of the top rim of the jar.

I started by mixing the basic colors and tried to go more quickly than on previous days — not overanalyzing things — and painted the highlights on the leaves first, since they're the lightest light. Then shifted to the darkest dark. But with that premixed set of leaf colors I forgot what I was doing and went right into painting all of the leaves instead of just the shadow shapes. Guess I got rusty after a few days off!

Once I finished blocking in all of the color shapes, I was really disliking the way the highlights looked. So I painted over them with the greens and added the highlights on top. Soooo much better. I like the results better when I do the highlights last, so I'll stop considering those the "lightest light" and see what happens if I start with the lightest non-highlight/accent area.

Overall I'm pretty happy with this one. I really like the colors compared to the intensely-colored pink camellia and yellow background from the last one.

Now that I'm in the home stretch I wanted to start posting these daily. The previous studies can be found here.

Friday, December 14, 2018

100 Starts - Number 80

100 Starts project - Number 80
Number 80 of my 100 Starts project

I've been watching these bushes on the side of the house that started getting buds a few weeks ago. I was amazed that something was about to bloom, despite our cold weather and even lots of snow. Based on some research, I believe it's a winter camellia. The previous owner must love bright pink — first we found the rose bushes in the back yard (I painted a study of one of those roses for Number 73), and now these are popping up!

I premixed my color puddles again today, but may not continue doing it for this particular project. One of my goals for the 100 Starts is to complete the painting in 30 minutes (after the drawing is mapped out). The last two days when I premixed the color it made the whole thing take longer, plus I still spent 30 minutes putting the paint on the panel. So I'll probably go back to mixing on the fly, with some kind of adjustment to help me keep the number of mixes to a minimum because I really do like that aspect of premixing…mixing as I go results in a lot more chaos on the palette and fights against the simplicity I'm aiming to achieve. Maybe it's as simple as doing rough mixes that get me in the ball park and then refining them when I get to the painting stage.

Now that I'm in the home stretch I wanted to start posting these daily. The previous studies can be found here.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

100 Starts - Number 79

100 Starts project Number 79
Number 79 of my 100 Starts project

When we moved into our new house over the summer I made these cute little gingham sachets and filled them with rice and essential oil blends. The essential oils have long since lost their scent, but they're still super cute. What drew me to painting them for today's Start was the little folds and shadows in the fabric and it's round, ploppy little shape.

In setting the sachet up for my study, I saw just how important the direction of the light is to making it at all interesting to look at. With some lighting angles, the shape went really flat, and with other angles all of those folds and shadows became much more apparent.

A few things I did differently today:
  • sat on a stool at my easel
  • premixed 3 values of each color (greys for the paper and the yellows for the sachet)
Using the stool instead of standing made me more comfortable and less fidgety — I felt more calm and less rushed because my legs and feet weren't hurting. It also made the sketch easier because I could set my sketchbook on the little cart that holds my palette between me and the easel.

Premixing the colors had its pros and cons. I liked that it was taking things one step at a time, and instead of mixing while painting I was able to concentrate on just that task. It was also easier to get the hues I wanted using the palette knife than how I typically do it with the brushes. But once I started actually painting the study, I saw my hues weren't accurate which left me with the dilemma of either forging ahead anyway or going back and fixing. An easy fix will be to have plenty of test strips of paper on hand so I can do some swatching and color comparison before actually beginning to paint.

Now that I'm in the home stretch I wanted to start posting these daily. The previous studies can be found here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

100 Starts - Number 78

100 Starts number 78
Number 78 of my 100 Starts project

Over the weekend we got our first snowfall here in Raleigh, and this morning the sun was shining after two solid days of snow and rain. The light and shadows were so striking when I looked out my studio window that I wanted to paint a scene for today's Start. I was able to paint from the comfort of my studio, but that certainly didn't make it an easy endeavor! The morning light changed so quickly that by the time I got the basic shapes drawn on the panel the shadows had already moved. This was not the day to premix color value lines on my palette, lol.

The light on the snow had a warm glow to it from the sun, and what I liked most about this scene was that contrast between the glowing snow and the cool shadows full of light reflected from the blue sky. One of the most difficult things about making this study was that as I looked out the window, the light coming in basically put my easel in shadow. I wasn't able to judge the colors going on the panel very well, and they're almost all too dark. Another thing I'd improve about the colors would be to make the blue shadow shape at the top of the panel lighter to indicate that it's further away than the shadow shape at the bottom.

The brown shape on the right has me thinking about composition…it's a section of oak branches that still has its red-brown leaves and it sits on the picture plane in the extreme foreground. That sort of overlapping is interesting to me in photos, but with a painting it's so confusing. It's something I first encountered when I did a plein air painting but at that time I simply eliminated the foreground branches from my composition. That sense of depth will be an interesting thing to continue studying!

It's not really possible for the viewer to tell what the subject is on this Start. But since I had the experience of looking at the scene and blocking it in, it formed a memory in my mind and I'm guessing I'll always be able to look at it — even far into the future — and recall the experience of studying it.

Now that I'm in the home stretch I wanted to start posting these daily. The previous studies can be found here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

100 Starts - Number 77

100 Starts Project - Number 77
Number 77 of my 100 Starts project

I did my initial thumbnail sketch/Notan by making a gesture sketch in my sketchbook, which was effective for helping me see this halved avocado better. But it's becoming clear to me that the way I'm standing with my sketchbook in my left hand and drawing with my right hand is causing me serious discomfort and distraction. Maybe it would help to bring my stool back so I'm not hunching over uncomfortably with my sketchbook waving in the air.

Today was my first day using Gamsol to clean the brushes between colors and I have to say it was a pretty smooth experience compared to the safflower oil. I also totally cleaned my palette off and got rid of the old leftover-grey mixture of paint. I felt like my colors had gotten a little muddy over the last few studies and I think these two adjustments helped.

I really want to work on my mixing process, and how I organize the pools of color on my palette. It's my goal to make some color value lines — which would help me have the original mixes clearly identified so when I need to mix more I can match — but I continue to not do it for some reason. My brain is having this battle between "Be free! Mix as you go! Loosen up!" and "Be smart! You'll be glad to have the organization and clearer path!".

Now that I'm in the home stretch I wanted to start posting these daily. The previous studies can be found here.

Monday, December 10, 2018

100 Starts - Number 76

Now that I'm in the home stretch I wanted to start posting these daily. The previous studies can be found here.

100 Starts Number 76
Number 76 of my 100 Starts project

I originally painted this flower arrangement back on Number 63 of my 100 Starts. This time I wanted to zoom out a bit in order to include more of the other elements besides the big, richly-colored flower. I also wanted to try another complex subject (like the pinecone and leaf in Number 75) but this time add less detail. If I were to actually do a completed painting of this subject I'd spend more time understanding the shapes of the flower, but I do think I met my goal of greater simplification of the shapes overall.

It made me realize that doing gesture sketches for my initial sketchbook thumbnails would be good to explore — every time I do gesture sketches I feel much more connected to what I'm looking at and gain a deeper understanding of the shape relationships versus a linear lay-in approach.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

100 Starts - numbers 71-75

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

100 Starts - Kevin Macpherson prompt - Days 71-75
Numbers 71-75 of my 100 Starts project

Numbers 1-10
Numbers 11-20
Numbers 21-30
Numbers 31-40
Numbers 41-50
Numbers 51-60
Numbers 61-70

Number 71 notes

Hrrrmmm this one was tricky. Drawing this teapot in perspective really trips me up. I painted it back at number 50 as well, and this time added some of the blue color in the glaze on the pot.

Start Number 50 on the left, Number 71 on the right
I think there's some improvement to the shape but I can't say I'm wild about this one. The light shapes look more interesting, so that's something!

Number 72 notes

Was feeling very ho-hum about choosing a subject for this one…so I went with some basics and focused on colors. My favorite part is the greenish-grey on the top side of the black cube. That was an unexpected color note! I also love the low intensity yellow-green on the shadow side of the yellow bowl.

Number 73 notes

This was a fun one! I realized we still had roses in the back yard somehow (despite freezing temperatures) and thought one of them would make a great subject. One thing that worked well was doing a gesture sketch of the rose before going to the panel to paint. That really helped me get the shapes and relationships mapped out so when I went to sketch with the brush I had a good sense of where to place the colors.

I was not at all expecting to get so close to the actual intense, rich pink flower color with my red paint — but the Gamblin Naphthol red was totally amazing. I'm impressed with the versatility of this particular color because I've been able to bend it cooler and warmer with ease.

Number 74 notes

Originally I bought this orange to paint in a still life, but I feel a cold or something coming on. So I had to sacrifice it. But the peels were actually more interesting than painting the whole orange would have been. I set them up with a different perspective than I've been using, so it's more of a top-down angle. The orange against the brown was a treat to paint because the neutral background helps make the color of the peel really vibrant.

Number 75 notes

I had to take a week away from my 100 Starts project to work on a large custom sewing order for a lucky little pup in Arizona and was finally able to get back to it today. And I don't know if it was the week away and out of the flow state, or if this was just a tricky subject, but this one was brutal! The drawing gave me a lot of trouble, and then when I started blocking in the dark shapes the dried leaf was just not making any sense, visually. I'm sure it was because I was looking at it like a leaf too much, and not a series of shapes relating to each other. The pinecone looks OK from a distance, but it was really hard to know when to stop and how detailed to get.

I considered saving them to do again another day but I don't know if it's really in line with what I want to be learning right now…or, put another way: if I do another study of either of these, I need to find a way to greatly simplify them and paint them impressionistically or apply what I've been learning in The Painterly Approach by Bob Rohm or Kevin Macpherson's landscape books.