Tuesday, January 15, 2019

100 Starts - Number 100

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

My nephew (Hi, Anthony!) gave us this adorable ceramic frog for Christmas one year. He had hand painted it, which posed a challenge for me to paint as my Start because I had to figure out how much to simplify the colors. I knew I didn't want to paint every different color, so I focused on a general local color that would make a reasonable amount of sense if viewed separate from the figurine.

I really like his red feet and fingers so I kept those in and they are a great complement to the green. The reflected light under his belly is a little too light, and not clearly in the shadow family. So I'd do that a little differently if I were to do this one again — but I love the subtle color temperature changes in the shadow shapes on the body because they add so much interest and life to the shadows.

I'm excited to be finished with this fantastic prompt from Kevin Macpherson of doing 100 Starts! My next step is to reflect on what I learned, what the biggest successes were during the project, where the opportunities to improve are, and what my next focused practice will be.

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

Sunday, January 13, 2019

100 Starts - Number 99

Number 99 of my 100 Starts project
Number 99 of my 100 Starts project

Scrounging around for what to use as a subject for Start Number 99, I came up with Sharkie — one of our dogs' toys. I first painted a study of Sharkie back in early October. I can see that my drawing skills have advanced since then (yay!) and my overall brush work is looser, which I love. I know the intention of these studies isn't to have a completely modeled form or finished painting, but I just can't help going there just a bit the deeper in to this project that I get.

Speaking of which…just one more to go and then my 100 Starts will be wrapped up!

Start number 27 next to Start number 99
Number 27 on the left and number 99 on the right

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

Saturday, January 12, 2019

100 Starts - Number 98

Number 98 of my 100 Starts project
Number 98 of my 100 Starts project

Haven't painted this little yellow dish in a long time, and wanted to use the pear from a couple of days ago. It reminds me of someone taking a bath in a tub that's too small…

I got more detailed than intended for this project, but all of the colors I saw in the pear had me a little mesmerized. As an experiment I converted the study to greyscale and flipped back and forth between the color and greyscale versions. Somehow this made me notice the analogous color scheme of the composition — it wasn't something I set out to do intentionally but it was a serendipitous surprise!

Start number 98 in monochrome next to color version
Comparing the greyscale version and color version of Start Number 98

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

Friday, January 11, 2019

100 Starts - Number 97

Number 97 of my 100 Starts project
Number 97 of my 100 Starts project

This was a good lesson in how a white plate isn't actually painted white on the canvas. The highlights on the curved edge were actually the brightest parts, so I needed to make the rest of the plate darker than white for those highlights to show up.

The highlights on the cherry tomatoes were really fun to add at the end — they're a light red rather than pure white, but against the intense red of the tomatoes they appear much brighter. I'm intrigued by that aspect of working with color! The way it looks on the palette is so different from the way it looks in context next to the other colors.

Since the white plate is so shiny and reflective, I had fun adding reflected light into the cast shadows, making them come more alive.

To help get the objects in this still life drawn where I wanted them, I did a lot of looking at negative spaces. I'd say this was fairly successful, except for the rim of the plate which doesn't look very realistic. Another check with the viewfinder probably would have helped with that.

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

Thursday, January 10, 2019

100 Starts - Number 96

Number 96 of my 100 Starts project
Number 96 of my 100 Starts project

Crazy-jumbo pear stem aside, I love this study. The colors and shapes are so pleasing to me, with the cool grays on the white napkin and the warmth of the rest of the colors. The shadow cast onto the napkin and green surface by the pear is intriguing to me and I like the way the white napkin affects the different shadow colors.

I like how the composition is mostly quiet and calm, with just a hint of a dynamic quality from the angles of the white napkin. Once I complete this 100 Starts project, I want to go back and pick out my favorite compositions, colors, and subjects and see if I can determine why I like them in order to incorporate more of that moving forward.

Comparison of a pear done previously with this one:

100 Starts Number 67 next to Number 96
Number 67 on left and 96 on right

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

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Dog portrait in oil

5x7 oil portrait of Maks the Morkie
5x7 oil portrait of Maks the Morkie

Sometimes when I really want to do a good job with something, I can put off starting it to avoid potential failure. This is something I've been actively working through on this blog and with the assignments I give myself. I am aware mentally that failure is a perfectly OK outcome — especially with something like making art, where the consequences are purely psychological — but that doesn't magically remove the block for me.

So when I do venture into something new and it goes well, my general reaction is "Why did I delay this for so long?!" This was basically the case with the oil portrait I made of Maks.

Maks is the Morkie that I have done a lot of sewing for with my handmade business Oxford Dogma. His mom, Missy, has been a delight to work with on a variety of custom projects. And in November I decided to transition my business away from making hand sewn accessories toward artwork. As a way to thank her for all of the work she's allowed me to do for her and Maks I painted her this portrait as a Christmas gift.

The project started out in acrylic, with a different reference photo. It was a really cute photo where he had a super happy expression with his tongue out, but the painting just was not going well. I initially thought it would be easier and quicker to make it in acrylic, but struggled against it the entire time. The next day, I set it aside and switched to oils — which made a world of difference! I was able to stop fighting the media and sink into the enjoyment of putting down brush strokes.

I used a limited palette of terra rosa, yellow ochre light, ivory black, and titanium white. Plus a tiny bit of cobalt turquoise light for highlights. This is the palette Johanne Mangi uses in her video course The Fine Art of Painting Dog Portraits and it worked beautifully for my painting of Maks.

I followed a process of blocking in the darks, then an average color for the lights. Once I was happy with the placement of these shapes, I worked on details. I wish I had taken progress shots as reference, to help me remember the process that got me to the finished painting! I'm deep into my 100 Starts project, which is all about getting simple shapes and flat colors blocked in — not detail. So it was a treat to work with the oil paints in a way that takes advantage of their slow drying qualities and with brush strokes that highlight the fur texture.

I was happy to hear that Missy loved the portrait and has already framed it. I'm excited to continue my exploration of painting animals!

100 Starts - Number 95

Number 95 of my 100 Starts project
Number 95 of my 100 Starts project

I've avoided the egg assignment long enough, lol. And to make things even harder, I included a piece of silverware! More than studying the tines of this fork, I wanted to address the colors I saw in the handle, so I set it up so I wouldn't get caught up in painting the details of the tines. I had learned in the book Daily Painting by Carol Marine that silver objects are rarely as light as we imagine them being in our minds, due to the reflective nature of them. I think I went too dark with my study, but my goal was to simplify and get it in the ball park. Taking this to a completed painting would be an opportunity to reveal more details in the light family.

My favorite part of this one is the transition from the shadow side of the egg to the cast shadow. It's a warm shadow, but in contrast with the very warm brown egg color it looks cool. I love that sort of interplay. I just wish I'd included the occlusion shadow where the light is completely blocked by the egg — that would have added nice definition between the egg and its cast shadow.

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

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

100 Starts - Number 94

Number 94 of my 100 Starts project
Number 94 of my 100 Starts project

Mushrooms are really delightful subjects to paint! I was lucky to find a carton of them in the fridge, along with some grape tomatoes. I love the way the mushrooms are a soft, natural white, with great shadow shapes due to the combination of round caps and straight stems.

I'm becoming more aware of how the order that the colors are painted has a significant impact on my brushwork and ability to make the shapes I want. Since I want to paint alla prima, the risk of colors mixing into each other unintentionally is something to keep an eye on.

I had a fun moment while finishing the grape tomato, when I went back in to add a brighter red area on the right side. Using a smaller brush to apply some color without blending it in (i.e. put it down and leave it alone!) gave me a little thrill and preview of what's coming soon after I complete my 100 Starts and move to painting complete paintings.

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

Monday, January 7, 2019

100 Starts - Number 93

Number 93 of my 100 Starts project
Number 93 of my 100 Starts project

I felt like painting something with an organic shape today and chose the same hedgehog squeaker toy from Number 91, but with a different position and ground color. I loved going back to Number 24 to see how I interpreted this toy back in early October (3 months ago) compared to today. Although the lighting angle is different, it's the same bulb and general lighting conditions. In early October I was brand new to oils — just 6 days of experience with them on Number 24. Seeing how these have evolved over the last 69 studies is so cool. And it's not just the way they look, but also the experience of painting them that's evolving. The more I paint, the more I'm able to take into account the image as a whole, making the shapes and their relationships work together better.

Number 24 next to Number 93 of my 100 Starts project
Number 24 on left, and 93 on right

Color mixing and drawing are coming more quickly for me, and when I look at these two side by side, I just see so much more life in the more recent one.

It'll be interesting to tackle the fur on this toy one day, to see how that changes things!

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

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

100 Starts - Number 92

Number 92 of my 100 Starts project
Number 92 of my 100 Starts project

Continuing the squeaky dog toy studies with Brown Monkey. I painted our dogs' Blue Monkey for Number 51:

Number 51 of my 100 Starts project
Number 51
Number 92

My shapes and brushwork have improved over the last forty Starts. And I worked hard on this one to align the head position well with the rest of the body, noting where key points sit in relation to each other. It would be smart to start including quick gesture drawings to my process (like my previous focused practice exercise on animal gesture studies), at least at the thumbnail stage.

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

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

100 Starts - Number 91

Number 91 of my 100 Starts project
Number 91 of my 100 Starts project

For this start another hedgehog toy, but a different one from yesterday. It's one I painted for Numbers 25 and 25 — when I look at the three in succession I see improvements. Although I will be working on brushwork more deliberately in the future, I like seeing how it's changed so far during the course of this 100 Starts project. The strokes are more painterly and fresh, less self-conscious.

Number 24
Number 25
Number 91

With this particular setup of surface and background colors, it has a subtle, understated quality that I like. If I were to take this subject to a completed painting, it would be really fun to work on different hard and soft edges to shape how the subject and background relate to each other and create emphasis in some places. There's also an opportunity to play with temperature more since so much of it is in the mid-value range.

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