Friday, December 21, 2012

10 Best Painting Tips I Learned in 2012

"Winter Pause" 8x10 oil on canvas (currently at 910 Events Gallery)
Happy Holidays! With 2013 just two weeks away I wanted to share some painting tips and  suggestion that really hit home this past year.  I was lucky to kick off the last year early in January with a colorful and inspirational Dreama Tolle Perry oil painting workshop in Florida.  (I can’t wait to return to sunny Marco Island in a few weeks for another one.)

1.  If you enjoy painting from photos (or your subject matter requires it), always have a decent camera handy and take tons reference photos. If I visit a place like the Botanic Gardens or the Zoo I take 300+ shots. Also, take photos in a variety of weather conditions. You just don’t know what will make a great painting. On a rainy day, take a few minutes to organize your photos by subject, place, etc.
2.    If you have an older digital camera like I did consider upgrading. I can’t imagine not having a digital 20X zoom. First these "bridge" cameras have really come down in price. Places like Best Buy and QVC have them all the time for well under $300. One of the best "art" investments I made this year and I can't wait to travel with it.
3.    Prior to 2012 I usually printed out my reference photos, but now I paint mostly off my iPad--and I'm finding many artists work off monitors and laptops as well. Consider what you spend on printer ink each year. You may find that a tablet will save you money within the first year. 
4.    If you’re an oil painter who likes to work alla prima (or wet in wet) try using transparent oils pigments to quickly block in your major shapes. This takes a little practice but floral painters like Hedi Moran and Dreama Perry swear by this method.
5.    Interesting shapes are one of the key building blocks of a strong painting. How do you improve your shapes? Take a look at your most recent painting. Are your shapes  complete, specific, and unique?  This is one I find you have to work harder at than you think you would.
6.    A helpful way to start your painting is to establish the BIG shape and value relationships first. You want to nail down these proportions carefully before proceeding to the medium and smaller detailed shapes—as tempting as those can be.  Especially when you’re working on larger canvas.
7.    Like many painters, I’ve been a casual art history buff since I was a child. I may be dating myself but anyone remember Masterpiece--The Art Auction Game? It was the first time I saw a Pollock and I was fascinated. If there’s a painter you admire, take the time to really study them. Maybe read a bio about them. You'll likely learn something about them that you can apply to your own art. 
8.    Do some art related activity out of your comfort zone. Only you can define that. Work larger, faster, smaller, brighter, looser, tighter? And don't be too hard on yourself when you are in "experimental" mode.
9.    What about those times you just can’t paint? It’s OK to take creative breaks once in a while. Build your inspiration file—browse through magazines (they don’t need to be specifically art related), check out sites like Pinterest,  Google your favorite subject+ media. For example: Peacock watercolor.
10.    That being said there’s no substitute for easel time and brush mileage. I love thinking about painting but there’s nothing like doing it.  So sometimes it is better to push through tough days and grab a brush. It’s better to paint something and learn to enjoy your lifelong journey.  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Celebrating the Most Creative Season!

"Wildflower Waltz" Gold Leaf and Oil--20 x24-Now showing at 910 Event Gallery
Happy December all! A million thanks to friends, students, fellow artists, and family for all helping to make Opening Night of the Spirits Bright Holiday Art Show last Friday night so successful!
From the easel to the gallery!
Prior to the show, I was (relatively) lucky to have an injury (broken toe still healing...) where I could still sit and paint. But, as many of you know, after the art is complete there are still tasks like framing, transport, supply shopping, marketing, PR, party planning, etc.

Friends and family checking out the colorful art!
All of which I actually enjoy but challenging when you can't drive or walk so very special kudos to everyone who offered and provided extra assistance during their own busy holiday schedules! I couldn't have done the show without you.

Bad timing injury aside, it’s always thrilling to get your painting out of the studio and share them in person with lots of folks who otherwise might not get to see them.
Landscapes and treats for the guests!
We were blessed with very mild late November weather on Friday night and had over 115 visitors! I couldn’t have been happier with the turn out. It was a wonderful way to kick off the show.
Over 5,000 art lovers flock to the Denver Art District on First Friday
I’m already looking forward to being a part of Denver’s Santa Fe Street Art District very popular First Friday Art Walk (over 40 galleries participate) next Friday—December 7. Many of the galleries have live music, food (Tip: Fellow foodies be sure to check out the food trucks!), refreshments, and artists in attendance. Parking can be limited so be sure to take advantage
of the free First Friday shuttle transportation.

Looking for more relaxing art night? Check out Collector’s Night which is the Third Friday. Finally, thanks again to my fellow Denverites (yep that's what we're called) for supporting artists and the arts! Wishing you all a colorful and creative holiday season!

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Power of the Creative Carrot

 
Who loves color? 30x40 acrylic on gallery canvas--SOLD--Thank you!
Happy Thanksgiving week everyone! Next Friday is the opening of my Spirits Bright holiday show at 910 Arts and I’m just about ready. Twenty paintings (gulp) didn’t sound like very many when we started to think about having a show back in the summer…No biggie, that’s just 1 or 2 small paintings a week…Right?

But as with any large creative project it usually (always?) takes more time than you think. Plus most of my paintings are oil so there’s  extra varnishing and framing time you need to account for. (FYI, my favorite quick “go to” varnish for oil and/or acrylic paintings is Kamar spray by Krylon.)

For those of you who like to make lists, goals, etc. I think you’ll agree that it can be  helpful to have rewards and incentives tied to milestones. I had an art instructor once who always splurged on a fancy cocktail dress each time she got into a gallery. For me, I prefer to have an “internal” and an “external” reward. In the case of achieving my 20 painting goal, my internal goal (or emotional goal if you will) was giving myself the permission and freedom to create ANY painting I wanted.

Any subject (or no subject at all), any medium, any size, favorite colors, etc. For example, when faced with what color to use in the background above I first choose black for the contrast--but it didn't feel quite right. So asked not what was the "correct" choice but what was my favorite color? And the answer was any blue green “sea tone” so I went with that instead.

To start, I grabbed a nice roomy 30 x 40 canvas, some acrylics (since I’d mostly been working in oils and smaller and some inexpensive big acrylic brushes. And then I asked again: What’s the painting I want? What shapes do I like? Not what color is academically or theoretically correct for this spot but what color do I simply like better? Without those usual pressures this painting emerged fairly quickly. For me this was the perfect reward.  So the next time you need a motivational creative carrot just do what you want to do to do. Holiday Cheers everyone!

Friday, November 9, 2012

When Vincet met Eva: The Story of an Abstract Painting

"Your Gypsy Soul" 20 x 20 oil on gallery wrap canvas
This painting will be a the Spirits Bright Show: Nov. 30-Jan.5--SOLD

My life and art have not been separated. They have been together. Eva Hesse

Still, there is a calm, pure harmony, and music inside of me. Vincent van Gogh

Happy Friday! I’m sometimes asked by my representational artist friends and students what sparks an abstract painting like this one. It’s a good question. For me, the inspiration for an abstract work can come from just about anywhere—one interesting shape, a pattern, a texture, or maybe even a single color, etc.

In this case of this particular painting I’d been thinking about creating a non-representational painting inspired by two different artists. With the “Becoming Van Gogh” exhibit currently at the Denver Art Museum, Van Gogh was an obvious choice. Because I’d have the rare chance to study his paintings in detail for color, brushwork, etc.
Eva Hesse Sculpture
For the other painting, I recently came across the work of the late Eva Hesse. Some you may know her for her experimental sculptures. Sadly, she had a very brief art career and passed away in her early thirties in 1970. While Hesse’s body of work is not extensive I found myself drawn to several of her abstract expressionism paintings. One painting really resonated with me like a song stuck in my head.

Perhaps because I could relate to her square composition and organic shapes which is combination that I’ve often used. Though, Hesse’s palette is more earthy and muted than I would typically work with.

After seeing the incredible Van Gogh show a few weeks ago, I knew immediately which painting I’d use for inspiration—The Courtesan (after Eisen). This is one of Van Gogh’s graphic Japanese print inspired paintings from 1887.  You can see I “borrowed” several aspects for my abstract oil painting including Van Gogh’s particular color combinations (reds, greens, yellows, ochres, blacks, and turquoise).

You may also spot hints of the vertical bamboo shapes, the blush horizontal slashes of the pond, and a lily pad. By the way, the title “Your Gypsy Soul” is from Van Morrison’s Moondance which I realized as I was writing this was released in 1970 the year Eva Hesse died. Don’t you love art karma?

New Digital Art Magazine: Artists on Art
For those of you who enjoy reading magazines on your “digital devices” I just subscribed to this beautifully designed quarterly art magazine that I can’t wait to read this weekend.  Artists on Art is described as: Master Artists & connoisseurs share their ideas and techniques through in-depth, interactive articles.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Tangled up in Blue

"Tangle up in Blue" oil on 16 x16 gallery wrap canvas
This painting will be featured at the 910 Arts "Spirits Bright" Show Nov. 30-Jan. 7

Happy Fall Friday all!  For my “Tangled up In Blue” oil painting, I abstracted this close up photo I took look down at the pathway in Wash Park near my studio. (One of the things I miss most as my broken toe recovers is taking pics in the park as the season changes.)  Natural elements likes leaves, pebbles, twigs, etc.  provide me with all sorts of shape, color and texture inspiration for abstract paintings like this.
This might make a good painting...

My other inspiration for this painting was exploring a range of blues which I used to balance the primarily warmer leaves.  For me, I find I can get the blue range I want (in oil paint) with just 2 key blues: Ultramarine (which tends to lean blue violet) and Pthalo (or Thalo ) blue which tends to lean to the blue green.


The good news about these two "workhorse" blues as many of you know is that they are quite affordable pigments compared to genuine cobalt or cerulean. Also, while I usually use the standard 37ml size tubes, for larger paintings I don't mind using big tubes (200ml vs. 37 ml.) of student grade ultramarine and thalo (Winton, Dalery Rowney, Gamblin Sketch). The large student tubes of these 2 blues are usually still single pigments so I find they compare quite favorably to the pro lines. Briefly, here's a short article about pro vs. student paints. 

Note you would likely see a difference with student grade cobalt or cerulean. These are usually hues" or "mixes" of several pigments such as ultramarine and white to keep the cost lower. And because they are often multiple pigments they can cause mixing headaches so I tend to avoid them.

Speaking of thalo, we’ve all heard the caveat about thalo taking over a painting, your palette, your clothes, your home…At this point, I’m sometimes asked why use thalo at at all? Simply, because I love teals, turquoise, emeralds, mint, limes—And I need thalo for those mixes. Here’s painter Kathleen Hebert’s  view on why she loves thalo.

Before I go I wanted to give a shout out to any of my East Coast readers and followers who may be dealing with the storm this week. For those of you who’d like to help out with Hurricane relief DPW is generously hosting a Hurricane Sandy art fundraiser where you may donate a painting or buy a wonderful piece of art,  You don’t need to be a DPW member to participate. Thanks and have a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fruits of My Labor

"Let's Make Pie" oil on gallery canvas
"Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness." -- Jane Austen

Happy fall everyone! I've been painting almost everyday in prep for my gallery group show next month.  Much like changing your swing the week before a golf tournament, you wouldn't think this would be a good time to suddenly change the way you've painted for years.

But recently I decided to start painting directly from the photos on my iPad. (Note I also have a laptop that I manage my photos on so I take the photos with my 20x digital Canon and then email them to myself.)  Both these paintings were done from my iPad screen.

It took a few paintings to used to but so far I really prefer the color over my ink jet printer and of course it's great being able to "zoom in" on detail as needed. I don't think it will be long before I won't be able to paint without it. An added bonus is that with a tablet right there you can easily listen to music, podcasts, etc. at the same time. You could paint from your laptop screen as well--I just prefer a more compact tablet my easel. 

"Cherries--Sweet!" 8x8 oil on gallery canvas
I was born in Michigan—A state that takes great pride in their apples and cherries.  So these subjects were also a subtle nod to my childhood. More specifically, I selected these photos because I like the composition element and lighter value of the bags. Briefly, one  alla prima or “wet in wet” oil painting technique I’ve used here is painting the lighter value areas with a more textural impasto application of paint.

Often I use a knife (you could also use a cut credit card) directly on the canvas for this, but I also scrape up the paint from my palette and then scoop that paint off the knife with a brush. It may sound like extra work but you get a wonderful effect from this method. Thanks for stopping by--have a colorful weekend!

Monday, October 22, 2012

OPA Master Jeff Legg Still Life Demo



"Botanic Bulb" 8x8 oil on gallery canvas--On Hold for November Show
Save the Date! Spirits Bright Show: Friday, November 30
I'm pleased to announce my next art show "Spirits Bright" which will open November 30 at the 910 Events Center Gallery in the Denver Art District on Santa Fe. I also plan to be in attendance for First Friday Art Night on December 7. Everyone is invited and I look forward to seeing you in person!

Jeff Legg: A Classic Approach to Still Life
As much as I love to stay in and paint or read a good art book by a cozy fire on gray, chilly days sometimes you just need to get out and see in person what other artists are up to. As I mentioned in a previous post, a couple of weeks ago on an overcast Saturday I had the pleasure of watching three master oil painters demo at Gallery 1261 in Denver: Jeff Legg (still life), Theresa Vito (portrait), and Quang Ho (clothed figure). I enjoyed each demo and will post my pics of all of these as I have some extra time. I was a bit under the weather with my injured foot--so I didn't take a ton of notes but I hope you'll enjoy the demo pics.

The audience at Gallery 1261 watches as Jeff Legg begins his demo
I'll start with Jeff Legg who a Master Signature Member of OPA, is often featured in magazines, and known his "old masters" approach to his subjects. I also saw on Jeff's website that he has a new teaching video a similar setup as well as workshop info for those of you interested in seeing more of his technique.
Legg uses a draped "black box" to help control his light condtions

Jeff Legg begins his tonal still life block in
Artist Jeff Legg started the day off by painting a “traditional” still life which you can see was set against a dark background lit with a single dramatic light source. He began as you can see with an umber toned board which makes sense with this strong light and shadow approach.  I’ve always admired how skilled still life painters are masters at capturing a variety of textures—the brass pot vs. a cantaloupe for example.You can see Mr. Legg's beautiful finished still life here.

Jeff Legg still life setup--detail of melon slice an vase
Legg adding more color and thicker paint to his subjects

For this demo, Legg used quicker drying alkyd oil paints
Legg demo "final" after about 2 hours
For more tips about setting up a successful still life, check out this helpful post by artist Lori McNee.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Look on the Bright Side

"Look on the Bright Side" 8x8 oil on canvas  

 (On hold for gallery event in November.)

Imagine all the people living life in peace.
You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.
I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one. 

As some of you know, I sometimes look to Beatles lyrics for my paintings titles and inspiration so I wanted to note John Lennon’s birthday yesterday. Also the most enjoyable art event I've ever took part in was a John Lennon birthday gathering so October 9 holds a special place for me. 

Because I’ve been so busy painting for an upcoming show and nursing my foot injury that I’ve missed the last few DPW painting challenges which I love to do.  But, I couldn’t pass up this week’s challenge posted by one of my favorite DPW artists talented watercolorist Jo Mackenzie—Emotion was the theme. If you check out Jo's blog you'll see she was kind enough to answer my "what's on your palette" question for all my watercolor students and fans out there.

I started a mostly green abstract (since that’s probably my favorite color family) with the idea of envy—which I think is a fairly common emotion in the art world.  But then I remembered this strong light and shadow sunflower I had in my paintings “to do” queue which I’d really been looking forward to since sunflowers always cheer me.

Also, since my last painting had more of an autumn palette it was fun to return to some brighter, more summery hues.  Quick color tip: You know how you change out your wardrobe colors when the seasons change? I tend to do the same with my pigments. For example, my “fall” palette tends to have more earthy richer pigments like ochres (yellow and red), indian yellow and red, crimson, violet, etc. 

Last Saturday, I managed to hobble on downtown and got to see an amazing line up of three master oil painting demos at Gallery 1261 which is currently hosting a gorgeous Western Regional OPA show. Jeff Legg, Theresa Vito, and Quang Ho demoed a still life, portrait, and figure respectively.  It made for a long day (almost 8 hours) but  it was highly informative and enjoyable. Plus, I had the pleasure of meeting several of the artists in the show. I’ll have some pics and thoughts on that to post soon.  In the meantime, time for some hot cocoa and more painting.  In the meantime keep imagining!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

When Every Leaf is a Flower

"October Road" 18x24 oil on canvas
Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
Albert Camus

First  many thanks to all my painting students and friends for their patience, get well wishes and “medicinal” chocolate as my broken toe heals.  If any of you have broken or fractured a bone, you know it’s pretty uncomfortable. Plus, I’m a constant multitasker so having limited mobility is a well, also a different kind of pain.

But, the “silver lining” is that you’re pretty much stuck so that’s keeping me focused on the work at hand.  As I noted in my previous post, I’m currently working on some slightly larger oil paintings in anticipation of a group art show late in November at the 910 Arts Event Gallery. 
"Acorn Study" 8x8 oil on panel
The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

More specifically, I’ve been considering a series of paintings inspired by natural elements (fallen leaves, tree roots, river banks, gardens, etc.) based on photos I’ve taken in the past few months.  I recently went for a short hike (thankfully before the toe incident) along the Bear Creek near Evergreen, Colorado.
Walking along Bear Creek in late September near Evergreen, CO
The creek hiking trail is a favorite location for many local painters-In  fact there was a large plein air group setting up as I was walking around.  Although, I’ve heard there are indeed bear and rattlesnakes to be on the lookout for. 
Plein Air painters in Lair o Bear near Evergreen, Colorado
Also, before I forget I’m gradually closing in on my 250th blog post—Which I’m very excited about!  I’ll be doing something special for that post so be sure to check back. Thanks—wishing you as always a week of creativity and color!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

There is No Blue


Summer Siren--16x16 oil on canvas

There is no blue without yellow and orange.  Vincent van Gogh

It’s kind of ironic that only a few posts ago I mentioned how enjoyable and valuable it is to work on smaller daily paintings.  Another reason I enjoy working on smaller paintings is that they keep me engaged and and humming along in a contented painting rhythm. Mmm...Also, I know collectors enjoy the smaller paintings and I greatly appreciate all the sales and support I’ve had on DPW this summer. Thank you all!

But in the last couple of weeks, I’ve challenged myself to begin working on some larger oil paintings in preparation for a group show later this fall. As many of you may know, it can be rather daunting  to “go big” and still have a successful painting. On the positive side, though, I’ve found working in a larger space offers room to move around and play with shapes and colors. Maybe take more risks. Try new things such as texture variety. 

Today’s posting is a 16x16 oil painting of a flowering canna plant from the gardens in Washington Park near my Denver studio. How can an artist resist that powerful red-orange vs. blue-green color combination that was also one of Van Gogh's favorites?   

Speaking of Van Gogh, I can’t wait to see the long awaited "Becoming Van Gogh" collection coming to the Denver Art Museum next month. Several years ago I was lucky enough to be in Chicago for the Gaugin Van Gogh exhibit and it was fantastic.  

In fact, I was so excited when I was buying my tickets on line last Friday, I ran from my laptop to get my credit card and ran smack into a large piece of furniture. There was kind of crunching popping sound and then searing pain. 

Long story short, I’m now recovering from a badly broken “ring toe” on my right foot. For those of you keeping track--Yes this is the second bad "flip flop" injury I've sustained. You'd think I'd learn but I really don't like painting in shoes/socks. Anyway, though, as long as I keep my foot elevated by my easel I can still paint. And on that note—the show must go on so back to the easel. Hope your week is filled with fall color!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Days Like This

"Good Day Sunshine" 8x8 oil on linen panel

You can't use up creativity.
The more you use, the more you have.
Maya Angelou

Happy September all!  One of my favorite Van Morrison’s songs is “Days Like This.” I couldn’t help but think of this song while painting this sunflower.  Particularly the lines: When everything falls into place like the flick of a switch. And: When all the parts of the puzzle start to look like they fit--Then I must remember there’ll be days like this…

It’s not uncommon to have a frustrating creative slump—it’s part of being an artist. But on the flip side, it sure is a blessing to have a day when everything just seems to go your way in the studio.

The light in the studio is perfection. There’s no noisy neighbor mowing.  The oil paint is just right—not too thick, not too thin. You don't need to correct your drawing.  You mix that strange violet in the very first try.  Ahh, you’re in the ZONE…

There’s only one tiny problem with the ZONE. It never seems to last as long as we’d like. Why can’t every painting day be like this? What’s the secret? The answer is likely different for all of us since the ZONE is so personal. But, in general, I think of the ZONE as a numbers game--You can’t win if you don’t play. The more I “train” as a painter, for example, the more likely I’ll find myself in this sweet spot of creative energy.

Also, I think we are more in control of our creative environment than we think we are. I’ve read successful athletes employ a variety of techniques to help keep them sharp. One should be pretty easy for all us painters and that’s visualization—What does your perfect painting day look like?

Another is taking proactive steps to control any behaviors that may keep you outside of the ZONE. Such as negative thinking, fear, anxiety, etc.  Thankfully, I’m at the stage in my art career where I don’t have much fear, but I do tend to juggle many projects. I like to remind myself I’m not alone trying to balance my creative life. Just Google “Art and Fear” and you’ll find dozens of books, articles, etc.on the topic.

Finally, there’s a reason the Nike slogan Just do it is so powerful. It works. When it comes to finding your ZONE I think it’s better to be doing rather than thinking about doing. And I promise the more you do the more you’ll have days like this.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

When Opposites Attract

"Botanic Beauty" 6x6 oil on panel

An artist finds his happiest combination in a play of complementary colors. They are direct contrasts yet do not jar; they awaken the beholder, but do not disturb him. Charles Burchfield

Last week’s painting challenge on DPW was an exciting complementary color (direct opposites on the color wheel) challenge posted by fellow DPW painter Layne Cook.

I choose the violet/yellow pair in this alla prima (wet in wet) oil study of an iris because I wanted to explore the full range of warm to cool violets—one of my favorite color ranges. Yellows not so much—but here sunny yellows (some pure notes along with neutral ones) are the perfect warm companion for the cool violets. 

As Burchfield notes above, complements are one of the easiest way to have a successful and exciting color strategy for your art. Here are some quick tips for working with your complementary color pairs:

Work with your color pairs in ranges than one “out of the tube" solid color. This gives you many more options. So violet range and yellow range, red range and green range, and blue range and orange range (or as I remind students in our hometown: Go Broncos!).


Your painting will likely work better if one of the color pair should dominates the other. So mostly blue range with some orange range for example. Here’s one of my favorite green blue dominant paintings (note the touch of red oranges) "The Mermaid" by American illustrator Howard Pyle. 

When you paint two complements side by side they really attract the eye. You can take advantage of this color power couple where you want to the viewer to focus.  On the flip side when you need to calm a color down, the complement can be a more interesting alternative for creating neutrals rather than a pre-mixed gray, black, umber, etc. Trouble with your highlights? Try a touch of complementary color in your white mixture. (So whitish green highlight on bright red tomato for example.)

For more discussion about exploring and balancing opposites in your painting check out one of my favorite oil painting books: The Yin Yang of Painting by Zhang.  Finally, a big thanks again to all my recent DPW buyers and my ongoing students for your support this summer!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Good Things Come in Small Paintings

"Pink in the Park" 6x6 oil study
Sold-thank you!
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. 
Art is knowing which ones to keep. 
Scott Adams

There's so much to paint in the summer it's almost overwhelming. Painting smaller studies (like these 6x6 squares) remind me why “almost daily” painting can be so rewarding. Finding the time to paint every single day might just not be realistic in your world right now. But if you want to grow your artistic vision and skills, I think it’s extremely helpful to paint MORE than you are now.  Whatever that may be for you. 

I promise you’ll find this extra time at the easel beneficial in the long run. Here are three key reasons I think “almost daily” painting is a great goal for any artist who wants to improve:
"Redbud Rester" 6x6 oil study

I love the creative process but the reality is you’re not always going to have a stellar painting day.  In fact, you may have a disappointing painting day when you least expect it.

This can really catch you off guard.  But when this happens to me I have some sense of comfort and hope that a more successful painting may be just be around the corner--rather than weeks or months away.

Also, many artists at one time or another are challenged either by time or budget or both. Small-ish (under 8x10 let's say) paintings are not typically a significant time or monetary investment.  This doesn’t mean you have to use cheap materials for daily painting. On the contrary I prefer linen panels (Raymar), professional paints, decent brushes, etc.  I feel like I can "splurge" because I'm not using so many supplies at once. Plus, if you paint a "keeper" you'll be happy you used nicer materials.

With regard to time, it may take a few tries, but I find I can paint a 6x6 in under 120 minutes give or take. Check out Craig Nelson's excellent book: 60 minutes to Better Painting for more ideas regarding quick studies.

If you enjoy painting on a larger scale, smaller studies are also a wonderful way to “brainstorm” and have fun with paint. For example, in my light and shadow rose study today I tried some some "looser" dragged edges which I thought worked pretty well. Thanks DPW for featuring my little rose on the DPW Facebook page!

In the sparrow study, I tried a strong orange toned canvas to help give a sense of the warm August sunshine. Some of the orange bits work and some I'm not as crazy about. Still worth the test. 

I often compare painting to puzzle solving.  Painting more often allows to test a variety of solutions before you commit to a bigger canvas. For example, you could try different color strategies, take a new color for a test run, change your value key, experiment with your brushwork etc.  It’s also fun to do quick small abstracts and then scale them up--particularly small squares because they scale so easily. Happy summer painting everyone!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Anything But White

"Ivory Velvet" 8x8 oil on linen panel
Whether the flower or the color is the focus I do not know. I do know the flower is painted large to convey my experience with the flower - and what is my experience if it is not the color? 
Georgia O'Keeffe

I so enjoyed painted a rose study last week that I just had to paint another. This time I thought I’d tackle a very high key white or ivory rose—which you quickly discover of course is anything but white. In fact, Renoir is quoted as saying “white does not exist in nature.”

Lots of choices for the painter at the Little Flower Market in Denver
I didn’t have a whiteish rose handy so I picked up a few from  The Little Flower Market (which I think used to be an old gas station)  near my studio. I took a ton of reference photos with my new studio camera which I love already—a Canon Powershot SX 260 with 20x optical zoom.

"Red Waves" 
Here's one of my first rose photos taken with it. I can’t wait to try it out at the upcoming rose show at the Denver Botanic Garden. I’ll never be a professional shutterbug but the more I paint, the more I appreciate having lots of reference shots on hand.


I think you have to be careful not to overuse white to automatically lighten your colors, but at that same time it’s an essential component of my palette. For more info about whites, here’s an excellent article by Gamblin: Getting the White Right. Thanks for stopping--have a wonderful summer week!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fuchsia Fandango

"Fuchsia Fandango" 8x8 oil on museum quality linen panel
Happy Friday all! I had a blast painting a Peace rose earlier this week for the DPW rose painting challenge-- and am already looking forward to my next rose--but in the meantime I wanted to try a a different type of flower.  

I spotted this vibrant fuchsia at my local nursery and loved the strong yellow-green leaves/cool pink complementary color combo along with the warmth of the clay pot. In this floral oil painting, I also set out to capture the unusual greenhouse light as well as harmonizing the powerful tropical colors. 


Today's Painting Tip: Use a Key Color for Stress Free Color Harmony
Whether you’re painting an abstract or a representational subject, a simple way to achieve better color harmony is to add one key “mother color” into ALL your color mixes. For example, if you’re painting pinkish flowers and using Permanent Rose or Quin Magenta add a tiny amount of it (think tip of knife) into all your oranges, violets, grays, browns, etc 

This “mother color” approach works particularly well for mixing your greens. Greens that have a touch of a warmer mother color will usually look a bit more natural and/or neutral which in turn will help support your higher intensity colors.

Working with a “mother color” as an approach is also a great way to become familiar with all the properties of that one particular pigment—how strong it is, how transparent it is, what kind of neutrals it makes, how it tints with white, etc.

Quick thanks again to all my new DPW collectors this month--I greatly appreciate your bids and the support of all the artists on DPW. Have a colorful and harmonious weekend.