Monday, February 27, 2012

Pop of Color

"Positively Poppies" 8x8 Oil on Linen-SOLD
When I start getting impatient for spring I just have to paint flowers. I’ve also been thinking a lot lately (thanks to my students and recent workshops I’ve taken myself) about my visual approach to a painting. In this case, I wanted to explore with the translucent nature of the poppies and as well as a high, bright key. See my tips below on painting with bright, clean colors.

I’m continuing to play (sometimes it’s work!) with very intensely bright transparent oils (magenta, violet, crimson, Indian yellow, perm rose, sap green, etc.) for initial mass/shape block in. I think approach is a match made in painting heaven for high key florals like this.

New Favorite “All in One’ Tool: The Artist MVP
As I mentioned many times, I love my “red plastic sheet” in the studio to check my values. I also use grids and sometimes a small compact mirror for composition checks. Thankfully well known California oil painter Peggy Kroll Roberts (her work is gorgeous) offers a smart and handy combo of all three on her website. It comes on a cord that you can easily wear plein air as well. Just ordered one as a gift and now can’t wait to get another. Thanks Peggy for this great idea!     

More Bright Ideas
When painting a bright, high chroma painting like these poppies it can be tempting to get wrapped up in all that color. I know I do. But be careful not to jeopardize your initial value plan. Let’s see you set up a simple sunlit still life. Take a minute and note where the brightest color notes are (remember bright is not the same as lightest.) Usually you’ll find the most intense in between the light and the shadow.

Or maybe not. Painting is, after all, an observational science. In general though, the better we represent the correct values the more saturated color your painting can support. Have a wonderful rest of your day!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wind in the Willows

"Wash Park Willow" 8x8 oil on linen
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February is flying by. Lots of teaching, consulting (yes my left brain is still hanging in there), and taking workshops. So thank you students and clients for keeping me busy and on my toes! But I can't help but miss some of my “paint what I want to paint” studio time that I think all artists crave. I did have a chance to paint this small oil study of one of the willows in Washington Park by my house. I took this photo last August.

In this painting, I’m continuing to work with the transparent pigments first layer and then working into them with more opaque pigments. I haven’t mastered this quite yet but I absolutely love it. Speaking of workshops I’m really looking forward to starting Kevin Weckbach’s master oil painting class next week. This 6 month (yes, half a year!) class (and approach) has been recommended to me by some of the best painters I know. I look forward to sharing what I learn.

Reading this Week in the Studio: Traditional Oil Painting by Virgil Elliot
Thanks to a student who lent me this very detailed and informative book on classical oil painting. While I don’t usually paint in a “traditional” oil painting style, like many painters I can’t help but be fascinated by the techniques and materials of Master’s like Vermeer and Rembrandt. I always enjoy learning more about pigments, mediums, and other materials and Mr. Elliot discusses these at length. If you’re an artist who’s always been curious about the “fat over lean” oil painting mantra, for example, this book is for you. The reproduction quality (essential for a good art book) is also excellent.   

As I mentioned in a few posts ago, I was sad to see TeachStreet close but you can now find me (and other teachers) on Betterfly and Skillshare. If you know of another TeachStreet alternative for class listings, particularly for art, please email, I’d greatly appreciate it. Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderfully creative week!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Putting Down Color Roots

Radish Color Study: Trans (Theme A)
One of the most enjoyable aspects, I think, of being an artist is experimenting with color—especially on a snowy or gloomy day. This week I thought I’d work on a color exploration exercise in preparation for a larger oil painting. Here I've painted three 8x8 studies with completely different primary pigments. Note each study is only THREE pigments plus WHITE (Permalba). And the winner is...I think I'm leaning toward Theme A for the larger painting but I do like the bright violets in Theme B. Which one do you like best??

Theme A: All Transparent Pigments: Ivory Black, Indian Yellow, Alizarin Crimson
Theme B: Brighter Chroma (2 transparents): Ultramarine Blue, Permanent (Quin) Rose, Lemon Yellow
Theme C: Earthy/Classical (2 opaques): Prussian Blue, Indian Red, Yellow Ochre

This painting is based on a photo I took last fall at the Farmer's Market. I thought the red/green combination would be both challenging and interesting, plus I really like the shape and texture of the radishes.

Radish Color Test: Theme 2 (High Key)
As you can see, honestly I ran out of steam on the third one and just decided to do a smaller (6x6) abstract color test of those 3 pigments. I find Prussian cold and tricky (Thalo may have been a better choice) but it makes a lovely gray violet and gray green as you can see. But I'm not loving that dirty peachy mix.      

Radish Color Study: Theme 3 (Classical)
FYI, for those you interested in creating larger paintings from your photos I had my Staples store make a 18x24 black and white copy from my CD (they can print up to 100") and it was around 2 dollars. So a great tool and bargain! How do you transfer these large copies? I'm going to try that new graphite transfer spray on the back and then transfer to my 18x24 canvas. Quick shout out to all my followers today. I appreciate your interest and support! Hope you all have a wonderfully colorful week!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Where the Boat Leaves From

"Green Goddess" 8x8 Oil on linen panel
There's a place, where the boat leaves from
It takes away all your big problems
You got worries you can drop them in the blue ocean
But you gotta get away to where the boat leaves from
Take one part sand, and one part sea,
one part shade of a big palm tree
And the drinks they're cold and the reggae is hot
And I know this is the place for me...
Ahoy! Today’s posting title is from of one of my favorite “vacation” getaway songs by Zac Brown Band. We had a quite a big snow storm this week in Denver so although it's bright and sunny today my rather severe beach and palm tree withdrawal continues...

We don’t get too many chances to paint boats (or even water for that matter) in land locked Colorado so I loved visiting the beautiful marinas in Florida. I had to paint this lovely emerald and sea green boat I spotted at the Rose Marino on Marco Island. Speaking of colors, I’m still getting used to many new colors from my workshop—it’s kind of like having new golf clubs or something--but am immensely enjoying the process. Now I just need to find more Old Holland Carribean Blue.

TeachStreet Closing
I’m getting a few emails this week about my beloved TeachStreet closing February 15, 2012. I’ve been a top ranked art instructor on TS almost since they launched so I've been saddened and surprised by this announcement. I hope someone out there creates a new teacher/student site soon! (I apologize in advance if you come across a broken TS link.)

I've met so many AMAZING people thanks to TS and will be always grateful for that. In the meantime, be assured that I’m here teaching painting classes in my Denver studio almost every day. For more info please visit my Painting Classes Page or click the tab above. I look forward to painting with you soon! Pina coladas and tiny umbrellas included while snow lasts...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Suddenly Seagulls

Marco Island Gull 8x8 Oil on Linen
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Each day has its own individuality of color. Charles Hawthorne.

When I was in Florida last week I was consistently captivated by all the high key colors created by the sun, water, and tropical atmosphere. This gull was perched on a weathered post by my table at a waterfront restaurant. I immediately knew I wanted to paint the water reflections on his white feathers when I returned home.

As I noted in my previous post, I was lucky enough to spend a week on Marco Island for a Dreama Tolle Perry oil painting workshop. More specifically, I was learning how to keep my oil colors really bright and fresh by using more transparent oil pigments (ultra, rose, sap, diox, etc.) in my initial block in stages.

For you orange lovers out there, in this gull painting, I used a gorgeous citrus-y Gamblin Transparent Orange (which I read is a favorite of painter Wolf Kahn’s) for some of my initial color block-in. You could also mix a nice transparent orange with Perm Rose (or Perm. Alizarin) and Indian Yellow.

You’ve probably noticed that most yellow pigments, though light in value, are not usually transparent. If you’re not sure if your paint is transparent you’ll find that any tubes now (often on the back) are labeled with a small "opacity rating" box as you can see below. If the box is clear (open) the pigment is transparent.

If the box is solid black the pigment is opaque. If there’s a line through it the pigment is semi-transparent. Some tubes also note (usually near the pigment info) the transparency level.  For more info about pigments check the detailed pigment database (for oils, acrylics, and watercolor) on the Art is Creation website.