Monday, January 23, 2017

The Start of Something Colorful

"Purple Paint" 8x10 oil on archival gesso panel
This pinto horse painting is available at Framed Image Gallery in Denver

Beginning with audacity is a very great part of the art of painting. -Winston Churchill

Happy Monday everyone! As a painting teacher many new or "rusty" artists often ask (and rightly so) about the process of painting. More specifically, I'm asked: How do you start a painting? or What exactly do I do first?The truth is a variety of "starts" get the job done. That being said, here are four "sound beginnings" (for wet in wet oils) I find most helpful:  

1.Time for Toning?
I don't always "tone" or color wash my white canvas first but if you're the kind of artist who likes to leap and "just get going" this can be a good first warmup step. I say "wash" meaning a thin layer of acrylic (needs to dry) or "watery" oil paint (using Gamsol or other non toxic thinner.) 
I like warmer toning but you could tone in any color including black. You could also mix color into some white gesso and use that to tone--especially if you desire more tooth/texture on your surface.
2. Thin Darks to Thick Lights
Tried and true for most most occasions. Block in your darkest darks (thinly), then medium values and finally your lightest values (and thicker paint) at the end. I find the "darks first" reveal a light/dark design (i.e. notan) you can easily see from the get go. I find this is a safe, organized approach--also keeps me from using too much white too soon.   
3.Bright Color to Dull
Do you have a lot of "islands" or "spots" of bright color in your painting? If you've read Carol Marine's Daily Painting then you know she suggests starting with intense colors--imagine a bright pink bloom in a sea of dull green leaves. This approach helps keep your color notes cleaner as you work quickly with wet in wet oil paint--some might say a more "painterly" style.  
4. Colorful Under Painting
One of my favorites--But more time consuming because it can take some planning. Imagine a light blue sky painted over a peachy or magenta underpainting. Note this can be done wet in wet or over dry paint on a white (not toned) surface. Great if you like color surprises and "vibrating broken" color you seen in pastels.

In today's horse oil painting I combined darks first with bold color under painting. I hope that overview of "good starts" was helpful. How do you like to start your painting?

P.S. Speaking of new starts, I FINALLY created a studio page on Facebook so please feel free to follow me/friend me there as well. Thanks for your support!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Fresh Year, Fresh Paint!

"Sagey Sorrel" 8x10 1oil on canvas 
Available at Framed Image Gallery in Denver.

A very Happy New Year everyone!  While I don't love the cold, I do relish the fresh start and clean slate we get every January. Before jumping into 2017 though I wanted to take just a quick minute to review what I realized in retrospect was a really exceptional art year...

My thanks to everyone for your support--especially all my students and fellow artists! Let's take a quick look back at some highlights as they say. 
  • Won an award at the Colorado Horse Expo which I plan to enter again this year. 
  • Attended PACE in sunny Tucson where I met hundreds of artists and saw many fantastic demos. Still thinking about San Diego PACE this year...We'll see..
  • Participated in my 15th Denver Summer Art Market--Always my fav art event of the year.
  • Enjoyed a really informative Derek Penix painting workshop
  • Met the painting legend Richard Schmid who also signed his books for me. Mr. Schmid was fortuitously here in Denver for a lovely retrospective show of his work at Gallery 1261. 
  • Met 100+ local artists teaching workshops and classes 
  • Refreshed my Scarlet Owl Studio website (where you can find info about my classes/ workshops)
Not bad for one year right? As I look forward now though I know I need to continue to balance all this exciting art activity with easel time. Got to put in the work for the reward as I tell my students.
Of course it's highly enjoyable "work" when it's a subject you love like my horse painting I did for my gallery's western/cowboy themed show this month. 

Until my next post, best wishes for a successful and rewarding year of creativity and color!