Friday, October 28, 2011

Back to the Figure

Now that summer is past, I started painting the figure again from a live model. It's a great workout and the best way to study how light falls on the form, while transforming that information onto a 2-dimensional surface...
Green Mantle (20x16)

Of course this is for study and exercise and not necessarily intended to be a "finished" work -- that's why I don't bother with unnecessary details like finessing the eyes and mouth, etc.  By sticking to the confines of a 3-hour time limit, you're forced to work quickly and spontaneously to capture only the basic information. This simple approach makes for a fresher, livelier image that retains more movement than a highly rendered one. 

Model at Rest (16x20)

For that, it would take another session or two, but this way lends itself to more potential for "happy accidents" (things you didn't necessarily intend, but sometimes occur when working quickly that benefit the overall picture)... Another benefit to painting studies, is the absence of investment -- I usually use cheap store-bought canvases or quick-coated masonite panels with a slight raw umber stain to kill the white (as you can see in the top example surrounding the image)... 

Mostly I enjoy doing these because it develops instinctual skills thru repetition that carry over to finished pieces, eventually training you to get those spontaneous strokes that make for a better picture.  Of course that said, I have a lot of studying to do!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Going Coastal

Netarts (8x10)

Here are a few sketches from a recent beach trip -- all during a 4 day period including several weather long as I could get under cover before it rained, I didn't mind -- over cast skies at the beach make for interesting grays.  This one above however was before the clouds rolled in -- a town called "Netarts" (don't ask, I have no idea).

Tide Pool Reflections (9x12)

 This one is my favorite because of the colour and reflection of the pools on the rocks....

  Cape Wall (9x12)

 This is the wall of sand stone at Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City, north of Neskowin...

Gorilla Rock (9x12)

A local surfer told me they call this Gorilla Rock because of the monolithic rock about a quarter mile out that looks like an apes head at certain angles...

Beach Path (9x12)

This one was a quickie of a beach path near Devil's Punch Bowl that led to a rising tide -- an artist friend, James (who had shorts on) braved the water up to his knees to get a sketch of the bluff from the beach -- I played it safe.  Still, as with all failures and successes, it contributes to the "mileage pile" on the way to better paintings...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pressure Sensitive

"Pressure Sensitive" (16x20) o/p 

There are a number of ways to achieve a variety of textures in a painting, but the first thing to consider is what you're after and the surface it requires...  In the painting above, it's the 'appearance' of texture on a smooth gesso'd panel...more of an optical illusion in this case than actual physical surface relief. This painting was done mostly in one afternoon with some tweaking the next morning (and it's more about the attitude and action, not finessing an abundance of details).

The brushes used were all synthetic flat sables, in three sizes... The dry-brush highlight stroke in the middle of her forearm is a good example of the kind of broken colour effect you can achieve on a smooth surface without shoveling on a boat-load of paint. 

Of course, painting a woman's skin requires at least some passages of smooth blending, and the wet into wet technique with the sable brushes served well for this purpose.  I also wanted to exploit the surface texture a bit given the nature of the subject's action, so a little variety of additional dry brush helped to achieve that end.

In this case it was the panel's surface prep that dictated the approach I chose -- like your individual style; sometimes the one you end up with chooses you, instead of the other way around...