Friday, January 30, 2015

Drawing, the not-so-secret ingredient....

 Soup Kitchen (12x12) oil on linen

Last summer when I was shopping for a gluten-free cake for my wife's birthday, I came across this great little bakery in NW Portland -- it was kinda hidden away in an industrial area with no signage outside, just a little sandwich board on the corner sidewalk that read, Gem Bakery...

 Bakery Girls (20x24) oil on panel

While inside ordering a delicious custom cake, I was taken with the look that all of the girls working there had; the scarves in particular.  I explained I was a painter and asked if I could come back with my camera to shoot some reference shots while they worked and they graciously consented...
 (detail) Bakery Girls

To transfer my photo reference into paintings, I first needed to go thru a "sketch phase" to interpret what I had shot rather than going straight to canvas. Painting requires drawing, and drawing requires exercising the thought process that a camera is incapable of... I had ideas of what I was looking for when shooting the photos, but I then needed to remove my ideas from the photos in order to recover the original intent...sketching out various poses was the best vehicle for this.

 Gesture sketch

I could then use this third generation information to influence my painting (along with) the photographic reference.  Every artist has a particular drawing style that influences their painting's look (if they let it)... I prefer to work from life whenever possible, but if I can't,  I never want to refer solely to the photograph -- I need the separation and go-between of my drawings as a jumping off point. The photo can keep me on track, but the drawings will always retain the edited (and thus more original) concept and look...

Gesture sketch

I hope to return soon to Gem Bakery to gather more information for future paintings...and maybe a gluten-free goody or two as well!

Friday, January 2, 2015

HAPPY 2015!

 Goodbye Summer (48x60) o/c

Late in the year I painted "Goodbye Summer" -- it was a large canvas (for me) and actually the first painting that our daughter, Lily posed for.

Evening Garden (8x10) o/c

I had been visiting this large community garden near our home over the summer, doing several sketches (like the one above) to get the colour I wanted. Although it's not easy transferring information from an 8x10 inch sketch to a 4x5 foot format, I think I captured most of it... The biggest challenge is transferring the loose and spontaneous brush strokes; it's not just a matter of using bigger brushes and more paint...

Study for "Goodbye Summer" (8x10) o/c

There is a comfort zone that is in direct ratio to the size of your arm that dictates the application and execution of paint. Brushes can only hold so much pigment and pull only so long of a stroke; once you go beyond those limits, you have to then "patch and section'" larger areas to develop that scale in a style that reflects your smaller, looser plein air sketch... Pretty hard to do unless you go thinner with the pigment and/or break up the information into comfortable portions, using broken colour to convey the looseness on a large scale. 

I also came back over areas of the painting with a 'dry-brush' (thin pigment with no medium or solvent) to drag on a rougher effect -- this too helps convey looseness...

At any rate, it was good practice and reason to pursue more large canvases in 2015...thanks again to Lil for being such a trooper for daddy!

Happy 2015 everybody!