Monday, December 01, 2014

Watercolors? Make it a large Palette.

For oil painters, the idea of limited palettes is well ingrained. All you need is a warm and cool of each of the primaries and a white and you are basically good to go. This is something artists who start out in oils tend to want to migrate with them to watercolors. You wouldn't think of it for pastels of course, but somehow watercolors are seen as closer to oils in a manner.

That is not exactly true. As a matter of fact there is more in common between pastels and oil paints than with oil paints and watercolors. Mostly pastels and oil paints are used in opaque applications, while watercolors are transparent.

That is the key. It is well known that the more you mix colors, the less vibrant and more muddy they become. In the case of transparent watercolors, I prefer no mixing on the palette at all. If any mixing needs to happen, it is better for that to happen on the paper so that their vibrancy remains intact. That is why I have an embarrassingly large color collection on my palette. I admit that I rarely use more than a few at a time, but I like to have them there ready for use any time I needed them.

The less one mixes watercolors the more these colors reward you in the end. I understand that many of the colors on my palette are not single pigment colors. Some are mixes in their own right, but a color-man's mixture in the milling or composing process is very different from an artist's mixture. One is calibrated and ends up in a consistent product, the other is done in the heat of the painting process.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Letter from the edge II

Recently I have come to understand the landscape as a metaphor for emotion and mood. I actually always knew that, but in my effort to interpret the physical, I had been unable to leap beyond the scene and into the pure interpretation of the metaphor. The trees got in the way so to speak.

Looking back I can see that my work has always been close to leaping into the metaphor. I have always shunned photo-realism and even in my realist style, I tended away from copying nature. It doesn't need it.

Something was missing though. As I started seeing the landscape designs repeating and interpretive techniques becoming a routine, I needed more. I needed my paintings to stop aping the late 19th Century realist/impressionist art and move on. I needed my art to be mine. 

So where to now? I am not sure. I am in my studio working on watercolors and acrylic pieces. I have chosen not to review them yet so once I am done with them they go face down and out of sight. I need to do this. I need to have a couple of dozen done before I lay them out and see what they are telling me. To have a map for where I am going. I know that wherever that place is or that road leads, some will like it and others will not. I, already feel freed. I need to go there. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Directions from the edge.

Perhaps incubation is a good thing for artists. I don't know. This time when you feel a lot is bubbling up but the brush is not cooperating and the studio stove has been cold for a while.

I am fed up with the idyllic pastoral landscape... I think. I am attracted to abstraction, to minimization to economy, but is that selling out? Can I pull it off? Is it another long journey that I am starting and do I have to start at the beginning?

I want to break free. I will break free from the confines of the norm. I never meant to be in the normal, in the main stream of art. I always felt I belonged on the edges. I like edges. Unsafe as they are, they are what you can  push against. There is nothing to push against in the middle.

Steven Daedalus I am not. More like a Leopold if you have to peg me, but my mind is racing far beyond the present art that I am doing. It is not satisfying. I need to do more daring things.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Virtual Exhibition Coming Back Soon!

OK, yes I admit,  I have not been posting my art lately as frequently as I used to. But I have not dropped off the face of the art world and my brushes have not been dry either.

Do you enjoy visiting art galleries, but find that they are too far from where you are or that you don't have the time or maybe the energy to get to one this season? In  the past I have enjoyed putting together an online exhibition event that looks and feels like a real gallery visit, albeit a virtual one. It involves virtual framing, and virtual hanging of actual paintings that will go on sale during the exhibition.

The exciting thing about exhibitions, is that you expect to see works that you have not seen before and you expect them to be of a standard that merits your time and attention.

I am  working on just that right now. A virtual exhibition that will start on the first week of November and go to the end of the month. It will include only new works that have never been seen before, and the works will be priced to sell fast and just in time for the holidays.

I am hard at work to put this together, but I am also open to suggestions and ideas. What would you like to see? What price range would you like to have (no commitments I just want to know what people expect to pay nowadays)? If you have seen any of my virtual exhibitions before, what did you like/not like in them and what would you suggest that I can do to make them better?

In short, I am asking for your help to make this upcoming exhibition a success. Will you help me?

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Florida Sky

I spent a couple of weeks in Orlando absorbing the summer sun and heat. I love it!
I was completely taken by the Florida skies and the billowing clouds that form every afternoon. They are amazing. Full of vigor and life and yes a LOT of water.

I sketched a few sunsets, and these lead to Gathering Storm, a 14"x10" Watercolor (below). I hope there will be more from this trip. I just need to let my mind digest what I saw.

Gathering Storm, watercolor 14"x10"
Gathering Storm, a 14"x10" Watercolor

Monday, June 09, 2014

Twilight Gold, Oil on panel 12"x10"

I did this one outdoor on Saturday. I always forget to take work-in-progress shots, but this time I remembered. It is always fun to share these but also a great way to learn what you are doing. In the heat of the moment you don't really get to analyse every step you take. These step by step shots are great help. 

Here to start is the final after a few minor studio adjustments

Twilight Gold, Oil on panel 12"x10"

And here are the in progress shots. Sorry they are not that great but that is all I could do with my iphone.


Friday, May 23, 2014

The Head! A new branch for me to climb.

I've been forcing myself to go back to basics and discipline. Drawing is the back bone of art and this is not easy for a landscape painter. Still, a week into it, and I think this is going OK. I could have done more on the eyes in the portrait, but these are studies. Not meant for show except for you guys.

Seriously painting landscapes seems so much more abstract than drawing figures and portraits. That is because there is more weight on composition and design I guess. Also as long as you have a basic understanding of perspective, you can pretty much get away with a lot in landscapes. Here, not so much unless if you want to go Picasso on the face.

I am really enjoying this. I plan to keep it up as much as I can while not having it take away from my landscapes. There is so much to do in art isn't there?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Windy and Warm!

I just added the following two oil paintings to my website. They represent two steps into a new looser approach for me. I remember during painting these two a rush of energy and focus and an endorphin rush at the end. Notice the different warmth if the colors as the day wanes on. I hope to do more of these this summer and I hope to go bigger in size as well. It is not going to be easy to carry larger panels or canvases on field trips, but I am determined to do so.

 Windbreakers, oil on panel 10"x8" Plein Air
Windbreakers, oil on panel 10"x8" Plein Air
Mid-day to early afternoon

 In The Wind, Oil On Panel, 10"x8"
In the Wind, Oil on panel, 10"x8" Plein Air.
Late afternoon to evening.

So stay tuned! I hope you enjoy these. Leave a comment and please share if you can.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Pochade 5th Anniversary - (Still as solid as a tank!)

After many tests and planning I built my pochade box five years ago and made the plans available online for everyone who wants to build one. Many people have bought the detailed step by step plans. They are just $2.99. I would love to hear from them through this post and hopefully receive photos that I can share as well. It would really be wonderful.

I never regretted building my own pochade as opposed to buying one. The cost was one big factor at the beginning. It cost me less than $100 to build mine. Actually much less. But that was not all. I initially built my pochade to withstand a lot of abuse. I noticed that the ones commercially available were too dainty and I needed something that can handle being outdoors regularly not just on occasion. Over the years my pochade has survived countless accidents including falling off the top of the SUV while I drove away, being dropped down a steep hill and tumbling into a stream. You name it it has survived it. I won't even mention all the small  falls, the bangs and tripod drops that I know the more dainty ones would not survive.

The best part is that I feel it is getting stronger every year! The caking of paints and dried oil in cervices has served to make it even more solid. It also gave it an air of experience. It has been in many battles and just keeps getting better by the day.

What is your pochade like? If you built one based on my plans, please share and send me photos to add to this post if you can.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Narrative In Design - A pastel by Clarence Gagnon

Lucille Rodier Gagnon, Olive and Edna Pretty at Sainte-Pétronille, Île d’Orléans / Clarence Gagnon - 1919

This deceptively simple pastel by Clarence Gagnon is a study in design and composition. The design is not simple or formulaic or done for aesthetics alone as we will see. It impacts directly on the subject of the painting in a way that builds a narrative that can only be told through this design.

At first glance the pastel is a simple image of three ladies sitting on a fence at the edge of a river. The scenery is de-emphasized in favor of the three figures that are painted in higher chroma (brighter), and harmonious colors that make them stand out from the rest of the painting. But is there more about these girls than meets the eye? What is the story?

The blue clothing brings the right and middle figures together in the shape of the letter M forming a bond between them. The white clothing does the same in the shape of a W between the left and right figures. Their harmony of color intermingle to tell us of a friendship or a relation of the three. But something is amiss. While the two figures on the left each has her own lines that signal affinity with the figure on the right, somehow this linear affinity is not shared between them. They are close in proximity, but they each have an underlying secret affinity with the figure on the right.

There is an air of deceptive calmness to the painting that is brought about by the horizontal likes that outline the river banks. these split the painting into three almost equal horizontal areas also adding to the seeming calm. It is when you divide the painting vertically that you start seeing the tension that Gagnon has placed in there. You can clearly see that the left and middle figure have their heads almost touching. This is counter balanced by the further head of the right figure. The direction of the torsos in the figure also echo this affinity of the left and middle figure and the alienation of the right one.

More importantly though if you also draw vertical lines to divide the painting you would see how the tension is so expertly placed. The two figure on the left occupy the calm center of the painting. While the right figure literally teeters on the edge. 

The scene is peaceful, but something is not quite right with the ladies in the painting. How complex are their relationship with each other? Are there secrets that are not shared between the three? Gagnon hints to that, but leaves us to build the rest of the narrative. What an amazing painting isn't it?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Casting, Watercolor

Longing for the summer days but not the black flies. Still I long for the cold water on warm skin. That moment of anticipation when your body is say "no no no" and your mind is say "yes please yes".

For all of you who enjoy fly fishing. This one is for you.

 Casting, watercolor 14"x10"
Casting, watercolor 14"x10"

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

After, watercolor 8"x8"

Proper drawing is one of the foundation of painting. I know many people think that painters don't have to know how to draw. That probably comes from the modern art movement and its lack of focus on fundamentals. It's like saying you don't have to know grammar to write poetry.

The model is the best way to hone drawing skills. The reason for that is simple really. An artist can fake and fudge a landscape and in the process mask his/her drawing skills, but the model is something you can't fudge. We are all familiar with the human figure and you can't really fudge distortions unless you are going to paint like Picasso. Incidentally Picasso was a great drawer. His distortions come from a deliberate style and not from a lack of fundamentals.

I painted this one in the studio from a reference recently. I hope you enjoy it!

After, watercolor 8"x8"
After, watercolor 8"x8"

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Meditation, watercolor start of 2014

Happy New Year!

2014 has finally arrived and with it the promise of fresh beginning and a year to get things done in.

I took some time off from work at the end of the year and focused on family and friends. Lots of food and drink and smiles and love. The best in life. I hope you all did the same. Work is good, but there must be a time for life as well.

Today I spent the morning in my studio and painted a pastoral scene for the start of 2014. I hope you will enjoy it. I call it Meditation.

 Meditation, watercolor