Monday, June 30, 2008
Saturday, June 28, 2008
16" x 20"
Oil on Canvas
I shared a wonderful experience recently with some fellow artists arranged by Sharon Weaver from the San Fernando Valley Art Club. I've always wanted to hear how other artists take the plein air studies they do to create larger studio paintings. I know that working in plein air is important for developing skills, (in addition to being a just plain enjoyable activity), but never really felt that the paintings I created were wonderful. Oh, there were things I liked about them to be sure, but I've never considered them my best work. Sometimes, I'd take the study and paint over it using photo references - often making it better - but sometimes not. But what other artists do with their studies remained a mystery until Karl Dempwolf , a signature artist in the California Art Club, offered to show us.
Many years ago I took plein air classes from Karl. He is a fascinating, unique man who is lots of fun and has a clear vision of how he thinks landscapes should be. His knowledge of values and color harmony as well as composition is invaluable and he willingly shares it with his students. This, however, was a special opportunity. Karl has a beautiful book (Karl Dempwolf - A Painter's Journey) where one can see close ups of his studies and studio paintings, but in it he really doesn't share how he gets from one to the other.
Karl started out the workshop with a demonstration while plying us with enjoyable banter about his artistic experiences and the process he uses. He had several different versions of larger paintings that he had created from a plein air study. They were all similar, but absolutely NOT copies. They each had elements in them that were the same, but many dissimilar elements as well. Karl is very analytical and thinks about which elements of the study AND a variety of photos of the surrounding areas he likes and which he thinks would go well together to make an interesting painting. He moves the various elements around to please his eye. He'll change colors and sizes to create a better composition.
After the demo, he worked like a madman for the rest of the workshop helping all of the artists with their initial composition and with suggestions (or, depending upon the needs of the participant, even actually painting on some of the canvases to move them along a bit). I don't think I've seen a workshop leader work so hard before. Although he ate the food offered by the students with gusto and relish... moaning happily in enjoyment, I didn't see him take any breaks the whole time.
I used a study I had painted last October in Caballero Canyon. He knew immediately where it was painted... (He actually dazzled us all by naming almost every location from the students' studies or photos). --Is there anyplace this man hasn't painted??-- When he came to help me, Karl told me to "lose" the bicyclists and to move a young sycamore over to the right side of the painting to create more interest on the right. He reminded me to block in the darks and lights first. Later, toward the end of the workshop when I was about finished, he suggested that I add some warm light colored leaves in the sycamore and to the bush on the right of the path.
When I got home I made quite a few changes .. some that Karl had suggested and some I just thought helped the over-all look. I think it turned out rather well. I had liked my study (and the bicyclists) but with Karl Dempwolf's expertise and good eye, I think I created a more attractive and interesting studio painting of Caballero Canyon.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
I think he did a great job with the watercolor. He has some layering so the palm fronds show some depth and it's a nice little piece with coconuts and all. (I guess no one has told him that palm trees only grow coconuts or dates.... not pineapples.)
In the meantime, he's learning and having fun this summer.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Seriously, -It was a good year.. He had a terrific teacher and he learned a lot and grew up a lot. He even commented on how quickly the year went. I didn't want to mention how it goes faster and faster the older you get. .... He'll figure it out.
I decided to do a "start" for a painting of him by the pool in honor of the upcoming pool season. I had been wanting to work on developing and experimenting with skin tones so this is a perfect subject to start on-- lots of sunny skin. I've decided after the initial lay-in that although the skin tones are basically all right, I need to lighten the lightest areas and really, really darken the darker areas. -- Punch it up. I'll let you know how it goes. Check for further progress on this one.
In the meantime.... Yippee... It's officially a scorching 109 degree summer day! It's pool time.
ON ANOTHER NOTE....
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Friday, June 13, 2008
I was lucky to get together with a group of established painters that I met at another formal paint out. They are a loose group that paints together when they can and my friend Sharon and I hitched on for a fabulous day of outdoors painting. Originally we were to go to Leo Carrillo Beach closer to where they live, but it was fogged in so we got an early morning call to switch locations. I had been looking forward to the beach since it's been a hot week in the San Fernando Valley, but off we went to King Gillette Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains. It is now a state park and there are beautiful spots to paint all over the campus which was originally a seminary then was Soka University Campus and now is part of the SMM Conservancy. Hooray for our State Parks.. They are such treasures.
The weather couldn't have been more perfect. It was cool enough, warm enough and bugless. The other painters, some of whom are well-known professionals, were welcoming, kind and interesting to chat with. It was a great day! .... I even liked my little painting... Inspired by the early morning fog which hadn't quite lifted. It was kind of tough trying to capture that look because as the sun burned off the fog, the light changed tremendously. But I think I did well enough.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
However, I really enjoyed painting this beautiful young lady dressed in red yesterday in my class. The model sat for two classes so I took a bit more time than I usually do. I like the results. I used a greyish purple mixed of ultramarine, alizarin, white and a bit of cadmium yellow deep for the darks and a peachy light mixed with alizarin, a tiny bit of cadmium yellow deep and white. Of course, never to be held exactly to mixtures, I sometimes added ochre or cad red in if something felt like it was calling for it. I actually just realized that this is the same model I painted in May where I used a lot of turquoise in the skin one....-- different, but it seemed to work. she had dyed her hair, but I just can't believe I didn't make the connection! Our teacher, Johanna Spinks, kept reminding me about getting in the darks of the dress and remembering that dresses and arms are forms that turn as well. She works hard to help us understand values and how the "story" is always about how the light makes curved things appear round. I was quite happy with the result.... I've got to get better with my camera because I thought the painting turned out better than the photo of the painting, but oh well. After all is said and done, I realize that I am learning and improving. This model will be there for two more sessions so I'll try a larger canvas and a full body pose. ..... And next time I just do an upper body portrait, I'll try to remember not to cut off the arms like I did in this one. .... When trying to paint in a class, I usually haven't planned out the composition... I just try to paint it well. But composition includes deciding what part of what is up there to place WHERE on the canvas. Another lesson learned.
It was actually funny because another model that we've painted several times, (Toni) came in to model for a different class and she was wearing such a similar dress as our model (they don't even know one another) that a little girl who takes ballet lessons in an adjacent classroom asked if they were sisters.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
11" x 14" Oil on canvas board
I left my figurative painting class (taught by Johanna Spinks) yesterday afternoon tired, but satisfied with my effort. I do remember a time not that long ago when trying to capture a likeness or even trying to paint anything remotely resembling a human figure was beyond me. My efforts were fairly laughable in fact. Don't get me wrong... I'm not going to be making my living with commission portrait painting any time soon... nor do I want to, but I'd like to get to the point where I COULD!
I'd painted this model a few times in the past, but this time Johanna not only changed her costume and her pose, but she changed the lighting. Painting the model while sitting down low and having the lighting overhead could have been a problem... creating a pig-like nose, etc. I think I avoided that and that I achieved a likeness without creating a monster. Each time I work on one of these studies, I feel I am learning new and practicing newly learned skills. I originally took the class from Johanna because I wanted to work on values. I STILL need to work on values, but as I've said before, the more I learn, the more I realize I need to learn.
Johanna just let us know that she'll be switching schools. This is good news for me as the new school will be much closer to my home. With the price of gas, that will be a great plus. I think it will be good for Johanna as well... She'll meet a new crop of students and from what I've learned about the school it might be a better place to work. I've been eyeing the school anyway for a while and think I'll try to take a class to improve my basic drawing skills. ... Hopefully the classes won't be on the same days!
Monday, June 2, 2008
8" x 10"
oil on canvas wood panel
On June 1st the California Art Club had it's quarterly paint out. Because there are so many painters in the club spread all over California, they have wisely chosen to have paint-outs in different areas. The closest to me was the Malibu/Ventura County group led by Sharon Burkett Kaiser. My friend, Sharon Weaver, and I drove out on an absolutely beautiful June day to a perfect day at the beach. I had never been to a CAC paint out before so wasn't sure what to expect, but in addition to the gorgeous weather, we were greeted warmly by Sharon and many other painters out to have a good time. Everyone chose a spot... Some were down on the beach some on the path or stairs leading down the cliff and some remained on the top of the bluff. All of us had lovely views. Sharon and I hiked down about 3/4 of the way and painted on a spot to the side of the path down. The only problem was hiking back up to use the restroom and making sure not to fall off the edge when stepping back to view our work from a bit of a distance.
Many broke for lunch at 12:00 while others remained painting and enjoying the delicious day. Sharon and I enjoyed meeting and talking to other painters and discovered several friends from our local club (the SFVAC) painting on the top of the cliff.
After lunch Sharon Kaiser was gracious enough to critique several paintings of those who asked. She was respectful and gave good advice while making sure to value the good in each painting. Most of the time my plein air studies are never worked on after I go out for a day communing with nature. However, since I had requested a critique, I decided to use the advice she offered and I worked on the painting after I returned home. I tried to keep the good things she pointed out and rework those things such as rocks that were too dark and keeping what I had liked about the scene in the first place in mind. I had really liked the way the water came up to the sand and pointed to the many rocks and cliffs. It was really pretty. I tried to use that information to improve the painting and this is how it ended up - still a study... but a bit better, I think.
Thank you, Sharon and thank you, CAC for a great day!