Advanced Painting Atelier Week 10 & 11 Split-Complimentary Color Figure Painting

“Two Weeks.” I have visions of the huge and tall person in the movie Total Recall when the head explodes while going through customs. I decided to do a portrait, of course, I wanted to challenge myself because I thought I needed the practice. Finishing it in two weeks was a joke! For what it is worth, I just finished it. Remember, that always comes with the caveat of “I’m going to futz with it for a while longer until I’m satisfied…”

I chose to lay this painting out using a grid, that’s what the black lines were for. Have you ever heard of the term, “no battle plans last beyond the first engagement?” Painting is like that. Once you get the first coat of paint on the canvas, all your reference lines or points vanish and you are left with your own skills. This is one of the reasons my self-portait moved into that incredibly awkward 16-year old boy. One of my goals for this blog is to show you what painting is for me. It isn’t perfect. It’s a process. Frankly, a painting is never done, I can always find other things to tweak. The more I learn, the less happy I am with my older paintings, but they tell a tale of my growth as a painter; and they are so much more important for just that reason. Even with my limited knowledge at the time, I painted them anyway. Whatever level of artist you are at, I suggest you do the same. You cannot improve as a painter if you don’t paint. The practice alone is what will make you a better artist, not thinking about it, not studying other painters. You have to PRACTICE your craft, to ACT upon that knowledge for it to mean anything. Please take that piece of information to heart.

Here it is early on.

I put about 60+ hours into the final painting. I thought it would be good practice for the Schaefer Portrait Challenge coming up in September of this year. True to form, looking at the shadows in the ear I need to soften them just a bit so that they blend in with the rest of the ear, and that list is getting longer…

What did I learn? I love doing portraits. They take a lot of time to do right. One of my past professions was that of a massage therapist. Every time I worked on a body, I fell in love with the shape of the body, the curves, the feel, and I was able to work on someone without any type of judgment, just an appreciation for how well it all fit together. I find when I’m working on a portrait, I get that same feeling. It is the minute changes in expression that make or break a portrait. All the nuances have to be just right or it is the face of someone else. I hope Jake will be pleased with this one!

Painting a portrait is a very different thing from painting a “hula dancer” or a”female nude”. You can create the form of a generic man or woman and there’s no requirement that it look exactly like the model unless that is part of your plan. That’s up to you. Painting a portrait though, at least for me, I want it to capture the energy and feel of the person I’m painting. That is one of the reasons it takes so much longer for me.

Advanced Painting Atelier Weeks 8 & 9 Trompe l’Oeil

This time, we had two weeks to complete a painting. Rose wanted us to do a Trompe l’Oeil, which is a painting that gives the illusion of reality, such as a painting of a window onto a lush tropical landscape that is painted directly on a wall. In this case, I painted a tree frog on a flower coming out of a hole in the wall.

I had an old canvas that I had primed with leftover dark colors, and I decided to use that. The colored tree frog on the blossom I cut out so that I could see how it would look as part of the painting. I probably took the most amount of time deciding how to shape the window, what type of border to use, and finally, how thick to make the border. After I made those decisions, I had to move the whole thing.

Here is the final. Everyone thinks he is incredibly cute!

Advanced Painting Atelier Weeks 5 – 7 Master Copy

The next thing we had to do for our Advanced painting class was to do a copy of a Master Painting. I chose Miranda from “The Tempest” painted by John William Waterhouse.

Miranda by John William Waterhouse

I chose this painting because I thought I needed to practice putting my subjects firmly in a background. Most of my paintings are portraits, not complete paintings with a foreground, middle ground, and a background. The first thing I did was to crop the painting because I only had three weeks to complete it.

Here’s a picture of my cropped image and the beginning of my underpainting. The finished size will be 12 x 16.

Here it is much further along.

Here’s my final. It needed a lot more work and this was what I could finish in three weeks. I learned a lot. You can absolutely learn to paint like another artist. I spent a lot of time figuring out how Waterhouse created his brush strokes, how he layered paint to get effects or certain colors. I figured out that he drew/painted the figure without the dress first, I could tell by the shape of the legs under the skirts. A lot of what he paints is very loose, and that is difficult to copy. This needed probably about another 15 hours for me to be happy with it. It turned out to be a great learning experience.

Weeks 10 – 12 Portraits Week 2

July 2019 – (In the interest of transparency, I didn’t want to post this. I wasn’t happy with how my portrait was turning out! Doesn’t matter, it is part of the process and I want you to see the good with the bad!)

Working on portraits was a continuation of us working on our warm and cool lights and darks, building form and structure through the manipulation of color. This is where I am now with both of my paintings. This is a reminder that we are using only the Zorn palette to do these portraits.

First pass with the face

I like how he is turning out so far. I wanted to continue with what I had already done, but I have to finish getting paint on the canvas before I finish off any particular area, just in case I have to make major changes to the structure of the portrait. I stopped here because I had to stop and figure out how I was going to paint the beard.

Working on the above painting made me feel that this was easy! Then I started my self-portrait.

My self-portrait felt like a bit of a disaster. I lost the likeness and turned into a 16-year-old boy somewhere in the middle of this. I’m still finding my way back. Luckily I have a couple of weeks to go on this.

New Paintings on Fine Art America!

I’m sorry this has taken so long! I have just added “Scout” and “Pretty in Pink” to my Fine Art America website so they are now available for purchase here.  They will also be available at our farmstand in Naalehu.

“Scout” was accepted into the 2019 Hawaii Nei exhibition at the Wailoa gallery in Hilo, HI:

“Pretty in Pink” was the holiday card for 2019:

Advanced Painting Atelier Week 3 – 4

Weeks 3 and 4 were all about Analogous, value-based still-life painting. We also discussed other compositional options such as the Fibonacci sequence and deciding whether the subject requires a low, mid, or high-key composition.

Here was my analogous painting. Almost all of the colors of the garlic fall in the yellow to light grey range. only the shadows on the back of the garlic fall into a different basic hue. There is an unexpected simplicity and neatness to using analogous colors. I found it easier to turn form using fewer colors much as I did using the Zorn Palette for my portraits in the previous class.

Advanced Painting Atelier – Week 1 -2

I was so excited for this class to begin, in fact, I think I was jumping up and down in my seat. The whole atelier experience has been a huge roller coaster for me by expanding my abilities and making me confront many of my own limitations. This class hasn’t been just about art for any of us. Whenever you push boundaries you’re bound to come face to face with deeply held negative beliefs about yourself and your abilities. This has been no less true for us, and it is a painful journey. As soon as you think you’re past whatever it was, something else looms up to take its place and you begin the process all over again. Painting as a metaphor for life. How interesting. No wonder I’m so passionate about it!

Much of the discussion was about the importance of having a narrative or a story intrinsic to what you’re painting; to think about why and how you are painting what you are. In addition, Rose talked to us about the fact that we will be working on a keystone painting for a series of paintings. We also talked about armatures and did a complementary cast painting.

Someday, I will do a blog post on armatures. Armatures can show you where the most harmonious places are for you to place your focus in a painting that you are constructing. In the painting above, you can see how many of the lines superimposed on the painting correspond with the lines of the painting itself. I love the lines of this painting all on its own in one color. When you look at it in full color, you can see what a masterful artist de Blaas truly was.

Suffice it to say that much of the great art that has ever been created was designed along the lines of an armature, and many books have been written on the subject. Until then, please check out this article: https://www.artistsnetwork.com/art-mediums/oil-painting/pech-harmonic-armature/

Complementary paintings occur when you use two colors across from each other on the color wheel such as red and green or violet and yellow. In this case, I ended up with a yellow-green and a violet. We were using gels in front of our spotlights to create different effects on the statues (or casts) that we were to paint. (Once I varnish the painting it will look much better!)

A Werewolf’s Prophylactic

For the technical types, this is called an analogous painting. All the colors used to create the garlic are lumped together in the same part of the color wheel. Because it’s October, and because I like to think I have a sense of humor, I titled this painting A Werewolf’s Prophylactic.

Pieces and parts of this class will be coming out of order, I’m afraid. I spent 2 weeks in France during the class and I’m still trying to catch up. I PROMISE I will post pictures and articles about the workshop and places I visited in Provence. I became ill while I was there and am now just beginning to feel like myself again. Sorry for being such a stranger!

Your State of Mind Determines Everything

I’ve been talking with Scott about some stuff (as always).  I don’t have the right words yet so this will take some work.  Sometimes, I get a clear picture of what life would be like without restrictions on possibilities.  It’s like creating a list of goals knowing you have all the time and money you need to make it happen.  I can wave a magic wand and remove all of my obstacles.  That is the space of infinite possibilities.

If you could do anything you wanted to, what would it be?  What would you learn?  Where would you go, live, work?

 What happens to the mind when it sees possibilities instead of obstacles?  Dreaming opens the mind to expansion instead of contraction.  It is an empowering process that employs creativity and enables us to look for ways to make things work.  It is a completely different mindset from what most of us maintain on a day to day basis.  Take the time to open up to this on at least a daily basis and change your basic mindset.  Many of our decisions are based on ego and judgment; decided out of fear.  Through the process of practicing expansion, thoughts based on “limiting beliefs” will become more obvious.  This enables us to make choices based on the type of response we choose to make rather than making an automatic choice out of fear.

If we want to be in charge of our lives, we MUST be aware of the criteria used for our decisions.

As an artist, this has huge ramifications as well.  If I fear a subject, I won’t paint it.  I’ll stall, dither, look at hundreds of images on the internet, anything I can to keep from beginning something I see as difficult.  (This shows up in self-talk as, “I’m not good enough to do that, I’ll make a mess of it, I don’t know how, that’s beyond me.”)  When I fall into this mindset, I limit my scope of work and my growth as an artist stalls or stagnates.  It is precisely working on these more challenging pieces that I learn the most from my efforts!

It is almost impossible to paint well from a place of judgment.  Critical thinking, as in problem-solving or actively working through issues is a very different place than judgment.  It is the difference between “this is bad” and “what will make this a better painting?”  It is the difference between focusing outward on your work, and inward at what you perceive as your own failings.

One more thing about judgment from a different angle, and then I’ll stop, for now.  The original paintings I have liked the least have sold, and I continue to sell prints of those paintings because they are so popular.  All I can do is shake my head and keep going.  I have a feeling that we are rarely the best judge of our own work.

2019 Holiday Painting Finished

October 9, 2019

It’s been a busy week/month/season!  Jan, the maker of our lovely gift baskets that are sold through Hawaii’s Local Buzz, reminded me that she needed this year’s holiday painting prints for her Christmas with Buzz giftbasket event by Friday, September 6, 2019 at our showroom in Honolulu, HI on Mokauea St.  There’s nothing like a deadline to get me moving.

Here are some pictures of the painting in process:

The underpainting is almost complete.

I’m beginning to get a feel for what the final painting will look like.

Here is the final painting.  Quite a few people have commented that they are happy to see something other than the basic red and green for a Holiday-themed painting.  I have to agree.

16″ x 20″ Oil on Canvas