Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Day 25

White on white. A color scheme first proposed by James McNeill Whistler, but somehow I don't suppose he ever ate a clove of garlic in his life. He might have, though, on his continental travels. Personally, I love garlic, although I don't go so far in poeticizing it as the "stinking rose" folks. I just eat it. Lots of it. It's getting harder and harder to find the American variety around here, though, as it's being forced out by the sharper Chinese variety in the supermarkets. I love Chinese garlic in Asian recipes like Laab and so on, but it doesn't roast as sweetly as the California bulbs, to my taste. Still, they're all beautiful to paint and the papery coats are just gorgeous. In this one, I got really into laying the white on thickly to capture the soft highlights of the bulb. OK, now I've made myself hungry.....

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day 23

To quote the great philosopher Don Hertzfeldt, " a banana!" I love the color yellow, primarily because it seems to cheer me up, speaking as it does of things I like: Spring, Fall, and tropical fruit. Yellow is also a pain in the butt to shade, since you really have to keep a close eye on the color temperature of the shading as you go. Too warm, and it looks "glowy", too cool and it gets sort of dead and moldy looking. In these pieces recently, I've been using up a tube of Hansa Yellow Light as my base yellow color. It's not my favorite yellow, since its tinting strength is relatively weak, but it sure makes you think when painting, which is always a good thing when doing exercises like this.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Friday, February 10, 2012

Day 21

A painting of a poppy from last Summer. I miss Summer and I love poppies, so it was just sheer self-indulgence to paint this. It's also a lot of fun to use knife techniques to suggest various textures. I still feel like it's cheating, but it does get effective results.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Day 20

Mangoes are wonderful. Besides being vividly colored and beautifully shaped, they make me think of the tropics--much appreciated in Winter. I'm finding that I'm turning into more of a painter than a draw-er. My previous dailies seem to be more like colored drawings to me than the current bunch. I'm not doing anything consciously different, but I think that my spatial perception has shifted oddly toward a more "solid" direction.

I've always held Velasquez's painting in very high regard, particularly his study/portrait of Juan de Pareja. If you look closely (and I have) there are no lines in the piece--it's all planes and splotches of color (to use the scientific terminology). I'd love it if some of that mojo rubbed off on me.

Day 19

More onions. I'm not sure why they're resisting me. I may have to eat them.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Day 18

Some onions. My old friends, those onions. Turning on me a bit. I wasn't aware of it, but the practice of painting larger has changed my approach to painting in a way that I couldn't have predicted--some surface effects are harder to get, partially because I'm more concerned with flow and mass, the two big elements of landscape paintings. I won't say I'm trying to paint onions like landscapes, but there's definitely different aspects of the onion structure leaping out at me now. I'm still trying to put my finger on it, but I think it has to do with trying to get the tactile quality down in priority over the visual. If I turned into Lucian Freud, I'd probably be happy about it. Fat chance.

Day 17

Another bug, and I'm back to 8 X 10. The scanning and combining of scans for the 9 X 12 was just getting too much. Maybe if I had a honking big scanner it would be easier, but....

I love painting iridescence and now that I'm once again thinking of painting a really big fantasy subject (for myself, of course) I'm thinking of armor again--articulation, shine, effectiveness and so forth. It's just an inkling of an idea along with a dozn others, but I've got this twelve by eight foot canvas in my studio just begging for an epic subject....

I've also been thinking a bit about the old "rule" of art that you should paint your highlights opaque and your shadows transparently. Mostly thinking about what a crock it is. If you're doing a huge painting that you're trying to get done in a hurry because your royal client is tapping his or her foot in the outer hall (metaphorically speaking) transparent shadows are great because you can cover big areas and you have less to worry about in terms of covering previously painted stuff. In other words, it's quick and pretty good, but to claim that it's the 'only way to get luminous shadows' is complete twaddle. When you really look into shadows you see that beyond the basic color they've also got a ton of reflected lights and variations and those are almost impossible to get transparently. Luminous shadows are the result of getting the apparent shades and edges right, whether opaque or not. It just takes more effort to get opaque shadows right, but when it works, it's a lot more luminous than a badly applied transparent shadow.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Friday, February 3, 2012

Day 15

A whelk shell from the collection. I'm getting terribly interested in subtlety, a luxury hardly available to the working illustrator and thus not something I spent much time on earlier in my career. In particular, I'm getting interested in how closely related tones can lend the appearance of all sorts of interesting natural phenomena; chiefly skin but also including such things as peach skin and the dusty but rich tones of a dry shell.

I was lucky enough to run into a colleague of mine a few days ago, Kathy Speranza. She was working on a portrait using a traditional pre-mixed portraiture palette sometimes known as the Reilly palette. I'd heard of it and been somewhat curious about it, but the labor of preparation always seemed somewhat daunting and extraneous to me, especially as I paint so few portraits. So it was a real pleasure to finally see it in action, and I begin to see its virtues. In particular, as Kathy said, it makes it very easy to lay down tones very close in value but differing in degree of warmth--the real key to getting flesh to look like flesh. I've been investigating this phenomenon as regards the Tonalist landscape artists, but it was fascinating to see how widely applicable it is, and I hope to make some real headway with the landscapes as I proceed.

In the meantime, a dry and dusty whelk is a laboratory in miniature. It also serves as an object lesson in keeping your brushes clean, as I was just scrubbing in a bit of background with a brush that turned out to be contaminated with yellow when my alarm went off and it was time to stop.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Day 14

This one's pretty funny--a pine-cone. A very simple form, but visually defined by great complexity. I figured I'd give a try to painting it with the knife. Of course, it all started to go pear-shaped almost immediately. I ended up having a lot of fun applying the paint like cake icing. Ugly, ugly image, but really fun to paint. What does that remind me of?

Day 13

Another sky, some light stanchions.

Day 12

Some sketches of skies. Mostly over Providence, rather than the marsh. I think there's something in the air there that makes the skies more regularly interesting. It used to be so quite literally--metals from all the jewelry foundries were all through the air and made sunsets very vivid. Nowadays, with the Clean Air Act and all, it's probably safer to breathe but a lot less pretty.