Personal Art Blog

Sharing the lessons I teach at the Artist Guild and the personal discoveries in my art.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

No - I did not paint these!

The fox came back and is now a regular visitor. 
He is looking at himself in the window reflection. (click on image)
He rests his head on the ledge, grooms himself, 
and then looks at himself again. I wonder if he thinks 
there is another fox in front of him. I say "him",
but have not seen the usual sign of a male! Too much fur.
It has been amazing and wonderful for Jim and myself
to have the opportunity to get so close.
We wouldn't be so happy if we had chickens...
and Little Red Riding Hood does come to mind 
when I look at that sharp nose.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Oil Sketch of Blue Vase

Oil Sketch of Blue Vase

7x5in oil on linen  $50. SOLD

The Daily Paintworks Challenge is just that -
a real challenge. A high key blue is required.
meaning a light blue. No wonderful complementary
color can be used to make it sing, but at the same time
the color blue should pop.
This may take a few tries.
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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas Cactus and a Technique

Christmas Cactus

6x6in oil on canvas panel   $100.

Christmas cactus plant in full bloom. This is an older
painting changed slightly so it is not painted using
the fracturing technique.

Artist Note.

Another technique some of you may find interesting.

 Pixalation. ( I call it Pixalating)
Just as the computer breaks everything
down into tiny pixels and digital art has its own proponents of
painting on the computer,
so, too, can a oil, acrylic and watercolor artist achieve
the same effect only with, in my opinion,  more of an "alive" result.

I did a pixel version of an apple and also a tree with larger marks,
see below.
To me, it all goes back to pointillism. The public is
very accepting of this technique at the moment - unlike
when pointillism first came out, because
they are more used to seeing pixels on the computer.

Using a straight edge 'bright' brush to make square marks,
this is technique is very compatible
with watercolor as well as oil and acrylics.
The artists in the Guild have enjoyed trying this one a great deal.

Make square strokes in two or three values or colors to make
the form. I use as side motion and a down brush motion.
I have found this variation is more active.
Keep areas of color in the correct place to save the
form from being lost. If you squint at the Apple you can
see the dark areas around the edges and under the light
top area. Same on the tree . Remember, keep the light
in the light and the shadow areas in the shadow
It is important on the edges to bring the negative into
he positive, and visa-versa.
There is an interesting site with excellent information
which also can apply to paint (click on)

The artist CHUCK CLOSE found his own way to grid faces.
His is a fascinating way of breaking the edges and if you
are interested there are many
 articles on his work. Notice how the light areas hold
together so it does not look spotty. His is a slow way to
paint a portrait as he makes different designs in each square.

setting the squares
on an angle.

Chuck Close is one of the important portrait artists
of the 20th/21st century.
There is an interesting, interview by
Charles Osgood with Chuck, (click on)
Technique is discussed
Do yourself a favor and watch and listen to this amazing
man. You do not have to love his work to be engrossed.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Birthday Roses and a New Technique

Birthday Roses

8x6in  oil on canvas panel  $125.  SOLD

I first want to thank everyone who sent those 
absolutely fabulous birthday wishes. I was touched.
You all made me very, very happy. 

My son and his lady gave me these lovely roses
on my birthday.
The Daily Paintworks Challenge is Something Blue,
so I popped the roses into a vase made by my mother
and a little one into a blue vase given to me by my
daughter and thought what could be better than
a "family" contribution.

Artist Note.

When I started to paint (instead of illustrating...such a difference)
there was an artist whose work I adored, and I wanted to use
her technique. I did not plan on using her subject matter,
but I really studied how she painted.
Her name?  Susan Hertel. She recorded her life in paint.
She died at 63 from Cancer and true to form, she painted herself
wearing her scarf after she lost her hair,
I have one of the paintings. 48x 60" BIG!


This one is for artists who love to draw.

Her drawings were outstanding and the basis of everything
she did.
She drew with charcoal, fixed it and scrubbed
a color I called paper bag brown over the canvas.
She was very influenced by the simplicity of
oriental design and it shines thorough in her
amazing compositions.
She reduced things down to simple shapes
and would do three value changes at the most.

This is a crude example. I lined up the tangent of the apple
and red hills deliberately because she would do things like that.
She rarely put shadows in so I did this before I realized.

But, you ask, why am I not doing this technique if I liked
it so much? Ah...good question. I was really into it and
someone said my work looked like Susan Hertels
and overnight I found I lost my joy for it.
I did learn so much though
and her painting in my home still gives me the most pleasure.

Notice the color of the pomegranates linking to the red
New Mexico hills. She played around the meeting of
tangents in a painting and I learned when I could and
couldn't use them because she threw away the rules.

See how the horses backs repeat the shapes of the hills.
I hope you click on these two painting to see her work
more closely.

Susan was an animal lover. She had goats, horses, cats
and dogs and painted  them all.
She was also an amazing poet. Her three daughters published
them  and I have the little book. - All this Change. Amazon
Robert Redford wrote a wonderful comment on it.
Here is a poem which touches me.

I am a dog person, a hawk person, a hill person
but I am not a person of the people tribe.

I am an immigrant among the animals
We communicate imperfectly.
Still I am welcome.

I know the language of the people tribe.
It hurts.
I know the customs and ways
but I have become an exile.

I live as a foreigner
among the animals.
Maybe God will find me there.

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Cherries...Not in the Pie!

Cherries...not in the Pie!

6x6in oil on canvas panel  $100.

It is my birthday today and am off to spend it with my family.
Two family days in a row just cannot be beat.
I am one happy camper!

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Season's Pleasures

Season's Pleasures.

6x6in  oil on canvas panel  $100. SOLD

I love the poinsettia time of year.
I love the tangerine time of year.
I have so much to be THANKFUL for...
good health, my family and friends and now
also... the followers of my blog.
Blessings to you all with my true thank you.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving day.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Holly at Tea Time

Holly at Tea Time.

6x8in oil on canvas  $125.SOL|D

I decided not to paint a Christmas cactus this year as it
took me several attempts to get it right last year.
I have two red teapots now and this one is without the
polka dots. I will do one that later.
This painting comes with a red easel so it can be propped
anywhere as part of the Holiday decorations.

Artist Note.

Continuing the previous posts on techniques.

Opposing Strokes on Colored Ground.  see below.

This one is very popular and for good reason. It brings life
and activity to a painting.
A bright brush is needed. Once again I use a short handle
brush and I find the angle brush is also good for this.
I picked an orange background only because
I didn't want to go too jumpy and by that I mean it can
look spotty if there is too much color and contrast.

The "opposing brush stroke" is needed in this technique.
Place each stroke at an angle to the previous one.
The little areas in-between can leave the spots of color
When it comes to the edges of objects you can
follow the form in short strokes or place your brush on the
edge and pull it away preventing a halo of
the same brush marks all the way around.

opposing strokes

Paint and Line. see below.

I really love this one. It is not as popular so we do
not see as much of it.
Paint an abstract of colors. You can have somewhat of
an idea of the colors you want and the shapes you are
going to draw later.

Then draw your shapes over it.

What a surprise - another apple!

I responded to the shapes and colors by adding
some more colors after I drew the lines but I was
careful to leave the basic idea of
an abstract color design in place.
This technique, at a far more sophisticated level
is used in the drawings of
one of my favorite artists.
Carolyn Plochmann (b. 1926)
She puts paint on and scrapes some off, and repeats.
Adds line, takes some off, changes the lines colors
and keeps working it until it is where she wants it.
It is a visual feast to stand before one of her works.

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Pink Sunflower and Techniques

The Pink Sunflower

6x6in oil on canvas panel  $100. SOLD

This was done mostly with a palette knife.
The pink sunflower was a real surprise and when I first
saw it I had to check to make sure it was genuine.
For the record... it was genuine. Has anyone ever seen one?
Artist Note.

More Techniques - continues from my last post.

Using a Round Brush - see below.

I love a round brush. Not one with a sharp point, but a gradual point.
On this one I used a synthetic, short handle. I found that when I
started to do my small daily paintings, I was better off with a short
handle, but that is not the case for everyone.
A round brush makes a mark similar to a filbert - but not quite.
I used a #8 and often used it on its side with a zigzag motion.
It spreads in and out with pressure so a nice fat, flowing mark
can easily change and a lovely, thinner, flowing mark can easily
be made.
Great for a more realistic painting without the squared off
brush marks. I often use a script brush in tandem with
the round. The round is also what I use with the palette knife.
See the different values working to create form and the only
sharp edge is the focal point.

Palette Knife- see below

This is an area where I feel I have gained some expertise.
I enjoy using the painting knife very much.
The colors go on clean and you can blend with a
gentle side scrape or mushing using the bottom of the blade.
The edge is great for line work
It truly needs the artist to experiment to find out what marks
they like and don't like. The amount of paint used is a
personal choice
The knife itself is very important and I use Holbeins "s" series.
CHE SON knives appear to be very good at a lot less money.
I am sure there are other good ones. They need to be flexible.
I use a trowel shape.
Not even a hint of "cookie cutter" surround on this one
This is my personal favorite so far.

Tomorrow I have two more techniques to share.

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Apple Trio and Techniques

Apple Trio

6x8'' oil on canvas panel   $125. SOLD

Here is a combination of some of the exercises and
techniques from yesterdays and today's post.

To continue...
Yesterday I went over different  ways to think about
doing edges and today I start on techniques.
Technique is how you choose to lay your paint down
(make your mark) no matter what media you use.
Just like your signature - it is unique to you.
Unfortunately, many of us do not get to experience
the many different methods available to enable us
to experiment and find our own way. This is especially
true for those coming into art at a mature age.
Workshops are available and most communities have
classes, but then you can find yourself painting exactly the
same way as the rest of the group. If everyone painted
the same view in a class of impressionists, for example,
many of the pieces would have a very similar appearance.
If this does not bother you then that
is perfectly fine, but if you do have a desire and the niggle
at the back of your mind that you would like to try something
different, then I would recommend taking ONE of the following
methods and try doing it, and nothing else for a week.
It would be good to do at least one hour a day.
Pick the one which appeals to you the most.
Don't give up if it is not easy. I advise you NOT to show
anyone else what you are doing unless you have a friend
trying a different one. Email me if you have a problem.
My email address is on the right bar of my blog.
Here goes.

#1 EXPRESSIVE BRUSH MARKS. click to enlarge if needed.
I am showing two examples of using a short handle
angle brush with a fast, light movement to place the paint on.
Stiff paint will not work, and too wet can be a problem also.
The texture of butter is about right.
Going over and outside the edge is desirable in this method,
and you can choose how much you want to tidy-up by
coming back in . It may help to have a drawing underneath.
Get a washable marker to draw and then it is easy to
make corrections.
The way I do a fast stroke is to move my hand from my elbow
but if you think about swatting a fly, that is about the speed
you need. Scary eh!!!!

Fast Strokes


This one gives lovely atmospheric ways of losing edges.
Look into the Tonal School of Painting for examples,
especially in landscapes.
I place the paint on with a brush making sure there is
enough to be able to move around. I am careful to leave
a thin space around each area of color. Trial and error will
show how much.
I then take the back, flat part of a trowel shaped palette
knife and do circular movements using the wide, flat base
and not the tip, for mushing the paint
around so the colors blend into each other. The colors
have a magical way of staying true with this method.
Unlike how muddy they would get if you used a brush.
I know mushing isn't a technical sounding term, but
I do think it explains what I mean. The whole painting
cannot be mushy, remember to have a focal point
using the principles from yesterday - just not that sharp!


I will show some more in my next post.
Happy painting!

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Exercises on Painting Edges

John Singer Sargent painted himself at his palette.
In my opinion and many others,
Sargent was a master at painting edges.

For me personally, exploring painting edges is part of the pleasure of using paint.
I am not setting myself up as an expert, but I have had the satisfaction
of seeing my own ability increase through doing the following exercises.
I hope these will be of interest to those artists who do not have the advantage
of having access to a teacher.
I have included a black and white of each to help those who
have problems seeing values in color.
Click on any image to enlarge.

#1. Back-lighting using value and color changes.
We have all seen the sunlight behind a tree or flowers,
illuminating the edges. This is easy with a dark
background, but how do you get it to glow
against a light area?
Shown is both an apple and a shrub.
The principle is the same for both of them.
Place a glowing color on the edges changing down in 
value at least three times before
hitting the core shadow.
Here the light is warm
so I used a warm/temperature on the first layer
going slightly cooler after that.
Do not make the mistake of over blending
these values together. Be careful to step down each
value change with a gentle transition.
Tickle the edges together with the SIDE
 of a soft brush very lightly
if you want a smooth appearance.

#2 Losing an edge using value and/or color changes.

I think this one is important because it prevents the
undesirable, "cookie cutter" look.  See example here.
 I use the term CC
for when a similar
color and value is
all the way around
Usually it also has
the halo, this is where
the artist caries the
paint almost up to
the edge but not quite,
leaving a halo effect

Cookie Cutter and halo.

Make sure to find a place where two values can
merge at an edge.
On the apple below there is a darker blue area against
the shadow side of the apple.
On the shrub, the band of hill color and the shadow
make two areas of similar value changes

#3 Focal Point
The principle here is -  lightest/darkest/sharpest area

Be sure that the main dark
and light has no competition.
Here the shadow side of the
apple and the cast shadow
do not have the same degree
of contrast as the
focal area.  It is still dark but
not to the same degree.
The edges are
different all around the
apple using value and color.

Tomorrow I will show different brush and knife techniques
for edges..

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Peaches and Roses

Peaches and Roses

8x6in oil on canvas panel  $125 SOLD

Beautiful roses always lift my spirits so when my daughter
left to return to her new home, I set up a lovely still life to paint
using my favorite blue and gold together.

This handsome red fox came onto our deck. I did not know
we had foxes here. I have seen coyotes, snakes, quail, and
rabbits galore, but this is the first time I have seen a fox.
Glad there is no "Tally Ho" in this part of the country.

Artist Note.

Tomorrow I am going to show a great little exercise on edges.
It has worked successfully with the members of the Guild.
Stay tuned!

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