Friday, August 28, 2009

marker monster

I've been doing some marker roughs of monsters this week and having alot of fun. I haven't done this in almost 10 years, but I'm finding its a great medium that suits my personal aptitudes towards drawing in tone. I love the chisel shape of the markers and the ability to work fast and loose. I'm working on manilla paper to get the toned ground alowing for highlights. The guy at the art store recommended a product called FW Acrylic artist's ink, which works great for the whites... much better than guache or graphic white.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

photographing artwork and polarizing filters.

I got around to taking proper photos of some paintings yesterday...
The setup I use has 4 lights-left, right above and below the artwork to evenly light the painting, eliminating shadows being cast from the bumps on the canvas. More importantly, we use polarizing filters on the lights and the camera lens to eliminate varnish-shine glare. The following photos were taken at the same time with the same lighting, but the difference is in the angle of the polarizing lens on the camera, illustrating the profound difference this small step makes.

Here's the finished sunflowers with the pot handle and the upper fabric completed.
and proper photos of recent daily paintings...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New materials

Just got home from a vacation and got my big-ass roll of Oil-primed Belgian linen in the mail. This is the stuff many pros seem to use for smooth, detailed and archival oil painting. Seems real nice and evenly-smooth, so no more bumpies in people's faces or in still lives destroying the illusion. I feel like a better painter already.

Also, Just got a package of oil-primed linen mounted on birch panels. Unbeliveably nice stuff. They have the Claessens 13 on panels as well as another that is actually smoother. Can't wait!

Tomorrow finish this sunflowers piece, (which is more of a learning/experience thing) and then some fun stuff coming up that you'll have to wait for in the realm of fantasy illustration.

Friday, August 14, 2009

almost done...

Spent the past few hours populating holes and empty spaces with leaves. I only had one fresh leaf, so I had to use the same one for 4 spots in the picture. I have really gained an appreciation for the old masters floral still lives I saw in the Louvre. Each piece must have been painted and replaced with a fresh element because after about an hour, a detached leaf is pretty limp.

These other elements have filled the frame up nicely, so I may not crop this after all.
The last thing I will do is to redo the white fabric at the top. I got lazy at the start and didn't bother ironing it, so there are bad creases in the fabric. I will make some nice droopy folds in the upper right to bring this puppy home. Also I'll need a pass on the pot to finish the handles and fix the symmetry.
Elaped time to this point: about 20 hours. Painting from photos is so much easier!

Below is my window-setup. A better way to paint this would be to have a bigger space for the ability to stand back and evaluate focal relationships...seeing it as a whole from a distance. Unfortunately I'm crammed in this tiny space within a dormer, and have to sit and paint static-ly. The result is a more rendered look, where each part is uniformly in focus. This likely explains why northern renaissance art was so tight while the southern (Italian) style was broader. The northern folks were huddled in their tiny flemish homes with modest windows, while the Italians had open doors, larger windows and stronger light.

Note the car-washing sponge wedged behind the canvas to tilt it forward, reducing glare.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

rendering stuff

After re-establishing the pot and left flowers, I replace the right flower with a new one, because it was closed and dying. I add a fresh leaf to the top and also do another quick pass on the lower fabric before I think about adding an overlaping element in that area. At this point the flowers look pretty beat up, and I'm trying to paint details to wrap this up. Proportions are pretty bad, but it's all about making a finished picture at this point. The important thing is for everything to look purposeful and unified. A confident elipse on a too-wide pot is preferable to a wonky elipse on a correct proportioned pot. The painting outlasts the reference.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I am finding the flowers are moving for sure. The far right one is even closed now that it's facing away from the light. I'll ignore that one until I finish the other two, and then try and give it some light to make it open. (sheesh!)
Anyhow, at this point I'll just work fast and not too preciously to get some details in before these things die on me. I also re-establish the purple fabric layer to make that area opaque and closer to final value/color. I am resigned that this wont be a "perfect" academic object study, as there are too many environmental variables, so I'm just having fun. I remind myself of Van Gogh and the power of design.
Tomorrow I go to the farmer's market and visit the flower lady for some fresh sunflowers in case I need them to finish up. I will at least want some lively leaves to insert around the arrangement to fill it out.

Today in the mail I got 2 types of pre-stretched linens from different manufacturers to test getting some better supports. (My last painting was done on a $3.00 canvas, so it might disintegrate in 20 years.) I had better figure this out soon, as my cheap supports are getting in the way of the surface quality of the image.

Monday, August 10, 2009

sunflowers part 2

Continuing on with this today, I am seeing that the flowers are moving and perhaps even wilting a bit. I will need to focus on them and leave the static objects in the next few sessions so that I can capture them before they change significantly. This underscores my point from yesterday to not be too firm with the first couple of sessions for this type of subject, and save your accuracy for tones and values in a broader sense, with room for refinement of shape.

Another point about the composition: I have more or less centered the subject, with much space above and below. This is purposeful and not bad composition, as I am giving myself space to add more leaves later and then crop the image down for the optimal composition at the end. Its easy to unstretch the canvas (linen in this case) and re-stretch onto new stretcher bars to correct placement and framing.

For this session, I am focusing on further refining of the drawing and proportions and establishing a ballpark tone for the major areas. I am ignoring the pot handles until I am more sure of the pot's shape and symmetry.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Painting steps demo

I started this painting today, and I thought I would blog the process...

One of my students was interested in how I can get realism without tracing or using mechanical cheats especially for the drawing.

The following steps show how the subject is plotted down somewhat loosely, but with enough accuracy to use as a starting point. I made sure to make a couple big measurement checks initially in the fist step before moving forward and freely sketching in the details. I anticipate the flowers may move or open up a bit more so I'm not going to waste time with more precision than this. Also, I intend to add more large leaves, but will do that later on so that they don't wilt; being cut and placed for shape in the arrangement, and not in water. I'll likely have more leaves on the table around the base of the bowl, but again it's better to do that later and also to get the elipse right underneath. By being this accurate, but no moreso in the drawing I can "push and pull" as I refine the painting by leaving me with enough lattitide for changes.