Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Art Room is shaping up...

Before the snow flies...wanted my new start in retirement to be a good art studio.  Converting a bedroom, painting walls...cleaning carpets, and my Best Wall Mount easel came this past week.  Smelling blood in the water...(the end in sight), had to get it up today...dang, will be sweet!!!























I have a 5,000 art studio lumen light that arrived, waiting for its stand.  Also purchased a Best Taboret...so, things are shaping up to sling some paint!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Inescapable Necessity of Interpretation


When painting, the artist must consider what their limitations are, what constraints given the objective they want to pull off successfully given the time they have (sunlight...weather, etc).  The aim...is to pull off a painting that works, and as I like to say, "paintings work for reasons paintings work"...so given we have just four values assigned this time...darkest dark, mid value, light value plus white...the question then becomes "what can I make work here given my limitations?"

Nature exists before you either to be slavishly copied...or masterfully manipulated and creatively interpreted.  Nature is a model...like someone sitting in a chair or you to paint.  In the beginning...cause and effect, we like to see our time invested pay off...and imitating what we see becomes for us a proof.  Putting our creative spin on what we see tends to come with time and confidence, but it is an aim.  Nevertheless...when you have but four values, like it or not...we have no other choice but to interpret.

The problem is...when artists put out all sorts of colors and values, they've given themselves much room to interpret and try and get it right, but there exists painting outdoors the element of a short window of opportunity.  It is fleeting.  Just putting the paint on the palette and organizing the working space will see changes in the light and subject, and thus your emotive response to it as an artist.  Some artists will never get beyond painting outdoors with the aim to do "sketches"....that perhaps they can take inside with reference photos and make a nicer longer timed effort.  Some will learn to manage their time, their palette, take charge and produce what they feel comfortable to call, "finished paintings."  Neither of these aims is better than the other, just being out there before nature is beneficial and wonderful.

What I have found over the years...is that artists must face themselves, that something drives them, and often change or challenges incur some risk. Artists must actually give themselves some permission to do something out of their routine in effort to see what will come. 

When I take, say the distance that I am seeing behind my main subject or focal point, and choose to lighten the value perhaps even more so than I see it because it will give more prominent voice to my subject in front of it...that is an artistic choice of interpretation cognizant that "paintings work for reasons paintings work"....

That decision to interpret necessarily becomes clearer the more constrained our options are before us.  If I have but four values to work with...and our eyes are capable of seeing nearly 400 values...some serious interpretation and decision making will be forthcoming.

Now...as to "paintings working for reasons paintings work"...I refer then to the teaching and understanding of many past masters, one John F. Carlson and his book on Landscape Painting put out in 1929, written in assistance by his wife.  His observations were that the air contains water molecules, and has a particular density.  Some regions of the world have more density of water in the air...some less, and distances are clearer or less distinguishable.  In that observation, if we take a dark value of what is in front of us...and put some greater distance walking away from it, the farther away we go...the less dark that value appears.  Walking back to it...the darkness would return.  As we put distance between us and that value...we increase the volume of water density molecules in the atmosphere.  The light from the sky above is captured within those molecules and a hazing effect takes place. This is a bit like trying to look thru a smudged dirty glass.  The what of what can be seen has been kept from us in whole.

Thus masses that are far away...appear lighter than what is in front of us.  Now...some say rules are meant to be broken, and I say yes...but it is important to know what the rule is and why it should be broken.  Then...feel freely to do so.  While we might see a darker mass in the distance, aware of our limitations before us and that the aim is to give greater visual voice to our nearer focal points...we have some decision making and interpretation to do.  We will break the rule of what we are ACTUALLY seeing based on our limitations of what can reasonably be done.

In this example I made for online students at ANU (Artist Network University) ... I show a tree forward in the picture plane, finding less competition from the distance and thus standing out strong without issue.  The first week's assignment limits the students to four values, similar to what you see in this image-  ...and to add, a serious restriction of optional choices to work with.












Where everything is shouting, nothing gets heard...so by quieting the distant visual voices (in values, edges and color) from that of what is forward (in values, edges and color)...the tree "gets heard"....

Now...our second week in the course introduces "half-tones" which are transitions of values within EACH main dominant value.  Those half-tones assist the eyes in sliding or moving from one dominant value to the next.  In truth...since our eyes see nearly 400 values...there could be other "half-tones"....but even so, Edgar Payne teaches us that with pigment we are lucky to even suggest 40 possible values.  With time of a shorter window before us.  A reduced palette size by virtue of our paint box.  Interpretation painting from life is necessary.  You will find...that two half-tones in each of the three dominant values (white has no halftones) will more than enough provide pigment to create a full and rich painting.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

VIDEO- DSLR Learning Curve...the start and methods of a Plein Air Painting

DSLR Learning Curve...


YouTube video link...

First efforts using a Canon EOS 5 Mark II as my video camera...and a Tascam DR-40 attached to the easel tripod as my separate audio recording device.  A short ten minute edited plein air video...start to about half finished...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Artist Network University Course...online...starting AUGUST 26th...



I have met artists the world over, have met and worked with many artists online.  As one of the original staffers (now retired) of Wetcanvas.com, creating eight forums and moderating near thirteen years...such forums as Structured Critique, Composition and Design, Landscape, Plein Air and more.  I have seen, and am convinced most artists that struggle to advance, struggle with what I call the "Mid Values Crisis"...and that ninety-percent of the time their painting is not working, can't put their finger on it...it will come down to an issue with values.

This four week online virtual course, now about its tenth offering from Artist Network University, will focus on seeing, correcting and implementing change...with the aim to put you more in the driver's seat from this time forward.  The following link provides all the information you will need, the costs...and time is quickly approaching.  I believe the downloading of all the materials I have provided for study, assignments, and my critiques that will following will be a solid investment for you...









Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Leaving this Sunday for Alaska...teaching workshops...off a cruise ship!

So...I just retired from teaching art in the physical classroom this past week. Was quite some effort to clean out of a room I lived in for so many years.  Now...I and my wife turn around flying to Vancouver BC on Monday...then boarding the cruise ship Island Princess.

I will be teaching a three hour seminar aboard ship, then demonstrating and a paint along with me at Ketchikan, Juneau...and then Skagway.  From there we go to Great Glacier Bay, thru College Fiords...up to Whittier to end on the 25th.  We then return flight to Juneau to spend three more day with friends, artists...and do perhaps a bit of painting, sight seeing...catching up with old friends, some salmon fishing!

Upon my return...I will be teaching another course with Artist Network University...which promises to be a good one!!!

Here is the link at ANU (Artist Network University) with more information and registration-

My course at ANU








"Second Day of Spring" sold...Richeson's Landscape Exhibition...

Went down last week Friday for the opening of the Richeson Landscape, Seascape & Architecture exhibition and was pleased to see a red dot next to my painting, "Second Day of Spring"...(painting on the right).  "Day Bids Adieu" (on left) still available best I know.

There were some incredible paintings in the show...what an honor it was!!!


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Argonne...Mid-April...Still snow, NE Wisconsin

Went out to paint late yesterday afternoon...sun was out, trust read 36 degrees.  Not far from home here in NE Wisconsin.  Used my new iVue HD sunglasses camera...taking the lenses out to rest up on top of my reader glasses, which are down slightly so I can look over them.  Imagine it looks rather odd.

I am playing and experimenting with just how much to tilt the back end of the frames up to angle the camera down.  It is wideangle and panorama HD quality at 16:9 format...holds up to 16 gig of video footage.  I'll post the video here...you might then want to watch at YouTube to expand its viewing size.


I use a nice HD quality video camera set on tripod for my videography painting, the camera aimed at the paint support...and folks have aired it would be nice to see the paint palette...mixing and so forth.  Its rather impractical to stop and angle the camera down every few minutes...so playing with the possibility what the iVue camera offers might make for an inset footage.  Still...its fun and unique in that you observe where I'm looking during the process of painting.  















The video is a condensed eight minute 
video of a 50 minute painting... 9"x 12" oil on stretched canvas.  My palette is a modified mother color...what I call a neutral mud palette.



Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Two works accepted Richeson 75 Landscape, Seascape & Architecture Exhibition

Was happy to hear two works of mine, a plein air and a studio were accepted into this year's Richeson national exhibition. A third, a plein air...received a meritorious award.

(left) "Day Bids Adieu" plein air 9"x 12" oil on linen;  (right) "Second Day of Spring" studio  10"x 12" oil on linen









11"x 14" plein air- "Michigan Creek" here in NE Wisconsin
oil on panel















click on works to see larger image view

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Official...all is set! Great Alaska Plein Air Retreat....

I and my wife finalized what was necessary to finish boarding, bookings...flights, etc., and thus last night popped open a fine red wine called, "Troublemaker" to celebrate!!!!

















































From June the 18th to the 25th...we will be aboard the Island Princess out of Vancouver BC. On the morning of the 19th, I'll be teaching a four hour section aboard ship on composing winner paintings, exercises, demonstrations, and question & answer.  Then I will be painting a demonstration at Ketchikan, then Juneau, and finally Skagway...as we work our way up thru the Fiords and Glacier Bay coming to Whittier, Alaska.  Then my wife and I take a hop for a few more days to enjoy, paint...see friends in Juneau, Alaska before coming home.

The Painted Ladies are hosting this event, follow the link to learn more.  We have phenomenal artists attending that will also be demonstrating... Michelle Dunaway, and Daniel Keys...

what a fantastic time this will be..!!!!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Last night...across the frozen Mill Pond looking toward Laona..


Had some sun to deal with last night following my teaching day...cold...but so long as there is light, one can save the warming up for later on.  Fifteen balmy degrees...

First time I painted without solvent, with Gamsol gel only...out of the tube.  Could get used to it...

This view was back along a road not frequented...saw no one the duration of the effort.  Really like how the lowering sun was hitting the distance, warming color in its descent juxtaposed the nearer cools...  8"x 10" on panel with pumice/gesso...




Fur Trader circa 1700s....Klondike Days
















Traveled up to Eagle River two weekends ago...about an hour north of where I live here in NE Wisconsin...to the annual Klondike Days Rendevous.  Many events from sawing competitions, Native American Pow Wow...(indoors)...to a re-enactment camp of British and French fur traders, indigenous survival...(which was appropriate at minus 20 degrees below zero).

I took some interesting photos...for references...and painted this chap dressed as an early French Fur Trader...with a Hawkins .50 cal black powder rifle...

Oil on linen... 12"x 9" 

Donation piece for Ruffed Grouse Society













For the past near decade, I have been a guest featured artist for the Ruffed Grouse Society, which I appreciate as my way to contribute to habitat management, acquisition, conservation improvements.  This is my entree this year, minus the updated photo of one more bird I have flying away from the viewer...  16"x 20"


Finished...Ted...outdoorsman....


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

2nd session... The Woodsman...

Not a lot of time today...to fuss and obsess with the face, but time enough to throw some paint and create a leather coat circa 1700's-1800's...and modify the original block in of the background to appear now more as conifers...shaded snow on the ground (negative space) to suggest trucks and space going back.  

Feel like its coming together.  More work on the face and neck to do...punch and push the eyes and nose area, cheek...soften the ear...work the background.  Probably two more sessions...


Monday, February 10, 2014

The Woodsman....

My good friend, Ted...visited this weekend, and had to throw my coyote cap on him outdoors before he left.  Difficult to find willing models here in Wisconsin's north woods.  This is 18"x 14" oil on panel with pumice in the ground.  Using a modified Zorn palette...first day.

My typical attack has been to mix up a midvalue, holding a paint knife of the color up to the face to compare...then block the whole of the face.  Thereafter I mix my darks and lights and paint wet into wet.  A way that proves efficient and fairly quick for my alla prima preferences...


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Little more work on my Argonne winter scene...

9"x 12" oil...on panel with pumice ground..

small...from a few paces away, and larger views...click to see larger



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Minus 33 degrees...but the Sun was too Inviting to ignore!!!

At the very least...I had to go out and collect some photo references yesterday.  It seems more and more when the sun finally comes out here in northern Wisconsin winter, it is most brutally cold.  Today, it is a minus 50 degrees (with windchill).  So, put on my wool bibs, my coat, my mucks...my pull over black hood mask...and went on a venture to collect pics in my area.  The result was...I took some very fine pics, and after rompin' around sat down yesterday to do this 6"x 6" gouache...

I'm sharing a smaller image, what the piece from two paces (six feet) back would appear like (make sure you click on images)...and a larger closer view.  I find I must paint with eyes squinted often to translate how my attack of brushwork will work.  Fun stuff to do...





Friday, January 24, 2014

Gouache and the start of an oil this week...

6"x 9" gouache... "Monroe County Whitetail"





















9"x 12" oil on Arches Huiles oil watercolor paper.  Should finish it next session...

Friday, January 03, 2014

Under the Weather... 12"x 9"

Small alla prima I painted today...moments here, moments there.  Was feeling ugh all day...worse tonight.  Oil on linen...and a pic of it sitting on the easel.  Took the pics with my smartphone as I did not have a decent camera with...




Saturday, December 28, 2013

Last Light Effort this afternoon...8"x 10"




















8"x 10" oil on Senso linen...last light of the day plein air, here in northern Wisconsin..

Monday, December 16, 2013

Reds and Bills...

Starting another today...will share a few steps...some thoughts in mind.  Studio work for me the past fifteen years has always been experiment, push...explore, and these come to bear on my times then painting from life, outdoors...here, I am playing with suggesting detail, visual information on perimeters aside from the focal area.  

I will scrape some out tomorrow, diffuse...break edges more...bringing the bluebill (duck) on the far right and the redhead next to it to greater detail and finishing, while trying to maintain visual asymmetrical balance...

I started with a charcoal vine stick...painted in one of my focal interests...and proceeded from there.  I intend to use contrasts in value, purer chroma color...in a way that feels realistic though detail will be sacrificed by degree...

9"x 12" oil on Arches Huiles oil watercolor paper...