Monday, June 13, 2016

Laying in the Initial Color

When starting a large mural, such as this small part of a dining room, I am often struck by how exciting (the possibilities) and terrifying (the possibilities). It can give you pause, to meditate on what you are undertaking.  I'm a finisher, but in order to finish I need to start!  Tackling a key piece, an "anchor" element, such as this sculpted pot, helps me get in the flow of the paint, so I can build a world around it, surf this big wave in.  I start with this because I don't have to think too much, just to get light, shadow and tone in blue, polishing it to classically form the work to be both dream and believable.  Let me share the process here.

Starting With the Charcoal Drawing in Oil Painting

I recently painted a classical "bluesaille" mural in a large dining room.  I wanted to share some of the process.  In the video here you see me laying out in loose sketch form, a corner where trees are the predominant feature. I will lay the oil colors directly over this drawing, using some of the charcoal in the drawing that moves with the glaze, to darken and tone the preliminary blocking in of the painting.

Learning, Fun, and Inspiration

I have learned from teaching children, that remembering the element of fun is an important feature of learning. When we are not enjoying the process, we tend to close down, trudge forward reluctantly, and absorb little. More importantly we don't make the connections we need to apply what we learn to our whole life. Art imitates life, but first we have to live! Here I am (upon request) drumming, as I often do to a tune I love, on a variety of paint cans to get in the mood. Drumming to is an art form. Sometimes I get too caught up in the art of making art to sell, and want to distance myself from that motivator. Drumming is what I use to "get me in the zone" ! The kids seem to love it as well. What gets you in the zone?

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Illusionism: Capturing Luminosity and Mood

"There is no real light on the canvas, just the illusion of real light coming from
 it's surface" I said as we looked at the phone screen exploring the work in 
admiration of Joseph Mc Gurl.  I was having lunch after class with a good 
friend of mine Henry Von Genk ( ) the other day, 
and he was speaking favorably about a new artist he discovered named 
Joseph McGurl.  McGurl's work displays a fine ability to capture light,
 mood and luminosity through deft use of oil glazing, a skill not often
 practice by artists today.  I thought later, that it would be fun to try to do
 the same painting in acrylics to see if I could get the luminosity using 
acrylic glazes, and extender.
Below: A painting "Transfiguration - Oil on Panel - 20 x 36"
  (for more work by by Joseph McGurl see )

 As you can see there is a classical sensibility , and a highly disciplined level of 
glazing required to achieve this smooth graduation of light and "glow".  I will not
 have the luxury of oil to give me loads of open time, so I propose to show how
 to properly use extender and glaze combinations to buy more open time
 so we could achieve the subtle shift of light we need.   So let's begin.  
I am using Golden acrylics and some Liquitex brands and a small 16" X 20" canvas.

First I color washed the canvas with a raw sienna with a small amount of burnt sienna
 and water mix to give a warm base and to "kill the white"!  Then I started the drawing
 with a filbert brush and a mix of burnt sienna and burnt umber, "blocking in" the
 shadows , and creating a halftone effect.  I am not concerned with details.

Next I worked in some base lighter glazes that would eventually be highlight areas.
  I used raw sienna glaze in the grassy areas, light glazes in the sky to "map out" 
where cloud banks would be, using white and burnt umber, mostly white . 
TIP: With light preliminary applications like this, you set up a tonal base for future darker glazes to help them glow.  Dark on dark won't glow, but dark glaze on light base will!

Then I  premixed piles of paint in subtle ranges of light yellows, to blue greys.  My goal
 is to apply each portion in a map-like way, but then blending the two wet 
edges together to make a new set of blended colors creating a "lost edge "effect
 You will not get this perfect the first time.  It may come out too dark or too light,
 too blue or yellow, but glazing layers can fix that later, and will "mix in the eye".

Below: You can see I am adding more layers and working some sky color into the water areas.

Successive layers of glazes in the sky, yellows, oranges (with white) light purple
 neutrals glazes, blue grays, burnt umber glazes overlap to create multilayered mixes
 in the eye.  In the grasses I added combinations of raw sienna and versions of
 glazed greens with chrome green, and sap to "colorize the halftone".   I  made
"muddied greens" (for shadows, using burnt umber and some purples mixed into
 the chrome and hookers green for the shadows and cool dark greens. Don't over
 simplify your greens.  It is good to have a variety of green mixes here, nature is
 complex.  I add touches of extender in light yellow and white to enhance
 the glow in the sun area, blending it out to create light rays.

Already you can see it coming together.  The sky color in the water is getting 
weaved together to set up the light base for the dark glazes yet to come.  
Some artists may leave it bright like this, and it would be OK, but I am setting 
a goal of having that mood lighting that is evident in Josephs work.  So stay 
tuned for the final portions of this.  I will deepen the sky tones, maintaining 
the lost edge effects, deepen glazes in the water to add mood 
and depth to this painting.  
PART 3 At today's class the steps below were the final steps 
to close the aperture on this light show!

As you can make out a blue glaze was added in several locations throughout 
the painting to deepen and cool the shadows.  I also added a richer mix of 
chrome green, cerulean blue and white in a glaze in the sky area and a thin 
version in the clouds and water.  I came over the bottom corner with some 
glaze afterwards of burnt umber to deepen that still. 

Above :
you can see how I began "pulling up the lights" like turning up a light switch.
  By setting yellow oxide next to yellow, next to white, you get subtle shifts
 in relationships that tell the eye a lot of light is shining there. I added a
 bit of cool purple glazed into the water below that as a compliment
to the yellow on the color wheel.

You should be able to move this piece around to 
get a closeup view of the various elements of the artwork.

NEW! WATERCOLOR CLASSES at Reddi Arts February Schedule 2021

A dventure in Watercolor!  A class for beginners and Intermediate alike. I approach this medium with a sense of adventure and flexibility,...