Saturday, July 31, 2010

My Sunflowers~ WIP & Completion

Step 4) Completion. I've added more gouache, some colored pencil including the gold metallic for accent and tweaked this as much as I dare. I see things I'd like to change or adjust a little, some of the foliage became a little muddy for my taste but overall I say "mission accomplished".

Step 3) Here I've begun working on values and color temperature with repeated glazes. I've also added some toned gouache in a few spots.

Step 2) The frisket film has been removed and I've started painting the flowers. At this point I'm just trying to put some paint down and get my bearings. I'm working in transparent watercolor only at this stage.

Step 1) I prepped 140# Fabriano HP w/c paper by applying frisket film and cutting around my subjects with an Exacto knife. Afterward I added some gesso to the background area but didn't cover the entire background. I mixed one container of plain Phthalo blue fluid acrylic (diluted w/water), another with Hookers green fluid acrylic (diluted)and a third with a mixture of both the Phthalo and the Hookers, also diluted. I then proceeded to pour paint. Pouring paint is always a mess but Phthalos take it to a whole new level. I had Phthalo blue fingernails for three days.

Sorry to be so late in posting an update but I lost most of my internet connection last Tuesday, the 27th due to circumstances out of my control. It was finally restored this afternoon to working order. Apparently the underground cable is in need of replacing which was causing my signal interruptions but the engineer sent from my provider managed to get me up and running for the time being.

I'm posting a WIP along with the finished painting. This version was basically a dry run for the main event and is only 15" x 9". I kept to the palette in my last post and I like it! There's a few things I will probably adjust on the final painting but overall I'm pleased with my results.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sunflowers~Working Out A Palette

This was my experiment using colored pencils. I made notes, jotting down which color combos I liked and seemed to work well together. I have to write everything down these days because my memory has become a tea strainer.

Here I've done my best to match the CP colors with watercolor. I think I've finally got a plan now. I found a gold metallic colored pencil I forgot I had so I added that over the w/c in a few places as a possible accent.

Did you think I got lost? I did...for awhile. After several attempts (and as many failures) to settle on a palette I hit a brick wall. I couldn't seem to work out a palette for the sunflowers that excited me. My new favorite color is DS Quin. violet and I wanted to work this color into the painting somehow. Nick Simmons suggested I take a look at the work of Jimmy Wright . Wright paints amazing sunflowers in pastel and uses unusual color combinations. I also took out photos I'd taken in my gardens and browsed through those for inspiration. Last night I finally got out my 120 ct. set of Prismacolor colored pencils, printed out a copy of my line drawing and just played. I came up with a palette I really like so the next challenge was to match the CP colors to watercolor. I think I've succeeded.

I plan to do a smaller version of the painting first. I have a 12" x 18" block of Fabriano HP w/c paper I can use. I was disappointed to learn a nearby store no longer carries certain art supplies so I will have to order my full sheets online. I can't understand why, with all the artists in the area, that we don't have a decent art supply outlet. }:( The nearest is a day trip away, especially in summer when traffic is ridiculous. Griping over..........

Monday, July 19, 2010

My Sunflowers~color study continued

I fiddled around some more with the color study I posted the 13th of this month. I'm still undecided as to a palette for this painting. The background concerns me more than anything else. In the photo the sky is what I would call Cobalt Blue Deep. Looks nice but it's predictable and boring, IMO. Even though the sketch looks complicated the shapes are pretty simple. Can I get away with doing something really fun with the background without over complicating the painting? Do I really have to resort to using masking fluid? Can I get powerful colors like turquoise and Indian yellow to work together? How will adding gouache affect the painting? How can I produce convincing clouds? I tried to answer all these questions today and am posting my results. I learned a few things...some things I liked, some not so much. I will continue to try new colors and techniques until I have my "ah Ha!" moment.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Moon Shot

It's so rare that I get a really good photo of the Moon but I did last night. It's on the wane and it was very orange. If you look close I even caught a few stars, too. A short time later a cloud bank moved beneath it and it lit the top of the clouds with orange light but I wasn't fast enough to get that shot. Shame because it would've been awesome.

Friday, July 16, 2010

My Sunflowers~WIP value study

I finished my value study. I was most interested to see if I still had good distribution of the lightest and darkest values after making my changes and I believe I do. There's nice undulating horizontal flow, my eye isn't lead out of the picture in any direction nor are there areas that grab attention away from the composition as a whole. The main focal point is the dead sunflower on the viewer's left which was my intention.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My Sunflowers~ WIP Update

I think this will be the final drawing. There is good movement throughout, interesting shapes in the corners and nothing pops out at me that seems 'off'. Next will be a value study.

After removing the extra bloom I noticed two leaves came together to form an almost symmetrical shape which at first I thought looked kinda cool. After looking at the drawing for awhile I realized my eye went immediately to that shape and stopped so that needed to be addressed.

The arrow is pointing to another bloom tucked behind the two in front. Too much going on in such a small area, IMO so it had to go.

I think I'm finally satisfied with my drawing. I did a fair amount of editing and made other changes. I've never done anything quite this complicated before and I'm beginning to doubt I'll be able to paint this in a loose style. I don't want to go too realistic either so I'll be walking a fine line once I start actually painting.

Birthday Card

Truth be told, I could sure use a fur job(haircut)and a 'tail' lift right about now. ;D

Yesterday was my birthday...again. Seems they come twice a year now. At least it feels that way sometimes. The older I get the faster time goes by. Anyhoo, my kids got me this card and I thought I'd share it. We are all cat owners or have been cat owners and whenever we get together the conversation invariably turns to cats at some point. Maybe when grandkids come along that will change but I kinda doubt it. At most every holiday we exchange cat themed cards, too. I don't think we're alone in this cat fascination either. The one thing that's always selling at the gallery are my cat notecards. I was surprised that my Xmas cat cards have almost sold out this summer!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Sunflowers~color study

I took one small section from the whole and did a quick color study last night. It looks sloppy because it is. I've got the end result in my mind but I'm not sure I can pull it off without resorting to using masking fluid. I really don't want to use it for this painting but it may be unavoidable. It's either that or gouache. I'd like to paint this in a loose style while still retaining all the great sunlit areas. My favorite sunflowers are the dead ones with their heads hung down, petals dragging. I'm still working on the drawing and doing a lot of editing. The edge detection feature often gives confusing information and I'm still trying to sort it all out.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

My Sunflowers~continued (enlarging a drawing)

This is the final result. All the pieces taped together. The dimensions came to approx. 26" x 14" . Apparently enlarging a small image to such a degree in this manner is not without a few pitfalls. If you look closely one piece doesn't line up well with the others and is off by close to 1/2". At first I thought I may have over-enlarged that one section but I doubt it. It may have been a simple matter of my sloppy scissor skills.

This was the first image before enlargement...6" x 3"

I've decided to move ahead with the sunflower painting. I took the original image, removed unnecessary detail and applied edge detection to get a fairly simple line image. At that point I chose to enlarge the image to about 25" x 14". I don't own a projector so I used my combination printer/scanner. I think most printer/scanners have the ability to reduce or enlarge an image but I've found mine will lose resolution if I try to enlarge too much all at once and so began a rather laborious process.

My original printout was 6" x 3". I cut it in half and scanned each half, then enlarged each by 100% and printed a copy. That was quite a jump in size and things had begun to fade so I traced over all the lines with a .05 Micron pen before beginning the next round of scans. For the next scan I cut each half in 1/2, enlarged all 4 pieces by 25%, took the new pieces and enlarged them by 25% and for the final scan I cut each of the 4 pieces in half making 8 pieces and enlarged each by 75% which gave me the desired final size. Sounds complicated and confusing but it's really not. My scanner bed is standard size...8.5" x 11" so the cutting was an unfortunate necessity but it got the job done. It also helped a great deal to take the time and go over the second copy with the Micron pen. I didn't have to repeat that process again, thankfully. Now I have to tape all the final enlarged images together to create the completed 'drawing' and transfer to tracing paper.

Note: I numbered the back of each section so I would know what went where when it came time to put this puzzle together. I'm glad I did.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Sunflowers

After applying the watercolor filter I converted the resulting image to black & white and switched it to infrared. I like the extreme variation of values. The brightest brights are well distributed throughout the image and create some interesting shapes. The darks make everything else pop. My intention is to break the original image down into more simple basic shapes without obliterating all the texture. I may take it even further. I kinda like that stormy looking sky in the background, too. I could title this Storm Flowers.

I applied the watercolor filter to the original. I didn't want too much effect so I kept the shadow at zero, texture at 3 and the brush set at 13.

The original image

Most every artist that paints florals has painted at least one sunflower but I never have. Maybe it's time I did. Like pears, sunflowers tend to be a very popular subject. I saw Vera Dennen's sunflowers on her blog and it reminded me of a photo I took several years ago of a stand of sunflowers I grew in one of my gardens. I liked this photo because I took advantage of their extreme height and shot the picture at an upward angle so the background showed nothing but blue sky and a few wispy clouds. I put the photo into Elements and cropped it, then played around with the filters hoping to get ideas for a new or different spin on the subject. These images are some of my results.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Oil & Watercolor~continued

Here is the result of a mixture of silver oil based enamel paint and watercolor/fluid acrylic poured onto damp w/c paper. Pretty dramatic, wouldn't you say? I thought so.

A closeup of a really cool passage.

One more closeup.

This is the result after dropping silver oil based enamel into wet watercolor on paper. The enamel tended to push the watercolor away and create it's own blooms on the surface.

This is gold metallic oil paint thinned with mineral spirits, then premixed with a watercolor/fluid acrylic mixture and poured onto damp paper. I couldn't get a very good photo but I was pleased that the thinned paint dispersed much better on the surface. The look is much softer IRL and the closest to Ann Blockley's results.

Instead of dropping the oil based paint onto wet paint/paper I premixed it with my watercolor/fluid acrylic and poured it onto damp paper. It formed this scroll work all on it's own.

I continued to experiment with the oil based paint today. In all the trials I used #140 CP Fabriano Uno w/c paper as a substrate. All of my results were interesting and created varying effects. Some of my water based mixtures were straight watercolor, some with fluid acrylics added. This is not something I would try during the winter months due to fumes and lack of proper ventilation.

Observations: I noticed if I wanted to manipulate the oil paint on my paper I needed to do it as soon after applying as possible. Otherwise I wound up with slightly congealed (and partially solid) masses or 'islands' of oil paint floating on the wet surface that broke apart in a very unattractive way when I tried to use a bamboo skewer to disperse them.

Also I mixed my oil paint/watercolor combos in those flimsy mini yogurt cups. Next time I will find something sturdier as the oil based paints will dissolve the bottoms of these containers in fairly short order.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Oil & Watercolor

This afternoon I decided to try Ann Blockley's technique of applying oil based metallic paint onto wet watercolor. My first attempt was an abysmal failure. My paper was too wet, I had too much pigment on it which wound up on me, on my worktable, everywhere and the oil paint just floated around on the surface, threatening to slide off the sides of the paper if I made a wrong move. This time I tried less water/pigment and used a spritz bottle of water to get the pigment to move taking the metallic paint along with it. I used a bamboo skewer to dot on the oil based paint and coax it a bit in some places. I'm not entirely happy with my second try but it's much better than the first. I'm wondering if I should thin the oil paint a little. I'm not getting the same results as Ann even though I do like the effect I did achieve. I want it to disperse more and not produce such a heavy layer on the paper when dry. One benefit of the oil is permanent. When they are dry, you can easily go back in with more pigment around oil based metallics to deepen values or adjust color. I also have a can of silver enamel I may experiment with. I think this is a technique worth pursuing as the effects created make dramatic backgrounds when done well.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Mice Dreams~ Completed

I need to stop working on this right now before I tweak it to death. Sometimes you just have to put the brush down and walk away. I have no idea what I will title this either. I'll worry about that later. The overall look of this is softer IRL but this image is fairly close.

Note: Margaret Bartlett has suggested a title and I think it works. 'Mice Dreams'

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Last Sepia Cat~ Update

This guy needs some gouache whiskers, ear hairs and a few edges need softening. I tried another crop but found I like this one best. I think I won't even try to finish off the right (viewer's right) side but leave it to trail off into white paper. Wish I had made note of the reference source so I could give the photographer credit for a great photo.