Flower Studies and what not

I've been busy doing lots and lots of studies for a lake painting this past week-- I'm trying to get some control of various wet into wet techniques.  Before that it was various paintings of a snowy mountain using Raw Umber.  Before that it was various paintings building on the older Mare Island series.  So, lots of work, but not quite stuff ready to show.  I'll be sharing all that when I hammer out some 1/2 sheets I'm satisfied with.

In the mean time, I've also been doing some smaller 1/8 sheet studies of flowers.  I can see that I'd like to blow these up and get more wet into wet.

This first one is freesia-

This second one is from our plum blossoms-

Beyond that, what's a painter do when he's got 40 minutes to spare and wants to practice?  Use the back of bad paintings to practice straight lines I guess.  ;P  I did a set of lines, then attempted to do a second set of straight lines inbetween each of them. I then attempted to connect the tips of two specific lines (like telephone wires) over and over, using various ones.  One wants a consistent width too, so I tried different brushes with different volumes of paint, using different levels of pressure.  This is tougher than it looks! I still wasn't particularly satisfied.  Clearly work to be done. 

uNothing like screwing up a nice painting because you can't make a simple straight line.

Evolution of an Image- Barcelona Corridor

I'd been doing a lot of nature scenes lately, so I decided to get back to some geometry and try painting this scene from Barcelona!  :)  Who can't love those bold shadows?  I like sharing the original pic when I can, because I think it shows how the composition has had to go through some sort of alchemy in my mind, before it comes out a "painting."  I'm definitely not aiming for a literal translation-- otherwise, I'd just keep the pic!  I'm pushing to capture that mood (and have fun while doing it...).

I went through 2 preliminary paintings on 1/4 sheet (11 x 15).  Here's the first pencil sketch--

I drop my first wash in, and spit a little on it for texture.  The truth is that most of this will get covered later-- I'm just figuring out what my lightest lights will be, putting in a background color, preserving whites.  It's almost like I'm leaving notes for myself for the next few stages.

Start to lay in darker bits, and carve out some light.

This is the end of the first sketch.  The truth is that the archway was much lighter on this on my first go, but I then did my second iteration, which had much darker shadows.  I liked the "pop" it provided, so I went back into this one and darkened my darks.  The image notably improved.  That process of learning something on a second try and then doing a little touch up on an earlier version is something that happens now and then.

This is the 2nd painting- also on a quarter sheet.  Done the same day.  The darks were much darker from the get go, which was good.  I also put more variety into the shadows, and let them blend more into a block.

This is the end of the 2nd painting.  I had to go back in with some white on the lamp, as I lost my whites.  It was better, but a bit too "graphic" for me with the shadows.  I wanted more delineation of the form. 

This is the final piece, which I did a few weeks later.  This one is on a 1/2 sheet. (22 x 15).  I made the figure bigger and more chromatic, and later on, I added the lamp hanging from the arch in the foreground (there was an object hanging in the pic, but it wasn't a lamp), to help pull your eye around into different locations (figure up to lamp, down the slanting shadow, back up the shadow on the wall to the figure along the line of the street).  As the painting grew in size, it also began to call for a bit more detail in the central area.  So, I added the motorcyle and the wires, a bit more on the church window, etc.  That sort of stuff.  I lost a bit of the lights in the foreground that I would have liked, but all in all, I'm pretty happy with it.  It's very Barcelona!  :)

Evolution of an Image- A Mug with Marbles

I posted some preliminary paintings of this composition last Fall, but I knew early on I wanted to do more with it, and stretch the image to show something both very tight and glass-like, and yet also something loose and explosive.

The first go was on an 1/8 sheet.  Too small, really, to do the glass much justice.

The mug was much bigger on the second one, but it was still on a 1/8 sheet.

The third one was a similar composition, but on a 1/4 sheet.

By then, I felt like I had a handle on how to paint it, and so, around the new year, I expanded it a 1/2 sheet.

I wanted to get the paint to sort of explode, which I got, but, after the fact, I recognized that I was a bit more interested in seeing the "mug" dissolve, not the whole painting.  So, on the next iteration, I spent more time planning out the sequence of layers.

I wanted to keep the horizon line solid, to keep a sense of a ground plane, separate from the mug itself.  I also did a great deal more work with a smaller synthetic brush, instead of the squirrel mops, particularly on the glass. The dissolving marbles I did last, in one go.

Using Raw Umber, pt. 3- More Experiments (and some successes!)

After the last flurry of experiments, I decided that using Raw Umber was fascinating, but that it was always very richly chromatic, and therefore was only really useful for things in the foreground.  So I decided to about making some experiment with Chinese White and Lunar Black, with varying success.  I'll go into those below.

First, the Da Vinci tube of Raw Umber came in.  Eagerly I opened it up and give it a shot.  Sadly, no love.  :(  It must be manufactured in some slightly different way.  Who knows?  Either way, it disperses when applied wet into wet, and just wouldn't give me those rivulets I wanted.  Dang!  Only the top left of these 4 is with Winsor Newton's Raw Umber, and thus shows some of the rivulets I want..  The others were with Da Vinci.  So, I now have a tube I guess I'll give away to a painter friend.

Then I got a tube of Winsor Newton Burnt Umber.  In a nutshell?  Same issue.  What the heck?!?  Now I've got a second tube of paint that I don't really plan on using.  :(  Only the two samples on the far right (top and bottom) showed the rivulets, and they were done with Winsor Newton Raw Umber.  So, my final analysis on that point is this-- if you want to do this affect, you basically have to use Winsor Newton Raw Umber (and maybe some of those PrismaTek pigments from Daniel Smith?  I'm not sure about, as I haven't tried them and don't have the dough for it.)

However, I did have some success experimenting with Chinese White and Lunar Black.  I premixed a bit of these with Raw Umber, to tone the value and hue down a bit.  This worked pretty well. In this first pic, the version on top of the Dioxazine Purple is pure Raw Umber.  You can see how much darker and browner is it.  The others were mixed with the Chinese White. Still, I'm getting those rivulets and yet the value different. Yay!

In these next two, I  began to explore another new technique.  I put the first wash down, lay the Raw Umber/ Chinese White mix on top of it, ran the water through to carve out the rivulets, and then used the rivulets to "funnel" a new color through the painting.  In these examples, it was either diluted Cerulean Blue or a very watery Chinese White, as I was going for a beach-y feel. Some really interesting results!

In this one, I mixed Lunar Black with the Raw Umber down at the bottom, to pull the corner into the foreground.  I can see using three different mixes to get some real variety in tone and value.

I then took some of these results, and applied it a bit to a quick sketch of one of the mountain images I've been working on.  Not perfect, but some success!

I used the Raw Umber/ Chinese White mixture for the mountains to knock them back some, and then applied a pale blue-grey wash over the top of them, for the cast shadows.  All in all, success-- although I discovered that the Chinese White rewets very easily, and mixes with whatever you put on top pretty readily.  Hmmmmm....  Probably going to need one more round of experiments to get the full tool set under my belt.