Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Quiet on the River

Oil on panel
11 x 17

This wasn't what I was planning on posting today, but the more I looked at the other painting the more I thought, nope, I can do it better. There are things to fix. So that's what I'll be doing the rest of the day - making small corrections on a variety of pieces that aren't bad, but not quite right. I seem to do that a lot, fiddle with things until they're absolutely perfect or screwed up beyond all hope. Never really gotten anything perfect though, but the day's still young.

This little piece was done specifically to fit a frame I've had laying around for several years now. Talk about putting the cart before the horse. In spite of that I think it came out pretty well, and it does suit the frame. There was a very limited palette used on this, just milori blue (like prussian, but supposed to be more lightfast) venetian red, yellow ochre and lead white. There was no challenge to myself or anything like that, it just turned out to be all the colors I needed. On that note there is a lot to be said for using a limited palette. Harmonious color is almost assured, and you find that you really don't need every single color ever made. The old masters used very few pigments, and they got along pretty well. I remember one of my teachers once saying that with all the colors available these days there should be some pretty good painting going on. I'm not really seeing that. Maybe we suffer from an embarrassment of riches.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Ground Fog

Oil on Panel
5.5 x 12

I've got to tell you I like fog. No idea why but I do. Not constantly you understand, but now and then. When I first moved out here, before the building spree, this is pretty much the way it looked most mornings. It would burn off fairly quickly so it wouldn't be depressing all day. Now fog is more uncommon and to see fog rising from the fields like this I need to go out a few more miles into the farmland. I think I like the subtlety of the colors and the quiet that usually comes with it. That's what I was going for here anyway. Welcome to my world.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Black Fan

In keeping with yesterday's ramble about paying attention to all the elements in a piece I though this may be of interest. It's a little older too so maybe you can use it to gauge my progress or lack of progress. First let me say this is not the way to put a picture together. Don't try this at home.

Another little silverpoint as you may have guessed. A decent drawing, the forearm and hand seem nice and solid. Overall though, nothing to write home about. It's certainly on the blah side. So it sat around for a while until I decided maybe I could still pull it off.

That's a little better with just the addition of a vertical element and a horizontal. Now there's a little stability to the image, but still not right. Too much of that so what feeling. It needs some depth.

Now that's not so bad, not my best, but much better than the original version. There's some solidity to the composition, some depth. The lights and darks are balanced out all right. (The image is about a half step too dark here, sorry.) It's more than a figure just plopped down in the middle of the page. Not that that can't be pulled off, I just didn't originally do it here.

One other vaguely interesting thing here is that since it was done over a period of about eight months the earliest parts of the drawing had started to tarnish already. I don't think you can really see it here, you can just barely see it in person. From across the room it really isn't apparent, but up close the figure and to a lesser extent the horizontal ledge is much warmer than the distant landscape. That will even out soon enough, but it was nice to see the change. Normally the change is so slow and subtle even I don't notice it.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Flowing Lines

12 x 9

Let's try this again. Personally I think this is pretty good. Keep in mind that I seem to be a bad judge of my work, and my taste in general may be suspect given today's standards. I'll keep doing what I do in spite of all the outside influences though. Isn't that a definition of insanity? Then again if I am crazy do I really care? These thoughts are way too deep for a Friday, especially on Derby weekend.

I seem to be getting a lot of similar images, women with a lot of drapery. Too many? Is that a bad thing? Is there more to say? I like drapery mainly because of the way light falls on it. In this there is the added interest in the transparency. The figures are almost incidental. My main interest is still the light.

But there's more to it though, isn't there? So many elements to work with in a drawing, and with painting there's the added element of color. To make an image really work you need to consider all the parts -- value, line, composition, color. How you group the elements can vary. For instance, I think light comes under the heading of value. But value could just as easily be thought of as part of composition. The point is everything is important to creating a meaningful whole. In this silverpoint I wanted to project a soft, delicate, intimate image. Therefore I kept the value range from being too dark while keeping the figure on the light side. The lines flow rather than being short and jumpy giving a more peaceful feel. I tried to put in enough detail to project an intimacy without being overly picky. Hopefully everything came together.