The Process

Class Demo
This demonstration was to show the process I use to get from, in this case, a photograph to a finished painting.  The top image shows the photograph I was using as reference. In the pencil sketch below that,  I have sketched things pretty much as is   -  because I have to start somewhere. I'm keeping in mind the reason that I have chosen to paint this subject  -  the cluster of buildings and their rooftops, and the lights and darks of the sunlight and cast shadows.

The porches and roof lines on the left really complicate things and don't do anything to support my reasons for painting this.  So I play around a little with removing the jumble of shapes on the left, and move on to a value sketch (figuring out my lights and darks) which is shown in the lower right of the top image.  This is what I use as reference as I paint.  I don't refer to the photograph again. 

Eliminating some of the porches and roof lines has changed the "reality", but what I wanted was the "feeling" of the roof tops and shadows.  This would never make it as a commission or a rendering of the actual scene, but we all have artistic license, you know, and we should use it.  It's fun!

Value sketches can be done very small  -  a couple of inches square with no detail - just shapes to show light, middle and  dark values.  If you make them small enough and simple enough, you can do lots of them in a short time to play around with all kinds of combinations of lights and darks until you hit on the one you like.   Once you've planned your lights and darks, your painting is half done.  The process is pretty painless.


Lunch at Turkeys

Yet Another Lunch.  Yet Another Set of Salt and Pepper Shakers
I am always  quick to say, "Oh, I never eat out."  Looking back through this almost completed sketchbook at the salt shaker sketches,  maybe I DO eat out more than I thought.  My sister-in-law saw I was nearly finished with this sketchbook and she said, "Have you eaten your way through that whole sketchbook?!"

I am surprised at the variety of salt shakers in restaurants.  How many restaurant supply places are there, and how many different styles could they have?  At first glance you might think they are all alike, but when you start drawing them, you begin to notice the differences.

I suppose I could spend my time observing something  - um -important?  Educational? Challenging?  Useful?


Small Painting - Keeping it Simple

Small Watercolor Demo
Somewhere along the line, I have painted from this value sketch and posted it, but I can't find it to link to it, to compare the two. 

In Wednesday's class we were talking about why we are attracted to a subject, keeping that in mind, and showing that as simply as possible.  In this case I had taken the photograph (years ago) because of the shadows and the simple shapes of the porch and its roof lines. This was a section of a much larger house, but for the sake of simplicity I had chosen to paint this section as a small house.  I didn't feel I needed the rest of the structure to support the simple shapes and shadows.

I "swooped" through with a mixture of manganese blue and a touch of cobalt violet, painting everything that would not be left white, or that I wanted to keep very bright.  As I started putting in the dark green foliage, the fence just kind of painted itself, so I went with it.  I put in the dark shadows along the roof lines and in the porch with manganese blue and cobalt violet again, with some indigo added to get as dark as it needed to be.  I had left the areas on each side of the steps white so I would be able to get in some bright flowers.  I added a washed out warm color for the roof, some neutrals smushed around in the foreground, and that was it.

It moved along from start to finish pretty quickly, and I feel I captured what attracted me in the first place.

If you have some photographs around that you have taken with the thought of someday doing a painting of them, this is a good time of year to get them out and play around with them  -  while we are waiting to get outside and paint.  Take a good look at them, decide what it was you liked about the subject, and paint THAT, and only that.

It was 11 degrees here this morning!!!!


Salt Shaker and Mustard

Another Salt Shaker and a Bottle of Mustard.
At the Mitchell Street Pub
We could use a little color here today  -  it is DARK.  It is officially spring now, so sooner or later we're gonna be okay.

Last week I started to get classes, promotions, lessons, events, etc. organized for spring and summer.  The only (probably not the "only") problem is, we had a weekend thrown in there, and it doesn't take much to get me off track.  Actually, I planned to be off track.  I didn't intend to work on it over the weekend, but it always surprises me how much I forget from Friday to Monday.  I use Google docs to keep track of EVERYTHING.  However I spend a lot of time going through everything because I don't remember what "docs" contain what.  Oh.  I think I get it. On the sidebar there is information referring to each document.  Mmmmmm  -  has that always been there?

Saturday night we went with my brother and sister-in-law to the Mitchell Street Pub for dinner - downtown just a few blocks from us. I honestly don't think a thing has changed on the menu in twenty years.  That's a good thing  -  we need consistency in some things.  It was a nice cozy place to sit and talk.  Everyone has left town.  Seriously.  No one comes to Northern Michigan the end of March through April, and a LOT of the residents leave.  If you want to get away from it all, have all the restaurants and grocery stores to yourselves,  and find a parking place anywhere  -  this is the place.

Our 13 year old grandson came over yesterday afternoon for help with a school project.  He has to build a model of the McCormick Reaper!  Are you kidding???!!!  Is this what happens when they get past the poster paint and glitter stage?  Well, no,  he never did do glitter.  But, really  -  we have to build a reaper from things around the house!!!???  Any suggestions?


Pencil Sketches

Thumbnail Sketches on Steroids
I pulled a handful of random photographs to do some thumbnail sketches. These were intended to be small value sketches  -  just planning shapes and lights and darks.

I hadn't done drawing just for the sake of drawing in a long time, and I got a little carried away with the size and complexity.  Such fun!  These aren't necessarily the value (darks and lights) patterns I would use if I were to do a painting of these subjects  -  the whole idea of doing thumbnails is to give you several choices with the composition and values.

Drawing from photos is not my favorite, but there are lessons to be learned from every attempt at drawing and figuring out what's what.  Besides  -  it's all fun.


Color mixing

Clay Pots
This was Thursday's class demo.  We were mixing terracotta colors on the paper. We're thinking spring and summer here  -  have to be ready to paint flowers and pots.

We were using different variations of the primary colors  -  reds, yellows, and blues.  Some were allowed to mix on the paper, some were mixed on the palette, some wet into wet and some on dry paper.

I used to paint these pots of flowers by the hundreds and sell them matted up in 10 X 10 white mats. They are fun to do, because no two are ever alike.  This kind of makes me want to do them again.

It is snowing here and overcast.  A couple of grandkids are making forts under my classroom/studio tables, so it is bright and cheery inside.  The Christmas carols they're singing are kind of getting to me, but I'll keep my mouth shut.


New Journal

A New Journal and More Thumbnails

I am so into doing little thumbnail sketches right now.  When I've had enough of that, I'll start painting with a vengeance.

Yesterday my friend, Ellie, was trying out Yupo for the first time.   I wrote her comment on my sketchbook page. "It almost gives you the freedom you desire."  Pretty profound for painting on plastic, huh?  No, I'm not pushing Yupo  -  not a huge fan.

This is my newest journal, on the left. It is a different size this time.  I started out making them kind of square, and I liked that.  However, I do like to make them in a size that doesn't waste any of the 22 X 30 sheets of Aquarius II watercolor paper.  It dawned on me that this 5 1/2 by 6 size would work.

So if we have all this fresh, new, fluffy snow this morning  -  why doesn't it feel FRESH?



What Goes Where

I was playing around a little bit with composition.  I just grabbed a photograph out of my photo reference  (reference photo?) box and simplified and rearranged some of the objects.  We need to remember that photos are only a starting point and no more.  If I'm working from a photo I usually work out the composition and a value sketch, and don't look at the photo for reference as I paint.

The pencil sketches are some things we were working on in class.  I was trying to stress the fact that objects take up space, and the placement they are given on the page, or painting surface, has to reflect the volume of the object.  Drawing objects as transparent helps us to see how much space they really need.

There is no serious painting going on here. As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm just kind of puttering around, reading some art books, going over old lesson plans, and Friday I did make a text block for my next journal.

Now it is time to get serious with spring and summer class promotion.  We have had some sunshine here now and then.  That helps.  The Bay is frozen solid.  That doesn't help.