Friday, January 30, 2009

Close Up of Work on Triptych Two















Here is the central rock in this triptych. One of the early stages of the rock and then where I have added many more layers of color. In the shadow side of the rock there are reds, blues, greens, lavendars -- and all of them I tried to make transparent layers so that it would have depth.
The sunlit part of the rock is a little more difficult for me. I want there to be many different layers here also, but lighter colors are more opaque and glazes don't seem to work as well. So . . . I usually put several different light colors in various spots -- some warm and some cooler. I let these dry a little and then scumble a different temperature on top. Building warm and cool in this way seems to help the layering process.














These two close ups are of the very top of the panels -- trees that you can't really see any of the foliage attached to the trunks. You can see the simplicity of the structures and the bank leading down to the water. It is a starting point. Something to build on. I try not to sweat the outer edges of the paintings. Remember, how the eyes see. When you look at something, the peripheral vision is out of focus. So . . . that means less details. Agreed?

Here is a shot of the left and middle panels -- I would say they are about half finished. At least I can now take the left panel off the easel, move the middle to the left and put the right side up with it. Then I can start taking them both to the next level -- what I might say would be about 75% done. I try to get about two layers done on each panel before I take one down and put the other one up. This helps me not get too far done on one panel before bringing another one up to that level.

You don't want to get one part of a painting finished before working all over the painting. Bringing it all along at the same time seems to be the better method of working for me. Not the only way to do it, but it is my way!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Second Triptych













Well, I have finally started on the second triptych.

I am letting the first triptych (set of three panels that make up one painting) sit and vegetate! I need for it to sit in the room where I am working on this one -- and let me look at it every so often and think about what I might like to do that would change it into a painting that is worthy of putting out there in the public eye.


This triptych is a portion of a pastel painting -- taking a center slice out of it. The focus is on the rocks and water. I had to add a little of the land area at the top to make the painting compositionally better. The people choosing this for the triptych had sliced it so that there was just a very slim line of land -- which looked a little funny to me. It created a spot in the painting that people would wonder "what is that?".

These are the two left panels started with a dark wash on the areas that will be the darkest. I like using different of my darkest transparent colors to do this -- Winsor Violet, Alizarin Crimson, Sap Green and Ultramarine Blue. Laying the composition in is a very important part of the process and the darks help me do that.

The next photo is where I can choose either to put in the lightest light or the most intense color. Here I did choose to use the intense color of the greens -- the mossy greens mostly. You can see many different colors used here. I mix most of my greens from either Ultramarine Blue or Cobalt Blue and many different yellows: Cadmium Yellow Pale, Gamblin's Radiant Lemon Yellow to just name a couple. Each of these combinations create a very different green. I also add Ivory White to lighten them a little -- I don't like using the Titanium White to lighten as it seems to make colors very chalky and cooler.

The third image you see here is adding blues -- which are very close in value to the greens.

The two images below are as I am adding more of the yellows into the painting -- some of the lighter areas. I have included a grey scale image on the left of the image on the right. You can then get an idea of how close in value some of the yellows, greens and blues are.


















I was so busy painting, putting up the right side on the easel, I forgot to take photos of the beginning stages of this side? Sorry. But, we have below the first photo I did take, I have brought this side up to a level where there is one layer of paint on the whole surface.


This is the busier side of the painting and will require quite a bit of thought on what I need to simplify. I struggle with simplifying -- I tend to paint what I see. I am making progress with putting in only what makes the painting better and says all that needs saying.

There are many wonderful colors on this side of the painting and I tend to want to put them all in. You can make this successful, if you will try to use the same value -- changing only the color or temperature of the color.

The photo below on the right is a little further along where I have softened some of the edges, trying to simply the transition from one object to another. There is a little glare on the painting because of my use of Archival Lean as my medium. This does a wonderful job of keeping all the colors that are more matte in line with those that have a sheen.


You can also see that I have started adding some of the dark ripples in the water to make there be motion in this painting. There will be many more additions to the water to make the build up I prefer in my paintings. And again, you can see the grey scale of the photo on the right to show how close in value some of the colors really are. Tell me what you think so far.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

All Three Panels about Half Done

When you see all three panels together you get an idea of what I am trying to do . . . keeping the colors consistent, and also making it look like one painting -- even while trying to make each panel a painting in its own right.

Here is a close up of the left section of upper trees. You can see some nice transition of colors, but it is still somewhat splotchy. I also talk to my students about "spottiness" and how not to break up the masses. There is a fine line between changes that need to be made and those that can be left to the imagination. So . . . I have totally wiped off this section down to the initial underpainting. It is now quite dark, but a good beginning again.


The Left Panel at stage #3

So . . . here is the left panel and where I have added more of the bluish green to the shadow portion of the trees. I have also painted out the trunk in the middle panel -- which you can see. I was not liking the shape of this tree -- so I will change the angle of it at some point.

I like some of the masses, but it is beginning to look a little bit funny because of the "bands" of color. The shapes are not really very interesting which is one of the things I talk about quite often in my classes.

Here is the middle panel before I painted out the trunk. Gives you an idea why I did not like it.
I am also trying to build up the undergrowth beneath the taller trees. At some point I will be trying to put in "air" holes -- which will show some of what could be trees or growth that is in the background.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Here is an updated verson of the right panel. I have brushed with a dry brush across the tree leaves. I am not real happy with this triptych at this time. I will be putting it aside and starting the second triptych, giving me some perspective hopefully to go back into these with renewed interest.

The trees look like cartoons of real trees . . . but I must keep reminding myself that they are really just underpainting for what I hope will be the final look. More brush strokes in the right places . . . size of strokes, correct color, etc. Remember that painting is just putting the right color and shape in the right place. Easier said than done.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Playing it safe . . . or Not!

This morning I have been trying to straighten up my desk and get some things back in order after ignoring my paper work. I found a little piece of paper with a quote on it and I thought I would post it here. It is so appropriate to what I am doing now with a commission and painting oil paintings in the style of my pastels. Daunting task to say the least . . . but they are working quite nicely.

This quote was copied down from the old "Plein Air Magazine" of a few years ago. It was said by Frank La Lumia:

"If you crash and burn, so what? Surely, playing it safe won't take you where you want to be; and besides, the huge rewards of painting with this attitude more than make up for occasional setbacks."

We all need to follow these words, don't you think? Give me your thoughts and any quotes you have run across regarding playing it safe . . . or not!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Here you can see both the middle panel and the right panel. I am bringing the right panel up to the level of the middle panel.
I work on two panels at a time, alternating with the middle panel -- I will put either the right or the left panel up. This helps me to keep the painting consistent with color and style.
So far, I have done fairly well. It is now at the time to consider what avenue I will go with the final colors of the trees. Here and in the previous posts you see what I consider a layer that will help the colors of the final layer feel like they are real.
Let me know what you are thinking -- but remember I am no where near what I want in the finished colors. At this point I am also thinking what I need to subtract -- elements that are disturbing, or even what I might need to add to help the composition.

Here you can see the second layer of painting on the middle panel and the left panel.
I having fun, but trying to make the oil painting have the same style as a pastel is a difficult task.
My oil paintings have more of a "brush stroke" look. The pastel paintings have a somewhat softer look and the strokes are less evident.

So . . . I like a challenge . . . and this is definitely one of those. I have actually started on the second triptych. I have progressed quite a bit further and will be posting the remaining work on this triptych. I have stopped on it at the moment to let it dry a little before continuing with it. I would consider it about 80 percent done -- maybe a little more. I am not happy with it, and will be looking, and deciding what I need to do to make a better painting of it . . . and of course, to make me like it!

Thursday, January 8, 2009














The photo on the left shows some of the panels where I have them lying flat for me to put a finish and the gesso on them. Behind them are several more panels waiting for me to finish these before I can get them on the flat surface to receive their gesso.

To the right, is the underpainting of the middle panel of my first of two paintings that are a triptych for the hospital commission. You can see how thinly I am putting down the paint to just have a road map for coming back and adding good thick paint and details.
The photo below that is the panel that will be to the left of the middle one. The underpainting is a little more vivid on this one. I was getting a little bolder with my initial lay in. Though it looks a little spotty at this initial stage, these colors will be good as a base for what I put on later. These will show through some of the later layers and will give the painting depth and life!



Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I am in the beginning stages of creating four oil paintings for a hospital -- a commission that will be installed in the middle of March. Two of the paintings are divided into three panels each -- called a triptych. This photo shows the cradled wood panels as I start putting a finish on them. After this dries I put three coats of gesso on the panels and each of the sides.

I have started the underpainting of the first painting -- one of the triptych paintings. These are all scenes of creeks that I have painted already in pastel. They will be based on the original pastels, but not an exact replica. The scene will be the same, and the style and colors. I am free to make changes as long as I stay with the concept of the pastel painting.

The second photo shows the first part of the underpainting process. I'll post the progress shots as I can.