Archive for the ‘Still Life’ Category

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From the Classroom – Bucket with Apples

April 1, 2019

Quick demonstrations for my Open Oil Studio students. Too many students spend too much time trying to get each and every stroke “perfect”. Unlike watercolors or acrylics, oil paints allow manipulation long after being applied to the canvas.

Bucket with Apples – Direct Painting – Oil on Gessoed Paper – 8″ x 6″

After using my palette knife to create some piles of colors, I applied paint with the intention of getting as much area covered as quickly as possible. I also aimed to minimize “fiddling” with the strokes until I had color applied to the entire design. This particular design required less than seven minutes to apply this initial block in.

I did add some  Bucket with Apples – Tone and Remove – Oil on Gessoed Paper – 8″ x 6″

In this second demonstration, I applied a very fast, loose, thin application of burnt sienna to tone the canvas. While this initial application was wet, I utilized a paper towel and mineral spirits to draw the design onto the canvas by removing some of the burnt sienna. Again, a very easy way to quickly establish the design and enable students to spend time refining their paintings rather than laboring over with their works. In this example, after I had the initial design mapped out, I did add some dark tones to help the shadowed areas and a little bit of white to help establish the light on the table top.

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From the Classroom – Apple and Bottle

March 15, 2019

 

Apple and Blue Bottle – Watercolor on Canson 140# CP

This was a demonstration for my students. Starting from the left side of the apple, moving directly into the bottle. As I shifted colors, I have a small window of time to make adjustments to the intensity of the pigments in anticipation of the value shift as the brushwork dries. I finished by adding the dark background being careful to  touch the apple and bottle only where it could serve a purpose to my design.

For my advanced students it was a demonstration of creating an initial wash which could stand on its own or, at the very least, require a minimal amount of detail. For my beginning students, it was created to make a connection to the color combination exercises from their color charts. To aid their understanding of the simple beauty that can occur by adding adding different colors, directly on the paper, while wet, to achieve an effect distinct to watercolor.

I refer to this type of paint application as “wet-in-wet-on-dry”. If you saw it created, it would also illustrate how the paint application continues to evolve until the paper and paint are completely dry. Though often the uncontrolled finish can be extremely dynamic, energetic and pleasingly exciting, as this wash is.

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From the Classroom Advanced Watercolor – New Strategy

February 24, 2019

Basket of Blossoms 2 – Watercolor on Arches 140# CP Paper – 12″ x 9″

In the on-going challenge to sate the desire my advanced students have to learn more, I endeavor to move them from their comfort zone.

My advanced students are a varied mixture of experiences. Some are still working, others are retired. Some prefer Still Life, others prefer Landscapes. They each have their own level of understanding and each one has their own unique style. Some allow watercolor to be watercolor awhile others aim to tightly control the medium. The community interaction is enjoyable while their desire to learn more makes it a challenge for me to find new ways to help each one meet their next plateau.

I have attempted to help students understand how to work with reference photos. When your eyes are trained, you should be able to find at least six possible compositions in any photograph. This proves to be a challenge as too often the students will faithfully copy the reference photo which I offer as the idea of the week.

I am using a new approach this semester. The students will receive thumbnail sketches of at least six possible designs. They will not see the reference photo until we meet for class. It is their challenge to utilize their imagination and decide what kind of a scene they will paint. Season, time of day, colors, etc. It is recommended that they gather references to help them paint the scene in class.

At the start of class, I reveal the reference photo, all of the thumbnail sketches in my Strathmore Sketchbook and a four value marker sketch of one of the designs. I will do a quick, loose watercolor demonstration to help the students visualize a bright, lively start to their watercolor paintings. For those students interested, I will answer questions and offer ideas to help them learn how to see more in their reference photos.

 

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Flower Baskets

September 9, 2018

Flower Baskets – Watercolor on Arches 140# CP – 11″ x 7″

After placing a quick drawing to set the major elements, the painting was started by flooding the cool, background in one, single wash. I altered the intensity of the colors to help separate components. I allowed this wash to ease into the shadowed areas of the flowers.

After this initial wash was thoroughly dried, I used a damp brush to clean up the components allowing hard and soft lines to work together. Then I focused on the flowers starting with the lightest portions and transitioning into the shadows.

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Flower Box

September 5, 2018

Flower Box – Watercolor on Arches 140# CP – 11″ x 7″

This design has been used successfully in several oil paintings. I opted to utilize this as another demonstration for my workshop. After doing my pencil sketch, I did all the shadows as a single, connected wash. The shadows alone make for an interesting abstract.

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Sunflower Card

August 30, 2018

Sunflowers – Watercolor on 140# Cold Press Paper – 4″ x 6″

So I had been working on some watercolors getting prepared for an upcoming workshop, it was raining outside and we have friends (husband and wife) for whom we had birthday presents to deliver. Combine those factors and I made this birthday card (my wife wrote the greeting in the card as her contribution). Small but it worked. Took the wife a few moments before she realized it was an original painting.

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Autumn Flowers with Apple

August 26, 2018

Autumn Flowers with Apple – Oil on Canvas Panel – 10″ x 8″

Last autumn, on a weekend trip to Door County, my wife purchased a small bouquet of autumn blossoms at a farmers market. For a vase, we improvised and used an empty apple cider container. We brought the flowers and container home with us.

I thought that the flowers were interesting enough to use as a base for a still life prop for my art classes. I left the flowers in the improvised vase. I started this painting as a demonstration for my oil studio class. Did not finish it in class. At my studio it sat while I contemplated how I would finish the painting. Finally realized that the improvised vase was the issue. Perusing my still life props, I found a vase that could be the solution to my dilemma. Though the flowers are long since gone, I was able to impose this vase into the painting. This works for me.

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Morn on Cedar Court Part 2

July 17, 2018

Morn on Cedar Court – Oil on Canvas – 20″ x 20″

This is the souped up version.

This painting had been at a gallery for a few months. At the time of retrieval, I felt that the work needed “something”. I felt that the abstract design was decent, but something was failing. It sat in my studio for almost a year. It occurred to me that the painting needed to be brighter, more vibrant.

Late one afternoon, before finishing for the day, I put the painting up on my easel. I added a few strokes of brighter highlights near the focal point. Just a few. I decided to take a break and examine the changes to see if it would work. During dinner, we checked the work and decided it was a better direction. A few days later, I went drastic and, in essence, reworked the painting.

Much happier with it now.

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Blue Pot and Buds

July 16, 2018

Blue Pot and Red Buds – Oil on Canvas – 10″ x 8″

My wife had gone shopping. Did not find what she wanted, but came back with an interesting blue pot, Quickly put it to use for my Oil Painting class. Started this as a demonstration and finished it in my studio. I have ideas for incorporating this into additional Still Life compositions.

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Flowers in the Can and Flowers in a Pot

June 20, 2018

Flowers in the Can – Oil on Canvas Panel – 16″ x 8″

Twice a year, Rockford holds ArtScene, an event intended to showcase the works of area artists. The event runs Friday and Saturday from late afternoon through the evening. One challenge is that generally 35 to 40 venues scattered around the city host artists. Another of the difficulties is that the event gets very little useful notice or promotion from the local media (sorry, but a photo in the Sunday paper or a short film clip on the Saturday late news, does not help). A few artists post invitations to their friends, but attendance is spotty.

The most recent event was challenging and we knew before the event started. Weather was predicted to be rainy and cold, not conducive for folks that might attempt to visit multiple venues. Rather than risk sitting around all weekend doing nothing, I decided to use a portion of my space to place a small Still Life display, set up my French Easel and create a painting during the event. I thought that my painting demonstration might stir up interest in my art and perhaps result in an off-the-easel sale. The painting, Flowers in the Can (above) was created Friday night. It was so much fun that I tackled the larger, Flowers in a Pot (below) on Saturday night (close to finish on Saturday, but needed a few finishing touches at home).

As any plein air artist knows, painting in public leaves one very vulnerable to comments. Several people did not realize that I had the display set up and wondered if I was making these paintings up out of my imagination. One person asked if I was painting in watercolors. I replied that these were oils, her response was that she felt that I should be painting in acrylics.  There were additional interesting comments, but I will refrain from sharing at this time.

Slow weekend. No sales, but I did walk away with two good paintings from the event. I plan to paint again at the next ArtScene this October. Hopefully to more favorable financial results.

 

Flowers in a Pot – Oil on Canvas Panel – 24″ x 12″