Wednesday, 29 February 2012

A colourful night and a breakthrough

This is my set up for life painting 10" x 12" and everything nicely contained in the box, its working well and in addition to the paints and brushes baby wipes and nappy sacks are pretty useful for a neat and efficient clean up. This session from last week we had some dramatic lighting but I needed a crop to fit the reclined figure on the board and  it ended up as a bit of a goth horror.

Last nights session was more satisfactory, my planets must have been aligned and I liked the poses the lovely model Amy set up for us.  The warm ups were a bit gentler, I remembered to have my putty rubber and cloth to hand and I had a better palette for the painting.  I sketched it in with a thin burnt umber then tried out my new cad red dark, a naples yellow dark, white of course and kings blue for the cools which was nearly the same colour as the board.  I had some ivory black to hand but decided it wasnt required.  Limited palettes seem to be the way forward for pochade painting and getting a whole figure down in under an hour certainly leaves no time for over noodling or even thinking - you just have to go for it. 

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Indoor Plein Air

I didnt make it to life drawing (painting) this week as I was away but I did do some art today.  Over the last few weeks I have been preparing some spare mountboard pieces I have and cutting them down and sealing them for use in my little pochade box.  I have all sorts of colours and want to have the option of letting some of the background show through so I have sealed some with shellac and some PVA and will see if there is any difference.  So far I have found that shellac is easier to apply and PVA easier to clean up and cheaper too.

My small pochade box holds boards of 5" x 7" which is pretty small but my plan is to take little local trips in my car and do mini paintings as and when I can.  Today I decided to do a dry run indoors to make sure I had thought of everything and could do it fairly easily and without mess.  My basic equipment is the pochade box, 5 tubes of paint CMYK and white, 5 x brushes, palette knife, paper towels, painting boards, wet wipes and nappy sacks.  I will use water miscibles oils without mediums and so the clean up is easy.  All this fits in a neat little bag and my first expedition to the couch was pretty succesful so I am confident I wont paint the inside of my car when I venture further.

The first painting is a master copy and the second from a photo of mine.  The CMYK palette worked pretty well although I discovered the black was indespensible, ironic because I dont use it normally and it was lucky I had some.  I will try some other limited palettes as I go including Zorn but this is a good start.  I didnt notice any difference painting on the two prepared surfaces so as long as the paint doesnt fall off I guess it wont matter which I use.  I also have some traditional art boards and am going to oil prime them as I dont like gesso textured boards but initially my home made colourful boards will be OK until I find my way with the plein air.  I cant wait to get out there now!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Inspired or what?

It was freezing cold on Tuesday night, my fingers nearly fell off when stopped on the way to Life to put some petrol in the car....and yet not for a microsecond would I ever consider missing a session whatever the weather.  I am a fully paid up member of LDA (Life Drawers Anonymous) and the evening was great!  The gallery had hung some new paintings, a fantastic Scottish artist I had never heard of Crawfurd Adamson.  I really like the scale and drama of the pieces, the dark backgrounds and bright highlights and his palette choices, lots of hot red and intense colour but cleverly used so as not to overwhelm the subject.  I also very much like the poses, I get a bit fed up with the classic recline both as an artist and a viewer and his more tangled, curly closed poses are more interesting to me.  They would be killer poses for a model to hold for long and I see looking at his website he has done a lot of pastels so I guess he is pretty quick getting the information down that way and then does a longer studio painting.  I also like the fact that although they are all nudes they are also abstract and effectively landscapes of the figure.

So already inspired by the backdrop in the gallery we then had a fab new model Ashley who had the most amazing head of bright red curly hair ever.  She was great, a real character who suffered for our art as we suggested she adopt one of Crawfurd's poses with the dangling arm.  It wasnt as comfortable as it first seemed and she was a real trouper sticking with it.  I had brought some different colours along with me, probably got a bit too muddy in the end chasing the light (how come light changes so dramatically indoors?!?!) but I enjoyed pushing the colours and doing a bit of knife work.  I used conte for the warm ups and was suprised that I found it trickier doing these closed poses in five mintues, harder to pin down the gesture.  I revisited them when I got home to see if I could improve them.  The trick with doing that is to photograph them first so you can redefine where necessary with reasonable accuracy.  All in all a good nights work!

Five minutes each plus extra time - Conte on cream A3 pastel paper

Oil on drafting film 10 x 12"

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Shadows and green and a BlogPlug

I've had too much going on in other areas recently which is disrupting my art focus and concentration but thank goodness for two hours sanctury each week at life class. Hopefully things will settle down again but this is pretty much all I have done in the last couple of weeks.  The week before last I suggested we enhanced the lighting for our session with Tom (an amazing professional model who can stand still for ages) so we had some more dramatic shadow.  It really suited his personality and worked out great for me and for the rest of the group too.  Painting is still a challenge and I am not quite in the swing of the preparation yet, there isnt much thinking or mixing time but I'll get there.

 5 minute warm ups on A1


I am painting 10" x 12" and that feels a bit small for a figure but I need to stay neat and contained to be able to cover the surface in the time and not destroy the gallery with my mess.

Trying to get to grips with photoshop I thought I would try and change around the background and see if I shouldnt have put the dark painting in the background on the light side.  Quite frankly fiddling around in photoshop is pretty tedious, I have no interest in learning it and just want to be able to do it and would rather have painted my edits.   In any case it was inconclusive as I am not sure which would have been best, the figure stands out more with the contrasts but is it better for it?  The challenge with this and presumably plein air which I have yet to embrace is making those instant decisions.  This is what I am happy to learn, much more fun than photoshop.
I did do a few edits at home, removed the shadow between the legs, tried to push the leg on the right back more and bring the other one forward and added some cool contrast to the skintone having just read Stapleton Kearns really timely piece about colour temperature and Emile Gruppe on his blog.  Blogplug for Stape because there is so much really excellent information, explanations and examples its incredible.  He is very funny too.  

My intentions this week were to do a crop of the figure and fill the canvas a bit more paint more but I struggled to make the best of the pose and then half way through the session the lighting totally changed as the model had to get into a warmer place.  I wasnt thrilled with my colour choices although I guess the softer look was appropriate for the model and the pose.  I'm looking forward to next week when I hope to use a palette knife and a different palette, more convenience colours.