Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Splendiferous simplificationism

Continuing from where I left off on the last sessions of 2012 I am quite pleased with these more recent results. Instead of trying to add drama that really isnt there with the multi source lighting I am keeping my values on the figure narrower and using the silhouette and contrast with the background to provide the interest.  With a simple background and a tight crop I feel these quick studies and oil sketches are OK in the time, (15 to 40 minutes on the small ones and just over an hour on the larger ones) and allow full focus on the figure rather than composition and setting.  Unfortunately this weeks session was cancelled due to snow but I remain optomistic that I will maintain the momentum.

Oil on Canvas 12" x 16"

 Oil on gesso board 6" x 6"

 Oil on Gesso board 5" x 7"


Oil on Arches paper 12" x 16"

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Cool Blue

I 'borrowed' the reference I painted this from, well she is a Facebook friend.  I was inspired by the photo of the endlessly cool and stylish Sarah E hamming it up for her Avatar and so had to paint her - you dont get that many opportunties for a blue haired model after all.  Having recently come clean I am now allowed to go public!  Really permission beforehand might be a good idea next time but she likes it so I am giving it to her. 

I quite like painting on Arches Oil paper although its pretty absorbent so requires a fair bit of paint for coverage, so its good for life situations and I am sure for plein air.  It dries quite matte and I have yet to discover how to mount it or whether one should or could varnish it. It could be framed under glass like a watercolour of course but one doesnt always want to do that.  Its a nice and convenient surface to have in the selection box in any case.

Oil on Arches oil painting paper 12" x 16"

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Torturous Umbrian Olive Grove

I've been working on these on and off for about six months,  I realise now that I will never be completely happy with these particular paintings so I'm calling it quits.  To be honest I dont think I improved much on the block in but I had some fun experimenting along the way.  Interestingly I did a lot of prep for these, thumbnail sketches, colour planning etc - doing it by the book doesnt necessarily make for better results, not for me anyways.  I was really inspired by the subject and the mood of the place so will probably try again with a different approach some day.

 10" x 8" Oil on Canvas

One of the reference photos and the block in.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

What I discovered in 2012.... no particular order

New Artists (live ones)

The amazing Teresa Oaxaca - see her blog here.  Its almost unbelievable to me how accomplished she is at such a young age, 24 or 25 I think.  A really interesting and unusual artist and person and I will enjoy watching her evolution.  She has studied with Robert Liberace, two Florence Academies and also with Odd Nerdrum which basically is my description of heaven on earth.  Sigh...

Another one to watch is American in Paris Shane Wolf (have you ever noticed how many great artists have the coolest names.  Am I doomed to mediocrity?)  His website is here and blog here and do check out his Santa painting.  I think this guy has a wicked sense of humour but what I really like is his modern take on classical realism and how he paints guys!  His Eidolon series will keep me going to life classes till I die.

I am probably late to discover Roos Schuring as I believe she has quite a following but her plein air work really struck a chord with me.  Her blog here gives a lot of information about her process and she is definately hard core painting in all weathers and conditions.  What I really like is how she interprets our very humdrum dull grey Northern European light with perfect integrity and yet finds the beauty.  Go check her out, she is outstanding.

Mr Nathan Fowkes is an American concept artist and teacher with a very impressive CV but its his Landscape sketchbook blog that I am interested in here.  It seems I am drawn to very loose almost abstract landscape work and this blog is a very colourful and inspiring record of his mainly watercolour sketches.  There is a link where you can also see all the artwork in thumbnail format which is a great way of seeing how well designed each piece is. 

Artists (deceased)

Actually I cant say I discovered this artist this year, in fact he approached me via one of his finest paintings many, many years ago and delivered me a big gallery 'wow' moment (Repose 1911 - National Gallery Washington DC picture below).  Mr John Singer-Sargent is known to us all of course so I will say I rediscovered him again this year.  He is one of the key influences of Zhaoming Wu and so of course we had that chanelled during the workshop I attended in Italy (blog posts start here).  Then of course there was an amazing exhibition I saw at the same time American in Florence: Sargent and the American Impressionists and really it doesnt matter how good the image is on a computer or a book NOTHING can beat seeing art in person.  Finally, somewhere online I saw the image below, and didnt even realise is was a Sargent but get this, if you look at it as a thumbnail its almost photographic, but look closely at those glasses, and that swipe under the chin - there is nothing to it.  The mans brilliance never ceases to amaze and I am sure I shall continue to rediscover him over and over.  Its probably about time I did another master study.

Wise Words
I also discovered some good artistic development guidance on the blog of David Grey which you can read in its entirety here but these are the bits I have taken for myself.

Get some good formal training if possible even a workshop now and then is better than nothing. - I think the imporant thing here is good quality training.

Try to strike a path with your approach. What I mean is, if you are really serious about painting you can’t do a little of this and a little of that (a little impressionism, a little watercolor, a little photorealism, etc.). If you still need to explore before you define your path, that’s fine. Don’t rush it. But do make a decision. May I submit to you that once you get a good handle on one type of expression your other experiments will be much more meaningful. - This really struck me as important, I definitely need to narrow my focus.

Identify for yourself what you want to paint, why you want to paint it, how you want to paint it. Describe to yourself what you hope to communicate in your artistic expression. (if you can do this you are well on your way) - Not so easy as it sounds but writing it down might help. 

Pick three artists (minimum) that you want to emulate in your work. Study everything you can about them. Try to identify what it is about their work that you like. Do some master copies of their work. - This sounds like a great idea to me, I like lots of artists but cant or dont want to emulate all their work.  Sorting out the personal influences might be a good plan.

Pan pastels - I like them

Simplifying - Is really, really hard

Best Quote of the Year -  'Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.'  Chuck close.

I'm sure there is much, much more to be discovered in 2013 - I am off and raring to go and hope you are too.