Thursday, July 30, 2009

Weeping Willow

Weeping Willow, 2009, graphite on paper, 14 x 18 inches
This shaggy haired beast is back! OK, this is not really a beast or a creature of any sort, but it does have some lively characteristics. This tree is one of the two that make up most of the composition in Mossy Pond. My job on Tuesday was to get a better grasp of the anatomy of this tree and to learn how to break down trees into big masses of various shapes, sizes, and tones. I don't draw very often, but when I do I always wonder why I don't do it as much. I'm not sure if I will re-work or re-do the painting using this drawing, but I'm glad I took the time for this study.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mossy Pond

Mossy Pond, 2009, oil on linen, 10 x 8 inches
I'm very happy with this week's plein air painting. When I arrived on location yesterday morning I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to pull off the view I had chosen. As I started laying color I kept thinking this was going to be a failure. I've had a good run so far as a first time plein air painter and I thought my lucky streak would end with this painting. But as time went by the painting kept improving. I'm beginning to feel more comfortable painting outside. Aside from children running like mad little devils, Central Park is such a peaceful place to be in. With each session I keep adding more chroma to my palette. I've been trying to stick to the earth tone palette but slowly I've been adding Viridian, Sap Green, Nickel Yellow, and Ultramarine Blue. Yesterday I began to make more use of these colors, and towards the very end I dropped a few accents here and there with a mixture of Cadmium Yellow, Nickel Yellow, and Sap Green. Next week I will be taking a break from painting. Robert wants me to work on drawing trees, to learn about their "anatomy." This should be fun, I haven't made a drawing in ages and I have been missing it. Next week I'll get to see how rusty I've gotten, or who knows, maybe the other way around.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Changes Happen

At any stage of a painting, some changes have to happen. Perception of color changes, new ways of seeing scale and composition come and go. Some plan for paintings and they always stay on track. In my case that never happens, and even when I do plan I never seem to follow my own guide lines.
I had noticed a few days ago that the composition of this piece could be better. The main building was too dead on center and too flat.
I started to change things, using perspective drawing, or at least trying to. Changed the direction of the building and their placement on the canvas. The horizon line was lowered giving the towers of San Remo more breathing room on top.
Once I figured things out, color was added to hide the previous painting. The blue I had used for the sky needed to change as well. From a cool ultramarine undertone I brought it to a more yellowish tone using Williamsburg's Kings Blue. I was using Old Holland's Kings Blue but it was cooler than what I wanted.
More paint was applied to the tree line in back and to the big darker grouping of trees in the middle ground. Had to work on the water some more, especially since everything reflecting off it had been changed. What I'm beginning to see is that it will take a while and a few other layers of paint to hide some of the drawing lines.
A short, but good, painting night. My brushes are laid to rest, happy they've done some good progress.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The White Test

No this is not a post about how white some folk can be, and whether or not they have rhythm. This white test is about putting some of the best oil paint companies to the test with their Titanium white. Brian one day at the shop decided that we should take a look for ourselves which paint deserves praise and which can be dismissed.
The image above shows all the paint companies we carry at Soho Art Materials. After less than two weeks we were surprised from the results. After a very short time, Gamblin's Titanium White had yellowed the most to a very visible yellow. Gamblin's Radian White, a paint designed to be non yellowing, became almost as yellow as the regular titanium white. According to a source at the shop Gamblin used to use Poppy oil as the binder for Radian White, but some time ago, due to economic reasons, they switched to sunflower oil. On their website Gamblin states that Radiant White is ground in Poppy oil. The third surprising yellowing white was Old Holland. It did not come close to Gamblin's discoloration but it was noticeable and disappointing. Old Holland has the reputation for being one of the best oil paint companies in the world, and to see their white yellow was discouraging. Other paints, Blockx, Graham, Holbein, and Daniel Smith, all achieved a warm hue during the same period. The two paints which still hold the radiance of Titanium White are Soho's white, ground in safflower oil, and Williamsburg, ground in linseed oil. This test was performed to educate ourselves with the products we provide to our artists. There are no chemical or scientific tests being performed on the above paints.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Across the Pool

Across the Pool, 2009, oil on linen, 10 x 8 inches
I went back to the same spot of two weeks ago. I chose the same subject but changed the view and the direction of the canvas. The weather was beautiful, the sun was out and although it felt a little humid at time I didn't mind. We had clear skies for most of the day until the end of the session when clouds started forming and rain came down as I was packing my paints. My biggest fear had come true. Rain on my wet painting! To my surprise I had an umbrella in my bag and managed to hold it together with my easel as I hurried to the train station.