Thursday, December 10, 2009

Culvert St Series 4

Culvert St 120909

Our first major snow-storm Winter ‘09.  I decided to begin this painting today because today is a Snow Day!   All plans for travel and work, postponed.  Snow was falling when I began the painting, around 9:30 am.

#1 is the result of my first hour’s work.  For the most part, I used inky washes of Cerulean Blue (CB) and Cadmium Orange (CO) and started with the sky.  I wanted it to look flat and gray and low key.

I used Burnt Sienna mixed with the CB & CO on the chimneys and the utility pole.

When I say ‘inky’ I mean that the washes are thin (watery, runny)  but also full of pigment, even on the snow-covered roofs, although there’s much less pigment in the wash on the roofs than in the other parts of the painting.  I more laid it on than I did work it in.  The only area that is truly the white of the paper is the snow on the utility pole.

I don’t know much about working with CB & CO; this is my first trial in experimenting with this set of complementaries.  So far, I’m pleased with the dull and leaden quality of the mix as I see this morning as dull and leaden.


December 10, 2009

In photo 2, I’ve pushed the mid-tone gray comprised of CB & CO about as far as I can.

I’m not happy with this painting as a complete painting.

I decided to darken the entire painting with another complementary mix; Cerulean Blue and Burnt Sienna, results shown in photo 3.

I wet down the sky area being careful over the roofs, around the chimneys and utility pole, then I mixed a puddle of  CB and Burnt Sienna (BS).  Before I started working paint into the sky area, I re-wet the sky area at the roofline and around the chimneys and pole.  I started working the paint in, starting at the roofline, holding the paper upside down.  As I worked down – to the top of the sky – I used thicker and thicker paint & less water – the opposite of a classical graded wash, which starts out thick and ends up thin as the painter keeps adding more and more water, less & less pigment.  I had gotten the paper quite wet before I started to paint, so the paint spread out smoothly at the lowest place of the sky.  I used quite a bit of pigment on the brush, but the paper being so wet diffused the paint nicely.

I’m happier with the way the sky contrasts the snow on the utility pole.  The painting still has the leaden gray quality I wanted, also some color.

The only pigments I used in this painting were Cerulean Blue, Cadmium Orange and Burnt Sienna, as described.

I also re-worked the roofs and the houses with varying degrees of CB and BS & deepened the darks on the pole with pure CB.

The painting still isn’t quite finished; I still have some details of the pole to add in but since it’s gotten dark, I’ll have to wait until daylight tomorrow.  I’d thought I’d like to put in the snow, too, but the snow stopped at noon and I lost my motivation.  I’m still thinking about it, though.




Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Culvert St Series 2


Culvert St Series, 1

Nov 23, '09

Recently I committed to myself and to the wonderful ladies in my Watercolor Class, a new series.   I purchased a 7"x10" Arches  Cold Press Watercolor Block for the series and in 2 weeks, have done 2 paintings.  I'm planning on working on this series regularly, one every couple of weeks, until I've used up all the paper.  Then, we'll see....

This is #1 in my Culvert St, 2009-10 series.  The title of this painting is 110809.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

September 20, 2009

Today is a beautiful day; a Sunday, the last Sunday of Summer 2009.  I’m already nostalgic for summer.  I’ve been up since 8am, feeling restless and mildly unhappy, not sure why.  While my coffee was brewing, I hung the Flag on the clothes line in celebration of this beautiful day – also hopeful the cheerful sight would perk-up my mood.  I watched tv while drinking coffee and working on a drawing.  I ran a load of wash through the washing machine while I was watching tv and working on the drawing.  My feeling of restlessness, dissatisfaction and general low-down blues persisted.  I decided that when Sunday Morning was over that I’d get dressed, hang the clothes on the line and then go out and paint somewhere for awhile.

When I came from the living room into the kitchen, after Sunday Morning, the sight of the flag hanging in the sun struck me as oddly beautiful – got my attention, put my mind in gear –   I quickly made the decision to stay home and paint a picture of the flag in the sun on the porch.  Without bothering to get dressed, I ran to the car in bathrobe and pajamas for my Biggie Journal and my traveling painting stuff, then immediately sat down at the kitchen table to do this small sketch, using UB, CR and CY.  Since I’m working in my Biggie Journal, I didn’t bother to do a thumbnail sketch.  My Biggie Journal is nothing but thumbnail sketch....  I pretty much established the composition of this painting by using the view finder and zoom lens of my camera.  The drawing took about ten minutes.  I decided that after my last Biggie Journal entry, to make a little more effort to make my lines straight but without using a ruler.  At this point,. I’m going more for spontaniety than I am precision.

Note: the pink glow in the upper left hand corner of the drawing is from the intense red in my fuzzy warm bathrobe.

The next step was to mix a neutral gray from UB, CR and CY.  I filled in the area behind the flag, the part of the house under the eaves was the darkest, lightening up for the eaves, lighter for the roof and chimney, lighter yet for the sky portion and even lighter for the ceiling of the porch.  For the ceiling of the porch, I added a tiny bit of yellow.  I used a much lighter mixture for the porch door.

‘Lighter’ mean, I added more water, thinned-down the original mix....

Since the color of the entire picture depends on the light of the sun and the light of the sky, I started adding color there first.

The color of the sky was obtained by painting the entire sky portion with a light gray and then adding in more and more blue at the top, where the sky section and porch section meet while the paper was drying until I felt satisfied the intensity – until I felt the blue in the sky on the paper matched my sense of happiness, the amazement of discovery... in the blue in the actual part of the sky that I could see.           
The next part was to use some of the gray from my original mix and to use it as the basis to mix the color I wanted to add to the house behind the flag.  I used a mix of CR and CY for the roof, the same mixture with a little blue added for the house, with a little red added for the chimney.  I also dabbed in a little color to the dark area of  the screen on the door, just for a sense of continuity.

My initial layers of paint are thin, I’m trying to develop a thin skin of paint over the entire painting.  In adding the color to the house, my paint is slightly heavier than it was in the initial layer. The paper isn’t entirely dry; the moisture in the paper helps to spread the paint somewhat evenly.

As I was observing the scene in front of me and referring to my painting, I realized I’d forgotten that I wanted to put in the Morning Glory vine and leaves that are growing on a string over the clothes line.  I lightly pencilled them in over the roof and sky, then I dabbed in some leaf-shapes with a gray from my original mix, then quickly mixed up a green from UB and CY and worked that into the wet gray.  I used some darker shapes behind the screen of the door, also added in a light bit of sky color behind the door.  Then I started the flag.

Drawing in the actual stars would have been waaaay too time consuming so I roughly indicated  the  pattern of the stars with boxy blobs.  There are not the required amount of stars.  By now, I’ve realized that I could have used more space for the Blue.  Oh well....

So that the ‘star’s would still appear white (light) but not too close, I tinted the blue area very lightly with CR.  Then I lightly tinted in the rest of the flag with UB so that the white stripes would appear white against the red stripes.  Since I’m only using the 3 pigments and they’re all combined to make the gray, there should be harmony.  While the flag was all still wet, I put in some shadow areas with some of the gray from the original mix.  When the blue area was dry, I mixed up a deep blue by adding more and more UB into some of the original gray mix.  The paper wasn’t bone dry, so I had no trouble painting in the blue, then smoothing it out with a cleaner and dryer brush.  The blue mixture of paint is heavier than the initial washes, but still somewhat ‘inky’ – watery.  I mixed a dark red by using CR and original gray, plus a little blue.  While the dark red was still wet, I added more CR in the sunny spots on the flag using a mix of the dark red with a little more CR added plus a tiny amount of CY.  The darker red was still wet, so after I added the more colorful red, I ran everything together with the brush.  Because the roof portion in the background was dry, I applied a thin glaze of CY to give it more light.  It was a very light glaze; I added more to the roof closest to the eaves, thinning it down and drying it with the brush as I moved toward the peak.

This sketch was done in a little more than an hour.


I took this photo of the flag in case I decide to make an actual painting from this sketch.  I’ll use the photo to draw the flag because trying to get a flag to hold still while I draw in every fold, stripe, star, shadow, is impossible.  All I’m able to record in the quick sketch, whether drawn or painted,  is my impression using the skills I have.  I’m not good at drawing or painting things that are moving.

I’m thinking of doing an actual painting of this porch scene on a very small canvas for a show in October.  I think that the memory of the experience of painting this scene this morning will help make a good painting.

My mood is much sunnier, my sense of restlessness is calmer.  My heart is happier, my head is happier.  Focusing on capturing a moment is forgetting everything else and enjoying the gift of the Present.  Things have changed with me, and for the better.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Artist Bio -- Sept 16, .09

I was born in New Haven County in 1944.  I was raised in Watertown and have lived in Litchfield County for most of my life.   I recently moved to Torrington after living for 14 years in Litchfield.

My primary work is painting in watercolor and drawings done with  BIC mechanical pencils.  I’m also a Calligrapher/Illuminator.  In watercolor, I do long, drawn-out, carefully considered studio still life paintings.  Being in Nature and Painting outdoors is one of my greatest pleasures – time & weather permitting – where I do small and rapid landscape/townscape paintings for the joy of painting,  as art practice, emotional therapy, spiritual meditation, a small getaway from the ordinary....
I’ve studied art at Paier School of Art in Hamden CT, the Art Student’s League NYC, many classes at the Washington Art Association, with private teachers and artist family and friends.  At the Washington Art Association, I studied plein air watercolor painting for 2 years with Arthur Getz who was known for his 700plus New Yorker covers and 1 year plein air night-time painting with Matt Gonzales.  In 2007, I took a 5 day watercolor workshop with nationally-known watercolor artist Tony Couch.

I’ve shown my work locally for many years.  In 2006, one of my paintings was selected for the Connecticut Artists show at the Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury, CT.  In 2007 I  had a solo watercolor show at a private gallery in NYC.  In August I was nominated as an Elected Artist at the Kent Art Association, Kent CT.

Below see examples of my BIC drawings, quick watercolor sketches and a Still Life painting.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wet on wet – Street Painting

Wet on wet – Street Painting
     Biggie Sketch September 14, 2009

This small painting was done in a little over an hour.  It’s done on Canson Biggie paper.  It’s approximately 9"x6" and the sheet of paper is 9"x12".

It’s a beautiful day, but somewhat cool.  I decided to stay home, save gas and paint the scene from my living room window.  I did the drawing very quickly.  Had I not done the drawing quickly it wouldn’t appear to be so lopsided.  I feel that in a sketch like this, the most important thing is to get down the bones of the painting as quickly as possible.  A sketch is the place to make many experiments and ‘mistakes’.  All I want from this sketch right now is to quickly get down as much as possible, drawing and painting,  in a limited amount of time.  To me, this is what practice is all about. Were I to ever do a larger painting of this scene on really good paper, it would be much better drawn & more carefully rendered.  The drawing alone would take a lot more time than 1 hour.  When it came time to start painting,  I’d have this somewhat spontaneous sketch to use as reference.

I used a combination of Ultramarine Blue (UB), Cadmium Red (CR), and Cadmium Yellow (CY) to create tones (neutral grays) and mixed with additional pigment to show hue (Color).  After the drawing was done, I wet down the picture area with a large, flat brush using a lot of water and a minute amount of CY to take the paper away from being white.  I let the paper dry a little, then, at the top,  started adding blue to the sky.  When each layer of blue bled into the wet paper, I’d add increasing – and somewhat heavier – amounts of blue to the top for a bluer sky.  I tried to work in as much blue as possible at the top only, allowing the color of the sky to fade-out as it came close to the roof tops of the houses.

I then made a mixture of UB, CR and CY and applied it to all the shadow places.  The paper isn’t soaking wet, but is still holding enough moisture to spread paint easily.  I applied the shadow paint in a thin layer; as it dried I added more paint with somewhat heavier paint in the deepest, coolest shadow places.  I had to mix UB, CR and CY again and this time didn’t thin it down too much.  I did the roof tops, chimneys and the bush, using a variety of the above mix; with a little more red for places I used CR, with more yellow for light places or light shadows.  I used thicker paint for the bush, starting with a mix of blue green, which I stippled throughout the area then  added more CY, went over/around the places where there was blue/green, then added even more yellow and filled in the places where the sunlight was strongest.  I also added a tiny bit of red to the green yellow I mixed for the bush which made a nice neutral gray which I painted into the bush where it meets the edge of the paper on the lower left.  By this time, the paper in the sky and roof area was dry.  I added a tinted glaze over the roof tops and faded it into the blue of the sky.  The tint color I used was yellow.  There was more water than pigment but the glaze of yellow gives the effect of fading the sky behind the houses and gives a lot of depth to the background.  The rooftop colors contrast nicely against the yellow tint, which brings them forward.

The last item was the star of the show, the Utility Pole.  Instead of mixing CR and CY to make a facsimile Burnt Sienna, I used actual Burnt Sienna and the mix of dark gray, thinned down.  The utility pole is closest to me, so gets the most color, also because it’s standing in the strongest light.  I used a gray from my mix of UB, CR and CY with a brush called a ‘liner’ to do the wires and some other areas of detail.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day -- Sept 7, 2009

Beautiful weather today! I decided to work around the house and on a large Still Life painting and to go out somewhere this afternoon and work on location on what I call a Sketch -- with pencil and paint.

I like to spend an hour or two challenging my mind to create a way to get down what I think I want. This is a discipline of mine, to take time off from my regular day and work on a sketch for whatever information and adventure it may bring.

For today’s painting I used Ultramarine Blue (UB), Cadmium Red (CR) and Cadmium Yellow (CY).

I brought my sketch pad with the toned ground, paper toweling, paint in folding paint box, water jug and two bowls, (one for painting, one for cleaning brushes) and paintbrushes in former Pringle’s Potato Chip Container.

I decided to work in my Canson Biggie pad today. A few hours before I went out, I prepared my painting surface (toned ground) with a thin and watery mix of CR and CY. I applied the paint with the flat and wide brush shown on top. The middle brush is a #10 red sable. It’s my oldest brush and I call it 'Grandpa.' The smallest brush is a Sennelier Quill brush that’s excellent for drawing. The pencil is a BIC mechanical pencil with .07ml lead, my favorite kind of pencil.

I packed all the things shown above into my wheelie bag/back pack. The painting on the back pack is mine; I bought the back pack in the spring-time and decided to cover it with pussywillow and a red wing blackbird to celebrate. I also packed my camera and a plastic grocery bag for trash. For my painting location today I chose downtown Torrington from a vantage point in a parking lot behind the library. As you can see, the weather is looking a little ‘iffy’ with the clouds banking up the way they do when a storm is coming. That’s why I chose to stay close to home. I also am very fond of the views from this location. One of the things I love are the windows on the side where the outlines of the front windows can be seen.

I spent ten minutes (more or less) on the thumbnail sketch in lower left corner of the watercolor paper. When I do a thumbnail, I get an idea of what I want, how things go together, where the darks and lights are located, the angle of the sun and time to think about how I’m going to do the drawing for the painting.

The thumbnail sketch part is very important, to me, a step not to be skipped.

When I finished the thumbnail, I moved onto the basic drawing for the painting. This probably took another 10 minutes.

I mixed UB, CR & CY together until I reached a satisfactory neutral gray. I used the mix to begin the painting, starting at the horizon – the treeline behind the buildings – with the #10 Sable. I then did the background buildings and behind the front windows of the building, working from dark (the treeline), lighter (the middle ground buildings), lighter, the middle ground buildings closest to the viewer, lighter, behind the window frame on the nearest building and a very light application of the neutral gray to the nearest building. While the paint was still wet, I added in a thin, light application of CR, CR and a little of the pre-mixed gray to put in the shadow around the windows and the chimney.

I then did the sky, starting with a wash of thinned-down gray and starting from the upper lh corner down to the horizon. When the sky area was entirely wet, I added in more color at the top, worked it down toward the horizon, left spaces for the lighter parts of the banking clouds. As I progressed, I added in more color & tone to the background buildings, to the signs on the foreground building, to the treeline. With each successive layer, the paint is always a little thicker than it was in the previous layer. The last thing I did, was to add even more red to the foreground building, some dark tone to the area behind the front window frames and then some CY to the window frames. I spent a little over an hour on this sketch.