Thursday, February 24, 2011

No Q-tips....

Feb 23

Feb 24

Feb 23, ‘11

I’ve been up for a few hours, at work for about an hour.  Not much is happening as far as being motivated to work on this painting.  I sit and stare and mess around on the computer.  I’m out of coffee so contemplating a trip to the store.  At the moment, I feel like an old and cranky machine that doesn’t work well in Chill.  The temp today, so far, is 19◦’s, with sunshine.  The predicted high for today is 37◦.  Hard to get going, this morning....

Albert is in my lap, purring, settling down for a nap.  He’s very warm.  He seems to love it when I’m sitting and thinking because that’s good news for him and his nap schedule.  One of his cues that it’s an opportune moment to settle down on my lap is when he hears the cards slapping (continuously, monotously) as I absent-mindedly concentrate on FreeCell.  

Besides FreeCell, I use the computer a lot in my work.  All my reference photos are stored in my computer or on an External Drive.  When I take photos, I’m training my mind and eye, AS IF I were going to do a sketch or painting.  With a digital camera, the possibilities are endless also inexpensive so a lot more reference material than a few costly film photos and notebooks.  I think of some of my heroes and how they might love the computer, too.  D H Lawrence and all that endless pencil sharpening and laborious writing his story down on legal-size yellow lined paper.  Emily Dickinson writing down her poetry on bits and scraps of old envelopes or grocery lists in off-moments from the daily grind of life and elder care in the 1800's.   Imagine what she could have done with a word-processor.  

When copy-machines came into being I thought of my grandfather, WWII, and he a Major in the Army Air Corp, stationed at the Pentagon.  In peacetime,  a journalist and newspaper editor.  He wrote a family newspaper that was made up of news that had been sent to him by a few relatives and sent copies to the rest of is family and his son who were in the Service, one in England, one in the South Seas.  He may have done 10-12 editions per month, 4 copies at a time, on his typewriter using thin and crackly paper interspersed with layers of carbon paper.  That’s a lot of typing.  And messy carbon paper....  I think he’d love the computer and all the possibilities; in my mind’s eye, I see him Googling all the time.

I document a lot of my process as I’m working on a painting and store the information – for the past 10 years or so.  I started photographing my process after reading so many art magazines which showed much progressive works of a variety of artists.  After I got a digital camera I realized I could do that too.    I love the ability to transform an image from color to monotone and I love the ability to see my work reduced to the size of a thumbnail and feeling as if I’m seeing the image from very far away.  

Okay.  With all this writing and thinking, I’m ready to paint.


Thursday Feb 24, ‘11

I worked on this painting for a few more hours yesterday, after I wrote the 1st part of this entry.  I stopped painting when I reached this point shown in Feb 24 photo.  After that flurry of activity -- which felt like an out of time experience -- I’ve settled the painting on the easel and have lived with it as it is for almost 24 hours, have been aware of many thoughts & feelings regarding this painting and the process.

A thought that comes up a lot from within is that it’s almost there.  It's blurry, needs sharpening....  Another thought is that if I push it, rush into a finish, I’m going to barrel past ‘there’ and end up in a mess.  Then I’ll have to blog about making changes with Q-tips – which I’m sure would be deadly boring -- for me as well as any reader.  One of my goals with this painting is Little or No Q-tips....  In my experience, I’ve spent far too much time cleaning mistakes with Q-tips and water and wanted this to be a painting where I didn’t spend a lot of time rubbing out, fixing....   So am holding off on painting today, until a time when I can ease myself back into a zone where I don’t have alternate time-pressure.  I’ll continue to peruse, to meditate on this painting and look forward to working on it whenever....

Going out today is a good thing.  The sun is shining and the temperature is climbing up to the 40's.  I’ll come back with a day’s work behind me and next month’s rent $'s in the bank.  For right-brain activity/meditation I’m planning on a sketching session from my car at lunch-time.  In warm sunshine and perhaps there will be bird-calls.

The plan for today is activity, away from the studio, out of the house and on the road; left-brain tasks and plenty of them.  Let’s Ride!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Plastic, Winter Painting 11

It was sunny today but cold and windy.  I hunkered down in my chair today and put in quite a few hours on this painting.

I started with the sky.  I set up the paper for the first wash by wetting down the sky area completely with a 3/4" flat brush and a #8 Round.  I used the round around some of the roof edges.  I set up my wash by wetting the entire area then I worked into the area I’d just wet with more water until the sky area was flooded and somewhat sodden.  I took care to treat the water as if a graded wash so I had an even surface tension & wasn’t flooding over the edges.  Then I dropped in a watery mix that contained a hint of Cadmium Yellow in the lower sky area.  I spread that by nudging it gently with my brush and also tipping the paper in the direction I wanted it to flow/diffuse.

To the puddle of Blue, I added enough Alizarin Crimson and a touch more of Cad Yellow and used that puddle to create warm grays (reddish) and cool grays (bluish) to modify the tone on other elements of the painting.

I used Cad Red mixed with the gray mix to do the dark side of the chimneys.

I’ve also gone over quite a few areas with friskit, to preserve whites and to help create the illusion of snow on the roofs and maybe a little in the tree.

When I stopped work for lunch, the entire surface of the painting had been given a layer of paint, whether it shows or not.  The layer of paint for the mid-tone values and the light values is thin and acts as a sort of a primer or skin on the picture surface.

I think of watercolor as being similar to oil in working the paint from lean to fat.  In the beginning of an oil painting, washy layers of paint and turpentine, in successive layers, less turpentine, more oil, more paint....    In the beginning of a watercolor, loose, wet, washy....  In the middle layers, 20-30% more paint each successive layer, not as loose or washy as the first layer, tightening the surface....

This is where it starts to get real plastic for me.

I start with big brushes for the watery layers and work my way down to smaller for the thicker paint and the thickest paint of details.  Sometimes, I mix paint thick enough to flow through a pen nib to add details with a fine point.  Or a calligraphy pen.

After lunch, I re-worked the sky area.  I made a large puddle in a flat dish and added in Cinereous Blue until it appeared that there was more blue than in the batch I’d mixed for the first layer.  I added in a very small amount of Cad Yellow.  If the Blue was an Elephant the Cadmium Yellow was a flea.... The mix was very thin;  I started at the top and graded it down to the horizon.  There was enough blue left in the mix so that it appears to be a pale blue at the horizon.  After the blue was applied and the paper still wet,  I quickly mixed in a bit of Cerulean Blue to the puddle & ,  worked it into the upper part of the sky.  I did this action a few times, each time adding a bit more Cerulean Blue.  I used these 2 blues this way because I see Cinereous Blue as a cool and receding color and Cerulean Blue as being a warm and advancing color, giving this area of paper an appearance of the natural, the Sky as I felt about it on a sunny day after a winter blizzard.

The final thing I did before I quit painting for the day was to erase the dark graphite lines.  I’m using good quality watercolor paper that can take it.  A lot of the graphite was loosened in the first wash and quite a lot of it lifted but I needed the dark lines gone.  I get a sense of enjoyment at doing the erasing and seeing the clean and image emerging from the paper.  I’m also pleased with the sky and looking forward to doing more work soon.  Maybe even tomorrow....

Saturday, February 19, 2011

More Process, But First....

Feb 18, ‘11

A Saturday morning; windy, alternately sunny/snow showers.  37◦’s with a wind chill factor depending upon how hard the wind is blowing at the moment.

I showed up this morning with every intention of beginning the painting but while I was sitting and thinking was struck with a case of the ‘but firsts....’

The But Firsts are the things that need to be done before another thing can be done.  My first But First, my pallet needed to be cleaned and replenished.  The But First on cleaning the pallet created a new but first, which was washing the dishes from last night.  The but first on that one was to hang yesterday’s wash to dry on the rack in the living room, the But First on replenishing the pallet had to do with finding the box with the paint and so on and so forth....

A lot of But Firsts have been tended to including a lot of work on the drawing in the form of erasing, lowering the roof on the foreground barn and generally cleaning up the drawing.   While I was going through my stash of paint I discovered 2 pigments I rarely use; Cinereous Blue and Indian Yellow.  I tested them out on sketch paper as shown in the photo.  As a result, I’m changing my color scheme.

A But First applied to my painting – apply Frisket to a few areas before I begin (and a few more times while building the painting).  

I’ve come to a point where the frisket has been applied, has dried.  I’m ready to do the sky – and eager to begin.   But First, time to start getting ready for a lunch date.  More soon.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Product of the Process Feb 18, '11

I gave a lot of thought as to how I wanted to proceed with this project and in the end, un-taped the watercolor paper from the foam core then taped the paper to my drawing board.  I don’t have on hand a piece of bond paper large enough to make a Same-Size drawing, don’t want to wait to proceed until I do, don’t want to spend $’s I don’t have on paper I don’t really need....

After I taped the paper to the board, I marked it off into my rule of 3rds grid and then, copying from the working copy and the tracing,  worked out a lot of the details with a ruler.  I also used my 1st working copy and the tracing as my guides and eyeballed a lot of the drawing.  I got the foundation drawing to the point where it felt ‘right’, un-taped the paper from the drawing table and re-taped it to the foam core.  

A few hours work....  It was an out-of-time, pleasant, happy few hours, working in sunlight in my studio.  I’m pleased with the results so far.  Now I’m looking at the drawing on the paper, just waiting for the moment when I start the painting.  I’m feeling the way I used to feel when I stood at the edge of the high-dive, summoning up the courage to take the leap, to dive in, to just do it....

The graphite on the paper left the drawing overall smudged and  dirty.  I feel that were I to start painting, I’ll be able to wipe away the smudginess with the 1st thin layers of paint – to wash it off with a thin wash of color and a paper towel.  Or, I may just decide to clean the paper more with an eraser before I begin.  Time will tell on that one.  I have other things to do so will leave it alone, for now.  It’s there in plain view;  I can look at it and think about it as I go about the other business of the day, which is one of the things I like about having a painting in process.  

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Showing up is 80% of the job....

Feb 15, ‘11

Today is cold and windy, a complete turnaround from yesterday which was warm (40◦) and mild.  The wind has mighty force today and is bringing much cold into my house despite all the plastic over the windows.  It’s that strong a wind and is probably felt in even the most air-tight home or office today.  The wind is strong enough to warrant a Severe Weather Alert.  I’m taking it under advisement.  

I’d like to go out tonight but won’t if the wind is as disturbing tonight as it is today.  I find the sound of high wind – rattling window panes, creaking trees, the sound of a mighty force passing by and through –  disturbing.  As I recall van Gogh and Cezanne found the sound of the mistral disturbing,  as well as my father and people I’ve talked to this morning, which is comforting; I’m not the only person in my life or in time who finds the sound of high winds disturbing and somewhat threatening.  

This morning I discovered that my door to the front hall had blown open.  It was an uncommon chill that led me to the front room and the discovery.  The door was still locked.  The hall and stairway is enclosed, with 2 storm-glass windows across from the door, and the downstairs door still closed, so I say a mighty wind is blowing today.

Soon after I closed the front door, I heard a scratching.  Turns out, Albert had slipped out into the hall when the door was open.  He’s never been out there before & I never thought to look for him before I closed the door.  He was scratching at the door frantically and was glad I finally heard him and let him back in.

When I showed up for work, I mostly fussed and fidgeted, made a few phone calls, had more coffee, chatted with my sister on Facebook, thought about Art and jittered about some more.  Some days are like this....   But, after awhile, I did make a few decisions & took some action.  

I decided to use my easel for this painting and have placed the board on the easel with working copy #4 in the lower right hand corner, with a few more decisions facing me.   Am I going to do a same-size drawing on thin paper then trace it to the watercolor paper or am I going to ‘eyeball’ it and do the drawing from where I sit?  (wrapped in a blanket, listening to the wind, bird and computer).  The change of perspective is interesting, my mind is in gear.  With the easel taking space in my immediate vicinity, decisions will be more forthcoming as it’s difficult to procrastinate around an easel with a blank page. (To be continued....)

Tomorrow I have an appointment to visit a printer to discuss a calendar I’d like to produce for 2012.  I’m looking forward to seeing a printer and to be getting parameters, prices and any other valuable information I’ll need so I can make further decisions/plans regarding the calendar I ‘see’ in my mind’s eye.  I’m excited, looking forward ....  The woman I talked to on the phone said I’m going to see a few familiar faces.  I can’t see those faces in my mind’s eye, so will wait until tomorrow and hopefully be surprised and glad to see people I used to know but haven’t seen in years.

Albert is perched on the back of my chair, near the bird cage.  We’re all 3 of us, me, cat and bird, as close to the heater as we can get.  There’s a sound of the bird playing with a toy in her cage, the computer and the wind.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Plastic/Psychological -- final experiment

Monday Feb 14, ‘11

Maybe the ground hog was right, maybe spring is coming early.  The temp at 10am is 43 degrees, well over freezing and that is something new for this winter of ‘11.  Today and yesterday felt as though the siege of winter had been lifted.  

I’ve done an Experiment #3 which I liked to well I decided to do a #4, which has been the best for me, so far.  I continually felt a sense of Eureka! (I’ve found it!) as I spent all day yesterday working on it and enjoying the process.

I wasn’t pleased with the results using Cerulean Blue, Aliziran Crimson and Aureolin Yellow so switched to Pthalo Blue for my blue.

I used Pthalo Blue (PB), Alizarin Crimson (AC) and Aureolin Yellow (AY) to create color and tone.  The PB/sky wasn’t bright enough so when that area was bone dry, I worked in a glaze of Ultramarine Blue (UB) in the top rh corner.  

I added finishing-off details using a steel pen-nib loaded with dark and thick-enough paint to flow through the nib to finish this painting, mostly in the tree and also in the shadow between the snow and the roof (center foreground), the window....  

Experiment #4 is my official new working copy.   I’ve made some changes in the composition – mostly, tilted the foreground buildings in an exaggerated manner, tilted the angle of the middle ground buildings so that they slightly oppose the tilt in the foreground,  have in mind a few things I want to add; a chimney and shadow to the roof in the right fore middleground, snow clinging to the branches of the tree....  

I’m pleased with this painting, it’s at a place where it feels ‘right’, is aesthetically pleasing to me, expresses my initial idea and all my thoughts and feelings since, feels like a balance between psychological (me) /plastic (paint and tools); I  feel eager to get on to the next step, transfer the image to a 11 ½” x 15"  piece of watercolor paper.    

Friday, February 11, 2011

Feb 11, ‘11

“Do you want cognition to contribute design values to your watercolors or do you prefer to just ‘emote’ and roll dice in the rectangle?”  Edgar Whitney, The Complete Guide to Watercolor Painting

I try for a balance; emotion and cognition, which is why I'm reading, studying and quoting  Edgar Whitney.  

I've been passionate about the graphic arts since Grade School and for awhile in my career, was a professional Graphic Artist.

In doing all these experiments with this image I feel that I’m balancing the emotional with the logical learned from past experience and constant learning.  I’m certainly feeling & emotional, being human and struggling with human existence,  the most noticeable this time of year being Weather and Arctic Cold.  

Yesterday I traced the image from the 2nd working copy, traced it onto sketch paper and did a small (16th sheet) painting using the color swatch I made from the day before.   

The photos show how I transferred the image using tracing paper.  1) the image after I traced it from the working copy 2) using a #6 lead pencil to rub graphite on the lines of the drawing from the back of the tracing 3) taping the tracing to the wc paper and going over the lines on the front of the tracing paper with a fine ball point pen. 

Traced from Working Copy
Tracing with lines gone over in #6 graphite pencil on the back of the tracing
Tracing squared up and taped to Sketch Paper
Showing  the image traced to the sketch paper with fine point ball point pen
When I was done tracing, I did a quick painting using the pigments from my color swatch.  I’m not entirely happy with the painting so far, but neither am I disappointed.  I’m needing to continue my experimentation.



My project for today was to do another painting, using my ideas from yesterdays and apply them to today’s.   This one was done on a piece of watercolor paper cut from a full sheet and is a 16th of the size of the full sheet.  I’ve established tone using a mixture of Cerulean Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Cad Yellow and in the foreground, an optical gray I mixed last winter.  I used pure Cad Yellow where the light is strongest, in the middle ground house that’s closest the foreground horizontal roof.  The half tones in the middle ground are a mix of violets with the purest being the closest and the grayest the farthest back.


I decided yesterday that I’d use frisket in this painting to preserve certain white areas so I applied that, which show as shiny spots on the photo.  I enjoy applying the frisket ever since I discovered that my Walnut Drawing Stick was the perfect tool for me.  Before I added the frisket I erased the dark graphite lines, which is why the middle ground looks like one big blur, which is what I wanted.  I added marks for the tree with the frisket.  I plan to do the rest of the tree before I remove the frisket and where it has been will be the most colorful part of the tree. 


I’ve come to a place with this small painting where I’m not sure where to go next.  I think that’s a signal that it’s a good time to stop for lunch.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Plastic/Psychological continued

Color Swatch


Plastic: I’ve been studying the 2 working copies of my proposed painting and have come up with a color plan for the 1st layer on the painting.  I have yet to make a same-size drawing and tracing but that will happen soon.  In the meantime, I’m going to do a few more small paintings using the middle and bottom swatch for my opening moves.  When I did the blue swatch I was planning the sky area.  When I did the bottom swatch, I was thinking of my foreground.  Regarding the value scale, I’m starting in the middle, will reserve whites (another decision; use frisket or paint around?)

The blue swatch is a combination of Cerulean Blue and Aureolin Yellow.  The bottom swatch is Cerulean Blue, Aureolin Yellow and Alizarin Crimson, which I will use to establish tones.  Mixed together I think/feel that it makes a lovely gray.  I desaturated the photo of color swatch in my photo editing program so I could see how much white paper to ‘save’ and how dark I can go to do the finishing touches.  I’m satisfied that it will make strong darks for this painting as well as pale yet colorful light.

Psychological: One of the reasons my drawing table hasn’t been available is that it’s been my eBay table for the past 6 weeks & covered with chotchkes I want to sell.  It’s also been too cold in there to work comfortably at art.  The good news is that I’m almost done selling the eBay stuff; the last item goes out the door in a few days.  I’m not sure how cold it will be but I feel certain that I’ll get to the drawing by this weekend, even if I have to use a space heater to keep warm.

The rest of today will be spent going out and doing some shopping, then some cleaning and making dinner for a good friend.  And celebrating no storm today and plenty of sunshine.

More soon.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Chopping Wood, Washing Dishes...

Before Inspiration; Chop Wood, Wash Dishews
After Inspiration; Chop Wood, Wash Dishes
(Zen Statement)

Feb 7, ‘11

A gray and chilly day, 25◦’s, no wind and crows caw-ing in the woods behind the house.  I’m working in my studio today because it’s warm enough –  not too little, not too much.  And I’m bundled, could use mittens....  I’m enjoying the natural sunlight coming through the windows even though it’s thin, somewhat enjoying Albert going through his hell phase before he winds down into an all day nap.  (Can’t happen soon enough as he’s getting beyond irksome, way past cute.)

I’m at a stage in my Winter painting where I’m doing more thinking about doing than doing.  My 2nd working copy is leaned against a table across the room and I’ve been perusing it off and on,  as I multi-task a bunch of things.  I’m hawking an eBay auction that ends today.  So far, with a little more than an hour to go, I’m disappointed and what I’m going to earn doesn’t seem worth the time for packing and taking to the PO.  Hope the last bit of time that remains proves me wrong.  I’m making marmalade; just finished chopping the oranges and they’re bubbling away in the crockpot.  And a few other mundane tasks.  Before I sat down again, I taped the paper I’m going to be using for this painting to a large piece of foam core, a board that I’ve used for years.  

I’ve spent a lot of time living with the painting and have also tweaked it a bit when I see something that needs to be tweaked.  I had a good time messing around with the tree, making plans for when I do the tree on the ‘real’ painting....

Somewhere last night, I decided that I was going to do this painting on a quarter-sheet so when I was done cutting the oranges, washing the dishes and other tidying-up, I cut the paper and taped it onto the board.  Another step along the way.  The paper mounted to the board is leaned against the wall, ready to go.  

The next step on this painting will be to make more decisions regarding how I do the initial drawing on the paper. There are a few ways this could be done.  I could directly mark the paper into thirds with a soft pencil and ruler then follow the directions from the working copy or I could make a larger working copy, trace it and then transfer it to the paper.  

I’m leaning toward making a larger working copy and transferring it.  I don’t ordinarily do this but in this case I think it might be preferable as keeping the watercolor paper clean is important to me.  Marking the watercolor paper with pencil makes the paper very dirty and often requires a lot of erasing.  The paper can take it I’d just rather not spend the time.  Making a larger working copy also helps to refine the image, to simplify – and gives me time to form some new decisions in my mind, such as what to do about the color.  I’m still not happy with the colors on the 2nd working copy.

I use masking tape to tape the paper to the board.  By eye, I place the tape 1/4" into the edges.  On the working copy the tape area is defined by the 2 black lines that create a border.  On the ‘real’ painting, the tape gives me a sense of boundaries.

I look forward to more moments of inspiration but in the meantime, will keep on keeping on and go do some vacuum cleaning.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Plastic/Psychological continued



Feb 6, ‘11

During the course of the day (yesterday) I worked this experiment to the point as shown.   Looking at what I’ve done so far, I think that the final outcome is overworked but since this is an experiment, that’s ok.  As I said before, this is a place to make ‘mistakes’.  This heavy sketch paper can only take so much glazing; I’ve applied approx 3 glazes in different areas....  There’s much I like about what I’ve done, psychologically and plastically – and much I don’t.  I’m going to hang this experimental painting close-by to peruse, encounter, think about, take me by surprise –  as I live and work around it for the next few days.  I’ll be working on the painting by being aware of my thoughts and responses.  I’ve made the decision that it’s going to be worked on a quarter sheet and am anticipating the work, anticipating using the paint and brushes – all the tools–  on a quality sheet of watercolor paper.  I’m overall happy with what I’ve done so far and will be thinking about changes I’d like to make when I turn this idea into a painting for a show.

Right off the bat, I’m not happy with the warmth of the Blue I used.  Ultramarine.  Needs to be cooler....  I’m very happy with the middle-ground area, I’m happy with the tree, I’m happy with the thought that I like it now and know I can make it better.

I had a moment of spontaneity/inspiration yesterday with this painting.  I was dressed to go out and ready to step out the door, hand on the doorknob....  I caught a quick glimpse of the painting and felt strongly that I needed to add some blue to the foreground to mark hold that thought.  I needed to stop and make a symbol of the quick thought/sense I felt about this painting when it caught my eye.  In my coat, gloves, boots, I quickly added the intense blue in the foreground.  I’m now pondering the blue, reading it as if words I wrote in a dream journal, waiting for it to make sense.  

I enjoyed being there to capture a moment of Inspiration from the Right side of my brain/the Universe.  While I’m waiting for Inspiration,  I’m going to metaphorically chop wood and literally  wash dishes, do some cooking.....  And cut the paper I need for the painting and tape it to the board.

Today is sunny and at 8:30 am, 34◦.  Warm!  I’m going to my mom’s for lunch and if all goes well, if I hustle and I get organized, I'll leave early and spend some time sketching or photographing at the farm. 



Saturday, February 5, 2011

Plastic/Psychological continued

Today is semi-grim and somewhat cold.  A Severe Weather Alert has been posted for this afternoon into tomorrow.  Plans for this afternoon and evening have been cancelled.  I’ll be so glad when this winter is over....

I’ve been at work on my proposed painting for a show at the end of March.

I sectioned off my working copy using the Rule of Thirds which is based upon the Golden Mean.  I leave deeper study of the Golden Mean to anyone who cares to research this.  The Rule of Thirds is a shortcut and I’ve been using it for so many years I hardly think about it.  Here is a better description copped from Flickr (underscores mine):

The Rule of Thirds
“One of the most basic and effective strategies for composition is the well-known Rule of Thirds. In a tic-tac-toe fashion, you mentally divide the image into nine rectangular areas by drawing two equally spaced horizontal and vertical lines. The result will give you three equal horizontal and vertical layers, with four points where the lines intersect.

Once you mentally divide the image into that nine part grid, you then place the elements of the scene according to that grid. There are several possibilities:

1. Place elements, especially important subjects, at one or two of the intersection points, what some call the “power points.”

2. Place elements along the vertical or horizontal lines. For example, put the horizon on the bottom line to emphasize the sky, or on the top line to emphasize the landscape.

3. Place elements neatly within the horizontal and/or vertical layers.

4. Combine these strategies in interesting ways.”

I’ve underlined ‘mentally divide’ because that’s how I arrived at the composition in my mind as I looked out at the snow on the roofs that winter morning and arranged the camera shot.  I purposely selected the light area and the houses in that area to be in the power point box – for the camera shot and if I were to ever do a drawing or painting of that scene.


After I marked off my working copy, I drew a rectangle on white sketch paper the same size as the original working copy and sectioned it into 3rds as per the Rule of Thirds.

For demonstration purposes I copied the information from my working copy into 2 separate boxes on my 2nd working copy, the lower lh box and the information in the power point box.  Ordinarily, I start from the Power Point box and work my way out and around.

Some more information about the Rule of Thirds worth remembering:
“Here’s a more subtle aspect of the Rule of Thirds grid. Hopefully, the dimensions of the nine rectangular areas are aesthetically pleasing, as in the “golden ratio” of 8:5. The frame of the typical camera is very close to this ratio, which results in nine areas that also approach those dimensions. Applying the rule of thirds to images of unusual dimensions may result in divisions with proportions that are not as aesthetically pleasing.

Taking the Rule of Thirds as a rigid “rule” is a mistake. It’s best to consider it a guideline. Strict placement of elements according to the grid may be too predictable, too obviously geometric. A more subtle and loose interpretation stimulates that satisfying reaction in which our mind perceives order, but we cannot immediately verbalize why. Place elements near the lines or power points, but not right on them. Organize fields of color and texture close to the horizontal and vertical layers, but not squarely within them. Place a prominent subject at a power point and other elements more loosely around the grid.”

We're expecting more Storm today so I'm sure I'll be doing more work on building this painting.  More soon.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Feb 4, ‘11

Psychological:  Today is sunny and cold.  The best part of today is that it’s not snowing.  We’ve been through a major storm at the beginning of the week and in those days of being cooped-up inside I’ve been working on an idea for a painting I’d like to do for an up-coming show.  The idea for this painting originates from a sunny day we had before the last storm when I was struck with the color, the snow on the roofs and the shapes of a familiar scene outside my studio window.  I’ve spent a lot of time sketching/painting this scene in all seasons and feel I know it pretty well by now.  I love the order, the way the roof tops fit together with the only ‘natural’ things being the tree and the sky.

Plastic:  Many of my sketches were done with a steel nib dip pen and thinned-down watercolor.   (Not shown as they were great practice but lousy art....)  I felt like drawing in a medium I love but don’t often use, for the practice, to slow down my mind....  Most of my early Art experience was as a graphic artist, sign-painter and calligrapher.  I’ve used design principles to create Advertisements for print, brochures, flyers, posters, signs and calligraphy pages.  All my results were from working things out on paper until coming up with a plan and that’s how I’m developing this painting.

Edgar Whitney says “emphasis is placed upon what must be an artist’s greatest concern every time his/her brush touches paper – design.  Growth in taste is contingent upon never-ending pre-occupation with design principles.”

The small sketch was done on the scene – in my studio looking out the window.  It looks fuzzy a) because of the wind blowing snow and blurring the scene and b) my hand wasn't so steady when I photographed the sketch.  I used a fine charcoal pencil and added in color with colored pencils.  This gives me an idea of the value pattern and a faint idea as to Color.  I have a photo taken from the spot where I was sitting, to remind me of the colors I found so appealing.  

The sketch/painting on graph paper is a more organized version of how I visualize the painting I’d eventually like to produce. I have yet to determine the size of the painting – half sheet or quarter – but on the graph paper, it’s sized for either.  On a quarter sheet, every 2 blocks of the graph paper = 1 inch.  If I use the half sheet, every block on the graph paper = 2 inches.

One of the factors that determines my choice of size has to do with mattes and frames I have on hand.  Taking stock of what I have on hand I find I’m better equipped for the quarter sheet size.

I added a few layers of washy watercolor to the graph paper sketch.  I was eager to see how my color ideas might work.  Graph paper is a bitch to paint on but it whetted my appetite for the better quality watercolor paper and the eventual ‘real’ painting.

These sketches are the places to make ‘mistakes’, take risks, work things out....  These sketches are happy hours out-of -time, of play-time,  of Research and Development.

Edgar Whitney also says “A...picture is a fusion of plastic and psychological values – psychological values plastically apprehended.... Art is significant when it is the result of both these components.  This is very important for the student to remember.”

This student is going to keep this in mind and get back to work.  Watch for updates.