This Little Piggy…

September 13, 2012

Drawing inspiration from the child hood rhymes:
and an adorable stuffed pig with personality we have the makings of a series of fun little paintings.
This Little Piggy… 

So much potential subject matter to yield lovely simple little paintings that lend to great paint passages and expressive compositions.

This little piggy just wants to stay home and hide her head under the blankets.

This Little Piggy Stayed Home. 5×7. #2012_07_12.

Early morning light and deep shadows really helps push the composition.  The light both softens and warms up the compositional balance of negative shapes. A few more layers of paint composing the rounded feet and curly tail add just a touch of whimsy and dimension.

This Little Piggy Snuggled. 5×7 #2012_07_13

This little piggy wants to snuggle in the morning light with her favorite monkey.  Again the lighting and shadows help define the composition while a similar palette of warmer pink and cooler blue values establish the rounded forms of the plush piggy.

Five more minutes… 5×7. 2011.

Five more minutes was the first of this series.  So it is understandably a bit more simplistic.  However by changing the lighting, I ended up with a darker mood and value study.

These paintings are more color, light and compositional studies while really working through a new medium and discovering its various characteristics.   So these are just a few of a growing series of studies to work out.
I wonder what This Little Piggy shall do next?

Catching Painted Skies

July 13, 2012

Catching painted skies!
Well it has been a busy summer thus far.  Already into July here in Texas, and I’ve found little time for my blog.  But with the summer adventures come summer fireworks and we have been lucky to welcome summer storms and much-needed rain.

sweeping storm reference.

I get to welcome the added advantage of ever-changing skies.   The skies change rapidly in color and shape as the winds sweep the fronts along.  So one should always be ready with the friendly camera, timing and a bit of luck to catch rapid changes.   Add in the cooling temps and rhythm of spattering rain you have all the ingredients for great paintings.  Not to mention any excuse to paint purple skies is a welcome playful palette.
Love it!

Storm front at Sunset.

Last week brought unplanned packing and traveling. But I remembered my clever Easy-L paint box and was able to pop in a few paintings even while on the road.  Don’t get me wrong, it was not as easy or stress free as it should be.  But I did manage to find a southern window, added a spectrum lamp small adjustable office chair (from the office) and started about to mixing my limited palette.  5 values of gray, + cerulean, alizarin, cadmium red light, lemon yellow, and violet mixture for my shadows.

I focused on the simple movement and shapes of the clouds for the first 5×7. I intentionally minimized the warmer landmass to balance against the vast cooler sky mass.

Storm Sweeper. 5×7 2012_07_07

In the second 5×7, I was working on layering and rolling the edges and shadows of the clouds.   The challenge was moving from warm sun kissed edges of sunset to the softer violets in the underside.

Sky Fish, Sunset Storm. 5×7. #2012_07_08

It’s funny what the eyes record and the brain registers.  Some where along the way it evolved in a credible Sky Fish painting.

 

Today’s left overs – Cascarones!

Well what’s left from our weekend adventures.  My backyard is littered with a menagerie of colorful confetti.   At least I will have color back there when the sunflowers fade for the summer.

But it does make for fun painting.
So here is tonight’s play in paint and color.

Cascarones for Annie! 5x7 #2012.04.10

The confetti eggs are very vibrant but the challenge in painting them is figuring out a composition to feature the confetti inside.  I intentionally featured the traditional cardboard egg crate too.   Good thing I got pictures because I expect the last dozen will be cracked open tomorrow after school.

Yesterday’s Eggs!

April 9, 2012

What does one do with all the leftover eggs after the Easter egg hunt?
Well, paint them of course.

One of the reasons kids love to decorate and dye eggs are for all the colors that can be created with just a few dyes.
Then even more fun to hide, hunt crack and eat them.

Course I like to dye and decorate them too. But it’s more fun to paint them.
So here is today’s daily fun paint adventure with our leftover eggs.

Yesterday's Eggs 5x7 #2012.04.09

Definitely challenging trying to model the elliptical egg shapes as they overlap and their local colors reflect against one another.  The glass dish added another level of interest trying to depict it’s soft curves and reflections with out over painting it.

April Flowers

April 6, 2012

Wow, the Spring flowers are so vivid this year.  Which is quite amazing since we are still suffering from a severe drought here in Texas.

But I can still appreciate the wild flowers that pop up in my own backyard.  Still no private collection of Blue bonnets but quite a lot of wild Black-eyed Susan’s this year.
So before I push on though my spring I grabbed a few to paint.  This is my result.

Black Eyed Susans_5x7_#2012.04.06.

I intentionally went for a complimentary balance of Red-orange and Blue-violet and focused on a warm light cool shadow composition.
Not so bad for a morning with laundry, dishes and a 5 year old asking where the toy of the moment is.
Back to the Mommy mode.

New Paint! New paintings…

February 11, 2012

New Paint!

New Paint has arrived!

A new year has started and is moving along.  It’s already into February of our New Year here with our colder winter spell too. I have been stealing time in my studio as weather temps permit, since my studio is in the garage. It’s currently nearly 50 degrees out there.  So it takes a bit of time to get it comfortable to work out there. Paint has a happy temp for optimum working conditions, and below 50 degrees is not it.

Between cold spells I plan the next stage of paintings and continue to push on new projects currently underway here in the studio. But that growth requires more supplies.  Thus More Paint!  I have officially moved onto ordering the super tubes in hopes of making it through the bigger projects.

Hamilton Pools *BIG Sky* stage 1

My BIG project for Hamilton Pools is well underway. Notice I have the smaller 18″x36″ painting study above the panels here for comparison.

It's going to be this BIG!

By BIG, sort of, I mean a 3foot by 6foot painting.  And yet, sometimes it’s not quite big enough to relate the magnitude and majesty of a Texas sized treasure. Yet with all large paintings larger quantities of paint are required.  Mixing the calculated colors and values are again a critical part of paint consistency.  Matching values changes ensures the ability to relate visual atmosphere and depth of such a large project.

Hamilton Pool *Big Rocks* stage 2

Stay tuned to watch the growth of this painting project.  Time to catch up, lots to do here. Will post more later.

Soo Cold & Plein on SoCo

December 10, 2011

So Co Cold.. But I still want to paint the hustle & bustle of our Winter season here in Austin.

Winter painting comes with many challenges. Most importantly COLD!

SoCo Skyline

Our winter in a damp cold this season. It seeps past the layers of socks and denim to wick away what body heat is left after the warmer temps have fled.  It has definitely set in full force here with high temps in the 50’s for the past week, not to mention the wind.   No, I don’t adapt to cold very well.  Our summers are in the triple digits, I can tolerate being hot.  But being cold is just plane miserable.  Yes. I have figured out how to mostly stay warm when I’m out.  mostly.  But cold toes are Miserable.  The damp always finds it’s way to my poor toes, even with wool socks. So I can only bare painting for most of an hour.  After that’s its just torture.

Secondly, the lighting effects caused by hazy winter sky’s (which make it colder too).  Natural light reflects differently from sunny afternoons and colors appear to be more muted in the haze, but warmer in contrast to the cool winter light.  Which means adjusting my palette to accurately record what I see, when I’m out on sight.

SoCo Colors

This morning’s paint outing with Plein Air Austin was one of our local favorite spots.
SoCo!  in Austin.

South Congress offers eclectic shopping in vibrant little shops sprinkled with unique artisan tents and colorful food trailers.  One of a kind shops like BigTop, Turquoise Door, Continental Club, Austin Boots and more.

SoCo overlooks the state capital building and downtown skyline below the river.  It is a popular tourist attraction and favorite place to shop for many Austinites.

Today’s painting pic was a popular spot on a cold morning: JO’S.  Another great example of Austin’s charm and colorful buildings

Winter cup of JO's, 5x7, 2011_12_10

Notice how washed out the building is in the background.  That is a great example of the change in natural Winter light.

SoCo Jo's 2011.12.10 5x7

Updated image of the color study

My studio was not so chilly,  today.
Many more corners await to be painted.

Oil and Water do Mix!

December 3, 2011

Yes, Oil and Water do mix to create beautiful and many vibrant color combination.

Today’s adventures prove just that.

I braved the wet weather to venture back to historic to Lockhart’s Dicken’s Christmas.  Lockhart is just south of Austin and is a quite little town that offers a lot of charm in building architecture and people.

Historic Lochart buildings. Veiw from square.

It is a bit special to me since I spent many summers there as a kid.  Everyone was gathered for holiday festivities.  Yes, it is a bit miserable when its cold and wet.  No I’m not comfy in cold, I am a southern child after all. For a few moments I actually saw promise of sun this morning.  I welcome the rain, we need it here.  I need to paint too. The two will have to fair together sooner or later.

The challenges of painting in the wet weather can be numerous, but not insurmountable.  First, dress accordingly, in layers for temp changes, pack extra sweaters.  Writs-lets or gloves with open fingers work well for painting with warm hands.  *helps control brush longer in cold weather.  Some dry fit suits have pockets for hand warmers.  Don’t forget your hat, even for rainy seasons, it really helps cut the glare from other reflections.  Try to find an awning out of the wet and wind.  Lastly, work quickly, winter weather can change quickly too.  Take lots of reference photos.

An interesting observation for cold dreary (wet ) days –  lights and colors sparkle!  The wet contrasts against the more neutral grays common to mist and suddenly the buildings warm up and become new again.  The winter mist helps to soften distant edges and sharpen winter color changes.  All lends to excellent conditions for great paintings.

I start with my usual set up of sketching my choice spot, lay oil paints, then work out a hue and values to match. Rough in a value paint sketch and then add my color.  The water soluble oils work just as well as in the wet.  I like that it’s easy to get more water if needed, though it might take a bit to fill up any other containers in a slow drizzle.

All in all, I managed to come back with a colorful little jem today, too.

Lockhart Jewel. 2011_12_03 5x7

The Value of a painting?

August 2, 2011

Really now, So what’s in the value of a painting?

Well truthfully there are 2 parts to that.

  • 1. the $$$ someone will trade for an intrinsic item of interest.
  • 2. the light and dark that compose the painting.

For now I’m particularly interested in the Value definition that describes the light and dark of a painting. The human eye can see all the subtle gradations of light as it illuminates an object.  Painting a recognizable object on a flat surface requires relating the values as they describe the object in space.

Since I have been away from my studio for a spell, trying to sort out other details, my paintings have been drying and cooking (sort of).  So the next time I get to start a painting around here I have to go back to a clean slate and fresh mixed paints if I intend to maintain clean paintings.  That actually requires mixing 11 distinct values of gray from my white and black.  The outer most (1) being closer to white, 5 being the middle range, and (11) black the last on the corresponding gradation.  I limit my scales to 5 when working plein air.

Gray Value Scale (11 steps)

Why?  The gray-scale establishes a consistent means to measure and test the lightness / darkness of any additional color mixtures I want to paint with.  This allows me to establish credible depth within a flat surface and limited plane.  Color or hue is all relative to its surrounding environment.  But the value or lightness / darkness of yellow measures differently when compared to blue or red.  Not to mention the infinite possibilities we can create from mixing pigments.  The more variations you have of a single color (hue) the more depth ranges you can create, even within a monochromatic (single) color study.

Color value mix. Oil samples.

But why do I mix new paint? As paint ages it dries and oxidizes.  It looses it’s luster and wetness and frequently darkens in value (especially common with oils and acrylics).  This is why I find it critical to mix fresh values regularly when I paint.   This provides a fresh clean scales to judge my other mixtures against or even more importantly try to match against.  Notice that I have taken a few extra steps for checking the relative light or dark of mixing colors by adding a piece of middle gray under my glass palette as well as a few small strips of the value scale to check against as I mix.

Taking the time to mix clean accurate values will take you r paintings a long way to helping push the contrast and add more visual interest without overloading the colors.

In the end it’s always about achieving a readable balance when we are painting –  regardless of subject or style.  It even is applicable to abstracts.   So next time you are looking at a painting, photo or cartoon that grabs your attention see how many different values you can distinguish and consider if it really does add $value$ too.

The Figgy Truth

July 7, 2011

Figgy Truth. 5x7. 2011.07.07

Today is the Figgy Truth.

This a 5″x7″ study worked with a focus on warm light cool shadows.   A fig may not appear much on the outside but the inside that makes it all worth it.  Cut it in half and you get to see the complex core of what makes it a summer sweet in the south or a nice addition to study.

This one will be ready to go to its new home as soon as it dries in a few days.