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?

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It’s March and spring is mostly here. We are finally receiving small blessings of rain to quench the dry creek beds and slowly refill a few of our rivers and lakes.  Yes, only a few,  in the past 2 weeks we have received most of 3-4 inches. Our famous spring flowers and Texas Blue bonnets are sprouting hungrily to take advantage of our spring rains.

Though it does not end our drought conditions by any means, it does make for fun finding the spots for spring paintings.  I’ve managed a few small paintings despite our wet season.

Leander Hills, West view. 6x6" #2012_03_03

Even the cloudy days are a welcomed site.  Offering softer changing shadows and colors.  Hazy days easily show atmospheric perspective in our distant soft rolling hills here and occasionally reflect the warm glow of early morning sun as it peeks through the cloud cover.

Stewart Ranch, Dripping Springs. 6"x6" 2012_03_08

The trick is remembering to scale down all the visual noise or info and simply look for the shapes and rhythms found throughout the hilly landscapes.  I find myself often reciting a mantra to remind me of my conscience depiction of cool light warm shadows for cloudy days or warm light and cool shadows on sunny mornings with distant blue hills familiar to the Austin vistas.

Working quickly and settling on you composition is 50% of capturing what you find.  The other part is knowing you palette ranges and remembering to simply suggest the terrain, since it is often a study to work out larger studio paintings.

Picking plein air locations are as much fun as planning a spring walk or picnic venture, only I get to paint what I find too.  More spring colors are blooming each morning so there’s plenty to inspire with our vast blues hills.

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.

Plein Air Excitement

October 29, 2011

I am going to the Plein Air Austin paint out tomorrow morning from 9am-noon.  We will meet in the Hyde Park area of Austin.  Hyde Park community featured a favorite lake in the 1880’s and homes traditional to then.  

You do not need to fuss with bring your oils out if they are very bulky.  I find just getting out to practice simple sketches in pencil or watercolor helps greatly.
It break the monotony of challenging the paint indoors while boosting our interests and energy.  Sketching what interests you it helps focus more on the shapes and patters that compose our subject and renews the need to paint.
So I hope you can grab your sketchbook and come join us.

http://www.pleinairaustin.org/calendar.htm

Hot Color Flows.

October 4, 2011

Glass Blowing!  A new love in art for me.

First Blue Glass!

I have always been drawn to admire elegant glass pieces with striking colors swirled through them.  Learning to create glass work has been on my list for quite some time now.  (Almost as long as I have been painting.)

So for my birthday this year, my sweety, found a glass blowing class for me and made the arrangements.  I got my first taste this weekend, oh boy, that’s Sweet!

setting jack line

I have learned and tried a lot of art processes besides painting.  Clay, carving, college, printmaking, drawing, embossing, fiber art, iron pour, paper making, photography, sculpting, and welding.   But few come close to eclipsing my love of color and paint.

Glass blowing is like suspending liquid color in a solid state. I could sit and stare at glass for hours watching how the colors change with the time of day.  Simply noting how the transparent layers of colors affect one another to create new patterns and movement as they swirl in the sun light.  I also find great joy when considering how to paint colored glass to capture the reflections and light changes.

WoW!  It is so cool to start with a hot 2000 degree lump of nothing and create something so simple and elegant in just in a few minutes.  Watching the glowing glass shift and form as it is rolled and manipulated int to a cylinder, bubble or form is mesmerizing.  It truly becomes a delicate dance balancing yourself the artist, glass, fire, and the forces of Earth.  (By that I mean gravity, centrifugal force, fluid dynamics, temperatures, and more.)   Or picking of broken shards recycled glass and fusing it into a glowing liquid form as it absorbs new colors.  It all about the anticipation of the way a piece will capture and reflect light tempered by wisdom and patience to let it cool.  And humbled by the natural faults and affinity of glass itself to seek its own form despite your push.

Forming the bulb.

adding color frit

forming the cylinder

opening glass

Glass blowing is not a simple process.  Respecting the medium while learning the limitations and boundaries of any medium takes decades.   One I hope I will have opportunities to explore more in the years to come.  For now I will find joy each morning as first light illuminates my first creations of liquid color.

The Next Stage

October 3, 2011

Yes, I know it has been several weeks since I have managed to post to my Blog.  I have been recovering from Bronchitis an juggling several other projects here as well.   So tonight I’ll offer you a sampling of my latest painting project and walk you through it’s stages of development.

What is this new subject?  Hamilton Pools!
For those new to our lovely hill country, Hamilton Pools is a gem in our own backyard just outside of Austin. Best known for it’s scenic sunken grotto featuring 45ft waterfalls, massive rock overhangs and hiking trails to the Perdenales River.  Well, it’s somewhat more like dripping falls in our drought here.  Even in the warmest summer, the natural lake is quite cool.  It is however , most of a 1/2 mile high down to the pool. But it’s definitely humbling and breathtaking to see and worth planning a day for picnicking to calm your nerves a bit..

Photographs hardly capture the beauty of this marvel. Seriously, I had to piece several photos together to reference the distance across the lake, not to mention to adjust for the change in lighting under the cavern.  I can only hope that I can capture it’s impression and vastness with my painting.  I realized after a few initial sketches it was very clear that a small painting would always feel cramped and and limited in translating the vastness of Hamilton Pools.

But I do have to start somewhere. So Once I had determined that I definitely wanted to work the composition in a 1:3 ratio. I started by enlarging my sketch to 18″x36″ drawing to work out the scale and values. It will simplify conversions for a larger panels later as well.

Sketch for Hamilton Pool.

I prepped this color study on two 18″ square panel boards, and designed the composition across them.  Why, did I choose panels rather than canvas? The cradle board panels offer the ability to seamlessly piece multiple panels together.  Not to mention the added advantage of less warping, square gallery depth edges and they don’t require a frame later.

The second part of the challenge would come in determining a workable color scheme.  Establishing solid atmospheric perspective (depth) will be influenced by the color choices.  I started by laying in a violet under painting, to establish warmth and depth for the cliff work.

Underpainting.

I continued to layer colors and work the transitions between warm and cool patterns.

Hamilton Pool, stage 1.

Hamilton Pool, stage 5.

The study is close but not quite there yet.

Test editing

So in my time away from the studio, I have used photo shop to work out what I want to develop further.  It helps me test potential color changes before I jump back into it.  It lets me live with it a bit too.  I’ll post an updated version soon with the resolved areas.  So stay tuned.

Tools of the Trade.

August 25, 2011

Funny thing about us Artists, there’s not much we won’t try to do. We are generally a jack of all trades, an expert in a few, and crazy enough to say why not?

This weeks adventures resulted in a glass tiled kitchen back splash.

Tiling projects require lots of math checking.

Today’s project was a more “labored” sort of project in the Home Improvement. I was helping lay out tiles for a friends kitchen.  Lots of people take on these sort of DIY projects every weekend. There are lots of YouTube demos and TV episode showing what to do. But It’s funny to consider how much real math goes into doing just that.  Once in a blue moon everything adds or divides up evenly with little headaches.  But most often you encounter something that just doesn’t work like you planned. It’s Murphy’s Law.  So then you have to resort to a bit of imagination to solve the problem with grace and elan.  Easier said than done.

Turns out, it’s a good thing I’m a fearless artist, and I know how to cut glass, measure and divide fractions, and remembered to bring along my trusty bucket of favorite tools. Inside it you can find a small level, framer’s square, shims, box cutter, chisel, putty knife, trusty cordless drill, 2 pairs of work gloves, vice clamps and safety glasses.  There are other items in there, but can’t recall everything off the top of my head.  Having access to a Dremel tool and pastry bag made it even better.  The Dremel cuts glass tiles very well with a steady hand.  The Pastry bag pipes small spots of thin set into tight spots the trowels just won’t go.

The trick is a willingness to learn something new, apply the knowledge you have, put some time and thought into it and you usually end up with something pretty darn good.   Yes, I’m bragging a bit.  But it really comes down to knowing your tools and how to best use what you have to do the best job.

So here is some thoughts for those thinking about a career as an artist or contractor… know your math.

Each year I hear these questions along with why are you an artist?  That much like asking Why do you breathe?

  • What do you do?  I create / make stuff.  I just have to do that. 
  • What materials do you use? Depends on the project and scale of the job.  But I have several buckets of tools for various projects. One for Framing art. One for house projects and several more for specific to each Art area I work in.
  • What did you have to learn?  That’s a bit harder to answer, see I have lots of applied knowledge (learned).  I have to know lots of math, fractions, proportions, some chemistry, more science, history, more color theory, basic construction, basic mechanic principles, economics, book-keeping, marketing, computer programs & languages, and researching. I’m sure I missed something in there.
    • Just when I think I have it together the game changes and I find myself heading back to the books.
  • What is the most important parts to my process / career?

Imagination, Discovery, Planning, Education and believe it or not lots of Math!