July 31, 2010

Hastings House

Acrylic on Canvas Panel

I was captured by the colors of the pink setting sun and blue shadows on a building I saw on my last trip to Hastings-on-Hudson. I took a few photos, but new that those colors just wouldn't show up on my camera, so I made a mental note to try and compensate for that later.

When I got back I opened the pic I liked in Photoshop and began tweaking it to better match my memory of the lighting. I probably could have just "imagined" the colors, but since I have Photoshop I thought I might as well start with an adjusted reference photo instead.

I think it turned out a little too dark and extreme as a painting, but I do like the shapes of the tree's shadows on the building. I may try and pull this back a bit when I have time.

July 26, 2010

Page House Blues continued

Acrylic on Canvas - 18 x 24 inches

Today I blocked in the major color shapes. I actually got a little carried away, putting in more detail than I should have at this point. By comparing to the postcard, I can see that the building is way too bright. If I had just stuck to bigger shapes, this would have been just as obvious, but would have saved me some time, since I now have to go back and go over everything here.

I think subconsciously I wanted to see what it would look like brighter, but in doing so, I think I lost out on the impact of the original sketch. The learning process continues.

July 24, 2010

Page House Blues continued

Acrylic on Canvas - 18 x 24 inches

Oh, I forgot to do a wash on the canvas before started, to knock back that stark white to some middle tone, so better late than never. Even stranger was the thinned wash I used beaded up a bit on the surface not immediately "bonding" with the gesso. Not sure why. Maybe it was something that happened in storage.

After a bit of scrubbing I got it to mesh in nicely, and naturally it mushed the charcoal about, but that's fine, since it helped prevent the charcoal from meddling with successive applications of color.

July 23, 2010

Page House Blues

Acrylic on Canvas - 18 x 24

I really liked the quick sketch I did of this a while back. I thought it would make a good subject for a larger piece, so I began by sketching it in in charcoal and then painting in some basic shapes and the darkest darks. Naturally, I kinda like it just like this, but I must proceed.

July 20, 2010

Tres Palmas Yellow

Acrylic on Cardstock - 4 x 6 inches

This is actually a quick and dirty application on top of the show postcard. You can see some details poking through. I just had some paint already out and a few minutes to experiment, so I did. Since the original generated so much interest at the show, I think I'll be doing a series of these soon, with different colors and compositions.

I just saw two great shows at MOMA in NY, for Picasso and for Matisse, both emphasizing their use of doing series of paintings/drawings often going back and simplifying and reducing compositions to just their most basic elements. In Matisse's case, often over a period of years, revisiting a piece, moving figures within the space, deleting elements, changing the color palette. If you get a chance, definitely check these two exhibits out.

July 12, 2010

Tres Palmas Blue

Acrylic on Cardstock - 4 x 6 inches

This was another sketch version I did of the Tres Palmas in a much more muted palette. It basically revealed that a more colorful version was in order. Still, I like the variety.

July 10, 2010

Fulton and Baker Revisited

Acrylic on Panel

This piece is lying near my easel, so I often pick it up after working on something else and being all warmed up already, I find something new to adjust in this piece. It may be a bit like polishing, well, a thing that shouldn't be polished, but I do enjoy seeing how a few bold strokes here or there can completely change the focal point, or the mood, the relationship of shapes etc.

In other disciplines I've discovered that this path is often fruitless, in terms of arriving at a finished piece, because of some major structural flaw. A boring song, a poorly conceived photo, even a bad pasta sauce. It can't ever really be saved. Better to just start anew.

However there is a lot one can learn in the process of making adjustments and seeing what happens. Especially freeing if you know you're working on a piece that may never turn out right. You can't ruin a disaster. The knowledge gained can then be applied to other projects, even if it can't save the patient at hand.

July 7, 2010

Wedding Party

Acrylic on Canvas Paper - 12 x 12 inches

This month's location for the Virtual Paintout is Hong Kong. I gave the roulette wheel a spin and immediately landed on this spot. Not the quaint seaside landscape I had hoped for, but I took it as a sign, as a challenge. It just seemed like one of those artifacts of the modern world, like the Google Map image captures of people breaking into their own homes or sunbathing topless etc. It also reminds me of Scorsese movies for some reason I can't explain.

I know I said I was fed up with the moisture sucking properties of canvas paper, but I had a nice square sitting here, and I thought if I coated it first, added lots of medium to the paints and put it on thick it would be OK. It wasn't. Canvas paper is just no good.

July 5, 2010

Fort Mason

Acrylic on Panel - 11 x 14 inches Ω
I was down at Fort Mason for the big art event of the Spring and snapped this shot of one of the piers. Typical grey SF day, so not a lot of warm colors/values, but I liked the simplicity of just doing the end of the pier (as apposed to painting the whole length of the pier).

July 2, 2010

Apollo Show Extended

For anyone who didn't make it to Apollo Coffee to see the show, it's been extended through July. I just got back from swapping out some of the sold pieces with some fresh ones. Stop by and have a look.

Cowboys 2

Acrylic on Canvas

Although my initial drawing was good, I really did mess up the proportions when blocking in the big shapes. Things are looking much better now. However, there seems to be an overall dullness. Not sure why. Maybe there's no contrast between warm lights versus cool shadows etc.

Maybe I could try some washes. I've never done that before, and I'm not really sure how to do that. I also don't know if I really want to start using that as a technique to "fix" poor initial color judgements. Hmmm. This will need some thought.

July 1, 2010


Acrylic on Canvas - 18 x 24 inches

This is a quick sketch based on a photo I took at last year's 4H event in Healdsburg. These guys were waiting to judge some cattle event. It just seemed so damn 'merican.

I thought I'd mapped things out pretty well, but in retrospect, I can see the body proportions got all skewed after I massed in the major shapes. The guy on the left looks like Porky Pig, which would be nice if that's the kind of editorial comment I was after, which I wasn't.

I'm gonna have to give this another go, soon.