I've been collecting examples of figurative work from the various art magazines I get, and trying to grasp what I've been missing in my work. For the most part, I think I've been too cautious with color, and I've been blanching out the skin tones by adding too much white. I also tend to stiffen up and become more and more obsessed with little details, completely missing the piece as a whole, only to step back and hate what I see.
So I decided to go back to a clunker I've been struggling with on and off for a few years now. My goal: to keep the brushwork loose and stay with the bigger brushes. And to keep the focus on the foreground, the back should be even looser and less vibrant.
Well, how did I do? Well, I think I succeeded on all those counts, but I don't really think I've made a better painting out of it. Definitely stronger colors in the skin, and looser brushwork. I think one of the big problems that just won't go away is that the composition isn't very good, and the train should probably just go away since it really has no meaning.
This is definitely the last time I work on this one. Unless...
This weeks submission to the DPW "Cropping Challenge" is based on a tiny portion of the original photo, namely the dappled shadows in the driveway.
One of the drawbacks of looking at the challenge later in the week is that you can see what everyone's done already. All really good choices, but I felt I couldn't copy someone else's cropping decision.
I thought I'd try to pick a severe crop that no one else would do (indicated below). Is it kind of a cop out. Perhaps. But it is honestly one of my favorite parts of the image. Cool vs warm, light against shadow. Also I was exhausted after some other terrible painting failures this week, so I needed something manageable.
UPDATE: As someone pointed out, I posted my painting upside down, for no particular reason other than rushing. Blogger doesn't have tools to let me rotate it, so you'll just have to use your imagination (which is what you were doing anyway, right?)
Getting in this week's Up Close Animal Challenge, a whole day early! I generally don't look forward to animal portraits, but I did have this photo from my last trip to Sonoma, so I went for it. Not much to say other than the paint looks like frosting because I laid it on pretty thick, especially so considering the size of the piece. I did the whole thing with a #6 Filbert.
Another just-under-the-wire submission to the latest Daily Paintworks Challenge – The Lying Down Challenge. I had this picture already in my to-do queue, but wasn't sure how I'd approach it.
I decided to paint it small but with a large enough brush that I wouldn't be tempted to overwork it, and to mix the colors in advance, and just place them in the right spot and not do any painting over. Well, I succeeded with the first part, but I really couldn't nail the colors right off the bat, so I did paint over. A lot.
Another quick sketch of the Conservatory of Flowers that wound up getting way too much brushwork for my taste. I want to paint over it to simplify it, but that seems counterintuitive, so I think I'll just chalk it up as "experience" and maybe do a new one from scratch.
My entry for the Daily Paintworks' Easter Challenge. It was one of my best portraits, last night. It was nice and loose, big brushstrokes of decisive color, not overworked etc.
Then came the dawn. This morning, as I was preparing to photograph it, I decided I needed to fix one of the eyebrows, so I pick up a little brush, after all, I was only fixing a little thing and didn't need to dirty a big brush. Before I knew it, I was adjusting everything.
What a can of worms. The only parts that still have the quality I was going for are the dress and the duck. Live and learn, I guess.