Sunday, July 20, 2014

Art Studies

I've continued to do mostly studies about art, rather than making new paintings.  Work and home have demanded a lot of my time.  I've got a couple of new clients for my consulting business, and I'm trying to make sure they're happy.  And at home, a combination of ongoing projects and decent weather has required a lot of labor outside.  We had a new propane tank installed in the yard, which meant they had to dig a big hole to bury it, which required me to smooth over the ground, spread grass seed and fertilizer, cover it all with straw, and restore a stacked rock wall.  Sounds simple but it required a lot of time and I was a whipped puppy at the end.

So the studio has gotten short shrift lately.  I've used my limited time to work on several different studies.  One of them is landscape.  I've continued to go thru the landscape book mentioned in a previous posting, taking lots of notes, and learning a good bit.  One of my studio efforts was a cloudscape.  Here's how it turned out:


Great art?  Hell, no.  But it's paint on canvas and gave me a chance to work with the play of late-afternoon sunlight.  I've always loved looking at those big summer afternoon thunderclouds.  Sometimes the light catches them just right and stops me in my tracks.  But painting them is a difficult thing to do.  Painters work with a very limited range of colors that reflect light, whereas a thundercloud and the surrounding sky comprise an infinite range of colors and light.  With this particular study, I looked at how the range of colors in the sky (an ultramarine in the upper left corner, to a light green in the bottom right), as well as the range in the cloud (bluish purple shadows, light rose highlights near the bottom, gradually shifting to orange and yellow up high).  The mountains are, to me, a disaster, but that just shows what I need to focus on next.  Lots of lessons learned here.


I've been going to sessions with a model on Wednesday evenings.  Last week was my third session.  We had a lovely young lady who took a pose leaning against the wall.  She was very tanned and athletic, which gave her skin a rich warm glow, and the strong lighting gave sharp contrasts in light and dark.  I was pretty happy with the way this study turned out.  Titled "Megan Standing", it's now up in my Etsy gallery.  With this study, I put into practice some of the things I've picked up from my figure studies.  Specifically, I do an underpainting using only burnt umber.  This lets me work out the composition and light/dark structure.  Once it looks acceptable, I go in with a very limited range of colors.  This one used primarily yellow ochre and cad red, with a little bit of cobalt blue in various places, some ultramarine in the very dark darks, and a tiny bit of cad yellow in some of the highlighted areas.

Last week, I visited one of our local used-book stores and found a thick book on Anthony Van Dyke.  I never knew much about him, besides that he could paint a helluva fine portrait.  I've been going thru the book and studying the images, taking notes on the compositions, colors, metaphorical representations, and other things as they pop into my head.  My method of taking notes is to do a thumbnail sketch of the image and then scribble things down as they pop into my head, in a stream-of-consciousness way.  Here's a page from the notebook:


After this afternoon's session, I have quite a few things that I want to try out in the studio.  Lots of lessons learned, I think ... if I can remember them!


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