Monday, July 07, 2014

Early July Update

It's been busy times here since my last post.  Very little of it has to do with art.  We finally had our heat pump replaced.  That was a big deal, about 3 days worth of work for the crew from Bullman Heating and Air, but they did a really good job.  The new system pumps more air than the old, and it cooled the house down quickly, so we're happy.  The next stage will be next week when we have the propane guys come out and install a big tank.  Since our heat source in the winter will now be propane rather than electricity, it will be needed.

One of my business clients had a big project come up, and I spent about ten days going full-bore on it.  No studio time for this boy.  But we got it done and met the deadline.  And then I was able to catch up on other things.  Art, for instance.

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm going through another stretch of training myself in better painting techniques.  I had studied some classical figure painting techniques and applied them to a couple of copies of master paintings - one by Odd Nerdrum and another by Rembrandt.  Subsequently, I did a couple of life studies.  One will never, ever, see the light of day again.  The other was done from an old drawing session and it actually turned out okay.  Here it is:

Blue Shawl
Oil on linen panel, 20"x16"

This was done in a classical style, with warm underpainting and glazes on top.  I learned a good bit from this exercise.  The painting is now up in my Etsy gallery.

In addition to working on techniques for the figure, I'm also looking at landscapes.  This is a subject that I've typically avoided.  I don't do landscapes well, except for a very few that were really "portraits" of specific things.  And since I don't do landscapes well, I just don't do them.  But that's not a responsible attitude to have if I want to consider myself professional.  So it's time to learn how to up my game with landscape paintings in addition to figure paintings.

To that end, I'm overhauling my outdoor kit.  My French easel is permanently loaded now with a decent selection of paints, brushes, and other equipment.  And it's in my truck, where it's readily available when I can get away from work.  I've done some plein-air studies that, like the figure study mentioned earlier, will never see the light of day again.  But that's fine: you gotta whiff a lot of pitches before you start getting some hits.

And I'm doing some reading.  One of my plein-air painting friends told me to not worry about technique, just paint with passion and it'll happen.  Well, no, it doesn't, not for me.  I'm the kind of guy who needs a structured approach.  When I have no idea what I'm doing, and I'm winging it, the result has invariably been a disaster.  But if I understand the approach, then I can take deliberate risks with when and where to wing it.  And it generally works out better.  The result may still be a disaster, but at least I have an idea about what happened and can learn from it.

Oh, yeah, the reading.  I got the book Landscape Painting by Mitchell Albala.  I'm working my way through it and finding it to be quite good.  His style of working, from color choices to drawing to basic approach, is very similar to what I've already worked out for myself.  So I have pretty good confidence that the things I'll learn later will mesh with what I'm already doing.  Good stuff.

This doesn't mean I'm turning into a landscape painter.  Far from it.  But I do feel that I have to be reasonably competent in that genre.  So it's time to get to work and learn something.  Hopefully, by the time I make my next post, I'll have a landscape or two that are worth showing.  Or not.  Don't hold your breath.  But sooner or later, you'll see some here.  

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