Friday, June 27, 2008

A Stranger Walks In

No, not a title of a 40's film noir flick but an event that occurred at my studio today. A 60 year old gentleman with a pony tail, casual shirt, and shorts walks into my studio and introduces himself. He is in Sacramento for a few days from the Los Angeles area where he works (currently capping off his career with the Mars Rover project) and lives. He is cleaning out his parent's (both deceased as of 2007 and '08) house just around the corner from my studio. I guess he had peeked into my studio window at some point, because he came in carrying watercolor supplies and paint brushes. He was going to throw them away but thought that maybe I would want them. His name is Richard, and his father, Jack,( who died in 2007) was an amateur artist. Jack had lived to the age of 91 and was a retired warehouse man. Earlier in his life, however, he was interested in commercial art. I show you here some examples of Jack's efforts that Richard was so kind in showing me. And of course me being me, I took great interest in his father's Orange Flavored Metamucil Grit-free Sunrise Smooth brush holder! Enjoy!

PS: By the by, Richard told me he is a Vietnam vet, and though that was a very divisive war for my generation, I'd like to thank Richard for his service to our country!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

On My Easel and Behind My Easel

I took on a botched illustration job that a designer friend of mine had farmed out. The illustrator refused to take any art direction. That is not the hallmark of a professional illustrator! I asked if I could have the botched illustration. It was on a large piece of masonite, I gessoed the other side and did this painting of a decaying sugar beet plant near Sacramento.
You can see several interesting items on the easel just below the painting. To the right of the pink post-a-note is a plastic canister containing a roll of exposed and undeveloped 35mm film from about eight years ago. I have not a clue what's on the film, and if I procrastinate much longer, I may never know! Who will be left to process film in the digital age? The post-a -note has a "to do" written on it and that I have procrastinated on and will most likely never get done. The paint tubes to the right and left are not really paint tubes. Open their caps and a ball point pen tip is revealed! The tubes are even dented like real paint tubes. A devilishly inventive way for one's thumb and finger to ergonomically hold the pen! Got these from an art store catalog. Poking up over the left side of my painting is a three foot glass vase holding hundreds of spent watercolor paint tubes. Yes, when I finish off a tube, it gets tossed into the vase...kinda like making a rubber band cool is that!
A wee glimpse of my working environment.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Glass Anyone?

You need to paint say a wine glass, bottle, vase or window, and you ask yourself, "what's to paint?" How can I paint something that I'm looking THROUGH. It's not opaque or even translucent for krist's transparent...there's NOTHING to paint! Wrong, silica breath!
There are essentially two things you need to know to paint glass. 1.You paint what you see BEHIND the glass, whether it's up close or far away. 2.You paint whatever the glass is REFLECTING. So with the wine glass, I simply painted what was behind it (the potted plant) and reflected high lights off the rim, sides, stem, and foot.. Note that some of these reflections follow the shape of the wine glass, and thus significantly help to define it as such. Same thing with the wine bottle... I painted the bluish green of the glass itself (it's local color), what was behind the front of the glass (that inside dome thingy), reflected high lights and the dark backside of the wine label ( again,painting what's behind the glass). This was all done with super thick paint (impasto), but because the local and reflective colors are all in the right spots, correctly shaped, and value contrasted accurately, they read as a wine bottle.
Finally, take a look how this pair of glasses on this devilishly handsome gentleman were painted. Remember, paint what is BEHIND glass and any reflections off the glass. The only thing that says glass here is the frame and all I had to do was paint the skin tones behind each lense! Who is this bearded fellow?... 1. Brad Pitt? 2. David Lobenberg? 3.Moses?



And one more, one more thing: ALWAYS TRY TO KILL TWO STONES WITH ONE BIRD.

End of lesson.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Minor Detail?

You are seeing the last two of three iterations of an acrylic painting of Yosemite Falls (20"X60", stretched canvas). The first painting was rejected by my Sacramento Gallery owner (Elliott Fouts, Elliott Fouts Gallery. You can go there by clicking it in my "Fav. Links"). He felt that it looked unnatural with all that water coming down from the top and just a relative trickle at the bottom. I beefed up the bottom (top painting), showed it to him and got the same critique. Well, It DOES relatively trickle lower down on the falls, and that's because midway there is a bowl and pinch formation that the water lands in that effects the flow. My mistake was not painting it in such a way as to delineate the bowl and pinch. I think the bottom painting does! I'll be taking it back to the Fouts Gallery this week. Wish me luck!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Artistic Ingenuity is Alive and Well!

An earlier post this year showed an old photograph of one of my heroes, John Singer Sargent on a boat with an umbrella shading his little portable easel. So how did Mr. S attach a large and heavy umbrella to a little easel? He didn't. He lashed the umbrella's pole to his leg! He was a true blue plein air painter where ingenuity counts!
Last summer I found that this same artistic ingenuity was alive and well when I ran across a plein air artist's blog. One of the photos he posted showed a portable ironing along side his easel. It functioned like an artist's taboret, only for his purposes, a lot better...he could raise and lower it. And when he was done painting, the board simply folded flat.
This last Sunday was the first day of my plein air water media sketch class that I teach for Sacramento City College. In fact, this is my 6th summer teaching it. The class runs for 8 weekends. We go to eight different locations in the Sacramento area every Saturday and Sunday from 9AM to 1PM. All of this is leading up to this photo I snapped. We work on small watercolor sketch pads and only need a chair and our laps to work from. Notice off in the distance my black folding chair with pockets below the seat for supplies and a shoulder strap...very comfortable, compact, and portable. I purchased it from an art catalog, and it has served me very well. I told my students that if on a budget, they could use any old folding beach/lawn chair or maybe a soccer mom chair with the handy beverage holders in the arms...very cool! So what does one of my students show up with? A feakin folding recliner! What a laugh we had about that...until... we saw how he used it! Nuff said...he's the foreground student. Yet another example of good ole artistic ingenuity. He don't need no stinkin art chair!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Subtle Hue/Value Variation...or...Playing with Color and Darks and Lights until the Cows come Home

Damn! I'm outta time! To be continued.
Next I'm continuing...if I've said it once, I've said it a billion times, acrylic allows me to play, play, play within a very short time span as compared to oil. The top painting was done several months ago and allowed to sit and gather dust in my studio. The second painting down is the same painting but painted over in areas and was completed yesterday. I wanted the scene to have more of a winter haze/early dawn, Sacramento Valley look. The top painting looks more like a crisp, clean sunset anywhere in the world. The second painting got closer to what I wanted but is too rosy in hue. Today, I painted over it again (third painting on the bottom). It has less rose and a little more yellow and has that hazy, looking- into -the- glare-of- the - winter sun, Sacramento Valley look. If I don't like what I've done, I can come back tomorrow or whenever and keep working it until the cows come home or the paint finally gets a little to thick, whatever comes first.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

My Day Was Made in a New York Minute by my blog friend in St. Croix

Today I received a "You Make My Day" award from a fellow acrylic artist in Saint Croix (Virgin Islands?) who got one from a blogster in New York City from whom I got a N.Y. pigeon photo about a month ago (before I even was aware of the St. Croix artist's blog!) that I used as a reference photo for my Sacramento City acrylic and oil painting class to paint from. Small blog world! I post my award here as well as the Pigeon photograph that I knew would make a swell painting assignment. Tomorrow I will post my acrylic rendering that I did along with my students.
Thank You Bonnie Luria for the award (she is on my blog roll. Check her out, especially the view from her balcony!!!!!).
The pigeon photo is from a wonderful blog called Pazs' New York Minute. Wonderful ruminations on life and the city and a pigeon or two!
It's June 3 now and I'm posting the New York City pigeon I painted from the Pigeon reference photo I "stole" from Pazs' New York Minute. The class assignment stricture was that the background had to be white. My students grumbled about that, but when you are a college professor, you are a mighty tin horn god and you must be obeyed! What flummoxed (like that word?!)
my students was the observational intensity in rendering the back feathers from the bird's shoulder on down towards the tail.
After I tolded them I was going to flunk their sorry asses if they didn't do a good job on EACH AND EVERY ONE of the feathers, they buckled down and did admirable paintings! You may have noticed that my painting has very hard shadows under the individual feathers and all the feathers have not been rendered, but remember and NEVER EVER FORGET that I'm the professor, and my work is beyond reproach!!!!!

Comments PLEASE

Yea, I know that my sign reads backwards. When I take a snap in my IMac Camera Booth, I need to remember to paint the words backwards for it to read right on the posted photo. Technicalities! Can you go, dear reader to my May 15th post ("On The Delta") to let me know if I made a smooth move or not in adjusting my acrylic so that I have a little more push/pull? I show the origional painting and the latest iteration.
A thousand and one thank yous and may the wind always be to ya back!