Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wrangling a Painting

After a few days break over the weekend, I got back to the painting in progress that was causing me such grief last week. I knew a bit of time away would help. This is very much a painting in progress as it is passing through its ugly duckling stage. All the colors are blocked in and now I am going through again and adjusting tone, half-tone, and colors as well as slightly tweaking the drawing part as needed. I need to lighten the dark shadows on the teapot a bit as they look too dark, and too blue, to me now. I am satisfied, so far, that I got the wayward teapot size and shape under control. It was going wild there for a bit. I will be moving around the painting and bringing everything up to the same level of finish before adding more detail.
I mentioned in a previous post that I am reading A History of American Tonalism: 1880-1920. I really am enjoying the book even though it is physically challenging to read such a huge tome. I decided to try something I read on the white tablecloth when the painting is at the right point for it. I will describe it, whether it works or not, when I get to that point. I am not even sure if it is an appropriate technique to use but I like to experiment and think it is worth a try. I am aiming to get to that point for the next post on Sunday.
I have been exploring more artist blogs and will have a few to share when things slow down a bit. We are having lovely, stormy, winter weather here on the wild north Oregon  coast. Just right for long cozy days in the studio!
Will be reporting on the progress soon!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Life Drawing Interlude

I have had to take a break from the weekly life drawing session due to being so busy with other art stuff and life lately. I was going once a week and now it is once a month. One of the things I miss the most about school was the regular opportunity to be drawing from a model. I will be getting back to going once a week.
As you can imagine I am a bit rusty! Here are three sketches. The first two are fifteen minute poses, the last is about a 20 minute pose. I use charcoal or pencil on 18"x24" newsprint. That allows me to not worry about making mistakes and just draw. The last drawing I grabbed a sketchbook and moved around the room to get a couple of shorter sketches from a 30 minute pose.
life drawing, charcoal on newsprint, 15 minutes. R.L. Delight, 2012

life drawing, charcoal on newsprint, 15 minutes. R.L. Delight, 2012

life drawing, graphite on paper, 20 minutes. R.L. Delight, 2012
I want to take a moment to welcome new readers and artists, and of course, dear returning friends to my blog. I am going to be adding new artists blogs to my reading list as well! My day off is usually spent catching up on my blog reading and enjoying what others are creating and experiencing.
Got to run. Thankfully this week life will slow down a bit and I can spend more time in the studio! Looking forward to reading what you all have been creating!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

When a Painting Goes Bad, It Goes Really Bad...

Nope, can't do it! I just cannot put a picture of my current painting in progress when it apparently has a mind of its own and it has gone very wrong. So...deep breath...what happened? It started innocently enough. I decided to try a new-to-me technique (fate temptation number one) with the expanded teapot set-up I took a photo of a couple of posts back. I was feeling fairly confident (fate temptation number two) after painting just the teapot, lid, and candy in the small quick painting from the previous post. This time I did a drawing of the entire set up and transferred the drawing to a 9"x12" canvas. So far, not so bad. The drawing looked accurate even after I set it aside and came back to it. After transferring the drawing, I started painting...and things fell apart from there! Suddenly things are not looking like they are in the correct place and the teapot, my god the teapot looks like something sat on it!
OK, I know when things take a sharp turn to the dark side it is time to take a good break. I took Twill and headed out to the beach for a lovely long and very chilly walk. During the walk I reflected on what I have learned during the past couple of years about what to do when things go wrong in the painting/drawing department. So, step back, look at the whole. Yes, yes, somehow things have run wild and have gotten off kilter. I know from experience that just shaving a bit here and adding a bit there doesn't always work. Actually, I have found it usually doesn't work and makes things even worse in the long run! So, upon returning and looking at said "whole" I can see a few things that can be done and lessons reinforced along the way.
I believe I mentioned in a recent post that I see things better when painting than drawing. In the future, unless there is a very convincing reason, I will not be starting a painting by transferring a drawing. Drawing with paint, yes. Painting a drawing, no. It was a good thing to try though and now I know, not for me. I knew that things could go wrong even with an accurate drawing that had been transferred but wow, what a wreck!
So, I will be setting the painting aside as I have a special visitor coming for a day or two and want to do some sketches of her. I will be going to life drawing on Sunday too so I won't be getting back to the painting until next week. I might have a sketch or two to post and I am still working on the composition for a very special painting I am starting. No, I will not be doing a drawing and then transferring it! I will do a few more composition and thumbnail sketches though!
Well, I feel better. Worse comes to worse, I can always have at the canvas with a sharp knife and weave the shreds into something pretty...!
OK, I know you all have your own creative disaster stories, it goes with the territory. So, have you ever recycled a mess into something triumphant? Please do share!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sweet Tea

Sweet Tea, oil on panel, 6"x6", R.L. Delight
Here is a recent "daily painting". I am getting faster, sort of. This painting took four hours but I spread it out over three days and worked on other drawings and paintings as well. This is only a portion of the still life set up. I will be moving on to painting a larger painting of the entire set up. I thought it would be fun to do a "quick" painting to start with thinking that it would be a good warm up as well. I have to say, painting the sugar crystal candy is fun! The hardest part of this little painting was keeping the time limit down which meant it isn't as finished as I would like it to be. It is good to loosen up some of my expectations a bit.
Yesterday I had such a full schedule I was not able to post on this blog on my usual day. I plan to build up a couple of reserve posts to take care of that but I really do like posting as I go.
This post is a short one as I am spending today catching up and getting everything lined up to go in the studio. It will be interesting to see the difference between this and the larger painting which I will be spending a bit more time on. Once I get it underway I will have to see if I can make a space for another daily painting set up. I am trying to get the time down to three hours or less.
The winter weather is back which makes for good studio time but I am also getting things in place to be able to go out the door with ease for when those sunny days arrive.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Here is the next still life I will be painting. This is a photo of the set up. As you can see, I did indeed go back to raid the local candy store. Couldn't resist the sparkly colors of the sugar crystal candy. This little still life tells a bit of the story of our little town in the present time. At least, as how I see it. I will go into a bit more detail once the painting is done.
I have been so busy just learning how to paint over the past year that my drawing has not been getting as much practice. I decided to add a bit more of it back to my art practice and drew the still life with the intent of transferring it to the canvas before preceding with the painting. I actually prefer to draw with the paint right onto the canvas. When I started painting a lot of things clicked for me. I realized that I can judge relationships and shapes better with shapes and forms than with lines. That said, I still went ahead and drew the set up for good practice. Here is the drawing which was done from the live set up, not a photo:
The drawing of course is from a slightly different angle than the photo. The photo itself is crooked in order to get some kind of good enough lighting to show the pencil. This isn't a full rendering but it has the information I need to proceed. I didn't add all the shadows and there are the "see-through" lines of the teapot behind the candy. There are plenty of things that would still need to be corrected if I was going to do a finished drawing. I would also approach the drawing different if that was my final goal, for example the lines wouldn't be so heavy at this point and the shading would be done with more care for tone. This drawing is the same size that the finished paint will be, 9"x12".
I also wanted to mention the faint composition lines. I usually just mark the center but since I was out of practice, I went ahead and drew a box the same size of the painting and marked the center at the sides as well. There are a couple of plum lines here and there too.
I really do enjoy drawing. Perhaps because I have been drawing a lot longer than I have been painting, I find it more relaxing than painting. Painting is wonderful and I really do love the color and effects that paint produces. I look forward to when I feel as comfortable with painting as I do drawing.
This will be fun. I will also do a crayon painting of this setup for a local fun art show. I have been practicing my crayon work!
Finally, relating to the previous post about art books, another one came to the library for me today, American Light: The Luminist Movement 1850-1875, by John Wilmerding. Should be interesting!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Warning: Serious Art Geek Post Ahead!

There are many in-between times during the day. You would recognize them, those little 10, 20, 30+ minute segments where one thing is finished and you take a moment (I hope!) to breath before jumping into the next. I am in one of those moments this weekend. I have the next still life set up, I need to build a prop to use for a series of paintings I am starting, and I am working on a composition for a very special piece. I am building up my "pipeline" so that I can whittle down a bit of the in-between time. I still need those little breathers though. There is plenty of wonderful things to do after I am finished with the deep breathing, like read and study. I love books. Always have, in fact, before I even started kindergarten I diligently learned to write my name since that was a requirement to have my very own library card! My mom had already taught me how to read.
So, for today's post I thought I would share some of the art-related books I am reading. I read a lot of books on art marketing since I will be living off of what I earn in the future. Currently I have read or am reading Dreama Tolle-Perry's The Artists Toolbox, and Alyson B. Stanfield's, I'd rather be in the studio.
Alyson B. Stanfield: I'd rather be in the studio!
I have just finished reading  Studio and Business Practices by Deborah Paris. Many of these books are self published. I have learned a lot from all of them. Studio and Business Practices is a bit advanced for a fledgling artist like me but, I want to know where I need to go and start preparing. I have found her book to be a great tool for me. All of these artists have experience and practice to back them up. They all take different approaches. I like that.
I continue to study art history. I have recently read, Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane,’ by Andrew Graham-Dixon. 

Not much is really known about Caravaggio. It was interesting but I ended up skimming most of it since, like many of these books, it becomes the author's opinion and interpretation, even if an educated one, when facts are scarce. 
I am in the process of reading A History of American Tonalism: 1880-1920  by David A. Cleveland.

I check the art history books out from the library. I usually walk to our local library as it is not far away. The book was ready for me to pick up yesterday so I walked. I knew the book would probably be oversized but was a bit taken-aback to find it is a huge 15 lb. tome of a book. A beautiful tome at that. I have been looking at the pictures and dipping a bit into the text. The first few dips made my eyes glaze over. I mean, when I read words like "prelapsarian" and "insularity"* I am thinking it is not going to be one of those reads that are hard to put down both figuratively and literally (I have to use a lap desk to prop all 609 pages, 10" x 14" -ish of it and it is a bit of a struggle to get out from under it!). I did find enough exciting text to encourage me to have a closer look.
The last bit of reading that I am going to talk about in this post today is, for me, the most exciting. There is a new online artist magazine called Artists on Art. I subscribed within a few minutes of looking it over and I am so very glad I did! You can either subscribe for the online only version or online and PDF download version. I am impressed with the quality of both the images and the writing. For a fledgling artist like me this is the kind of information I am hungry for.
Well, this is a lot in one post, I know. Needless to say, I don't watch much television, if at all. My screen time is reserved for the internet, the bulk of which is done on the weekends. I mention this because it is just the choice I make for me to get where I want to go and is neither right, wrong, best, or worst.
That is it for this post. I would love to hear what you are reading! I am always on the lookout for books. The reading pipeline I have down pat due to about 45 years or so of experience. I am building that art pipeline...
*P.S. Yes, I had to look up prelapsarian although I could guess from the context. Prelapsarian: characteristic of or belonging to the time or state before the fall of humankind.
Insularity I knew but, Insularity: 1 a : of, relating to, or constituting an island  b : dwelling or situated on an island  *insular residents*
2 : characteristic of an isolated people;  especially   : being, having, or reflecting a narrow provincial viewpoint. Definitions courtesy of Merriam Webster dictionary.
These words are not part of my vocabulary since they are really not part of my worldview.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Fortune Teller's Childhood

A Fortune Teller's Childhood, 6"x6" oil on panel. c. R.L. Delight, 2012
Here is my latest not-so-daily painting! I am getting faster. I finished this one in about 5 1/2 hours. I am trying to get them to no more than three hours long. I want to be able to paint a daily painting and spend the rest of the day working on longer and larger paintings or improving my drawing skills. This one was a lot of fun. We have a cute little candy store in town, like many of these ocean-side villages. The store sells what is called nostalgic candy in addition to lovely chocolates and truffles. It is a tiny store but very well stocked. I can't resist all the bright colors and fun shapes. Included in the painting above are wax lips, a giant jawbreaker and chocolate coins. I was impressed and intrigued by the sculpting of the waxed lips, not bad! I knew I had to paint some waxed lips one day when I spotted a burly biker dude with a gray pony tail and dressed in biker leathers walking down the street with wax lips from the candy store in his face. I had to laugh and I definitely wished I had my camera.
I would have liked to paint this at a different angle with not quite so much of the backdrop. I am limited in the room and equipment I have. I am working on getting that changed.
I love painting the daily paintings. They give me space to play, learn, and experiment. 
I plan to spend tomorrow building a very special prop and working on a composition for a deeply personal cause. I will have more about that in the next few weeks.
Off to raid the candy store, -Renee

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Making a Mess in the Sunshine

A wonderful thing happened this week, we got a taste of Spring! When you live in a cool, wet, gray climate, the sun coming out to play for several days in a row is cause for celebration. Don't get me wrong, I love the climate here, but warm sunshine in February is a treat.
It also causes me to drop everything in the studio and head out with my plein air setup. I haven't done a lot of plein air painting. In fact, I could probably count the times I have been out on one hand plus an extra finger or two. I tried to get out more last year but I kept getting too cold. I would get caught up in painting and even though I had warm clothes on, wouldn't realize how cold I was until I finished and disengaged. I would be shivering uncontrollably all the way home. With this warm spell, the cold was not a problem. I headed out to my favorite spot, Hug Point.
Hug Point is a spectacularly beautiful spot where the Pacific Northwest forest meets the sea. The cliffs are water-carved sandstone and basalt. Quite dramatic. The only trick is, the tide has to be right to access it. I got to Hug Point just as it was possible to get around the first point. I had two hours until the tide turned. This particular area of Hug Point is dominated a waterfall cascading to the sand and tower of rock. The sun is lower this time of year and the rock glows golden. I placed my easel where I could see the ocean out of the corner of my eye and get a reasonable angle to paint. I never turn my back on the ocean. Sneaker waves, riptides, and floating trees are notorious around here and can and do take the occasional life.
I decided to concentrate on the color relationships and temperature for this oil sketch. I know that I am not up to painting a plein air masterpiece at this stage of my career! The warm winter sun brought out amazing colors in the rock. I made a glorious mess. I did take photographs so that I can do a few refinements in the studio but here is the mess I made:
Hug Point, plein air, oil on canvas 12"x12"
As you can probably tell, I concentrated mostly on the rock tower. The trees above the cliff I hastily suggested while eyeing the incoming tide. I really didn't want to get trapped there. There is a cave on the far left created by the ocean waves. Not a gentle place when the tide is full. Hug Point has a wonderful and interesting history that would make for a very long post. In short though, a bit further along is a road that was carved into the rock.  It used to be the only way to to get to where I live. Even before the road was carved there were (and still are) hand and foothold carved on the cliff by the First Nations people. One had to literally hug the point to cross. Needless to say there are stories of people, horses, and cars that were swept away by rising tides and, I suspect, sneaker waves. The road bed is covered with sea life such as large barnacles. I will post a picture of it another time. Here is a picture taken on a different day when it was gray and misty of the same area as the painting. My husband is standing on the foot of the rock. It gives a sense of scale that is not apparent in the painting.
Hug Point
I was painting from a completely different angle of course!
The final thing I have to show for this week is a sketch from today's life drawing session. I talked them into splitting a 40 minute pose into two 20 minute segments so that we could get a more dynamic pose that the model can hold.
Life Drawing, charcoal on newsprint 18"X24'
I wasn't entirely satisfied with the drawing. I felt it was still a bit too stiff.  I admit I am a bit out of practice. I have been working hard on so many other areas. I will get my skills back up to snuff soon.
I have errands and appointments tomorrow then I will be back at it in the studio...unless the sun decides to favor us with another day or two!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cramming More Art Into My Brain

I love this picture of my studio room. As you can see, there is a lot crammed in there is my room. In this picture you can see the back of my rather large loom on the left, my cello awaiting practice, my beautiful studio dog Twill, and cart, easel, the previous painting in progress and a glimpse of the still life set up. What you can't see is that the set up is on a table which in turn is on a small model stage. the curtain covers art supply storage on one side and still life props on the other. It is a lovely room although a bit cramped. One day I would love to have the loom set up somewhere else and an expanded art studio. Yes, a dream studio would be wonderful. Hopefully in the coming years.
I have the next still life all set up but have taken a bit more care on this one. It doesn't look like much as you will see in a future post. I am taking more time to study up on composition, lighting, and the plain mechanics of painting. I have had to teach myself how to paint and it is still very much a work in progress for me. I must add a note here though. I was fortunate to have a year to study drawing at the Ashland Academy of Art. If I had decided to move to Maui with them, I would have learned how to paint there and would be half way through my third year. I was just starting grisaille when the year ended. That year of drawing was probably the most important chunk of learning I did.
I am also practicing a few paint handling and brush work techniques before starting in. I had planned to sail into the painting today but...the weather is turning warm. Not a usual thing to happen here in February, the middle of winter. Why did that keep me from painting? Well, the warm weather gives me a chance to paint outside, en plein air! This time of the year the light is very intriguing because the sun is so low in the sky. The next few days will be warmish and dry so I will drop the studio work for a few days to take advantage of it.
I  have an idea for an exciting series with will fit in neatly with the other work am doing. I spent today getting the work I need to do to make that happen. Painting outside is a big part of that and I needed to be prepared for tomorrow. I am not going to say anymore at the moment. I will unfold it for you as it happens. I am so excited!
There will be more to post about on Sunday. I have been so busy with getting things in place, I haven't gone to life drawing in a couple of weeks. I am planning to go this week so I don't get totally out of practice. Until then, I will be making hay, or in this case, painting while the sun shines!
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