Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Helping Others

"A culture...which fails to understand that the measure of a civilization is its compassion...condemns itself to death..."
-Chris Hedges

The quote above is excerpted from one of many books by Chris Hedges. To see the full quote, which is a great deal graver, click here. I have read several of his books but not this one, yet. They are not light reading, but give much food for thought, and action.
I believe the recent storm Sandy, which is still churning in the Eastern US and Canada, has been a good reminder amidst a grim political circus to show us what is really important. 
I don't think I have to tell anyone how hard folks have been and are being hit by this storm. I am but a humble artist at the beginning of her career (although not at the beginning of adulthood!) and I do not have a lot of funds to donate but I do have a couple of paintings I can donate the proceeds from to help out. 
I have a new Daily Painting widget on the blog that will take anyone who is interested to a special auction where 100% of the proceeds (less shipping and payment fees) will go to Guardians of Rescue.   
So why did I pick them? I know there are plenty of people in need. I also know that help for animals is a bit harder to come by yet no less urgent. Those of us with pets know exactly why other pet owners refuse to leave them in the event of a disaster. Animals are important to us. I follow many animal rescue groups. Several of which have mobilized during the storm to save not only animals, but as in the case of the Natural Disaster Search Dog Foundation, people too. Watching the storm from online and Facebook, I saw that some of the folks in the Guardians of Rescue organization were out during the storm looking for animals in need and making sure that the ones they shelter were safe. Some of them had to pull trees off their cars to try to get the hurt ones they found to emergency care. I already know this group is a hard working and highly dedicated non-profit organization. I wanted to help out the New York and New Jersey chapters as they were the hardest hit. 
I know that times are hard for many of us and the future uncertain. Even if the time isn't right for you, if you know someone who might be interested, please tell them about the Daily Paintworks Hurricane Sandy fundraiser. If they don't like my paintings or who I am donating to, there are several others. The individual artists are able to pick where we want to donate our relief efforts.  
Here are pictures of the two paintings I have on the fundraiser auction:
© 2012 R.L. Delight, Sweet Tea, oil on gessobord, 6"x6"
© 2012, R.L. Delight, Pumpkin Sage, oil on gessobord, 6"x6"
 Here on the left coast we are experiencing our own stormy weather, gale force winds and heavy rain. Great for working in the studio! I finished my copper painting and will have it on the next post. Until then, thoughts and prayers going out to those in the path of the storm. Stay warm and dry!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Notes on Notan

I have been enjoying the free painting lessons on YouTube by Richard Robinson. I particularly liked the concept of this one on Notan design. The video is not quite five minutes long and gives a good idea on what it is about. In a nutshell Notan is: "... the concept of light and dark design underlying many great paintings." It is a good tool to develop and use when designing a composition for a drawing or painting. I thought I would play around with this in this post today.
Thursday I lucked out and had relatively good weather for my morning plein air jaunt. Here is a picture of the early morning light just coming over the Coast Range to illuminate Neahkahnie mountain.
I ended up painting a wave study as I could not get a good position to paint this scene due to the morning sun being full on my easel and an incoming tide on my left. I have a plein air umbrella on the way to hopefully solve that issue. I like this shot though and decided to play around in Photoshop to take a look at what the Notan would look like for this picture as is. Here is the results:
Photoshop is a little on the heavy side. I will try this using black ink in the studio tomorrow. I  use thumbnail sketches as a composition and design tool but Notan captured my interest as well. I am going to use it in my future paintings and will post my thoughts on it. If you decide to try this, or already use this technique, in whatever media, I would love to hear from you. Feel free to leave it in a comment on this post.
My copper painting is progressing slowly due to drying times but it is progressing. I am continuing to enjoy working on copper and will be trying it more often in the future.  It has been a busy week with performances and painting in between.
Those of you on the East coast who are dealing with hurricane Sandy stay safe!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Painting on Copper and Plein Air Recce

©2012 R.L. Delight "Glass, Metal, Wood, Stone", 6"x6", oil on copper sheet. Painting in progress.
I finally have a chance to try my hand at painting on copper. Here is my painting in progress. Like any new-to-me media or technique, it has its challenges. I have to admit, even with the challenges I am finding it very enjoyable and I am liking the results. At this moment in the painting I have things blocked in and am starting to add refinements. The oil paint takes a bit longer to dry on the copper, specially in the cool stormy weather we have been having lately. The background looks blotchy in this picture because some of it is still wet. I love this little copper pot I picked up at the local thriftstore. It has a really beautiful and fun shape. It will be satisfying to get the detail on the pot and turn and render the form. 
I am new to painting on copper and have had to stop and let the paint dry a bit to continue on. I have mentioned Susan Renee Lammers' website and blog before but she has a very nice article on painting on copper on her site here. I admire not only her painting, but her dedication and hard work as a professional artist. I find her very inspiring. Her blog chronicles her daily painting on the East coast of the U. S.  and the sweet and funny antics of her two Golden Retriever rescue dogs, Duke and Daisy. Definitely worth reading and checking out her beautiful work.
Due to the longer than expected learning curve on the copper painting, I have delayed my own daily painting by a few days to work on this. I also have to add that I did a few things differently than what Renee Lammers suggests on her website. As a vegan artist, I did not want to use the sable brushes she recommends. She did not have a good experience using synthetic brushes on copper but I found some that work more or less. I used Utrecht's Series 235 Sablette synthetic brushes. They worked well once I got the hang of them. I haven't really tried to use them with an alla prima approach though so will have to experiment some more. I am building the painting as I usually do, layer by layer. I am also looking around to find a source of reclaimed and more ecologically sound copper sheeting.
At the foot of Neahkanie Mountain.

In addition to daily painting, I am committing to going out to paint en plein air once a week. The weather will not always be the best, but this time of year the light, skies, and waves are stunning and dramatic. I did a recce today at the foot of Neahkahnie mountain to not only scout out possible painting views but to test out my foul-weather gear. My gear is old and is not perfect but it will do for now until I can earn enough to buy some better gear. The beach was beautiful and it was raining but not a hint of a breeze. It is the wind and wet that concerns me the most. I plan on going out tomorrow morning an hour or so before the high tide so we shall see how it works.
That is it for today! This weekend I will be masquerading as Tweety LaRoux, doing the sound effects for a local play my mate is directing. It is the final weekend of the performance and I will be glad when it is done. Sunday I will be playing with our band for a local fundraiser which is always a joy. 
Stay safe and warm!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Flying Leap

© 2012, R.L. Delight. "Offerings For Tethys", 6"x8" oil on canvas board.
I am taking another big step on my artistic path. I am working hard to develop my painting skills and have decided to take up daily, or almost daily, painting. I am working on the small paintings in the morning and spending the afternoons working on studies and my larger paintings in progress. Daily paintings start stacking up fast so, even though it is a big step for me, I have decided to start selling them through the wonderful art site, Daily Paintworks.
Here is the first painting I am putting in a Daily Paintworks auction! There is a button at the top right of the blog which will take you to the auction if you are interested. I only have one painting up so far but more will be coming. I will probably be making a few blunders at the beginning but I am sure the process will smooth out in no time.
One of the wonderful aspects of living on the coast is the beach changes on a daily basis. The sands shift around, rocks are exposed one day only to be completely covered with sand the next. So many things, from interesting creatures and seaweeds to all sorts of unfortunate debris, wash up with the tides. Visitors build whimsies, and sometimes destroy the natural elements of the beach. The ocean tides wash the beach clean again.
One day on my morning walk I came across these wonderful structures depicted in my painting. They lasted about a week before the tides took them one by one. These had such an elemental feel to them, harkening back to the days when the old gods and goddesses were honored. Tethys is a sea goddess, the White Lady who provides and protects the seafaring folk, and takes away as well.
Life is suddenly quite busy again. I am learning to prioritize very fast! I will be posting again on Wednesday.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wave Sketching

Wave sketching, water soluble graphite on paper
Can I blame it on the sun? The beauty of the Pacific Northwest is stunning and I don't wish to live any where else but, well, it rains here a lot and the temperatures are usually on the cool side. I love the wild weather and I really don't like being hot but when the sun comes out for two solid months and it is warm, well, all of us who live here year round get a trifle distracted. I know, I know, I am really just fronting an excuse for my summer of meager posts but I promise, I will be making it up to everyone! 
So a quick post on a few of the art related things I have been doing and a few exciting changes in the near future. 
First, I am being drawn more and more to painting the sea. That isn't really surprising given that I live about a 5 minute walk from the beach and the sound and smell of the ocean surrounds us. I have lived on the west coast of the U.S. all of my life and have almost always been within a short driving distance from the ocean. It is also in the blood as my family have been mariners (the sea-faring kind, not the baseball kind) for several generations.
 Alas, drawing and painting the sea feels a bit like trying to draw and paint the wind! I am finding it even harder than drawing and painting the human figure. At least one can bribe/pay a human to sit relatively still! Fortunately, I have found good mentors and instructors and am working away at building those skills. One of my favorite things to do when I need a break and the lovely weather calls me out is to grab my sketchbook and go wave sketching. Above is a picture of one of my sessions. Doesn't look like much I know. I am working on getting the technical structure and tone down. While I was sketching this session, a couple of crows paid me a visit so I working on getting them too. I am using a Lyra aquarelle graphite pencil and a Niji water brush on watercolor paper and enjoying it very much.
Found a temporary sketching hut! It washed away in the high tides last month.
I had a workshop this summer on portrait painting. The short story on the workshop is that I have decided not to do any more workshops for quite a while. I guess I got thoroughly spoiled going to school and I have yet to find the same satisfaction in a workshop. 
I have been studying on my own and have devised a painting and study schedule. I didn't get painting instruction in school (my school moved after my first year which focused on drawing) so I have been learning on my own. I hit a pretty good wall of frustration this summer with a few of the technical aspects of painting but am finally finding good online sources to learn from. I will post more about those sources soon as I want to try them a bit longer before recommending them. 
I decided as part of my studies to spend part of the day doing a daily painting or two and the other part working on the larger works I have in progress and studying. I also have to figure out some good foul-weather gear that will allow me to go plein air painting year round. The summer is nice, particularly this summer, but the waves aren't as exciting and the skies aren't quite as dramatic as they are in the stormier seasons. 
I am still working on my earlier goals and continue to go to the local life-drawing session. I figure that building these additional skills will only help me achieve my earlier goals that much more.
Finally, the biggest step for me, is that I have joined Daily Paintworks. I will be selling as many of the small paintings I will be making as possible and Daily Paintworks is a great site to sell them on. I will be posting a widget and link to my online gallery soon. I also need to completely re-do my website. Well, one step at a time.
That is about it for now. My posts will change a bit when I post one of the daily paintings for sale. It will be formatted to work with the Daily Paintworks site but I will still be writing about living and painting here on the Oregon coast. 
Now, I must go batten down the hatches for our first fall storm. Stay warm and dry everyone! 
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