Thursday, February 26, 2015

Time Vault

©2015 R.L. Delight, Time Vault, 14"x 11", oil on canvas

I am going to do this post a bit backward, time-wise. I am starting with this finished painting and explaining my thoughts that went into this painting. I will finish with the final process pictures.

To begin this still life, I started with an idea that came to me while looking at my collection of jetsam and flotsam. I love using finds gathered from the beach for still life subjects, particularly wood, stone, and glass. I am looking for a way to put these informal, organic natural elements into a formal still life. I believe pulling these objects out of their natural surroundings can bring a sharp focus to their individual beauty. I find these to be not only beautiful, but they also embody a sensuous quality of their own outside of being part of the beautiful whole of a natural scene, such as a beach.

I don't feel I have been entirely successful in achieving that yet, but I am just getting started. I worked a bit with the composition. I love the big chunk of wood board that is starting to be battered smooth from its pounding of waves, sand, and rock. The iron spike has been hammered by the elements to wrap around the board. I wanted to show the point of entry, and that wrapping that has been forged by nature.

The rocks have crumbled down from the cliffs that surround Short Sands beach. Those cliffs were once underwater and formed an ancient seabed. There are layers and fossils. The rocks are composed of compressed sand and silty organic matter. They make very smooth and interesting shapes. I must confess, rocks have always fascinated me. My parents joked that whenever we moved, most of the weight in my moving boxes were rocks. To live with me, one must tolerate rocks. I have bowls of rocks around me rather than vases of flowers, although, I like flowers too.

When I set this still life up, I chose the board and rocks mainly on my response to their shape and texture. Once set up, I realized that I was looking at not only rocks and wood, but a slice of time that spanned more than my life time. The title, Time Vault, seemed fitting as the remnants of a once living seabed and tree are bound up in these present day forms.

Once I set up the still life to my satisfaction I immediately saw that within each angular form, there was a circular form that gives another repetition and relation. I rather liked that!

As always, I used this opportunity to experiment and grow in my understanding of technique. It is a joy and a challenge.

Here are the remaining process pictures starting with where I left off, with drawing, dark accents, shadow shapes, and light shapes completed.
Light shapes added.

Values and drawing corrected. Details added.

Continuing to refine drawing and values, adding detail

And just for fun!:

Tomorrow I will be cleaning the studio and getting ready for my next project. Have a great weekend!


Monday, February 23, 2015

Afternoon Painting at Short Sands Beach

Today was a beautiful day. The wind wasn't too bad and the sun was warm. Apparently the winter has decided to stay in the Eastern part of the country. We are just having  strange perpetual spring-like weather. I might even have to water my yard!
I am trying a few new approaches in my painting and gave myself about an hour and a half of painting time in the late afternoon. The light changes very rapidly. Here is a view from my easel:

And the final study:

©2015 R.L. Delight, Short Sands Study 2/23/15, 8"x10", oil on canvas

My still life will be left hanging if this weather continues for the next couple of days. It is nice to get out and paint!


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Time Vault-W.I.P

I am approaching the finish on my latest still life, Time Vault. I decided to spread the work-in-progress over two posts. As I mentioned in my previous post, I am holding myself to following a specific painting process. It is a good way for me to learn a particular approach and expand my skills. When I feel I have a good understanding of the particular process, I will think about what I want to add, and what I want to leave off and continue on from there.

Here is the work-in-progress sequence in this post starting with a drawing directly on the canvas with paint, from life, adding the dark accents, shadow shapes, then light shapes. All throughout each step I corrected the drawing and value relationships. I am now to the point where I have added detail, texture, am checking edges, and yes, still checking and correcting value relationships and drawing. I will post those WIP pictures, and the final painting in the next post. I am hoping one more painting session will see it finished.

Time Vault, drawing in

Time Vault, dark accents

Time Vault, shadow shapes

Time Vault, light shapes

In the next post, I will not only have the remaining WIP pictures and final painting but why I chose these objects to paint and the story behind them.
Can you guess why I am titling this painting "Time Vault"?

Off to prepare for a busy week!


Friday, February 13, 2015

Study Time

A few posts back I promised to post about how I study. First I have to mention that I absolutely love to study. Not only art, but a wide variety of topics from A to Z. There are so many fascinating things to learn about. I have always thought that it would be wonderful to be paid a salary to just be a student for the rest of my life. I suppose in a way I am paid a salary, it just isn't in the traditional form of pay. The upside to that is that it isn't taxed!

So, like so many studious folks I take a multimedia approach to studying. Most of it comes in the form of books. Even though I try to cull my books now and then, I still have a lot and they all over the house! Here a bookshelf that is next to my spot by the wood stove in our living room:

I love this shelf that my mate made for me as I can reach any book I need without getting up. As you can see, there is a number of art books on the left. Just a small selection from the total. There are also books on sewing, herbs, music, and cello playing. These are what I am currently referring to. There are also a few Plein Air Magazines tucked in there. I learn something from each and everyone. I always pick up new information whenever I re-read them too.

I also have several videos. I like videos but, by necessity, they tend to be a bit more limited in scope than books.

Of course, if you have read my previous posts, you probably realize that I do a lot of practical studies. About 99% of them are plein air. I have painted close to 300 in the past two years with 82 of them being wave studies. When I first started painting en plein air, I realized I was going to have to paint a lot and that many of them wouldn't be that great. I don't have a lot of extra funds so I tried to find ways to save money and still accomplish my goals. After a bit of research and crunching some numbers I decided to use canvas pads. The one on the right is mostly what I have used. The 12"x16" has been perfect. I can get 4-6"x8" canvas per sheet, or 40 per pad. I think it came to about $1.60 a painting. I didn't feel so bad if I messed up. Plus, I wasn't going to be tempted to sell my study if I got a good one. Since I don't use reference photos, these are the only reference material I have, along with any sketches.

After I cut the canvas to the size I want, I tape it with white artist's tape to hardboard panels I cut for that purpose. When I am finished, I remove the tape and pin it up on my bulletin board. When I fill the board up, I take them down and it is ready for a new batch. I am down to my last 6 or so cut and taped canvases to use. After the cotton ones are gone I have the Centurion linen canvas pad to use. The canvas is a lot nicer and I am thinking I want to mount the sheets to panels first so they will be more permanent. I am still thinking on that one.

I decided that when all of this is used up, which will be fairly soon, I will graduate to Centurion pre-mounted linen panels. They are fairly reasonable in price and I want to start painting more with an occasional finished plein air painting in mind vs. a study. I will continue to upgrade my panels as I can afford to. Here is my bulletin board just recently, before clearing it. It is on its way to being filled up again.

All of this is materials and resources so far. I also do practical studies with paint, pencil, and other mediums. These are value scales I put together to help me with paint values. I used Color-Aid paper, glued them to cardboard and coated them with acrylic gloss medium. I have been working on my values lately and am starting to see progress.

Here are a few samples I painted using an artist's painting that I admire as value reference. I worked to match the range of values in the painting and gained quite a bit of understanding from the exercise.

Finally, I have a couple of online classes that help keep me accountable yet give me time to go at my own pace. The biggest and best by far is Sadie Valerie's Online Atelier. This gets me back to my roots of highly disciplined and structured academic art study. I have only done the introductory exercise and had it critiqued. Sunny days to paint and life's concerns have slowed me down but I am determined to continue. Michelangelo is reputed to have spent an hour a day drawing. If it is good enough for Michelangelo, it is even more so for me! Here is my first submission. It took 5 hours and is graphite on paper.

I know, not terribly exciting is it? It was done without a model, just in imagination. My next assignment is to draw ellipses (done), an outlines exercise (nearly done), and another value sphere like above. The point is to see improvement. Once it is critiqued and Sadie gives the green light, you move to the next exercise. It is progressive with one skill building on the previous skills. I will post these in their own posts in the future.

This is a long post. It covers a lot but not quite everything I do. So now, when you graciously notice the improvement in my work, you will know that it really has nothing to do with "talent" but just determination, hard work, willingness to fail, the wonderful artist people who surround me, and a pinch of good fortune thrown in.

I would love to hear what other people do to study, no matter what the medium or skill. Please feel free to post a comment!


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tipping Point

© 2015 R.L. Delight, Tipping Point, 9"x12", oil on canvas

It has been stormy this week as front after front has moved through. Thankfully just wind and a lot of rain. I feel for all my East coast friends and family being buried in snow, so, no complaints here! However, it has been stormy enough to keep me in the studio instead of out on the beach. I am actually happy for the studio time. It gives me a chance to work a few things out. I decided to work on still life on stormy days. While I admire still life paintings with flowers and teacups, toys, and other household objects, I realized that I prefer to paint natural objects found on the beach, for now. I have a collection of interesting pieces of driftwood, rocks, and the occasional feather. I will be using these in a series of still lifes.

I have decided to make these still lifes fill in a few purposes. First, I wanted them to have a slight environmental narrative. I also wanted to use the painting process to work on my technique. Believe me, it needs practicing on every level! This still life is just about finished, in spite of the signature.  When I took it into the daylight, I didn't like the yellow color in the lightest areas of the rocks. I am putting this aside to dry and then I will go back, take another look, and if need be alter the color in spots. When I got it to where I am mostly happy with it, I will put it up for sale. I am also changing the light over my easel to balance the color out a bit better.

Tipping Point was painted alla prima-ish. I painted it over 3 days (including set up time). I decided the next still life will also be alla prima but this time I am going to use my notes from the workshop I took with Kathleen Dunphy and follow the process she taught us. After exploring and experimenting a bit, I want to home in on a painting process. Kathleen's makes sense to me so I will start there.
As soon as I took this off the easel, I cleaned my palette and brushes and then set up the next still life. I like to play around with the set up and then leave it overnight or longer if possible to think about and look at. If the weather improves for tomorrow, I will be heading out to paint plein air otherwise I will be starting in on the next still life.

Here are a couple of pictures from the painting sessions. I will do better on getting work-in-progress pictures on the next one.
© 2015 R.L. Delight, Tipping Point, first drawing

© 2015 R.L. Delight, Tipping Point, WIP

Stay warm and dry everyone!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Wave Study #82: Studying Hard!

© 2015 R.L. Delight, Plein Air Wave Study #82, 8"x10", oil on canvas

If anyone is keeping count, it may look like I skipped a number in my wave studies. I did not post #81 for several reasons. I did keep it as there are many good parts to it but, it doesn't look like much as a whole.

I have been busy not only painting, but studying too, but first let me talk about this wave study. It takes me five minutes to walk from my front door to the beach. Our beach here is about 7 miles long. We are near the north end and it is about a mile walk up the beach before you come to the foot of Neahkahnie Mountain where I like to paint. Neahkahnie juts into the sea and bars the way to the next cove. I usually take a morning walk to the north end of the beach, about 2 miles round trip. This morning was cloudy with patches of fog. The waves were a decent size, around 4-6 ft and fairly calm. It was such a beautiful, moody kind of morning with very few people on the beach. I was planning on working in the studio as the weather forecast calls for rain all week but on my morning walk, I decided to paint a wave study. I did a brisk mile walk back home, gulped down a smoothie to stave off the hunger pangs around the noon hour, and grabbed my painting gear, which I keep ready to go.

I brought my squall battered, seldom used painting umbrella along in case it rained. The umbrella magic worked because the sun came out to mess with my moody scene for a while! I had a good morning of painting and listening to the nattering of a nesting pair of Bald Eagles behind me.

As I mentioned, I have been studying and working to improve my painting. Studies include drawing, paint handling, painting process, and composition and value studies, among other things. And people comment that painting must be relaxing! HA!

 A few days ago I was going over my notes from my workshop last spring with Kathleen Dunphy. My workshop notes included a wonderful ten point list of which Kathleen posted about on her blog. She calls the list, "Plein Errors: The Top Ten Reasons Plein Air Paintings Fail." You can click here to read her post. I highly recommend it if you haven't seen it.

I realized that I am generally guilty of three or four of them now and then. OK, maybe one or two a bit more than now and then! When I went out today, I worked hard to remedy that. I must say, I learned a lot and thinking about these tendencies worked, this time. My biggest error? I do plan my painting a bit when I go out, but I am realizing that I am not planning it enough. She has not having a clear plan listed as #1.  I also tend to not use enough paint (#6).

After I made my painting plan today, I turned around and saw this:
© 2015 R.L. Delight, Looking toward Manzanita/Nehalem

Dang! I wavered for the tiniest of moments but then, stuck to my plan. Now one can see the challenge of deciding what to paint and how! There is a tiny person walking on the beach to give a bit of size perspective. They are the little dark line toward the right and center of the picture. You are looking south for about 10 miles or more.

This post is getting a bit lengthy so I will post more on what I am doing in the studio later this week.

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