Friday, June 15, 2012

Color, Value, Painting - videos and tips I want to share

This image speaks to my colorful feelings! :)

Color is very important for some artists. Below is some work by artists who I think have a strong sense of color:

Van Gogh, Almond Branches in Bloom, 29 x 36 inches, 1890

I saw this painting (Almond Branches) in the Van Gogh show in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) in spring of 2012. The actual painting is much more beautiful than this online reproduction . One of the best art shows I ever went to. Everything about it: framing of the work, the sequence by which the viewer walked through, the Japanese prints by Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), and other Japanese artists who inspired many artists in the 19th century - Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas. There were some 19th century photographs in the show as well.

Van Gogh, Siesta, 1890

** Throughout history artists had a special relationship with color. This short video from youtube speaks to this.
               Video by New Zealand artist Richard Robinson:

I'm trying to work on my color and value...always.
I think it's important to go back to the basics here and there - believe it or not, it's extremely useful when you feel lost, or want to refresh yourself.

More helpful painting tips from Richard Robinson:

The video above gives tips on how to better see color and value - though color vision/expression is very personal in my opinion...I can look at the same thing over a period of 3 hours and continuously change my mind about which colors I see. Feelings play a huge role in this, and what you are looking at when comparing one object to the next. Everything is relative. ;)

For example (about color being relative to surroundings):You look at an orange (fruit) and you decide that its' color is orange (of course). Then you put a carrot next to it. Oh no! Two orange color objects? Do you separate them by putting an outline around each? It's a possibility! But you can also ask, "which is darker (even if it's a slight transition), which one is more reddish? or greenish? or purplish? or yellowish? And differentiate their orange that way. :)


You can do this by taking any simple colored image/photo you took - copy, save, make black and white, look at the images next to eachother: Paint both. Make a chart of values - how many do you see? Paint them. :-P

More Peggi Kroll - great demo:

**Look at her list of recomended books/influences for reading on color and composition on her web, pretty awsome books there...Hawthorne on Painting, The Art of Spirit by Robert Henri, Edgar Payne's The Composition of Outdoor painting, and more. :)))

Video by Kroll, with her studio and most importantly (why I watched the video) her Art work:

Only thing I don't like is the classic music in the background (you can disagree)...I hear it too often in the different art videos I watch. Some rock or metal for a change? Haha...
This video is very helpful as a simple teaching tool with basic information. :)

Head proportions, basics, oh so simple - AWESOME: from color and value I went to head proportions and planes...I'll make a separate post for that. Cheers!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Recent Paintings and a Little Bit About Shadows

Here are my most current paintings.

Here is a detail:

About two days ago, I came back home from landscape painting with my crew the DPC (we actually expanded into Philadelphia Plein Air Painters). We painted in the Philadelphia Museum of Art area, Fairmount Park, it was a sunny day but the light was frustratingly changable because of the clouds. I stepped into my room, my friend Mike dropped me off, about 3 hours before sunset, the green yellow walls in the room inspired me to set up a little still-life. I had three "new" paints in my paint box, kind of expensive, but very-very refreshing - great for life painting (especially if you like impressionist colors):

Holbein's "Violet Grey", Gamblin's "Cobalt Teal" (very similar to Turquise, believe it or not, but more on the blue side. "Turquise works well for the sky and landscape in general", my artist friend Will Sentman  said to me a few days ago, and his landscapes are beautiful. I went and bought that color - so I actually have 4 new paints), and Van Gogh's "Yellowish Green" (I find it kind of funny that it's called "Yellowish"...)

These types of strange premixed colors help me to better achieve what I desire in my paintings:  the feel of the luscious life I see in front of me, combined with my imagination, and my optimism. ;)

***Strange premixed paints can help attain luminocity in shadows, something many artists think is only possible with the thinning of the paint in shadow areas, or using the thin burnt sienna ground as a shadow or some other earth pigment color. Some artists simply struggle because delicious, colorful shadows are hard to paint (some artists try to add "black" to all the shadows to make them "dark" - nothing wrong with using black - but when all the shadows always look like black holes, or look awkward because they are too dark or too black when you are trying to make a representational painting it's emh...I guess it depends on your taste) - it really is hard to paint shadows, especially the light ones (imagine a big light shadow from a building or tree, what color is it?) - I still struggle with this, but it sometimes works out (the "good painting days"). And what about reflected light ? For these, you need an actual color, at least in most cases . :)

Found this on the web,, so true:

How to Paint Light and Shadow

Learning how to paint sunlight and shade is one of the formative skills of oil painting. Furthermore, the artist must never discount an apparently dull scene on a cloudy day, as it will often be transformed by sunlight, and light is the key to painting like the Impressionists.
How to Paint Sunlight and Shadow

Without sunlight, there is no shadow, and both must be considered simultaneously in a painting. Bright sunlight offers the artist great opportunities for using bright complimentary colours and stark contrasts in tone. The following pointers might be worth bearing in mind when trying to portray a sunlit setting.

When painting from life, time is the essence, for the sun is constantly shifting. This forces the artist to make snap decisions and to take risks. This is a good exercise for challenge
  • Most shadows are not merely black, but contain lots of colours, from crimsons, reds, greens to purples. Careful observation and accurate colour mixing is the key to capturing convincing shadows
  • The sunlit side of an object will often exhibit the complimentary hue to the shaded side. For example, a red object will often shift towards blue spectrum on the shaded side, unless there are reflections from a neighbouring object. Introducing the object’s complimentary colour is a good way of darkening its colour
  • Sunlit objects will often exhibit the most dazzling colours. Do not be afraid of using bright colours neat from the tube.
  • If something does not work out right, due to time pressures, the area can easily be tonked, which is a technique where the oil paint is erased, in order for the artist to start the area again.

****Artists who use thin paint for shadow effect: Rembrandt, Rubens, Leonardo Da Vinci, etc...
Contemporary artist (king of Lips) Jeremy Lipking does it (he uses it as base, or as actual shadow - here is an image):

Artist/s who use thick (yum) paint for shadows (something I want to learn how to do better):
My love (and many other artists' love) Van Gogh, Charles Hawthorn, Edwin Dickenson (love), and many others.

That's Hawthorn's painting, see the shadows? Alla Prima, direct.

Contemporary painters, who make Alla Prima Shadows: My teacher Scott Noel , and another hard working dedicated artist Sangram Majumdar

Scott Noel, Reclining Portrait of Vivian pastel 30 x 44 inches 2010

Scott Noel, Advent of the Muses, oil on linen, 56 x 72 inches
 ------> Look at that green, grey, silvery shadow inside that interior where the women are hovering!

I also made these little ones with paint leftovers:

Yummy Objects in Yellow Green Light 1, 6"x6"

Yummy Objects in Yellow Green Light 2, 6"x6"

***I love to make little paintings from the leftovers of the paint on the palette - I call them "Little Sisters." :))))

Have fun - enjoy! Paint!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Year Later

I am back a year later! I will try my best to keep this blog alive this time...on my second post, I wanted to share some of my most recent still lifes (done within the past half year). This one is 16x12 inches, oil, done on board - I really enjoyed the slippery board support that I found. I painted from life which is common with what I do. I work with photos sometimes, but not when I paint still lifes. This colorful still-life was a more experimental piece done in my studio (my work used to be a little tighter and I am trying to loosen up - get out of my comfort zone). The white strip (broken by the leaves) on the left is the lit up wall, the rest is more or less in shadow (the floor in the studio...the studio space), but the flowers pop out with their beautiful colors, their shapes. The red thing in the middle is a bouquet wrapper.

Another still life I set up in my studio - this one is 4x2 feet. I wanted to try a more horizontal, landscape type of composition (I hope you understand). I also wanted it to be green like a landscape (not all landscapes are green, I know). I played around with texture and tried keeping a one colour type of atmosphere...painted in early daylight. I want my still lifes to have an organic feel, but I also want them to have a type of awkwardness - to have unreal qualities which are playful and a little surprising. I don't want my still lifes to read as surreal (as in Salvador Dali surreal).

I was thinking about the feeling of flowers as opposed to their formal qualities. Like smell...imagine: you walk on the street and out of nowhere there comes a smell and it is very familiar, but you can't remember exactly where you remember that smell from?! Then, when you try to remember (at least for me it's like that), there is a colour of some kind somewhere in the back of your mind. It's so unclear it's almost like noise ( anybody?). Anyway, I painted these Daisies, from observation, on a board I gessoed with oil primer mixed with farina grain - it created nice little bumps, very unlike canvas. Was a nice experiment! :) And as you see, the composition is a little strange...size of still-life about 18x18"

I need to make pictures of this still life in its' finished state... :P BUt for now, the info: oil on canvas mounted to a board, oil and mixed media, 18x24".

Another still life I made...this one is 17x17" - I wanted to see how much white I could get away with...hehe...the wall is white, look at your wall, can you imagine a white painting? I always suffered working on paintings with many different shades of white, or very light/whitish/creamy colours together - very similar value/tone, but different I played around with texture, and introduced some orange. :P I also painted a little painting from the same still -life, with paint leftovers. The little one is 6x10" - I called this little mini tini thing "Little Sister".

This one is a detail of a still life I set up - that long  green one with the cup?! Yes...I had some paint leftovers and an unsuccessful painting that I needed to cover up (don't wanna waste any supports), so I painted this in about 2 hours, on top of the "unsuccessful" painting. In two energetic, passionate, non-stop hours - I ended up in this! 16x20".

Sunday, May 22, 2011

First Post

This church was a commission for a lady - it's not complete. Originally, I was going to add more trees...but the lady saw this piece in progress and wanted it at this stage!
I had a lot of fun painting this still life because I painted it with my friends, my group - the DPC (Dirty Palette Club)! The halmet belongs to my friend Dave, the Arizona bottle might have been mine, the oranges and lemons were kind of already there, and the rest of the stuff came from my friend Mike's studio. We put this still life together rather quickly but painting it took at least three four hour sessions.

I repainted this portrait so many times - at least 7!

Okay, so this is a truer color of the portrait - can you see the difference? One was photographed with artificial light and the other with natural light - the cleanest light you can possibly use for photographing (that I know of) - wanna be real extreme with "pure" light (hehe), you can work with North light, like them old masters used to do. This contemporary artist/photographer, Hiroshi Sugimoto, works with natural light: - He is inspired by the old masters, but also by the Surrealist and Dadaist movements; he highly admires Marcel Duchamp.