Friday, June 15, 2012

Color, Value, Painting

For starters, here are some magical splatters of color for inspiration! Did you know that they dance on your palette just like this, when you're about to paint?

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

Color is super important in my work and I always strive towards rich colors just like one of my favorite, and well known painters, Vincent Van Gogh . What does a rich color mean? I guess it means "clean" or "confident" colors (what?). I always wash my brush really well before mixing and finally applying each new stroke of color, it makes for a more conscious decision. It takes a lot of effort and I end up with a billion dirty rags at the end of each painting session, but guess what? My painting ends up looking more fresh and vibrant (I hope). I noticed that when I get lazy and don't wash my brush, and don't really think or feel much about which colors I mix together, if I just throw and smear paint...the painting ends up looking dirty and dry. I also make sure that I clean my palette several times during a painting session. Sometimes your painting is not going well because you've diluted all of your resources on your palette and need to refresh!

I saw this painting in the Van Gogh show in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) in spring of 2012 (one of the best shows I ever went to btw). Everything about it, from framing, to the order of the work, and there were so many Japanese prints included in the show. It was easy to make a connection and see how the Japanese prints inspired 19th century artists like Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas.

Van Gogh, Siesta, 1890

** Throughout history artists had a special relationship with color, here's a little video:

               By New Zealand artist Richard Robinson:
More helpful painting tips from Richard Robinson:

The video above gives tips on how to better see color and value. Color is quite arbitrary, but more or less I like to believe that we see color similarly. I noticed that when I look at the same subject over a period of 3 hours when I paint, I constantly 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. :)
Another thing: If 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 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 just a slight transition), which one is more reddish? or greenish? or purplish? or yellowish? And differentiate their orangeness that way.


You can do this by taking any simple colored image/photo you like and make a black and white copy. You can then practice painting both!

More Peggi Kroll - great demo:

**Look at her list of recomended books on color and composition on her web, they are pretty helpful (got some in my own library). Hawthorne on Painting, The Art of Spirit by Robert Henri, Edgar Payne's, The Composition of Outdoor painting, etc.

Video by Kroll, with her studio and most importantly, her Art work:

Head proportions, basics, oh so simple - AWESOME:

So...from color and value I went right into head proportions and planes! What the heck? Why I'll have to make a separate post for that!

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 home from landscape painting with my crew the DPC (we actually expanded into Philadelphia Plein Air Painters). We painted at Fairmount Park behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The sun was out but because of a few clouds the light was very inconsistent. When my artist friend Mike dropped me off at home I was still in painting spirits, and the green yellow walls in the room inspired me to set up a little still-life. The sun was going to set in about three hours, so I knew I had to work fast and keep things fresh. I had three new expensive paint tubes in my box, so I decided to challenge myself and us those.

The colors were: Holbein's "Violet Grey", Gamblin's "Cobalt Teal" (very similar to Turquoise but more on the blue side). "Turquise works well for the sky and landscape in general", my friend Will Sentman  said to me a few days ago, and his landscapes are beautiful so I had to try either Turquoise or something similar (I bought Turquoise too...). And the final color was Van Gogh's "Yellowish Green". I find that these types of strange premixed colors help create luminosity in my work, and I often mix them into shadows.

Many artists struggle to create believable shadows - they either add a bunch of black into a shadow and overdo it (shadows look like black holes), or they thin some dark paint which often works but there are other ways as well. :) How about colorful shadows? Delicious, colorful shadows are hard to paint and it takes some practice. And then there is reflected light to consider. Reflected light is hard to avoid, because more often than not it is an actual color that sits within a darker shadow.

Found this relevant website for shadows:

ust 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 successfully use thin paint for shadow effect: Rembrandt, Rubens, Leonardo Da Vinci, etc. Contemporary artist, Jeremy Lipking, often uses thin paint for shadows or it's simply a base that will later acquire a color. 

Some artists who use thick (yum) colorful paint for shadows:
Van Gogh, Charles Hawthorn, Edwin Dickenson.

The image above is a Hawthorn's painting (...I cant find the title). The shadows were painted directly via Alla Prima. They are neither black nor thin, so it's another way to paint a shadow!

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 leftovers paint. I those "Little Sisters." :))))

Have fun - enjoy! Paint!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Year Later

I am back a year later! I was born at the wrong time in history so blogging is kind of hard for me...I will try my best to keep this blog alive this time...For 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 on board - I really enjoyed the slippery support 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 a bit). The white strip (broken by the leaves) on the left is the lit up wall, the rest is more or less in shadow, but the flowers pop out with their beautiful colors. The red thing in the middle is a bouquet wrapper.

Another still life I set up - this one is 4x2 feet. I wanted to try a more horizontal, landscape composition. I played around with texture and tried keep everything under a patina of green blue. I want my still lifes to have an organic feel, but at the same time have a kind of awkwardness - to have qualities which are playful and a little surprising. I don't however want my still lifes to read as surreal (as in Salvador Dali surreal).

In this piece, I was thinking about the feeling of flowers as opposed to their formal qualities. Imagine: you walk on the street and there comes a smell and it's 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 color of some kind somewhere in the back of your mind. It's so unclear it's almost like noise. 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. It was a nice experiment! :) The size is about 18x18"

I need to make pictures of this still life in its finished state...It's oil and mixed media on canvas mounted to a board, 18x24".

This still-life is 17x17" - I wanted to see how much white I could get away with...hehe...It's always been a challenge for me to work on paintings with many different shades of white, or very light/whitish/creamy colours together, with very similar value. So, again I mostly played around with texture. I also painted a little painting from the leftovers like I often do.

This one is a detail of a bigger still life I set up. 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 for general practice. It took me about two very energetic hours to complete this 16x20". :)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

First Post

"Two Bamboo"
oil on canvas
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.

Okay, so this is a truer color of my 9X12" self 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. Voila!