Sunday, March 17, 2019

Caretaker Mode

I am in full caretaker mode. My hubby had hip replacement surgery on Thursday.  While it is especially important to take care of him, I am also working to take care of me and the felines too.

That meant on Tuesday, I treated myself and took a 3 hour class at Wet Paint called “The Science of Seeing”. It was taught by Suzann Beck. I wish I had more time and energy to write about it, but I don’t. Since I took a lot of notes, I am hoping to remember most of it when I refer back to them. Two takeaways which I will briefly mention is that she talked about and showed us the impact from everyone having a dominant eye, similar to being right-handed or left-handed, and why it is important to back up and look at your painting from time to time. She also mentioned painting in less light, rather than more, if possible.

The other thing is that I changed my lighting in my basement painting “studio”. Daniel helped me put up the white shower board the day before his surgery. I had changed my set up and had taken the board down awhile back. More important, I changed the bulbs to the equivalent of 40 watt bulbs. I am bouncing the light off the white board, so I am back to having almost no shadows.  Hurrah! I feel like I can “see” things better in a slightly lower light level. Plus, when I throw light on an object, I think it will be easier to see differences in values. I’ve noticed that I tend to dull/gray up my colors too much and I’m wondering if that was a by-product of too much or too harsh lighting. I’ve only done one 10-minute lime painting since my lighting changed, so we will see!

I am hopeful that I will get at least one 10-minute painting done before I go to bed tonight. Plus, I might read some of the newspaper.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Blimey, It’s A Limey

Monday night after juggling, I really, really, really needed to paint. My head was buzzing and I thought that a 10-minute painting would be a good way to chill.

It was. Plus, I liked the end result.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Orange You Glad To See Me?

For my online painting class with Kat, it’s timed painting week. In the past in the classes I’ve taken in person, that’s meant doing a simple 10-minute painting. The official homework goes beyond that, but I kind of need the simple 10 minute paintings this week. For a warm up, I did 4 of them yesterday in one session. Usually, I hit my stride at about #3. Not yesterday! I completely lost my focus on #2 and #3, plus I had too much moisture in my palette for #2. It’s been challenging keeping a decent moisture level. The basement is cold, so I run a space heater in my painting area. That really dries things out!

I took a picture after I had worked on each one for 10 minutes. At the 10 minute mark, I like the first one the best, except for the background stroke on the right hand side which is really distracting.

For all of them, I did a little additional work, although I gave up on #2 and #3. I like where I ended up with #4, which is the lower left-hand corner.

#312 - 10 minute paintings - 8" x 8" - paper

Not One Stroke Per Color

One stroke per color went out the door with this one. I painted this on Saturday.  When I need to focus more on building the shape, I abandon doing one stroke per color. This turned out more muted than I planned, but I got closer to the shape, including the top than I had.

#311 - Sumo Mandarin - 6" x 6" - paper
Tomorrow, I am taking a several hour drawing class during the day at Wet Paint. It's called "The Science of Seeing and Its Impact on Portraiture".  Part of the class description said "This class teaches the science and psychology of how our eyes and brain see and interpret visual information. It will also teach you why drawing errors occur and how we can use our bodies and time-tested techniques to draw more accurately", which is why I wanted to sign up for it.  For me, it's also a chance to rest and focus before his surgery on Thursday morning.  

I've been thinking about and trying to notice what and how I see. I copied the following from today's posting of a blog I follow.  The overall post is a big long and rambling, but it contained a lot of good stuff.  It was from an interview from On Being that Krista Tippett (not my favorite person in the world, but someone who does interesting interviews with people) did with Maira Kalman.   

"I absolutely think that a museum is one of the deepest places of meditation that there could be, maybe even more than a library, because you’re looking. In a museum, you’re not reading — I mean, you’re reading a little bit, but you’re basically just wandering and looking. And once again, the function of the brain, what happens to the brain is very different than, I don’t know, than being in a supermarket — even though I love being in a supermarket. So wait a minute. I love supermarkets. I love to look at all the packaging. To me, that’s a little bit like a museum. But that’s a digression. I think that we have the opportunity to understand silence around us, and really looking, all the time. There’s always the opportunity. And there’s never a lack of things to look at, and there’s never a lack of time not to talk."

Friday, March 8, 2019

More Homework

I had been getting along great with my sumo mandarin. On Wednesday, I started a painting using it as my model and it was a clunker. I didn't finish it. Yesterday with limited time, I switched to something I could start yesterday and finish today.

#310 - My Current Favorite Mug - 6" x 6" - paper
This is a mug I purchased from a friend, who is a potter, when I was back in the Quad Cities this summer. The color is mostly orange/brown with overtones of green, which makes it hard to decide what color you are dealing with. This is mostly one-color per stroke. I did cheat a little bit.

I like the handle of the mug.

The mug looks more like it's kissing the edge of the painting. I should have set this up better and clearly cut off the top part. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Spherical Objects

Alphonso Dunn does beautiful pen and ink drawings. I've checked out his book from the library and really should pick up a copy. Yesterday on Facebook, a post popped up from him about a new video on YouTube. It was very topical, since it was about drawing a sphere in pen and ink.  It got me thinking about how to translate this to paint strokes.

Yesterday, I went to the grocery store and found a strange looking citrus, called a sumo mandarin. I bought one to paint. Given Alphonso's video, I thought about it's shape and started a quick drawing in my kitchen, which I didn't finish.

After that I went downstairs to paint.

The top part which sticks up didn't turn out the way I wanted. It was coming along at the mid-point of the painting. I thought about why and will give it another go. It's almost like this was my warm up to better understand the shape of this thing.

#309 - Almost One Stroke Sumo Mandarin - 6" x 6" - paper

This morning, I had a little extra time in the morning and I was thinking about my friend, the sumo mandarin. I started another quick drawing. When I got to the right side, I tried to turn off my thinking brain and just go with the flowy part, trying to capture the shape directions with mostly straight hatch marks. By the say, I do realize that I make up my own form of English and word usage when I write about this stuff, so don't ask me to define what "shape directions" really means, but it's the description that popped into my head. When I stopped, the idea of a vanishing point seemed to apply. To "build" a round shape, it seems like you need to angle the hatch marks towards an axis (like Alphonso mentioned). At the outer edges, the angle is more extreme and at the inner part, it's less extreme. It seems like this could also apply to the angle of paint strokes.  None of this is absolute, since if all hatch marks or paint strokes were mostly up and down (or side to side), the result would look pretty boring. Still, it's something to contemplate. 

Does any of this make any sense at all? At least I can say, that I am getting a lot of value from the $2.39 piece of fruit I purchased yesterday.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

One Is a Lovely Number

In Kat’s online class, it’s one stroke per color week. This is a good way to slow down and think. The goal is to paint a simple object by mixing a color and painting one stroke with that color. You finish the entire painting in this manner, or you try to! It can be easy to forget that and use a color that works well more than once before you realize it. I like to mix colors, so I enjoy this. Plus, it’s good practice mixing colors so that more of the paint is on the brush, rather on the palette. I am still marveling at how much better it goes when I don't have a goopy paint brush. In the past when I've tried to not have goopy paint, my brush would be too dry. Scratchy, dry paint strokes feel awful to paint. It's like the visual equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard.

When I took Carl’s class at Wet Paint, he would mix premix puddles of color with a palette knife before he started a painting. He also used the matte medium, which thinned the paint color. You can build layers this way and/or you can smooth value transitions. I found it hard to control my paint. Now that I understanding grabbing the paint in the brush better, this might go better.

While it’s a bit frustrating that this one, seemingly small, thing has taken 3 1/4 years to fix, I am also reminded hearing about someone taking mandolin lessons from Peter Ostroushko years ago. Apparently, Peter began both his beginner classes and his master classes with how to strum the strings. I like the idea that no matter the level of competence an artist has achieved, there is always the opportunity to go deeper and learn more about each component or skill involved with the thing you do.

To a certain extent, I do that in my work, accounting. I am a process person. Once I have set up a system for a client, over time, I will continue to refine and optimize it until I don’t see any way to improve it further. This is the fun part of my work and it’s a balancing act of implementing change, getting benefits from the changes, and making refinements at some time in the future. This is what I enjoy about my work versus the auto-pilot parts of my work, which aren’t that fun. Most people think accounting is all the auto-pilot part, but it's not or it doesn't have to be!

Back to painting.........

I overworked this, because I enjoyed mixing colors. With my paint strokes, there are too many which are similar, i.e. same angle, direction, length, and so on. I am liking the oranges I mixed!  This was a blood orange, so there were some parts along the edges where were a really dark orange.

#308 - One Stroke Per Color Orange - 6" x 6" - paper
By the way, this really is my experience almost every time I take a picture to post on this blog. My picture-taking process is move the step stool in front of the windows, place the painting on top of the bench, move the cat one or more times, and take the picture.

One last thing, I subscribe to The Painter's Key's, thanks to Kat's recommendation. A letter / blog post comes out 2 times per week. Many of them are gems. I really like the one for today.