Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Measure of Success

"Just a Little Tin"

Oil on Board, 5" x 7"
Well, this was fun.  This started out to be a small exercise in value and temperature - my favorite subject for exploration, and ended up taking more than a few hours to get right. Still, it was a lot of fun and the results were worth it. What's really surprising to a lot of my students, though, is that it took me as long as it did. They've seen me whip out larger pieces in half the time. But these days I'm taking a bit more time with my work in tweaking things.

I think the lesson here is that we are our own worst or hardest critic. I'd like to think that I'm learning to be a hard critic of my own work. Sure I can find a lot wrong with my work, but more importantly, I'm better able to answer the question; "did I achieved what I was after?" Starting a painting without a concept in mind is a lot like taking a road trip without a map. Sure, you may get to a lot of interesting places, but you won't necessarily get anywhere you started out wanting to go. So these days, before sitting down to paint even a small thing like this little ditty, I try to have a clear goal in mind. That way, I can answer the question, "was the trip worth the goal?" If I've actually learned what I was after to find out, then even if the painting is a dud, I've been a success. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Oil Painting of Tin and Pewter

"On the Edge", Oil on Board, 9" x 12"

Not having a clue what I wanted to paint the other day, but knowing I needed to paint, I grabbed these items off the shelf and plopped them down on my still life shadow box. Sometimes when I'm in that place between inspiration and the need to just push some paint around, I'll try to make the most of my time by giving myself just an exercise to do. Something with a goal in mind that will focus my attention and give me a lesson at the same time. 

I knew I wanted to do something that wasn't high contrast but that was in cool light and would challenge me with subtle temperature shifts. The background of my wood shadow box is painted a kind of Naples Yellow Light and generally I drape fabric or colored paper over it. But this time I decided to try something with just the creamy yellow background. Yellow can be a challenge when it becomes shadow because it can go in a couple of different directions -  from orangy to brown and often green. Finding the right relationships can be a challenge so I was pleased when this worked out. Pulling the yellow into the pewter and tin pieces brought the painting together. This is easy when there are reflective objects present as they'll do this anyway. I liked the negative space formed by the balanced tin cup and the lost edges too.  How do you like the brushed surface of the pitcher?

Friday, May 03, 2013

Still Life, Red Cherry Pitcher

"The Cherry Pitcher"Oil on Linen

I purchased this pitcher mainly because I liked it's color and wanted to challenge myself to paint it. Red is a particularly difficult color to do well. Too much background color in it and it looks dull or muddy, too much Naples Yellow or White on the lit side leads to pasty looking pink. Although it's not so much the exact color/temperature that gets you there, it's the color/temperature relationship. Either color used in isolation will look off. It's when they're juxtaposed to each other that they come alive and it all sings. I was happy overall with the way this painting turned out, I felt my edges were working for me and the shadows on the lace were just right. What do you think?