So – what am I working on now? I was joking that I’m no longer making art, I’m just looking at it. But it’s probably more accurate to say that I’m not finishing any art.
I’ve got 3 oil paintings in various stages of done-ness, one of which I had previously put away for over a year and now I’m trying to salvage it. One is a bottle painting where I decided i was unhappy with the composition so I may not finish it. Third is another portrait of my dog, because everyone loves my dog.
Other than that – I’ve just been making tiny sketches to see if I like the layout – to avoid the problem of not liking a composition once I’m half way through. I think the rock in the forest and the sketch of Chain Lakes have potential. The other looked better in my head. The chameleon was just for fun and because I wanted to see if my multimedia paper would take watercolor (it does). The glass of water was a practice study. And the portrait is about half done, I’m letting it sit a few days to see if the proportions still look right when I’ve been away from it.
There’s no theme here, but I wanted to get in the last few things I did at the tail end of 2020. Two of my previous pastel frogs are promised to family members and I wanted to have one to keep for myself. The still life is the latest in what’s turning into a series of light shining through glass bottles. For a while in the middle I regretted my decision to paint green light shining on green apples, but I think it turned out in the end.
My first commissioned piece for friends who said they wanted to have my first professional artwork. It’s from a photo that had special meaning for them that was, in fairness, a pretty grainy, dark picture. But I liked the mood and tried to capture the essence of it.
We were looking for a hike that avoided the snow up the in mountains, so in that sense, this was a failure. There was a good 6 inches of snow at the trailhead up to about a foot at the town site, but the hike was mostly flat and we were able to walk in the footsteps of the few people who went up ahead of us. It was a beautiful day, a pleasant drive, and well worth the trek.
The Pacific Northwest doesn’t get the fall fireworks show that the East can get, but we do mountains much better and also, there are larches. I had never seen them before, but these are deciduous conifers and if you time it right, you can see them in full, bright yellow color up in the mountains. These are all from Cutthroat and Maple Pass in the North Cascades. The yellow trees are larches, the bright red bushes are huckleberries and the haze is the remnant of wildfire smoke.
I haven’t done as much painting as I intended, but I did get a lot of hiking done before the smoke drove everything indoors. It’s cooler weather now and I’m struggling to get back outside either hiking or kayaking. In the meantime, I have some new art.
I consider these all ‘studies’ where I’m still figuring out how the medium works and most of them are on cheap canvases or paper. I am pleased overall with how the wave turned out – this was my first attempt at water. For the honey jar I really like the glowing spot and somewhat regret doing it on such a poor canvas. Same with the bottles – I had some canvas paper that I found in some art supplies from 40 years ago and used it because it was convenient.
The tree frog is pastel pencil on ‘pastelmat’ from a free reference image. I did it in something of a hurry along with an online class/tutorial, but I think it came out well.
I set myself a goal – and that goal is to paint 100 (small) paintings before the end of the year. I’m working on the theory that what I need most is practice. I’m still doing some sketching, mostly people, but they’re not good. When I get something I like I will record it here.
First some updates on my two landscapes. I’m not sure Dun Flodigary is completed. I haven’t worked on it for a while, but I also haven’t signed it, so there we are. If I had to do it again I would tone the sky WAY DOWN, but I don’t want to go back and mess with it now. On the Cascades – I’m just starting to add details to the grass and put the flowers in the foreground.
And now for some tiny art. The biggest one here is 6×9. These are the start of my 100 paintings. I’m still working on Dun Trodan, but wasn’t sure what to do next so I set it aside.
I’ve never painted with oils before last fall (I haven’t done much painting at all and never taken a class in it) but from the limited amount I’ve done since then I like them better than acrylic and I can’t really explain why. If you’ve ever had a game that you like because the pieces are nice, they are smooth and rounded and have a nice weight to them so that it just feels good to pick them up, that’s how I feel about oil paint vs acrylic paint. In November I was invited to start painting with friends and hopped in, hoping I’d figure out what I was doing as I went.
I started working on a landscape from a photo I took on the Isle of Skye of a heather-covered hillside and the shoreline and sea beyond. Did I mention I knew NOTHING about oil painting (or any painting?) so it’s been slow going as I stopped every time I had to work on something new.
I think it looks very much like someone’s first oil painting. The colors are too saturated, particularly the sky, and my brushwork leaves something to be desired, but I’m working on it. I need to finish up the heather and there are some details in the mid ground I want to touch up before I call it done.
After we’d been stuck in our houses a while because of the pandemic, I decided to bring the paint supplies to my house so I can at least work on something. I was not previously a fan of the still life, but these are small, have simple shapes and are very ‘low risk’ compared to a portrait. If I’ve got some lines off on a lemon, it doesn’t make the lemon look angry.
Things I noticed: when trying to paint a white, shiny object, I should not have made the highlights pure white – it looks too chalky. It is very difficult to figure out what the shadow color on a lemon is. I am not good at painting thin lines. If I do a blend from purple to red to orange I need to really keep my brushes clean and possibly break it down over several days.
Finally, I went through my photos and decided to try another landscape. This one is small (14×11) and I’m thinking of it as a ‘practice sketch’ for something to maybe do again later but bigger. I’m playing around with a style and want to work a bit looser. I started with a practice practice sketch – a thumbnail that was only 4″ wide to get an idea of the colors.
The oils take a while to dry between layers and I’m prone to wanting to rush everything (I can create grey!) so my current solution is to always have 3-4 paintings in progress so I can jump to another when one needs time to dry.