Thursday, February 8, 2018

Yesterday's Charcoal Sketch

12" x 9" Charcoal on Paper
This is the sketch I made at last night's portrait session. I'll still be working in oil at these sessions from time to time, but this week, at least, charcoal is my medium of choice.

For more about portrait sessions, go to "Labels" on the side bar and click on "portrait", "sketching" or "drawing".

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Photos from a Winter Walk

Tuesday was a wonderful day for a walk in the country. Winter can be rather unpleasant around here, but not on this day! The sky was so blue. Temperatures weren't too cold. Blue shadows contrasted with warm sunlight, highlighting the sepia, ochre and umber colors of marsh grasses and brush. A narrow first quarter moon shown faintly over the Wasatch Mountains.

There's always a ready-to-go day pack in my car. Among other things that stay in that day pack is a cheap little camera. It's there ready for hikes or even when I go on shorter walks. Usually the camera stays in the pack, but occasionally I get it out. On this walk, the camera came out of the pack as soon as I saw the bald eagle. The eagle landed in a tree close by as I stood looking out over the wintry landscape. Upon landing, the eagle gave a short series of high pitched staccato cries. Quite attention getting!

Admittedly, this eagle photo is not much better than those pictures you see published of bigfoot or UFOs. My attempt to work closer for a better photograph of the eagle only managed to annoy it, and it spread it's impressive wings and departed. I wish I had a better camera with me on these walks and hikes, but unfortunately, after a camera of mine died in a dust storm in Southern Utah a few years ago, I'm leery of taking any of my better cameras with me on these trips. The cheep little $65 Casio worked well enough for the rest of these pictures, I believe.

There were a few smaller hawks around on that bright winter's day. A flock of juncos flitted about through the latticework of winter-bare tree branches and underbrush by the trail. A red-shafted flicker made itself known by it's distinctive "kyeer!" call.

There's still quite a bit of ice on the lake. The ice seems thin, though, and there appears to be open water out to the west.

Here's those same mountains, seen through a filter of cottonwood trees.

In the other direction, seen across open ranch land, are some of my favorite stomping grounds; the canyons and ridges of the Wasatch Mountains.

The day's walk comes to a close as I return to my car. Before driving away I take one more look at a cloud-haloed Mount Timpanogos.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Back to the Portrait Sessions for 2018

7" x 5" Oil on Panel
I was going to paint larger for my first portrait of the new year. However, upon arriving at Howard Lyon's studio for the weekly session, I realized that much of the equipment I had carefully prepared had accidentally been left at home. I did have a little 5" x 7" kit with me though, so that's what I used to do the little study shown above.

For more about portrait sessions, go to "Labels" on the side bar and click on "portrait", "sketching" or "drawing".

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

New Years Day Plein Air Painting Revisited

This will be an attempt to show step-by-step the painting I made on New Years Day. I hope it will be informative in spite of it's shortcomings. I'm not a wizard with photography, so there's some inconsistency from one shot to the next. Editing photographs of paintings is another challenge. It seems that no matter how hard I work at editing photos, my best hope is to get the photo to look somewhat similar to the original painting. It never looks exactly the same. Sometimes I just take the photos over again. However, you cannot take in-progress photos over again. Also, the finished photographs of paintings will look different from program to program, and from one computer monitor to another. That being said, here's the pictures:

The first thing I do when beginning an on-location painting is tone the panel with a thinned mix of colors. The tone layer is then painted over without allowing it to dry. Since the tone layer is still wet, it mixes somewhat with the next layers of paint, influencing them. Painting wet paint over wet paint also prevents the thinned tone layer from drying into a weak layer.

Using the same color mix as the tone, the composition develops and the darks begin to be worked out.

In the next photo, the darks are established further, and some color begins to be added.

As more color is added, the painting progresses from dark colors to light colors.

Admittedly, more happened in between the last photo and the next picture than is shown here, but I got caught up in paining and forgot to keep shooting pics. The next picture shows the development of distant clouds, and texture in the trees, brush, and marsh grasses.

The next picture shows further development of all parts of the painting, depending on where I think work is needed. 

A few more touch-ups, and the painting is signed and finally finished! 

The last picture shown was photographed with a different camera than the rest of the pictures in this post. I was unhappy with the quality I got with the old little cheapie Casio camera used for the other pictures, so the finished work was rephotographed with a better camera. I'm still not entirely pleased with the photograph, but I'm happy to have the opportunity to show these in-progress pictures to you. I hope that this series of pictures, along with the brief descriptions accompanying them, will give you some insight into the workings of some of the plein air paintings that come from my pochade boxes or easels. Thanks for Reading!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

New Years Day 2018

8" x 10" Oil on Panel
Thought I should start this year off right by going plein air painting. The weather seemed to agree, being an exceptionally mild day for January first. The day was mostly sunny, with only small patches of snow lingering here and there on the ground. I went to a place west of Springville where some cottonwood trees grew along the bank of a canal. 

The water level in the canal looked unusually high. Taking a short walk down by the trees, I discovered the reason for the high water. In the canal by the trees were a couple beaver dams.

Here's How I Spent New Years Day.
The picture at the top of this post shows the painting I made on New Years Day. Colors used were cadmium yellow light, yellow ochre, cadmium red, anthraquinone red (think "permanent alizarin crimson"), cobalt blue, ultramarine blue, and titanium white.

During the course of the painting I took several in-progress photographs of it with an old, cheap Casio camera. It might take a few days, but I may post those in-progress pictures after I can edit them and decide if they're post-able. Stay tuned!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Another Charcoal Portrait Sketch

12" x 9" Charcoal on Paper
Last night at Howard Lyon's Studio the model for the session was a local actress done up in an 18th century French rococo outfit and makeup. It seemed as though she had enough flowers in her giant wig for the gardens at Versailles, and enough fabric in her dress to provide curtains for all the windows in the palace at Versailles! Here's a picture of her in a similar dress:

I don't know who the character on the left is, but I hope it's not Robespierre!

Three hours was certainly not enough time to draw that extravagant costume, so I settled for the portrait sketch shown at the top of this post. 

For more about portrait sessions, go to "Labels" on the side bar and click on "portrait", "sketching" or "drawing".

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Back to Charcoal Sketching for a Session

12" x 9" Charcoal on Paper
I found another place to attend live model drawing sessions. The Beaux-Arts Academy has an open session on Saturday mornings. There are so many places around this valley that have live model sessions (and affordable ones, too. $7 to $10 a session.) There's no excuse for anyone who wants to practice drawing or painting people from life to not find places where they can do that with other painters and drawers. The sketch at the top of this post is my effort from this morning's session at Beaux-Arts.

Sketching from life with charcoal is a bit like going for a walk in nature. It's simple, basic, and it feels good. Charcoal sketching enables me to focus on things I don't when sketching with oil paints, and in ways I hope will translate over to my oils. I'll continue to sketch in oils, too, but I plan to intersperse oil sessions with charcoal sessions.

For more about portrait sessions, go to "Labels" on the side bar and click on "portrait", "sketching" or "drawing".