Prince Charming--- Sometimes I get ideas for painting just by hearing someone talk about their life or experiences. I was listening to a coworker talk about her little girl who is very girlie but yet would not be afraid to pick up a frog or snake. That snippet gave me the idea for this painting-- "Prince Charming". I totally give the credit for the idea to the mom and plan to gift the painting when I am done.
The composition is a composite of my niece holding a cell phone and many, many trials and errors at posing the crossed legs. I searched through all my reference photos for just what I had in mind.
I had an idea about how to do the tutu from an earlier painting of my daughter dancing with her doll.
I experimented with squares of complimentary colors to give the background texture and define the edges of the tutu. My color palette consisted of Quinacridone Red, New Gamboge, and Antwerp Blue. The green of the frog was a combination of the three. The purple is supposed to compliment the green, but I'm not sure I pulled it off.
I did the black and white value photo near the end to gage where to punch up the contrast. (I always like the black and white better than the color--- it just seems more dramatic.)
I used the bottom 4 inches of my paper to experiment with the confetti squares, and was a little disappointed when it didn't fit into the finished composition.
I had the shoe ties curling off the paper which lead away from the girl and frog center of interest, so I cropped them out with the matting.
So--- the big question is..... what's gonna happen when she kisses him?!!
I had a photo of my daughter being fitted for her wedding dress. The Dressmaker was a painting from the time I took the photo. Five years later, I am finally getting to paint it. The original photo had poor lighting and a cluttered background. I used my photo program to exaggerate the lighting and printed a highly contrasted reference photo. To go along with the theme of my painting, I used India paper, which looks rough and "handmade". It has imperfections that look like fabric and really soaks up the water and paint. You can lift out, but must be careful. I "invented" a watercolor eraser by wiring a strip of micro cleaning sponge around the tip of an old brush. This helped me be more exact about lifting without scrubbing too hard.I also used the traditional sketchbook value study with pencil and water so that by the time I got to draw on the paper, I was very familiar with what I wanted to do. I used rabatment to enlarge the photo to fit the paper, being careful not to erase much and leave any ghosts on this soft paper.
This was important, because usually when I am excited about a painting and plunge right in, I end up struggling to correct mistakes that should have been worked out before.
I had been watching an art series about old Masters and Rembrandt "Chiaroscuro". This painting begged to be painted with that as inspiration. I left out the clutter in the background but added a mirror to reflect us watching my daughter in her special moment.
While the painting is essentially a portrait of this talented seamstress, this is one of those paintings I've done for myself. As I painted, I thought back to all of the memories we made during the preparations for her big day, and truly enjoyed the process.
Happy Painting! :)
Finished! Guacamole- Still life with Avocado, Limes and Cherry Tomatoes.
I love the complimentary violet-green combination- that happened quite by accident, but once I realized what it was doing I exaggerated it even more.
I still think the avocado could be darker, but I hate to lose the glazing effect, so it will have to be a little unripe for this one.
On to the next in the series! :)
This week I continued working on Still Life for an upcoming exhibit. I found some great avocados and cherry tomatoes in my kitchen and went in search of a shiny metal pitcher for reflections. I only found this pedestal bowl, which would be perfect for a fresh batch of Guacamole. I wanted to continue the practice with the lace but liked the idea of the red and green against the black and white checks. I challenged myself to make the avocado NOT look like a pear, but that may be a lost cause. I did end up with a wonderful glazing layered effect and learned a lot. ( After I was finished, I happened to think I shoulda used my glass pitcher filled with sangria... maybe not a good idea after all....)
I've spent the past year getting settled in our new home and re-learning how to paint. My new cubby actually has windows and the best morning light, so I look forward to early weekend mornings with coffee and watercolor. I've been working on developing landscape techniques but took a break and began work on this still life for an upcoming exhibit. I used a reference photo for the lace but made my own design and simplified the pitcher. The reference photo was striking in color, with a grey background and colorful fruit. I printed it in black and white so I could concentrate on the contour of the fabric. The detail in the lace shows strands of lace folded behind which helps to bring out the dimension in the lace. I used one of my own photos of a metal gravy boat and quilt to guide me in achieving the metallic look and reflections in the pitcher. (Not quite there yet, but heading in the right direction I think) Of course, pears are always fun and a great way to loosen up after painting tree branches. Painting the lace became like a very complex doodle and was in a way very relaxing. (It is hard to fret over work when you are concentrating that hard!)
I am excited to share some of the projects I've been working on, especially the portraits I've been completing using both my favorite media- watercolor and graphite.
This portrait of a graceful child was fun to do because her gaze captivated me during the whole process. While I usually enjoy the contrast of the black & white, I ventured into adding spots of color, especially in the eyes, to give a unique finish to the portrait.
Finally completed this past Summer, "Take a Hike" won award of merit in the 2016 WVWS All-Member exhibit at Parkersburg Art Center. The portrait will be a gift to the lady in the photo who has always been an inspiration of character and life long learning.
The finishing touches of the trees were problematic for me until the Jean Gill workshop at Timberline, where she demonstrated FRITCH scrubbers. I had always used them to "erase" mistakes in watercolor. The technique of using them to actually add interest was just what I needed to finally complete this portrait. Before that, I would stand back and say "What does it need?"
Funny how sometimes it is what you take out that makes the difference!
Thinking Spring has gotten me thinking about outdoor activities, but I was in the mood to do a portrait and maybe just "practice" on some flowers or landscapes. A phone call from a dear friend fit right in, prompting me to dig in my photo bin. This reference photo was taken on my first ever "Nature Walk" . Looking for spring wildflowers, I was of course doing my usual people watching, collecting faces for reference. I had taken this photo from a distance, and didn't realize right away I actually knew this wonderful lady! Judy is a master gardener, basket maker, and amazing calligrapher. She has always inspired me with her down to Earth style and calming personality.
I am just working on the underpainting, and am going to try something a little different. I am planning to do the value study in New Gamboge, then do a "mask " of gesso. I've experimented with this on still life over the winter, and want to try on a portrait. my idea is to have the "underglow" come through the transparent watercolor on the surface, adding a new dimension to my portrait.
This painting has been in my cubby for two years. I've had the photo of my niece Kaitlyn for several years, and it is amazing to see her transformation from this sweet child on Santa's knee to the beautiful young lady she has become.
The painting 's not quite finished, I'm still working to overcome the frisket issues. The lesson I learned from this painting is either NOT to use frisket, or to only use it if you are going to complete the painting within a short amount of time. Let it suffice to say that two years is definitely too long to leave it in place, and it is a real bear to remove. I was going for the sparkles in Santa's beard and Kaitlyn's hair, but think the painting would have been better off without the frisket.
Make time to enjoy the Holiday, because time passes way too quickly! :)
The workshop this past Summer with Jeannie McGuire helped me to take a second look at this painting. I was struggling with the composition-- I wanted to express the energy of winning the race. I liked the color flow and the sunlight/shadows, but somehow it was like just copying the photo.
After the workshop, I put the painting away, not sure where to go with it, and sorry that it wouldn't be ready for the Princeton show. I kept it at the back of my mind wondering how to get the feeling of "air" without actually painting those great shadows under their feet. After much mental hashing, I took the message from Jeannie McGuire, which was to keep only the basic elements of the photo reference and try to let the painting speak for itself. After all, the viewers don't see the references, only the finished product.
I can almost see what the painting will look like when finished, which is a good sign, I'm hoping.
My "new" version of "Sack Race" has only small bits suggesting the sacks, but I'm hoping the sunlight and facial expressions say the rest. --I'll keep you posted! :)
I think it is important to share our process with others, just as we gain from watching other artists work.