Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Pink Hydrangeas Redux

Remember I said the pink hydrangeas were done?  Turns out they needed a bit more work.  I went to my studio intending to sign the painting, but you know me.  I found one little thing that needed work and that led to a few other changes.  I'm not sure anyone but me will notice the difference, but here are the updated photos.

This is where I left off last week.  When I went back to the studio I realized a few things.  Number one, the fabrics.    If you look at the right edge of the white cloth you'll notice it is very bright and the highlight on the pot is close to it.  That indicates that the grey cloth that is right next to the white cloth should be brighter as well.

I lightened up the cloth and darkened up the shadow so now the white cloth looks more like it is sitting on top of the grey fabric.

The second issue I wanted to deal with was in the flower arrangement itself.  The flower on the right is the one that was closest to my light source so it needed to be lightened up a bit.  In real life it did not look that much different from the others, but for the painting, it needed to pop a bit.

The middle flower also needed some work.  Gregg taught me that with flower arrangements, one flower should always be the star.  I decided to pump up the color on that flower to make it stand out a bit from the rest.

This is the "finished" shot I posted on Instagram.  Of course ten minutes later I decided the flowers needed a little more work so I added a few more light and dark petals and then it was really done.

This is it!  I'm not going to touch it again.  I know this sounds like a lot of excruciating minutiae, but I did not want to call the painting done until it was the very best it could be.

I'm still working on the still life I showed you last week.  Despite my hopes of having it done yesterday, it is slow going.  That vase is not easy, but I'm hoping it will be done soon.

Have a good day everybody!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Working On A New Still Life

I began work on this still life a few weeks ago, but put it aside to start a figure painting.  I took a look at it yesterday and realized that it needed some adjustments.  I put the background in again and got to work.

This was the original set up.  A pretty standard still life, but getting  the shape of this vase was no easy task.  It is very old and not perfectly symmetrical.  In real life it is not that noticeable, but in the painting it looked way off so I made some adjustments.

This was the first session.  Just the background and a block in of the shadows and local colors.

Day two was more of the same.  Just trying to get the colors and shapes right.

This is a bad iPhone photo I snapped at the end of a third crazy painting session.  I was painting away thinking I was going to finish before my model started.  After this session I put the painting aside and had not thought too much about it until yesterday.  I walked into my studio and realized it needed some serious work.

First up, the vase.  It may be a quirky, vintage piece in real life, but in the painting it just looked like I got my dimensions wrong.  I worked on getting the correct shape, then repainted the entire thing.

I also got out the t-square and redid the lines of the shelf to make them as even as possible.

I also pumped up the grapes, redid the orange slice and made some changes to the white cloth.

This is where I left off yesterday.  I'll be back at work on this today.  I'm much happier with how things are going.  There are some changes to the original set up, but that is the great thing about oil paint.  If something is not working, you can just paint right over it!

By the way, I keep forgetting to tell you guys that I'm on Instagram.  You can follow me here.

Have a great weekend everybody.  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Pink Hydrangeas

I've got an update on the hydrangeas, but first I want to say a heartfelt thank you to Tina of The Enchanted Home.  I got the thrill of my life when I opened my email this morning to find out that Tina would be featuring me on her amazing blog today.  She posted a feature showcasing some of her  customers and how they are using the products from her shop.  The pot my hydrangeas are planted in came from The Enchanted Home shop and I love it!  Thank you, Tina,  and welcome visitors from The Enchanted Home.

I spent most of yesterday working on the hydrangeas as I wanted to finish them up.  Unlike other props, flowers are on their own time.  Luckily, I just had to darken up the shadows on the flowers and they were done.  Next it was on to the pot.  Pots, especially white pots, don't usually go down in one sitting. I painted it in over the weekend, but yesterday realized it was not quite right so did it over.  I ended up repainting the pot and the pattern six times, but it is worth it to keep going as long as it takes to get it right.  I'm very happy with the way it came out.

It took awhile to get the highlight in the right place

I then softened up the white tablecloth

For the final touch I added some flower petals to the table

Here is the finished painting.  There were so many coats of paint that I couldn't sign it, but I'll take care of that today.

Now I'm back to work on my model.  Have a great day everybody!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

I Was Getting Ready To Some Paint Hydrangeas...

Last week at TJ's they had some beautiful hydrangea plants, so of course I had to buy one to use in a still life.

Pretty, right?  I was all set up and ready to go, when I happened to look over to my left and spotted a canvas that I had decided to paint over.  I decided to put that canvas on my easel and take a good look at it.  A few weeks ago I was planning to paint over it, but Gregg was emphatic that I leave it alone and try to work on it.  I don't know why, but I picked up a brush, dipped it into some cadmium red light and started painting.

I never even stopped to take pictures or take one before I started.  This was a figure painting I did a few years ago.  It was one of my first and not great, though it did have some good aspects to it (the head, face and upper body).  The rest of it was not great.  I also felt that the shadow lines were way too harsh around the right shoulder and on both sides of the neck.

I've painted models in wraps before, so once I got started I just went with it.  It's hard to tell in the photo, but in person it looks like she just threw a very sheer wrap over herself.  I also lightened up the dark lines so they did not stand out so much.

I'm much happier with the painting now.  Just last week Gregg and I were discussing adjusting or updating old paintings and how being able to do that is a real sign of progress for an artist.  Needless to say I'm very happy I was able to do fix this painting and I have started on another updating project.

This photo is not the best, but the light was gone at this point.  If it ever stops raining and the painting dries I will take a proper photo and put it in the drop down menu.

I did finally start the hydrangeas that day as well and they are coming along.  The flowers are already done. Now it is time to start work on the planter.

I quickly put in the placement and background after finishing the figure.  The next day I got down to work with the plant itself.

  I hope to have this painting finished up in a few days.  One thing about flowers, you can't just sit around and procrastinate.  They are on their own timetable.  I'll post the finished photos as soon as I'm done.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sunflowers 2.0

Hi Everybody.  Yes, I'm still alive!  I've been doing a lot of painting, but until this past Sunday, did not have a completed painting to show you.  Remember last summer and fall I was knocking out paintings left and right?  Well, sometime around December, that all changed.  I have at least six paintings that I'm working on, but none that are "done".

Happily, I think things are turning around.  You may remember that I painted these sunflowers over the summer.

Above is the original set up and this shot is what I thought was the finished painting.  I was happy with the flowers as soon as they went in, but the rest of it was a struggle and it just never seemed quite right to me.  After spending a few months analyzing it, I realized a few things.  The background was too dark, the velvet cloth was not flowing, and the biggest problem:  the vase was too flat.

On Saturday I arrived at my studio and just started painting.  For whatever reason things were flowing and the painting is now so much better.  I lightened up the background and re-did the red cloth.  Just those two things made a huge difference.  Then it was time to get to the hard part:  the vase.

White objects and cloth can be very difficult to paint.  It usually takes more than a few times to get it right.

See the difference with the lighter background and the fixed up red cloth?  The whole painting was looking muddy and I'm so happy that is gone.  I then outlined the vase one more time and commenced with the re-painting.  I really darkened up the shadow (by mixing in some of the green background to the white mixture) and then added my medium and light whites.  I brought the lightest white over to the opposite end of the vase in order to make the vase appear round and not flat like it had been before.

Things were looking a lot better, but I was still not completely satisfied, so another coat of the white colors went on.

Now that I finally had the fullness and roundness of the vase that I wanted, it was time to put the highlight in.  People are always surprised when I put the highlight in before the pattern, but this is one of the first lessons that Gregg Kreutz (my teacher) taught me.  You have to make sure that your whites are dark enough so that your highlight stands out.  If you wait until you are finished, you may end up having to do the whole painting over.   If you look at the above photo, you can see that the highlight is sitting on the white just where it should be.

At this point my light was gone, so on Sunday I went back to the studio and got right to work on the pattern.  The secret to doing the pattern is to paint the darks and lights just like you would any other aspect of the painting.  The pattern is blue, so I have Ivory Black and Ultramarine Blue in the shadow portion, plain Ultramarine Blue on the bottom of the vase and Ultramarine Blue and Titanium White on the lightest portion.

Here is the finished painting still wet on the easel!  As soon as it dries a bit I'll take a real photo of it and post it in the floral drop down menu.  I'm so happy with this painting now.  I'm hoping this is a good sign and all of the other in progress paintings will be done soon.  Have a great day everybody!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Some New Paintings

The paintings are not exactly new, but we have a sunny day here in New York City (finally!!) so I was able to photograph some of the paintings that have been sitting around.

First up are the sunflowers.  I finished this painting awhile ago so it's nice to be able to get it up on the blog.

Sunflowers, 14x18, oil

Next I have the portrait I did of the lovely Jamila.

Jamila, 16x20, oil

I have two still life paintings to show you.  The first is my revamped Brass Pitcher With Lemons

Brass Pitcher With Lemons, 9x12, oil

The second still life is one that I finished quite some time ago, but I could never get a decent photo of it.   The painting is rather dark so it did not photograph easily, but I decided to just get the best shot I could and get it up on the blog.

The Blue Vase, 16x20, oil

All of these will be added to the drop down tabs above.  Have a great weekend everybody and enjoy the sun!

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Dahlias Are Done!!!

Greetings from the frozen tundra that is New York City!  Yesterday started with a blizzard, then had sleet, rain, thunder and lightening and then more snow.  It has been a crazy week, but despite all that, I managed to finish three paintings.

First up:  the never-ending dahlias.  If you recall, I started this painting back in October.  The flowers went in right away, but the rest of it took some time.  Between the Mexico trip, the holidays and two portraits, they got put on the back burner.  However this week I resolved to tie up all the loose ends that were hanging around my studio.

The original set up

I painted over an old canvas.  I started with an outline of the set up and then began to put the flowers in.  

This is where things stalled.  Luckily the flowers were done, so it was easy to pick up where I left off.

When I got back to the painting, I started out by putting in the background again, just to get things moving on the whole canvas (a great tip I learned from Gregg).  I also decided to add some lemons to the shelf so I put them in and then pumped up the shadows on the vase.  I also put in the highlight on the vase.  I know it sound counterintuitive, but Gregg taught me that you have to put the highlight in first so you know that your other colors are dark enough that you can see it.

Finally I got to the fun part, the blue pattern.  Now I have to admit, this did not go on in one shot.  I re-did the pattern four or five times and when you fix one thing, you end up changing everything around it.  That meant that if I wanted to do the pattern over, I had to do the shadow and the white of the pot as well.  It took some time, but it was worth it to get it right.

This is the finished painting.  The photo is not great as it was already getting dark so I just snapped a quick pic to show you.  I may tweak it a bit over the next week or so, but for now I'm calling it done.

The second painting I worked on was really a spur of the moment decision.  I originally finished this up  over the summer, but I was never quite happy with it.

It's not bad, but not great either.  It really needed something, but I didn't know what.  At the end of the day on Tuesday, I was suddenly struck with inspiration.  The gray background needed to go.  I replaced it with a greenish red background and it looks so much better.  The new color makes the fruit pop and just brightens up the whole painting.

Next I decided that there was not enough going on in the painting.  As you can see, there is a lot happening on the shelf, but with the exception of the vase, nothing is going on in the background.  I added some stems and leaves coming out of the vase and from behind the vase as well.  Now the flow of the painting is really working.  This whole process took me less than thirty minutes and I was so into what I was doing that I completely forgot to take photos! Luckily I do have the finished painting to show you.

I like it so much better with these changes and I'm so happy I was able to save the painting instead of having it be a paint over.

I also finished a portrait this week, but I'll put that in another post as there is one tiny thing in it that is driving me crazy.  I may have to make a change before I post it.

So that is what has been happening around here.  Hope all of you are warm and dry!