Monday, March 20, 2017

More Painting Updates, Empire State Building and Union Square

Happy first day of spring!  Here in New York City, we are still digging out from last weeks blizzard/ice storm and it feels nothing like spring.  Our insane weather is actually what led me to redo these two paintings.

The Art Guild of Port Washington is having a show celebrating America and I want to enter.  Back in February, my plan was to go down to Battery Park and paint the Statue Of Liberty.  Of course, in February, it was 65-70 degrees every day.  Since March started, it's been nothing but rain, snow, blizzards and freezing temps.  Battery Park is on the cool side most of the time.  There is no way I was going to hang out there for hours painting.   I took these two photos today.  There is a snow mountain at 13th and University and cars all over the city are stuck in blocks of ice.  I knew if I were going to do something for this show, it would have to be done in the studio.

I was about to give up on entering the show, when I remembered that I had two paintings I might be able to use.  One of the Empire State Building, and another of Union Square that happened to have an American flag in the background.  The only problem is that these two paintings were not among my best.  I had worked on each of them twice on location.  I'm not a landscape painter, so two passes are not nearly enough for me to complete a canvas.

I decided to tackle them in the studio.  I figured the worst that could happen would be that I would totally ruin them and would skip entering the show.

This was the original painting of the Empire State Building.  I always thought this painting needed a bit more work, but never got back out there to do it.  It was a little too gray for me.  It was a gray, rainy day when I was there, but I thought I would take a chance and try to brighten it up a bit.  After two sessions in the studio, I'm much happier with it.

Empire State Building, 11x14, oil

 Here is the updated version.  I feel like this one has more life in it and I'm now happy with the painting.

The second painting was done in Union Square.  Unfortunately, I do not have a before photo for you. I neglected to take one when I began my painting frenzy and the originals were lost in the iPhoto to Photos transition (the worst thing Apple ever did, in my opinion).

Anyway, here is what I ended up with.  If you are familiar with Union Square, I entered the park at 17th and Broadway and I was looking across the park toward Beth Israel.

Union Square, Summer 11x14, oil

Now all I have to do is enter these in the show!  Even if I am not chosen, I'm still happy that these paintings are now officially finished.  I'm on a big clean out and every thing that is not suitable for framing and hanging is either getting an update or getting painted over.  I'm glad that these two were able to be saved.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Painting Update: Brass Teapot With Grapes

So, I've been at it again.  I've updated three older paintings in the last few weeks.  I don't know why I get in this mood sometimes, but I've learned to just go with it.

I originally painted this a few years ago.  As usual, I thought it was good when I finished it.  But, over time, certain things about it started to annoy me.  I repainted the background a few months ago and then kind of forgot about it as I got busy with other things.   A few weeks ago, I was feeling frustrated with my current works and decided to pull this one out.  I decided either I would make it work or paint over it.

I started by putting another coat on the background.  With these Innerglow Boards, you have to make sure you have enough coverage and I clearly did not.  After the background was done, things started to perk up and I focused on the other things that I did not like.  Namely, the fruit.  There was not enough fruit to fill out the canvas (it's a 16x20) and it was not done very well.  Actually, the only things I did like were the brass pot, which I did not touch, and the cloth.

I started with the fruit.  The oranges needed more work and I was never thrilled with the arrangement of the grapes.  There were grapes on three quarters of the painting, but nothing over on the right side. It felt a little unbalanced to me.  You want the viewer's eye to travel from left to right, and I didn't have much action happening on the right side of the canvas.  Also, I was not feeling the red and green grapes.  It just felt like too much, so I figured, why not take the leap and get rid of the green grapes.  I painted them out and was already happier with things.

I also added an orange to the blue and white bowl.  Things already felt more balanced to me and I continued on with the oranges.  To perk them up, I lightened the lights and darkened the darks.  With the darker shadows and highlights, they started to look like round, juicy oranges.

However, something was still gnawing at me and I could not figure out what it was.  I was very close to just taking a rag full of black paint and wiping out the whole thing when it hit me.  The cloth was the problem!  While the color and pattern were good, it needed a few adjustments.

The issue was that the whole cloth was painted the same.  The front edge needed serious lightening up and the front plane needed some light under the edge.

Once the cloth was completed, things finally started falling into place.  Of course, I then decided that I was not happy with the white bowl.  Luckily, that was a pretty easy fix.  I just painted it out with my "fake white" colors and let it dry for a day or two.  I then painted in a new blue pattern that I made up as I went along.  The reason I had to make it up is because except for some oranges and grapes, I did not actually have any of these pieces in my studio!  This was one of those times when having years of painting under my belt really helped.  I knew what had to be done and was able to do it, even without the props in front of me.

Brass Teapot With Grapes, 16x20, oil

Here is the finished piece.  I'm very happy with it now and so glad this all worked out.  I'll soon have a post up detailing the other two reworked paintings.  If you have any questions about reworking an old painting, leave them in the comments.  I'd love to talk about this.  Does anyone else redo their old work?

Sunday, March 5, 2017

New Still Life, Blue And White Vase With Oranges

I'm happy to report that I finished a new still life painting tonight.  I started this one a few weeks ago and I thought I was done with it last week, but after looking at it the last few days, I realized that it needed some work.

This is the original set up and the block in.

This is the end of the second session.  As you can see, the canvas is covered and the lights and shadows are done.  At this point, I just kept adding layers of paint.

After a bit more work on the vase, it was time for the pattern.

After I finished the pattern, I thought the painting was done, but after looking at it for the last week, I realized that it needed a few tweaks.  First, the background needed one more coat of paint.  It was not as smooth as I wanted it to be, so I knew I needed to go over it one more time.  Second, I realized that there were six leaves on the stems coming out of the pot.  Odd numbers always look better, so I added one more leaf and stem.  It had the added benefit of balancing out the left side of the painting.  And third, the back piece of the top of the vase was far too prominent.  Since it is behind the front piece (obviously), it needed to fade out a bit.

I decided to take care of all of these problems today as I was ready for this painting to be done.

Blue And White Vase With Oranges, 12x16, oil

Here is the finished painting.  I'm glad this one is finished as I'm also in the middle of a large floral.  I'm hoping to have that painting finished in a few days and of course I'll have a full recap here.