Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Classical Painting Atelier by Juliette Aristides – from the Introduction

I was surfing through some links today and found a book I want to order. It allowed me to read the introduction and I was so taken by the words, I wanted to put them here for you to read. The subject line of this post is the name of the book and author.

People are always asking me what I paint and I tell them mostly landscapes -- but this introduction says more about what I paint than anything I could come up with. That thing is "beauty". I think there is enough other things in this world to worry about, and don't want it to be art!

The copied text is here:
While people share much with other living creatures, the desire for beauty, the capacity for self-reflection, and the longing for eternity are distinctively human qualities. On some subconscious level we need beauty, despite its perceived lack of function. If we were to give a horse a diamond ring, it assess it only on the basis of its utlity, essentially asking the question, 'Can I eat it?' In contrast, the human being has the elevated option to ask not only 'Is it useful?' but 'Is it beautiful?' The enormity of human suffering in the world does not render this question, or the desire to ask it, trivial. Rather, it affirms an appreciation of aesthetics as fundamental to our nature.

Artists help us see the surprising beauty that breaks into our daily lives by celebrating that which might otherwise pass by unnoticed. Artists are in a unique position to leave an intimate record of human life, as they give us the opportunity to see not only through their eyes but also through their thoughts and emotions. One could say that the greater the art, the more clearly we experience this communication of souls. Artists remind us that despite the pain and ugliness in the world, something deeper exists-a beauty that peeks through the drudgery of life, whispering that there is more just beneath the surface. We see a landscape filled with longing and loss or a figure filled with love and empathy. These images enable us to long and love with the creators.

Nature shows us one kind of beauty, such as the way the light falls through the tree canopy, speckling the forest floor where I now sit and write. Occasionally, an unusually insightful individual is able to capture this kind of beauty in art. This is why Mozart's Requiem Mass still moves people to tears in packed orchestra halls or why people are willing to wait in line for hours to see an exhibition of works by Vermeer. Despite all appearances and talk to the contrary, we crave art that captures truth and remains powerfully and beautifully relevant long past the time of its creation. This sort of art is not just pretty or made up of the hollow aesthetic beauty that changes with the eye of the beholder. It is not sentimental, for sentiment is fleeting. The sort of art that lives eternally is that which captures astonishing, spine-chilling, breathtaking beauty that heightens our senses and floods us with transforming thought and emotion. In this work, we hear a whisper from another world saying, "It's all real." The ache to last means you were meant to last; the longing for beauty calls to you because beauty marks a reality that actually exists.

The contemporary artist in this book lived parallel to the rages of modern and postmodern art; they saw the same grimy buses pass by, the same soggy newspapers and cigarette butts in the gutter, the same horrors on the news, but they saw in these things an alternate reality of meaning-one that they communicate in their work. The topics they choose to express are not always comfortable to look at, but, through the artist's vision, they are infused with pity, compassion, and insight that express a kind of beauty that transcends even the thorniest subject matter. The art portrayed in this book shows the courageous path followed by visionaries who are strangers in their own times, looking ahead to a land not yet found to capture a hope that, through beauty, can fight its way back into our world.”

I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday (October 25) is International Artist Day

Sunday (October 25) is International Artist Day

I was reading from the ArtBizBlog.com web site and saw this post about International Artist Day and thought I would share the post here on my blog. Enjoy it!

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ann Templeton Workshop


I was honored to be able to take a 3-day workshop from a master painter -- Ann Templeton. She is an exceptionally giving person, has a wonderful personality and humor -- and knowledgeable, oh my goodness, I can't say enough!

I do think it is the very best workshop I have ever taken. I look forward to taking another one from her. I rarely take from the same teacher twice. I do think she has so much to give, and I could learn from her no matter how many times I took a class or workshop.

I know your mind is only ready for certain knowledge at any given time. So . . . I can't wait until the next time . . . and hope that will be next year in October at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico.

The photo is of Ann and I with her Day Two Demo. I was lucky enough to be able to buy this one! I can't wait to frame it and hang it in my home or studio. It will always remind me of the words of wisdom I heard from her. Thank you Ann!!!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Final of Ponderosa Pines


So, here is the finished painting. I had to turn off the overhead light on the easel because it caused a glare on the dark part of the limbs. The light you do see is from our canned lights in the ceiling. So, sorry there is not a perfect light on the painting.

I added some "stuff" in the center of the drive -- a few leaves, rocks, etc. Want it to look like a gravel road, and not a paved one.

Also the bottom left corner still had some of the original orange underpainting showing and I thought it was distracting, so I added darks. The foliage on the ground also had too many different "stripes" of light and dark, so I created a larger area of light and this helped. The largest tree trunk in the foreground needed a little grounding to the earth, so I added a highlight on the bottom of the trunk, and flared it out a little. Just touches of stuff here and there to help me like the painting more.

Yesterday I put a stain around the outer edge wood -- rather than paint the scene on the sides! Today I signed the painting, sprayed a little Kamar Varnish to even out some of the dull spots, and put the hanging wire on the back. It is ready to deliver! I took some photos up close of the bottom and the top, but they are blurred. I will try to get a better photo of the sections as it shows the bits and pieces I did at the end. I remember a wonderful workshop instructor, Frank Federico, saying one time -- add those dots and dashes that make the painting sing! Hope I did that.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Grey Scale of Ponderosa Pine


Today I will be working on the last bit of the painting -- hopefully!

This is the grey scale of the previous post. This will help me determine where I need to make any changes. This is not the same grey scale you see in the previous post.

I know that the bottom left corner has been left in a very early stage with much of the orange underpainting showing. I like the contrast, but know it is the only spot like that. Sometimes when you have a spot like that, you need to determine if it detracts from the painting as a whole. When I say contrast, I am not talking value. This spot is a contrast of temperature and color. So . . . now I have to decide what more I need to do to that section.

The rest of work will be just tweaking where limbs will make sense and patches of light. Some of the tree trunks are a little hard edges and I need to also figure out a way to make them softer. That will require a stretch for me since I tend to make many of my edges too hard. I have been told by a wonderful artist that is the thing I need to work on the most -- my edges. Which told me I have too many hard edges! Thanks Terry and Elsie!

I'll post later today the results of what I do! Come back and see.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Another Day With Ponderosa Pines


I have done a lot of work on the painting and did not take any photos of the the process for a couple of days. Here is a view with most of the panel covered now. At this point I am seeing that leaving any of the wood showing is probably not going to happen. I think the scene was too complicated for me to figure out where it would work to leave the wood grain showing. Oh well, next time!

But, you can see I have laid in all the various foliages, background through the trees and layers of light showing thru the tree branches.

To the right, I have turned the photo to a grey scale so I can see what the values are doing. As you know the colors can sometimes confuse the issue and you think you have made a good choice, but not.

I enjoy using the paints straight from the tube and mixing them as I paint on the surface. Greens are mostly mixed, but not the other colors. There are also tube paints by Gamblin called "Radiants" -- they have Radiant Blue, Radiant Green, Radiant Red, Radiant Turquoise, Radiant Violet, Radiant Yellow, Radiant Lemon -- and there are a couple more I can't think of the names, one being a different type of red. I use these paints to lighten my other colors instead of using white. This allows me to use the correct temperature to lighten rather than the cool white.  Of course you can always use a color around the color wheel to lighten or darken your colors which is a great way to do so. No black and no white! But that is just my thought on it. Also, these Radiant colors are good "straight from the tube" for creating those background colors peeking thru the tree trunks!


On the left is the next photo I took after a couple of hours of work. I have started adjusting the branches to look believeable and added some branches with no foliage. I can still see there are a few branches with foliage that don't make sense, so I will have to assess those.

Also, I'm creating the light thru the branches with colors of the sky (which is yellow), but I am adding a light blue at the edges of the yellow next to the branches to create the look you see when the dark of the branch makes the sky area a little darker. This is called "simultaneous contrast" -- at least that is the term that is coming to mind. So, there is a transition color and value from the light of the sky and the dark of the branches and foliage!

I have also changed the roadway from a paved one to a gravel road. This allows me to create a more interesting road in my opinion.

Next I will be working on the tree trunks and deciding which ones need more color, and which ones need to recede. I remember being told once by a teacher the trunks are either "grey" trunks or "red" trunks. I don't think those were the exact terms he used, but that was the gist. Variety is the best way in my opinion. Not all tree trunks should be a reddish brown! So . . . we shall see what I come up with. Let me know what you think.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Second and Third Installment of Ponderosa Pine


So . .  . here is the next image of the work in progress on Ponderosa Pines. Here I have continued adding more foliage to the trees and the undergrowth also.

I am also playing with the colors across the roadway -- it is a paved road, but that does not mean it will stay a paved road! I totally enjoy putting the most vivid colors as the underpainting in many places on the painting. That aqua will be a good color to show through the following shadow layers.

You can see that I am putting down some greens in the tree foliage, but I have mixed them from various blues and yellows -- even adding some reds to tone them down. I know that I will follow those up with some brighter colors and then layer again with a few greens.

In my pastel classes I am always telling the students to not start out with green if you are painting a mostly green scene. In this painting I am doing the opposite. It is always good to try a different process and see where it leads you.

You can see in the undergrowth that I am using many warm colors -- with the hope the warmth will show in little sparkles through whatever I choose to paint on top. I feel the area under trees is normally a warm color even though we get a feeling of coolness in the shadows. Remember there is usually no reflection from the sky on the undergrowth.

There is still a lot of the actual birch board still showing. I hope to leave some of it uncovered, but that will be something I will have to deal with as I continue the painting process. The painting many times tells you what it needs, even though you might have a plan in mind.


So . . . here is what I did as the day progressed. I have covered more of the board and attempted to choose some of the colors, values and temperatures that are showing through the many tree trunks. If you could see the photos that I am working with, there would be no blue showing in those background colors. But, I know to accomplish the aerial perspective, I will need to "blue" the colors as they recede.

For the painting of the undergrowth, I have added some greens and blues on top of the warm underpainting. And, I have started putting in some sky showing through all the tree foliage. I skip around the painting adding here and there to help me see if these colors, values and temperatures are working. I don't finish one area before moving on to the next!

At this point I am thinking I want a yellow sky. I tend to not use blue for sky very often . . . but as soon as I tell my students how much I like pink or yellow skies, that particular demonstration will always tell me it needs a blue sky. Darn, I usually say to myself. But, we shall see what happens in the next days as I continue working on the painting.

This painting is being done in my living room -- this was the only place I could put my large easel so I could actually use the "crank" to raise and lower the painting. We have a slightly cathedral ceiling in the living room and would accomodate the easel. There is also a large picture window which helps with giving me some natural light during the day to go along with the "canned" light fixtures in the ceiling. And I have a color correcting bulb in an adjustable light attached to the top of the easel.

So, be sure to come back to see the next installment. I love comments, so be sure to let me know what you are thinking.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ponderosa Pine Work In Progress


To the left you can see a Diamondback Cradled Panel, size 48" x 36" with the sketch and the beginnings of laying the darks at the top and a few of the upright tree trunks. This is an oil painting that I hope will be successful. I have the hope that it will be entered into the Tannery Row Artist Colony in Buford, GA in their "BIG II" show. It needs to be ready for delivery the week of Oct. 12.

Also, I used a "clear" gesso to prepare the surface of the wood. The brand was Liquitex, so I went to their web site and looked at the information to see if they recommended one coat or more. Their site does say that usually only one coat is needed. This clear gesso has some grit in it and helps the paint adhere to it. After starting putting in some of the colors, I could see that the board was "soaking" up the paint. The next time, I will use two coats of the clear gesso.

So . . . Before laying in those upper darks, I did use a Chinese Orange by Sennelier to tone the area that would be underneath those blues and greens. It is a transparent orange, so the grain of the wood is still somewhat visible. Birch panels are relatively light in color, so the grain is not overwhelmingly visible.


Here is a close up of the top of the panel. You can see a little more of the process and the transparent orange used underneath the blues and greens that will start the branches. I always start my greens without green -- usually with a blue, or aqua / turquoise. I do consider painting to be a layering process.

Come back tomorrow and I'll show you the next layer! Ask questions if you wish.

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