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Adventures In Advanced Yorling December 20, 2012

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Last Friday The Parental Units and I went down to Caesar’s Palace to try their uber-fancy new Bacchanal Buffet for lunch.  Folks, I’ve been to a LOT of buffets in this town and this one blows them all away. If you ever hit Vegas this is definitely one of the things to do while you’re here.

After that Mom wanted to go shopping for a particular purse she wanted so we waddled off to the Forum Shops. During our perambulations we came across one of the Peter Lik galleries there. If you don’t know who he is you can check out a sample of his stuff here. So yeah he’s a nature photograph guy. Very nice stuff. Anyway, one of things they sell there are called “Elements” which are small-ish non-limited edition pictures and they had a new 4-pack out for Christmas this year: “Zen Elements“. They had these four on display in one of the viewing rooms and I was just really taken with them and decided to get the set. I don’t normally make $500 impulse-buys but there you go.


Down and Foreward May 16, 2008

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No doubt you were wondering what I was going to do between the red trees and the main figure.  So was I.

The Bloodtrees were on a little hill of there own and I thought about extending the grassy field over to the main dude.  Eh.  That would be lame though.  I started scratching around with my pencil, laying out some textures.  Hmm.  How about some broken ground there at the hill extending down to…water?  Hmm?  That would be cool.  But too hard maybe – water is tricksy.

I decided to delay deciding and went in with the brokenish ground at the base of the trees and around to the other side of the figure.  I did it wet-in-wet with greens and browns to keep it spontaneous.  Not bad!  It still needs some punching up in spots, but I liked the overall effect. 

I thought for a bit about the next section and decided to go for it.


The Middle Ground May 14, 2008

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Generally when painting watercolors you move from top to bottom and back to front.  I haven’t figured out how to do atmospheric perspective yet.  I haven’t been able to mix that weird, smokey blue color that washes things out far away.  So I went with near green hills instead. 

Green Hills

Before I go any further, I have to tell you a little story about green.  The basic materials list for this class calls for vermilion paint.  Vermilion is a bluish green shade that I’ve come to dislike a lot.  It’s difficult to work with as it’s very intense and unnatural as hell.  Everyone uses it and they all get unnatural, bluish-tinged trees.  And you can’t ever seem to mix it out with other colors without winding up with something even uglier.  Blech.   I had picked up some Hooker’s and sap greens and I was using those instead vowing never to touch vermilion ever again.

When I bought my Daniel Smith paints the green I went with was phthalo green (blue shade).  Yah, I was wary of that “blue shade” qualifyer, but it looked so pretty on the screen.  Once I got them home I had fun testing them out – until I got to phthalo green.  I squeezed some out and started swabbing it around and my heart sank.  It was that detestable vermilion.  Nuts.  I put it away and didn’t mess around with it again until class the next Monday.  I was grousing about it to one of the ladies that pushed me to buy better paints and she told me to play around with it and assured me that I would get to like it.  So I mushed some around on the palatte and decided to see what the quinacridone gold would do.  BAM!!  It turned that weird color into one of the prettiest and most natural green colors I’ve ever had on my palette!  It was amazing.  Mixing it with some of the other colors revealed some interesting shades too.  Needless to say I stopped trash talking phthalo green and the quinacridone gold rose very high in my favor.

So, there ya go.  The hills were done in phthalo green (bs) mixed with q. gold and shaded a bit with Payne’s grey.  I brought the green up to the tree line and faded it out.  So, that solved the middle-back part of the painting.  The hills contrast nicely with the sky, but doesn’t compete and it’s a cool color so it recedes.  It did give me another problem though.  For those four trees I had kinda had in mind a pale green color for them originally, but that wouldn’t work now with the green hills.  Hmm. 

I went back to my palette and started mixing some colors…

New Painting May 13, 2008

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Previously I posted a little sketch of a tree form and thoughts about a new painting set in a Florida bayou setting.  Then Mr. Lemur King came along with a different take.  My original thought was that it looked like it was creeping around with a slightly menacing aspect.  No.  Now it’s forever kicking back with a beer in it’s branches, pointing to the last hot wing and asking “Are you gonna eat that?”.

I did a couple toss off things after the last painting to try out the new equipment and then settled down to do something for real.  The teacher poked at me to return to the Tree series.  OK fine.  I had a half-sheet of the Kilimanjaro 300 lb paper stretched in the frame and I started to work. I fiddled and fiddled, tried new tree forms and whatnot.  Nothing was working.  I eventually went back to the idea in the original little sketch and recast the figure in full anthropomorphoginical mode in a different pose and setting using some of the newer tree stuff I was playing around with.

I only had a vague notion about how this whole thing was going to work, but enough of the particulars to get started.  I masked off the tree stuff and got started on the sky.

This picture doesn’t quite do it justice regarding the sky.  It’s more even toned than what you see here, but doesn’t lose any of it’s character.  I’m using only my new paints in this one and I’m very pleased so far.  That sky is done wet-in-wet mostly in quinacridone gold with quinacridone burnt orange tinges.  And a little yellow.  It’s a really good start.

There’s a whole fambly of these quinacridone paints available at Daniel Smith and so far I’m really impressed.  They go on beautifully and retain a lot of brilliance.  The Q gold is really amazing and I can’t stop using it.  More about that later.

In this picture I’ve rubbed off the mask from the small trees, but still have it on the main tree dude.  I now need to figure out the middle portion of the painting.

Let’s Start At the Beginning April 24, 2008

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Now that the second tree in the series is done, it’s time to start the next one.  Generally speaking I only have vague notions about where I want to go with this.  This morning I was in a long, boring meeting and I usually doodle while in those.  My thoughts and pen turned to trees.

It begins

In the late 80’s, early 90’s I lived in northern Florida in a house next to an actual bayou.  We had knobby kneed cypruss trees, alligators, weepy spanish moss bearded trees, the whole nine yards.  It was very “atmospheric”.  This was the kind of scene I wanted for one of these paintings.  I like this doodle / sketch and I think it will work well in the scene I’m now imagining.  I usually only post stuff that is done, or nearly so, but this time I thought y’all might like to see what goes into the art sausage.  It often starts out with something like this.

A New Tree April 21, 2008

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Getting better.

Second in the series

This is starting to get more in the direction of the stuff I have been trying to do.  The ground is a LOT better than the other one and the overall feel too.  I still don’t have the proper stroke / texture for the tree.  The instructor had to help me quite a bit with that advisewise*.  I like the way the roots turned out and they are almost exactly  what I had in mind from the start.  I’m going to use that again.

I had some problems with the paper that really hampered me this time though.  These days I’m in the habit of trying out my strokes and color selections on another piece of paper before executing on the painting itself.  As noted in the Tech Specs below this is Arches paper.  It’s one of the more expensive brands out there and it’s the one that a LOT of professonals use.  My test paper is the less expensive Canson brand, but the Arches paper simply didn’t perform as well!  It fuzzed up really bad when I went in to lay fine texture lines on areas that had a base color.  The Canson never did that.  Hmmm.  There might be a problem with the latex masking fluid I’m using.  I’m going to do some tests.

One of the other “advanced”** students is an older lady and she routinely uncorks some amazing paintings full of big, bold colors and are done with real painterly skill.  She works almost exclusively in the full sheet (22 x 30 inch) sizes on 300 lb paper (unstretched).  She’s also an old hand at painting with oils so she’s got a lot of experience that translates well.  Anyway, she made an off-hand remark about how the other one in our little group of repeat students uses small brushes on big paintings that struck me.  I do the same thing, and now I think that may be a big part of my problem.  I keep using fiddly little brushes when I should be laying in with the big guns to put down the big, bold strokes that can be filled in / modified later.

Technical Specs:
Image size: 9.5 x 13.5 inches
Paper: Arches 140 lb cold pressed
Colors: Phthalo Blue, Burnt Sienna, Payne’s Grey, Violet, & Sepia
Notes: The paper was pre-stretched with tape on a pine board.

*The Instructor will often paint directly on a student’s work to show her how she can improve the painting / technique and whatnot***.  He used to do it with me too, but now he doesn’t at all.

**Use of sneer quotes around “advanced” refers to me – not her.

***The vast majority of people who take this class are women for some reason.