Friday, September 30, 2011

Painting Through A Busy Week


The past couple of weeks have been a busy one creatively. Finished an illustration assignment, completed and uploaded an e-book on Barnes & Noble website- (A children’s picture book I will feature in my next post), got a request for another illustration assignment and all the while I continued to paint and draw. 

It’s important to me to continue to paint, to do work that is personally important because that is where I find who I am, how I see things and how I will grow as an artist.

The two watercolors are opposite’s in their approaches. One,(top left), is done in higher contrast and brighter colors. I wanted it to look fresh and spontaneous. I actually had a tough time figuring how to balance working wet in wet and then waiting for the paper to dry to continue to layer washes over it. The 80lb sketchbook paper was to light for painting this way so I had to use some opaque white to make corrections, however I don’t think anyone would notice it unless I point it out.

The other,(at bottom left), is more subtle in the modeling. Still working in the same way (wet in wet) and allowing the paint to dry I continued applying wet washes over dry paint. I carefully applied daubs of paint to make the transition from one value to the next as subtle as possible.

The following weeks look promisingly busy. I will have to keep in mind that I need to make time to paint every day, (even though I’m working on illustrations and technically still drawing and painting).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fighting My Way Through A Painting

There are times when painting is difficult and there are times where it’s near impossible. Either way it would not seem right if it did not challenge me. The watercolor at left was done in my sketchbook during a weekday. I worked from several photos I took at Battery Park. When the weekend came I started a larger painting based on the same photos. 

I started the painting on a 22.5” X 15” sheet of 300 lbs. cold pressed watercolor paper. I began with a very careful light pencil drawing which took me most of the day to do. After I completed the drawing I decided to try masking fluid, something I rarely do. I applied it to the areas that I wanted to leave white. It turned out to be a very bad, near disastrous mistake.  The bottle of masking fluid was very old so when the gummy liquid dried it stained the paper a bit and proved difficult to lift off. 

I first tried to scrub areas clean. When that didn’t work I began to use an exacto knife to scratch out areas and then I painted over those areas with casein white paint. I also used the casein white to cover the stains that where left behind by the masking fluid.

A lot of work and a lot of fight went into this painting and I’m not sure how I feel about the finished painting. I like some passages in the painting but I hope the whole painting works and not just a nice bit of painting here and there. I think I have to live with it for a while to decide if I really like it but there is honestly nothing more I want to do with it at this point. It either works or it doesn’t.

 The detail on the right shows signs of the fight I had with this painting. Scratching out the bearded area actually left a nice texture to the beard. Still I would have rather painted in the texture than to show the signs of struggle.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Discipline Of Art

Self-discipline without talent can often achieve astounding results, whereas talent without self-discipline inevitably dooms itself to failure. (Sidney Harris)

When I wake up every morning, I do so realizing that I have to commit myself to the discipline of continuing in the decision I made to paint / draw  everyday. I have been taught that discipline matters more than talent and I believe it. I don’t believe in waiting for inspiration, inspiration comes while doing the work. In the process of being creative inspiration comes as a point of discovery. It comes either as I’m working or after. 

Being disciplined in my work habits helps to keep my mind active, exploring ideas and it helps me think about being expressive.

Above all it makes art alive for me. It gives me direction, gives me something to pursue and allows me to constantly grow.

I have, in the past, went through long periods of inactivity and my work has suffered for it. It’s been over two years now that I made the commitment to paint everyday and though I’m still striving to go beyond what I know and I’m critical of the work I’ve done it has gotten better since I made the commitment to be disciplined.

I’m thinking about discipline because the past couple of weeks there have been days that I did not want to paint, and it showed in the work I did that day. Those were the days I had to go on discipline, the work itself didn’t matter as much as just doing it. The result is when I find the inspiration, when I discover something I really want to paint I can approach it with unbroken confidence.

I felt better about these last two sketches I did. I want to develop them further and that makes toughing out those difficult days worth while.

 Discipline is admired in opera singers, engineers, dancers, pianists or brain surgeons but, for some peculiar reason, when a painter is undisciplined, it is considered creative, new and innovative, or even genius. Usually, it is just bad painting. (Patricia Moran)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Warming Up To Paint

Self Portrait Oil on Board 10 X1 4"

My weekend was filled up with an illustration assignment, (I will post after it is printed), and helping my son with a summer homework assignment. He had to make a movie poster as part of a book report for a book he read, (Inkheart). I had taken a couple of days off ahead of the Labor Day weekend and  after finishing the illustration, helping my son and doing a self-portrait I only had one more day left to paint before I head back to work.

I wanted to paint but I was at a lost as to what I wanted to work on. There are things I want to do but it would require more than one day to do it so I would rather wait till the weekend to start on a long project.  Working from Friday evening till Sunday evening would allow me to get well enough into the work so when I come home during the week starting where I left off would be automatic- I would have already been thinking and plotting about what to do next all day long.

Still, I needed to do something with my day. I spent the day warming up, that is doing a bunch of sketches hoping it would lead to something. First I did a sketch page straight from imagination, just having fun and not taking myself seriously. I had a lot of fun doing those sketches. 

On the left is my "fun sketch" which is really just a page of doodles from my imagination.

 Then I grabbed a couple of photos I took and began to sketch something I eventually want to do a watercolor of. Both were photos I took by Battery Park a short while ago.

 I really wanted to make a painting of the sketch on the right and will probably do so this coming week. It will be one of those things that keep my hand moving while I wait for the weekend to start more ambitious projects.

 I did the drawing on the right because I wanted to try out my brush pen.