Finally! I am dee-oh-en-ee. I took the painting I thought was sorta done, talked with my teacher, and we decided to add a few more flowers. So, I did, and signed my name on the left. On the right I have my digital signature.
I really enjoyed doing this painting. It is on 12×16 Fredrix canvas pad, primed with gesso, and painted over about a 3-4 week period. It is a pleasant break from monochrome – but that is for another time. Today, let’s enjoy Spring as we go up the hill.
I started this painting a few weeks ago, at the first class at the local adult school with a new teacher. This is from a photo I took some time ago. I was at the bottom of a hill, looking up.
This painting has taken a lot of time – several hours – but the work has been worthwhile. I have been applying the various principles I am slowly garnering from hours at the proverbial grindstone, memorizing techniques, concepts, whatever. For instance, I think this painting actually has a nice sense of depth and perspective – something I have struggled with for a long time. The light on the trees also pleases me, as do other bits and pieces of it.
I have also learned just through doing how to get the heavy body acrylic paint into a more viscous and enjoyable mess to paint with, and that is a big help! It’s a combination of matte medium, water, and the paint itself. I dislike the plasticky quality so often that accompanies acrylic paints, so even thought my colors are bright, I think they moosh together fairly well.
I’ll ask my teacher’s opinion when I see her next week. Meanwhile, here is (to my eye at present) finished work. Below is the photo which is the basis for this painting.
Third and last of a photo I took earlier this month in Independence, CA, before being driven back home because of Covid. I am not sure which of the three of these paintings I did of the same photo I like best (you can back track on this blog if you want to see them, or go to Instagram!), but this one, in acrylic, was by far the most time-consuming.
I used 16×20 Arches 140# CP paper and a variety of acrylic paints, but first I laid down a few layers of gesso to prep the surface of the paper. The first layer of gesso was thinned with water and brushed on quite firmly to work it into the paper itself. The paper warped as watercolor paper does, but I was really happy to see it flatten out with the second, thicker layer of gesso.
Most of my brushwork tends toward dabbing on dots, which is great for pointillism and impressionistic painting, so I worked at creating lines, as seen on the grasses in the background, along with using a flat brush and using its tip or sides to work paint in a more up / down, side-to-side manner. My next painting is going to include these types of brush strokes, just because. It never hurts to try things you don’t usually do.
Every type of media – watercolor, gouache, acrylics – has its own “language” – that is, the way you have to work with it. Acrylics are rather heavy on paper and I need to think ahead for what I want to do. I tried the slower drying acrylic paints, and just did not like them. As a result, the ones I use tend to dry rather quickly. Filling the palette with every color I think I might want to use is a waste of paint. Instead, I have to plan, not like a general, but certainly I need to anticipate what comes first, what comes next, and so on. I also have to think about brushes and brushwork. Painting can be spontaneous, but it also needs experience to allow for more success (however you want to define “success”) than failure.
One thing I considered for this painting, but did not do, was to lay down a glaze to unify it. Chicken! Maybe I will come back to it later. Now, two things are on my next painting agenda: buildings and no dabbing! And maybe a glaze . . .
I think I am done with this painting. A few areas stand out in the current scan that I will attend to tomorrow most likely, but by and large, I think it is finished.
A few things, though, I am thinking about that may need more work. First, the two lowest arching trees look like a bridge because of the highlights on their upper surfaces. The second is, should the tree that is in the right crossing over the lowest arching tree correctly placed?
I find scanning a painting gives me a different viewpoint and what I don’t see when it is right in front of me become more apparent when seen on a monitor as a digital image.
Today I followed along with a YouTube video by Will Kemp. I rather like his online presence and instructions – what I have done so far. He’s low key, explains, demos. What more could you ask for?
Kemp’s apple is much nicer than mine. He paints his apple over a series of 2 short videos, beginning with laying in a background, upon the gessoed canvas, of yellow ochre and cadmium yellow light. From there, the painting begins, with the colors in the study being raw umber, ultramarine blue, white, burnt sienna, cadmium yellow light, and cadmium red light at the very end.
Here is my study, following along with Will. I think the yellow ochre – cadmium yellow underpainting adds a nice warmth to the painting. Two brushes, a filbert and a small round, were used to create this painting. Only water was used to thin the paint.
After doing Will’s study, I decided to do it again, but without using the underpainting colors.
No underpainting made for a different sense of color. By accident, I pickedup some of the cadmium red when mixing the upper background, so I just kept it. The lower part, upon which the apple rests, is burnt umber, white, and ultramarine. I made this apple more green than yellow, and applied the paint heavily, mixing it with matte medium. At the end, I used my finger tip to mush the colors together as the brush kept picking up the colors beneath, even though I had dried it.
My hair dryer may or may not be the best thing to use for acrylics, but these are studies, so not important! Both of these are painted on Arteza primed 8×10 canvas panels.
I deliberately chose to use only water, as Kemp did, in the first painting, and then only matte medium in the second. Both had their plus and minus points. Making a glaze out of the paint with either media is not easy – the colors are not really easy to blend well before applying. That is why I mushed things together with my finger on the second painting. I will need to study glazing a bit – read up on it to learn more.
Simple but effective studies to learn more about paint, as well as various techniques, such as underpainting, glazing, and so on. Of course, just doing and not setting out with the goal of a masterpiece, to have fun, makes it all worth while.
Another attempt at acrylic painting. This time I used a sheet from a Fredrix linen pad. I gessoed it and then used, initially, the Open medium with the paints, but I didn’t like the way it was working, and so switched to regular matte medium to dilute the paints. I tried to use the paints fairly straight out of the tube, blending with white and matte medium. The result was a fairly thick paint that behaved well.
The Carpinteria Bluffs are located in the southernmost section of Santa Barbara County, just above the border of Ventura County, where I currently live. Carpinteria was home for many years and always enjoy returning, especially in summer when the light shifts and everything has a glow of its own. Eucalyptus trees and other plant life make for a wonderful walk along the cliffs above the Pacific, and across the Santa Barbara Channel are the various islands that make up the Channel Island National Park. This might be San Miguel Island, but I can never remember which one is which!
Several weeks ago I started thinking more and more about what I am doing in my spare time. It is then I realized that, for me, the best way to spend my time is to learn new things, in particular, new art techniques. Thus, colored pencils; I signed up for an in-person class with masks and social distancing. I plan to continue this summer with the class.
At the same time, I thought it about time I learned to paint with acrylics, something I always avoided because I just didn’t like the idea of painting with plastic! Add to that, years ago, acrylic paints were not as good as they are now. I was also a considerably more impatient person, and less experienced painter, than I am now. Thus, I enrolled in “Intermediate” painting – I’ve been using gouache, so I have experience!
The first class was yesterday afternoon. I always wonder about teachers and how “good” they are. It takes time to become a good teacher, and honestly, I have found the quality of teachers for arts and languages at adult schools a mixed bag. However, I know I am going to enjoy this painting class. Students I spoke to said they have been coming to the class for 4 years – that says something for the teacher.
I totally enjoyed this first class. People paint what interests them. The teacher helps when asked, offers appropriate and spot on suggestions, and has a really fun personality that doesn’t become overwhelming. Teacher and fellow students are pleasant, delightful, and fun. Can’t go wrong with that, I say.
Because I didn’t know what to expect in class, I decided to bring a kit of paints I’d boughten several years ago, one with about 10 colors, to play with. I used this same kit to begin a painting – after all, play and doing are the best ways to learn. Along with paints and tentative beginnings of a painting, journeying in my cart were rags, water containers, dish soap, brushes, paper palette, an apron, and other bits and pieces.
Above is the underpainting I had done prior to arriving in class. Then days went by – about a week – and I got too busy to do anything with it until I arrived in class.
This is where the painting was at the end of class – nearly there. The sand on the left bank was re-shaped after the river was moved (ah! I feel like God when I get to change geography!) and relocated. And since we are mentioning God, there are two rather eyelike things up in the upper left sky that definitely need removing.
This morning I finished the river, refining this and that. Altogether, I am not displeased for a first acrylic in 40 years. The final painting is the one at the very top. Below you can see them in progression.
The process of learning is often best by doing. By doing, you know what it feels like, you have experience. I struggled here and there, such as with the sky, with the viscosity of the paint, with the shadows and coloring of the sand on both banks. I rather think I like the river in the 2nd version, but decided to change it by adding reflections and ripples for the final version. I took out the “eyes” in the second version, added more fluffy and high-altitude clouds, and worked to create a sense of sand and shadows on the left, along with that wonderfully mucky sand in still water.
This was painted on 11×14 Canson XL, gessoed, and taped to frog board. The kit is by Daler-Rowney, which provides good basic colors for the beginner.
I was rummaging through the files on my desk, and came across a collection of sumi-e ink, ink and color, and watercolor or acrylic paintings I did a long time ago. Some of these are “aceo” size, which measure 2×3.5 inches, and others are other papers. I used to sell these on Ebay, too. Maybe I need to go through and scan some more – it’s like tea and madeleines – memories and reminders.