Category Archives: oil painting

Begonias Cubed / it’s a start

How to make a $10 plant look like a $50 plant? Cube it.

I meant to tint my canvas paper gray but it came out black. That will be ok. It might make my begonia look like a drama queen.

I think I’ll do the background blue because the petals are orange so that will be the complimentary color for some contrast. It might make the petals show up brighter. I’ll wait a day or so and put the orange on top of the white and gray. The white and gray in the petals is the underpainting. I need to underpaint the orange with white because the orange won’t show up on the black background because it’s a more transparent color.

For this painting I’m stealing from 2 great artists, Matisse and Picasso. At YAA they told us, “Only steal the good stuff.”

From Matisse I’m stealing the idea of taping my brushes to yard sticks and standing way back from the painting. It’s fun but slightly out of control, which doesn’t make it easier. And from Picasso I’m stealing cubism. I wanted to fill up the paper with a lot of flowers and I have this little plant, so I drew it from all different sides and at first I had it up on boxes for added height, then I lowered it to table level. So that gives me different angles too.

I’m going so modern I didn’t sketch it with charcoal first and didn’t plan the arrangement. I just started painting flowers and filled in the whole paper. Painting them a little larger than life makes it easier.

So, I still have to do the background at least once, maybe twice, put the orange on the flowers and decide if I want to go over the leaves again. I’ll see how they look on the blue.

Doesn’t matter how long this takes, it’s too hot and humid for me outside in plein air. And we have rain coming in.

plein air painting from a couple years ago and scary thing that was a false alarm but weird

The painting is long to fit in the window at Jerry’s Artarama. They asked artists to paint on canvases to fit in the store windows to block the view of the merchandise racks from the outside of the store. This was in front of a rack of paper so I thought it would be safe because they’d have to move a lot of paper to take it out of the window. It was in the window for a couple years and I wanted to get it back and rework the water but didn’t ask because I knew it would be difficult to get it out of there.

So, today I went there to buy some things and my painting was replaced by a tiger. I asked where my painting was and the guys didn’t know. The girl that arranges the windows would be out for a couple days. I gave them my phone number but expressed my concern about it with out acting too alarmed because I’m really cool in weird situations, but I was afraid it was stolen. The manager didn’t even remember the painting and he worked there for a year!

He went around the whole place looking for it and finally spotted it in a window behind shopping carts. You could only see the sky. The rest was blocked. No one would ever notice it. I was so relieved to see it. I took it home, never to be on display again! They still have some empty windows but instead they hid it.

Every time you put a painting out there you run the risk of losing it. Now, if I want to throw it away that’s one thing, but if it goes missing that would be kind of upsetting. I used to worry when entering shows in those huge sprawling non profits with back doors and no one’s watching that someone would walk out with one of mine. It did happen to a guy and the newspaper did a report on it. That artist said it was worth the loss for the publicity and sales he got afterwards but I know if it happens to me it wouldn’t make the news.

I wonder why the store didn’t just call me or email me and say it was time to pick it up? That I could understand. But hide it behind carts? Next to the front door where it was easy to slide out? Makes no sense. That also reminds me of the non profits because they liked to mainly reject my paintings but when they got hung they were in the hallway, or way up high, or next to the bathroom, or in a corner or some place I had to hunt for them, like behind a sculpture.

I’m really glad I got this one back.

It’s the view from the beach side at First Landing State Park looking out over the Chesapeake Bay at the bridge tunnel. This is a close up.

omg. I just looked at the back of the painting and someone had put a price on it of $40. This is looking more like a plan to rob me. That’s another weird thing because someone tried to rob me earlier this year and made off with a bunch of my art and I got it all back, except one thing I can remember which they didn’t return. That thing was a drying rack I made from stretcher strips and button twine. It’s possible they kept more of my art and I just don’t remember what I had because it was all my good stuff from so many years, since I regularly cull my collection and toss the old stuff I don’t want.

Now I feel like someone up there is watching out for me because I only went to the store because a fellow blogger told me to buy a different kind of palette knife.

So, Thanks to God!

painting update and wildlife report

I’m excited that I got this far with the painting and might be able to finish it soon! Not tomorrow or the next day though, because they’re calling for cloudy then rainy weather. I might be able to work on it at home a little. Today I got as far as starting on the reflections.

omg. Can I save this?

I’ll be mad at myself if I can’t paint a decent figure in that spot. My first layer of gray was so bad I had to scratch off the texture from the water that was showing through and it was kind of blotchy. Then I tried to paint a layer of glazes to start again on my dude but the texture was still showing so I scratched again. The glaze bled a little, now the edges look fuzzy. I’ll have to paint the man with my palette knife. I thought a brush would make it easier because he’s small and it’s hard to paint detail with the palette knife, but now I can see if I don’t paint him with the knife he’ll look weak next to the rest of this heavily textured painting and he’ll visually recede. This is the kind of problems you have when you’re trying to paint something and you don’t exactly know how to do it. It might work out or it might be a total waste of time. Too soon to tell.

Wildlife- bird

This crazy cormorant popped up out of the water like a shot and then flapped around so much it looked like there was a fountain out there with all the splashing! Then he went back under and again popped up with much splashing . He was going under and popping up so fast and with so much drama, flailing about, I was getting a little concerned about him. Then a minute later he stopped doing that and acted like nothing was wrong.

Wildlife- human

A man stopped to talk to me and we had a nice conversation. He’s from PA too so naturally we talked about pretzels and cheese steaks. He told me things I didn’t know about Pleasure House Point, like just recently someone had a gender reveal party there and they sprayed colored plastic confetti all around. The idiots. The gender reveal parties around here get really destructive sometimes. There’s a reward for info leading to the arrest of the perps.

That man had me cracking up with his enthusiasm for pretzels and cheese steaks! I’m going to go where he recommended to try the cheese steaks tomorrow. He took this pic and emailed it to me and is sharing the pic so maybe I’ll get famous around here soon!

Oh No! Did I paint another ghost?!

Nah, it’s an underpainting for the figure I’m planning on putting in the painting. It’s 2.25″.

The texture of the water is showing through. I might try to scrape that off. before adding color on top of this.

I’m a little conflicted about this figure because I’m breaking one of the few rules I remember from my art school days back in the 1970s. That rule of the academy was never copy a photo. I see more successful artists than me are copying photos. No one cares anyway. It’s not as much fun breaking a rule that no one cares about. The photo isn’t really making it easy to do. Why not copy a figure?

I was undecided about how to proceed with putting a figure into my painting but I wanted to try and I don’t have a model. As I was reading other blogs I saw a photo with a dark figure and thought it looked great! Check it out! George writes great poetry and songs too!

I walked around the pond and tried to see if any light would be seen on the figure from the opposite side of the pond where I’m working on the painting. There will be only two little spots of sun on my guy. The top of his hat and his left shoe. All the rest is shadow because it’s backlit.

This wasn’t easy for me to get a plan worked out but now that I got past this one hang up I’ll go back to Pleasure House Point and finish this soon.

Clouds Rolling in Over Pleasure House Point / update

I went over the clouds again, the background trees, the edge of the creek on the other side, the creek water and changed the shape of the pond in the middle ground then finally got to start on the trees on the path. So, I’ve been to the point a bunch of times and went there to walk a few times without painting. It’s supposed to be nice again tomorrow so maybe I can get more tall grass painted on the path and do some tree trunks and sticks.

Then I’m almost finished except for the reflections on the pond and I want to put a figure on the path. The paint is getting kind of lumpy because of all the layers applied with my palette knife. I might paint the figure with paint brushes since it will be small and a palette knife isn’t easy to do a small figure.

I can’t be a purist about any certain style or art subject that comes up. I think it’s fine to mix up different styles in one painting. A purist who wants to do a palette knife painting might not want to use a brush at all. Some watercolor purists don’t use water color pencils along with watercolors in a tube. Once I heard a juror say, “Pick one style and stick to it.” I wondered if she meant me. Heck, I don’t even know the different styles. I only know what I learned in art school long ago.

I wonder if they would give this a bad critique at the academy. Probably. They were the old school purists.

When there’s not much fall color but you manage to find a little bit and put it in the painting.

There is only one bright tree on the far side. I almost covered it with a pine tree but I’ll save it.

When you don’t take your easel because it’s windy then you find a good way to anchor the painting down to a stick.

I don’t know how well this shows up in the photo. I put the handle of the drawing board over a stick that’s rooted there and it kind of tilts the paper up a little while stopping the wind from blowing it away. Also, maybe you can see where my drawing board broke at the handle once long ago and I glued chop sticks on it to repair it with some glue on paper towels ripped to fit and a little wooden shim over a crack. I just don’t want to buy another drawing board. I’ve had this one so many years I kind of got attached to it. It’s been all over hell’s half acre with me.

If it’s windy I’ll just sit on the ground to paint. It’s a real nice spot there at the edge of the pond.

Magnolias / oil

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This came out dramatic looking because I painted my flowers on a dark background. I think it’s feminine and bold.

It was hard to get a decent photo since it’s shiny from my Maroger medium but I figured out if I stand to the side a little I can get a shot without glare.IMG_2502

It was time consuming and the only thing I could do to help make it easier was to thin my paint with a few drops of terpenoid and pick up a little scoop with my palette knife. I hold the palette knife in one hand and the brush in the other when I’m standing at my easel, then I’m not reaching to my palette all the time. It saves a lot of movement over the course of the painting which makes it more efficient even if it’s still slow.IMG_2501

This shot shows a web of branches to look through. They’re making negative shapes. I like to do a finished background where my eyes can go to rest on something interesting. It gives the painting depth and keeps the interest of the viewer longer because the eye goes to the background, then to the foreground again.

I’ve been working on this at home all day for a few days. I don’t know how many hours I have in it because I started sketching for this last year. The tree doesn’t look like this very long, if ever. It blooms suddenly as soon as it warms up for a few days. Then it gets cold again and the flowers turn brown and fall off. It might do better farther South.

Now I have to get back to everything I’ve been neglecting since I’ve been working on this.

Theory / Art is in the eye of the viewer.

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Is this art or not art? I can’t make the call. I’m letting the viewer decide and I’d like my blog to be a no b.s. zone. That means anyone can speak freely without worrying about hurting my feelings or getting into an argument with me. I won’t censor anyone either.IMG_2448

Untitled

It’s untitled because I don’t want to influence your decision. If I titled it “nonrepresentational” the viewer would look at it as a pure design. I could give it a title that would make the viewer think of some social or political issue. Then I’d be putting some meaning into your mind and it would be abstract.

What if I had some subject in the back of my mind when I did this but I don’t tell you what that idea was? You could take it to mean something of importance to you. Then you should title it and we can call it abstract.

I could give it a funny or catchy title to make people like it but I won’t do that because when I was in art school they told us it’s a sign of a weak painting if the title makes a difference. The painting should speak for itself. If the painting doesn’t speak for itself it’s weak.

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Untitled

If anyone wants to critique it, I don’t care. My total lack of caring makes this kind of post modern. But really, blast it straight to h–l if you want to, or maybe you like it. To me it’s just another step out of thousands. I have no emotional attachment to it.IMG_2450

Untitled

Did you ever hear an art viewer say, “That’s not art, my 8 year old could do it.” Then the artist or art expert says, “Yes but your 8 year old didn’t do this.”

Doesn’t that sound like a lame argument? What a weak defense of a painting.

 

swamp painting in the swamp

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A lady walking on the trail behind me stopped to take this photo and emailed it to me. I think it’s better than my photos. My painting kind of blends in with the scene.

I’m so excited! It was nice out this morning and I made some good progress on it! I’m almost done! Just another week or so, after all this time! I think it was in Nov. I started drawing for the painting. And for so many years I wanted to capture the scene.

Ghost Ranch paintings by Gary Alsum

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Gary is from Loveland CO. These paintings are small, there’s a shine on the right. It’s still wet oil paint.

Darn it, my computer is telling me WordPress is taking up too much space. I hope I can keep posting until I get home and get this puppy to Best Buy where they will fix it for free.IMG_2368

I checked out of the Ghost Ranch and drove all day on a high desert plain. I had the open road for hours. It’s pretty much unpopulated from Santa Fe to Roswell.

I shopped in Roswell for ET souvenirs then decided to head east. Now I’m in Clovis New Mexico.

Got a new phone in Roswell, finally, after my old one died a week or so ago.

It’s hot with a strong dry wind out there. I enjoyed looking at the desert. Not many trees until I got almost here.

I missed my turn onto 60 into Texas by a couple blocks, not too bad for a long fast easy drive through a vast desert, to only be a couple blocks off the route. So, I got a room at the Holiday Inn Express. I remember Clovis is famous. They have a natural history museum with a fossil of a saber tooth tiger, and they also have a history of being a music town. Led Zeppelin played here and so did Buddy Holly to name a couple famous acts. I wonder if the music place or the museum is open on Mon.

Box Canyon @ Ghost Ranch / oil

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If I could describe the Ghost Ranch, I’d call it mystical.

I have to make this a fast post because it’s hard to stay connected.

A weird thing happened to my roomie and me. Half the time the lights don’t work in our cabin. Sometimes they flicker. Sue told the maintenance guy and he came right over. Naturally they worked then. He left and the lights went out 10 minutes later. I think it’s a bad circuit breaker, but are we haunted?