This is modern art. I don’t feel like standing in front of a mirror and trying to get a likeness. What if it comes out looking cartoonish? That’s ok. It could even come out looking grotesque and that’s fine too.
Do I need to “labor” over this? nah. Do I need to mix natural skin colors? Just use what’s left from the previous painting and is drying up on the palette.
It can be for fun on a rainy day when you just want to goof around. I taped my paint brush to a yard stick like one of my favorite artists, Matisse. In fact, it was so much fun I might do more.
Since I’ve been trying to do modern art when I’m stuck at home because of bad weather, I can’t tell if it’s improving my skill or not. I did get the feeling it’s affecting me in some way I can’t describe exactly. It’s a mental thing. I’ll probably go back to traditional style when the weather improves. I’m tired of the cold rain, almost drove to FL. but 95 is probably a mess.
The background fade from pink to blue is a silkscreen blend. The flowers are oil paint done with my paint brushes taped to yard sticks and painted while standing back from the paper.
Blends aren’t easy to do. It takes skill to make a smooth even blend between two colors. I didn’t do the silkscreen. I worked in the art dept. of a silkscreen shop long ago and saved some flawed blends from the overrun. I only have one blend paper left. They made good backgrounds for a lot of different art projects over the years.
The owner of the shop had us do a huge art project every year that he could give away to the customers at Christmas. We had to reproduce a painting by one of his favorite artists. That was in the days before printing technology was as advanced as it is today. The silkscreens process couldn’t reproduce a watercolor exactly but we tried anyway.
I’m not sure if taping my paint brushes to yard sticks ala Matisse is helping me become a better artist or not but it is fun so I want to keep trying. It makes my brush strokes a little rough which is ok for this project.
This is the unfinished painting on my easel with my $5 flower pot. It was nice to go to the garden supply store and buy the little daffodils. I picked the one that looked like it had the most buds and sure enough, more and more buds are opening.
You can see my palette on the table with 3 greens mixed and thinned with turpenoid. Working the paint is an important step if you want to try the yardstick painting technique. Sometimes artists just like to switch up how they’re painting to keep it more interesting. It’s how to improve your art over the long run, try new things, learn from artists you like by trying to paint like them, and it keeps an artist from getting stuck in a rut doing the same thing all the time. It’s a challenge.
If the paint wasn’t thin it wouldn’t flow off the brush as easily as I like it to and painting with the yard stick brush extenders might be more difficult. I add turp slowly and keep mixing with the palette knife until it’s smooth and even. Then I need to go over it twice because the paint is more transparent. I don’t know if it shows up in this photo, but one coat of paint didn’t cover the silkscreen ink well enough. I had to do the second coat of paint to make my flowers as bright as I could get them and make the leaves show up better.
This was a fun project. I looked at the lichens close up and then refocused onto my black paper which was a yard away to paint. I had my brushes taped to yardsticks like my favorite artist, Matisse did. It’s a challenge to keep the brush under control from that distance and I think I’m getting better at that.
If you tape your brushes to yardsticks you have to give up some control though. Smears happen, or blips that you might not see ordinarily when painting. That’s part of it so if you give the yardstick paintbrush extenders a try don’t worry about making blobs, smears or blips where you don’t want them. It’s kind of liberating. That’s why it’s fun.
Lichens have some tiny holes in the center of cone shapes. They also have a leafy texture and a more flat texture.
I didn’t sketch them first with charcoal, I just tried to observe then it was almost like doing calligraphy from far away. It’s not easy to find your place in a clump of lichens focusing close up then looking away to paint. A couple times I got lost and faked it a little. I said to myself, “wherethehell am I?” But that’s a normal feeling for me. hahahahah not scary.
I made the bark texture with my modified fan brush. I tried to keep it neat but the paint that went in the wrong place and the different textures give the art viewer’s eye something to focus on.
The colors aren’t green enough in my photos. I tried taking the pix outside in natural light and the greens looked too gray. These shots are from indoor light and the greens are too warm. But you get the idea.
We’re in a winter weather cycle around here. Either it’s cloudy rainy or snowy or else it’s cold and windy if the sun does come out. The good days for painting in plein air are few and far between.
I tried to paint like Matisse again by taping my brushes onto yardsticks and standing way back from the paper to paint. It’s fun! I had some problems with this painting, though. Not the yardsticks, the pink.
It’s impossible to mix this color. I tried every combination of the colors I had and put the painting aside because it was dull. That’s the one drawback about oil paint. When you mix colors you lose chroma (brightness). Eventually I went to the art supply store and bought a tube of “amethyst” by Michael Harding for $24. An expensive tube of paint, but I’ll need it in the spring when I try to paint some redbud trees.
You can avoid losing as much chroma as you might if you only mix your colors on the palette with a palette knife instead of mixing colors on the canvas with a brush. You also need a brush for each color. And you can avoid losing as much chroma if you build up layers of transparent glazes and let the viewer’s eye do the mixing. But the modern art way of avoiding loss of chroma is to not mix the colors at all. Just use the paint straight out of the tube!
When I put the painting on hold for a few days and went back to it, the petals and leaves were different so I had to kind of just wing it on top of my underpainting. This close up shows some fun leaf squiggles, smears and lines and blobs.
For the art viewer who likes to look at brush strokes, you might be able to see my layers, first the thin layer of underpainting and on top of that the thicker paint of the final layer.
I realized how I’m making the veins in the paint. It’s something I do without thinking, and big round brushes are ideal for this. You load up the brush with paint then go at it from the side of the brush, rolling the brush as you draw it across the paper or canvas. I hope you know what I mean. I should get someone to video tape me doing the brush roll thing, maybe you already do that if you paint. When I realized I was rolling the yardstick I thought I’m getting the hang of this.
This is the unfinished painting on the easel with the flower. I went larger than life. Larger is easier especially when you have your brushes taped to yardsticks.
I’m trying again to paint like Matisse by taping my brushes onto yard sticks and standing back from the painting. When I start to paint like this it’s always awkward for a few minutes because it’s hard to control the brush from a yard away, then it gets a little easier and it’s fun. I can’t tell if it’s improving my skill or not. I’ll have to try it a few more times then look back some time in 2021 and compare my paintings, see which ones to keep and how they look compared to painting at a normal distance.
This is a focal point, green dashes next to red lines on the dark background where some of the black paper is showing through.
I went over the whole paper twice. The poinsettia I painted last week was only one layer of paint and finished in one day. This time I painted the flower, and the gray blue background. When I stopped and looked at it I thought it wasn’t bright enough. The alizarin crimson is a transparent color and one coat didn’t cover the black paper enough. You can see the layers of reds in this photo. I waited for it to dry one day before going over it again.
Here’s a little hairy red smear that doesn’t need to be fixed on top of a red smear over green. oops,
If you don’t mix your paint colors on the paper by deliberately blending with your brush, you can get some overlap of complimentary colors with wet paint smearing together and you don’t instantly get a muddy color. Just leave well enough alone. I hope that makes sense. It might give the viewer’s eye something to focus on if they like to look into the brush strokes.
This is another focal point, bright next to dark, red next to green, small next to large strokes.
This is my unfinished painting on my table with the flower, my sewing machine behind it.
I’m blocking the sliding glass doors to my balcony with the table but this is a North light so the shadows don’t change all day. It’s not a direct light. The balcony of the apartment above mine is blocking the light then there’s trees on the other side of a fence also blocking the light. It looks like plenty of light in this photo but I felt like I was painting in the dark. I could hardly see what I was doing until I had the background started, especially on the black paper.
The reds in the photo aren’t the same as real life, but you get the idea.
I was having some fun painting like Matisse by taping my brushes onto yard sticks and standing back from the painting. You have to give up some control over the brush because it goes where you don’t want it to go but that’s ok. It gives the painting a loose modern look. Fast, loose, unfinished, spontaneous, that look is what the modern art world prizes the most. A finished painting is looked at as being “labored over” which is ungood. I’m not really feeling pressure to paint modern. I’ll go back to doing finished paintings. I got so modern painting this yesterday, I didn’t even sketch it first, just started slapping paint on paper.
This is a close up of the flower’s center features, I’m not sure what you call the little parts, and a stem.
I painted it on the back of a figure drawing that was on black paper. I’m enjoying painting on paper and I like to use both sides. You can see the black paper showing through here. Then I wanted to tone down the black a little so I went into the background with gray trying not to mess up my edges and smears of the reds. In traditional painting you paint the background first but in modern art you can do it last if you want to.
I might give this another try on another piece of paper. Look, Ma, I’m a fauve!
That’s metallic gold oil paint stick on watercolor paper with watercolor paint. When I’m trying to do an abstract painting I don’t know how to proceed, or how to start at all. So I stole this idea from one of my favorite artists, Matisse. He taped his brush to the end of a yardstick and stood far back from the paper. You have less control of your drawing. Lines go where you don’t want them and you can’t erase with oil paint sticks. this is an exercise for artists who want to loosen up their work.
I hear that a lot, loosen up, and I don’t think it’s really necessary to follow the trend and draw and paint loose and fast. But I do kind of enjoy taping my charcoal or a paintbrush or in this case, my oil paint stick, to a yardstick. I could knock out a whole bunch of these in one day!
This photo shows how I set it up. I taped the paper to the board to protect the wall in case I went off the edges with the oil paint stick. I taped my charcoal sketch from last week above it and didn’t bother transferring the original sketch to the paper first. I just started in drawing with the oil paint stick on the white paper freehand. That should add to the abstraction.
That little stub taped to the yardstick is my gold paint stick. From where I was standing I couldn’t see the end of the thing on the paper. It’s too stubby. Drawing and not being able to see what you’re doing also makes it more abstract. Some artists like to sketch without looking at the paper. There are a few tricks you can use to get an abstract look. The brush on a stick technique is fun.
The first photo I posted was taken inside on my work table. I like it because it shows the gold reflecting. This photo was taken on my patio in natural light.
I think I have time to do another. I want to use my white oil paint stick on watercolor paper. That will be impossible to see what I’m doing. I might do just the head.
It’s raining here today so I enjoyed staying home and finishing this painting. I did the sketch weeks ago in plein air and painted at home ala Matisse, with my paint brushes taped to yard sticks, so I was standing back from the canvas and trying to control my brushes, which don’t always go where I want them to from a yard away.
I’m not going 100% modern on this painting since I used my Maroger medium and black to make the dark green grey of the trees. But I am going more modern by using my big brushes taped to yardsticks.
At art school, long ago, they told us to use black. The old masters used it, so it works ok if you use black like they did. And more modern artists, even Manet and others of his era used black successfully. To make a black that isn’t dead they told us to mix equal parts Burnt Umber and Ultramarine Blue. The Ultramarine Blue is your darkest cool color and the Burnt Umber is your darkest warm color so you get a neutral black. If you need a warm or cool gray you can mix any other color into this black. We also were taught to use gray in glazes and if you layer warm colors over cool colors, or cool over warm, after waiting for the first glaze to dry, you don’t get muddy colors but the viewers eye mixes the colors.
Sometimes you can’t just throw away the lessons of the old masters. I like to use the best ideas from the old and the new. Painting like Matisse, with the brush taped to a yardstick is fun and freeing. I’ll get out to draw and paint in plein air again real soon, but I got distracted by bad weather and other fun art projects to do indoors. So, I was glad to finally finish this painting after waiting weeks for the background to dry.
Don’t you just love to see fall leaves backlit? With the sun shining through the leaves the tree looks like it’s plugged in and turned on!
I wish I was a better photographer because this is brighter in person than my picture makes it look.
I was standing on the shady side of the tree and I could see the branches but on the other sunny side of the tree all you see is a skirt of leaves.
This is another try at painting like Matisse in my quest to understand more styles of art than the traditional, which is what I was indoctrinated into at art school. I taped my paint brushes onto yardsticks and stood back to paint it. It’s fun and this time I felt like I had more control over my brushes than before. I’m still mixing different styles together in this painting. I did some glazing, which Matisse probably didn’t do. And I used gray even though most modern artists don’t like to use it. Matisse wanted his paintings to reflect some kind of emotion, but I’m not feeling very emotional these days. If I was to represent any emotion it would have to be my love of this tree.
This photo shows my canvas hanging on the wall over a piece of packing material and a piece of checkered vinyl to protect the wall from my paint when my paint brush taped to the stick goes off. You can see my sketches taped up too. I did my sketches and mixed up my colors in plein air on the path by the tree, but the canvas was too large for that narrow path so I painted it at home ala Matisse.
This was the first step, the background. I didn’t do an underpainting, which is the traditional way. This background took over a week to dry because when you paint with the brushes taped to a stick the paint goes on thicker. After I looked at this while it was drying, I decided to kill the brightness a little so the background wouldn’t compete with the tree. I wanted it to fade back a little, so when it was dry I put a thin glaze of white over the yellow and green. I think glazing with oil paint is verboten in modern art styles. Once a juror that rejected a painting I entered said, “Don’t mix different styles together.” I needed to do a glaze here. So much for dumb art rules.
They said the mind seeks balance but we shouldn’t make a balanced composition because when the viewer’s eye sees balance it’s instantly bored and moves on to the next thing.
The way to create imbalance is with focal points. An odd number of focal points is more interesting than an even number because the viewer’s eye will keep going around the canvas. If there’s only one focal point the viewer’s eye will go to it and stop right there. Also, don’t put a focal point dead center on the canvas. That makes a static composition.
Focal points can be created in different ways by using contrast such as complimentary colors or value contrasts, or by making sharp detail on an otherwise blurry painting.
I find composition to be a difficult part of painting and cutting my shapes out of paper and arranging them like Matisse helped me plan this painting. I’m getting a lot of inspiring ideas from Matisse this summer.
About this painting : The path through the Japanese garden is too narrow for me to stand up my easel. I’d have been blocking the other visitors so I took a few pastels and did my sketches on my small sketchbook because I don’t need my easel to hold it and I can easily back out of the way if people want to walk through. I did the painting at home using Matisse’s method of taping my paintbrush onto a yardstick and standing back from the canvas to paint. I’ve tried the brush on a stick method a few times and it still seems awkward. It’s hard to control the brush. I have to hover the brush over the canvas and when I make contact with the canvas in the right general area I want to paint, I kind of roll it. After I get the general shape I’m trying to do, I can get some brush strokes on it. I want to keep practicing this brush on a stick thing. Maybe it will get easier if I practice.