This is the last time I’ll use my sketches of the butterfly ginger for the palette knife painting. The next thing I’d like to try it on is the spooky battery at Ft. Monroe which I started sketching a couple years ago and put on hold on account of the weird vibes I picked up at the fort. I want to try again to finish a painting of the battery which might or might not be haunted.
Since the palette knife makes it comes out all wavy I think it might give that big imposing scary piece of architecture a more moody look. It will be all different shades of gray, some warm grays and some cool grays.
I want to try making different textures with the palette knife. For the background on this painting I used the short flat edge of the odd shaped palette knife to scrape two shades of greenish gray in a thin layer with some peaks of the dark gray tint of the canvas showing through.
First I squirted a blob of Viridian green on my palette. It’s dark. I added terpenoid a few drops at a time until the paint was runny. I thought my big blob of paint would be enough to paint these dark green areas but I misjudged the amount of paint I needed and had to use more.
When I mixed my lighter greens I used big blobs of paint and still didn’t have enough mixed up. When mixing colors it’s better to have too much paint mixed that to not have enough and I usually mix the right amount for what I want to paint with only a small bit left over but with the palette knife it’s harder to estimate.
The last color I used was white and I put a huge blob of it on my palette then added so much more paint that I thought it looked like I’d be wasting paint but it was exactly the right amount to finish the flowers.
I did the whole thing with palette knives and split it up over two different days letting the gray green background and the light gray of the flowers dry overnight. The paint was still wet the next day but only slightly dried which helped my brighter greens and white from mixing in as much. So I did layers but I don’t know if that’s how other artists do a palette knife painting.
It was fun and I’ll do another one.
The good thing about a palette knife painting is that you don’t have to clean brushes. The bad thing is that this will take months to dry. I can put it in my outside closet where it will be out of danger.
The dark green paint was soupy and it ran off my palette knife nicely. I thinned it with terpenoid.
The white paint was like soft icing.
The palette knife is harder to control than a paint brush. You have to be careful how you scrape up the paint off the palette so it’s on the knife in a good position to make a blob where you want the blob. Paint goes where you don’t want it to go. Most of the time I just let it there but a couple times I scraped up a big blob that fell in a bad place.
Intuitive art is seamlessly created. It begins with a moment of inception, when something is seen, as if for the very first time and my mind takes a snapshot. It could be as simple as a flight of stairs that lead into an old brick building, or looking at an ice cream truck. Ordinary, every […]
Man this new block editor is driving me nuts. Blocks show up on top of my text and I don’t know how to make them go away. If anything shows up on the post, I don’t care.
This is my second dancer. I’ll transfer this and the first one to a larger paper later. I might draw the dancers from the other side or I might draw a flower that’s blooming and I liked it last year. The finished dancer painting won’t happen for a while. I haven’t made a definite plan yet, like which medium to use. And there’s another drawing I started a couple years ago at Fort Monroe that I’d really like to finish if I can get through that tunnel traffic. If I run into a traffic jam I give up. I’ll go somewhere else. The dancers would be best completed in the winter so my easel isn’t blocking the path. I can hold this size sketchbook in my one hand and draw with the other but a large piece of paper would need my drawing board and easel.
That’s only one decision out of hundreds. I’m also thinking of the background. My models are on a pedestal so they’re no where near the ground. If I draw them on the garden path will it look like they’re floating? I guess it will if I don’t connect the figures to their shadows. It seems to me like their breasts defy gravity pointing to the sky like that. I didn’t make the sculptures. I just draw them as I see them. hahaha They could be nymphs. I guess nymphs could float off the ground. I might go with the antigravity idea.
ok, I'll try to use it.
Twice I was heading over to Fort Monroe to work on a drawing that I started a couple years ago when the strange atmosphere of the place freaked me out and I gave up on the drawing. It's an old fort and was under Union control in the Civil War. The battery I was drawing is freakin spooky. Yesterday and today I wanted to go there but it's on the north side of the Hampton Roads Tunnel and there was a big traffic jam both times. It wasn't rush hour. I didn't want to sit in the jam so I went to Norfolk Botanical Garden and walked a little since it's close to where I abandoned the highway traffic mess. I'll try for Fort Monroe after Labor Day some time in Sept. Hopefully the traffic jam will be gone by then. I don't know why there's so often a jam up there on 64W but it's enough to keep me on Southside.
I remembered Norfolk Botanical has a great sculpture of these two beautiful girls dancing so I started a sketch. My luck in the garden wasn't much better than the highway. As you can see, I didn't get very far with the sketch. I saw a mosquito on my arm. At first I was in the shade then 10 minutes later the sun was beating down on me. I almost went back to the car for my bug spray then I thought, oh well, I'll try to get over there earlier tomorrow and remember to use the bug spray. These are the problems of your plein air artist. It doesn't always go as you hoped with the weather and the bugs.
Well, if you're interested in this drawing technique here's the start. First I decided to draw the head 1.5" because that's about the smallest I can draw it, so I marked 1.5" sections down the paper. This way of measuring the figure using the head as a unit of measure keeps the figure in proportion as you're working on it. The ideal figure has 7 heads. The foot holding the weight is below the chin. The nipples are at the second head, except not this figure because I'm looking up at her so they're above the second head. The pubic mound is at the 3.5 mark on the figure as indicated on my sketch by the v. I put it approximately where it needs to be in line at the back of the head. To get that placing I held my pencil straight up and down and lined it up with the head. I hope you can visualize what I'm saying. To measure the proportions of the figure you have to hold your pencil out at an arms length. Rest your arm on the sketchbook. Rest the sketchbook against your body. If you take an easel out to draw, rest your arm on the easel. Close one eye and put your thumb on the pencil at the bottom of the chin. Then lower the pencil and check the proportions. Live models vary from the ideal. Don't feel self conscious about standing there holding a pencil out at arms length and closing one eye. It's the best way to start a figure drawing. I often was in open studio figure drawing groups and most artists don't use this technique to draw the figure. But if you want to be accurate it helps. Then start blobbing in the general shape with charcoal. Get all the figure roughed in before starting to refine it with line work.
I didn't get the first steps finished today because of the mosquitoes. So far I'm not itchy.
Baby, these are some beautiful girls dancing. And the poetry on the base is uplifting. This is what it says.
so many gods
so many creeds
so many paths
that wind and wind
just the act of being kind
is all this sad world needs.
Arther Morris 1862 - 1920
This peach is one of the many focal points in my new still life.
I’ve been sitting far back from my easel and it looks like the still life has more energy than I do. I’m saying to myself, “Whoa, Nellie!” This thing could power the neighborhood! Fortunately our electricity stayed on during the recent storms, and we keep getting more storms every day that aren’t as bad as the hurricane, but scarier because of more lightening hitting the ground out back, where the hurricane was a big wind but I’ve heard the wind howl much worse in the past, so I slept ok.
This photo shows the work I did on the background. First I filled in with a teal pastel then blended the teal color into the paper with my kneeded eraser. It’s sanded pastel paper so it can take a lot of layers of pastel but you have to blend down the first layer so you can build up on top of that. Then I tried some other colors on top of the teal on a scrap paper and I liked the tint of red violet with the teal. At first, I put a light layer of the red violet on it and then decided to make the layer heavier so I went over the background again. The red violet on top of the teal vibrates visually because they are close to the same value on the gray scale but different colors. I didn’t want a flat background because this whole thing is so strong the background needs to be strong too.
I’ve gone all over the whole paper 3 or 4 times, every square inch of it, to get the look I want.
This flower. As I was rearranging my flowers every day to draw them this one had a few petals that got bent and I drew them bent. I considered trying to straighten them out but decided that I liked the way the yellow petals cut into the dark center of the flower, so I left the petals bent. Then later I was looking at it from far away and I thought, this flower is trying to communicate. What is it saying? I don’t want to tell you because maybe to you the flower isn’t communicating at all. Or maybe the flower is saying something totally different to you than it is to me. And it’s kind of personal and it might sound silly. And I don’t know if it came from my subconscious or if the message is for me or for the viewer.
Now I have to do the hardest part of the still life which is the reflections on the flower pot. I’ve been putting it off. I’m almost finished. Some days I work on it for an hour or so and some days I work on it off and on all day with frequent breaks because it makes my hand tired. And some days I just can’t concentrate on it at all.
ok. You want me to tell you what the flower is saying, don’t you. It’s signing, “I love you.” And I don’t know if it says that to people who actually communicate in American Sign Language. Where is the love coming from and who is it meant for? I have no answer to that. This still life has taken on a life of its own.
I moved my still life to the window. It’s a North light which is the best for a drawing studio because the shadows don’t change much all day. My still life is blocking the sliding glass door to the balcony. It’s not actually a drawing studio but a dining room. No problem. I live alone.
I had to buy more sunflowers because the first ones wilted. When I went back to the farm stand on Sandbridge Rd. they were all out of sunflowers. I like the big ones with the darker yellow but I bought some of the smaller ones in the lighter yellow at a grocery store. Then yesterday I checked the farm store and they still didn’t have any so I ventured down to another farm store at Pungo. ( I love that name, Pungo. If I ever get another cat I might name it Pungo.) They had the big sunflowers at Pungo, Flip Flop Farmer stand. So one problem solved and in time because a hurricane is heading straight at us! The Sandbridge Rd. floods so I wanted enough sunflowers before the storm gets here. Then even if the electricity goes out I can still work on this.
Another thing I wanted to buy for the still life is a bigger starfish. I went to the oceanfront and got one this morning from a souvenir store. It will be easier to identify as a star when I draw it. A lot of people were going to the beach and walking on Atlantic Ave. It looks like most don’t wear masks outside but a lot do and I did when walking on Atlantic Ave. because of all the people.
I’m excited that I finally got my pastel started and I think it’s off to a good start. I’ll have to do the flowers and the peaches first because they won’t last.
I’m going to draw the starfish going off the edge of the table because I like the old master still life paintings when things are falling off the table. You often see plates, grapes, fabric etc. that looks like it might fall. That makes the art viewer want to go into the painting and push those things back from the edge. It’s a trick to get the viewer involved with the painting.
I drew my table from the corner because it’s a less stable composition than if you were looking directly at the table. With the starfish going off the edge and the angle of the table I think my still life will be unsettled feeling, like the dangerous times we’re living in.
I painted this at home and took it to the beach to compare it to real life. I didn’t paint nearly enough greenery but you might not notice it’s missing until you see the photos below. The dead trees need sunlight and I just painted them solid gray here. I was trying to make it easier for myself, now I know I have to paint the light on the trees. I guess I’ll have to go there to work on my big paintings after all. I miss too much working from my charcoal sketches at home. Plus, painting at home is boring when you get used to painting in plein air. One good thing about the dunes is that the foliage doesn’t change much over months so I can still take my time finishing my big panorama plan.
Gosh darn it, my computer’s acting up again. I thought these would never load.
I bought a sunflower at the farm stand on Sandbridge Rd. And I got some scallops, a stuffed clam and a tomato. I might try to sketch the sunflower later. The lady told me it would last 7 to 10 days if I don’t put more than an inch or so of water in every day. Too much water rots the stem.
This is a busy week at the beach but I got out this morning before it got too hot and crowded with heavy traffic.
Yesterday I slept too late for the best light. It was 9 when I got to the overlook. I decided not to take all my plein air supplies with me because I knew it would be crowded. I only took my color rough from the day before, my color charts and a pencil to make notes.
When I compared my rough to nature the first thing I noticed is that there’s not enough greenery. Otherwise, not too bad, I thought. So I decided to do another color sketch. Also, the ocean wasn’t sparkly at 9 like it is at 8 so that solves the problem of painting the sparkles. That wasn’t working out in my trials and I decided to forget about it until some time in the future. I might have to use oils to paint the sparkly water.
I came to another important decision. I decided to paint the panoramic scene at home. I might mess up the paper outside and can’t fix it with watercolors like I can fix a mistake with oil paint. There’s less chance of the paper picking up a smudge in the wrong place if I paint it at home as opposed to lugging all my stuff out there in my beach cart. After I get more experience with watercolors I’ll know exactly what I need to take along to paint in plein air and it will be a lighter load than taking oil paints.
If I do another rough sketch of a different area of the panorama and it looks ok compared to nature I’ll feel like I can paint it at home with more confidence. Just one more rough. I think I almost have it all worked out. I want to try to paint the thicker foliage first. This is a challenge and I want it to come out right. That’s why I’m doing so much preliminary work, the sketches, the color roughs, taking my time when making the decisions, etc.
It’s nice to have the luxury of taking my time when doing something difficult, and it’s nice to go there and walk even if I’m not working on an art project.
This is a color rough for my panoramic dune paintings in the works. Some other color dots are in the sky. I don’t know where it came from. I tried to lift it but couldn’t. Oh well, it’s only a rough. I’ll be mad if I mess up the sky on my good paper. Good thing I did the rough, now I know I have to figure out a way to wrap my papers to take them out to the beach.
It’s a big job. first I had to buy 3 pieces of plywood and cut them to fit half sheets of watercolor paper. I used my son in law’s battery powered saw. That went ok but stapling the paper to the boards was a problem because the staples I ordered weren’t the Duo Fast brand like I asked for and gave the stock number for. They got stuck in the stapler and I had to pry them out with a pliers. I had to use the staples I had which were too long and stuck out the back of the boards. I covered them by taping cotton cord on the back over the points so I wouldn’t scratch myself.
Then transferring my sketches to the paper took a long time. My hand gets tired holding a pencil to draw. Charcoal doesn’t make my hand tired but pencil is best on watercolor paper. That part of the job took days because I had to rest my hand.
We had a whole week of rain and I didn’t care. I also had to try to mix some colors and do a few color roughs at home before I go back to the beach and paint on my good paper.
This is my 4th try on the ocean. I want to make it sparkly, can’t tell if that’s working. It’s my 3rd try on sky and second try on dune colors. First I used yellow ochre for the dune color but thought it was too yellow so I tried again with burnt umber. This looks better but I need to take this along to the beach and compare it to nature.
Hopefully, tomorrow I can get out of here early and go back to the overlook. The light is best early and it’s easier to be there before it gets hot.
I knew this would be a big difficult job for me so I had to take my time and figure everything out first, do the drawings in detail, transfer everything, do my color roughs, mix colors at home, work out as many bugs as I can before I try to paint on the stretched papers. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to finish it. If I do all that first there’s a better chance it will work out. If I can’t concentrate on it I’ll just put it off until I can and the weather improves.