Saturday, October 31, 2009

Library Cat . .. almost finished!

Very long and productive day today! The portrait is looking great! I am so happy with it! I hope that I can get a good photo of it tomorrow. You really can't get a very good idea of what it looks like from these photos.

I put a smoking jacket and ascot on Max and got just about all the books painted. I left an open space for the little mouse that will be peeking out from under the book on the left. Max's face is just about finished now, just need to add some whiskers. I brightened up the light, and fixed the perspective on the green book in the front. I may add some titles to a few of them, but I'm not sure yet.

Let me know if you have any good ideas for books, "Mice and Men" or "Cat's Guide to Life" LOL . . .

More soon!

Live Creatively!


Friday, October 30, 2009

Library Cat part 6

Ah, now the fun starts! I've gotten a good start on the cat's face. Below is the photo that I am using for reference.

The biggest challenge will be to change the lighting from a frontal light to a light coming from the right. You can see that there are shadows on the right side of the photo. They won't be there if the lamp is on that side, so I'm going to have to make a lot of adjustment to the portrait to create the feeling that the lamp is lighting him. . . . more soon!

Live Creatively!


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Library Cat part 5

Library Cat - next step

The lamp and the frame have been completed. In the photo below you can see a better view of the lamp and the books behind the desk. The photo is brighter than the actual painting, but it allows you to see some of the detailing in the books.

It's really coming along nicely!

Live Creatively!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Library Cat part 4

The Library Cat is back on the easel - got the books in the background painted for the most part. Probably a few more touches as the painting progresses, but they're looking good. The painting did not photograph well, there is more detail than you can see in the photo, but I'm trying to keep it dark.

At this point, the cat reminds me of Felix the cat - I have cut the background into his head so his eyes appear too large, and his head too small. I'll fix that when I paint his head in the next few days.

The glowing rectangle to the left behind the cat became a picture frame. It will hold a 'painting' of a rainbow. I added it after I took the first photo, so it's not in the large photo.

The large dark area to the right of the cat will become the lamp. It was pointed out to me that the lamp was far too small, (or the cat far too large) - and they were right! So the lamp will be much larger than the original sketch. I get involved in planning, and sometimes overlook the obvious (like proportion).

More soon! Live Creatively!!


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Library Cat part 3

Now I've got the cat just about where I want him. I have spent FAR too long playing with this. I don't usually put this much detail into the preliminary underpainting. We've decided to put him into a smoking jacket, so I took some time googling for images. There are some very natty jackets :) I'm not sure how patterned I will make it, the painting is very busy already. The next step is actual PAINT and that's when the fun starts!

Live Creatively!


Friday, October 23, 2009

Cat in the Library on the Easel

Now there's a convoluted description. I've been working on the cat in the library painting. I really like the design, I just have to be careful not to make it too bright. My paintings are generally bright and colorful, so it's going to be difficult to keep it dark and moody. I spent far too long futzing with the books and design, but it was fun. Kind of like making a puzzle. I thought I might have made the right hand side of the painting too cluttered, but I think I can change the emphasis with lighting and coloration.

Next I'll put the cat's face in. I don't usually go through this much preliminary work, but I don't really have any reference for this painting, it's just coming out of my imagination, so I want to make sure that I get all the potential problem areas resolved before I start putting too much paint down.

Live Creatively!


Thursday, October 08, 2009

New Anthropomorphic Painting

I thought I'd bring you along on the journey from idea to finished painting. I had a patron contact me to create a memorial portrait of her cat, Max. She wanted a dark, period piece with him at a library table/desk since he loved to sit on books :)

I don't usually go through this much preparation for a painting, but this is a very elaborate portrait - and I want to make sure that I work out any possible conflicts before I get started.

The first step is to get a 'feel' for the commission. I did this with a color study of the basic idea. This is not set in stone, and I will make a lot of changes to it as I refine the ideas.

Color Study
Goauche on Paper
7" x 9"

After discussing the color study with her, I drew up a sketch incorporating some of the changes. A different lamp and chair, removing the wine bottle (he was not a drinker) . I thought it would be cute to ad a mouse among the books (at this point, he's just a vague reference on the lower left above the "A" in APortraitForYou.)
Pencil Sketch 7" x 9"

Probably the biggest change from the color study is removing the window. I thought that it would bring too much light into the room. I've replaced it with a painting of a rainbow hanging on the wall. For you artists out there, notice that I changed the arc of the rainbow. Can you tell why?

In the actual painting, the center of interest will be illuminated with light thrown from the lamp, and the background will be more subtle. Hard to portray in a quick pencil sketch. The other layout considerations are making sure that I leave a path to Max. I don't want to visually block the viewer from coming into the painting. The books are not a closed arrangement, but have an open area that leads you into the painting. I'm not sure, compositionally, about the books above Max's head. In the actual portrait, they will be blended into the background more, so I think it will be alright and not lead you out of the painting.

By Monday, I expect to be starting the actual portrait - come along, it's going to be fun!

Live Creatively,

Monday, October 05, 2009

Ringo and his Wife Bella . . . . Mastiff Masterpiece Finished!

Mastiff Masterpiece Finished!
18" x 24"
Oil on Canvas
Private Commission

Close-up of their faces.

I really wish you could see it in person. I am very happy with the way this turned out. Below you can see the inspiration piece for this portrait. There were about 15 different variations in color, but I bought a book on art and scanned in the photo. It is much more colorful than the painting that I have here, but I'm not going to bother to replace it.

Alfred Sisley and his Wife by Renoir

I made a few changes - the color of the gloves was changed from fawn to white because the male mastiff (Ringo) is fawn colored and you couldn't tell that he had a glove on one paw. I thinned down the tree in the background, just because I wanted to :)

Tomorrow I start another interesting portrait - another anthropomorphic painting - this time a cat in a library! I'll show you the initial sketches, color study and then take you along as I go. Also I have a couple daily paintings planned in my mind :) hopefully I'll get to them.

This painting ships out tomorrow - I'm sure going to miss it!!

Live Creatively!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Warming & Cooling . . . Chalky & Muddy . . . .

Just a quick post, I will be out of the studio today - I've been getting emails like this one:

Beautiful Liz. Regarding the temperature, can you give me an example....say if a color was a chalky dark green, what color would you use or if the color was a chalky light yellow, what would you use?

So, I thought I'd attempt to describe my method more fully. I'm not sure that it will help, hopefully it won't confuse everyone further, but here goes.

Whether you warm or cool your problem yellow area depends on whether it is a warm yellow (reddish - like cadmium) or a cool yellow (more toward green, usually looks lighter - like chrome yellow)

Same with green - does it go toward blue (pthalo) or more toward yellow (emerald, chromium oxide) By the way, always mix a little red into your greens that will make a more believable green. One of my favorite artists, Morgan Samuel Price always mixes up orange then adds blue/yellow to make it green. I have her VHS video series on painting landscapes & mixing color, I will be selling them, are you interested? It's a set of 5-7 videos, I want $75. One video has static, but you can still hear her. She has a whole tape dedicated to mixing greens.

In my non-portrait paintings, the lights are usually warm - the dark areas cool - so I would warm up the bright areas and cool down the darks

What is the main color of your object? That is the color you'll put most intensely along the edge of shadows in your painting. The rest of the object will be either lighter or darker. If you darken the shadows with blues/purples like I do (my favorite is dioxazine purple), then the color will turn warmer as it goes into the lighted area. If you darken the shadows with warm colors - cad reds/browns, the the color will become cooler as it turns to the light. I think this is unusual - the natural order of things is that objects become warmer as they become lighter. because light, being energy is warmer than shadow. Moonlight is probably an exception, but I haven't painted any moonlight paintings. Even Red can be cool - Alizarin is a cool red. I usually mix a bit into my red mixtures to cool down cad red which is ultra-hot.

I think the best way to figure out, especially in oils, if you're not sure is to take a little of the chalky color and divide it into 2 sections. These can be tiny amounts! Then add a bit of warm (cad yellow or cad red) to one, and a bit of cool (pthalo blue, chrome yellow, yellow ochre) I just looked on Gamblin and they consider yellow ochre to be 'warm' but I use it as cool, since it's a bit greenish to me (in my world.) Color temperature is very much dependent on what is around it. Try it on your painting and see if you like the result. You can always wipe it off :)

There's a chart by Gamblin that gives the temperature of all their paint colors. I hesitate to give it to you because as I said, temperature is RELATIVE to everything else on the painting. But it might give you some ideas of what to mix into your questionable color.

Don't give up - I still take down my old paintings and 'tweak' them a bit. I just changed a few things on one of my bluebirds - I'll probably post it again sometime.

Oh, and so far, the verdict is that the new version is much better :)

Hope this helps.


Thursday, October 01, 2009

Still Life on a Cardboard Box

Still Life on a Cardboard Box

Original Oil on Canvas
10" x 16"

Here's your chance to pick up a neat still life. The photos don't do it justice. You might remember this as one of the paintings I did in the workshop that I took earlier this year. I was NOT . .. . NOT NOT NOT happy with it originally. I decdided to take some time to work with it today and this is the result.

The vase and the plate are basically untouched, except for a few color points added (can't stand not having enough color!!) The shadow on the box was what attracted me to this layout in the first place. If I have to paint a still life, at least I want some drama in it :)

The pears and lime and everything else, in fact were COMPLETELY redone. I love it! I wish I was capable of getting a good photo so you could see all the detail and little notes of color throughout.

You can't really see it on the internet, but even the cardboard has a lot of colors in it. I added a fold of fabric to make sense of the shadow.

I was watching/listening to a Richard Schmid video while I painted, and he said something that is profound if you're an artist. He said that if you have a color that is either muddy (dark) or chalky (light) the problem is that it is the wrong temperature! If you're not an artist, it won't matter to you, but if you paint, let me tell you - this works wonders! Look at the temperature of the color that you think is muddy/chalky and change it to the opposite - you'll be amazed! You just add either warm or cool to it to change it, you don't have to remove it from the canvas.

This is one time that I wish I was painting live, you would really have enjoyed seeing the transformation of this painting.

The original version had kind of a silly putty color going on - I couldn't stand it! The first thing I did was change that drape to a beautiful carmine red. Then I set to work on making those pears and lime completely believable.

I had it completely repainted and still something just didn't sit right wtih me - I changed the background so that the red cloth draped over the box, instead of up the wall, and voila! I love it!

Hope you do too!

Live Creatively!


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