Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"Horse Conch Shell"

"Horse Conch"
4"X4" oil on canvas panel

This is #4 in the my learning to paint shells series. I will have to do more work on #3 if I want to show it. This was a great process, I now feel pretty comfortable with these guys!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Learning to Paint Shells #2

For lesson #2 of teaching myself to paint shells, my plan was to repeat the previous exercise, but mix in white paint to create the lighter values, rather than use thin paint with white canvas showing through. I drew the shell in the same way as last time, and then starting mixing in white to get some midtones. Because adding white to burnt umber cools it to gray, I had to add burnt sienna to the mix to keep the warm tone. Can you see the few gray strokes I left in? I think I've got the value lesson down and it is time to move on to color. Thanks for your patience!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Learning to Paint Shells #1

As I said last time, I have a plan for learning to paint shells. This is lesson #1, getting the values right. Using burnt umber, I covered a 4"X4" portion of the canvas panel and then removed paint with a wet (with Gamsol) brush for the lights, and added paint for the darks. The top photo is not actually the same painting, I ended up wiping that first attempt, but it shows the process. I also took that photo on the easel in different light, hence a slightly different color. Tune in for the next post to see lesson #2!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

More Shell Sketches

More shells from the beach on Sanibel. I like the addition of the sea urchin to the conch shells. Not sure which one of these I like best, I think the composition is better on the second attempt, but I like the contrast of two types of pen that is more obvious on the first. Each of these took just a few minutes to do, but there were a couple of scratch attempts first.

I have been thinking about how to learn to paint these guys, and now have a plan on how to get there. More on that in the next post.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Shell Sketches

Yesterday I tried to paint some of the shells we brought back from Sanibel Island. I started with a few sketches, and then decided to do four quick small 4x4's on an 8"x8" panel. They did get a bit better each time, but I still wiped them all! The problem was in the values. I have trouble mixing very light colors, finding it easier to let the white of the canvas show through. That wasn't working for me on the shells. Looking around, I found a couple of examples that I like from my friend Mary Sheehan Winn. And Julian Merrow Smith has included a wonderful oyster shell in this painting. Maybe with this inspiration I will do better next time.

Above are a few sketches of the shells. The top and middle are different attempts at the same view. Note how making the hatch marks in the shadows of the middle shell more horizontal, and different in angle from the shadows on the shell itself, makes the shadow read better. I love the combination of all three shells in the bottom drawing. There, I used only a thin pen for the shadows on the shells, saving the thicker pen for the shell contours and the shadows on the background surface. Which drawing do you like best?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Show at Art House in Portland

I'm in a new show that just opened this week at Art House Picture Frames in Portland, Maine (see card images above). We stopped in today, and it looks wonderful. I am joined in the show by my friends and fellow artists Suzanne deLesseps (oils) and Elizabeth Moberg (pastels). All of the paintings are small and affordable. And I got a real kick out of realizing that Elizabeth and I had painted the same scene at our beloved Gilsland Farm in Falmouth.

I hope you get a chance to stop by the opening on April 2, I plan to be there from about 6PM on. Tomorrow I'll add a link on the blog to the twelve paintings that I have in the show. And if you would like one of the cards (doesn't it look great?), just send me your snail mail address in an email.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Cormorant Drying His Wings

Three Pears Top View

Girls Looking Out to Sea

A fellow painter asked me the other day for a tutorial on sketching. That got me thinking about how to explain why I sketch, and what I get out of it. The why is easy: because it's fun! Like daily painting is to painting large, so is sketching to daily painting: you have less invested, so you are willing to try something new, to experiment; and because it doesn't take long, you can do the same subject/composition over and over, until you get one you like - and you learn something in the process. What do I get out of it? A chance to try out multiple compositions, when I'm not sure which one will be most compelling. A chance to find out ahead of time what is going to give me trouble, and either figure out how to handle it, or make it go away! A chance to do the first pass in a simple medium where only values matter, and in a medium that is enough different that the subsequent painting will still be fresh.

So what kind of options are there for sketching? Well, lots. Let me again recommend Bert Dodson's book, which is a treasure trove for sketchers.

Above I show three kinds of sketches I have been doing recently. On top is a really quick (5-10 seconds) drawing of a subject that was constantly moving. There was only time to make a few lines tell the story, so I did four versions. I love this kind of sketching, trying to capture just the shapes, with maybe one quick look at the subject. In the middle is an approach from Bert's book, where I used a thin pen and did an initial drawing, redrawing (restating) as needed to get the right shapes and shading, then I came back over that with a thicker pen for the final version. And on the bottom is a more labored approach, where I used pencil to draw and redraw until I got it right, and then went over it with pen and finally erased the pencil marks. The lobster boat drawings I posted previously were done this way, with the added use of a grid in the pencil layer to make sure the drawing was proportionally correct.

Oh, and one more thing! I draw the little boxes first, that's part of making the sketch a composition exercise.

Try some of these ideas for yourself, and let me know if you enjoy it, and if it helps make the subsequent painting of the subject more straightforward and enjoyable.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"The Conversation"

"The Conversation"
6"x6" oil on gessoed paper
framed, approximately 10"x10"
available at RiverArts in Damariscotta, ME

This is another of the first "beach people" series that I did some years ago. I took some great photos for more of these on our visit to Sanibel Island last week. If we can stop the flow of water into our basement, I will try to paint some of them! I also got some wonderful shells, and would like to paint them as well. Much to do, once we get dry.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Beach children Sketches

These two little girls were having a marvelous time yesterday playing on the beach here in Sanibel. Their names are Isabella and Juliana, and they could not have been enjoying themselves more. I had nice chat with their mother and was able to get a few good shots of them. These are my first two sketches. I particularly like the one at the top, where they are looking out into the waves.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Shell Seekers"

"Shell Seekers"
6"x6" oil on gessoed paper
framed, approximately 10"x10"
available at RiverArts in Damariscotta, ME

I've been on the beach in Sanibel much of today, looking for shells and photographing the people. It reminded me of the first beach people paintings I did, in 2003, inspired by the work of Chip Chadbourne. Chip was a wonderful colorist, and I used his "recipe" for flesh tones for the 6 part series I did at the time. This is one of those paintings, which is available from the Instructors Exhibition at River Arts, in Damarsicotta, ME.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"Provencal Poppies"

"Provencal Poppies"
6"X6" oil on canvas panel

Taking a side trip from Florida where I am at the moment, this painting is of Provence. A group of us is working on a new painting challenge blog, where we will share responsibility for choosing the challenge paintings; each of us will host a challenge. We are doing few for practice, and Joelle Feldman chose this reference. I love it! And I'm planning to visit Provence in the fall. Thinking about the next vacation while enjoying the current one, some life, eh?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cormorant Sketches and Sunshine Award

Today we visited the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel. This young cormorant was standing on a rock, drying his wings, and seemed to be posing for the cameras, turning this way and that to make sure everyone got a good shot. I tried to be almost as fast as the cameras and capture him in a few strokes. My first effort is at the top and no. 4 at the bottom. I will replace these images with scans later, I didn't get very consistent lighting with the camera/photoshop.

Sally Dean for given my blog the Sunshine Award. Thank you, Sally! I would like to pass it on to these 12 artists:

- Joelle Feldman (a friend and student in my class in January)
- Jill Polsby (who organized the 118/119/120 faces of Karin Jurick)
- Stephanie Berry (who I enjoyed painting with last summer)
- Carol Nelson (whose portrait I painted, and who painted my portrait in the DSFDF Challenge in December)
- Vern Schwarz (whose DSFDF portrait intrigued me)

And these 7 artists whose work I have become aware of through the Daily Painters International Art Gallery, and very much admire:
- Kim Blair
- Elizabeth Blaylock
- Carolee Clark
- Claudia Hammer
- Edward Burton
- Gerald Schwartz
- Charlotte Yealey

Please check out their blogs and leave lots of comments!

And for those who received the award, this is how you pass it on:
- add the picture of the flower to your blog
- make sure the person who gave you the award is on your blog list
- pick 12 people and link them on your blog
- notify those people via a comment on their blog

Monday, March 8, 2010

"Pina Coladas?"

"Pina Coladas"
6"X6" oil on canvas panel

I'm in Sanibel, Florida, which is just awesome after all the cold and snow at home. Here's my first attempt at the local foliage, one of the palm trees out back of our condo, resplendent with coconuts. You have to watch out, these things are falling everywhere! Not sure you can tell that the background is water, I may make an attempt at lightening it, which would be more true to what I was seeing. I think I will have some great sketches at least from this trip, even if I am not able to capture things in paint "in the moment".