Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Garden Party - The Big Picture

Garden Party
Acrylic paints on gallery wrapped canvas
measuring 30” by 40”
Accepted in the Downing Museum's 25th Jack Lunt Memorial Juried Art Exhibition

For this painting, Garden Party, I decided to go big! My usual painting sizes are anywhere from 10x10 inches up to 18x24 inches. But after seeing some realllllly big paintings at recent art shows.....I decided to try a big canvas this time. For the size and light weight I chose a stretched canvas, and being “gallery wrapped canvas” it doesn't need a frame.
I wanted to do multiple (mostly made up) figures, in bright sunlight, interacting with each other. For something this large, I paid attention to past work flows, and did my obligatory thumb nail sketches. I kept them in the same ratio of size as the large canvas. I did one for placement, another for value and a final one for colours.

That done I blew up the pencil sketches of my characters and made paper silhouettes that I used to paint a neutral brown outline of the figures, to find their placement on the large canvas. I then used the cut out portions as a masque for painting in large swaths of acrylic glazes for the dark shadowed background and the sunlit grass foreground.

Then using slow drying acrylics, I mixed up a value palette of a red, blue and yellow paint. I mixed up along side each colour it's complement and a mixture of each for a greyed version. I laid in the first main man taking the picture. I went on to pull up the masque on the posing couple and begin painting on them. 

Next time I'll finish off the tale of this Garden Party painting.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Garden Party: Discussions

Acrylic Paint on gallery wrapped canvas 10” x 10”

This painting is a start on a mini-series called Garden Party. I'm using a group of (mostly made up) folks at a summer garden party in bright sunlight, talking and meeting and greeting. I'm interested in stretching my skills at painting figures that actually show what they are doing with the least amount of detailing and the most impact from value and colours.

I sketched off the figures I wanted in this small painting, and made paper cutouts to transfer the outlines of where I wanted the figures placed. I then sponge rollered a couple of layers of acrylic glazes on the top shadowed portion of the background. This was an easy way to transfer the outlines of the figures onto the stretched canvas.

I then did the same kind of sponge roller brush technique on the grass. I wanted the grass to show up as in bright sunlight....but not be TOO green. Rolling over the silhouetted paper cutouts gave me all the visual hints needed to start on painting the figures.

I worked on the different figures using slow drying opaque acrylic paints. I really enjoyed these paints for their slower drying times, with all the ease of handling of acrylics. As I was finishing the painting I decided it needed something “more”. The gallery wrapped canvas is about 2 inches thick, providing a bitty space for a small visual surprise. So I tucked in, on the side, a small puppy intently listening in on the two gentlemen's discussion.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Hopkinsville Art Guild 2017 Pennyroyal Juried Art Exhibition

This is just a bitty blog post of a shout out to the kind folks at Hopkinsville Art Guild for their lovely art reception and awards presentation this past October 29th.

I got 3rd place in Paintings for Just Messing About (blog postfor Just Messing About here) I also had Green Glow in the show.

Frank got BOTH 2nd and 3rd in 3D works for his recent Singer (blog post for Singer here) and Teacher (blog post for Teacher here).

It was a great looking show and Hopkinsville Art Guild volunteers always throw such a lovey reception. Its a great chance to meet and greet other artists and patrons.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

At the Feet of the Gods or An Exercise in Colour Restraint

At the Feet of the Gods
Acrylic on 10 x 10 inch gallery wrapped canvas
From my own photograph

This time around I set myselves a challenge to paint a scene from one of my old photographs. The challenge was to paint it with an almost monochrome palette yet keep the values consistent with very bright sunlight. In addition I wanted to work on weaning myself off my bent of too much detailing.

To that end I chose a smallish gallery wrapped canvas and a reference photo I'd taken years ago, in Nashville at a book fair. I wanted the indistinct background figures to stay in a high key (very light colours) while keeping the values in a wide enough range to denote sunlight.

I really liked the seated figure, but I changed things a bit so's he looked like he had just looked up from his book and noticed I was snapping a photo. I wanted him against the dark marble pedestal for the contrast with his white T-shirt. I wanted to keep the relative values correct for the maximum sunlit effect. You can see my very old value chart on top of the reference photo. I used this time and again to check values.....I've learned that I very often miss the mark on which value is which.

You can make your own value chart by mixing together black and white paint and splitting the difference between total black and total white in half.....then again in half....and so on until you have anywhere from 5 to 10 steps between the two extremes.

I finished off the painting with, what was for me , a restrained palette....keeping any intense colours on the main character and keeping most everything else in the warm or cool gray range.

Next time around I just may go wild......and head off in the other direction.... of colour, color everywhere!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Dorothy Dix Project Finish

Portrait of Dorothy Dix (detail)
Mixed Media (Colored pencils both Prisma & Polys and acrylic paints with text on paper glued to the surface) on black illustration board
Portraits painted from Dorothy Dix photos used with kind permission, of Austin Peay State University’s Felix G. Woodward Library, Archives and Special Collections.

This week I'm talking a bit about the finish of my portrait of “turn of the last century” advice columnist Dorothy Dix. She was sort of a “early day Dear Abby”, who hailed from Todd County, Kentucky. This portrait along with four of my other historical illustrations, were featured in Historic Todd County's recently published book: T is for Todd County. You can see more about this book project and where you can purchase a copy at:

After doing her early portrait in coloured pencils, as I blogged about here:
I moved onto her elder self, in her 80s. This was also done in coloured pencils. I wanted this version of her to reflect her almost ethereal grandmotherly self. She was often referred to as the “Confident of the Nation” as readers would send letters confiding their problems, seeking her advice. Finally I painted in acrylic paints in the center, Ms. Dix in her heyday in her mid 50s.
Here you can see I'm closing in on the finish:

After I'd gotten the three portraits to suit me, I gave the overall painting a good review. I had wanted from the beginning to emphasize the central portrait, of Ms. Dix in her prime career years. I had emphasized that by making her skin in full colour, working from the old black and white photo,(as were all three source photos). Painting the acrylics on the surface of the black illustration board made the center image “POP!”. I also painted the most detail, and upped the value contrasts of the center portrait.
The other two portraits (in her 30s and her 80s) were in coloured pencils. This made them recede a bit since the coverage of the coloured pencils can't compete visually quite as much as the opaque paints. I still wanted to emphasize this a bit more. So I went back in with my handy dandy eraser and rubbed out some of the more intense colours and lights, making those two portraits fade just a bit more.

And here is the final version of the project:

I've had a blast working on this portrait, and I've really enjoyed getting to “meet” Dorothy Dix!
I wanted to also say a heartfelt thanks to the kind folks at Historic Todd County for jurying my historical illustrations into this lovely book project.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Farmer's Eclipse

This bitty blog post is just a bit about last week's eclipse event. We were lucky enough to be in the pathway of totality.....and did it ever put on a show. We, and a "few" other folks that stopped by, stood on a hill on our farm that gave us a lovely 360 degree view of the spectacular "special effects" caused by the eclipse. 

The photo above of a Farmer's Eclipse, was taken in our barn. The hundred year old (plus) barn had been rebuilt after a tornado strike. The tin used in rebuilding was recycled  from another structure. As recycled tin, it had numerous nail holes, that allowed the half moons of the beginning sun eclipse to shine thru onto the shovel. 

The photo below was one I just couldn't resist, a pic of both Frank and my hands having the eclipsing sun shining thru two of the tin's holes.

One of the best effects, in my humble opinion, was sunset all around the horizon, north, south, east and west!  I centered my camera on one spot on the horizon, and within 5 minutes elapsed time.....we went from a sunny August day to twilight. The in-between eerie sunlight.... was so Kool!

The whole eclipse experience was the best sense. And just made even better by experiencing it in such nice company.  

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Update on Chocolatier.......In Traveling “Illustrated Word” Show

(Photo of Chocolatier hanging at Hopkins County-Madisonville Public Library with the kind permission of Ashley) 
This time around I'm just posting a bit-o-update on my coloured pencil/watercolor/acrylic painting Chocolatier. I was lucky enough to have it accepted into the Kentucky Art Council's traveling exhibit, the Illustrated Word. It's a lovely art show of pieces dedicated to “showing” the different way the written word can be commented on or actually used in visual arts. It's “traveling” around to a dozen different libraries in the state of Kentucky, and it just so happens this July/August it's hanging at the lovely Hopkins County-Madisonville Public Library, not too far from me.


(Photo of Ann Morgan, with Chocolatier at opening reception with the kind permission of Donna Slayton)
This exhibit “travels' via the “above and beyond” efforts of local librarians, who transport the entire exhibit from their library onto the next one....all on their own dime and time. And they also have to hang the show and repackage the art pieces safely for transport. So KUDOS to all the hard working librarians and volunteers who make this show possible, along with the organization of the Kentucky Arts Council.

It's sorta nice that this painting is included in a "traveling art show" as I envisioned the young lady in the painting as being a well heeled young lady in 1910 or so, who was taking the "Grand Tour" as was popular in "Downton Abby" times.  I think of her sauntering around Paris and sampling candies from the local chocolate shop.