Welcome! This online journal will share my news of new paintings and upcoming exhibits, tips and notes with friends, collectors and other artists. Please visit often and enjoy!

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- Latest sketches

Monday, November 23, 2009

Graphite and the painter's mind...

Ever since the workshop with Mel Stabin, I have felt encouraged to do close-up figures and portraits in watercolor--the ones I did at the workshop were really exciting and fun to do. So when I did a sketch yesterday, I chose to plan for a portrait of this interesting character I met in the Caribbean.

Sketching already takes me one step into the painting, it prompts my internal dialog: "what kind of brushstroke will I use for this stretch of hair? which "strands" should I make dark and which should I make gray? how light should I make his long gray beard? how far can I obliterate detail in the face area and still leave enough of a sense of expression? is it important to leave some sense of the man's age, or is that irrelevant? how can I portray his gentleness and peace and avoid making his face hidden in shadow scary? how much do I need to describe his t-shirt? how much overlap to create between his hand and his head? which edges should be lost, and soft, and which should be hard, and found?" ...and I'm not even thinking color yet!

Those questions were set in motion and now will live in my mind, much like characters do in a for a writer during the writing of a novel, and I know the answers will oscillate back and forth until I finally pin them down in the painting itself.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Time away from the brushes...

The first month of fatherhood and an intense work schedule have been keeping me away from the brushes most of the time these days. I have missed entering a show, have been away from the weekly plain air sessions, and have missed some exhibit openings... This does not mean I am totally removed from artistic activity though: I've submitted to two shows, have contributed an article to the October issue of the Colorado Watercolor Society newsletter, and managed to attend the society's monthly meeting this week. (The CWS website, by the way, has gone through a nice transformation the last few months, and is worth checking out, at www.coloradowatercolorsociety.org.) I am also taking the opportunity to review some of my older paintings and plan some new ones; hopefully the incubation period will yield good works soon...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Late Summer Days: Landscape on Yupo

Late Summer Days, watercolor on yupo synthetic paper, 20x26 inches

This is another piece on yupo, the second one I did. It started with a technique learned from Mark Mehaffey: I applied Winsor red, cadmium yellow and cerulean blue almost straight off the tube, diluted with very little water, and allowed the colors to merge and move on the surface of the yupo. After letting the mixture dry overnight, I chose a scene to "carve out" of that background by lifting pigment back to white, and layering other colors.

The green color was lifted partially to reveal the sky and negatively shape the tree masses. The white barn was lifted completely to white, with a brush wet with clear water. The silo was given a rough texture by applying multiple layers of color. Watercolor pencils were used to add random lines for texture and variety.

The detail below gives a better view of the main shapes and the techniques used and textures achieved. You can click on the image to view and even larger version.

Late Summer Days, detail

It was very exciting to work with the loose characteristic of yupo and still try to impose some measure of control in the creation of shapes and details!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Season Bells

The Season Bells, watercolor on paper, 12x16

This was an exercise in which I worked without any preliminary sketch or pencil drawing, and used mostly two colors: perylene maroon and phthalo green, with some cobalt blue and cadmium red. I started drawing/painting directly with color, with the bell tower, and worked my way out and down from there. This approach sacrificed some of the perspective, which became skewed, especially in the case of the foreground buildings. This was based on a photo of Venice on a dark, rainy day. It made me think of a cold Christmas eve and the church bells calling the devout to navigate the labyrinth of wet streets for their prayers. So I introduced figures in procession towards the church. The main couple was taken from another sketch I made of rainy Venice... This was a fun exercise, but definitely challenging.