Monday, March 23, 2009

Dapper Dan Drawing

I realize that showing you incremental steps in one painting process is perhaps not in the spirit of the blog, that I am stretching out what could be a one day post into 6 or 7 days. Be aware that we residents of Fargo-Moorhead are kinda busy just now.....the waters keep coming and everybody needs help. Seems frivolous to fuss about a painting blog at such time. But here you have it. This drawing is not as funky and free as I wanted, but neither is is so fussy that I will worry about ruining it. I did scratch in a few areas to remind me to lose edges, but I guess I did not work in my background in terms of visual line. But thanks to thumbnails and previous planning, I know where I'm going with this -- gonna make a high key painting and follow the darks, at least at first, but paint them in a midtone way-- not too dark, sneak up on it.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dapper Dan- Abstracted View

This is how we need to see and think about what we propose to do, because if it fails here, the completed painting will fail. Too many students just get the subject drawn onto the paper, and think they will worry about background shapes later. Or, they think they will simply paint a dark wash all the way around to make the subject "pop" -- a phrase, and a practice, I detest; I see many paintings done this way, and while technically competant, I don't feel they are very painterly. While it is possible to think about and add aditional shapes en route in a painting in order to cure compositional problems, it just seems better to do what one can at the outset rather than deal with it as a speedbump while painting loose, juicy washes. Take a look at the above, and just think about them as blobs of white and black with no meaning. Think about turning it on its side or upside down. Are there shapes there that could be changed to make it better? Added or taken away? I find it easier to think about this with these abstracted shapes than when they are literally describing a recognizable someone or something.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Dapper Dan - Low Key

Ooooh, I quite like this view. Many more opportunities for lost edges! It also really emphasizes the face as a focal point. Is the composition, the arrangement of shapes in the rectangle is more pleasing (see next post)? On the negative side, I am not really a fan of the big dark in watercolor, maybe because by the time I get these areas dark enough, I feel the paint quality has been sacrificed for value. One of the lessons learned from Ted Nuttal was that one might want to sneak up on darker values, and maybe needn't even go all the way down the scale at all. So maybe this would be better in oil? Something to think about.

Dapper Dan - High Key

Here I used the Photoshop brightness/ contrast slider to look at and think about this in a high key way. Where would I lose edges --e.g., where are values the same or similar? Where are the areas of greatest contrast -- where should the sharper edges be? With a high key approach, I would be painting through boundaries, following the path of the darker areas, and simply avoiding the light/ white areas altogether for now. But at this stage, I am simply comparing this high key view to its counterpoint, the low key view.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dapper Dan Pencil Study

Why even do a pencil study? Why not just draw it onto the watercolor paper and get to the paint? Because I believe that would skip a crucial step, which is thinking through the image in a visual way. Going through the motions of drawing and shading this picture, even doing it mindlessly, is like doing warm up exercises and stretches to prepare for the main atheletic event (painting). Skip it, and you'll be that much less prepared for what you'll face in the painting process.

Another key point is that this is the stage at which I consider those pesky issues of value and edges. These must be addressed during the painting at some point, and better earlier than later. The more I can nail down ahead of time, the more "free" I can be in actually applying paint.

Dapper Day - Anatomy of a Watercolor

Here is a photo I purchased at a thrift store. I have no idea who it is, but thought it would make a nice subject for thinking through my watercolor process. I teach classes, and I'm always trying to think about how to break down and explain what I think leads to a successful painting. I am not the first to use this kind of subject for studies, Charles Reid and Ted Nuttal both use this type of image in their work.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pears - Color Studies

Youngest Son rightly points out in a comment to the last post that I have been shirking my self-appointed duties in this blog to paint end post every day (except Sunday). As such, I will no longer be posting old paintings, old sculptures, or old mosaics. Of course, this means that I must post what gets spewed out each day, regardless of merit. So today I present to you my latest efforts to become a better oil painter: a series of color studies of a wooden pear on varying colored backgrounds, compliments of artist Kevin MacPherson in his book Fill Your Paintings With Color and Light. What could be simpler, right?

Wrong! Who knew that the simple task of matching color and value of a fake pear and surroundings would be such a challenge! But, I must admit I have benefitted accordingly. These are posted in reverse sequence, meaning the one right above was first done. What's next? A real pear? Or maybe... an apple? Let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pelican-In-Piety (Rear Altar)

14" x 14" approx, Italian glass mosaic tile, St. Mary's Cathedral, Fargo, ND

Friday, March 13, 2009

Divine Mercy (detail)

7' x 5.2' (entire mosaic), Italian glass mosaic tile, St. Mary's Cathedral, Fargo, ND

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Make A Joyful Noise (details)

6 ' x 5' approximately, venetian glass mosaic tiles, Trinity Lutheran Church, Moorhead, MN

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hockey Degas

12" x 36" Plaster wall relief

I did this after viewing Degas' wall-sized drawing of ballet dancers following rehearsal, removing their slippers. All 4 figures are really just different views of the same individual. If he was without a model to view, Degas would make a wax figure, draw it, turn it a bit and draw it again. In my piece, the four figures represent Jay, Josh, Tony and A.J., in the locker room after hockey practice. Or was redhaired Mike in there somewhere?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Friday, March 6, 2009


24" x 36" Butternut Woodcarving, Trinity Lutheran Church, Moorhead, MN

And now, for something different. Between interruptions and snow days, there has been no painting going on. Usually I paint like crazy and the post-post (!), but I fear too much time has gone by this time and there will be no catching up. So I am just moving on, and will fill the belated daily posts with sculpture instead.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

In the Wings

14" x 11" watercolor, private collection

This is really, really old. It was a study in mirrored shapes of dark v. light.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Vroom II (Peter with Truck)

22"x 30" Watercolor

OK, so I lied; I haven't painted all week and these are catchup posts, oldies. But I like 'em.

Thoughts for a new month/ a new medium

So I've been trying to paint these little oil paintings all week, and they are proving so fussy and finicky and , well, trite. Where is the thick juicy paint, the simple, gutsy statement? And where are the copper pennies? Lost in a miasma of fear and unfamiliarity. Is there such a thing as xenophobia for media?

So I've got a new plan. Instead of messing about with all the usual suspects when working on a painting (shape, value, edges, color, composition-- did you know an artist makes an average of 2000 decisions per each painting?), I am simply going to repeat images I have already painted or drawn and worked these things out well enough, so that I can limit my struggle to wrestling with the mighty OIL paint alone.

At least until I catch up and post enough paintings to get current. See ya.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009