Sunday, July 17, 2016

Basic Inquiry Life Drawing - Portrait Sketch

Graphite Portrait on Toned Paper - 6x9"
Well I finally did it, I finally made it down to check out Basic Inquiry Life Drawing in Vancouver.  Why did it take me so long??!?!? I usually go to Suite E Life Drawing in Coquitlam but I have been so busy with teaching at nights that I only made it to a few sessions this season so I was desperate to get some life drawing in...and I was not disappointed :)

The set up was really nice as they have a curtain that hangs from the ceiling with the lighting enclosed which can be directed on the model.  Then the outside of the curtain area hey have florescent lighting so that there is good lighting on the easels...which is kind of important ;)

Room Set Up


The model was lovely and was so enjoyable to draw.  The session is 3 hrs but with breaks works out to about 2.5 hrs and I draw sooo slooooww.  So I had hoped to get more darks in on the left side of her face and then add some lights with white chalk and if time permitted finesse her features...but I ran out of time.  I will have to be faster next time!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Figure Painting Workshop with Giorgio Dante

Oil Painting from Life - Stephanie
What a perfect way to start off the summer...start summer in June and start it with a 10 day workshop with Giorgio Dante! I am so fortunate to have another opportunity to study with yet another amazing artist and instructor.

Not to toot my own horn, but I am really proud of my painting :)  I rarely do figures and I have not had nearly as much practice this year as I had hoped working from live models whether it be drawing or in oil.  Something I plan to correct this season ;)  Our model was Stephanie, a model that I often book for our Suite E Life Drawing sessions so it was nice to see a familiar face even though I did not paint it ;)

The workshop was 10 full days and we spent the first two days working on a drawing which I will have to post later as I need to get a photo of it.  The drawing was smaller and included the full body and face. It was a great way to get warmed up and get familiar with the model as well as the lighting set up.  The process was quite different than what I have tried before and I really liked it...it allows blending, yay.  It is always great to try new methods and then tweak to make them your own to suit your style and method of working.

For the remainder of the week we created a new drawing of the torso directly on the canvas and then proceeded to paint a graisaille.  Unfortunately I had to miss one day, Friday so I had to work like a mad woman to get the graisaille completed so that it would be dry after the weekend to start the color layers.

Figure Sketch on Oil Primed Linen
I sketched out the torso, roughly 14x18" directly on the oil primed linen.  I likely added more interior shadow lines than required but they help me to keep things on tract, especially when working quickly. 

Giorgio has a very sophisticated process but he is such a patient and thorough teacher that I actually felt pretty confident...so unlike me...so I just dove in and got to work. 

So funny side note, I actually have never used linen from a roll before so I started drawing on the back as I thought mid-tone color which is actually the raw linen was the oil priming, duh.  Well that was a little embarrassing ;) So, the oil priming is the white side for future reference ;)  Well luckily Giorgio provides a ton of instruction while we are working and corrected me before I got too far along....and he did not laugh at me...well not that \I noticed anyway ;) 

Once the drawing was completed, I moved onto the oil graisaille using Raw Umber and Titanium White oil paint working into a couch which is a very thin layer of medium and a touch of Raw Umber just to give a slight tone.

Raw Umber Contour Outline
I started by refining the contour lines with a round brush using straight Raw Umber oil paint. Once the contour lines are completed I switched to a flat brush and blocked in all of the shadows first followed by all of the lights using a second clean flat brush with straight Titanium WHite. Once all of the values were blocked in....and NOT before....I started blending.

Artist's have to have such will power to not blend too soon.  Blending is basically our reward for all of our patience, hard work and stages of frustration and self doubt.  Things can look really strange during the block in and it is really easy to loose the structure that I have worked so hard to create once you start blending.  Also, blending is just so much fun that I have to remind myself several times not to get too carried away and blend to oblivion.

With this process, it is really not necessary to get too refined at this stage but I think I will definitely be painting more painting using this method but to a more refined finish without color as they are just so pretty.  I seem to have a think for monochrome.

Graisaille - End of Week 1
The second week we spent applying the color to our monochromatic under paintings while refining the drawing and form as we progressed.

Giorgio is an amazing teacher as he always seems to have a knack of coming around when I started to go astray and got me back on track.  It is so important to be able to watch a master artist point out your mistakes, show you how to correct them and then have the time to correct your mistakes.  For me anyway, this seems to be the way learn, try, make mistake, fix mistake, try again :)  He also is very patient and repeats himself many times so that by the end of the workshop we truly get what he is saying.  When learning a new method we often think we hear and understand but we are not truly ready to comprehend what is being said and shown.  By having Giorgio patiently repeating both verbally and by demoing, I think it really accelerated our learning in a very short time. 
Once all of the flesh tones have been worked out and modeled as fully as can be...it is time for the darks, gasp!  With trepidation and a very thinnly loaded brush I start to add in the darks...that is until I saw how everything just popped and then I dove in...well, ok maybe waded in at a steady pace ;)

It is amazing how one brushstroke affects another.  Every time a stroke of paint is added whether on a monochromatic painting or color, I am always amazed at how it affects the overall painting.  That is why you can never step away from your painting enough.  Something I now consciously try to do by stepping back every few minutes to get a fresh perspective of the overall effect and to also hopefully catch any errors that have cropped up.

Towards the end of the workshop and several mistakes later, I realized that I had somehow on the last day with only a few hours to go, totally lost the shadow on her lower right arm! How could I have messed up so bad? What the heck was I doing, ugh, how embarrassing....again! So Giorgio patiently showed me how to fix my error, he did not laugh or shake his head at me, and I quickly fixed up her arm, good as new!

As I put on the finishing stroke I looked up at the model and to my surprise, the shadow was gone on the model, what the?!? Duh, it is amazing how the slightest turn of the model can affect the light on the form as the contour of her arm did not look visibly different but it went from being in shadow to being in full light.  Yet another lesson learned ;)  Stephanie is such a great model that I seriously often forgot she was there as she is just SO still and holds the pose amazingly!

Working from a live model is much more challenging than from a photo but it is so much more rewarding.  The trick is to go with the shifts and stick with what is most pleasing, not necessarily what you see at all times during the pose.

Some of the other amazing work done by other students at the workshop:

Grace's Painting
Irene's Painting
When you walk around the room it is like a animation as the form turns


Another amazing workshop has come to an end but I will be spending many hours practicing what I have learned.  If you ever have the opportunity to take a workshop with Giorgio Dante you will not be disappointed, guaranteed.  I am so fortunate to have such generous, talented and truly passionate artists willing to teach to share their knowledge. Hugely grateful!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Alla Prima Painting with Deborah Tilby

I was so fortunate to get to go to a 2 day workshop this past Mother's Day weekend in North Vancouver with the wonderful Deborah Tilby.  While I was unable to complete either painting, I got a TON of work done.  Alla prima painting is so much faster than indirect painting.  It definitely gets the adrenaline running as you know at the workshops, just like when plein air painting, you only have so much time to get things done!

The landscape painting was done on the first day and really all I think it needed is to push the dark and light values further.  I always struggle with this and seem to have to keep pushing as I go to get the full value range.  I also think the barn could use a bit of fixing up, maybe a window or two?

The seascape was done on the second day, I was SO sick :(  I spent the morning painting and actually considered packing up and going home after an hour.  I felt so ill...hot...cold....dizzy...nausea....Happy Mother's Day to me!  I mixed paint strings for areas that did not exist, painted areas totally wrong and then said to heck with it, have some lunch and take a break and hopefully things will improve. 

Luckily after lunch I did feel somewhat better and painted over most of what I had done in the morning so really, this painting was done super quick!  Again, it is not finished and would have like to push the values more and add more depth to the sand and waves, maybe loosen up the foreground bushes a bit.  This is why working from life and workshops are good, they force you to just stop and move on as honestly I think I could work on my paintings forever ;)

Other than being sick though, had a great time and I am so looking forward to plein air painting and more landscape paintings over the summer!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Life Drawing Session - Caitlyn Sustained Pose

Life Drawing Portrait - Caitlyn
It has been months since I have been able to get to a life drawing session (sigh) so it was so nice to get back to drawing from a live model last night! 

Sadly I have not had much time for drawing anything lately as have been busy painting.  Drawing is like exercise, if you don't do it daily or at least regularly you get flabby....or in this case, not so accurate ;)

So rather than crop the drawing as I usually do...I left some distracting objects all around the portrait.  Sneaky right?  Even with my lack of current practice though, I still see a huge improvement from last year in my drawing skills so just like with exercise, there is "muscle memory" so every little bit of effort adds up.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Private Oil Painting Lessons- Student's Oil Sketch

Rough Oil Sketch by Student - 8x10"
So proud of my student this morning who attempted her first oil sketch in preparation for her landscape painting...and she hit it out of the park!  We did a rough sketch using Burnt Sienna thinned down with Gamsol odorless mineral spirits.

I love this stage of a painting as things fall into place so quickly and it is just so satisfying to see everything come together so quickly.

Look at that focus and how she is holding the brush way, way back....makes me very happy :)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Last Day to Register - Alla Prima Oil Painting & Awash in Watercolor starts this Monday at Port Moody Arts Centre

Oil Leaf Study
This is a little study I did over the summer of some leaves I found on a hike up Simon Fraser Mountain.  The tree was full of these beautiful shiny leaves, I had to paint it. I did not have my paints with me and my hiking partner (aka hubby) would not have been impressed if I had and I could not fit the tree in my trunk so a bunch of branches had to do. 

The leaves are so much more chromatic than I objects I usually paint so I thought they would be fun to work with and I was right. 

If you are interested in learning to paint alla prima, join me Monday nights or Mondays during the date for watercolor lessons at the Port Moody Arts Centre. 

You can register online at Port Moody Arts Center Online Link or call 604-931-2008 to register.

Into the Blue - Detail
Watercolor on Arches Paper

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Graydon Parrish Workshop - Fabric Study

Oil on Canvas Board and Set Up
I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to take another workshop with the amazing, talented, generous, patient...I could go on, Graydon Parrish. This is the third time I have had the opportunity to take one of his workshops (see Workshop 1 and Workshop 2 for more info) and every time I am amazed at how much I learn yet how relaxed and fun the process is.  When I learn on my own, it is more like a battle of wills and frustration and as I tend to learn by realizing what not to do....and then learning by the process.

The workshop was two weeks long during which time Graydon walked us through setting up the still life which he set up as a work of art in itself.  He showed us how to determine the colors of the fabric and how the light affects the hue, value and chroma.  He had us paint half a sphere and cube with the local color to better understand what we were seeing.  We then mixed the color strings we needed by matching the munsell chips to what we observed on the fabric.  Below is a photo of my palette with all of my paints mixed up.

Palette Before Painting Session
 I have all of my mixtures organized by hues first and then by value.  So I have two hues strings one a purple blue that leans towards yellow and one a purple blue that leans towards purple, in munsell speak, 2.5PB2/4, 2.5PB3/4 and 2.5PB4/4 and 5PB2/4, 5PB3/4 and  5PB4/4.  I also mixed up several darks to cover the range of darks observed in the fabric, a dark neutral, N1/ and a few more chromatic darks using the blues that I used to make the hue mixtures (ultramarine blue, winsor blue (yellow shade) and dioxazine purple) and a very dark chromatic black using peach black and a mix of ultramarine blue and winsor blue (yellow shade).  For the background I used my pretubed colors of a neutral grays, very handy I must say.  

While this sounds a little confusing and time consuming, it is actually quite simiple and quick once you get the hang of it and the best part is that all the work is done prior to starting the painting so once I paint, I only need to think about painting and do not have to shift between painting and mixing as much.  I still mix while I paint, but the shifts are so slight that it feels more like part of the painting process than actual mixing.  Below is a photo of my palette after the painting session.

Palette After Painting Session
My palette used to be so messed up after a painting session as I frantically searched for the correct mixtures, often running out of that perfect mix near the end of the session.  Then when I would come back to paint several days or weeks later, I would totally forget how I had achieved the mixtures and would waste more time trying to match up my new mixtures on my dry paint, not fun.

Now, using Munsell, I can easily match up the mixtures exactly and just carry on with fresh paint during the next session.  If I am going to be painting the next day or within about a week, I can freeze my paints until the next session but they do get a little stiff.  I am trying also putting a q-tip with clove oil in as well to see if that helps.  Below is a photo of my palette after being in the freezer overnight.

Frozen Paint
As you can see I have to label everything as my memory totally sucks the older I get!  For more paint storage tips check out my Paint Storage Tips

Graydon then walked us through the entire process from the drawing to the finish all the while teaching us to think and see the full effect rather than just the object that was in front of us.   There were a couple of students working at the first and second level and Graydon had them working on other projects such as painting cubes like the ones below.

Tanya Bone Painting Cubes
Painted Cubes
Painting of Cubes

I have learned so much and can't wait to apply everything over the next few months.  I will also be teaching an oil painting class starting in September and while we will not be using Munsell per se, we will definitely be applying much of what I have learned.

If you would like to join me, please visit http://register.asapconnected.com/StaffDetails.aspx?pk=24306 for more information and to register.