I took photography in college but now I mostly snap pics on my IPhone. I can compose my shots in the camera giving me good reference to paint from later. Painting outdoors is great, but as I’m painting one thing I see a dozen more things around me I want to paint.
I have friends who are photographers and who are generous enough to allow me to use their photos from time to time as reference for my paintings. They have more patience than I do to get some fantastic shots. This “White Iris” was shot by my friend, Deb Drew Brown, which I turned into paint.
She came in as the younger, smaller cat in the house, but soon took over as the one in charge. The back of the couch is the highest point in the room that is comfortable. She can see the whole room, the other cat, me, and the backyard out the window across the room. She has great color, sort of black and brown, some rust and white, a pink nose and “odd socks” as I call them, meaning each paw is different.
Quite a demanding little kitty, she yells at me when she wants something, but if I whisper at her, she will whisper back. She is a great model and I could paint her all day long. Now that the springtime sun is making its way into our home, and sunbeam naps are on the schedule, a new painting is inevitable.
I took photography in college so I know how to compose in the camera, which is an advantage when gathering photo references for my painting. I also am skilled on the computer so I can crop and make adjustments when necessary to enhance the photos.
Guest photos can also be delightful.
My cousin took a photo of 3 baby birds demanding to be fed and posted it on Facebook. I immediately asked her for permission to use it for a painting. I think I smiled the entire time I was painting.
Webster defines patron as “a person who gives money and support to and artist, organization, etc.” and patronize as “to give money or support to (someone or something)” OR “to talk to (someone) in a way that shows you believe you are more intelligent or better than other people.”
My niece came over to buy a painting of mine (what higher compliment is there than a relative parting with their hard earned money to buy my art?) she saw on Facebook and as she was leaving I said, “Thank you for patronizing me.” Y e a h…somehow it didn’t sound quite right. We just laughed.
Now the holidays are over, that rush of relatives is warm memory, Michigan grayness settles back in and its time for a cup of tea. Maybe today a bit of honey and lemon will be just fine.
I was driving home from the artists’ breakfast that we have every Saturday morning and in my neighborhood the sun was hitting this tree in full fall colors. I got a couple blocks down and knew I had to go back and snap some photos with my iPhone. I went home and began painting. It’s not often I get to use Cadmium orange and Cadmium yellow right out of the tube. I must say I did get too thick too fast though. I guess I was too excited. It was going so well and then it wasn’t! I was getting picky—painting every leave. So I wiped out the tree and began again, slowly layering the paint. Much happier with the results.
The neighborhood is full of trees in all stages of color and falling leaves. I had a plethora of streets to shoot my photos. This one with its deep shadows complimenting that fiery color activated my “OH!” factor.
Long ago when I learned to use a computer I quickly got used to the UNDO command. My thumb and middle finger became ingrained in this keyboard motion and I found my fingers repeating this motion in spite of myself whenever I make a mistake whether I was on a computer or not!
There is no such command in painting. I think I’m done with a painting but…maybe…that one area might look better if it were a bit lighter…noooooo. It doesn’t. UNDO. UNDO. UNDO. Sigh…
If the paint underneath was dry I might be able to wipe it off, but that is not the case. So I scrape it off and repaint, telling myself how stupid I am. But, frustrating as it may be, it always turns out better than it was to begin with. Wow. And I’m happy again.
A friend of mine confessed that her thumb and finger try to expand pictures in magazines to make them bigger. Ha!
One of the biggest challenges for plein air painters (painting outdoors) is the vastness of what we are looking at. Trying to get the huge outdoors and fit it on our teeny, tiny, little canvas can stop an artist in our tracks so to speak.
All the advice, tips, and rules I hear from experienced painters seem to leave me when I am out there enjoying the wonders of nature. “Paint what you love.” “Look for the big shapes.” “See the darks and lights.”
Ever since I saw my first Monet painting I wanted to paint water lilies. We were at a beautiful garden with a pond with the most perfect water lilies you can imagine. I was so excited.
By the end of my painting session I was so disappointed. I had wanted to paint water lilies. Here is a sketch of what I did. I went home and scraped it off.
Luckily I took lots of photos and when I enlarged the photo and painted in my studio, I actually painted water lilies.
When I lived in California I was lucky enough to take a week-long portrait and figure painting, watercolor workshop from world famous artist Mary Whyte. One afternoon we ventured out of the studio to the beach (we were right on the coast in Crescent City) to take some photos of the model. Let’s face it, you don’t normally come across young women dressed like this strolling the beach.
It was a foggy day and the light was strange. The ocean and the sky was a strange, muted yellow green. I painted it once true to the photo, but after the online course I took this past winter, photos are just a reference and I have broken free from trying to reproduce them—a very big breakthrough for me.
Some people don’t like people in their art; others love the human, lively element people add to a painting. Which do you prefer?
When my friend invited a group of us to go to the sand dunes, I was thinking hiking the dune and some nature trails by Lake Michigan.
As she parked the car I saw one large dune and a public beach. She unloaded a blanket, towel and beach chair and headed for the beach. I was not prepared. I was not dressed for the beach. I did not bring a blanket, towel or chair. Luckily I had a hat, sunscreen, sketchbook and camera.
It was near the end of summer and I then had shoulder surgery, then it was fall and then the holidays, yada yada yada. I have been wanting to paint this beach scene (and others) since last year.
Finally! This little girl gets to go swimming!
I definitely would frame in a floater frame or edge-to-edge frame so nothing gets covered up.
I was listening to a podcast by the Savvy Painter, Antrese Wood, where she interviews successful artists (http://www.savvypainter.com), and the artist was saying he works on 40 to 50 canvases at a time.
Well my studio isn’t big enough to do that, but I’ve been working on one piece at a time. Working small and in oil, wet on wet, it generally requires finishing a painting in one session.
Lately though, some of the techniques I want to use haven’t been working and it would seem the paint needs to dry before I apply the next layer. So working on more than one piece would be beneficial.
Also, a fellow artist point out to me that if you are having a problem with a painting and getting frustrated, setting it aside and working on another can 1) build your confidence back up, and 2) going back to the first painting later you may see the problem in a new light and it has solved itself.
Indeed it seems to be working. I started this tulip painting, and then started a beach scene. Came back and finished the tulips and started 2 more beach scenes. Solving problems in one saves time with the next and letting areas dry for a certain texture is working well. I like it.