Saturday, November 24, 2012


"Locked" 16"x24" oil on canvas
Finally, first one finished!  This painting took months.  I had about four paintings going in this same vein.  They were all different sizes and formats, but none was going anywhere.

Version 1.   I kept painting, laying down layers.  
This is how it started.  It kept going back and forth, through all different color schemes. 
Then I had a break through on Day of the Dead.   A conversation with friends reminded me of what I wanted to do and to stop doing the same thing over and over.  Duh.

Version 2.  I turned it on its side and added more elements.
It really started to move then.

Version 3.  For some reason, I felt very strongly about the putting blue on the right. 

Version 4.  This one might look the same as the other one, but I lightened things up.

Here it is again.  It is a little tighter than others in the series, but that is my tendency.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

More Pigeon Prep

This is the fourth post in the "Geek Series."  I am indulging my nerdy paint persona.

Flirt is another reworked painting.  I upped the detail on the flirty bird and did my scratchy brush work on the background.  The color is subtle, a warm grey with ultramarine underpainting showing through.

"Flirt" yesterday, with a light gray palette knifed into the ultramarine brush strokes.  

"Flirt" today, with more detail in the flirt.   The darker value in the background helps highlight the bird.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

I Moved Into A New Space

High, high, high wall space
I am in a new space in the same communal studio.  Some of you might recognize that it is Jhina Alvarado's old space.  It is slightly smaller than my old space, but it is closer to the window and it lacks the fuse box and the leak.

It feels very different and though it is smaller I feel less boxed in.  

Tweaking "Flight" and "Angry"

Another day... So, I got into the studio and decided that "Flight" was not finished.  I changed the value of the sky as I planned, but it still was not enough.  I added more detail to the bird.  I think there is some nice luminosity in the up stretched wing now, but I was still not satisfied.

I had some Williamsburg Cadmium Red, another nice paint, out on the palette and again, in an act of desperation,   I put a dot in some turpentine and covered the sky.

Now I admit, I am a color drunk, and that is maybe why I avoided color's siren song for so long.
This wonderful red floats on top of the blue and green and manages to stay separate, giving me a big zing in the heart.  The red is working like a watercolor wash, mixing yet separate.  I Love Good Paint.

Before red

Fini, there is more weight and depth in this tiny painting now. 
Moving on to "Angry. "   I found the value between the bird and the sky was too close. 

So I sanded, with turpentine again and massaged in some white/Naples/Flake with essence of Cerulean and got it to pop a bit more.  Then, again, I reworked the bird.  I lightened the bird and added more detail.

Yesterday's "Angry"

vs today's "Angry"  Background is much glowier and the bird is lifted out of the sky,and less embedded.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Geeking Out On Paint

I am still re-working my stuff.  I moved on to "Break," so called because it is of a bunch of hardworking pigeons on break.

I added more contrast and detail to the birds and moved on to change the background.  I did the same routine as with "Angry."  I sanded, and lightened the background.  However, it needed to be lightened even more.  Thus, with what is becoming a habit, comes yet another desperate act, I put straight Naples Yellow onto the wet blue paint.  Mixing three colors on the canvas is a variation of mixing them on the palette.
This is yesterday's version
Now it was not just any old Naples Yellow,  It is one of my few 20 year old tubes of Old Holland paint, that I just love so much.  I use them sparingly.  It is so comforting to see those old aluminum tubes.  I bought them on sale 20 years ago.  They were around $17 bucks a tube.  They are probably $50-75 now.   They have plain labels.  No need for branding for Old Holland.  I think I have four tubes left. 

So I take a tiny dot the size of the head of a pin on the tip of my brush and drag it through the freshly painted background.  I expect it to blend, half way disappear in to the blue, but it doesn't...  because it is Old Holland.  I love painting wet into wet.  Paint does wonderful things when you let it.  However, painting this way is challenging because either the new color gets swallowed up by the first color and it takes loads of paint to get any effect at all. The usual result is mud.  What else can happen is that the first color is slightly too dry and just gets covered up, like it was never there.
 However, sometimes it works out.  It all depends on the pressure and stiffness of brush, the stage of dryness of the paint that is already down and last and most important... the quality of the paint.

Even so OH is a marvel.  OH didn't just stand up to the blue.  It danced with the blue.  It coursed in grooves of it's own next to the blue or floated on top and made music with the blue.  It was like light in a tube.  That little dot glowed against the blue and went on and on, like it was a Hogwart's magic fountain pen that never ran out of ink.
Okey,  my editor has pointed out, this fountain pen did not exist in "Harry Potter, " anywhere, but it should have. 
"Break"  This is the final version.

In spite of the fact that I loved the Naples Yellow effect, I decided I needed to darken the values on the background, especially on the left where the big bird is. But I didn't want to turn it all dark.   I can still see the effect of that yellow.  Still wet into wet, it is imparting a warmth and a glow to the added gray.  The blue lines in the middle ground are brush scratches that revealed the paint underneath and create a nice texture.  The "sky" is palette knifed.  OH paint and a bunch of the different, fun paint techniques and textures, have left me buzzing.