Saturday, July 14, 2018

Dreaming of bread...

I have spent most waking hours of several days working on the figurative piece shown as a line drawing in my last post. I had, what I thought was a good idea: to paint an acrylic underpainting and then work in oil on top but I have run into a big problem (besides my negative attitude about acrylic).

The reference photo is my sister and her great grandson. The likeness of my sister looks GREAT. Her grandson does not. I am determined to get his little face right but it is taking many days of starting over and over...and over.

I am more challenged than I have been in a long time. It is exhausting. You may remember one of my posts that included a recipe for overnight Artisan bread. I mentioned eating the whole loaf if your painting wasn't going well. I love bread. It is one of my comfort foods. Last night I dreamed of carrying a huge stack of warm bread, taller than I am,  and eating those that touched my mouth. Very delicious and comforting.

I figure these are my options: 
1. Stop and declare defeat (that's not going to happen).
2. Blame it on acrylic (I might do that but I'm not there yet).
3. Put the grandchild to sleep as I did in the last photo so I don't have to deal with his eye and what he is thinking. (Hmmm...)

The story of this painting hasn't been painted yet. It is about the plate of food on the table. My sister was in mid-bite (food on fork on the plate) when apparently it became necessary to pick up and hold her great grandson. Aha! I just had an idea. I will call my sister and ask what was was going on. 
....One hour later....she says she always stops mid-bite if something comes up that she would rather be doing. She remembers the child walking over to her so she picked him up. Back to it...

...Five hours later...
I think I can sleep tonight without dreaming of bread. I have been painting with my most student-grade acrylics. I got so desperate that I brought out my professional acrylics and gave the medium some respect. So, basically, I changed my attitude yet again. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

Am I living the art-life I intended?

Coming full circle back to figurative work? I'm thinking about this.

I just posted a lot of words on my Golden Years Blog about living the life I intended. Click here if you want to read them.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Back in the Studio today

Ah....s u m m e r!
My main focus has been the gardens and I am starting to miss my Studio time. Yesterday, for a  short time I put on my favorite painting apron and varnished a couple oil paintings. I am pondering a new painting series (that is why I have been awake since 3 AM today) and hope to get started soon. I hope you are having a relaxing summer.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Sunday Miracle completed

ACRYLIC! On the 11th of June I posted the beginning of this painting. Since then I switched out the round vase for a square one and worked on the background. I tried to leave the flowers alone but admit to tweaking them a little. Every year I experiment with acrylic and give myself yet another attitude adjustment. Hmmm... I'm pleasantly surprised this year.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

30% off all my paintings on Etsy

Hi Everyone,

I almost forgot to post about this! I'm participating in the Etsy Anniversary Sale. All work in my Etsy Shop, BBNewtonArt is 30% off through June 22nd. Take a look!

Monday, June 11, 2018

Sunday Miracle

I feel obligated to paint my beautiful peonies that are now in bloom so I arranged a bouquet, pulled out a Venetian Red gessoed cradled panel and I began, thinking I would use acrylic for the underpainting as I have done in the past with pastel and with oil. I began with my usual negative attitude about acrylic. I am a fan of nuance and acrylic is not an easy fit for nuance.

Grumble grumble about how BLATANT acrylic is - completely lacking in subtlety.

But, I just kept piling the paint on and fortunately made some appropriate choices about color, value and temperature that actually created SUBTLETY! In this step I added the darker value on the left.

I honestly did not know I could achieve this look with acrylic because the vast majority of work I see in acrylic is a perfect fit for the medium. It is bold and punchy and primary. That was the artist's intent for their art and the medium suited the intent. 

So why do I keep trying to use an unsubtle medium for nuanced work? 

Because I have a large collection of acrylic paint and because I don't have to frame acrylics under glass! For those reasons, I have tried every year to bond (no pun intended) with the medium. This year I am more hopeful than ever before that I can adjust my attitude about this medium to appreciate it's attributes.

Here are some examples of how I have used acrylic in the past. 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Bowl of Beauty Oh Oh

About a week ago I completed a 40 minutes oil block-in with a #14 Short Flat of my next painting. I was happy because I had manages to keep it loose and simple.

The next morning I was excited to start painting on it again. I put my apron and gloves on, refreshed my palette and began. Then I started getting confused. The set-up didn't look the same. It took me a little while to figure out what was wrong. The bud in the front of the bouquet had bloomed! What I learned: Try to paint cut peonies alla prima!

Bowl of Beauty, oil, 14x11 inches ©2018

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Percy Wiseman

I can't paint another minute on this rhododendron. Percy Wiseman, oil, 24x24 inches.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

cozy, shattered and blue

I've been absent from all my usual online sites for the last week due to gardening.
My studio garden is starting to look good but today is a rainy, cozy day so I am spending it in the Studio. I hope tomorrow will be dry for the planned plein air group here.

A week ago I posted the bouquet of Jay's Auntie Laura's red peonies that I hope to paint soon. I mentioned that they shatter quickly after being cut. Yep. Shattered.

Today I was able to get back to my Percy Wiseman bouquet to work on the blue background. You will notice that the bouquet is long gone but I have enough reference photos to finish.

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Studio Garden

Today is our Fourth Anniversary at Mill Pond Cottage and the Studio Garden is improving each year.
Absent from the garden photo is my early blooming red peony. I cut the blooms this morning because this one shatters in just a few days and it is 83 degrees today. I hope I can get a start on painting it before Auntie Pauline's peonies bloom - that is the white one you have seen in my previous paintings.

I have painted this red one several times over the years. Most memorable is a 15 x 11 inch colored pencil drawing in 1998  called "Turning Point" that was purchased by the University of Washington. Wow! that was 20 years ago. I've had this peony plant a long time.

Auntie Laura's Red Magic Peony - my next painting.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Advice to myself

Advice to myself that finally got me to about 80% complete on Percy Wiseman Rhododendrons, oil, 24 x 24 inches.

I’ve been an art instructor for more than 25 years and feel I give students excellent feedback on their work and possible changes for a successful outcome. 

When I get stuck I talk to myself as if I am my student. I am kind but I cut to the chase. For this painting, the conversation went like this: Hmmmm….  ( I like to start with hmmm as if I have been thinking long and hard about the problem and have just discovered it, so it doesn’t appear to be obvious which in this case it was but I was in denial). 

This painting started out as daffodils in one of my favorite vases. I set up the still life and took reference photos from slightly above the set up. After a couple days of blocking in I realized I had not corrected for the photo distortion even though I still had the real set up in front of me. Then I got busy and the flowers wilted and dried and I threw them out. Without the actual flowers I lost interest in correcting the composition so I began painting over that painting which was liberating and I posted an image on FB. After that post and before I went to bed, I took a big brush and painted over the flowers to create bigger shapes. Advice: I know you’re (I’m) excited to paint this but remember we first need big shapes that deal with value only. It was improved enough that I could fall asleep. But, in the middle of the night I realized the real problem.

Advice: I know you (I) really want to paint all the fun reflections in that vase but I think it is wrong for this painting for a couple reasons – the format is square and this vase and it’s delicate lines would work better in a vertical format unless you are willing to add enough supporting objects around it to support it as visual weight. Also, though these big fluffy flowers fit in the vase they can’t help but make it top-heavy which brings us back to supporting objects. Do you want supporting objects? No. So, lose the vase. 

Now, once I change out the vase, the flowers are in a different position so I have to start all over again. Set it up, light it, take a color and gray photo and begin again. I already have lots of oil paint on my panel so I gave myself the advice to scrape most of the paint off panel. Now, begin again and this time I (instructor speaking) would work from the gray scale photo only. Look at the real-life set up for composition and placement but when applying value, look only at the gray scale photo. Paint value and shape. Do not paint color yet and do not say the word rhododendron. Say this shape, this light, this shadow, this play against that. Use a reducing glass if you get lost. Pay close attention to the values and shapes and do not fake them. You will be glad later that you were accurate at this point. There will be time for “artistic license” later. Also, go slow. Blah, blah, blah. 

Take a progress photo. Walk away. Eat pasta. Go do something else for a balanced life.   

Thursday, May 10, 2018

When you lose interest in your subject...

...paint over it to begin again.

In my post of April 30th, I was excited to paint daffodils. Then, I got busy with other things and the daffodils wilted and dried in the vase. Finally, I turned the panel to the wall so I wouldn't have to deal with it. Today, our beautiful rhododendron, Percy Wiseman, is in bloom. I'm painting over those daffodils.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Day Two Pastel Demo

Demo today at the Black Diamond Arts Alliance 2018 Open Art Exhibit. "Begonias Again," pastel, 8 x 10 inches. Here are a couple of the steps. Ground is Canson Mi-Teintes TOUCH. Color of the paper is dark green.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Today's pastel demo

Demo today at the Black Diamond Arts Alliance 2018 Open Art Exhibit. "Saturday Bouquet," pastel, 10 x 8 inches. Here are a few of the steps. Ground is Canson Mi-Teintes TOUCH. You can see the color of the paper in the steps below.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Block-in for doubled daffs

These doubled daffodils popped up in one of my pots. They are unlike any daffs I've had before so I cut them and took some still life reference photos. This is one of the compositions. I thought I would get around to painting them before they wilted and shriveled but I didn't get around to it. So, I'm going to have to paint from the reference photo.

Here's my block-in from yesterday. I took into consideration the photo distortion of the bowl so made that correction but I left the Studio last night knowing there were more adjustments to be made.

 So, today I "painted" with the Photoshop Elements clone stamp to correct somewhat for the distortion of the flowers being so big because I was shooting from above them. Another proportion change is adding to the heft of the vase. I still like the flowers leaving the picture at the top. Took the lime out of the bowl and set it beside...and on and on. Just discovered something else: If you paint with small brushes you will get a labored, detailed look. For that juicy-oil, painting-with-abandon look, paint in Photoshop with a large size clone tool. I love the look of these strokes in the photo made with the clone tool.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Color Bar and Words of Love

Words of Love, oil, 24 x 24 inches
©2018 Barbara Benedetti Newton
If you follow me on FB or Instagram you have seen my weeks-long adventure painting S L O W L Y as I posted the painting in progress. Today I am done (simply because I cannot stand to paint on it another minute). After completing a painting, the first thing I do is take a photo of it with a Kodak Color Control Patch included in the photo. This helps me correct the color on my iMac display.

I tape the color bar to the side of the painting so it shows in the photo, take the painting outside to a shaded area and take a photo with my iPhone. Back indoors, I bring the image up on my iMac and enlarge it to the point that the color bar looks the same size as the actual one in my hand and I compare the colors. In Photoshop Elements I adjust each color separately as needed. In this case, the yellow on the screen needed more warmth to match the color bar in my hand. The green needed to be darker, the cyan needed more green and darker and the blue needed to be warmer (more purple) and a little lighter. After those adjustments I saved the jpg and noted it as "Color Corrected."

Next, I compared the color corrected version to the original photo. In this case they are very close but I decided to use the color corrected one.
Color corrected photo is on the right.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Neutral palette, detail of painting in progress

For years I have been trying to appreciate the patina on my oil palette but finally decided it just confuses me so a few nights ago, before leaving the studio, I painted my palette gray with acrylic paint. In the morning, voila! a nice neutral surface to mix color upon.

Last week I delivered four flower paintings to Attic Gallery, Camas, WA for their invitational flower show. Now I'm working on a 24 x 24 inch floral still life on wood panel. Love this surface. Trying to paint slowly with thoughtful values, marks and colors. It amuses me that I began making fine art with colored pencil - a super slow medium the way I wanted it to look. Then pastel...very fast! Now working in oil but trying to  s l o w  d o w n.

Here's the painting-in-progress and a detail shot. I got tired of painting flowers so I moved on to the blue glassy baby. I received my training in making something look like glass when I illustrated perfume bottles for a major Seattle department store in the mid 1960's. Very fun. This time it is a blue glassy baby. Back to the flowers tomorrow...or maybe the cherrywood fireplace mantle.