Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Inspirations, step 14

Final Touches

These last touches include adding the musical notes, painting the feather, rendering the violin strings and lettering the type on the spine of the blue book.

The painting hangs together well with the theme and disparate objects. The risky part was putting in the paint tubes...the rest of the objects in the painting have somewhat of a romantic connotation, but, to me, squeezed paint tubes do not. I was at a loss as to what I could put in the set-up to represent the "artist." The paint brushes work well and are somewhat camouflaged by resting on the piano music. I think the paint tubes are fun and certainly say "oil painter."

It will be a while before I demonstrate another painting on this blog. This painting "Inspirations" will be shown in my one person show at American Painting Fine Art from April 30 to June 11. See the calendar page on my website for details.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Inspirations, step 13

Finishing touches

First I finished the musical notes on the top piece of sheet music, trying not to be too particular...just enough detail to suggest the measures and notes.
When I finished the music, I painted the paint brushes. They add a nice compositional diagonal to keep the painting moving. They also break up the expanse of the white sheet music.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Inspirations, step 12

The paint tubes
After much deliberating and auditioning the third paint tube in gazillion ways, I finally decided on keeping the profile aspect. To add some interest, I removed the cap and squeezed a little paint out of the tube. To say the least, my husband was quite aghast that I would do that, but I think it's pretty neat.

Each tube is by a different label is green, one is blue and the open tube is red. And they were really fun to paint.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Inspirations, step 11

Painting the violin
The rich reds of the violin wood are a pleasure to paint. There is a depth to the color that I can readily achieve with some glazing. I painted the F-hole with one-stroked while I held my breath. I also worked on the bridge and the tailpiece. All in all, the violin is looking pretty good.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Inspirations, step 10

Painting the inkwell, the books, the ribbon and violin

The inkwell has remained a challenge. I inherited my grandmother's brass double inkwell stand, but it is way too big to put in this painting. But it inspired me to incorporate the filigree design on the shape. Rather than make it brass, I made it look like silver with a gold neck. Actually I think it looks OK. I'm really not in the business of designing inkwells, but I do what I have to do.

Continuing on with the details on the books, I suggested the lettering and decoration on the spines. I added the ribbon bookmark which breaks up the awkward rectangular shape of the pages. It also serves as a directional shape, pointing the eye back to the inkwell from the paint tubes.

I am still undecided about what form that third paint tube will take. Painting the the scroll and pegs on the neck of the violin was really fun.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Inspirations, step 9

Finishing the figurine and picture frame

It was time to settle down and finish some of these areas. The figurine, though I thought it was finished, still needs some brightening the the lighter area. The frame needs to be finished. It still needs the detailing and the beading.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Inspirations, step 8

Painting the picture frame and more
When I measured the Degas print, I discovered that it didn't quite fit the frame, so I had to readjust the measurements.

I then repainted the frame...the limited palette worked beautiful for all the subtle colors in the silverish gold frame. I am letting the paint dry before I add the detailed carvings on it.

So, I went on and reestablished the books and worked a little on the violin. I also worked some on the paint tubes and painted the music sheets. It is all starting to come together, slowly but surely.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Inspirations, step 7

Painting Degas's dancers, the picture frame, and the inkwell

As I said earlier, nothing is ever easy. I don't own a quill pen and accompanying inkwell, and when I set out last week to the local antique emporium, I found that it had closed. Probably due to the economic downturn. The next nearest antique store is 25 miles away. So I am going to try to muddle through without the real thing in front of me.

I painted the print of the "Rehearsal" by Degas and painted over the place where the feather is. This way, I will not be constrained by any shape that seems the best for the feather. I roughed in the basic underlying shapes on the picture frame to prepare it for the decorative areas.

I googled quill pens and found a host of feathers and ink wells...I should be able to compile something from all these shapes and textures. Having been inspired, I tried a number of different shapes. I didn't like round because it mimicked the shape on the book beneath. I have settled on a version of the paint cup which I have placed in the set-up. I have elongated it a bit and narrowed the neck, which is a nice shape, for now.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Inspirations, step 6

Painting the Figurine

Using a modified Zorn palette of black, permanent madder deep, yellow ochre and white, I proceeded with the background drapery and the figurine. I substituted the permanent madder deep for the cadmium red light, as I found the latter too warm and too light. I needed the deep rich red of the permanent madder deep. It is truly a beautiful color and an accurate substitution for alizarin crimson. This so far gives me a cooler palette. I think I should be able to warm everything with the yellow ochre, if needed.

Since I'm not a purist here, when I find I need other colors to do the job, then I will use them.

The grays for the figurine were made with the above colors, but it still needs to be warmer. The drawing needs a bit of tweaking too, but not too much. I'm fairly happy with it.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Inspirations, step 5

The underpainting

Using terra rosa and ultramarine blue, I worked first on the drapery. Then the books and the violin. For some subtle color changes, I added yellow ochre and the Torrit Grey.

Some of the drawing is lost because the background color needs to overlap the objects. The ideal procedure is to finish the background first and then do the items on top of it. But it never seems to happen that way because I like to have soft edges between the objects and the background.

Since much of this painting is a warm reddish brown, I may continue the painting using the Zorn palette of black, cadmium red light, yellow ochre and white. I can get such a wide variety of shades, tints and colors with that limited palette for a wonderful harmonious painting. Another advantage to this palette, is that it's so easy to re-mix a color, since there are so few options.

See below for my Zorn palette.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Inspirations, step 4

Redrawing the drawing

Nothing is ever easy. After I had finished the drawing, I got the sneaking feeling that my "table" was sagging. I checked it with a level, and sure enough.

My "table" is rather a Rube Goldberg contraption, because my still life box wasn't deep enough to hold the violin. So I had added a thin board to extend it. Well, it has drooped so that everything is off at the bottom about an inch.

I propped up the "table" with lattice strips, see below:

I redrew almost everything from the little picture and the figurine down. So I wouldn't get confused with which lines were which, I used Torrit Grey (from Gamblin) to cover the old lines. I had toned the linen with the Torrit Grey and so it all matches, sort of.

The painting is a real mess now, with all the wiped out areas and new lines. As I paint, I'll be checking the drawing with extreme care. I'll be able to see the drawing problems as I go is easier when I can see shading and lighter values to make the forms more realistic. The new finished drawing is at the top.

The next step will be to do the value underpainting.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Inspirations, step 3

The painted drawing

The charcoal on this canvas is very heavy because I reworked and reworked the violin, the books, the figurine, and the paint tubes.

Now I must very carefully wipe away all that charcoal as I paint the lines. This is a quick memory exercise...wipe it away and quickly replace the charcoal with paint, as shown above.

For this drawing, I used Indian Red and ultramarine blue. As I work, I dip my brush in some odorless mineral spirits just to thin the paint a bit. Above is the finished drawing in paint.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Inspirations, step 2

The charcoal drawing

In the last blog demo I said the antique glasses were the hardest things I had ever drawn. This violin is a close second! Again, nothing is parallel and the round edges are not circular arcs, but artistic transitions from one shape to another. A real challenge.

I have spent hours on this charcoal drawing, mostly on the violin. I carefully drew the books and the paint tubes. I didn't draw in all the figurine as I will do that more in paint. The same with the small framed print. The important thing is that these items are basically the correct size and in their proper places.

As I paint, I continue to check my drawing. It's not like "OK, the drawing is done and now I'll just fill in with color." The reality is that I am constantly drawing and measuring to make sure everything is just so.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Inspirations, step 1

The sightsize set-up

For a long time I have wanted to do a painting featuring a violin. I have borrowed one for this purpose. While I was at it, I thought a painting celebrating different art forms might be interesting and fun.

I propped up the violin across some antique books and placed a figurine in the background. I didn't want it too prominent because it is white, so I have it mostly in shadow. A small Degas print of his "Rehearsal" is framed and hanging. On the books is an antique inkwell substitute with a feather quill. Actually it is a palette cup for holding turps. Right now the quill is a peacock feather which is all I have. At some point, I'll either get to an antique store or wing it (pardon the pun).

Arranging the paint tubes was a real challenge. At first I didn't even think I wanted them, but so far I like them. Inserting the brushes under the violin was easy. When I paint, I will ignore them, but for now, it reminds of where I'm going. The still life set-up when complete needs to look like it was very casually put together, even thought it might have taken hours and is very contrived.

For instance, my figurine wasn't tall enough to suit me, so I have it propped up on a bunch of old casette tapes.

Below is my sight-size layout with my easel exactly next to my setup. I stand back from them about eight feet, from where I can see them both at the same time. The idea is that the drawing matches the set-up. It is easy to draw this way because the measuring is one on one.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Quiet Pleasures, last step

The final painting

I won't tell you how many times I drew and redrew the glasses. I lost track. They are the most difficult things I have ever drawn in my life. The lens are not oval, nor are they parallel with each other. Each one is decidedly different.

As I was redrawing the glasses I discovered that the book wasn't right. So I had to redraw and repaint it as well. Nothing is ever easy! But it's done and I am happy with the painting. I think it is elegant and classy.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Quiet Pleasures, step 9

Finishing the painting, step 5

Finally I was able to add some of the interesting details and finishing touches. It was imperative to finish the open book before I laid the glasses on top of it.

Across the pages, I suggested the type, carefully lining up the lines and indicating paragraphs in perspective. I added type to the wine labels, and painted the defining shapes of the cut crystal on the side of the wine glass.

I worked more on the cloth, on the shadow color and defined the cutwork more.

I'm ready for the glasses now.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Quiet Pleasures, step 8

Finishing the painting, step 4

After much deliberating, I finally settled on this cloth which has just a little detail. The problem was that the other cloth was in the setup. So I had to VERY CAREFULLY fold back the original cloth and add this one on top of it. Before I moved anything, I marked with masking tape where the open book was and drew a circle with pencil on the cloth at the base of the wine glass.

The detail adds enough interest to the cloth to keep it from being boring. When I was finished with the cloth, I removed it and replaced the book and the wine glass according to my markings.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Quiet Pleasures, step 7

Finishing the painting, step 3

To the book spines, I added more highlights and a shiny white area to show the reflectiveness of the smooth leather.

The wine glass was a bit askew, so I spent some time redrawing it. It really does have to be perfect. I added color to the wine, and a few highlights to the back part of the glass to give it shape and dimension. I'll wait until the wine is dry before adding the details of the cut crystal.

Back to the cloth, I wiped out the suggested hem that was there in the previous step. I'm still not sure what I'm going to do but I have spent lots of hours in my house looking for suitable cloths.

I began developing the's a design from a piece of furniture in my house. I like the hinge on the cabinet's a nice lead in to the picture.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Quiet Pleasures, step 6

Finishing the paintings, step 2

To the sides of the pages of the open book, I added some color. These color edges are important as they introduce some color into the middle of the painting. I'm not finished with that part, they still need to be defined more carefully. Constantly, I have to keep in mind that on top of the book are the antique reading glasses. Though they aren't in a color, they will still add a lot of interest.

Then I tackled the cloth. I'm not really happy with's kind of uninteresting. I need something there that's somewhat classy, but at the same time, not fussy or screaming for attention. I'll have to think about it.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Quiet Pleasures, step 5

Finishing the painting, step 1

Working dark to light, I went over the background again, then onto the wine bottle. With thalo green and quinacridone red, I refined the bottle and added some reflections and highlights. Then I straightened the shape of the label and shaped the cork and red wrapper and added some highlights.

Moving onto the books, I first tightened up the drawing, especially the top areas where you can see just a smidge of the pages. The perspective must be correct. When repainting this area, I redefined the edges of the leather covers showing how the light hits just a few spots. Then I painted a base color on the dark side of the right-hand book, and with a rigger-like brush, I quickly danced the soft bristles over the area to come up with an arbitrary pattern reminiscent of the pattern on the original book.

Still working on the books, I did more detail on both spines, paying particular attention to the areas where the leather binding was torn and ratty. I really love painting details like's fun to get the torn edges and textures just right.

Unfortunately, I seem unable to figure out exactly how everything is going to turn out before I start painting a still life. I spend a lot of time on a set-up, but it never seems to be the absolute final design. I'll keep tweaking it, rearranging one thing or another. That's the point where I say I let the painting tell me what it needs. It is advantageous to put the painting out of sight for a few days and then look at it again. Often little things that didn't bother me before now scream at me!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Quiet Pleasures, step 4

The color underpainting

I spent a number of hours going over the entire underpainting with color. It is quite dark since I work from dark to light as the painting progresses.

There are several places where I lost the drawing, but since it is set up in my studio, I can redraw it easily. The wine bottle is a bit askew as is the wine glass.

I used burnt sienna and ultramarine blue for the background color as well as in the leather on the books. I made grays for the cloth with those same helps keep a good color harmony.

This is an important stage of the painting, where I can get an idea of color and values. But at least I can see where I am going. Going back to the set-up, I was concerned about getting enough color, particularly red, into the painting. Using the book with the decorated sides helps a lot.

I also have to remember that the lettering on the open book and the eye glasses will
fill some space.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Quiet Pleasures, step 3

The underpainting

After I finished the drawing, I began the background using burnt sienna and ultramarine blue with a #6 filbert bristle brush. When done, I used a blending brush as demonstrated to smooth the surface.

Continuing on with the burnt sienna/ultramarine blue/liquin mixture, I proceeded to finish the dark and medium tones. I left the light areas on the book and cloth bare.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Quiet Pleasures, step 2

Drawing with paint

Next, I have to replace the charcoal lines with paint lines. I don't want to mix the charcoal with the paint, so I very carefully wipe away a small segment of charcoal and quickly replace the line with paint. For this drawing, I am using a number 2 Monarch brush with burnt sienna and a little Liquin.

My rag is a piece of an old cotton knit shirt. I prefer the cotton fabric to paper towels as it is much more absorbent and I can use one rag for hours. It's easier on the trees too.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Quiet Pleasures, step 1

The sight-size setup and charcoal drawing

I placed my easel next to the set-up so that I can stand back about 8 feet while I am observing the set-up. Remembering what I saw, I then walk up to the easel and make my lines. In this way, I will draw accurately, always comparing the two. This is such an easy way to draw. The drawing needs to be identical to the set-up when I am finished.

Using soft vine charcoal, first I drew a line one quarter of an inch all the way around the edge of the canvas which indicates what the frame will cover. This will help keep the drawing from getting too close to the edge.

Then I lightly draw on the toned linen canvas measuring very carefully. For the purpose of simplifying the drawing, I have removed the red ribbon bookmark and the glasses and ignored the clothespin.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Quiet Pleasures

The set-up

For my one-person show in April, I will have many new landscape and still life paintings. Recently I finished a number of landscapes, but couldn't get focused on demonstrating one of them in this blog.

Now I have begun this still life painting, having acquired the antique books and glasses some months ago and am eager to paint them. A collection of wine bottles with interesting colors and labels is filling my shelves. Since I didn't have any wine bottle decanted, I filled the goblet with water and food coloring: a combination of blue and red. It looks convincing.

The open book didn't want to do exactly what I wanted, so temporarily it is held open with a clothespin. I love these low-tech fixes.

The red ribbon bookmark is a big question, as it doesn't make a lot of sense. However, I think there needs to be more color in the center of the painting. It would be nice if these antique books had color plates, but alas, color printing was in its infancy when these books were printed.