Friday, January 30, 2009

Charlevoix beach scene II - final pass... starting to see the "light" at the end of the tunnel and it's not a train!

In this final pass, I have attenuated contrasts a bit in favour of a more natural look, and have concentrated textures around the figure and the head, which are key focal points. As a result, the camera is picking up midtones better. This is a 30 X 30 canvas...

The first photo was taken outside under day light (no sun)...

... while the other one is a close up to show textures...

With this painting, I took advantage of a darker reddish underpainting here and there, and purposely made the lower limbs disappear into the background to mimic the intense summer afternoon light.

I seem to have developed just enough skills with acrylics in a little over a year to render "half decently" pretty much anything I want. Can I render what is in my imagination? Can I express speed, power and feelings beyond just the conventional figurative vocabulary. This is my next challenge, which I plan to meet with the Olympic series!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Charlevoix beach scene II - step IV... getting close to the finish line.

Some additional work on shadows and other small details should do it.

I find that my new emphasis on textures has increased my painting time partly because of the longer drying time. Working on more than one painting at a time should alleviate this problem.

With regard to subject matters, last October at my solo exhibition, I expressed the desire to do a series on "the muse in my art", pun intended ("the muse in my heart"). An additional 2-3 paintings should wrap this up. I also plan to initiate my Olympic 100 m series early February.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Charlevoix beach scene II - step III... textures are what the doctor ordered!

This is my second attempt at emphasizing textures while applying paint (I used to do textures and painting separately!)... and I seem to be getting the knack of it. I have never seen contemporary work without bold textures... so I better get used to it! I seem to be going from "image maker" to painter, all of a sudden...

A third pass should do it...
I could have gone more "expressive" with this one... but somehow, as I am painting the "Muse"... I feel compelled to stay in the realm of the figurative!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Charlevoix beach scene II - step II...

This second layer was applied thickly and loosely... and almost transparently in a "grisaille" fashion (I used gel). The result though was not good enough to leave it like that.

Before proceeding to the next level, I need to study flaws and retain/emphasize as many of them as possible in the next step!

I have started buying colors by the jar. The slight variations brought about by using a different brand of my favorite colors threw a monkey wrench in my picture! If I survive, it'll look like a palette change...without a palette change!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Another Charlevoix beach scene... getting a "head" start with difficulty!

After zipping through the first pass, I realized the head was too high and slightly out of proportion with the body. Ironically, it took a minute too correct this on the computer... but the better part of an afternoon to retrofit the head properly on canvas... to the tune of 1000 brush strokes it seemed.

Another humbling experience...

With this one I would like the figure to blend with the background as if capturing a fleeting moment... the kind of effect that could be useful when painting Olympians in motion.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Kauai beach scene - final step... not sure who painted that one!

This painting evolved in a different fashion than I expected. Perhaps, if I always had a clear mental image of my future paintings, I would eventually quit painting. In other words, what's the point if there is no adventure!

A primary objective of this work was to emphasize textures (obtained from a palette knife, dripping, sponges, etc...). That was about the only "loose" aspect about this painting!

For this scene, I involuntarily adopted Lucian Freud's palette and probably developed the lethal look associated with this model (the "modified Muse") using my fertile imagination... or perhaps was I inspired by the too many Conan the Barbarian cartoons I read in my younger age...

Needless to say, the "Muse" pretended she was not amused by this "look", to which I retorted with a resounding: " I only paint what I see".

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Kauai beach scene step III... not without a struggle....

This painting has become an exercise in humility. I fumbled the ball by not mixing enough paint, which led to a prolonged "mix and match" exercise... literally! Acrylics dry darker, hence my difficulty.

This is not over yet. I'll be back!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Kauai beach scene step II... it felt like jumping off a cliff!

It is interesting to find out that just a few changes in technique can put someone totally off balance. In this case, I decided to mix paint with a palette knife instead of using a brush and I used thicker paint than usual for this second application (I used acrylic gel instead of acrylic medium). It was panic city for a while but I realized quickly that I could push paint around easier owing to the slower drying time of the gel. I even instinctively used the palette knife for the trees and background. I stuck to large brushes to avoid details at this stage... except for the Chinese calligraphy on the bathing suit.

After a couple of hours of frantic work (so much for calligraphic brush strokes!), I ran out of gas and left the bag and sandals in the back "one step behind".

Part of my objective with this technical change is to create a richer surface. The other aspect is being able to gain full control of larger surfaces using a bolder approach to paint application (less dependent on glazes).

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Kauai beach scene... still experimenting with the large figure...

Leading towards the 100 m Olympic series, here is another one emphasizing the body. This will be an experiment on the validity of using a fairly rigid first pass as the foundation for a looser final rendering. After all, I need all the help I can get (a safety net that is)!

This is a 30 X 30 canvas... my intent is to finish this painting one calligraphic brush stroke after another!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tampa beach scene finale.... prudence won over boldness!

Overall, this was a good exercise on painting the larger figure (30 inch high, large surface area). I had to gobble up a big piece of "humble pie" with this one! For one thing, I need to mix more paint to exercise better control on fast drying acrylics. Using a retarder may help to push colors around, especially in the final stage of development.

On the question of style, looking at my last three paintings, I've gone from pretty loose to fairly tight in execution... again!

The one on the left, at first glance, looks like organized chaos (or organized emotions in paint to be less harsh on myself) and is, in a way, almost abstract. However, it gains tremendous strength when viewed from a distance and becomes almost photographic.

This is where I am going: a painting saddling abstraction and pure figuration and seemingly put together with a tremendous sense of urgency ... as if my very own life depended on it!

In retrospect, what really made the difference with the painting I just referred to was the security blanket of a stronger underpainting. As a result, much fewer marks were required to complete the painting giving it more freshness in my view.

Another important aspect that I must exploit in future paintings is separating colors as opposed to blending them to death! This second pass from one of my previous paintings exemplifies this:

These are my "notes to self" for today!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tampa beach scene step IV...

After 3.5 hours of painting time, I am fairly satisfied with this first large scale figure painting, although this is not where I want to go in the future... I want much looser!

I need to wait for some daylight tomorrow to balance out colors... here and there, if need be.

Note to self: "There was way too much thinking and hesitation for my liking on this one. I need to prepare my mind for a 6 foot canvas to paint loose on a 3 foot canvas..."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tampa beach scene step III... things are looking up!

I zipped through this third pass in an hour trying to retain as much freshness as possible while remaining in line with a totally figurative painting style.

The last pass should add even more variety to fairly large areas of skin, which still represent for me a challenge...

Note to self: "This is all nice and dandy, but once I get involved in the 100 m Olympic series, I want a quantum leap towards a more contemporary style of painting. Smearing, name it!!!!"

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tampa beach scene step II... not sure where I am going with this one...

Using a bad brush to loosen up, I applied a second layer with no clear idea of where I was going. Like they say in marketing, if you don't know where you're going, you're likely to get there faster!

A stroke of luck for now: the sunshine from my studio window created a value pattern for the background that I did not anticipate. At least, I can follow suit on that... as for the figure, I will pray!

This is a 24 X 30 painting, so I would like like everything to stay loose... and look real detailed from 100 yards!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Charlevoix beach scene finale... stumbling a little towards the finish line!

Additional brush strokes focusing on the upper body corrected, in my view, the dislocated right shoulder, the absence of right triceps & middle back and the unconnected left forearm to the left hand (hip area). A tall order for any orthopedic surgeon but simply part of the vicissitudes of daily life as a "wannabe"artist trying to play God with mixed results!

What the heck... there is always the next painting to do things more elegantly!

Talking about the next painting: somewhat scared by the prospect of starting the 100 m Olympic series... but still wanting to prepare for it, I initiated this other beach scene emphasizing the body...

Holding my breath as usual!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Charlevoix beach scene... close to final pass...

The last pass was a bit more arduous due to the fact that the initial value scheme I had in mind for the composition did not really work: the upper body of the figure was disappearing in the vegetation at step II!

In the end though, this is quite representative of my experience that afternoon at Baie St-Paul (minus a few minor corrections on the figure to be implemented).

Every painting is associated with key learnings. Part of me thinks that I should nail these types of paintings in two steps flat... the idea behind this being to produce more expressive figurative works using intuition and feelings rather than brain and technical know how.

This is a noble objective for year 2009!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Stretching buckled paintings... a case for the incredible shrinking canvas...

Yesterday was an "art supply" day as opposed to a "painting" day. In preparation for my 100 m Olympic series, I bought paint by the jar and five 36 X 36 canvases for starters. I also took the opportunity to buy special pliers along with stretcher bars to stretch one of my paintings done on primed canvas by the roll. Not having secured these canvases properly while painting (I used tape and clips as opposed to staples), I was worried about not being able to get rid of the odd buckle for a drum-like stretch. Fully spraying with water the back of the stretched canvas twice (turning the canvas upside down the second time around) took care of business. I am safe in that department... for now!

Arts and crafts have never been my forte and, more often than not, any manual work makes me realize that my hands are full of thumbs!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Back to business... Charlevoix beach scene, step II...

In this second phase, I tried to establish the mood of the scene quickly without being too concerned about technique. Beyond finishing touches (including that infamous bird I want to put in), I need to tone down the back ground and get highlights taken care of, especially in the face, which does not register for now...

Getting back to the 100 m Olympic series I want to initiate soon, after my experience with the muse (the preceding post: supervising the development of an abstract painting with textures), I am very tempted to use commercially stretched canvases and go the route of "big time" textures right off the bat. Needless to say, using canvas by the roll, as I am doing now, is inconvenient if I want to exploit textures to their fullest...

Sunday, January 4, 2009

From the muse in my art to the art of my muse...

Over the last few days, I had the pleasure of supervising from a distance the production of the first textured acrylic painting from "the Muse" - you guessed it, my life companion and model!

Looks like her background as a dancer was not a handicap here... as there is definitely a rhythm in those lines...

I figure I can always become her artistic manager if my art career doesn't take off!