Thursday, April 30, 2009

Samana beach two - step IV... thinly applying thick paint!

The greater part of this week has been spent getting the garden ready for the summer... sort of another creative endeavour!

For this fourth 30 minute painting session, not being familiar with impasto gel, I opted for the "prudent" approach... slowly getting a feel for it as an add-on to color mixtures.

I built contrasts and textures step by step... trying the best I could to smooth out transitions between the various color strata (water area) and to create a certain overall movement... which I haven't found yet! The front part will get much paler to create the impression of a highly reflective surface...

So far, I like the new consistency that the gel imparts to the paint...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Samana beach two - step III... getting ready for the final sprint!

Another quick run brought me closer to where I want to be for some serious work... in other words, this scene is starting to get real for me. The girl is likely to gain a few pounds though!

I bought a jar of heavy impasto gel this morning... in a moment of sheer euphoria... so it will be interesting to experience with that in the final stage of execution for this painting. My approach to textures has been pretty tamed so far... this is sort of a last frontier for me. Hopefully, I won't end up being stuck in a thick mess!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Samana beach two - step II... smearing the canvas in a hurry for this second layer...

Having little time at my disposal today, I block the white of the canvas haphazardly in the hope of seeing the light... on a rather large surface that threatens to be boring as hell.

After this uncontrolled creative frenzy that would make a 2 year old proud, I'm still in the game... I think.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Samana beach two - step I... couldn't resist painting those kids!

When I saw those kids playing in the shallow waters and the incredible colors and reflections... I knew I had to try to paint them... the ballerina style of the young girl caught my attention...

As usual, I'm a little apprehensive about my ability to capture this moment of beauty... I can't seem to shake out the beginner in me!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Samana beach painting one - final step... another one joins the "muse en or" collection!

I finished this one with relative ease in the spirit of "mind like water"...

... may as well keep plugging away with some more Samana beach scenes... in an attempt to capitalize on that momentum while it last!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Samana beach painting one - step IV... squeezing in a few brush strokes in-between chores...

A busy schedule today (paying income tax, birthday gift to my nephew, etc...) only allowed me half an hour to advance this painting. I dedicated this time to the key figure...

My brushes are getting all worn out (I use beveled brushes 1/2 an inch and over)... so I need to correct the left upper arm; the hairline needs some smoothing out as well. Water highlights will be next on the agenda tomorrow since the figure is now one step ahead...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Samana beach painting one - step III... up to my eyeballs in water and trying to resurface!

This third pass zeroed in on the water. Thinking Chinese black ink, I tried to respect the best I could the laws that govern water, making my brush behave like water... becoming one with the water. When I finally backed off, to my surprise, I got a flashback of that glorious day... however, I still have some work to do...

The completion of that third pass led to further advances with the main figure. By the look of things, surgical brush strokes and ensuring an even surface quality throughout (an unfinished look throughout!) should do it...

I seem to be back to my usual speed of execution... perhaps because I know the subject matter a little better.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Samana beach painting one - step II... roughing it out timidly at first... but unexpectedly on a crescendo note after the second pass!

In preparation for this afternoon, I used 30 minutes or so to establish a rough color scheme, actually rather timidly testing colors along the way. Funnily enough, each time I start a new painting, it feels like I've never painted before... as a result, achieving beginner's mind is always easy!

With this foundation in place, it's time to get bolder!

For some reason, this quick second run was done on an impressionist mode... perhaps because my head is still down south. I think I will hit the gym now (Tuesday is my training day) before a third pass... letting it simmer in my mind for a while...

I get scared when things progress too quickly (a joke of course)! This is a 24 X 30 canvas...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Samana beach painting one - step I... back to the beach!

The water in the Samana peninsula was so amazing color wise that I felt compelled to take many pictures of its beautiful abstract patterns. I hope I can render these half decently here...

I saw potential in this rather simple scene featuring a school of tiger fish (my own appellation for black stripe fish) and the muse sporting a swim suit with rather similar patterns... The fin like tuba is meant to add some drama... wonder what type of fish the guy is after!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mid race II - final step... managed to dial down the background by hook or crook!

In the end, I decided to sacrifice constrast in favour of a stuffy stadium atmosphere. My approach for the background could have been more streamlined so freshness was lost relative to my usual process...

I keep telling myself that inside the comfort zone, there is no growth. I keep pushing the envelope and this painting was another attempt to do just that.

It's time to get back to the beach series... to take a rest... the hell with growth... I want to have fun... life's a beach!

Note to self: "I realize that it is easier and more effective to express in paint a scene that one has witnessed, observed, sketched or photographed as opposed to build from scratch a scene from other source materials such as video stills and images. The latter requires a lot of experience to make things look real. The 100 m series, despite being a good experience for me, suffers from my not having been there! "

Friday, April 17, 2009

Mid race II - 4th wave... still connecting the dots but trying hard to avoid ending up with one big central dot!

With this 4th wave, I am trying to attenuate the background without losing the perception of details... sort of a "go but don't go to far" kind of approach. Dark verticals would help as well. If I go too far, I can always hang this painting upside down!

A last pass, short of stepping on it with dirty feet, got me closer to where I wanted to be with this painting...

A few surgical brush strokes should do it by tomorrow... for a while I was not sure if I was coming or going!

This series is for me very experimental... to say the least. Yet, I'm getting closer to my objective, i.e., creating a mess that reads like perfect figuration at 100 yards!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mid race II - 3rd wave... slowly connecting the dots!

With this 3rd wave, I'm slowly progressing towards maximum contrast, having slowed down to the pace of a turtle after the previous frenzy!

Another three 30 minute sprees, holding my breath, gave me this:

I need to stop since I'm getting blue in the face! I'm going for a finished product that looks unfinished... however, the middle background still needs to be resolved... need to think...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mid race II - 2nd pass... progressing outside the beaten path!

For this second pass, I kept the same frantic pace as before spreading colors like it was going out of style!

In the next phase, I will connect fragments to produce larger color masses and go for maximum highlights confounding both foreground and background elements in an attempt to give an even abstract quality to the whole picture plane. I'm treading unknown waters... let's hope I don't drown!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mid race II - first pass... second attempt at "clearly" expressing the "not defined and blurry"!

The experience of the previous painting is prompting me to further explore "blurriness", the "fuzzing up" of details... but, this time around, as an avenue to express movement.

As usual, my first pass was ultra conservative... being reluctant to kiss good bye to pure figuration!

However, I totally let go this afternoon still imbued with the spirit of the Caribbeans... going berserk on canvas for the first time... with no restraints... as if wanting to part dramatically from the tradition that I have established so far...

Now, if I can show some restraint in the final phase, this painting is likely to give me the "warm fuzzies"...

This is a 30 X 30 canvas...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Back from Dominican Republic.. fumbled the ball with watercolor pencils but was partially saved by an old Pelican watercolor set!

We were quite impressed by the Dominican Republic. The island offers great Latino style hospitality and packs the greatest number of coconut palm trees per square foot in the Caribbeans. The Las Terrenas area in the Samana peninsula deploys more than 20 km of wide open natural beaches protected by a barrier reef and mangrove in certain areas.

For sketching purposes, I wanted to use a new watercolor pencil set for the first time but realized it's a skill set in itself! Fortunately, I had an old Pelican watercolor set dating back 40 years and a block of Arches paper.

After a 4-5 year hiatus from watercolors... I'm a bit rusty!

I haven't used Arches paper for a while in my travels... but realized how much I miss it. Looks like this could be the beginning of a comeback to watercolors after an apprenticeship with Chinese black ink painting.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Before the race One - final step.... towards perfect imperfection!

I left this painting relatively unfinished based on my usual standards... as an exercise in restraint! The toughest part is not painting but to bend my rigid mind!

To my surprise, the scene remains fairly believable... although this is far from a master piece.

Now, it's time to pack my bag for the Caribbeans. I'll be back!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Before the race one - step III... getting there!

An hour this morning allowed me to bring this picture closer to a finish. I am gradually working the foreground... with some hesitancy... because I don't want it to come forward too much. I want everything to be like a blur in the back...

This afternoon, I awkwardly scumbled my way to more or less of an acceptable basic design for the foreground... so I reserve a few surgical brushstrokes tomorrow to add "make believe" freshness to that area. I don't want the guy on the right to be a strong focal point... he needs to blend with the rest of the reddish foreground area...

Interestingly, with the figure above, I managed to go from a Caucasian look I didn't want at the start (I seem to be programmed that way!) to an African American look at the end fairly easily. With the previous painting, the runner I eliminated went from African American to Indian from India despite all my efforts to keep his initial look intact! A runner from India would have been more plausible in a marathon. The conclusion to this is that I hate working in details on a half inch head, it makes me lose mine... and of course I need to develop my power of observation!

Note to self: "It seems to me that over the last year and a half or so, I've been doing more illustration work than real art. My intuitive need to develop and test my acrylic techniques and color palette, and push my limits in pure figuration led to that. It's not where I want to go ultimately, and very soon this will be a dead end avenue for me. I need to develop a very personal artistic point of view, which may be as important if not more important than technique... if I'm gonna go anywhere in art in the next 5 years. I've been toying with the concept of "larger works which are abstract in a close-up and figurative from a distance"... but even my most recent works don't fully reflect this philosophy at this stage. Another concept, which I implemented somewhat, is the "over exposed figure with strong patterns of light and dark". The first one is more conducive to the exploration of colors, the second more conducive to experimenting with composition and the use of black, an interest of mine. One thing is for sure: I would like to be different... but I can't push it!"