Sunday, May 31, 2009

Racing start IV - close to final step... I've met my match with this one!

Alla prima painting with thick paint and a palette knife is difficult for me... but it's something that I need to explore for my personal growth... although I feel it's not gonna be my ultimate style... I like the tactile aspect of the brush!

I will give it another pass before calling it quit! My challenge is to make large uninteresting surfaces... interesting! The guy in the back became a goner in a split second just before taking the picture! Some more adjustments in the color scheme are called for... got to get rid of that "outlined figure" look and warm up the whole color scheme, especially the glacial background!

In the end, the struggle may give this painting an unanticipated character (I'm an optimist)!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Racing start III - step III... there was more paint on my hands than on canvas!

After a few "false starts" (the previous runner looked boxed in!), having nothing to lose, I went at it with really thick paint generating a fair amount of textures on this 3rd pass.

A second runner was left totally obliterated (I can handle that!)... merely a default maneuver to create the illusion of a race! It's time to go for refinements in both color and movement... right now everything is disjointed, not believable...

Note to self: "I can see two styles emanating from my previous experiments, the thin style using the brush and the thick style using the painting knife... I don't want to choose... I want to do both!"

Friday, May 29, 2009

Racing start III - step II... time for big decisions... it's not the first time that I lose a runner!

In choosing a color scheme, I decided to go for a red dominance and complementary blues. As for the composition, I felt an urgent need to stamp out the guy in the back... his lines not being as "streamlined" as those from the runner in the foreground. Iwas afraid the final composition in color would look awkward...

This mucking around is outside my usual process... it will be interesting to see if I can pull this one off! For one thing, I need to improve the runner's proportions by raising his lower body one floor up! I'm not ready to throw the towel yet...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Racing start III- step I... jumping off a cliff without a "chute"... I hope there is a canopy of trees!

I've been fascinated by the intricate network of diagonals from this composition for a while... the only problem is that the reference TV screen shot is extremely poor. I decided to take the plunge anyway using photos of myself to correct anatomical flaws derived from missing information...

With such poor information, there is an opportunity to go the "expressionist route" wholeheartedly!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

End of race two - step V... another one bites the dust... but I'm a bit stiff with stiff paint!

I managed to pull this one off through some improvisation along the way...

I realized I need to get myself some stiff brushes to spread stiff paint around... at least at the early stage. Right now I favour cheap beveled nylon watercolor brushes. Although the surface is not as textured throughout as I anticipated, it does have that beaten look, which I like! I need to get used to applying thick paint and letting it sit there untouched...

One thing I realized is that there is an advantage in using gloss acrylic gel for brighter colors. Matte gel whitens colors a little. In the end, I can always go for a satin (waxy) finish as usual.

In retrospect, there was nothing wrong in dealing with textures separately from the painting process: I won an honorable mention with such a painting. I'm basically making an attempt to do both at the same time, as most conventional painters do! As usual, my focus on results will lead me to use all methods concurrently... sort of my "anything goes if results are there" kind of philosophy!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

End of race two - step IV... walking the tight rope!

I gave it a go this morning to follow up on my previous move on the background color... and decided to tip the scale towards blue to counter the sienna. I also timidly experimented with accents of lime green and purple to see what effect that would have... I feel like I'm walking on a tight rope!

Now, I need to address the figure to stamp out that "cut out" look... that general feeling that the runner doesn't yet belong to his environment! For that, I cooled down the whole color scheme to reduce the sienna, and darkened the background...

I think I'm in business... I've got the look I'm after... that of a 200 pound gorilla that commands respect! One more pass with restraint should do it... to get rid of the patchy look. At some point in time, I was not sure if I was coming or going... but with fast painting, there is no time to worry, one action leading to another...

Monday, May 25, 2009

End of race two - step III... still using thick paint, which is way outside my usual path!

Following my plan, I started with thicker paint than usual with the hope of building more textures before going for refinements. I'm not sure where this will lead me! I'm used to build things more gradually. I worry when I don't see the grain of the canvas!

After washing and cleaning up the car in an attempt to score brownie points with the muse while she is at work (and while I maintain an artistic life style at home!)... I looked at my Munsell color scale and slapped a couple of blues on the background before calling it a day... the anemic background was driving me nuts! It will still require some work but at least the figure is coming out in a bold fashion...

Now I'm ready for some serious work. I hope that this one, which started like a lion... will not finish like a mouse!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Honorable mention at a 2009 Montreal art contest... I got lucky!

In mid May, I participated at the yearly Pierrefonds -Roxboro art contest for the second time... and was lucky enough to make the top three in the amateur category... winning an "honorable mention" in the process. This contest is opened to all artists from the Montreal area including adjacent municipalities.

The painting I submitted was "totally me" but it broke many academic rules... so I was not counting on showing up on the podium so to speak! Credentials from jury members included Master Degrees in art history and fine arts, and past or present association with contemporary art galleries or the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts...

A special thanks to the cultural center in Pierrefonds and all the artists and non artists who support me (not withstanding my artistic muse!) in my efforts to become an artist one day. Its much appreciated... I'm forever indebted!

Friday, May 22, 2009

End of race two - step II... blocked with thick paint but not the least decorative!

For this second pass, I went at it as if I were the runner myself. At the end, I had to catch my breath!

Now, if I can only refine it... without refining it!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Parasurfing in Samana - final step... no textures to write home about!

Although I'm somewhat satisfied with this one... it fell short on textural effects... partly because I was afraid of losing the nuances I had built at the early stage.

The next time around, I'll commit to textures earlier and work on nuances later!

While I'm at it, here is my next painting for the 100 m series...

I would like this one to be much more expressive through the use of colors and textures. We'll see if I can put my money where my mouth is this time around!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Parasurfing in Samana - step IV... managed another pass in a hurry!

I tackled the edge surrounding our lot today... and had my work cut out!

Luckily, I mustered enough energy to do another pass, knowing it would not be the final one. I decided to make the guy bulkier so that there is no misconception about his gender!

The next pass should do it... especially obliterating the reddish coral reef with more green waves as I did before...

Note to self: "My current process is not conducive to building thick textures while keeping full control, especially during the final passes. If I don't like what I see with any given layer, I tend to smooth things out, thus losing significant textural effects in the process! With future paintings, I intend to go thin over thick, trying to short circuit the process. In other words, I will build textures with thick paint at the early stage and refine with semi transparent layers as a second step".

Note: In the past, I built textures after the first layer of paint with pure acrylic gel before applying subsequent layers. My process change stems from my recent use of impasto acrylic gel in my paint mixtures as opposed to regular acrylic gel. I want great textures without losing subtle color nuances from my previous technique and without using barrels of paint!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Painting kids... before it's too late... before they grow up!

Having our two grand children last night (a bonus, the girl is just a little over one year of age) made me think that I should try to capture the duo in paint while they are still in their childhood! This photo I took triggered something in me...

I already had a number of attempts at sketching and painting the eldest (now 4 years old)... here are just a few...

... the sketch on the right was done on the spur of the moment in a few minutes... sort of out of an urgent need to capture the moment...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Parasurfing in Samana - step III... no quantum leap yet... no pun intended!

Still some work to do outside and cement repairs are the order of the day... notwithstanding that after a windstorm yesterday, the garden is in a state of "post hurricane Mitch" it seems...

I did take the time for another layer, cutting off part of the guy's left leg in the process... but with rather timid results when it came to the application of thick paint...

... 10 more timid layers should do it!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Parasurfing in Samana - step II... giving the guy some wings!

I've been doing some heavy duty work in the garden lately... and have found out all of a sudden that I have tendons! When I decided to face the canvas with my aching body... I was not in the mood to pussy foot around...

... after a short struggle with cloud formations... I ended up giving this guy some wings, inadvertently. Well so be it, I will give this painting the title: "Riding the dragon"!

I'd like to use thick paint in the completion of this one. This is a 30 X 30 canvas...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Parasurfing in Samana - step I... trying something different as a diversion!

While in Samana, this Bob Marley type, who spent the greater part of his afternoons parasurfing, caught my attention ...

I see this simple scene as an opportunity to really go "impasto" with more vibrant colors... something I haven't done before...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Cape May portrait - final... wanting to keep it equally unfinished throughout!

I used some time this morning to bring the face in the forefront using thick paint. Looking at the whole canvas, the azo gold underpainting was showing through in different areas fairly evenly along with some white canvas... it was very tempting to keep those characteristics fairly intact... and I did!

I achieved perfect likeness... but with regard to the style... I don't know who painted that one. May be I thought I was Dali... albeit somewhat rough on the edges.... actually, a hell of a lot rougher! Everything I do these days seems experimental... with a total disregard for commercial value... something that makes me nervous at times!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Cape May portrait - step IV... bringing some of that evening blue into her face before the final sprint...

I'd really like to finish this painting by Monday... so I took 15 minutes this morning, before a birthday bash for my 4 year old grand son, to get her face a little more in line with the ambient light.

Now I'm ready to get in the thick of it!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Cape May portrait - step III... trying to imagine an intense light in her face!

This second fairly thin layer over the underpainting got me to where I want to be for some serious work. I tried to convey the atmosphere of the East coast in the early evening with the model under intense lighting (this could be coming from a boardwalk area)... after a sunny day at the beach...

A couple of layers with restraint should do it... I hope. For one thing, the exaggerated lighting needs a little attenuation for more of a natural look. The introduction of cool colors will help as well. As usual, I try to save as much of the underpainting as possible in the final stage of development...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cape May portrait - step II... it's a go!

Before getting started this afternoon, I brought the under painting a tad closer to what I'm after in terms of likeness, i.e., rendering the softness her eyes in particular (the type of eyes only a mother can have!)... she's starting to get real for me. It always mesmerizes me to see how the slightest variation in the shape of the eyes or the mouth can translate into a totally different expression.

I went for a sunset color scheme and rapidly blocked the white of the canvas using the hour I had at my disposal this afternoon. It seems the 4 hours I spent on the initial phase has paid handsome dividends as I have no corrections to implement in subsequent phases. I'm usually sloppier than that... but this is the muse!

I feel comfortable that I can bring this painting to fruition... with a wee bit of luck! I want this one to be painterly.

This is a 24 X 30 canvas.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Cape May portrait - step I... getting another serving of humble pie!

As part of the beach scene series, I wanted to do a portrait of the muse standing in front of the ocean in Cape May last summer. Portraiture is difficult for me... so I worked the greater part of the day trying to get a likeness. At times, I had to get out of the house to look at the evolving picture from a distance.

A good omen: the muse approved upon her return from work!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Samana beach two - final step... another humbling experience!

This is one of those paintings that did not come easy... and its leaving me hungry for a better one next time. For some reason, I seem to equate success to "painting as if writing", one infallible step after another until completion.

The gods frequently remind me that with such demeanor... I'm in the world to hurt!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Samana beach two - step VI... and submitting a painting to an annual art contest.

I gave another go at the Samana beach scene...

... and finally opted for a soft subdued background, the only version I could sympathize with for some reason. Slightly darker values in the upper part, a few more reflections from the bodies and I'll call it quit. I find it difficult to reconcile working in the garden and painting. I need to speed up to meet my "one painting a week" objective...

As I did last year, I am submitting a painting to an annual art contest covering the island of Montreal and beyond. I choose this painting because it achieves a fairly high degree of realism with few brush strokes (the shoulder was finalized with 3-4 brush strokes flat) and a very limited palette, for the figure in particular (2 colors, white and black).

With this painting, after 2 layers of paint one the under painting, I felt I had said enough. The under painting shows through in many areas giving it an unfinished look in a close up view, yet it reads perfectly from a couple of yards. I don't expect this bravura style to go far in the competition... nonetheless, this painting is perfectly me! I like realism but not at the expense of freedom, a key element I want to achieve in my art process...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Samana beach two - step V... not coming out as easy as I thought!

A busy weekend socializing with friends and family. I squeezed in a hour or so in an attempt to finish this painting once and for all... and met my match. I worked on the ocean exclusively (no time to address the girl's emaciated limbs and further highlights!) ... and had to let go of the impasto gel to get the effects I was after. With regard to the impasto gel: "ce n'est que partie remise"...

Looks like I will need a few more sessions before I can reach a certain level of satisfaction... if any (can't sell the skin of the bear before killing it)!

It suddenly dawned on me: the exaggerated light in the bottom half is begging to be replicated in the upper half as well. This could be my escape to a half decent picture beyond getting the girl up to speed with the rest. The horizon line is warped by the camera lens...