Sunday, November 25, 2012

Inspired by John Koch

Here is the next illustration I had to work on for my course at AAU.  I was inspired by John Koch's painting called "The Discussion".  This was my own take on that painting.  It is designed for an album cover for the Simon & Garfunkel song "The Dangling Conversation".   I used a watercolor underpainting with an oil wash technique to do this painting.  It's a technique used by many illustrators, so it was fun to experiment with.  It's my second attempt with this technique and I think I'm getting better.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Change takes courage

Well, change has come upon me again.  I'm having a show tomorrow and after that I am moving out of my studio because my landlord is taking back the space.  I am not happy about this or the change.  I'm afraid that I will lose momentum, not to mention most of my paints and art supplies!  But I can't do anything about it so I might as well embrace it, right?

In the meantime I have been working on an illustration class at the Academy.  Here are the first three illustrations that I did for that class.  I am loving it and learning a lot.  And I have the best art teacher I have ever had!  Makes a huge difference to have a teacher that you like and who encourages you!  Enjoy the work I created.  The first is the Frog King, the second is Pirate Mice at the Sea Serpent Saloon, and the third is Taking the Merchant Ship.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Johnny's Dog Abby

Do any of you use the services of Schwan's Frozen Food?  Well, we do.  It's a company that comes to your house with a truck full of frozen food and they sell you meats, sides, desserts, etc. right on the spot.  The food tastes good and is very convenient, but is a little expensive because of the service.  We use it for those times we are in a pinch and don't know what to make for dinner.  What winds up happening is that you get to know your Schwan's guy pretty well, since they visit your house every two weeks.  You start to know them and they you.  Our most recent Schwan's guy is John and he loves golden retrievers.  We have a golden retreiver named Buddy and John loves Buddy.  He brings Buddy treats every time he comes to the door.  Recently John let us know that his golden retriever died and he was very sad.  I felt really bad for him.  Then, a few weeks later, he let us know that he and his wife got a new golden retriever puppy!  He has been so happy to have this puppy that he showed me a bunch of pictures of her that he had on his Iphone.   Now every time he shows up, I start the conversation with an inquirey into how Abby is doing and he proceeds to show me new pictures her.  One picture was particularly cute so I asked him to forward it to me.  I decided to paint it for him in oil paints on cardboard in a penture en l'essence style.  I can't wait to give it to him.  I think he comes again this week on Wednesday!  I have the picture right at the front door so it will be the first thing he sees when he walks up!  Here is John's dog Abby....

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Final Painting

I know, two posts in one day!  WOW!  Actually, I am just behind on my blog.  I finished my class at the Academy for the summer on August 8th, but then we went on vacation on August 10th and when we came back I went back to work teaching at my college, so now it's already September and I haven't posted my final painting.....

This final painting is of my children, but this time I have all three of them in the composition.  It's a scene that I took myself at our annual Watermelon Picnic.  On the first day of summer vacation every year, we take pack a watermelon, and some other snacks in a basket and head down to Hunter's creek.  We hike the creek till we find a nice sunny spot and then we slice up the watermelon and have a picnic.  We have been doing it for about 4 years now and the kids really look forward to it every year.  They love walking in their shoes in the creek and eating the watermelon.

You can see from the original photo and value sketch how the figures were arrange on the day I took the photo.  I decided to move them closer together and facing inwards towards the center of the creek.  I  added the watermelon and picnic basket, which were not in the frame, to tell the story a little better, and I changed the clothing on Hunter in the foreground to help him stand out from the dark forest background.  I am pleased with how it turned out seeing as this was the first time I successfully rearranged my own photo to make a more engaging composition.

Hudson Kicking the Can Reworked

As promised, here is the reworked version of my painting of Hudson.  The changes aren't really dramatic but overall the small changes I made make the whole painting feel more unified and lively to me.  My grade on the project didn't change at all, but I'm happier with it, so I guess that is all that really matters:)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Timed paintings

So this week our professor had us do 8 paintings with a time constraint on each.  Normally the professors are asking us to spend at least 6 hours on a painting, this week we were allowed to spend only 45 minutes on one group and no more than 60 minutes on the next group.  The point of the exercise was to hone our skills at capturing the gesture of the pose, seeing large shapes and massing them in quickly, and making color choices quickly.  The academy provided us with photo references to work from and I used a timer to keep myself on track.  I generally set my timer for 5 minutes less than the allotted time and then when it went off I knew I had 5 minutes left to do the last minute details. It was really quite hard, but after a while I began to enjoy it.  I can really see how it helps your eyes to see and evaluate what you are looking at quickly and to take a lot of information and simplify it so you can describe it with paint.

Here are a few of my not so scary looking paintings that I did.  Some were really quite horrific!!! But a few had promise, so I thought I'd post.  Enjoy!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hudson kicking the can

So here is the next project in my painting class.  It's a painting of my son Hudson playing kick the can down the road at our pool club.  We spend so much time at this club in the summer - swimming and playing tennis, that I wanted to capture that wonderful feeling we have when we drive down this long driveway into the club.

I'm only moderately happy with this painting.  I like the evenironment I placed him and I like how I captured the shadows of the greens on the driveway and grass.  The figure of Hudson does not capture likeness, so I know I have some work to do there.  I will get a critique from my professor and then I will make some changes and hopefully improve that part.  I'll post this for now so you have something to see then I'll repost once I have reworked:)

My Instructor

My Instructor this semester at AAU is Warren Chang.  He is a realist painter in the Fine Art department. According to his biography he started out as an illustrator and did that for many years till he found it unsatisfying doing "other people's ideas" in art.  He moved over to the fine art side and has been very happy and very successful.  I really enjoy his work and his style.

He posted in our classroom a lecture that he gave that made it to Youtube.  Since it's out in the public domain I thought I'd share it with you here in case you are interested.  He talks about his paintings and the influences that came together to inspire him to create them.  It was really fun for me to listen to how he came up with his ideas, his approach to the canvas and ultimately to see the finished work.  I hope you enjoy it to!

It is a two part video so here are both links.

Warren Chang Part 1

Warren Chang Part 2

Monday, July 16, 2012

Situation and Environment

Sorry I haven't been very faithful to my blog lately.  I took a painting class at the Academy this summer and I have been painting non-stop for the last 4 weeks!  I paint two to three paintings a week plus take photo references and create value sketches for each painting.  It has been a lot of work and I'm only half way through!  But I am improving:-)  That's what matters!

The professor I have this semester is a very talented artist named Warren Chang.  He is teaching me to paint figures in their environment.  Since I like to paint people most of the time this course is very appropriate for me.  Also, since I want to do picture book illustration, this course will also be helpful for  doing that artwork as well.  I have a few projects that I am proud of, even though they can be made I thought I'd post them for you to see.  More will be coming very soon as I am working on one of my son right now and then after that I will be doing one of the three children together!

Enjoy these and let me know what you think!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Experimenting with Mattelson's Palette

So a few posts ago I mentioned that I was looking at changing my palette to one that I read about in my Artist's Magazine.  Since I like to paint portrait and figure, I am always looking for new or better ways to achieve skin tones.  The article in Artist's Magazine sent me to the web, where I then searched through and read several related links about Mattelson's palette.  I had a commission of my friend's baby to paint and since baby skin is so soft and delicate, I thought I would try the new palette on this commission.  What you see below in the first image is my original palette that I would use for most projects with the main colors for skin tones being white, yellow ochre, burnt sienna, crimson red, and sometimes ultra marine blue or burnt umber to darken for shadow areas.  

Underneath that is the new palette that was developed using the Mattelson approach.  His approach uses value strings.  There are four main colors that are mixed into strings of 10 values from light to dark.  There is a grey string based on black and white, a yellow string based on yellow ochre, a warm red string based on terra rosa, and a cool red string based on indian red.  Just mixing the values strings took me over an hour!!!  

But I have to say it was worth it.  What I noticed while using this palette was I was able to achieve the cools of the shadow skin much better and more realistically with the grey values and the cool indian red values than I was with the ultramarine blue or burnt umber I was using before.  Additionally, as I was painting I could see the value number of the paints I was choosing and I noticed I was staying in the middle value range, which is never good when painting.  You want to have a full range of values in a painting and particularly good contrasts of values.  Seeing myself reach time and time again for a color that was in the range of 4 - 6 showed me how I was not using my full value scale.  I was also able to achieve the subtle value changes that occur around the nose and mouth much easier than when I was mixing the colors as I went, which is  what I did with my previous palette.  I haven't conquered this palette yet, but I have to say I am pleased with my initial experiment with it and will definitely use it on my next project.

So below you can see the initial underpainting done on a toned canvas with terra rosa paint.  The next is the background lay in just using loose brush work and a greenish color.  The next is the painting at an 80% finish.  The flesh tones are looking good but may need a few more shadows.  Also the clothing is not complete.  The last painting represents a 90% finish. I will now look at it for a few days to determine what I want to enhance to bring the painting to a finished state.  The lightest lights and darkest darks will be added and then it will be complete.  I'll post the completed picture in the next week as this commission is a Father's Day gift so it must be done by next weekend.

Hope you enjoyed reading about my experimentation with Mattelson's palette:)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Thinking of France....

I just went on to the website of the guest house that we visited every other year for a painting retreat in the South of France to find out that due to the bad economy they had to close the business and sell the house:(  I was very sad to hear this as I was thinking of France this week and dreaming of returning to that wonderful guest house.  Richard and Mary were such great hosts and the house was magical.  My favorite part of the whole experience was getting up early and working in Richard's studio, which was a converted barn.  I also enjoyed early morning walks into the town where you would discover all 500 people of the town starting out their day.  I will always hold fond memories of my times there and I am posting my latest painting, a Flower Filled French Alley, in tribute to that special place.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Thinking about Palettes

So I have a subscription to Artist magazine which I absolutely love!  Usually when it comes in the mail I grab it and read it right away.  I always find something interesting and usually I find several somethings....So in April's issue of the magazine the cover talked about "How to match skin tones".  Since I usually like to paint and draw people and I have found myself struggling to match skin tones, I thought this would be a great article to read.  Well, it was! The article was about the artist Marvin Mattelson and how he developed his palette which he says, after years of searching and trying different methods, he found to be the most productive palette for skin tones every.  I read the whole article which was really a history of color theory as well as an introspective of two other artists Frank J. Reilly and Albert H. Munsell.  Reading the article sent me to the internet searching for Mattelson's palette, Frank J. Reilly's palette and Albert H. Munsell's palette.

I found myself knee deep in color theory and found that the color theory I was taught in graduate school is not the one that Mattelson used to define skin tones so well.  I also found myself jumping from blog to blog from different artists who also, like Mattelson, were seeking information on how color really works and how to achieve the delicate nuances of skin tones.  One blog that I found most helpful was called Underpaintings and is a forum posted by Matthew W. Innis which celebrates excellence in Representational Ar - past, present, and future.  The link to his blog can be found here   I highly recommend reading it and he has a whole section on Mattelson's palette.

It really ignited a fire in me to understand palette choices better.  It was fun to read how each artist from Munsell to Reilly to Mattelson to Innis each has a slightly different take on the information and how it found it's way into their own palettes in each artists unique way.  At this point what I know is that I have a lot of research to do to understand munsell's color theory better and also Mattelson's palette.  It made me think about my own color choices and how I came to them.  Here is my palette as it currently stands, before I begin experimenting with Munsell/Reilly/Mattelson's revelations.  Not all of these are used for achieving skin tones, but they are my go to colors that always wind up on my palette.  Let's see how it changes over time as I learn more...

Flake White
Burnt Umber
Burnt Sienna
Terra Rose
Yellow Ochre
Naples Yellow
Cadmium Orange
Cadmium Scarlet
Alizarin Crimson
Dioxizine Purple
Ultramarine Blue
Colbalt Turquoise
Sap Green
Brillant Yellow Green

It also got me thinking about famous artist's palettes whose work I like, and wondering what theirs looked like.   I found a few thanks the website   (See below) They seem remarkably muted and neutral....


Eugène Delacroix

Auguste Renoir


Georges Seurat

Gustave Moreau

Paul Gauguin

Vincent van Gogh
Thank you to La Boite Verte and Lucy Davies.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Color Roughs

The next step is to take my final dummies and photo copy them.  Then take colors and prepare color roughs trying to get a sense of what the final colors of the illustrations will be.  I didn't make them too neat because they were just roughs, but I did have fun playing with the colors and they really came to life.  Here are a few of my favorites....

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Final Dummy

After two weeks of hard work I have these 5 images that represent a summary of the picture book that I am working on in my Children's Illustration class.  It's a story about an little girl and her invisible friend.  These 5 frames came about after several weeks of sketching characters, situations and environments.  I envision the book to be a regular 32 page book and have a full thumbnail dummy that shows all 32 pages, but I am working on just the 5 for this course.  It's a tedious process, but I have learned lots!  So here is my work so far...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Good summary of my feelings today...

Being tender and open is beautiful. As a woman, I feel continually shhh’ed. Too sensitive. Too mushy. Too wishy washy. Blah blah. Don’t let someone steal your tenderness. Don’t allow the coldness and fear of others to tarnish your perfectly vulnerable beating heart. Nothing is more powerful than allowing yourself to truly be affected by things. Whether it’s a song, a stranger, a mountain, a rain drop, a tea kettle, an article, a sentence, a footstep, feel it all – look around you. All of this is for you. Take it and have gratitude. Give it and feel love.

Source:  Zoey Deschanel

Background Studies

So this week I'm working on background studies for my picture book.  Trying to think about the environment being as "alive" as the characters in the story.  I am also trying to create drama with value and extreme angles or perspectives.  So here are two that I liked.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Character Development

So for my Children's Picture Book class we are illustrating 8 pages from a manuscript of our choice.  I am working on a story about a girl and her invisible friend.  This week we are working on character development.  Well I still have some work to do on these characters to round the out more, I am happy with my start.  Here is a quick view of the three main characters, Isabella, Me and Mom.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Nasty Stew....

So this week we had to illustrate a poem by Lillian Moore.  Here is how the poem goes....

Listen! Listen to the witch.  Grinch, grinch, grunch, chip-chop-crunch, grickle, grackle, grooble, grooble, much, munch, munch.  Whatever in the world is she having for lunch?

My thought was that is sounded like squirrels or other animals eating in the forest, so I showed two squirrels watching the witch make her nasty stew.  The female squirrel is wondering what the witch is cooking, while the male squirrel is too busy eating his nuts to notice, or hear, anything:)  I used acrylic paint, prisma color pencil, prisma color marker and collage.  Hope you enjoy!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Polar Plunge - Not Allowed

Here is another bear!  Guess I was in a beary good mood this week:)  This little guy came from a painting I had done previously.  I was experimenting with collage for picture book art and decided to use my bear and place him in a new environment.  This project was so much fun that I'm thinking about putting my bear in several other environments just to see where he goes!  How about the moon?  Or maybe Egypt.  I know, Polar Bear in Paris!  I'll post if I come up with something.  In the meantime enjoy!

Here is another picture book project.  This time I had to create pictures that would be appropriate for a children's board book.  I chose to go with a number theme and bears.  Since bears frequently have twin cubs and I have twins myself I thought it was appropriate.  Enjoy

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A day at the beach...

This is my first picture book assignment from my class.  The assignment was to develop a scene in 5 - 6 frames that tells a story without words.  This one was built from my memories of our vacations at Cape Cod both as a child and with my own children.  The art was done in prism color pencil.