Friday, August 13, 2010

Painting at the School of Light and Color

Have you ever heard of ""?  I recommend checking it out if you haven't.  No matter what your interest, you're likely to find a group there.  Biking, hiking, knitting and of course, art, are just a few.  I have belonged to the Sacramento Plein Air Painters Meetup group for awhile now, and I've enjoyed many outside painting sessions with friends and fellow artists as a result.  Recently a new group was formed called "Sacramento Figure Drawing Group".  I joined with the hope of finding more opportunities to paint models and portraits from life.  Today I went to the first session I was able to make.  This one was at the School of Light and Color, a place I've heard of many times, but have never visited.  It was a good session with a very good model and many talented artists.  I wish I could name them all...and I look forward to the time that I can, but I did meet Susan Sarback, owner of the School and very gifted painter, as well as Terry Muira, whose work I have long admired.

My effort today was OK, especially given that it's been six months since I've done a portrait / figure from life.  Thinking about it, it's probably closer to a year, if the truth be told!  The Model was really exceptional.  I don't remember her name, unfortunately.  I went through the regular self conscious jitters that I often feel when studio painting with others and this was magnified by the level of talent in the room, but I soon got lost in the challenge of painting from life.  It's always a great experience...and often quite humbling.  I look forward to next time.

Oil on stretched cotton canvas, acrylic primer.
16" x 20"
About 2 1/2 hours.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Rainy Afternoon in Fair Oaks - Part 2

It's time to try the final painting.  I have a 30x40 canvas in the studio and I decide to tape off a 20x40 shape to retain the 1:2 shape of the sketch.  I tone the canvas with a warm gray in acrylic, but I dislike the canvas almost from the first stroke.  It is an inexpensive frame without a way to tighten the very loose surface.  The canvas almost flops as I paint on it.  Awful.  Another lesson learned.   I return to the store and buy a 18x36 cotton canvas...still not a great surface, but it can be tightened if necessary.  Next step: a gray tone to start.

8/8/10  I put a light gray tone over the entire canvas using acrylic.  I start by locating the 1/3 points horizontally and vertically, then sketch in the scene with charcoal, trying mainly to locate the major shapes.
Charcoal sketch over acrylic tone
My first idea is to block in the major masses with acrylic, then finish with oils, but before long, I'm beginning to think I may stick with acrylic all the way.  This is a painting that offers a lot of opportunity for glazing and acrylic is wonderful for that.  I haven't done an acrylic painting in more than a year...probably closer to two, so it's off to the art store for some missing colors and to replace those tubes that have dried into lumps.  A couple of brushes won't hurt either.   By the end of the first session, this is where I am.

End of first session

Corrections noted in charcoal
The second session is a struggle.  There's something wrong with the composition, but I can't locate it.  It strikes me that there is a lot of space between the car and building on the right and the buildings on the left.  The more I look at it and compare it to the sketches and the color sketch, the more it bothers me.  At the end of the day, with the acrylic already dry (oh, what a luxury for an oil painter) I sketch a new location for the pick up truck and building on the left with charcoal.  I feel better with this and I'll start over painting next time.

More corrections!
I start the third session with the idea of making the corrections noted and then beginning to develop the painting.  I'm aware that the entire piece should be darker and I set that as a goal.  However, I'm soon once again distracted by the arrangement of the buildings.  Taking up the charcoal stick again, I push the right building line more to the left, shifting the car at the same time.  I feel like I am closing down that empty center. 

I block in the new changes and begin to darken areas of the painting.  Such a long way still to go.  It's at this point in a painting that I begin to feel like I am wandering without a clue.  It's tempting to move on to something else, but I'll push on.

End of third session.  What a mess!