Sunday, June 30, 2013

Roses among the Thorns

This is a scene in my backyard near my small studio.  The roses were the gift from a former owner, and although I am anything but a gardener, I've managed to keep them alive, if not thriving, for the last six seasons.  Each year, on precisely the first of April, the first rose appears.  (I've paid attention to the date the last two years.)  After that, I have a summer of wonderful color.  I've become a rose fan.

Yet, lurking in the corner of the property is one of the ugliest telephone and electrical poles you've ever seen.  If there were anymore wires hanging on it, I'd fully expect it just to topple over, if it could!  Most of the time, I never even notice it, I suppose because we've generally become immune to the ugliness that is all around us in the city.  But at times, I've been fascinated by the pole....and more than once I've thought of painting it.  (There are some that are even worse in the little town of Locke...and I've often considered trying to paint those.)  Anyway, on Friday, I noticed the morning sun hitting the roses....and towering above them, Mr. Ugly.  I got out my EasyL and set it up in a spot where I could see both the roses and the pole.  I cut an elongated piece of canvas and taped it to a scrap of lightweight foamcore.

The weather has been cooking this weekend, so I painted for awhile on Friday morning, set up again on Saturday morning and pretty much finished.  After looking at it last night, I decided it needed something else, so this morning about 7 am, I set up my camera tripod and took a number of pictures of myself in the garden.  I went out to the Studio, turned on the A/C (it's supposed to get to between 106 and 111 so it's hot already at 9:30 am.) and painted myself into the picture.  So one could say it's essentially a version of a rose(s) between two thorns.  

Roses Between the Thorns   Oil on canvas   approx.  17 x 9

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Dancer - a Portrait

 I've been working on a full length painting of this beautiful belly dancer.  It's been a real challenge.  Hopefully, I'll be posting the result one of these days, but for now, there's a long way to go.  Today, I did this quick portrait study just for a change of pace.  It doesn't do her justice, but it was fun to do...

A Portrait of  The Dancer   9" x 12" Oil on Canvas

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Roses and Blue Pitcher - Daily Painting

I don't do daily paintings, although many painters I admire do them regularly or have done them at times in the past.  I'm convinced it's a worthwhile undertaking for practice, experimentation and brush mileage..  I've been working on paintings lately that take a lot of time, and while it's fun to watch the images emerge over a series of sessions in the studio, I miss the gratification of sitting down for an hour or two and creating a 'finished' work.  I've always been drawn to alla prima painting techniques and small daily paintings foster that approach. 

Today I clipped a few roses from the garden and found a blue trimmed pitcher among my meager still life props and made this simple setup.    I sure need practice painting roses!  They are a challenge!  But within an hour or so, I'd competed this little 6" x 6" painting.  For lack of a better term, I think of it as a "daily painting."  Great practice and fun to do. 

 My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Fair Oaks Village Coffee House - Plein Air

I joined several other members of the Sacramento Plein Air Painters at the park in Fair Oaks Village this morning.  It was gorgeous weather and the park was in cool shade all morning.  I've painted the Coffee House across from the park on previous occasions, but this time I tried a bit different approach.  The biggest change was to go to a 6 x 12 format, which is becoming a favorite.  It feels so much more correct for landscapes, and even some cityscapes seem to fit well.  I started the painting on a 9 x 12 panel, but realized almost instantly that I was going to end up with exactly the same painting as previous attempts if I didn't do something different.  I quickly picked up my preliminary pencil  sketch and drew in the elongated border of a 6 x 12....and it looked like it would work fine. I had one panel of that size with me. It was already pre-toned and away I went. 

I resolved to paint loosely and to strive for contrast.  I exaggerated the shadow darkness and I like the result.  The umbrellas were the obvious color focus, so I pushed those just a bit in brightness as well. 

Before I finished, the owner of the Coffee Shop came over and bought my painting.  This photo is all I have left to remind me of a good day in Fair Oaks Village.

Fair Oaks Village Coffee House   Plein Air oil on panel   6" x 12"

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Long Road Traveled (The Preacher) - A Portrait

With almost 20 hours on this portrait, I think I've reached an end.   It's on canvas taped to a board, so in a few days...maybe this weekend, I'll decide on a final size and stretch it.  I wouldn't be surprised if I find a few more things to tweak, but for now, I'm done. Time to sign it. 

If you love to paint portraits, this is the kind of subject you wait and wait for. What a wonderful face.   In the high quality photo reference that I used, the colors in this gentleman's skin are amazing.  There are golds and reds and oranges and the highlights are amazing blues.  The biggest challenge is not to get too caught up in all that wonderful color and let the painting become a patchwork quilt- beautiful but not unified.  That wasn't easy.  The other issue for me was maintaining the overall darkness of the face, even though on close examination so much of it is beautiful bold color.  I used a lot of what I learned from Suchitra Boshle on the control of values and I think it helped.  (  Although I've only had a few sessions with Suchitra, I've become acutely aware of values in portrait painting, thanks to her instruction and example.  I've drawn on another teacher, Dan Edmondson, as well.  (  All through this painting, Dan's admonition to "Make beautiful brushstrokes" has been constantly in mind.  I've resisted smoothing and 'licking' - as much as I can! - and instead I've consciously struggled to maintain brush strokes by mixing a color, applying it and leaving it alone.   I'm trying Dan, I'm trying!

But above all I hope I have captured the warm and gentle spirit of this man that shines through in the photo reference...

Here's the final portrait....(The whites behind the head slightly to the left are not there....I continue tos stuggle to get faithful photographs. sigh) 
A Long Road Traveled   Oil on linen   20 x 16 approx. 

Below are some notes and a picture of The Preacher in progress.
At that point I've got about 12 - 15 hours in it:

I'm nearing the end, but I'd like to let it sit and set-up for awhile before I make the final finishing strokes.  I'll add highlights to the crown of the head and a few other spots like the bridge of the nose.  It's amazing how that can add dimension and life to a portrait.  It's also amazing how easy it is to overdo it and mess up the whole thing!  I can see that the tip of the nose needs more modeling so I'll spend some time there.  I may also continue to tweak the background a bit.  Generally I'll drag it into the head to lose edges here and there, but perhaps not in this painting. In fact, I may try to push the background away to make the head come forward, increasing the three dimensional effect. Finally, stepping away for a bit and looking at photographs of the painting is a great way to see drawing errors and areas that need more work.  But it's almost complete so I'd though I'd show a WIP (work in progress) photo.  (Not to mention that I need something to POST!) 
The Preacher WIP  oil on linen approx. 20 x 16

and here is my oil sketch 'block in'

The Preacher  WIP  Initial Block In  Oil on linen

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art