Will be back Sept. 5 with lots of great sketches and studies of Cape Cod! 😀
Looks like we’ll be driving to the Cape in the middle of tropical storm Danny. Hence “Even If It Rains…” seemed appropriate for today’s post, it’s based on a ride home from vacation in Vermont a couple years ago, proof that paintings can materialize from some of the most mundane places and experiences. Of course, rain and roadways are some of my favorite things to paint, so it’s likely I’ll get some good reference material on this trip as well. It’s important to note (to me anyway) that pieces like this are not copies of my reference materials, just loosely based on them. I always feel like the paintings have to be something new, related to the original place or event, but not replications of them.
This is oil on canvas, 18×24 inches. Paintings of wet surfaces are most effective when close attention is paid to the differences in values on the wet road and reflections on the cars. The darks are what make those headlight reflections really seem to glow. The road surface and sky are made up of multiple glazes. All of these techniques are covered in my advanced oils classes, for more info on advanced classes in oils at Somerset Art Association or NJ Visual Arts Center, click here. For classes in other media at either location visit the Workshops and Classes page.
Note: This painting is available for purchase from Trudy Labell Fine Art, Naples, FL, contact the gallery via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Am packing up for vacation and have decided to keep things simple with a few tubes of acrylic and some sketch pads designed for acrylic (Canson makes a great inexpensive pad for acrylics, about $5 at Walmart). I’m taking along the following colors: cobalt blue, yellow ochre, light red ochre, titanium white, burnt umber, cobalt turquoise, Naples yellow…my standard palette plus a few new ones I’ve been playing around with.
Heading to Cape Cod and not too sure about what I will paint when I’m there. This is not a painting trip, but a vacation, so it will be limited to quick sketches. I hope to do some in Provincetown as urban landscape excites me a little more than seascapes. Am also hoping to do some marine painting, boats are like buildings on water. 😀
If you are thinking about trying acrylics for the first time, or have experience and would like to experiment with some new techniques on alternative surfaces, I have a class at the NJ Visual Art Center that might be of interest. It’s called Introduction to Acrylics and will be held for 5 weeks on Tuesdays from 12:30 to 3 p.m. For more information, visit the Workshops & Classes page or call the art center at 908-273-9121.
This is another experiment in color harmony. I think of this as an “Italian” palette because the colors seem Mediterranean to me, like something you’d see in Italy or southern France. I chose the wine bottles for this experiment because they seemed to suit the palette in terms of their actual color as well as a subject. I kept the reflections on the glass loose and implied rather than highly detailed, I love painting glass loosely, it seems to defy convention if it reads as glass but is not tight. I like this color combination a lot, I think I will use it on a painting of NY just to see what happens…
Note: These types of experiments in color harmony plus lots of compositional challenges are some of the subjects I will cover in Visual Interpretation, my new class at the NJ Visual Arts Center this fall. The class is on Tuesdays from 9:30 a.m. to noon, visit the Workshops & Classes page for more info.
This is a quick gestural sketch of the Jefferson Market Building (6th Ave. & 10th St., NYC). I’ve used yellow and its complement violet, yellow for the light areas violet for the darks, with some overlapping. In this instance the violet I used was a warm violet (cobalt violet), I like the “antiqued” effect the warm color lends to the painting. I have a tendendcy to use warm colors more than cools, even in shadow areas, it adds a little variation from what might be expected.
These types of studies can really help you get to know the mixing properties of the paints in your box. Experiment with 2, 3 and 4-color variations to find combinations that work well together. Remember to keep your paint washlike and to let the transparency of the paint do some of the color mixing work for you.
I like to experiment with limited color palettes, I think there is a lot to be learned about mixing that can be done with limited color sketches. It’s much more interesting than making up color charts, a practice I personally find tedious and don’t use in the classroom. Over the next few days I’ll post a few of these types of sketches. In addition to building color mixing skills, they help to build gestural drawing skills and confidence. I’m using acrylic paints on an inexepensive cold press paper designed for use with acrylic. Bristol board works nicely as well.
The sketch above uses what I refer to as the CMYK palette. Anyone who works in graphic design or printing knows that CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow and black (the K is for black)–the colors used in 4-color process printing. Nearly all printed materials, brochures, magazines, etc. are printed using this method of offset printing. A series of dots printed in these 4 colors are overlaid on top of one another in varying densities to create the illusion of a full color photograph. You can think of it as industrialized pointilism. Instead of dots, I use washes of color in varying degrees of transparency, but it’s the same principle. The dot density is what dictates the value and color of the printed layers when they are combined. The washes I use serve the same purpose.
I began this sketch with a very light wash of cerulean (my substitute for cyan) to lay in the composition and blue areas of the painting. Next, I moved in to magenta to create some darks, followed by a bit of yellow to define buildings and the taxi and red truck. Using this method, you are actually working with magenta and yellow to create the reds in the painting, so it seems a bit backward to making a primary color! But it works in printing so in theory it has to work with paint as well.
Last of all, I add in the black to create depth and coolness in the shadows. This feels really odd to me because I don’t normally use black when I paint (just a matter of preference).
This was a very interesting exercise for me to paint. I will definitely give this palette a try in oils or possibly acrylic on canvas (though I am so curious to see what it would do in oil where the color mixing properties are so different). I also plan to try this again starting with black as my first color and treating this more as a linear drawing with spot color.
Tomorrow: drawing in 2 colors
Gesture imparts liveliness and sponaneity into any painting. Understanding the gesture of your subject will help to keep your work fresh and your compositions dynamic. This study was done with acrylic thinned with water to create a wash similar to watercolor. Using a limited palette of burnt sienna, cobalt blue, cerulean, yellow ochre and light red ochre, I have blocked in basic forms that combine to form a city street. All detail is implied, not painstakingly rendered. Objects suggest themselves and much is left undefined. Practicing studies of this kind will help you to see the characteristics that give subjects their definition and form, “what makes a taxi a taxi”, etc., without being a photographic representation.