Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March Madness

I've learned a lot in Robert Joyner's workshop about painting expressively and freely. I'm learning how to interpret what I see to create a painting that feels alive. It has been a challenge, for which I am very grateful. It's good to learn new things. I am so eager to learn, and this workshop, run by Strathmore Online Workshops, has been a great opportunity for me. 

This is the benefit of technology. An artist can make videos and demonstrate techniques, and any number of students can learn those techniques... in their own homes.

So... this is the painting that I made after the fourth and last of Robert Joyner's videos. It is mixed media on illustration board. The media that I used were acrylic paint, artist crayon, and acrylic ink. The title of the painting is March Madness.

The goal of the painting was to show movement. I was inspired by a picture in the sports section of the newspaper.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Experimenting with paper and paint

The paper that you use for painting can be your nemesis or your friend. Nemesis paper curls up. It stays wet for what seems like forever. It rips when you try to scrub renegade color away. It is just evil, rotten paper. You probably bought it from the bargain table at a dollar store. OK. I don't know if dollar stores have bargain tables. The whole store is supposed to be a bargain.
But you get the idea. Nemesis paper is just ick.
Well... there are many different kinds of paper for drawing and painting. Some paper has a lot of texture and that is very desirable for water color but less desirable for pen and ink drawing. Some paper is very smooth. That is desirable for pen and ink drawing but irritating for water color. There's mixed media paper, which I like to use for acrylic paintings.
One of the chief distinctions between papers concerns texture. There are three types: hot press, cold press, and rough. Often, cold press paper is preferred for water color paints because it has texture. Hot press paper is very smooth. If you use too much water, the paper won't absorb it. It will just sit there on top of the paper, being annoying and causing your colors to run together and become muddy. And, not only that, the paper will curl up. Curly is nice if it's your hair but, if it's your paper, it is one big Yuck! The third type is rough. It is even more texture than cold press paper so it is fun to paint on, especially if you want to have a kind of impressionistic effect. If you like photo realism, you might not be as fond of this.
Another characteristic of paper is the weight of the paper. The usual weight for water color paper is 140 pounds. That will provide you with a nice sheet of paper for painting. But, if you're lucky, you can use a 300-pound type of paper. The heavier paper is thick like a board. Don't worry. A piece of paper won't actually weigh 140 or 300 pounds.
So here are three paintings, on different types of paper:
This painting was done on hot press paper. The paper is very smooth. Notice the streaky likes in the purple mountain. That is very typical of hot press paper. Also notice how the paper buckled and is somewhat curly. 

This painting was done on a 140 pound paper with a rough texture. The colors blend more readily with the the rough texture than the smooth texture.  I kept to a limited palette with this, focusing on warm colors.

For this painting, I used a 300 pound board. The was a great surface on which to paint. I needed to add lots of water because the paper was thirsty, as it was with the rough textured paper.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

By Jove, I think that I've got it... almost!!!

Last time that I posted my efforts at abstraction, I was completely frustrated. Fortunately, that feeling is past. Robert Joyner is a great instruction. He said one sentence that changed everything for me. It was:
"It doesn't have to be perfect."
Not perfect. That was so liberating!!! I felt free to paint and create, knowing that it was not necessary for me to make the next masterpiece. In fact, if I preferred, I could make the next Mess-terpiece. What could be better than that? 
Here they are. My happy messterpieces. Enjoy!!!
This was actually my second effort. The sea looks a little stormy in this one.

This was my first effort. Boats floating in the water... no people!!
  One more video to watch. One more lesson to do. I'm looking forward to it. This has been a good adventure!
More later!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Bugs and white flowers

In my painting class at Stella Niagara, I learned a technique for painting white flowers in water color. It is to paint a darker background and then to add a little color to the white flower. The white flower would look flat if it were entirely white. When you add just a touch of color, the flower looks more realistic, all the while preserving the illusion of whiteness.

I first drew a scene that incorporated white flowers, leaves, branches, and insects. It's a spring scene that doesn't exist yet in March. In reality, this is what we have. We have flowers! But no leaves! That doesn't come until much later! I was out delivering Pennysavers and I took these pictures.

snow drops grow through the snow!!!

The first color of the season
It's great to see color again.

Here's my painting:

Here are the white flowers and some happy insect life.

Abstract is not me yet but food is...

The second assignment in Robert Joyner's workshop was to paint something very familiar in an abstract background. I watched the video two times. Robert Joyner painted the background in large strokes. Then he let it dry and, once dry, he drew loosely with a paintbrush! After drawing loosely, he demonstrated how to finish the painting with mixed media to give the illusion of the object, without adding lots of details in the hopes of reproducing the object on paper. His object was a ketchup bottle.

All right. So I will admit that I don't love condiments. The bottle was beautiful and it looked like a bottle without looking like a photograph, and the background was wonderfully abstract. It was a marvel. And he painted it so fast!

Could I actually do this? Draw with a big paintbrush? No pencils? No erasers? Arrrgh!

Well... I am certainly ready to try anything. I painted huge brush strokes... and then got to work on the bottle of my choice.

I don't like condiments, but I love salad! Really, really love salad.

Here's my bottle. So loose and free. I'm not sure if I'm bonding with this style yet but it's fun to play with paints and ink and charcoal.

Exploring new styles, making myself hungry...

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Exploring abstraction

When I started this blog, I was doing an on-line art class through Strathmore Online Workshops. The workshops are free, although the purchase of Strathmore papers is greatly encouraged. They produce some good artist papers and visual journals, so that is not a bad thing. Strathmore offers three workshops per year. Each workshop lasts for a month and includes four instructional videos. The topic and medium for the workshops is determined by the instructor.

This month, the first of these workshops has started. It is called "Abstract Fine Art Painting with Mixed Media," and the instructor's name is Robert Joyner. He is a professional artist now, but he used to be a ballroom dance instructor. He likes painting roosters. I've never thought of painting roosters but, when I spent some time learning Spanish in Guatemala, I was regularly awakened by roosters. I didn't think of painting their portraits because I was so annoyed by the wake up call. I was wickedly thinking of turning them into soup. But I digress. And how. I went from abstract painting to ballroom dancing to soup...

Anyway, I watched the first video twice. I was clueless the first time. Abstract is not my specialty. But today was the day. Time to paint. I got out my collection of media and played with paint. My goal was just to have fun. So I drew a picture of my right hand (I usually draw the left but I wanted variety in my painting life). Yes, I drew it with my left hand and, no, I'm not left handed... nor am I right handed... just somewhere in the middle.

Here goes... the hand!!!

Can you tell that I am eager for the start of gardening season? I'm grabbing hold of all of those leaves!