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Thursday, March 31, 2011

On to the Second Monkey

As I often do, I set up the painting next the the TV last night and gave it a good hard look.  Almost immediately a problem jumped out at me.  The left monkey's left arm and foot just weren't grounded on the branch.  Also, there was a disturbing dark ring around one of the mangoes on the lower left.  As I looked at it more, I kicked myself for not doing a value sketch first.  True, I never do.  But especially with this painting I see how it would have helped.  After all, my line drawings look a lot different once color and value are added and the focus in on them rather than on the lines.  If I manage to finish this painting to my liking, this lesson will no doubt be forgotten especially as it seems that I prefer the "plan as you go" approach in so many of my endeavors.  So perhaps that's just me and something to accept.

By the way, I also noticed that the monkeys are smack dab in the middle of the painting and that the edge of the dark foliage cuts the painting in half at the top as does the left monkey's tail at the bottom.  Judicious cropping may help this.  I think it's OK for the subject to be in the middle for a portrait but the other things are just a little too much.

Anyway, today I finished the detail in the left monkey - at least at this initial level - and proceeded to the right one.  I changed the curve of the her (the right monkey, that is) back.  Although it was true to my reference photo, it just looked strange to me and, after all, the painting is what counts - not the reference photo.

I made a stab at correcting the lack of grounding of the monkey's feet by widening the branch and beginning to add a stub to support that troublesome front foot.

I'm pretty happy with how things are going this far.  I just with the white fringe of hair around the left monkey's head showed up more.  But I don't know how to make that happen with such a light background.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Now to Begin the Detailing

After working for three hours, all I had accomplished was adding another layer to the sky and beginning to detail the left monkey and a few of the leaves on the left side.  So this is going to be a long slog, but hopefully worth it in the end.  And I guess I really shouldn't say "hopefully" since, after all, it is all up to me!  I'll just have to pull it off!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Fifth Painting

I have now finally begun my fifth and final painting for the Society of Animal Artists application.  But back to the new painting in a minute.

I was looking at the photo of the painting of Red and see that her head looks cut off from the body, I think partly because her head looks really round but her body doesn't.  So I need to go back and work on that.  Adding a glaze of shadow color on the tummy and more white to the back leg (it is lying flat and therefore nearly all in the light) should do the trick.

Now back to number five.  Here are two juvenile vervet monkies feasting in a mango tree.  My objective for these first few sessions was simply to get a base of color over the entire image without losing the lines I had transferred.  I have underlaid the mangoes in the tree with a cream color but in the end they will be green blushed with orange and red.  On the two monkies, at this point I am simply trying to establish the darks all over their bodies and faces - the colors that will show between the hairs when I put them in.

My idea is that the two monkies are sitting high in a tree.  The light green behind and beneath them is supposed to be the sun shining on an opening in the foliage.  Perhaps I should bring some of the sky, or sky holes, down below the big branch.  At this point, I think this light green isn't light enough for what I am in intending.  But in general I'm happy with the composition and my progress this far.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

On to the Rembrandts

When I got back to Red today I didn't see the benefit of continuing with the hard pastels, so I went right to the Rembrandts.  It's nice working with them because I have many more color choices.  I bought several of the Rembrandts open stock in browns,  grays, and dull oranges and reds - animal colors, in other words.

Tomorrow I need to get serious about the crocheted throw as I need to finish it before I work on Red's back foot. 

Then it will be back to the quilt, but I'm still not sure exactly what to do with it.  I like the way the medium blue patches are looking, so I guess it's more of that.  The finishing touches on the quilt will probably be the frayed edges on the quilt patches.  In the end, I may have to dull down the blues.  They sure are pretty, but perhaps a bit too eye-catching.

I'm looking forward to getting back to this tomorrow - after, that is, I've finished cleaning the house!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Red Again

Day after day, getting back to this painting of Red has eluded me.  Sometimes the reasons were good, but most of the time they weren't.  Underlying it all, I think, was reluctance to get back to such a difficult task.  But today I finally overcame my reluctance.

I am still working with my hard pastels.  When I finished for the day, I thought I was ready to proceed to the Rembrandts, but now that I look at the photo, I think I need to spend a little more time with the hard pastels - specifically the back foot and the crocheted throw.

I also see that the bit of gray fur in the upper left (her side) looks awkward, and dark patches are marching in a strange row down her chest - more things to correct before I go on to the Rembrandts.

When I started this painting Shelley remarked that doing the quilt would be fun, but I am finding it to be very trying.  The details are difficult for me with the pastel sticks without sharp points.  But also the colors are a challenge.  To simplify my task, I am using the actual colors and patterns of the fabrics and the actual placement of the patches.  Of course when I took the photo, I didn't pre-arrrange either for purposes of a painting, so I find myself wishing that it were different, but it's took late to change.  Also, the quilt colors are bright and it's important that they not "steal the show" from the cat.  And then the cat colors are so close to the ecru color of the crocheted throw underneath her.

As far as color goes, the painting is cut in half with bright exciting colors at the top and dull colors at the bottom.  And now I notice that there's a big block of blue in the upper right and a block of green in the upper left.  Perhaps if I emphasize this it will help make sense of the haphazardness of the elements of this painting.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Back To It With Red

The other day I began to work on my fourth painting for my Society of Animal Artists application by doing the drawing for this portrait of my daughter's cat Red.  I took this photo of the cutie relaxing on the guest bed with a patchwork pillow behind her and a crocheted throw under her.

Yesterday I spent most of the day at the El Dorado Arts Council Art Space for the take-down of the 3D show.  I knew it could be a while between times when the artists came by, so I brought this to get started on and managed to get the first layer over most of it.
Then today I continued, concentrating on the face and front paws.  At this stage, I'm working with mostly hard pastel, NuPastel and Faber Castell pastels, but also a bit with pastel pencils.  This piece is different from the others because there is more in the background.  The pillow and throw will really be a challenge.  And the cat is a challenge as well, especially the colors.  Red is a "dilute tabby," a gray tabby but in pastel colors - warm greys and tans.  There is a lot going on in the fur on her tummy with swirls and tufts, but mostly in soft pale colors.

This piece is going to be fun and a whole lot of work.  If I can pull it off, I'll be happy!

Of the four pieces I have begun thus far, I find that I prefer working from my own photos (Rudy, Sparkle, and Red).  My camera gives really good images, but I think more than that it's because I know these animals and my connection with them seems to make a difference in the way I paint them.  Food for thought.