Nap Time #3 (in progress)

Okay, this isn’t really only the third painting session, but I didn’t dare show you all the previous two or three before this! Frightening! For literally 15 painting hours, I went backwards. Once again, I seemed to forget everything I learned. I’m starting to question the whole inspiration thing. Every successfull artist I’ve ever read about says you have to work even if you don’t “feel like it”, but it seems like every time I try that, I screw everything up! The skin tone has gone from yellow, to orange to purple and back again! But, yesterday, I “felt like” painting, and everything I knew came flooding back to me. It was like I was working from instinct instead of thinking about it. Anyways, I’m pretty happy with the results. I still need to tweak some values and richen up the skin tone a tad, but I’m feeling positive about it again.
As always, constructive criticism is welcome, so feel free to comment.

In Progress-#2

This is after my first day of working on laying in the main colors. I quickly blocked in the background and started adding detail to the part of the blanket that’s wrapped around the baby. I changed the position of the face, and added detail there. I quickly blocked in shadow colors on the arms and legs. I’m having a few problems with the skin tones and the temperature changes. I think that I may need to make the local skin tone warmer, with the shadows warm, as the light is fairly cool. Right now she looks kind of corpse-like…YUK. The colors in the reference photo aren’t very good, and I wanted to warm the whole thing up a bit, so I am kind of guessing at the colors at this point…tricky…anyways, I’ll have more soon.

Nap Time — In Progress

Okay, so I’m on to something new. This is a large painting, one of the largest I’ve done. It’s 24″ x 30″, and so far, I’m enjoying the size for the clarity of detail and features that can be attained. This is almost life size. Since this isn’t a daily painting, I thought I’d post some in-progress shots.

So this morning, I thought I’d work on my painting while the baby napped…isn’t she beautiful when she’s sleeping? I started to get ready, ate some breakfast, kicked my husband and son out of the house (well not really, they went willingly) and prepared my self mentally to start painting, when, of course, she woke up. No painting during the daylight hours again today. I heaved a big sigh and collected her from her room. We had a bit of a snuggle together, and she left my lap to go and play. Now, I do a pretty good job of baby-proofing, but something always seems to show up when I least expect it. This time it was a pin-cushion…missing the pins.
Oh My God! Where did she find that and where are the pins. I found one soon enough, sticking out of my foot! I pulled it out and blood squirted all over the carpet. As I’m trying to clean up the blood, I notice that Rhiannon is being uncharacteristically quiet, so I limp over to where I thought she was admiring her portrait, only to find that she is adding her own artistic touch with a blue wax crayon. I hope that oil paint sticks to wax! You can see her beautiful scribbles at the top of the painting, from one side to the other.

Anyways…About the painting…I learned my lesson with the last painting, and this time I did some planning. After taking the reference photo, I cropped it to get the best composition that I could and did some thumbnail sketches. Then, using a wonderful program that is a free download, called “Oil Painting Assistant”, I gridded the reference photo and printed it, and then, using the same ratio, I gridded my canvas. On smaller paintings, I usually don’t do this, I just rely on my eye, but on something this large, it’s easy to really screw up proportions.

I lightly sketched the image onto the canvas with a #2 pencil, leaving out unnecessary details,and then re-enforced my pencil lines with a mix of burnt umber and hooker green. Next, I used a mix of hunter green, burnt sienna, cad yellow med. and white and I laid in a very fine wash of the local blanket color. I kind of use it as an underpainting to fill in the white of the canvas. I do the same with the skin tone, burnt sienna, cad yellow med., aliz crimson, ultramarine blue and titanium white, and the hair, for which I use a mix of the skin tone, with a bit of burnt umber, I think. Then I start to work in some of the major dark areas, and wipe out some of the lightest areas. I put in a bit of red on the lips, ears, nose and fingers, where the blood is close to the skin. All of this is basically an on-canvas value study that will later be covered with thick paint. It helps me see the beginning of the painting as a whole, and determine if I need to make any major changes in value, composition, etc…I know, this is a step that should be done as a thumbnail, and I did do some, but I find that it is not always successful. The last painting I started looked great as a value study, looked great as a thumbnail, even looked great as a 12 x 12 painting, but when I transferred it onto a bigger canvas, it was just plain boring. The large format didn’t do it justice at all, so I wiped it off and started this one.

Well, now on to laying in the real thing. I’ll try to post an in progress picture tomorrow.

Paniolo — Hawaiian Cowboy

Well, I just finished writing this whole post a few minutes ago, and somehow deleted it! Now I have to start again…DAMN! Sometimes I hate computers!
Anyways, I want to thank the wonderful girls who left me some great feedback. I took your advice and now I have a painting that I’m pretty happy with!
I lengthened the mane and tail, and made them fly out, adding to the sense of movement. I definitely feel like this makes it far less static. I spaced out the back legs slightly, defined them, and added a longer shadow. This, along with the longer tail, balances the painting out and makes the horse more grounded. I took away most of the dust behind the horse, and added some color to the dust in front. I defined some of the background shadows, and values, and evened out the color in the mountains.
All in all, I feel pretty happy with it now. Of course, there’s still things I don’t really like, but don’t know how to change, or if they need it. Artists are their own worst critics! But, if anyone sees something that still might need help, let me know. I, unlike most, love constructive criticism!

Fresh off the Easel

It’s finally done…I think. I’m not quite sure I’m satisfied, but I don’t really know where else to go with this one. I’ve done so much to it already, that I should have planned in the beginning for. If anyone’s wondering if it’s really worth while to do those thumbnail sketches…IT IS!! I only did one, that I was pretty happy with, but, it didn’t work when translated to this big canvas. It used to have three mid-ground figures, and a background guy on a horse, and a guy leaning against a horse in the far background. I decided it was too busy, and after many attempts at just trying to FIX everything to make it look like it was supposed to be there, I systematically began eliminating things, until there was nothing left to eliminate. This would all have been much easier to do before the painting was near completion…with the thumbnails…but once again, my initial enthusiasm for the subject overtook my logic, and I dove right in without proper planning. NEVER AGAIN! This one was so hard.
I want to put this one out for critique. I desperately need input from other artists, so if anyone thinks this painting needs some help, or could use something else, please drop me a line. I would appreciate it so much. Like I said, I’m not really sure if it’s done or not, so let me know what you think. It also needs a title. “Fresh off the Easel” just isn’t going to cut it.
I really want to thank Eduardo Amorim, the amazing photographer whose photo was the inspiration for this shot. Check out his work at Flickr by clicking on his name.